Saturday, October 26, 2013

Read a really sad story on RfM...

This morning, I read this thread on RfM...

I found it too late to make a comment myself.  Even if I had found it in time to comment, I'm not sure what I would say.  The post is about a man who is married to a devout Mormon.  He doesn't attend church anymore, but welcomes missionaries into his home so they can relax a bit and have a good meal.  They know he's not going back to church and as long as they don't try to bear their testimonies, he's okay with having them around.

One of the missionaries was a young Tongan man from American Samoa.  He's 20 months into the mission.  His mother just died a few days ago.  He hadn't seen her in seven years, mainly because he was in the States before he went on the mission.

This poor young man got the news about his mother from mission leaders, who then told him that his family wanted him to stay on the mission and continue to "serve honorably" for the next four months.  Of course he wanted to go home and attend his mother's funeral, but church leaders told him he needed to stick it out.  Naturally, he didn't get that information from anyone who is actually related to him.  He got it from people in the church.  And, from what I've read, it's not even like missionary work is all that fulfilling.  Most people read up on the church on the Internet and aren't easily convinced to join.  Consequently, a lot of time gets wasted.

The man who wrote the post I linked to had himself lost a relative when he served a mission and was told his "family wanted him to stay".  It was his beloved sister who had died.  He has lived with the guilt and regret of not going home for many years.  Because of that, he felt compelled to talk to the mission authorities on this missionary's behalf.  They, of course, thanked him for his opinion.  Later, the mission president called the exMormon back and said that if the missionary was prompted by the spirit and wanted to go home, he could get in touch with him.  But the mission president asked the exMormon not to influence the bereaved missionary in any way.  Something tells me that if the missionary approached the mission president about going home to his mother's funeral, the mission president would not respect his own admonishment to the exMormon to not "influence him" in any way.

Interestingly enough, I hear that many church members spin testimony stories about how God puts people in their lives to show them the right way to go.  I bet none of the most devout members of the LDS church would consider that  maybe there's a reason why the Tongan missionary met an exMormon who had himself lost his sister during his mission and still regretted not attending her funeral over 30 years later.  Perhaps God used the exMormon to intercede on the Tongan missionary's behalf.  Faith promoting stories are only told when they support the church's official position.  They are almost never told when the church's position is challenged.

I think it's barbaric that missionaries are discouraged from going home to their families when someone close to them dies.  When I was in the Peace Corps, a colleague of mine lost his father.  The Peace Corps paid for him to go home and attend the funeral.  He came back and finished his service.  The military often sends servicemembers home from abroad if there's a family emergency and it's possible for the servicemember to get away.  Sometimes even people in prison can get permission to attend funerals.  Mormon missions, really, are no more important than the military or the Peace Corps.  In fact, if you read this blog, you already know that I think they are largely a huge waste of time and money.

Granted, my opinion is just mine and others may disagree.  But stories like this make me really glad I never joined the LDS church.  There is just no reason in the world why this missionary should have to miss his mother's funeral.  It's a heartless policy and church authorities should be ashamed of themselves for coercing these young people to stay on a pointless task knocking on doors when they could be getting closure after a loved one's death.


5 comments:

  1. My mom's cloe friend had a relative who died (she was killed in an accident in which her husband was driving in a horribly drunken state) while her son was on a mission. He got the same song and dance and was kept from going home to be with his younger brother and sister.

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    1. That is just tragic, Alexis. And to think people PAY for this treatment.

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  2. Do you have any first hand accounts you back up your opinions? This is an anecdote, from a source that doesn't hide their motives of trying to paint the LDS church in as unfavorable light as possible.

    When I was a missionary, there were at least two other missionaries that lost close family members. Both of their stories, and reactions from LDS leaders, etc., were very different than the one you share. I'm not saying that your's is false, but I am saying that you can't assume that anecdotes from RfM somehow extrapolate to LDS policy or practice, because they generally don't.

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    1. Actually, I have come across many accounts that were similar to the one I wrote about above and they weren't all from RfM. RfM is not the only place I learn about the LDS church. In fact, more of the anecdotes I have read have gone like the one I wrote about than ones where mission presidents were kind and understanding. But I am a nevermo, so take that as you will…

      Also know that my mind is made up about Mormonism and your comment does nothing to change it. I am married to a former Mormon and have seen firsthand what that has been like for him. We've been married for almost eleven years and I have seen his own kids disown him, in part, because the church wasn't for him. That, in and of itself, makes Mormonism very unattractive to me. By the way… they were all converts.

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  3. Brian, I will not give the name of the former missionary I know out of respect to him and his right to privacy. Believe it or not, but this does happen.

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