A number of people are of the opinion that the Mormon church is a cult wherein people wear crazy underwear and drink goats blood in order to have lots and lots of children. As a member of the Mormon church, I feel qualified to explain that the church is simply a religious organization dedicated to bringing people closer to God, and nothing more. The real cult is hidden in the church's educational system.
You see, Mormon children are indoctrinated to BYU from the day they are born. A good many of them were babies when their parents were still on campus completing degrees, and so these children's baby pictures are filled with Cosmo the Cougar (BYU's mascot), Wymount apartments (BYU's married student housing), and trips to BYU events with grandma and grandpa dressed in BYU blue. There's even a BYU Baby Beauty contest (which I won) to get children used to competing with each other at BYU for impossible standards (the baby beauty contest is to date the only impossible BYU standard which I have not felt an inordinate amount of stress over. It's actually quite possible that I did experience some anxiety, but I don't remember it, and I look happy in the pictures, so I'm going to say that I was a very confident, carefree one year old).
BYU has recently decided to expand their children's marketing by creating a baby cougar clothing line, in which Cosmo is rendered as an adorable cougar club, and parents can buy their children pint-sized cheer leading outfits and other school-spirit wear. So far only the hard-core college sports fans families have invested in this, but I expect that BYU will find a way to market to the math nerds, the fantasy fans, and even the counter-culture before the decade is out.
Children get a bit of a break in their late years from BYU, if their parents graduate soon enough, move far enough away, and care little for their alma mater (these three events are rare, but combined together they make the perfect storm, the product of which is the Jack Mormon) but the BYU cult comes back when one reaches adolescence and the age of eligibility for EFY.
Especially For Youth is hell. I should admit here that I've never gone, so I don't have the inside experience, but I loathe summers at BYU when pimply loud-mouthed teenagers descend on campus like a swarm of brightly dressed, over-enthusiastic locusts. The teens that attend this event are made to sing songs, attend talks, and walk in pairs all over campus (heaven forbid that a girl should walk unescorted without the support of a man's arm). The scary part is that most of them are excited to do it, and are sad when they have to leave.
As soon as one is almost too old to attend EFY, it comes time to apply to college. This is where BYU plays its greatest mind trick ever. Whereas most colleges court prospective applicants with postcards, letters, and invitations to visit campus, BYU is strangely silent. Even when a student sends them their ACT or SAT scores, BYU responds only with a polite thank you postcard, and a flimsy key chain.
My personal opinion is that this seals the idea of BYU as all-powerful institution in the student's mind. BYU is so massively huge that even when someone has a 31 on their ACT, a 3.7 GPA, and crazy-mad writing skills, BYU doesn't feel the need to even send them a get-to-know-us-before-you-make-your-decision pamphlet, but instead waits for that same student to apply and hold their breath for four months until BYU makes its decision. BYU is further solidified as unapproachably omnipotent by the fact that it is a church school. If you do badly here, it's not just a problem with your knowledge base, there's likely a problem with your testimony, and maybe even God is unhappy with you.
As cruel as all this sounds, I think that this is the final coup de grace where the indoctrination to BYU is made complete. People tend to want what they can't have, and BYU lets people go for eighteen years wanting them before they let you know that they don't necessarily want you. It's the few and the strong that are able to disregard the megalith of blue when this happens and move on with their lives. The rest of us are left only to wonder what it is we did wrong, and what we can do to win BYU back.
Of course, I hear that the easy cure is attending the University of Utah, but it is a drastic option, and one that would require the purchase of a new, non-blue wardrobe.
7 minutes ago