Are Mormons Brainwashed?

Courtesy LDS Media LibraryIf you’re a Latter-day Saint, have you ever been accused of being brainwashed? This is just one of the labels that have been slapped on us to dismiss us and our beliefs.

When I was first learning about the Church, this and other labels were quickly attached to me: stupid, idiot, dupe, brainwashed, cultist, etc. Even as a teenager, I realized that these were cheap Post-it Note knockoffs—the kind that don’t stick very well.

The psychologist Albert Bandura proposes four ways people are manipulated to disassociate themselves from their consciences:

  1. Offer moral justification
  2. Minimize the consequences
  3. Dehumanize the victims
  4. Displace responsibility
These common human behaviors lead to social marginalization, or worse, persecution, and much, much worse, genocide. It’s ugly business. Really ugly. Labeling others is one of the first steps in falling in with these behaviors. Labels like brainwashed fit pretty well with number 3.I wasn’t raised in the Church and I have written in other posts about my conversion experience. I was not programmed, tricked, deceived, misled, or otherwise manipulated into joining the Mormon Church. My experience was quite the opposite. The people around me were clamoring for me to go the other direction. If there was any “programming,” it was anti-Mormon.

I studied the Church, its scriptures, its history and doctrine, extensively, independently and alone, under lamplight in my room. I also studied anti-Mormon literature. For months, I researched all sides of the argument.

I read or heard most of the claims against Mormonism. They did not move me. They felt empty and false. They were rife with jealousy and contradiction. They were what I have come to call “the Chevy report on Ford.” To be honest, these claims nauseated me. They still do.No one cajoled me to make the choices I have made. I made them on my own under the tender guidance of a loving Heavenly Father. I felt and followed His Holy Spirit. I was led by a gentle, still, small voice. The love and power of God enveloped me. I acted of my own free will and conscience, under the guidance of that power.

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. . . . (1 Thessalonians 1:5.)

I chose to join the Church though I was cast out from my home, threatened, persecuted, belittled, shamed, and berated by family and former friends. I listened to them but I didn’t believe them. I tried to not throw gasoline on their fire. It was their fire, not mine. I was singed by it, but not burned.
I had seen a light and power, and I knew that the truth was in that light. I have walked in it my entire adult life. I hope and pray I will have the strength to endure to the end.
As time has passed, my study has broadened and my conviction has only grown deeper. I know that “Mormonism” is true. Label me as you will, here I stand.

4 thoughts on “Are Mormons Brainwashed?

  1. Anonymous May 10, 2015 / 11:37 pm

    It seems like the 4 points sum up the approach to mormonism many people have:

    1. Be extremely selective in what you teach about church history, justified by wanting to build faith up.

    2. Rationalize these actions…it's for the good of the person/church

    3. Call people who disagree with this approach “apostates”

    4. Rationalize that dissenters made poor choices…that the church is blameless.

    Brainwashed? Yup.


  2. Rozy Lass May 11, 2015 / 12:33 am

    I love your phrase “The Chevy report on Ford” as I've often used that analogy to ask people why they would get their information about the church from a source other than the church. I usually phrase it “Would you go to the Cadillac dealer to learn about Volkwagens?” Great post, thanks for sharing.


  3. Michael James Fitzgerald May 11, 2015 / 3:22 am

    I respect your opinion. I have seen these four points for myself, but not universally.Thank you for sharing.


  4. Michael James Fitzgerald May 11, 2015 / 3:33 am

    Thanks for commenting, Rozy. I can see why people go to sources other than the Church for information. Everyone has to choose for themselves and draw their own conclusions, but I've always preferred D&C 11:12–14 as a source for guidance.


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