One of the main complaints relative to our religion is that it removes independent thinking. There is talk of us being mindwashed: That we just do and think whatever we are told to by church "leaders." Just how accurate is this perception?
When we look at this subject we have to look around at just how much mindwashing exists all around us. I'd like to start with looking at those things mostly not related to religion to demonstrate the point. We are convinced of a lot of ideas that have absolutely no evidence for being true.
For example when I was younger we had been mindwashed to believe that the rings around Saturn were either made of gases or an oil-like substance. And secondly that they were continuous. This was pumped into us through school and within society. Yet when a probe finally passed Saturn both claims were found to be false. It was made of rocks and in fragments.
I was brought up to believe that I should feel guilty, being a white person, because of all these suppressive things we have done to the natives all over the world. We had been mindwashed to believe that the natives had a bliss of ignorance. However upon growing up and looking at the situation of how those people lived, prior to white man, I discovered the nonsense in that idea: People eating their babies because of being traditionally too lazy to plant crops, people dying from superstition because a witch doctor pointed a bone at them, populations being low because of constant war between tribes, entire peoples with their way of living being heavy drug taking, people who rejected new ideas and expelled those who came up with them, fierce pride that made it that apologies were out of the question and duels had to occur to right the situation (as a way of life), etc. (depending upon which peoples we are speaking of).
We have women trying to pretend they are men by wearing business suits, cutting their hair, getting a career, and trying to prove how tough they are. I'm waiting to see them out on the golf course next. They feel that somehow this makes them a superior woman.
The most appropriate example in this thought is when people talk of brainwashing. This enforces the myth that the brain is actually capable of thinking, just because it can product electrical impulses when thinking activity is happening. If it wasn't for mindwashing people would realise just how ridiculously impossible it is for something as small as a brain to hold your memories for an entire lifetime (or even one year).
We have been mindwashed to believe that someone can have a device that can determine accurately how old an item is. What is more we have been persuaded to believe that it must be accurate when it talks of something being MILLIONS of years old. I mean, what nonsense! How can people be so deceived? Considering that the real accuracy for carbon dating has been shown to be nothing short of pathetic (in spite of claims of scientists) how can we go on to believe in even more ancient dating methods?
We have a society that has been persuaded to believe that homosexuality is natural and that people are born that way. Yet dogs all around us are not demonstrating such activity where a dog will allow another dog to place his penis up the others rear end. And in spite of the fact that I've observed male dogs even trying to have sex with a lamp post, I have never seen a female dog licking another female in the vagina. So what happened to nature there? We should be seeing high percentages of such.
In the 60s and 70s people were told that pornography should be made more readily available, and that this would decrease rape, as would be rapists would just masturbate themselves, thus decreasing the need to rape. Hmmmmm.
People in the 60s and 70s were told to stop smacking their disobedient children, as smacking made the children more violent. They presented that stopping smacking would make children less violent, and thus violence in children would virtually cease. Er...yeah...
We have been mindwashed to believe there is good and bad cholesterol, that the stars are definitely a certain distance from each other, that there really was a dinosaur age, and an ice age, and some believe that Corn Flakes and McDonalds are actually healthy for us.
Having looked at the world around us briefly, this leads us to question just how religion itself is affected by mindwashing? Does religion increase the mindwashing problem or save us from the society's mindwashing?
There isn't an absolute answer to that question, as it depends on what people believe. It particularly depends on whether people allow themselves to be mindwashed without any thinking things through.
For example if I deliberately choose to ignore contradictions in my religious beliefs, then my religion is as useless as these other philosophies of the world I have quoted. I must be prepared to be honest with myself and accept that contradictions must be thought through and answered. The more I bury my head in the sand and pretend not to see contradictions the more I will become blinded and the further in the sand I will have to stick my head to ignore what I really know.
Some have said to me that I have just been mindwashed to believe these things. Yet the truth is that I virtually have changed my mind about everything since I was young. And this was due to several factors. One of them definitely being those things presented by the church. I was raised believing in the Protestant/Catholic (and partially Old Testament) god. It took many years of study of Scripture, discussion with the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father himself to come to find the true God. I had to unmindwash an enormous amount of stuff.
Our society is mindwashed to believe that evil is good and good is for the weak minded. We are mindwashed to believe that wealth and fame brings happiness. We are told that revenge is sweet, there is nothing better than lustful sex, being rich is good, etc.
So how does my religion go with this? God tells us this seemingly amazing concept that forgiveness is sweet. What??? Forgiveness is sweet? You have got to be joking, we question? Yet we try it out and eventually find it works. Mindwashing? Have I been mindwashed or has my mind now become free? I feel uplifted by following that advice instead of what the world says. It is true that hearing that idea expressed from the pulpit over and over finally got me to follow the idea and gain the benefits of forgiving others. My heart feels so much happier. So one mindwashing has been used to bring me to realise that the other mindwashing was false. Is that a bad thing? Obviously not.
And this is the way I find with all true religious concepts. Lust mixed with love seemed good until I found full love without lust. Possessing seemed good until I found the full feelings of giving without worldly reward. Interestingly that latter came by pure chance. However recognising what had happened came from the mindwashing that I had heard all my life (that it is better to give than receive). I had always disputed that in my heart, feeling that I enjoyed getting Christmas presents more than giving them to others. Then I went on a mission just before Christmas. My family and friends hadn't had time to find my address and send me a present before Christmas. But I was out on a mission serving others. For the first time I felt that feeling inside myself of how much happier I felt just thinking of others instead of what I was going to get.
While on the one hand I allow God to mindwash me, on the other hand he has had a hard job getting me to listen over the years. So his mindwashing has been done with lots of examination and reluctance by me. Fortunately I have broken down enormously, as he's been so consistently right (all the time) in spite of how absurd some of those ideas have seemed to me over the years. He and Jesus Christ have shown me miraculous things in that time. By "miraculous things" I'm not so much referring to the outward miracles (though I've seen many of those), but the ones that count to us more - the inward miraculous changes.