The following was written by David Haglund about Michael Quinn‘s mission experience:
[His] testimony only ever deserted him on his Mormon mission. While serving in England, he was tasked with cleaning up the results of the “Baseball Baptism Program,” in which missionaries used sports to attract young converts. Once the kids were interested, the missionaries were supposed to contact their parents, with the aim of converting whole families. But some simply baptized the boys–a few without explaining what the baptism were for. By the time Quinn arrived, the program had been disavowed, and many of these baptism needed to be undone. Quinn went over local church rolls and found addresses of kids who didn’t come to Sunday services. He visited these homes with his missionary companion and asked the boys if they still wanted to be Mormons. Some did not know that they were.
There was no process for voluntary withdrawal from the Mormon Church in the 1960s, so each of these kids had to be excommunicated–technically, for apostacy. Quinn was so depressed by the experience that for a few weeks he lost his belief in God completely. . . .
I’m not totally comfortable with the way that Haglund describes the situation that Quinn was confronted with. He seems to place most of the blame on the missionaries (20-year-old boys that wanted to have “successful” missions) and none on the leadership that allowed this to happen.
I suspect that along with the “baseball-baptism” program there was heavy pressure to baptize. This left open all sorts of possibilities for abuse. The leadership had to know this was happening, but was too enamored by the growth statistics.