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    • Recently I started recognizing the propaganda that I'd been fed through my early years, but my parents were raised in the WWII years and were parents before Vietnam started. They saw the hippies with drugs, and the Red Commies as a huge threat (they were, and though the game has changed, the players are still there), and so we were raised conservative though without much church. They left church when they saw corruption in the pastor giving tithe money to his kids. They weren't believers anyway, they were just trying to influence us towards a good life. When my dad would mention socialism, it wasn't just a word, it had to be emphasized like it was an obvious disease. He didn't see the irony in the taxes he paid. He tended towards political fervor at times, and was a Fox news devotee in his later years.   So part of my upbringing had false ideas and simple opinions being presented as absolute facts. When I left Christianity, it started with a question "I wonder what else I've believed that is a lie?"  I think that is the sum of your post. And it isn't always a brainwashing with ulterior motives, sometimes it is simply non-factual information that is treated as reality until you learn better. Part of that is investigating, looking for what is real, and not getting caught up in other conspiracy theories that can sound intriguing but have very little evidence.
    • It's easy to get caught up in "politics". But that is the draw of a political party system. By its very design, it drives a wedge between people, forcing them to take a side. It's a method used to manage and manipulate the voting system.   No theory to it as I see it. It's clearly conspiracy.   I do believe part of it is indoctrination into the "good little citizen" ideology, "God and country" and all the other patriotic stuff they use to play on the minds of voters to keep them interested in the whole government and country concepts. They are trying to get people to vote the way the political party votes. But they don't want you to question if that very voting system is actually working. It's not about what you want, it's about what the party wants. This to me breeds discrimination in all forms. I personally believe the political party system should be banned across the board. I believe they should not exist. Based on history, it is clear it is a system that is compromised and corrupt.   All the media buzz is democrat this, republican that, and the masses go wild. But the truth is, the US system has far more than republican or democrat, but the majority has used their position to stifle other parties in the voting process. Even a so-called news station is crying they can't broadcast debates because the Democratic party said so. Do the American people really think the situation is okay? I encourage every American to read the Declaration of Independence.   Democrat, Republican, or even Socialist, it's all crap. Nothing more than a secular form of religious denominations. Besides, the US system is allegedly made up of representatives of the people, but politicians vote and act based on what their party says, and their "constituents" are left on the side waving their party flags. All of this plays on a need by humans to label things, to sum it up and spare the details.
    • I think there's probably some threshold beyond which it's not useful to think of socialization as "brainwashing", although I think I could understand how you might feel that way.   So, I think you are recognizing something that actually happens: you are socialized into a set of beliefs and values, and those aren't limited to ostensibly religious beliefs. Religion is also part of a broader culture. Later, if you come to reject many of those beliefs and values you may feel that there was always something suspect about the process of indoctrination. It's certainly reasonable to expect that changing one's religious views will mean also reassessing lots of other beliefs as well.   But I think it's also worth keeping in mind that to some extent this process of socialization is inevitable: it's just how human culture works, and it doesn't require a conspiracy. Humans are always engaged in these processes everywhere. Some academics use the term "hegemonic culture" to refer to the observation that certain values/beliefs are ubiquitous within a culture, similar to how you noticed patterns in media, school teaching, and so on. But keep in mind that if you'd grown up in a hippie commune you'd have been socialized into a different set of values and beliefs, but not necessarily with a lesser effect. Note that I'm not saying that one set of values is as good as the other, I think it's perfectly legitimate to think that some are better than others. But I also think if we think of it all as brainwashing (n.b. I'm not saying none of it qualifies...) that this may lead us to conclusions or courses of action that probably don't really make sense. I think the conspiratorial mindset can be problematic.   One of the things I think is valuable about anthropology and sociology as academic fields is that -- at their best -- they can help us make sense of all that baggage, and maybe help us relate to it in a more productive way. Maybe it helps a little to know that everyone struggles a little bit reconciling their individual beliefs and experiences with those of their socialization. People coming out of very controlling or cult-like religious groups will probably have a harder time, but we all have to figure it out one way or another. And if we have children we all have to figure out how much or how little to teach them our values, and no matter what we do they will also be absorbing beliefs and values from the surrounding culture just as thoroughly as we did, and also have their own struggles with that.
    • Being born in the early 70's, I was growing up and being influenced by the world around me during the 1980's. While the era of conservative politics, Just Say No and trickling economics had its heyday, I now realize, that I was being commisioned as they saw fit. It goes far beyond religious brainwashing. In our great fight against Communism, and drugs, what were we taught? I learned that in order to be a "good American" I had to be a good little Christian conservative who refrained from smoking marijuana, loved capitalism and didn't question authority. At least, that's what growing up in the upper Midwest was like. My parents, who are Christians, are definately left leaning in their politics. They seem to have the whole "seperation of church and state" thing grasped. However, looking back, it seems I was heavily influenced towards rightwing politics, cloaked in Christianity, and an irrational fear of socialism and communism. Why is that? The Reagan era was certainly a time of prosperity, for whatever reason, but was it enough to sway an entire area's children towards the Republican party? Soon after the '16 election, I suggested to some friends that this "brainwashing" I received as a child was partly to blame for Trump's surprise victory. Look at the facts, Trump carried the Midwest. The demographic that put him over the top was the one I fall in to, Gen-Xers. And, not just Gen-Xers but, white, working class, suburban Gen-Xers. There certainly seems to be a conservative movement in the Rust Belt, once considered to be the Democrats' territory. I know other issues came into play, like the Democratic Party's total ignorance of the working people's plight, terrible trade agreements and the anger that Trump incited within his base. However, were our school systems, local and national media, clergy and authority figures pushing us in that direction 30-40 years ago? My experience says yes. I voted for conservative politicians, up until my freedom from religion, for years. Why is it that breaking free from Christianity also made me rethink and re-evaluate my politics? I realize that many inside the Republican Party hide behind the veil of religion. After all, Christianity is their tool for pushing their brand. They use to support their sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia etc etc. But, is it truly just a Christian party? Certainly, there are some atheist Republicans. Without telling on myself, I will say that I no longer fear socialism. Hell, I was a Bernie supporter in 2016. I now see the hypocrisy with the Republican Party claiming to be the "moral majority". But, was it all a part of being commisioned during my childhood? I don't think of myself as a conspiracy theorist but, this all makes too much sense, at least to me, to ignore.
    • We don't truly choose our beliefs. Just recognize yours and accept them as a fact. Fighting off doubts as a Christian is just as unfruitful.
    • I too struggled with this. I call it a vicious circle. You're trying to break free from Christianity by turning to your Christian beliefs (brainwashing) for answers. It literally took me years to overcome it. I finally figured out how irrational it is. I couldn't find any rationale, answers or comfort in prayer. You're commisioned to think that you're incapable of overcoming things without god. However, you can do a whole lot more than you could ever imagine. You need to look inside yourself and come to the realization that god has never truly helped you in any way, quite simply because, he isn't there. It's been you the entire time. With that realization you begin to break free of Christianity's brainwashing.
    • I may have under-emphasized the actual internal struggle that I went through. Years of being commisioned to "look to god" for the answers was extremely difficult for me to overcome. I truly believed that praying was somehow helping me overcome difficulties and obstacles in my life. In hindsight, I was actually talking out my problems, and ultimately finding solutions, all by myself. Or, I guess you could say that I was talking out my problems with my imaginary friend. Regardless, I came to realize that I had the capability to navigate through life all along. I still cannot figure out why religion leads one to believe that they're incapable without a higher power guiding them through troubled times. I really think that is the most costly effect of religion; the fact that it takes your individuality, creativity and self assurance away from you. It taught me that, not only was I incapable without god, but I was less of a person. I needed him, in essence, to perform the most mundane things. The entire time, not realizing how amazing I, and others, were all by ourselves. I was often demoralized by my sins, by what I couldn't do without god, with how worthless I was on my own. I don't know how others reacted to the "you need god" theory but, it made me feel incomplete. However, when I tried to break free from this phenomenon, I kept coming back to it. I was literally caught in a vicious circle of trying to escape religion by turning to religion for the answers. Thousands of unanswered prayers later, I was finally able to free myself. However, it wasn't as easy as I made it sound in my original post. My experiment failed several times, with me praying for signs, help, answers. Forty years of brainwashing had commisioned me well. I was certainly hooked. However, the truth of the world around me was always there nagging at me. I knew religion was fake. I knew it was nothing more than mythology. Still, I couldn't break its chains. I struggled with this for years. Religion is a very powerful form of brainwashing. Even when I could deduce that it had no real meaning, no actual power, and contained very little, or no, truth, I continued to look to it for guidance. If anything, I had become irrational with Christianity. Even when I knew it wasn't real, I, for some reason, defended it to myself. It had me to where I couldn't function without god, even though I had full knowledge that he didn't exist. It's scary to think about religions' power to make someone feel this way. Luckily, common sense eventually won out. But, it was a long battle.
    • As a child, in the Lutheran church, I didn't know many nonbelievers. However, I was taught, mostly by my parents, that they too deserved love and respect, as all people do. As an adult, in the Baptist church, I was taught that they were basically second class citizens and needed to be converted to the Baptist form of Christianity. If they couldn't be converted, then they were inherently evil and I should stay away from them. Luckily, one of best friends at work has always been an atheist. So, I knew all along that nonbelievers were, in fact, not inherently evil at all. While we did partake in spirited debate about our different belief systems, we always remained curtious and respectful of each others view point. I think, regardless of my Baptist doctrine, that I always remained open minded. However, I am guilty of trying to convert many a nonbeliever while I was involved with the church. I often wonder now how many lives I ruined with my attempts to convert. Hopefully, it always fell upon deaf ears.