Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

Are “Brainwashing” Techniques in the Bible and Strategically Used in Churches?

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Brainwashing and mind control techniques have been used by dictators, their agents and cult leaders throughout history. While it took me years to come to this understanding, it became apparent to me, through my research, that the Bible could be used as a tool for brainwashing. When taken literally, the teachings in the Bible can alter the structural anatomy of the brain, psyche and a person’s perception of reality.

 

God Son QuestionVioletwisp published a recent post where she points out an evangelical Christian’s perception of his biblical god, Yahweh. For those of you who are not familiar with who Yahweh is, he’s the “our Father” in Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Christians are commanded to submit to and obey Yahweh, through Jesus, who is considered both God and the Son of God/Yahweh.

If you don’t become “born again”, accepting Jesus as your savior, receiving the Holy Spirit (the 3rd member of the godhead) and submitting to and obeying Yahweh–eternal punishment is your destiny. ➡ Hell.

 

Another devout Christian, and quite cordial, has been commenting regularly on Violet’s post, and she, too, justifies the biblical god’s behavior and sees such atrocities as necessary. A few of these atrocities are listed here. She doesn’t seem to fully grasp why we are appalled, and would have higher expectations of a so-called supreme Creator. Many Christians claim that we (the heathen) just don’t understand or see the “love” because we don’t have the “Holy Spirit”, and therefore are unable to discern things of the “Spirit”.

But what’s really going on?

 

Robert Jay Lifton is a world renown American psychiatrist and author, who has been especially recognized for his studies on the psychological causes and effects of war and political violence, theory of thought reform and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

brainwashing bookDr. Lifton published a book in 1961 titled: Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing in China” . Totalism, is a term for the characteristics of ideological movements and organizations that desire total control over human behavior and thought. Lifton asserts that totalism exhibits a common pattern and causes predictable types of psychological damage in individuals and societies.

His book was based on research with former prisoners of the Korean War and Chinese war camps. Lifton interviewed American servicemen who had been POWs (prisoners of war) during the Korean War. He also interviewed people from China who fled their homeland after being subjected to mind control.  The studies entailed coercive techniques that he labelled “thought reform” or “brainwashing”.

Lifton defined a set of steps involved in the brainwashing cases he studied:

 

  • Assault on identity: “A systematic attack on a target’s sense of self.”
  • Guilt: “You are bad. While the identity crisis is setting in, the agent is simultaneously creating an overwhelming sense of guilt in the target.”
  • Self-betrayal: “The agent coerces his target to denounce family, friends and peers who share the same “wrong” belief system that he holds.”
  • Breaking point:Who am I, and what am I supposed to do? With his identity in crisis, experiencing deep shame and having betrayed what he has always believed in, the target may undergo a nervous breakdown. When the target reaches his breaking point, his sense of self is up for grabs.”
  • Leniency: “I can help you. With ­the target in a state of crisis, the agent offers some small kindness or reprieve from the abuse.”
  • Compulsion to confess: “For the first time in the brainwashing process, the target is faced with the contrast between the guilt and pain of identity assault and the sudden relief of leniency.  At this point, the agent may present the possibility of confession as a means to relieving guilt and pain.”
  • Channeling of guilt: “After the assault in self, confusion, breakdown and moments of leniency, the target’s guilt has lost all meaning. He’s not sure what he has done wrong, he just knows he is wrong.”
  • Releasing of guilt: “The embattled target is relieved to learn there is an external cause of his wrongness, and can escape his wrongness by escaping the wrong belief system. The target is told he has the power to release himself from wrongness by confessing to acts associated with his old belief system. With his full confessions, the target has completed his psychological rejection of his former identity. It is now up to the agent to offer the target a new one.”
  • Progress and harmony: “The embattled target is relieved to learn there is an external cause of his wrongness. The target has the power to release himself from wrongness by confessing to acts associated with his old belief system. With his full confessions, the target has completed his psychological rejection of his former identity. It is now up to the agent to offer the target a new one.”
  • Final confession and rebirth:I choose good. Contrasting the agony of the old with the peacefulness of the new, the target chooses the new identity, clinging to it like a life preserver. He rejects his old belief system and pledges allegiance to the new one that is going to make his life better. At this final stage, there are often rituals or ceremonies to induct the converted target into his new community. This stage has been described by some brainwashing victims as a feeling of “rebirth.””

 

Christianity – Washed in the Blood of the Lamb

dripping_blood

For those who are cultural or liberal Christians, you will most likely not relate to any of this. You may have never been subjected to an evangelical environment, and you probably don’t consider yourself “born again“.

However, if you attended or attend an evangelical church, either Protestant or Catholic, and get your step-by-step instructions from the Bible, pastors, priests, evangelists, elders, deacons, and other leaders in the church, then you are aware there is a process to becoming a True™ Christian. 

Jonathan EdwardJesus crucifieds was an eighteenth century evangelical preacher. He oversaw some of the first revivals in 1733–35 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts.  By inducing guilt, people attending his revival meetings would break down and completely submit. These techniques are used today in evangelical churches throughout the world.

So, let’s look at the list again with a Christian slant. Using scriptures, take note of the similarities in methodology.  Notice that in both scenarios, the goal is to inflict guilt/shame; get the target to reject their identity; inject an authoritarian ideology; require full submission/obedience and rebirth.

 

  • Assault on identity:  I was at a very low point in my life when I was invited to attend a mainstream evangelical church. I had Catholic roots, believed there was a creator, but wasn’t a member of any denomination at the time. Most sermons reiterated that humans were corrupt and depraved. — “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) — As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10)
  • Guilt: I remember many sermons where Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion was described in explicit detail and reminded why, over and over. — But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:” (Isaiah 53:5) — “He was delivered over to death for our sins” (Romans 4:24)
  • Self-betrayal: I was told I had to make Yahweh/Jesus top priority in everything.  I was encouraged to unfriend my “unsaved” friends. — “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) — “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) — “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
  • Leniency: After acknowledging that I was a “sinner” during a revival service, I was then comforted by the visiting evangelist and the pastor, and told that they would help me through this transition. The church would be my family in Christ.  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
  • Breaking point: I experienced an identity crisis. It’s hard to describe that “in between” state. I’m told “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) — and “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, (Romans 12:1) — deny myself,  take up my cross daily and follow Jesus. (Luke 9:23)
  • Compulsion to confess:  It’s reinforced over and over that because I’m not perfect, I’m deserving of eternal punishment. I am repeatedly reminded that I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) I am asked (along with others) to search my heart for any unconfessed sins.
  • Channeling of guilt: There were times I thought that there was no way I did something so bad that it warranted someone having to die such a brutal, bloody, death on my behalf.  Nevertheless, at this point, I was reluctant to question or acknowledge doubt.  I had wronged Yahweh. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. (Psalm 51:4) — “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:5)
  • Releasing of guilt: Because I was raised Catholic, I am informed that throughout my entire life, I wasn’t a True Christian. — “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)
  • Progress and harmony: Now I’ve been led to believe that I was “friends with the world” and those who haven’t been “born again” are Yahweh’s – Jesus’ enemies. — “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4) — “Whoever is not with me is against me,” (Matthew 12:30)
  • Final confession and rebirth: I completely surrender. I got re-baptized, (was christened in the Catholic church as an infant) and believed I had been “born again”. Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:37  —  “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8) “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3) — “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 

From that point on I pretty much took the reigns and reinforced the programming through prayer, by attending church on a weekly basis, attending Bible study groups, and reading/studying the Bible, usually daily. This is an abridge version of my conversion which wasn’t sudden. It took about 5 or 6 months. There are, of course, other dynamics involve which you can read about here.

 

BibleWho is at risk for being targeted?

  • People who have lost their jobs and fear for their future.
  • Recently divorced.
  • Those suffering from illness.
  • People with low self-esteem and/or have been bullied.
  • People who have lost a loved one.
  • Children and those with limited education.
  • People who have experienced natural disasters, war or poverty.
  • People who were abused as children.

 


 

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Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

153 thoughts on “Are “Brainwashing” Techniques in the Bible and Strategically Used in Churches?

  1. Catholic priests are trained in slow speech. i’m sure there’s a technical name for it, but its goal is to create an air of authority. I guess its a little surprising that they don’t employ other methods like drumming.

    You know, Victoria, you really should be compiling all this into a book. It’s needed.

    Liked by 8 people

    • John, I wasn’t aware about that slow speech training. I know that evangelical preachers are trained in a technique called “voice roll”. The former evangelical pastor, now atheist, Jerry Dewit pretty much perfected this technique. A “voice roll” is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists and evangelists to induce a trance. It can sound as if the speaker were talking to the beat of a metronome or it may sound as though he were emphasizing every word in a monotonous, patterned style. The words will usually be delivered at the rate of 45 to 60 beats per minute, maximizing the hypnotic effect.

      …and thank you. I’m working on it. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  2. This process to indoctrination is just as bad as an employee at a corporation that subscribes to “greed is good” (Ayn Rand) and there instead of wine that turns into blood- they have corporate Kool-aid (out pops the big Kool-aid man and says ooooo-Yeeeeah) 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep — Christianity is big business. Christians give close to 100 billion dollars a year (in America alone) to churches, and of course, the churches are tax exempt.

      Liked by 3 people

      • If they truly followed the principles of Christ they would help others in actual need via (American Cancer Society, United Way, etc) instead of blindly giving money to the pastor and ensuring and insuring his $100,000 salary via messages from the pulpit guilting into this practice (smh)
        If I wasn’t aware of the difference between faith and religion- these practices alone would sicken me enough to “de-convert” and I totally understand the outrage by those looking at these groups of people who boast they are the TRUE Christians- and get why these people are making a horrible image of the Christian Faith- probably makes me more angry and sick than an atheist as I constantly battle to differentiate myself from them lol

        Liked by 2 people

        • Lindin, your comment reminded me of this meme:

          I will say that the figure, Jesus, has been given a lot of credit for bringing new “revelation” regarding prosocial behavior, when, in fact, none of his prosocial teachings are original. Reminds me of the so called prophet and co-founder of the 7th Day Adventist church — one of the fastest growing protestant churches in the world. She claimed that the Christian god inspired her teachings — that she got the teachings straight from the horses mouth, so to speak. It was later discovered, about a hundred years or so later, that she plagiarized most of her writings. Her teachings which were put in volumes of books have made the denomination filthy rich.

          Liked by 3 people

          • I now know that those who say God spoke to them directly are hearing voices and should be evaluated for schizophrenia like anyone else who hears voices of any sort 😯😣

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ellen White, the so-called prophet of the SDA denomination has been evaluated extensively by neurologists. Not in person, as she’s deceased, but based on her medical history, a traumatic brain injury she sustained when she was a child which put her in a coma, where the head injury was located, her description of experiences (symptoms) where she claimed they were from god, etc. They determined that she had temporal lobe epilepsy, and one symptom of TLE a.k.a. complex partial seizures, is that a certain percentage of them become hyper-religious.

              Her story was featured on the BBC documentary “God on the Brain”, which you can find if you Google. It’s an excellent watch.

              So, I do think she had experiences where she really believed she was hearing from god. But with regard to the plagiarism, I think she was fully cognitive of the fact that she was copying word for word from other authors, and claiming that god told her.

              Liked by 2 people

  3. The thing is, I truly cannot for one second imagine myself in this position, whether I had a complete breakdown or not, as I have never, ever, once considered the possibility of the christian god ( or any other) being real.
    Of the times I have attended church ( baptism, wedding and what have you) I have been thoroughly bored out of my skull.
    Once, I was confronted by someone in the group of a baptism of a friend’s child and I responded pleasantly that, ‘No, actually I don’t think the Lord is wonderful as I am an atheist.’ I received such a look of confusion which then turned to horror, the person just didn’t know what to say.
    If one is not surrounded by this stuff, I cannot see how it could have an influence, unless one allowed it to.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s not easy admitting that I allowed myself to be brainwashed. It’s complicated, and I think it takes a combination of circumstances. You grew up in a predominately secular culture. I spent a good portion of my life in the most religious state in the Union.

      Liked by 3 people

      • This why I said:

        If one is not surrounded by this stuff, I cannot see how it could have an influence, unless one allowed it to.

        Like

      • I still remember pretty vividly, at the age of 18 or 19 being told by my grandfather (an atheist) that I was being brainwashed while attending Liberty University (Falwell’s school). I shook my head in disagreement at the time, but many years later, I realized he was absolutely right. I had been. And it took a really long time to let it all go.

        Wonderful post by the way!!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Logan, welcome and thanks for your comment. I’ve read a good bit about the environment at Liberty University. They have gone to great lengths to ensure that students are submissive and obedient. You’re very fortunate to have been able to break away from that stringent indoctrination brainwashing. How did you manage to break the spell?

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          • I started my small blog (http://lifeafter40.net) to share my story of escape from fundamentalism. I credit my oldest son, who also attended Liberty on a scholarship, for being the catalyst that lead to my freedom. It was originally my intent to find the compelling arguments and answers to my son’s atheism so that I could win his faith back, but in the end, it went quite another way. And I couldn’t be happier.

            Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, you really brought out the big guns for this one. I don’t think there is any clear-minded individual who can argue against this.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have often considered the entire religious indoctrination scheme brainwashing. It might not be as obvious as say basic training in the military, or the tactics used on prisoners of war, but it is in my mind brainwashing none the less. It is more a slow moving train, cleverly disguised as love, a sense of community and togetherness. It doesn’t look like brainwashing at a casual glance, but it is.

    They also put in place the fear of being forsaken. If you are seen as wavering, or go so far as to leave your cult, they will berate you, shun you, and cease all ties. To many this fear of losing that community is too much to bear, and they stay on, loyal little brainwashed sheep. Too fearful to leave, too fearful to ask questions, a genuine brainwashed success.

    At this point all outside influences such as modern science, reason, and curiosity have been swept under the rug. They are conditioned to ignore reality and go with the flow. Many lost forever to the modern world. Never to return. It takes a great deal of will and an above average intellect, to see your way out of that mess.

    I have toyed with religion. I did not like what I was seeing, and I walked away before they could “get” me. Once I saw what was going on, and I looked around at the room trying to understand just what it was about this that was so damned attractive, I just could not see the supposed benefits outweighing the selling of my soul, my self, or my integrity. As far as I’m concerned it is the best decision I ever made and it was an easy one.

    A Jehovas Witness knocked on my door today. She started on about how people ask questions about them. I interrupted with a curt “I don’t” She looked into my eyes and walked away. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m so envious, SD. The only silver lining I see in all this is that I learned a lot during my deconversion and afterwords. I may not have become as interested in neuroschience, or be in a position to help others who are either questioning or have been through it, and are still recovering. No one can fully grasp the magnitude of this experience unless they’ve been there.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I wasn’t there in the same meaning as you. I was just trying to get there. My spidey senses were tingling though, telling me something just wasn’t right about the whole thing. I watched. I listened. I left.

        In a strange way I am glad you endured what you did. You went to hell and came back. Then decided to do something about it. As exemplified by your many, very thought provoking and spot on posts.

        Through your suffering, and your determination, I feel someone (s) will benefit. To take a negative and turn it into a positive is probably one of the greatest achievements of human intelligence.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Shelldigger,

      I wish people really understood just how damaging the military and religion can be. My husband retired after 20 years, just a year after we deconverted at the age of 39. Though he never went to war, he worked with explosives. It wasn’t until Victoria came across my path that I realized he suffers from TBI. I’m pretty certain he deals with PTSD from his dealings as a Christian, a sailor and as a child (from his birth home, foster care and his adopted parents.) Many of the traits that Victoria listed of people who are drawn into religion can draw people into the military as well. I am very much against war and I make no apologies for it. Right now I’m starting the ninth chapter of Johnny Got His Gun. It’s quite intense and sad. It seriously fuels my hate for this “battle” mentality.

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      • Most people don’t even see, let alone comprehend what is happening with religion, or the military. I know we need a fighting force to help keep us protected. I get that, but I am not real keen on how they go about training young kids.

        Religion? Forget about it, everyone thinks what they do is all hunky dory and that the system is a good one. Like hell it is. Brainwashing people to join the cult is something they can all see, if it happens to be a cult different from theirs. But to think for a moment it has happened to them, in their minds, is laughable.

        Which I find, laughable, lol.

        Like

        • I hear you, it’s humbling to admit when we’re wrong. I think it’s even more painful when we come upon the realization that we have been bullied for decades, generations and even centuries. No one wants to admit we’ve been programmed. Two years before my deconversion I started to seriously question things that I saw on TV, especially national news sources. I thought, being the super spiritual Bapticostal that I was at the time, that the Illuminati was behind all the destruction, manipulation and lies. Before I knew it, I was analyzing Churches, religions and holy books. The common thread that I found in most of the world’s pain and suffering was religion, predominately Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Like a good girl, I tried to talk myself out of seeing the last one as bad. However, I already knew the crooked theology quite well. I had already carried on many debates in my head and with others about the contradictions in scripture, unanswered prayers and the unjust suffering of children. It was right in my face and I just couldn’t deny reality any longer.

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          • Congratulations on thinking your way out. 🙂 It can be done, I have seen many cases where this has been the outcome. Almost all find the path to reality a difficult one in many ways. But reason cannot be denied or ignored for those who have access to it, and a desire to use it.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Tim Tebow — formerly of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles — would be at HUGE risk and a PRIME candidate for Evangy-targeting since he just got cut… again, for like the 4th or 5th year by NFL teams! OH, wait…!

    He’s already brainwashed due to everything you’ve listed. Now he’s trying to convert the entire league, all NFL football fans, and kids too! Whoops. Too late. 😦 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m gathering you were aware of this recent event?

      Like

      • Oh dear God… and Goddesses, and demons, and loveable little furry Gremilins! What’s the state of Georgia coming to!!! 😉

        No, I hadn’t heard about this incident, but not really shocked living in Texas, which can be JUST AS fanatical as Georgians about their Holy Spirits and God’s sport: football. That is… AMERICAN football, not the world’s most watched & popular sport: Futebol. LOL 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh , HELL TO THE NO! That is some utter bull shit right there! It’s like those moronic prisons that have Jesus lovers come into their system for regular Bible studies and even big weekend retreats. They have opted to do this because it’s cheaper than the inmates receiving any type of professional counseling or an education. And guess where they end up after getting out once they found Jesus? Right back in the prison again.

        I swear, conservatives bitch about their tax money going to Planned Parenthood and welfare babies. Hey, I don’t want my family’s tax dollars going to their Churches, nor do I want them bringing Church into a public system like schools and prisons. Most of all, I hate having tax dollars used for war!

        Whoo! I will step down from the podium now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Charity, you are welcomed at that podium anytime and for as long as you like. I totally agree with you about the tax exempt status and tax dollars used to fight wars for one reason — greed. Btw, are you familiar with psychologist Darrel Ray? He posted this on his FB page, and it just came over my feed:

          “I don’t rant very often, but here goes. I just finished an interview (for the Secular Sexuality Podcast) where yet another person told me her story of depression, shame, guilt, etc. for which she took antidepressants. When she finally left her pentecostal religion, she also was able to leave her medications behind. Someday I hope that the psychological world recognizes how much depression and other mental illnesses are caused or exacerbated by religion. Religion with all its shame and guilt training sets people up for mental illness.

          There is no question in my mind that this is a primary process and contributor to mental health problems in the US, yet no one is researching or looking at religion. Religion has been immune from examination by academic psychology, it is time for this to stop. Religion needs to be put under the microscope just as any other phenomenon. People like Dr, Valerie Tarico, Dr. Marlene Winell and Dr. Andy Thompson are among the few even trying to discuss this issue.”

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          • Agreed! I knew this even as a Christian…..I can’t begin to tell you of all the times my good sisters in the Lord preached to me about submission, covering up, keeping quiet and behaving. This brought me lower than low. Then they’d try to talk to me about Jesus being the glory and lifter of my head. If I’d just surrender he’d heal my sorrow. Were they not paying attention to how they treated me beforehand? All the while making me out to be the crazy one when they were behaving like sadists.

            It’s like all of those christian charities that go to Africa to feed the poor. Most of the ones that they’re feeding are orphaned children, the children of men and women who were forbidden to use birth control pills and condoms by the same religious zealots.

            That’s what Christians do, they create issues so that they may come in to save the day. In the long run things might have been better off all along if they just hadn’t meddled in the situation to begin with. But no, they must prove to their god and all of us heathens that they “care” through this sort of deceptive and pretentious nonsense.

            Yeah, they are brain beaters for sure. They hurt you, humiliate you and intimidate you until you break down in submission and commit to whatever shit they put before you. Sounds like a plot for the next Saw movie, doesn’t it?

            There is no difference between cults and religions, even in the dictionary they’re the same. Self righteous Christians constantly belittling cultists are so blinded by their light.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Charity, checked this out. Neil published in 4 days ago, if you haven’t already read it.

              http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2015/09/13/evangelical-christianity-and-low-self-esteem-2/

              He nailed it — and to think I worked for a Christian radio station for a couple of years (AFR), and listened to Christian music for almost 15 years straight, plus being involved in the music ministry. I know you were too. Like Neil, now when I hear this music — the lyrics, I am sicken at the deplorable message. As Neil notes in his post:

              “I have never heard more hatred spoken toward being human than I have heard in the lyrics of Christian music. The negativity is overpowering.”

              Indeed it is. 😦

              Liked by 2 people

              • A very good article!

                One commenter mentioned that being a “god fearing christian” is as stupid as being a “husband fearing wife”. Of course, a couple of Christians are disputing this. There’s a Catholic dude who’s seriously trolling throughout the comments.

                Speaking of Catholics, I just watched a Lisa Ling program about the priesthood. There’s a family with three kids, all boys. The oldests are twins in their mid twenties and the youngest is 19. The twins are both priests, each one has his own church and the baby is in seminary studying to become one himself. Lisa asked one of the twins about longing to be intimate with a woman. He tells her that desire is there, but he must sacrifice it for the greater good of serving god. Bingo! There lies the issue behind the sex crimes. These are not asexual men joining the priesthood, these are men who long for intimacy with women or men. This system was set up for failure.

                Denying self sounds good in theory, but in practicality it’s quite destructive.

                Like

    • Professor, I read that Tim Tebow was born in the Philippines while both of his Baptist parents were there doing missionary work for their church. He was home schooled until college so that his “Christian values” wouldn’t be undermined public education.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, if you watch any of Tebow’s interviews, or evangy videos, or even some of his news broadcasts regarding his football career he peppers with Xian plugs and propoganda, then you get a precise idea of how extreme his life-views are versus his sub-par post-collegiate football career. You’d be surprised — well, probably not at all 😛 — by how many minions, I mean “fans” Tebow has following him.

        He was home schooled until college so that his “Christian values” wouldn’t be undermined by public education.

        Are you familiar with the military elite Janissaries of the 15th and 16th century Ottoman Empire? They were 6 to 14 year old boys taken (enslaved?) from Christian families in the Balkans and converted to Islam and highly trained, highly disciplined, celibate, and loyal-to-the-death to the Sultan soldiers. However, they had to be paid a salary despite their original Balkan social-religious status because it was/is heresy/forbidden for a Muslim to enslave another Muslim. The Greeks, Spartans, and Macedonians had similar boyhood training corps too.

        My point? One can take a young kid and train them, educate them, and turn them into the most elite Anything. It doesn’t mean the lifestyle or its reasoning is right. It simply shows how malleable the human brain and spirit are… until it encounters or evolves into something better… or better serving… or rather self-serving. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This is great.
    They had me as a child, I believed their lies for so long I am happy I left it all behind me.
    It is a special type of mind that justifies the atrocities recorded in the bible. Such a mind is lost to reason

    Liked by 4 people

  8. ‘Try to put me in a bath tub. Like,fuck off, dude. Who have I got to fight?’

    Brilliant!

    Like

  9. Hey Victoria,

    Great post, as usual. I read the article on the Great Awakening over on Wikipedia, and I noticed that in the first one here in the U.S., it involved a switch from sermons being theological and dry to including heavy appeals to emotion. Have you taken a look at that at all?

    Here is the link. It seems that, based on the articles you’re writing, it makes sense that stuff like this and the Charismatic movement gain ground so quickly. I’m really interested in strategies to combat stuff like this.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I tend to be with Ark on this one about not being able to comprehend the whole thing. Fortunately. I might add. It’s just weird. And although there are arguments about the definitions of cults, there doesn’t sound to be too much difference to me in terms of technique.

    Should be made illegal 🙂 on grounds of health and safety if nothing else.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Or more effectively, not allowed to indoctrinate kids. They are “religion free” until, say, 18, then they can look into it, ask questions, and decide for themselves if they want to join the club, or not.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That takes care of children. Maybe. It doesn’t take care of adults at a low psychological moment in their life, qv Victoria’s examples, where the frequent cases are loss of some type, death, divorce, redundancy, or ongoing debilitating problems of whatever type. Look at Kim Davis, her mother died and she gave her life to god. Why? Everyone’s mother dies at some point. But for some people, it clearly triggers something.

        Liked by 4 people

        • If it were left to kids to decide for themselves at, say age 18, I don’t think we’d be seeing much more of the Abrahamic religions.

          Liked by 3 people

          • More to the point, there is no decision to make. It’s the old line about every child is born an atheist.

            Should people in their adult life decide to explore, say BDSM, vegetarianism, communism, hang gliding, or even blogging, it’s something they may, or may not entertain. Just like a religion.

            Liked by 4 people

          • Couldn’t agree more, John. I was reminded of something Hitchens said:

            Liked by 5 people

            • I was reminded of your post today when I read something posted on FB by my son’s friend’s wife who has two sweet little girls. “I feel like I witnessed something amazing this weekend. Abby cried all the way home from church on Friday because Jesus died on the cross and now she couldn’t hug him. Today, she rejoiced and sang all the way to church because “Jesus is alive again!” I watched her experience the story for the first time. She also told me she’s gonna run to hug Jesus when she sees him in heaven. Then she hid under her blankets and giggled cause “she can’t wait.” Why should such a gruesome story and such a great burden of guilt be put on a tiny little child? I remember when I was a child and went to church with my parents. I was petrified of burning in hell if I didn’t believe and always do the right thing. The preacher used to ruin my Sundays. What a nightmare!

              Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is weird. I also agree that all authoritarian religions are cults.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. It is very deep to the point those carrying on the brainwashing are just cogs doing what they believe is right. Walking away was tough after 50 years but when the light went off that it was all bull shit my wife and I pulled out the same day. After being raised in a cult and making excuses for doctrine and for behavior of others, it feels good to be free of all that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “It is very deep to the point those carrying on the brainwashing are just cogs doing what they believe is right.”

      I agree, Jim. Exodus 34:7 adds new meaning where the inequities of one generation are passed down from generation to generation. I’m glad you’re free from that giant iron claw that had a grip on your brain. We can become accustom to the pressure caused by that claw and don’t fully realize how intense that pressure was until we are released from it.

      Hope all is going well in Panama.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Outstanding post, Victoria. Simply outstanding. This point you made sticks out to me: “Many Christians claim that we (the heathen) just don’t understand or see the “love” because we don’t have the “Holy Spirit”, and therefore are unable to discern things of the “Spirit”. I say something similar to this to christians who say I’m a nasty no good-nick atheist because I eat christian babies. I tell them they just don’t get how delicious their babies are because they haven’t tried them. Should a christian eat one of its own babies, it would become an atheist on the spot simply from the flavor of the food alone. Don’t mock what you’ve not tried, christians. That’s my motto as well as yours. $Amen$

    Liked by 2 people

  13. The answer of your posed question (Are Brainwashing Techniques in the Bible and Strategically Used in Churches?) is: YES!

    Religion is built on promoting intellectual vices and submissive behavior. The key word is “conformity”. Those who don’t conform and accept the rules risk being excommunicated. Among Jehovah’s Witnesses the most practiced awful and frightening method of excommunication is called disfellowshipping. All done in the name of a loving and caring God. Bah!

    Read more about disfellowshipping here: http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/disfellowship-shunning.php .

    And read about religious priming (brainwashing) here: https://www.uclouvain.be/en-274207.html .The goal is conformity. To attain total conformity submission is taught.

    It’s a well known fact, at least among psychologists, that submissive people prefer – “choose” – to obey, without questioning, what the authority/authorities (leaders) order them to do, act, and believe.

    More details here: https://www.uclouvain.be/en-274207.html .

    BTW, I’m so glad I found your blog, Victoria!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi bb, welcome and thanks so much for your comment and links. You wrote:

      “The key word is “conformity”. Those who don’t conform and accept the rules risk being excommunicated.”

      Absolutely. In centuries past, a person would have died if they didn’t conform. Even today, studies show it can impact your well being,, your livelihood, your opportunities to find a compatible mate, and the architecture of your brain. You wrote:

      “It’s a well known fact, at least among psychologists, that submissive people prefer – “choose” – to obey, without questioning, what the authority/authorities (leaders) order them to do, act, and believe. “

      I haven’t check out your link yet, but there was a study out of the University of Leeds a few years back showing that humans flock/herd like sheep and birds. What was interesting about this was that in experiments, they found that approximately 95% of people followed without their conscious awareness.

      http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/397/sheep_in_human_clothing__scientists_reveal_our_flock_mentality

      BTW, I’m so glad I found your blog, Victoria!

      Thank you. 🙂 I’m glad I found yours. I look forward to reading catching up on your posts as time permits.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Victoria, This is a fantastic post. I could very much relate to your every point. The trouble is when I was in that state (of conversion) it was actually suggested by some that I was being brainwashed which only made me insulted and angry (I shut those people out). I wish there had been an alternative solution to my emotional pain because I could have avoided many years of detrimental beliefs.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Quixie. You wrote:

      ” I wish there had been an alternative solution to my emotional pain because I could have avoided many years of detrimental beliefs.

      Isn’t that the truth. You know, I actually had some good experiences when I was Christian. But it wasn’t until after I left Christianity that I realize what a profoundly negative impact the indoctrination had on me, and especially as a woman.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had a couple of years of good experiences followed by many years of bad. I left the church six-ish years ago, but didn’t abandoned my beliefs til recently, as you know.

        This kind of indoctrination may seem silly to those who have never “been there,” but this post really reminded me of how I wouldn’t have believed all this crap had I not been extremely vulnerable and needing help.

        Also, I’d like the “never-been”/ non-deconvert atheists to understand that these brainwashing techniques are remarkably common and effective even on the most intelligent and thoughtful minds, given the right circumstances.

        Liked by 3 people

        • “Also, I’d like the “never-been”/ non-deconvert atheists to understand that these brainwashing techniques are remarkably common and effective even on the most intelligent and thoughtful minds, given the right circumstances.”

          Absolutely, Quixie. It took me several years to talk about my deconversion and my experience as a Christian. There tended to be an automatic assumption that I was dumb and gullible. We live in a country that does not teach critical thinking skills until you reach college, and then that’s even questionable. Even when children aren’t raised in a religious environment, they are still indoctrinated from all sides to obey authority and not question.

          Liked by 2 people

  15. All authoritarian systems employ various manipulative and coercive tactics to secure and maintain their hold over the population. Even something widely seen as innocuous, such as commercial advertising, is a form of mind control. Joseph Goebbels, the quintessential example of authoritarian subjugation of the individual, immediately comes to mind.

    Christianity’s history certainly fits this mold. They target the poor and underprivileged because it is easy to do so. To uneducated, economically-desperate, and often oppressed people, the allure of a higher power which offers to assume “benevolent” responsibility over their hopeless lives in exchange for obedience is simply too tempting to resist.

    This is precisely why we still have dictators, monarchs, totalitarianism, theocracy, and religion.

    The only way to combat authoritarianism is to empower the individual through secular education, economic opportunity, and democracy. Unfortunately, all three of these are now under sustained assault by those same authoritarian forces.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “The only way to combat authoritarianism is to empower the individual through secular education, economic opportunity, and democracy. Unfortunately, all three of these are now under sustained assault by those same authoritarian forces.”

      Truer words have never been spoken.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post.
    Amazing how many testimonies are like mine in terms of getting saved during adolescence. I was 14, had moved a year before and endured the loneliest year of my life. I was easy pickings.
    At first, it really was great. But the came the long slow decline.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “At first, it really was great. But the came the long slow decline.”

      Charles. I can imagine how difficult it must have been for you at that age. I’m grateful that I wasn’t raised from infancy in an evangelical environment. However, I feel like I wasted some of the prime years of my life to that nonsense, but learned a valuable lesson about trust. If I’m guilty of anything, it’s that I was too trusting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I actually wasn’t raised in an evangelical environment. More like nominal xian. My mom was serious about her faith but mostly privately. Until that year when 4 of the 5 of us all got serious about it at once, and somewhat independently. I went in willingly and tried to be more fanatical than the rest of them. The previous year had been just awful. I welcomed the escape into a community. There really were no alternatives. I wasn’t athletic or into any kind of activity that would have provided community.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Charles, I didn’t think you were raised evangelical because you did mention the age you came into into it. I was just mentioning that I was grateful for not being raised in that environment. I think it would have been much more difficult to undo the programming due to critical brain development in early childhood. My parents didn’t really indoctrinate me, per se, they allowed others to do it—priests and nuns. They sent us to church and Catholic schools, and while they did scare the bejezzus out of me with the teaching of Hell, I’m still so thankful I wasn’t exposed to evangelicals in childhood. I shudder to think.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. Well, Victoria, as usual I am late to the table. . . and I can’t top all the excellent reactions of your commenters. I guess the thing that stands out, from all of this, is that those of you who’ve managed to counter the effects of such powerful brainwashing really ought to give yourselves big pats on the back. That, to me, says so much about your own power of self-analysis.

    I’m with John – you write convincingly and have personal experience to boost your empathy quotient; keep at it! 🙂 (Besides, you’ve already got a great fan base!)

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Just when i think I drawn myself clear, the doubts all come flooding back, “what if I am wrong”?

    I have concluded that my reason and emotion can pull me in different directions. Reason with its proven track record and superior analytics is just too polite and reasonable in my make-up. Time and time again reason gives emotion the benefit of the doubt when emotion has shown itself to be an appalling decision maker. Emotion comes in like a bully and pushes reason around.

    What is faith? Faith seems to be believing because our emotion tells us to do so, even though the overwhelming evidence says “its is all nonsense”.

    This is why you can’t reason with people of faith because belief is not based on reason, belief occurs despite reason not because of it. Once someone believes then emotion persuades reason that it is all so logical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Peter, I was just about to go to bed, it’s almost 1:30am, but I just want to send a quick reply before I sign off. I know it won’t help or comfort you to tell you that what you are going through is pretty common, and that having those doubts is a natural process to deconversion. It’s just damn hard, and death anxiety certainly doesn’t help the matter.

      I agree, you can’t reason with people of faith. They tend to dig their heels in. It was very clever to invent faith as a basis for god belief. Very clever indeed. I am reminded of a meme:

      *hug*

      Liked by 1 person

      • By the way, just to reassure you, the sort of tactics adopted by the likes of the Ancients over on GC’s blog is quite counterproductive. His argument that the Bible does not condone slavery is just outright false. You might argue at best that it does not support slavery (but even that is a generous interpretation), but you can’t argue it doesn’t condone slavery.

        I deliberately referred him to George Whitefield. In the history of American Christianity (and British) George Whitefield is one of the leading figures. It is argued that at the time of the American Revolution he was the most famous person in American history, such was his influence. He is a hero to virtually all evangelical Christians (who know Church history) seen as perhaps the greatest preacher in Church history.

        This man who was considered blessed by God, allegedly filled with the Holy Spirit, a thoroughly Godly man. Yet he campaigned to have slaves introduced to the State of Georgia which in the mid 18th century did not allow slavery. This has posed a bit of problem for apologists. John Piper suggested that Whitefield would likely have responded that he could see nothing in the Bible that condemned slavery.

        Perhaps the ancients knows more about the Bible than George Whitefield? I will lay odds as to which of George Whitefield and ancients that future generations will remember. But then again I have seen other Christians on the internet call St Augustine a heretic.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I read your link on GC’s blog, and I concur. I also concur that the Ancient’s assertion that the Bible doesn’t condone slavery is false. As Mark Twain once said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”. His response to you gave me the creeps. He came across as a predator, much like Bruce (GMF).

          Like

          • The fact people who profess Christianity lie like this is something I still find shocking. It does not help his arguments about morality. Actually it provides a pretty good case against his arguments.

            Liked by 1 person

  19. Humans are great manipulators. Churches and the ones employed by them, are like insurance salespeople. They install fear and guilt and then they make you feel good about yourself, just to make money. It’s like advertising. They lie and cheat just to get your money.

    You’re right Victoria. They do brainwash people. I grew up in the Old Apostolic faith, was told it’s the only belief system.
    I found it boring and when I grew up, I had too many questions. Questions they couldn’t answer and nothing that satisfied me.

    I am one of the lucky ones who married a wonderful and loving man that stuck by me. He wasn’t a believer at all but stood by me and my what I thought I believed. Today I am glad I went through that and for life’s lessons, because for me it was the only way to show me that there is no ‘God’. That ‘He’ and this ‘Jesus’ was created just so others can manipulate and control you, and of course make money in the process.

    Excellent post as always sweetness. Love your header. It’s excellent! 😀 ♥

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Victoria. It does help.

      Liked by 1 person

    • They are, Sonel. They’ve had about 200,000 years to perfect the art. 😉

      Your comment about your husband reminded me of an experience I had after I had deconverted, which I went through completely alone. I was not aware of any online support, and I certainly didn’t have it in my offline life. I was doing research for a neurotechnology business venture, and came upon a multi-subject forum. So out of curiosity, I started browsing the sub-forums, and found a discussion between believers (evangelical Christians) and nonbelievers. This was my first exposure to anything like this.

      This was the first time I realized I had been manipulated my whole Christian life, a.k.a., lied to about nonbelievers. I kept reading more and more and thought, holy crap, these people actually care more about humanity than these Christians. It was quite eye-opening. Not long ago my understanding was confirmed by a study showing that nonbelievers are more driven by compassion than the highly religious.

      “Atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people, a new study finds.”

      http://www.livescience.com/20005-atheists-motivated-compassion.html

      You are very fortunate to have found such a supportive partner. The chances of you finding someone like that in my neck of the woods would have been quit slim.

      Btw, does “God” have a penis? Could they have been any more obvious? lol

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was indeed Victoria and that must have been so tough for you sweetness. I can only imagine.

        The fact that I am not social at all does help a lot. The few ‘friends’ that we do have here know we don’t believe but they don’t talk about it. My rules. No religion or politics. And they accept it like that. Must be my hot temper that stops them from saying anything else. 😆

        Great article and I would say it’s true. We do have more compassion because we don’t judge so much – and only because we aren’t bothered by the lies that is told in that book they call the ‘Bible’.

        Well, if there was one, I would have castrated him long ago and made him a her. 😆

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, my friend, for what it’s worth, I’m not social at all either, but that’s because I’ve been shunned by Yahweh’s followers. Praise the Lard. 😉

          You wrote: “Well, if there was one, I would have castrated him long ago and made him a her.”

          I suspect that “him” was jealous of “her”. “Him” couldn’t get no booty, so “him” created a religion with instructions for “her” to submit to “him” and give it up on command. That’s not just my POV. Christopher Hitchens said the same thing.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I don’t blame you. People are scary and Yahweh followers are scarier. 😆

            I think your suspicions are correct and I believe he is right as well. Most men use that book to control women and ‘keep them in their place’. In the old Apostolic faith it was believed that women should be ‘seen and not heard’. Of course opinionated moi with my big mouth stood out like a sore thumb and pissed them off time and again. At a stage I got tired of their stories and chased them out of my house. If I could, I would have castrated them! 😛

            Liked by 1 person

            • Paul’s letter to the Galatians is considered probably the earliest part of the New Testament. The letter provides clear evidence that at the very start of Christianity they could not agree among themselves. Paul, with Christian charity, suggested that those who were agitating against him go off and ’emasculate themselves’ (Galatians 5:12), sometimes also translated as ‘mutilate or castrate.

              What the experts admit is that what Paul actually says is somewhat harsher and more risque than as translated in most Bibles. Apparently the Greek he uses is very much from the gutter, almost swearing.

              Liked by 2 people

  20. Reblogged this on Mass Delusions a.k.a. Magical & Religious Woo-Bullshit Thinking and commented:
    Thanks to God (?) – yeah, praise the Lord! Amen! – I recently became acquainted with Victoria Neuronotes. She’s a BRILLIANT antitheist blogger, full of both wits and knowledge. And yes, sometimes she also speaks words of wisdom. She knows from her own experience how poisonous religious thoughts can be. So i will in the weeks that follow reblog some of her many clever blog posts on my own blog, starting with this one. Indeed, she deserves many readers. And followers.

    In her blog post Victoria – her name means “the victorious one”; God seemingly chose a good name for her – Amen! – focuses on different brainwashing techniques, used by spokesmen who promote the belief that there is an equivalent of childhood’s imaginary friend (sometimes more than just one, though) living somewhere in the sky (heavens).

    An imaginary friend, usually full of benevolence, omniscience, and omnipotence – and, of course, always loving and caring for you, provided that you 1) believe He exists, and 2) are willing to help promoting His good advice and commandments by donating money to people, often called priests, chosen by God to spread His message all around the world.

    A very interesting question is this one: How can grown-up persons continue to embrace the “out of this world” concept of an imaginary friend living, usually hidden, somewhere in the sky? (As I myself use to say to answer that question, “Only God knows…”)

    Anyhow, in this reblogged post Victoria describes common techniques used by those who promote God’s lovable (?) and caring (?) message.

    These techniques can be summarized in one word, BRAINWASHING.

    Another word for brainwashing is PRIMING. Just google the words RELIGIOUS + PRIMING, and you’ll find almost countless of good articles and papers dealing with the effects of religious priming (a.k.a. brainwashing).

    For example this one, https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/47943/priming%20papers/ejsp834.pdf .

    Or this one, https://www.uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/psyreli/documents/2009.IJPR.Submission.pdf .

    Some details about paper #1:

    TITLE: When authoritarianism meets religion: Sacrificing others in the name of
    abstract deontology.

    AUTHORS: Matthieu van Pachterbeke, Christopher Freyer, and Vassilis Saroglou.

    ABSTRACT: Authoritarianism is a stable construct in terms of individual differences (social attitudes based on personality and values), but its manifestations and behavioral outcomes may depend on contextual factors. In the present experiment, we investigated whether authoritarianism is sensitive to religious influences in predicting rigid morality. Specifically, we investigated whether authoritarians, after supraliminal religious priming, would show, in hypothetical moral dilemmas, preference for impersonal societal norms even at the detriment of interpersonal, care-based prosociality toward proximal persons and acquaintances in need. The results confirmed the expectations, with a small effect size for the religious priming vs. authoritarianism interaction. In addition, these results were specific to participants’ authoritarianism and not to their individual religiosity. The interaction between authoritarian dispositions and religious ideas may constitute a powerful combination leading to behaviors that are detrimental for the well-being and the life of others, even proximal people, in the name of abstract deontology.

    Some details about paper #2:

    TITLE: “Speak, Lord, Your Servant Is Listening”: Religious Priming Activates Submissive Thoughts and Behaviors.

    AUTHORS: Vassilis Saroglou, Olivier Corneille, and Patty Van Cappellen.

    ABSTRACT: According to many theoretical perspectives, religion is positively associated with submission and conformity. However, no study to date provided xperimental evidence for this hypothesis. We did so in two experiments that relied on priming procedures. In Experiment 1, participants were tested for the strength of their religion-submission associations by using a lexical decision task. In Experiment 2, participants were primed with either religious or neutral concepts and were invited or not by the experimenter to take revenge on an individual who had allegedly criticized them. Both studies provided evidence for the expected religion-submission association, although the effects were limited to participants scoring high in personal submissiveness. Among these individuals, religious priming increased the accessibility of submission-related concepts (Experiment 1) and the acceptance of a morally problematic request for revenge (Experiment 2). Discussion focuses on questions for future research and implications for our understanding of religion’s role in morality and interpersonal relations.

    The wordings in both abstracts can, according to me, be reworded in the following manner:

    Religion is built on associative, emotional thinking (which is the opposite of logical and analyzing thinking), which is full of intellectual vices. For more details, have a look at this Wikipedia article; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking . Qualities like submissive behavior, obedience, and belief in authorities are encouraged and exhorted. Religious people are strongly advised and admonished to be accepting, not criticizing, what their leaders tell them to do, act, and believe. The key word here is CONFORMITY. Discord leads to bad feeling, feuding, and conflicts. So tell me, is that the higher “meaning of life”? (See there a so-called rhetorical question.)

    Anyhow, this is why priming/brainwashing is a common technique used in religious groups in order to establish concord and unity. (And it also opens up to thinking of we and them, i.e. we are better than those others not sharing our beliefs, faith and values.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha, WOW your post truly brightened my morning. BB, and I’m kinda at a loss for words. Imagine that? Thank you for the reblog, for the massive hit of dopamine, and for these very informative links.

      “the victorious one” indeed. 😉

      “The key word here is CONFORMITY.”

      Exactly! More thoughts later. Again, thanks so much for your comments and support.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I having been listening to a bit of Sam Harris to get my mind back on the straight and narrow.

    He observed that people very rarely change their minds (at least suddenly), for many the attachment to religious ideas can be intractable notwithstanding intelligence.

    Sam Harris went on at some length about the moderates in religion providing cover for the fundamentalists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter, as you are aware, Sam is a neuroscientist. He understands the neurological aspects of indoctrination. He’s aware of neurogenesis, neuroplasticity, and how repetitive thoughts and experience strengthen through networking. In the brain, nerve cells never work alone. In a neural circuit, the activity of one cell directly influences many others. Children have twice as many synapses than adults.

      If we were raised in a religious environment, then it can be extremely difficult to break away because synapses that were used the most will become hardwired. Christian organizations like Child Evangelism Fellowship strategically target children between the ages of 5 and 12 because they know they are the most susceptible, programmable, and that if they can get them while they are young, they are likely to remain (or return) back to their original programming. Their aim is to ensure the hardwiring of evangelical Christianity, and their goal is to reinforce submission and obedience to an authoritarian ideology.

      http://www.cefonline.com/recent-articles/2125-praise-god-for-record-number-of-children-reached

      You wrote: “Sam Harris went on at some length about the moderates in religion providing cover for the fundamentalists”

      I agree. They do, and I think this is probably the main main reasons they do.

      http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/link-between-religiosity-good-health-debunked

      There’s less stress with conformity.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I see I peaked at seven and its just been downhill since then!

        I think I have over developed the synapses associated with worry since then. Having worked for some decades as a Risk Manager probably did not help.

        Probably should not have started reading ‘The Imitation of Christ’ by Thomas a Kempis, allegedly the most widely published and read book on spirituality in Christian history. Today I read:

        A typical paragraph is:

        “Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with the most abject want. One hour of suffering there [Hell] will be more bitter than one hundred years of the most severe penance here. In this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy comfort and friends, but the damned will have no rest or consultation”

        I reflected upon this and thought, “if people really believe this is true then it makes their god into a sadist”.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Indeed it does, Peter. People can focus on the supposed prosocial behavior of Jesus, but conveniently distract from the anti-social behavior as exhibited in the Book of Revelation. Apparently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

          Like

          • We hear repeated so often about the love of God, but do we really see evidence of it?

            I suppose what I have concluded is that actual practical love seems less among the fundamentalist and greater among the liberal.

            I used to hear talks about how the wrath of God was somehow part of his love.

            Liked by 1 person

            • “I used to hear talks about how the wrath of God was somehow part of his love.”

              Reminds me of this:

              I also agree with Carlin when he also said: “If this is the best God can do, I’m not impressed.”

              Btw, I got your email about the aurora in your neck of the woods.

              Just wow. I hope to see such a spectacular sight before I die.

              Like

        • Peter, you wrote: “I think I have over developed the synapses associated with worry since then. Having worked for some decades as a Risk Manager probably did not help.”

          Probably due to increased gray matter volume in the right amygdala. Neuroscientist and physiologist Kathleen Taylor wrote a book titled “Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control” This was back in 2004. She came up with a theory — what is now called neuroplasticity. In the book she describes the physiology behind neurological pathways which include webs of neurons containing dendrites, axons, and synapses.

          Taylor stated that “certain brains with more rigid pathways will be less susceptible to new information.” She referred to neurological science to demonstrate that brainwashed individuals have more rigid pathways, and that that rigidity can make it unlikely that the individual will rethink situations or reevaluate their beliefs.

          Now, what’s so interesting is that she explains that repetition is an integral part of brainwashing techniques because connections between neurons become stronger when exposed to incoming signals of frequency and intensity. It’s pretty obvious that Hitler brainwashed the masses in Germany into believing that the Jews were an inferior race, deserving of death — genocide. We can certainly see this mindset in the Bible, i.e., Numbers 31.

          Now we have actual neural imaging of those neurons becoming stronger and networking.

          Liked by 1 person

  22. Such a wonderful article. You can really see the similarities. I think the guilt is the main part. So many Christians I’ve talked to go on about not being worthy and Jesus’ sacrifice etc. It shows how their guilt has been used against them. It’s emotional blackmail and every hanging Jesus form is a reminder to the believer that they’re guilty of being human.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, GC. I wholeheartedly agree about the guilt being the main part, and you are spot on about the continuous reinforcement of that guilt. It is astounding to me to read over and over and over here on WordPress, evangelical Christians admitting how unworthy they are and the constant repeating of the term “sinner”. It is indeed emotional blackmail, but they can’t see it. They are brainwashed.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: Redefining Morality | Amusing Nonsense

  24. I enjoyed this post and the comments. WOW is all I have to add. -mike

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Finally I have some time to spend reading this more carefully. Interestingly the first thing that ran through my mind was the intent of those who put together the bible really to brainwash or control? Probably. But I wonder how much academic study had gone into logic, argumentation, and rhetoric at the time in history? Did they think they were intentionally being con artists playing on human psychology or did they simply know limited ways to convince people of what they believed was an important message? I do think the Greeks from a philosophical point of view had put together some fairly solid rules for reason and rational thought and the human mind has changed so little over the course of civilization that I am sure methods of manipulation were well understood. But like we were talking on the phone the other day, the guy who believes he is being caring by telling me I’m going to hell and doesn’t want me to go there, perhaps simply doesn’t know a better way to be caring. But whatever the original intent, there is no question that once we have the scientific method, once we have a firm handle of logic and logical fallacies, such manipulation becomes wholly immoral. It seems to me that the real manipulation comes from those who use the bible and utilize such harmful passages to control followers.

    The real irony is that this free will which Christians say is so important for man to have seems to be the exact thing they attempt to eliminate through using certain passages to make you feel that, essentially your free will is actually a danger. All these things you mention erode that ability to think critically and make your own decisions – turning you into an automaton. So when you ask a Christian why God didn’t make all of to automatically love him, or why he doesn’t reveal himself to remove all doubt and they say because he wanted you to make the decision to love him yourself, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that they would have to exploit fear and weakness to control how you think. They are taking away the very gift that supposedly God gave us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Finally, I have some time to reply. 🙂 You wrote:

      “Interestingly the first thing that ran through my mind was the intent of those who put together the bible really to brainwash or control? Probably. But I wonder how much academic study had gone into logic, argumentation, and rhetoric at the time in history? Did they think they were intentionally being con artists playing on human psychology or did they simply know limited ways to convince people of what they believed was an important message?”

      When we look back through history, it seems that it was a combination of things. Yes, I do believe that some actually believed that there was a alpha male god in the sky and they (men) believed they had been given the authority from the head sky huncho to rule over others. You see this belief now in full swing. But I also think that there were people who were aware (through observation) of human vulnerabilities and took full advantage of them for the sake of power and resources, and might I add, job security. Quoting from ― Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don’t Know About Them

      ___________________________

      “One of the most amazing and perplexing features of mainstream Christianity is that seminarians who learn the historical-critical method in their Bible classes appear to forget all about it when it comes time for them to be pastors. They are taught critical approaches to Scripture, they learn about the discrepancies and contradictions, they discover all sorts of historical errors and mistakes, they come to realize that it is difficult to know whether Moses existed or what Jesus actually said and did, they find that there are other books that were at one time considered canonical but that ultimately did not become part of Scripture (for example, other Gospels and Apocalypses), they come to recognize that a good number of the books of the Bible are pseudonymous (for example, written in the name of an apostle by someone else), that in fact we don’t have the original copies of any of the biblical books but only copies made centuries later, all of which have been altered. They learn all of this, and yet when they enter church ministry they appear to put it back on the shelf. For reasons I will explore in the conclusion, pastors are, as a rule, reluctant to teach what they learned about the Bible in seminary.”

      _____________________________

      Why is that? Job security? The need for alpha male status? The desire to have power over others? Death anxiety? A combination of all mentioned? I realize there are truly sincere pastors who call themselves “meaning machines”, which ex-pastor Jerry Dewhit refers to.

      However, what gives the Bible away, as an intent to control others, is the adding of eternal punishment into the NT — the lake of fire — where those whose names are not written into the book of life will be thrown. Creating fear has always been a method of controlling people.

      You wrote: “All these things you mention erode that ability to think critically and make your own decisions – turning you into an automaton.”

      Indeed, and when you look at it from a neurological perspective, we know that any environmental stimuli we get goes straight to the limbic system, specifically the amygdala twice as fast as the prefrontal cortex for assessment. So people often react first and maybe think later, but often the thinking doesn’t come, just the reacting, hence the submission. The Navy is training their Seals to bypass the limbic system, the amygdala (fear), and strengthen the neural networks to bypass the amygdala and go straight to the frontal lobes first to assess potential threats before reacting. You wrote:

      “So when you ask a Christian why God didn’t make all of us to automatically love him, or why he doesn’t reveal himself to remove all doubt and they say because he wanted you to make the decision to love him yourself, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that they would have to exploit fear and weakness to control how you think.”

      Exactly.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree that certainly now the manipulation is intentional. I guess when I think of the art of convincing somebody to your point of view, scientific thinking is very effective because you can demonstrate and show somebody how something works. But before such a method had been formalized I wonder what people thought about as the best way to convince somebody to a view point. But as I said I am sure exploiting fear was well understood for some time, I just started to wonder when serious academic study went into looking at the best way to argue. I read Jesus interrupted too and he also mentions in the book I believe that the bible originally was meant to be inspirational and not to be taken so literally. In studying some other religions I’ve noted that often what starts off as a looser philosophy turns into a strict set of rules which is counter to the intent by those who even started the religion. When I studied Sikhism it wasn’t even clear to me that the Gurus whose writings make up their holy book ever thought of themselves as embodied with the divine, but that seems to be the case afterwards. Then a religion that started off expressly against ritual of any kind and believe that we get closer to God through being good in our daily lives and working hard turns into something that has a council, and about 100 years ago that council drew up a list of rules that are not in the holy book at all about how people are supposed to behave and dress. I think though in some way that any time you are going to center a philosophy that still believes in God…essentially a fiction it becomes to easy to modify that fiction over time, if that makes any sense. Because when there is actually no God it becomes very easy for any person or any group of people to say what God thinks and what he wants. And how can one really argue, because there is no God to come down and say “No…that’s really not what I meant at all”. I mean it’s funny…but sad.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You wrote: “But before such a method had been formalized I wonder what people thought about as the best way to convince somebody to a view point. But as I said I am sure exploiting fear was well understood for some time,”

          Since humans tend to be pattern seekers, it wouldn’t take long to observe the patterns of human behavior and one of the greatest disadvantages to humanity was that until very recently, most humans were uneducated and, for the most part, at the mercy of their rulers. As Bart Ehrman stated, the Bible is a very human book.

          I personally don’t think the Bible’s initial intention was to be inspirational, although there were inspirational writings, which could be used to emotionally manipulate people — make them believe that they can only be good via an alpha male god in the sky. The biblical message is pretty clear about that. I’m not sure if you ever read Richard Carriers paper on the Formation of the New Testament Cannon, but it’s rather daunting when you look at the shady characters making decisions, and the haphazzard ways they put the NT together. It’s laughable. Carrier writes:

          “Contrary to common belief, there was never a one-time, truly universal decision as to which books should be included in the Bible. It took over a century of the proliferation of numerous writings before anyone even bothered to start picking and choosing, and then it was largely a cumulative, individual and happenstance event, guided by chance and prejudice more than objective and scholarly research, until priests and academics began pronouncing what was authoritative and holy, and even they were not unanimous.”

          “Every church had its favored books, and since there was nothing like a clearly-defined orthodoxy until the 4th century, there were in fact many simultaneous literary traditions. The illusion that it was otherwise is created by the fact that the church that came out on top simply preserved texts in its favor and destroyed or let vanish opposing documents. Hence what we call “orthodoxy” is simply “the church that won.”

          http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/NTcanon.html

          War was waged over whether Jesus was divine, and well, we know which side won, right? If Jesus existed, he was simply a guru or sorts. In his paper, The Spiritual Personality, behavioral neuroscientist Todd Murphy writes:

          “Because we are such linguistic beings, we are very sensitive to words that we don’t like. An easy way to cope is to have a stock of things to say that invalidates whatever the ‘other’ has to say, and to do so in a spiritual-seeming way. If they are successful, they can become gurus or teachers in their own right.

          Now, gurus (or masters or satgurus, sufus, tzaddiks, roshis, growth group or workshop leaders, priests, or a ministers) often don’t like to be ‘defined’ or ‘labeled’ or ‘categorized’, but there a category that seems to invite them in. Its a term from primatology, the study of our evolutionary cousins, the so-called lower primates. You know. Monkeys and chimpanzees.

          Gurus are dominant or alpha individuals. Within their community, the guru is the boss. He (forgive the sexist pronoun) usually calls the shots. He disperses the donated resources, and if the tradition doesn’t include celibacy, to be his romantic partner is a ‘position’ of some prestige. All other conditions being equal, the guru will be more successful at passing on his genetic material than the disciple. If you become a guru, your self-esteem will automatically rise. You’ve become the alpha person.

          In one study of dopamine levels in monkeys, it was found that the dopamine level of the alpha male in the troupe was higher than that of the betas. When he was removed from the group, one of the betas took his place. When his dopamine levels were taken again, it was found that they had risen to the level of the previous alpha.”

          Liked by 2 people

          • Very interesting stuff. But is it any different for a professor and student? I mean because we span generations there will always be a gap on knowledge between generations. It seems there is no way to escape the position of teacher and student or guru and disciple except to have guiding principle of science and critical thinking so that the guru is held to a standard and the disciple is empowered to hold the guru to the standard.

            Like

            • That’s a good point, but are you in this position, as a university professor, so you can reign over your students? I don’t think so. I think I’ve gotten to know you fairly well, and I’d say it’s not in your character. My brother-in-law is a professor, and he’s definitely not the type who wants dominion over his students. He has a passion to educate, not rule over them. That’s not to say there might not be professors like that — dominant with a tendency to be narcissistic. I know of one such professor but he’s never scored very high in the “Rate My Professor” and after 25 years, he still hasn’t gotten tenure. Seems he went into the wrong profession. 😉

              Liked by 2 people

              • No I’m not like that, but I’m sure there are gurus who truly believe they have something valuable to give others but once you get into that position I can see how some people might let it get to their dopamine. 🙂 I mean I am sure their are gurus who feel a similar passion to educate the problem being that they aren’t espousing rigorously tested knowledge. My point being that the dopamine seems to be less of an issue than the quality of what they are delivering. One could easily say that Dawkins is a bit of a dick, but he had a lot of good shit to teach. I sense that his increased popularity had perhaps affected his dopamine levels and thus has become a bit conceited. But regardless how much of a dick he is in when he delivers his knowledge, his knowledge comes from an academically sound place. If Jesus was a guru…he may have believed he had some great ideas…and he did…but he also had some shitty ones so regardless of his dopamine levels as long as we are free to test those ideas I have no problem with gurus who honestly believe they have something to give the world.

                Liked by 2 people

  26. *shiver*
    Washed in the blood of the lamb isn’t a phrase I heard a lot, so I don’t think I’ve really thought about it until now. Blood sacrifice is gross on so many levels.

    This is a great post, V. You do some of the most comprehensive takedowns of religion I’ve ever seen.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Victoria Neuronotes rules in this niche of the blogosphere. Together with a blogger called Rosa Rubicondior. Almost at the same level as Richard Dawkins or, peace be upon him, Christopher Hitchens.

      Both Victoria and Rosa are terrific bloggers! Excellent writers, Talented. Full of knowledge and intellectual virtues.

      I think they are even capable of deprogramming (debriefing) and repriming cult members and other true believers (often considered to be one of the world’s toughest and most difficult jobs, but yet so important if the religious spell – aiming at and building upon mind control – is to be broken and taken away permanently).

      Never forget, religion is poisonous. And contagious. So be careful while handling it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bb, I am again at a loss for words with your very generous words, but I can’t thank you enough for your support and encouragement. It inspires me to continue to spread awareness. Nothing discourages me more than seeing people emotionally manipulated and duped for “filthy lucre’s sake”. For some, they may endure years of recovering from the psychological harm done by these authoritarian doctrines. Many if not most people aren’t aware of the negative impact until they deconvert. Some never fully recover.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Madalyn, I didn’t realize that about the Jehovah Witnesses. I thought “washed in the blood of the lamb”, which is mentioned in the Bible, was rather common rhetoric among most evangelicals/fundamentalist. This tune especially, which was in every church hymnal I was exposed to.

      Thanks so much for your comment. I hope your book is coming along nicely. Will it be published soon?

      Like

  27. Do I have your permission to share this on my blog? WP has taken away the simple “reblog” button, so I can’t just press that to share anymore (https://tiffany267.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/reblogging).

    Liked by 1 person

  28. The sad irony when I realise that even an article like this, demonstrating with indisputable clarity, the brain-washing techniques used in Christian evangelism would STILL be unlikely to convince my “fundagelical” family…thereby further proving your point!

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Victoria, the following story of Jim Morgan at the clergy project, Here provides a good example of how the brainwashing works in practice.

    I will quote the most telling paragraph:

    And somewhere along the way (insert guilty sigh) I became yet another voice of theological certainty (yes, also recorded on cassette tapes!) regurgitating and parroting the same set of undeniable biblical proofs that had been preached to me by respectable men with impressive ministries. And I took my place in the cycle of convinced but misinformed people creating others who are convinced but misinformed, creating others who are convinced but misinformed. Ugh. I began to, unknowingly and without any conscious deceit, do unto others what had been done unto me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peter, thanks for sharing. I checked out the link and read his full story. I remember, all too well, the experiences of listening to tapes and how they encouraged us to “hide God’s word in our heart”. He nailed it when he said that he began to, unknowingly and without any conscious deceit, do unto others what had been done unto him. I see people doing that all over the Internet. They are sincere, but sincerely misled. If there was no money in it, Christianity would die a quick death.

      Like

  30. Pingback: Christianity and Brainwashing | Tiffany's Non-Blog

  31. Victoria, as soon as I saw that meme I immediately went into “Would you be free from your burden of sin?” Without hesitation, it’s so embedded into my head. I wish I could wash out all of the brainwashing. I wish people understood just how much programming goes into praise and worship music, as well as confession.

    I’ve been to a couple of Benny Hinn meetings and he does what Kathryn Kuhlman did during her crusades. “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah” sung over and over and over again. I remember always hearing my mom and dad talk about how they wished preachers would just sit down and let the spirit move by letting the praise and worship linger on. Now I know that’s no spirit, that’s a good ole fashioned, unified programming session that they wanted.

    I have been apart of two different Churches that used the Joel Osteen confession. “This is my Bible, I am who it says I am. I can do what it says I can do”…. and so on…..One of those Churches and Brownsville Assembly quoted a confession at offering time. “As we give today’s offering, we are believing God for jobs and better jobs”, etc, etc.

    I am trying to deprogram myself by concentrating even more on my family, my health and by reading books. I know that I’ve mentioned on your blog before that I had issues with reading and learning since deconverting. Since the kids went back to school in August, I have completed a decent size book and am now on my second read. I can’t begin to tell you what it feels like to finally walk this path of growth.

    Hope you are well, my dear. I hope that things are continuing to look up for you.

    With much love and gratitude for all you do,

    Charity

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Charity it is just so obvious when one is able to look at it objectively.

      Even when I called myself a Christian I was dubious about Joel Osteen, it just seemed too much like the power of positive thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

    • If you want to speed up the deprogramming process, try reading the “holy” books of other religions (like say Islam for instance) and then notice how they all make very large unsubstantiated claims in the same manner that the bible does. Then realize that there is no possible way all of these things can be true and that the overwhelmingly obvious conclusion is that this stuff is man-made. Man made at a time of great fear, superstition and ignorance and it so obviously shows.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree Ashley. Problem is, people who have been deeply programmed by evangelical Christianity are told to stay away from reading other “holy” books, or “worldly” books that just might cause them to question their beliefs. They are bamboozled with emotionally-inducing terms like “spiritual warfare” and reminded of 1 Peter 5:8, where Satan is roaming about like a roaring lion seeking out his next prey. Don’t you dare risk coming out from God’s umbrella. That’s a big no no.

        ———————————-

        One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back. ~Carl Sagan

        Liked by 2 people

    • “Victoria, as soon as I saw that meme I immediately went into “Would you be free from your burden of sin?”

      Haha, tell me about it, Charity. I had that damn song stuck in my head for two days after writing the post. It’s been 15 years since I left Christianity and still, the song is still as fresh in my mind when reminded as it was back in those days. You wrote:

      “I’ve been to a couple of Benny Hinn meetings and he does what Kathryn Kuhlman did during her crusades. “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah” sung over and over and over again.”

      Indeed. There’s been a good bit of cognitive neuroscience research done on Hinn and other evangelicals, and as you know, they put people in a trance state. In the documentary, “A Question of Miracles”, Neuroscientist Michael Persinger writes:

      ———–

      “You have these groups in the kind of ecstatic states, a kind of expectancy state, then you have the individual come out, the speaker who will coordinate all these experiences among the mass of people. This person must be a kind of orchestra leader to maintain his great orchestration of cognitive experiences. As the speaker begins to give the message, the people are full of emotion — full of imagery. It’s a feeling of being one with everyone in the group.

      These images take on tremendous personal value because of the elevation of the opiates. Because of the groups state of ecstasy, and within the gathered crowds, you see the features of these opiate releases. They may cry. Individuals sway. You get the smiles, a mild glow, like a mild drunken state. These experiences are associated with mild electrical changes deep within the brain.”

      ————-

      This release of opiates and that feeling of oneness was all orchestrated, and people will walk away believing that it was the “Holy Spirit”. It’s such a shame that people get duped like this, and fleeced for money. You wrote:

      “I am trying to deprogram myself by concentrating even more on my family, my health and by reading books.

      Bravo, my friend. You’ve had a lot on your plate, but I suspect that once you get to reading it will be hard to put it down. I’m glad I didn’t have the responsibility of small children during my deconversion period. I can imagine how taxing that would be.

      “I’ve mentioned on your blog before that I had issues with reading and learning since deconverting.”

      This is certainly understandable. I had a similar experience and took a much needed break from it all to just “be”. Deconversion is extremely mentally exhausting.

      I am always in awe of how you were able to break away, after being exposed to this extreme environment since birth. Charity, you have my utmost admiration and respect. I hope, someday, as time permits, you’ll start blogging again. You inspired so many people, including me. You wrote:

      “Hope you are well, my dear. I hope that things are continuing to look up for you.”

      I am, and they are. 🙂 It’s still quite challenging to live in the deep South as an unbeliever, but I have goals, and one of those goals is to move far, far away from this place. I may move to the Pacific Northwest, or if Harper gets his evangelical, dominionist butt booted this coming election, I just may set my sights on Canada.

      I’ll send you an email soon. Love and a hug. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Pingback: Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you. | Mass Delusions a.k.a. Magical & Religious Woo-Bullshit Thinking

  33. Pingback: I’m Not in a Cult – Am I? | Life After 40

  34. While in Colorado Springs about 1975 and after several years of hard fundamentalist indoctrination and still suffering from the disease of that indoctrination I read a book by Eli S. Chesen, M.D. entitled “Religion May Be Hazardous to Your Health.” It was something of an eyeopener and I reflect on its message still. From what I recall it was reasonably in full agreement with this post.

    Liked by 1 person

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