Here’s a repost from March 22, 2018. I don’t have a particular reason to bust on the Mormons today, but I felt this post might be helpful for someone out there. Religious abuse in families is a thing, and the photos in those prove it.
Yesterday, someone shared an article about the practice of shunning within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I got sucked into a discussion about it in the Duggar group I’m in. There were a few folks saying that shunning doesn’t happen in the JWs, the Mormons, and other religious groups where shunning is supposedly rampant. I was reminded of a couple of documents Mormon parents gave to their wayward children and helpfully shared them with the group. If you read this blog regularly, you might have already seen these. I am reposting them for the curious.
I was actually surprised it took as long as it did, but several hours after I posted these, a so-called “liberal” Mormon spoke up to tell us that these letters don’t represent the norm in LDS families. She was careful to explain that she’s liberal and liberal Mormons exist… and church members, as a whole, aren’t really as “weird” as these letters make them sound.
Actually, when I originally posted these letters, I was careful to mention that not all Mormon families do this. There are millions of people in the LDS church and many of them are perfectly good folks. However, it’s disingenuous to say that shunning doesn’t occur in Mormonism. It does. It may not happen in your family or your friends’ families, but it happens in other families. By the way… it also happens among families in other strict religions that require family involvement, which I also pointed out.
These examples happen to be from Mormon families because I spend a lot of time following stories related to Mormonism. The LDS church has affected my husband personally. I would imagine that if Bill’s ex wife had been a Jehovah’s Witness convert, I would be following that faith more carefully. I do a lot of reading about the JWs anyway, because one of my cousins was a JW for awhile. He and his family left the church because the local leaders wanted to put a child molester in charge (or so that was the official explanation as to why they left).
The point is, shunning is a thing and it happens a lot in religious circles. It has two purposes. One, is to punish anyone who goes astray. The other purpose is to warn anyone within the group who is thinking about going astray. If you leave the toxic group, you will be ostracized. You’ll lose people who are important to you. Your support system will fall apart. These kinds of groups, by design, separate their members from other people in society, labeling them as “bad influences”. At first, the intimate nature of the group seems close, loving, and maybe even special. After awhile, when the group becomes toxic, that intimacy becomes a powerful incentive to stay invested. By the time a lot of people decide to leave, the people in the group are all they have. Leaving means striking out alone, and that’s too scary for many group members to consider. So they continue to toe the line.
Here’s another point I’d make to “liberal” Mormons who don’t like it when these kinds of threatening letters put shade on their religious beliefs. If you’re in a group designed to “bash” fundamentalist Christians like the Duggars, shouldn’t you expect that people might discuss other, less mainstream religions? Although many mainstream Mormons have been trying to be “normal” for a long time, the fact is, the Mormon leadership actually pride church members for being “peculiar”.
Another thing I noticed when I posted these letters is that at least one person felt these “rules” were perfectly fine. In the second group of photos, it sounds like the parent may be confronting his son for doing “illegal” or inappropriate things. I think it’s important to mention that many Mormons think that people who leave the church will immediately fall into illegal or immoral behavior without the strict church teachings to keep them in line. Many Mormons, who have no experience with things like alcohol, marijuana, or even sex outside of marriage, assume that people who drink, smoke weed, or have sex do so to excess. That’s not necessarily so.
I know some people get upset when I share things like this. However, I did get one private message from someone yesterday who thanked me. She is an ex Mormon and she gets it. I’m sorry if some people are offended because they feel “attacked” by critical posts about their religion. I say, if it doesn’t apply to you, you probably shouldn’t take heed. Or maybe you should… But there is a reason why church members are discouraged from reading “anti” Mormon literature. It’s because the leaders know that criticism is a threat to their members’ testimonies… and when members lose their testimonies, they leave. That means less money and power for the church as a whole. Think about it.