Generally Mormons are decent, honest, respectful, and don’t have a culture that involves either alcohol or drugs, and so because of this some might argue that even if the actual beliefs are not true, being part of the culture can be beneficial.
“Raise your kids Mormon, because they nurture things such as public speaking, athletics, music, crafts, and other skills”, is the thinking.
Actually, this belief prevails for many beliefs, I’m simply picking one so that I can talk a bit more specifically and critically about the myth that you need to raise your kids in a religious context for them to be truly good. You will find a similar belief prevails within many cultural contexts, it is all part of the con trick that belief has evolved with so that it can successfully propagate itself to the next generation.
While I am focusing on the Mormons, a similar criticism applies to all beliefs. If you opt to raise your kids as Mormons, then the observation that they will focus upon some truly good and noble attributes is indeed true, but it is only half the story, there is a dark side to it all as well.
The problem with such thinking is that there are other things included in the package that introduces real harm, here are some examples:
- No Critical Thinking – The Kids are taught to obey and not to question, thinking and self-reliance is very much frowned upon. If they are presented with something they think is incorrect or simply don’t understand, then they are expected to pray, study their scriptures, and seek guidance from the Bishop until they fall in line, get their mind right and conform. Those in charge cannot be wrong, so if the kids have doubts about something they are being told, then it must be them and their lack of faith. Instead of being encouraged to think things through for themselves in a rational manner, it nurtures a culture of dependence, one in which the kids permit others to do their thinking for them – this is a road that leads to disaster.
- Blame culture – If the kids fall short and cannot keep all the rules, then the problem is clearly with them. The demand for perfection is a tool that is used to manipulate individuals and leverage guilt to keep them in line.
- Honesty Filtration – This is perhaps an unintentional consequence of the culture. As the kids advance within the Church, they get interviewed by the Bishop as they progress to ensure that they are worthy for the next step. If they tell the truth, they will not advance, but will instead face criticism. However, if they parrot the desired rhetoric, then they will be praised and advanced up to the next level. Most young people are desperate for both acceptance by the community and also for the approval of their parents, so they learn to happily lie to achieve this goal, “Gosh no Bishop, I have never ever masturbated”. The consequence is that those with some integrity, independence and honesty will be automatically filtered out because they will resist the pressure to play the game, and will instead tell the truth.
Parents who permit their children to be raised Mormon, or for that matter in other beliefs, so that they can inherit a moral lifestyle are playing with fire and may end up being badly burned. For example, Mormons tend to look down upon other non-Mormons and so the children will tragically end up viewing their non-believing parents as objects to pity, targets for conversion, or perhaps even as those to be avoided because they are in the grip of Satan. The final twist of the knife might come when they marry a fellow Mormon; the parents would not be permitted to attend because they would be deemed unworthy to enter the temple.
Many parents have successfully raised children who are indeed decent and honourable without recourse to any supernaturalism. By ditching an irrational religious upbringing they have avoided a lot of rather bad stuff, and a considerable degree of heartache.
The reality of the world we live in is that most humans, regardless of their belief or non-belief, strive to do what is right. The trap for many is that if the things that you believe to be right are not actually ethical, and are only believed to be right because they have been “blessed” by your favourite supernatural entity, then you are at risk doing some quite obnoxious stuff. If you are also in a place that suppresses self-reliance and critical thinking, then you are nurturing kids who will be unable to think things through for themselves, and will blindly obey.
“people who were raised as Mormons by “good” Mormon families have testified that their Mormon upbringing is a major source of their emotional and social problems later in life” – Richard Packman, ex-Mormon
I’m a Formon
Since I’m on the topic of Mormons, I have a little extra for you. The Mormons have an ad campaign in which Mormons tell you how wonderful they are and tout the tag line “I’m a Mormon”. As a response to this, film maker and ex-Mormon, Brian Dalton, did a parody version of this in which he tells you about the truly weird things that he no longer believes now that he is a former Mormon — “I’m a Formon” …