A look at a platform lock-in tactic in organised religion

I stumbled across this on Twitter. Originally this seems to be from the platform Quora but I wasn’t able to find the original posting.

The question asked:

Why do people get angry when I try to share the word of God with them? I only do it because I care about them deeply and don’t want them to end up in hell. I feel like some people avoid me because of this. Is there any way to get through to them?

A person calling themselves “Doug Robertson” responded with this:

The entire process is not what you think it is. It is specifically designed to be uncomfortable for the other person because it isn’t about converting them to your religion. It is about manipulating you so you can’t leave yours.
If this tactic was about converting people it would be considered a horrible failure. It recruits almost no one who isn’t already willing to join. Bake sales are more effective recruiting tools. On the other hand, it is extremely effective at creating a deep tribal feeling among its own members.

The rejection they receive is actually more important than the few people they convert. It causes them to feel a level of discomfort around the people they attempt to talk to. These become the “others”. These uncomfortable feelings go away when they come back to their congregation, the “Tribe”. If you take a good look at the process it becomes fairly clear. In most cases, the religious person starts out from their own group, who is encouraging and supportive. They are then sent out into the harsh world where people repeatedly reject them. Mainly because they are trained to be so annoying.
These brave witnesses then return from the cruel world to their congregation where they are treated like returning heroes. They are now safe. They bond as they share their experiences of reaching out to the godless people to bring them the truth. They share the otherness they experience.
Once again they will learn that the only place they are accepted is with the people who think as they do. It isn’t safe to leave the group. The world is your enemy, but we love you.

This is a pain reward cycle that is a common brainwashing technique. The participants become more and more reliant on the “Tribe” because they know that “others” reject them.
Mix in some ritualized chanting, possibly a bit of monotonous repetition of instructions, add a dash of fear of judgment by an unseen, but all-powerful entity who loves you if you do as you are told and you get a pretty powerful mix. Sorry, I have absolutely no wish to participate in someones brainwashing ritual.

This answer resonated with me not just in the way it mirrored experiences I had with certain types of people considering themselves religious. Also with the increasing number of people who believe in conspiracy myths, particularly those fuelled by or based in anti-semitic and fascist movements.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney