Why do so many Mormons get into MLM schemes or other direct selling schemes and try to sell Amway, Noni Juice, Nu Skin, Mary Kay, Nature’s Sunshine Products, Herbalife, Nutra-Smart, XanGo, Living Scriptures, 4Life Research, NSA, Pharmanex, Quixtar, Shaklee, Kirby, Unicity International, USANA Health Sciences, Inc., and Old Mother Jones’ Baked Goods by Mail? (OK, although it sounds like a good idea, I just made that last one up!)
Now, some ex-Mormons say that this is because Mormons are stupid. This must mean that either they, the ex-Mormon, is also stupid, or somehow when they became an ex-Mormon miraculously became non-stupid and magically intelligent.
However, as most ex-Mormons do not believe in miracles or magic (they drag out that lovely little hobby horse, the Invisible Pink Unicorn) then we must look for another explanation as to why so many Mormons get involved with MLM schemes and scams. The answer is so simple that I am surprised the “Mormons are stupid/gullible” theory has held sway for so long.
The real answer is, I believe, because the Mormon church, in relative terms, keeps its membership ‘dirt poor.’
Every faithful (and some less-than-faithful) Mormon pays 10% of their income to the Mormon Church in a tithe. Now, in strictly Biblical terms, the Mormon tithe is not “legal”. This is because it tithes income before tax; Federal, State, Income Tax, Sales Tax, VAT and Council Tax in the UK, so it tithes gross income and not net/increase as a genuine tithe would.
Therefore the situations for Mormons is worse than it would at first appear to be. Depending on local taxation regimens, the real cost of a Mormon tithe could be anything up to 25 to 50%. And this does not take into account mission fund, fast offering, etc., which takes an even larger chunk of money out of the typical Mormon family budget.
So in comparison to their non-Mormon neighbours (even those of other Christian denominations who might pay a tithe based on increase, rather than gross income) many Mormons are “dirt poor.”
So in order to live any kind of meaningful life and to not have to rely on food stamps, social security handouts or Mormon church welfare, an extra source of income is required.
What about a second job? An attractive idea, true. But as for the practicalities of a Mormon getting a second job? As Austin Powers would say: “Oh, behave!” Most faithful Mormons spend almost all of their free time in meetings, or even in meetings about meetings. Not to mention, home/visiting teaching, missionary splits, etc., etc. They would not have time for an extra job.
So what to do to ensure their children have some luxuries in their life, such as food to eat, a roof over their heads, and so forth? Try MLM. You can run it in your spare time. (What spare time?!) and even if you do not have spare time, you can try to have a whispered conversation in the hall in between three hour block meetings with Brother Zee or Sister Wye, about how you are SURE that Wonder Cure Mineral Drink will just change their lives forever! (And all for only two cans a week, at $14.00 per can.
Do they make any money? The answer varies from not much to zero. So not only do they not get out from the Mormon Church poverty trap they end up even more miserable and depressed. And then what happens? More Prozac, anyone?
So, next time someone says to you that Mormons are stupid for getting into MLMs, ask them where they parked either their Bible or their Invisible Pink Unicorn? Ask them when (or if!) THEY stopped being stupid. Or point out that Mormons are not necessarily stupid, but are kept in the Mormon poverty trap. After all, a poor person is often more pliable than a wealthy one.