Drive-By Baptisms–I’ve always found the baptism and conversion policies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rather interesting. Unlike religions such as Catholicism, and Judaism, it doesn’t take a lot of work to become Mormon. In fact, if you really want to, you can ask for baptism after your first meeting with the missionaries.
Seems a little bit irresponsible to me, but hey, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But after chatting with lots of former Mormons who were baptized in times of great need–for example after the death of a child, a spouse, or another life-changing traumatic event–I realized that Mormon missionaries resort to a tactic I am choosing to call “Drive-by Baptisms.”
This tactic is used to confuse those who are in spiritual limbo, for whatever reason that might be. While they are standing there on their porch, trying to figure out which way to turn, the LDS Church comes along and uses an assault weapon wielded by young men, rendering the “victim” unconscious and unable to do anything except lay there and let it happen.
I personally believe that it should require a certain amount of time, and a whole lot of research, before anyone is allowed to be baptized into anything. After all, you don’t buy a car based on what you see only on the outside, do you? Hmm. Come to think of it, I bet a lot of people DO buy a car based on how it looks. In fact, I told my husband just last year that I wanted a Dodge Durango. He gave me all the reasons it was not the vehicle that I should buy, then asked me why I wanted it. “Well, they look really cool,” was my answer.
I imagine that on the outside, to someone who hasn’t researched it, the LDS religion looks really cool. “Lookie here, you can have your family with you forever. That child you just lost? No problem, he is waiting for you in the Celestial Kingdom.” Of course, they don’t mention the fact that polygamy is still a major tenet of the religion, and it is still taught that it will be practiced in the afterlife. But look at the bright side. Your husband will have lots of other wives to help you raise that child you lost on earth.
The missionaries also don’t mention the Adam/God doctrine when they give you the lessons. Brigham Young taught that Adam was God, and God was Adam. This goes against mainstream Christian teachings, but don’t worry about it too much. It will be months and possibly years before you hear about this. Maybe never. But just in case you do hear it, and they say, “Oh, Brigham Young never said it was doctrine,” you can give them this response from the Journal of Discourses.
“Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken–He is our Father, and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:50)
The missionaries also won’t mention the racist past of the Church. Particularly if you happen to be of the African American persuasion.
“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.10, p.109)
Of course, they will counter this blatant racism with an answer something like this:
“First, the Journal of Discourses is not official Church doctrine. Second, prejudice against Blacks is strictly against the teachings of the LDS Church. Third, you are quoting this discourse out of historical context.” Out of context or not, the words have unmistakable impact. Don’t mix the races, or else. They also claim Brigham Young was a man of his time. I agree. But you don’t get to have it both ways. Either he is a prophet of God, or he is just a man.
Since Mormons believe their prophets to be speaking with God every day, to be seers and revelators, then whatever that prophet says should be prophecy. You don’t get to change your mind just because you don’t like the particular doctrine, or times have changed so much that the prophecy is no longer relevant. Perhaps it would be easier to swallow if they said, “Well, God changed his mind. Now he wants us to do this.” Instead, they attempt to cover it up or justify by saying Brigham Young was “just a man.” Either he was just a man, or he was a prophet of God.
There are many other doctrinal issues that are avoided in Drive-by Baptisms. Mormons call them getting the “milk before the meat.” By the time you are faced with some of these rather thorny issues–the meat of the LDS Church, such as how DNA evidence has pretty much proven that the Book of Mormon could not possibly have taken place in America, and that the American Indians are actually related to Asians and not the Jewish people–you are already entrenched deeply into the Mormon lifestyle, and it’s not so easy to get out. Plus they have added you to their rolls, and you are making their membership numbers look good. They aren’t going to let go easy.
So here’s small warning, before you open your doors to the Mormon missionaries, particularly if you are in a vulnerable place in your life, and are seeking spiritual comfort—wear a bullet-proof vest. That vest consists of knowledge. Know what you are getting into before you make the choice to be baptized a member of the LDS Church. If you look into all the research, and still want to be baptized, more power to you. But give it time. Don’t jump in feet first. Before you join the ranks of Mormonism, give it a test drive. After I drove a Durango, I realized this was not the car for me (no offense to the Dodge Durango people. It’s a perfectly nice vehicle, really. I know lots of nice Durangos).