“Silent and Immobile.” -Elder Dallin H. Oaks

 

Flag Lisa Ensign PeakAt the men’s session of the April 2019 General Conference, apostle Dallin H. Oaks presented a parable that perfectly describes our course over the past 2 years.  You can watch the entire address HERE.

Some decisions are choices between doing something and doing nothing.   I heard an example of this kind of choice at a stake conference in the United States many years ago.  The setting was a beautiful college campus.  A crowd of young students were seated on the grass.  The speaker who described the circumstance said they were watching a handsome tree squirrel with a large bushy tail playing around the base of a beautiful hardwood tree.  Sometimes it was on the ground.  Sometimes up and down and around the trunk. 

But why would that familiar sight attract a crowd of students? 

Stretched out prone on the grass nearby was an Irish Setter.  He was the object of the students’ interest and the squirrel was the object of his.  Each time the squirrel was momentarily out of sight circling the tree, the Setter would quietly creep forward a few inches and then resume his apparently indifferent posture.  This is what held the student’s interest.  Silent and immobile, their eyes were riveted on the event whose outcome was increasingly obvious. 

Finally, the Setter was close enough to bound at the squirrel and catch it in his mouth.  A gasp of horror arose and the crowd of students surged forward and wrested the little animal away from the dog.  But it was too late.  The squirrel was dead. (Audience laughs???) 

Anyone in that crowd could have warned the squirrel at any time by waving arms or by crying out, but none did.  They just watched while the inevitable outcome got closer and closer.  No one asked, where will this lead?  When the predictable occurred, all rushed to prevent the outcome.  But it was too late.   Tearful regret was all they could offer. 

That true story is a parable of sorts.  It applies to things we see in our own lives and in lives and circumstances around us.  As we see threats creeping up on things or persons we love, we have the choice of speaking or acting or remaining silent.  It is well to ask ourselves, where will this lead?  Where the consequences are immediate and serious, we cannot afford to do nothing.  We must sound the appropriate warnings or support appropriate preventative efforts while there is still time.

Thank you Elder Oaks for your validation.

Almost everyday we are witnessing the predictable consequences of leaving children unprotected.  “We must sound the appropriate warnings.”

Don’t sit silent and immobile.  Children are crying out for our voices to be lifted up.

Take Action

+Please sign the new PETITION.

+Share the PETITION with friends and family.

+Climb a mountain, hill or driveway.  Unfurl a banner, take a picture and share.

+Register for the Children’s March on Oct 5 in Salt Lake City.

Together, we are going to save those precious squirrels.

Enough is Enough–Protect Every Child!!

PEC BackgroundOver the past 18 months, the cause of Protect LDS Children (PLDSC) has been dedicated to protecting kids in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Also known as the Mormons.  In 2019, we will take up the noble cause to protect EVERY child, regardless of religious affiliation.

Last year, we documented the dangers facing children in the Mormon church.  Survivors shared thousands of stories of sexual abuse, both physical & psychological, overt and covert.  Many of their narratives can be seen HERE and read HERE.  Over and over, survivors also shared that our movement brought with it a great healing effect.

Background

In the summer of 2017, I organized an initiative called Protect LDS Children.  That’s the year I found out that my daughter was regularly subjected to sexually explicit interrogations  from age 12 to 17.  I raised her and my other 5 daughters in the Mormon Church.  This happened to my sweet child behind closed doors, all alone with the bishop of my congregation.

I wish I could go back in time and protect my innocent 12 year old daughter.  I can’t.  But I can stand up and speak out for the protection of today’s children.  Through PLDSC, I called on the Mormon Church to end the practice of one-on-one interviews and to eliminate sexual questions.

During 2018, Protect LDS Children carried out the following actions.  Tens of thousands of supporters joined the cause.

All of this generated much needed awareness of the dangers that the Mormon interview practices pose to children.  The Church responded with a minor, yet significant, policy change.  Unfortunately, Mormon children are still at great risk.

Protect Every Child (PEC)

Our original goal was to protect Mormon children.  During 2018 and early 2019, as scandal after scandal after scandal of child abuse continuously erupted, I realized that EVERY CHILD is at risk.  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH Adults need to stand up and shout from the mountain tops that abuse of children must stop.  No longer will we take it sitting down. 

Rather than reading the horrors perpetrated on children and simply shaking our heads, it’s time that the whole of society flex its powerful muscles.  We can’t prevent what happened in the past.  We WILL protect our precious kids going forward.

Protect LDS Children has expanded its cause to Protect Every Child, regardless of religious affiliation.  We will reach out and join forces with other organizations which also seek to safeguard our little ones.  Child abuse is not just among the Mormons or the Catholics or the Baptists.  It is everywhere. 

In 2019, Protect Every Child will launch a series of actions to raise awareness to mountainous levels.  Here is our four point plan.

Action 1:  Petition

Last year’s petition was directed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This year’s petition will call for all parents as well as all religions, denominations and youth serving organizations to Protect Every Child.  The goal is to gather 50,000 signatures.

Action 2:  Climb a Mountain, Save a Child

  • Summit a mountain, a hill, a driveway or any point of prominence.  Whether big or small.
  • Unfurl a banner on that driveway or mountain top.  Take a picture.  Then share it everywhere.
  • This year, hundreds of banners will be planted on pinnacles all around the world.  The flags are not to be left behind.  Rather, they are to be brought home for a subsequent action.
  • A lovely carol is sung during the Christmas season–Go Tell It On A Mountain.  If ever there was a message to shout from the mountain tops, this is it.  PROTECT EVERY CHILD.

Action 3:  12 Days of Ascension–July 24 to August 4, 2019

Last summer, a 23 day hunger strike was conducted in the shadow of the Salt Lake Temple.  This summer, we’ll return to Utah for 12 days,    Not to fast…to climb.  Peaks will be summitted around the valley.  Others will climb mountains across the country.  Banners will be unfurled for the entire world to see.

  • Each evening, a temple-side-chat will be broadcast.  Flags carried down from the mountain tops will be on display.  Discussions will be held with survivors and supporters.  Religious leaders will be invited to share their child safety practices.
  • On the final day, a large gathering will be held, similar to last year’s amazing Samaritan’s party.  Many described it as the most spiritual meeting they had ever attended.
  • During last summer’s hunger strike, over 500,000 social media views were registered.  This year we will raise that awareness to millions.

Action 4:  The Children’s March!!  Oct 5, 2019

Last spring, PLDSC held a rally and march in Salt Lake City.  Its culmination was the delivery of the petition to the top Mormon leadership.  Books were also presented that contained hundreds of stories of harm done behind closed doors.

It was a magical experience.  Healing of childhood wounds.  Awareness raised.  A thousand people joined together in a common and noble cause. Giving voice to the voiceless.  Standing up to protect the vulnerable.  Recognizing, validating and soothing the deep hurt still lodged in the broken hearts of adults who were abused as kids.

October 5, 2019, a second march will be held in the streets of Salt Lake City.  The banners that have been planted at the tops of the world and at the end of driveways will be publicly unfurled and proudly waved.  Huge awareness will be spread of the abuse our children have endured and what MUST be done to prevent it in the future.

This will be an historic event.  In 2018, one thousand marchers peacefully walked the streets of Salt Lake.  Our goal for 2019 is 5,000 participants.  Join us for this experience of a lifetime.  Come…march…and Protect Every Child.

Desired Changes

Some institutions have already implemented child protection policies.  Some of those policies are robust and well thought out.  We commend those institutions.

Many churches and other organizations have constructed bare-bone policies or none at all.  That is no longer tolerable.  Our children must be priority number one!  Not the good name of the institution or the reputation of  its leaders.  In fact, the repute of an institute should be directly tied to the quality of its safeguards and its diligence in enforcing them.

As a minimum, Protect Every Child calls for the following standards.  The term ‘children’ refers to minors up to and including the age of 17.

  1. No one-on-one interaction between adults and children.  That includes ecclesiastical leaders.  Children should never be taken behind closed doors without at least 2 adults present.
  2. No one-on-one communication via technology between unrelated adults and children.
  3. No private discussions initiated by adults relating to sex or sexual activity.
  4. For all adults who work with children:  a) Criminal background checks.  b) Re-verify criminal background checks at least every 3 years.  c) Professional training on youth protection.  d) Renew youth protection training at least every 2 years.
  5. Child protection policies are to be posted publicly and given to all parents.  Parents and leaders/volunteers working with children are to be trained annually on these policies.
  6. Establish a complaint process for reporting policies not being observed or leaders acting in ways that are not consistent with child protection responsibilities.  This process should be independent of the organization’s leadership.
  7. All institutions must act in accordance with government laws of reporting child abuse or suspicion of child abuse.
  8. Institutions are to have an independent process to evaluate how well the institution is following the policies.

Now…

Let’s join arm-in-arm to Protect Every Child.

You can start by signing the new PETITION.

Then share it with everybody.   Every human being has a huge stake in this.

About Me

I am a Houston small business owner and father of six daughters.  Over my 66 year lifetime, I have dedicated decades of volunteer service to the Mormon Church is various roles including bishop, bishopric counselor, ward mission leader, ward young men president, stake young men president, stake public affairs director, stake activities director, high councilor, high priest group leader, seminary teacher, institute teacher and several special assignments.  From 1972 to 1974, I served a full time proselyting mission in Guatemala and El Salvador.

 

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.

 

Devastating to adults? To children it can destroy.

lacrima

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.