Several comments in this thread have referenced the fact that LDS missionaries
work in poor crime-ridden areas of the world. While this is true, the repeated
inference that missionary deaths (the subject of the article) have been due to
criminal activity in these areas is mostly false. Contrarily, most LDS
missionary injuries and deaths have been a result of traffic or other accidents,
which by the way happen to young (and older) adults everywhere with comparable
or greater frequency/rate.Perhaps "inherent" is the wrong
word to use, but statistically, 18-20 something LDS missionaries have and will
continue to post a safety record that far exceeds the norm - - especially given
the areas of the world in which they operate.
For anyone interested: I recently attended the funeral for a deceased
missionary. The Church did indeed send a representative with condolences from
the First Presidency. Most of us already know this to be the case. Others might
find this information valuable. To Brother Ben: no one owes you anything. You
are displaying a curious attitude of entitlement vis-a-vis The LDS Church, and
related issues. If you need some counselling, LDS social services is there for
"...two close friends who had sons on missions in Bolivia and Brazil
respectively. They say had they known the circumstances their kids were dealing
with they would have gone to those places and taken their kids out."Did they talk to anyone who had served in these countries or used the
Internet to do any due dilligence? I don't anything about Bolivia but I
would have checked into it.
"The Church does everything it can to ensure the safety of its missionaries,
..." I guess we are supposed to take this to the bank. I have two close
friends who had sons on missions in Bolivia and Brazil respectively. They say
had they known the circumstances their kids were dealing with they would
have gone to those places and taken their kids out. My son who went to a
dangerous part of United States on his mission won't talk about it for fear
of scaring us. Let's just say I'm glad he's home and dry.
I went on a mission and my fellow missionaries were between 19-21. Not exactly
the most responsibly cohort. With all they good they did, many did get up to
mischief, pull stunts, break rules of safety etc. It is little wonder that more
out in the field have been seriously hurt. However, when someone is
hurt or the end result is tragic, my thoughts and prayers go out to those
families and friends who have been deeply impacted by any one of these fatal
Given the number of missionaries and the dangerous places they serve, it is an
absolute miracle more are not hurt or killed.I have great empathy
for the pain and sorrow of these families. Prayers and respect to you all.
A majority of these unfortunate deaths are in car accidents. That could happen
anywhere whether third world country or state-side.
For you folks who have no clue about such matters, why do you persist in
embarrassing yourselves on LDS topics? Are we now to keep these same 18 yr old
young high school graduates home from college too? Can we not sent them to
Harvard, Stanford, or Oxford?? How about USC? Hardly a safe place. Knock
yourselves out. Your logic makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Would god really take a missionary life early? Not the god I know. If he does it
is the cruelest thing he could do. We hear many people here say that the victim
is serving his mission on the other side. Nobody knows that, they are just
guessing so that theory is just a wild guess. In my mind, god wouldn't ever
cut anybody's life short so they could serve on the other side. The biggest
question for me is why doesn't he protect his missionaries?
According to the CDC in 2009 (most recent year I could find), the US death rate
for the 20-24 year old age group was about 1 per 1,000. That is still 10x the
death rate of full-time young missionaries. Yes, overall it is safer to be a
missionary than to do whatever it is other young people in the same age group
These deaths are not occurring in crime-ridden areas. They are occurring in
peaceful areas for the most part. On a roof in Guatemala, helping an LDS member
move to another residence in Guatemala, on a road in somewhat rural Idaho. No,
these are not in gang lands of ghetto Detroit as has been referred to. Yes,
missionary work IS inherently safe. LDS Church issuing a "disclaimer";
not at all the case! I served in Europe over fifty years ago. Six of my seven
children have served(Philadelphia, Knoxville, Las Vegas, SLC, Montreal, and
Halifax). They drive, they cycle, they walk, they bus. They do not go to bars,
do not hang out in party crowds where booze and drugs are present, and otherwise
are firmly directed to obey ALL laws of driving etc. Bad stuff happens even to
us law-abiding folks. NO, there is no "disclaimer" needed or requested
by any of us parents or LDS members. Just the gentle re-assurance that we are
known to our Savior, He loves each of us, and certainly to those who lose their
life in His service gives He His peace and comfort through the Holy Spirit, the
As the mother of a missionary currently serving I can tell you I worry about my
son's safety. What parent doesn't? I pray for his safety daily. My
heart breaks for the families of the missionaries who have been hurt or have
died recently. I pray that the families can be comforted at this time. I think
it is admirable that the church has released these statements. I think we could
best serve the families of those left behind by being good neighbors and showing
kindness or praying for their comfort at this tender time.
I would expect the death rate among missionaries to be substantially less than
for those 19-21 living a normal life. What are the dangers of going out and
visiting people compared to all the other things that young people that age are
doing? There seems to be a larger than normal number of deaths recently but I
imagine it will be followed by a lull. All these deaths are tragic and
unfortunate but not unexpected with such large numbers of missionaries.
I would agree if I didn't go on a mission. But since I did, this article is
completely biased and distorted. I served in Russia and every day there was
someone messing with multiple companionships (I served as zone leader, so I
know). Missions are completely exposing missionaries. If you mothers at home
worry about your missionary out there, you're absolutely right.
They're in danger. Lots.
@bw00ds“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?” “We even want and need to
know when something tragic like this happens.”"But that's
life, for good or bad. Newspapers do what newspapers do." stop blaming the
paper for feeding into your morbid curiosity. its both you and the paper. “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.”"I never stated nor inferred that
somehow I "was a victim." That's an incorrect assessment of my
comments" you are right you never said you were directly a victim but from
the above comment it is not hard to see why someone would make that
When my son served in Bulgaria a few years ago I never once worried about him.
I don't know why but most people EXPECTED me to worry. But I knew that
there was no place better he could be at that time in his life. Heavenly Father
sent him there, Heavenly Father would take care of him. My daughter is now
serving in Arizona and I don't worry about her either. Heavenly
Father's plan is perfect. Although we may not understand why some things
happen, I know that Heavenly Father is the great equalizer, and all things will
be made right in the end.
@Kass Yes, I understand that. However, the DN does go out to a very large LDS
subscription base. And not all members subscribe to the Church News. I
don't. If these stories were published there, the church would still come
out with a public disclaimer, so I don't think that point of yours is
true.DN is still completely within its purpose and business to
publish such stories.@spring street I never stated nor inferred that
somehow I "was a victim." That's an incorrect assessment of my
comments. Second, I can totally understand that you wouldn't want such a
story "plastered" on the pages of a newspaper. But that's life, for
good or bad. Newspapers do what newspapers do.The debate about the
"wisdom" of having young, 18-year-olds on missions and their
"proneness" to accidents, etc is not relevant. The driver was 20. The
18-year-old was the passenger. Missionary deaths are still rare. It is not just
out of 75K serving, as there is turnover throughout the year. In a year, there
may be, what...up to 100K+ as missionaries? And consider the mortality rate for
missionaries ever since the beginning of this church.
Our son is one of those ten. It was not in the news. The coroner found no cause
of death. Our dear stripling warrior was halfway through his mission on this
side of the veil, when - shortly before his companion awoke - he received a new
call. My Elder loved being a missionary, and he loved a good adventure. I'm
proud that he was worthy for this calling. We miss him terribly, but know that
we have many family and friends on the other side still to be taught. We're
sealed through temple covenants. This is but a short separation. I'm
looking forward to some great stories!
Actually, we have lots of missionaries tracking in Detroit. We have more
missionaries in Detroit presently than we have for years past. We also have
plenty of missionaries in Flint which has an even higher crime rate.If the Church wanted to show it had no desire to reach out to
African-Americans it would pull missionaries from those cities. True, no longer
over half of Michigan's African-Americans live in Detroit, but it still is
a significant percentage of the state's African-American population.
Pulling missionaries out of the city would say we have no desire to reach out to
them. In fact it was the attitude of putting safety over outreach
that meant that 10 years after the 1978 revelation there were still very few
African-American church members. I was born in 1980. I can remember when a third
of the city of Detroit was in our ward and we had one African-American family in
the ward. Then we had a leader who had the vision of trusting in the Lord. Today
there are wards based in Detroit and 3 members of our stake high council are
I have yet to see any evidence that any of these deaths or injuries can be
linked to lower missionary ages. The man killed in an accident in Malaysia had
been on his mission too long to have been effected by the missionary age change.
Actually, I have yet to see any of these cases being clearly a result of what
the missionary did. I think some people are too quick to see
causation when we do not even have a clear correlation. How does the missionary
death rate over the last 10 months compare to other periods of time? In
1989-1990 there was a situation where 4 missionaries were murdered in 2
countries, deliberately because they were missionaries. Are 10
deaths really that adnormal? I think people are trying to make things into
bigger issues than they are.
The situation of missionaries is safe. Even ten deaths still is way below the
average. Missionaries avoid most unsafe activities. It is accidents
that kill most people that age, accidents in unsafe activities.Also,
going two by two protects them. Lastly, most killings in the US are done by
people who know the victim. It is not generally locations that are unsafe but
activities.The gospel needs to be preached to all people. However
the least safe times to be out are much later than missionaries are out.
David in Georgia,Inherently: Involved in the constitution or
essential character of something (Merriam-Webster).There is nothing
inherently unsafe about going out into the world and talking to people. By any
standard less than that, we'd all be unsafe all the time. Count up all the
wars, crimes in my neighborhood, and unsafe things that happen on the road every
day around me. You'd come up with a long list. But I keep distance from
other cars and I'm far more safe statistically than if I didn't.
Missionaries are more well-behaved than the average american young adult. The
lifestyle the average missionary lives is safer than what I can say of most
18-25 year old's.If parents are concerned about their kids
safety and think that putting them threw college is safer, they should spend
time in a college outside of Utah to make a fair comparison. I've got news
for you, BYU being "stone-cold sober" is a RARE trait for colleges. I
have to believe that dorm life is inherently much more dangerous than missionary
work, even if excluding alcohol and drugs.
"The mortality rate for missionaries is significantly less than those in
their same age group in the general population." This is a bogus comparison
as said missionaries already lead safer lifestyles than the general population,
before they leave on their missions. The question should be: are these
individual missionaries subject to added danger by going on missions? I
don't know the answer, but that is the question.
I'm unsure what people are expecting the church to do. With the increase of
missionaries in the field, there will be an increase of injury and deaths among
missionaries as a whole. The church can't prevent injury or death anymore
than we can on a daily basis. Where does it ever say that the people of God are
exempt from bad things happening to them? The only way to prevent injury and
death from happening in the mission field is not to call missionaries to the
field. Is that really an option? Really? What in the world are they suppose to
do? What more do you expect them to do? It is still the primary responsibility
of each individual missionary to exercise caution and use wisdom, that
wasn't taken from them when they entered the mission field. If an area is
increasingly worsening they will pull missionaries out of that area, if a
missionary is really sick and nothing is working where they are to get them
better they will send them home but every single variable, every single choice
cannot be monitored. So again, what more are they to do?
For all of us who have served missions and also sent sons or daughters into the
mission field we well know the realities of serving a mission. I doubt
missionary work can ever be made completely safe but the Church should be very
proactive in evaluating proselyting methods and making changes. I believe the
Church does a decent job with missionary safety but knowing the events of my
mission and my sons missions I also know there is a lot of room for improvement.
I don't know if missionaries are safer than the general population or not
but I take issue with the statistics cited by the church PR department. You
can't take a population(missionaries) that is concentrated in S. America
and Africa and compare it to the stats worldwide. The way to be accurate would
be to say, the death rate per 100,000 in the USA is x, and the missionary death
rate in the USA is x. Comparing missionaries in a country, to the countries
general population would give you an accurate number. Using worldwide death
stats is too vague. Combining the USA, Canada and Europe's stats make would
make a place like S. America look much more safe.
@bw00dsI am sorry but no I would not want my child's death plastered
all over the from page of any newspaper, just because they may belong to the
same church as you or this paper does not give you the right to have access to
such a personal and tragic time in a families life. Please stop pretend you are
a victim here. As kas rightly points out there are more appropriate less
invasive forums for such disclosures
I question the use of the word inherently but otherwise it's correct. Sure
it feels like there's been a lot the last couple weeks but the rates are
still extremely low and most of them are complete accidents. Then
there's the matter of increased reporting. Consider this example, studies
show that there's been an increase in EF0 tornadoes the past few decades,
however, there's a lack of increase in EF1-EF5 tornadoes the past few
decades. As a result, the increase in the weakest tornado category is widely
believed to be a result of increased observation and reporting rather than there
actually being higher rates of them. That's basically what's going on
here, we see increased awareness of these incidents so they feel more common,
even when they aren't trending in any statistically significant manner.
First of all I appreciate the DN covering this story.Secondly, I am very
concerned about this issue and feel more needs to be said by our Church leaders.
Thanks, Church of Public Affairs, for that comment. However, the fact is deaths
are now not that "rare" among missionaries. As a stake, we're
talking about how common they've become in recent months. Say and spin what
you want, but families are suffering at their losses. Further, what is your
point in bringing this up in the first place if you didn't feel the need to
put a positive spin on the facts? That's simply disturbing. I
suggest you send general authorities out to visit with and comfort these
families rather than try and save face.
the statement 'called to serve him Heavenly King of Glory'.... each of
us daily risk just getting out of bed. these mighty young missionaries are
serving beyond the veil. with the world heading into mass craziness our Heavenly
Father needs many whom can teach. my heart and prayers go out to the families
whom have sent their mighty missionaries to serve and then deal with their young
deaths. my son was in some dangerous areas, but he said with prayer and faith
and following the rules he was safe. these other missionaries were safe but were
taken young. please keep the families in your prayers. pray for our country and
all the missionaries.
Unfortunately people die from accidents every day. It's sad whether they
are missionaries or not. What happened to the past 3 missionaries 1) hit by a
car, 2) hit by a stray bullet or 3) serious car accident happens many times
daily in the US. We live in a dangerous world. I do believe that most parents
and missionaries know the possibility that something may happen during the
mission. But heck, it could happen on my way home from work everyday too.
Whether in the US or in a foreign country, bad things happen to good people.
That's just the way it works in my opinion.Whether missionaries
are younger and less experienced may have something to do with it, but not
always. My 20-yr old son had a bike wreck in Italy when HE ran into a sports
car... that was his fault. I had a bike wreck during my mission when I ran into
a jeep from behind and spent a week in the hospital. I guess genetics may have
something to do with the two of us, and the apple doesn't fall far from the
Good grief, those who are calling out “Inherently Safe” and then
rambling on about poor areas where the church proselytes that are dangerous are
making ridiculous comments about this article. The church is addressing the
safety concerns since the 10 deaths over the course of the year have been
accidental or illness related. They specifically talk about measures taken to
ensure the personal safety and good health of its mission force. As the
missionary force gets bigger we can expect more deaths, it is a natural part of
life that is an unfortunate event. People die, it happens. No matter where you
are, if you are not careful, something bad can happen and even then, no matter
how careful you are, accidents happen and people die. Now when we start seeing
multiple murders of missionaries in areas that show a trend then yeah,
let’s talk about that but, since that is not what we are seeing, why go
there? Base your arguments on the information provided and stay on topic.
Whether you are LDS, Baptist, Catholic or Atheist, young people die every day
from all walks of life, not just missions.
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
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.
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.
@ 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
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.
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......
@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.
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
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.
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.
@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.
For something that's "inherently safe"; I've sure read about a
lot of missionary deaths lately.
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.
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.
@spring streetSo 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.
Maybe if the church owned paper did not plasterer every incident all over the
front page there would not be the hysteria.
"Inherently"? 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?
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.
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.