Now that my mission to wipe Mormonism from the face of the earth is out in the open, I wonder what the best course of action would be to bring it all crashing down.
A frontal assault generally doesn’t work. The people outside Temple Square waving garments, and the Ed Decker-type books don’t do much of anything to your average church member. Rather, the over-the-top antics and and questionable honesty of some of the books are likely to reinforce for some members the idea that there are evil and designing men (it’s usually men, isn’t it?) out to lead the membership astray.
Likewise, for a lot of church members, a simple recitation of facts doesn’t work, either. You can talk about moneydigging, bank fraud, polyandry, dishonesty, and Book of Abraham problems until you’re blue in the face, and people with a testimony will either shelve the problems or tell you that they aren’t central to their testimony, which is fine as it is.
So, what works? The single biggest tool is apathy. If its members don’t care about an organization one way or another, the organization will die. And ironically, sometimes I think the church is doing its level best to make itself less important to its members. Before the advent of correlation and uniform budgets, local units had a lot of leeway in creating programs and activities for members. The church not only served spiritual functions, but it served a social purpose. They used to talk about the “ward family,” and it was rather tight-knit.
But what has happened in the last twenty years or so is a retrenchment of central control from Salt Lake City. Every meeting and activity must have a “priesthood purpose,” and the social aspects of church membership are far subordinate to its spiritual purposes. And really, it’s hard to blame the church for refocusing as it has. The church is supposed to be in the business of saving people, not entertaining them. However, when activities become less about activity and more about being yet another iteration of sacrament meeting, people lose interest.
Similarly, budget constraints have severely restricted the types of activities that can be engaged in. Back in Texas, our young men had their canoeing trip to Oklahoma canceled about six weeks before the activity was to be held. Why? Money. The stake president had declared that no activity would be held that was more than 90 minutes away from the stake center. There’s only so much Scouting you can do on the prairies of central Texas, but that was what they would have to do.
Oddly enough, the one event that the stake splurged on was a pioneer re-enactment trek in Northeastern Oklahoma, which was from what I have heard, nearly a total disaster. The trek organizers made no pretense of it being a “fun” activity; the kids were told they would suffer for a few days to understand how much their ancestors suffered. And of course, the emphasis was to be on the spiritual, with a testimony meeting each night. Neither of my children came home spiritually uplifted or more committed to the church. They came home tired, injured, and a little angry about their ordeal.
Something else I have noticed is that the social function of the church has been swallowed up by paid events such as EFY and Education Week. Two of my kids went to EFY this year, and we shelled out $350 apiece for them to spend a week at BYU in fun activities and, of course, scripted spiritual experiences. But I wonder about those folks who don’t have $350 to spend on becoming more committed to the church. Maybe they’ll have to find something to get fired up about, such as fighting same-sex marriage.
So, I suppose my best shot at destroying the church is to do nothing. They can handle it themselves without my help.