For Jane

Written May 6, 2017

“And then, the President is going to unite with the Pope to institute a National Sunday Law. That means that, right here in America, everyone will either have to go to church on Sunday, or DIE.”

Jane gave her co worker, Abby, a really strange look. “Wait, what?”

“Yeah. And then everyone who isn’t a Seventh Day Adventist will come to murder you.”

“Why? Why are all the Catholics going to murder you?”

“Well, no, not all the Catholics. Most Catholics are good people, so they’ll convert. But the whole world is going to hate us Adventists because there will be all these calamities like hurricane Katrina on steroids, Ebola outbreaks, and earthquakes. And Adventists will get blamed for this for some reason, and the Pope will tell everyone that if all Adventists are killed, the calamities will stop. And that’s why, when the world ends, you’ll try to kill me.”

“Abby, I would never try to kill you. Unless you were trying to kill me first, and then it’d be in self defense. But even then, I would-”

“No Jane, that’s where you’re wrong. Adventists believe that, at the very end of the world, you’ll either be killed or a killer. So if you don’t convert, you’ll try to kill me.”

“So, you grew up believing that, any day now, all of us were going to start killing you?”

“Yes.”

“Isn’t that scary?”

“Oh my god YES. The number one thing you see on Ex SDA forums all the time is that we were all terrified of the last days. Because we knew that at any moment, we’d have to head for the hills to run away from the people with guns.”

“Why?”

“Why what? Why do they believe this? Do…do you want me to give you a Bible study on what they believe and why?”

Jane saw the look on Abby’s face. It was clear from her horrified expression that she wanted to give this bible study about as much as Jane wanted to receive it.

“No,” she said. “I want to know why people convert to this. Why would you want to be a part of something that would cause you to be afraid all the time?”

Why indeed. Well, there are a number of factors, and I’d guess they all tie in together. I’m not sure there is one good reason I could give that would satisfy you, because each individual is different.

Why do people convert to Seventh Day Adventism? Keep in mind, I was not a convert. My parents were not converts. I personally do not understand why people convert to Adventism because the very thing Adventists tell people to try and win them over (in their Revelation seminars) are the very things that made me want to leave.  However, I was at one time very familiar with a lot of converts, and knew some of their reasons.

So, why do otherwise ordinary people choose to follow a group that believes such batshit crazy stuff?

  1. They honestly believe that it’s the truth. I would venture to guess that this is the most common reason. Adventism, in general, is not something you convert to if you don’t really believe it. Why exactly a person believes Adventism has the truth is another blog post entirely. And I would probably need a psychologist for that.
  2. They believe that Adventism has some of the truth, but not all. They may believe that Saturday is the 7th day Sabbath, and they might even agree with Adventists about the State of the Dead. But they do not believe that Ellen White is a prophet and they also do not believe in the Adventist interpretation of Revelation. Actually, this paragraph probably covers all Seventh Day Adventists in the state of California.
  3. Love bombing. When they are trying to convert people, Adventists are very good at befriending them. Whether or not that friendship is genuine is up for debate. (I’d be willing to believe that in most cases it is.) Some people are attracted to the church because it basically is one big isolated family. And for some people the “isolated” part is a feature, not a bug. It may  seem to them like a sort of safe haven from the world. People on Planet Adventist seem to really love each other, and that would be very appealing to, say, someone who’s parents just disowned them. A lot of people join the church when they are most vulnerable, because they are looking for love that they feel they are not getting where they are.
  4. People want to be part of  a special group. And Seventh Day Adventists do believe they are a special group. They believe they are the Remnant church, God’s one true church. Why they believe this is something that’s a topic for another blog post, but the main thing you need to know, Jane, is that being part of a special group appeals to a lot of people. Such people believe that they are the only ones with the truth. People who are Adventist for this reason usually don’t consciously think this way, but, perhaps subconsciously, they want to think of themselves as special. As being somehow better than other people. And so groups like Adventism are very appealing to them.
  5. People want to be a part of something greater than themselves. They want a purpose, and Adventism gives them one. That purpose, for an Adventist, is to serve God. Not just to serve God, but to go out and witness to as many people as possible, because the world is going to end soon, and they wish to save as many people as possible. And in a lot of cases this is sincere. They really do believe the world is ending soon and they really do believe that if they don’t share this news, people will die.  That’s a horrifying thing to feel responsible for, and so if you ever see Seventh Day Adventist people going door to door, don’t feel anger and annoyance. Feel pity.
  6. Seventh Day Adventists believe the world is ending soon. How soon? Well, definitely within the next 5 years. Because Adventists, at their prophecy seminars, make it seem like time is short, there is a sense of urgency. People think, “jee, I’d better join the church right away before the world ends, because Jesus is coming soon!” Without this sense of urgency, people might not join so fast. They might take their time, rethink things, and come to the conclusion that this is all bullshit. But because of the sense of urgency, they don’t feel they have time for that. (Please do not ask me how they rationalize, 5 years later, that Jesus still shows no signs of actually returning. Maybe by then they’re in too deep? I mean, this is one of the reasons why I left, so I don’t have a good answer for this.)
  7. Adventists pressure people to make decisions right away. Their reasons for doing this is because they truly believe that, if they give a person time to think, the person will not go home and think about it and they will just never convert. I always found this kind of insulting. It suggests that they think people have the attention span of a fruit fly. In any case, when a person is being pressured to make a decision right away, usually there’s less thought behind it. It’s hard to recant once you have made a choice, so people are more likely to stick with it even though a part of them is saying “maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.” Of course, those are the people who usually find their way out eventually.

 

Jane, there are no hard, fast reasons why people join Seventh Day Adventism. All I can offer you, really, is speculation on my part. And to be honest, there’s probably not just one reason. Any one of the items on this list, in isolation, probably wouldn’t do it. But if you combine these factors together, they’re a lot more powerful.

To conclude, a lot of people join Adventism for the same reason they join other cults: believing that they and they alone have the truth, because they are looking for love, or perhaps they believe parts of Adventism, but not others.

 

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