Mormonism as a Cult
Posted: 05 December 2005 02:44 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Recently, I finished Steve Hassan's book "Combating cult mind control". I half expected the religion of my birth, Mormonism, 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. The author, 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 Mormon church as a cult. I concluded that the Mormon church takes on many prevalent cult characteristics. The last chapter in particular hit me that my 2 year service as a missionary in Spain was the biggest parallel to Hassan's Moonie cult experience. The Mormon 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 during the washing and annointing initiation rite in the temple breaks down personal barriers, creates submission to church authority (*Note: Naked touching was finally removed from the indoctrination rite last year)

3. New name given to inductees at the temple, 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 are given in the temple. 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 priviledge. 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 strengthing 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 permissable 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 as I will outline bleow:

A. Missionaries work 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 in any circumstance is sized up as potential recruit.  Every person talked to is seen directly sent to the missionary by god and must be testified to.  This is a serious duty.
K. Current members are badgered for referrals for new recruits, friends and neighbors
L. Loaded language, acronyms. Outsiders cannot follow many regular Mormon 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 eminent 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.

Just my 2 cents worth of observation as a former Mormon.

I would be interested if anyone has done a similar comparison to Jehovah's Witnesses, Christianity, Islam, etc. 

Noggin

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Posted: 05 December 2005 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I’m not stalking you, Noggin, really I’m not.  :oops:  LOL

But how could I not stop to comment on such a well-written compilation of quirky Mormon cult practices?  Strangely, if you are born into it, it’s just life as you know it.  But to see it laid bare in this manner highlights just how manipulative and cult-like it really is.  Even though I am quite familiar with Mormon missionary practices, I found reading your summation of that in particular rather disturbing.

I think the garments (sacred underwear) could be a defining example of what sets Mormonism firmly into the realm of a cult.  Though the purpose is said to be for protection, and as a covenant with God, it also closely mirrors Adam and Eve in the garden…that they covered their nakedness lest they be ashamed before God.  Shame unbalances you, and switches your internal setting to “not okay”.  The only way to feel “okay” again is to follow in desperation whatever instruction comes from that institution.  It is in their best interests if you are feeling “not okay” most of the time.  Their ability to make you “okay” again is what binds you to them.

You mentioned possible cult practices among other religions.  I often wonder what effect the early Christian missionaries from Rome had upon the Celts, for example.  I would think it not disimilar to what is experienced by troglodites in a modern rain forest.  After countless generations of doing things in a traditional manner, these hapless people suddenly find that their clothing, social institutions, way of interacting with the divine, eating habits, sexual practices—on and on—are “not okay”.  The only way to be “okay”...is to just…do whatever that particular god wants.  And make it speedy.

And thus I feel there is only a very thin line between even the most relaxed religion and the most invasive cult.

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Posted: 05 December 2005 08:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Thanks Noggin, I had no idea.

Rod

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Posted: 06 December 2005 03:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I was raised a Baptist Christian Fundamentalist and in a more mild way, they used cult control behaviors to keep people in the flock.
My church youth group was only allowed to have socials with other like-minded churches. Once my youth pastor invited a group of Lutheran teens to our hayride, and got in trouble with the pastor and many of the deacons.  The youth minister resigned (rumor, he was forced to resign) a month later.
The demonization of all people who disagree with Christian Fundamentalist, yet ignore the negative history of many Christian Fundamentalist leaders.  I only learned recently the Cyrus Schofield lied about having a doctorate of divinity degree, once was in prison, was divorce and refused to support the children from his first marriage.  D.L. Moody knew about this yet allowed Schofield to be the keynote speaker at him funeral.
God is also watching you and the devil is always conspiring against you.  It’s like growing up in the spiritual police state.

We never had special underwear, but there was pressure to dress the right way.  Also there were only curtain types of books and music you could listen to. One member claimed he pulled the knob out of his radio, so his kids could not change the radio station from Christian to rock music.  Many others took pride in not subscribing to worldly newspapers and magazines.

There were only few colleges you could attend.  For some there was only one college, Bob Jones University.  It was the only godly college in the whole world!

If you were born into the church and weren’t saved by the time you were six-years old, there some something wrong with you.  There was plenty of pressure from adults, “Why little Timmy haven’t you invited Jesus into your heart yet?  You’re making Jesus sad.”  I used to volunteer in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School and saw this guilt tactic used on kids as young as three. How any sensible adult could believe a three-year could make such a decision is beyond all rational belief.  I never felt I had to be saved, I was raised a Christian, followed the rules, love Jesus. Why was I one day an innocent Christian child and the next a hell bound eight-year old? I finally said the sinner’s prayer to get these people off my back.  But I was always treated with suspicion, since my conversion occurred later then most of the kids at my church, one claiming to be saved when she was two-years old and still claims to this day.

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Posted: 06 December 2005 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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[quote author=“Noggin”]Recently, I finished Steve Hassan’s book “Combating cult mind control”. I half expected the religion of my birth, Mormonism, 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. The author, 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.

I would be interested if anyone has done a similar comparison to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christianity, Islam, etc. 

Noggin

Yeah ! I loved the book and found it very helpful after a nasty experience with a penticostal group.

Thought you may like to check this out….good luck mate.

its call ‘The View from the Foyer”

 

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Posted: 07 December 2005 01:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Yeah ! I loved the book and found it very helpful after a nasty experience with a penticostal group.

Thought you may like to check this out….good luck mate.

its call ‘The View from the Foyer”

 

Snakechic, Hi…

Thanks for stopping by this post.  I post at View from the Foyer from time to time.  I also post at http://www.exmormon.org as Noggin or Noggin1968.

Mr. Mody, Hi…

Hey… Bob Jones U is god’s only fitting University?  Whaaa?  I have been duped!  I thought Brigham Young UNiversity was the Lord’s University!  I am angry at the mormon church for pulling such fleecy wools over my eyes!

btw, I gradjamucated myself from BYU in 1995.  I could go on and on **chuckles** about the oppressive mindset in those hallowed halls.  Ironically, that is where I became enlightened about how wacky mormonism is.  It just felt strange.  I could not place a finger on it for the longest time.  It just took years afterwards to hack through the mental tendrels that bound me fast to the mothership.

I was a total kool aid drinker…

Noggin

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Posted: 25 January 2006 12:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Back about a year or so ago, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the author, Andrea Moore-Emmett, who wrote the book, ‘God’s Brothel’. 
For those who don’t know the book, it’s about ‘The extortion of sex for salvation in contemporary Mormon and Christian fundamentalist polygamy and the stories of 18 women who escaped’.

Andrea has spent years reporting on these polygamist sects, and what she reveals is heartbraking and terrifying.

The thing that is most troubling is how these cults can still exist, and our government seems to turn a blind eye.  There is rampant child abuse (both physical and sexual), and the wives are treated like baby factories.  I’ve also heard from numerous accounts about the large child cemetaries that are in these compounds.  From what I hear, there is an alarming amount of disease, birth defects (from inbreading) and stillborns.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about this.  Although, there are a couple of stories that are disturbing and sad.

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Posted: 05 February 2006 03:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“Idaho Atheists VP”]
The thing that is most troubling is how these cults can still exist, and our government seems to turn a blind eye.  There is rampant child abuse (both physical and sexual), and the wives are treated like baby factories.  I’ve also heard from numerous accounts about the large child cemetaries that are in these compounds.  From what I hear, there is an alarming amount of disease, birth defects (from inbreading) and stillborns.

Hello Idaho Atheist

Thanks for the book ref.  To comment on what you wrote above I only can say that the Polygamists live in separate communities in a lock down type of environment.  Nobody rats anyone else out.  It is a world unto itself teeming full of political power struggles.  It is all they know.  They embrace an extreme Us vs Them mind set.

We, on the outside, look at these polygamists and just wonder why the feds just won’t come in and shut it all down.  I too am unclear as to why this does not happen.  It has to do with freedom of religion I think.

Ironically, the mainstream Mormon church who started the entire polygamy ball rolling will have nothing to do with the polygamists, no support no attempt to disway these splinter sects.  It is almost as if they secretly envy them.

Last comment:

My wife’s good friend from college grew up in a polygamous family in Montana who later moved to Utah.  She had two mothers in her house.  Lots of her contemporaries had three and four sister wives in the house.

This friend of my wife broke free from the polygamous cult.  Only to become baptised into the mainstream now non polygamous LDS church.  She is a temple attending fully indoctrinated mainstream Mormon now.  Out of the pan into the fire.


One would think that polygamy would send all Mormons running from the church’s control.  Polygamy was one of the key elements that did it for me.  But why do so many remain entrenched in it?  God commands and reveals that men are to have many wives… and that is the holy order of heaven?  Yeesh.  How obvious does it have to be?  My parents are so saddened—heartbroken even—and completely bewildered as to how I could possibly leave the Mormon church.

**shakes head** That, is the power of a cult.  If you doubt how powerful and controlling a cult is, the only way you’re going to understand it is to study with the Mormon missionaries for a few weeks until you feel your very own feelings based “testimony” start to grow.  Yes, you too can receive a personal witness from God himself telling you that Mormonism is god’s only true church on earth.

Noggin

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Posted: 25 November 2006 03:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I was with The Way International during the very late 70s, early 80s, and left because I got tired of being told “believing equals receiving,” only never receiving jack. I believed mightly, but every time I was let down, it was MY fault, because I “didn’t believe big enough.”

By the way, {punny, haha} this is a hell of a thing to tell a drinking alcoholic, which is what I also was. 

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Posted: 26 November 2006 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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this one is great!!:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuLHioaOEN0

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Posted: 26 November 2006 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Thanks again for your insight Noggin.

You wrote”

[quote author=“noggin”]
10. There is a blatant Us vs Them mentality.

This is where I kicked my little brother, newly returned from his mission, out of the house.

I tolerate crazy people as long as they tolerate other crazy people. I won’t have it with crazy folk who are down on their own!

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Posted: 17 December 2006 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Hey Noggin,

Surprise I find you here. It’s gramps from the FAIR(?) board. I thought there would be some good stuff here about our former cult, er….religion.

Hat’s off to you my friend. If you don’t mind, I think I will jump in here when I have a chance and participate. So far, you seem to be dead on. Glad you’re enlightening the friends here about Mormonism.

Cheers,

gramps 8)

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