I am deeply concerned about a young man in my neighborhood. He has recently returned early from a Mormon mission and says that he does not wish to resume his experience. My daughter is his friend, and she has told me how his return is being handled by his parents, and particularly his Mormon bishop. Because I have taught high school and college English for many years with my research specialty being in abuse and family dysfunction (I retired 5 years ago), I have been in a position to read literally hundreds of pained essays by Mormon missionaries who have returned early or been negatively affected in some way by their Mormon mission experiences.

As a consequence, I requested a conversation with this young man's bishop to express my concern. My conversation has left me not only more concerned, but also simply horrified by the heavy-handed,uncharitable way in which this young man is being dealt with.

I am now completely convinced that this young man will be emotionally harmed by what this bishop (I would like to think--with good intentions, but insufficient background and information) is doing. When I tried to share my research about abuse and my experience reading missionary essays, this bishop told me that he had never in his life heard another human being talk about missions causing short- or long-term emotional pain to any one. He told me that he didn't believe a word I was saying.

I know that as a composition teacher I have been in an excellent position to collect these stories, and yet I did not. Do you know of any such collections or statistics on this topic?

I want this man to be able to understand that this is a very real problem and that at the very least he needs to inform himself about sensitive, emotionally healthy ways to approach this young man, and I have no doubt others, who will come to him.




My first response is, "Oh how I wish you had photocopied those essays!

We hear these stories all of the time. While I do not know of a collection of such stories, a place to start looking would be at:


If you haven't been there, there is a treasure of testimonies from exMormons.

Can you reach the bishop? No, I doubt it. Especially in Utah which is so insulated from the outside world. Heavy handed, uncharitable tactics are, as you know, the hallmark of authoritarian organizations. Have you read:

Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan

It's available at Amazon.com

I am sending you a packet of information which, though it does not address these issues specifically, may be useful to you.

God bless you in your efforts to help this young man.

Jim Spencer
Through the Maze Ministry