This post is aimed directly at the critics of the Church who attack and mock our deeply held and divinely taught indoctrination techniques. They think that by pointing these out it will make us look cultish and will have a negative impact on the mission that the Lord has bestowed upon us. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.
We are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ or the way we teach it. In fact when the word “indoctrination” is used in proper context by Church leaders it is anything but negative. The intent of this post is to show the world that we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are honoured to be known as a peculiar people and are proud of the tried and true methods of indoctrination that we use to help our members develop firm testimonies of the restored gospel.
Although most people view the term indoctrination in a negative light the dictionary correctly defines its meaning (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/indoctrinate) as follows:
“To teach (a person or group of people) systematically to accept doctrines, especially uncritically.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. As members we raise our children to accept the doctrines of the church and discourage the negative critical attitudes towards these beliefs that are so prevalent in the world today.
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indoctrination)
“Indoctrination….is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned.”
This view is of course completely supported by the Church. In fact Elder M. Russell Ballard after talking about how solidly anchored in our testimonies we must be succinctly stated “We won’t question the doctrines that are part of our belief.”
Brothers and Sisters I hope you are beginning to see the word indoctrination in its true (non negative) light.
Wikipedia goes on to state that “indoctrination implies causing people to act and think on the basis of a certain ideology.”
The worldly who tend to oppose such methods are then mentioned in the same article where it states that “Some secular critics maintain that all religions indoctrinate their adherents, as children, and the accusation is made in the case of religious extremism. Sects such as Scientology use personality tests and peer pressures to indoctrinate new members. Some religions have commitment ceremonies for children 13 years and younger, such as Bar Mitzvah, Confirmation, and Shichi-Go-San (baptizing our 8 year olds would also be a good example here). In
boys are encouraged to follow the faith while still very young (it is the same in our religion too). Critics of religion, such as Richard Dawkins, maintain that the children of religious parents are often unfairly indoctrinated. The process of subjecting children to complex initiation rituals before they are able to critically assess the event is seen by Dawkins and other critics of religion as cruel.” Buddhism Temple
Now I should state that in the case of other religions I would tend to agree with what has been said but what people like Richard Dawkins will never understand is that members of our Church (which is the only true and living Church upon the face of the earth) are under certain scriptural obligations which carry with them solemn parental warnings. In D&C 68:25 we are taught: “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”
If any of you doubt the position of the church with regards to indoctrinating our young people the Church’s official website clears up the matter once and for all where it contains President Kimball’s inspiring talk entitled “When the World Will Be Converted” which included comments on the quality of missionaries needed in the field. Here is what was said on the topic of indoctrination by the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a modern day prophet, seer and revelator:
“When I ask for more missionaries, I am not asking for more testimony-barren or unworthy missionaries. I am asking that we start earlier and train our missionaries better in every branch and every ward in the world…..I am asking for missionaries who have been carefully indoctrinated and trained through the family and the organizations of the Church.”
May we be truly blessed as we indoctrinate a new generation of worthy missionaries who will willingly give up two years of their young lives in the service of the Church. As a Stake President this is my humble prayer in the holy and sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.