A new study fresh from Utah’s Weber State University suggests that Mormon culture promotes passive aggressive behavior. Suggests, as opposed to establishes, because it is not a controlled study. Yet it wouldn’t surprise us. One source of a cult’s power is the public shaming of dissidents. The more ardent the cult, the greater the shaming, and thus the greater its power to make others appear to fall in line. Appear is the operative word. The convenient course is to feign agreement or show no reaction, and then quietly and anonymously resist. Which, of course, is the essence of passive-aggressive behavior.
It would make sense that members of “truth sects” such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists et al grow up under greater pressure to appear to conform than, say, your garden variety Methodist. We suspect that there is even more pressure on religion-based polygamists. If you’ve read “It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass, you’ll recall Joanne Hanks’ inner struggle with recognizing that the cult leader was a fraud yet not daring to admit as much to herself, much less to anyone else. You’ll also recall that severe repercussions followed when her husband let slip that he didn’t buy the leader’s explanation as to why no one seemed to remember the cataclysmic Second Coming of Christ on March 25, 2000.
The more ardent the cult, the more passive-aggressive behavior serves as a survival skill.