15

I met two men on the street who were Mormons. We had a nice discussion and they gave me their book with a bookmark pointing to a verse in it.

Later that day I met with my friend and he said I shouldn't have accepted anything from them because this is the way how they include you in their church. They pray quietly the prayer of acceptance over you without your knowledge.

Do Mormons secretly include you in the Church?

How much of this is true? What is the process of one to be accepted in LDS Church?

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    Find a chapel, and attend the meetings: Meetinghouse locator. Ask anyone for the missionaries and you can start the process. – joseph.l.hunsaker Jun 28 '17 at 0:01
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    It is simple. They just pray that you will consider talking more. If you don't beleive what they say than you have no worries about what they pray about. – Christopher Jun 28 '17 at 0:04
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    I've heard this before as some kind of blood-libel against Mormons. What would being "secretly included" even mean? As a non-Mormon Christian, I feel they are perfectly free to pretend I'm whatever they like. I really don't care. Not my religion, not my business. – T.E.D. Jun 28 '17 at 14:18
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    @Grasper just going to dispel this one quickly - if you are a Christian and think Mormons seem occultist, that is only because you are familiar with your own peculiarities and not theirs. Mormons don't cast spells or make people drink poisoned kool-aid. They pray, worship, have socials, and sometimes pray for your prosperity. Nothing sinister there. – BlackThorn Jun 28 '17 at 19:30
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    @TBear, well, now I know. That's why I'm asking if there is something behind it but clearly nothing dangerous. :-) – Grasper Jun 28 '17 at 19:39
33

If they were wearing name tags, they were probably official LDS missionaries. Even if not, Latter-day Saints are allowed to (and in fact, are encouraged to) proselytize informally and refer potential converts to official LDS missionaries. The LDS have a specific set of procedures and practices for seeking out, encouraging, vetting, and accepting new members, which you can read about in the official LDS Preach My Gospel guide. In general, the procedure involves meeting with official LDS missionaries over a period of several weeks of learning, study, and prayer that leads to the receipt of baptism.

Some LDS missions are known for keeping informal notes of contacts made, but you cannot become a "member" of the church without baptism. Accepting materials from missionaries, including the Book of Mormon, tracts, or anything else, cannot make you a Mormon. Only you can make yourself a Mormon by accepting the LDS gospel and receiving baptism by a holder of the LDS priesthood. As to whether or not you should do so, that is solely dependent on your own conscience.

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    This is most of the info relevant to the question, but for completeness one should really mention the Mormon practice of proxy baptisms because it is actually true that in some circumstances the LDS church includes people in their membership records that did not so choose to be there in life. – Caleb Jun 28 '17 at 11:15
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    @Caleb, that is actually something of a misconception. While it is true that proxy baptisms are performed on behalf of deceased persons, this does not make the deceased person a Mormon; it simply makes available to them the ordinance of baptism should they desire it. Choice is still key, and requisite. – Brent Zundel Jun 28 '17 at 13:51
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    @BrentZundel - ...and really in that case, who even cares? The Church of Satan or the Frisbeetarians could proxy baptize me after I die too, if they like. It won't change anything. – T.E.D. Jun 28 '17 at 14:22
  • Re: baptism for the dead, see also 1 Corinthians 15:29 as an example of the practice in New Testament times: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" – brichins Jun 28 '17 at 16:16
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    Also, the Preach My Gospel manual is primarily intended as a teaching framework for full-time proselytizing missionaries - it's not for "vetting and accepting new members", but is a teaching guide for volunteer missionaries, who don't receive extensive/formal ecclesiastical training for the position. "Vetting" is really an incorrect phrase for any aspect of joining the LDS church; anyone is welcome (encouraged, actually) to investigate and join the church. Membership is based only on accepting the beliefs and keeping the standards. – brichins Jun 28 '17 at 16:28
9

The Latter Day Saints allows investigators and seekers of truth to take the sacrament and to join church activities and quorums, for nearly full transparency.

You only become a member if you get interviewed by the Bishop/rank holder and get baptized.

They pray quietly the prayer of acceptance over you without your knowledge.

That's like if a Mormon upvotes a video on YouTube that is talking about a political issue like PC or marriage, the Mormon is now quietly including everyone on YouTube in the church by quietly praying some prayer for or against the issue. I don't know about anyone else, but when I upvote or downvote a video, I am not afraid of being possessed by some spirit and added to somebody's church.

Christianity is supposed to be supernatural, as originally conceived in 1st century AD.

  • What are you talking about that happened in 1 AD? Jesus was born at least a year or two before 1 AD, since he was crucified in early 33 AD, after living for ~30 years and preaching for three and a half years – Stephen S Jun 27 '17 at 18:11
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    1st AD the century vs 21st century. The scriptural reference would probably have to be Paul's unique line about fighting not flesh but powers and authorities of the spirit. The supernatural worldview of the 1st century, is not something the 21st century is used to. – Karimson Safehold Jun 27 '17 at 20:51
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    @KarimsonSafehold: Quick correction: The local zone leader/mission president will interview a convert for baptism to determine worthiness. The bishop takes care of all the other interviews (e.g for a temple recommend or ordination to a priesthood office) – moonman239 Jun 29 '17 at 0:56
  • @moonman239 I thought that too, so added the rank option, but I was in doubt concerning whether the Bishop would interview in cases of serious crimes or misdemeanors. It would make sense for that office rank to have the final say, rather than the other way around. – Karimson Safehold Jun 29 '17 at 15:12
  • @KarimsonSafehold it would probably be a good idea to explicitly state "1st century AD" then, instead of just "1st AD" (I also initially interpreted it as the year 1 AD). – Doktor J Jun 29 '17 at 18:48
6

Your friend may be confusing a "secret" prayer of acceptance (whatever that may be) with the Mormon practice of what had been their secret "baptism for the dead".

This practice came under scrutiny and criticism by other groups and LDS now says the dead have a choice whether to accept the baptism by proxy or not. Presumably if there were some sort of "secret prayer of acceptance", the same principle would apply.

https://www.lds.org/topics/baptisms-for-the-dead?lang=eng

http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Baptism_for_the_Dead

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism_for_the_dead

PS In the original explanation by Joseph Smith (see D&C 1844 pg 419, p 5), the belief is whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven (Mt. 18:18). IOW, no agreement, at that time, was necessary by the dead for the proxy baptism to be effective.

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    I believe the practice was that the dead always had a choice as to whether they would accept baptism or not. Because baptism is a physical thing, if they didn't have the opportunity in this life to be baptised, the only way they would have a choice is if someone else acted as a proxy for them... I think the policy change was that members can't be baptised for anyone with living relatives who are not members (but that they can be baptised for any of their ancestors)... I think in the past it might have been LDS people were allowed to be baptised for anyone who was dead?? – MER Jun 27 '17 at 19:51
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    It appears to me that the deceased's acceptance of the proxy baptism is a later modification. This link takes you to some original writings. There's no mention that the deceased must accept. The assumption seems to be "of course they will accept since its required to get into heaven" (LDS belief) history.lds.org/article/… – SLM Jun 27 '17 at 21:44
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    Based on the theology, the assumption would normally be need to know. If a living prophet isn't told or doesn't tell people something, it is because they don't need to know, just as in military opsec. "Why, then, had this practice been allowed to persist? “When an infinite being gives a law to his finite creatures, he has to descend to the capacity of those who receive his law, when the doctrine of baptism for the dead was first given, this church was in its infancy" One of the difficulties of parsing living prophet lineages, is separating the human opinion from the prophecies and revelations. – Karimson Safehold Jun 27 '17 at 22:00
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    The practice was never "secret" - the links you provided include references to very early church publications produced at the time the practice was begun, including in newspapers available to the general public. – brichins Jun 28 '17 at 16:35
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    @SLM: In D&C 128: 4, which is linked in the page you linked, it says, just as valid as if the general church recorder had seen it himself, but this is talking about the proxy ordinance, not the acceptance thereof. Does this help? – Joel Rees Jun 29 '17 at 3:28
6

From experience as one who has both been one of those two men on the street, and am currently serving as a Ward Clerk, and whose responsibility it is to keep the records of my local congregation (positions in the church are all lay positions - we don't get paid anything), I can confirm that your friend has some misconceptions (though I don't speak for the Church - you can find all of this information on the church's official website: https://www.lds.org).

What It Really Takes

As others have mentioned, inclusion in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. "The Mormons") requires several steps on your part, and can in no way be done without your knowledge and permission. Unless you're really good at sleepwalking and talking in your sleep.

The most fundamental requirements are that you:

  • Have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Have repented of all your sins
  • Desire to be, and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, by one holding authority
  • Are confirmed a member of the church by the laying on of hands, by one holding authority

There are two ways that one can arrive at the point of baptism:

  • Already be on the records of the church, because one or both parents are already members and you were given a name and a blessing as a baby - similar to the Catholic infant baptism in appearance, but way different in purpose. As a child you attend church meetings - Sacrament Meeting, and Primary/Sunday School - and learn about the Gospel and the Church. At age 8, and not before (or after, for that matter) you are interviewed by the Bishop or Branch President (i.e. leader of your local congregation) and asked a series of questions to determine whether you have faith in Jesus Christ and desire to be baptized. Mormons believe that children under the age of 8 years old are not capable of sin1 2
  • Are not on the records of the church, or are 9 years old and older.

You (and most people) fit into the second category.

Mormons want everyone who has lived, are currently living, or will live in the future to have the opportunity to learn about and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Assuming that the two men you met were wearing nametags designating them as official missionaries, that's what they're doing for two years of their life.

To become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or a Mormon, it's not just a matter of saying a prayer about you. I can pretty much guarantee that those young men probably are praying about, and for you - and if you ask them they will tell you that they are.

Once you've met missionaries, then you will have to go through a series of lessons with them where they teach the fundamental beliefs, such as faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, about the Book of Mormon, and the belief that we have prophets on the Earth today. The lessons that they teach come from the (also mentioned in other answers) publicly available missionary guide Preach My Gospel.

They will ask you to make and keep certain commitments, such as:

  • Attend Sacrament and other church meetings (in a 3-hour block on Sundays)
  • Read scriptures, both the Book of Mormon and the Bible (though typically an emphasis on the Book of Mormon, which makes sense, as you're joining a Church that's pretty distinct from most other Christian churches because it claims the Book of Mormon is another set of scripture)
  • Pray, and especially to ask God to confirm that the principles the missionaries are teaching are true.
  • Be prepared to pay tithing and fast offerings once you've been baptized.
  • Repent of your sins.
  • Be prepared to accept callings/responsibilities in the church.

All of the commitments are the commitments that Mormons are expected to live throughout their lives.

Once you keep these commitments, and the missionaries have taught you all the fundamentals about the church, and you express faith in Jesus Christ and a desire to be baptized then you will be interviewed, typically by another missionary who will ask pretty much the same questions the Bishop would ask to gauge whether or not you:

  • Believe in and have faith Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost
  • Have faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • Believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and was called to restored the Church of Jesus Christ
  • Believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Church of Jesus Christ
  • Have repented of your sins (which probably wouldn't get too specific, except for certain types of sins, like murder - but it should be less about the sin itself and more about the restitution/repentance)

Once you've been interviewed and found worthy - you have faith in Christ, repented of your sins, and are willing to keep the covenants (promises) that you make with God, then you're baptized and typically the following Sunday are confirmed a member of the church. When you are baptized and confirmed your name and other information are recorded, and that is the point that you are considered a member.

So, it takes quite a bit more to actually join the church.

Possible Explanation

Mormons are exceptionally good record keepers. The mandate to keep records is found in our scriptures, so what your friend may have been referring to is the fact that missionaries keep records of the people that they meet and find and teach. If you give missionaries your contact information then they will usually carefully store that information and contact you in the future.

For some background information, missionaries are assigned to serve in specific geographic regions for a limited period of time. Typically 6-12 weeks, though I knew one missionary who served in an area for a full 12 months, but that's very rare. Typically though, the area is pretty static, but the missionaries will change, and each set of missionaries keeps records about the area. If the missionaries are faithful about keeping up their records, then you will probably have missionaries repeatedly contact you - usually a couple of times per year (when missionaries change) to every few years or so.

What To Do If This Is Objectionable

Mormons strongly believe that they should share the gospel that brings them joy with others, and that they should care for and encourage one another. For some people this zealousness is objectionable. As a missionary and as a clerk I've seen people with all manner of bizarre behaviors in response - people peeking through the blinds and then pretending they're not at home is surprisingly common. But if you sincerely do not want contact with the Church, it's actually really easy to do.

If you haven't been baptized (or put on the records as a child) then the only records will be the ones the missionaries keep. Tell them that you appreciate their time/effort/etc. (or don't), but that you do not want them specifically contacting you, and ask them to remove any records they have of you. Some may be a bit overzealous and keep the records, but that should be uncommon if you straight up ask them.

If you have been baptized then at the time you were baptized you made a covenant, the same one that other members made, to help and support one another. So they want to help you keep those covenants. If you no longer believe in the covenant, and you want the visits to stop then all you have to do is write and sign a short note saying that you want your name removed and you understand that you're rejecting the covenants that you made at baptism. Put that letter in the hands of your local Bishop or Branch President, and within a week your name should be removed from the records.

5

To answer your question: no. There is no secret adding to the church done by members of the LDS faith. The only way to become a member is to become baptized which takes a process of proving your interest and going through interviews, none of which could be done behind your back :) The two members that talked with you were simply sharing their faith hoping you would be keep an open mind and be interested

2

The baptisms for the dead mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:29 is evidence that this ordinance used to be done in biblical times.

29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

But the exact reason why or even when this practice had been lost is still unknown. But I'm not sure this is what was being referred to either.

I think this "prayer of acceptance" your friend is referring to might be them praying that you will have an open mind and one day accept the things that they believe in. But I'm not sure about the "quietly" or "secret" part mentioned. Maybe it's because you might not be close enough to physically hear them while they are praying about you, or maybe if they have a silent prayer said in their heart that isn't physically audible even if you were right there.

But it's still your choice to believe whatever you choose to believe or whether you decide to join their faith or not.

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    Thanks. It was 2 boys who looked like you. One was American and the other British. They both spoke my native language perfectly. Well, the American guy was little better but still. What is the secret in learning a foreign language so well? – Grasper Jun 29 '17 at 11:46
  • @Grasper a lot of hard work, and Divine assistance. Depending on the language the missionaries may spend up to two months in a full immersion program (they try to speak the language all day every day) while learning how to teach the gospel to others. When I learned Portuguese I was fluent within about five months (at least in terms of religious, and casual conversation), this was typical of others that I knew. Regarding other languages, I don't have personal experience... – Brett Israelsen Jun 29 '17 at 14:04
  • People call it the "gift of the holy spirit" or "tongues". Supernatural stuff. Now a days they have immersion training, but that's not what happened in Japan before WWII. Americans didn't know about that trick yet, and everyone said it would take 10 years least to translate the Book of Mormon into Japanese. – Karimson Safehold Jun 29 '17 at 14:20
  • @KarimsonSafehold, I don't mean to be offensive, but what does your comment even mean? Are you inferring that it was harder in the olden days because the only immersion program that existed was showing up in the country? And where was the story about the Japanese Book of Mormon leading? It just sort of trails off like we are supposed to know exactly what you are talking about. Finally, if you would like to have a separate debate about the "supernatural" gift of tongues then we should start another question, there is probably one that exists already, and let all of Christianity participate. – Brett Israelsen Jun 29 '17 at 14:38
  • There is no need for a debate about supernatural gifts. 1st AD Christianity was supernatural. To call that into question requires also disproving virgin births and resurrection. That's not really the topic here. I mentioned supernatural gifts to distinguish it from natural or human language absorption. Obviously learning a language quickly isn't always due to supernatural influence and gifts. My answer was directly after the question in the comment by Grasper. You can't just take my comment independently of the context here. Of course it trails off, character limit. – Karimson Safehold Jun 29 '17 at 14:43
2

You may find this useful. The completion of the steps listed in Article 4 constitutes membership in the church.

LDS Articles of Faith

Articles of Faith 1:4

We believe the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  • 5
    Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Thanks for offering an answer here. However, answers that rely entirely on a link to provide the answer don't work well here. You could greatly improve your answer by quoting the relevant part of the linked material in the answer itself. You can edit your answer to make the changes. For more on writing good answers here, see: What makes a good supported answer? – Lee Woofenden Jun 27 '17 at 18:02
1

The LDS Article of Faith #4 (a statement of some of the basic beliefs):

We believe the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

As for baptism for the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:29 states:

"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"

Baptism for the dead was done in the ancient Church of Jesus Christ. This ordinance and doctrine were lost due to apostasy.

I do not officially speak for the Church of Latter-Day Saints in any way.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Thanks for offering an answer here. Can you provide a link or reference to where exactly this is taken from? And also make it clear which part is quoted and which is your writing? For some tips on writing good answers here, see: What makes a good supported answer? – Lee Woofenden Jun 28 '17 at 0:09

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