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Getting my home teaching done this month could be worth 50 bucks toward the purchase of a car from a local auto broker. According to an ad in another newspaper, that's 10 percent off the $500 fee he normally charges.

But wait, there's more. That's also $50 on top of whatever blessings I might get for doing my home teaching, which ironically is something I agreed to do for free in the first place.

I'm not sure what proof the broker expects before actually giving the discount. It can't be much, considering that all I ever have to tell my High Priest Group leader is that I got my home teaching done — even if I didn't.

Given such a lack of required proof, even non-Mormons could get this discount. A Catholic priest or a Muslim imam (in full uniform) would only need to say, "Oh, yeah. And I got my home teaching done last month."

I suppose that's OK, but it does bring up an important gender issue. Mormon women don't go home teaching. They go visiting teaching. However, the advertisement specifically mentions home teaching, so once again women are being marginalized.

It's not the first discount I've been offered for being a "good" Mormon. When I prepared to serve a mission, my parents took me to a store that offered a "missionary discount" on all suits.

It was a long time ago, so my memory is a little vague. If I recall correctly, I had to show the sales person a copy of my mission call to prove that I deserved the discount.

"You've been called THERE? Good heavens, you'll need something from our comfortless ArmorWear line then."

For 15 percent off, I received two suits made of the same material used in industrial tarps. One suit was dark, the other extra dark. Both came with two pairs of "fang resistant and bicycle reinforced crotch" trousers.

With the discounted suits also came a choice of a free necktie — from a selection limited to neckties so unattractive that it was either give them away or throw them away. I used mine to tie my suitcase shut.

Even this missionary discount excluded women. Later, when I got to the Language Training Mission, the sister missionaries complained about how elders got discounted suits while they weren't offered anything similar.

An indignant Hermana Stobbs: "It's patently discriminatory is what it is. I think the least they could do is offer— "

Me [tugging a vinyl suit coat]: "Shut up. How'd you like to wear this #*&@ for the next two years?

Note: I really said that. It was bad, I know. But by then I was two weeks into the LTM. The fact that I hadn't killed anyone yet more than makes up for that indiscretion.

In addition to the suits, I also got a discount on my pre-mission dental work, luggage and two pair of Soviet Bloc mailman shoes.

Getting discounts to do stuff you're supposed to be doing for free out of commitment and love is perfectly legitimate, I suppose. However, it does bring to mind (deeply disturbed ones anyway) a more serious issue.

Do you think God discounts sin and forgiveness? I hope so. Let me know if you see any coupons.

Robert Kirby can be reached at or