I really wanted to write this post but not sure if I would get my point across as I would want it to. I couldn’t not say anything though. Here goes…
Last week there was a programme on Channel 4 called ‘Meet the Mormons’. It was a
documentary mockumentary about a 20 year old guy from Sussex, going on a 2 year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in Leeds. I call it a ‘mockumentary’ as basically it’s aim was to not correctly inform people about an LDS mission and the religion but to twist the truth and make Mormons look completely odd.
As a Mormon myself, I was obviously annoyed. I don’t know why people can’t accept that Mormons are completely normal people. When I was at school I would purposely not mention to friends that I went to church, not at first anyway. When we became friends and they realised how cool I was (obvs), I would then share about my beliefs. I wanted them to know that Mormons are completely normal people (you get some weirdos, but you get wierdos in every walk of life). Just look at the YouTubers, The Shaytards, they have millions of people watch their videos, they’re Mormon. Brandon Flowers from The Killers, sells out huge arenas and stadiums with his band, he’s a Mormon. The list goes on.
Anyway, back to the programme. I hope people that watched it aren’t ignorant to believe that all of it was correct information and are clever enough to realise that it was set out in an odd way and focusing on the most bizarre things.
Why the journalist kept making a big deal about the church representative that was there, Richard, I don’t know? I think it would be good to have someone there that knows all the information. What if they had asked Josh a question he didn’t know the answer to? He wouldn’t want to make stuff up or look stupid so the representative was there to help with that. Plus, she was getting quite personal so Richard would have told her to back off – I wouldn’t want to talk about my sex life on TV. We don’t all have creepers following us around in everyday life. They were making a documentary!
At the start of the programme it showed some clips from an LDS conference and it was several clips put together in sequence to make it look like we salute the prophet. This was clearly edited to make us look as though we are some sort of Hitler youth camp. Again, not correct. When we raise our right arm we are sustaining the leader, basically saying ‘I support you’ or ‘I agree’ and it happens once during that meeting, not all the time. Plus, you are within your right to not sustain. These things were not explained and again, were not show correctly. We don’t worship our prophet, we worship Jesus Christ.
The journalist seemed to have a fascination with the fact that you have a ‘companion’ on a mission and you are together all the time. That can be hard if it’s someone you don’t get along with but as Josh said in the programme, it’s like living with a mate. And yes they share a bedroom. A lot of American college students have to share a bedroom – why don’t we go and make a big deal about that? Oh yeah, because it isn’t one. Why do police not go out and patrol by themselves? They’re in pairs aren’t they? Surely the same logic applies to missionaries?
The programme also showed that all the Elders seemed to do was walk the streets and knock on peoples doors. I saw on Twitter someone had said ‘ Why don’t they do any charity work?’, but they do! Missionaries do not just knock on doors. They do charity work and they help those in need. My husband ‘worked’ at Oxfam and Scope while on his mission and helped people to move house, helped elderly people with their gardening, painted and decorated etc. It’s called service and missionaries do lots of it. I think a Mormon missionary’s experiences would make a regular ‘gap year’ teaching at a school in Peru, for example, look like a walk in the park.
Yes, you contribute money to go on a mission. How else do you think you can afford accommodation, heating, water, bills, a car or bike, petrol, visas if you serve abroad, etc? As it works out at £3000 a year, I don’t think it’s bad going at all. Plus, they are given money for food out of that. Church members do have them for meals too. We have the missionaries that are living in our area come over for dinner. The other members in our ward do the same. Most nights they have one of these appointments so the £30 a week for food is just for breakfast and lunch really (and if you combine the two it’s £60, which for two people is more than enough – that’s more a week than I spend on meals for 3 people in my house). So I don’t know why she made such a big deal out of it and made it look like they were hard done by?
Elder Field is actually from my ‘Stake’ (cluster of churches in a certain area) and I have met him. He made the decision himself to go on a mission and he was not forced to go like it was said in the programme. If someone wants to leave, they can at any point. Of course he was a bit home sick to start with but who wouldn’t be? I know people that cried from being away from their mum when they moved away to Uni at first – it’s normal! Because I know Elder Field’s family, I can also tell you that off camera, the journalist was trying to get him to go home, egging him on. If that’s not a journalist trying to get her show to take a certain angle, I don’t know what is.
The journalist was also a bit too obsessed with their underwear. Yes, it’s underwear that only some members of the church wear but it’s a symbol more than anything. Why do Jews wear a cap on their head? Why do Sikhs wear a turban? Muslims a hijab or a veil? It’s a symbol of religion. Ours just isn’t an outward symbol (plus, just FYI, the pictures that she showed were not given to her by the church).
Some other tweets I saw about it (from non-Mormon people):
I'm in no way religious and everyone has the right to a belief but that journalist on #channel4 #meetthemormons is awful.— nixon_vibe (@nixon_ryan) June 26, 2014
Didn’t you think that the music was a bit creepy? It sounded like something used in Schindler’s List. Again, this is the editing to make you feel uneasy and that the whole things is weird.
So if you watched it, please take it with a pinch of salt. There was some correct information, some not. Some twisted and not whole truths explained. So if you have any questions check out Mormon.org or feel free to ask. I’m a Mormon and you can ‘meet me’ – don’t take channel 4’s word for it.
15 months on:
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I was mostly concerned they thought Mormons couldn’t go swimming! They made it easy to confuse missionaries with Mormons – when missionaries have much stricter rules
This is true, not well explained. And the whole sandwich thing, what?! lol
thanks for your comment – most frustrating. Hopefully those that know us know it wasn’t quite the truth
You have no idea how glad I am to find this post!! As you know, I`m an investigator right now and programmes like this are ridiculously unhelpful on so many levels!!!
Oh absolutely! At least lots of people can tell that it was very poorly done and biased by the journalist
Agreed to all the above, and more- if anyone wants to find out for themselves they can do so and get a much clearer more accurate picture for themselves by visiting a chapel and/ or speaking to the missionaries.
so true. thanks Chrissie
I was a Mormon – my daughter still is, – I thought this programme would be interesting – but it was sad and, I am sure, misleading. The warmth in the Church of Latter Day Saints takes a lot of beating – having the Elders come to your home is a wonderful experience – I felt sorry for the lad, I hope his mission was a good experience.
What a lovely comment. The spirit the missionaries bring to your home is very noticeable.
didn’t mean to be anonymous – Molly and Sally Watson
Thanks for commenting x