Article alleging inadequate missionary health care deemed ‘Slick and Far from...

Article alleging inadequate missionary health care deemed ‘Slick and Far from Truth’

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Given the low standards of mainstream reporting on religious issues, it’s hard to publish an article that is truly disappointing, but Slate’s recent piece “Sick and Far From Home” manages to achieve just that. The article, which a Slate press release trumpeted as “a stunning investigatory story,” claims that “[Mormon] missionary culture counsels strongly against seeking medical help” and that “authority figures block access to care.” The article is based on twenty four anonymous sources who served missions over the last four decades. As readily available data reveal, approximately one million missionaries have been called over that time period, so Stern’s sweeping conclusions are based on a sample of about 0.0024 percent of the relevant population. 

There is nothing wrong with asking ex-Mormons for their opinions in addition to other Mormon populations, but asking exclusively ex-Mormons for their view of Mormonism is obviously problematic. In addition, there is the problem of identifying sources. In the article, Stern claims that he refers to his subjects by pseudonyms “at their request,” but given the anonymous nature of Reddit we have to wonder: Did Stern really verify the identities of the people he spoke to?

Read the rest of this article by Nathaniel Givens at First Things

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  1. I thought the article was odd since I had just read another article about the committee that works to assure that the missionaries are well taken care of. Also I served a mission 37 years ago and we were well taken care of. And I served in a South American country. One of my companions was seen by an Argentine doctor who had trained in the US and was then sent home to have her tonsils out. If we were sick, then we let someone know who could help. My zone leader came over to check on me and gave me blessing when I was sick right after I arrived. My husband wants to serve a medical mission which helps missionaries with their health problems.

  2. I read the article and I was really shocked when I read the article. My son is getting ready to leave next summer and I really had my doubts how much is truth and how much was fabricated. I have heard terrible stories and I am now just wondering. You never know everything that goes on in the mission field. I guess you go on faith. I don’t want to discourage my son from going but I pray he will be taken care of well. We haven’t had male missionaries in our area over a year so it has been different. I pray that other parents and ex missionaries will respond so those of us sending our children out have a piece of mind.

  3. Having had many years of experience working with actual LDS missionaries I can absolutely confirm that this story is complete fiction. A biased sample size is the easiest way to claim superficial data. You had better believe that the wellbeing and health of every single missionary is critical to the LDS Church! The fact that these missionaries each have a Momma who worries every single second while their child is a missionary, calling that Momma when there is a health concern is one of the hardest conversation there is.

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