Verdict is In….the Envelope

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 14, 2018

Media Advisory:  Sam Young to Hold Press Conference in Salt Lake City on Sunday Detailing Outcome of Excommunication Proceedings by Mormon Church

After Refusing to Protect LDS Children, Church Seeks to Silence Growing Grassroots Movement, Excommunicate Whistleblower

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – This Sunday, September 16th at 12:00 PM MT, Sam Young, an LDS Church Bishop and the founder of Protect LDS Children will hold a press conference detailing the outcome of his Excommunication proceedings from the Mormon Church.  Church leaders delivered a verdict letter to Young’s business in Houston and at Sunday’s press conference, he will open and read aloud this verdict for the first time.

Young has been on a months-long campaign to raise awareness about the negative impact of sexually explicit one-on-one interviews that take place with Church officials and has drawn thousands of supporters to rallies in Salt Lake City. Despite all of his efforts to protect children and young people, Young was recently summoned to an Excommunication hearing in Houston by the Church in an effort to silence this growing grassroots movement.   

Young’s efforts are especially timely as this movement has also come at the same time as new stories of past abuse and coverups by leaders have emerged within the Catholic Church as well.  Just as the Catholic Church has publicly apologized and recognized the damage it has done, Young continues to implore the LDS Church to do the same.

  • WHO:            Press Conference with Sam Young & Supporters
  • WHEN:          Sunday, September 16, 12:00 PM MT
  • WHERE:        South Temple across the street from Temple Square, Salt Lake City

The press conference will be livestreamed on Protect LDS Children’s Facebook page.

Background: Sam Young, founder of Protect LDS Children, has fought an uphill battle against the LDS Church to urge LDS Church leaders to end sexually explicit one-on-one interviews with children. Protect LDS Children has compiled a list of 29 actual questions that Bishops have asked young children in interviewsmost of them too explicit to be read aloud in public, so Young and Protect LDS Children are asking the Apostles and Bishops of the Mormon Church to admit that even just one of these questions is out of bounds and inappropriate.

Petitions to Protect the Children have garnered over 58,000 signatures.  Protect LDS Children also recently released a powerful new video outlining the range of sexually explicit questions that are allowed to be asked of children under current Church policy.  Click here to watch.

Books containing the firsthand accounts of the damage done to hundreds of children as a result of this Church policy were also delivered to LDS Church leaders at a rally on March 30th.  You can read over 800 stories of victims by clicking here.

Additional Background: 

New LDS Church guidelines issued recently do not mandate a parent or guardian be present in any one-on-one “interviews” by male Church leaders, but rather, leave it up to the children to decide, and also do not address the issue of sexually-explicit questions and conversations  This effort has gathered worldwide support, as more survivors and families have come forward to share their stories of how one-on-one “interviews” by LDS Bishops negatively impacted their self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional well-being. You can read the petition by clicking here.

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Please share.  HERE‘s an appropriate version for media outlets.

Related Links

Excommunication Tribunal Summons

 

53 thoughts on “Verdict is In….the Envelope

    1. Sam, thank you for the press release. I received it here, Vancouver, BC time, early afternoon and sent it out immediately to my media contacts.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sam, I’ve thought about what I would do if I were The Brethren to maximize damage control.

      I would disfellowship you … not excommunicate you.

      Excommunication throws too much gasoline on the fire and paints the Church as heartless and pro-predator.

      Disfellowshipment is less harsh aka more “compassionate” and paints the Church in a kindlier light.

      Sam, I suggest that you prepare appropriate remarks in the event you are disfellowshipped … not excommunicated.

      Could be that Dallin Hoax and Friends are so mad at you they can’t even button their garments, let alone think clearly. They may just want to Hurt Sam as much as possible and summarily excommunicate both you and your apostate arse.

      On the other hand, if they are cool-headed chess players, they might see disfellowshipment as their smartest next move. Disfellowshipment deflates your otherwise “martyr” status considerably. I know you’re trying to be a martyr, but the “optics” of the situation should not be ignored. I’m sure you get these nuances.

      Regardless, please be prepared to respond to notice of disfellowshipment. If you are still a member, they still have you under their imaginary thumb … with your membership still hanging by a thread. This would be their power play and your most significant Achilles Heel, seems to me.

      FYI, I chose not to write this until after their verdict was delivered … for obvious reasons (to avoid aiding and abetting … )

      I love you, my friend! You are beyond amazing … not to mention a bright and shining role model for thousands of good and decent-hearted souls who are learning just how much positive difference ONE PERSON can make on Planet Earth.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I read that sentence twice wondering why you had written it that way. Now I see. Even my super articulate friend has typo capacity. Even though this may be your first and last you have ever made. Still, it gives us one more point of commonality.

        Like

      1. Do the Johnny Carson Carnak the Magnificent routine when you open it. Hold the envelope up to your head and say, “What do John Dehlin, Denver Snuffer, and Sam Young have in common”?

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Sam and Patty and family do enjoy your anniversary celebrations. Do not allow the contents of this envelope to cloud this special time in your eternal family..We are so envious that your family is in tact…nothing can sever that. Sam you fasted for 23 days!!! Amazing …supported by Patty, your Mom and your girls. The results of that fast connecting you more closely to the Lord must still be in effect. And you have the support of the survivors, former Mormons and many members , who are now aware of the need to protect their children at that church. Thank you to the Young Family and to all your close at hand supporters, who have our utmost respect. (South Africa seems to be so far away.)

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Sam, I hope you do what is best for you and your family. That being said I hope if church leaders don’t excommunicate you, rhen I hope you determine that the best thing for you, your family, and protect LDS children is to resign from the Mormon Church. Church leaders are not worthy of you. Don’t give them any power — they had their chance to have dialogue with you and work with you to come up with a great solution. In my view, you can accomplish the same or perhaps even more for your cause outside of the Mormon Church.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have been disfellowshipped for over 14 years now. In the beginning I would seek ou what I needed to do and I received no response. Going to church on a regular basis. I finally just gave up. I have lived in the same place now for five years without any contact from the ward except a few news letters which didn’t tell me squat. Anyway my point is disfellowshipped to me has been the same as excommunication, or even worse. Good luck Sam. I know you are more vocal than me but maybe you’ll have better luck!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my heck! I worship at the shrine of your patience, to wait two days to find out. If it were me, I don’t know if I could stand to leave it unopened.

    But it’s a brilliant strategy to counteract the church’s attempt to delay the verdict to defuse the energy of your and our cause. Little do they know!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Sam, disfellowshipment means you can’t hold a calling or give talks… it didn’t stop us from offering prayers and testimonies… It is still a punishment for standing up for the children… which makes them look ridiculous… as a ‘religion’ that claims families are important…..

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I really hoped that they’d send you the notice in a Snapchat so that it would disappear right after you read it. Then you wouldn’t get your final 15 minutes of fame over this red herring of an issue in the church. Sam, you’re an apostate. I hope that someday you are humbled sufficiently to find your way back.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Why do I hope he’s sufficiently humbled and returns one day? Because he’s a precious child of a Heavenly Father who has made covenants that can save him in the eternities. His actions have severed those ties. Sam has made a choice and now he is going to pay the price for it. While I do not doubt that there are a number of people in the church who have had bad experiences with a bishop, the solution is not to throw out the baby with the bathwater but to discipline those bishops.

        The church has a mission to deliver Christ’s Atonement to the world. It requires a different membership, one who is willing to abide by covenants and keep commandments. A higher law. You have to be morally clean to enter the temple and help deliver the atonement to the dead. You have to be morally clean to serve a mission and teach the gospel, ultimately bringing people to the waters of baptism. You have to be morally clean to participate in ordinances. You have to account to God somehow, and it’s through interviews with a priesthood leader that this is discerned. I’m truly sorry for those who have had a different experience but Sam has blown up this issue to elevate his own status as he has with other issues that have not gained as much traction. I really hope that people who are on the fence can see through this ruse he’s perpetrating and stay close to the church, which is the true vine spoken of in the scriptures. No, the leaders and members are not perfect but “to whom shall you go?”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “to whom shall you go?” Answer : One is answerable only to the Lord…who said categorically “thou shalt have no other gods before me.” And He also said :”Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thouself”…which is exactly what Sam Young is doing and has been doing all these months. I have reached a point where I have am appalled by judgemental statements such as yours. Oh yes but Mormons are known to be the most judgemental people in the world. Judging moral cleanliness is between only the Lord and oneself. And as for being ” the true vine”…well you need to follow the history of “that church” to determine what is meant by “true”…because I am sure there are many people at this present time truly confused by the quality of fruit produced by this vine let alone the validity thereof. Sam can stand blameless before the Lord; he responded to a personal revelation relating to his girls and grandchildren. We as parents and grandparents are benefitting from his response to that revelation. BTW just who are you?

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Nigel,

        In my view, when church members speak out about a church policy or practice that is immoral, and advocate for change, it’s healthy, therefore not apostasy. Just as the Uniform Code of Military Justice says, soldiers have an obligation and duty to disobey an unlawful order, yet have an obligation and duty to follow all lawful commands of their superior officers. Similarly, church members have a moral duty to disobey an immoral church policy or practice. If church leaders are fallible then they should be open to the concerns of the membership and be willing to make changes – it’s about choosing the right.

        The Mormon Church teaches its members to sustain fallible church leaders and not criticize the leadership even if leaders are wrong, yet, should not the leadership sustain fallible members and not criticize them as well – I wonder if it’s only a one way street. Church leaders have taught that all members of the church are disciples, no matter their calling, and all are important from the ward librarian to the apostle. It makes me wonder if the leadership trusts and has confidence in its members. Making honest mistakes and listening to criticism should be a two-way street, especially in a true church where nobody should be above approach or reproach. In my opinion, all disciples are accountable to the whole body of the church. Does not Christ’s atonement cover ALL fallible members, including those who rightfully call the brethren out? Rightfully calling out the brethren doesn’t mean that one is disregarding their covenants and keeping Christ’s commandments.

        Who is to say, “If you aren’t with God, you are against him” – I see that as a false dichotomy. Just because one might claim someone else isn’t with God, doesn’t necessarily mean they are automatically against God – yet, many members conflate the two? Could it be that a church leader isn’t with God on some occasions due to their fallibility?

        Liked by 2 people

    1. NIgel, if Sam Young is an apostate, then GOD BLESS APOSTATES!

      APOSTATES do not shame defenseless children with pornographic sexual interrogations.

      APOSTATES do not destroy and decimate the self-esteem of innocent children … to the extent that many cannot endure the torture of living UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE BRETHREN.

      NON-APOSTATES aka THE BRETHREN have achieved the exclusive distinction of generating the HIGHEST TEEN SUICIDE RATE (for Utah) IN THE COUNTRY.

      Thank God for APOSTATES like Sam Young, Nigel.

      Wake … Yourself …. Up

      Deprogram … Your … Mind-Controlled … Brain

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Humbled my ass. It is YOU Buster, in your Arrogant Progression To Mormon Godhood, who needs “humbling”. You serve a False Prophet who was provably an adulterer, a pedophile, a con man, a liar, and polygamist. Anyone with an IQ of room temperature knows he was a fake and a flake. The only reason people stay in your CULT is because they are brainwashed to believe that it has something to do with being with their family in heaven. Which is laughable. Only Christ is the one who gets us and our family to heaven.. NOT a bunch of demonic heads of a corrupt business corporation. Nuf said.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Sam,

    I can’t wait until Sunday. It would be nice if your Stake President decided in your favour but I’m sure we all know what his decision is going to be. Until then I do have one thing that needs to be said about the law of common consent.

    You asked a legitimate question which is, if we have the option to vote to oppose then why am I being punished for either exercising it or encouraging others to do the same. I’m not sure if your Stake President is aware of the reasons why we would vote opposed but if he didn’t explain it to you then he has failed in his duty. In case you or anyone else is interested here are the three options we have when we vote at Church and why we would exercise either option.

    When you vote to sustain someone what you are saying that you have no good reason why you would vote opposed. Contrast this with why you should vote opposed. And it is that you have first hand knowledge that the person being sustained has done something that would disqualify them for the position. This is the way it is written in the General handbook of instruction.

    “If a member in good standing gives a dissenting vote when someone is presented to be sustained, the presiding officer or another assigned priesthood officer confers with the dissenting member in private after the meeting. The officer determines whether the dissenting vote was based on knowledge that the person who was presented is guilty of conduct that should disqualify him or her from serving in the position.”

    I would define this as a worthiness issue. From my perspective your position is that you vote opposed because you are questioning the competency of the Brethren. In this case the proper course of action when voting isn’t to vote opposed but rather it is to abstain from voting. Not a lot of members are aware of this third option and when a vote comes up they end up feeling conflicted in how they should vote.

    My advice to you and all others is if you aren’t sure then simply don’t vote.

    On a personal note I have expounded on this understanding in my ward both in classes and one on one with members and neither my Bishop nor my Stake President has batted an eye lash.

    All the best tomorrow,
    Bob

    Like

  8. As you are well aware Sam, I am one of your most ardent friends. Not so much of all your causes, but you as a person who has always been a lover of your fellow man. You have often said that you try to live the life of Christ like principles. Even going so far as to compare yourself to the Good Samaritan. And even though Christ was a martyr for his beliefs, for your followers to think you are a martyr is highly overrated. Please tell me where in the scriptures. Jesus Christ, traveled to a place far from his home, to hold a news conference to announce what was going to happen to him. Why Utah? Could it be because that’s the only place where the largest number of followers could gather? That’s where the most media may gather? President Hruska and his counselors were but in a very difficult position. For his voluntary service he received no complimentary press or thousands of blog posts. Instead a mutual friend and his wife posted on Facebook. Pres. Hruska’s name address , telephone number and that of his employer. Then suggested that your followers to contact his boss and say derogatory things about him. If that is the Christlike life you and you followers have chosen to follow, I will stay with the Christ that I discovered in the LDS Church. I also want to say that there is no member of the Church or good person of any religion who does not back Protecting the Children. I believe the new policies are enough. Why you need to insist on the General Authorities saying the filth 29 statements is ridiculous. I don’t have to repeat the list to know they are wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janice Hurst I understand much of what you are saying and maybe even why. I might suggest that those that have exposed the contact information of the various leaders involved in Sam’s disciplinary action are likely acting out of a place of misplaced loyalty and personal pain. Don’t assume that everything that is done by “Sam’s followers” is necessarily the way he might want things done. People act on their own volition. I also might want to point out that Sam has given a voice to many who have been deeply traumatized and hurt. He is the first voice possibly for many of these victims and as people’s pain is acknowledged, there is a process that takes time to work towards healing of this pain. Anger can be an important part of this process. Healing may stop if someone were to stay in that place of anger. We who are trying to be supportive of this healing process need to be aware that IT IS A PROCESS. “Mistakes” can be made as people work through the process. This is where we need to step back and lay a cloak of charity on the person and not paint Sam with a broad brush picture of what this movement is all about based on actions of a few. Christ’s example to us is we must assume the best, judge less and love without reservation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. First intelligent, non partisan, reply I have read on this blog. I totally agree with this particular cause Sam took. My problem was always the way he attacked the leaders as if they were all guilty of abusing children because they did not jump on his bandwagon and attack all Bishops when the damage was done by a small minority of SICK men. Because councils are not public ally announced, like Sam chose to do, we have no idea how many of these men were excommunicated.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Janice, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

        I’ll point out that Sam did not “attack” leaders. He attacked a POLICY condoned by leaders. In fact, this morning he publicly forgave his stake president for following the excommunicate orders from up top.

        Janice, you have missed the point if you continue to believe that damage is only done when bishops commit physical sexual abuse of the child during the worthiness interview. Simply asking the question “Do you obey the Law of Chastity” is a sexual question. In fact, it is THE GATEWAY SEX QUESTION that easily leads to a follow-up discussion of what sexual behaviors are violations of the Law of Chastity, including “Do you masturbate?” The end result is guilt and shame … guilt and shame …. guilt and shame.

        LDS kids are taught that touching their own bodies and discovering their own sexual nature and response is a sin next to murder.

        Is that OK with you, Janice? Is that OK?

        Also, you are not acknowledging that the practice of getting LDS children accustomed to being sequestered behind a closed door with a trusted, older man and asked questions of a sexual nature is THE DEFINITION OF GROOMING BEHAVIOR that leaves the child way more vulnerable to acquiescing to the manipulations of ACTUAL SEXUAL PREDATORS whether inside or outside of the Church.

        Janice, you clearly have an open mind to appreciate some of what Sam is doing. I invite you to open your mind the rest of the way until you see clearly enough to understand that The Brethren are TOTALLY WRONG with their refusal to STOP ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEWS; STOP SEX QUESTIONS; EVER!

        Their cowardly response is to instead command Sam’s stake president to excommunicate Sam.

        Sam will appeal to the First Presidency and force them to SIGN THEIR NAMES to his excommunication.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I have not been on FB all day. Haven’t seen the post of Pres Hruska’s name, address, etc. Could you provide a link. I’d like to ask them to take it down. It’s not appropriate.

      Thanks Janice!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sam this seems really ugly but if you google the surname it seems as though your stake president was interviewed by Deseret News. Perhaps you should read the news report yourself… “President… said etc.etc. The damage has already been done by raising it on Tocubit.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The following pro-bishop-interview article was linked in the Deseret News article linked above.

        Sam, it might be worth your time to study this article and point out the positives and negatives you encounter. The reader is led to conclude that most Bishop interviews of LDS kids are helpful and positive. The picture is painted that LDS kids are happy, healthy, well-adjusted and well-behaved compared non-LDS kids.

        The danger here is to inventory positive effects of Church membership on LDS kids, and use that as evidence for a conclusion that Bishop’s worthiness interviews must therefore not only be OK, but helpful for the kids.

        https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900026772/guest-opinion-why-we-need-lds-bishop-youth-interviews.html

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Here is an exceprt from the Deseret News guest opinion linked previously.

    https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900026772/guest-opinion-why-we-need-lds-bishop-youth-interviews.html

    “Some have called for the end of one-on-one LDS bishop interviews with youths because, among other reasons, the subject of sex could be discussed in these conversations.

    However, research and experience suggest that ending these interviews would hinder the spiritual development of LDS youths. Bishop counseling, even on sensitive matters, is part of a broader constellation of ecclesiastical mentoring that serves as an important tool for healthy adolescent development within the LDS tradition. With contemporary youths facing a host of escalating emotional and social challenges, society should be calling for an increase in positive adult-adolescent interactions, not an end to them.

    We should, of course, continually help adult-youth relationships to be as healthy as possible for youths. Personal ecclesiastical interviews must be safe spaces free from abuse or inappropriate behavior of any kind. Sadly, a few have violated positions of trust and others have, through ignorance or insensitivity, crossed lines of propriety in discussing sexual matters. This year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took steps to ensure that youths are permitted to have an adult accompany them into personal interview settings. And, anytime a bishop meets with a youth, another adult or parent must be nearby. This summer, the church also published a uniform list of questions that bishops ask youths prior to their receiving an endorsement to enter an LDS temple. It appears the church is wisely balancing the need to protect personal boundaries without losing the benefits that come with meaningful mentorship derived from candid pastoral conversations.

    Research suggests that when youths have positive interactions with religiously articulate and active adults, they are better equipped to navigate life’s challenges. ”

    END OF DESERET NEWS EXCERPT

    Articles like this are dangerous for LDS children for the following reasons (in addition to many other reasons):

    1) There is NO MENTION of the sex-shaming experienced by so many LDS kids.

    2) There is NO MENTION that the natural discovery of one’s sexuality and sexual response is equated by Church leaders as a sin next to murder. Defenseless children come away feeling like God thinks they are nearly as evil and disgusting as murderers.

    3) There is NO MENTION that the sex-shaming has destroyed the self-esteem and self-worth of millions of Mormons, both young and old.

    4) There is NO MENTION that Bishop interrogations about a child’s sexual behaviors are often an innocent child’s FIRST INTRODUCTION to the concept of masturbation. In many cases, the BISHOP INTERVIEW itself has led to the child googling “masturbation” and discovering: a) what masturbation is; b) how to masturbate; and 3) discovering online pornography.

    Thank you, Bishop!

    Thank you, Brethren, for allowing these innocence-destroying, shame-inducing Bishop interviews to continue … condoned from the top.

    It is A REAL PROBLEM that one-sided, grossly unbalanced, pro-interview articles like this one published in the Deseret News are EATEN UP by TBMs as justification to feel good about sending THEIR OWN CHILDREN into Bishops’ offices … at risk of experiencing 1), 2), 3), 4) or more …. not to also mention …

    5) And may God help the child who has suffered actual, physical, sex abuse prior to being asked by their Bishop, “Do you obey the Law of Chastity?”

    May God have mercy on this child’s soul … because … The Brethren … DO … NOT … CARE … to the point of shooting the messenger of unwelcome evidence that has generated egregiously bad PR for …. The Brethren.

    Sam Young cares … and cares deeply. He has forced The Brethren to display THEIR TRUE COLORS for all the world to see … and appreciate.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Hi, Fabled Creature:

    I meant to say your above comments (not blog) are poetic. And should have added that they “creamed” Sam Young, as in the poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” But, as in that poem, Sam McGee kept rising again. They couldn’t keep him down in the grave!

    I went to your website and read some of your writing. You are a fantastic writer. I’m amazed at your ability to wrap your mind around ideas and put them into such beautiful poetic prose. But I saw on your website that you are also a poet!

    I loved your poetry and prose I have read so far. Only time keeps me from devouring your whole website and everything you’ve written on it. But keep up the good work. This world needs you!

    I have copied and pasted here some comments made on FB by Luna Lindsey (author of “Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control.”) beginning in midstream, ending in full circle. Just one more abuse case:

    Writes Lindsey:  “ … my own experience… because I’m realizing that even tho we were in the church at the same time, that our difference in age (and gender) could have a huge impact on our different perceptions of the experience. 

    I was terrified to be different. There were certain lines I knew I could never cross. I had to act and be as feminine as I could, to fit the gender roles which were constantly being thrown at me. I felt deeply ashamed that I wasn’t good with kids, that I didn’t like cooking, that I wasn’t good at sewing. 

    I was constantly told I was blessed with inherent nurturing capabilities and that children would bring me joy, yet they didn’t! I watched as all the girls my age (I won’t call them friends, because only 2 of them were ever my friend, in all my 18 years as a Mormon child) acted as girly as possible, who rushed to see the new baby in the ward, and I felt like a freak because I didn’t share their enthusiasm. 

    And I didn’t feel nurturing. I wanted to build rockets and study insects and sit at my computer. I felt like something was wrong with me, because the Church said I should be that way, and I wasn’t.

    I felt overwhelming shame at anything sexual. I was taught, from a young age, that God knew every impure thought we ever had, and that it was a terrible sin. When I started growing leg hair, I stopped swimming. I could only wear pants in summer. Because I was too embarrassed to ask my peers about such things. 

    I knew how to shave my legs, kind of, but I wasn’t very good at it, and I wasn’t sure if I was doing it well enough. And talking about it seemed like I was talking about sex. My legs felt like they had to do with sex, so I just covered myself up and avoided swimming, and suffered thru hot summers with capris instead of shorts.

    I had crushes but was too ashamed to seem “boy crazy”, so I never talked about them and felt terribly ashamed that I even had them at all.

    I had fantasies. I didn’t even know what sex was, so they weren’t even sexual fantasies, but I felt like they were wrong, and even admitting that here and now, scares me. These were my deepest, darkest secrets, and when the Bishop asked me during interviews, “Have you had any impure thoughts,” I lied and said “No,” but I’d been taught that the Bishop has the Power of Discernment, and can tell if you’re lying. 

    So I felt like he could see into my soul like God could. I was terrified. (Incidentally, having girls (and boys) aged as young as 12, alone in a room with a grown man who is asking sexual questions is extremely problematic, and in my mind, abusive.)

    And here’s something that happened to me. You probably don’t know that I was put on voluntary disfellowshiping because I got naked with a boyfriend once. (We didn’t have sex, just made out.) I went through the repentance process. 

    Later, when I was getting my temple recommend, I had an interview with a counselor of the Kennewick Stake Presidency. He asked if I had any sins in my past, and I replied, “Not that I haven’t repented of. I went through disfellowshipping for something.” And he started pressing for details. I told him, “I thought those sins were washed clean.” No, he needed to know. 

    He asked for details, LOTS of details. The Bishop hadn’t asked for these details when I was repenting. But this Counselor, he wanted a picture. And he asked lots of questions about why I did it, too.

    It seemed like he was getting off on it. It was super creepy, but since he was “called of God”, I didn’t feel I had any right to stop him, to set boundaries, to say no. My “Temple Recommend” (and eternal ordinances attached to that) were hanging in the balance. He had complete power over me.

    Since I’ve left, I discovered that this is a common story, and in fact, many members have been abused more than this in those situations. And it was abuse, no question. And it did not even follow the doctrine surrounding repentance. 

    The kids my age gossiped. A lot. As a teen. Later, as a young single adult. Wanna know why I never found a nice Mormon guy to marry? Because I was the Other. I didn’t fit the gender norm, and I was a divorced single mom. These two things alone were enough to make me an undesirable. It was extremely difficult to even get dates. 

    One guy I dated, who was also a friend for many years, got honest with me and told me that his other friends thought I was weird and they didn’t want to hang out with me. That’s how social dynamics work. 

    If you set up a “norm” and go on and on and on about how it’s the norm, anyone who is an outlier will be singled out for maltreatment. It’s just how human beings are wired. You can say “Love one another” but if you keep “othering” those who are different, it’s incredibly difficult for members to understand what “love one another” really means.

    Being a divorced single mom made sitting in Church painful as well. They’d get up there with talks about how great families were, how great husbands and wives were in supporting one another, how the Plan of Salvation was so great because of families, how important it was for mothers to spend time focusing on their children, and every single time they gave one of those talks or RS (Relief Society) lessons, I just wanted to CRY. 

    They didn’t give any space for people like me to exist. They never once gave a talk focused on how much of a struggle it is to be a single mom, or how painful divorce can be, or how members can love and help those who are different. 

    Occasionally they’d say one or two sentences on those things, but a sentence now and then isn’t enough to have an effect on a majority of members, nor can a sentence really give those members an understanding of what it’s like to be “other.” All the focus is on people who are normal, who naturally fit in. 

    And it leads to, yes, gossip. Abuse. Bullying. Shunning. It just does.”

    (By Luna Flesher Lindsey, July 2016, and published here with her consent.)

    ~ Steph Spencer
    StephanySpencer.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Steph, thank you for sharing Luna’s heart-wrenching story.

      I will share the three words that spoke themselves to me as I read Luna’s story of the Blessings of the Restored Gospel manifesting in her young life. And if the brevity and linguistic accuracy of these three words offend anyone … it was not my intent to offend any decent, loving, good-hearted people.

      The three words are:

      Fuck the Church.

      Liked by 2 people

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