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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:23AM

As a nevermo, I've always been curious about this. Why are Mormons so obsessed with bringing "lost sheep" back to the fold? Why the phone calls, the visits, the love-bombing, the cute little notes and cards, the countless mentions of inactive members in countless church meetings? Why the endless efforts to track members down, long after they have moved one or more times and obviously have no further interest in the church? Why the obsession with the concept that church members may have offended the inactive?

I never saw this growing up in the Catholic church. I think that part of the reason is that a range of activity is accepted within Catholocism -- from the mass every day types (rare) to the "twice a years" (Christmas and Easter.) The "twice a years" are not the most respected members of the church, but they are tolerated as part of the spectrum. Even now, as a former Catholic, I am greeted warmly by practicing Catholics as a part of the family. As far as they are concerned, we have common ground. There is no particular punishment for them to question the church (which they often do,) so why should my discontent be a problem for them?

I never had anyone track me down, ring my doorbell, visit me, or otherwise annoy me. Catholics figure that if you want to come back, you will. Otherwise it's live and let live. I imagine that the mainstream Protestant churches function in much the same way.

So how did the Mormon obsession with inactives originate? The Mormons could not have picked this up from any past mainstream Christian associations. Why do they feel compelled to hunt down and annoy inactive members?

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:29AM

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Posted by: bc ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:37AM

Part of it is that the "ward" concept makes things a little more tight-knit. People within a ward feeling a greater responsibility to re-activate others within the ward than if it were structured differently. Also lots of people in the ward are given callings where it is part of their "stewardship" to activity those. If you are a primary president, part of your "job" is the inactive primary children. The same goes as primary teacher. Plus you have the ward missionaries, the bishop, and so on.

Part of it is concern that these people's eternal salvation is at stake and by re-activating them you will save them for eternity.

In the Mormon worldview someone who doesn't hear the gospel is OK - they can just accept it in the next life. However someone who has the gospel and is not "valiant" enough - D&C section 76 explains in some detail how people will be judged to go the Celestial, Terrestrial, & Telestial kingdoms. So the culture is that if the in-actives do not repent and get with the program in this life they are screwed for eternity - I guess screwed is a bad choice of word - it's actually those in the Celestial Kingdom that get screwed for eternity ;)

Much of the mentality can be seen in Doctrine & Covenants 18:10-15
10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.

12 And he hath arisen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.

13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!

14 Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.

15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

The Mormons have a lot of scriptures to pick from. However, there tend to be 100-200 passages or so that get hit over and over again - the passage above is one of the often repeated ones.

I also suspect much of this has to go back to Joseph Smith & Co attempting to prevent defectors. The early church is rife with "apostates" - pretty much anyone who was not Joseph Smith's family left of the original cast. So it makes sense that the early LDS church would evolve to try to hold on to people more aggressively than most churches do.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:56AM

bc Wrote:
> Part of it is concern that these people's eternal salvation is at stake and by re-activating them you will save them for eternity.

That's a good point. In mainstream Christianity, once you are baptized you are "good to go." But in Mormonism, you are truly never finished because your exaltation is at stake.

Also, good point about the members' church jobs that involve reactivation. It still reflects church policy and practice, though.

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Posted by: bc ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:19PM

Yes, I'm definitely answering it from the perspective of "What motivates the local people who are doing the actual pestering do it?"

Possibly of note is that the current Mormon fixation of tithing is more recent that you might suspect. In Joseph Smith's time it was more of a matter of the law of consecration, etc. Joseph Smith was after a whole lot more than just 10%. He was pretty successful in getting it from the wealthy, too.

In the early Utah days, they were just scraping to survive.

Lorenzo Snow was the first as I understand it to really push tithing hard.

The LDS church has historically been on the brink of bankruptcy and heavily in debt. It has only been since the 1960s or so that it has been in the black. And even more recently that it has become a multibillion dollar corporation.

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Posted by: bc ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:20PM

Sorry about all the typos - hopefully you can still understand what I am saying.

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Posted by: bc ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:34PM

One other thing I should mention.

L Tom Perry came and visited our stake a couple of years ago.

In so doing after meeting with the stake presidency on Saturday he came back with a bunch of goals (mandates) written on a napkin from his hotel room.

This included a list of 8 or so things that they stake was supposed to accomplish within the next year - it was all packaged as a "rescue".

The goals were ridiculous and unattainable. Of course they came from an "apostle of the Lord" so the stake presidency has spent the last 3 years stressed out trying to attain these goals. They have often been overbearing and annoying the the rest of the stake - but they see it as necessary to fulfill the mandate of an apostle.

This is not unique to our stake - L Tom Perry has been going around doing this all over the place. He does tailor the goals the the current stats of each stake.

Some of the goals as I can remember them:
Increase home teaching percentage to 72%
100 convert baptisms in the next year
Increase sacrament meeting attendance to X%
Increase the number of temple recommend holding member by X
Increase the number of active Melchizedek priesthood holders by X (with the ideas they would bring their families along)
There were 2-3 other goals but I can't remember them.

L Tom Perry's way he expected this to happen is that every active member of the stake was supposed to spend a minimum of 6 hours a week helping with the "rescue" effort - the bishops & stake presidents and such weren't supposed to have to spend any extra time. The high council was supposed to be the big catalyst to make all this happen.

The only thing that actually changed was the stake presidency realigned all the ward boundaries after two years of not have any success and not knowing what else to do.

So there's an inside view of how at least one "apostle" pushes this.

There are also fairly frequent references in church lessons about sharing the gospel. One of the main purposes of the church in the mission statement is to "perfect the saints" with includes re-activation. General conference talks often refer to reactivation and prevent offense and/or getting back those who have been offended.

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Posted by: imalive ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 04:24PM

Three years ago, L. Tom Perry visited the mission that I live in. The whole mission is the entire state. He probably came in late one year. Then on the fifth Sunday of January the following year, one of the counselors from that mission presidency came to my ward and had the nerve to tell us how awful the members were for not having had a convert baptism in over a year!!!!!!!!! O_o Then the asshat introduced the program where five people from each auxiliary were to either fellowship inactives or new people and our numbers would double. I was so PISSED! I was LIVID! I was ANGRY at the damn guilt tripping. And that was the start of my being less active and reaching the point where I only attend SM to please TBM DH and be with my kids. After that, I leave to save my upper brain from having to hear correlated bulls.hit.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2012 04:27PM by imalive.

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Posted by: Flyer ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:33PM

Because it's a cult/MLM - they want our money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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Posted by: judyblue ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:11PM

bc Wrote:
> 15 And if it so be that you should labor all your
> days in crying repentance unto this people, and
> bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great
> shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my
> Father!
> 16 And now, if your joy will be great with one
> soul that you have brought unto me into the
> kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy
> if you should bring many souls unto me!

That is actually one of the D&C Seminary scriptures, one of a dozen or so you are required to memorize and be able to recite to be able to graduate the program (at least it was in my day/school).

I think this is part of the mentality - if you get a friend to go to church, YOU GET CREDIT. And re-activating someone is so much easier than converting someone.

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Posted by: bc ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:37PM

Oh yeah - also important.

There is an implication in both LDS culture and scripture that by baring your testimony to others and converting others etc, it helps your sins to be forgiven.

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Posted by: Zig ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:38AM

Tithing. Guilt and tithing. They go hand in hand.

The chapel Mormons don't know this, they're oblivious to the real goal of their leaders - tithing. They are lead to believe they're doing the work of the lord, reaching out, touching a soul, all that. But really, from the corporate standpoint - bring back one "wayward" or "lost" member and the potential for payment increases.

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Posted by: Stray Mutt ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:39AM

Besides, cult mentality can't accept people rejecting the cult.

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Posted by: Quoth the Raven "Nevermo" ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:52AM

They choke down the KoolAid every week and suffer. If someone leaves the flock and is happy there might be a break in the shelf. A person who leaves must be unhappy and the only way to be happy is to join the flock. They enforce their world view by hunting down those who have left.

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Posted by: CA girl ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:58AM

See, this is exactly why Catholicism is my current church of choice when I'm in the mood to go to church. Because they don't pester you. You can sneak in the back, the congregation at our local church, which meets three times Sat night, Sunday early, Sunday mid-morning and once in Spanish Sunday afternoon. You can go when it's convenient for you. All services tend to be full but you can usually find a seat. You don't have to talk to anyone if you don't want to. No one tries to track you down outside of church during the week. If you show up at the pancake breakfast, people are friendly but not cloying. Plus the pastor is really funny and usually gives a great sermon. But the number one reason is the no-hassle policy.

Mormons have been taught it's Christlike to rescue the lost sheep and try every way to do so. But it's doomed to failure the large majority of the time because people aren't sheep and almost no one who leaves Mormonism is lost. That patronizing attitude of "I need to rescue YOU" dooms their efforts. The church encourages the practice of irritating inactives because if they come back, they pay tithing and work to further the church's goals. But it's not sold to the members that way. It's sold as a kind, loving gesture.

It also backfires because people in the church are taught the only reason people leave is because of sin, laziness or because they are offended. So it doesn't help to go after people you need to save that you've already decided are sinners. It combines to make a truly patronizing attitude that makes inactives far less likely to come back than if they had the hands-off/respect your views attitude of the Catholics.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2012 11:58AM by CA girl.

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Posted by: WiserWomanNow ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 11:59AM

The leaders KNOW that inactives have discovered the truth, and are not going to return to the church. But they don't want the current tithe-paying sheeple to find out!

A salesman whose sole aim is to push, push, PUSH the product, has no listening for another point of view. Why would he care if you had a valid claim against the product? His job is to SELL.

And so it is with the TBM trying to re-sell you on the Mormon church. He is prepared with all the trite counter-arguments for anything you say; and if all else fails to convince you, there's always the default, “I know the church is twoo.”

So, that TBM WILL NOT HEAR a single argument you make, OR BELIEVE any evidence you present; and THAT is exactly what the leaders want!

The reactivation directive is not about inactives. It is all about keeping *TBMs* in line!

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Posted by: Laban's Head ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:37PM

Hadn't thought about this aspect before but I think it's true. At least it was for me.

I stayed active longer than I wanted to just because I didn't want to be "the Project".

When you are in, you know what happens when you try to get out.

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Posted by: Altava ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:05PM

I've been asked this often by my roommates. "Why do they call you when you don't show up to church? Other churches don't do that." And assert that it's probably a cult. Sadly, it took me years to realize that they were right and it's not okay to stalk and guilt people into something like church. It just seemed...second nature to me so I didn't question it.

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Posted by: quebec ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:09PM

The church wants the 10% back.
And the morgbots are tired of having 2 to 4 (or more) 'so-called callings'... they are just tired ;-)
They're also tired of being told over and over again that the
% of visits (ht/vt) are not high enough.

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Posted by: forbiddencokedrinker ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:30PM

They assume it is easier to fool someone who has already proven themselves capable of being fooled, then to find a new mark.

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Posted by: Anon1234 ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 12:41PM

From the members perspective, the insincere attempt in reactivating others is due to their own perceived stewardship and because they are deluded into thinking that if they don't their own salvation is at risk.

From the Q15's perspective, they know if they've fooled a member into paying tithing once, they can do it again. So they guilt the active members into guilting the inactive members to come back and start paying tithing again.

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Posted by: imaworkinonit ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 02:57PM

1) Inactives are decent prospects for conversion. A lot of people who stop going to church, still believe. These are the jackmormons. They've already drunk the koolaid, but they are just taking a break because they realize at some level that somebody forgot the sugar. They don't WANT anymore, even though they think they SHOULD. So they are more likely to come back and stay, than a nevermo would be to join the church and remain active.

If someone can get them back, they feel pretty good about that. They feel validated in their beliefs and they have more friends. And the church benefits from the tithing and free labor that person may donate.

2) Nothing reinforces faith like trying to convince OTHERS that what you believe is true. If you say you believe it, you find reasons to believe it.

3) The church likes to keep members busy. If they have a semi-impossible goal, like bringing the lost sheep back and making new converts, they won't have as much time to think or do things they actually WANT to do. Personal fulfillment is counterproductive to mind control.

4) The church like to keep members guilty. So they try to give them responsibility for others, something they simply do NOT have. You CANNOT be responsible for someone else's beliefs or choices, when you have NO POWER over them. So members feel like they aren't doing enough because they didn't save their non-believing friends. This is just so silly because the church says the SPIRIT is what converts people, but then makes members feel guilty for not converting others.

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Posted by: grubbygert ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 03:25PM

most people doing the reactivating are only doing it to get their leader off their back about it - they've got a quota of visits (home/visiting teaching) or a quota of hours (missionaries) to fill

and their leader is only hounding them about it because he/she is being hounded about doing the hounding

and so on all the way up...

yes, it is in their beliefs to save everybody but where the rubber hits the road it's just the mormon version of TPS reports

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Posted by: kimball ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 03:30PM

Mormonism is heroin. They can't imagine anybody functioning without it, and so out of the goodness of their hearts they go to great lengths to make sure everyone is getting their regular dose of life's greatest source of happiness. Nobody who is not taking their regular dosage could possibly be as happy as they are, nor so likely to enter the celestial kingdom.

Catholocism is not heroin.

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Posted by: caedmon ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 03:37PM

It's a simple business stategy. It's easier and more cost effective to reactivate a former customer than it is to gain a new customer.

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Posted by: Richard the Bad ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 03:38PM

Fear that if you have fallen away, then they might also.
Fear that you will lead others astray.
Fear that (particularly for those BiC) that they have invested 18+ or - years in indoctrination and it still might not be enough.
Fear that you will be feeding potential converts meat before they get to offer the milk (what is one of the main things that they will excommunicate you for??).
Fear that you won't fall into a pit of despair like they teach you will.
Fear that you will be happy and prosperous without them.

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Posted by: adoylelb ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 03:42PM

One thing is that TBM's claim that exmos can't leave the church alone, but the truth is that Mormons can't leave inactives and exmos alone, unless one resigns membership.

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Posted by: Dave in Long Beach ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 04:11PM

Everybody above me is correct. It's about all those things. Push, push, push the sale. Always Be Clo$ing.

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Posted by: mcarp ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 04:25PM

Both "reactivation" (or "rescue") and proxy temple work are based on the same concept:


But, that's not really politically correct right now, so the church has soft-pedaled that message. The problem is, it makes the temple ordinances really hard to understand if you don't recognize the theological tenant behind them. (That only LDS priesthood ordinances are valid.)

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Posted by: 3X ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 04:28PM

Mormonism rests on a foundation of co-dependency: every member is charged with reenforcing the faith of every other member. Inactives are therefore shirking their duty and "injuring" the faith of the congregation. This is especially pronounced when well-known members go inactive, or when general attendance in the ward is obviously down (too many empty seats).

The best way to grasp co-dependency is to think of an ant-colony: members are constantly rubbing antennae, in effect asking:

"I'm from the colony, are you from the colony?"

I had a perfect stranger (LDS) walk up to me at a friend's house and opine: "I heard a great gospel at church last Sunday ..."

A clear invitation to rub antennae - which I deflected by responding, "what church?", knowing full well he was of the LDS persuasion.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2012 05:24PM by 3X.

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Posted by: Tara the Pagan ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 04:40PM

imaworkinonit said:

"... they try to give them responsibility for others, something they simply do NOT have."

When I was active, I was taught that if we TBMs failed to chase after the inactives to the best of their ability, their blood would be on our hands (figuratively). WE would judged by God and held responsible. Since you can't ever know which plate of cookies, phone call, invitation, or intrusive door-knocking might be the tipping point that lures an inactive back, you're required to do everything (legal) you can think of -- and keep doing it until you or they die (or they get a restraining order).

Lots of FPRs and stories abounded concerning members who pestered an inactive for years or decades with no results, then -- BINGO! The inactive came back, generations of grateful descendants sang the member's praises, and everyone lived (NOT) happily ever after.

Nobody EVER mentioned the inactive's point of view, or that such activities might meet the legal definition of harassment.

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Posted by: bc ( )
Date: April 04, 2012 05:08PM


From the Book of Mormon (note this predates temple garments by several years):
Jacon 1:19
And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.

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