Saturday, March 3, 2012

"I'm A Mormon": When LDS Cult Recruitment Tries Too Hard To Show "They" Are Just Like "Us"

While doing other things, this link came up on a random YouTube search right on top of a video I watched.

(I"m sure I can say a whole lot more about this sophisticated manner in which advertising that specifically targets viewers of certain YouTube videos with solicitations for more contextually driven links that are meant to hook them into clicking onto a paid advertisement, but this article will do the job nicely, so I just got spared explaining it.)

It's part of the "I'm A Mormon" campaign being conducted by the ever media-savvy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It's not an advertised link: being that it's a targetted one and the fact that I, a countercult researcher and Christian minister got pegged to this deliberately was most intriguing to me. I smiled when I saw this ad and could not, of course, viewing it. You can check it out here if you want.

The link I clicked is a concisely scripted, cutely filmed glimpse into what we are told is the home life of one Cassandra Barney. She's a mom whose artistic career is clearly a big part of her children's upbringing. It's pacing, energy and overall thrust is the unabashed product of Mormon Church marketing strategies meant to evoke emotional connections to sell their product, that is, the invitation to identify and maybe even become a Mormon. There's no subtlety here and no high pressure sales pitch by earnest young LDS missionaries ready to enthrall with more heartwarming emotional manipulation. It's plainly meant to make you connect with Mormonism through Mormons, trying to show that they aren't the "Others" on the fringe.

This relentlessly cheery and purposefully public outreach aimed at attracting disillusioned people searching for a faith that speaks to them, is a massive presence all over the Internet as well as in the proverbial boots on the ground where Mormons socialize and serve alongside non LDS people in civic and social scenarios. Using animated voice over and just the right kind of low key background music to set the mood, the video at the end of the link says that Barney "used to think I was meant to be something I'm not."  She candidly shares a personal insight that is aimed at resonating with her audience and getting them to realize her LDS faith is just the most enjoyable and personally liberating force in her life:

I don't know why more people don't do this 'cause it's stinking fun. .. I used to think that there was a thing that I was supposed to be that I didn't quite fit, and one day I realized I totally made that up and that God wants me to be an individual but doing that with what I've been given. .. My name is Cassandra Barney and I am a Mormon."

It's really sad, however, to see an obviously very articulate, spiritual and yes, fun woman who enjoys a healthy connection with her own gifting and talent that she shares with her family become so grotesquely exploited. I truly do hope that Mrs. Barney does indeed come to understand that to be told to be something you're not really is at the heart of the religion she's helped to peddle to the masses.

I hope she's comes to figure out that she's not meant to really be a literal goddess wife, rendered eternally pregnant for all of eternity to populate a planet with her god pant-wearing husband in the next level of "Forever Family" in the galactic Beyond. Or at least that she doesn't have to keep playing up how far she's been allowed to wander on her leash in a LDS culture that has very clearly defined roles on who the individual is and exactly what women are meant to be - namely religious chattel for whom "Biblical submission" equals a condescended subservience dominated by their lord and master husband, even to the point that they need him to be resurrected. That would be swell.

Surely this campaign would have nothing to do with the 2012 Republican Presidential campaign. Certainly, just because LDS church-subsidized marketing surveys and focus groups discovered that the views of Mormons are actually viewed as antisocial "Others" would have nothing to do with that (or Mitt Romney's own awkward attempts to be seen as an ordinary Joe)! Surely the Mormon Church would never be so political. It's just all about helping people see, in an election cycle, how really upright and nice Mormons really are. Would someone ask Mitt Romney what he'll name his first spirit baby in the afterlife to come?

Of course, taken at face value, the LDS Church's insistence that this multimillion dollar ad campaign is just to show us how "us" Mormons are. It would also certainly not have anything to do with the very real and very portly elephant in the Mormon parlor room: that this cult's recruitment is hitting all time lows globally with a simultaneously devastating exodus of Mormons from the church which can no longer be ignored by the LDS "Brethren" leadership. Campaigns about being ex-mormons probably aren't all that much of an issue, therefore.

We're just glad Cassandra has done what she can with what she has been given. I do the same thing myself and appreciate the opportunity to build upon her work.

It's like, you know, a Bible? I swiped it from the Marriott we partied at.
Inside, an old lady wrote she was wanting to share it. Ain't that nice of her?