Comments about ‘LDS officials say missionary deaths are 'rare,' missions are 'inherently safe' (+video)’

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Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4 2013 7:00 p.m. MDT

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Surely the church must not be using the common definition of "inherently" and "safe".

Much like the way the Armed Forces send recruiters into poor neighborhoods, the church sends these kids to poor areas.

Rich neighborhoods are not teeming with crime. And they are certainly not teeming with people who are struggling and need some sort of help or dramatic change in the course of their lives, and are easily persuaded by a guy with a sharp haircut making all kinds of promises.

These kids are blissfully oblivious of exactly what they are being sent into when they are shipped off to those third world countries. I should know, I was born in one. The cities and neighborhoods return missionaries tell me they served in are not exactly Malibu. Not even close.

Cache county, USA

I believe with all my heart, and knowledge, that the church does everything in its power to protect our young missionary's. I believe The Lord watches over them with his greatest blessings. And I also believe that life isn't perfect, and things happen.
God bless this amazing group of young ones.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT



Tucson, AZ


Yes. Absolutely. If you understand who the missionaries' real Employer is, has been, and will be.

So what are you two really criticizing, anyway?

@Zaruski, did my eyes deceive me, but did I really read that you are inferring that we should only send our missionaries to "rich" neighborhoods?

Doesn't take much straining of a gnat for the criticizers of the church to find fault, does it?

spring street

Maybe if the church owned paper did not plasterer every incident all over the front page there would not be the hysteria.

Tucson, AZ

@spring street

So what should a church owned paper do, then? I don't know if you are a member of the church or not, but as Latter-day Saints, we are interested in our missionaries, what they do, and their welfare. We even want and need to know when something tragic like this happens. It's part of learning about life. It's also about wanting to know so that we can remember the deceased and their families and loved ones in our prayers. We are part of a global family. We want to know the news about the members of our family for good or bad. That's life.

So if you were an LDS family who lost a missionary, you would want to see that the newspaper that is owned by your church doesn't care enough to report it? That other newspapers in the country and even out of the country report it, but your church newspaper doesn't?

Really, I do NOT understand the people who abandon common sense just to find a puny, petty excuse to criticize how the Deseret News or the Church is doing its job.

Tooele, UT

Its an unfortunate side effect of the LDS Church lowering its age limits on missionaries.

Younger men will drive cars and ride bicycles with a little less experience and some feelings of invincibility. Serving the Lord at 18 is great, but the Church is opening itself up to more legal responsibility as the lowered age limits put younger people in charge of cars. I remember flying like superman over a taxicab in Japan and luckily landing on my hands and knees. Only I was hurt. This occurs much more often than is reported.

Also, life is a numbers game.... the larger the numbers/population the more likely something/accidents etc can happen. Just look at how many missionaries have died in the field this year. The numbers are not bad for a city of 70,000 people. But when you consider a city of mostly teenagers that size, its a little more scary I think.

As the missionary program grows, unfortunately reports like this too will grow.

God bless you missionaries and stay safe.

David in Georgia
Norcross, GA

I love the Church and I have two missionary sons serving right now, but to call missionary work "inherently safe" is simply wrong. Missionaries serve in some of the poorest and crime-ridden areas anywhere in the world -- that is not inherently safe. Riding bicycles on busy streets is not inherently safe. Driving vehicles is not inherently safe. To compare the death statistics to the general population of 19 year olds in the world is not a fair comparison. Most of these missionaries would be students at church-owned schools if they were not on their missions right now. What are the statistics for that segment of the population? That would be a better comparison.

Here, UT

For something that's "inherently safe"; I've sure read about a lot of missionary deaths lately.

Sandy, UT

@bw00ds Is your job to be critical of every comment that is critical if you happen to disagree?

Personally I'm guessing any real research on this would indicate missionaries die at the exact same rate as a comparable group engaged in a comparable activity, no more, no less. Why? If miraculously missionaries never died in the line of duty, people would flock to the church to learn why. But it wouldn't require tests of faith and the whole effort would be for naught.

Brother Benjamin Franklin
Orem, UT

I am simply not going to accept an insincere attempt from the LDS Church to address this. Having one man sit in front of a camera is not sufficient.

They need to make a formal statement on this in their General Conference, or perhaps convene a panel of experts from the community to assist in addressing this issue.

Knowing my friends in the LDS Church, it is likely the LDS Church will instead stick to being behind closed doors with this, as they have been with many things.

No surprises there.

In the meantime, while they are behind closed doors, the families of these missionaries are left without concrete action to help ease their grief.

The members of the Church and the community are left to wonder what the LDS Church is going to do, if anything, to deal with this issue.


The words of one of our hymns and an old proverb come to mind:

"We'll go to the poor like our captain of old,
To visit the weary, the hungry and cold.
We'll cheer up their hearts with the news that he bore,
And point them to Zion, and life evermore."

"Ships are safe in the harbor,
But that's not what ships are for."

I have 10 grandchildren. All of their fathers served missions, one to the Philippines, One to Argentina and one to Korea. All of them faced dangerous situations, including being robbed at gunpoint, riding on public transportation where the driver was drunk, and riding out a typhoon. Although they came home safe, we sent them out knowing there were no guarantees as to their safety. My parents sent me and my two brothers out knowing the same. I hope all my grandchildren have the wonderful opportunity of serving a mission. They will find a well of rich, deep, spiritually, socially and physically challenging and life-affirming experience awaits.

I wouldn't have missed mine for the world.

Harwich, MA

Two years walking around the streets of Glasgow was "inherently" dangerous. We all had to be smart in where, when and how you spoke to certain individuals.
Think of it as tracting in today's Detroit. The Church doesn't to that in Detroit NOW, and shouldn't in many cities of the world.

Tucson, AZ

@liberate It amuses me that you should say that. I am expressing my opinion just as you were of being critical of mine--who is more righteous here? Contrary to be critical of every opinion I disagree with as you infer, I am critical of people whose only online existence seems to be to find any excuse to be critical of the Church or its newspaper. Which you can read in droves in these forums.

no fit in SG
St.George, Utah

We "older" people remember comments, philosophy, and the way it used to be.
People would say "God kept the Missionaries safe". When our sons came home, we learned of incidents that happened that, apparently, our sons were not to discuss in their communication with family. However, sometimes another of their missionary friends would tell THEIR parents and the story would get back to us.
Yes, scary, bad things happened. Some of the missionaries on those same Missions did die. Some during the same time and some in later years.
Not so many as now......

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Well if it is not inherently safe then why the low mortality rate? Their comment is based on statistics from a sample of 100,000's.

Lots of things look dangerous, like washing windows on skyscrapers. If you follow the rules (i.e. check, recheck and proper training and equipment), it is safe, if you don't it is madness.

Working construction to earn money to go on a mission is a whole lot more dangerous than the mission.


@ bw00ds: There is this little section of the DesNews called - coincidentally enough - The Church News. It goes out to Mormons worldwide and has all kinds of information about the Church and missionaries and temples and all kinds of other stuff. Now, if missionary deaths were mentioned there instead of on the front page of the newspaper, perhaps the Church would not need to issue public disclaimers.

Kaysville, UT

The missionary force has increased significantly and 18 year old men and women are still youthful even in the work of the Lord. The media has shown the bad side of life in movies and television program with the reality shows and instant success. Safety should be a by-word for all parents and is in most cases. However, there are many attractions for youth in their teens to be on the dangerous side but with constraints due to parental guidance and companies forced by law to have safety devices. There are risks that youth take on their own and parents should build into those youth the desire to do safe things not ones that put them at risk, whether on a mission, college, or working in any place in the world.

Missions are blessings for the youth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Eighteen year olds can join voluntarily the military forces and be in battle in six months. That is a high risk. Missionaries are not sent to those areas. However, there is a risk going anywhere and missionaries are protected by their faithfulness and keeping the mission rules.

We pray for them daily.

Medical Lake, Washington

Has it been considered that as the mission force increases, so does the opposition.

I served my mission thirty years ago in Europe. Was it dangerous? I don't know. I came close to getting hit by a car on more than one occasion. Do missionaries get hit by cars? Yes. Do non-missionaries get hit by cars? Yes.

Some suggest that missionaries need to be sent to Malibu instead of 'third world countries'. My experience was that people in well-to-do neighborhoods were generally not interested in religion. Neither did the Savior hang out with the upper-strata. As someone else here put it in quoting a hymn 'We'll go like our captain of old and visit the weary, the hungry and cold.' Doesn't sound like Malibu to me.

Mission or not, we take a risk every time we climb out of bed, but then again, have we not read tragic stories of people killed in their beds when a tree fell on the house during a bad wind storm. Life is dangerous and becoming more so daily.

Vancouver, WA

The statistics are highly favorable, it is as simple as that (from the article): "WHO reports approximately 205 deaths per 100,000 population of young people. The mortality rate of missionaries is less than one-twentieth that amount."
My son visa waited in the gang laden areas of Long Beach CA and then served in the favelas of southern Brazil and I worry more about him now riding his motorcycle to and from teaching at the MTC with the crazy BYU drivers.

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