An Open Letter to Anyone Who
Has Lost A Loved One to a Cult
To you who have loved ones in the Manti or other cult:
I believe that arguing about particular points of doctrine will not help them see that you are right and they are wrong. Arguing over religion has been making people’s lives miserable for thousands of years. You will not convince them!
I believe that threats of legal action or public humiliation will not change their minds. Many cult members thrive on the attention they get (even if it is negative and would embarrass a normal person).
I believe that going into a cult is very different from leaving one. When joining a cult people get excited and motivated by the newness and “specialness” they feel. When leaving a cult people have to admit their foolishness and humbly return to their former lives. That is extremely difficult, almost impossible, for anyone to do.
I believe that patience and self-restraint are often the best strategy. Escalation of bad feelings by name-calling or well-intentioned advice will only cause them to feel persecuted and thus more convinced they are on the Lord’s side.
As I wrote in my book, my parents helped us move our belongings to Manti in the beginning. When they fully understood why we had moved there, they were disappointed and scared. Looking back, I don't blame them. To them, we had rejected the truth and would lose our chosen place in the afterlife. But I also think they were scared to question their own comfortable beliefs and feared the insecurity it made them feel. However, they got over it fairly quickly and stayed in touch. They frequently drove to Manti to visit us. They brought presents for birthdays and Christmas. They endured the awkwardness of meeting Jeff’s other wives and were friendly to them. My father built a magnificent playhouse in our Manti yard for my kids. My mother took my phone calls and helped me figure out how to raise three little ones.
As I sit now many years later in my parents home, receiving their love and a roof over my head, I am so happy that they did not fall into the trap of “taking it personally” when it came to our actions. We did not join a cult to hurt them. They did not try to hurt us in an attempt to correct us. They were long suffering and waited until we came to our senses, released the banana that never was, and pulled our hand from the monkey trap.
In the end we suffered significant damage — divorce, a child who has cut off contact, financial ruin, depression, humiliation, etc. But I can say that I have emerged a wiser, more intelligent person, better prepared to take responsibility for my life and decisions. And I am working hard to make up for the time I wasted obsessing over religion.
The moral of the story?
Allow others to live their lives and, if need be, to learn the hard way. Celebrate the simple joys in life that all humans believe in.
And don’t be taken in by stories that have no evidence in reality.
Until my next post, good luck.
P.S. I still hold different, albeit changed, views on religion than those my parents and siblings hold. That’s life.