I respect everyone’s right to believe whatever they want to believe.
However, I do not believe that beliefs are sacred, in that they deserve special rights to exist unchallenged.
Some ideas & beliefs are dangerous, in that once believed they can hijack a believer’s ability to think rationally. This includes the beliefs and practices of organisations which use techniques of ‘mind control’ or ‘undue influence’.
These organisations are effective because they subtley introduce phobias, biases & prejudices among their adherents which develop fear, guilt & shame. These beliefs and emotions limit one’s view of the world and one’s own potential.
A few examples of limiting beliefs to illustrate my point:
1. Imagine an eagle raised from an egg by chickens. From as soon as it first hatches it believes it is a chicken. It’s only perception of the world comes from being nurtured by birds who don’t fly, and cannot even imagine flying. So the eagle itself never considers it has the capacity to fly, much less the potential to be the King of the Skies, the top predator of the air, but remains all its life pecking grain amongst the dirt. No-one would consider that living life as a chicken promotes the best in eagles’ thriving, or is actually good for an eagle’s wellbeing.
2. Then consider Plato’s Allegory of The Cave. In this story a tribe of people are forcibly kept in a cave chained to the ground facing the back of the cave. For several generations, their only perspective on reality and the world at large is obtained by viewing the shadows of things which pass by the mouth of the cave. They think the shadows of things projected onto the cave wall are the actual things. So a shadow of a bird, is believed to actually be a bird.
When, eventually, someone breaks free of their chains and leaves the cave to view the outside world, they are at first startled by the brightness of the light, the vibrancy of the colours and the vividness of real life. They realise there is a whole host of other dimensions to life than just a mere reflection of it. Reality is far more exciting than they were ever led to believe. Scary at first, but overwhelmingly more conducive to their wellbeing than being chained in The Cave. When the excited escapee remembers his family and friends still trapped in the cave he runs back to inform them of his new discoveries and how much more they can achieve once free of their chains and limited perspective of life. Unfortunately they are hostile to the returned escapee because they cannot even begin to imagine how much more there could be to reality outside the cave and because his explanations of the world are impossible to comprehend and threatening to their worldview from their limited perspective.
Again, no-one would consider life lived in The Cave to be conducive to the best in human thriving, and certainly not optimal for human wellbeing.
3. Consider a Mormon parent’s view of a grown-up child who decides to leave the Church after discovering the true historical reality of the origins of the Church. When that parent’s first response to their child’s resignation is, “I’d rather you were dead than leave the Church”, what does that say about the LDS parent’s view of reality? Of their relationship with that child versus the dogma of their limiting religious beliefs?
The problem with ‘limiting beliefs’ of any kind is that they reduce the capacity of the individual to think rationally and limit their choices.
Marlene Winell talking generally about the harm of fundamentalism and controlling organisations in her book ‘Leaving The Fold’, speaks about the effect of some organisations ‘limiting belief systems’ on the believers:
“I think that institutions can take on a life of their own & that individuals do get used & hurt.
“There is much that is dangerous about controlling systems that takes away that which is most precious about human beings. This is not about being anti-God, anti-church or anti-spirituality, but it is anti-dogma! It is about problems with rigid religions – those that hold their tenets to be more important than people to the point where believers can be harmed.
“A dogmatic religion is one that does not truly honour the thoughts & feelings of the individual. It is also one that is static, without room for development. Doubt is considered sinful, & contradicting information is screened out. The divine & sacred are seen as derived from outside, with no recognition afforded to a person’s inner resources of wisdom, strength & love. A rigid religion fosters dependency on the external authorities of “God” (as defined by the religion), scripture & the church leaders for guidance in truth. Ultimately, a rigid religion erodes the natural contentment & confidence with which every child begins life and which every healthy human being needs. (pgs 5-6)
“Over the years and continuing to this day the various rigid religions in the world have caused great pain & conflict among people. The very nature of dogma is to separate, because these kinds of systems claim to have the only truth. Therefore, no matter how altruistic its pronouncements, a rigid religion will produce judgement, because there will always be “others” who believe differently. Judgement leads to discrimination and, all to often, persecution. Dogma can never bring us together to understand each other in our shared humanity.” (pg 7)
Personally I think anything which separates individuals from reality by replacing it with a fantasy is not going to empower people to be authentic. Living one’s life based on a delusion is not a good foundation for developing our full potential as human beings. Living one’s life based on pretending to know things one really doesn’t know, has to unnaturally limit one’s life potential.
I think it ultimately comes down to the criteria for the best in human thriving and wellbeing. Mormonism, though encouraging some good traits, sacrifices much that is real and wonderful about this life in favour of prioritising ‘life after death’, which is actually an unknown, despite our desperate hopes for an afterlife. In Mormonism, obedience is valued & respected at any price, in order to obtain Eternal Life.
Mormons often tolerate poor relationships and life experiences because they believe in avoiding conflict, and because they put their hopes for living a better life in the ‘afterlife’.
I’ve heard people rationalise poor relationships with their spouse and children, along with their unwillingness to make changes to improve their relationships, based on their belief that ‘everything will be so much better in the Eternities’. They avoid confronting the issues in the here and now, preferring to continue in a miserable relationship in the hopes of a miraculous improvement after death, with Eternal Bliss.
However, I believe that anything…which separates us from reality…reduces our ability to reach our potential!
The Mormon Church SELLS us a fantasy about Eternal Life which damages our ability to reach our potential in this life.
It stops us asking important questions which could help us truly grow our characters by giving us fictitious answers and inculcating biases, phobias and prejudices promoting fear, guilt and shame.
The Mormon Church prioritises obedience & conformity over free & independent thought and expression.
Adult Mormons are never allowed to fully mature and develop their ego, but remain like adolescents or children at stages 4 or 5 in Loevinger’s ‘Stages of Ego Development’. Stage 4 being one of unquestioning conformity to the rules of the group, along with a very ‘Black & White’ thinking, and with behaviour judged externally rather than by its intention. Stage 5 being one where people are more self-aware than stage 4, and are conscientious conformists, having an understanding of multiple possibilities in situations, but they lack the power to challenge ideas, norms and expectations.
Yet we know that ‘To Question Is To Grow!’ Positive change in individuals and society can only come about by challenging the status quo.
The big problem is that once ensnared in the organisation which inculcated these ‘limiting beliefs’ it is almost impossible to recognise the entrapment.
Occasionally a few lucky individuals detect the clever hoax, releasing themselves from the psychological & emotional binds, and leave the organisation.
The process of leaving often requires great courage, strength & determination because of the tremendous hold the organisation has over their minds. Quite often the effort involved in leaving the group triggers an existential crisis as the individual works to come to terms with their perceived loss. For some, the sudden realisation that the whole context & foundation of their lives was just a pleasant fantasy can be overwhelming. To those who previously were fully converted and committed to the Mormon Gospel it often feels like they are dying on the inside as they face coming to terms with the truth.
Most members of these organisations believe they are free & could leave the group at any time without any difficulty, yet the stark reality is quite the opposite.
When completely invested & believing in their organisation they would rather die than deny the faith. So complete is the undue influence over the minds of adherents that their every decision is influenced by the belief system.
Those fortunate people who leave often look back at their former society of friends they love in the desperate hope of trying to save others who they’ve left behind.
How would anyone recognise they were a member of such an organisation?
Neither Jehovah’s Witnesses nor Mormons will recognise or acknowledge they are members of an organisation which practices ‘undue influence’ over the minds of it’s members. But each group of people will recognise the other as doing so.
Beware! Be very wary! Because it’s almost impossible from the inside of an organisation like this to know you’re under the influence of cognitive mind control.
Until you step outside of the organisation and look back with a more neutral perspective you’ll never know.
I did! And I’ve never been happier and more free!
I’m Stephen Bloor. And I’m an Ex-Mormon.
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