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@meganphelps noted:

It has little to do with age, I think. Once that worldview is established, it’s almost impermeable to outside viewpoints or logic (which you're preemptively told are evil and heavily warned against).

I suppose you can say there's technically a choice (as in, that people of age have a legal right to decide or something), but for most of my life, I never saw leaving – or anything other than staying and doing what they said (believing it was what God said) – as a real option. Leaving was sadness, and Hell, and destruction, and losing the only family, friends, faith, truth I'd ever known. It simply wasn't on the table.

I suppose you can also say, "You grow up and you see that it's hateful and hurtful, and it's a choice to continue there" – but the simple process of aging doesn't make you more mature or able to see outside the only framework you've ever been taught. That requires more than years.

In fact: I'd say the longer you live in that environment, the harder it is to see that there are choices. You become hardened in the knowledge that only WBC is right, and you can't see the things they have wrong. It's in your very best interest to beat back any doubts you have, and to overlook every inconsistency – because if they're wrong, you lose everything.

I guess what I'm saying is: to me, the word "choice" implies a conscious decision – and at least in my experience, that consciousness wasn't there until the very end of my time at WBC.

(Some lyrics from Death Cab's "Talking Bird" came into my mind while typing this.)

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