416 children have been taken by police from a Mormon sect in Texas, amid claims that under-aged girls are being forced into marriage.
The case is now in court, and ‘one expert on children in cults told the court that the girls may have believed that marrying much older men was their free choice because they had been raised in that belief. "Obedience is a very important part of their belief system," said Bruce Perry.
Although many of the adults and children at the YFZ ranch seemed emotionally healthy, the sect's belief system was "abusive", he added. "The culture is very authoritarian."
I can’t in principle see the difference between this and the way children are raised in the wider culture. Both involve brainwashing. Look at the pressure kids are under at school to perform from an increasingly young age. Their teenage years, a formative time when they often no longer know who they are, are devoted to cramming information into their heads in order to pass exams.
Their ability to do this is taken as a measure of their intelligence, and has a long-term effect on their lives. It determines whether or not they become ‘winners’ or ‘losers’: they are brainwashed into believing that when they grow up they must ‘succeed’ in certain very narrow ways, and adults who cannot play this game usually find it very hard not to have a low opinion of themselves.
So when the cult expert told the court that the girls didn’t in fact have free choice about marrying older men because they had been raised in that belief, he was opening a huge cultural can of worms, as well as a very tricky question. As usual, the wider culture is wanting to project its own problems onto a deviant minority, unaware that it suffers from exactly what it is (rightly) accusing the Mormons of.
The question is tricky, because what people consider to be their free choice as adults often involves elements of brainwashing from when they were kids; in fact this brainwashing easily comes to determine the whole course of their lives. At the same time, adults need to be free to act from their brainwashing if they so wish. Just let’s not be under any illusions that this is often all that ‘freedom’ is.
All societies have brainwashing, there is nothing unique about ours. Look at Christianity in medieval Europe, and the very rigid world-view that people had to adhere to. But when you are in it, it does not seem like brainwashing, it just seems to be how things actually are.
This is a good Pluto in Capricorn subject, because Capricorn deals with conformity, and Pluto with the power used to get that conformity. So while the next 16 years will probably produce a lot of pressure to think and act like our neighbours and like the government wants us to – and entering into uncertain times, these pressures always increase – they may also bring more awareness of this particular shadow (Pluto) that is raised by Capricorn.