I was inspired this evening by Grace Adams to finally write down my testimony of being raised by Mormons, and the lessons I’ve learned from them. Grace has a ministry offering cult recovery, information & support. She gave her testimony of surviving the Branch Davidian cult, and escaping from Waco, Texas.
My own story begins with the divorce of my parents, and their leaving “the family church”. I was never quite certain which came first. I was raised by my single mother, not to be a bigot, and to hate all religions equally. The irony of that statement is, when I first started using it over two decades ago, it was a shocking, humorous statement. These days, it would be accepted by so many Millennials as a normal state of being. Needless to say, she was bitter against any and all religion.
I was raised outside the Mormon Church. This means, while I was never baptised a Mormon, all my family activities still revolved around it. Over half my siblings attended Church College. My father helped to build the Temple in Hamilton. Apart from the divorce and subsequent Inactive status (more about this later), my family had impeccable credentials. In fact, my oldest sister was so pure in Mormon doctrine that she was permitted a Temple wedding.
As an adult, I converted to Christianity. That is a different story for another time. Subsequent to this decision, I have researched and put into perspective my personal experiences. The following are my own observations.
According to the web page How Cults Work by Cult Watch (http://www.cultwatch.com/howcultswork.html) there are 7 techniques for mind control, most of which I have observed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. LDS is the formal name. Mormons is a colloquialism, not derogatory, named for their extra-Scriptural book.
“No legitimate group needs to lie or mislead you about what they practice or believe.”
Most adherents, when they start out, have no clue that LDS is a works-based faith, based on Masonry, with Lucifer as its head. Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers. Heavenly Father is an exalted man, from the planet Kolob. “As we now are, He once was. As He now is, we shall become.” These truths are delayed until the adherent is worthy (prepped) to accept them.
“Any group which says you must belong to their organization to be saved is almost certainly a cult.”
LDS teach that they have the final revelation of Jesus Christ, and the Bible has been mistranslated. The other denominations hold a fractured piece of the mirror of truth, but only they hold the un-fractured truth.
- Fear & Intimidation
“Character assassination is a sure sign of a cult. Cult members are usually very fearful of disobeying or disagreeing in any way with their leadership. Healthy organisations however are not threatened by openly debating issues.”
LDS members who criticise leadership are excommunicated. Members are taught that their leadership are living Apostles. To disagree with them is to disagree with the voice of God.
- Love Bombing & Relationship Control
“Beware of ‘instant friends’, remember true friendships develop over time. Beware of a group that tells you who you can and cannot see.”
At my wedding, my own brother stood up to congratulate us, “despite not being a part of the family church.” From that point on, a clear line was demarked, and we were on the outside. We were invited to very few shared occasions. Our children missed out on time with their cousins. Visits to our home were few and far between. I am not bitter, merely saddened that my family cannot see the barriers they have constructed for themselves.
- Information Control
“If you are instructed by a group not to read information critical of a group, then that is a sign of a cult. Legitimate groups have nothing to fear from their members reading critical information about them.”
I am not aware whether LDS does this or not, however I am aware that rather than dealing with criticism, LDS instructs members to avoid dissenters. Also, LDS missionary activity is so prescribed (see Time Control below) that there is literally no time to read, absorb and ponder dissenting information.
- Reporting Structure
“Is information you expected to be kept confidential reported to leadership? If so then it’s a cult.”
Under the guise of “baptising for the dead” (a dubious practice only peripherally mentioned in Scripture), the LDS has constructed an entire genealogy database. What else do you think they house in that utterly secret (highly sacred) Temple of theirs? I certainly don’t know, because I’m not worthy to be told. Neither are their ordinary members. But I do know that the organisation is highly hierarchical, and reports to Head Office (Utah). In that manner, it is not dissimilar to papal Rome. Which to a Protestant is sufficient cause alone to run a mile!
- Time Control
“Never-ending compulsory meetings and tasks is a sign of a cult.”
The LDS missionary technique is to take school leavers away from their (usually Mormon) homes (voluntarily of course, and with great pride and ceremony) for a two year stint abroad (if you can afford it). First, you are trained in doctrine and to deal with tricky questions. You are then teamed up with a slightly more experienced “elder” (named after Timothy from the Bible, because he was a youth leader). You are drilled so that you understand all the Doctrines and Covenants. You are taught to try to help unbelievers, but ultimately to shun them if they continue in their unbelief (don’t cast your Pearls of Great Price before swine). I have personally witnessed my nephews and nieces come back from this experience, changed human beings. They do not look at me in the same way. Before their training, I was merely their slightly quirky uncle, who didn’t quite fit in, but was basically okay. After, I was the enemy, and they had no more time for me.
Those two years abroad are the pinnacle for many. They gather a great sense of achievement, for having survived the indoctrination and working out of their salvation. It is also the stepping stone for those who will go on to be Stake Presidents and Bishops (leaders of their local Chapel).
I expect this publication may cause some slight consternation to my family. I do not expect them to appreciate it as an effort to reach out. I once was challenged, early in my Christian walk, to debate with my elder brother about the relative merits of our faiths. My male ego nearly succumbed to the allure of doing my best, and pitting my wits against him. However, I refrained at the time, because I knew I was weak in my own faith, and needed more time to get my head around all the doctrines and ramifications of Christianity. A similar opportunity has never subsequently arisen.
My parents fell out with their church, I believe, because it is a works-based faith, which puts unreasonable demands on its members. I have observed that when members leave (become “Inactive”), since they believe that the LDS is the One True Church, they typically subsequently believe that there is nowhere else they can go. Anywhere else is tainted, for them. Effectively, they think, that if LDS is false, then all religion is too. This is a great pity. They cannot see that even as LDS is a perversion of Truth, there is still Truth and Beauty in the Person of Christ.
I will finish with this word picture which I believe Jesus has given me. In the Scriptures, He talks of the Church being the Body of Christ. In my interpretation, the different denominations are the different members of the body. We all legitimately exist to service Him. However, the cults in general (and LDS in particular) are a cancer on the Body of Christ. They pick off the weak cells. Individuals who do not know their Bible well enough are seduced by the seeming purity of the LDS doctrine, little knowing that it leads to bondage. But I believe that Jesus is the Master Healer, and He will heal His Body.
Amen, Lord, let it be!