Take a look at this from the ExMormon subreddit:
What a powerful testimony! I replied to it:
Replace “Mormon” with “Christian” in your narrative and you accurately describe the brainwashing of children in mainstream Christian churches as well. Dogmatism is evil no matter who does or why!
Indeed, I think I will modify that statement to illustrate how many Americans that are white, male, Christian, English speaking, and/or natural born feel little empathy for those who are different from them, even if they are not Mormon.
I’m born surrounded by white English speaking Christians, all well and good. Then I keep growing up. As my mind develops, I’m surrounded by people telling me that God is real, God loves you. Jesus died for my sins. This is all presented as fact. There is nothing encouraging me to question these things. My toddler brain just accepts that this is how the world is, I got to church every Sunday, surrounded by stories of the Bible and everyone talking about how God loves me and how he wants me to do good for him. Whenever I do something that God likes or my teacher in Sunday school likes I am rewarded. I get a little older and I’m in primary school. I’m only like 6, and every week I’m going to primary and being taught things that have no real basis in reality. I’m being taught that there was a massive flood on the earth and the only person who survived was a prophet of God and his family and the prophet built a big boat to hold all the animals and stuff. Things that we have no record of other than in the Bible right? I’m chanting songs with my fellow classmates about being obedient and following Jesus. I’m learning behavior that God doesn’t like gets me punished. I’m learning that everyone will be disappointed in me when I do things God doesn’t like. But as long as I come back to God and say I’m sorry than I’m fine again and everyone will be proud.
Fast forward to 8 years old. I’m still a small child with an evolving understanding of reality. I’ve seen my older friends get baptized and seen all the joy of family members when they do. My parents ask me if I’m going to get baptized. I have never been taught anything other than the church. If I chose to not get baptized, all it would mean for me is no party, no cake, and disappointment from everyone including God. So of course I get baptized and am rewarded with everything I was promised. I also get the Holy Ghost. Which is basically my best bud who tells me what is right and wrong. Whenever I get an uncomfy feeling, it’s my bud the Holy Ghost telling me that it’s bad. But it’s also Satan putting uncomfy feelings into me. Wait what? Makes no sense but I don’t question it. All I know is “something doesn’t feel good and its Satan, something feels good and it’s God” So, at 8 years old, everything is already ingrained into me. Church=good. Listening to Jesus = good. Not doing what Jesus and family says = bad, bad feelings equal = Satan.
I continue to grow up, chanting songs of praise to God and Jesus. Being taught almost every week that I have to pay my tithing. That 10 percent of everything I own goes to the church and then giving the money should make me happy and will bless me. When I say “I don’t want to pay tithing” my parents tell me I am being selfish and I don’t care about the poor and that God is sad.
Everyone I know is white, English speaking, and Christian except a few friends, and their ideas are strange to me. They don’t have the idea of a God watching them every second. I feel uncomfortable when they do anything that I was told to not do. They swear and I become uncomfortable, their parents have a drink of wine and I feel like I’m being surrounded by evil. I judge them for not being like me. Not doing what God wants. Don’t they know? Don’t they know the joy of the Gospel? Throughout all this I’m being taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. That “no man has done more for mankind but Jesus himself”. I adore Jesus. I am thankful that he died to save my soul, so I am dedicated to him in return.
So here I am. 11 years old. At that point in time, I full heartedly believed that Jesus was an amazing man (who was also somehow God) who had never done any wrong. Did I have any evidence for this? No. Not really. Its just all I’d been taught. And whenever I questioned anything, I was told “you need faith, faith is all that matters”. Of course faith, that makes sense. Nothing matters but faith.
Later I’m taught that the Holy Ghost is the literal power of God. And I fully believe that as a Christian I have God’s power at my fingertips. But wait! there’s a catch. Whenever I disobey God, that power is stripped from me. Wow that sucks. It especially sucks since at this point I’m starting to discover sexuality and masturbation, but everyone tells me it’s a sin when I ask them. Naturally my young male urges overpower me sometimes. So I’m being taught that because I wanked one off, I no longer have Gods power, and since I dont have gods power I cant pass the sacrement, which means that I cant help hundreds of people each Sunday get closer to god and forgive their sins. It’s all my fault. Because I didnt listen to that uncomfy feeling. Because I did something completely natural to all young boys. God was disappointed in me. But if I just prayed more, studied more, learned more and asked God for forgiveness than the horrible guilt would go away. So I did. But woops, I sinned again. Though since i did it again I felt even more shame since when you repent you have to vow to never do it again. I was always taught to go to the minister when I had problems. So I did. I’m about 14 at this point. I go to him. Some guy in his 60s who I love as my leader, and I tell him of my masturbatory habits. He says God will forgive me and to move on. But in a few nights I sin again. I feel awful. This was all my fault. I can be better than this. You see what’s happening? Punishment and reward. Punishment and reward. I don’t listen to the church and I’m punished. I do and I am praised.
All the while, I’m being taught that people outside the church don’t know what true joy is. They just don’t understand. They only care for worldly things but us Christians have something they don’t. We know the truth.
Fast forward to around 15, I’m learning all sorts of crazy stuff about the second coming and millennium and the wars that will happen and how the earth will burn with fire. I also learn some concerning things about church history. But I’m constantly told “oh well you are just thinking about the specifics too much. All that really matters is the big picture.”
I’m also told that I shouldn’t do any research that isn’t church approved, because everyone else on the internet is just being influence by Satan to deconvert me. Besides it doesn’t matter anyways because it’s “not important”. Because we are happy and we have the truth. That’s what everyone says. That’s all anyone says. That’s all I have known.
Every time I have a thought with strong emotions it’s either “is this the Holy Ghost or is this Satan?”. I don’t know what thoughts are mine and what are the Devil’s or what are the Holy Ghost’s. It’s all so confusing. Nothing makes sense. But if I just study the church and read scriptures and pray every day it will all go away right? It’ll make sense right?
I am also taught that America is the greatest nation in the world and what makes it great are the blessings God has given it, and those blessings will only continue as long as America is mostly white and Christian. And all the strongest leaders I have known are men, so women must be inferior. Blacks must be inferior because in areas where they are the majority, there is only poverty and rampant crime. If people who are not white, not men, not Christian and do not speak English and are even “perverts” ever take over, America is doomed! People that are not white coming here for refuge are invaders who must be punished and thrown out too!
Granted, many Christians, many whites, many men, and many English speakers in America are NOT like this, but too many are and that’s the point. No wonder Joseph Smith was so successful with his Mormon cult. He merely took the bullshit of mainstream American white-dominated, male-dominated, and English speaking Christianity and cranked it up to ELEVEN!