Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Mormon Persecution Complex and the FDA

Nothing in the world makes a Mormon happier than being persecuted.  Persecution, to a Mormon, is complete validation of their world view--which is succinctly described as Mormons vs. "the world1."  Our persecution complex has a rich tradition dating back to the 1820 when Joseph Smith had his first vision; and it encompasses the expulsions from Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois2.  Being persecuted is a defining characteristic of Mormonism, and you aren't truly living the religion if you aren't being persecuted.

One of the more recent persecution narratives I've heard hasn't gotten a lot of play (thankfully) and is centered around food storage.  The Church maintains a network of canneries and distribution centers where members may go to purchase dry goods in bulk and them can them into #10 cans for convenient storage.  If you like having a food supply (and Mormons are encouraged to maintain a 3 month food supply in case of emergency or economic hardship), these canneries are really quite a blessing.

However, it was announced earlier this year that at most of these canneries, the option to buy in bulk and can the product yourself would no longer be available.  Instead, you would be able to buy the pre-canned goods (at the same price as packing them yourself, it turns out).

It didn't take long for the conspiracy theories to surface. "Government Regulation cause LDS canning facilities to SHUT DOWN" and "BREAKING NEWS: LDS Canneries Halt Canning!"  If you really want to enjoy yourself, read the comments.  I half expect to see someone write "you can have my #10 cans when you pry them from my cold, dead hands."

Now, I can accept that there may be new or upcoming regulations that make it infeasible to host a facility that allows volunteers to come pack their own food.  Let's face it, you don't have the same kind of influence over volunteers that you have over employees.  And no one wants to face the penalties of failing to meet regulations because a volunteer doesn't want to wear a hair net.  But I have a really hard time buying into the idea that the government is targeting LDS canneries.

I didn't think this story had spread beyond the 4.2%3 of Mormons who might actually use the canneries4, so I wasn't too concerned with following it.  I pretty much just rolled my eyes and moved on.  Until someone showed me this statement from the LDS Church.  It starts off saying "Over the past several weeks, misinformation and unnecessary concern has been circulating on blogs, over social media channels and by email regarding changes in operations at the Church’s home storage centers."

It would seem that this nonsense was widespread enough for the Church to issue a response to stamp out the persecution complex.  The Church gives five solid reasons for the decision to discontinue self-canning.  Only one of these four mentions federal regulations, and does so in passing.  The statement says the decision was made, in part, because "It is much more costly to maintain and upgrade facilities that must meet food production standards (such as in a self-canning operation) than it is to maintain a facility that simply distributes pre-canned and prepackaged food."  Keep in mind, the Church operates 101 of these facilities.  Upgrading them is pretty expensive.  Centralizing the canning and distributing the product makes a lot of economic sense.

Anyway, you might notice a few more sad Mormons today now that they are facing just a little bit less persecution.  So it would be swell if you could go the extra mile to brighten up a Mormon's day by offering them some added persecution.

1See also the figurative use of "Babylon"
2My wife reminded me that early Mormons were also driven out of New York, to which I immediately responded, "oh, sorry to downplay your history of persecution!"
3 This is one of those statistics that is accurate by virtue of being made up. I have eighty seven references to back me up on that.
4 People in my ward will probably welcome the change, actually. The last few organized trips to the cannery received a lot of orders and very few volunteers to actually go do the work. Little Red Hen, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. All I have to say after reading this post and others is:

    Man,I think we are lost twins separated at birth. You're of course the smart and funny one because you're into statistics and all those crazy stuff that mess up people's minds in a good way. I'm just the sister that follows you around and hopes some of that cleverness of yours is highly contagious.