It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we cannot be manipulated. That people who are taken in by cults are gullible or stupid. However, all of us are manipulated each and every day of our lives. Conditioning begins the moment we are born into a certain culture, a certain family, a certain language. Businesses thrive on how simple it is to get us to buy things. Usually things we do not need. Even if we are starving, we might choose to pay for “not food”. This video by Theramin Trees is an excellent introduction to the idea that EVEN YOU might be manipulated.
My childhood faith is Mormonism. Before I turned 40 I had left my childhood beliefs behind. Soon after anything resembling religion went the same way, and my world-views had changed drastically.
The Church of Christ is a faith that was created by a man called Joseph Smith. Several branches have come off it. The one my parents were baptized into is now called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or more popularly known as the Mormons. Part of Joseph Smith’s legacy includes a Book of Mormon, a claim of modern revelation, a “restored priesthood”, visions, various rules, a belief in exclusivity, polygamy and missionary work (also for the dead).
I used to be like “Elder Price”. I had to believe whatever we were told to believe in because I was a Mormon. Its likelihood was irrelevant. My life continued with me in a constant state of cognitive dissonance where the equally important ideas were “a mormon is supposed to just believe” and “my opinions have value”. Then one day the slow process of giving my thoughts greater and greater value began. It was just a small thing that set off the destruction of beliefs. I had read a work of fantasy that brought that same “warm feeling” that members were supposed to feel when truth came their way. That was the beginning.
Then I learned what cognitive dissonance, group-pressure, confirmation bias and the effect of authority figures all were and how to recognize them in myself. Over a period of years the whole thing toppled. Once I stop believing in something or a person, I find it extremely difficult to fake an interest. To my parents and other believers it must have seemed as though I had been lured away by “The Dark Side of the Force”.
Some members who leave Mormonism are disowned by family and friends. My family chose to keep me in their fold. My husband remained married to me. We had a challenging first period trying to figure out what place Mormonism would hold in our lives, but we are still married and more relaxed about each other than ever. In all ways my life became a better one once I left religion behind.