Comments about LDS Missions, Part IV (Philip G. McLemone)

There seems to be a lot of individuals who want to write about their LDS missions.  Here is the experience of Philip G. McLemone (Sunstone, Sep 2012):

My first mission president in Brazil was determined to have the top baptizing mission in the world, and his system was successful.  My first year, we had 5,000 baptisms with 189 missionaries!  But behind the scenes, missionaries were being dragged out of their beds at midnight and threatened with physical violence if they didn’t meet super-inflated goals.  Other missionaries were bribed with leather coats and material rewards for increased baptisms.  The president was so busy cracking the whip that he did not have time interview the missionaries or read their monthly letters to him.  I found hundreds of such letters that had spent many months in the trunk of a leader’s car.  I read some of them.  They contained the stories of missionaries suffering with personal problems and feelings of failure for having not baptized 50 people a month.

Our most successful missionary, the one designated for many months as the “Kingdom Builder,” enticed hundred of young boys into LDS chapels to see a “free movie,” which was the filmstrip Christ in America, and then offered them a new soccer ball if they would be baptized.  Other missionaries pressured timid, poor people, or simply accepted people who wanted to be their friends but who had not attended church and had no intention of living gospel standards.  Once their goals were met, many missionaries hung out with girls, went to movies or bath-houses, or slept in and listened to music.  Since I refused to participate in these activities, I was demoted from district leader to junior companion and sent way out into a small, two-missionary city so that I would not be a “bad influence.”  It was estimated that 50-75% of returned missionaries from that period of my mission went inactive.

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2 Responses to Comments about LDS Missions, Part IV (Philip G. McLemone)

  1. Allen says:

    That mission president was hypocritical, and his missionaries who complied with the “unorthodox” methods of proselyting were mere robots. Sad. While I was living in Massachusetts, I was asked by the missionaries to give a “survey” to my neighbors. I said “no”, because the sheet wasn’t a real survey; it was merely a pretext to get people to teach.

  2. j hale says:

    There is a lot of pressure to baptize in Latin American missions . If a missionary doesn’t do it than he gets in trouble. Thus because of the pressure exerted missionaries care less about real converts and more about the numbers.

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