“Every Member a Missionary” is so pass

The Deseret News recently re-posted a story from the Mormon Times on members being missionaries that included 10 tips.

Here is my translation of the 10 tips:

  1. “Be a friend” = Pretend to like people so they will think you’re nice and they will want to know “why” you are nice. Then spring your religion on them, ’cause what else are friends for if not to deceptively pretend to like people so you can shove religion down their throat?
  2. “Ditch the lingo” = Pretend you are more like other Christians than you really are by learning to speak the way they do.
  3. “Stay on message” = Stay on the “milk” message – Mormons are nice and you’ll have a happier family if you join. Don’t discuss what Mormonism is really like or what Mormons actually believe: god lives on a planet near the star Kolob; Joseph Smith instituted polygamy so he could sex it up; the church owns dozens, if not hundreds, of for-profit subsidiaries, including malls and ranches; Mormons mistreat women, gays, and blacks; Native Americans are Jews, they just don’t know it and their DNA is hiding the evidence, etc.
  4. “Trust” = This is a repeat of #1. Basically, pretend to be trustworthy so you can use “friendship” as a tool to convert people. Sure, there is that idealistic notion that friends are people who just genuinely care about you because of who you are. Mormons don’t buy that. Friends are targets for conversion (or are automatically gained through holding membership in common). Friends are instruments and tools, not people.
  5. “Pray” = Fall prey to confirmation bias. When some completely random event occurs that allows you to try to force your religion on someone else, claim that is a prayer answered. Ignore the 10 trillion other random events that do not lend themselves to this opportunity. Ergo, prayer works.
  6. “Invite” = Ditto #1 and #4. Though, with this one, he is also throwing in the old, “Feel free to strain your “friend” relationships with awkward invitations to church.” Sure, you have to work with those people every day, but what’s wrong with a little workplace awkwardness in the pursuit of converting the world to Mormonism.
  7. “Plant seeds” = Ditto #1, #4, and #6. However, this one includes the notion of randomly throwing “seed” around your social network… All the better to annoy people in your social network.
  8. “Community Involvement” = I’m handing this one off to Jesus, one of my favorite mythical characters, “Watch out! Dont do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, dont do as the hypocrites doblowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, dont let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6.1-4). Ever heard of “Mormon Helping Hands“? (FYI, the link is a Google News search showing all the trumpeting of their good deeds in the media.)
  9. “Use humor” = What better way to get yourself into your friends’ good graces than to humorously mock THEIR religious views? Come on! This is brilliant stuff here.
    1. If you find yourself talking to a fellow Christian, you can try this line: “What are services like in… THE CHURCH OF SATAN?!?!” (1 Nephi 14:10)
    2. Or this zinger for a Jew: “How is that temple reconstruction going? We Mormons can’t wait until it’s rebuilt, so you can all weep and lament the fact that you killed Jesus!” (D&C 45:51-53)
  10. “Access the keys of heaven” = This one is just weird. It sounds like he’s recommending you pawn off the responsibility on your ward council. Perhaps the smartest suggestion of the bunch!

Is it just me, or do these suggestions seem both anachronistic and dishonest? Anachronistic because people just don’t do this crap anymore – religious ecumenism requires that people be tolerant of others’ religious views and not try to convert them. And dishonest because it is using deception to convert people.

Anyone else want to take a shot at translating the 10 tips of passe member missionary work?


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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108 Responses

  1. Alan says:

    Daniel, just because we dont have the genetic means of tracing Hebrew DNA to modern Native Americans doesnt mean they dont have a Hebrew somewhere back there in the mix.

    Seriously, its like you arent even paying attention to the argument at all.

    Wait…so you’re saying that even though there’s no proof [yet] of Hebrew DNA in the mix, and that even when/if this proof emerges it’s likely to be to a limited population, that it’s still appropriate to call all indigenous cultures of the Americas “Lamanites”?

  2. kackyful says:

    Oh, don’t worry, Seth, I’m not flattered. I’m just sitting here w/ popcorn watching your desperation. Kuri/Chanson and a few others are offering you a lifeline here to just simply say “hey, I don’t know, I just need to believe in it”, but you keep digging a deeper hole for yourself, and making bigger claims of “what if’s” that are simply fun to watch.

  3. kuri says:


    The two types of DNA (Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA) that we can trace easily today are tracked beyond a couple of generations only through same-sex lineages, so a person can descend from someone without it showing in their traceable DNA.

    For example, even though my daughters descend from my mother, they don’t carry her (presumably) European mitochondrial DNA. They carry their mother’s (presumably) Asian mtDNA. If they have sons, even though they’re my descendants, those boys will carry their fathers’ Y-chromosome DNA, not mine.

    So if, as is the case in “limited geography models” of the Book of Mormon, Lehi and company entered already populated American continents, it would be theoretically possible for Lehi to leave many descendants but no traceable DNA. If, on the other hand, Lehi and company were the “principal ancestors” of the native American populations, their traceable DNA should be all over the place.

  4. Alan says:

    it would be theoretically possible for Lehi to leave many descendants but no traceable DNA

    Thanks for the summary, Kuri.

    And what about the lack of technological evidence? Or animals and plants being in places they wouldn’t have been? Or the fact that even if there was an Israel->Asia->Americas migration route that the population’s language wouldn’t have been “reformed Egyptian” by the time they got to wherever?

    The BoM screams 19th century American exceptionalism. The book was Smith’s attempt to justify why it was okay to build a “second creation” in the West and displace people already living there. Mormons felt they knew the history and future of the indigenous peoples better than they knew themselves.

    The problem with the BoM is the idea of God knowing that Europeans would wipe out indigenous cultures so He decided to give the gospel to a white man to keep it safe and to help it spread worldwide (forgetting to mention the evils of colonialism, instead praising the Constitution). In hindsight, it makes more sense to say Smith and the BoM fall in line with 19th century American ideas about racial destiny, politics, economics, etc.

    It was easy for early Mormons to label indigenous people “Lamanites”: they were darker, and the BoM explained why. It became harder to maintain this once a great number of the Church’s membership was not white and from Central or South America, and people had to take seriously complex demography and racism.

    Arguing that Lamanites today are now understood as among the ancestors of native peoples as opposed to being their “principle ancestors” is beside the point. There’s a longer history of settler colonialism, and the BoM’s fall into irrelevance is simply a result of its being born from an essential immoralism. Seth argues that the “limited geography model” was born from the text itself, which is true, because Smith’s imagination limits the text to nowheresville.

  5. Seth R. says:

    Alan, do your really want me to go into every last one of those topics right now? I already figured we were threadjacking with the DNA thing as it was.

    As for mtDNA and Y-Chromosome markers that are traceable…. let’s just use female mtDNA as an example. Every time a woman doesn’t have a female child, that female’s particular mtDNA marker is lost.

    This means that – over time – mtDNA lines in a given population are constantly being whittled down. As long as the ancestral mtDNA your looking for didn’t come from too large of a percentage of the ancestral gene source material, the natural elimination process should be fairly rapid. Each generation will bring the loss of more continuous lines.

    Of course, if the target genetic signature at one point accounted for 100% of genetic source material, you would be able to trace this. Even if the target accounted for the majority of the source material it would still be highly likely.

    At this point, the only real dispute between me and Kuri outstanding is how rapid the process of natural elimination of mtDNA lines is (or Y-chromosome lines). I have reason to believe it’s a fairly rapid process and 2600 years is more than enough time to make the job nigh impossible. I’ve got an interesting study on this I remember reading about, but I’m trying to track it down.

  6. kuri says:

    There are obviously a lot of reasons not to believe that the Book of Mormon is what the church claims it is. I think the DNA evidence is probably more in the category of “Things that could have been strong evidence in the book’s favor but aren’t” rather than “Things that are strong evidence against the book.” (Although it is strong evidence against the popular traditional “hemispheric” interpretation of the book.)

  7. chanson says:

    As for mtDNA and Y-Chromosome markers that are traceable. lets just use female mtDNA as an example. Every time a woman doesnt have a female child, that females particular mtDNA marker is lost.

    Y-chromosome DNA and mtDNA are especially interesting because they allow us to examine specifically male and specifically female migrations. But they’re not the only DNA that’s used when studying the genetic distance between two populations.

    Years ago, I read Luigi Luca Cavalli-SforzaGenes, Peoples, and Languages, but unfortunately I lost the book during one move or another. I’ve been kind of staying out of this because I don’t want to make a mistake (not having my reference handy), but now I’ve decided to repurchase and re-read this book (and perhaps some of Cavalli-Sforza’s other books). The study of genes and human migrations is fascinating — for reasons that have nothing to do with the falsifiability of the BoM.

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