Having Your Noggin Washed

I have been thinking a lot of my past experiences within the institution called church.

Have you ever felt like you have been brainwashed?

Are there times when you find yourself suddenly craving some McDonald’s fries, or salivating about owning a new 2013 Ford mustang convertible, or that you need to have whiter teeth like the rest of the world so you remain attractive, or that you must become a “church” member to have that personal relationship with Christ and to be covered from sin. 

Are these feelings because we have been brainwashed, or just influenced?  I feel there is a lot of brainwashing going on to keep the big business of religion going strong (but just my opinion.. I am sure others will disagree with me on this one.. but that is ok).

From articles I have read, there are some eerie similarities of being brainwashed among church activities I have participated in the past.

Here are some of the noggin washing techniques I read about that need to be present for mind alteration to take place.

A. Being removed from your normal environment

B. Sleep deprivation

C. Emotional punishments on disagreements

D. Pleasure if you agree

E. And your body chemistry changed through food or some type of drug

How many of these brainwashing techniques come to mind in your marriage, your job, or even your “church”?

I am sure it takes more than these 5 elements over some period of time to piss with your unconscious mind, but let’s look at a couple examples… one is a boot camp type setting, and the other is a “Christian” summer camp.

I have never been to an actual boot camp, but I would think you would have many of the brainwashing techniques happening.  They typically place you far from home.  You are usually woken up really early in an abrupt way.  You have a drill sergeant that will be your worst enemy if you do not following his word and get with the program.  But, if you follow orders and get with the program you are praised, rewarded, and given medals.  I am sure different foods they have them eat affect the body in different ways.

Well, the sad part of this is one of the things that came to my mind reading about these techniques was my “Christian” summer camp in Tennessee when I was 12 years old. 


Being removed from your normal environment

I was definitely shipped off to a different environment.  It was a beautiful camp set back in the woods.  It was a dude ranch setting.  I remember the rodeo and the horses we rode.  Way different from my normal environment of middle school.

Sleep deprivation

For sleep deprivation they would keep us up late nights singing songs around a camp fire and then they would wake us up early to get to breakfast before having a church service every morning.  I am sure we only averaged 5 to 6 hours a night sleep and over a week’s time you were butt-tired and exhausted (prime for mental manipulation).

Emotional punishments on disagreements

I do not remember any shouting like a drill sergeant or any physical pain forced upon me, but I tell you what.. I do remember getting hit over the head with the jack-hammer of guilt.  Hearing them talk about the impure thoughts we were having about the opposite sex and all the “bad” things you do (exactly what a hormone pre-teen is likely to be thinking about).  It made me feel guilty as hell.  It was all this sin we were carrying around, and if you questioned anything they would serve up more guilt for dessert.  It was painful emotionally and it digs into your system and the tears would fly from my eyes by the end of the week.  (Is that the goal of these camps?)

Pleasure if you agree

But, the way to feel better was to accept the message they were spouting.  If you would just give your life to Jesus and accept Him as your “personal” savior you would get applause and then you would get that special feeling of being in the program (but what program was I getting myself into?). It was a program of legalism and rules.  Do all of this stuff we do as a group and you will be safe.

And your body chemistry changed through food or some type of drug

I cannot think of any weird foods or any drugs they would give us, but we did hit the ice cream shop in the old western town a lot.  But there is a drug, and it is a subtle one and comes into your system over the years after you are in the program.  The drug comes in the form of sermons, programs, and other functions within the business called “church”.  For me I got hooked with a drug of learning about Jesus and gathering more and more knowledge so I can battle the non-believing infidel. 

As I went through the motions within the institution called church Christ would fade away and community fell to the wayside (even though I was knee-deep in programs and functions with many other people). 

It was all about self-serving and having a “personal” relationship, and making yourself feel good … community and living together in Him was never really taught (and is still not in many churches I attended).  Jesus is mentioned, but he seems absent within the institution. 

Has anyone else had any similar experiences?

4 thoughts on “Having Your Noggin Washed

  1. Hey Swanny! I am inclined to agree with what you’ve said here. My thought about it is this, the brain-washing that goes on is NOT an intentional thing. It’s been passed on from one generation to the next, no questions asked.
    Have you ever read “This Present Darkenss” by Frank Pereti? In it you get a glimpse of both the struggle in the physical world and a parrellel spiritual world that overlaps and interacts, unbeknownst to the characters in the book. Towards the end of the story one character FINALLY begins to realize that there are other influences at work than just what they see with their eyes. He likens it to a mole. You see tunnels all over your yard, holes popping up here and there, only to realize that the damage being done is not from an army of moles but one.single.mole… Satan. He is certainly a master at getting us to believe that the methods used in IC or types of evangelical camps, etc… are JUST a time for teaching and growth. Mmmmhmmm…
    I’m not buyin’ that BS anymore, either…

    1. Genoise – I agree that it is not an intentional thing. I cannot judge the motive of the people, and if I was to guess I am sure most of them had good intentions of doing the right thing (their hearts were in the right place). However, deep down within the man-made system it can be a harmful way of doing things and no one even know they are doing it.

      I have not read that one of Peretti, but the gist of it makes a ton of sense from what you explain.

  2. Wow. I used to direct summer Bible camps, and you nailed it! I never realized how I was acting as a pusher! Everything was geared toward that final emotionally-driven night of singing, crying, and altar calls.

    Haven’t done that in a while now… but some days I still miss doing it, which makes me wonder… am I also an addict?

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