Savannah & 12 Year Old Mormon Girls

Savannah

Savannah

I really admire the courage of a 12 year old LDS girl named Savannah.  In May, she bore an amazing testimony at church.  Last Sunday, I showed this video to my wife and two of my daughters.  They all said it was a beautiful testimony.  And…that it’s unfortunate she was cut off.  They speculated that if this had happened in our ward, she would not have been shut down.  The members would have rallied around her in love and support.

We ought to treasure and embrace our gay children!!!  All of us!!!

For Savannah’s testimony, click HERE.

So Many Other 12 Year Old Mormons

I cringe at the thought of what will happen tomorrow in Mormon chapels all across the country.  Twelve year old girls, like Savannah, will be taken behind closed doors, alone, by an older man.  He will proceed to ask the innocent young girl questions of a personal sexual nature, like, “Do you touch yourself down there?”  He will have no professional training.  He will not have the parents’ permission for his probing questions.  Frequently, the parents will have no idea that the inappropriate interview even took place.  Often, the 12 year old child will not understand the questions.  The man, the only other person behind the closed door, may then give additional graphic details.

Tomorrow, this will not only happen with 12 year old girls, but with 12 year old boys.  13 year old girls.  13 year old boys.  14 year old girls.  14 year old boys.  15 year old girls.  15 year old boys.  16 year old girls.  16 year old boys.  And who knows at what age it stops?  Or IF it stops?  If you are OK with this practice….well, that’s fine with me.  They are your children.  Every person outside of the church, who I’ve brought this up to, has been horrified.  Frankly,  I AM TOO.  I wish I’d known this was going on with my own 2 youngest children…when it was going on.  But, I had no idea.  Bad on me.

Related Posts

Behind Closed Doors–Don’t Let it Happen  An account of a Mormon dad protecting his child during an inappropriate interview.

Happy 12th Birthday!  Let Me Ask, Do You Masturbate?   Some members don’t believe this interview practice is actually happening in the church.  This post relates numerous accounts.

Talkeria Tears–Another Family About to Leave the Houston Texas South Stake

TearsAs always, last night’s Talkeria was amazing.  Touching.  Heart-warming.  Connections made.  Friendship felt.  A total of 7 of us spent over 3 hours together, including my lovely daughter Christie.  She is a traditional believing, super active Mormon, with a heart as big as Texas.  By the way, I consider myself a believing Mormon, too.  But, not in the traditional sense.   I do believe that the Mormon church has the truth.  And I embrace that truth.

Tears

Over the course of the evening, tears appeared in many eyes.  Napkins drenched.   Especially, during the 45 minutes while a couple from my stake shared their faith journey.  I’ll call them the Roosevelts.  Both of them had experienced pain and loneliness.  The wife’s transition is still raw with emotion.  Tears streaming, her heartbreak and disappointment frequently overwhelmed her ability to speak.  This is the first time that she and her husband have openly shared their narrative.

The next story told presented a fascinating juxtaposition.  This man’s faith transitioned long ago.  Yet, he loves the church.  He’s very active and wants his kids to fully participate, including temple and missions.  In effect, he gave the Roosevelts practical ideas of how they could stay in the church, if that was their inclination.

My Daughter

Christie was the only TBM (Traditional Believing Mormon) there.  And sweetie, the term TBM is not pejorative in any way.  I was impressed with how respectful the discussion was.  Those whose faith has transitioned were considerate, understanding and totally accepting of my daughter.  No judgment.  In return, my daughter mirrored the same sentiments back.  Plus, she had empathy.  She has not experienced the excruciating pain and solitude of a faith change.  But, she has witnessed that of her father and close friends.  She said something like this, “I want you to know that I recognize that you have all gone through great pain.  I’m sorry for that.  It must be extremely difficult to have your lifetime foundation crumble.”

She also shared what is happening in her own ward in Pennsylvania.  Her bishop and his wife are both very open to the problems of the church.  The members seem to be accepting of those with doubts and questions.  Recently, a particular sister gave a talk in sacrament meeting.  She stated her support for the Ordain Women movement and for gay marriage.  It didn’t cause a stir.  The bishop didn’t turn the microphone off.  He didn’t conclude the meeting by correcting what she had just said.

There is a glimmer of hope for the changes that the church desperately needs.

To all of you who came last night:  THANK YOU.  You blessed my life.  You lifted my spirits.  You endowed me with new understanding.  And most of all…THANK YOU  for your friendship.

P.S.  I know the stories are totally lacking in detail.  That is the point of the Talkeria.  A safe place to talk without fear of judgment or tattling.

 

Thank You Mormonad!!

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Over the past  couple of years my religious beliefs have evolved.  However, discussing my new world views have often been met with criticism, disdain and a call to be silent.

Then a delightful discovery.  This 1992 Mormonad.  You can follow the link on Lds.org HERE.

What really caught my attention was this phrase: “Standing up for your beliefs can be music to other people’s ears.”  Oh my gosh!  I have been very open about my beliefs. Over and over again people have told me how much my words have meant to them

So, thank you Mormonad.  Your validation is super meaningful.  I HAVE been blowing my own horn.  It HAS been music to people’s ears.  Sometimes it has been scary to let my voice be heard.  Now, I’ll fresh courage take.

 

More Families Walk Away in the Houston Texas South Stake

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I just sent the following email to my good and hard working Stake President.

Dear President___________,

Over the past 3 months, two more solid couples in our stake have left the church.

In addition, yesterday I received this message:

“I wanted to check in to see when the next Talkeria in Sugar Land might be. I just met with someone in the South stake who is navigating a faith crisis.”

I bring these three families to your attention because I know you care about your flock.  Often, when members leave the church, it isn’t noticed.  For example, for over 2 years, you, me and the bishop discussed the possibility of creating a safe space for saints to talk about their questions & doubts.  During that time period,  9 families in the ward stepped away from the church.  When I share this statistic with ward members, they are incredulous.  Never-the-less, the 9 families have left.

The situation with people leaving is not unique to the LDS.  Last night, I came across a fascinating article.  It might be helpful, as you and the bishops continue to wrestle with this issue.

It was written by Rick Brown, the Religion Columnist for the Sugar Land Sun.

He told the story of the doubting apostle, St. Thomas.  And then said, “If you’re in a season of doubt, here’s what you need to know.”

“First, be honest with your doubts.  Thomas was.  When Thomas stepped into a place of honesty about his doubts Jesus stepped into the room.  Being honest with your doubts is a necessary part of faith.”  (My commentary:  It’s hard to be honest with your doubts when you have to keep them to yourself.)

“Second, be with people who aren’t afraid of your doubts.  Find a faith culture that allows for doubts and where leaders themselves are free to express their doubts.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be with people who are not afraid of questions?  They let you ask yours.  They share stories of doubts they’ve had.  When you’re in a period of uncertainty they carry you along until you regain your faith equilibrium.  They don’t get anxious.  They just love you the way Jesus loved Thomas.”  (My commentary:  He is talking about a safe place to discuss.  We need this so badly in the LDS Church.  I’ve reached a faith equilibrium.  But, it was a lonely and painful journey.  It shouldn’t be.)

“Third, a culture that allows questions can help you be aware of what God is doing with your doubts.  Jesus allowed Thomas time to “doubt his doubts” a bit.  Jesus knew what he was doing with Thomas.  He was allowing him time to think through what it was he believed.” (My commentary:  The only place to think through questions and doubts is…NOT in the church.  Rather, it can readily be found among the good and loving people who have already left.  This needs to change.)

Hopefully, something here will be of help.

All my best to you and your family,

Sam

 

Yep…I’m Hep….on Jesus

img_0157Query

Today, a good and close friend posed the following question:  “Some time ago, you expressed doubt about the divinity of Jesus – if he is not who he said he was – why are you so hep on following Jesus??

Reply

My Dear Friend,

Thanks for your question.  A great question.  Three years ago, I started to discover that I’d been deceived, lied to, and told half truths.  Many of the teachings, doctrines, and practices foisted on me by previous prophets have now been CONDEMNED by current prophets.  What we now disavow, for 63 years I believed to be true.

Almost everyday of my mission, I taught falsehoods given to me by the church. These falsehoods are no longer taught.  But, they were core to my teaching as a full time missionary.  The church now recognizes them as falsehoods.

When I found all this out, my reaction was anger. My free agency had been stripped from me, from childhood on, by the very apostles and prophets I had complete trust in.  Many members don’t really care that the prophets taught falsehoods or offered up half truths and deceptions.  Why it doesn’t bother them, I can’t really fathom.  I can only speak for myself. Claiming to speak for God and then to present me with falsehoods, does not and cannot sit well with me.

Early on in my faith journey, I found out that discussing questions, doubts and differing conclusions is shunned in the church. How would I have ever known this in advance?  That it’s not acceptable to talk about our own history and doctrine at church or with church members or with family.  Our culture and our leaders forbid it.  And…therein lies a glaring problem with the truth claims of the LDS church. Truth can stand up to questions, to examination, to challenge.  It’s the opposite of truth that prohibits examination.

Once I had done my research on Mormon history and doctrine, I turned my attention to Christianity in general. After months of study, I found that the Bible and Christianity have every bit as many problems as Mormonism.

So what to do?  After much consideration I came back to my roots….Jesus Christ.  I had been burned by my blind belief in anything that was fed to me by the church and it’s leaders.  I wasn’t going to be burned again.  Like everything else in life, I now only place my faith in what I have good evidence for.

Personally, I don’t have adequate evidence that Christ was in fact the Son of God. I simply don’t KNOW.  But….there IS something that I DO know.  I have lived 64 years on this planet. I’ve learned a lot. Still have a lot to learn. And, I hope to keep learning.  One of the most important lessons I have learned is that the teachings and example ascribed to Christ are a good way to live life.

Back to your question, “If Jesus is not who he said he was – why am I so hep on following Jesus??” I’m ‘hep’ on following the teachings and example ascribed to Christ because my lived experiences tell me this is a true way to navigate our short mortality.

Some say that these are universal adages, not limited to Christianity or even religion. My response is, “Well looky there!  The ultimate evidence of truth.   Pretty much every human being eventually reaches the conclusion that the principles Christ taught are a good way to live.”

So, even though I don’t KNOW that Christ was divine, my choice is to attempt to follow the teachings and example ascribed to Christ….because I know it’s a good and fulfilling way to go.  And……it’s HEP.

Pray the Gay Away

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Mormons Are Good

Members of the Mormon church are a good, loving and brave people.  Brave enough to stand up to dangerous and distorted teachings.  Strong enough to put their foot down even when these dangers are found in their own church—I hope!

Outdated, Harmful and Dangerous Counsel

For decades, the cardinal counsel doled to our gay kids was to ‘Pray the Gay Away.’  This admonition was given by bishops, stake presidents and parents.  It was sanctioned by the apostles and prophets.

As it turns out, this is the worst possible prescription to give these vulnerable children.  Born out by research, science and the lived experience of my very closest friends, it is now recognized that this approach doesn’t work.  It has never worked.  The gay child prays and prays and prays.  No answer, no answer, no answer.  Eventually, depression descends.  The child assumes he must be wicked and worthless in the eyes of God because Deity doesn’t answer the poor kids prayers.  A promise made by his trusted priesthood leaders.

I realize that this ill advised counsel was given in ignorance.  We are no longer ignorant.  So, this counsel should never be given, again.  Unless, we really do hate our gay kids.  And want them depressed, dejected and suicidal.  Of course, we don’t want that…I hope!

Not Dead Yet

I thought ‘Pray the Gay Away’ had died a merciful death in the church corridors.  Apparently it hasn’t.

Today, I became aware of a young gay man who was told to get help from a counselor to essentially ‘Pray the Gay Away.’  He was also informed that he can never be happy on “this path.”   Fortunately, the young man has adopted a healthy attitude: “There’s nothing I need to fix.  I was born this way, and for me that’s ok.  I’m happy I was born gay.”

Wow!  Right on, my young friend.  There is nothing to fix.  You were born just the way God created you.

A Call to Courageous Mormons

Core to Christ’s teaching and example is looking out for the “least of these.”  Gay people are not lesser in any way.  But for my entire life, we have treated them as a lower form, far below us.  This proclivity is still prevalent in our LDS culture.

What would Jesus do if he were here?  You know what he would do…I hope.

So, where are the brave members who will stand up to the deleterious directive to ‘Pray the Gay Away?’  It’s time that it die, never to be resurrected again.

  • Eliminate the dreadfully detrimental ‘Pray the Gay Away’
  • Stand up and speak out.
  • Don’t remain silent.
  • Let your leaders know that this counsel must go.
  • Let your friends know that this counsel must go.
  • Protect our kids from depression & suicide risk

Talkeria Takes a Turn

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Talkeria #25

Thursday, May 18, 2017, 7:00pm. Location: James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.

The Talkeria Turns

My faith journey is now 3 years old.  In February 2016, I made the fateful decision to follow the teachings and example of Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ.  Over the intervening months, I have come to several realizations.  As a result, I’m taking a major turn in direction.

There have been two intentions behind the my blogs, the Talkeria, and the voting opposed initiatives.  #1:  To help the church.  #2:  To help people.  I’ve decided to drop #1 and advance #2 to #1.  The Good Ship Zion leaves a plenitude of damage in it’s wake.  Damage to real live human beings.  I’m turning away from helping the corporate church and turning exclusively toward helping those being beaten up by the boat.

I’ve discovered a new spiritual experience.  A spirituality that is satisfying and long lasting.  It’s certainly much easier to access than my old paradigm of being touched by the Spirit.  And this is it…simply connecting with people through understanding, empathy and validation…without judgment.

Please Come If You Need a SAFE PLACE to….

  • Discuss Mormon questions
  • Discuss Mormon doubts
  • Talk about your faith journey
  • Listen to other’s stories
  • Vent
  • Express anger
  • Express sadness
  • Explore new conclusions
  • Discuss gender questions and challenges
  • Discuss family difficulties resulting from a faith transition
  • Etc…etc…etc

Anyone is welcome regardless of where they fall on the believing/non-believing spectrum.

For the history of the Mormon Talkeria click HERE.

P.S.  I love the amazing people who have come to talk in past Talkerias.  I wish you Godspeed on your journey.

P.S.S.  Many experience great pain and turmoil during and after a faith transition.  I’ve often heard it described as gut-wrenching, excruciating and lonely.  Today, a reader shared the bit of wisdom below.  Sounds like a great maxim for the Talkeria.

“You’re not a victim for sharing your story.  You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth.  And you never know who needs your light, your warmth and raging courage.”