Lion vs. Kangaroo

Lion7:00pm Wednesday, Aug 29:  Received summons to Mormon Tribunal.

Thursday & Friday:  Consumed with media interviews and thousands of messages from supporters.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday:  Consumed with despair, dejection, disappointment.

Tuesday:  My inner LION resurrects….first thing in the morning.

In the shower, Joseph Smith’s words came to mind.  As he considered his summons to Carthage, these famous words were penned.  “I go as a lamb to the slaughter.  I am calm as a summer’s morning.”  -D&C 135:4

Well…..this freshly showered human being is not going anywhere as a lamb.  I’ve taken off the sheep’s clothing.

“I go as a LION to the slaughter.  Ready to ROAR for the children on a summer’s morning.”  -3rd Samuel 1:1

Kangaroo Hill

Over the course of 4 decades, I’ve participated in many Disciplinary Councils.  That they were fair and just was always my observation.  As for the tribunal on the 9th, I view it much differently.

The church has set rules that I’ve never seen before.  NEVER.  Four decades of discipline and they have changed the rules for little ol’ me.  This court has blatantly been degraded to Kangaroo status.  My concerns were expressed to the Church  HERE.  The Church’s Kangaroo reply is found below.

No matter

Lion will still square off with Kangaroo in his kangaroo court.

Lion will defend the children.  Kangaroo will defend the institution.

Lion has Open-eyed Morality in his corner.  Kangaroo has Blind Obedience in his.

Lion will read Stories of Sacred Children.  Kangaroo will read the Handbook.

Lion will present 29 questions.  Kangaroo’s morality will be called into question.

Lion apologizes to Kangaroo’s victims.  Kangaroo ignores its victims.

Lion has the words of Jesus.  Kangaroo has the Millstone of Jesus.

Kangaroo hopes to silence Lion.  Silly Kangaroo.  Lion will NOT be silenced.

Yeah…Sunday will be a good day for Lion’s membership to die on Kangaroo Hill.

Kangaroo’s Response to Lion’s Request

Sam, 

Thank you for confirming that you intend to attend the council scheduled for September 9 at 6pm.

In response to your questions, I intend to take 15 minutes, during which I will review your public statements related to the reasons listed in my previous letter for this council. I plan to be the only person speaking during this time. I also reaffirm that we will follow the other procedures outlined in my letter, and that I feel that the time allotted is sufficient for your response.

I intend to provide you with a copy of the confidentiality agreement no later than Friday of this week. 

I reiterate my love for you and your family. 

President ________

Notes

  • Kangaroo is not my Stake President.  Nope.  It’s the Mormon Church as represented in the coming Tribunal.
  • Lion is not Sam alone.  Nope.  There are now thousands upon thousands of roaring Lions.  And more Lions are joining our pride every day.

 

Final Testimony

Sam in Lion TieToday is September 2, 2018.  My excommunication tribunal is now 1 week away on the 9th.  I plan to present a vigorous defense.  Never-the-less,  I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell that I will emerge with my membership intact.

I’ll be stripped of my bishopric, priesthood, saving ordinances and blessings.  I will be ripped from spending eternity with my family.  I’ll be consigned to an everlasting location with no future interaction with God, Jesus or my loved ones.

As an apostate, I am considered worse than murderers, rapists and pedophiles.  I will be condemned to spend the eternities in Outer Darkness.

What a gracious Mormon God we have.  How blessed we are that He has placed His power of judgment in the hands of men.  The power to tear a dad away from his family forevermore and damn him to the darkest corner of the universe.  A destination worse than hell.

Today, I attended my last Fast & Testimony meeting as a member.  I chose to share my final testimony with my ward family.  You can listen to it or read it below.

Testimony

4 years ago, at age 61, my faith started to transition….into a beautiful faith in Jesus Christ.

In 1842, 2 years before his death, Joseph Smith penned The Articles of Faith.  In the early days of the Church, a  vote was held to canonize these 13 tenets of our religion as scripture. 

The 4th one says this:  ‘We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!!   Reading through the entire list of 13 articles, there are no instructions whatsoever to place our faith anywhere else.  Just in Jesus Christ.

President Nelson recently re-announced to the world what the proper, God-given name of our church is:  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It makes me happy that he reinforced this.

The Church of Jesus Christ.  The only being in whom our scriptures instruct us to have faith.  He is now the only being in whom I place my faith.

What gorgeous teachings he has given us.  The good Samaritan.  The parable of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked.  Reaching out to the marginalized, the vulnerable.  In his words, “The Least of these.”  Protecting children with his threat of physical violence to any who would harm them.  And his poignant summary of the commandments….love, just love.

What a glorious example he has set for us to follow.  He lived his parables.  He was the Samaritan who reached out to heal while the priesthood leaders ignored the wounded on the side of the road.  He sat with, supped with, talked with those on the margins of society.  He was criticized for doing so by the leaders of the church.  He was not restrained in speaking openly in opposition.  As a result, he paid the price with his own life.

Beautiful teachings.  Stunning example.  He asks us to follow him.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.

I love the teachings and example of Christ.  I now have 65 years of lived experience to KNOW that his way is a good and fulfilling way to live life.

This is likely the last time that I will bear testimony in the church that I love.  I have been summoned by my friends to a church court next Sunday.  I will likely be excommunicated by my friends for standing up and speaking out to protect our children. 

I don’t want to lose my membership.  But, I will go there with comfort that I am trying my darnedest to follow the teachings and example of my Savior.  He was tried, convicted and executed.  In the end, that worked out for Him and all the rest of us.

I share this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Aftermath

As I left the podium, the bishop stood.  We hugged.  It was sweet.  I whispered in his ear, “I love you.”

Several women shed tears.

Two couples called me a hero.

Three men invited me to lunch on different days this week.

Several expressed love.

Several expressed support.

All in all it was a good day for a final testimony.

First Response to Excommunication Summons

imageToday, I sent the following letter to the stake executive secretary.  Instructions have been given that I’m to have no direct communication with the stake president.  Only the go-between.

You can view the excommunication summons HERE.   It was delivered to me last Wednesday evening.  The tribunal will be held on Sunday, September 9th at 6pm in the Sugar Land chapel at 14555 Lexington Blvd, Sugar Land, TX.

Dear President, 

As you know, I’m in receipt of your summons to the church court.  Below are questions and concerns that I’d like addressed well before the 9th.

I.   Thank you for your heartfelt reassurance of God’s love and Christ’s atonement. That was very meaningful.

III will be present at the council.

III.  You have leveled 2 charges.  In order to plan my response, please forward the evidence against me that you are going to present.  Are you going to call witnesses?  If so, who are they and what evidence will they present?

IV.  Charge #1 is new to me. “Encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders.”

We have never discussed this before.  According to the Church Handbook, you are supposed to personally call my sinful behavior to my attention well before any disciplinary court proceedings.  You have not done that.  As a result, I ask that this new and unexpected charge be removed from the allegations to be considered on the 9th.

Last January, we clearly discussed indictment #2.  So, it’s fair game.  As for #1, if there was any wrong doing on my part, I should have been given the opportunity to repent.  Up to this point, you’ve been good at following the handbook dictates.  I would expect no less of you in regards to this matter.  Charge #1 should be deleted.

V.  With regards to not recording the proceedings in any form. As you should know, I have never recorded any of our meetings.  I don’t plan to record this one either.

However, it does seem strange that you are requiring every person in attendance to sign a document.  This is the Stake Presidency  & High Council for heaven sake.  It seems odd that you don’t trust this group enough to take them at their word.

Is this a new Handbook dictate?  Or are there High Councilors and Stake Presidency members that you don’t trust?  Right out of the gate, we seem to be starting out as adversaries with little trust in the room.  Not even trust for the 15 men that will be surrounding you.   Whatever happened to trusting those who have served with us for years?  Whatever happened to the spirit of discernment that you as the Stake President are supposed to have?

I don’t have anything to hide.  Hopefully you don’t either.  So, I don’t care one wit if you or anyone else records.   But, if all 15 tell me they won’t record, that’s just what I’d expect of them, whether in word or in writing.

VI.  Please send me a copy of the document you are requiring all to sign. These days, I prefer not to sign anything that I have not seen in advance.

VII.  Witnesses!!  Oh man, you are killing me on this one.  The requirements you have specified are a huge handicap.  You are putting me on trial for excommunication.  Think about that.  What member in good standing is going to risk their membership, temple recommend, livelihood, family relations by being a witness in my behalf?  There are many members of my ward and stake who totally support the changes I’ve been calling for.  They don’t believe that I’m “expressing opposition to the Church or its leaders.”  But they are afraid to state this out in the open.  If they did, they would be in the very position that I am.  We have such a culture of fear in the church.  By calling this court action against me, you are reinforcing that culture of fear and silence.

At this point, I have only found ONE member “in good standing” who might risk being punished for speaking up as a witness.  But, even this person’s commitment is tenuous.

It’s my eternal salvation that’s at risk.  Nobody else’s.  Only I risk being torn away from my family for eternity.  Yet, your actions have intimidated the very witnesses that could come to my defense.  How is that fair?  It’s not.  You and the Church culture have bullied credible witnesses into silence.  There are many possible witnesses in good standing who live in my ward and in the stake you govern.  But you and the Church have filled them to the brim with fear.

I’ve never viewed disciplinary councils as kangaroo courts.  The restrictions you have placed on potential witnesses have eliminated the vast majority of my friends from being qualified.  Your intimidation has effectively eliminated my friends who ARE ‘members in good standing.’  The way this tribunal is presently constructed IS a kangaroo court.  ‘You can call witnesses.  But, we have already scared the bejeebers  out of all that we consider credible.’

I call on you to change your witness requirement stating that “witnesses must be members of the Church in good standing.”  Otherwise, you are belittling & making a mockery of the Plan of Salvation.  I should be given every opportunity to present a compelling defense so that I have at least a small chance at real justice.   Not kangaroo justice.

With all that said, I do plan to call witnesses.  You have simply made it a really daunting task to search them out.  Please change the requirement.

VIII.  45 MINUTE time limit? Is that a new Handbook requirement?  How disrespectful of the plan of salvation is that?  I have put my entire heart and soul into serving Christ, my fellow members and the Church for almost 5 decades.  And what do I get in return?  45 MINUTES!  45 MINUTES to defend my right to eternal salvation.   45 MINUTES to defend my right to spend eternity with my loved ones.  Is that the value the Church places on my eternity?  How sad is that?  We spend 3 hours every week in church services.  Just think how much accumulated time that is over the decades that I have dedicated to the Church.  Yet, when push comes to shove, my eternal family ties are only worth 45 MINUTES?

Even the church toilets are worth more than salvation.  I have spent hours and hours cleaning them and the rest of the church building.  The defense of my eternal destiny isn’t even worth 1 hour.  What kind of a time limit is that?

Here’s my request.  Give me at least as much time as we dedicate to cleaning the church building.  In my ward that’s 2 hours.  Certainly, my years of dedicated service, my family and my eternity are worth as much time as the Church toilets.

IX.  Option to request that my name be removed: I want to make it clear that this is not my desire.  I value my church membership and am confident that the Stake Presidency and High Council will come to realize that there is no legitimate reason to excommunicate.

Your quick response will be very much appreciated.

Until Sept 9th, all my best wishes,

Sam Young

PLEASE SHARE AND COMMENT.  The church has graciously provided us with another opportunity to bring greater and greater awareness.

 

Excommunication Notice

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Tonight, two long-term friends of mine delivered this notice to my home.

Dear Sam,

This letter is a formal notice that the stake presidency will convene a formal disciplinary council in your behalf, the result of which includes the possibility of excommunication, disfellowshipment, formal probation, or no action.  The reason for this council is that you are reported to have acted repeatedly in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.  You have, among other things:

  1. Encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders.
  2. Organized more than one public “action” that expressed opposition to the Church or its leaders.

We will convene the council at 6pm on Sunday, September 9 at the Lexington Building in the stake offices.  If you are not able to attend at this date and time, please let me know as soon as practicable.

You are invited to attend this disciplinary council to give your response to the above.  Although we welcome your attendance, it is not required; you may also submit your response in writing.  Whether you attend is of course your choice.

Disciplinary councils are sacred, confidential, ecclesiastical proceedings.  If you do choose to attend your attendance and participation are conditioned upon your agreement to respect the process and abide by the standards governing the proceeding, including the following conditions:

  1. Everyone who attends the council including you and me, will sign an acknowledgment that the council will be conducted privately and confidentially and will not be recorded in any form.  Anyone unwilling to do so will not be allowed to be present at the council.  If you decline, you will not be allowed to be present, and any statement on your behalf to the council will have to the submitted in writing.
  2. You may call witnesses, one at a time, whose testimony is relevant to the issues I have set out above.  However, any such witnesses must be identified to me in writing by name, ward and stake, at least three days in advance.  You must also provide to me, in advance and in writing, a description of the subject matter on which they will testify and the content of their testimony.  In order to offer testimony, witnesses must be members of the Church in good standing.  I will abide by these same rules in regards to any witnesses that I may call.
  3. Any proposed testimony from witnesses must relate to the specific issues described above.

I anticipate that it will take about 15 minutes for the evidence in support of the above issues to be presented to the council.  You will be afforded three times that, or 45 minutes, to give your response.

As mentioned above, if you choose not to attend the council in person, you may submit a written response that will be read to the council.  I will read your statement word-for-word, without any comment from me, for up to 45 minutes.

I feel inclined to let you know that, if it is your ultimate desire and if you wish to avoid this process entirely you have the option to request that your name be removed from the records of the Church.  If you should make such a request, the council will be cancelled, and I will work with you to supply all of the information that you need to bring about that result.

Sam, I know that Heavenly Father lives and loves you.  We are his children.  His work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  I know that His son Jesus Christ is central to God’s plan to help us return to Him and live with our family forever.  The atonement of Jesus Christ is real.  He is our Savior and Redeemer.  No matter the course you decide to take in this life, and no matter the outcome of this disciplinary council, as His representative in the stake where you reside, I stand ready to help you and your family in any way that I can.  I will be here to meet with you and to work with you to help strengthen your relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  My hope is that you will choose to change your course and to return to the covenant path.

Sincerely,

President Houston Texas South Stake 

Fast 23 days.  Stand up to protect children.  Speak out against a dreadful policy.  Work to help the healing of countless kids who were severely wounded behind closed doors.  Document the horrors.  Apologize.

And what do you get?  Excommunication!  After all, we are the Mormons.  At least we used to be.

Image of the Complete Letter

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“I have lived my entire life loathing myself”

 

Lions Surround Yourself cropped

I hope you loathe no more, my friend.  This day, you have courageously taken action.  Commendations and congratulations from the entire Protect LDS Children movement.  Thank you for taking a stand to prevent the rising generation from being shamed into self-hatred.

Today, the following letter was sent to this brave man’s entire bishopric and stake presidency.  Every letter like this moves the church closer to grass roots changes.  I highly encourage all to do the same.  You can find additional letter formats HERE.

Gentlemen,

I am writing on a matter I consider to be of the highest importance and worthy of your attention. Please understand the real concern that has motivated me to write this to you.

Let me preface this by saying I have no issues with bishop **** at all. I consider him a friend and a good person. This is not about the leaders of the ward or the stake specifically.

The Mormon church has a policy to protect its money and those who handle it. Two men are always present.

The church has a policy to protect its members who teach children and those children from harmful and inappropriate situations. Two adults are always present and/or the doors are open.

The church policy won’t let children be alone with adults who are not their parents.

Except when it comes to bishops.

Bishops can call out and interview any kid in the ward at will unless they have otherwise been proscribed from doing so by the parents.

Please do not be dismissive of this concern at this point.

There are predators in all organizations and at all levels.

You often can’t know who they are.

Some will say that discernment is real and will prevent this.

If that were the case there would not be an issue, but history shows that discernment is not real and predators get into positions of ecclesiastical power all the time in this church.

Real children in YOUR stake are being hurt every day YOU fail to act to prevent it.

The good news is that it is easy for you to end the pain of those who are being hurt right now.

NO one on one interviews EVER!

NO sexually explicit question EVER!

Bishop **** and I have discussed this a bit. I sent him a video where these explicit questions (News Article) were laid out in plain English. It has a pornographic and dirty feel to it. The man leading the charge found out his daughters had been asked these questions without his knowledge and it set him off. Bishop **** said he had never been asked, asked them himself, or known someone who was asked these questions. I said to him and I say to you all, I have. It was me. I was asked many of these embarrassing and deeply personal questions before I was old enough to even process what I was hearing. I have been ashamed and resentful of myself my entire life because I have never been worthy.

Let me repeat that for you:

I have lived my entire life since my early adolescence loathing myself for my inability to be good enough. The church’s perfectionist/puritanical culture, namely its hurtful and disgusting interview policies, as well as its policy of public shaming and shunning has left me a 44 year old man with no sense of self worth or confidence in my ability to be better by your standards.

The atonement failed to make any difference in me. I have plead with God since I was a child to be relieved of the burdens of my sins, and it has failed me my entire life.

I believe you will blame me for this.

I moved around a lot as a kid. I had a lot of bishops. Most, if not all of them, went into excruciating detail about my personal habits of masturbation and later other sexual intimacy. Do not be dismissive of this. The church itself has had policies of inquiring about the sexual interactions of its married members in their own bedrooms. It is easy to confirm this online through church resources.

I was never physically touched. I was merely made to hate myself. I have friends who have harmed or killed themselves over this issue. It is real. IT IS GOING ON IN YOUR CHURCH NOW. Children are being raped and molested in YOUR buildings. Adult men and women are being made to feel worthless by YOUR worthiness interviews. Teens in YOUR care are, right now, contemplating suicide because their self worth has been determined to be ZERO by YOUR standards.

You can fix it:

NO one on one interviews EVER!
NO sexually explicit question EVER!

Asking about the law of chastity is one of those questions. It is unnecessary and harmful. Yes, even that one. I made a decision at one point that I was never going to be different despite the public shaming and shunning policy, so I would just lie and hope to eventually become better. You are not helping people be better. You are killing them.

Worthiness is self determined even now. You should only ask one question in an interview: “Are you living up to the standards of the temple?”

If they say no, you should teach them your doctrine of faith and repentance. You should teach them they have worth. You should teach them why your gospel is good. Not shame them. Not humiliate them publicly. Not treat them like a pariah. Not give them a reason to kill themselves or even lie to you.

Children are dying and adults are living hollow lives under your watch as long as you do not make this change. Every day you do nothing, children are sexually assaulted in YOUR buildings. Your bishops and you will find yourselves accused of things you have not done as well. It will happen. Please help.

My children will not be alone with the bishop. He knows this and we are all agreed. The problem with the church’s policy change of late is that it puts the duty of protection of the child on the child. That is not right. I think you can agree that a child faced with the authority of the bishop will not choose to have their parent present. It has been tried. When asked they all refuse. It is not their responsibility. It is YOURS and their parents. But their parents will not look faithless in the face of your authority. They will not ask for this unless they are pushed or you make it OK.

You may ask “How will we know if they have . . . ?” The answer is: “You don’t need to know.”

Save lives. Do what is right.

Thanks for your time,

Russell A.

Awareness is building!

Keep the momentum growing!!

Please Share!!!

 

A Mother’s Apology

Grandmother
At the August 17th Temple-side Chat, a mother read the following apology.  It touched me and many others.  Her words eloquently express how I feel, too.
Thanks Angie!
Sam,

As I have been watching, reading and participating somewhat in this important Protect LDS Children movement, I have also been learning. I have learned about normalizing and grooming and organizational culture. I have learned to respect the deep and lasting damage that even well intended guidance can inflict on a child (and an adult, for that matter.) I have also seen the value of belated apology as a critical acknowledgment of harm. Perhaps my over-due apology may make a difference.

A primary thing I learned from the LDS Church is to “liken” things unto myself. This involves introspection and application. I have finally been introspective with this movement. I do not have an abusive story. I did grow up in the LDS culture. I believe this pushed me to be complicit in the harm. I want to apologize.

I am in my early 70s. I grew up in Utah surrounded by LDS relatives past and living. It was a wonderful, happy childhood. I learned to be obedient and to put pleasing God before all else. It was joyous. I didn’t feel at all suppressed. Except, there were things we didn’t talk about.

The first time I said the word “sex” my mother almost drove into a nearby building. I never said it to her again. I learned to always value the spiritual over the physical. As I got older, I learned that my mother hated sex. I learned, from one prophet, that sex was strictly for having children. When anything physical started to feel good it made me angry at the betrayal of my body. I partly credit luck that I married someone who’s stuck with me nearly 50 years. We are the parents of six adult children. I address this to them but hope it may have broader application. Surely I am not the only unwittingly complicit parent.

I apologize that it never once occurred to me there might be a problem with the private one-on-one interviews. I hope our children did not experience shaming and sexual questioning. But, the fact, is I don’t know. And even if I had been progressive enough to attend the interviews I don’t know whether good sense would have overridden respect for priesthood leadership.

I apologize that I bought into the normalizing of a leader’s right to ask and a member’s responsibility to answer. I recognize how vulnerable that left our children.

I apologize for being so anxious about the narrow moral guidance I was hearing about at church that I missed out on more fully nurturing the whole child.

I apologize for not educating myself about normal sexual development and passing that along as a joyful part of growing up.

I apologize for focusing so much on the learned parental responsibility to return God’s children to Him that I lived in a constant state of inadequacy and didn’t fully embrace the here-and-now joy each child brought into my life. A fact that probably led to more taking problems to the bishop and less taking them to me.

Mostly, I apologize that my focus on returning our children to heaven led me to put “insurance policy” Church callings before strengthening here-and-now family ties. Perhaps if the focus had been on the now instead of the hereafter I would have been that more progressive, involved parent. Truthfully, I didn’t know I wasn’t.

Most of our children exist in that version of the LDS world that considers this work anti-Mormon and will not even respond to comments about it. Still, we are here and we know this movement will make life better for our grandchildren.

I look forward to a new normal where we respect our humanity before our supposed spirituality and better love one another.

Thank you for the dedicated work and sacrifice of yourself and so many others. And special appreciation to those brave individuals who shared their stories to raise awareness and make this movement real.

~Angie Lund

The Samaritans’ Feast

pastries.jpgOur action is coming to a close.  What a wonderful 3 weeks it’s been.  Awareness has spread mightily.  Healing all over the place.  Parents taking action to protect their own children.  The apostles….well, they have remained silent behind their palatial walls.  That’s OK.  We are moving forward without them and calling them to follow.

Last night, Aug 17, was our final Temple-side Chat.  Every one of them has been marvelous.  Hundreds of fine human beings graced the chats with their presence.

Tonight, Aug 18, 2018, the final evening of our Hunger Strike & Spotlight will take place.  I’m calling it The Samaritans’ Feast.  It’s my way of saying ‘thank you’ for all the support during my fast.

Where:  City Creek Park.  Corner of State St. and North Temple in SLC

When:  6:30pm MT.  Live Stream begins at 7pm

What:  I will be providing a meal; sandwiches, chips and drinks.  Enough for at least 160 people.  And…..

I’m also providing exactly the kind of dessert feast that I personally would envy.  Six hundred and forty bite-size pastries from Gourmandise will be brandished in a colorful and appetizing array.  I’ve never beheld a sight like this before.  Anxious to see it.  Anxious to see my super supportive friends enjoy the tastes, flavors and aromas.

The pastry selection includes:  Tiramasu, Napoleons, Marzipan slices, Mocha Slices, Chocolate Mousse Slices, Passionfruit Mousse Cake, Mini Eclairs, and Mini Fruit Tartlets.  Yum!!!

I really need your help here.  Come!  Bring your kids.  Let them see what the Good Samaritan is all about.  Let them rub shoulders with true Samaritans.  Let them see normal human beings who are truly heroic.  I’m talking about all of us who are trying to help others.  And….they are certain to enjoy those amazing pastries.

I also need your help with the food.  My fast doesn’t end until Sunday afternoon, the 23rd day.  So, no leftovers for me.  It’s your job to consume the entire Samaritans’ Feast.

I truly want to give a huge shout out to my Samaritan friends.

Thank you for making the Hunger Strike & Spotlight a big success.