Priesthood pressure to post super baptism statistics has lead to some crazy and coercive methods of filling those fonts. Submit your story in the box below.
It didn't turn out high numbers but, most of the baptisms for many Native American “Laminite” missionaries were only Placement Baptisms, at least back when TSCC’s “Placement” program was in full swing.
Children had to be members in order to be placed in a “white and delightsome” anglo home for the school year. For some poor native families there was the hope that a child might be placed in a well-to-do home with few or no other children who would become a benefactor family that may treat the child as their own financially and sometimes it worked out that way. However, more often the adopting families with the biggest hearts in a ward were also the less well to do and usually had numerous children of their own.
When some teenage placement girl found out she was not going to get her own room and a car like her cousin did. She’d be back home before you could say, “ I already sleep with four of my siblings in one room, thank you”.
Saddest thing I ever saw was parents loading elementary age children onto Placement buses to be shipped off for the next nine months in hope of a better life. Second graders crying, not understanding why they had to leave home…parents unable to explain...heartbreaking.
The Placement program is mostly dried up now.
Current numbers for one corner of my old mission: there are around 4,000 members on record in the stake and 40-50 out to church on a good day. So much for the prophecies. I’d say for all the generations of Elders that have been working the reservations over non-stop since Jacob Hamblin, it’s a bust. Large investment…no return. No laminite generation. They didn’t turn white…didn’t protect the saints from their enemies….didn’t blossom as a rose, ..just stole alot of their cattle and horses.
What the hell were we giving them anyway. I’d take a Native American religion over the morg any day. It was (and still is) the height of arrogance to push our upstart fabricated religion over one that had worked for them for generations.
I served in Korea. One of the methods we learned in the MTC and used on a daily basis was to find people waiting at bus stops. The idea was that they were stuck there waiting and would feel obligated to listen to us out of sheer politeness. We were instructed to ask them, in Korean of course, "where are you going?" And they told us their destination, we were instructed to answer, NO MATTER WHAT, even if we couldn't understand them (which was usually the case) "Hh, that's where I'm going, too!"
We were to ignore common decency and obvious safety concerns, since the "spirit" would tell us when to abandon this master missionary "plan." Using this most effective finding method, my companions and I accidentally found ourselves at less-than-desirable locations, including funerals (how disrespectful of us in Korean culture!), bath houses, red light districts, and various places of employment. Our mission president said we weren't "out of our area" if we never got off the bus, because technically, the bus was "neutral ground."
If Mormons can baptise dead Jews, why can't Jews circumcise dead Mormons?
After a Mormon has been dead for thirteen years, they can have a Barmitzvah for the dead too.
p.s. Any volunteers for circumcision by proxy? - 04/22/2004 - from Nephihaha
I was in the gulf states mission 62-64. We would have a youth program where we would tell parents about great things church could do for kids. We said, 'if your child wants to join the church by being baptized, would you have any problem with that?'. Often, they would not object.
So... maybe 4 sets of elders would gather up 10 or so kids for the 3 p.m. meeting at the church. After the first discussion in groups, something like primary, we would baptize several. Tooks kids home and with some trepidation, told parents the 'great news'. Sometimes it went ok. Amazing thing was many didn't object.
Some elders were baptizing 30 a month. Branches then would have memberships in the hundreds, 90% of which were 8-12 year olds. Idea was that the parents would then see the light of the gospel shine in these kids and join also.
We had a "M" pin on our lapels. When ask about it, would say the Missionary Club. want to join??
M. Ross Richards was mission president in shreveport, LA. - 09/18/2003 - docbob49
I was a missionary in the Scottish-Irish mission from 1962 to 1964. We were instructed to teach all the lessons and have the individuals attend church before baptism. We had great sports programs but to use that as a reason to be baptized was wrong and not a part of the authorized program of the church. Al though many youth joined the church we sought to bless entire families. In life there are always some who will exploit any situation. A spiritual conversion is what the Lord and the church desires. - 09/18/2003 - anon
Editor's note: Attend church prior to baptism...yeah, once?
I served in the Ireland Dublin Mission '96-'98. President Lowry, the former Regional Representative for Ireland and Stake President for the Belfast Stake, was a "baseball baptism." - 07/24/2003 - from mdreeder
I was in the Irish Mission 1967-1969. The baseball baptism program was our legacy. I rememeber when I was made DL and Branch President of Larne, Northern Ireland in late 1968. We had around 900 "members" on the books and usually 3 to 5 kids showed up for sacrament meeting on a Sunday (other than the four missionaries). President Ashcroft instructed us to avoid any member on the rolls who didn't attend. Apostates. Pathetic. - 02/11/2003
People joining the church just to play sports doesn't just happen in foreign countries. I grew up in Arkansas, and that is where I joined the church. I know of a couple of guys that "joined" the church to play church basketball so they could use the church building to play indoors in the winter and play in the lame basketball league we had in that area. Of course, those that joined that way knew little to nothing about the church and its teachings and I don't ever remember seeing them actually attend sacrament meeting. - 12/30/2002 - anon
Ok, here's a laugh for you. My wife's family is Mormon. Now, her brother was going to become a Mormon so one of the other relatives was gonna baptize him. When they got in the water it was discovered that the baptizer's holy draws had a skid mark, sooooo, they all had to wait while the underwear wuz washed and made presentable. Thought you'd like that one. Happened in Temple, Texas. - 12/16/2002 - from bwitt
Hot dog night at the Mormon church in the Brazil Campinas mission was a sure way to get many baptisms. The missionaries would go to the favelas (poorest areas) and tell starving people they could get free dogs at the Mormon church. At the church, they taught the condensed 6 discussions (palestrao) and then interview and dunked for their hot dogs. Way to go Elders! - 08/10/2002 - anon
I was a missionary in Japan Tokyo from 1970-1972. I met a man one day while doing street contacting and he agreed to meet me at the church later for a 'shokai' (introduction meeting) and eventually the discussions. In the first discussion in those days there was a line where the missionary said "We are representitives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Which church are you most familiar with Mr. Tanaka?" This particular man then said "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."
He went on to explain that several years before he had been introduced to the church by way of some baseball clubs, and he had been baptized as part of the initiation to the team. He didn't know anything about the church, but was anxious to learn more. After talking to the bishop, we went ahead and taught him the discussions and was attending church when I was transfered from that ward.
About 15 years ago my roommate got drunk and told me about the "miracle" of the Tokyo South Mission. He had been home a little over 5 years. The miracle revolved around a new tactic called "eki dendo" which translates into train station contacting.
Probably 95% of Mormon converts in Japan were young unmarried girls, teenagers or in their 20's. With virtually no real marriage opportunities in the church and strong cultural expectations that the wife follow her husband's lead in religious matters, there was little hope for any of them to remain active long. Solution:polygamy or convert more single guys which is not easy.
Millions of young men in Japan spent their only free time standing around the train stations waiting to get to and from school or their after school tutorials or their tyrannical mothers who force them to study around the clock. They had typically 20 to 30 minutes of free time between train connections.
Some brilliant Zone Leaders thought of a new way to teach the gospel to these young guys while they waited for their trains. They mooched some office space right next to the train station. They broke the conversion process into 10 easy steps of twenty minute meetings daily over a two week course; including an initial introduction, 6 of the 8 missionary lessons (the lesson on Christ and the one on the Priesthood/staying active through church service were ditched), an interview, baptism, and conformation. The real genius was each missionary specializing in one of the steps and having the most experienced missionaries teach the first steps and the least experienced who could not even communicate in that language doing the interview and baptism.
Baptisms in Japan were mighty hard to come by. Typically, at that time, an entire mission of 200 missionaries might get 20 to 40 baptisms a month, mostly more young girls. So when this one zone of twenty missionaries started dunking several prized young men every day, it got the mission president's attention. He reorganized the mission, closed several small missionary dependent branches that had taken decades to build and created 9 of these twenty missionary units patterned after the first around the 9 largest train stations in Tokyo.
Soon the baptisms started flooding in. Each unit captured 15 to 20+ new converts per day. At its peak that mission was dunking a stupendous 4000 a month! This was the miracle all had been praying for. Soon the new member records began to flood the wards and branches. But funny, these young guys never actually showed up to church. The local leaders blamed their own lack of faith in the failure to "keep" any of these new miracle converts active. In disgrace and shame they began to quietly leave the church. One Elder's Quorum President committed suicide. Elder Kikuchi got involved in this up to his ears and the entire process of "eki dendo" had to be stopped before a single year passed.
The church leaders eventually over-reacted and made it against mission rules to do any kind of street contacting which historically had been slightly more effective and much less tedious and annoying than house-to-house contacting. The church had grown slowly but steadily in Japan before this time. Only a couple years after this fiasco, the progress of the church in Japan had pretty much ground to a halt.
Missionaries who returned home at the beginning of "eki dendo" had tremendous spiritual experiences to report, but soon they were followed by those like my roommate who witnessed the near collapse of the church in that part of Japan and the dismantling of the most "miraculous" missionary tactic ever to be launched in the Far East.
In about 1958, Henry D. Moyle became a counselor to Pres. David O. McKay. He was assigned responsibility for church finances and the missionary program in the mission field. This would prove to be disastrous for the LDS church and countless thousands who were affected. Moyle bungled these assignments so badly, that by July 1963, Moyle was stripped of these responsibilities after severe criticism from other general authorities. Moyle died of a coronary in September 1963, possibly as a result of the criticism he faced.
Woodbury (British mission president) was accused of being too hard on his missionaries. He vigorously denied this. WOODBURY ORDERED MISSIONARIES TO WORK FROM 7 AM TO MIDNIGHT EVERY DAY. Woodbury told missionaries they only needed 5 hours of sleep a day, and the Lord would provide the energy they needed to do the Lord's work. The missionaries were allowed to sleep from about 1 am to 6 am, and then ordered to be out on the street by 7 am each morning seeking converts. AMAZINGLY, PRESIDENT MOYLE SPOKE TO ALL BRITISH MISSIONARIES AT HYDE PARK CHAPEL AND REAFFIRMED THE 5 HOURS OF SLEEP RULE!!! The best baptizers got nice dinners at the President's house or dinners at fancy restaurants.
In August 1961, Moyle had the LDS Church News publish the full text of his defense of the "New Era" missionary program. He lashed out against persons who "undertake to sow doubt or uncertainty about any phase of missionary work," which equalled "criticism of our Head, Jesus Christ, the son of God." He denied that missionaries were overworked. He even instructed parents and Church leaders to ignore letters from youthful missionaries who complained about any aspect of the proselytizing programs they were forced to follow.
In about 1964, Apostle Mark E. Peterson started a comprehensive program of excommunication throughout the British Isles. The name removal procedure did not exist, so they had to excommunicate to clean up the church's rolls. For example, one branch had 150 on the roster and only 8 active. Mass excommunications began in 1964 and the total may have exceeded 100,000 throughout the church. The mid-1960s saw a decline in total missionfield LDS membership.
Once missionaries went back to normal tactics in the mid-1960s, convert baptisms in Britain fell to "drastically low levels."
Gordon B. Hinckley seemed to be fully aware of the problems in the missionary program in the 3 July 1983 LDS Church News: "With all the powers of persuasion that I am capable of, I plead with you to train and motivate your missionaries to the point of view that it is converts they are out to win, rather than numbers of baptisms for the sake of a good statistical record."
"You elders need have no concern, no matter from what source the criticism comes, as to whether your baptisms are too fast. . . . If you think that President McKay does not know what is going on and that Brother Moyle and Brother Woodbury, and Brother Brockbank are "pulling a fast one", so to speak, why you are mistaken about that."
Moyle told missionaries to ignore criticism "no matter from what source".
Convert numbers soared as a result of the accelerated baptism program. In 1959, Great Britain and Europe accounted for 9% of all LDS baptisms. In 1960 (thanks to baseball baptisms), the number skyrocketed to an astonishing 36%!!!
For example, one missionary proudly reported at his homecoming that he baptized over 200 young men in the Pacific Northwest. It turns out that underprivileged boys (often from single parent homes) were recruited for LDS basketball teams. They were told they had to get baptized to join the team, but that it was just a formality (and often done the day they met). Bishops in the Portland and Seattle areas were faced with hundreds of membership records of boys who had never attended church (except to play basketball).
10/22/2000 - Kentish
I was a convert to Mormonism in Britain in the mid 60's. I knew nothing of the "baseball baptisms" until l973 when I returned to London for a six month period. I was called as executive secretary in the ward and my p[rime assignment at the time was to go through the membershiop roles to reorganise the home teaching program. The roles were full of these names of young men baptised during the baseball emphasis. I was told to set them aside and concentrate only on the adults and those active of prospectively active. I was the first I heard of the baseball baptisms.
10/22/2000 - Makurosu - email@example.com
I served in the Ireland Dublin Mission from 1987-89. I heard about "baseball baptisms" everywhere I went. It was a big black eye for the Church. Stephen R. Covey was mission president in Ireland from 1960-63. My mission president essentially blamed him for it, although without ever mentioning his name. I didn't know that it involved the rest of the british isles or that Henry Moyle was the one behind it until I read a paper about it by D. Michael Quinn years later.
The rock throwing went on a lot in Ireland. I can remember tracting an area for the first time and then the next day having a dozen kids throw rocks at us until we left. I was sure that their parents put them up to it.
It's interesting about all the church building in the early 60's. All the churches that I remember were build during that timeframe.
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