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“For me, my thought wasn’t ‘What are they going to think,’” said Travis Kienholz, a senior studying chemistry. “I knew what they were going to think.”
Kienholz said stigma has emerged in the Latter-day Saint community concerning missionaries who return home early.
Based on the an article “Mormon Missionaries Returning Early Face Stigma from Community,” by the Huffington Post, out of the current 88,000 missionaries out on the field, 1.2 percent return home early making members like Kienholz a minority in the Church.
After serving for two months in San Antonio, Texas, Kienholz returned home to Puyall, Washington.
Kienholz said he had to close himself off to people to be able to deal with his situation.
“My very first Sunday, my bishop actually told me not to come to church,” Kienholz said. “He wanted that time to address the elders quorum, the Relief Society and everybody else.”
According to a survey conducted by Utah Valley University, more than half of the 378 early-returned missionaries surveyed felt that they were treated “poorly or indifferently” by the wards they returned home to.
“Serving a full-time mission has become a cultural responsibility,” Kienholz said. “There shouldn’t be a stigma associated with not going. There is always going to be some trepidation knowing that I didn’t serve a full mission, and people are going to look at me differently because of that.”
Read the full story at the BYU Idaho Scroll.