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Fake Conversions?


Rachel333

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I was thinking about Lina potentially lying to convert, and I was reminded of these podcasts I ran into a few months ago. These two people are ex-evangelical skeptics and they decided to learn more about Mormonism, going so far as to actually join the church even though they never believed what it teaches or thought they would believe. They were pretty vague for the most part, and missionaries are desperate for converts, but they did eventually have to lie to be baptized.

What do you all think about this? I was kind of horrified, personally, and felt bad for the missionaries. Nothing they did was something they couldn't have learned without joining the church. You can go to a baptism (I've been invited to several, though I've never gone) and talk with the missionaries and go to church without ever being a member. This just really bothered me. I really disagree with what Lina might be doing too, but at least she's doing it because she actually wants to be part of the faith, unlike these guys.

Here is part one: ohnopodcast.com/investigations/2011/7/8/ross-and-carrie-go-mormon-part-1-and-it-came-to-pass.html

And part two: ohnopodcast.com/investigations/2011/8/1/ross-and-carrie-go-mormon-part-2-what-no-underwear.html

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There is a term "rice Christians" or "rice Mormons." Basically people in 3rd world countries who "convert" for survival. The Mormons are the current religious group bringing in the rice, so the people convert. When the Missionaries leave, the religion goes with them. I understand that this is a different type of conversion than lying to get information, but it's common enough that Missionaries aren't unaware that it happens.

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I think that lying to convert to any religion is a dumb thing to do, if you're just doing it for laughs or whatever. Obviously, if you're destitute and you're doing it to feed your family, that's a different issue and I don't judge that (though I do judge "missionaries" who would force people to convert before feeding them!!)

I guess I just don't understand *why* you'd go through the trouble to convert if you don't believe in the religion. Outside of Protestant Christianity, conversion processes can be quite time consuming and demanding, and really, really boring if you're not a believer.

When my family converted to Eastern Orthodox church, the process took about a year and it was a pain in the ass. Lots of classes, learning the ritual, etc etc. When I went through that, I believed it 100% and I still thought it was a pain! So why go through that if you don't have to??? You can find out the major beliefs of most religions through books or casual conversations with members of that religion or with clergy. You don't have to convert to learn. So I don't get it.

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I think it's just as screwed up to lie your way through a Mormon conversion with ulterior motives as it is to lie your way through a Jewish one. The difference, I think, is that in this case, these folks aren't claiming to be Mormons- on the contrary, they're broadcasting the fact that they lied throughout the conversion process, so it's not like they're trying to lure people away from the Mormon church by claiming that, "If you follow us, then you'll really be practicing Mormonism." The lack of cultural appropriation overtones doesn't make it any less offensive or inappropriate, though.

Personally, if I heard someone saying, "Yeah, we totally lied to get on the inside," right before trying to tell me how great their beliefs are, my first reaction would be, "Uh, so I shouldn't assume you're lying now because...?"

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See, I'm torn on this. As far as fake conversions go, I think you are being highly offensive to a community/culture, but I don't think you are doing anything spiritually wrong b/c I believe it's all crap anyway. At the end of the day, lying is bad, and cultural appropriation is (generally) not cool, but I can see reasons to do this with a religion like Mormonism or Scientology that is very secretive if you were trying to expose abuses or something (where you had to go through the formal conversion in order to take part in the "secret rituals"). So while I generally think a fake conversion is a crummy thing to do, I wouldn't say there is no reason ever to do one, nor do I think there is anything wrong with professing a fake belief (because IMO they're all "fake" to a certain extent) except for the harm you might cause to the infiltrated community (unacceptable in some cases, say in the Messianic "Orthodox" conversion; maybe a different story in Scientology or Mormonism).

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