Of course, there is the aspect of brainwashing involved. Being programmed from a very early age. Being told that something is true from the time of your earliest memories tends to distort reality and make what you are told seem absolutely real and genuine. And since in the Mormon Church, people are told to only read and study materials that are "authorized," the extent of materials to which most Mormons are exposed is very limited.
Naturally, the term "propaganda" comes to mind. Although the Mormon Church looks at anything written contrary to what the Mormon Church teaches to be "anti-Mormon propaganda" when much of it is simply highlighting the truth as it really is, pointing out the lies, deception and contradictions that are blatant within Mormon doctrine and history.
But in reality, the Mormon Church is steeped in the "propaganda" realm. The church dishes out "propaganda" on a regular basis to its members until their minds are so cluttered with it all that it is difficult to sort out what is true from what is not. Fast and Testimony Meeting is a prime example of "propaganda" and "brainwashing." Seeing all those people stand up in church on the first Sunday of every month and say the same rote phrases (like "I know the truth is true beyond a shadow of a doubt" and "I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God") is a very calculated way of indoctrinating the masses and creating "sheeple," something Mormonism seems to have down to a science.
"The oblique paradox of propaganda is that the lie in the throat becomes, by repetition, the truth in the heart." ~John GriersonOf course, this is what the Mormon Church is counting on. Repeating deceitful church doctrines and teachings, over and over again. And through this process, these fallacies seep into the core of all of its members. If you tell a person something often enough and long enough, it becomes their reality - and to them, it is true.
It wasn't until 2001, a couple of months prior to going on a Mormon Church History tour, that I began to research the truth behind Mormonism. At first, I simply wanted to know more about church history prior to going on the trip so I would be more "well-versed" when I visited the key places. But once I began discovering the truth behind the facade, and I began to look at materials which shed new light on much of what I had believed since childhood, that I began to realize that what I had been told was simply not true.
One by one, I began to discover the truth about polygamy, polyandry, the differing versions of the First Vision (totaling at least nine), the truth behind why Joseph Smith was arrested and incarcerated in Carthage Jail as well as his supposed "martyrdom," the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Kinderhook Plates, Blacks and the Priesthood, and on and on - and as I did, I began to realize how blind I had been over the years. At that point, the following quote began to take on new meaning - "There are none so blind as those who will not see." (Attributed to Thomas Chalkley, circa 1713, but most likely based on the Biblical verse in Jeremiah 5:21, "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.")
In everyone's lifetime, people occasionally come upon pivotal moments or crossroads. As Robert Frost said in his poem "The Road Not Taken":
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth;Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same,And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.
Very poignant poem that makes a very profound point. It reminds me of a few experiences in my life, but most vividly brings to mind my journey away from Mormonism.
So from 2001 to 2004, I found myself at a very pivotal point in my life - a definite crossroads - as I struggled with what I had been taught and had believed my entire life. At first, I was very confused as fear and doubt took over my psyche. After all, I was ripping up and examining the very foundation of my life since Mormonism had always been practically my identity. But at times, I would feel hope and wonderment, and that's what kept me going on the path toward final acceptance of the fact that I had been living a lie. When I found the graphic rendering posted here, it really hit home since these are the emotions I dealt with during this time frame.
In the end, though, as I sorted through all of the information I had uncovered along with all of these emotions, I began to realize that I couldn't reverse the process through which I had gone. I couldn't go back in time to return to the state of blissful ignorance I had dwelled in for so long. Of course, when I was still Mormon, I had some questions and issues (such as the role of women in the church and what I perceived as a double standard), but I had successfully put those things on my "shelf" up until that point. But as I came to terms with this newly-discovered information, I was unable to put anything more on my "shelf," and it all came tumbling down.
In looking back at my life, I do have some regrets. One of my regrets is that I didn't become more intellectually curious at an earlier time in my life. Perhaps if I had researched the doctrines, teachings and history of the Mormon Church in more detail and on an independent basis, not relying solely on what I was told or read from "authorized" sources, I would have discovered the truth much earlier. Unfortunately, I spent 52 years as a Mormon simply because I paid too much attention to what they told me to believe. One of my other regrets is that I did not tell my father that I had disassociated myself from the Mormon Church before he passed away. He died in May 2006, and although I left the church in 2004, I never told him that I had left the church - and why. Of course, since he was 90 years old in 2004, I knew that if I told him, that it would very possibly drive a wedge between us since he was very pious and dogmatic about Mormonism. So that was my rationale. And since he lived in Utah and I lived in California, it was rather easy to live that charade.
But still, although I regret not telling my father about my apostasy and why I left the church, I am grateful that I am now living a completely authentic life. And of course, getting caught up in the "shoulda, woulda, coulda" mindset only succeeds in putting negative vibes in a person's life, so I have shed all of that and am moving forward with a positive attitude. Finally being true to who I really am - and not living a lie. And that's enough for me.