Thought reform and conformity within Mormonism
I was asked to write about my opinions on mind control within Mormonism. I believe the concept of mind control is a bit strong to use for most Mormons. A better way to rephrase this would be by discussing the manipulation of a member's thoughts and the type of information members are given and it's constant repetition. Cultural pressure inside Mormonism stresses conformity which also suppresses free thought. I will borrow liberally from texts and from 20+ years experience as an adult Mormon.
The Cult Awareness Network, a secular cult watching organization, has listed characteristics of a destructive organization.. I found this list to be true with some political groups like Lyndon LaRouche and others. This is not strictly confined to religious groups. I have used their list (CAN) and modified it and reworded some phrases to soften the blow to a Mormon who may be reading this.
- THOUGHT REFORM - The change of an individual's behavior, thought, and emotional patterns through deliberate, unethical and coercive means; independent thought and free access to information is stifled for better control of the individual. How many members will read material that is considered critical to Mormonism? The number is quite small. I was only a member for a few weeks in 1972 and I already knew that I should not read critical material as it had to be "wrong".
- CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP - The unquestioned obedience and submission to the claimed authority, divine appointment, and knowledge of a central leader or group of leaders who demand such obedience to prove the individual's faith. A Mormon trusts that the person over him or her is in closer touch with God than he or she is or can be.
- DECEPTION - The group's free usage of dishonesty, falsehoods and questionable claims in both it's indoctrination of new members and it's reaction to outsiders who seem critical of the group. Much of the group's literature may be characterized by deceptive and misleading claims. The heavily rewritten Mormon history to make it "faith promoting" is but one easily discovered example.
- EXCLUSIVITY/EUPHORIA/ELITISM - Benefits unobtainable to outsiders are available to true followers only through association with the group - from personal empowerment and spiritual highs to fulfillment and ultimate salvation. The Mormon "temple" and the "Priesthood" are two examples.
- FATIGUE - The insistence that long hours of work and meetings are a means of demonstrating true faith, another means of keeping the individual's mind under firm control. This was especially true when I served a mission.
- EXPLOITATION - This is a broad trait that ranges from pressure to give all of one's material wealth to the group to the usage of fear, guilt, and emotional manipulation to maintain control: the threat of expulsion is a particularly powerful leverage of control.
- TOTALITARIAN WORLD VIEW - a "we-versus-they" view of the outside world designed to enhance the group's identity, goals, and welfare at the expense of the individual. Everything is either black or white.
- CONSTANT REPETITION - In Mormonism every month there is a fast and testimony meeting where the same phrases are repeated over and over - Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Book of Mormon is true, the leadership is inspired etc. A mother will often whisper into a child's ear what to say while they stand together in front of the congregation. Vocal Mormon prayers at Mormon meetings almost always have a statement thanking God for Joseph Smith or some statement thanking God for something which is only found within Mormonism.
- STRIVING FOR PERFECTION - This is the most troublesome part of belonging to an authoritarian group that I can think of. All destructive groups seem to have this trait.
These traits are all designed to accomplish one central goal: indoctrination into Mormonism's belief system with a simultaneous shutdown of independent thought. When you find a group of warm, friendly people who have all the answers, whose group claims to speak for God, it feels good at first. It feels like you found a home. You found the truth and you did not even have to search very hard.
To be continued..
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