Sunday, March 07, 2010

MLMs and Mormons

Someone asked the following question on the RFM Board ( recently:

“Is it me, or are Mormons attracted to MLMs (multi-level marketing) like moth to flame?”

My reply was: Yes, Why? Because they need to generate extra income. Tithe, told to have large families. They need extra income. But with all their callings, temple visits, etc., they have no time.

So when they are offered an MLM opportunity ("create your own tri-spatial uplining downline in only ten minutes!!") they fall upon it like a thirsty man in the desert when he sees water. Only it's almost always a mirage.

I have written on this subject at greater length. Here is that post:-

Why DO so many Mormons enter MLM schemes?

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.

I also covered it here

Scams, schemes and dreams

Utah, or so we are told, is the World Capital City of scams, schemes and dreams.

As I have asked before, 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 the like?

Well, I blame the grandpappy of all Mormon propaganda films, Meet the Mormons. You have to be of a certain age to have seen this film, originally made for the World's Fair in 1960 something, because some utter arse allowed the Mormons to have a special Mormon Pavilion there.

The film was shown to all new 'prospects' (a term borrowed directly from the insurance sales industry, which shows just exactly HOW the Mormon church feels about people) and I would guess that it was a major factor in tricking my parents into joining.

"Do you want to be in Heaven with your family?" What kind of pondscum would say no to that question? You'd have to be an idiot NOT to agree with that, right? Right. And that's how they scammed people.

I was hoping to find it on Google or Youtube, but it is not there. Yet. Here is a link to a copy of the book that went with the film, on sale

The film helped prime people to be gullible. It helped to ensure that the Mormons grew up as ideal victims of scams, schemes and dreams. Ideal for plucking by fellow Mormons as desperate as themselves, or by fellow Mormons who were cynical and who were looking for other Mormons who they could fleece and rip-off.

Could YOU take the last $10 or £10 from a needy family with pie in the sky dreams of a multi-level marketing structure that was "just so right for them and their young, hungry family?"

Children who were not thriving because you can't thrive on TVP and other such crud? (Yes, we had to eat TVP. It was vile and tasted awful. Still, it was OK, because my mom and dad paid tithing and fast offering.)

As a side point, we once had a Bishop who questioned the modest amount of our fast offering. My mother showed the SOB exactly how much money we had to spend on food, after we took 10% out of my father's meager wage. He was shocked by what we had to live on. Not shocked enough to offer us help you understand! But then that wasn't the Mormon way in Britain.


AlexisAR said...

My first lDS-related blog:

Anonymous said...

You might want to add Robert O. Young (great-great-grandson of Brigham Young) to your list of MLMs. Seems he has been promoting the idea of alkaline diets and soaking lots of people for live cell blood tests and supplements. You can find him on Wikipedia. I totally agree with you.

Matt said...

Thanks, Anonymous! I was not aware of Mr Young. Seems he is keen on keeping the family traditions going, re cheating large groups of people.

Anonymous said...

Hey there love the blog I have a buddy who just published a book revealing the secrets of NuSkin. His book was only up on Amazon for six days before nu Skin was able to get it pulled down. Talk about political power... anyway his website is you should go take a look. great blog topic.

Kevin said...

I think we need to realize that Mormons' fascination with MLM schemes doesn't just spring from their need for money; after all, poverty is always widespread and lots more people than Mormons are in financial need. There has to be a reason why Mormons in particular are drawn to this SORT of business, and I think you spent this entire post ignoring that elephant in the room. We all need money and lots of us have people, corporations or even churches putting financial pressure on us. But why are MLMs and Mormons so hand-in-glove? Why have the rest of us usually found alternate ways to raise the cash we need besides pyramid schemes, and yet Mormons continue to flock to MLMs for their castle-in-the-sky income?

Other people on the Internet have done a much better job of answering this question at length than I can here, but I think a couple of the real issues would be as follows:

The LDS faith functions a lot like a spiritual pyramid scheme, where believers receive greater rewards for leading others to faith, and so Mormons are likely to create or be drawn to business opportunities that work in similar ways;

The LDS church and its leaders accomplish a lot among their followers through emotional and spiritual manipulation, including the use of a "spiritual high" and other cultic powers of persuation, and so Mormons are likely to create or be drawn to business opportunities that carry the same excitable, warm-feeling "ring of truth" they're familiar with, even though most non-Mormons will much more easily see through the smoke and mirrors;

And even though this mirrors the first observation somewhat, I'll just note that the decentralized, self-reliant, rags-to-riches emphasis of MLMs is probably attractive to a lot of Mormons. I've never seen an MLM selling furniture, lawnmowers or computers. Most of their products are personal and easy to transport, and none of them involve showrooms, offices or dedicated buildings. This is the case simply because there are many products it wouldn't be possible to market using MLM, but the nomadic "bootstraps" feel of most pyramid marketing opportunities is sure to appeal most greatly to people whose personal religion works in a similar way.