Book Review - How to Rescue Your Loved One from Mormonism

This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1999, Volume 16, Number 2, pages 215-216. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.

Book Review - How to Rescue Your Loved One from Mormonism

David A. Reed & John W. Farkas. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994, 203 pages.

This volume was written to provide a guide for families when one member joins the Mormon Church or when one member is strongly interested in the Mormon Church and the family is alienated from that process. The authors based this book on their own religious experiences with different religions, and compare other religions with the Mormon Church. Experiences of many families and their members with different religions are also discussed. A literature review is presented throughout the book as well as an analysis of scriptures and religious doctrine. Their evaluation of the Mormon Church is very negative, so they view a family member's involvement with this group as a definite cause for alarm.

The authors present a step-by-step approach to accomplish the rescue of family members from Mormonism. Timing is of particular importance. Contrary to those who advocate careful planning and caution, these authors tell families not to postpone an intervention. Waiting, they say, can make the process fail due to the family member’s being too involved in the process. Other steps include building one’s knowledge base through reading materials describing the beliefs of the Mormon Church. Planning one's strategy is very important. It is helpful if one has good debating skills because the Mormon missionaries know their material well and have convincing answers to nonmembers’ questions. Usually, according to the authors, a family will only get one chance to rescue a loved one. Therefore, families must present information tactfully and at the proper time and place. This is not easy. According to the authors, it is helpful to have had training in cult deprogramming. (The authors mistakenly equate cult deprogramming with what is commonly called “exit counseling” and overlook the fact that the term “deprogramming” is usually associated with physical detention.)

The authors recommend that interactions with loved ones and Mormon members remain polite and professional. Being angry or rude will only undermine one's effectiveness in rescuing a loved one and might even destroy one's relationship with the person. This means, say the authors, that one must be well-versed in Christian doctrine as well as Mormon doctrine.

The volume has seventeen chapters and a comprehensive reference section on Mormon and non-Mormon scriptures. There are three appendices that explain important items for the reader. These include: (1) resources and support groups; (2) data supporting some of the discussions in the book; and (3) a glossary of terms and definitions designed to improve communication between family, loved ones, and members of the Mormon Church. A chapter titled “The Fruits of Mormonism” is also particularly helpful.

The volume is written well and the authors seem to be knowledgeable about scripture and religious doctrine. They discuss cult deprogramming principles several times throughout the book and suggest that families contact consultants and experienced cult deprogrammers (i.e., “exit counselors”) before attempting to rescue a loved one from Mormonism. The authors also emphasize that after a family succeeds in rescuing their loved one from Mormonism, the rescued person still has to undergo a process of healing and readjustment to family and life in the mainstream society. This process demands time and patience from a loved one and family members as well.

This volume may be a useful and helpful guide for some families concerned about a loved one joining the Mormon Church or being enticed to join by Mormon Missionaries. Readers will learn how knowledge of Christian and Mormon Scripture can enhance their capacity to help an involved loved one.

Marvin W. Clifford, B.C.S.W., D.S.W

New Orleans, Louisiana

Cultic Studies Journal Volume 16, Number 1 1999