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Posted by: canadianfriend ( )
Date: May 13, 2016 12:27PM

There are several websites which describe the various signs and red flags of human trafficking. The following descriptors are from one such site:

A victim of human trafficking often:

-Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
-Is not in control of his/her own identification documents such as a pass-port
-Has few or no personal possessions
-Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
-Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
-Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
-Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
-Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
-Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
-Appears malnourished

In my opinion all of the above red flags apply to missionaries to some extent, if not fully.

The church sends male missionaries out at the age of 18, which means their recruiting tactics must begin before age 18, therefore they target and exploit children.

Although 18 is the legal age of majority, it is still very young, and such a person is still very much under the control of his or her parents and the inner circle of their community (bishops, church members, extended family). I have a lot of sympathy for young people who really don't want to waste two years of their lives recruiting customers for the corporation, but what choice do they really have?

It may seem far-fetched to consider the missionary program as human trafficking, but that is exactly what it is and the church, and the parents, need to be told that, yes, you are guilty of human trafficking.

It's time to put an end to the unpaid sales force and recognize it for what it is.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: May 13, 2016 12:35PM

I especially appreciate your point about targeting children since they must do their sales pitch recruiting tactics on minors in order to sign them up when they turn eighteen.

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Posted by: presleynfactsrock ( )
Date: May 13, 2016 05:30PM

My take on the LDS church youth missionary program is that is child abuse. At the age of toddler they start indoctrinating the kids, boys mainly, that the be-all and do-all, is to serve a mission telling them that it will be the best two years of their lives. From this early age, they are drilled to serve and drilled in what the church wants to tell them about their religion and not given anywhere near a unbiased view of religions. Plus, at 18 or 19 years of age, these young people should be given the push and support to be out exploring the world on their own....going on to college, meeting people of all walks of life, getting a taste of life, etc. The church youth missionary program is mind control at its finest.

Only adults who have a desire to serve a mission for their religion after learning about life, the world, and religions in general should go on missions. At this point in time, hopefully, a person would be going because they have this strong desire OF THEIR OWN to share what they have with others, not because they are being cornered and indoctrinated into this position.

Call the LDS youth missionary program child abuse or human is plain evil and disgusting and wrong on sooooo many levels.

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Posted by: Jaxson ( )
Date: September 14, 2018 10:52AM

Not my experience. I was well aware of all of your "descriptions" before VOLUNTARILY signing up. Nothing surprises.

I will give you that there certainly is indoctrination. I always felt that when I turned 19 years old, going on a mission was just something I did. It was expected of me and I was groomed from a very young age. At the same time though, it was one of my first "red flags" when as a youngster I first heard about going on a mission. I remember thinking, "Why would anyone want to do that?"

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Posted by: Sillyrabbit ( )
Date: September 14, 2018 11:47AM

This is just silly.

Missionary program = human trafficking? Really?

You haven't come remotely close to drawing a meaningful parallel between the 2.

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: September 15, 2018 04:58AM

I agree that it is a stretch to equate it with real trafficking (something that involves abduction and criminal coercion).

It is interesting though to see that there are some aspects that are similar. It certainly is exploitative. These kids often know very little about what they're trying to sell. The one thing that they have going for them is that their youthfulness and naivety can often attract sympathy and open doors for them.

I've run into a few missionaries in recent years and was happy to meet with them just to see what's going on with the program these days. Some were surprisingly open-minded and willing to engage in wide-ranging discussions (and I suspect that they are the ones who are most likely to think their way out of the Morg within a few years after they return home).

Others were like robots. They had memorized scripts and couldn't be derailed from making their presentation. No question or fact could faze them because they simply resorted to trained responses (bearing testimony and exhorting me to pray and read the Book of Mormon).

The sad thing though is that the rules seem to be increasingly restrictive. And much of the list set out in the OP is accurate. It's a shame because they're often spending 2 years in places that could provide them with very valuable learning opportunities, but are to a large extent wasting that time bearing testimonies about things that they don't understand, while being closely monitored in a "see something, say something" snitch environment worthy of a Stasi operation.

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: September 15, 2018 05:02AM

After several encounters with missionaries during the past couple of years, the thing that their rules, sales pitches and programs reminded me the most of would be the practices and activities of people who are in cult-like multi-level marketing organizations.

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Posted by: Sillyrabbit ( )
Date: September 15, 2018 01:56PM

Having served a 2 year mission, I knew what I was getting into. I had a very positive experience and don't feel like I lost out on anything. The mission helped me do lots of things:
1. Overcome shyness
2. Overcome fear of public embarrassment
3. Challenge authority
4. Challenge dogma
5. Appreciate silence

I could have walked away at any time. I chose to see it through.

That's the clear distinction that has to be made: I chose. I had choices. All missionaries do.

You simply cannot say the same for victims of human trafficking.

I personally think the OP should feel ashamed for trivializing what real victims are going through right now all over the world.

Maybe next he'll draw a comparison between slavery and relief society?

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: September 14, 2018 01:01PM

canadianfriend Wrote:
> It may seem far-fetched to consider the missionary
> program as human trafficking, but that is exactly
> what it is and the church, and the parents, need
> to be told that, yes, you are guilty of human
> trafficking.

As a parent of a missionary I don't feel guilty of what you are accusing me.

I am guilty of my tacit approval of not fighting a terrible program of sending people out into dangerous places for a terrible organization.

There are older couples and older women out there and I doubt people would consider them trafficked. The problem is the young people's reliance on this organization and the adults footing the bill for the experience. I don't foot the bill.

Missionaries are able to return home at will. I wish my kid would. They are brainwashed to give too much control to their leaders and they are reliant on a financing and housing system outside of their control.

Their indoctrination, brainwashing, and mismanagement don't make this human trafficking. It is the old sending people out ill prepared, ill informed, and against the advice of organizations tracking the riskiness of these places.

IT is LDS Corp banking on young and dumb and not literally banking the fruits of their labors. That would be human trafficking.

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Posted by: praydude ( )
Date: September 14, 2018 09:25PM

Yes, the church is guilty of human trafficking-for-sex but that was in early church history. Read the Nauvoo Expositor for more details and sworn testimony.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: September 14, 2018 09:42PM

While employed with the government, I had to complete certain courses once a year; one of them was how to spot human trafficking, because it's all around us, believe it or not. They point out that the traffickers always confiscate the passports of the victims. What to mission presidents do? They illegally confiscate missionaries' passports, so they won't bolt. So I think that a complaint would hold up under law.

(If a missionary felt he or she could stand up to the mission president, he or she could legally demand his or her passport. If they wanted to cause trouble, missionaries could go to the nearest US consulate or embassy and inform them that someone is holding your passport. If a missionary still wanted to bolt but was afraid or couldn't confront the mission office, he or she could go to the consulate or embassy and declare their passport lost, and get a passport waiver to make the trip home.)

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Posted by: Susan I/S ( )
Date: September 14, 2018 10:26PM

I hope Elder Berry sees it. Hell, I think every parent should make sure their kid has that info.

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Posted by: catnip ( )
Date: September 16, 2018 12:22AM

illegal seizure of mishie's passports.

If a mishie parent were to write to the Dept. of State and ask, "Hey - is there any way this is legal?" I bet I can guess what the answer would be.

So how does that square with TSCC's thing about obeying the laws of wherever you happen to be??

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: September 25, 2018 02:38PM

A few years ago when this topic came up on RfM, I searched the State website, and had a hard time finding any kind of contact to inform about this. I contacted one of the offices, still not being sure if I was addressing the right office, but I never heard back. But it should suffice to say that when one is in a foreign country, especially long-term (beyond 90 days), one is supposed to have the passport and visa and residency permit, if applicable, on one's person. Yeah, stuff gets lost now and again, and that can be inconvenient, but the missionaries are required to have their passports. The mission offices state that they hold them to keep them safe, and generally give the missionary a copy of the passport and visa page; the copies are also not recognized by cops and such, though. Knowing that some missionaries would just board a plane and go home if things got tough, the office would rather make the missionaries come to the office where they would have to have speaks with the mission president.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 15, 2018 09:27AM

I think there are some points in common. The biggest is that (as Cludgie pointed out,) the MP hold the missionaries' passports. We have heard reports of times when MPs have refused to hand over passports and have heavily discouraged missionaries from returning home early. We have also heard reports of missionaries who have gotten into trouble with foreign governments because they are not carrying their passports on them. (I don't know abut you, but when I have been traveling in a foreign country, my passport is either on my person or within close range 24/7. I was shocked when I learned that MPs confiscate passports.)

The long hours are another flag. I would also note the rigid schedule and the failure to let missionaries exercise judgment about both their schedule and their free time. There is no reason that adults should be told not to go swimming on their free time, or given restrictions about where they can travel on their own time.

We have also heard many stories of missionaries put up in inadequate or dangerous housing, who are given inadequate money for decent food, who are discouraged from using their judgement about dangerous areas or times to be out and about in their missions.

We have also received many, many reports of missionaries who received inadequate or no medical and dental care. Some RMs have had ongoing medical issues for many years, even decades after their return due to not receiving adequate medical care on their missions, and/or not being released early from their missions and sent home.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: September 15, 2018 09:17PM

Yeah, I should have mentioned that one thing, that foreigners are normally obliged to have their passports on them. Most countries issue state ID cards, and if you are a citizen, and someone stops you for any kind of infraction, you have to have your ID with you. Foreigners are required to carry a passport as ID, plus any residency permit, if you have one. So the mission offices probably ignore that one.

My first city was Lugano, Switzerland, and my comp looked just like me. We got arrested one day, and had to march through town in the company of a cop. My stupid comp had forgotten is passport and permit, and I slipped him my permit. When they asked for ID at the station, he gave him my permit, and I gave him my passport. He didn't even notice that the names were the same. He scolded us and sent us back out to do our worst.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: September 15, 2018 09:42AM

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Posted by: Heartless ( )
Date: September 15, 2018 10:25AM

Perhaps not trafficking but most certainly exploitation.

Coercion is definitely a part of missionary work. How many go because of peer pressure? How many go for fear they'll be unemployable, unmarriable or bring shame on the family name?

Coercion and fear, hunger and isolation keep them in line.

Anyone remember some of the post mission programs that tried to keep returning missionaries active? I know many were local but were they really trial programs for the church?

I am one of those government employees that had annual trafficking training and had the same thoughts that other than making the sex workers, there were way too many parallels between trafficking and mission policies.

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Posted by: Concerned Citizen 2.0 ( )
Date: September 25, 2018 02:50PM

...well, the bigger elephant in the room is that the Church says that at age 8 yrs old "You have reached the age of accountability." So every member going forward from age 8 has had massive doses of the Kool-Aid, and are still willing to march to the Church's drum. By the time they hit 18 yrs old, and are willing to go on a mission, what is the law to do?...

You would have to expose some massive Scientology-like brainwashing....right?

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Posted by: sd ( )
Date: September 25, 2018 06:52PM

they transport young men and women across state and international boundaries for non-sexual purposes.

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