MORMONS XII: Go West My Son: Systemic Abuse of Missionaries
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37,237. You got to be up by six; you got to be abed by nine-thirty – a gruelling gruelling regimen. You are just out there spreading the word. No alcohol, no drugs. So it was a huge shift. Mr C, interview Gangland: From Heaven to Hell
37,238. I turned from returned missionary back to hardcore gangsta ... We gonna kill truckloads. ibid.
37,239. I went to Mongolia ... There are gangs of street kids that roam around the city. There were no real charities there to help them out and the Mongolians were always shooing them away like flies. We were natural targets for them because not only were we Americans, we were also pretty much the only people in the entire country that wore suits! We must all be filthy rich, right? They used to follow us around sometimes and beg. Our oh-so-Christ-like Mission President told us over and over that we were not to so much as talk to the street kids because they were distracting us from our real mission: to save souls. If we felt guilty about it then we were to donate any left-over money to the branch fast offering fund so that it could be administered ‘in the Lord’s way’. That was supposed to make us feel better.
Mongolia is a high desert, and so it is cold in the winter. I’m not talking about Utah cold either. I grew up in Alaska and I’ll be damned if I wasn't freezing all winter long! During the winter these kids would live under the streets because that was where the hot water pipes were. All of the buildings were steam-heated from central boilers spread throughout town and so there were hot pipes in the sewers. One spring there was a flashflood and hundreds of these kids drowned. Did anyone care? Did Christ’s true servants even so much as say a prayer for them?
It was common for these kids to sleep in the entrances of the apartment buildings. If they kept their mouths shut nobody would kick them out. Because they would beg from us our entrances seemed to have more of these kids in them than others. So here I am, a servant of Jesus Christ, with a pocket full of money and a kitchen full of food and starving homeless kids on the other side of my door. I caught hell for letting one in just one time!
Like so many missionaries I spent my 2 years feeling guilty ...
So here are these kids sleeping, starving, and even shitting in my entryway and sure enough, one morning we find one of them dead. Mormonism is responsible for fucking each of us up in our own special ways, and for me this was it. I was really messed-up over this dead kid that we had just ignored on our way into our apartment the night before. I went to the MP and bawled my eyes out to him. He gave me a blessing and it kinda made things better – that’s how brainwashed I was. I let a kid starve/freeze to death but it was ok because he was fast-tracked to the Celestial Kingdom.
What could a few tens of thousands of dollars from the church have done? There are places like this all over the world. I don’t believe in god or christ but if they had a ‘true’ church on this world, everyone would know it because of its fruits ... It makes me sick. (Mormon & Mongolia) Akexmo, board post ‘Anger, Anger’
37,240. I went on a mission, and I still recall the complete surprise it was. I fully expected a happy, positive experience, based on ‘true love’, and kindness. What I got was a para-military nightmare, based on pressure, anger, politics, and back stabbing.
My companion and I were belittled in front of other missionaries by the Mission President. It was nasty display of sarcasm, meanness, and pettiness. After all these years, I still recall the way it made us feel. We had been treated like dirt.
No-one was ever thanked, or told they were appreciated. They were forced to endure endless nonsense, and a terrible sense of guilt. At meetings, they were interviewed, and confronted. Prying questions were standard fare. This, we were assured, was ‘religion’ and ‘love’.
Missionaries ratted on each other, and carefully manipulated the favor of the Mission President, his harpy wife, and the boot licking assistants. Many spent the entire time looking for personal advantage. Lighfingerlouie, board post 11th November 2007 ‘Treatment of Members – What is the Church For Anyway?’
37,241. I could not come to terms with the missionary experience either. It came as a complete shock to me. I went out full of idealism, and high hopes. I was going to embark on a splendid spiritual journey. I would gain that elusive testimony, know the church is true, and come back ready for a life of obedience.
What I got was a para-military nightmare, fresh from the exercise of totalitarian authority. I was told what to read, think, eat, and wear. I was not able to sit down in the summer heat without being made to feel guilty. I was expected to be out at night in sub-zero weather, knocking on doors at 9:00 p.m. I was rebuked for honesty, and humiliated for normal thoughts. I was pushed around, bullied, and misused. I came as a volunteer, asking for nothing. In exchange, I was treated like dirt. I never have forgotten the experience. After all, it was ‘the best two years of my life’. lightfingerlouie, board post ‘The Stuff I Couldn’t Take, And Still Can't Forget’
37,242. It makes me sick to think of all the people I damaged on my mission. My mission was run by numbers. We were constantly quoted that ‘as long as the convert puts out their cigarette on the way down to the water, they are worthy’ ...
As a missionary I never doubted what I was told to do, but I hated baptizing people who I knew would never continue to attend church. Why did I not see what was going on?
We were told never to bring up blacks in the priesthood or polygamy in our discussions. I still remember the heartbreaking look on a single black mothers faces, two weeks after she was baptized, when she found out about blacks in the priesthood. She cried and asked us why we did not teach her this ... I look back now and it makes me physically ill to think about this poor women we took advantage of. How could mission presidents have taught this crap to vulnerable young people? Dirty rotten SoBs.
My mission was nothing but a numbers and ranking game. To win the game you had to baptize a lot, and advance in ranks (district leader, zone leader, AP). Oh, I made it to the top and was an AP and I and my family were so proud. Nobody ever asked me if the people I damaged (baptized) were happier as members of the church.
I knew what I was doing was not right, but I was so blind I did everything I was told. It has been twenty years since I served on my mission and I am ashamed. If I had all the address of the people I baptized I would send them an apology letter ... Even on my mission I felt I was not good enough for the church and it really eats at me what the church has done to my confidence and self-esteem. What would my life had been like if I had not put all my energy into ‘not feeling guilty’? What a waste of two years. JT, board post ‘Regrets of Going on a Mission’
37,243. Ballard got up and stated our baptism total was awful and we should be ashamed (completely contradicting the mission president, poor guy). He then started to interview companionships from the pulpit (it front of everyone). He first had zone leader companionships stand up, one by one. Example of a typical question, ‘Are you out of your apartment by 9:30 every morning and working?’ (In fact, if you answer yes to this question you are a certifiable liar. Notice that guilt is completely programmed and expected by this line of questioning. What a jerk.) Now this question is a set up. No companionship is out every morning by 9:30. The answer to this question is no. Now this may not seem too bad but remember the setting. You have a General Authority (who is God to you) asking you questions in front of half the missionaries in the mission with the express purpose of showing everyone that you are a big sinner. If your companionship is ‘lucky’ enough to be called by Ballard, you will be embarrassed to the nth degree! After asking the companionship several questions, he would sneer and ask them to sit down. After interviewing about six companionships from the pulpit he declared he knew what was wrong with our mission, DISOBEDIENCE. We have low baptisms because we are BIG sinners and his interviews ‘proved’ this. He told us about what a great missionary he was. He stated that he would be happy to get out his journal and compare his hours of tracting with anyone in the room, implying he worked harder that anyone else (a very humble man!).
I can testify with a surety based on my being there, that this is the second worst experience in my life. The meeting was the beginning of my apostasy. MMan, board post ‘Ballard Story’
37,244. It all started with the pressure from his dad who was then a bishop and at the time of his death a stake president. He was always pushed to be the perfect student, perfect Priesthood holder and would serve an honorable mission, where nothing but excellence would be acceptable. Shortly into his mission he came down with illness and deep depression. He was over prescribed with large doses of anti-depressants which eventually caused permanent damage to his brain. They continued to try and treat him on his mission but he kept getting worse. To come home early was almost unthinkable. He was finally forced to go home early, but by that time he was severely depressed and felt like a complete failure. He would not go out in public and spent long hours in the dark. When he spoke to others he would be shaking. They tried all kinds of anti-depressants, counseling and eventually shock therapy. Through this all he completely quit going to church and refused to participate in any of its activities. The day he killed himself his psychiatrist told him they had done all they could for him and that he had to start helping himself. They went home and within five minutes of being home he went in to his room and shot himself in the head with a large hunting rifle. The reason I share this story is because of all the pressure and guilt you see put on youth today to live up to the perfect Mormon mold.
What I found ironic was how they handled the funeral. Because his dad was a Stake President they had a General Authority, who did not even know him, come and speak about everything but their son. rm, board post ‘Nephew Killed Himself After Returning Home from Mission Early for Health Reasons’
36,953. Today we are fighting a battle that in many ways is more perilous, more fraught with danger, than the battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Our enemy is cunning and resourceful. We fight against Lucifer, the father of all lies, the enemy of all that is good and right and holy.
What we need now is the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the church ... The bar that is the standard for missionary service is being raised. The day of the ‘repent and go’ missionary is over. M Russell Ballard, general conference address October 2002
37,245. From the agony of broken engagements, cruel taunting letters about taking over your former girlfriend, having to miss siblings’ weddings, and the birth of nieces, nephews and siblings ... all within the daily grind of boredom, exhaustion and rejection ... life was hell for many of the missionaries.
Add to that the stress of constant companions, some of whom could be nasty, belligerent and controlling if not simply annoying (especially with the 24/7 rule of attachment!) ... and the intolerable atmosphere mounts! The sister mishies especially had problems with their companions! Pettiness and jealousies abounded! Many of the sisters were looking to make ‘attachments’ with the guys. Speculation, rumors, gossip and outright accusations were rife in the ‘underground’ communication lines of the mission. windsong, board post ‘Mormon Malignancy Seen in Mormon Missions’
37,246. I too saw missionaries whose parents were sick, even dying, or who were themselves struggling with health concerns, who were not allowed to return home, even if only temporarily. I saw a church and a program that deprives its young missionaries of normalcy and subjects them to appalling situations, like companion abuse and frequent hunger. I saw missionaries and members being expected to uphold THE PROGRAM, in effect, ‘worshipping’ the church rather than caring about its members, those they were ‘teaching’ and others. I saw young people being taught to evade and lie instead of embracing principles of honesty, fairness and truth. I saw a skewed doctrinal emphasis that bred mindless obedience and chilling lack of compassion. All of this adversely affected the missionaries, those they sought to teach and succeeded in baptizing, and church members themselves. Nightingale, board post ‘Amen Windsong’