17 year old Mormon girl weighs in on sexually explicit interviews

March march emotional abuseEvery week bishops and their counselors, stake presidents and their counselors  continue to to harm children around the world in one-on-one interviews, behind closed doors with sexually explicit questions.  Most of the harm is unintentional.  Never-the-less, it’s still dreadful harm that we are working hard to bring to an end.

Here’s a 17 year old young woman, clearly laying out the healing effects of our movement.  Plus, it’s a nicely composed note of thanks.

Hey Sam! I know you’ve gotten a ton of thank you notes already, but I feel the need to thank you myself.

I’m 17 and I live in Utah. I experienced the harmful effects of explicit bishop interviews first when I was 13 and for a few years after that. I submitted my story on your site, but in short, they seriously hurt my self esteem, self worth, and will to live.

I always thought I was the only one to experience what happened to me, but your movement has made me realize that I’m not the only one and my hurt is valid and is a real problem. Realizing this has helped me to start the healing process instead of continuing to bottle it up.

Before this movement, I hadn’t told a single soul about what had happened because I was so ashamed of what took place. It lifted such a big weight off my shoulders to share my story anonymously, since I would still never share it with anyone in person.

And let me tell you, Sam, nothing feels better than knowing that a printed hard copy of my story is in the hands of the apostles, the people who allowed this to happen and the people who can prevent it from happening again.

It’ll take time, but sharing my experience has helped start me on the path of finding closure from what happened. Your determination and love for the people around you inspires me so much. I think it’s amazing that you saw a huge problem, and took action instead of just standing back and watching. Now I know that 1 person really can make a difference. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. You are an angel, never forget how much difference you can make.

Thank you my friend for your note of encouragement.  You have helped clarify what our movement is all about….I’m still learning.  So happy to hear of your progress and glad that it is happening while you are still young.

My stake president is urging me to walk away from my efforts.  Your words are very encouraging to continue on, especially as I face the difficult & daunting action on July 28th & 29th.

Reminders

If you want to share your story of inappropriate bishops interviews, tomorrow, July 21st is the deadline, if you want it included in the book that will be used in next week’s action.  HERE is the link to share.

If you haven’t signed the petition, please consider adding your name and comment.  HERE is the link to sign.

Correction

Sheesh. I made a whopper of an error on this post.  I initially titled it as a young man.  This note came from on wonderful young WOMAN.  Sorry about that, my friend.

A Slut? Hell no!!

Father and son

Dear # 439,

I’m in the process of preparing for the July 29th. action.  That includes updating the Sacred Book of Sacred Stories, Childhoods Destroyed Behind Closed Doors.  Somehow, I had left off the consequences on your story.  They have been added back.  As I did so, I reread your account and pondered what each of the numbers meant …..1 …..2 …..3 …..4 …..6 …..7 …..8 …..9 ….. Fortuitously, #10 did not happen.  I choked up.  I teared up.  I cried.

A mere child having to go through all this with so much shame at home.  Dreadful, crushing shame.  That shame then reinforced and magnified as you sat all alone in the bishop’s office.

Although your healing may not be complete, it sounds like you are doing well today.   That makes me happy.  I’d like to say this to you…

I see you.

I believe you.

You are brave.

You are enough.

You are strong.

I love you, Sam.

#439’s Story:

There is so much. I can not write it all. I was beaten for masturbating. I was snuck up on if my bedroom door was closed or in the shower to “catch me in the act” so I could be beaten again if caught masturbating. I was raped by a guy I had gone on a date with at age 18,(1994) and ended up pregnant. I was a virgin. My parents didn’t believe me. My mother told me I had to have enjoyed it and had an orgasm to get pregnant. She also called me a slut. My father called me the town whore and since I was the oldest of 7 kids, I was the bad apple that would spoil the bunch.

They made me go to the bishop who also didn’t believe me. He said I had lost my chastity and for that I must repent. I was a sinner and the only sinner worse than me was a murderer. I was put on probation and had to meet with him once a month.

He sent LDS social services to my house to try to convince me to give my baby up. My child had nothing to do with that rape. It wasn’t her fault and I could never give her up. She was why I was holding on to my own life.

After she was born, I had horrible guilt and shame. I felt, and was told by my parents I was ruined and I could never marry a decent man now. No one wanted a ruined woman with baggage. I tried to electrocute myself by sticking a knife in a socket. I felt even worse after I had tried that because the very last thing I wanted was my daughter being raised by my parents. I did my best to work and raise my daughter. I did eventually meet and marry a man in the Washington DC temple in August 1997.

It was amazing to watch ward members mouths drop open when they found out I was getting married in the temple. My parents didn’t attend. Didn’t even wait outside because they felt I shouldn’t have been allowed to. It wasn’t until years later , watching my own children go through puberty and knowing what was going on in their classes and interviews, that I came to the realization of how horribly wrong and abusive I was treated. How sickening, what they did to me and how they made me feel. I could not allow my children to be told anything remotely close to what I was told by my bishop or by anyone else. I have raised my children to practice safe ( sex positive) loving relationships with themselves and other people. There are so many more experiences and just not enough words to express the feelings and emotions of those experiences.

Suicide

Is it any wonder that Utah has the highest youth suicide rate in the nation?  Most of the sacred stories in the book include suicide ideation.  Many recount suicide attempts.  Several resulted in death by suicide.  What a shame that we are driving our kids to such extremes.

This accounts screams that parents need training.  Bishops need training.  Why the hell are we sitting on billions of dollars in the bank?  Billions more in land, malls, high end condos and who knows what else.  It’s high time we invest in the safety of our kids.  And….GET THEM OUT OF THE CROSS HAIRS OF DANGEROUS AND IRRESPONSIBLE INTERVIEWS.

Share Your Story

An updated book will be a central part of the action on July 28 & 29.  If you would like it to contain your story of inappropriate bishop interviews, now would be a good time to share.  The deadline for inclusion is midnight Sunday, July 22.  BTW, telling your story is not part of everyone’s healing process.  It is appropriate and perfectly okay not to share.  It’s more important that you heal.

Share your sacred story HERE.

Read the sacred stories HERE.

See the sacred stories HERE.

Sign the petition HERE.

Key to Consequence #’s

  1. Inappropriate shame and guilt
  2. Childhood self-loathing
  3. Adulthood self-loathing
  4. Normalizing children to sexual questions by adult men. (Grooming)
  5. Sexual abuse. (Pedophilia)
  6. Impaired sexual relations after marriage.
  7. Years of recovery from childhood shaming.  Often lasting decades.
  8. Suicide Ideation
  9. Attempted Suicide
  10. Suicide of a loved one or friend.

Bishop Rapes a Child in the Temple

Salt Lake Temple Lighting

This is sacred story #586.  The author ends it with, “Please, let Jon be the last one to fall victim.” 

To My dear friend:   Protect-The-Children’s goal is to eliminate the very grooming opportunities that resulted in your husband’s childhood tragedy.  My heart reaches out to you in tears & love.  But, that is not enough.  On July 28th and 29th, myriad voices will be raised long and loud to call for changes to protect today’s children.  May this be healing to Jon.  You and he are now active parts of this movement.  Thank you, for I know it is difficult to share such a vulnerable history.

My husband Jon was very well liked by his bishop. He was often called on to give speeches during church. From the outside it appeared my husband had found favour in the eye of his LDS bishop.

What people didn’t know is this behavior is a very common grooming process of predators. My husband suppressed these memories until a few years ago when I was having health problems. It was as if Pandora’s box was kicked open and she reveled her ugly head of unthinkable past memories.

Let’s go back to the setting. My husband had joined his youth at the Salt Lake Temple. The children were lined up in the basement of the church taking turns in the beautiful baptismal fount held up by a base of golden oxen. It was my husband’s turn. Proxy names were read. He was baptized after each name. He wore a white jumpsuit-like attire as approved by the temple for all the children performing baptismal rituals. Once he finished his proxy baptisms he was told to return to the dressing room to dry off and return to his street clothes.

My husband was confused. He heard the door to the dressing room slam shut soon after he entered. He had not yet gotten dressed. That is when his bishop, _______ ______, entered. The bishop said nothing to him. He walked over and sat next to him. Then he started molesting him. He then took down his own pants and sodomized my 13 year old husband. That was my husband’s introduction to sexuality. My husband knew no one in his family would believe him. It wasn’t until we were married almost 20 years that he was able to tell me what had happened.

There were clues in his behavior though that should have put up red flags. Like him transforming over night from a straight A student to a troubled youth. His parents chose to dismiss this as he was a bad kid. The time he was angry at me when I let his mom take our newborn to meet members of her ward. I was punished and told to never let our children near “those people.” Yes, the whole riddle came into focus and all this seemingly odd behavior became clear.

Please, let Jon be the last one to fall victim. It’s more then time to stop this needless behavior of grooming during bishop interviews.

Petition

If you have not yet signed the petition to protect our children, please consider joining the thousands who already have.

A Voice Lifted Up…Long & Loud!

Lion RunningA friend recently sent me this scripture and note.

D&C 124:75
And let him lift up his voice long and loud, in the midst of the people, to plead the cause of the needy; and let him not fail, neither let his heart faint; and I will accept of his offerings.

Your diligent work reminds me of the above verse. For if the innocent LDS children suffering abuse and trauma don’t qualify as needy individuals, I don’t know who would qualify.  Thank you, good sir. And use this scripture to rebut your enemies next time they get after you about causing needless contention. Amen? The Lord has asked us to lift up our voice long and loud for exactly these types of circumstances.

Thank you my friend for your scriptural encouragement.

On July 28 & 29, a roaring voice will be raised long and loud.  It won’t be a lonely voice.  Around the world, a chorus of thousands will join in unison to call for THIS to never happen again.  The church has been put on notice.

Our plans are rather daunting.  It’s my hope that we can stay the course until our two days of action arrive.  I have a couple of purposes in publishing these posts:

  1. To help those involved, especially me, to not change our minds.  That is still a reasonable possibility.
  2. To focus the attention of all those who support our cause so they are ready to join in on the 29th when the details are revealed.

Looking for an Apostle

March crush at COBThe following email was sent to my stake president tonight.

Dear President,

Over the past year, I have been very active in working to bring awareness to the dangers of our interview policies:  The petition.  The Sacred Stories.  The march.  The news conferences.  All the TV, radio and newspaper coverage.  The top tier media coverage in Australia and the U.K.  Finally, National Children’s day.

This has led many parents to protect their children by establishing wise boundaries.  A wonderful thing.  It has enabled and facilitated healing.  A gorgeous thing.

It has also led the Church to make changes.  Unfortunately, they were minor.  Although they were steps in the right direction, all the inherent dangers remain.

My next action is planned for July 28 & 29.  Of course, it will be a peaceful undertaking.  It’s an action that the church has never faced before.  It will draw every bit as much attention as the march.  In fact, it will have a much bigger impact.  Millions of people who have never heard of our cause will become aware of what we Mormons subject our children to.

A few months ago, I visited the building which houses the apostles’ offices.  I requested an appointment.  They didn’t let me through the locked doors.  Rather, they talked to me through an intercom.   I was informed that a security detail would meet me in front of the building.

Sure enough, within just a few minutes, three guards in business suits appeared.  They didn’t emerge from the front door.  They just seemed to materialize out of nowhere.  Although I was a bit nervous, we had a delightful conversation.  They told me how to secure a meeting with an apostle.  My stake president would have to make a request to his supervising seventy which would then be relayed through the area presidency.

So, here’s my request.  Please relay to your supervising seventy that I’d like to meet with an apostle. 

I’ll be in Salt Lake City on Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 29th.  The action will last all day, both days.  However, what happens on Saturday will not be visible unless someone is really paying attention.  On the 29th, what happened on the preceding day will be revealed and it will continue all day Sunday.

Preparations have been quietly underway for the past few weeks.   The elements are coming together to enable thousands of voices to unite to protect our children and to protect the good name of the church.

Please rest assured that this action will be completely peaceful and legal and……HUGE.  It will pose no threat to anyone or anything….except to a dreadful policy.

BTW, if you are ready to stand with me to protect our kids, I’ll gladly buy your plane ticket to Utah for our meeting with an apostle.

Please keep me advised,

-Sam

E. Christofferson read the Stories! Full Report on meeting with Stake President.

Christofferson

On Sunday, June 24th, my stake president sent a message asking for a meeting.  I responded with a request for the topics to be discussed.  His executive secretary provided the agenda and the meeting was set for June 26th.

Here are the points on his agenda

  1. How my family is doing.
  2. Share some thoughts on the recent stake conference.  At the time, I was not aware that the ‘thoughts’ were to be Elder Christofferson’s comments about me.
  3. Discuss remarks that I have shared in recent Fast & Testimony meeting.
  4. Come prepared to discuss the following scriptures:  3 Nephi 11:29-30, Mosiah 23:15, 3 Nephi 12:9

Right at the outset, the stake president said that asking for the topics was a good idea and he was glad that I had.  He also said that he didn’t feel good about how our last meeting ended up.  It didn’t feel right.  You can read about that interview in the article Sam: Protect The Children!  Mormon Church: Apostate! 

My bishop was also in attendance.  Right at the outset of this blog, I want to say that both are very good men, working hard to serve the members of their congregations.

Here’s the essence of the meeting.

Elder Christofferson

Our most recent stake conference was on May 20th.  Elder Christofferson, an apostle in the LDS church, was the visiting authority.

The stake president informed me that during the behind the scenes meetings, my name had come up 3 times.

First:  One of the stake presidency counselors asked if the apostle had heard of me.  Elder Christofferson said yes.  Then he asked about the magnitude of people leaving the church.  For a good while, I have been trying to raise the alarm in my ward and stake that we are losing lots of good people.  In my ward alone, 42 people have left the Church over the past 3 1/2 years.  Elder C’s response was that there has been no increase in the number of people leaving.

Second:  Later in the day the apostle asked, “How is Sam’s family doing?”  The stake president said that he came across as sincere and caring.  I really appreciate that heartfelt concern for my loved ones.

Third:  Elder Christofferson asked the stake president to relay the following information.

  • Tell Sam that I’ve read all three books that were delivered during the march.  To me, this is huge!!  A volume of “Sacred Stories of Sacred Children” actually landed on an apostle’s desk and he read it!!!  When he says 3 books, he’s including the ones with the petition signatures.  They contain at least 2,000 abbreviated horror stories.  So, if he actually did read them all, he has now been exposed to thousands of accounts of harms done to our children.
  • Some of the stories can have different interpretations.
  • Many are tragic.
  • We can learn from them.
  • Changes are coming.

Then Elder Christofferson provided a little warning:  Be careful.  It’s not a good to place yourself between the Lord and his prophet.

Finally, he wanted the stake president to share this metaphor: “If you have a scratch on your arm, you put a band-aid on it.  You don’t cut your arm off.”  No further explanation was given.  The president said he had some ideas of what it meant but, we didn’t discuss them.  When I got home, it’s meaning dawned on me.  There may be a scratch in our interview policies.  A band-aid would be the appropriate remedy, not doing away with youth interviews.

Scriptures

I was asked to read the following three scripture passages…out loud:

3 Nephi 11:29-30

29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

Mosiah 23:15

15 Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them.

3 Nephi 12:9

And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

He then asked, “What do you think of those scriptures?”

My response:

These are great scriptures.  Thanks for given them to me.  They caused me to reflect on all the scriptures where contention WAS appropriate and how to reconcile them.

For example, here’s what Jesus said in Matt 10:34:  “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth.  I come not to send peace, but a sword.”  I don’t think he came to bring discord.  He spoke the unvarnished truth in open criticism to church leaders.  This fomented contention up to the point of the Church leaders killing Him.  Speaking truth can cause people to react with contention.

When the temple was being desecrated, Christ contended violently with anger and whip in hand.

Here’s what Jesus had to say about children in Mathew 18:6, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”  That is not gentle.  With a harsh warning, the Lord was contending for the protection of the precious children.

Listen to what Jesus says in Alma 43:47, “And again, the Lord has said that:  Ye shall defend your families even until bloodshed.”  We are urged to stand up for our children and wives even unto bloodshed.  

Reading your scriptures forced me to compare and ponder.  For me, taking the position that all contention is of the devil doesn’t make sense when considering that Christ’s ministry was full of contention and encouragement to contend for what is right.

Maybe the difference could be contention for contention’s sake  is of the devil.  But, taking a moral position is not stirring up anger for anger’s sake.  It’s standing up for what is right.

As for anger, I view it differently now.   It is an emotion that is often totally appropriate.  Christ exhibited righteous anger.   Just a few months ago, the Apostles expressed that they felt the same anger over the Joseph Bishop rape scandal as the members do.  If Christ and the apostles can righteously experience anger, then that’s an example I should be able to emulate.

I’m glad you included the scripture on being a peacemaker.  One of the amazing things that I’ve witnessed over the last many months is the peace and healing that our cause is bringing to many many people’s lives.  People who were harmed as children are experiencing validation, empathy, credibility, and a safe space to share their story, often for the first time in their lives.  It works towards peace to see people stand up and say that what happened to them was wrong.  It brings healing to see people advocate for changes.

While we’re in the scriptures,  you’re familiar what it says in D&C 58:  “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.  But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, the same is damned.”  That scripture means more to me now than it ever has.

F&T meeting

I think this is where the core of their concerns reside.  Over the past 2 months, I’ve born my testimony at both Fast & Testimony meetings.  Apparently, many people made a beeline to the bishop’s office and expressed their discomfort.  My remarks have caused the spirituality of the ward to suffer.  People are on pins and needles as to what I might say next.  What I’ve said both in testimony and in priesthood quorum is creating separation in the ward, not unity.

My  comments that could be perceived critical rather than supportive should not be made at church.  They are appropriate on my blog and other venues, not at church.

I think this is a fair point and I agreed to moderate my utterances to not disturb the spirit of worship at our meetings.

I really wish that we could all approach this like adults.  If someone has a concern, wouldn’t the mature thing be to talk with me personally, rather than running to an already over-burdened bishop?

BTW, the 2 testimonies in question are shown at the end of the article.

Personal Matter

As the meeting concluded, the stake president surprised me by bringing up a personal matter.  I won’t give the details because it is personal.   After discussing it, the SP apologized for the misunderstanding.  It takes a meek and humble Stake President to apologize to a rank-and-file member.  The level of my esteem for him elevated in that moment.

Take Aways

  • Great meeting.
  • The apostles are well aware of our movement.  The stories of our hurting friends HAVE been read.  Those stories have caused change.  They will cause further changes to be made.  For me, this is HUGE.
  • It is obvious that I’ve caused trouble in the bishop and stake president’s field of labor and responsibility.  I’ll be more sensitive to that.
  • What I’m saying at church is not appropriate in church….but it is appropriate out in the public square.  YES!!!  I only have to be silent at church.  But, I have the stake president’s endorsement to NOT be silent anywhere else.  .That is a reversal of what I was told in our last meeting in January

Testimony May 6, 2018—Protect the Children

I love teachings and example of Jesus Christ.

  • The Good Samaritan.
  • The Golden Rule.
  • The Prodigal Son.
  • Reaching out to the marginalized, the hopeless, the helpless.
  • Standing up for the poor, the sick, the weak…the least of those among us
  • And….His gorgeous #1 commandment: To love our neighbors as ourselves.

We have a new President of the church.  I love that it was President Nelson who gave us this instruction: 

“Stand up and speak up for truth…especially when it’s unpopular.”

Over the past year, I have stood up and spoken up for the protection of LDS children.  Our bishop and our stake president have spent hours listening to my concerns.  I really appreciate that. 

Right here, in my own ward, there are now 28 members who support Protect The Children.  Thank you.

In the name of our Savior, who commissioned all of us to protect our little ones,  Amen.

Testimony June 3, 2018—Racism

Last month I shared my testimony of the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. I took some flak for not having mentioned the restoration or the prophets.

Today, I’m going to correct that.

I want to give our current crop of apostles and prophets a strong shout out of support. Last Friday, the church held an event to officially celebrate the 40 year anniversary of the reversal of our church doctrine that forbid black men from receiving the priesthood and prohibited both black men and black women from entering the temple.

This ban on church privileges was lifted in 1978. I had the honor of sitting in a Houston chapel during general conference when Elder N. Eldon Tanner presented the lifting of the ban for a sustaining vote. My hand was proudly raised in support of changing our policy. This is a great example of the Law of Common Consent in action. All policies and major decisions are supposed to be presented to the membership for approval or disapproval. I love this empowering element of the restored gospel. So, there’s my full-throated endorsement of a glorious principle that came directly as a part of the restoration.

Now, I want to express my appreciation and respect for our current apostles and prophets. 4 years ago, the apostles did something very gutsy that no top leadership has ever done before. They published an essay on LDS.org entitled Race and the Priesthood. It condemns our past racism. It disavows our past racist doctrine, teachings and practices. That’s a disavowal and condemnation of what all the past prophets and apostles from Brigham Young on have taught regarding black people being cursed with a dark skin. Halleluiah!!!

Unfortunately, until 4 years ago when this essay was published, I completely believed our racist teachings that are now officially condemned.  I’m glad that the church celebrated the lifting of the ban.  However, I wish that there had also been an official full-throated apology for our past racism.

Today, I offer my apology and the apology of many, many of my friends.  We are sorry that we were gullible enough to believe that our white skin was a reflection of our righteousness in the pre-mortal life.  And that a black skin was a reflection of the opposite.

I’m sorry that these disavowed practices, which I fully supported, marginalized an entire race for 150 years within the church of Jesus Christ.

I offer this apology in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

June 10th–Stand Up & Speak Up

Stand Up & Speak UP

These powerful words of encouragement were recently pronounced by Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

On Sunday June 10th, we will have the opportunity to stand up and speak up.  It’s National Children’s Day.

Button June 10

Protect Our Children With A Button

For National Children’s Day we are asking every supporter of Protect The Children to wear a button on June 10th.

Wherever you go, wear one.  Whether to church or other activities.  Have conversations!  Invite those you talk to to learn more at ProtectLDSChildren.org.

Our button action will bring awareness to the plight of LDS children who are being subjected to grooming and shaming behaviors all alone, behind closed doors with Mormon leaders.  Conversations will be started.  Awareness raised.  Even without a discussion, people will take notice.

Of course, we hope that many many people will wear their buttons to an LDS Church service.  Buttons in our buildings will make a big impact, whether you are an active member or haven’t been to church in years.

If you are not comfortable in a Mormon church, wear the button to another church, to the park, at the store or any activity outside of your front door.

We put up a petition—tens of thousands signed. Then a march—another thousand joined the line.  Now a button–thousands more will participate this time!!  We ARE changing the church’s interview paradigm.

Please post and share photos of you wearing your buttons!

How to Get a Button

  1. Make one of your own design.  People were super creative with signs at the march.
  2. Download the artwork and print your own.
  3. Order 1 Button.
  4. Order a 5 Button Pack.
  5. Order a 20 Button Pack.
  6. Order a Bumper Sticker.
  7. See all four options HERE.

ButtonsNote: Buttons are available with the cuddling lion or the roaring lion — if you want the roaring lion, please indicate it in the notes on your order.  Otherwise, we’ll send the cuddling version. Thank you!

Facebook Event

Please go to the Event Page and indicate your plans to participate.

Share the Event everywhere!   

Let’s Make This Big!!!