There was a recent Reddit discussion in which people shared the most cringey thing they had done as a Church member, often when they were too young to know better, but not always! Quite a few of these stories had to do with service projects that were tone deaf or poorly executed. Here are a few cherry-picked examples, or at least a greatly summarized version:
- A YM group decided not only to deliver presents to those in need, but to make them as well, using what amounted to people’s trash. They constructed “cars” using empty milk cartons and bottle lids for wheels. They made rag dolls using actual rags and yarn. They made jump ropes using rope and PVC pipe. Then the leader (who spoke mission Spanish) insisted on speaking in his broken Spanish to the recipient, even though the man spoke perfect English. The leader complained that the man didn’t seem grateful to be given this trash.
- A teenage boy who felt pressured to go on a mission confessed to his bishop that he had a masturbation habit. He then felt compelled to proactively call several ward leaders and members and confess to them as well!
- Several examples of giving a gift-wrapped copy of the Book of Mormon to various people, including: a Catholic Art History professor, a non-member school teacher, a friend, a peer who was grieving.
- Instead of writing a position paper defending traditional marriage in a high school class, a Mormon kid wrote out an extensive testimony of the Church and submitted it for a school assignment. This did not result in a good grade.
- A family’s YW age daughter was battling cancer, and the family kept the ward updated on her progress. The stake decided to use her cancer as a faith-promoting activity with a slide projector, photos, and reading out personal family letters to everyone at the Girls Camp. The girl’s sister was in attendance, wracked with grief listening to her sister’s story being used this way. Later she found out that her parents were unaware and had never given permission for this activity.
- A Relief Society teacher explained to the class that since God will never give you a trial you can’t handle, that’s why her child had not died like the child of another woman in the class who was clearly stronger than she was.
- A Redditor told a Jewish woman she met that she too was part of the tribe of Israel, and what a coincidence! When she explained to the woman that she knew she was Jewish because of her patriarchal blessing, the woman was looking at her like a crazy person. This was at a business dinner.
- In the Navy, one commenter told his colleagues that he had been to the original Garden of Eden site in Missouri, near Kansas City. One of them was from Missouri. All of them laughed.
- One person told his entire (mixed race) 7th grade science class that black people bore the “mark of Cain.”
- When served iced tea at a university group event in the South, a commenter proudly and loudly proclaimed that he didn’t drink tea, instructing the waitress to remove it. He expected his peers to be impressed with his moral stance. They were not.
- Another youth Christmas charity project, this time with Young Women. The “gifts” were donated used Barbie dolls, many of whom were damaged with marker, teeth marks from pets, “haircuts” by toddlers, or missing clothes. The Beehive class was given nothing but soap and water to complete a “spa” for these Barbies, rehabilitating them. Since there weren’t enough clothes to go around, they used colored tape, pipe cleaners and craft supplies instead. The dolls were atrocious.
- A personal favorite: the ward youth would use rebar to mount US flags in yards throughout the neighborhood, but they accidentally broke a few water pipes in the process, so the ward decided instead to have them use an auger and drill holes in each yard for an official flag mounting device, resulting in even more broken water pipes.
- In a high school yearbook quote, replying the prompt “What are you looking for when choosing a university,” a commenter replied that he only wanted to go somewhere with “standards as high as my own.”
- The ward brought meals around to families without any advance notice. One recipient said, “Oh, I didn’t think we were that poor!”
- When given a school assignment to explain their national heritage, a kid’s mother made them dress up like a pioneer and explain about Mormon persecution and making the barren desert blossom like a rose. (The kid thought they were Danish which was how all the other kids in the class did the assignment).
- A woman in the ward brought in expired bread and asked that it be given to one commenter’s family as charity. (Protip: the poor generally don’t want your expired food).
- A YW president recommended a youth activity of driving the girls to a poor neighborhood so they could see what happened to people who didn’t “live the gospel.”
I could really only think of two Mormon-specific “cringey” things I did, off the top of my head anyway. Once when I was eleven, we had a cat that was very aggressive, and I tried to cast the demons out of her with my arm to the square. I only ended up getting scratched in the process.
Another time, when I was only 7 or 8, I was playing at a neighbor’s house on a hot summer day when his mom offered to bring us some kool-aid. I took one sip and realized it was iced tea. I spit it out and said I wasn’t allowed to drink it. His mom was shaking her head as she poured the wasted tumbler of iced tea down the sink. I was pretty embarrassed to have caused such a fuss, and she was clearly offended. At our 20th high school reunion, this same friend came up and said, “Hey, remember when you spit out my mom’s tea?”
I’m sure all of you can see where this is heading.
- What’s the cringiest thing you ever did as a Church member, thinking it was the right thing to do?
- Have you participated in an ill-conceived church activity that somehow got approved?
- Did any of these stories sound like ones you experienced or were they pretty far outside the mainstream?