Those who leave the Mormon church and have huge families within it have usually dealt with manipulation by leaders, friends and family members. Sometimes these people don't even realize they are using manipulation techniques to get their sinful, evil, non-tithing paying people back into the church, they are only focused on the end result... making sure everyone is on the straight and narrow.
Some stories of manipulation are kind of funny... take my case in high school for instance...
I had stopped attending church because I thought it was sexist. I couldn't take anymore girl's activities that included quilting, baking, sewing and crafting while the guys got to do things like repelling and playing ball. It was more that that, though. Our lessons consisted of telling us that we should marry a return missionary in the temple, have tons of babies and be faithful our entire lives. When I asked about a career (wanted to be a doctor at the time) I was told to pray about it, and if God wanted me to be a doctor, I shouldn't wait to get married and have kids... because yeah... med school is so easy with a newborn and toddler in the house?
Anyway, when I stopped attending I had a YW leader that took me on as a personal project. I wasn't exactly little miss popular in my tiny school, but I had tons of friends... most of them were non-Mormons. Suddenly, a couple really popular Mormon girls kept asking me to hang out with them... they acted as if we were best buddies and they couldn't wait to get together for this or that. I usually politely declined because I saw it for what it was... they really didn't care about *me* they just wanted my happy ass back in church every Sunday to hear their message.
Now, whats so bad about that? Right? A couple kids pretending to give a shit about your life and constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY) requesting your presence in church activities and Sunday school?
It wasn't genuine.
I wanted a genuine life and genuine friends... not people who would like me as long as I did what they wanted me to do. A lifetime of fakery? No thanks.
It could have been much worse.
The other half of the manipulation stories are sometimes incredibly hard to read. Some faithful Mormons will do anything -ANYTHING- to keep their friends and family right where they want them. Regardless of that person's beliefs, thoughts, dreams and goals in life.
Some of these examples I found online in various ex-Mormon forums. I took out the names and usernames of the people who listed them, in case they don't want their information on my blog.
I just talked to my TBM Dad. He and my Mom are visiting next weekend for the first time in three years. They live 8 hours away. We've visited them several times since then and bought a new house last year. They didn't visit us then either. My Mom is retired and my Dad has 5 weeks of vacation plus government holidays. They aren't bedridden or in jail either.
Recently, they started making rumblings that they actually might visit us. My wife made the prediction that they would come late on a Saturday night so they can stay with us for free on the way to something else, go to church here, and leave immediately after Sacrament meeting.
Well, give the lady a prize! This morning, my Dad IM'd me and said that they are driving out to "Firth," Idaho (wherever in God's creation that is) to pick up an old truck that he bought off the Internet. They'll be here Saturday night, stay the night, and then leave immediately after Sacrament meeting. And he wants me to call around and find out when the earliest service is, so they can be on their way as soon as possible. Apparently because his fingers are broken and he can't look it up on mormon.org himself.
I was SO offended! They go to church every week, and they can't miss even this one time to spend 70 minutes with us. It's nice knowing where you fit in the overall scheme of things with your own parents. (1. Cult, 2. Kids.) I called [her] and told her about it, and she absolutely blew her top. She said that they should not even bother stopping by. And if they do, they can pay a normal motel rate.
You see... the church means more to these parents than their family does. The church claims to be family first -unless that family isn't what you are- a faithful member of the LDS Church.
The reason I believe this is manipulation is because the parents have been manipulated into thinking they are doing the right thing by putting the church first. Is this fair to them? The actual members of the church who pay their dues and attend the millions of meetings every month? Is it fair to their grandkids who will only know that the church meant more to their grandpa and grandma than they did?
I particularly loathe the "hey buddy" shoulder/back affection, where the garment inspector pats you on the shoulder, or goes for an arm-over-the-shoulder manuever to see if he can feel garment seams. It's spooky, and just plain *wrong*.
Is this manipulation?
You see, the member that checks for garments isn't only doing just that... nope. He's keeping the other person in check. He's basically saying, "Gee, you don't have garments on... hmmm... what kind of sin have you committed? Why aren't you wearing them? I'll pray for you and tell everyone I know to do the same."
In my humble opinion, they are trying to use guilt and shame to get the ex-member back into a church pew on Sunday.
I will leave you with this list of quotes that TBM friends and family members said to one couple as they were leaving the church. It's amazing.
Mother1: "I can't believe how bad you turned out."Andee
Mother2: "Shame on you! You should know better than that!"
Brother: "Don't try explaining, there's no excuse for leaving and you'll never convince me."
Brother in Law1: "You bastard. You've deceived our sister with your anti-mormon lies."
Brother in Law2: "I can't believe how stupid you are."
Sister in Law1: "I pray you come back before God punishes you."
Sister in Law2: "How can you betray your family like this?"
Father in Law: "Well, I don't know if the church is true or not, but I have a lot of friends there."
Mother in Law: "So what commandment couldn't you live?"
Missionary after I closed the door: "You still know it's true!"
TBM Friend: "I'm so dissapointed in you. What's wrong with you?"
TBM Friend: "I don't believe any of those anti-mormon lies. The Book of Mormon is true and that makes the church true - don't make excuses."
TBM Friend: "Well, I've had too many spiritual experiences with the Book of Mormon to ever deny it."
TBM Friend: "When things get really hard in your life, you'll come back. I hope it doesn't take a tragedy to get you to repent."
When I originally posted this message, I got a lot of responses. Here's a collection of what other people heard from their TBM friends and relatives:
"I have heard you criticize and find fault with the Church so you can justify your decision to leave and this makes me very sad."
"What happened? I am disappointed in you!!"
"I hoped that by experiencing other Christian beliefs you would seek to gain a stronger testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ like I had done."
"My testimony of the Gospel has been challenged more than you will ever know, and I have stayed true to faith."
"I am deeply saddened that you have caved to the beliefs of man."
"You can go to some feel good Christian church as long as you want, but this church will never provide you with blessings of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ"
"You have no clue how much you have hurt mom/dad with your decision to leave the Church. How can you throw away everything she/he taught you like this?"
"Did you ever think just once what impact your decision would have upon ______?"
"I do not know about you, but I am choosing to Honor My Parents by staying true to the principles of Gospel Of Jesus Christ that we were taught as youth."
"How can you throw your missions away like this?"
"You may betray the truth but I will not."
"I hope you get your act together before your youngest child turns 8, as it would be a real shame for your children to grow up without the light of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives."
"I would gladly come and baptize ______ if _______ was given the opportunity to learn about the Church. I have seen a change for the worse in _____ countenance and this is really upsetting to me."
"It is clear that you blame the Church for much of your problems and you figure that by running away from the Church your problems will go away!! They may go away for a little while but they will be back. The easy way out is just that - the easy way out."
"I was pretty shocked when we visited you and when we said we were going to the Temple and I asked if you had seen it yet you said no."
"You now know how I feel. I will not say what I have just said again. You will be very upset with me with for the things I have just said! They are the truth and sometimes the truth hurts."
"You will probably find fault with me for telling you how it is."
"Those Mormons really attack you when you leave the church..etc...etc....blah, blah, blah." Get over it."
"Please do not try to explain to me why you left the Church, because there is no good reason to leave."
"You can call it the "Mormon Belief System," "Mormonism," or whatever you like. I will tell you what it is: It is The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ!"
"You used to have such a SWEET spirit."
"How can you forget all the Lord has blessed you with?"
"You know what I pray for? That you'll come back to the Church."
"Your leaving the church has strenghthened our testimonies."
"If you don't have what it takes to live the Gospel, you should at least take your daughter to Church so that she can know the truth. She shouldn't suffer for your sake."
"Have your husband reread section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, because the sin on his head for leaving the Church as a priesthood holder is greater."
"Can we still send the HT and VT to your home?"
"What are you going to do someday when you are dead and standing before the Lord and he asks: "Why did you persecute my Church?""
"This is the worst possible thing you could have done."
"But, if it weren't for the church, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN BORN!"
"I read all the anti-mormon literature too, and came to the opposite conclusion as you. I know obedience to authority is a key part of God's plan."
"That's not what the Church teaches!"
Stake President: (Hand raised to the square) "I declare in the name of Jesus Christ that this church is true."
Bishop: "When I find myself out of synch with the prophet, it means I have to change."
"Remember the warning, "Why do the women have to veil their faces during the "true order" of prayer, while the men do not? Aren't the symbolic and theological implications of this huge -- suggesting that women have a less direct link to the Mormon god than men do?'God will NOT be mocked'?"
"Your (deceased) mother/father would be so dissappointed that you are not raising your children in the church."
"You'll come back after you know what it feels like without the spirit"
"You knew it was true! You said it many times, so don't deny your testimony now."
"I have seen a decline in your general character."
"You've lost the light of Christ"
"You're so much angrier now that you want to leave the church"
"You're going to perdition because you had a full knowledge of the gospel and you're rejecting it."
"I hope I'll be allowed to come down and see you after we die."
"We believe in eternal families...that is what grandpa taught."
"I hope you rot in your lonely miserable apartment!"
"You know what you are doing is wrong!"
"But you've been through the temple!"
"So, are you going to start drinking?"
"If you don't believe it anymore then you have no business talking about it."
"I'll pray for you and hope you'll do the same for me."
"You're just pretending not to believe so that you can sin."
"Look in the mirror - can't you see how ugly you are?"
"Something terrible must have happened on your mission."
"You're like a fish in the ocean who sticks his head up and say "Where's all the water?" You've been surrounded by the Spirit your whole life. You just don't recognize it."
"You were a valiant spirit in the pre-existence. Satan knows that. So he's fighting especially hard to get your soul.
"It's so sad to see your children growing up without the Church."
"I wish I cold come back when I die and tell you the truth, but I don't think it works that way."
"You realize of course that there won't be a place for you at Jesus' table?"
"There won't be any oil in YOUR lamp, when the time comes!"
"I'm sure that those who leave the church won't become sons of perdition because they didn't really understand the gospel. Anyone who really understood would never deny it."