This article is not about whether or not Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) works. Its about how pastors are using this technique in their arsenal during sermons.
I recently attended a funeral for a Christian family member. For the past year she fought bravely against a debilitating brain tumor and had finally succumbed to it. During the time in which she was in treatment she wanted to straighten her life out with god so she could be at peace, knowing she was going to die soon. She had become active in a church and had befriended the pastor, and the pastor would show up at the hospital and spend time with her. I know it gave her great comfort, and I don't belittle the fact that it did.
At her funeral though, the pastor who spent so much time with her spent over a half hour talking about her, and did his best to console other family members who have faith.
I realized that his intention was to be compassionate and reassuring to the family that she will go to heaven. He talked about her being baptized a year earlier, and about how she is resting in the arms of Jesus.
I do not adhere to the Christian ideology, so it didn't have the same comforting affect on me like it did for most everyone else there. To me it sounded more like a nice fairy tale that would tell a child, to comfort them and help them deal with death. The same fairy tale that transcends childhood and is proselytized later on into adulthood for the same affect.
So since I do not subscribe to the belief system that most of the other family members there do, and I did not feel comforted by his line of thinking of her being in an afterlife in heaven, I ended up feeling very disassociated, but of course out of respect for the recently departed I just sat there quietly and listened to him.
Since I was able to disassociate myself effectively from the flock and be more analytical, I was able to pick up on certain things that the pastor said and noticed a pattern in the delivery of his speech.
The pastor often repeated the same thing over and over and then he would go on about something else then repeat it again. Sometimes when repeating something he would control his voice and say it slower for a more dramatic affect. Unfortunately, he digressed from focusing on the deceased relative and started mainly focusing on scripture. A few of the family there that are Christians even noticed this and were kind of put off by the pastor turning the eulogy into a sermon.
In my past I have researched hypnosis and (NLP). I was never successful in being able to hypnotize myself, and I never used any of the techniques on other people, but I recognized the same techniques and speech patterns someone would use in hypnotism. It did not take me long to see this either, probably 10 minutes into it.
I remember leaning over to my fiance and whispering in her ear, did you hear that? He is using (NLP). Fortunately she was just as disassociated from the pastor as I was, and she even saw what I was talking about once I pointed it out to her, which gave me an early confirmation. So after I realized what he was doing, I still sat there quietly but now was totally focused on listening to him subconsciously proselytizing at the same time he was consoling the family.
After the sermon/eulogy, I felt angry at the pastor and did not appreciate the fact that he used my family members death as a pulpit to propagate his religious beliefs in a way in which I feel was unethical. My family was there to pay their respects to the deceased, not to be innundated with religious dogma through subconscious hypnotic suggestion. I found what he did to be very disrespectful to even the folks that did believe.
I left there afterwards with a purpose to find out if (NLP) is something that pastors use to control and manipulate their congregations. I even tried to play devils advocate and tried to reason with myself that I was looking into it to deep and my perspective was flawed. I approached it logically and skeptically and decided to do some research and find evidence elsewhere of other people having a similar theory to this, and I found it.
These are some videos from the psychologist/author Darrel Ray. Raised in a fundamentalist home, took a MA in religion by age 24 then a Doctorate in psychology by 29. Interests lay in the psychology of religion. He stopped practicing all religion at 38 yrs. of age and became an atheist about age 40.
This is Darrel Ray's website if you would like to do some more research.
Darrel Ray mentions in the last video a reference to ex VP candidate Sarah Palin's church YouTube video as a prime example of how ministers use hypnotic techniques during church services. So I am adding it as well for reference purposes.
In conclusion, if people feel compelled on their own free will to want to go to church and believe in god, I do not have a problem with that. I just don't not feel that is is morally ethical for the pastors who run these churches to be using hypnotic techniques on unsuspecting people, to influencing them to believe in a god under false pretenses. It is disgusting and wrong to use hypnotism on the masses for proselytizing, and the people who are caught doing this should be held accountable for their actions.
If you are aware that churches use these techniques to manipulate people in their congregations and still want to go, that is your choice, but at least now you can go knowing that they are doing this.
I recently was in contact with Darrel Ray, of Recovering From Religion. This was his response to me.
You have hit a home run. I am glad to see other people independently confirming that hypnosis is a key part of religious infection. If you read my book you will find a good deal more on the subject and other examples. I was a certified NLP practitioner back in the 1980's and still use the concepts. I often model examples when I am giving presentations on The God Virus. Thanks for sharing this with me. I think I will put a link up from my Recovering from Religion website when I return from vacation.
I'd like to thank Mr. Darrel Ray for taking the time to make those video's and helping me confirm my suspicions of NLP in churches.