Parallels Between LDS Mormons and Goerge Orwell’s 1984

I’m not the conspiracy theory type. Nor am I one of those Internet crazies that spew things like parallels between aliens and little people.

I’m also not trying to say that the Mormon church is on any comparable level to the  corrupt leaders in George Orwell’s book Nineteen-Eight-Four.

However, I have noticed some parallels between Mormonism and the dystopia of 1984.

I am going to quote from 1984  followed by some personal commentary.

1984 quote: “If all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

(Commentary: In the book 1984, the party/government changes the history books so they align with what they want the people to believe and what goes along with their current ideology. North Korea does the same thing.  The LDS church uses a committee to write church publications about church history. The writing committee leaves out any truth in church history that could cause someone to lose their testimony or question the LDS church. By changing the history to a one-sided, biased view (instead of a balanced one that shows the true, complete picture) the church is in better control of their followers’ thoughts, beliefs and actions.)  

 1984 quote: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows. He wondered, as he had many times wondered before, whether he himself was a lunatic.”

(Commentary: In the book 1984 the party tries to convince the main character that two plus two is five or whatever number they chose it to be at the time, as well as other ideas that didn’t make logical sense. They wanted him to understand that logic and reason were not reliable and could change if they said it was changed. They said to look to the party for answers, not logic. This made him feel like he was going crazy. It is similar to the LDS church telling people not to rely on logic, but on church doctrine and feelings. They say illogical things like Joseph Smith was second to Christ in helping mankind when logically his character is very sketchy:

“Few Mormons today can grasp the polarizing charisma of their founding prophet. Some may feel uncomfortable when confronted with the full scope of Joseph Smith’s activities as youthful mystic, treasure-seeker, visionary, a loving husband who deceived his wife regarding about forty of his polygamous marriages, a man for whom friendship and loyalty meant everything but who provoked disaffection by ‘testing’ the loyalty of his devoted associates, an anti-Mason who became a Master Mason, church president who physically assaulted both Mormons and non-Mormons for insulting him, a devoted father who loved to care for his own children and those of others, temperance leader and social drinker, Bible revisionist and esoteric philosopher, city planner, pacifist and commander-in-chief, student of Hebrew and Egyptology, bank president, jail escapee, healer, land speculator, mayor, judge and fugitive from justice, guarantor of religious freedom but limiter of freedom of speech and press, preacher and street-wrestler, polygamist and advocate of women’s rights, husband of other men’s wives, a declared bankrupt who was the trustee-in-trust of church finances, political horse-trader, U.S. presidential candidate, abolitionist, theocratic king, inciter to riot, and unwilling martyr.”

The Mormon Hierarchy – Origins of Power (pp.261-262), Quinn

1984 quote (I have changed the word Party to LDS church leaders, so you can see the comparison): ..”the individual mind can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the [LDS church doctrine], which is… immortal. Whatever the [LDS church leaders], holds to be truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the [LDS church leaders/doctrine].

“How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder.”

1984 quote:“We convert (the heretic), we capture his inner mind, we reshape him… We bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul.”      

(Commentary: In the book 1984, Newspeak was a book of new words invented by the government party. These new words went along with the new culture, so the people could become completely immersed in the party. The Mormon culture and language can seem very strange to new converts, but after awhile, they too can learn the lingo.)

“The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of the Party (Ingsoc), but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”

(Commentary: The next quote provides a line of thought that goes on in many LDS members minds when they find out shocking things they didn’t know, or don’t like concerning LDS church history. It happens after trying to tell other members about what they have discovered and getting a very negative reaction. It happens when they decide to not believe what they just learned that shook their testimony, but to fully accept the LDS story.)
1984 quote: “He accepted everything. The past was alterable. The past never had been altered.  How easy it all was! Only surrender, and everything else followed. It was like swimming against a current that swept you backwards however hard you struggled, and then suddenly deciding to turn round and go with the current instead of opposing it. Nothing had changed except your own attitude: the predestined thing happened in any case. He hardly knew why he had ever rebelled. Everything was easy, except! Anything could be true.  What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.”

(Commentary:  The next quote is what happens when the LDS member decides that anything that he or she hears that is contrary to LDS beliefs is a fallacy and the thought is dangerous.)

1984 quote: “He had no difficulty in disposing of the fallacy, and he was in no danger of succumbing to it. He realized, nevertheless, that it ought never to have occurred to him. The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive.” 

“He presented himself with propositions — ‘the Party says the earth is flat’, ‘the party says that ice is heavier than water’ — and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them. It was not easy. It needed great powers of reasoning and improvisation. The arithmetical problems raised, for instance, by such a statement as ‘two and two make five’ were beyond his intellectual grasp. It needed also a sort of athleticism of mind, an ability at one moment to make the most delicate use of logic and at the next to be unconscious of the crudest logical errors. Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.”

(Commentary: This type of mental gymnastics is brought about when reading the writings of LDS apologists.)

1984 quote (I have changed the word Big Brother and the party to Christ and the LDS church) [Christ] personifies the [LDS church], as the ubiquitous face constantly depicted in posters, thus, [Christ] is constantly watching. [The LDS church] demands the complete submission – mental, moral and physical – of the people. [The LDS church] is a masterfully complex system of psychological control that compels confession to imagined crimes and the forgetting of rebellious thought in order to love [Christ] and [the LDS church] over oneself. The purpose of [the LDS church] is… control. 

The following is a review of  the book 1984. I have changed the words in brackets from the Party. [The LDS church] posits that all knowledge rests in the collective mind of the [LDS church doctrines]; reality is what the [LDS church] says, the justification for its historical revisionism. With doublethink, the people believe what they otherwise know is false; in believing the revised (new) past, the new past is what was, hence “he who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past”.  The Ministry of Love via brainwashing, and the Ministry of Truth with propaganda, ensure that perpetual loyalty to the [LDS church] is instilled in the mind of each [member]. The person exists only as part of the collective, hence, for the collective, nothing exists beyond the goodness of the [LDS church] and the wrongness of other [churches].

Any thoughts?

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11 Responses to Parallels Between LDS Mormons and Goerge Orwell’s 1984

  1. eric says:

    Thank you for this post. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately and was curious to see if anyone else had drawn the parallels like this so I searched it on Google and came across your site. I’m excited to look at your other posts.

    I haven’t believed the Church is true for over a year now. There are obviously a lot of things that led me up to that point but reading the book 1984 was actually one of them. It forced me to look seriously at problems in the church that I previously justified or simply ignored similar to Winston in some of the above quotes. There was no way I could say the party was unequivocally in the wrong and at the same time claim the methods of the church were justifiable. Under no circumstances would I permit these types of practices in any other organization, so why would I be ok with the Church doing it?

    I don’t remember the details, but another parallel that came to mind while I read the book was between testimony meeting and the two minute hate, even though that sounds bad. Every month we listen to people repeat over and over again that the church is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today etc. heaven forbid anyone should disagree or even ask sincere questions about it. There is a lot of pressure to just accept it and people find security in their own beliefs by sitting there and watching other people declare it, regardless of there being any actual valid reasons. I thought of Winston at the beginning of the book recognizing the ridiculousness of the situation and his own participation in it and wondering if anyone else felt the same way. Like you, I don’t question the sincerity of the church leaders but nothing, no matter how good or “true” could justify what they do.

    • Matt says:

      To the article. Its very easy to draw parallels between lots of different things and 1984. you could draw parallels to communism, capitalism, modern liberalism, modern conservatism, the american media, the NWO conspiracies, atheism, most religions, islam (especially). You also need to realize that George Orwell INTENTIONALLY alluded to religion and made bb and the party allude as much as possible to religion because he personally was vehemently opposed to ANY organized religion even his own (the church of england). Just because you can draw a parallel doesnt mean that whatever your drawing a parallel to is inherently evil. and just because 1984 is so popular doesnt mean its an infallible book or that its even all that in touch with reality. There are many parts of the book that are complete fantasy and are not in touch at all with reality or with what a futuristic communistic regime would look like or even the mind control tactics actually used in parts of the world and in various organizations today. He did that on purpose, in order to make his point, he had to exaggerate a LOT, just like in any story the author typically has to embellish real life in order to really get his point across. The short story “Bartelby the Scrivener” is the most perfect example of what im trying to illustrate.

      as to your comments, When you are a young mormon. brought up in the church it is easy to feel that you have been very pressured into believing and that you cant ask sincere questions. Usually people get that impression because they talk to their PARENTS about the problem. Of course, since their parents likely pressure them about any decision they see as harmful and against what they have strived to raise their child to be they will obviously pressure them about leaving the mormon church (mine DEFINITLY did. ive never been pressured so much in my life. also, my parents friends joined in on it). Beyond their parents and their parents friends, usually the only people that disillusioned mormons talk to about their beliefs are the fanatical mormons, who notice them, and engage them (like the ones posting on anti mormon youtube videos, for example) and other ex mormons. parents, fanatical mormons and critics of the mormon religion are obviously generally going to do a lot of pressuring if they are pro mormonism, or a lot of criticizing if they are not. However, if you actually talk to church leaders, like your bishop or stake president. You will find that usually (not all of them are perfect) but 90% of them (and ive talked to a lot of them in my search for truth) are by FAR the MOST supportive and understanding people you will EVER meet and are many times more understanding and loving, and many times less pressuring than even the other ex mormons the strugling member has.

      Bottom line. Is there manipulation in the church? yes
      do people pressure you and try to control you? yes
      Is it the CHURCH that does this? no
      is it the church LEADERS who do this? no
      is it the crazy fringe of mormons who will never be granted a leadership position justly because they are nuts? yes
      is it frequently the parents of the struggling person? yes
      would those same parents pressure just as much over a nonreligious topic, like the decision to drop out of college? yes

      Im telling you man, all this pressure, its in your head. And if you are thinking the pressure is coming because you are young and they really really really really want you to go on a mission. guess what, go to a singles ward, be completely open with the people there about your abject lack of desire to go on a mission. you will find that unlike what even MORMONS claim, people will still be your friend, and unless you go to a freshman dorm the girls will still date you (if you are cool, charming, and smell decent) (thats right, NONE of them will garment check you…and by the way, who wants to date a freshman anyways? the same airheaded qualities that make them bad date material are the same qualities that will cause them to judge you) and by and large no one will care AT ALL or judge you in ANY WAY. seriously, no one CARES what you believe, they care about YOU and as long as you dont start offering them drugs they will keep hanging around you. sure they may try to convert you, but if you tell them that you appreciate it, but they need to knock it off, most of them will. yeah the occasional nutso will annoy and in general not leave you alone, but thats because hes a weirdo, not because hes a mormon. there are weirdos all over society. most mormons are pretty chill just like most PEOPLE in this world are pretty chill. probably the extent of your rejection would be that it would be tough to get a mormon girl to marry you (not by ANY means impossible though, or even super difficult, it would just be more difficult than otherwise), but she will still date you and thats about it as far as rejection goes. even then, i know tons of mormon girls who would not only marry you, but, unfortunately, if you were attractive enough and smooth enough and took them on a late enough date they would get themselves into some er, problems, with the church over you.

      There is no reason to hate mormonism. there is no reason to hate christianity, there is no reason to hate judaism, there is no reason to hate atheists, there is no reason to hate.

      • Matt says:

        a couple of edits. by “freshman dorm” I meant a freshman dorm at BYU Utah. any other BYU has much less incidence of this. and even within byu, aside from the freshman girls and some of the more nerdy guys no one will judge you.

        i also wanted to say that most mormons who you could talk to, besides parents, parents friends, ex mormons, and psychomormons. most of those other mormons are TOTALLY COOL and nonjudgemental.

  2. eric says:

    “Its very easy to draw parallels between lots of different things and 1984.”
    That doesn’t make parallels between 1984 and Mormonism any less startling.

    “George Orwell INTENTIONALLY alluded to religion”
    The fact that there are parallels to other religions or organized religion as a whole doesn’t lessen the significance of the parallels to the Mormon Church, in fact, that is the whole point. The Church is using Orwellian methods just like any other church (and much more in the majority of cases). Why would an organization based on truth—especially the one true church—have to resort to the same deceiving tactics that a false organization has need of? The Church spends so much time making sure its members know it is not like other religions that it would be very surprising for a believing Mormon to discover that there are Orwellian tactics being used in the Church.

    These first two points you are making would be relevant to the topic at hand only if the author of the post was suggesting the Mormon church is the only organization that is similar to the dystopia of 1984. This, however, is not the case.

    “Just because you can draw a parallel doesnt mean that whatever your drawing a parallel to is inherently evil.”
    Neither was this an assertion made anywhere in the post.

    “in order to make his point, he had to exaggerate a LOT”
    Yes, that is the nature of dystopian novels and once again, I’m not sure how this point would be relevant even if the author of the post had suggested otherwise—which she did not.

    “There is no reason to hate mormonism.”
    I’m sorry if that seemed to be my position. It is not.

    As for the rest of you comments, I appreciate the concern and advice but I am actually a returned missionary of many years and spent more than two years as a full time student at BYU and so am aware of the social conditions in Mormon society. The reference I made to pressure had very little to do with my own experience. When I brought up testimony meeting I was simply adding one more point to the list and was describing the general condition in the Church. My deviation from the church was purely intellectual and, though years in the making, was extremely quick when it surfaced and as such, I did not experience the kind of pressure you describe then or since. I do however appreciate the suggestions and the nature of you comments does spark my curiosity as to your position on the Church. You seem to believe in its truthfulness and are interested in helping others to maintain their belief and yet some of you comments suggest that you are rather casual about a lot of things I wouldn’t expect you to be, suggesting that perhaps you have come to some sort of happy medium regarding the Church. Is this the case?

  3. Dan says:

    Um, I dont want to sound like a dork, but where are you getting all of this information? I just read all of the information you wrote down and most of it is completely wrong. I think you should definitely check your sources or get some sources. This article is probably the most uninformed article I have ever read about my church.

    • sarah says:

      Since I grew up in Utah and have been a member of the church all of my life I think I am pretty well informed. Not to mention that I graduated from 4 years of Seminary, and attended 2 years of Institute at University of Utah. I also went to BYU for a while where I took mandatory religious courses. I was also a gospel doctrine teacher for a long time. My whole family and extended family are all active LDS which goes back several generations. I don’t know how much more well-informed you can get.

    • eric says:

      I just read all of the information you wrote down and most of it is completely wrong.
      What information is wrong?

      I think you should definitely check your sources or get some sources.
      Everything that should have sources has sources. The rest is personal commentary. Again, what exactly are you referring to?

  4. Pingback: Sarah’s Key and Mormonism – Discovering The Truth | Sarah's Mormon Musings

  5. Reblogged this on stellarcassiopeia and commented:
    Brain Washing 101

  6. I went over this website and I conceive you have a lot of superb information, saved to bookmarks (:.

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