I ran across this podcast called “Oh No, Ross and Carrie!“. They are a pair of ex-Evangelical Skeptics who take it upon themselves to investigate religious claims and experience them personally. In their most current episodes they investigate Mormonism and go so far as to become baptized. After baptism they let their missionaries know the truth and reveal their deception.
I don’t think what they have done is right. They have no belief in Mormonism’s truth claims and cross the line in several places to make people think they are sincere. I think what they do is unethical. They could have experienced everything they report on through observation. If they had asked if they could see a baptism or a confirmation for themselves I’m certain their missionaries could have accommodated them. That being said, they offer an interesting view into Mormonism from an outside perspective.
The part that really got me was that one of their missionaries had only baptized one other person. My heart broke for him when they let him in on their ruse.
Their experience is broken into two episodes. If you only have time for one, I would recommend episode 2
This is my response I left in their comments section
I enjoyed listening to your story. Both of you are funny, interesting to listen to, and of course, so very smart. You have a good chemistry and make a great podcast duo.
As a non-Mormon I can resonate with some of your experiences in visiting a Mormon chapel for the first time. My wife and I got cornered and hounded for our street address as well. So weird.
Unfortunately, I think what you did was unethical. It was fine up until the point you decided to get baptized. It got worse when you knowingly “cheated” the baptism interview. It went over the top when you delivered your fake testimonies. Granted you were careful to “tell the truth” (mostly) but not in a way that that was honest. You offered truths in a way that you knew your listeners would accept as an embrace of their beliefs, all the while sharing the hidden smirk with your friends in the know. You gave your Mormon friends what they needed in order to get something from them that you wanted (an experience to share on a podcast). But you didn’t pay the price they requested. You wrote a bogus check.
And the sad thing about this is that it was completely unnecessary. If you had wanted to observe an LDS baptism and confirmation, you could have done so. I was specifically invited to one by some missionaries. I learned everything you learned but I didn’t have to fool anyone to gain the experience. The integrity in all of my relationships remained intact. I didn’t invite 40 strangers out of their holiday plans in order to witness a fraud. I wasn’t forced to overcome any guilt by telling a couple of wide-eyed 19-year-olds that I had been using them and their sacred ceremonies to appear cool to my Evangelical friends.
Your ex-Mormon friend justified your actions by saying “The LDS church has hurt a lot of people too.” Perhaps, but does this really justify YOUR actions. If you want to stand in judgement of them shouldn’t your behavior be superior to theirs? Shouldn’t you be setting the standard for them in authenticity and honesty?
As it stands you could continue moving forward as Mormons and even gain access to their temple ceremonies. You’ve clearly figured out how to deliver the answers they want to hear and the requirements for ten percent of your “increase” are vague enough that it could cost you very little. Yet I think you know that this would be inappropriate.
I find your project interesting. But I hope you move forward with some stronger ground rules and that you don’t join any other religions under false pretenses.