60: Missionaries Online – The Mormon Expositor Smackdown

Heather, Brandt, Clay, and Matt have a friendly debate about the merits of missionary work on Facebook.

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12 Comments

  1. nehor90210

    Concerning missionary proselytizing strategies based on scriptural examples, I’d say the Book of Mormon makes the case that missionaries shouldn’t expect to have any success when preaching to apostate groups. Like the part in Alma where it says how the sons of Mosiah had all this great success among the Lamanites in this land and that land, but they only got a single Amalekite convert (a group from that pesky order of Nehor) and not a single Amulonite. It must be that we apostates have hardened our hearts so much that even the super powers of a missionary’s pure testimony bounce right off us.

    Reply Jan 02, 2014 @ 09:33:49
  2. seasickyetstilldocked

    The idea that exmos should not try to destroy the testimony of an online proselytizing missionary is ridiculous. The missionary is trying to do no less to me. The missionary is trying to get me to abandon my beliefs and my world view and join their freaking church. To add insult to injury, they fully believe they are representing the ONE TRUE CHURCH. They believe that I am wrong, fallen, lost and unhappy…..you can’t get much more presumptuous and judgmental than that. It is not my fault that the church winds them up tight and spins them out of the MTC like this. The church should be blamed for this and not exmos aggressively moronic personal behavior and thinking.

    By the way, it should be pointed out that the exmo, in most cases, will simply be telling the TRUTH to the missionaries in order to destroy their testimony. God forbid. I am with Clay on this one all the way. If the church is so true and the HG is so real and the Book of Mormon so amazing…….lol.

    The simple fact is that online mormon missionaries are offensive, period. The purpose of their being online is laced with self righteous judgement. THEY are the ones trying to tell people the one true way to live. They deserve to have their audacious ass handed to them.

    Brandt is right, missionaries should not proselyte online just like they should not knock on doors. It’s lame and it won’t work. Of course, if the church were actually what it claims…..Brandt is also 100% right on the service angle. It will be ironic but at some point, the church will be forced to have their missionaries help people as their primary focus. Again, God forbid.

    I just want to compliment Clay for keeping it real and actually trying to represent the actual tbm mindset.

    Reply Jan 02, 2014 @ 10:49:30
  3. seasickyetstilldocked

    Sorry for posting another comment but the smack down has got me riled up. I hope you have more smack downs! They represent the real emotion and passion and anger that is out there on both sides.

    Bottom line is that the Church is out there generally and missionaries are out there specifically to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”. The church represents that they have the “plan of happiness”, that they are the only ones with the truth.

    The real problem is that the internet etc is forcing the church to put up or shut up. If they have the answers and are so great, then f ing bring it and lets see if it holds up. And its not just the truth claims that need to hold up, (which is an obvious problem) its the actual product, the on the ground tools mormonism actually gives you to solve your own problems, live happy and have a healthy worldview. Does Mormonism even makes any sense in todays world?

    The church needs to stand on its own. Missionaries don’t need to be coddled, the precious Brethren are not in a tough spot and we don’t need to feel sorry for the local RS press or YM pres who are just doing their job. I won’t be an enabler.

    The minute you start telling someone else how to live their life you justifiably open yourself up to questioning and debate. My non mormon buddies rarely tell me how to live my life etc. but when they do give advice and when I give it to them, the advice is debated and discussed and nobody feels threatened and nobody takes their toys and goes home. Its called being an imperfect but normal person. Of course, non of us are pretending to have the one TRUTH etc. I mean good heavens.

    Frankly, missionaries and most tbms are not mature enough to talk to people like this. If they have never taken the time to critically evaluate their own beliefs, then how can they be expected to have honest and effective communication with non mormons or exmos?

    Mormons like Brandt would be an exception but then again, sorry Brandt, but you are no tbm. That was meant as a compliment.

    Reply Jan 02, 2014 @ 11:35:52
  4. Jordan

    I know that the podcast mostly focused on a forum setting, so I will respond to that, but first I wanted to talk about using the internet in general. I think that missionaries having a presence online is a very good tool. As Brandt outlined, using facebook or other social networking sites is a great way to stay in contact with people. Especially when you consider the hesitancy some people may have when approached by missionaries. If people are able to send questions to the missionaries before they are comfortable to invite them into their homes for a lesson, then I think that it will open many doors. I am an exmo and my brother is on a mission, so right now I especially try hard to be kind to missionaries. When I invited them into my home and they were talking to my girlfriend, they asked her point blank if she would be willing to commit to be baptized. This method does not work! Missionaries need to build a relationship with people first, and online communication is a great way to do that.
    As far as forum discussions go: Everyone seemed to be in agreement that the strongest voice(s) tend to control the group. This, coupled with the fact that any missionary will generally be viewed with no credibility, makes it hard for missionary work to happen. The one person that the missionary might reach is very likely to fall into the group think rather than listen to the message. Missionaries aren’t there for philosophical discussions; they are there for a specific purpose. And Heather even stated that she believes that productive conversation can’t happen, so why force the issue?
    Missionaries have to use their time and resources effectively. Arguing with people in an online forum hardly helps that. One can argue that they may reach just one person and that one person would be worth it, but what is the return on investment? What if they could have reached 2 people with that same amount of time and energy using other means?
    And as far as the implications it may have, there are many ways to “spread the word”. Not everybody will have the ability of some of those biblical or BoM characters. Not everybody needs to shout from their rooftop to “do god’s work.” As an apostate, I don’t think that this is a situation that damages the truth claim of the church.
    I do agree that missionaries shouldn’t need to be protected, but to Brandt’s point, I don’t think that online forums are worth the effort when considering the mission (no pun intended).

    Reply Jan 02, 2014 @ 14:38:03
  5. CanuckAussie

    I think it is unfair to subject missionaries to the online forums. The exmo community not only knows what the missionaries know, but also a vast amount of information that the missionairies have never even encountered. Also, because the missionaries (or most of them) are convinced that the church is 100% true, they cannot comprehend that many of us in the exmo community know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the church is not true and have objective evidence of that that cannot be unlearned. Even without that knowledge, most of us would never choose to return to the church and no missionary will talk us into that.

    One slightly unrelated thought is that missionaries should concentrate on new members instead of reactivating us that have left is because bringing in new genes has kept the Brighamite branch from having the inbreeding problems that many other such religious groups are now struggling with (apparently, in addition to not understanding basic math, the mormon God did not have a basic understanding of genetics when he instituted polygamy)

    Reply Jan 02, 2014 @ 21:14:28
  6. CoraJudd

    I’ve seen a few exchanges from ‘Ask a Mormon’ and two things amaze me; how little the missionaries know about the church, and how poorly prepared they are for grownup conversations.
    It seems collusive to “protect” missionaries from the truths about the stories they’re telling. Sure, they’re young and have feelings, but they’re not entering my space looking for friendship. They’re approaching as “teachers”. Every time they’re successful in this role, the church immediately begins asking for (can we say “requiring”?) money and other sacrifices from new inductees. The elders and the sisters are 80,000 living, breathing examples of this. Even the sweetest, most sensitive elders and sisters deserve to be spoken to kindly — but truthfully.

    Reply Jan 03, 2014 @ 19:33:34
    • Vanni

      Cora, your comment made me curious. I’ve gone to the ‘Ask a Mormon’ chat several times to ask a variety of questions to see how ignorant they really are. I have bad news. They are tragically ignorant. They have not adequately answered any of the questions I have asked them and typically end up making assertions that are nothing short of idiotic or absurd. The experience has led me to believe that more people need to start trolling the missionaries. They’re poorly prepared and lacking Church and Gospel education.

      Reply Jan 13, 2014 @ 11:17:09
      • CoraJudd

        It’s astonishing, isn’t it? It makes you wonder how out of touch the church actually is….

        Reply Jan 13, 2014 @ 22:33:18
  7. Craig

    I loved this discussion. You all brought passion to the debate, and yet you kept it civil as well.

    I have to say that I’m sympathetic to the reasoning that missionaries should be kept out of a group for the good of the group. Every group should be able to set the terms of what kind of discussions they want to promote, and for a lot of them, proselytizing would not fall under that umbrella.

    I’m much less sympathetic to the idea that we should not engage with missionaries in order to protect them. They are adults (although I will grant that they are young and often immature) who are going out into the world with the purpose of changing other people’s beliefs. It’s really not too much to ask that they be prepared to listen to other people as well. Moreover, if the unthinkable happens and their testimony is destroyed, that’s a good thing! From my perspective anyway. Yes, it will likely cause them distress and have heavy social consequences, but how many ex-Mormons do you know who wish they had never had their crisis of faith? I’m sure you can find a few who say that (usually those who are still going through the very difficult stage of adjusting to life post-Mormonism), but there are far more people who say that leaving the church was one of the best things they’ve ever done. Additionally, if someone is going to leave the church, doing it while they’re young is usually far less disruptive than if they do it when they’re middle-aged, married in the temple, and with kids in young men or young women who have been raised all their life to believe that if anyone ever leaves the church they’re screwing up the afterlife for their whole family.

    So by all means, let them know what they’re getting into, give them as many disclaimers as you want that they might not like what they hear, but in the end, if they still choose to engage, who am I to deny their agency? ;)

    Reply Jan 04, 2014 @ 17:13:50
  8. Rusty

    Great podcast! I was actually surprised when the church announced that they would be trying to use social media as a new way of proselytizing since the internet has seemed to do a lot of damage to the church. I haven’t seen a lot of facebook missionaries but I have seen an increase of my TBM friends who are liking religious things or sharing religious things on their feed. Usually when a friend of mine likes something that’s gone ‘Mormon viral’ I like to read through the comments and almost without failure their is someone pointing out historical issues with the church, such as the Book of Abraham, stone in hat, or the fact the prophets are consistently behind the times on rights movements. I was a member for over 20 years before I knew anything about the issues with the Book of Abraham I just think that these public forums are going to do a lot of damage to the testimony of some TBMs when they start reading comments and start doing research to defend the church.

    Reply Jan 07, 2014 @ 22:51:31
  9. Vanni

    I totally agree with Heather. Missionaries deserve zero protection from ugly information or counter arguments. They go into the world to preach the “truth”, they deserve to hear what the world has to say and listen to others’ truths. They deserve it. They will gain nothing from being sheltered, protected, and held inside the dome of the Truman Show.

    Reply Jan 13, 2014 @ 12:12:04
  10. Roy D, Marion

    I have a request, i got some personal belongigns that belong too me, i am not able too get them back, can you find these young ladies, and have them brought too justice,there names are rachael garbe, and lisa lane and amandakelly, and m, austin, and sister bowns, these were sisters of the mormon church back in 2014 of early june until late december, these sisters kept some of my personal belongigns and im not able too get them back, we live in arkadelphia arkansas, i used too be a mormon but i quit, because of what the past sisters done too me, i would like them too be brought too justice, amen,

    Reply Apr 05, 2015 @ 12:07:06

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