Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

No mission? Then young LDS men are in ‘No-Mormon’s Land’

A guest post by Mette Harrison

My nineteen year-old son just finished his first year in college at Boston University. He was valedictorian of his high school, graduated with a 4.0 and a 35 on the ACT, took 15 AP tests (and passed them) and got a full ride scholarship. A few weeks before he graduated, he completed his first Ironman race in Texas with his father (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) and he gave a stirring speech about the importance of facing failure and figuring out how to move to Plan B.

I am so proud of him I can hardly express it. But since he graduated from high school and decided not to serve a mission for the Mormon church, there doesn’t seem to be a place for him in the religion I love.

The mission age for young men changed from nineteen to eighteen in 2012 (and from twenty-one to nineteen for young women). My oldest daughter sent in her papers almost immediately after her nineteenth birthday, a few months after the age change, and served in Texas (where she, coincidentally, got to volunteer at a bike aid station for her father and brother as part of her mission work). A mission was wonderful for her. She keeps in close contact with many of her companions and touched the lives of many of the people she worked with. I am so glad that she interrupted college to take the time to serve in the church.

And yet, I do not think that a mission is the right thing for every young teen who believes in Mormonism. I don’t think it’s the right thing for my son right now. He hasn’t felt inspired to go.

I admit, he has some doubts about the “one true church” claim of Mormonism. But he also has some anxiety problems that make serving a mission daunting to say the least. He’s on medication for his anxiety currently but it’s not yet under control to the point that I would feel comfortable sending him on a mission for two years where I wouldn’t be able to observe him (and yes, college seems different since I can call him or text him when I need to).

Yet he isn’t so disabled that people around him easily accept that he shouldn’t go on a mission. On the contrary, he is constantly being asked when he will get his papers in, why he isn’t doing that, all of which raises his anxieties and his certainty about his own unworthiness even further.

I understand that a mission is a standard rite of passage for many young Mormon men. I understand that it is a way to teach leadership and that for many, it can solidify a testimony of Mormonism even in those who doubted seriously before they went. Faith-building missionary stories are the bread and butter of Mormon Sacrament meetings, where we hear about the golden convert who was behind the last door someone knocked on, or the investigator who finally got baptized after five years of taking lessons off and on. The farewell and return of missionaries is part of the rhythm of Mormon life and part of the way we socialize and pass on lessons of the past to the future.

But we are in danger of throwing away a group of young Mormon men who do not go on missions for a variety of reasons, making them feel like second-class citizens or worse.

In my view, this is the flip side of the problems of patriarchy. Young women can often feel unneeded in the church as they watch their male counterparts be ordained to the priesthood, pass the Sacrament, collect fast offerings, and even do baptisms of younger siblings. Lowering the mission age was wonderful for young women, though I think we need to do more to help them learn leadership and service skills and to feel a vital part of the church in their youth.

But the authoritarian, patriarchal structure means that it often feels that there is only one right way to be a Mormon man, including serving a mission, marrying young, getting a good paying job to pay for a quick succession of children.

There appears to be a statistical reality that the Mormon church is losing more young men than young women, which leads to an imbalance in older single adults available for marriage. The pressure to serve a mission and the institutional and social disapproval placed on young men who do not is one cause of this imbalance.

We can do better at being more welcoming and inviting. The temporary increase in mission numbers did not add to the number of converts. Perhaps we have already reached the saturation level for countries open to missionary work. Perhaps it’s time for us to make missions more of an option for those who are would be most useful to the cause. And perhaps it’s time to make sure that everyone in our church feels like their contribution is an important one.


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(courtesy of Mette Harrison)

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Mette Harrison is a regular guest blogger at Flunking Sainthood and also at the Huffington Post. She is the author of many acclaimed novels, most recently the Linda Wallheim mysteries The Bishop’s Wife and His Right Hand.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

193 Comments

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  • Look on the bright side… at least he is not gay. Trust me being a unpaid lonely salesman pimping out a potentially deceptive product would cause even the most faithful to have an unpleasant “burning in the bosom”.

  • But honestly the truth. I can’t help that. And despite her daughter’s mighty efforts… she’ll never be equal to her brother despite serving. Was that helpful? Helps to see the forest for the trees. 😉

  • I can’t remember where I ran into this lovely little ditty (might have been whilst glancing through the kiddy song-book at a Mormon funeral), but the Mormons inflict a propaganda song on the young called “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.” I had to stop the milk from squirting out my nose. They call EVERYBODY on a mission. And if you don’t go, they treat you like a leper. A Mormon couple I know, who have plenty of money, threatened to stop funding their brilliant son’s college career if he didn’t stop to go on a mission. He knew perfectly well that Joe the Smith was a con-man pedophile and that Mormonism was a crock, but he went anyway because he couldn’t afford Harvard on his own.

    I saw a PBS special years ago on the Mormons, and one segment dealt with a kid who said “hell no, I won’t go.” What’s worse, his family lived in Provo, the epicenter of Mormon horrors. They had to draw the blinds in shame.

    All religion is awful, but when it comes to sheer nuttery, Mormonism takes the cake. The truth about its appalling founder, Joe the Smith, is easily found. I chortle each time Utah relatives send me a clipping from the “Deseret News,” the Mormon-owned paper in Salt Lake, where the oligarchy that runs the Magic Kingdom has been forced to admit that yes, the crazy stuff you’ve always heard about Joe the Smith is true. They even published a photo of the magic rock he used to translate the golden plates! Hilarious.

    But there is a trade-off: Mormon men hope to become gods someday of their own planet, with lots of wives to canoodle with and with whom they will sire spirit children (the reason Mormons have such huge families is that Mormon wives are used as brood sows to create bodies for the “spirit children” to be born into – you’d have to be INSANE to be a woman and willing choose to abide in this krazy kult). I’m guessing this lad had taken himself off the god-track.

  • Mette, you (and often times Jana) seem to have forgotten the scripture: “seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.”

    You must not understand that church leaders don’t care more about bad publicity than revelation, else why would you try and generate bad publicity for the church? While issues like the one you raise certainly can and should be discussed within the church, what is the point of airing dirty laundry in public forums?

  • The source and instruction on the call to serve a mission is clearly stated by President Monson: “I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much.”

    There is no ambiguity in that statement. If your son is not “able” to serve because of anxiety, he can join the club of many young men who are in a similar situation, including my brother. When people ask if they served a mission, he says “I was not able to serve a foreign mission for medical reasons, and so I serve in my home ward as a ward missionary.” And people respond, “that’s fantastic of you to be so dedicated.” They think more, not less, of him because of it.

  • The “horrors” you cite are common misconceptions fueled by warped claims such as yours. I’m sure the Pharisees and other ancient Jewish leaders spouted similar garbage about Jesus Christ and His followers. Some of the stigma this article describes unfortunately does exist, but primarily in the intermountain Mormon areas where church values and expectations overlap those of the community culture. Human failings are to blame, rather than the existence of such values and expectations.

    As this article clearly points out, serving a mission is not for everyone, and valid reasons are not always obvious nor do individuals and their families wish to wave them around, which is their privilege. Disappointment is hard enough to deal with without critics beating it into them. All human beings are complex, even you. “Judge not, that ye be not judged” should be enough of a rebuke to all of those who contribute to this unique problem.

  • For 3 of the 5 years I was privileged to serve as a LDS bishop in our local ward, neither I nor either of my counselors were “returned-missionaries.” Serving a full-time mission is a wonderful opportunity for young men and women to serve and grow. The spiritual experience/maturity gained is usually much more than the chronological time served. I strongly encourage all who are able, to do so. I hope our health will become good enough that we can serve missions now that we are retired. However, Not serving an LDS mission at 18 to 25 years of age, etc. does Not ruin lives, stigmatize members as they mature, nor stop their growth and opportunities to serve within the LDS faith. The stereotype being discussed is false. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd counselor in the First Presidency, did Not serve a full-time mission.

    P.S. In 2011, President Uchtdorf noted: “The Lord doesn’t care at all if we spend our days working in marble halls or stable stalls. He knows where we are, no matter how humble our circumstances. He will use—in His own way and for His holy purposes—those who incline their hearts to Him.”

  • I planned to serve a mission after high school, but then a guy in my ward counciled me to pray on it before talking to my bishop. His intent was good, he assumed that I would get a prompting from the Spirit to go. He wanted me to ha able to bear testimony of that spiritual witness while on my mission. But, I literally heard the voice of the Lord tell me not to go. After that the Ward chased me into inactivity. I asked my employer to schedule me on Sundays as no one would believe me. After a few years I attended my local singles ward. My bishop asked me one day to meet with him. He asked me why I wasn’t on a mission. I told him the truth. I could tell he didn’t believe me. He opened his mouth to speak and said “It is NIT the Lord’s will for you to go on a mission.” He the paused, looking surprised. After a minute he stated that he had not intended to say that, that he was going to chastise me and tell me to prepare for a mission. But the Holy Spirit took over and spoke through him. He apologized to me, and I didn’t get any greef from anyone after that.

    I too do not believe that Mormonism is the only way to heaven. The D&C makes that clear. I know that President Monson holds they keys, but I also know he isn’t the only one. And, I don’t believe that preaching there is only one church is more powerful that preaching of the risen Christ. So, I think the young man here will be fine if he puts his testimony in Christ and not a man or a church. That’s what the Book of Mormon teaches. We must remember Alma’s council to his son: don’t be like the Zoromites preaching that what we have is better than everyone else and glorifying in how wrong everyone else is.

  • “Sometimes people in the church do the wrong things for the right reasons”. It’s a refrain I’ve told my kids a thousand times – usually when some overzealous youth leader has pressured too hard to get one of them to go along on an activity or project regardless of how tapped out they might be or what other responsibilities they might have. It’s not that the leader’s heart is in the wrong place, it’s just that they’ve tuned out who they’re working with and put the program before the person.

    I don’t believe for a minute that it’s a uniquely Mormon problem. I think these things happen in most organizations, both religious and secular.

    The only way I know for someone to deal with it is to proactively define themselves – which can be very challenging for young people who are just trying to find themselves in the first place.

    The key thing to remember is that the Church (meaning the scriptures, authority and structure) will always be true, even if the people sometimes aren’t. If you’re not focused on your own relationship with Christ, you’re missing the whole point.

  • I think this mother is right. Her son is not suited to do missionary work and she is right for standing by him. He will find his own way in his own good time.

  • So I would suggest that Mormons forgo selling their faith to the uninterested, and instead spend 2 years actually helping others, say by working in a homeless shelter. or joining the Peace Corps or just go to college or travel without ALL of the rules and regulations.. A Mormon mission is simply designed to further indoctrinate impressionable young people further into the faiths of their parents, while breaking down their individuality a la the US military. It is also designed to chase down those with buyer’s remorse to try desperately to bring them back into the fold.

  • It is interesting to see perspectives such as the one in this article. But, sometimes I think that the authors of such articles are writing from an emotional perspective rather than a more comprehensive perspective. I do believe, while it is true that some young men can’t or shouldn’t go on missions, emotional writings such as the above should not be seen as the standard in the Church. Hence, while I see Jana Reiss’s right to air her feelings, they ought to be kept in context, IMO. In other words, her experience does not reflect my experience. So, her implication that this is a church wide problem, simply isn’t true. I have 6 sons, 5 of whom served missions and are the better man for it. One son chose not to. Emotionally speaking, it was heart breaking because I know what a mission did for me. However, he is a fine young man, he has married in the Temple and is doing well. No one in our ward ostracized him. I know other young men who didn’t go or came home way early. They are fine young men and everyone loves them. Hence, for Jana, and others like her, may I suggest that you not judge the entire Church by experience within your ward or stake. Hence, writing the above article serves what purpose? Airing your emotions? It certainly, IMO, doesn’t do much to enhance people’s view of the true Church of Christ. But it also provides a forum for people like Richie Preacher to spout off his nonsense. Consider your words wisely.

  • Except what he spouted off isn’t nonsense it was facts… nonsense is saying stuff like the one “true Church of Christ”

  • It always amazes me how people simply accept the authority of their churches. That applies to all churches, most of which look on other churches, and certainly other regions or non-religions, as false. Everyone claims authority against the “other.’ But then the success of the Mormons certainly proves that religion can create a comfortable culture that people do not want to question or undermine because it delivers some kind of value to them.

  • (sigh). Did you read my entire comments in context. It appears that you are replying from emotion and not fact. You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine. Your comment, in my opinion is silly nonsense. So, nah, na, nah, na. That is precisely how your comments come across. I’ve spent over 50 years of my life looking into and refuting the nonsense perpetrated by folks like you. SOME of the results can be found on my SHIELDS website (http://www.shields-research.org). You folks keep repeating the same old nonsense, apparently either actually believing what you say or expecting to be able to dupe people into your shallow research and thinking. So, Morminion, have a nice life, but spouting off like that last remark (and your other remark(s) doesn’t help a soul, except to feel like you have some superiority position. You don’t.

  • I certainly am not Mormon, totally uninterested, but with their commitment Salt Lake City is the only major city in the US to solve the homeless problem in a merciful yet no nonsense way.

  • Obedience is the word I heard most often during the last General Conference. Agency, not so much.

  • The unbridled arrogance of the “one True Church” is where I was going. The reason the church had to address the “gospel Topics Essays” is precisely because for over a century… it simply wasn’t true.

  • [holding up a mirror]. Hey, take a look at your own comments. Hence the (sigh)
    Did Christ establish many churches, or one? This will tell the tale of where you are coming from. And if you are not Christian and don’t believe in Christ, what then is your point in even becoming involved in this conversation?
    I didn’t notice your entire remark when I read it. So, you know for a fact that this was “the reason.?” You have that absolute insight? Isn’t that just a little bit arrogant, or did I miss your name somewhere on the LDS General Authority list?

  • Christianity is a fictional narrative that was bastardized by men seeking control. Mormonism isn’t special in that regard.

  • I see. Thank you for sharing your opinion. Thankfully not everyone agrees with it. I notice that you didn’t bother to respond to the question regarding why commenting on any of this is so important to you; but then that has been my long experience.

  • So the “issues like the one [Mette] raise[s] can and should be discussed within the church”. But your response to the very issue she raised is she “must not know what a prophet is or sustain him.”

    Such an accusatory, judgmental response is what many members with honest questions and (at least tentative) suggestions for improvement have come to expect if they were to raise these issues in a typical church setting. The Lord does indeed counsel “in wisdom, and in justice, and in *great mercy*”. But unfortunately, too many in the church do not.

    Which is why people turn to online forums, where at least the baseless accusations of unfaithfulness don’t come from your “loving” neighbor down the street.

  • Why? What does it do for you and your life? Once again, the question has been avoided and not answered.

  • It’s my religious calling. I focus on Mormons mostly because of the “one true church” thing.

  • (snicker), pardon me for being rude, but talk about avoidance! I asked first. And I think the answer to your question is far to obvious to bother answering.

  • I’ll suggest that it gives one a sense of superiority winning an (adversary) over to your way of thinking. Thus giving you an air of self importance.

  • The article you posted only talks about a *perceived* increase in danger around one homeless shelter. On the other hand, these articles indicate Utah is on it’s way to ending chronic homelessness, by offering them the stability of homes – no strings attached.

    http://www.npr.org/2015/12/10/459100751/utah-reduced-chronic-homelessness-by-91-percent-heres-how

    http://www.businessinsider.com/this-state-may-be-the-first-to-end-homelessness-for-good-2015-2

  • Ok, if that is the way you want to handle it. I hope you thought about what you typed. Because that appears to precisely be the answer to the question I asked you about why you are even bothering if Christianity means nothing to you.
    There was nothing arrogant about it on my part. It was a simple question and one you obviously do not want to answer (unless the above was intended to be your answer – I can’t really tell which way you meant it). I respect your right, but please don’t expect a sensible person to give much credence to your blustering.

  • You’ve spent over 50 years according to you doing precisely just this and you chastise me? I hope you see the irony. Have a More Manly sorta day. 😉

  • 😎 I’ll just add that those 50 years was spent doing actual research, oft times with the original documents, responding to criticism, and running as best as I (a human) could on mild emotion. I didn’t just read the writings of others and take their word for it (no matter how well they appeared to document). Having copies of much of the early writings and original documents, I was able to mostly verify that what they had said left so much out (to suit nefarious purposes – IMO) that it strained credulity and cast a pall over anything else they said. IOW, most often their anti-Mormon rhetoric proved to not be true or mixed with lies so as to deceive. I hate liars and deceivers. I also strongly dislike people who love to spout off just to see their name on a forum.

  • I agree, and that is fantastic… yet, what is the LDS contribution to all of that? Wouldn’t missionary work be a much better motivator in a Habitat For Humanity sorta way?
    And maybe not just in SLC? How about the church invest money in feeding and sheltering San Antonios homeless? Any facts and figures on that?
    Keep the kids at home… feed em dinner and wash their dirty clothes. Congratulate them on a job well done.
    That IMHO is the best way to promote the church and raise up our communities.

  • So based on your posts you have a disdain for and penchant for deriding Mormons and Christian churches in general, but you listened to enough of the last General Conference (12 hrs total) to accurately comment on topic trends?

  • So your argument is laws and programs passed to solve homelessness in Mormon-dominated Utah had nothing to do with the LDS faith? (Sigh)

  • I listened til I fell asleep… I watched it again online skipping all the singing… So yes… fascinating homogenous religion you got there. I was most impressed when someone ( or a few someones) vocally didn’t sustain things. That was a first for me. Watching dudes cry or use a lot of first or middle initials… that is normal.

  • Try not to take too much credit… We all know who writes the checks. Volunteers needed.

  • SanAntonioRob, as you can see, Morminion avoids answering the hard questions, but loves to make anti- assertions about Mormonism. No doubt, everything in Mormonism is wrong in his mind. Hey, if he can assert, I can assert.

  • It’s just a question of superiority and/or humbleness. 1% of the churches wealth towards charity is such a pathetic figure. Again only IMHO. Verily I hope it comes to pass.

  • May we bow our heads and (sigh) together. Is it ok if I tear up? For, sadly I’m not sure I will see you in Kolob.

  • Yes, I’m sure you won’t. As usual Kolob is trotted out, but no Mormon believes they are going to Kolob and you have demonstrated you know very little about it. Your comments above are condescending and smack of superiority… a thing you just decried. “I hope you see the irony.” Not to mention the hypocrisy.

    Also, Where do you get this 1% statistic? Prove your source. Be careful. Your credibility is once again on the line. And have you ever noted that often the LDS Church is the first one into disaster areas to bring relief and help? When the Tornados occured in Oklahoma, the local news attributed the relief and help to 2 churches, the LDS Church and the Mormon Church. Hmmmmm. Why must you be so negative and attempt to dispel all of the good the LDS Church does?

    I think we are done here.

  • The church gave out a whopping 1.8 BILLION dollars over 25 years. It makes conservatively 8 billion a year if all 15 million members tithe just 1 dollar a day. Let’s see 25 years x 8 billion = 200 billion. Divide by 1.8?

  • It is a lot easier to teach following Christ when young men are called upon to actually do as He did–like serve a full-time mission. It is hard to put a value on the potential spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional benefits to the young man, non-members, the family, the society, and the Church from a mission that is well-served (no lectures please on some hard experiences leading to mission failure, I had far more than most, and it doesn’t matter). This post is mission-undervalue. No, a mission is not just one sort of nice thing to do on a menu of many possibilities. Yes, good grades are nice, but that is a small thing compared to a good mission.

    That being said, the First Presidency has stated: “There are worthy individuals who desire to serve but do not qualify for the physical, mental, or emotional challenges of a mission. We ask stake presidents and bishops to express love and appreciation to these individuals and to honorably excuse them from full-time missionary labors.”

    The desire to serve part is different than the qualify to serve part or the worthy part. Wanting to change the policy because of lack of desire is not a valid reason for policy change. The natural desire of a young man with a testimony of the restored gospel is to want to share it, and to desire to serve a full-time mission. Increased testimony results in increased desire. It sounds like this young man both lacks desire and qualification. Desire is within his control, ultimately, but may be helped along by others. Desire often increases with service, church attendance, prayer, fasting, regular scripture and gospel study, callings, and caring mentors and parents who are faithful, along with the humility brought about by life’s challenges. Desire is the place to start. Qualification comes easier with desire, but may be beyond his control.

  • Everything he said is true and are not misconceptions but facts. You are blind to the truths of your religion.

  • Exactly!!! These are the reasons I quit the mormon church. I researched what the church told me not to..lol I still have friends tell me like Dillet on here that they are misconceptions which they arent. I wish i could leave utah and never hear of mormons again and their kult.

  • I warned you to be careful. You are obviously not a researcher, but a sheep. You simply read one of the couple of online articles about it (such as Newsweek). All should notice that Morminion did not provide a source as requested, but then I had already done some research. Morminion, you really should also take a look at: http://www.timesandseasons.org/harchive/2012/07/business-weeks-erroneous-claim-about-lds-charitable-giving/ Any actual Mormon knows that tithing is not the source of money for all charity from the LDS Church, but you don’t seem to know that. By applying grade school math you made a final decision. So, it is not the truth you are interested in, it is whatever floats off the top of your head. You don’t do research, you do reading and condemn the millions of faithful Mormons based on your own ineptness. How very sad.

    Again, and for the last time, “I think we are done here.”

    P.S. Isn’t it interesting how all of these critics post by a pseudonym instead of actually identifying themselves. Ah well. Anonymity provides a source of dark cover.

  • Every mormon has been brainwashed since they were a sunbeam to go on a mission. It goes along with the pressure of being baptised, blessing the sacrament ect. Parents disown their kids over this and put guilt trips on them. Hopefully like my own experience, most kids will see the truths of mormonism when they start investigating it and leave before its too late.

  • So you would have been fine if non of your sons went on missions? What kind of stress did you put on the one when he didn’t want to go? It’s ok now he’s still brainwashed and married in the temple tho right?

  • Actually I’m ashamed of him… but that’s another story. We all have our paths. I was just asked to study Mormonism with an open heart… he didn’t mention open mind. I guess I failed.

  • So, you also didn’t read my comments in context… Your remarks are small-minded and simplistic. No, I would not have been fine and I didn’t say that. Did you not read what I said above: “I have 6 sons, 5 of whom served missions and are the better man for it.”? Attribute bad where ever you can. Sorry, but your remarks are pathetic, and self-serving. You don’t know me.

  • I’ll say what the author is too polite (and decent) to say: go take a hike. You have no right to tell someone not to talk about their experiences and problems, and the church isn’t so fragile that it’s going to fold as soon as a concerned mother shares her feedback. It’s an important way the church was designed to improve (look it up. Joseph Smith had plenty to say about blind obedience vs. input and consent from the members).

    The church is populated by everyday people who often say and do stupid things, and one of those is our preoccupation with other people’s personal matters, especially missions and marriages. You are not entitled to ask someone why they are or aren’t serving a mission – it’s none of your business.

  • Are you sure it’s not an Ostrich cult you are a member of? Sticking ones head in the sand doesn’t work for long. Please tell me we aren’t through we haven’t hugged yet? Or held hands and prayed to our invisible flying spaghetti monsters?

  • But you inflict it upon yourself by commenting here. (sigh). “They leave it, but they cannot leave it alone.”

  • Thanks for your reply, Morminion. I understand that you believe the restored gospel is worthless and fraudulent, and respect your right to have and share your opinions. However, here are a few comments in reply:
    1. The LDS faith strongly encourages education and travel can be broadening. Occasional vacations are fine, but I believe travel is most broadening when one get to know and becomes involved in the lives of people. I certainly applaud serving at homeless shelters and in the Peace Corps, etc.
    2. Full-time LDS missionaries specifically spend part of their time giving service in the communities within which they serve (see pages 39-40 at https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/topics/missionary/MissionaryHandbook2006Navigate.pdf ). In our ward, members and full-time missionaries regularly give service at a soup-kitchen and moving beds for homeless folk in our community from one local church to another to comply with local laws preventing churches from housing homeless for more than 6 weeks at a time.
    3. Of course some senior couples serve missions almost entirely dedicated to giving humanitarian service (see https://www.lds.org/topics/humanitarian-service?lang=eng and https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/callings/missionary/senior-missionary/senior-missionary-opportunities.pdf?lang=eng ).
    4. LDS full-time missionaries move on from individuals who are uninterested trying to find and teach those who are receptive and who want to take steps to draw closer to Christ. They do also help local members in efforts to reach out to less active members but are again seeking those who are ready and willing to come back into activity.
    5. No one should be coerced in in any way into serving a full-time mission. When I served as a local bishop for 5 years, I occasionally gently encouraged individuals (see D&C 121:34-46 at https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/121?lang=eng ).
    6. One significant reason young adults are encouraged to serve full-time missions is to help them deepen in their faith in Christ, their familiarity with His Gospel and its application, and to spend 1.5 to 2 years in consecrated service to the Lord and their brothers and sisters. It is common that by doing so, they are empowered to live lives of deeper Christian service. The goal is Not to break down their individuality, but to help them move toward reaching their unique potential.
    6. If the restored gospel is indeed fraudulent and worthless, then time spent proselyting would also be of no value. However, if the restored gospel is true, that time spent sharing it would be the most important activity anyone would ever do! It is a matter of perspective.

    So, of course we view the same patterns from very different perspectives. Thank you for encouraging me to elaborate upon and perhaps more clearly share mine.

  • Trust me it’s not Mormons I disdain… It’s Mormonism. There is a difference.
    PS I’m not sure if Heavenly Father gives you bonus points for defending his true faith… but I will.

  • Two of our 4 children chose to serve full-time missions. We love and are very close with those that did And with those that did Not! We are very pleased that all of our children grew up to be good people — kind and compassionate. Activity in the gospel is important, but it is Not a requirement for being a beloved member of our family. Those Mormons who disown their kids over anything totally misunderstand LDS beliefs eternal nature of the family and are, knowingly or Not, denying the Faith.

    You are welcome to your opinions and free to share them. With respect, it is my opinion that those who leave the LDS faith leave to soon. They should have looked deeper and often much deeper. Hopefully, some-day they will look again and understand much more deeply.

  • So then you would agree that what was taught in Mormonism by the missionaries 50 years ago isn’t even close to what is now being taught (insofar as the Gospel Topics Essays). The church knew the truth… it just wasn’t faith affirming and many of your same ilk who came across it in their research were excomm’ed think Sept Six or Jeremy Runnels. Not sure I’d trust a church that wasn’t transparent in order to only present a faith affirming view of it’s complicated and peculiar history.

  • nearly all the funds from the LDS church were tithing at some point, you just don’t bring in 8 billion a year or even remotely that as a little math can point out.

    Of course if you ‘invest’ those tithing dollars into funds that are later used to do things like build shopping malls and turn 2% of Florida into suburbia you can technically say no tithing dollars were used… it was fund money, tithing was simply invested wisely like jesus said to do.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/massive-mormon-deseret-ranch-plan-orlando-florida/

  • using emotion not fact …. LMAO

    please explain again how you ‘know’ your church is the one true one….

  • Says the guy using his own name while chastising his critic for using a pseudonym. Too funny 🙂

  • First, re: emotion, you really should learn to read more carefully. Second, I have some obligation to you, how?

  • One male out of three didn’t go on a mission in my family. One did and it shocked the heck out of everyone. No shunning, no pressure. No biggie. And, seriously, after age 24 does anyone really care?

  • So based upon the churches own assertions of spending 40 million dollars and volunteering 25 million hours… that would be less than $3 dollars and 2 hours per person in a 15 MILLION member church. The actual numbers may vary by a few pennies or minutes or members. But you get my drift.

  • Ok, my emotions get the better of me on this nonsense. How old are you? Were you a missionary 50 years ago? And your point is nonsense.
    The September 6 got what they deserved. I knew about all of that stuff along with the September 6. Never affected my testimony. Mainly because some of the stuff they were publicly preaching went against Church teachings then and now.

    Just keep pontificating Morminion. It will net you a whole bunch of converts, into your “faith?” Oh wait, you don’t believe in Christianity. What exactly is your faith? Do people pay a tithe into your faith? etc.? And you have done what good in the world today?

  • Sucks to be me of so little faith…I’m not sure I could do this for 50 years like you.

  • So for a 15 million member church to dedicate $2.70 per member and less than 2 hours per member per year is certainly unimpressive unless you wonder where all the other money went. This accounts for less than 1 happy meal per fast Sunday per year? Woop de flipping do.

  • I was part of the cult for 33 years.

    Jesus does not abide therein.

    $40m in humanitarian aid annually. $7b income in tithing alone. Largest landholder in Florida, beef farms, real estate development, a $5b mall.
    Their kingdom is only of this world.

  • Thank you for your question on this very personal issue. I’m almost sorry to be so blunt with You, but I need to explain that The Joy and Love that comes from the Lord far exceeds the joy and love one finds in the world. I am telling you that the spiritual experience of having the Holy Ghost testify of the truthfulness of the LDS Church is accompanied by such God-given Joy and Love, creating the over-arching testimony of what it really means to be able to say, “I Know.” Then as one responds to that experience with faithfulness, the Holy Ghost repeatedly reaffirms its reality, as well as the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and numerous other points of doctrine. At least, this has been the case in my life, and of all of the most “real” Mormons I’ve ever met and read about.
    So all the arguments and scholarly discussions and even the foolish mockery of others (not you) cannot negate, erase, or overcome genuine spiritual experiences such as these. I think that the spectrum of disillusionment and subsequent abandonment of what one may once have Known can extinguish such a Testimony. Christ’s parable of the sower in Matthew 13 reveals more spiritual hazards, and I commend it to you.

    Bottom line is that the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel can only be known for certain through personal divine revelation. God is real, Christ is real, the Holy Ghost is real, revelation is real and we really are the children of God. When you really Know these truths, then the rest sorts itself out.
    As I said, these things are only known for certain through personal divine revelation, which totally transcends LDS culture and what you’ve been told by others. Your sense of what’s Real demands proofs that can be transmitted to others, but spiritual “knowing” doesn’t work that way–it requires faith that God knows, loves and teaches those who are willing to learn. Then repentance, fasting and prayer, obedience to God’s commandments, humility (i.e. being teachable), and responsiveness to the spiritual promptings you may receive along the way. No wonder so few people seem to understand the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is so much easier to criticize and mock than to take it seriously.

    I Do know these things to be true because, as an adult, I responded to gentle promptings I had had for years, though I’d not recognized them as “spiritual”. I studied scriptures (not merely read or selectively chosen) and prayed even though it seemed that my prayers bounced off the ceiling. I began associating with faithful LDS people and found them to be special in a unique way–though again, I’d not recognized them as “spiritual”. I began trying to mesh my attitudes and behavior with theirs, e.g. keeping the commandments of God. I began to feel a swelling of my soul (see Alma 32 in the Book of Mormon).

    I had known since childhood that there is a God because of all His creations, which I understood and loved. But I did Not come to truly KNOW that I had found Truth with a capital “T” until an experience in which I was bathed in an incredible, intense, magnificent, celestial LOVE! As my seeking progressed, I received this experience a second time, even more extensively. Then I could no longer doubt, but I could testify (and still can after more than 40 years of reaffirming experiences and personal revelations) that we are all of us children of very, very loving Heavenly Parents and part of a grand eternal plan for which this world was created and for which Jesus Christ lived and died and continues to be involved.

    These are sacred things I am sharing with you, because you asked. Please be civil and do not mock, as so many critics do. I know others whose stories parallel mine, and I presume that most fully converted Mormons can relate similar spiritual experiences, even if they Were raised in this church–we are each expected to gain our own “testimony” and base our faith on the things Heavenly Father reveals to us rather than only what we are taught.
    Thanks for giving me this opportunity to respond. 🙂
    I wish you well.

  • Did Christ establish many churches, or one?

    Dude, that’s a false dichotomy. Those aren’t the only possible answers, and I suspect that neither of them is the true answer to how many churches Christ established.

  • why dont you stop being such a hater and go practice what you preach and do something good – oh i know why your to busy be full of hate

  • “may I suggest that you not judge the entire Church by experience within your ward or stake.” I agree with this statement in general, but have to disagree regarding the topic of males expected to serve missions. It comes down to the doctrine, and the doctrine is that it is your priesthood duty to serve a mission -pretty black and white, with few exceptions.

    How the ward family responds may depend on the ward, but the doctrine definitely drives the culture on this topic.

  • I’m not seeing where you are disagreeing with me. Of course they are “expected” to server a mission. This is nothing new. It is the Lord’s Church and hence, if you are a member, you are expected to serve in many callings. As a young man it is sort of a “right of passage.” But, that doesn’t mean that all can or must serve a mission. I’m just not seeing where you disagree with me. And, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that expectation. When children are 8 they are expected to be baptized, but not all are. This expectation goes on and on.

  • What I am doing is good. I’m trying to help innocent people from being defrauded by a cult. Does that frighten you?

  • I think where we disagree, is that I don’t think serving should be a commandment. If you aren’t on a mission you are breaking a commandment and dishonoring your Priesthood. Even if the ward still loves and accepts the young man, how is he supposed to feel?

    For a missionary aged young man there are only two options that are acceptable under this doctrine: serving a mission, or repenting to be worthy to serve. Paraphrased from Pres. Kimball: https://www.lds.org/new-era/1981/05/president-kimball-speaks-out-on-being-a-missionary?lang=eng

  • The author is entirely correct. I’d be anxious too, if I had been taught that the estimation of my worth depended on what I do. Sad religion, Mormonism.

  • I read the entire article. No where in that article does it state that it is a commandment that young men must serve a mission. I think if you read each comment where commandment(s) are mentioned, in context, you will find that to be the case. They are strongly encouraged. The Church has a commandment FROM THE LORD to preach the Gospel, but no where in that article does it say that it is a commandment that a young man must serve a mission. It is far too easy for people to misinterpret what a leader says to suit their own concepts. The article does not say what you seem to believe it does. Young men are not under a “commandment” to serve a mission. They are strongly encouraged.

  • Agreed. Strongly encouraged. Very strongly encouraged, and compared to paying tithing etc. And talks like the following sure make it seem like a commandment:
    “If I could speak separately to each of you young men and your parents who so justify, I would say with all the power of speech I could generate, ‘Just who do you think you are? What right do you have to match your wisdom with that of God, who through His prophets has issued a firm decree, a solemn mandate, that the restored gospel must be declared to all the world by the voice of His disciples? This means you!’”
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1981/10/sanctification-through-missionary-service?lang=eng&_r=1

  • The DesNews, as usual, botches it; but if you look at Oaks’ speech transcript (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/transcript-elder-oaks-university-oxford ) the $40 million figure is clearly in the context of humanitarian aid projects. As the T&S article Stan Barker cites above notes, “humanitarian aid” is separate from the church’s welfare system that includes church farms, storehouses/food pantries, and housing/utility assistance doled out to individuals at the congregational level (for more on this, see http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2016/06/24/mormon-welfare-program/31091/ ).

  • This actually part of a lesson I gave to the priest quorum in my ward about spiritual maturity. I basically said there is a path for young Mormons and it exists for many beneficial reasons we discussed.

    But, I emphasized that if you did not follow this path, the Church is still a place to be. Our Young Men’s President, who asked me to give the lesson after some discussions I had with them, did not serve a mission and talked about how it was hard for him for a time to be in the Church and not have that experience.

    The Church needs to be a place for all of God’s Children. There is a good path that helps people grow in faith, but it is not the only path.

    Young people need to understand the heart of the Gospel more than the ideal path of the Gospel. The seasoning of faith from what one has in Primary to one that takes into account a broader view happens too slow (IMHO) because we, as a Church, really do not invest in it. It takes interaction with the youth and a willingness to face and answer questions honestly.

  • “Seem like” perhaps being the operative phrase. I went on a mission. 5 of my sons went on missions. In all cases it was a choice that each of us made. Because you have strong (?) feelings about this matter does not make it a commandment, as you stated. So, let it go. The facts do not square with your thinking. You are making this into a big deal, which it isn’t for almost all young men in the Church. BTW, seniors are strongly encouraged to go on missions also (“we have a responsibility to preach the Gospel in all the world”), but none of us is “commanded” to do so. If you disagree with being “strongly encouraged” that is one thing, but not the topic of discussion which you brought up. I see NOTHING wrong with being strongly encouraged to do the Lord’s will. Do you?

  • Agreed, the welfare is separate from humanitarian aid. The welfare system is supported by fast offerings, but I’m not sure if any tithing money goes into that -we don’t have transparency regarding church finances. Although the welfare system can be used for non-members, the vast majority goes to members of the church, many of whom are faithful tithe payers (on what income they have) and are supplemented by the bishop’s storehouse.

    I think the church should move toward financial transparency like other major churches (Catholicism and others). Unless there’s something to hide?

  • I grew up as the only Mormon in my High School class and graduated 57 years ago. I attended UT in Austin and BYU in Provo Utah and had no interest in a mission until my older brother got back from his mission and told me to consider it. I went to Argentina for 2 1/2 years. I didn’t “sell” my religion but invited those interested (not many were) to listen to what my companions and I had to say. I came back, found the woman of my dreams, and have just passed our 50th Wedding Anniversary. I’ve been a bishop and my wife and I served another mission in South Texas. My missions gave me some of the most valuable lessons about life I could have had. But, I have two brothers who served and two who did not. All four men are (were) productive, giving individuals. One drifted away from the church and one, after the military became more active. I know the leaders talk of the importance of serving a mission, but they do not condemn those who choose not to serve. I’m sorry that the author’s son gets remarks and questions that make him uncomfortable. God opens doors of opportunity in many ways if one has a desire to serve his fellow man. “I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

    (Book of Mormon | Mosiah 2:17)

  • My entire point was that the doctrine (“strongly encouraged”, “firm decree”, “solemn mandate”) is what pushes the cultural issues that the author was referring to. Namely, feeling guilt and being shamed by your ward family. And I’ve shared my two cents.

    “So, let it go.” Exactly, will do.

  • *Shrug* Perhaps the church will go back to full disclosure at some point; but it’s probably also worth noting that *any* financial decision/allocation is always going to have its naysayers; and (as we see in this discussion) a criticism supported by cherry-picked statistical evidence can still gain widespread traction even if a fair analysis of all available evidence demonstrates the falsity of the criticism.

    Mormonism has traditionally enjoyed a great deal of unity amongst the bulk of the membership; which has enabled it to successfully complete mass migrations, build cities, and design and implement a wide variety of remarkably effective institutions and programs (the church welfare system being perhaps the premier example). But this unity comes, to some degree, from uniformity; and the price of all that uniformity is that often folks who advocate alternate church policies don’t always feel their ideas are given a full hearing.

    For better and for worse, modern Mormonism does not consider itself to be a democratically run institution; and where matters of fiscal policy are concerned the church leadership has made a judgment call that there’s no point in undermining the general sense of unity by fueling already-inevitable and often-frivolous controversies about fiscal issues over which we hoi polloi church members ultimately have only minimal–if any–control. That may or may not change in the future; but it’s where things stand at present.

  • I agree that there will always be critics, even with full transparency -but I still think it is the right thing to do. I’m troubled that when asked about it, that President Hinckley made the following dishonest statement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGktXV346G8
    The LDS apologist justification I’ve heard for this is that he meant that donors are given full disclosure of their own personal contributions.. that seems to be a far stretch when you take the interview question into context.

  • Dear Wayne,

    It is probably more accurate to say that the degree of stigmatization varies from place to place, but I can assure you that it is alive and well. It is more subtle these days, but I have known dozens of LDS men who had difficulty finding dates, let alone wives, because they didn’t serve LDS missions. Many of these young men ended up becoming inactive or leaving the LDS faith altogether.

  • For those of you who say Mormons should just leave everyone alone, you deprive the millions of us who found a wonderful religion and way of life the opportunity to have done so. Without the two missionaries who knocked on my family’s door nearly 60 years ago, there would be a lot of people in my family and among my friends and those I taught as a missionary in japan and who have remained faithful who would never have had this opportunity. So, if you don’t want to listen to a Mormon missionary, just say “no thank you” and 99% of the time, they will say “thank you” and move on.

  • And what about those who are interested but just didn’t know about this great church until someone stopped by and asked if we would like to know more? No one forced us to listen, but at least we had the choice. I assume that you are pro-choice, so just wondering.

  • Just curious about how much of YOUR time and money you spend every year to help the homeless and others? I see the missionaries in our area volunteering a lot as they walk down the street and see an elderly person in the yard, or see someone moving furniture in from a van. And every week at church we are encouraged to volunteer in activities through justserve. com. You might want to look it up and join some of your neighbors(Mormons included) working to help others. But I sense that you would much rather argue on blog sites.

  • Since your corporation just pimps you out like slaves… how much do they spend beyond the 40 million out of 8 BILLION? Ever wonder where your money is really going? But I get paid to troll your church… I won’t say by whom. But there are people who want it abolished. 😉

  • A true Christian (TM) attacking those he considers not to be true Christians.

    What else is new?

  • I am repeating, but just to make a point…

    Pres. Kimball said:

    “‘Yes, every worthy young man should fill a mission’. The Lord expects it of him.”

    “Certainly every male member of the Church should fill a mission, like he should pay his tithing, like he should attend his meetings, like he should keep his life clean and free from the ugliness of the world and plan a celestial marriage in the temple of the Lord.” (Note Pres. Kimball’s comparison is to two prerequisites for a temple recommend, a phrase that could be paraphrased as “keep the commandments”, and the crowning ordinance essential for exaltation.)

    Note the differences when Pres. Kimball says “every man, woman, and child—every young person and every little boy and girl—should serve a mission”, but then clarifies he is not talking about full-time missions.
    Standing by Pres. Kimball’s words but saying it’s not a commandment is splitting hairs. Yes, church doctrine and leaders’ words do feed the stigma regarding young men who don’t go on a mission. No “seems” about it.
    (Just want to note I am an RM, and am very happy I went.)

  • Thanks for sharing your viewpoint, Seraphim. You are undoubtedly correct in saying that the degree of stigmatization, especially short term stigmatization, varies from place to place.( However, any who think only dating and marrying RM’s will insure a trouble free life are sadly mistaken.) I happen to know quite a few good folks who have had and/or continue to have trouble getting dates and finding a marriage partner. Some served missions and some did Not. For some sisters, their dedication to gospel activity, principles and standards, makes it harder to get dates, let alone marry. We are to help each other move forward with Faith in Christ, in the midst of hardships and questions. Should our dedication to the gospel and church activity be significantly based on dating and marriage desires?

    I am Not minimizing the loneliness of being single. Earth-life is filled with a plethora of challenges and opportunities (see Abraham 3, especially verse 25). Most challenges can be turned to our spiritual growth (see D&C 122 especially verses 7-8). My point was that in the long term, “Not serving an LDS mission at 18 to 25 years of age, etc. does Not ruin lives, stigmatize members as they Mature, nor stop their growth and opportunities to serve within the LDS faith.” For additional perspective I suggest the link to this following article: http://ldsmissionaries.com/elder-oaks-gives-advice-to-those-struggling-being-single/ .

  • I know a young man who was “honorably excused” by the First Presidency from serving a mission due to a chronic illness. Such young men are allowed to serve Youth Church Service Missions instead. Same honor as a proselyting mission–you even get the same name tag. Sister Harrison’s son could easily serve in that fashion, and he would be regarded as serving a true mission.

  • I was born a.d raised LDS and never wanted to go… I left the church later but no one should be forced or told you have to its your mission in life… one thing that the Mormon church taught me is ctr CHOOSE the right you were given the choice given the the free will to choose what you want what you believe and so many including Mormons forget that we were given the right to choose what we be believe to be right

  • It appears the $40,000,000 is money spent by the church for projects and disaster relief and does not include the money spent locally by bishops from fast offering collections which is much larger figure.

  • No, you are assuming that to be the case.. I would assume they would publicise that number as well. But heck it’s your church who does not release it’s financials. So you know what they say about AssUming stuff

  • I served my mission, starting at the age of 19, back in 1990. At the time I’d had problems with anxiety as well as questions toward my mormon faith. Being raised in a family that dated back to Shadrach Roundy (he’s in the D&C) I was raised staunchly and not encouraged to question anything the church said or did. My father was a High Priest in the Priesthood (sounds odd to nonmormons…I know) and we followed his rule completely – even though it was discovered years later that he had a number of mistresses, even illegitimate children, on the side. Not the example the church would have hoped for, but give a man power and tell him it’s from god, and he can do no wrong.

    Anyhow, the mix of anxiety and doubts toward the church truly made my mission a nightmare. Even though I baptized (converted) a handful of people into the mormon faith (I’ve since gone back, 20 years later to tell them I was wrong to take them away from their own beliefs and family through the mormon teachings) I was miserable because of what I saw mormon men with “the power of god” doing to those beneath them or those who wouldn’t believe. Dusting their feet (look it up under mormonism) of the people who would dare disagree, gossiping and maligning people behind closed doors with the chosen few – which always got out because the chosen few abused their own power. It was a mess filled with maligning and cruelty. Oh and talk about bigotry. I served my mission in Georgia, USA. You can only imagine how the members of a good old Southern ward felt when my companion and I would bring in African American investigators… Shortly after my mission – yes I completed it – I wrote a letter to the church asking to be removed from the church record without a bishop’s court. They fought with me tooth and nail, even harassing me, tearing my mailbox down, throwing rocks through my windows (I lived in the Avenues in SLC UT). My friends, both mormon and non, were appalled that local ward members could be so cruel. Again a bishop or stake president had disclosed my dissatisfaction with the church and those people reacted with their “righteous indignation.”

    Leaving the mormon church was the most important thing I could have ever done with my life. Since that time, my mother, two siblings, 7 nieces and 2 nephews have followed suit. With the advent of the internet and also with my own experiences, they came to the same realization that I had: There is NO true church and a man with so many wives, including a 14 year old child, would never have been spoken to by God.

    Now with mormon apologists popping up all over the place as the mormon church tries to reinvent itself, we all see members dropping out like flies. The younger generation won’t listen to a bunch of old men who have closed themselves off from the World. They won’t bow down to a completely patriarchal religion that was built on intolerance toward Women, Gays, Blacks and anybody who would dare question an American home-grown belief system.

    I have two children who will grow up knowing the sinister background of the mormon church from a man who traces his ancestry in the church, back 7 generations. If you want to talk to someone about the mormon church, talk to someone like myself. Our family has seen it’s journey from the beginning. We have the journals of our ancestors. The imperfections, crimes and dishonesty of the mormon church is evident on paper if it’s not evident on the internet.

  • Salt Lake CIty and Mormonism have only CONTRIBUTED to growing homelessness, not the other way around.

  • Presenting facts would violate the standard rules for “bearing a testimony” (i.e. bearing false witness) – it requires ignorant faith to be believable.

  • Ever ponder that it has a few expenditures as well? Your need to demean has overwhelmed your ability to reason.

  • We shouldn’t box out anyone who doesn’t serve. That’s just sad. There’s a place for everyone and serving a mission is not a requisite for salvation. It might, however, hasten one’s path down a road to better things than if one does not serve.

    And that’s the thing – a mission is an experience like no other. That might sound cliche, but it’s hard to find its equal. Your son will be fine, but he will also not find a direct analog to mission service.

    And if his anxiety is too much of a thing, the Church has for years been working to destigmatize those who do not serve because of mental or emotional issues. No one should feel guilty for not serving if they experience something debilitating like that. The onus is on us as everyday members not to lean so hard on young men that they break down or go on a mission unworthily or without their heart in it.

    One thing, though. I don’t think your opening paragraph is necessary. From a writing perspective, it props up your son as overly special or as if his other achievements should soften the “blow” of his lack of a desire to serve a mission. Like, “It’s OK, though, because he’s SO incredible at __________.” It’s awesome that he’s good at stuff, but you’re using it here as some sort of an antonym to a potential mission. There are tons of great men and women who are incredibly gifted academically and physically who are LDS, not LDS, who will serve missions, and who won’t.

  • Jesus would be so proud. Is an unpaid clergy part of the expenditures. How about missionaries who foot the bill? Spare me your tripe. Until the church publishes it’s financials for all to see, we will never know. Name the last hospital or homeless shelter the church built?

  • Admitting that you are the victim of a scam is harder than it sounds. It’s really a self indictment.

  • Dave, Let me get this straight: you are saying that I “have no right to tell someone not to talk” but that it is okay for you to tell me not to talk? Please explain the logic there.

    Your comments otherwise attempt to refute points that I did not make. I never told the writer not to share her concern or provide her input to church leaders. I only said there is no reason to do that in a public forum unless her motive is to try and pressure church leaders with bad publicity. And I don’t even understand your second paragraph — there are a hundred contexts in which it is someone’s business to inquire whether someone has served a mission or is married; and it is in those contexts that this writer seems to be complaining the Church should change expectations.

  • If you were an active young woman in the church looking to make a good choice in a spouse, why would you not make that search a bit easier by searching among the population of returned missionaries? Young women are encouraged to date and marry returned missionaries for a reason; it’s a simple matter of playing the odds.

  • CitizenWhy hijacked the topic and turned it into a propaganda piece for the church. First, Salk Lake used weasel words to reduce “chronic homelessness” Where they created their own definition of a small sub set of homeless people and then provided some services to that small group and announced they had solved the problem. Shame on them! Second, the church does very little for this group in comparison to other churches(this is well documented) or even wealthy individuals! Shame on them as well. In terms of the topic that Mette discussed, I agree with her 100%. I served a mission but my son and daughter did not and it was the right choice for them

  • Bravo. Your son has integrity.
    I served a full mission (peer pressure) and much later now know this is a completely man-made organization that worships money. The LDS build malls (e.g. City Creek). Even Catholics, eschewed by the LDS, build hospitals and are engaged in humanitarian endeavors.
    “Saints” excluding your fine son? By their fruits ye shall know them.

  • The Mormon church refusing to baptize the innocent children of homosexual parents is all anyone needs to know. This woman’s son is intelligent and educated – rational educated thinking is incompatible with most religion, but especially the Mormon church.

  • How do you know people are uninterested unless and until you talk to them? And, that goes for any group of people trying to reach others and expand their faith, not limited to Mormons.

  • Sorry for the sense of isolation or ostracism that you and your son and family feel. That should not be. I think most right thinking LDS and non-members should understand medical or personal reasons for not serving. Some of the best members I know never served for many different reasons. It reminds me of military people who may look down on those who never suited up and think of them as less than patriotic, or those that deployed in uniform calling those that haven’t (but have gone as contractors, even) and are called “slick sleaves” for not earning a patch on their right shoulder.
    People are unfair, in general, but I hope that people of real value and honor will respect and value your son. I think there is a lot of room for him and great people of his kind in the Church of Jesus Christ.
    God bless and best of luck.

  • Mette,
    I’ve also had a similar experience with my family. Absolutely a proselytizing mission is not for everyone. I think it is wrong for leaders–or anyone to pressure young men/women to serve a mission or suggest that :every” young man should serve. My son had anxiety yet decided to serve a mission. Nine months in he had to come home. It took him a couple of years to regain his equilibrium and recover from depression. It was a very tough time. I also know of a missionary who committed suicide while serving.

    The “cookie cutter” applied by leaders who have poor judgement has resulted in several family members no longer being active in the church. It is very, very difficult for young men who don’t fit the “mold.”
    We’ve lost some great people because we are so focused on churning out a product.

    Just accept people where they are, make them feel welcome and love them. Quit making people cookie-cutter “projects.” If they aren’t your son or daughter you have no business telling them they should serve a mission. Don’t ask them when they are putting in their “papers.” Simply tell them it is good to see them and ask them how school is going etc.

    Congratulations to your son on his achievements! Sounds like he has a bright future ahead of him.

  • Why should we assume to so narrowly define what a “mission” is or “when” a mission should be served? Maybe people have different paths in life–maybe God has a different plan for that person. Maybe the young man who doesn’t serve a mission will be a physician who heals or a bishop who has a great capacity for empathy and expressing love such that more people find solace within the church.

  • I have 3 brothers: none of them served missions due to mental health reasons. This was hard for them to deal with but we lived in UT at the time. Abraham was not punished for not offering Isaac; Abraham demonstrated that he was willing and that was enough to be given the blessing. It sounds like your son has also demonstrated that he was willing, therefore he will be given the blessing. The Lord looketh on the heart.

    Having also lived in Boston, I’m not sure I buy into the “No Man’s Land” premise. When I lived in Boston (and other large cities), the LDS wards and branches are filled with people who are just as true as those in UT, the difference is the Boston people are very busy with their families, work, etc., therefore church meetings, activities, etc. get streamlined, and maximum efficiency is used since time is the one thing people don’t have. It can seem kind of asocial or it may seem like they don’t like you but that’s not really it.

    If you or your son are having a problem with the ward members, I have found it helpful (just in my own experience) to change wards. I don’t like going to church and hearing people’s political opinions; I don’t like the effect and the stress that wealth has on some people and how that can be misdirected toward others in the same ward (this is part of the high-pressure job; bunch of kids; keeping up appearances; prominent callings, etc. stressful life scenario that some Boston people have); but I also understand that the beautiful, edifying truths of the Restored Gospel are true regardless of how people interact with me, my siblings, etc. If you went to a cafe and ordered lunch, the rudeness/niceness of the waitress would not change the quality of your lunch, only your perception of that quality.

  • Just like teachers get the credit if students do well and if students perform poorly, it’s the parents fault. That’s how some in the media portray gov’t actions.

  • You’re right. Congress (or any state legislature) is a much more effective organization. Maybe the Church could vote on with policies and principles to teach and which to not teach, that way it could emphasize whatever is currently popular.

  • I agree. Shame on them. They should have invested those funds more foolishly (how dare they!?), then they wouldn’t have so many assets, (or at least, they should not have taken care of the assets they built like churches, temples, etc.)…because then they wouldn’t have as many assets…..and that would be a good thing….?…because people could give more to the govt to help people…..then, we’d all have nothing of their practices to complain about….and we’d have to post comments elsewhere.

  • I’m sorry your friends had that experience. My brothers have had similar experiences, but all I can do is tell them to move out of UT since, ya know, truth is truth and not geographically dependent.

  • Be very proud of your son. He is the smartest one in your family. 😉 Sounds like a free spirit, a free thinker, and someone in the process of freeing themselves.

  • I am waiting for someone to tell you that you and/or your child should be excommunicated or otherwise shunned. Spirituality and spiritual growth is great, but dogma and those who uphold it can be a right pain. Good luck to you.

  • In essence of #6, you state that drawing closer to His gospel, yet the writer of Hebrews states in 9:16, “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.”

    God was the testator of the Old Testament, which is in full effect until the death of the testator, who is God Himself. Without the death of God, there is no New Testament, for this must be, by necessity, the death of the testator.

    Christ’s death would not have any effect on the original testament, if he is in any way separate from God. It would be like a father’s will going into affect if his son dies; the son may have his own will, but the son’s death wouldn’t change the father’s will.

    The gospel of Christ is this, that God Himself sacrificed Himself for the atonement of sin, and that through faith in that very specific substitute death, changed from the Old to the New.

  • When a church has as its basis that everyone else for the last 2000 or so years has been wrong about Christ, who He is and what He did, and then goes from there, stating that they’re the Only One True Church, it’s usually a warning sign to me. It would be as if some branch of the LDS church came out saying that everyone else had Joseph Smith wrong and that their members were the only True Mormons.

    Cults have started off this way for hundreds of years. As you say, what else is new?

  • While I find people who believe in Mormonism quite friendly and nice, I do have issue with the eternal aspect of Mormonism.

    The Bible is very specific about Jesus’ role in salvation, that one must believe in Him to be saved…but what does that mean?

    In the Bible, the writer of Hebrews states in 9:16, “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.”

    God was the testator of His original will, or Testament, which is in full effect until the death of the testator, who is God Himself. Without the death of God, there is no New Testament because there must be, by necessity, the death of the original testator to have a New Testament go into effect.

    Christ’s death would not have any effect on the original testament, if he is in any way separate from God. It would be like a father’s will going into affect if his son dies; the son’s death doesn’t change the father’s will or make it effectual.

    The gospel of Christ is this, that God Himself sacrificed Himself for the atonement of sin, and that through faith in that very specific substitute death, changed testaments from the Old to the New.

    This is where Mormonism view of Jesus’ death differs from the Biblical Jesus’ death and the eternal ramifications that the difference makes.

  • They all of them claim that the others are wrong. That’s why there are so many of them. Martin Luther said that the Catholic choice had it wrong for the previous 1200 years. There are those Protestants who think the Catholic Church is a cult

    The only difference between a cult and a true church are the press releases.

  • “He’s on medication for his anxiety currently but it’s not yet under control to the point that I would feel comfortable sending him on a mission for two years where I wouldn’t be able to observe him.”

    A++ in trying to stop prejudice against men who didn’t serve missions. A++ in giving mental health the respect it deserves when contemplating a mission — speaking as someone who served a mission with an undiagnosed and untreated case of chronic mid-grade depression. D– in allowing your son to assume adult responsibility for his own well-being. You can and should advise and inform him, but this is his decision to make.

  • ” D– in allowing your son to assume adult responsibility for his own well-being.”

    I heartily disagree. Young men at age 19 do not have fully mature brains–and limited life
    experience. Furthermore, our youth get very little information about the reality–rigors, and hardships of missions–the good, bad and ugly. Instead they are fed a steady diet of “it was the best 2 yrs of my life.” Where one’s health is involved it is wise to err on the side of caution.

  • Good for you for respecting his choice and congratulations on having a son doing so well in school. Have him stay in Boston, there will be no pressure there. Most of the folks his age, even the ones who served missions, will be gone from the church before long anyway. The church essays are finally become better known and they confirm the things in the “CES letter” etc.., Smith’s some 40 wives, 14 year old girls,other men’s wives, Book of Abraham, Rock in the Hat etc…

    Your son is doing exactly what he should be doing at his age, not being a door to door salesman, especially as he is not suited to such a task. Peer pressure is strong and hurtful but it is often used to coerce people to do things they don’t want to and shouldn’t.

  • You can’t always have your cake and eat it too. If a mission is part of your religion then you shouldn’t be surprised that your son isn’t being included in the way that others who follow through with the silly rules of your religion. Keep medicating your precious 19 year old child? and making excuses for why your son shouldn’t have to follow the rules of your religion. Perhaps you can completely shield him from God’s plan for him to grow up, learn to be able to interact in new situations and with people without medications, and fill his religions duties to God.

  • How about Michael Jackson and his brothers…..did any of them go on “missions” or were they just way too busy with their careers? And Romney’s “mission” was in Paris……wow…how awful….spend a year in Paris!!! Not sure what these missions are all about, but if they are to actually to help people…then go to a 3rd world country and actually do some good…..But if they are to try to get people to be Mormons…please stay away from my door…along with the other Christian nuts.

  • I was very sad when the loathsome Boyd K. Packer died, given that he was next in line to be the prophet, seer and revelator of the Magic Kingdom and I really wanted to see what would happen when he assumed the throne. I do know that Mormons were shaking in their magic jammies about the prospect. I’m guessing he would have had himself a revelation that women should never work outside the home and should instead function primarily as brood sows to birth bodies for the spirit children, that the LGBT community should be jailed, that all books which exposed the warts of Mormonism should be burned (because as the Boydster said, not all true things are “useful”), and that if you play with your little factory, in the words of the Boydster’s infamous speech, it will fall off.

  • There is much in common among Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy. Even Luther did not claim that ever single thing about Catholicism was incorrect. Most importantly, he didn’t claim that Catholics were wrong about the deity of Christ. I’ll let you fill in the blank on what belief system being discussed makes that claim.

  • The Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, animists, Shinto, Daoists, comfucianists, quite a few others I can’t think of, and possibly, though it isn’t a belief system, atheists. That would be about 2/3 of the world making that claim.

  • In the context of a conversation about the LDS church… Stay on target, as they said in A New Hope.

  • I’m sorry. I was just remembering how many people dispute the divinity of Jesus. There are so many.

  • True. I wasn’t trying to step outside the context of what the OP that you were replying to seemed to be in. He seemed to be a Christian having issues with the LDS Church. In the context of talking about young LDS men not going on mission, that’s where I was keeping it.

    I am a Protestant Christian. So that’s my context for contrasting the LDS church with most of the rest who claim faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Here’s news – many people think that Religion is the dumbest thing imaginable, especially Moronism. You should be proud of your son if he’s having doubts.

  • I recently purchased an interesting book on Amazon.com, called, “Beyond Mormonism.” It is a well-written work by author and former LDS bishop Robert Spencer. It is not, by any means, an anti-Mormon book. Rather, it is a compelling story of a CA man, and his family’s journey of leaving LDS, and converting to an evangelical church. I bought the book used for a couple of dollars. I would definitely recommend the book, as it does share different perspectives.

  • I am an outsider to all of this, but here is my experience with the “having to do” the mission. Years ago, when I was in college, a Mormon friend of mine had recently reached the appropriate age to go on his mission. But he didn’t feel the calling, as he explained, and chose not to mission. His family kicked him out of the house at 20, his church ostracized him – he had to move away from Utah. The only friends and support he had left were his non-Mormon friends – we took care of him best we could. As his savings dwindled, and his resources shrank, he eventually became homeless. He developed a drug addiction, and no one has heard from him in over a decade. Again, I am an outsider and I have no interest in being disrespectful on this site – but needless to say, I have some very low opinions of the Mormon church after watching this unfold. I know that this isn’t a fair representation of the [LDS] church as a whole, but it was my first exposure to it, and I can’t drop it. So heads-up to all those LDS parents out there who’s children don’t want to mission – please don’t send your child away. I hope my friend’s story helps someone.

  • No shame in not serving for health reasons. One of my fav. sunday school teachers was a guy who said “you know, I never served a mission but wish I had” one of the coolest guys I know.

  • I understand this young man’s plight perfectly. I have anxiety disorders and came home from my mission twice because of them. It’s also hobbled me in pursuing a lucrative career path and I am currently working full time as a janitor and as a stay at home dad so that my wife can finish school and become the family breadwinner.
    Yes I wish things were different but I’ve learned to make the best contribution I can to both within my family and in the church while respecting those limitations. Our expections for ourselves and for others are more often than not completely bogus, ask any woman who can’t quite fit into that swimsuit she bought, and yet none of us can ever escape that feeling that we should do better or that that the world should be better aligned to fit our individual needs. Sorry to break the news but that ain’t happening. You can either curse God the world or yourself or you face the last option anyone wants to think about…you just grow up and realize that the less things are about you the happier your are.
    I’m proud of my limited service as a missionary because I learned that lesson there, even though knowing myself better now I would not have gone. With regards to your son i suggest he’d better find a way to serve others mission or no mission and that he learn to take it for granted that other people won’t understand his choice. They seldom do.

  • You are forgetting the massive in vestment fund. The tithing is a drop in bucket from hell.

  • Well, there is all the welfare, tax theft, and money from people like Orin Hatch who made it legal to sell the precursors for methamphetamine. Amen

  • Tell those who repeatedly bother him to butt out of his life choices and mind their own business. If it is friends doing this, they are not real friends. They also don’t have a true grasp on what it is to be a Mormon if they judge one on whether or not someone has been on a mission. Shame on them.
    btw: not a Mormon, but a victim of social pressure and ostracism too.

  • Again, and hopefully it won’t be removed this time. Your comment is a racist statement and a stupid statement. Notice I didn’t say you are stupid; I said your comment is stupid, and it is. And, Mormonism is NOT racist. And the only cultism about it is that we follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Your cult did not recognize African Americans as humans until 1978. And women are still treated as chattel. No wonder, Utah #1 in downloaded porn, and women on anti depressants. Way to go!

  • I’ve replied to you several times, but the RNS won’t allow my replies to stay here. So, you can quit bothering me with your dribble. BTW, you really should look up the definition of cult. Walter Martin didn’t have a clue.

  • I feel for this mom and her son. If anxiety disorders only impacted the missionary program 1-2% of the time, the overall meaning would be low. Less than 30% of young men raised LDS now remain active into young adulthood. Among the multitude of reasons is the “mission” issue. According to the real world experience of Mission Presidents, approximately one-third of their charges suffer psychological difficulties, essentially anxiety/depression disorders, that leave them non-functional in the conventional mission field for extended periods of time, and not infrequently, on the way home early. If one can identify in advance a young man/lady in whom this is likely to occur, that person should not be placed in such a situation. Alternative programs now exist within the current missionary program structure. For example, missionary experiences are often individually customized based on ability to learn languages, health considerations, or finances.
    All prospective missionaries are routinely screened for physical illnesses, such as poor eyesight/hearing, diabetes, physical handicaps, hypertension, heart murmurs, anemia, and cancer, that negatively affect their ability to function on a mission. With one-third of missionaries at risk, that purely medical screening could be widened to include a small array of questions known to identify behavioral disorders. For a few years, the missionary program could administer the test, and tabulate whether its results identified those who eventually develop significant psychiatric issues on their conventional missions. If it did, at-risk missionaries could, to the benefit of all, be quietly assigned to alternative programs, such as pure service missions or light-duty proselyting missions.

  • Sick cult. Founded by a convicted con man. Home of supplement peddlers and Orin Hatch, the man who fought for profit by killing kids with meth. Yes, a cult.

  • I have to agree with the author of this article. While she may be writing from an emotional perspective I know that there’s some amount of truth to what her son is experiencing because I personally experienced many of the same things in a few different wards/stakes. I could almost see a lot of people’s attitude toward me change when they found out I had not sent my papers away (especially the young women). I felt a bit ostracized when I would attend weekday meetings. It got to the point where I felt much more accepted by my friends outside the church than anyone in it (this wasn’t the main reason why I left the church, but it definitely accelerated my departure). And while members might eventually accept the young man who doesn’t go on a mission, they are still stigmatized and viewed as if there is something wrong with them.

  • As I pointed out, it is interesting to see these [anecdotal] perspectives in response to this article. We have a young man who returned to our ward after 3 months in the mission field and he is fully welcomed and accepted back into the ward. Everyone, you must realize these are anecdotal accounts and do not represent what I consider to be the vast majority of situations. Perhaps it would be best for everyone to be a little less critical when you stop to think that surely you do not have ALL of the actual information on all cases. Judgement is a two-way street.

  • The one thing I hate lately is the “returned with honor thing”. I really really hate the pressure that we are putting on Mormon young men and women who choose to not serve, or serve for less then 18 months or 2 years. Even the girls now who choose not to go are getting social pressure. I would ask all in the church to stop judging those who choose not to serve or come home early. “returned with honor” signs and banners need to stop!

  • Have you not wondered, just for a moment, why the church “hire” mens who are professionally successful verses those who have ministerial/ecclesiastical/theological training and education. Look at the bios of the GA’s, all the 70’s and the mission presidents. Not one of them has any ecclesiastical training. They are successful, wealthy professionals who are “ordained” to run the corporation. These men are not theologians who can lead the flock.
    An article entitled, “How Mormons Make Money” by Caroline WInter, July 12, 2012, makes it very clear – a Welfare Services fact sheet states that the church gave $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid in more than 178 countries and territories during the 25 years between 1985 and 2010. Less than one third of the sum was monetary assistance, while the rest was in the form of “material assistance.” Take a long look at the article – it is very illuminating. If you look with the desire to find the truth, you will see that the 15 live opulent lives; the seventy all the way down to the mission presidents live quite well. All while avoiding the tax man. Then look at the GA’s residences – yes, plural. Beginning with Mission Presidents, employees of the Mormon church are very well compensated. “Small stipend” is a falsehood. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-10/how-the-mormons-make-money
    A study co-written by Ryan Cragun, PhD and published in Free Inquiry estimates that the Mormon church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which had about 17 million members a year ago, appears to be getting a better return on investment: It builds smaller meeting houses and lots of schools and hospitals, and its numbers are swelling faster than the Mormons’. The Adventists claim a million new members join annually, compared with every three years or so for the Mormons. The Mormon church is a corporate empire that gives far too little in order to keep far too much – for a few.
    The Mormon church, meanwhile, appears to be decreasing transparency and member control of donations. New tithing slips give fewer donation options and come with an expanded disclaimer saying the church has sole discretion over spending, even though it will make “reasonable efforts” to follow donors’ wishes. Don’t forget, the members clean the the buildings, too.

    Mormon church earns $7 billion a year from tithing, analysis indicates
    Monday Aug 13, 2012 1:00 PM By Peter Henderson, Reuters

    A very brief list of revenue, assists, etc. –

    – $6 billion dollar City Creek Mall

    – Deseret Management Corp (DMC) – $1.5 billion revenue; assets in excess of $3.5 billion. Desert News; 11 radio stations; TV station; publishing and distribution company; digital media company; hospitality business; an insurance business with assets exceeding $3.5 billion. DMC employs approximately 3000 people.

    – AgReserves – 1 million acres in the continental US including farms; hunting preserves; orchards; ranches. Outside the US operations in UK, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. The Australian property was valued at $61 million in 1997 with annual sales of $276 million, according to Dun & Bradstreet.

    – Suburban Land Reserves – another for-profit entity under the Presiding Bishopric

    – For-profit real estate arm that owns, develops, and manages malls, parking lots, office parks, residential buildings, etc.

    – Hawaii Reseres – owns and manages more than 7,000 acres on Oahu where it maintains commercial and residential buildings, parks, water and sewage infrastructure, and two cemeteries.

    – Utah Property Management Associates, a real estate a rem of the church, manages portions of City Creek Center.

    – Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) – 42 acre tropical theme park on Oahu’s north shore. In 2010, the PCC had net assets worth $70 million and collected $23 million in ticket sales alone. PCC’s president was paid $296,000. In 1992, PCC was forced to begin paying property taxes when the Land and Tax Appeal Court of Hawaii ruled that the theme park “is not for charitable purposes” and is, in fact, a “commercial enterprise and business undertaking.” Nearly 30 years tax free.

    – Ensign Peak Advisors – employs managers who specialize in international
    equities, cash management, fixed income, quantitative investment and emerging markets. According to Laurence R. Stay, one of fund’s VP’s, “billions of dollars change hands every day…..”

    Do you still want to call this a church?
    THE CORPORATION OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS.

  • Your comment about buyer remorse etc. is a bit odd to me and so I suggest you read a bit more about what Mormons do on missions. I also recommend you research the church itself as well.
    Missionaries serve, help out, mow lawns, dig ditches, build houses, grow food, paint and build and install all kinds of things. They show up when asked and reach out when needed oh ya and they teach the gospel. They don’t sell anything it’s free. There is no paid ministry.
    So you know… Mormons make sure none of there members are homeless or hungry, if they need work we have a program to help them find it, if they want to start a business we have a program to help them do it. If they want to go to school you guess it we have a program for that too.
    We as a church donate extraordinary amounts of money to good causes and helpful charities of all kinds.
    We have enough food storage to feed every individual in the USA for a year and are working hard on creating emergency relief resources for the entire world.
    On a typical day maybe you can role your eyes when see the missionaries coming, but if something bad happens they are exactly the people you want to see coming down the street.
    So next time you see a pair of young Mormon missionaries at least be kind because I can just about promise you they will be kind to you regardless of who you are what you believe, where you come from, what your race or sexual orientation is or any other catigory humans try to to divide us into. For the missionary we all fit into one group…. children of a loving Heavenly Father.

  • Come on Citizenwhy If a guy works his whole life building a resentment toward a group of people, how dare you suggest that the group did something good. Don’t you know we are supposed to hate them?
    On topic I am Mormon I did not serve A mission I thought I was unfairly persecuted. Then a miracle happened….I realized the questions were out of concern, the interest in my action out of love and the inquired basically benign in other words I grew up realized my feelings where just that my feelings!
    Loose interest in self gain interest in others and join something that makes you a contributor. That’s my old man advice.
    Mormons a just people with a diverse bunch of personalities and defects some are jerks some are not but the church is fine and does great things as a whole and serve a mission or not what matters is you serve your fellows with love.

  • Unfortunately, you seem to have misunderstood my comment, Ben. Note that I wrote: “Serving a full-time mission is a wonderful opportunity for young men and women to serve and grow. The spiritual experience/maturity gained is usually much more than the chronological time served. I strongly encourage all who are able, to do so.” I am in no way criticizing those who serve full-time missions for the LDS faith. I recognize and celebrate their service. Indeed, I am eternally grateful for those who taught me over 50 years ago.

  • Much of the mission experience is devoted to service projects. Where did you get the impression that it was only about giving lessons?

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