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Fear and Shaming Not the Way?


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In her article a week or so ago Jana Riess offers her opinion on how fear and shaming are not the ways to help a wayward member. I have provided some excerpts below:

"This week on social media I have seen two different examples of local LDS leaders who have sent shaming letters to Mormons they believe have left the Church. (Though, as one recipient pointed out, we’re in a global pandemic and the church is closed in their area, so where are leaders getting their information about people being inactive? Everyone is inactive at the moment. Inactivity is kind of a thing.)

One of the letters in particular has struck me as harmful. It relies on two common but ineffective strategies I see among orthodox church members who are trying to reactivate their friends, family, or ward members.

FEAR:
The first is flat-out fear, which is how the letter opens. To paraphrase: Don’t be like the virgins in the Gospels who didn’t light their own lamps! These are perilous times, and you don’t want to be caught without the gospel and the rock-solid community of the Church.

This approach is a basic default mechanism for religion (and humans) in general, but it can be hurtful – especially when people are already in pain.

SHAMING:
The second approach is shaming. This letter positions the recipient as the prodigal son and the sender as the worthy, patient father who is waiting for the son to repent. In the beginning it says, “we write to you as friends” and at the end says, “come back and let us be friends again”—which suggests that something has ruptured the friendship. That something is the recipient’s lack of “full activity,” which the senders hasten to reassure the recipient can’t be quite so terrible that she can sink below the light of God. (Um . . . thanks?)

The subtext is: We are not in the least bit curious what those questions or doubts are, or what you’ve been through; just forget about all that. If you can’t pretend that nothing is wrong, we will not be able to remain friends with you.

Nowhere in the letter do the writers express a desire to know what is going on with the recipient; they do not wish to listen, learn, or truly befriend. They seem, above all, to want compliance. They want butts in pews, or at least the coronatide equivalent.

LISTENING AND INNOVATION ARE WHAT WORKS:
A few people I’ve interviewed so far have come back to church, at least for a time. It’s definitely a minority. And within that minority, I haven’t yet met a single person who returned because fear and shame were effective enticements. What has worked also boils down to two things: genuine listening and innovation.
Really listening to people with doubts and questions is hard. Mormons are keen on having answers for everything, so this is going to be a paradigm shift. Real listening means we don’t jump in and minimize people’s pain just because we have found an answer that works for us (“Oh, no, there’s a really good reason Joseph Smith married a 14-year-old girl! Allow me to explain!”). Real listening is not so much about providing solutions as it is about honoring someone else’s struggles.

Real listening should also lead to the second thing that works: innovation. If we want to keep church members, we can’t simply dismiss their struggles. A true community of God does not sweep difficult truths under the rug as though the church is a perfect institution that does not need to apologize for its past mistakes and make changes, just like we all do. When we repent, new and wonderful things can start to happen. Repentance is a seedbed of necessary innovation, both for individuals and institutions.

Innovation means being open to not returning to business as usual. What works is not criticism but creation.

If people are leaving the LDS Church, the solution is not to instill fear in them, shame them into compliance, or demand that they keep silent about who they really are 
and what they think. The solution is to provide an alternative to leaving that is so irresistible that they will be enriched enough to stay."

I agree for the most part that fear and shaming won't work for many members.  However I think it depends on the individual personality and how far out of the church the member is to begin with. For those who are already on their way out it would most likely cause them to dig  deeper into their dissatisfaction with the church.
For a member who is still trying to be faithful but questioning, would a little fear be effective to some degree? God certainly used a lot of fear in the scriptures, 
"And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it." (2 Nephi 9: 24)
It would have to be done in a loving caring way. 
Janna says listening and creative innovation are the keys, but could not innovation be seen as a way of manipulating a person? What kinds of "alternatives" could be suggested?
I think mostly just being there for them and remaining friends and being a good example to them goes a long way and when they are ready and want it bad enough they will make the decision to repent and come back.
Are there any circumstances were any degree of fear or shaming would help bring a member back?  What is the key in helping such a member?

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Jana makes a common mistake in making the LDS Church into a person (the pathetic fallacy), instead of an organization with disparate sorts of people within it.  She also uses presentism to make a poin

Fear and shaming don't work long term. They might work on the short term, but they don't build testimonies nor do they grow true intention which is what keeps people coming back. I totally agree

In her article a week or so ago Jana Riess offers her opinion on how fear and shaming are not the ways to help a wayward member. I have provided some excerpts below: "This week on social media I

Fear and shaming don't work long term. They might work on the short term, but they don't build testimonies nor do they grow true intention which is what keeps people coming back.

I totally agree with the idea that we should be listening.  Not just for words, but listening with our hearts to their feelings.  

The biggest problem with this is a lack of trust.  If a person doesn't trust us then they won't tell us anything we can actually listen to.

So the most effective alternative thing we can do is truly listen before they leave and give them reason to trust us.  That's not going to stop everyone from leaving - we all have agency, but it will stop some. They will also stop others from leaving who we couldn't reach.

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Yep, sure enough!  I agree!  Fear and shaming aren't good tactics (depending upon what one's desired objective is, but I can't imagine resorting to such tactics if one's objective is honorable or desirable).  With all due respect to Sister Reiss, It's difficult to talk about the letters without knowing what's in them.  Would their writers agree with Sister Reiss's characterization of them?

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I don't doubt it occurs.    I once used mild shame to shock a fellow back to total activity when I was doing a high council visit.  I asked:  "Do you realized your little children will grow up never knowing Jesus Christ?"  His wife became a beloved seminary teacher for decades.  I was only 30 years old at the time; he was a friend and my age. 

The Church ought to run classes for leaders about how to avoid fear and shaming.  How productive would that be?

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34 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

 

I don't doubt it occurs.    I once used mild shame to shock a fellow back to total activity when I was doing a high council visit.  I asked:  "Do you realized your little children will grow up never knowing Jesus Christ?"  His wife became a beloved seminary teacher for decades.  I was only 30 years old at the time; he was a friend and my age. 

The Church ought to run classes for leaders about how to avoid fear and shaming.  How productive would that be?

If people would truly live and love like Jesus there would be no need for classes. We are to love people, persuade and entice them with care and affection. They know the Gospel already. Situations, circumstances, challenges and events lead people to inactivity.  We are commanded to love them. Not threaten or shame them. 

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30 minutes ago, Islander said:

If people would truly live and love like Jesus there would be no need for classes. We are to love people, persuade and entice them with care and affection. They know the Gospel already. Situations, circumstances, challenges and events lead people to inactivity.  We are commanded to love them. Not threaten or shame them. 

I agree with your first part but the last sentence makes me wonder why it is OK for God to threaten and shame, but not us. Can we not use the scriptures that are inspired of God that sometimes uses fear or have we become so afraid of hurting others feelings that we have become less bold as we should be?  The Proclamation on the Family uses fear and threats:
"WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." 

I do agree that it depends on the individual situations that might direct us the things we do and say.

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3 hours ago, JAHS said:

In her article a week or so ago Jana Riess offers her opinion on how fear and shaming are not the ways to help a wayward member. I have provided some excerpts below:

"This week on social media I have seen two different examples of local LDS leaders who have sent shaming letters to Mormons they believe have left the Church. (Though, as one recipient pointed out, we’re in a global pandemic and the church is closed in their area, so where are leaders getting their information about people being inactive? Everyone is inactive at the moment. Inactivity is kind of a thing.)

One of the letters in particular has struck me as harmful. It relies on two common but ineffective strategies I see among orthodox church members who are trying to reactivate their friends, family, or ward members.

FEAR:
The first is flat-out fear, which is how the letter opens. To paraphrase: Don’t be like the virgins in the Gospels who didn’t light their own lamps! These are perilous times, and you don’t want to be caught without the gospel and the rock-solid community of the Church.

This approach is a basic default mechanism for religion (and humans) in general, but it can be hurtful – especially when people are already in pain.

SHAMING:
The second approach is shaming. This letter positions the recipient as the prodigal son and the sender as the worthy, patient father who is waiting for the son to repent. In the beginning it says, “we write to you as friends” and at the end says, “come back and let us be friends again”—which suggests that something has ruptured the friendship. That something is the recipient’s lack of “full activity,” which the senders hasten to reassure the recipient can’t be quite so terrible that she can sink below the light of God. (Um . . . thanks?)

The subtext is: We are not in the least bit curious what those questions or doubts are, or what you’ve been through; just forget about all that. If you can’t pretend that nothing is wrong, we will not be able to remain friends with you.

Nowhere in the letter do the writers express a desire to know what is going on with the recipient; they do not wish to listen, learn, or truly befriend. They seem, above all, to want compliance. They want butts in pews, or at least the coronatide equivalent.

LISTENING AND INNOVATION ARE WHAT WORKS:
A few people I’ve interviewed so far have come back to church, at least for a time. It’s definitely a minority. And within that minority, I haven’t yet met a single person who returned because fear and shame were effective enticements. What has worked also boils down to two things: genuine listening and innovation.
Really listening to people with doubts and questions is hard. Mormons are keen on having answers for everything, so this is going to be a paradigm shift. Real listening means we don’t jump in and minimize people’s pain just because we have found an answer that works for us (“Oh, no, there’s a really good reason Joseph Smith married a 14-year-old girl! Allow me to explain!”). Real listening is not so much about providing solutions as it is about honoring someone else’s struggles.

Real listening should also lead to the second thing that works: innovation. If we want to keep church members, we can’t simply dismiss their struggles. A true community of God does not sweep difficult truths under the rug as though the church is a perfect institution that does not need to apologize for its past mistakes and make changes, just like we all do. When we repent, new and wonderful things can start to happen. Repentance is a seedbed of necessary innovation, both for individuals and institutions.

Innovation means being open to not returning to business as usual. What works is not criticism but creation.

If people are leaving the LDS Church, the solution is not to instill fear in them, shame them into compliance, or demand that they keep silent about who they really are 
and what they think. The solution is to provide an alternative to leaving that is so irresistible that they will be enriched enough to stay."

I agree for the most part that fear and shaming won't work for many members.  However I think it depends on the individual personality and how far out of the church the member is to begin with. For those who are already on their way out it would most likely cause them to dig  deeper into their dissatisfaction with the church.
For a member who is still trying to be faithful but questioning, would a little fear be effective to some degree? God certainly used a lot of fear in the scriptures, 
"And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it." (2 Nephi 9: 24)
It would have to be done in a loving caring way. 
Janna says listening and creative innovation are the keys, but could not innovation be seen as a way of manipulating a person? What kinds of "alternatives" could be suggested?
I think mostly just being there for them and remaining friends and being a good example to them goes a long way and when they are ready and want it bad enough they will make the decision to repent and come back.
Are there any circumstances were any degree of fear or shaming would help bring a member back?  What is the key in helping such a member?

I’m sure it’s often wise to avoid the use of fear and shaming when attempts are made to prevent the wavering from abandoning the faith. But that being said, I must admit the first thought that entered my mind after reading the above is how extreme guilt and shaming worked wonders on Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Also, at a critical point in my journey of faith, fear and shaming also worked wonders on me. 

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Yeah, I'm not sure how to reconcile fear and shame being bad tactics at all times with basically all of recorded scripture. Yes, there are lots of scriptures about love and its efficacy, but there's also a boatload of prophets and God himself telling people they will burn in hell and shaming them for their sin.

As for me personally, being chewed out and shamed has at times been very helpful to me in a way that loving understanding would not have been. There have been other times that such tactics have left me feeling worthless, depressed, and demotivated. Fear, shame, love and compassion all have their place. If my conduct is shameful, I should feel shame. I think the only way to get it right is to listen to the Spirit as well as we can and do our best to act on it. I don't think anyone, including the leaders of the church, will get it right all the time.

That said, I think there should be far more love and encouragement than shame and fear. I think D&C 121 gets the balance about right.

 

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There must be relatively straightforward ways to escape any shame or guilt for those to work, imo, otherwise too many will give up as hopeless. 

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

I agree with your first part but the last sentence makes me wonder why it is OK for God to threaten and shame, but not us. Can we not use the scriptures that are inspired of God that sometimes uses fear or have we become so afraid of hurting others feelings that we have become less bold as we should be?  The Proclamation on the Family uses fear and threats:
"WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." 

I do agree that it depends on the individual situations that might direct us the things we do and say.

Because God knows what and why He is doing so. We are NOT God. We are commanded to love one another, to encourage, exhort and even admonish in love. Not to shame and to threaten. The word love appears over 300 times in the NT. It is not random. Nowhere you will find in scripture to threaten and shame your brother/sister. True righteousness and the fulfillment of the law is found in love for God and our neighbor. Anything else is just empty and vane selfrighteousness that is but filthy rags before the Lord. Because without love in our hearts we are nothing. 

The woman caught in adultery was not shamed or threatened. The Saviour absolved her with the admonition "...neither I condemn thee; go and sin no more". The Savior pulled onto Himself many sinners and outcasts. He did not threatened them. We should take a queue from those passage, my friend. 

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1 hour ago, Islander said:

Nowhere you will find in scripture to threaten and shame your brother/sister.

Jacob in his address to the greedy and plural marriage practicers threatening them with the consequences of sin, Moses all over the Torah, Amos all over the place, Isaiah all over the place, Abinadi’s whole sermon, Jesus calling Peter Satan, God telling Joseph Smith he could lose his calling, Joseph shaming his brothers for their ill treatment of him with his test and I could go on.

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50 minutes ago, Islander said:

Because God knows what and why He is doing so. We are NOT God. We are commanded to love one another, to encourage, exhort and even admonish in love. Not to shame and to threaten. The word love appears over 300 times in the NT. It is not random. Nowhere you will find in scripture to threaten and shame your brother/sister. True righteousness and the fulfillment of the law is found in love for God and our neighbor. Anything else is just empty and vane selfrighteousness that is but filthy rags before the Lord. Because without love in our hearts we are nothing. 

The woman caught in adultery was not shamed or threatened. The Saviour absolved her with the admonition "...neither I condemn thee; go and sin no more". The Savior pulled onto Himself many sinners and outcasts. He did not threatened them. We should take a queue from those passage, my friend. 

These scriptures were all said by Jesus:

But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. (Matt 11: 21-23)

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilæans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilæans were sinners above all the Galilæans, because they suffered such things?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13: 1-3)

And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.
Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
(D&C 19:4, 15)

Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots; (3 Nephi 21: 14)

And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles. (3 Nephi 20:20)

 

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Feeling guilt and shame is not the same as others shaming you or trying to make you afraid.

There is also a difference in telling you consequences so you can make wise choices and trying to scare you into making the choices that others want you to make.

I'm not so sure that God uses fear and shame as much as the scriptures might lead us to believe.  I think more likely He shares consequences and our guilt or misunderstanding makes us think He is trying to scare or shame.  Imperfect men sometimes don't communicate that well.

It's a matter of agency to me.  

 

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32 minutes ago, JAHS said:

These scriptures were all said by Jesus:

But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. (Matt 11: 21-23)

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilæans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilæans were sinners above all the Galilæans, because they suffered such things?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13: 1-3)

Here is Jesus pronouncing woe onto those that rejected Him. They have refused to repent and now they are doomed. They are passed redemption.  But these are NOT his friends.

The second quotes related to the fact that bad things happen to everybody. Those that died at the temple or crushed by the tower were not worse than those listening to Him. We are ALL sinners and need repentance. 

Quote

And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.
Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
(D&C 19:4, 15)

This is a general call to repentance to EVERYONE. Again, this is GOD. It is His prerogative to call ALL men to repentance for we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God.

Quote

Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots; (3 Nephi 21: 14)

And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles. (3 Nephi 20:20)

 

The same here. Again, God has called ALL men to repentance. And we do the same, we call all men, especially those that do not know God to come to Him and be reconciled thru the Atoning blood of His Son. 

But at a personal level; to our son, daughter, friend, we do not shame not threaten them. Look at the passages where Jesus speaks directly to His disciples as to how they are to treat one another. Peter failed miserably in more than one occasion.  When the resurrected Savior confronts him for having abandoned the ministry (John 21:15-17) he appeals to love. He did not threaten or shame him. 

In Mor 7:44-45 we read:

"...he must needs have love; for if he have not love he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have love.
            And love suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

That is how we are to treat our friends and neighbors when they sin, when they become distant, doubtful and inactive. Because all is possible when God is involved. Because love is able to endure all things even when it has been stunned by failure and disappointment. Where there is true love there is no need for shame or threats. Love never fails, my friend. 

(Emphasis added, my edit).

 

Edited by Islander
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40 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Jacob in his address to the greedy and plural marriage practicers threatening them with the consequences of sin, Moses all over the Torah, Amos all over the place, Isaiah all over the place, Abinadi’s whole sermon, Jesus calling Peter Satan, God telling Joseph Smith he could lose his calling, Joseph shaming his brothers for their ill treatment of him with his test and I could go on.

You're confusing the calling of a prophet with your direct dealing with your family and friends. No doubt that at very specific times, it is imperative to call people's attention to sin and inequity if it is blatant and unrepentant. But that was not implied in the OP. See my response to JAHS, please.

Edited by Islander
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4 minutes ago, Islander said:

You're confusing the calling of a prophet with your direct dealing with your family and friends. No doubt that at very specific times, it is imperative to call people's attention to sin and inequity if it is blatant and unrepentant. But that was not implied in the OP. 

So we should not shame or threaten unless one is instructed to do so? That I believe. In Jacob’s message he starts out saying he really does not want to share this message but he has been commanded to. The same thing can happen on the micro level. Sometimes a parent needs to do something similar or a minister. I just would not presume to do it unless told to or guided to.

I find it shameful that some members would presume to shame and threaten others on their own initiative and I would warn them that if they do not repent they will burn in hell.

Oh.....oh no.....what have I done?

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11 hours ago, The Nehor said:

So we should not shame or threaten unless one is instructed to do so? That I believe. In Jacob’s message he starts out saying he really does not want to share this message but he has been commanded to. The same thing can happen on the micro level. Sometimes a parent needs to do something similar or a minister. I just would not presume to do it unless told to or guided to.

I find it shameful that some members would presume to shame and threaten others on their own initiative and I would warn them that if they do not repent they will burn in hell.

Oh.....oh no.....what have I done?

Since I am not in authority, I keep my own counsel as to warning or admonishing others. I try to follow the Savior's example of how He dealt with His friends and those around him when they sinned or failed in some way. I used John 21:15-17 as an example. He did not chastised, threatened or shamed Peter for abandoning the ministry. He appealed to love to help him see what he should do to follow Him and return to the right path.  

Edited by Islander
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10 hours ago, JAHS said:

I think mostly just being there for them and remaining friends and being a good example to them goes a long way and when they are ready and want it bad enough they will make the decision to repent and come back.
Are there any circumstances were any degree of fear or shaming would help bring a member back?  What is the key in helping such a member?

I don't think anything is as edifying and supportive as mutual and genuine humility and respect. Maybe they are exactly where they should be. Maybe they are living with integrity.

Let go of any idea that you've got their answers. Make the relationship more about what you both make of it and they will feel it. And you'll both be more likely to contribute good to each others lives.

My two cents.

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I would contrast godly fear of consequences as more teaching respect. Prophets were often called to warn people what would happen if they didn't listen. That is different than the use of pure fear or force, which is a tool of Satan. People need to learn the consequences of their actions - that justice has a claim on their bad actions. Warning people of these consequences is plain gospel teaching - not fear mongering - it is not inappropriate in any way. We all need to learn the principles of justice - that our actions have consequences. In fact I think that failing to teach that for fear of driving people away, may put us in the irresponsible bin... 

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I liked Reis' article.  Although I will add, I don't know how you religion without fear and shame--at least religion such as Mormonism.  I like the ideas shared, but when it comes down to it, it's all based on fear and shame it seems to me.  

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15 hours ago, JAHS said:

In her article a week or so ago Jana Riess offers her opinion on how fear and shaming are not the ways to help a wayward member. I have provided some excerpts below:

"This week on social media I have seen two different examples of local LDS leaders who have sent shaming letters to Mormons they believe have left the Church. (Though, as one recipient pointed out, we’re in a global pandemic and the church is closed in their area, so where are leaders getting their information about people being inactive? Everyone is inactive at the moment. Inactivity is kind of a thing.)

One of the letters in particular has struck me as harmful. It relies on two common but ineffective strategies I see among orthodox church members who are trying to reactivate their friends, family, or ward members.

FEAR:
The first is flat-out fear, which is how the letter opens. To paraphrase: Don’t be like the virgins in the Gospels who didn’t light their own lamps! These are perilous times, and you don’t want to be caught without the gospel and the rock-solid community of the Church.

This approach is a basic default mechanism for religion (and humans) in general, but it can be hurtful – especially when people are already in pain.

SHAMING:
The second approach is shaming. This letter positions the recipient as the prodigal son and the sender as the worthy, patient father who is waiting for the son to repent. In the beginning it says, “we write to you as friends” and at the end says, “come back and let us be friends again”—which suggests that something has ruptured the friendship. That something is the recipient’s lack of “full activity,” which the senders hasten to reassure the recipient can’t be quite so terrible that she can sink below the light of God. (Um . . . thanks?)

The subtext is: We are not in the least bit curious what those questions or doubts are, or what you’ve been through; just forget about all that. If you can’t pretend that nothing is wrong, we will not be able to remain friends with you.

Nowhere in the letter do the writers express a desire to know what is going on with the recipient; they do not wish to listen, learn, or truly befriend. They seem, above all, to want compliance. They want butts in pews, or at least the coronatide equivalent.

LISTENING AND INNOVATION ARE WHAT WORKS:
A few people I’ve interviewed so far have come back to church, at least for a time. It’s definitely a minority. And within that minority, I haven’t yet met a single person who returned because fear and shame were effective enticements. What has worked also boils down to two things: genuine listening and innovation.
Really listening to people with doubts and questions is hard. Mormons are keen on having answers for everything, so this is going to be a paradigm shift. Real listening means we don’t jump in and minimize people’s pain just because we have found an answer that works for us (“Oh, no, there’s a really good reason Joseph Smith married a 14-year-old girl! Allow me to explain!”). Real listening is not so much about providing solutions as it is about honoring someone else’s struggles.

Real listening should also lead to the second thing that works: innovation. If we want to keep church members, we can’t simply dismiss their struggles. A true community of God does not sweep difficult truths under the rug as though the church is a perfect institution that does not need to apologize for its past mistakes and make changes, just like we all do. When we repent, new and wonderful things can start to happen. Repentance is a seedbed of necessary innovation, both for individuals and institutions.

Innovation means being open to not returning to business as usual. What works is not criticism but creation.

If people are leaving the LDS Church, the solution is not to instill fear in them, shame them into compliance, or demand that they keep silent about who they really are 
and what they think. The solution is to provide an alternative to leaving that is so irresistible that they will be enriched enough to stay."

I agree for the most part that fear and shaming won't work for many members.  However I think it depends on the individual personality and how far out of the church the member is to begin with. For those who are already on their way out it would most likely cause them to dig  deeper into their dissatisfaction with the church.
For a member who is still trying to be faithful but questioning, would a little fear be effective to some degree? God certainly used a lot of fear in the scriptures, 
"And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it." (2 Nephi 9: 24)
It would have to be done in a loving caring way. 
Janna says listening and creative innovation are the keys, but could not innovation be seen as a way of manipulating a person? What kinds of "alternatives" could be suggested?
I think mostly just being there for them and remaining friends and being a good example to them goes a long way and when they are ready and want it bad enough they will make the decision to repent and come back.
Are there any circumstances were any degree of fear or shaming would help bring a member back?  What is the key in helping such a member?

It seems to me these types of letters are just examples of well-meaning people trying to get someone to return to church, but they lack the sensitivity or skills of a trained professional to do so.  I'm also dismayed that people would post the letters on social media for others to critique though. That shows a lack of sensitivity too, imo

Would it be better to let them go without a fuss? Maybe, as any comments might be viewed as pressure or causing guilt.

 

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9 hours ago, Islander said:

Here is Jesus pronouncing woe onto those that rejected Him. They have refused to repent and now they are doomed. They are passed redemption.  But these are NOT his friends.

The second quotes related to the fact that bad things happen to everybody. Those that died at the temple or crushed by the tower were not worse than those listening to Him. We are ALL sinners and need repentance. 

This is a general call to repentance to EVERYONE. Again, this is GOD. It is His prerogative to call ALL men to repentance for we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God.

The same here. Again, God has called ALL men to repentance. And we do the same, we call all men, especially those that do not know God to come to Him and be reconciled thru the Atoning blood of His Son. 

But at a personal level; to our son, daughter, friend, we do not shame not threaten them. Look at the passages where Jesus speaks directly to His disciples as to how they are to treat one another. Peter failed miserably in more than one occasion.  When the resurrected Savior confronts him for having abandoned the ministry (John 21:15-17) he appeals to love. He did not threaten or shame him. 

In Mor 7:44-45 we read:

"...he must needs have love; for if he have not love he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have love.
            And love suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

That is how we are to treat our friends and neighbors when they sin, when they become distant, doubtful and inactive. Because all is possible when God is involved. Because love is able to endure all things even when it has been stunned by failure and disappointment. Where there is true love there is no need for shame or threats. Love never fails, my friend. 

(Emphasis added, my edit).

 

I don't have much disagreement with what you are saying but you said Jesus never threatened them. While it is His prerogative to call all men to repentance and He doesn't do it on a personal level, He does still issue a threat to everyone that they will suffer in Hell if they don't repent. He wrote the scriptures so He said it.  Would that not make them feel fearful? 

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

I don't have much disagreement with what you are saying but you said Jesus never threatened them. While it is His prerogative to call all men to repentance and He doesn't do it on a personal level, He does still issue a threat to everyone that they will suffer in Hell if they don't repent. He wrote the scriptures so He said it.  Would that not make them feel fearful? 

That's my point, friend. Jesus has very strong words of warning and even doom for unbelievers and doubters in general. But, His demeanor and treatment for those close to Him was different. We must be extremely careful how we treat others, what we say and how we say it. We are NOT the mouthpiece of the Lord. We are to walk humbly before Him, carrying each other's burdens in love. We are all sinners. One sin is no different than another before the Lord.  

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2 hours ago, stemelbow said:

I liked Reis' article.  Although I will add, I don't know how you religion without fear and shame--at least religion such as Mormonism.  I like the ideas shared, but when it comes down to it, it's all based on fear and shame it seems to me.  

I thought it was all about love. 

 

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