Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trouble In Zion's Harvest Fields: The Curious Cases Of LDS Missionary Failure

Since the beginning of the so-called "dispensation" of time that has occurred since the death of its founder Joseph Smith, the total number of missionaries deployed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints went over the million mark in 2007.  With their scrubbed, youthful visages seeking to engage converts globally in whatever halting command of their prospects' local languages they have, the LDS mission force has been on the go since 1830. No one can deny how completely focused upon Mormon missions work their church is or how from the earliest days of their life within their church, they are continually conditioned to seek their future participation in a mission anywhere in the world. Today, the typical LDS mission lasts 2 years, 18 months for young women, and is expected to be completely funded by the LDS missionary and his family - not the church itself.

The gospel according to the Mormon church is hardly the Biblical Good News Christ commanded, however. It is a crushing legalism of graceless perfectionism meant to compel illegitimate submission to the dictates of church authority mediated through a hierarchy headed by the Mormon prophet.  Beginning with a subjective experience of enlightenment about the church's claim to be the only true church, the mystical manipulation of LDS spirituality is drawn from its aberrant theology positing that all people are gods in embryo who are to strive to become gods in the ages to come. The practical and usually unspoken implications this belief brings offer tough enough challenges for LDS members to strive for, resulting in an unspoken Mormon perfectionism and equally unspoken spiritual burden laid upon every Latter Day Saint,  beginning in patriarchal family circles through service projects, personal piety, as well as marriage and religious "temple work". But for children raised under the influence of belief in godhood as the highest eternal reality and the need to strive accordingly to be counted worthy enough of such an accomplishment, the pressure to be perfect in temperament, morality and personal development is relentless and neverending. The sheer amount of behavioral problems many Mormon youth struggle with in the years before approaching missionary candidacy years is a well documented reality showing that, for all of their parental and church influence, they are not much better off then non-LDS youth.

M. Russell Ballard, one of the "Twelve Apostles" of the LDS Church leadership quorum, has in a "private audience" of "various news organizations" gone on record in June 2005 stating that there was only one way for anyone to explain this apparent fervor of LDS youth for LDS missions callings: 

"The only reason missionaries would make such sacrifice is because they know their message is true ..They wouldn't do it for any other reason."

We beg to differ.

For LDS culture to remain under the control of the dictates of the Mormon prophet as articulated by its First Presidency leadership, the conditioning of LDS youth to unquestioningly and unhesitatingly obey their leaders continues from their cradlehood onward. The paramount coaching LDS youngsters are given is to implant and nurture a desire to be called to a Mormon mission later in life. Generations of LDS youth are reared under the expectation that they are to pursue a missions call, beginning with - for example - grandparents setting up funds to start creating their missions support as an act of patriarchal love as much as obedience to church mandate. The impact this has had on LDS children and youth is profound and pervasive and it certainly plays to the Mormon Peoria very well indeed: this has been a good way for LDS leaders to piously cloak their well-honed practice of church indoctrination as youthful conviction of the truth of their creed.

A child born into LDS circles is fated to feel this compulsion weighing upon their minds all of the rest of their life and is a viewed by the church as paramount to their spiritual and personal development, as Ballard bluntly observed earlier that same year in 2005:
.. we must increase our efforts to see that every 12-year-old young man is worthily ordained a deacon; every 14-year-old, a teacher; every 16-year-old, a priest; and that every 18 to 19-year-old worthily receives the Melchizedek Priesthood. We can do this by filling the hearts of our young men with love for the Lord, understanding and appreciation of His Atonement, and a clear vision of the marvel of the Restoration.
When our youth understand the significance of the Restoration of the gospel and know for themselves that God is our Heavenly Father and He loves all of His children, that Jesus is the Christ, and that together They personally visited Joseph Smith to open this, the final dispensation of time, they will want to help carry this message to the world. When our youth see the Book of Mormon as tangible evidence that the message of the Restoration is true, they will be filled with a desire to do their part in teaching these truths to our Heavenly Father’s children.
With this demand for a completely mobilized populace of LDS youngsters inexorably drawn into embracing such lofty church ideals as "the marvel of the Restoration", the compulsion blurs into a coercion: every child "will want to help" once they "understand" the need regardless whether they like it or not. The road to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) is one paved with good intentions, sparkling idealism and a firm conviction that the world must come to hear of the  "Restored Gospel." 

Mormon youth are to fixate all of the energies their hearts and souls generate upon obediently bearing that torch. Ever compliant and desirous of pleasing their parents and church culture, they seek to please their God Elohim by preparing for that 2 year journey the rest of their young lives .. and it is their obedience and indoctrination into LDS religion that the MTC essentially fixates them with, as seen in this video clip from a PBS documentary from several years ago. The only questioning and reflection advisable is connected only to their usage of it to empty themselves of critical thinking and any actual considerations as to whether the Restoration is true or not suddenly become matters in which doubt is quashed:

Inevitably, muted voices of dissent arise within absolutist groups and are recognized off key notes in the symphonies of conformity to authoritarianism such organizations publicly broadcast and promote as the cutting edge Truth. This jarring of their idealism with harsh reality has been coming home for years to the Mormon Church in hurriedly packed bags and hushed private international phone calls. It's now becoming more and more apparent that recognition of an urgent problem within the LDS missions enterprise is starting to finally surface.

And what is the problem? The realization among Mormons is that their cookie-cutter stamping plant of LDS culture created to mold their youth into trail blazing missionaries has serious quality issues. More and more LDS youth have been coming home early from their missions much to the dismay and even bewilderment of their church and are failing to keep the commitments their youthful zeal and religious culture thrust them into making. Moral failure and illness alone cannot account for these aborted mission assignments and to attempt to cover it with such a fig leaf of unreality is no longer possible.

In the June 2005 article linked above, the belief that the need to demand more personal accountability and preparation of LDS missions candidates was cited as one of the reasons that the number of their mobilized missions force dramatically dropped from the years 2001-2007.

So the input provided from a more recent Deseret News article from earlier this month now attempted to explain why this is happening. It mentioned - as drawn from a study done with 348 returned LDS missionaries - a lack of personal preparation, stressful mission field environments and even mental health issues as part of the reasons that this is occurring. These young people's failures are said to arise from their own personal failings. While this is entirely possible and even probable given the nature of religious crosscultural mission as engaged by young adults with little to no life experience outside their own immediate life circles, the fact that so many of them fell prey to these kind of problems indicates a failure by their peers, mentors and leaders to prepare them for what they encountered which pulled them down. And I think that a supernaturally driven True Church should have more to show for than this - since they assume for themselves a pinnacle of spiritual enlightenment and social development far superior to the "Gentile" non-LDS world around them, the Latter Day Saint church should - it would follow - be able to field young people not as prone to failure.

The reality seems to be rather that LDS youth and young adults are more driven by their cultural expectation to take upon themselves a proselytizing burden complete with regimens, presentation scripts and the pressure to make converts than their noble yet misguided conviction that the Restoration is the ultimate truth. Apostle Ballard, seeking to provide lemonade out of missions lemons, speaks about an issue he seems completely disconnected from. The video I included in this blog gives a glimpse into the kind of high demands for submission to authority and control of their message delivery that the MTC requires of LDS missions trainees and is a brief glimpse into the kind of institutionalized mechanisms the church has erected to provide the formative leverage it sees the trainees as needing. The role of divine "truth" actually is supplanted by the greater and much more compelling influence of authoritarian culture within the lives of  LDS youth. 

Youth called to be a missionary are to engage in one of the noblest roles to play in the Mormon Church and the social elevation and status they will enjoy engenders great respect and honor, as well as a proof that they are truly a defender of the LDS faith. The beckoning of social aspiration as well as their ambitious desire to please God, parents and their church is a form of compulsion impossible to underestimate. To aspire to this and fail to withstand the load, with so many family and friends (and prospective fiances) watching you, let alone your religious leaders, is a tragic reality that many of them face with fear and trembling - knowing what their community could say about it.

To see LDS youth fail and be so stigmatized and feel so completely alone within the wombs of the One True Church says more to me about how human the organization is than for its presumption to exclusive divine truth. What it says to me is that the LDS missions calling is part of a Mormon Sacred Science that can and does demand the personal sacrifice of the LDS missionary no matter the cost. The sacrifice includes a painful stimulation of personal spiritual and mental aberration that can scar and maim the inner being of an idealistic young man or woman, often at the hands of their own church community. Such insenstive and abusive treatment cannot be dignified as Christian fellowship. The fact that supposedly orthodox Christian movements and churches also fail their own when they too struggle and fail is beside the point. For the Restoration should know and do better, much better. But too many LDS youth are given that kind of cruelly "tender mercy" when they fail. It only shows just how "filled with the Spirit" that the "Restoration" actually is .. and how vastly different that this gospel and spirit actually is (
2 Corinthians 11:4)!

And a truly tragic case of how the fear of failure in one young and struggling LDS missionary became manifest is another study of how cultic coercion is driven by they underlying dynamics of fear itself to enslave a struggling member. It is a classic case of doctrine over person, of the individual embracing self-destruction with the noble belief this is for their good and that of the community they belong to. In short, it is a demonstration of how powerful the dynamics of thought reform and mind control truly are within Mormonism.

And will the LDS Church's leaders wake up and smell the pizza?  

 As long as they think it smells like potato casserole, I highly doubt it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

When Late Night TV Gets It Right: Aunt Chippy On Miley Cyrus

As the great philosopher Willy Wonka once said: "For some things in life, there are no words."

That's correct because Aunt Chippy knew what those words should be .. about the relatively tame expression of pop decadence that Southern Baptist Miley Cyrus bestowed to her fans at a music awards show not even worth remembering.

Thanka, Tia.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Wolf Creep, Part 12,692,500,075 - When Shepherds Are "Unaware" Of Danger To The Flock

Bullying is a repugnant social aberration indulged in freely ever Adam and Eve ate humanity out of a divine house and home and has been around as part of the universal depravity of human society. It's become a major social concern everywhere and should rightly be so.

When children kill themselves to avoid  verbal abuse, shaming and criticism they face, it should be stopped. When homosexuals are made the subject of vicious personal attacks for the lifestyle they live, they should also be stopped ( with an important qualification that disagreeing with the lifestyle on Biblical grounds shouldn't be viewed "homophobia" but too many in the culture war surrounding it who want to defend homosexuality take it as such).  When minorities find themselves the center of racial slurs, it's an evil that should be addresed. Bullying is indeed WRONG.

It's the bullying you don't actually recognize as such that will storm your life .. coming from people with the faces of angels, the tongues of the spiritual and the hearts of beasts. I speak of the bullying in social circles in which you'd never expect it was going on .. in places you'd think would be a bastion of defense against it. Surely, you might say, you'd NEVER find that in those warm places of fellowship like churches, right?

BUZZ!  OH, I'm sorry. You are WRONG also!

Bullies exist in churches. That's a clear fact that few in leadership in the Laodicean era we live in want to recognize let alone do anything about. The abuse of power and authority within them is, in effect, a traumatic manifestation of religious abuse and manipulation that is indeed nothing more and nothing less than bullying on a profoundly warped level. And the tragic murder of a young Charismatic Christian woman  attending a Christian ministry school allegedly at the hands of a fellow male student being accused of being a cult leader is a horror I've been meaning to post on for a while.  The picture above is of this very student, Micah Moore, who is accused of murdering Bethany Deaton because of his concern that his religiously-tinged sexual exploitation of her was going to be exposed .. and because of his literally walking into a police station to confess that he had killed her. The dominance, influence and control over her life, her will, and in the end, her body and well being is bullying cubed and squared and made all the more grotesque since it occured among "Christian" people.

It's another sordid and ugly tale of how easily wolves in sheep's clothing can rise up among flocks of sheep completely unaware of their presence .. and how the shepherds were asleep at the wheel, their discernment and apparent will to do what is right completely checked out. This school failed its' students by failing utterly to provide clear levels of pastoral oversight among students supposedly preparing for ministry. I've been writing for years about how this happens, especially in so-called "five fold ministry" circles and have voiced my own views on how it can be addressed. The death of Bethany Deaton allegedly while under Deaton's faith community control is nothing you can sweep under the rug and speaks volumes  about how out of touch the church is with the bullies it unintentionally harbors and empowers. This is done when accountability in its community goes unasserted and pushes the maturity of its young lions seeking to lead within it.

I don't know if former YWAM  leader Floyd McClung had this hideous tragedy in Kansas City in mind when he wrote this excellent article on the abuse of spiritual authority, but it touches on the issue and is worth the read. When the wolves creep in and the shepherds check out, you can be sure it's another sign of the end time apostasy .. just as Ezekiel 34 points out.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Yet Another Sign Of The Apostasy: When Educators Do Stupidly Apostate Things

As usual, the ethos, bravery and finesse of the intellectualistas who act like they are molding tommorrow's minds can take your breath away in the midst of the ongoing apostasy.

Stop me if you've heard this before: the Christian faith is trampled on by a college professor singlemindedly pursuing teachable moments in the bold quest to encourage rational thought. As usual, you really just can't make this stuff up.

And it's a Mormon I've got to give the kudos to for standing up to this learned moron. Another weird day in the falling away and part of the New Normal.

I hope his community service gets him all the publicity he deserves. If I was in Palm Beach county, I'd definitely give him some debate. But that's why blogs are helpful. I think I'd like to ask him why the name of Mohammed wasn't put on that paper and walked upon.

 Excuse me while I email the good doctor.  Oh, it's invalid now, is it? 


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Preyer Life Of An Abusive Church: First Baptist Hammond.

Religious abuse as we have defined it in other places in our website articles, is the inner psychological and emotional trauma suffered by members of churches/religious organizations which have used authoritarian and manipulative teachings and practices to control both their thought and behavior - whether the abuse was intentional or not. The bottom line of spiritual abuse is that it occurs when edification is cloaked manipulation. 

Unscrupulous leaders inflict spiritual abuse through the domination and control of followers who are compelled by induced fear or pride to adopt lifestyle changes that serves their own agenda - not the love of God or the spiritual health of the follower. Ultimately, this exploitation leaves them in a piteous dependence upon their association with the church or religious group to provide them meaning, a relationship with God, and even any notion of personality or significance. This is a tragic and all too common reality in both cultic movements and aberrant churches. 

What is even more tragic, however, is that most spiritually abusive leaders of aberrant churches sincerely believe that the degree of unbiblical submission they are demanding of their followers is necessary for their good. There are few more devastating personal intrusions into life then the spiritual trauma inflicted by twisted people who claimed divine authority to gain trusted access into the deepest part of someone's heart, soul and mind and to manipulate them at their will in degrading, terrifying ways beyond belief.  

These are the kinds of things you'd expect would occur in "those" people "over there." You'd never suspect to see it anywhere else among a bunch of fanatics in the backwoods of Appalachia or among the neanderthal Islamic jihadi culture. But when it occurs in church settings, it is almost always systemic, generational and deeply entrenched as a pillar of the larger community, in a household of faith harboring hundreds of thousands of souls featuring dazzling programs, well-scrubbed children, and the reputation of being a moral repository of Christian values.

And you'd never dream it could become a global engine of institutionalized abuse that colors the lives of hundreds of thousands, even millions with a blacklight of twisted doctrine and practice that enslaves them, and makes them subject to the dictates of unquestioned and yet highly questionable authority figures.

When I left Chicago for Tennessee in 1986 to go to Lee College to prepare for the ministry, I never dreamed about such a thing. Like many, I thought cultism and religious abuse was something only among "those" out there. Upon moving back to the Hammond area in 2012, I was so completely focused on the transition at hand (buying a home, packing, saying goodbye to the area and ministry partners in the Volunteer State, etc.) that as part of my look ahead, I completely forgot about how great a black hole of anti-spirituality exists downtown off Sibley Avenue. It is a prime example of how excess, sin, depravity and exploitation has been sanctified as "old time religion".

Let this tragically necessary yet altogether disturbing article tell you a little bit more about the abyss called First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana and the "higher institution" it spawned called Hyles-Anderson College. It's not for the faint in heart. But it needed to be written. Stay tuned ..

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Forked Tongue Of An Atheist Superstar

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

With all the evangelical zeal of an Elmer Gantry plugging atheism, Dr. Richard Dawkins is one of the atheist culture's most enduring superstars, having become successfully ensconced in the larger global culture as the poster child for disbelief. He has taken his skeptic's road show around Western civilization speaking circuits, published best selling books on what he calls the "God Delusion" articulating with his richly erudite delivery his rationalization for the non existence of God on the basis of the sacred reality of science.

It is funny, however, when you realize that Dawkins' diatribes only seem to work and find traction in Judeo-Christian social settings. When the good doctor was asked about how Islamic views of theism in the Koran stack up to his airtight fortress of intellectual atheistic impregnability, he became curiously quite silent.

Douglas Murray on why Richard Dawkins is so quick to indict the God of the Bible but goes quiet when asked about the God of the Koran..

In a recent Al-Jazeerah interview, Richard Dawkins was asked his views on God. He argued that the god of "the Old Testament" is "hideous" and "a monster", and reiterated his claim from The God Delusion that the God of the Torah is the most unpleasant character "in fiction". Asked if he thought the same of the God of the Koran, Dawkins ducked the question, saying: "Well, um, the God of the Koran I don't know so much about."

How can it be that the world's most fearless atheist, celebrated for his strident opinions on the Christian and Jewish Gods, could profess to know so little about the God of the Koran? Has he not had the time? Or is Professor Dawkins simply demonstrating that most crucial trait of his species: survival instinct.

Yep.  Oh wait, there's more:

Listeners to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday may have been left open-mouthed as the Reverend Giles Fraser, former Canon of St Paul's Cathedral, wiped the floor with devout secularist Richard Dawkins.

The pair clashed over a poll commissioned by Professor Dawkins designed to show that since most Britons had not read the Bible thoroughly in the last year or that they were unaware of details of the New Testament, this meant that Britain could not be designated a Christian country.

Far be it from us to crow on the matter but it would seem a delicious irony that Dr Fraser, who is of Jewish extraction, stopped Prof Dawkins in his tracks by challenging him to give the full title of Darwin's Origin of Species. He couldn't. Game, set and match to religion.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spiritwatch Ministries At The Village Bible Church, Carol Stream in March!

On Sunday March 17 and March 24, I will be speaking twice to a joint Sunday School class and preaching to the congregation of the Village Bible Church of Carol Stream, Illinois. I deeply appreciate Pastor Ray Gurunian's openness to our ministry and am seeking the Lord for what He would have me share there on cults and apologetics.

This will be in the context of Village Bible's annual missions conference. This fellowship of believers believes passionately in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and supports several missions works, including that of Rodgers Atwebembeire, one of the frontline missionaries of the Center For Apologetics Research, a unique countercult and apologetics ministry aimed at equipping Christian ministers and leaders in mission fields around the world. This is truly cutting edge ministry for which I am thankful to have some small part in our world today and I thank God for Paul Carden, the fine man of God who has founded CFAR after leaving a fruitful ministry in the organization Walter Martin created. 

For information on times and directions, click here.

The Light At The End of The Tunnel Has Arrived

I have returned home .. finally, by the sheerest grace of God.

I now live back in the Northwest Indiana city of Hammond, where my walk with God, the ministry and my life are undergoing a complete transformation and rebooting. I cannot begin to express how joyous a moment this has been and a turn in my life I have long, long prayed for and waited for.

It was a pleasure to serve the Southeast parts of Tennessee and North Georgia in discernment ministry (and in fact, we travelled all over the Southeast itself to meet and minister with people there).  I never thought I'd ever have stayed there so long, since 1986 and after 5 years of life at that furnace called Lee College, now Lee University. But the Lord had other plans for me that went completely out of the box and put me on the path of discernment and countercult ministry. As I've shared here, God sovereignly put me on this path squarely on a cold fall night in 1993. 

I cannot but follow where He has led.

Now that I have arrived back home, I am prayerfully assessing my next steps. Traditional parish ministry in my Church of God roots is where I am going to be establishing myself in. But the work of discernment goes on. The work of evangelism remains unfinished and the work of edifying a church shattering under its own immaturity, carnality and sufferings of abuse remains far from started, let alone finished.

Stay in touch, folks. The ministry continues to the glory of God. I'll post again later tonight, God willing.

Ok, Remnant moles. You can copy this for your records if you like.