Sunday, October 7, 2012

Scammer Tactics

So the big topic that has the Mormon and ex-Mormon blogospheres similarly abuzz is the shocking announcement at General Conference that missionary ages are being lowered.  That's right--young men may serve as early as 18 and young women as early as 19.

Juicy stuff.

In light of this development, I'd like to add my own spin to the zillions of other opinions swirling around on the internet.  I'd like to talk about dirty sales tactics (or scammer tactics) and how they apply to the church's decision to get the mishies out early.  This is not about the tactics the missionaries will use on the unsuspecting public to lure them into a seemingly harmless but secretly destructive religious organization--this is about the tactics that religious organization is using on the missionaries.

Always, always be wary of someone trying to rush your decision.

A car salesman will try to get you to hurry-up-and-buy-this-car-because-it's-exactly-what-you-want-and-it's-such-a-great-deal-and-you'll-love-it.  It sounds great at the time, and it can be a pretty tempting offer, especially with how much a good salesman will talk the deal up.  But if you take a second to think about it, you may realize that this car won't give you the kind of gas mileage you're hoping for and you'll wind up paying a smidge more than you can afford for your monthly payment.  If you're fooled, you'll get yourself into a long-term car loan that you'll wind up regretting.  A good (albeit, crafty) salesman can convince you that signing for that car right now is the best thing you can do.  Of course, he's in it for the commission.  He's not necessarily worried about what's best for you--especially in the long run.

Another example is the recent Reveton ransomware worm, which "locks" a computer with a message claiming that the user has engaged in some kind of illegal online activity.  The message claims that the only way to "unlock" the computer and avoid being arrested is to pay a two hundred dollar fine to a law enforcement agency (such as the FBI) within the next 72 hours.  The worm's success is based on people's initial reaction being, "I'm in so much trouble, I better do this right now before this gets any worse."  The panic can cause people to overlook the shadiness of the FBI requesting fines payable via Moneypak.  The message looks legitimate enough to make people make quick, careless decisions and willingly donate two hundred hard-earned dollars to a web-savvy scam artist.

And, of course, the third example is the LDS church rushing its youth into missionary work.  The less time the kids have between graduating from high school and arriving at the MTC, the less time there is to carefully consider their decision to serve a mission.  The typical Mormon life is laid out pretty specifically (especially for the men):  deacon, teacher, priest, graduate, wait a year possibly at college, and then mission, marriage.  The church is trying to streamline this sequence and allow less time for experiencing the world and "shopping around" before committing to an adult lifestyle.

I think the brethren are hoping that every male born in the church will be hurried straight down this path (without passing Go or collecting $200, ha ha) and suddenly wake up at 25 as a married returned missionary with two kids...and then decide that, even if they wanted to leave the lifestyle, it's too late.  Might as well keep going.

A rushed decision is often a bad one.  The church is trying to maximize its member's rushed decisions.  And that doesn't seem right to me.


  1. As always, you've nailed it.

    However, I think lowering the age of girls to 19 is an even bigger deal. They say its still optional, but the peer pressure to go has been enormous. What it's going to do is increase the number of female missionaries while reducing the eventual numbers of female college graduates. I believe one of the reasons for the high divorce rate in the church is that more and more women are educated, giving them a better chance to get out of a bad marriage. Now, they will come home, get married, get knocked up, and get trapped (actually the trap was set to catch them at 19 year olds.. That's right where the brethren want them.

    1. I'm not really plugged in to the front lines of the church anymore, so I don't have much firsthand knowledge of how the membership is responding to this stuff. There's more pressure for the ladies to serve now? Did the brethren do something to engineer that pressure? Because, as you say, that does kind of play into their hands...only I haven't heard anything to say whether they did it on purpose.

  2. I think that this a little ridiculous and that you are assuming things which are not true. There are many young women who are making the choice to serve and excited for the oppertunity to go when they are younger. This has nothing to do with pushing them into it or added pressure, more so than maybe a wondering person asking if they want to or are planning on serving. This to me does not seem to be added pressure any more than asking if someone plans on attending college. Perhaps we should increase the age of college attendance so that people are not forced into that experience or lifestyle. I am active and I served a faithful mission not at 19 or even 21 but 25. NOT because I couldn't get married (there were MANY guys interested). But because that was what I felt the Lord wanted me to do. In fact at first my perspective was that I was doing it to show my love for Him, the Savior. This of course is a noble reason. I learned quickly this was a gift that He had given me. Nothing prepared me more to be a wife and future mother more than my mission. I also felt strongly I needed to return to school after my mission (which I would not have done if I had not have served). Although I had many promotions and been successful in the working world prior to any formal education I went back and before I graduated I was teaching college classes as an adjunct professor. I assure you my life would be very different if I had not made the decision to serve. I believe the age change is beneficial for many reasons. Often if you have a year and don't feel like going to college first many end up in a state of limbo and lose any direction at all. (If the church wnated to rush peoples decision they would have girls leaving at 18 too or not have any age requirements). You may be surprised to know that serving a mission is still completely voluntary and not typically paid for. Those who CHOOSE to serve- no one is forced. If you have any comments you can email me as I'm sure I will not come across your blog again. Also, I certainly do not know your history or why you have such a bad impression of the church but I would love to help you understand any of your concerns :). Take care
    -Larissa :)