Subject: "We are NOT a cult"... some observations on this Mormon statement
Date: Jan 19 13:37
Recently, I finished Steve Hassan's book "Combating cult mind control". I mentioned earlier how I was looking for the Mormon church to be brought up as an example of a cult and it was not. The book focused on destructive cults like the Moonies, The Way, The people's temple (Jim Jones) etc. Hassan was a top Moonie recruiter for 2 or 3 years and after an accident was wrenched out of the Moonie cult and deprogrammed successfully.
Throughout the book I drew parallel after parallel. Until I read this book, I never considered the church as a cult. I concluded that the church takes on many prevalent cult characteristics. The last chapter in particular hit me that my mission experience in Spain was the biggest parallel to Hassan's Moonie cult experience. The temple experience also takes on significant cult characteristics.
Here is my list.. in progress of course:
1. In Temple recommend interviews, members are told that the interviewer represents Jesus and should answer all questions as if they were talking to Jesus. This is a break down of barriers designed to condition the member to completely submit to church’s authority
2. Naked touching in the temple washing and anointing ritual also breaks down barriers, creates submission to church authority [This eternal ordinance was changed in Jan 2005 see mormon366.htm ]
3. New name, suggests reassignment of identity
4. Temple endowment experience is hypnotic, produces a relaxed, even sleepy alpha like state for receptivity to church indoctrination, oaths, instruction, commitment. Similar to Moonie repetitive indoctrination sessions where chanting, singing, and long periods of lecturing happen.
5. Secret signs, tokens, passwords to get into Mormon heaven. If one does not have this exclusive information, they will be denied access past certain angels along the way back to God's presence. This is an element of control designed to produce exclusivity
6. Requirement to wear church approved underwear night and day, conditioned to believe they possess special protections. Another design to control via exclusivity
7. Strict tithing requirements. Yearly face to face confrontation with a high church authority to declare to him (as the lord’s representative) how much money the member was able to give to the church. Encouraged to give everything that the lord blesses you with even ones time, talents to the building up of the LDS church. In addition to tithes, generous fast offerings are encouraged. Giving to other charities or worthy causes outside the church is heavily discouraged. The member intuitively knows that the tithing, fast offering, missionary funds and perpetual education funds must be donated to first... and only THEN should outside charities be considered. This cult characteristic, to me, falls under extreme duress to give only to the church organization. The member is even told that if the tithing is not "honest" they will literally burn up at the Lord's 2nd coming.
8. Outsiders not permitted to enter the temple. Exclusivity.
9. Members believe Jesus literally walks the halls of the temples and no other buildings on earth receive this privilege. There is only Faith promoting rumors to back this up of course. Yet it is a very strong and widely held belief in the church that this is so.
10. There is a blatant Us vs. Them mentality. The LDS testimony conditions members to “know” based on feelings that they are the only ones on earth with the Truth or approved plan of God. Everyone else is wrong and must be saved or baptized into the LDS church. This doctrine goes as far as to maintain that every living human who has ever lived in this earth must be baptized. While logically impossible, the doctrine is widely believed. God will figure it out. This rationality is supposed to support this impossibility
11. LDS church has more evidence to prove it false than it does to prove it true, yet members see this as a test of faith and God’s way of strengthening his "Elect". Or members have been conditioned to never look at this material. Very similar to the Moonie approach that outside information was evil and falls under satanic origins. Anything that could potentially deprogram a Moonie was satanic. Family members, spouses, newspaper articles, radio... you get the idea.
12. Members are encouraged strongly to never look at “anti” literature. Yet early apostles encouraged the discovery of truth and preached openly that truth would stand up to highest degree of scrutiny. This was before damning evidences to the church's platform of ideology was widely known or even challenged. During this era, the church had a sense of infallibility as the saints were securely sequestered in the desert of Utah. Completely isolated from the outside world.
13. Bishop interviews are obsessed with sexual purity for youth & missionaries. Adults have been told which sexual acts are permissible and which are not. Though, this is not consistent throughout the church. Young people must disclose any sexual acts, even minor ones. This young person (male or female) believes they are talking to Jesus Christ's representative in these interviews. Lying to the bishop is equated to lying to Jesus.
14. Missions are extreme examples of Cult experience.
A. 80 hrs a week free labor (Missionary makes no money) in fact the missionary pays largely for his own meals, lodging, transportation and clothing out of his own pocket. The missionary is told that the 2 years in service is a "tithing" of the first 19 years of his life that God gave him/her.
B. When not working in field one is encouraged to read scripture & pray constantly
C. High amounts of self-indoctrination and mass indoctrination at zone, district meetings. Guilt tactics are used. If low recruit numbers are happening, the missionary is frequently blamed. Reasons for low recruit numbers are tied to unlikely reasons such as a lack of dedication or commitment to mission rules or even a suggestion that too many missionaries were masturbating too frequently in the past month. This is a gross abuse of mind control.
D. Encouraged to frequently recite scripture and hymns, carry a prayer in ones heart at all times so as to fortify ones efforts to keep rules, remain "sanctified to the cause" and not have impure thoughts or masturbate.
E. No outside influences, no TV, no radio
F. Must always be with companion except for showers and toilet
G. Confined to one area, not permitted to go outside geographic boundaries
H. Extreme limited contact with family, letters once a week, no phone call home but twice a year
I. Primary job is to recruit new members, give the prospect milk and NO meat doctrine. Deception (by only telling the rewritten version of the church's history and doctrine) is encouraged most often without the missionary NOT knowing he is testifying to untruths.
J. Every person met is sized up as potential recruit,
K. Current members are badgered for referrals for new recruits, friends and neighbors
L. Loaded language, acronyms. Outsiders cannot follow many regular LDS conversations
15. If one ever leaves the church, they are told and conditioned to think they will be sent to outer darkness in the afterlife. There is a fear of imminent damnation if they leave the group.
16. One man (the prophet figure) speaks for God. Members see this as extremely positive as they believe the prophet will never lead them astray. When confronted that prior prophets in history have been wrong or even preached harmful doctrine that was widely held up as God's word (racial discrimination) the member quickly dismisses this. This is supported by the perceived good works the church produces and the notion that Mormonism produces good people and strong families.
Well, there is my list. I was hoping to come up with 17 items as an attempt to parallel the faith promoting rumor about the 17 points of the true church. I am one short... mainly because I am out of time.
Interested in comments and additions.
Subject: Re: "We are NOT a cult"... some observations on this TBM statement
Date: Jan 19 14:48
IMHO I did not consider the Church a cult. But I also hadn't realized how indoctrinated I was. About five years ago I still thought that I might end up in "outer darkness", I was actually afraid to admit that I did not believe that JS was a "true prophet"
It has taken me thirteen years to actually feel completely like a non-Mormon.
Subject: Re: I have been out for over 10 years and can't get past those feelings. I'm happy for you! nt
Date: Jan 19 17:36
I started questioning the church when I was 16, I left it when I was nineteen.
I reexamined LDS teachings through the filter of Zen Buddhist and Taoist philosophies when I was Twenty-Two.
Then finally at the age of twenty-seven I let go.
Now at 33 I am free. More or less.
Subject: You have made some excellent points...
Date: Jan 19 15:11
Author: Molly Morgie
I will have to read Steve Hassan's book. I have done a small amount of research on this and found a website with an interesting "Cult Checklist".
It was after reading this, I began to truly see what the LDS church is. I was actually very surprised at the similarities. It's frightening to think that many of our family members and friends believe moism to be true.
Subject: I'd like to hear....
Date: Jan 19 15:29
...some members describe what they think a cult is and/or the details of HOW their church isn't one, differences, etc. Is it just because Jesus and Joseph Smith say so or something?
Subject: Mormons are not allowed to research and produce their own curriculum to teach in a
Date: Jan 19 15:51
Author: Infy (in hiding)
Mormons are not allowed to research and produce their own curriculum to teach in a Mormon church. All lessons are pre-planned by the LDS Corporation and sent out to all Ward Houses. All Ward Members are taught the same thing in every class including Priesthood, Sunday School and Sacrament.
Subject: They can't even quote non-members in "lessons"
Date: Jan 19 17:04
There have been stories here of people being chewed out because they chose to include quotes from people like Ghandi, Mother Theresa, MLK, and others who weren't Mormon. Only cult leaders are allowed to be quoted.
Subject: Re: They can't even quote non-members in "lessons"
Date: Jan 19 18:09
Long gone are the days when my Sunday School teacher culled his lessons from the Readers Digest. Better yet, we had a husband/wife team that listened to a non-member radio broadcast every Sunday morning, and that would usually be part of the lesson in Sunday school that day.
The church sure is a different one than what I knew in the 50s through the 70s.
Subject: Loved the book, and the excellent points you drew from it! Also:
Date: Jan 19 17:55
I'll tell you my favorite part of the book. I had never stopped to compare brainwashing and mind control.
Brainwashing is blatantly and obviously abusive.
Cult mind control is subtle. Victims cooperate because they don't realize they're being manipulated. Mormons and other cultists can't know they're under mind control simply because they give up control of their own minds whenever they're doing the bidding of their cult.
You can't know you're under mind control if you're not fully utilizing your own mind enough to clearly see the situation. That's why Mormons aren't lying when they incorrectly say they're not in a cult. People in cults can't know that they're in them until they leave.
Subject: Additional thoughts, Why LDS church not considered a "destructive" cult...
Date: Jan 19 18:11
After posting my thoughts, I have been thinking as to why the LDS church is not considered a destructive cult. I can only come up with this:
It must be the family aspect of the church. Destructive cults like the Moonies, The Way, People's temple recruit individuals and isolate them from family, friends etc. The LDS church is not like this per se. I can see the reaction from nonmember families who have a child join the LDS church. They would likely see their child joining a Moonie type cult. There is no getting around that.
But for the multi generational Mormon family, the destructive cult personality is merely a "way of life". Uncle Larry and Aunt Millie are all Mormon. Everyone is also Mormon in this familial environment...
The church does promote family values and unity. No one can deny that the family is paramount within the church. I know, there are many here that would dispute the church's fame for family values... for some of the following reasons:
1. The parents are kept busy all week with various callings and assignments (home/visiting teaching, callings, service assignments, Cannery, sugar beet farm, chicken farm or any other LDS owned business service, cleaning the chapel, moving entire households w/ furniture in and out of the ward, visiting the sick). Some of these items are not in and of themselves bad things. I believe in serving outside of ones self. But the implication that these items are required and the guilt associated with NOT doing them or turning down an opportunity to do them is what I consider cult like. There should be no guilt. Anyhow. Guilt does abound in the church in excessive amounts. Hence the stats for Prozac type drugs in Utah are excessively high. Bottom line if the parents are busy being bishops and relief society presidents the kids get left on the back burner. This is most unfortunate. This was my experience growing up.
2. Sexual abuse has happened in the church, and in LDS families. Thus a black mark could be assigned to the church on this alone. I am not sure how far above average occurrence this abuse is happening. I don't deny it happens but the question could be is the LDS church more guilty than normal. Caveat. I am not saying sex abuse is normal. I abhor sex abuse. I think I am clear as to what I am saying. Definitely, sex abuse negates the family values.
3. Families are Forever yet if one of your family members leaves the church or becomes wayward, there is a definite tendency for the TBM portion of the family to shun the "straying" family member. This is hypocritical even though article of faith #10 says [Mormons] believe that all can worship however they please. Such intolerance and hypocrisy puts into question the true groupthink of Mormon family values.
There are many more reasons I am sure. I am just trying to display an open approach to this.
So I guess while not necessarily a destructive cult, what I am concluding is that it is a Cult... for the entire family.
Thoughts and comments appreciated
Subject: A few things to chew on...
Date: Feb 03 13:36 2005
Author: Grape Nephi
George Swope, a psychologist, concluded in a study (1980) that the following types of people are taken in by cults:
1. Idealists who want to know God better.
2. The innocent who naively believe that a cult messiah is God's divine representative.
3. Inquisitive young college or high school students who suffer from severe and demoralizing family and personal problems.
4. Independent young people who run away from home seeking freedom from parental restrictions and authority.
5. Identity seekers having trouble believing in themselves.
6. Insecure youth looking for new experiences and a clarification of their own identity.
I think items 1 & 2 apply most to the Mormon Cult. Part of the draw of the Mormon Cult is the answer to the questions revolving around where we came from before birth and where we go after we die. Most people love their families and the claim that we'll be together after death is comforting. And so once you have a person involved and have only given them the outer shell of belief, once hooked, it is then easier to start to feed them the "deeper doctrines". Pavlos stated (1982, p 27) "A gradual conversion may take place over several months or years. However, it must entail an emerging strong commitment to religious values and beliefs and it must encompass evidence of behavioral commitment to the religious group's dogma and its practices. This is why a member is pressured by the group to act on his or her religious values and beliefs. Duane a Windemiller (1960) finds striking similarities between brainwashing, as practiced by the Chinese Communists, and techniques applied in religious conversion."
Think about some of the practices in the Mormon Cult. Once a month testimony meeting that is taken part in while fasting, thus weakening the mind. The droning temple endowment ceremonies where over and over you commit yourself to the Church and not to God. Primary, where the children are heavily indoctrinated and hear the same things over and over again. Everyone here can probably add to the list.
Commitment and "conversion" happens on three levels in my estimation. You have the convert level where the newly converted believes they are in Christ's church and that a special leader speaks for Christ and God. The second level I call the church Mormon level and that is where the person has committed enough to accept callings in the church and begins to pay tithing and live the church commandments. The last level is temple Mormonism and that is like becoming "clear" in Scientology. Once a person has started regular attendance at the temple they are fully drawn into the Cult and have committed to give everything to the Mormon Cult. The last covenant made in the temple is not to God but to the Mormon Cult. The following is from the 1990 version of the endowment and is the same as in earlier versions that I remember taking part in:
"You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do accept the Law of Consecration as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion."
Once you've put on the garment and made this covenant you are now enthralled fully by the Cult.
I hope this helps.
Subject: "WE ARE NOT A CULT!" is ALWAYS the 'battle cry' of anyone IN a cult!