Hurricane Harvey–Father Denied Access to Missionary Son


I am so disappointed in the church.  The leaders say obedience is the first law of heaven.  Then they openly disobey and lead the members to follow them in disobedience.  Bible and Book of Mormon history is playing out all over again in these latter-days.

As a big part of the restoration, Christ detailed important commandments for the governance of the church.  Perhaps the most plain and prominant is the Law of Common Consent.  Scriptural, doctrinal and prophetic descriptions can be found HERE.

A Slap in the Face of a Hurricane

Today, I became aware of a situation in my home town of Houston, Texas.  It involves a father, John O’Conner, and his full time missionary son.

Friday night, around 10pm, the massive hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast.  With all its Category 4 fury.  Dire predictions of catastrophic damage have been a constant drumbeat all over the news.  The National Weather Service has bombarded our cell phones with incessant tornado and flash flood warnings.  This situation can be scarey…even to hurricane veterans.  Especially, when Catetory 4 and tornado are in the same sentence as the word hurricane.

Twelve hours before landfall, this dad contacted the mission president, asking for his son’s phone number.  To me, the ensuing email thread is disturbing.  As you’ll see, it was highly distressing to the dad.  You can read through it HERE.

I don’t know exactly why John wanted so badly to contact his son.  I can only spectulate.  But, it shouldn’t matter.  This is the head of the family.  Aren’t we a family church?  At least, we used to be.

Just so you know, Mr. O’Conner gave his consent to have this email exchange published.  Here is what he had to say:

I’m for complete transparency.  Please share. My goal at this point is to expose the policy as a dangerous one that isolates parents from their children during stressful and dangerous times. The policy is at fault and needs discussion. The MP’s insistence on it at this time is inappropriate, stress-inducing, and incredibly inconsiderate and irresponsible.

I agree with John.  Transparency in the church it terribly lacking and desperately needed.   I also want to commend this dad for being willing to stand up for his family and for other families that will be affected by this policy in the future.  A good father and a courageous man.

Elder Holland

In last April’s General Conference, Elder Holland gave a beautiful & impassioned plea for “each one of us to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir (the church).”  And then this caveat:  “In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments.”

So, if we don’t honor His commandments is there no place for us in the choir?  Let that sink in.  Most everybody is dishonoring Jesus Christ’s sacred law of consent.  Maybe it’s time to make a decision.  You either want no part of common consent and you ought to leave.  Or you are ready to take on the right and obligation that the restored gospel places squarely on your shoulders and you start to vote.

John O’Conner found himself facing a troubling policy that has NEVER seen the light of common consent.  PUT….IT….UP….FOR….A….VOTE.  Something like this, “It is proposed that at times of catastophic disaster, parents are to have no contact whatsoever with their children on missions.”  Really?  Who is going to vote for a policy like that?

This dreadful policy doesn’t have John’s consent.  It doesn’t have my consent.  It doesn’t have anybody’s formal consent as mandated by Jesus Christ.

19 thoughts on “Hurricane Harvey–Father Denied Access to Missionary Son

  1. I think you are finding every opportunity you can to find fault with the church policy. This MP did exactly what he was supposed to do. He was verifying all missionaries were safe and mobilizing them to service mode. The anxiety of the father was understandable, however he did not follow the policy. Unless a case of death in the family, he should have contacted his Stake President and let him call the proper authority in SLC. Imagine a MP receiving 600 phone calls from anxious parents. Houston is not a Third World Country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Imagine a church that follows Jesus Christ’s policy….of common consent. The church is not a 3rd world country. But, it is a dictatorship. And it will be until the members decide to embrace that laws of the restoration.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Your love of the rules is the problem. There are situations when the rules should not be followed. When you can show more compassion and love and humanity by not following the rules. When you can be more Christ like by not following the rules. When the rules are all that matter you are a pharisee and have lost your way. The rules are there for a reason, but there need to be reasonable situations where the rules can and should be broken.


      1. Well another approach would be the proactive one. Don’t want 600 calls, then draft the APs, and some missionaries close to the mission home/office. Have them call,text,email, blog, answer phones for families with updates of what they are doing to keep the missionaries safe. Version lifted their caps on cell, text, data usage for people in the area. The Pres. can temporally suspend mission policies re. calling home. It’s not rocket science, the helpers can bunk at the mission home until it’s all over.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Yet they can make 600 calls possible on Mother’s Day and Christmas, no problem.

      The point isn’t that the MP followed the policy. The point is that he found no reason NOT to.

      This situation, abstaining from communicating with FAMILY, will be re-told and recycled as “good and praiseworthy and a sign of great faith,” over and over again in various forms of testimony. The scripted narrative will be that these missionaries and their families showed tremendous faith in the “work of the Lord”, bearing the burden for the sake of obedience (to a POLICY) and they were all so blessed for their faith… (but really, who does this faith so “bless”?)

      But this dad. Well. He’s a BAD DUDE for being a GOOD FATHER. (Hmm… the thought makes reason stare… )


      I believe your shaming is misguided, if not entirely misplaced.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a little confused. Are you saying that MY shaming is misguided?

        My major point IS shame. Shame on the church for not following Jesus Christ. He commanded that our policies MUST be vetted by common consent. Not a single policy has been presented for a vote since 1978. Shame on the church. I’m ashamed that we claim obedience is important to a policy but not to the Savior.


  2. I’ve read their blog and it is absolutely tone-deaf. He’s all like, “Thank goodness several baptism were held today and hopefully the weather will hold while afilm crew from SLC is in town.” Or ” Missionaries were out some today teaching, baptizing, doing service and finding those prepared to hear the restored gospel…I expect most will spend tomorrow in their apartments studying and preparing for the upcoming zone conference next week.” No leadership, what’s with “I expect…”?
    How about , “To ensure the safety of the missionaries in my charge I am having them stay inside until the danger passes, period. ” Totally different approach. His focus is totally on the wrong things. This guy is clearly not local and is clueless about how to act in a hurricane. If the missionaries goof off for a couple of days while it’s raining, so what?

    This is an exsmple from Anadarko, “We are closely monitoring Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico. We have safely removed all personnel and temporarily shut in production at our operated Boomvang, Gunnison, Lucius and Nansen facilities, which are located in the western portion of the Gulf. These facilities will remain shut in until the hurricane has passed, and it is safe to return our people to these offshore locations. We will continue to track Harvey and are ready to remove additional personnel and shut in production at our operated facilities in the eastern portion of the Gulf if necessary. ” The majors in the GOM all have similar statements. People and safety first, securing assets second.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My son was hit by a car (while riding his bike) and hospitalized, and not only did the MP not allow his distressed mother to call him. He didn’t inform us until days after it happen. And he was apperrently too busy to even go see our son personally while in the hospital only 30 miles away.

    It brought back memories of my own mission when I was hopsitalized for 2 weeks and my mother never even knew it and the president didn’t seem to think I was worth a visit either.

    There weren’t any ‘disasters’ in that case to excuse these leaders.

    This IS POLICY to keep parents from interacting with their kids. If you aren’t LDS you would realize how cultish it is to create such isolation.

    Just imagine the same story, all the same details but about a different church, like scientology, the Moonies or even heavens gate. Would the policy of isolation be good in those cases?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sam, are you saying that every policy in every handbook of every organization needs to be voted on by the membership. This is ridiculous. Where in the scriptures did the Israelites vote on the 10 Commandments? When did Jesus call upon a vote on the beatitudes. You have always had a common sense head on your shoulders and this crisis of faith has gone askew. Jesus called 12 disciples to run his church when he knew his time here was short. The restoration brought them back. They are not dictators because you still have your agency. You have chosen not to follow , that is your agency. I love you and your family and pray for your heart to be softened toward the brethren.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you saying that we should vote on nothing? Jesus said ALL things must be done by common consent. How much should be voted on? Once we as a people decide to follow Christ, we can enter into a discussion of exactly how much should be voted on. You say we should vote on NOTHING. That does not square with my reading of the scriptures, doctrine or what the prophets have said.

      Of course, they are dictators. That has nothing to do with agency. In North Korea, the people have their agency. Chose not to follow and suffer imprisonment, death, or torture. Christ mandated common consent, not dictatorship.

      I’ve chosen not to follow? Exactly what and who have I chosen not to follow? Nope. You have chosen not to follow….the law of Jesus Christ….the law of consent. I’ve chosen to follow Jesus Christ. If that puts me on the outs with someone else, shouldn’t that be OK with me. I can tell you that it’s damn hard to follow Jesus. I’ve taken a lot of flack for it. I appreciate that you are praying for me. However, I have a request. Please pray that my heart will continue to be softened towards following the teachings and example of the Savior. The Brethren are fine. But….they are not my god nor my saviors nor my kings. I am not a disciple of the apostles. Nor do I want to be. I’m trying to be a disciple of Christ. They are not the same thing.


  5. I am sorry for those who had a negative MP experience. I live in South Houston and have known many MP around the country. I read the story about the dad’s experience. At the time he called theMP, Harvey was still in the Gulf and heading away fro Houston and toward Corpus. We also have only the father’s story. All missionaries have the ability to email. If the missionary had any fears, he would have emailed his family. I think it very insensitive of those you criticized this MP for not dropping the monumental task he had in front of him, to deal with this dad. He had all these young men and women to account for and get them all safe. To criticize him is ignorant.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If the Mormon Church doesn’t like being called a cult, then it should stop acting like a cult. This is a ridiculous and outdated policy that needs to be done away with, along with most of the other militant mission rules. I was denied the opportunity to simply have lunch with my son who was serving in Taiwan while I happened to be there for a few days on business. Fortunately, my situation didn’t involve a natural disaster like this father’s but I find it unconscionable for any man, regardless of his mormon title, to deny a parent access to his child.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a tough one for me. I am typically critical of these pharasian type rules that seem to take on a life of their own and become more important than doing the right thing. Or the compassionate thing. Or the kind thing. Etc. And this is is no different. I mean what is really going to happen if a dad calls his missionary son outside of Christmas or Mother’s Day? Baptisms will stop? A. Biblical plague of water will descend upon the region? Oh wait…

    What makes this hard for me is that I know Jordan Peterson (the mission president) personally. We were in the same ward in PA some 20 years ago when I was in my late twenties and he was in his mid-thirties. Somehow I missed the memo that he hd been called to preside over a mission. Usually Mom keeps me more informed about such things as that. Mom, you’re slipping! 🙂

    The jaded me usually views these guys (Mission Pres., GA, etc.) as out of touch and above the law, etc. But I know Jordan to be a good guy (at least then). I’ve played dodge ball with him in the cultural hall with all the youth, he’s been to my house and he to mine. To me he is a regular guy tht’s now a mission president. Perhaps the ensuing 17 years as a Bishop and then a Stake President before his call to the THM changed him somehow. I don’t know. It probably did. How could it not.

    Anyway, I chalk this up to the rule bound, eager to please the brethren, tow the line culture that dominates in the church. Unfortunately, it will continue to do so until the process of weeding out critical (or progressive) thinking men (or women) from the leadership selection process in favor of ‘yes’ men stops.

    Then maybe we can do the right thing the first time, both on the local and global level, without first being pressured by external forces.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Magic,

      Great to hear from you. I don’t really have an issue with the mission president. It’s the system. The rank and file members have no say in the decisions made by leadership. According to the church’s own doctrine, that is wrong. To me it’s repulsively wrong.


      1. Agreed. The rank and file don’t have a say. And I don’t think there is anything that can be done from within (at least from the bottom up) to change that. People that advocate for change (or often even an explaination of ‘why’) are typically shunned, marginalized and silenced.

        To me, it is also unlikely to change from the top down. Too ridged. Too comfortable. Too sure they are right (even though they don’t have history on their side).

        That’s why I voted with my feet. Walked out. Unlikely to ever return. I strive to live a life filled with love, service, humility, compassion, kindness, and respect. To me, those things are the keys to happiness.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Sam and Janice (and all you houstonians), hope you guys are ok. Been following whats happening down there and it looks like a large portion of Houston is under water. Will keep you and all of Houston in our prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for your concern and prayers. Both Janice and I are in good shape. Unfortunately, many are not.

      The skies are clearing. The water receding in most areas. Soon the true scope of the tragedy will unfold. And then the long process of recovery. One wonderful thing about the church is the service force it will marshal in the wake of the storm.


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