Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Little Children Suffer

My nephew is three.

He's being raised by my firm-in-the-faith sister and her firm-in-the-faith husband.  Recently, my sister and her son visited my firm-in-the-faith parents for the week.  I dropped by a few times to see them during that time.

My nephew likes Family Home Evenings.  He likes saying the blessing on the food.  He likes singing primary songs and he loves Jesus.  My family thinks that all of these things are cute.  Meanwhile, I silently observe, thinking that all those same things are despicable.

He doesn't understand any of it.  He insists on having Family Home Evening every week not because he loves the gospel, but because he likes the routine.  He says the blessing on the food not because he wants to thank his Lord for the bounty he is about to receive, but because his parents say the blessing on the food--his prayers are mostly gibberish anyway.  He loves to sing primary songs not because he wants to worship his Heavenly Father but because he likes to sing whether he knows and comprehends the lyrics or not.  And he says that he loves Jesus because he gets such a huge outpouring of parental approval whenever he says it, not because he understands what love is or who Jesus was or why Jesus deserves our love.

My sister thinks he's cute.  And he is.  But he's also a poster boy for a very ugly brainwashing machine that is probably going to con him into wasting two years of his life and ten percent of his money down the road.

After the discussions my dad and I had about brainwashing a while back, I don't understand how he can't see it.  For Family Home Evening, my dad pulled out his iPad and played "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" for the opening song.  My nephew eagerly sang along with it, babbling incoherently through the verses and getting about half the words right on the choruses.  Meanwhile, my dad sang along, trying to enunciate carefully so my nephew could understand.  When my nephew became louder and more confident during the chorus, it wasn't because he believed what he was singing, it was just because he suddenly knew what he was supposed to sing.  How does that not look like brainwashing?

He's three.  He doesn't understand.  How horrible is it to force that kind of belief on someone who hasn't yet developed the ability to judge the credibility of new information?

And now my sister has another son who will probably share my first nephew's fate.


  1. Don't you think your dad knows it's brainwashing? When I believed, I knew it was, though neither your dad or I would have used that term. I think we would look at it more as teaching correct principles. Mormons believe (know) the church to be true, so the indoctrination or brainwashing of children from birth is justified in their minds. Why risk losing them? Proverbs 22:6 comes to mind. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

    Is it right to do? I agree with you. No it isn't.

    Think about it. Your nephew's life is all planned out for him:

    8 - Baptism
    12 - Deacon
    14 - teacher
    16 - priest
    18 - elder
    Endowment in temple
    18-20 - mission
    Temple Marriage
    Repeat the cycle...

    So much for free agency.

  2. He doesn't see it at all. You're right, he considers it simply fulfilling his duty as a parent/grandparent to teach correct principles. He doesn't understand why I claim that it's brainwashing instead of teaching if the kid doesn't understand what you're teaching but believes it anyway.

    It's maddening.

    1. Here are 2 different lists of brainwashing techniques. I could easily come up with multiple examples for each of these showing how the church brainwashes its children. has a page about brainwashing listing 6 techniques.

      6. Chanting slogans
      5. Slipping Bullshit Into Your Subconscious
      4. Controlling what you watch and read
      3. Keeping you in line with shame
      2. Black and white choices
      1. Us vs. them had this list.

      1. Attitudinal inoculation: The process of making people immune to attempts to change their attitudes by initially exposing them to small doses of the arguments(opposition) against their position. This process gives explanations to behavior, arguments, and beliefs of opponents. The explanations may be highly biased and inaccurate but depending on the source of the misinformation may significantly add to credibility of a belief system.

      2. Fear inoculation: The process of making people immune to attempts to change their attitudes by initially exposing them to the consequences (often fraudulently created consequences) of rejecting the initial belief system in favor of another.

      3. Creative personal situation interpretation: The process of subtly acquiring enough information to deliver a believable explanation of an individual's personal situation such that it is consistent with a belief system, thus adding to credibility of an individual and swaying others towards their belief system.

      4. Creative history interpretation: The act of interpreting history in such a way that it is consistent with the belief system, thus adding to the credibility of a belief system.

      5. Selective vision: The tendency to acknowledge only those things that are consistent with one’s belief system. Anything that contradicts or conflicts with the belief system are irrationally interpreted such that they are consistent with the belief system or entirely disregarded.

      6. Group think error: The tendency to accept or continue to accept a belief system due to the overall credibility of the members in a group. This is based on an erroneous faith that an entire group including those who you may trust implicitly can not be deceived or wrong. This is the strongest influence on credibility of a belief system.

      I would love to see you put together a list with examples from the church.

      It doesn't take much study to come to the realization that the church is actually a cult that uses mind control techniques to keep their members in line.

    2. It would be fun to put together a list of that stuff. I think maybe I need to find a list of common con man tricks and combine them.