Brave Active Mormon Writes His Stake President

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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.

 

Devastating to adults? To children it can destroy.

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A story from a friend.

It was the mid 80’s. I had already suffered 2 miscarriages. This was devastating to me. I wanted to be a mother more than anything in the world. I came from a large family. I was taught that this was my destiny as a woman in the church. It killed me a little bit when I would see a woman yelling at her kids in the grocery store.

I remember laying on the floor in the living room of our modest 2 bedroom apartment. We had painted the second room baby blue, in hopes of having a boy. I was having symptoms of another miscarriage, spotting and cramps. My husband brought in 2 male members of our ward. I was given a blessing of health and that “everything would turn out right.”

Later that night, I went into full labor and delivered a baby that fit into my husband’s hand. He said that it was deformed. That is something that I can thank him for, he did not allow me to see my baby. I would have had nightmares. He buried it in the flower garden outside of our apartment.

At our next temple recommend interviews, the bishop asked if I kept the law of Chastity. I answered yes, because I had only had sex with my husband within the bounds of marriage. My husband told me later that he had confessed to the bishop that we had tried oral sex. The bishop told my husband that we were evil and that the miscarriage was due to breaking the law of chastity.

After that, I descended into a deep depression. My feelings of worthlessness were overwhelming. My self esteem was zero. It was late summer, I remember canning corn. As I cut the corn off the cobs, I was thinking that, if I am not worthy and good enough to be a mother, I must not be worthy to eat. From that time forward, I just existed in what I called a “zombie” state. My world had so much pain that I felt nothing. I equated the feeling of being hungry with a positive state of being. At my thinnest, I was 105 pounds which was really thin for a tall female.

It has been years, since this time period in my life. Recently, a friend traveled to the city where this happened. Memories of the past came flooding back. I used google maps to find the my apartment. It was still there, but the flower garden wasn’t. I have different beliefs now, but it still pains me to know that the body of the baby I called Jonathan is under a parking lot now.

I still struggle with eating and food. Sometimes I horde food, sometimes I will only eat when I am with someone. When I am sick I fall back into the same physical feeling, I have to force myself to eat. I have been to see several therapists, but not one that understands the culture of guilt and shame that is perpetrated by the Mormon church. I hope and wish that all that have endured spiritual abuse by the hands of the church will find peace and healing.

Guilt and shame that is perpetrated by the Mormon church

There was a time that I viewed a lay clergy as an advantage. Today, I see it very differently. Having untrained clergy is an advantage only to the financial health of the LDS Corporation, saving it millions of dollars every year.

It is a huge disadvantage to members who need professional pastoral guidance and understanding. Instead, they are often subjected to uninformed, clumsy and dangerous counsel. In this case, it was devastating. Blaming a miscarriage on oral sex? Heinous on the bishop’s part and resulting in decades of depression and disorders.

Although the woman in the story was an adult, here is how she described her immature state of development way back when:  “I was basically a child as far as education. I Knew nothing of normal sexual interaction.”

What the Mormon church so often does to both its children and adults is gut-wrenching and preventable.  It’s time that either the church change its ways or the members stand up and protect themselves.

Please join us in our 2019 campaign to Protect Every Child.  More information will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

On New Year’s Day, our very first banner will be unfurled high on a mountain top.