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why evangelicals are drawn to MLM (article)

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gustava

I wish I could care, but honestly I don't.   Remember Amway?  A good Morman tried to draw me in.  Ugh.

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bea

The "work from home" crap is taking over my FB feed. No one trying to sell me essential oils (thank God), but nontoxic environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, "wraps" to make my stomach flat, nebulous "greens" which sound like juicing spinach and kale only with green mystery dust.

People with MASTERS DEGREES are getting involved in this MLM shit. I don't get it.

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EyeQueue
14 minutes ago, bea said:

The "work from home" crap is taking over my FB feed. No one trying to sell me essential oils (thank God), but nontoxic environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, "wraps" to make my stomach flat, nebulous "greens" which sound like juicing spinach and kale only with green mystery dust.

People with MASTERS DEGREES are getting involved in this MLM shit. I don't get it.

Yeah, ditto for me. And I'm tired of constantly telling FB friends, "No. I'm not interested in Shakeology." Grrrrr!

My parents were into Shaklee products for awhile when I was in elementary school. This probably would have been around 1978 or 79. I remember the big canisters of Shaklee protein shakes around our house, along with other products, and they even sold some of this for awhile--a very brief while.

I'm not sure if Shaklee was religious, like Amway.

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MamaJunebug

I wonder if Stacy McDonald (Mrs.  Pastor James McDonald) ever thought about this:

"... Edmondson challenged women to consider how MLM involvement affects their ministry, particularly if they hold prominent positions, such as pastor’s wives or ministry leaders...."

Naah, she's too busy having the sons wash the Young Living stretch van and planning her and James' next Young Living vacation to Hawaii, I imagine.   

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sophie10130

The girl I know from high school is ALL ABOUT something similar. A christian-centric body-shaming supplement MLM scheme. Her husband is in the Army Reserves and she's a kindergarten teacher and all she talks about is how she just CAN'T WAIT until she doesn't have to work anymore and her husband doesn't have to work anymore and they can live their lives to the fullest. From what I've seen, that just means going on endless vacations and not doing anything meaningful other than tanning on the beach. No mention yet about how they could volunteer or do anything useful that tends to be overlooked in favor of people needing to make money to support themselves.

And I'm just like, lady, if you're day dreaming about the day when you can finally quit your job and sell vitamins from home for the rest of your life, you shouldn't be teaching.

 

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Cleopatra7
1 hour ago, bea said:

The "work from home" crap is taking over my FB feed. No one trying to sell me essential oils (thank God), but nontoxic environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, "wraps" to make my stomach flat, nebulous "greens" which sound like juicing spinach and kale only with green mystery dust.

People with MASTERS DEGREES are getting involved in this MLM shit. I don't get it.

A couple of years ago, I was taking French classes at the Alliance Française, and another student (a twenty-something female) hijacked the last class to try to rope everyone into the super scammy Dreamtrips/WorldVentures MLM. I flat out called it a pyramid scheme at the time, and the Alliance Française issued an email saying that they in no way, shape, or form endorsed Dreamtrips/WorldVentures and had no idea that this was going to occur. The girl who tried to scam us may have been permanently banned from the Alliance Française, because I never saw her after that, since trying to use class for solicitation purposes must have been a violation of her membership. I think MLM are appealing because a lot of people just don't like conventional work and want to find ways to make money without having to do much effort. It's the modern-day equivalent of wanting to buy magic beans that can provide all your needs with no work.

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PennySycamore

@EyeQueue,  I don't think Shaklee is religious.  I could be wrong though.

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bean
41 minutes ago, Cleopatra7 said:

A couple of years ago, I was taking French classes at the Alliance Française, and another student (a twenty-something female) hijacked the last class to try to rope everyone into the super scammy Dreamtrips/WorldVentures MLM. I flat out called it a pyramid scheme at the time, and the Alliance Française issued an email saying that they in no way, shape, or form endorsed Dreamtrips/WorldVentures and had no idea that this was going to occur. The girl who tried to scam us may have been permanently banned from the Alliance Française, because I never saw her after that, since trying to use class for solicitation purposes must have been a violation of her membership. I think MLM are appealing because a lot of people just don't like conventional work and want to find ways to make money without having to do much effort. It's the modern-day equivalent of wanting to buy magic beans that can provide all your needs with no work.

Omg, I know a guy who is so deep into that scheme. Since joining he has alienated nearly all of his old friends (friends he had for 20+ years) and has just gone off the deep end. Before he defriended me on FB (not sure why - I had stayed totally neutral on his activities - ok maybe that's why, lol), ALL of his posts were "you should be here" stuff. Poor guy has been posting for years about getting his company-provided BMW, but it hasn't happened yet. He lives with his mom and is a bartender while he waits for his fortune to build. And he was never religious before, but started posting bible verses after getting involved in DreamTrips.

It's sad, really. He was such a sweet guy but has gone off the rails with this stuff. To be fair though, I suspect a significant player here is untreated bi-polar disorder - so it's not DreamTrips alone. 

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salsa

The article doesn't come close to addressing why MLM has been so damned attractive to evangelical Christians all along.... there are lots of new businesses and products out there (I have a cousin who's big into "that crazy wrap thing") but Amway and Mary Kay (and Avon, though I don't think that it's specifically Christian-based) have always attracted evangelical Christians. I can only speculate as to why - maybe the sense of independence? (though it's not independent) pulling oneself by the bootstraps? I haven't really figured out the connection. The article was disappointing; it focused primarily on women who wanted jobs where they could work from home. That'san important factor, but there sure are a lot of male Amway reps!

(by the way, Amway laundry detergent works great)

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Cleopatra7
57 minutes ago, salsa said:

The article doesn't come close to addressing why MLM has been so damned attractive to evangelical Christians all along.... there are lots of new businesses and products out there (I have a cousin who's big into "that crazy wrap thing") but Amway and Mary Kay (and Avon, though I don't think that it's specifically Christian-based) have always attracted evangelical Christians. I can only speculate as to why - maybe the sense of independence? (though it's not independent) pulling oneself by the bootstraps? I haven't really figured out the connection. The article was disappointing; it focused primarily on women who wanted jobs where they could work from home. That'san important factor, but there sure are a lot of male Amway reps!

(by the way, Amway laundry detergent works great)

This article about how the prosperity gospel helped facilitate the financial crisis may be more helpful:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/12/did-christianity-cause-the-crash/307764/

Churches are great ways to spread MLMs because you have a large set of pre-existing social networks where trust and social capital already exists. People within those networks will trust another person who claims to have found a good opportunity, because that other person is "one of them." Many of Bernie Madoff's victims, for example, were elderly Jewish people who trusted Madoff because he was "like them" and heard about him from other people in their social circles. The same is true of a MLM recruiter who sets up shop at a church. If you can get the pastor to endorse your product/service, then that is a great endorsement, because the flock will also trust that the pastor wouldn't steer them in a bad direction. Evangelical churches with a lot of SAHMs are also prime targets, because these women may want a way to make money without being away from home, and I suspect many of them, especially in the more fundie churches, may have been taught to suppress critical thinking.  

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darkplumaged
1 hour ago, salsa said:

(by the way, Amway laundry detergent works great)

I have been using the same Amway comb for close to 35 years. It is by far the best comb I've ever had. And l like my Mary Kay blush (and moisturizer, before I ran out). But I would never in a million years get involved in an MLM. I'd get any job at all before doing that.

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nastyhobbitses
3 hours ago, salsa said:

The article doesn't come close to addressing why MLM has been so damned attractive to evangelical Christians all along.... there are lots of new businesses and products out there (I have a cousin who's big into "that crazy wrap thing") but Amway and Mary Kay (and Avon, though I don't think that it's specifically Christian-based) have always attracted evangelical Christians. I can only speculate as to why - maybe the sense of independence? (though it's not independent) pulling oneself by the bootstraps? I haven't really figured out the connection. The article was disappointing; it focused primarily on women who wanted jobs where they could work from home. That'san important factor, but there sure are a lot of male Amway reps!

(by the way, Amway laundry detergent works great)

I'd hazard that it's because the way you're supposed to market the products and recruit a "downline" are very, very similar to the way Evangelicals are supposed to evangelize. It's basically doing what they already feel called to do, but now they can make money using that skill...which I think plays a bit into the Prosperity Gospel.

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RosyDaisy

Similar to a very bastardized version of Evangelicalism.

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PraiseDog
6 hours ago, Cleopatra7 said:

A couple of years ago, I was taking French classes at the Alliance Française, and another student (a twenty-something female) hijacked the last class to try to rope everyone into the super scammy Dreamtrips/WorldVentures MLM. I flat out called it a pyramid scheme at the time, and the Alliance Française issued an email saying that they in no way, shape, or form endorsed Dreamtrips/WorldVentures and had no idea that this was going to occur. The girl who tried to scam us may have been permanently banned from the Alliance Française, because I never saw her after that, since trying to use class for solicitation purposes must have been a violation of her membership. I think MLM are appealing because a lot of people just don't like conventional work and want to find ways to make money without having to do much effort. It's the modern-day equivalent of wanting to buy magic beans that can provide all your needs with no work.

LOL, I hope at least she did her hijacking in excellent French!  At least it could be a good lesson in "how to recognize scamming in a non-native language." 
I have great memories of taking French at Alliance Française as a teenager - it was a tough course and I learned a lot!

1 hour ago, nastyhobbitses said:

I'd hazard that it's because the way you're supposed to market the products and recruit a "downline" are very, very similar to the way Evangelicals are supposed to evangelize. It's basically doing what they already feel called to do, but now they can make money using that skill...which I think plays a bit into the Prosperity Gospel.

Quote
4 hours ago, Cleopatra7 said:

Evangelical churches with a lot of SAHMs are also prime targets, because these women may want a way to make money without being away from home, and I suspect many of them, especially in the more fundie churches, may have been taught to suppress critical thinking.  

 

Both great points there.  When you look at fundie values of disdain for any real education but males are supposed to become headships of their own quiverfulls, girls are supposed to be sequestered from life but become homeschool educators, and everybody's supposed to breed, breed, breed - to most of us, this lifestyle looks unsustainable beyond one or two generations - how very similar it is to your typical pyramid scheme.   

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jas

There are some very cult-like aspects of a lot of MLMs, like the language they use, they way they isolate people from their friends and the unquestioning loyalty to the brand and products, singing their praises and talking about miraculous effects. And the annoying way they try to sell things to people who have no interest in them is just like evangelical handing out of tracts etc.

 

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guitar_villain
11 hours ago, bea said:

The "work from home" crap is taking over my FB feed. No one trying to sell me essential oils (thank God), but nontoxic environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, "wraps" to make my stomach flat, nebulous "greens" which sound like juicing spinach and kale only with green mystery dust.

People with MASTERS DEGREES are getting involved in this MLM shit. I don't get it.

While the classic MLM schemes seen to skew Christian, human susceptibility to these sorts of schemes seems to be built in.  Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies are basically similar in that the folks who got in early are rich and everyone else is scraping up crumbs.  P.J. O'Rourke wrote a hilarious article once about how the entire economy of Albania was wrecked after people invested heavily in pyramid schemes.  Everyone knew they were crooked, it's just that folks figured that they were all high enough up to get paid.

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apple1
6 hours ago, darkplumaged said:

I have been using the same Amway comb for close to 35 years. It is by far the best comb I've ever had. And l like my Mary Kay blush (and moisturizer, before I ran out). But I would never in a million years get involved in an MLM. I'd get any job at all before doing that.

I received - as a WEDDING GIFT - a cheap Amway plastic container (I have seen throwaway plastic containers that you buy something in that were better - with a disgusting bar of Amway deodorant soap in it. That was in 1977. The couple used my church as a vehicle for contacts to sell Amway. They (as all MLMs do) were always trying to get other church members to sell Amway, too. My Dad (an engineer with REAL employment in his profession) quite assertively let them know he was not interested and please stop asking him.

I threw the container and the soap in the trash.

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Meh
formergothardite

Whenever MLMs come up I always think of when Kristina got involved in one and came here to try and sell us stuff. She seemed so sure it was going to work and she would make a lot of money. I'm guessing it didn't really work out too well. 

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Wine time!
nokidsmom

I had an aunt and uncle who went super evangelical (from being Catholic) and also got into Amway.  They pushed their religion and Amway so much their two daughters would walk out of the room in embarrassment whenever they started talking Jesus and Amway.

MIL was into Shaklee back when Mr. No and I married and I don't recall it being religion oriented. 

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19 cats and counting

I posted this because like many, MLM has taken over my FB feed to the point where my account is dormant (not deactivated, I just have it in name only).  

While a few fundies we follow do MLM, I'm surprised there's not more.  You would think fundies with a large blog presence would be inclined for the MLM because they can link their blog (like Modest Mom's Caroline).  

The only MLM I've seen exclusively in fundie circles are those hair clips.  They're cute, but honestly I buy my hair clips at the dollar store so way too expensive.  

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Tired
clueliss

MLM's let me count the numbers...

I had an Aunt who sold Mary Kay back in the 90s.

another friend used to sell Mary Kay got out of that.  And more recently got into Jamberry nail wraps.  That 'business' has gotten shoved aside/ignored because she got pregnant (unexpectedly) after getting remarried and the little one takes up a lot of time after her full time job.

I knew multiple folks at church who sold Mona Vi (Acai Berry Juice)

A cousin got into EO's and got into doTerra (she is not Christian).  However in her case she really wanted to take advantage of the 'if I'm selling it, I get it at a discount' pricing.

A cousin once removed is currently heavy into YL EO's and it feels like every other post on FB is touting how EO's can do everything! for you.  She works so this is a side gig.  She is Christian.  It is highly annoying to read posts about how she's about to mop the floor with Thieves because it is so much better and so natural and kills this that and the other thing without pesky chemicals.  

Amway - I used to work for a company that Amway said horrible things about (of the oooh they worship Satan variety horrible things) so the mere mention of them makes me stabby (and I think I had an Uncle that got into selling that for a while and my Crazy Aunt was all happy because Amway is Christian and this means the heathen Uncle is saved!)

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louisa05

There is a tendency among Evangelicals to automatically trust anything or anyone that is labeled "Christian". Hence the Christian business directories--I know business owners who put ads in those things who are not at all evangelical, but they know it attracts a set of extremely loyal customers. 

So a company like Thirty-One that has incorporated a nice little Christian code into its name is, in their minds, automatically ethical and moral and wonderful and will love them as much as they love it. 

 

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AmazonGrace

I was invited to a pyramid cleaning supplies conference once (under false pretences, mind you), and it was exactly like a TV preacher's meeting, minus the hymns. You are wandering in the valley of bad cleaning supplies but  Golden neolife dynamite saves, hallelujah.

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Meh
refugee

Had a "crazy aunt" who was into Amway for years. The rest of her family (including her husband) always steered a wide berth whenever the topic came up.

Oh, and let us not forget the high-end stuff, too. Ionized water was a big fad in the last decade. Kangen water, anyone (or is it Kagen? I can never remember. So much for not forgetting. But an investment of thousands of dollars -- all you had to do was get ten friends/relatives to buy one each and your machine would be paid for). There was some room ionizer/air purifier that was not quite as expensive (still very spendy) as the ionized water machine, that the same ionized-water family tried to sell us on. And then there was the family pushing Melaleuca... I mean, they had "Melaleuca"-everything at their house! (Was it the new Amway?)

(I have to admit, I love my Pampered Chef stoneware. Only bought it when it was on sale, though. Bought one PChef knife at a party, once, because I needed a decent knife - the ones I bought at Ross didn't seem to hold their edge - and it was "knife sale" month. Frankly, the IKEA knives that I bought later have worked better and held up longer than that overpriced item.)

There were also the educational toys -- those always had a colorful booth at the homeschool convention, as I recall. Never went to one of those parties.

I saw a lingerie "party" MLM brochure once. And there was someone at the farmer's market last summer who was pushing women's self-defense items (flashlight taser, pepper spray are two that I remember, all in lovely "feminine" colors -- rather garish, actually). They offered parties, too, and were trying to recruit other sellers for their downline. Oh, and there was an MLM tea-seller at the farmer's market, too!

I wish I could remember the names. Oh, well. At least they're fairly recognizable by the spiel.

1 hour ago, louisa05 said:

There is a tendency among Evangelicals to automatically trust anything or anyone that is labeled "Christian". Hence the Christian business directories--I know business owners who put ads in those things who are not at all evangelical, but they know it attracts a set of extremely loyal customers. 

So a company like Thirty-One that has incorporated a nice little Christian code into its name is, in their minds, automatically ethical and moral and wonderful and will love them as much as they love it. 

 

And then there are the others I've heard say that if there's a christian symbol in a store or company's logo, they steer clear. Evidently christians are notorious for not paying their bills on time, or something.

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