In the course of my research for a forthcoming paper on the psychological tactics of American cults, I recently interviewed a former Mormon. The subject of this interview is a white male professional in his late twenties named “Alex H.” His answers to my questions about his association with the Latter Day Saints were very interesting. In the hopes that you will also find them helpful in your future dealings with the LDS cult, I have included the interview below:
What was your religious background before you became interested in Mormonism?
I was raised in the Church of God of the Union Assembly, but as I grew older I attended different church services. In Middle school and High school I was interested in Paganism and soon began practicing witchcraft, which I practiced for 2 years. I currently don’t have any religious beliefs and consider myself an agnostic atheist because I don’t believe in a god but I don’t know if one exists. I don’t believe in the bible the book or Mormon or witchcraft. Finally accepting the fact that I didn’t believe the miracle claims in the bible using logic made me come to conclusion that I didn’t believe in God anymore.
How did you first come across Mormons?
I was introduced to Mormons by a friend from college. She invited me to a YSA event ( Young single adults ) and I went in hopes to start a romantic relationship with her. However, the only thing I left with was an interest in the church and desire know more about its doctrine.
How familiar were you with Mormonism before you first met Mormons?
I was not very familiar with the church until I joined, but I do remember television commercials that would air and the occasional pair of missionaries that would pass by our house on their bicycles. They tried to leave us with their pamphlets.
What about the LDS religion interested you?
The LDS church interested me because everything was so darn happy all the time and I wanted to be that way.
What about Mormonism made it seem more compelling than other religious systems?
Mormonism seemed more compelling than other religious systems because I interpreted a certain scripture differently than my former church. I interpreted James 1:5 in the same way the Mormons did. I lacked wisdom and I thought the Mormons had the answers that any other church lacked.
How long did you study and consider Mormonism before you joined the LDS?
I studied with the missionaries for about a month before I joined the church.
Was there any tenet of Mormonism religion that you didn’t believe before you joined the LDS?
I believed every tenet that the Mormon missionaries taught as soon as they presented it to me.
What the primary argument presented to you for becoming a Mormon?
It really made a lot of sense at the time that we should return to god and become like him. It seems like the Mormons had an answer for every question I had about life and my purpose here.
How would you describe your level of biblical knowledge before you began studying Mormonism?
Although I had not read the complete bible, I did make it through the old testament.
Did you receive a “burning in the bosom” after praying about the Book of Mormon?
At the time I felt compelled to join the Mormon church because it seemed right. Everything in my life seemed like it lead to joining the church.
Did you read the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, or the Doctrines and Covenants in their entirety before or after joining the LDS?
I read the entire Book of Mormon after I joined, but I didn’t read the Pearl of Great Price or the Doctrines and Covenants.
Was there anything that you found out about Mormonism after becoming a Mormon that you feel should have been disclosed to you before your joining?
I found out that you are not suppose to tell investigators about “deep” doctrine because it often scared off new members such as: There’s a heavenly mother, we can become gods, if you don’t pay your tithing you will die in by falling fire .. fun stuff like that..
Was there a difference in the way you were treated before joining the LDS from the way you were treated after joining the LDS?
I was “love bombed” when I was an investigator, but after I joined they lost interest in me and stopped showing me so much attention.
Do you ever question the teachings or instructions of the LDS?
I only questioned the teachings of the church right before I decided I didn’t want to be Mormon anymore.
Did other Mormons ever question the teachings or instructions of the LDS?
Yes, I knew some that did but kept believing the doctrine anyway. Most believed everything.
What was said, if anything, about those people who chose to leave the LDS?
Nothing much was said about ex-members.
Were you involved in proselytizing for the LDS?
Yes, for a solid 6 months I went out with the missionaries knocking on doors and teaching taught people about the church and urged them to join.
Did you ever receive a temple recommend?
No, I didn’t receive a temple recommend. However, I did attend an open house in Atlanta. Every so often the temple is cleaned and shortly after it’s open to the public to tour.
In your experience, did the LDS use any psychological tactics to recruit, train, and retain converts?
They used psychological tactics like “love bombing” and shunning. If I didn’t follow the rules I would not get to partake in the sacrament and everyone would see that I wasn’t worthy of partaking. This was suppose to make me feel bad enough to change my behavior.
What is the best thing about the LDS?
While I was Mormon I felt very happy as long as I followed the rules.
What is the worst thing about the LDS?
The worst thing was having my family disown for a short while and even being asked to leave my grandparents house.
What caused you to leave the LDS?
I left the church because I finally came to conclusion that I didn’t believe in the bible anymore.
How were you treated by Mormons after leaving the LDS?
I was shunned by the members I would see out in public, but my home teacher and bishop would try to set up meetings where they could convince me to come back. After ignoring them long enough and change my address and phone number a couple of time they quit bothering me.
Technically, I’m still a member because when you join the church you sign a contract and are a member until you get you official request removing your name from the churches records which takes some time because they try to stall you. This wasn’t even an option until 1985.
*I am grateful to Alex for his participation in my paper research. I ask that the readers of this blog keep Alex and others who have been involved in the Mormon religion in their prayers. Remember, you could be the very person who leads a current or former Mormon to a saving relationship with the true Lord Jesus Christ.
**Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.