I was pained by a post from an anonymous poster about problems of multilevel marketing in the Church. Yes, I think it really can be a problem. The Church provides lots of ties to fellow members, and those who are looking for recruits for marketing schemes may find it an irresistible temptation to tap into fellow Latter-day Saints. Well, I guess that’s what networking is all about, but I have also had some concerns about certain multilevel marketing programs that are pushed by members. Some groups, including new members, might just be too trusting to see through the business pitch of a smooth-talking fellow member who seems “righteous” or is their home teacher or something. After all, they are a brother in the Gospel – surely that business deal is honest, fair, inspired, and likely to provide miraculous blessings just like the literature says, right? Frankly, Latter-day Saints need to be a lot less naive about the risks of business ventures with fellow members, and quit assuming that just because someone has a temple recommend or a Church calling that he or she can be trusted in business deals.
Below is the insight provided by our poster – does it sound like something that has happened in any of your stakes or wards?
I have often wondered if any other Wards/Stakes have been affected by multi-level marketing strategies “raging” through the ward. About five years ago we had multi-level marketing people move into our Ward. Many Ward friendships for many quickly turned into how to get rich together. People were invited to join [the name deleted] team while sitting in the chapel waiting for Sacrament to begin.
Many of the poorer/weaker members joined the scheme. When they failed in sales they did not come back to church. They were embarrassed that they let the upline people down. . . .
This was unfortunate. Has anyone else experienced this kind of problem?
Now look, I know the critics will want to jump all over this about Mormon deception and all that, but any close-knit social or religious group offers opportunities for those looking for business connections with others. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but some multilevel marketing schemes are notorious for taking advantage of trusting relationships, whether associated with religion or not. And yes, some Mormons are just too trusting of other Mormon. How sad that this should be a problem.