Sophia Investigates The Good News Club

Still not a lot of time to spread around. However, I did have enough time during work today to listen at least to this documentary. And damn but it’s scary.

Indoctrinating youth before they have a chance to start questioning this nonsense is obviously the best way to ensure you create life-long believers. If you wait until people are capable of rationality, they don’t swallow this nonsense as readily.

And yet, I was indoctrinated into Catholicism, and broke free despite these odds. Hooray for me. But I can’t help but think back on it and realize, there was very nearly zero difference between me and my friends intellectually at the time. It was, as far as I can tell today, sheer chance that I broke free — that I thought of the contradictions inherent in religions to plant the seeds of doubt unbidden. I am terrified for the prospects of the next generation with entire programs dedicated to indoctrinating children like this.

Via Christian Nightmares.

Sophia Investigates The Good News Club

17 thoughts on “Sophia Investigates The Good News Club

  1. 1

    De-lurking. It is really interesting to look at bigger families that raised their kids to be whatever religion the parents are. In my family (my parents were a mix of evangelical/pentacostal/non-denominational sorts) my youngest brother and one older sister still ‘believe’ in religion and go to church. My other brother and sister are… well I think she is some kind of pagan and I’m pretty sure he is an atheist calling himself agnostic. In my partner’s family (one of 11 kids) they were raised mormon. Four of them are still practicing mormons, one is buddhist, two are (eastern) orthodox christain and the rest don’t seem to practice anything. How did some make it out and not others? It makes me wonder why don’t more daughters leave than sons? Anywho, thanks for the documentary.

  2. 2

    An attempt was made to make me Catholic, but I never experienced the psychotic break that’s necessary to take that shit seriously. A little symbolic cannibalism is one thing, but anyone who holds that that thin, tasteless cracker really becomes Jesus-meat when the priest pronounces the magic words is masturbating with a sack of macadamias.

  3. 4

    @Stephanie Zvan #3:

    @stever #2:

    An attempt was made to make me Catholic

    no “psychotic break” necessary to believe religion.

    If the subject was conversion, not childhood indoctrination (no time was mentioned), the desired outcome was to start believing one has an invisible friend who’s the king of the universe, etc, etc…
    Aside from people who change social affiliation without regard for theology*, what circumstances foster conversion besides personal tragedy and stress-induced breakdown, or circumstances that make one so desperate for support one can’t get away from slow indoctrination in adulthood?
    * Video: AronRa – Long Boring Speech

    “Right now I still accept that Jesus is the son of god and Santa Maria the virgin mother and that believing in them is my only hope of salvation, but now that I’ve switched […] by deliberately distorting my comprehension of historical reality… I’ve decided that next month, I will stop believing what I believe to be true right now, and will adopt a belief that I currently consider a damnable blasphemy. But it’s alright, because next month, I will also opt to consider my current belief idolotry. […] I’m free to pick and choose whatever I wanna pretend to believe and just say “I’m Jewish” as if that means something to someone like me.”

  4. 5

    No matter how much of a “break from reality” faith in the supernatural might be, it takes no mental illness to fall into delusion. And people who ARE mentally ill don’t deserve such short shrift.

  5. 6


    If the subject was conversion, not childhood indoctrination (no time was mentioned), the desired outcome was to start believing one has an invisible friend who’s the king of the universe, etc, etc…

    Aside from people who change social affiliation without regard for theology*, what circumstances foster conversion besides personal tragedy and stress-induced breakdown, or circumstances that make one so desperate for support one can’t get away from slow indoctrination in adulthood?

    no. stop. just stop. seriously, before you pontificate about mental illness, apply the fucking Goldwater Rule:

    On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

    important part bolded for emphasis. you have not conducted an examination nor have you been granted proper authorization to make such statements, DO NOT MAKE THEM. that’ll help you not slur mental illness quite a lot =/

  6. 9

    Article: A model proposed by John Lofland; Rodney Stark in 1965…

    1. Tension – best characterized as a felt discrepancy between some imaginary, ideal state of affairs and the circumstances in which these people saw themselves caught up.

    2. A Type of Problem-Solving Perspective – The religious perspective tends to see both sources and solutions as emanating from an unseen and, in principle, unseeable realm.

    3. Seekership – Whatever the reasons, pre-converts failed to find a way out of their difficulties through any of the strategies outlined above. Their need for solutions persisted, and their problem-solving perspective was restricted to a religious outlook, but all pre-converts found conventional religious institutions inadeauate as a source of solutions.

    5. Cult Afective Bonds – We come now to the contact between a potential recruit and the D.P. If persons who go through all four of the previous steps are to be further drawn down the road to full conversion, an affective bond must develop, if it does not already exist, between the potential recruit and one or more of the D.P. members. The development or presence of some positive, emotional, interpersonal response seems necessary to bridge the gap between first exposure to the D.P. message and accepting its truth.

    4. The Turning Point
        We now turn to situational factors in which timing becomes much more significant. The first of these is the rather striking circumstance that shortly before, and concurrently with their encounter with the D.P., all pre-converts had reached or were about to reach what they perceived as a “turning point” in their lives. That is, each had come to a moment when old lines of action were complete, had failed or been disrupted, or were about to be so, and when they faced the opportunity (or necessity), and possibly the burden, of doing something different with their lives.

        Turning points in general derived from recent migration; loss of employment (a business failure in Merwin’s case); and completion, failure, or withdrawal from school. Perhaps because most converts were young adults, turning points involving educational institutions were relatively frequent. Illustrations in addition to the cases described above are a graduate student who had just failed his Ph.D. qualifying examinations, two second-semester college seniors who had vague and unsatisfying plans for the future, and a seventeen year-old who had just graduated from high school. Recovery from or the onset of an illness, marital dissolution and other changes, extant or imminent, such as Minnie Mae’s new freedom, were relatively infrequent. The significance of these various turning points is that they increased the pre-convert’s awareness of and desire to take some action about his problems, at the same time giving hinz a new opportunity to do so. Turning points were situations in which old obligations and lines of action were diminished, and new involvements became desirable and possible.

  7. 11

    @Jason Thibeault #5:

    No matter how much of a “break from reality” faith in the supernatural might be

    Whether you were addressing stevor or myself or both, the following should help clarify my comment at #4.
    I was referring to conversion as a relatively quick and substantial break from the convert’s previous beliefs, which for that person might as well be a break from reality, as I tried to illustrate with the quote (in addition to social reaffiliation).

  8. 12

    Models of conversion are not relevant to ‘diagnosing’ any given believer, because they were far more likely never to have had a conversion and just grew up in the fold, and even if they did say they converted theological ignorance is common (they believe if they don’t know), and because a general model doesn’t necessarily apply to an individual.

    They do help understand trends of religious institutions to opportunistically focus their outreach on emotionally vulnerable populations, and understand what makes a worldview change.

  9. 14

    I was kinda addressing both, but I appreciate your clarifications, CA.

    Yes, love-bombing vulnerable people is a valid cult indoctrination tactic, well known and studied and used. So is telling people they’re broken and that only you have the cure.

  10. 15

    Note: if this is considered off-topic, Jason, I very much apologize. It doesn’t really relate to the original post, but as you and Stephanie opened the door and the issue is personal and important to me, I wanted to respond. If it’s contributing to derailing that may end in a train-wreck, feel free to moderate/delete – I won’t be offended (your blog, your space and all that).

    @3, 5: Isn’t this primarily a function of how we define “mental illness” though? It’s explicitly constructed as deviation from normative brain functioning. Religious delusion isn’t considered mental illness because religious belief is normative. If I think space aliens are talking to me, I’m psychotic. If I believe Jesus is talking to me, I’m deeply religious. I think the real issue is the tendency to naturalize our categories of mental illness instead of understanding them as what they are: they are categorizing frameworks for particular behaviors and cognitive processes.

    I’ll use myself as an example. Based on my symptoms, I suffer from type 2 bipolar disorder. That’s simply a classification of my symptoms. So far, I haven’t really responded to medication very well for an extended period of time. Therapy has not been helpful. My own self-reflection and reconceptualizations of my expectations for myself and my worldview have helped somewhat. The reason that treatments like certain medications or therapy that are extremely helpful to others do nothing for me is that my diagnosis isn’t a description of a specific brain process or chemical interaction common to all sufferers of what is defined as the same disorder, but a classification of my symptoms.

    Of course, you’re technically correct – religious delusion is not considered a mental illness. It’s a fairly capricious line, though. It may not really make sense to define something widespread and that is a function of near-universal cognitive biases, as an ‘illness’ either. That’s a fair point, if you wish to make it. This ongoing hoopla around mental illness and use of the term “crazy” is increasingly bugging me, though, especially when this shit comes from people who are not marked as mentally ill. I have no problem with people asking others to not use various terms around them or to describe them specifically because they experience such language as harmful (and if enough people make such requests, it may be appropriate to excise the language in question from one’s vocabulary, as I have have done with feminine-gendered insults), but dictating to me my own self-definitions and my use of appellations used to describe a class of which I’m part – especially coming from people who are not part of that class and/or don’t have much or any background in the relevant science under discussion* – is bullshit.

    Also, mental illness sucks. Please don’t ask people to stop slurring mental illness; that’s functionally a minimization of how shitty mental illness can be. Saying that having a mental illness is bad (in the sense that it’s highly undesirable) is not saying the mentally ill are necessarily Bad (in the sense of immoral) People or anything (it’s not even saying they – we – can’t or shouldn’t be taken seriously). There’s a difference between slurring mental illness and slurring the mentally ill. As far as I can tell, setvar was not slurring the mentally ill. Hir statement could probably have been better worded as “…I have never experienced the psychotic-break-level delusion that’s necessary…” explicitly constructing the diagnosis that does not, in fact, cover religious belief as analogous to the described situation instead of the actual case (I read it as implicitly an analogy, a metaphor of the form X is Y), but calling delusion delusion doesn’t unfairly marginalize anyone. It fairly marginalizes bad ideas; we should not treat delusions as true.

    @6: The Goldwater rule is a good idea, but doesn’t really apply here, as it’s a matter of professional ethics within the discipline of psychology. stevar is not a professional psychiatrist or psychologist (as far as I know) offering a professional diagnosis. Ze certainly isn’t claiming to be such. Also, as much as psychiatrists and psychologists might like to think they can actually know what’s going on in someone’s head, they can’t. This has been increasingly recognized within psychology – it’s behind a number of changes in the DSM 5 draft moving diagnoses away from speculative interpretations of cognitive processes to observable behaviors, which is especially important for psychologists or psychiatrists dealing with unwilling, hostile, or otherwise uncooperative patients. It’s entirely reasonable to observe that a given behavior or asserted belief is consistent with a particular classification of mental illness. Also, that whole authoritarian “granted proper authority” bit is really problematic, as that authority is usually state power and can be against the wishes of the individual in question. On the flip side, only allowing descriptions of people – or more importantly their behaviors – on which they themselves sign off is ridiculous; applying that rule universally would mean we can’t observe that many MRAs are misogyny-trolls or that Republicans are waging a War on Women.

    *I don’t really read Stephanie Zvan’s blog much, so most of my perception and knowledge of her has come from her commenting behavior on other blogs, where she frequently comes off as kind of a jerk with a bad case of context-deafness – for example, projecting intent onto stevar’s statement and (possibly) speaking for a marginalized group of which she is not part. (Stephanie, if you read this, I know from the buzz around FtB that you’ve been subject to an ongoing campaign of undeserved harassment, and that is categorically not okay, whatever I may think of your writing, ideas, or manner of expression. I’m truly sorry that you have to deal with this, and I don’t want to contribute to any sort of pile-on. I want to make it clear that my criticism comes from a very different place, though you’re obviously perfectly free to determine that it, as well, is unjustified. It might be – it’s my personal biased perception and not Truth™, after all.) For all I know, she does suffer from mental illness and/or has a background in psychology (my Google-fu hasn’t provided me with any posts where she’s self-identified as mentally ill or as having studied psychology at all, but of course that is not conclusive). I suppose the same is true for Jason: although I read his writing a lot, I could well have missed or forgotten the places where he’s talked about his background in psychology or mental illness. Also, if she or Jason would like to lay down rules about certain kinds of constructions, phrasing, or language that can be used in their blogs/comments, that’s fine. But it’s really problematic IMO for e.g. Stephanie to go to a space that isn’t hers and prescribe rules for language use. Also, in the interest of disclosure of relevant information, I am not a certified or licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, but I have taken 18 credits of Psychology courses, read even more writings by psychologists in my years of Women’s Studies courses, work for a department of Educational Psychology, have had extensive experience with psychology and psychologists as a patient, and have been following the production of the DSM-5 with great interest. Whether you think that qualifies my opinions as sufficiently informed is up to you. 🙂

  11. 16

    But it’s really problematic IMO for e.g. Stephanie to go to a space that isn’t hers and prescribe rules for language use.

    If the space isn’t hers, the statement isn’t binding.
    “Stop saying [terrible thing].” is advice.

    “frequently comes off as kind of a jerk with a bad case of context-deafness”

    Tip to reduce word count: Ask yourself “Does this contribute to your point?”
    and “What responses do you think will come from someone reading this?”
    If the answers to the first are “No” and the second “Nothing good,” you should probably edit that out, especially if that is someone you’re trying to persuade.

  12. 17

    Religious beliefs, indoctrination, and mindset are not caused by mental illness; they’re caused by the NORMAL hard-wired wonkiness of the still-evolving human animal brain. This is, in fact, proof that the human brain is evolved/evolving, and not “intelligently designed.”

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