crisis

Sojourner in the Lone and Dreary World: Two Years Among the Apostates

My first foray into the online Mormon world occurred when I was 18 years old.  As a young clean-cut Mormon getting ready to go on a mission, I was looking for anything about Mormons my own age, and people who could understand not only why I was choosing to live the way I did, but why I was choosing to go to Korea for two years. Mormons from highly-populated Mormon areas seemed to be living in the “promised land,” the land of “milk and honey.” I never thought my initial journey on that now-defunct message board would lead me here.
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What’s Wrong With The Mormon Church?

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Martin Luther hanging the Ninety-Five Theses

Introduction:
Today is October 31st, “Reformation Day”.  It was on this day 494 years ago that Martin Luther nailed “The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” (commonly known as “The Ninety-Five Theses”) unto the door of The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. “The Ninety-Five Theses” is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

And while readily acknowledging that I’m no Martin Luther, it is with a hopeful spirit for reformation in our lifetime that I offer these Ninety-Five Theses to a modern church that, in my opinion (as well as in the opinion of many others) is badly in need of it. More

Can A Mind Control Cult Reform Itself?

Q: Can a Mind Control Cult reform itself?
It seems that just below the surface of every discussion of Mind Control Cults this question burns, simmers, and smokes like the proverbial ember seeking to spark into flame.

But can they?
Will they?

Thankfully, the answer (at least occasionally) is yes. Here are two case studies for your consideration.

THE SHEPHERDING MOVEMENT
The Shepherding Movement (the mind control cult that I was in) is one such group. Ron Enroth described how this happened in his classic book, “Churches that Abuse”:

"Churches That Abuse" by Ronald M. Enroth

"Churches That Abuse" by Ronald M. Enroth

“It is possible for authoritarian churches to change direction? There several fairly recent examples of leaders who have announced changes and confessed to error. One of the leaders of the discipleship/shepherding movement officially known as Christian Growth Ministries, Bob Mumford, made a dramatic about-face after issuing a public statement of repentance in November of 1989. Mumford, one of the “Ft. Lauderdale Five” (so named because of the five founders of Christian Growth Ministries of Ft. Lauderdale Don Basham, Ern Baxter, Bob Mumford, and Charles Simpson), acknowledged abuses that had occurred because of his teaching on submission. This emphasis resulted in ‘perverse and unbiblical odedience’ to leaders. He publicly repented with ‘with sorrow’ and asked for forgiveness. He also admitted that families had been severely disrupted and lives turned upside down. More

Mind Control 101: The Basics

I have always found Luna Flesher’s work on Mind Control to be particularly good. She has written many fine articles on the subject but I thought that one in particular might be a good preface for the next installment of “My Life As A Mind Control Cultist” series.  It has been only slightly edited for this context. Bon appetit!

Mind Control - ur doing it rong

Mind catrol – ur doing it rong akshully

Mind Control 101: The Basics
by Luna Flesher

Cult Conversion Walkthrough (Storytime!)
No one is immune from mind control. And contrariwise, mind control doesn’t always work. It takes the right combination of factors; specifically trust, common ideals, and receptivity.

Cults are a good place to study mind control because the changes they effect on people’s lives are extremely obvious.

Pretend for a moment you are having a difficult time in your life: a recent tragedy or major transition. Maybe you’ve just gone through divorce, lost a loved one, you’ve moved to a new town, or have recently been fired. You’re feeling alone, scared, depressed, ashamed, or desperate. More

My Life as a Mind Control Cultist Part 1

My Life as a Mind Control Cultist Part 1

Since none of you have never been in a Mind Control Cult, and I have been, I thought it might be instructive to help you all understand what it’s like.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking so let me set the record straight right now:
Contrary to popular rumor, I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More

The Problem of The Mormon Tank (Revisited)

A funny thing happened on the way to this blog. I was actually planning to publish – and was working on – brand new, original material when several of the Mormon Expression Podcast and Blog discussion boards “lit up” with interesting dialog. I feel that that the content of this previously published article is relevant to several of them. So with no further adieu – and with a nod, a wink, and a grin to Eric’s last blog – I offer for your consideration, “The Problem of The Mormon Tank (Revisited)”.

Artist's depiction of the crew in a Sherman Tank.

Artist's depiction of the crew in a Sherman Tank.

Here’s the problem
If you’re in an Army Tank and pull out a compass the needle will point toward magnetic north. However, the compass is only validated if when you get outside that Tank and it’s still pointing in the exact same direction.Then, it’s only truly validated if it’s compared to yet another “known good” compass while outside the tank and they both point in the same direction. That is, the one point of internal reference and two points of external reference are all calibrated. The reason for this is simple: The magnetic field created by the iron armor of the Tank interferes with the compass’s operating integrity. You could consult a thousand compasses inside the Tank, and still get the same compromised and errant result every time. More

The Parable of The Box

I was first exposed to this parable via Chad Spjut’s Exmormon Foundation 2010 Conference Presidential Greeting.  I offer it to you now  in the hope that this powerful, articulate, and poignant expression of the life experience of so many resonates as deeply for you as it did for me.

"Inside the box was security and safety. Inside the box was reality."

"Inside the box was security and safety. Inside the box was reality."

The Parable of The Box
by Anonymous Utahan
There once was a boy who lived all his life with a cardboard box over his head. His parents taught him that he should never take the box off, for doing so was dangerous and foolish. The box protected him from the scary world outside of it.

On the inside of the box, he could make out some letters, and he could see the outlines of the box around him. His world was brown cardboard. His parents taught him to study the inside of the box carefully, for in it was all the wisdom he needed to navigate life. Inside the box was security and safety. Inside the box was reality.

Some of his friends told him that they had taken off the box and life was much better, but he didn’t believe them. His parents made sure he stayed away from these people, who clearly wanted only to hurt their boy. More

The journey out — A small bit about me, Tierza

Way back when I was a student at BYU, right before my mission in 1996, I came upon a quiz you could take to see if you were an interesting person.  Now, understand that I do not consider myself remarkable at all.  You wouldn’t notice me in a crowd.  I just don’t stand out. But when I took that quiz I aced it:  Ever been in a flood? Check!  Survived a volcanic eruption? Check!  Lived in Alaska?  Check!  Endured hurricanes? A tsunami? A hostage crisis?  Had bears try to get in your bedroom?  Had the passengers in the plane behind yours on the runway have to push your plane out of the mud?  Worked in a packing plant for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, without a day off, for over a month? Check, check, check, check and CHECK!  Of course those last few items weren’t in the quiz itself but once I got going I couldn’t stop.  Never mind that the tsunami was a terrifying 2 and a half inches, nor that the earthquakes happen every day in Alaska and weren’t much of a big deal, nor that the ‘hostage crisis’ was one I shared with almost the entire student body of BYU back in 1992.  I was, at least on paper, interesting after all.

It seems, according to this quiz, that the more dangerous and uncommon your life has been the more interesting you are.  The problem with a quiz like that is that what is uncommon about your life may not be anything you can control:  Most of my adventures took place in Alaska where I lived because my parents chose to live there.  It is also quite likely that what sounds good on paper just wasn’t that exciting in person:  All that dangerous stuff is only makes you interesting if you survive it.

Which is why, in my life, I have mostly avoided the dangerous stuff.  I don’t even like conflict.  I want things to be safe, simple and predictable.  As a teenager I was fond of declaring that I was glad I had been born in the church because I knew that I would never have been converted.  I could never have gone against the opinions of my family and friends to set out, on my own, to follow an uncharted path.  I couldn’t take the disapproval.  Ironically I knew this because I wasn’t really converted to the Church, and I knew I would never have the courage to leave the religion that had defined the lives of my ancestors for five and six generations.

I’m 37 now.  And this year I came out of the disbeliever’s closet.  I quit attending the LDS church.  I told my husband, my bishop and then my father and, eventually, my mother about my decision to stop attending.  It took more courage than I thought I had.  In fact, in the month it took the bishop to release me from my callings as ward chorister, music chairperson, young women’s personal progress leader, and Relief Society teacher, while I felt obliged to keep teaching and leading the music and, of course, attending church, I had a complete emotional breakdown that landed me in the hospital and intensive outpatient therapy.  To leave the church was to risk the emotional connections with every family member and friend that sustain me day to day.  It meant that my introverted and non-thrill-seeker soul would have to step out on the edge, look for connections and identity in places beyond my narrow, lifelong, Mormon identity.

Joyfully, most of my relationships remain intact.  My husband loves and supports me in my journey.  My father and mother are trying to understand and love me.  I still associate with friends from church and, as I try to be honest but kind with them, they are honest and kind to me.  I still fear.  I fear that their kindness is missionary work and not genuine.  I fear my husband with grow tired of me and my new visions of life.  I fear my mother will never be able to think about me without crying.