Utah, and the Mormon Church, have experience a virtual ground swell of affinity fraud, in the last few years. More than usual, even.
As it is, Happy Valley – that is to say, Utah County, the home of Brigham Young University – alone, is arguably the MLM (multilevel marketing) capitol of the world. Especially If we factor in The Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints (the LDS Church) – and its world-wide sales force of youthful missionaries. I doubt anyone can seriously hold a candle to that multilevel marketing Behemoth, anywhere else in the civilized world. (For qualifiers: The Mormon Church has 3 separate ‘levels’ of heavenly exaltation, awaiting those who qualify, in the next life. (Think Bronze, Silver, and Gold Club-level, really exceptional real estate salesmen.)
But to get back, we’ve had a number of felonious church members, preying on the vulnerability of those interpersonal relationships, commonly forged between members of the Mormon Church. To a lesser extent, some have even fallen victim to Church leaders. Everyone from Ward Bishops (think Parrish Priests), to Home Teachers (think Eyes ‘n Ears). Members of The Relief Society (women’s organization) to Primary and Sunday School teachers.
Separate Sunday School classes are taught for females, as well as for those males, holding different levels of the Priesthood. ( Includes all males over the age of 12).
But bolstered mainly by the fact that interpersonal relationships between members of these highly intertwined and unusually insular groups, are notably heightened and solidified through their sharing of church gossip, in this writers opinion. Often indistinguishable, in their minds, from actual news. (Think both Climate Change and Inoculation Denialists , Obama Birthers, and those still not convinced that there is any scientific evidence that Homosexuality, isn’t strictly a matter of choice.)
One soon comes to appreciate just how normal it is, for friends to be taken at their word. Even if that word is based on some other friend’s – or even some friend of a friend’s – likely story. (Of course, greed – and the illusion of tapping into information only they are privy to – grease the rails of this already slippery slope.
So that one can’t help but realize, in parsing the belief from the behavior, one rather pervasive psychological element, underlying this crass craft. It is, quite simply, an awareness that they are dealing with folks used to believing in absurdities. Absurdities that merely have to comport to those illusory mental templates, on which they hang their deepest desires. Which is to say, they are used to accepting, at face value, words they already want to hear, concerning things they’ve already been conditioned to value.
And busy! They’re kept real busy! Did I mention how busy The Church keeps them? With continual church assignments, or Callings (think ecclesiastical chores, imposed on top of any personal itineraries that already include work and family.) Busy work, that hardly leaves enough discretionary time, to keep up with the regular news. Let alone investigate any new ideas – that often get labeled as apostate thinking – for themselves. Though the steady drone of background, AM , Red-meat Radio can often be heard, between those weekend-long bouts of LDS Conference speeches that dominate their airwaves twice a year. (How do you think they all seem to know the price of Gold is going up?)
These are many of the same folks, by the way, who make up our State Legislature. And who vote on the dearth of sex education, in our schools. And dress codes. While attempting to assure that Johnny’s ability to attend LDS Seminary class, is not imposed on – by anything he might be forced to listen to, in any of those nasty Science or Health classes.
In any event, they’re like mini Authoritarians – used to receiving their marching orders. Who completely lack the ability to separate their politics from their religion. Let alone any ability to evaluate the investment ideas of their personal friends and counselors, from those more legitimate offers, incorporating a bit more fiduciary responsibility, from licensed financial advisers.
So it’s not hard to tool them with false offers. Especially those that carry even the barest whiff of having come from the lips of some ‘higher up.’ What’s to possibly go wrong?