Subject: Ballard Story (long)
Date: Oct 11 10:18
Author: MMan
Mail Address:

Since there are many comments on this board regarding Ballard’s talk, I thought I would retell my Ballard story. I posted this several years ago. A meeting with Ballard while on my mission was the beginning of my apostasy. Perhaps in some perverse way, I should be thanking Ballard.

This is a rather long story about visits from General Authorities while I was on my mission. Twice during my mission, General Authorities visited and toured the mission. For both visits, we had multi-zone conferences where the GAs were the featured speakers. These meetings, in retrospect, were defining moments in my life. These two meetings lead to high cognitive dissonance that began my slide out of the church. I was considered a very successful missionary by most missionary standards but I always felt guilty and unworthy. While I did not reach the apex of authority (APs), I did serve as a senior zone leader for 10 months and a district leader for 6 months. Even to this day, I know I was “credited” with 14 baptisms while the mission average was 5. It really is shocking how statistics rule the mission mentality. How many hours do you spend finding this week? How many BOMs did you place? How many discussions did you teach? In addition, each leader rates his missionaries on things such as “spirituality” and “obedience to rules” on a five-point Likert scale. How would you like your spirituality measured on a five-point scale? On and on and on.

Also, the missionary system is set up for abuse. If a missionary complains there is really no one to go to. Your leaders are inspired of God and who are you to question God? If you leave, you will be marked for the rest of your life. If you complain about anything, you will be seen as the problem. Anyway, let me start…

I served in the Southern states in the late 1970s where we were constantly told that we were the lowest baptizing mission in the US. I served in many towns where the closest church was perhaps a to 1 hour drives. In many towns there may be 1 or 2 families that could be considered semi-active. In this mission (and especially these small towns) there is nothing to do but tract. I HATE tracting (along with 99.9999% of the missionaries I was familiar with). However, sending missionaries to these small towns with nothing to do is a recipe for guilt. You are given a task you hate (and everyone else that is normal), you are in a low performing mission, and then you are told your low baptisms are due to not working at something you hate (the low baptism total is TOTALLY due to your disobedience). This also leads to high cognitive dissonance. These are advertised to be the “best two years of your life” but you find them a drag. Do you really want to go to the celestial kingdom if this is the “best” Mormonism has to offer?

Anyway, our first GA visit was none other than Paul Dunn. Now I know he is a liar and that what he did can not be forgiven. Many people relied on his stories when making life decisions. However, as a speaker he is GREAT. He is very sympathetic, encouraging, and just fun. He stated in his talk that he realized that missionary work can be hard and discouraging and at times pointless. But he encouraged us to work hard and that the successes and traits we develop will bring long-term benefits. He made comments such as, “I know it is tough being a missionary in the South,” “Even if you do not baptize one person, your mission can still be a success” etc. Of course, he told some of his fabricated stories but, at the time, I ate them up. (In retrospect, I read some of his war stories now and I can’t believe that I fell for them. They’re so fantastic). I left that meeting recharged and motivated and believing God loved us. What Paul Dunn did fabricating stories is very seriously wrong but I think he would be fun to have over for dinner (probably a lot like Clinton).

A year later we had a visit from Elder Ballard. I can state without hesitation that this zone conference was one of the worst experiences in my life. Part of the problem was I was expecting another meeting like Dunn. I was in for a rude awakening. Our mission president spoke before Ballard and stated that our baptisms were low but we had unexpected snow that snarled many activities. Given this problem, our baptism total was not too bad. My mission president also talked a lot about statistics but underneath, I believe he also hated the game. His success as a mission president is also determined by the numbers. He went on with his talk, blah, blah blah.

Ballard got up and stated our baptism total was awful and we should be ashamed (completely contradicting the mission president, poor guy). He then started to interview companionships from the pulpit (it front of everyone). He first had zone leader companionships stand up, one by one. Example of a typical question, “Are you out of your apartment by 9:30 every morning and working?” (In fact, if you answer yes to this question you are a certifiable liar. Notice that guilt is completely programmed and expected by this line of questioning. What a jerk.) Now this question is a SET UP. NO companionship is out EVERY morning by 9:30. The answer to this question is no. Now this may not seem too bad but remember the setting. You have a GA (who is God to you) asking you questions in front of half the missionaries in the mission with the express purpose of showing everyone that you are a big sinner. If your companionship is “lucky” enough to be called by Ballard, you will be embarrassed to the nth degree! After asking the companionship several questions, he would sneer and ask them to sit down. After interviewing about 6 companionships from the pulpit he declared he knew what was wrong with our mission, DISOBEDIENCE. We have low baptisms because we are BIG sinners and his interviews “proved” this. He told us about what a great missionary he was. He stated that he would be happy to get out his journal and compare his hours of tracting with anyone in the room, implying he worked harder that anyone else (a very humble man!).

I can testify with a surety based on my being there, that this is the second worst experience in my life. The meeting was the beginning of my apostacy. After this meeting, I knew I didn’t like this GA and I never wanted to see him again. However, this is God’s representative and an example of a future exhalted person. Do you see the tension? I am working towards a goal (a future exhalted person like Ballard) that I do NOT want. I knew if he were an example of a celestial person that I wanted no part of that kingdom. Send me somewhere else and quick. I have very little doubt that Ballard has psychological problems and relates to people with a superior-subordinate frame with a God complex.

At the time, I thought that Ballard was an outlier. I figured God would correct his mistake and weed him out. I honestly believed this. To my surprise, he was promoted.

Subject: How aweful! How abusive! (one cuss word)
Date: Oct 11 10:32
Author: Trish Timm
Mail Address:

Why can't more people in the church see through this SHIT!
How aweful for those boys just heading out on their missions. How depressing. Makes me sad when I see a little (mormon) children. Makes me wonder how it will be for them as they get older.

Subject: So infuriating...
Date: Oct 11 10:35
Author: EJH
Mail Address:

I'm speechless.

I used to really detest those Mormon bicyclists in office uniforms, but these days I feel desperately sorry for them!


Subject: How do they pick these idiots???
Date: Oct 11 10:37
Author: maryanne

I mean really -- this story is awful, and typical. If I were the head of the morg corporation, I would pick charismatic, lovable men. I would look for personality and the ability to con. Who hired this jerk, and WHY???


Subject: Hyrum Smith was his maternal grandfather; Melvin J. Ballard was his paternal grandfather. nt
Date: Oct 11 13:57
Author: Reader
Mail Address:
Subject: similar mission experience
Date: Oct 11 10:39
Author: Eve of Destruction
Mail Address:

In Russia 2 years ago. Except that instead of a GA, it was just my MP reporting what the GA's had said. Very clear: "These are not people I want to emulate."

Subject: What a breath of Fresh Air!!
Date: Oct 11 11:00
Author: beaglie
Mail Address:

I hope and pray all of our TBM nephews have had similar experiences so they will make it out!!

Subject: Alvin R. Dyer
Date: Oct 11 11:11
Author: Bob
Mail Address:

I can relate to your story. Working under Alvin R. Dyer in Europe was just as bad (if not worse.) Statistics became the all-determining factor as to the "spirituality" of a missionary. He browbeat the mission presidents constantly(often in front of the missionaries) because he (Dyer) had made the "prophecy" that people throughout Europe would begin joining the church by the hundreds of thousands preparatory to the saints returning to Jackson County and the second coming.
In order to make his proclamations self-fullfilling, Dyer (together with President Woodbury of the British mission) put together the infamous "Baseball Baptism Program" where missionaries would get British kids to play baseball and then baptise them. Of course, their "baptism rate" went sky high and, of course, the British mission became the talk of Europe.

Much later, a former bishop of mine and his wife were called on a mission to England. Their specific job was to seek out those who were on the church records as having been baptised during that ill-advised period. They found that most of those on the records didn't even remember being baptised and, in some cases, were reported as having been baptised when, in fact, the baptism, though never having occurred, was reported as having been done.

In the North German mission, the MP began competing missionary against missionary. We had "Baptism for Father" month during the American Father's Day month, and "Baptism for Mother" month when Mother's Day occured. Any missionary getting a baptism during that month would get his picture along with a picture of his dad or mom in the mission newspaper. As I recall, a copy was also sent home to the parent(s).

We also, began competed with our companions to see who could give the most door approaches, who could place the most BOM's, who gave the most discussions, etc., etc., etc. Rather than working as teams, we began working against each other, and the morale of the mission fell to an all-time low as the contention rose between missionarys and their companions.

Finally, in order to find out why mission morale has plunged, the MP began calling zone conferences. In the meeting, he asked why the mission morale was so low, and opened the floor for a general discussion. I was a rather new missionary who had not quite learned the "ropes" yet. In my zone meeting, when the floor was opened, everyone just looked at the floor and noone spoke up. Finally, feeling a bit uncomfortable, I stood up and told the MP, in a very calm and civilized manner, that I thought pitting missionary against missionary was a rather dumb idea and that it was tearing the mission apart. I then sat down, but that opened the flood gates. To make a long story short, after the zone conference ended, the MP's wife cornered me and said, "Brother___________, when you first arrived in the mission, I thought you were going to be one of our finest missionaries. Now, however, I can see that you've lost your testimony."

Sorry about this long story, but I could go on and on,

Subject: Thanks
Date: Oct 11 15:20
Author: MMan
Mail Address:

I have heard of these baptisms. When I now look back at it, it all seems so amazing. I really believe I could write a "1984" type book from many of my mission experiences.

Our mission was tainted from the strategies of Loren C. Dunn. Our mission president had been impressed by Loren's self-reported success in Australia so our mission imported some of this strategies (Were we in for a treat!). As if the white handbook wasn't bad enough, we now had a bunch of new rules and working times. We had Wilford Woodruff weeks, challenging people to baptism immediately etc. Such nonsense.

Subject: Was this the same MP
Date: Oct 11 15:25
Author: carmella
Mail Address:

who instituted the "chip em and dip em" program?

Subject: Hi, Bob. I likewise suffered . . .
Date: Oct 11 15:36
Author: Schweizerkind

under the "Dyer Fire." I was in the Swiss Mission. I remember well all the pressure tactics applied to the missionaries. What the asshole never seemed to get was that the Europeans were way too sophisticated and skeptical to fall for cheesy U.S. door-to-door salesman tactics.

One of my cherished memories is a mission-wide conference where Alvin R. got up and told us in all seriousness that when converts were baptized, their "blood" was literally changed and they became Israelites. My immediate reaction was mentally "This guy can't be for real."

This was before the discovery of DNA. I wonder if he would have the balls to make the same claim today.

I sold encyclopedias one summer after I got back. The two experiences, including the pep talks to the salesmen, were amazingly similar.

Alvin-was-bucking-for-apostle-but-never-made-it-ly yours,


Subject: Actually, Dyer was ordained an apostle but .....
Date: Oct 11 17:17
Author: Reader
Mail Address:

was never a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles (there have been others like this -- Brig Young did this with some of his sons). He was just a High Priest when he was set apart as a counselor in the First Presidency, and was ordained an apostle a year or so later, but when David O. McKay died, Dyer was released from the FP and put in the Seventy until he died -- he's the only one I know of who was an apostle but served in the capacity of a Seventy.

Subject: WTF?
Date: Oct 11 17:31
Author: akuten
Mail Address:

Even a TBM would be able to say that contention was bad and that you needed to be one big happy family to show the spirit and get baptisms...

OH wait... obedience to leaders comes before the the ideas of that Jesus idiot**... my mistake...

** sarcasm

Subject: Ouch!
Date: Oct 11 14:51
Author: Pretend TBM

Man, I really feel for all of you. Sounds like some bad experiences. At least you all got out. Right now there are many screwed up heads due to the likes of Ballard.

Ballard spoke to a small group on my mission. Of course us missionaries got invited. He didn't pull any stunts with that group, of course they were all regular members. But I could tell he was the serious type.

My mission president was great. He took the church *way* seriously, but could also have a bit of fun. He did have personality confilcts with a few missionaries, but that is likely in any situation. He never any problems with missionaries that seemed serious. I still have respect for that man.

I consider myself *very* lucky in retrospect. I have heard so many stories of absolute tyrants running missions. Missionaries can have enough of a hard time dealing with each other. The mission president shouldn't make it worse!

Subject: I feel like a bubbling cauldron
Date: Oct 11 14:52
Author: Amelia A.
Mail Address:

Your story stirred up so much from my missionary
archive that I am churning inside. A quarter of a century
ago I returned and the buried conflict is activated in
seconds upon reading your post. I feel kind of sick.

Subject: Re: Ballard Story (long)
Date: Oct 11 16:17
Author: My sons described the same type of spiritually abusive behavior,

in fairness, those abuses helped us recognize how sick Mormonism is and set the stage for our departure.

Some good did come out of it afterall.

Ballard is not the only sick Mormon leader, it is an epidemic.

Subject: Ballard an outlier??? No siree - both his grandpas were Apostles
Date: Oct 11 17:08
Author: alex
Mail Address:

His father's father was Elder Melvin J. Ballard who served as an Apostle from 1919-1939. His mother's father was Hyrum M. Smith who served as an Apostle from 1901-1918. BTW Hyrum M. Smith was cooincidentally the eldest son of President Joseph F. Smith whom God had chosen to be the 1st Apostle called during the presidency of Joseph F. Smith. For some reason though God doesn't call sons-of-Prophets to be apostles anymore while their father is a prophet. Apostles like John W. Young, Brigham Young Jr., John W. Taylor, Abraham O. Woodruff, Hyrum M. Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith were in this situation.