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Are Mormons Brainwashed?

by W. John Walsh

I heard that Mormons are brainwashed by their leaders and aren't allowed to think for themself.  Is this true? 

The Church strongly encourages all of its members to develop the capacity to think for themselves.  In fact, some of the most fundamental doctrines of the gospel, especially agency, require it.  The ultimate degree of salvation is called exaltation or eternal life.  It is to be as God is and do as God does (See Godhood).   This degree of salvation can only be obtained when a person has so mastered the principles of the gospel that they dwell in him independently.  We obtain this salvation one choice at a time.  The Book of Mormon teaches:

"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility." (2 Nephi 2:11)

Righteousness only occurs when a person chooses to obey.  Someone who obeys a law out of compulsion or ignorance has not exercised righteousness.  In keeping with this principle, Church leaders teach the members general principles and leave it to their discretion as to how to implement them.  The First Presidency wrote:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith was once asked by a visitor to the city of Nauvoo, the good order and prosperity of which struck him with surprise, how it was that he governed the people so as to produce such admirable results. The memorable reply of the Prophet of God was: 'I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.'"  (Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.3, p.54, emphasis added)

(See Follow the Prophets home page; Individuality; Response to Criticism home page; Accusatory Questions home page; Plural Marriage home page)

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