Monday, April 20, 2015
LDS Growth Lags Far Behind Missionary Boom
In 2012, Thomas Monson, Mormon president, issued a decree that new missionaries can sign up at ages 18 (males) and 19 (females). This new announcement brought an onslaught of teens joining the mormon conversion forces.
Unfortunately for the church, conversions did not follow the trend. A 9% increase in conversions from the previous year is just barely more than one-fifth of the missionary increase: 44%. Although this is disappointing to believers, some experts believe that there will still be long-term positive effects, noting that this is still the greatest number of missionaries out--ever, and that the number of conversions in a year is still the highest--ever.
Other experts believe that the overflow of missionaries was not meant for conversions, but for both member and missionary retention in the church. Well over half of converts fall away within a year of conversion. The church wants to use the newer and younger missionaries to bring those people back to activity in the more developed countries. In addition, the younger mission age removes the gap from high school graduation to mission for teens, the most common years for them to discover new ways of life, question the church, and fall away themselves.
Now, as a matter of personal opinion... (stop reading here if mormon criticism bothers you)
First off, people love to be told how to live their lives by teens, right? Teens definitely know what it's all about and have experienced enough to start advising people 5-70 years their senior. So that's one laughable aspect.
Second, it is a huge church stunt to prevent losing kids by sending them out to a brainwashing wild goose chase. Church leaders know they are losing people. They wish to indoctrinate their members even earlier in hopes that they can keep tithe-paying members up and retain young leaders to encourage others to pay tithes as well. Without that important year or two to discover the rest of the world, young teens are being thrust into a prescribed mindset to discard all doubt, ask no questions, and follow the leader. Maybe that's not so bad, right? I mean, the LDS church does do good things...
I disagree. The mormons are pulling kids away from college. They'll just come back to college when the two years are up, though, right? They'll try. But they've been away from formal education for TWO YEARS. Can you remember your math from two years ago? Not only have they forgotten how to form and dissect a simple sentence, but now they're competing with kids fresh out of high school that are smarter than them when they graduated... The odds are not in their favor.
So the poor returned missionary's chances at a great school have diminished. Not to mention that most scholarships require immediate enrollment the fall after high school graduation. So now the money that could have paid for the first semester is gone, and the returned missionary's money is lost to two years of church service (about $10k). No money. No knowledge. No chances at getting knowledge. The future for this poor returned missionary looks bleak. The only school that might take them in is BYU... another indoctrinating entity.
Another downside relates to my story. I was gay from the beginning... but I refused to accept that for 23 years. I did the mission. I believed I could pray away the gay. Or get over it. Or something. But I wasted another two years post mission trying to be someone I was not. I did not get the vital dating experience every young person needs, because, well, the people I wanted to date were forbidden: boys. Going on the mission not only delayed my inevitable departure from mormonism, but made it that much harder to make that decision. I was so brainwashed that I told myself I was better than other mormons because my trial was so hard. That I was better than other gays when I started coming out because I still tried to be a gay with mormon standards.
Being gay is not the only attribute a person can have that makes being a mormon a living hell. Intellectuals, feminists, people who like to stand out, people who like to question and doubt, people that think going out is more fun than a single's activity making gingerbread temples. I can't begin to think of the people with personalities that don't fit the mormon way. And when they are dragged into full-time, brainwashing service for the church, leaving it becomes that much harder. They are going to try to fit in, likely for way too long. By the time they finally can't handle it, they have a wife and kids. Then they'll be labeled as despicable because they left their family for something they should have done years ago.
Mormons are creating their own devastating stories.
The mormon church is not for everyone. Its for a very select few that happen to fit the mormon mold. If you are white, straight, conservative, and like to be told what to do and what to think... you're probably perfect for mormonism.