|Subject:||A Response to Glenn Beck's Mormon Conversion Story|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2008|
|This is a lightly edited note I sent to a friend who
in a fit of insanity included me on a group email to which Beck's sincere,
pathetic Mormon conversion story was attached. This is my gentle way of
discouraging receipt of information of this kind.
Re. Glenn Beck’s Mormon Conversion Story at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKtAPT9KEfM
Unless you want an analytical response, don't send me things like this. If you don’t want to read an analytical response to Beck’s sincere, uninformed, deceptive pap, stop reading here.
Every religious organization is populated by sincere people who have important social needs met by the organization, and who confuse the strong feelings that come from that experience with a divine encounter that justifies belief that their organization has "the truth". So, you find one of those people who perceives the institution to be particularly important for him ("Without Mormonism, I would be a drunk with no family and no job", says Beck), get him to tell his story using the usual, formulaic salvation narrative - "Things were going really bad in my life; then I fell into a crisis of some kind; then I found [insert name of religion]; then I had a powerful emotion experience [insert tears]; then some really great things started to happen in my life that are a sign from God; and now things are wonderful for me and my family", and you have poster boy that is highly useful for marketing purposes. The more high profile the individual, the better this works.
A large part of LDS inspiration these days comes from a marketing firm named Edelman on Madison Avenue in NYC. Seriously. The Mormons are trying to catch up with the Evangelicals who for years have been using relatively sophisticated marketing tools, and largely as a result far outperform the Mormons in terms of conversions. Richard Bushman explained, in part, how this works to a crowd of well heeled Mormons at a dinner in Calgary recently. He did not name Edelman, but laid out the LDS marketing strategy in some detail. I know from other sources that this information is provided to LDS leaders, at high cost using tithing money of course, by Edelman. A Mormon who was at the Busman meeting summarized it for me. With typically naïve Mormon hubris, he was thrilled that his church was getting more sophisticated in terms of marketing and communications. That is prophetic inspiration for you. Call the gurus on Madison Avenue when you need to find out what to do. God must be leading each and every major business in North America, because they all use this strategy too. My acquaintance somehow missed this irony.
With a few minutes of goggling I could find you this kind of written or video presentation on behalf of many different religious groups. These are made with greater or lesser degrees of consciousness re. their manipulative, perspective distorting nature.
No religious (or other) group has a corner on this experience. It is a human universal.
While wishing Glenn Beck and his family well, I found his video repugnant. It presents a false picture of Mormonism, and will be used to dupe innocent people. The "true love" Beck talks about is at the root of countless religious and secular movements. That fact that this is a revelation to him says something about him, but not about how Mormonism is special or different from other religious groups. Members of Jim Jones' and other cults say the same kind of thing about their groups as Beck does about Mormonism.
Beck's favorites day of week is Sunday because that is a family day. That is the case at my house too, and only since leaving Mormonism. While Mormon, I was seldom at home with my kids on Sunday, and when I was I tended to be exhausted and hence far less of a father than I could have been. You, I know, were in the same position. You and I gave our energy to the Mormon institution instead of our families. Glenn Beck has not yet experienced that side of his new faith.
Beck's fear based claim that he would be on the human trash heap without Mormonism is a pathetic, but unfortunately well-used religious claim. It is designed to scare people into the fold, and into staying in the fold. I reject life lived on the basis of fear, and want nothing to do with organizations that promote that point of view. This is a virus that weakens human beings, and makes them dependant on manmade authority.
I could break Beck's presentation down and tear it apart sentence by sentence. It is nonsense. I have better things to do with my time today.
And, Beck does not address the most important question about religious groups. That is, "How reliable is the authority of the institution that asks for our allegiance, and how much do they ask of us?" The more the institution asks, the more reliable its authority should be proven to be before we go along for the ride.
We know how much Mormonism asks. Ultimately, it wants full commitment. It is designed to push us as far in that direction as we will go. But perhaps Glenn Beck does not know that yet. This is because Mormonism uses sales pitches like his to get people in the door and on the train on the basis of attractive "milk". Then the train starts to move, social commitments are made, roots go down, the forces of cognitive dissonance kick in, and the more momentum the train has the harder it is to get off. The Moonies, Hare Krishna and many other cults explicitly recruit on this basis. So do the Mormons, though most Mormons don't realize it until the facts are pointed out to them. That is, the "hard doctrines", the "meat", the "mysteries" ("Why did God tell the Mormon leaders to lie about so many things!?"), the commitments required of those who attend the temple and become Mormon leaders, and a host of other aspects of Mormonism, are kept purposefully hidden until the convert gradually becomes "ready". Why is that? Well, by that time the train will be moving so fast that it will be very hard for the convert to de-couple his life from it. The forces of denial and cognitive dissonance will then hide Mormonism's flaws from him.
There is no need to review the reliability of Mormon authority with you. You should be as familiar as I am with that. "Lying for the Lord", "Faithful History" and other well established Mormon leadership traditions clearly indicate that the Mormon brand of authority should not be trusted as an accurate guide to reality. It is designed to further the interest of the Mormon institution at the expense of individual members, or whomever else must be sacrificed in this regard.
John D. Lee is a good example. When Brigham Young needed a scapegoat re. the Mountain Meadows Massacre, his faithful foot soldier and adopted son John was sold down the river in a heart beat, and eventually executed as a result. The "greater good" justifies this just as it did Laban's death in the Book of Mormon. I reject this form of utilitarianiam.
The plight of gays, intellectuals and anyone else who stands in the Mormon way and is against its interest is a more mundane, and better, example of how the individual interest is sacrificed to the institutional interest within Mormonism.
In sum, Beck's video is disgusting. If you are going to share garbage like this, keep it within your tribe. You embarrass yourself when you show things like this to well informed people who do not already share your beliefs, and you potentially abuse the less well informed. This is therefore both unwise and immoral.
My response to this video, by the way, explains why you and other fine Mormons I know have had virtually no missionary success after a lifetime of trying. You have been dealing with well informed people who had enough perspective that it was easily predictable that they would not find naive tripe of this kind attractive.
You were trying to do Mormon missionary work in Canada in a mostly university community. The charts at www.worldvaluessurvey.org (a U. of Michigan project) as well as other sources, predict that Mormon missionary work will only be successful where magical thinking is as bad or worse than the Mormon level. Your community is far better than the Mormon standard in terms of magical thinking, and hence unreceptive to the Mormon message.
Beck's histronics will tend to get you polite, sad smiles at best when dealing with the kind of people in your community who are within Mormonism's target market. It has been well over a decade since the last time I heard of one of those joining the Mormon Church where I live. That period includes my stint as Stake Mission President and High Councilman.
Ironically, the same youtube page I brought up to see Beck features Oprah as well (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwGLNbiw1gk&feature=related). While I am not one of her fans, I agree with her on this one.
I hope you enjoy your Sabbath. I am about to start enjoying mine.
|Subject:||Re: Marketing strategy question|
|Date:||Jun 22 10:07|
Bob, can you outline the strategy as related by Bushman for us?
Admin note: In 2007, it is unverified, that the Mormon Church stopped using Edelman and has moved to a different marketing firm. When we have confirmation, we will post it.
|Subject:||Re: Marketing strategy question|
|Date:||Jun 22 10:45|
|OK. Remember that this is filtered through two sets of
ears, and how the telephone game works.
As told to me, Bushman stated that one of GBH's [Hinckley - Mormon president died 2008] greatest contributions was to shift the LDS church toward a more marketing driven orientation, and in particular, toward a media oriented approach to dealing with the public instead of a person to person, every member a missionary, approach. For example, the public's conception of the Mormon family, as shaped by the "family first" and other media campaigns, illustrates this. This affects the Mormons perception of themselves, as strongly family-oriented people, as well as the public's perception. Beck's conversion story illustrates this as well.
Those of us who have spent years within the Mormon institution understand that "family first" really means sacrifice time with your family during this life in order to be with your family in the Celestial Kingdom. That is, the reality of Mormon life is in many ways the polar opposite of what is portrayed in the media. This is the case with many aspects of the Mormon system. The extreme emphasis on "free agency" hides the fact that only one decision -- to obey -- is practically speaking acceptable for the committed Mormon. The use of media campaigns is of crucial importance in shaping self-perceptions, as well as the perceptions of outsiders relative to the inside group. That is what media campaigns are all about -- the creation of an association of a certain kind of feeling with a certain kind of commodity or experience that is being sold.
For example, Cadillac has recently been, laughably, using the line "When you turn your car on, does it turn you on?" in an attempt to revitalize its moribund image. We all know that beer is sold to men on the basis of its association with good times and scantily clad women. Countless other examples can be trotted out.
The Mormon use of this kind of marketing is, in my view, at the low end of morality on the marketing spectrum. It papers over an ugly reality with regard to the Mormon experience in the same way as do commercials with regard to cigarettes and alcohol. In those cases, I note that disclaimers and warnings are required by law to an extent, and to an even greater extent have become common practice because the public is so aware of the dangers related to the use of certain substances. The use of the Mormon religion is a least is dangerous in many ways, and should be subject to at least the same kind of warning and disclaimers. But I digress.
Bushman indicated that recent polling data collected on behalf of the LDS Church indicates that the public in general has high regard for the Mormon people, but a low regard for the Mormon institution and its beliefs. This is unusual. Generally speaking, the perception of the people within a religious group and the group itself tend to be similar.
As a result of this polling data, the LDS leaders have determined that they need to do something to change the public perception of their institution. One of the things they are doing in this regard is to dedicate more resources toward public relations volunteers and professionals, both locally and at the general level. These people are instructed to avoid any attempt to sell Mormonism, and rather simply be helpful. The so-called "public service" hours the missionaries are required to put in is consistent with this.
But we are talking about something far broader than that. We are talking about a move toward what in other contexts is referred to as the ecumenical approach to religion. That is, we should behave so as to be helpful, contributing members of the community without any explicit connection between our behavior and attempts to get people to believe what we believe, and join our organization.
It is instructive that this behavior within Mormonism -- the apparent contribution of energy to community causes without conversion strings attached -- has to be introduced into Mormonism by way of a "public relations" function, and explicit assignment. This indicates how ingrained a missionary orientation is within the Mormon psyche, and how busy Mormons are kept within their own community. It also provides a means for Mormon leaders to control the extent to which Mormon energy is directed outside of Mormonism. Once this cat is well out of the bag, however, it is debatable but it can be stuffed back in.
Another lens through which this phenomenon can be understood relates to the lifecycles of social organisms. The older they get, and the more contact they have with other social organisms, the less aggressive they tend to become. Religious organisms, for example, tend to start as small, aggressive, usually apocalyptic, cults and if they survive gradually mature into larger and still relatively aggressive institutions, and eventually come to look like the large Protestant denominations that are a de facto part of the mainstream establishment. Mormonism is simply moving in that direction. It is more important in its case than most that this be done, because the foundations that distinguished it and gave it its early thrust are under serious critique. Safety for the Mormon institution lies within the broad tent of either evangelical Christianity or Protestantism. Mormonism is better suited to evangelical Christianity, and it appears that it is headed in that direction.
So, we can predict with a high degree of probability that Mormonism will continue to lose its distinctive beliefs, will stop aggressively proselytizing with regard to members of other faiths, will stop claiming that it does anything more than provide a great experience for those people who find a great experience within Mormonism, will deemphasize belief and emphasize the importance of the experienced moment and the "praxis" of living in community, loving each other, etc. These changes will take a least one, and probably several, generations.
And, back to the irony of this new public relations function, at least initially as people are going to have to be told to modify their instinctive behavior while doing what for most people is natural. So, Mormons will be given assignments that will involve engaging in normal (for other people) community behavior that will involve simply participating in various kinds of community projects so as to change Mormonism's image as an aggressive, missionary oriented institution. Eventually, Mormons will learn to engage in this behavior naturally, as do most other people. But, as already indicated, that will take a long time.
I am now well beyond the scope of talking about Richard Bushman, and so will stop here instead of going on to explore the merits and demerits of this current Mormon marketing strategy in light of research that indicates that if an institution wishes to continue growing, it must maintain a relatively high cost of membership.
|Subject:||I used to work with Glen.|
|Date:||Jun 22 10:27|
|Author:||been through it|
|His biggest fallacy that you have reported is that
he's no longer in the human trash heap.
He was a screaming, raging, just one muscle-twitch-away-from-actual-violence maniac. He is not a nice man and I will never believe, especially watching his current show, that he has become one. Maybe mormonism acts as an opiate to him for now, more likely his mormon wife does.
I can't believe that Glen understands the doctrines nor cares about them. He's a performer and an opportunist. Mormonism offered him something alright, but I can't believe it was anything to do with spirituality. It offered him, I'm guessing, a wife who tolerated him in some way, a venue in which to be aggrandized, and, at best, a set of rules he might want to cling to because his ethics-less soul can't think of any on its own.
Mormons using Glen Beck as a poster boy is a great big "ewww" to me and a dramatic example to me that it all can be nothing more than a bunch of misguided hooey. I wouldn't want to be in a club that had Glen in it, that is for daaaaaang sure.
|Subject:||I always sensed the rage undercurrent......|
|Date:||Jun 22 11:44|
|the few times I have seen him on TV. Even before I knew he was a Mo convert, I did not like him. Now I hate him even more.|
|Date:||Jun 22 11:02|
|Thing I can't decide is; is he faking or really
Or does he have any clue about the religion he's talking about?
|Subject:||He's in the honeymoon phase of mormonism! n/t|
|Subject:||Re: A Response to Glenn Beck's Mormon Conversion Story|
|Date:||Jun 22 12:24|
|Bob, can you post a more specific link to the charts at www.worldvaluessurvey.org that you refer to? Thanks.|
|Subject:||Judging by some of the things he's said on the air... (language warning)|
|Date:||Jun 22 12:31|
|...he seems unable to tell the difference between truth and hose sh*t, which would make him a perfect LDS convert.|
|Subject:||Re: Judging by some of the things he's said on the air... (language warning)|
|Date:||Jun 22 14:56|
|Stray Mutt wrote:
> ...he seems unable to tell the difference between truth and horse sh*t, which would make him a perfect LDS convert.
My sentiments exactly. The last time I saw him, he and Bob Barr were reinforcing each other's opinions that Global Warming was a hoax. (This was the same week that NASA released photos showing that the polar ice cap was melting.)
In the interest of saving electricity, we don't allow Glen Beck on our TV any more. But somebody is actually paying this guy for his rantings? Hoo-boy, I must be in the wrong business!
|Subject:||As always, Mccue, you have a good grasp on reality. I could read your writing all day.|
|Date:||Jun 22 15:36|
|About Glen Beck, and other Mormons like him--my
ex-husband could cry on cue like that--the eyes tearing up, the mouth
trembling, the voice cracking, "If you don't marry me, I'll kill myself." (I
had money) Makes me want to barf now, but I fell for it then, because that's
how priesthood holders all acted.
It is all ACTING. I could do it right now, on cue, if I wanted to. So could any one of you. Try it. Easier for Beck and my ex, who have been phonies their whole life.
This man doesn't look like my ex, who beat me and strangled me, and quoted D & C at me, but the facial expression is identical, There is a look about the eyes. And, of course, the words, mannerisms, and format are identical, as McCue illustrates.
That U-Tube interview will probably give me nightmares tonight--unless I have a big glass of wine and watch Ace Ventura right before going to bed.
I am so glad all that mormon garbage is no longer in my life!
|Subject:||You're right - Mormons LIE to sucker people into their cult, then act offended and persecuted when|
|Date:||Jun 22 16:35|
|reasonable, rational and sensible questions are asked.
This is particularly telling: "The more the institution asks, the more reliable its authority should be proven to be before we go along for the ride."
Mormonism demands, as you said, EVERYTHING. Mormonism proves NOTHING to its scared, deluded, cog-dissed followers.
Mormonism is a shell game where it's a sin greater than murder to demand to see all 3 shells lifted up at the same time.
Because when all 3 shells are lifted, one immediately sees there was never a pea to begin with!
Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church www.exmormon.org