Trigger Warning: This section describes human trafficking and abuse.

I hope 1.2 My Story makes the harmful nature of missions abundantly clear. I would, however, like to briefly list a few specific ways missions hurt everyone, including missionaries, church members, and the general public.

Mental Health

I do not know where to start with this one. Missions are bad for mental health. Every single returned missionary I’ve talked with has reported having nightmares about getting another mission call. Missionaries frequently experience serious mental health issues, and the church offers them virtually no support.

While I have heard things are slowly improving, isolation from family, condemnation of self-care practices, and a lack of privacy or dignity slowly degrade a missionary’s sense of self. From personal experience, I cannot justify a loving God doing any of this to His children.

Opportunities for Abuse

I was abused and assaulted by more than one mission companion. I had no choice but to endure this abusive behavior until the mission president felt I needed a different companion. Throughout the world, missionaries endure horrifying abuse from companions, leaders, and occasionally community members, and the church does not lift a finger to protect them.

People sharing their experiences on Reddit confirm the widespread occurrence of abuse:

Human Trafficking

I am not suggesting that every missionary endures human trafficking. But I do suggest that my experience aligns with its generally understood definition:

  • I did not believe I had a choice; there was no opportunity for informed consent before I signed up for a mission
  • I did not purchase my flights or have any opportunity to select or modify them
  • My passport was removed from my possession at every possible opportunity
  • I was given a strict schedule to work 12- to 16-hour shifts seven days per week
  • All of my decisions, especially major decisions, were made for me
  • I had to defer to a church representative and could not move freely within the mission
  • I was told I would lose God’s protection if I dared disobey a strict set of rules
  • I was not provided adequate food or medical attention
  • I could not go home of my own volition, and if I asked to be sent home, I was to be subjected to a degrading phone call between myself, the mission president, and my parents, despite being a legal adult
  • My communication was limited to official, church-provided channels, and it was made clear that all of my communication was monitored
  • I was told I would face serious disciplinary action if I did not perfectly comply with rules and the mission work schedule
  • My productivity was closely monitored, and lapses in productivity were met with disciplinary action
  • Mission companions were encouraged to invade privacy, including by searching others’ belongings and confiscating any unapproved material
  • I was not permitted to read, watch, or listen to anything that wasn’t on an official, church-produced list

The list could go on, but I feel these points are sufficiently damning. Even before I left the church, I determined that I would never encourage my own children to serve a mission. I could not stand the idea of putting them through anything like my experience.

Westernization and Colonization

While I am not an expert in the effects missionaries have on populations around the world, it was clear to me that missions promoted Western cultures and beliefs throughout the world. In Honduras, it was made clear to us that we were to convert Lamanites to the church to help them fix their ancestors’ mistakes. Around the world, missionaries teach people of many races and cultures that the one true way to live aligns perfectly with a white, Christian, conservative lifestyle that was prominent around the early 1800s in the US.

The church glorifies the US and continues to propagate the idea that it is superior in culture, policy, and any other significant way to the rest of the world. I am deeply ashamed that I contributed to this effect, and I suggest that the church is taking advantage of poor and developing areas to build its membership base.


I can think of no better way to say this: missions are horrifying. I will spend the rest of my life recovering from my own mission trauma, and the church continues to traffic, abuse, and neglect its missionaries. I do not believe this work is inspired by God, and I believe it alone could serve as damning evidence the church is not true.