People are always asking me, “With all the evidence that testifies against Mormonism, how can Mormons still believe it?” I recently came across one possible answer to this question in an unlikely place. In Erwin W. Lutzer’s new book, When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn From Nazi Germany, Dr. Lutzer addresses the power and psychology of propaganda in a section he titled, “A Willing Blindness.”
“I’ve observed, as I’m sure you have, the power of what I call ‘a cultural current.’ That is, a dominant idea promoted by the media and willingly adopted by a critical mass of people who want to believe a myth so badly they will close their minds to all contrary evidence. When such a cultural movement gains momentum, people will stare at facts and filter out what they don’t want to believe. Contrary evidence will be ignored or reinterpreted to fit their deepest wishes. And the more people who believe the myth, the more difficult it is for those who wish to counter it. In a spirit of euphoria, all warning signs are brushed aside. Before we know it, we are in a world where facts do not matter.
“Hitler also believed in cultural movements; he believed that many people would never change their minds individually, but would do so if they were in a crowd of several thousand convinced followers. When a seeker steps into a crowd of thousands, wrote Hitler, that seeker is swept away ‘into the mighty effect of suggestive intoxication and enthusiasm, when the visible success and agreement of thousands confirm to him the rightness of the new doctrine.’
“We’ve all heard the adage, ‘The nail that stands out is pounded down.’ Hitler said that doubters are convinced when they find themselves as a minority in the midst of a zealous majority; such an experience causes the doubter to succumb to ‘the magical influence of what we designate as “mass suggestion.”‘ No wonder Hitler said, ‘How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think!’
“…they are swept up into a cultural current where everyone is both expected to fall in line and be rewarded for it. In such a climate, anyone who swims against the stream is demonized by misrepresentations, false evidence and ridicule. With such pressure, even rational and decent people who refuse to be co-opted begin to question their own sanity. Can they alone be right when everyone else is wrong?
“…Warning signs [are] overlooked because of this passion of people to believe…
“Churchill was right: ‘The desire to believe something is much more persuasive than rational argument.’ Like ancient Israel who wanted a king so badly that they refused to listen to God, so people today are prone to want what they want and don’t care about the consequences.”
A “willing blindness” wouldn’t be the only reason Mormons continue to believe the LDS Church is true in spite of the facts, but it might be one reason.
“…they refused to love the truth and so be saved…”
2 Thessalonians 2:10