My Eternal Damnation–A letter to my Mormon Friends

apostasy-plan of salvationWhen I was growing up, it was common for children to be given a “Book of Remembrance.”  I was proud of mine.  My mother had done a ton of family history research.  She found pictures of many ancestors, copied their faces and pasted the photos in the family tree section.  It was fascinating to ruminate on those images of my grandparents up the line.

Book of Remembrance templates were sold by the church.  Right at the beginning of each book was a graphic representation of the Plan of Salvation.  I loved its clear and plain presentation.  From an early age, I knew that apostates were evil and destined for a nightmarish future.  The picture above is very similar to the page included in my Book of Remembrance.

In addition, Spencer W. Kimball taught in his book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” that excommunication is worse than death.

Dear Mormon Friends & Family,

Your prophets teach that apostates end up in outer darkness at worst or the Telestial Kingdom at best.  Both are places of eternal separation from family.  

Do you, my dear Mormon friends & family, follow your prophets on this one? Do you believe that I will be forever consigned to a dwelling with no light and no glory?  Or maybe a step above, where I’ll spend eternity with murderers and rapists?

Just so you know, sometimes it is hard on me to be around believing Mormons.  Often, the thought creeps in that you support and sustain the prophet in condemning me to a fate “worse than death.”  That you believe I am not worthy to ever see my wife or my children after I die.  You may say that you don’t condemn me.  But, don’t you in actuality condemn me if you sustain the fact that your prophet has condemned me?

Contemplating what you may believe can play interesting tricks on my mind. 

I am hoping that eventually, this mental drama will fade away.  Especially, since I no longer believe in a God who would make such an inane judgment.  The trauma playing out in my mind has nothing to do with MY worries for the after life.  It’s all about standing in front of someone knowing they might believe what their prophets have taught them about my eternal damnation.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Perhaps God’s morals are different from mine and he’s going to support the prophet’s decision sending me to Mormon hell.  If that were to be the case, I would still stand up to protect children and to help heal the wounded.  I would rather sacrifice my eternal reward than to compromise my integrity and moral compass.   After all, what the heck is salvation worth if I have turn a blind eye to children’s suffering.

Warm regards, Sam

 

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Brave Active Mormon Writes His Stake President

Banner Enchanted Rock

Yesterday, an active member of the Church (I’ll call him Jeff here) sent the following email to his stake president.  I was blind-copied.

President ______,

I feel impressed to discuss with you the subject of one-on-one interviews with children behind closed doors. I hope you consider this in the spirit with which it is written. I know you can’t change the church. But you can change our stake. I understand you have told bishops to not ask inquiring questions about sexuality anymore and I applaud you for that. It took great concern and wisdom on your part to see the problems with inquiring into issues involving a kids sexual temptations.  Thank you for that. 

First, both Bishop _____ and Bishop ______ have respected our wishes to not ask any questions of a sexual nature to our children in these interviews. However, it goes beyond that. 

Legally, I can’t imagine ever allowing a person who is not a child’s parent to ask questions that even slightly touch upon sexual issues with a child. Even asking a child if they live the law of chastity is a problem. Morally, I know first hand of the damage that it can do. But those adults who ask questions should be clinically trained in that area. 

Why isn’t it sufficient to teach kids the law of chastity in Sunday school or in their homes by their parents and let them know what is expected of them? There could be great personal growth to let children exercise their consciences rather than be told they are unworthy (which is so awful that we would tell an undeveloped mind that they are ever unworthy to serve others in the church).  Our church feels insulated because they use the phrase “law of chastity.”  But make no mistake what is being asked.  

Somehow, our church is the only church still doing any closed door interviews with children from what I have found. Everyone else has abandoned the practice. A Bishop or priesthood leader can determine worthiness without these interviews. Where is the power of discernment? But also, is there any consideration to what it does to tell a child that they are “unworthy?”

Utah has one of the highest rates of teenage suicide and we have to ask ourselves, why? Could it be that we make kids feel unworthy for doing things that most normal teens struggle with? For the safety of the youth in the ______ Stake, I pray this practice be reconsidered. If every other church on the planet sees the problem these interviews create, how does our church not?   

I know you have been a courageous stake president and have taken the unusual step of allowing doubting members and the mother/father of a gay child to speak to our leaders. That you have given instructions about these interviews that were bold. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. I would love to discuss this topic and my personal experiences with you at any time.  Thanks for listening. 

Dear Jeff,

I am very proud of you for taking up this matter directly with your local leader.  It’s exciting to see members speak up to protect the children in their own church.  It’s also very encouraging to hear your stake president has instructed his bishops “to not ask inquiring questions about sexuality anymore.”  THAT.IS.AWESOME.

Dear Everybody Else,

Join us this year to Protect Every Child.  In 2018 our actions protected many children.  In 2019, our impact will be much much bigger.

Go tell it on a mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere.

Go tell it on a mountain,

PROTECT OUR CHILDREN NOW.

 

The First Banners are Unfurled

Banner Enchanted Rock

This morning, I and three of my grandchildren climbed Enchanted Rock.  A landmark in central Texas.  Being four hours from Houston, it made for an all day adventure.  The kids loved it.  I loved it.  They want to plant more flags and then come to the march this fall in Salt Lake City.

As you can see, there was quite a breeze….a cold breeze.  Fortunately, the hike up the steep slope had warmed us.  Never-the-less, we were glad to descend when our little ceremony was finished.

Ceremony?  Well…we videoed the whole thing.  I’ll post it soon.  First, we assembled the flag poles.  Then the banners were unfurled in the perfect wind.  Finally, I gave a little speech which you’ll find below.  Pretty much everyone on the summit, about 20 people, gathered as the colorful flags started to wave.  Their attention was especially riveted when I got to the Mormon part of my presentation.

Unfurling Speech

Today is January 1st, 2019.  As we unfurl these 3 banners on the summit of Enchanted Rock, we declare this year as the year to Protect Every Child

We plant these flags in memory of our precious and innocent children.  We call the attention of the world to their vulnerability.  1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18.  Abuse is dreadfully abundant.  Yet, to most of us it’s an invisible monster stalking and destroying our kids.

We unfurl these banners in memory of the abused children of yesteryear who are now adults.  We know you are there.  What happened to you was not your fault.  It was wrong.   You are loved.  We care that you were harmed.  If you have spoken up we believe you.  If this is not the time for you to speak up, we will be your voice.

From this mountain top, we call upon all institutions to take every step possible to Protect Every Child.  We encourage churches to implement the full range of best practices regarding all adults dealing with children such as finger prints, background checks, criminal checks, regular & professional training, 2 deep leadership.

We call on law makers to take up this issue as a priority.  I was very encouraged by a news report that I woke up to this morning from Australia.  The headline: 

Abuse victims can sue churches much more effectively.

The attorney general said this: “I’m pleased my first item of business in 2019 is to create a fairer civil litigation system for all child abuse survivors.”

“The new laws stipulate a duty of care on organizations which exercise care, supervision or authority over children, to prevent abuse perpetrated by individuals associated with it. It reverses the onus of proof onto institutions, requiring they prove they took reasonable steps to prevent abuse.”

“It is also to encourage institutions to do everything they can to prevent the abuse from occurring in the first place.”

Good for you Australia. 

In 2018, our focus was only on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Dear Mormon Church: Soon you will have nowhere to hide.  You are now singled out as the most unsafe institutional church in America.  You have employed almost none of the best practices to protect children.  And you mandate some of the absolute worst practices.  You facilitate one-on-one behind closed door interviews between adult males and children.  Then you mandate that these adult men ask the children about sex and allow any sexually explicit question that the adult feels prompted to probe the children with.

Mormon church and every other church, we call on you to do everything you can to prevent abuse from occurring.  Everything.  Our children deserve no less.

Now, these are the first 3 banners unfurled on a mountain top.  I ask that everyone in the sound of my voice make a New Year’s resolution to take up the cause of protecting every child.

Pick a peak to climb.  Whether it’s the top of Kilimanjaro or the top of your driveway, it matters not.  Plant a flag.  Take a picture.  Share it with family and friends.  Then, if you can, join us this fall in Salt Lake City as we march in unison to unfurl our flags in memory of our children.

What Can You Do

  1. Climb a mountain, peak or driveway.  Unfurl a banner or poster.  Take a picture & share.
  2. Share this opportunity with friends and family.  This is no longer just a Mormon adventure to protect Mormon children.  Invite your friends of all religious persuasions.
  3. Make plans to come to the march this fall and wave your banner high.
  4. If you can’t come to the march, that’s ok.  We’ll carry a banner in your honor.

This is a high and noble cause.  We are saving children, both in and out of the Mormon Church.

On March 30, 2018, a THOUSAND people marched the streets of Salt Lake City with bold and colorful signs.  It was magical.

Now imagine this fall:  FIVE THOUSAND men, women and children bearing banners from mountain tops around the world proclaiming a message of safety and healing.  That’s my goal–5,000!!!  At this point, I know it will be at least 3.

BE A PART OF IT.

Preparations

PLDSC has a ton of preparation to do.  Two things that will happen soon to support you.

  1. A registry will be published where you can record in advance what mountain, hill or driveway you plan to climb.
  2. Banners will be made available for purchase.  Of course, home made flags are wonderful.  That’s the route we went for our first mountain climb.

This will be an amazing adventure of a lifetime for all of us.