Posts Tagged ‘lds’

When Critical Thought is Applied to Fanatical Belief

December 16, 2013

A friend asked about Lynn K. Wilder’s Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church. This was my reply:

Mormons seem a bit unique, at least to me, in how many there are of those who leave the church that leave faith altogether. One convincing explanation I’ve heard is that the LDS church “spiritually burns people out.” Yes, Mormons rank high in surveys of devotion, but if the shelf ever breaks, the critical thought applied to the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon slide over very easily to the Bible, its stories, miracles, and historical compilation.

The LDS church plays a very dangerous game: Heavily indoctrinate people into “every member a missionary” zeal, bind them emotionally through their “forever families” and “celestial marriages,” tie them culturally and hierarchically into an invasive interview, confessional, home visiting culture, a “ward family” culture and even a social network, employment culture, and then through fear keep them in line, believing and wanting to believe so much that the most active members can be said to be “church broke,” willing to “sacrifice all” that they possess, even their “lives if necessary, in sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God.”

I mean, once a person is into something that deep, especially without full agency–i.e., you were essentially stepped or phased into it, groomed–then, you know, you are kind of fucked spiritually in terms of ever being able to know your own true light. And if you ever release the bonds, your trust in anyone selling spiritual goods will likely not be very easy to gain.


Happiness and Freedom Despite the LDS Church’s Uses of Fear and Social Pressure

July 9, 2013

The first time I stayed home, telling the bishop I was sick (I was the Exec. Sec.), I just had this big grin on my face that wouldn’t go away. I was experiencing sweet freedom. I was so happy to be away from that burdensome church and those generally sweet but tedious people. I had my whole Sunday morning and afternoon to myself! I look back now and think of how the LDS church kept me in this subservient, servile, fearful, anxious, dreadfully pathetic state. You can’t be yourself. You can’t explore and find your own voice, your own interests. You barely know how to. Your individuality is suffocated; every thought has to be church approved or you feel terrible and guilty.

Being in the LDS church is a nightmare of being controlled. You don’t know who your real friends are until you get out of the church, because a lot of your LDS friends will be uncomfortable around you if and when you dare to not follow the script. They’ll begin to quietly avoid you, i.e., shun you.

Of course LDS friends and family think that when you become disaffected with the One True Church you are in “a dark place.” They are fearful, because the LDS church falsely teaches them that anyone who dares to leave the LDS church will suffer and bring only shame and terrible things upon him or herself and family.

My god, what a farce, what a sick, sad, terrible thing the LDS church and its culture of shame, intolerance, and fearfulness are, especially when you consider how the “darkness” they fear is partly their own creation: 1) an exiting person’s LDS social circle starts to variously pressure, shame, and abandon them, so no wonder some people go a little crazy, 2) their family will often be freaking out and even the person’s marriage can be destroyed, 3) they’ve been on a church created hamster wheel of obligation pressure and moral and sensual repression for so long that when they do actually first experience being free of it they might well use poor judgment in trying out new things–like socially awkward teens–and 4) the church makes its people so dependent and afraid of thinking and evaluating for themselves, that when the spark of real freedom, liberty, and agency does arise in them, they will often first try to gropingly get away from the church–hanging out in the bathroom, skipping third hour to go get coffee or a donut, making excuses–in ways that, looking back, seem awfully timid but that may just confuse the people around them who care at all.

Live this One Life to the Full

July 7, 2013

Live this One Life to the Full..

Where does the double-bind take us when examining damaging cults?

April 29, 2010

The “double bind” e-book at is a useful application of an idea to Mormonism, but I think a person would do well to learn more about the double bind by reading The Pragmatics of Human Communication or any of this guy’s work on learning and communication, especially any of his stuff on learning to learn. He’s largely responsible for developing the underlying theory. So one goes to the source!

The idea that there are paradoxical injunctions (phobias basically) that keep people in line with the church gets really interesting to me when thinking about family therapy, viewing the family as a system, and the problems of change in individuals and families.

How does one escape predatory organizations? Bob McCue said he views the church as a wolf or bear that one basically stays the he!! away from. Having been a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed convert, who eventually woke up and decided the church didn’t make him happy, and how that opened up a big can of WHAMMY!, I have to agree.

(Problem: Brief therapy recognizes that a therapist has a brief amount of time to make crucial interventions into a person’s behavior or a family to elicit change. Over time the therapist becomes more enmeshed in the same communicational problems that he or she is observing, and as a result is less able to find the best strategies of intervention (see the work of Milton Erickson.) But everyone leaving the church who wants to bring their families along is told to go slow during the detox. Maybe it’s just an insider/outsider vantage: the therapist has to act fast, while the family insider does not have that luxury–he or she is already so enmeshed that the process is more akin to getting honey off of one hand with the other–not too easy without outside aid, without soap, water and towel. How do you get the honey off without outside help? Careful, pressured scraping off. Time. Air. Activity. Sunlight. The elements. Dust and dirt. AND STAYING AWAY FROM THE SOURCE OF THE HONEY!)

The double-bind was put together when an anthropologist looked at the behaviors of schizophrenics and then saw the same behaviors in the context of a given schizo’s family. Tell me that the church doesn’t create a variety of socially induced schizophrenia in individuals–the idea of splitting from oneself, of splitting off from the wider culture, of trained ignorance or trained perceptual blindspots. (Cf. experiment of mothers and children with cameras in room: schizo moms pretend camera isn’t there; child left to doubt their own perceptions; healthy moms note to child the existence of the camera, why it is there, and then get on with assigned task.)

One of the keys to shifting out of double-binding communication is to stay focused on the context. What is the wider context of the communication? E.g., when the mishies come to the door or when the initial courtship of a promising investigator occurs, what’s the context? Each party wants something. There’s an exchange. To me the wider context looks like making a recruit. There’s a large organization attempting to mentally fondle someone into submitting to its view of reality. Why replicate the recruiters? What do the recruiters need? Hands, money, and more recruiters to add to the total of hands, money, and recruiters. And so on ad infinitum.

In the shadow of the temple

April 10, 2010

Unless church members are willing to admit that 1) the church is often responsible for destroying the families of people who question it, and until the basic point is accepted that 2) there is a love of church that goes beyond bonds of friendship and beyond father and son or mother and daughter or husband and wife–and then square those two anti-family things with the stated and supposed family values of the church–then there is neither hope nor real love of Christ in the hearts of church members who cannot fathom or acknowledge these two facts.

For the LDS faithful, if you are really about “integrity,” “honesty,” and courage, and “character,” something ironically drummed away at in countless ward, stake, and conference talks, then please, for the love of Jesus Christ, see the DVD from this site: In the Shadow of the Temple.

People are hurt by the church and by its usually well meaning members for the simple fact that they have, for whatever reason, decided they can no longer follow or believe the doctrines of the church.  The love-bombing, the carrying-on, the pressure tactics, the unannounced visits, the phone calls, the letters calling for repentance–these are all hurtful things.

If you are a friend of the person who has left the church, then be a friend.  Be a friend first of all.  If the church isn’t a cult, then you should be able to be a helpful and supportive friend of someone who is leaving the church without pressuring them to go to church and without being threatened or struck with terror and fear when that person expresses his feelings about the church.  If the criticism is too much for you, just say so without judging the person.  Simply say that you still have a testimony and a love of the church and you’d rather your friend not put it down.  It’s tough, but leaving the church is tough, and being a friend in a time of real need is tough.  And isn’t that what courage, integrity, character, and all the other church espoused virtues (charity, the love of Christ perhaps?) are all about?

(Shout out to Suspicious Minds at the forum.  See also the thread this post is a response to at Arza Evans’s “Families Held Hostage.” )

Doubting Mark

An atheist's adventures in a land of faith

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