Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mission

I served a mission for the LDS church.  It was the beginning of me leaving the church.  The focus was only on baptizing. Each month, a newletter was put out in the mission with all the names of the missionaries and how many baptisms each companion got.  If a companionship baptized 3 or more people, they were invited to the mission president's home for an overnight stay and given an all-you-can-eat steak dinner and allowed to watch movies all night long (movies were forbidden any other time on a mission).

This led to abuse, as the focus was to only baptize people, not retain them.  In fact, we were told repeatedly by the mission president that our focus was to baptize, not retain, and were strongly discouraged from visiting the people after they were baptized.  Most of the people stopped attending church within months of being baptized. Many were baptized the first Sunday they attended church.

There was this thing instituted in my mission called *purging*.  Each month, each missionary met with the mission president and were told to confess each thing they did wrong, no matter how small or trivial.  You see, we had over 300 rules in a white handbook called our white bible.  On top of that, our mission president had given us an additional 200 extra rules.  These rules consisted of what to wear, what time to get up, when to leave the apartment, what to read, what music we could listen to, what we were and were not allowed to do on our day off, what time to be back in the apartment, what time to go to bed, etc.  We were not free to choose anything on a mission. In these *purging* sessions, we were required to tell the mission president any and all rules we had broken over the course of the month. If we slept in an extra 10 minutes; if we took 40 minutes to eat lunch instead of 30 minutes; if we left the apartment 5 minutes late-all was to be confessed.  I refused to do this, as I saw it a violation of my privacy and it seemed voyeuristic.

The only thing NOT regulated by the white bible and the mission presidents addition rules, was gossip. So, the missionaries gossiped---a lot! Once, my companion and I made cookies for a meeting with people who were looking into the church (we called them investigators).  After the meeting, there were some cookies left over, so we gave them to some of the male missionaries (called elders).  It went through the mission that we had invited the elders over to our apartment and made cookies with them. (This would have been strictly forbidden, and we were now the equivalents of sluts.)

At another time, an elder was doing a kiddie dunk (when you baptize a child under the age of 18 without baptizing his parents--a sure sign he will never return to church again) and we all had to wait for this child to have all the discussions (lessons about the church).  I was in the chapel playing the piano.  Several missionaries strolled in to listen to me play.  The rumors went around the mission that I had met privately with one of these elders and was kissing him, etc.  This, of course, got back to the mission president.  He called me, asked me about it (I of course, had no idea what he was talking about), but he didn't believe me and I was punished by being demoted from senior position/companion and sent out to small cities that have no baptisms for the rest of my mission.

None of this made it into my letters home, as they weren't faith promoting.

Here is an article written by a man about his mission:

The church was about growth in numbers, controlling the missionaries to keep them in line, and it did a great job at both--it just lost me in the process.

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