Don’t watch this unless you have a Temple Recommend!

Uh-oh. Someone bootlegged the secret Mormon endowment ceremony. Now us gentiles can sit and watch. Make some popcorn!

Yikes. That was worse than Battlefield Earth.

They don’t tell you that “loud laughter” is prohibited until 45 minutes in, which seems a little late.


  1. Hank Fox says

    Well, that wasn’t so bad. I mean, they have the temple robes, the secret handshake, the droning recorded voice, the Uncle Fester lookalike up front, just like we atheists have.

    I’ll admit, the WHITE robes threw me at first, considering that ours are blood red.

    Oh, sorry. Forgot. Ours STARTED OUT white.

  2. roland says

    It was after creating several worlds that Jehova decided to get a tape recorder.
    Jehovah: “Yo baby are you taping?”
    Elohim: “All tapes and shit, yo let that shit ride”

  3. imthegenieicandoanything says

    So, besides being the most obviously ridiculous, based entirely upon what was basically Bible fan-fiction, religion of the 19th Century (and the competition was UNBELIEABLY stiff, lemme tell you if you don’t know!), Mormonism is the richest and most boring religion ever created.

    You have to have been raised brain-dead not to notice that a ceremony like this makes even a Catholic high mass look like a Delta House frat party. Any young person with even two flickeringly brain cells would leave the faith purely on that basis.

    I mean, Cheeses!, watching Battlefield Earth in slow-motion so that it lasted 36 hours would be preferable!

    How I wish I could believe it was a deadpan parody! If only! THIS IS HOW STUPID PEOPLE CAN BE? They couldn’t possibly REALLY believe in ANY of this shit, could they?

    Stop the planet, I want to get off!

    NO mtter how badly I think of religion, like when I imagine the deceit of ‘Mer’kin “conservatives,” the reality is hundreds of times worse than my gentle and forgiving mind can imagine!

    I mean, Cheeses!

  4. aloysiuscranston says

    Extra ridiculous at 2x speed! It sounds like the hurried warnings at the end of drug commercials—but lasts 45 mins.

  5. No One says

    There’s like SCUBA diving, and then this… I just skimmed this. Having to actually sit through this though… Someone should be charged with a crime.

  6. jeevesmkii says

    Joseph Smith really wasn’t much cop at composing an engaging narrative, was he? I did get a giggle out of Elohim demanding a shrubbery though. Maybe that was just me.

  7. sharoncrawford says

    Boring. And ridiculous. I do not understand any adult who DOESN’T erupt into LOUD LAUGHTER very early on.

  8. aspidoscelis says

    The best the Mormons can come up with is the spiritual equivalent of those damned “this is how you put on an airplane seatbelt, and don’t worry, the air is flowing even though the bag may not inflate” presentations?! You’d think they’d at least have… better lighting? Or… an actual live person speaking? Maybe some animal sacrifice to liven things up?

    It’s like they’re trying to live up to Mark Twain’s description…

  9. ftltachyon says

    I’m curious how they smuggled a camera in there and kept it without anyone noticing… and I bet they’ll be found out now, there were some people there with recognizable faces…

  10. F says

    The Egyptian religion had better Books of the Dead. (Actually, far better than all the later religions that used knockoff versions, but this Mormon gig takes the cake and turns it into shit prior to ingestion.)

    Hank Fox

    the Uncle Fester lookalike

    who is a Tall Man (from Phantasm) wannabe.

    I can haz afterlife nao?

  11. wilsim says

    I couldn’t make it more than 7 minutes. I grew up in it, with it, surrounded by it.

    By it, I mean utter nonsense.

  12. grumpyoldfart says

    I’m thinking of the guy standing behind the massage table and wearing the Colonel Sanders costume. When he started out he was probably hoping to hit the top level of the ministry and lead a life of extravagant luxury. He must be so pissed off when he realises that standing to attention for an hour is as good as it is going to get (for him).

  13. brazenlucidity says

    Out of curiosity, why is it whenever I visit this site (constantly) the ads here are constantly for psychotic right wing groups or psychotic pro-Christian groups? Why am I subjected to these as opposed to things I might actually be interested in? The Onion’s advertisers seem to understand I’m a liberal atheist who likes astronomy as do most other sites. What gives here?

  14. Hatchetfish says

    After the nature stock footage, I started expecting the droning disembodied repetitive instructional recording to launch into bad and boring network television nature documentary narration (the sort whose creators cry when they see Attenborough): “and now, we see the male mormon erect his display feathers, attempting to draw a mate”

    The sort of documentary those of us old enough to have had film projectors in our elementary school rooms yet young enough for the documentaries to have fallen into obscurity had to sit through about twenty years after they were made, with bad sound leveling and that ubiquitous cheap film stock red tint all educational film copies seemed to acquire somehow. And probably earsplitting screechy recorder music. In perhaps the only positive point about the mormon uh, what have you, at least there was no recorder music (that I noticed). Or interpretive dance of the pudgy middle aged bachelor landlord, now I think about it.

  15. rowanvt says

    I am watching the whole thing. Running commentary:

    I keep waiting for Michael to yell “I KNOW that we are to go down and do X, Y, Z. I was there when Elohim said to do it!”

    I love the whole “We’re gonna let humans figure out what is good and evil without them currently knowing the difference and when they do something wrong… condemnation! wooooo!”

    And “We made them male and female… but he’s alone.” apparently the original woman all said “eff this!” and left?

    Tame animals! I suddenly feel that I am in a Disney movie. Is Eve about to start singing? Lamb says “saaaaaave me! the naked lady is touching me!”

    “Hey Lucifer, you totally did the job I wanted you to do and now I’m gonna curse you neener neener.”

    “Each of you bow your head and say yes…. That will do.” Flashbacks to Babe. That’ll do pig, that’ll do.

    …. there is a secret mormon ‘sign’. And they sound like they are saying “the erotic priesthood”. I *know* am hearing that wrong.

    The lone and dreary world is amazingly un-dreary. The world is beautiful.

    Yes Adam. We bloody hear the words of your mouth! D: Especially as you won’t stop saying it!

    Apparently Elohim is too self important and busy to deliver his own instructions. Adam is also suprisingly blase about meeting other humans, since supposedly he and Eve are currently the only ones aside from their own children.

    Avoid loud laughter and light thoughts? How dare humans have fun or be joyful! Dreariness is good, we say!

    …. Still sounds like erotic priesthood. >__<

    Wow. "Every moment of your time, and all that do, and all that you have is to be used to further the aims of the church." That's… a little scary. "Consecrate yourself, your time, your talents, and all that with God may bless you"

    Patriarchal grip? I … really don't want to know.

    "This token is totes just as secret as the other ones, got it?"

    … why? why the repeating of "oh god, hear the words of my mouth"? O_<

    Oh nice… yes. Let's veil the women before they share the secret handshake and pray.

    11 minutes to go. I'm almost scared to go to bed for fear that my dreams will be full of droning repeated drivel.

    Prayer done? Then the women can unveil.

    I'm beginning to think that the Wizard was based on Mormonism, especially this whole dealing with the veil. aaaaand more repeating of everything already said.

    3 minutes. Will to live… fading… And done. That was… uhm… Wow. My poor boyfriend had to hear the whole thing as well and his response was "That was the MOST boring sermon I have ever heard." Tis but truth.

  16. some bastard on the net says

    One would think that after the fourth or fifth task is assigned, Micheal would’ve said to Jehovah, “WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP! I WAS STANDING RIGHT HERE WHEN HE SAID IT, DAMMIT!!”

    How is it that I’m only seeing the truly bizarre part of this religion after I left it? I seem to have dodged a particularly nasty mental bullet there.

  17. some bastard on the net says

    Dammit, rowanvt beat me to it.

    At 11:10, I’m pretty sure they dubbed a fucking owl!

  18. chigau (違わない) says

    Thank you, so much.
    That saved me the bother.
    That Saved™ me.

  19. Pyra says

    I tried to watch this shortly after it was posted, but seriously, I fell asleep after skipping around a couple parts. I will keep this on my bookmarks for one of those mornings after an obnoxious night at work, to put me to sleep.

  20. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    What? The central parts of the temple ceremony are replaced by a movie?! That is so tacky.

    Only in America…

  21. pixelfish says

    I’d read about it, but seeing it performed makes me wonder what the everlovin’-flippin’ fuckity fuck is going through my family’s collective head, because there is no way to logically reconcile THAT with any sort of rational sense. And that is putting it mildly. There were crimes against logic and narrative continuity perpetuated on film.

    First of all, were I still a believer–and believe me, I was very devout when I was–I would seriously have started questioning my beliefs after seeing that. I’m sure I would have gone through the temple very quietly because ALL my loved ones would have been there, and I can’t imagine the pressure you’d be under, but it would be really hard to deal with the cognitive dissonance dropping on my head at the same time that all my family was so hopeful and happy about me following in their footsteps. So glad I missed THAT. But as a believer, that film would have left me noting all kinds of inconsistencies, starting with the fact that Satan is the one who apparently introduces the kids to Fig Leaf Aprons, which later become part of the temple vestments. And Satan pretty much introduces the idea of selling the signs (um, tithing???) and there’s a couple of things he invokes in his speeches which get rolled back round into the signs and the invocations and all that. So if I WERE a believer, I’d start wondering at what point Satan infiltrated and set up this ritual, because logically that would be the conclusion I would come to: we wear fig leaf aprons (just like Satan!) and get the signs from guys we’ve tithed to (selling the signs!) so….um….yeah….

    But I’m not a believer any more and haven’t been, so mostly this just looks like rank superstition with bad logic: why would you call the Aaronic Priesthood the Aaronic Priesthood hundreds, if not thousands of years before Aaron would be born? why does Eve not have the knowledge of nakedness before approaching Adam? why are they commanded to care for the garden but later told that the world they are cast into needs plowing and tilling? why are armies and currency and kingdoms and conspiracies by men invoked when nobody would have the vocabulary or concepts of this since there are TWO people on the earth? why does Satan and Michael and Jehovah play out this little drama which apparently has happened on hundreds of planets before this one but ONLY NOW does Satan get cast down and cursed? Why is Adam such a passive aggressive douchebag–“The woman thou gavest me gave of me the fruit!” Why do Adam and Eve continue to listen to Satan AT ALL–weren’t they paying attention in Act I when he got them in trouble? Why do they believe Peter, James and John? “Hey, I will give you the first sign which you received in the garden.” “Great! Let me see the first sign!” “I can not!” FACEPALM. Why is it necessary for women to veil during prayers while men don’t? Seriously, this looks EXACTLY like what it is: biblical fan fic written by a dude who had very little concept of narrative structure and nobody to workshop his plays before he sent them out into the world.

    And people give money to this church with its horrible mundane version of the afterlife, with Masonic symbols and crappy handshakes (TERRORIST FISTBUMP!) that to this day works to keep living people from marrying their loved ones, while baptising dead folks into an ethos they never would have agreed with. A church that was racist and sexist and homophobic, and well, actually still is.

    And I’m just so glad I got out before finding myself in a room full of hopeful family members all watching me choke down my disappointment while I try to figure out if I should leave (and cause a scene) or insincerely go through the motions.

  22. pixelfish says

    @Tyrant: The temple staff is very often elderly retired folks. I bet they started doing the video and audio taped narratives because of wandering minds and folks who refused to let go of the old versions as they were retired. (Stuff like removing the oaths against the United States for spilling the blood of Joseph….) It creates a more stable, consistent (if that word could even come close to being applied here) experience.


    Forgot to add. I looked up the dude who filmed this, and was bummed that he wasn’t a rational dude who came round, but another god-botherer intent on selling you on the idea that Mormon culty stuff invokes TEH SATAN! Man. So disappointed. There’s a video on his youtube channel showing Baptisim for the Dead (an ordinance I HAVE actually participated in) and the preface is all “Hey, kids, I bet you had fun doing baptisms for the dead, but SCARY STUFF IS AHEAD!” (I did not have fun doing baptisms for the dead. I got mildly hyperventilate-y because they were dunking me so quickly. Gee, repeated immersion + repetitive action followed or preceded by repetitive prayer and fasting. What does that sound like?)

  23. nmcc says

    And to think, Mark Twain described the Book of Mormon as ‘chloroform in print’. Shows you how much he knew.

  24. says

    Was the movie part created by the same lot that did ‘Innocence of Muslims’? It had about the same production values and acting skill. Might be a good one for the next ‘Mock the Movie’ night.

  25. Tyrant al-Kalām says


    I appreciate that (though I didnt know about the anti-American bit). I just think that it lacks class and cheapens such an important occasion considerably.

  26. McC2lhu saw what you did there. says

    No wonder people are leaving the cult. Who could stomach that much tedium, banality and vapidness in one go? And to top it off, they think that KITT was at the opening faceoff of the universe. Surely there should have been more merriment in a bullshit religion created by a scheming and scamming carny huckster. Adding the prohibition of alcohol on top of it all is enough to drive one to drink.

  27. says

    @ brazenlucidity

    This page is showing you ads based on key words found on the site (“religion,” “bible,” “conservative”) and missing the context (“stupid religion,” “evil bible,” “nut-job conservative).

    The Onion is showing you ads based on sites you’ve visited before. You might consider clearing your cookies.

  28. pipenta says

    Ooooh, you know it’s a bad sign when right out of the gate, the droning voice tells you to be sure to stay alert.

    Also, they’re performing this for dead people, then further in they offer the, um, audience the chance to opt out. All you have to do is raise your hand. Like you bothered to show up just to opt out. But yeah, go ahead and opt out, NOW. They’ll just wait until you are too dead to raise your hand and do their hocus pocus anyway.

    I agree with oolon, this would be good for Mock the Movie. I think it is the only way I could get through it.

  29. says

    They have to tell you right up front to be “alert” — trying to forestall the tendency of everyone to die of boredom, I guess.

  30. says

    First of all, were I still a believer–and believe me, I was very devout when I was–I would seriously have started questioning my beliefs after seeing that.

    there is a well known phenomenon among people who are caught up in a scam. they get more devout in believing when things get ridiculous because they have invested too much personally to stray at that point. No one wants to think they have given 10% of their income and countless hours to something totally silly and stupid.

    on the ex-mormon boards very few people reported the temple as significant in their beginning to question beliefs/finally deciding to leave. thats how it seems to me anyway.

  31. raven says

    there is a well known phenomenon among people who are caught up in a scam. they get more devout in believing when things get ridiculous because they have invested too much personally to stray at that point.

    It’s the Fallacy of Sunk Costs.

    The Mormon church is an authoritarian mind control cult. They use every form of mind control that they can get away with up to and including threats.

    The endowment ceremony was supposed to be secret and at the end, everyone swore blood oaths to kill themselves gruesomely if the revealed it. They took that out in the 1990’s because it had already been made public by apostates.

    In the case of the LDS church, it is a high cost religion in terms of money and time. They have endless meetings throughout the week and all members are called to fulfill the various functions from gardener on up to bishop. Lots of sunk costs.

  32. says

    Ex-mormons discussing the temple ceremony, in particular, their impression of their first visit:


    I was teetering and had difficulty finding the dressing rooms, but now got to try on my own new garmies, fresh out of the plastic bag. These had been chosen for me by well meaning family for practical durability. This meant they were one piece, made of 100% nylon with the same stretch, moisture absorbency, and comfort levels as a medieval suit of armor.

    On the long bus ride back to SLC I don’t believe I spoke a word to anyone. I just sat there in a state of bewildered shell-shock. I kept wondering “What was that?!” Growing up I remembered so many LDS criticisms leveled at the catholic church for their excessive ceremonies, and then Mormons do THIS!!

    In Europe we made a couple of mission trips to the Swiss Temple. I was a little better prepared by this time, but can honestly say that I never enjoyed it. In following years they toned down some of the worst endowment excesses, but no matter how carefully and sincerely I prepared for it the temple ceremony was always something I dreaded and endured. I would be ever so glad when the torture finally came to an end.

    It was the first experience of my life that seriously shook me to my TBM Mormon core. I think it planted the seeds of doubt that eventually led me to belatedly realize the church was invalid – and it started in the holiest of holies, the Mormon Temple! [emphasis added in response to skeptifem’s comment @40]

  33. says

    More ex-mormons talking about their temple experience:

    A Mormon missionary I liked and respected told me, “There is nothing in the ceremony that a Christian would have a problem with.”

    Making “covenants” on the spot without prior knowledge is too much like coercion to me.

    My first visit to the International House of Handshakes? That was over 10 years ago. The old school death penalty and five points of fellowship stuff was still part of the endowment ceremony

  34. raven says

    Mormon (now obsolete) blood oaths:

    “We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by our roots.”

    Early Penalty of the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood

    “We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the Seond Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and vitals torn out from our bodies and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.”

    Early Penalty of the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood

    “We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our bodies be cut assunder in the mdst and all our bowels gush out.”

    If anyone reveals the secret ceremony details their throat will be cut, tongue torn out, heart cut out and fed to the animals, and have your intestines removed.

    Since you can read the details on wikipedia or watch a real video of this not very secret ceremony, they removed this as moot I guess about 20 years ago.

    The Mormons have other ways of trapping their members into the cult. They explicitly encourage early marriage and child bearing so you are too busy to even think before you are really a mature adult. They demand large families so you are always busy and usually broke making more Mormons. The missionaries rarely convert anyone who stays long. The two year, self funded mission is more a sunk cost for the missionary.

    They call marrying a non-Mormon the worst mistake you can make. In this case, I agree for the exact opposite reason.

    When you leave the Mormon church as many do, you frequently leave all your friends and family behind. This is a high cost for most people.

    I’m sure there are more ways to trap people into the cult. Any that humans have ever been able to dream up. The CIAP lists the LDS church as an abusive cult.

  35. says


    I didn’t say no one had that experience, just that it didn’t seem common to me. I stand by that.

    Fair enough. And, of course, some mormons leave the church without ever having gone through a temple ceremony.

  36. says

    Best Satan ever!

    Yes, Satan is portrayed by the best actor in this farce. The way Satan says “… pleasure and pain” leaves no doubt that Satan has a wide range of experiences not sanctioned by the mormon church.

    Best smarmy Satan smile at about 21:43.

  37. newnamenoah says

    I made this video. Somewhere in the comments someone said,

    “I looked up the dude who filmed this, and was bummed that he wasn’t a rational dude who came round, but another god-botherer intent on selling you on the idea that Mormon culty stuff invokes THE SATAN! Man. So disappointed.”

    Perhaps you were referring to the notes I put in the baptism for the dead video. I was simply referring to the fact that Adam and Eve pray using “the true order of prayer” and Satan answers their prayer in the movie.

    I do not believe Satan will EVER show up in answer to prayers from any people in touch with reality.

    Just wanted to clarify that.

  38. RFW says

    From some perspectives, the mormon cult appears to be in a death spiral. The higher ups have gradually gotten rid of a lot of the distinctive elements of early mormonism and brought it as close to being a branch of the baptists as they can without relinquishing the whole temple-and-magic-undies schtick. The overarching objective of the LDS church is now on all fours with the scienos: money, more money. But to exactly what end is anybody’s guess, as no one person seems to be getting rich as a result.

    The temples they erect these days are crap, cheap cookie-cutter architecture, they’ve replaced the live performances of their most sacred ceremonies with really crap movies, and they’ve steadily become more and more obviously cultish. In the process they’ve destroyed an authentic piece of cultural Americana.

    I suppose that when mormonism finally collapses from its internal contradictions, the better temples can be turned into museums and the crappier ones into high end fast food palaces.

  39. Margaret says

    Maybe some animal sacrifice to liven things up?

    I think the thousands of human brain cells killed off by this count as animal sacrifice, though that certainly doesn’t liven things up any.

  40. pixelfish says

    @NewNameNoah – Ah, yes, the bit on the front of the Baptism for the Dead video was what I was referencing.

    BTW, still pretty amazed that you got through the whole ceremony. My husband and I figured your camera was on a wrist watch, but weren’t totally sure.

  41. pixelfish says

    @Lynna: I really wanted to fisk the hell out of it and annotate some of the references with other LDS works. The whole thing is a bucket of contradictions and I’m surprised that even believers as devout of my family don’t have doctrinal hiccups over it.

    I personally think that a lot of folks going through do experience a hefty dose of cogdis over this. A lot of my friends who served missions but left later report this as an anticlimatic or weird experience that left them disappointed. But given the “treat it sacred” sort of mantra we’re fed from youth, folks aren’t encouraged to discuss it except in circumstances where peer pressure or authority will reinforce belief. If you do feel doubt, you are much less likely to talk about your doubts with the family you perceive as being true believers…and if there are any other doubters in your family and friends, you’ll all be isolated by that perception that everybody else is copacetic.

    But this is why I love the internet age–now it’s easy to break through that isolation if you want to. If you felt a little sketchy about the endowment, it’s easy to google folks who also felt it was weird. I’m so glad I hit adulthood right when the internet was making it easy to research this stuff.

  42. howardcordingley says

    Satan is played by a Professor I had at Utah State, his name is Michael Ballam.

  43. pixelfish says

    In the other modern Mormon temple film, Satan is played by my best friend’s former dance teacher.

  44. joed says

    @19 rowanvt
    “And “We made them male and female… but he’s alone.” apparently the original woman all said “eff this!” and left?”

    Yes! One of the great women of folk lore.
    In Jewish folklore, from the 8th–10th centuries Alphabet of Ben Sira onwards, Lilith becomes Adam’s first wife, who was created at the same time and from the same earth as Adam. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam’s ribs. The legend was greatly developed during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar and Jewish mysticism.[3] In the 13th Century writings of Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, for example, Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with archangel Samael.[4] The resulting Lilith legend is still commonly used as source material in modern Western culture, literature, occultism, fantasy, and horror.

  45. says

    pixelfish, rest assured I am very much in touch with reality.

    I can’t say exactly what kind of camera was used but it seemed to do the job.

    I’m releasing the LIVE session from the Salt Lake Temple on Oct. 19th.

  46. rowanvt says


    No, Plan Nine had better dialogue by far. This reminded me a great deal of, without quite reaching the level of, Manos Hands of Fate.

    Honestly, I’m not sure which of these I’d rather watch again if forced to choose.

  47. allencdexter says

    Couldn’t stand it much past 1/3 through. It’s even more stupid than what most churches put out. And, we are seriously considering someone who buys this crap as a viable candidate for president of our country????

  48. shuckstuck says

    It tales your breath away. I almost couldn’t find the words but then… Nonsense heaped utter nonsense! The depth of human gullibility never ceases to amaze.

  49. pixelfish says

    So the first two sessions of the Church semi-annual conference went down in SLC yesterday, and lo and behold, it gets announced that the age requirement for missionaries has been lowered, from 19 to 18 for men, and from 21 to 19 for women.

    There’s some interesting things to unpack in this, but I personally see this as a sign that the LDS church is starting to bleed followers noticeably or they would never have taken this step.

    For one thing, going on a mission means your first chance to enter Mormon adulthood and go into the temple. As we’ve seen from this video, that’s no great prospect BUT the younger you are, the more likely you are to be swayed by this. For one thing, even despite your age, you’ve finally been allowed to see the secret thing your parents and older relatives haven’t talked about…and you’ll be getting it practically straight out of high school, instead of 2 or 3 years down the road when you’ve possibly been exposed to the secular agenda of your higher education. Basically, they’re shoving kids into the “greatest” commitments of their religion even earlier.

    Secondly, they lowered the women’s age requirement to the men’s previous age requirement. (They aren’t interested in equality between the sexes or BOTH genders would have had the same age requirements.) Previously, this disparity has always been explained that it is more important for women to get married and start families than to go on a mission and EVEN THEN women would be thoroughly grilled by their bishops to make sure that there was no potential return missionary who has been hanging around. This happened to my sister, who was planning on serving a mission when she met my brother-in-law. I like my brother-in-law and think he’s pretty decent, and he’s especially nice to me because he has two non-active/ex-Mormon sibs, so he’s probably the best BIL I could have hoped for, so I’m not sad, but still…the point remains: women are not encouraged to go on missions, but to get married.

    But, what with no active encouragement to serve missions Just In Case, women were finding themselves with 2,3,4,5, maybe even more years before attending the temple, becoming educated and independent without that stamp of Official LDS Adulthood. (And it is a Big Thing in Mormonland. As an adult, I was sometimes excluded from gettogethers with older relatives because I hadn’t been through the temple and/or gotten married.)

    My major (speculative, based on my experience with LDS values and the rhetoric around missions and gender roles) surmise is that the church is starting to discover that more young folks are either not making it to missions and marriage at all, or leaving the church more publically. Hence, lower the age requirements, get the kids into the temple, and get them invested before they know the full taste of adulthood and education.

    Sad thing is, I think it would work for a while. Again, drawing from my own experiences, if I’d had a chance to serve a mission right after school, I would have jumped at it. (My German teacher had a pretty solid record of her students serving German language missions and I almost certainly would have gone to Europe.) So I would have gone to the temple earlier and had more invested by the time I started reaching full adulthood. I had the chance to slip away because my culture kept telling me that my only value lay in wife and mommyhood and thus kept me cooling my heels in school. So before I hit 21, I had lived on my own, visited a couple cities outside of Utah, seen enough of the world to realise I didn’t want to be stuck at the back of Plato’s Cave, and had a chance to let all the doctrinal inconsistencies marinate. And because I wasn’t married with kids nor had I gone through the temple, it was much easier for me to leave than it otherwise would have been. (Still not easy, mind you.)

    We laugh at this movie and we see it as groaningly awful, but many Mormons don’t…and I think it’s largely because of the sunk costs and time investment and how everything was built up for them. Push them at it even earlier, and I think you’ll find a higher retention rate.

    But not forever. Because information spreads and our cultures evolve. And make no mistake–they wouldn’t have considered going against a traditional age requirement if they weren’t bleeding members somewhere.