Date: May 12, 2011 01:57PM
In first grade, I went on a field trip with my class and we were told to be "good little examples of mormonism" because we'd be at a tourist site where out of state non-mormons would see us. The idea was that we kiddies should impress them to join up because they would want to be part an an organiztion which turned out perfectly behaved children.
I think I heard this same mishie pep talk before every church and school trip until I grew up and left the state.
The teachers wanted us to deceive onlookers. In other words, they wanted us to lie.
At that early age, I'd heard about milk before meat and I knew it meant to present information and impressions that would draw in converts and to withhold whatever facts might dissuade them. Again, this is lying in the same way fast talking barkers and magic bean salesmen deceive their victims.
So it isn't just missionaries who lie in mormonism, it's anyone who purposely deceives prospective converts.
I've often thought that the Utah accent might be slower and more deadpan than other accents is in part because mormons have to adjust their conversations to different levels of truthfullness. They have to spin their words appropriately to impress the bishop and keep their temple recommend. They have less reason to impress most close family members or lower level church associates.
Mormons don't tell investigators or inactives the truth when they come calling. They don't say that they were in a meeting talking about the person and how to get them to church. They don't say they were assigned to bring them a bribe and coax them into attending a certain event. Instead, they say they miss the person and love them. They say they were in the area when they felt impressed of the spirit to stop in and give them a loaf of bread they just happened to have with them.
I don't think missionaries need to feel terribly guilty about the lies they told on their missions, at least not if they've given up deceitfulness.
Nor do I think former "every member's a missionary-types" should let it bother them after they've recovered.
But what might be a good idea is for exmos to realize that they were once caught in a plan of deceit. Mormons might not think that they're liars, but lying to oneself isn't usually healthy. Better to come clean and breath the fresh air of honesty than to deny the deceptions mormonism once required of us all.