The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

Mormon Missionary Tactics

Why study the missionaries strategy and tactics?
The missionaries' objective is to baptize you--not to assist you in learning the whole truth about the church.  Because of that, you need to be aware of exactly what the missionaries are doing so you can effectively deal with their antics to get you baptized and focus on your objective of learning the truth.

I would imagine that the faithful LDS reader will object to this point on the grounds that what I am saying is based on the premise that Mormonism isn't true--the conclusion to which they erroneously believe I am trying to lead the investigator.  If Mormonism is true, then the missionaries' objective to baptize you and your objective to learn the truth are one and the same.

In response to this, allow me to quote from a talk that Apostle Boyd K. Packer gave to a group of professional teachers in the church's educational system,

There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful....

In the Church we are not neutral. We are one-sided. There is a war going on and we are engaged in it. It is the war between good and evil, and we are belligerents defending the good. We are therefore obliged to give preference to and protect all that is represented in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have made covenants to do it...

Suppose that a well-managed business corporation is threatened by takeover from another corporation. Suppose that the corporation bent on the takeover is determined to drain off all its assets and then dissolve this company. You can rest assured that the threatened company would hire legal counsel to protect itself.

Can you imagine that attorney, under contract to protect the company having fixed in his mind what he must not really take sides, that he must be impartial?

Suppose that when the records of the company he has been employed to protect are opened for him to prepare his brief he collects evidence and passes some of it to the attorneys of the enemy company. His own firm may then be in great jeopardy because of his disloyal conduct.

Do you not recognize a breach of ethics, or integrity, or morality? ("Elder Boyd K. Packer; BYU Studies Vol. 21, No. 3, pg.263-269")

Continuing with Packer's lawyer metaphor, what would you say about a juror who only listened to what the lawyers from one side of the aisle had to say, and didn't even listen to, much less carefully consider, the position of the other side?  Wouldn't you recognize a serious lack of integrity and judgment in such a juror?

Just as the church's professional teachers (missionaries, FARMS scholars, etc.) are the decidedly one-sided lawyers, the investigator is the decidedly neutral juror.  Just as the juror can't rely on a one-sided lawyer to arrive at the truth, the investigator can't rely on a one-sided missionary to arrive at the truth.  This is the case even when the one-sided lawyer in question is in the right.

And just as a judicious juror needs to be aware of the techniques that lawyers use to make their cases, a shrewd investigator needs to know the techniques that missionaries use to make their cases.  Again, this is true even if the missionaries are teaching the truth.

Elder Packer is adamant about the obligation that members of the church have to defend and promote the church.  In his view, that obligation to defend the church supercedes educator's responsibility to present an accurate and balanced representation of the truth.  That is the dilemma that missionaries and church educators are at least occasionally faced with: do they compromise the truth in order to defend the church, or do they compromise their loyalty to the church and teach the whole truth?  Michael Quinn gave a classic speech entitled On Being a Mormon Historian at the BYU Student History Association in 1981.  Quinn argued that twisting the truth not only compromised the historian's integrity, it also ultimately weakened the church.

Fortunately, the investigator is unencumbered with this dilemma between exploring the whole truth and being loyal to the church.  He is investigating the church because he wants to find out what the juror does:  the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  To find that out, he has got to explore both sides.


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