A fascinating series of videos has recently been uploaded to YouTube by a former Mormon. The videos tell the story of how he awakened from his religious indoctrination through a close examination of the Jehovah’s Witness faith – but not in the way the Society would perhaps appreciate! If you haven’t watched these videos already, I would strongly recommend that you do so.
Chris, whose YouTube channel is called “askreality,” was born in Canada and raised a Mormon in the LDS Church. A family man and once devout believer, Chris confesses: “the Church meant everything to me. I lived and breathed it every day of my life.” However, Chris underwent his own crisis of faith when trying to help his brother, who was struggling with doubts. He realized that it would be impossible to assist his brother without being prepared to scrutinize his own beliefs first. As he put it: “How could I expect him to listen to me, if I would not listen to him?”
What happened next is summarized perfectly in the following video. Basically, Chris found it impossible to defy the LDS Church ban on listening to what Mormon “apostates” were saying. Just like the Watchtower, the LDS Church warns believers to “avoid” all those who oppose its teachings. Chris therefore did something remarkable. He decided to gain perspective by studying a similar religion to Mormonism to see whether doing so would reveal anything pertinent about his own beliefs. This “mirror” religion was Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Chris soon noticed a striking similarity in the conviction of Jehovah’s Witnesses that their religion alone represents the one true faith. He also noticed that, just like with his own LDS Church, there was an extremely vocal community of former believers who felt hurt and damaged through the religion’s teachings – and who weren’t afraid to speak out about their experiences. Because he had no bias or emotional investment in Jehovah’s Witnesses, he decided to listen to what so-called “apostate” Witnesses were saying, both by speaking with them in person and watching their videos on YouTube.
A damaging belief system
As Chris analyzed what was being said about the Watchtower organization, it quickly became obvious to him that it was hurting people. JW teachings were tearing families apart through the harsh shunning of former believers, and the teachings on blood were even depriving people of precious life.
As he explained: “I wanted to give the Jehovah’s Witnesses the benefit of the doubt, but it seemed possible that their persecution did have a logical reason after all. People’s families and lives were being hurt by their doctrines.”
Chris could empathize with those who were on the receiving end of such a destructive belief system, adding, “I grew concerned for those that were suffering. They were labelled ‘apostates’ and rejected as the devil, but their cause was just. I could not understand why the Watchtower organization would discourage proper medical care and shun family members.”
From his research into Witness beliefs, Chris concluded that there was something “inherently unloving and irrational” about Watchtower teachings, but this led him to wonder why Witnesses were so willing to accept such blatantly flawed and damaging ideology. “What would cause this behavior?,” he asked himself.
The grip of mind control
Chris watched one particular YouTube video that gave him reason to ponder. The video, by Marc and Cora Latham, described how Jehovah’s Witnesses are under a “grip” that prevents them from being able to objectively scrutinize their beliefs. As Cora Latham explained in the video: “It’s very clear to us once you step away how much of a hold they have on you. You can’t see the wood for the trees until you step out of the forest and take a look back and go ‘good grief, how did I not see that?'” Chris realized that Marc and Cora were describing brainwashing, or to coin a more accurate term, “mind control.”
This was a stunning revelation to Chris. As he explains, “I always thought that mind control was something from the movies! So when the ex Jehovah’s Witnesses began explaining how their minds had been manipulated and controlled by specific techniques, I was in shock and amazement.” Chris made the connection that if Jehovah’s Witnesses could be under the influence of documented mind control techniques, there was a strong chance that Mormons like him were too. This was an epiphany. It allowed Chris to finally muster the courage to examine his Mormon beliefs objectively, and break down the walls of bias and fear that had mentally imprisoned him for so long.
A valuable tool
I’m sure there are many more like Chris, both among Witnesses and Mormons, who over the years have reached profound conclusions about their beliefs based on a comparison of these two religions. However, few will be gifted with the communication skills to describe their journey in the articulate, honest and unassuming manner that Chris utilizes in these videos.
I am certain that many indoctrinated JW family members, perhaps who are wavering with their own doubts, will be powerfully moved by Chris’ journey. Who knows? Perhaps such ones might be prompted to embark on a similar journey once they see how the same mind control techniques are used in other religions to suppress logical reasoning.
Through his videos, Chris sends the message out loud and clear that truth is more important and rewarding than bias. Bias results from the amount of time, emotion and energy we have invested in former beliefs. However painful it may be, we should be prepared to wipe the slate clean and examine our beliefs from a fresh perspective. If something is really true, then it should stand up to the closest possible scrutiny. And real truth is always worth finding in the end.