Appeal Response–Zombies in our Midst

first-presidency-2018

Around 2pm today,  I received a call from the stake executive secretary.  He informed me that the stake president would like to come by and visit right away.   My home was a-swirl in wedding preparations.  So, we decided to meet in the church at 4:15.

I arrived at 4:00.  No one there.  I sat on the couch facing the outside door where the stake president makes his entrances.

At 4:15, the stake president and my former bishop made their timely appearance.  I stood.  We shook hands.  The stake president gave me a hug.  About one minute of pleasantries. Then, as we stood in the hallway, the following interchange ensued .

SP:  The First Presidency has reviewed and responded to your appeal.

SAM:  Cool.

SP:  They have affirmed the decision of the council.

SAM:  Okay.

SP:  I wanted to pass that on to you and also extend warm regards.  I urge you to qualify to return in the prescribed way.  I wanted to deliver that message on their behalf.

SAM:  So, it’s not in writing or email?

SP:  I’ve received a letter.

SAM:  Do I get a letter?

SP:  No.

SAM:  I don’t get a letter on this?

SP:  No, its’ just a verbal one.

SAM:  Okay.  I’ve got a couple of questions on this.  First, before the council, I signed an agreement not to record.  The letter said that everyone on the council was going to sign that agreement and that no one was to record it in any form.  But, I didn’t see anybody else sign it.  You had me sign it here in the hall.  Can I get a copy of everybody else’s signatures who signed the “no record agreement?”

SP:  I’ll check on that and see.

SAM:  Is that not your decision to make?

SP:  I’m not prepared to answer your questions right now.

SAM:  Okay.

SP:  We’ve gone through the council and I’m here to deliver that message.

(He slowly starts to back towards the outside door.)

SAM:  The second thing I’d like to ask is this.  Nobody was supposed to record anything.  Yet, Joey was there to record it in writing.  Since I was forbidden to record it, I’d like to get a copy of the record that you all made.  Can I get a copy that?

SP:  I don’t know.  Those are confidential on our part.

SAM:  But, I heard everything that went on in that council.  I was told not to record and I was told that nobody else was going to record it.  But you guys did record it.

SP:  Sam, I’m just here to deliver this message.

SAM:  Well, since you mentioned my preparing to return, I’ve got one other question.

SP:  Uh huh.

(SP turns and increases his pace towards the front door.  I follow.)

SAM:  What do I need to do in order to come back?

SP:  It’s written in the letter that you received from me.

SAM:  It just said that I needed to join the covenant path and repent.  But I……(Cut off by the SP.)

(They pass through the 1st outside door.  I follow.)

SP:  It’s written in the letter that you received.  Thank you and have a great…..(Cut off by Sam.)

SAM:  So why did they not give this to me in writing?  Part of my reasoning for appeal was to let you off the hook for making this decision.  I wanted it to come from the First Presidency.  So why wouldn’t they put it in writing?

(We walk out the 2nd outside door into the cool seasonal weather.)

SP:  Sam, all those questions you are asking…I’m not prepared to give any answers other than the message I’m delivering.

(We walk down the short walkway to the parking lot)

SAM:  So, how do I get answers to those questions?  Do we meet again and you answer the questions I just mentioned?

SP:  NO.  WE ARE NOT GOING TO MEET ANYMORE.

(I stop at the edge of the parking lot.  They continue the short distance to their cars)

SAM: We’re not going to meet?  So basically I can’t get any answers to the questions I just asked?

(Car doors open)

SP:  Have a wonderful day.  Thank you.

(I call out as they get in their cars.)

SAM:  Okay….I just want to tell you that this is one weird, weird thing. 

(They close their doors and drive away.  I stand there dumbfounded at the oddity of what just transpired.)

I believe that my stake president is a good man.  He’s certainly successful in worldy terms.  But, I now have a clear picture that the LDS church is capable of turning a good man into a mindless zombie.  A will-less robot following instructions from his Mormon masters.

No compassion.  No friendship.  No outreach.  Distant and detached.

Anxious to flee the presence of the evil excommunicated apostate.

Nothing Christ-like whatsoever.

I wish he and the bishop well.  They will be better off without the thorn of Sam in their sides.  I hope that when doubts arise in their dark-night-of-the-soul that they’ll consider this excommunicated thorn as a safe place to talk.

A very weird encounter indeed.

Of course, this WILL NOT deter my determination to protect the kids.

Other Resources

Excommunication Appeal

Exommunication Edict

Excommunication Summons

Excommunication Appeal Inquiry

Appeal Cartoon

Today, I sent this email to the stake president and executive secretary.

Hi President __________ & Brother____________,

It’s been 2 weeks since I submitted the appeal to my excommunication.  I realize that none of us have much experience with this.  But, do you have any idea of when I could expect a response from the First Presidency?

Whatever verdict is ultimately rendered, I want to assure you that I hold you both in love and high esteem.

Kind regards,

Sam Young

Related Links

Original Notification of Disciplinary Council

My Tribunal Defense

Excommunication Verdict

Excommunication Appeal

Excommunication Appeal

March sign keep me safe

Today, I appealed my excommunication from the Mormon Church. 

Dear President Nelson, President Oaks and President Eyring,

As you should know by now, the president of the Houston Texas South Stake recently called a disciplinary council to consider the status of my membership.  On September 12, the verdict of excommunication was delivered.

The purpose of this letter is to present my appeal.

First, my stake president.  He’s a good man, a friend.  An important reason for my appeal is in consideration of my stake president’s welfare.  If I don’t appeal, he will go down in history as the man who excommunicated the bishop who stood up to protect children.  The verdict was made by him and only by him.  Eventually, our interview policies will change.   In the interim, when cases come forward of abuse, suicide and other serious consequences resulting from our dangerous protocol, my sensitive stake president could very well take it hard.  He may hold himself accountable for abuse happening all around the world.  That’s not fair.  But the way it stands, he is all alone in responsibility for the excommunication.

With this appeal, you the First Presidency, will remove a huge burden from his shoulders.  Whatever your decision, ownership of the verdict will be transferred to you.  Whatever the consequences, they will be on your heads, not his.

Two charges were leveled against me.

  1. Encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders.

I have made a temple covenant to obey the law of God.  Part of that law is the law of common consent.  To me common consent is one of the most gorgeous principles of the latter-day restoration.  You should know it well.  Let me recap.

The Doctrine and Covenants contain the foundational revelations contingent with the restoration.  Common Consent is referenced several times in very plain language.  Here’s one.

D&C 28:13 states, “For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church.”

This law is also taught in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Common consent is further elucidated by this doctrinal statement found on lds.org:

“Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints (see D&C 26:2).”

Under sworn oath to the United States Congress, President Joseph F. Smith explained how common consent is supposed to work in the church.  Following is an excerpt of President Smith’s testimony as he is questioned by members of the Committee on Privileges and Elections.  The Mr. Smith referenced below is President Joseph F. Smith, head of the Mormon Church at the time.

Mr TAYLER:  What is the method in which a revelation is received and becomes binding upon the people?

Mr SMITH:  I will say this, Mr. Chairman, that no revelation given through the head of the church ever becomes binding and authoritative upon the members of the church until it has been presented to the church and accepted by them. (Note: the interview policies of our youth have never been presented to the church nor accepted by them.)

Mr WORTHINGTON:  What do you mean by being presented to the church?

Mr SMITH:  Presented in conference.

Mr TAYLER:  Do you mean by that that the church in conference may say to you “We deny that God has told you to tell us this?”

Mr SMITH:  Yes, sir, they can.  And it is not binding upon them as members of the church until they accept it.

Senator OVERMAN:  Does it require a majority to accept or must it be the unanimous voice?

Mr SMITH:  A majority.

Mr TAYLER:  Then if you had a revelation and presented it to your people, all who did not accept it would thereby be unchurched?

Mr SMITH:  Not necessarily.  Our people are given the largest possible latitude for their convictions, and if a man rejects a message that I may give to him but is still moral and believes in the main principles of the gospel and desires to continue in his membership in the church, he is permitted to remain and he is not unchurched.  It is only those who on rejecting a revelation rebel against the church and withdraw from the church at their own volition. (Note:  I am still moral and believe in the main principles of the gospel.  I have not withdrawn from the church on my own volition.)

Mr SMITH:  I should like to say to the honorable gentlemen that the members of the Mormon Church are among the freest and most independent people of all the Christian denominations.  They are not all united on every principle.  Every man is entitled to his own opinion and his own views and his own conceptions of right and wrong so long as they do not come in conflict with the standard principles of the church.  (Note:  I love the statement that Mormons are among the freest of Christian denominations.  Excommunicating me sends a strong message that our Church is among the most repressive of Christian denominations.  I do not come in conflict with the standard principles of the church.  I stand as a witness in support of our core principles.  However, I do stand as a witness against a policy.  One that is damaging our children.  And a policy that has never been presented to the church in the approval process that President Smith is defending to the United States Congress)

If a man assumes to deny God and to become an infidel we withdraw fellowship from him.  If a man commits adultery we withdraw fellowship from him.  If men steal or lie or bear false witness against their neighbors or violate the cardinal principles of the Gospel, we withdraw our fellowship.  The church withdraws its fellowship from that man and he ceases to be a member of the church.  But so long as a man or a woman is honest and virtuous and believes in God and has a little faith in the church organization, we nurture and aid that person to continue faithfully as a member of the church, though he may not believe all that is revealed.  (Note: According to a prophet’s sworn testimony, I do not qualify for excommunication.)

This ends the quotes I’ll share from President Joseph F. Smith.

According to the law of common consent, members of the Church of Jesus Christ have the right and privilege to vote as their conscience dictates without punishment.  Nowhere are we constrained from free speech.  In order to exercise true consent, discussion should be encouraged and fostered.  Including, making suggestions and recommendations to other members.

The charge that I’ve encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders is nonsensical on its face.

  • In 1978 when the lifting of the racial ban was presented for a vote, what types of discussion were allowed? Was it ok for a member to encourage others to vote in approval?  If so, was it also ok for someone opposed to voice their opinion and encourage others to vote in disapproval?  Common consent is a farce if those who are voting can only discuss and make suggestions when they agree with what is being presented.  Otherwise it’s a dictatorial system that flies in the face of the beauty of Christ’s injunction that all things MUST be done by common consent.
  • Encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders? My encouragement has been for people to vote how they feel.  If they approve…vote to sustain.  If they disapprove…vote to oppose.  My recommendation for members is to embrace common consent.  I encourage all to live up to their temple covenant of obeying the law of God, which includes the law of common consent.
  1. Organized more than one public “action” that expressed opposition to the Church or its leaders.

This charge represents an uninformed interpretation.  I have never organized actions to express opposition to the Church or its leaders.  This is ridiculous.  Every event was organized to express opposition to a POLICY.  Not to a doctrine.  Not to core principles.  Not to our theology.  I am not opposed to the church.  Likewise I am not opposed to its leaders.  In fact, I’m the biggest supporter of my Church that I know.

If you care about something you fight for it.  If you love something you don’t tolerate what might destroy it.  You are passionate to nurture and make it better.  I don’t know of anyone who is fighting for our Church with more vigor than I am.

On the other hand, if I didn’t care, I’d ignore the Church’s deadly flaws.  I’d turn a blind eye to its faults.  Or I would simply desert it and walk away.  By my actions, it should be plainly evident that am speaking up FOR my church and not against it.

At the council, for 15 minutes the stake president presented his evidence against me.  Most of it was taken from my blog publications.  Much was taken out of context.  I believe that I’ve more than adequately addressed the evidence against me by addressing the two charges above.

However, there was one citation from the Deseret News that was presented as evidence.  Tad Walsh wrote that I was encouraging members to leave the church.  That’s a lie.  Tad either made-up the quote out of whole cloth or he misheard.  Nowhere have I told people that they should leave the church.  You won’t find it quoted by any other news outlets.  It’s not on my blog.  Nor can it be found in any of the multitude of videos that I’ve published.

Let’s work together to make our Church better, especially for our children.  I firmly believe that you have already received the revelation to eliminate one-on-one interviews and sexual questions to our children and youth.  Several factors point in that direction.

For example, on July 27th, I received a phone call from Gifford Nielson, a member of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy.  My 23 day fast had a planned start time of 7pm that evening.  He called me early in the afternoon.  Giff is a good friend and we had a great chat that lasted about 1 ½ hours.  The main thrust of his call was to find a way to avert the hunger strike.  We were not able to find an accommodation that was agreeable to both of us.  His final offer was this, “Sam, if the apostles provided you with a letter stating that they are working on making changes, would you call off your action?”

I can’t see Giff being dishonest or disingenuous.  He would have only offered a letter stating changes were being worked on if in fact they were really being worked on.  I listened to every talk during the 8 hours of last Sunday’s General Conference.  My hopes were high that the changes to which Elder Nielsen had alluded would be included in the major announcements all of us were anticipating.

My encouragement to you, dear First Presidency, is to release the changes now.  Don’t wait until April’s conference to offer our children the full protections that they deserve.

This conference was historic.  The change to a 2 hour schedule has been received with relish.  When you announce God’s new protections for children, it will be received with much more than relish.  You will go down in history as wise and beloved leaders.  Members, bishoprics and children will embrace the new policies without reservation.  They will rejoice.  Those outside the Church will be impressed.  They will witness the Church of Jesus Christ proactively putting on a strong protective mantle over our little ones.

Contrast this to what happens if you allow this excommunication to stand.  The Church and its leaders will be viewed with revulsion by many outside the church.   People will not respond well when they discover how we treat our children and what we do to members who speak up to protect them.

Do the right thing.  Be on the right side of history.  Reverse this excommunication.

Warm regards,

Sam Young

Why I attended the Mormon Church on Sunday

Sam Young 1st Sunday as excommunicantOn September 12, 2018, I was excommunicated from the Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

On September 30th, I decided to attend LDS Sunday services for the first time as an excommunicated apostate.

Many have asked why I would return after being so callously kicked out.  The motivation is comprised of 2 elements.

ONE

The Church has abandoned me.  Fine.

However, I am not going to reciprocate by abandoning  children who are at risk.  I am not going to respond by abandoning my friends and family who have children in the cross-hairs of a dreadful policy.

Sure, I could go to any other church for my religious purposes.  However, these other churches have already stepped up and protected their children from one-on-one interviews and sexually explicit questions.  I have decided to go to the ONLY church where this battle is still being waged.  It is not my nature to run away from the weak and the vulnerable.

I plan to pursue the cause for our children as an active and believing ex-Mormon.

TWO

Mentally processing the excommunication has been an unexpected emotional roller-coaster.  Along with other members of my immediate family, I have experienced various stages of mourning.  Last week, I felt like completely withdrawing from the community that I have been a part of the past 6 decades.  My thoughts were to avoid all contact with Mormons.  Loneliness and defeat were becoming my unlikely companions.

Then a phone call from a country half-a-world away.  The caller ID displayed the name John Dehlin.  He was in Sweden at the time.  With my excommunication still fresh out of the envelope, he was checking to see how I was doing.  What a nice thing to do!  He experienced excommunication a couple of years back and understands first hand the sentiments that I was mired in.

I described my inclination to run from my former friends.  In turn, John said something like this, “Brother Sam, don’t do it.  Don’t let this determine your course.  Take your personality back.  Be who you have always been.”

YES!!!  That immediately resonated with the truth I was ready to embrace.  He wasn’t telling me to go back to church.  He was simply suggesting that to withdraw into myself would not be me.  Thank you, my good friend.

So, last Sunday, I attended the Mormon Church for 2 reasons, for the Children and for Me.

 

 

Excommunication Edict

Hangmans scaffold

I, Sam Young, have been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Following is the official notification.

HOUSTON TEXAS SOUTH STAKE

September 12, 2018

Brother Young,

This letter is to inform you of the decision of the disciplinary council that was held in your behalf on 09 September 2018 at the Houston Texas South Stake Center.

We have carefully and prayerfully reviewed this matter in order to reach a decision on what action to take.  It is the decision of the council that you be excommunicated for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church.  This means that you are no longer a member of the Church and do not enjoy any privileges of Church membership.  You may not hold a temple recommend, wear temple garments, pay tithes and offerings, or exercise the priesthood in any way.  We welcome you to attend public Church meetings, if your conduct is orderly, but you may not serve in a Church position, speak or offer a public prayer in Church meetings, partake of the sacrament or participate in the sustaining of Church officers.

This action was not taken because of your opinion or position on protecting children.  The Church has a strong desire to protect children and, as you know, issued updated guidelines for interviewing youth earlier this year.  Teaching standards of morality to youth and helping them follow those standards–including in interviews with priesthood leaders–is an important responsibility of parents and of the Church.  The issue is not that you have concerns–or even that you disagree with the Church’s guidelines, rather it is your persistent, aggressive effort to persuade others to your point of view by repeatedly and deliberately attacking and publicly opposing the Church and its leaders.  You are entitled to your opinion or position, but you cannot remain a member in good standing while attacking the Church and its leaders and trying to get others to follow you.

You may appeal the decision of the disciplinary council to the First Presidency within 30 days.  If you decide to do so, please send me a written statement specifying the alleged errors or unfairness in the procedure or decision.  I will then forward your statement to the First Presidency.

Excommunication almost always lasts at least one year.  In order to be readmitted to membership in the Church, you will need to demonstrate that you have stopped actions that undermine the Church and its leaders.

Please understand that this decision is an invitation for you to repent and return.  The Savior loves you.  We love you and your family.  We invite you to return to God’s covenant path and enjoy the fullness of the blessings he has in store for you and your family.  With your consent, your Bishop and Stake President will continue to assist you in that process.

With Love,

xxxxx x. xxxxxx

Stake President, Houston Texas South Stake

Links

Scan of the Excommunication Edit

Tribunal Summons

Verdict is In….the Envelope

ProtectLDSChildren Logo

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

 

Tribunal Testimonies

chopping block

***Trigger Warning—Sexually Explicit Content***

The tribunal is now past.  Sept 9, 2018 will fade into history.  But, our cause to protect Mormon children will not.

The council lasted only 1 1/2 hours.  NO VERDICT WAS REACHED.  How about that.  The outcome is be mailed to me “in a few days.”

Once the verdict is announced, I’ll give more details of the proceedings.  All in all, I felt very good about the whole thing.  The mood of the court members was somber at the start.  Animated and lighter at the end.  Before hand my odds were 1 in a million at exoneration over excommunication.  Afterwards, I’d give it 2 in a million.

Although, I don’t have a recording of  the proceedings, I do have the presentations that both my wife and I delivered.  45 minutes was my allotted time.  I finished with just a couple of minutes to spare.  My speech was delivered with plenty of emotion.  Fiery at times.  Teary at others.

Sam’s Testimony

Dear President _______,

Thank you for calling this council.  It has provided a once in a life time opportunity for each man who is seated around this table.  Just by calling the council, regardless of the outcome, you have amped up the awareness of my cause to a new level.  You have saved children’s lives with the publicity this court has already produced.

The decision you make tonight will have ramifications that ripple into waves around the world.  I have confidence that you, President ______, have the courage and wisdom to make the right decision.  I know how difficult that can be.  You will be risking a lot.  I can testify that following Jesus Christ and doing what is right is a reward in and of itself.

Esteemed members of the council.

God has given you a unique opportunity.  One that will likely never come again.  This council will be like no other that you ever serve on.  It will be historic.  I encourage you to actively serve tonight.  Speak up for what is in your heart.  Stand up for what you know to be right.  Be on the virtuous side of history.

I recognize that you don’t have any vote in the outcome.  You do have a voice.  Use it to support President _______ in making the choice to put this stake on the right side of Mormon history.

242 years ago, 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence.  They risked everything to stand up for freedom.  They were vindicated and lived with the satisfaction of doing what was right but what was super hard.  None of them had to live with the regret of having come down on the wrong side of history.

You face a similar decision today.  The world is watching.  The Church membership is watching.  Not just Salt Lake City.  In this room, the stage has been set.

Your decision will be seen for what it really is.  Which is more important?  Protecting the church leaders or protecting our children.  The world sees how Mormons are treating their kids.  They are disgusted by it.  If you choose to excommunicate, the world will not only see what Mormons do to their own children, but they will also see how we treat those who speak up to protect our little ones.

That is the choice that this council comes down to:  Protect the leaders or protect the children.

The Millennial Star, an early Church Publication, contains the following quote.  Many have attributed it to Joseph Smith.

“We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them — even if they knew it was wrong. But such obedience as this is worse than folly to us. It is slavery in the extreme. The man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise this idea.”

Tonight, let’s be men of God, let’s claim our rank among intelligent beings, and throw off the bonds of extreme slavery.

What are we doing to our kids that is so wrong?

We have an institutionalized policy mandating bishops and their counselors to take minors behind closed doors all alone, and ask these children sexual questions.  Every one of you in this room has been groomed to accept this as a normal thing.  IT IS NOT NORMAL.  It is not part of the restoration.  It is not found in any scripture.  Not the bible.  Not the Book of Mormon.  Not the Doctrine & Covenants.

No other institutional church or youth serving entity in the country does this.  Everyone outside of the church recognizes that this is way beyond improper.  It’s dangerous, irresponsible and now borders on being illegal.

Last Tuesday, I received this message from a fellow Church member.

“I am taking my recertification training as a physician and one of our training is on mandated reporting of sexual abuse.  It got me thinking.  I called the sexual abuse reporting hotline.

I asked them, ‘If I was aware that there was a man taking kids behind closed doors and interrogating them about sex – would that be a reportable event?’

The answer: yes!

He goes on:

“In Massachusetts, if you were to call their child abuse hotline and tell them that a man was taking a kid in private and asking them probing sexual questions about their masturbation, pornography and sexual activities – they would start an investigation.

If you told them it was a catholic priest who was doing it – they would be even more interested in investigating it.

If you told them it was a Mormon Bishop who was doing it – they would say it makes no difference.”

What the church subjects our children to is abusive. When more parents start waking up to that fact – people are going to start reporting the local bishops for conducting these interviews and then state authorities will take action.

Many states have mandatory reporting for certain professionals, like teachers, doctors and law enforcement – but there are also 18 states in which every individual is a mandatory reporter. That means that if there is someone who knows and understands that these interview are abusive in one of these states – they are legally obligated to report that these men – these lay bishops – are engaged in these inappropriate and abusive acts and they will be investigated.

Many Mormon Bishops are professionals. Dentists, doctors or attorneys – and they are, themselves subject to professional licensing in order to practice. They are not only held to professional standards of ethical and accountable behavior within the confines of their offices – but if they are reported to engage in inappropriate and abusive acts with a child, they may be subject to investigation by their professional licensing boards.

These good men are being put at risk in their professions by the policies of the church continuing to require them to conduct interviews which are immoral, unethical and abusive.

The writing is on the wall. These practices will not be tolerated by a society that understands the harm and danger in allowing such things to be normalized and accepted. I have worked to educate and inform members and nonmembers alike of the clear and present danger posed by these interviews.  And now that people are informed, they are not going to sit back and do nothing.

As said by early Church leaders, Let’s our claim our rank among intelligent beings.  Our bishops will soon be in the crosshairs of society’s wisdom to prevent child sex abuse.  Excommunicating me sends the message to Salt Lake City that our bishops’ reputations are expendable.

29 questions

What are the dangerous and disgusting questions that are currently being asked by bishops?

I have collected thousands of testimonials from adults of what they were asked as children.  From these testimonials, I have culled the questions that I’m about to put into your hands.  I’ve heard some members say, “I’ve never been asked those questions.”  That’s not the point.  That’s like dismissing a rape victim by saying, “I’ve never been raped.”

I’ve heard some bishops say, “I’ve never asked those questions.”  Ok.  Again, that is dismissing the rape victim with, “Well, I’ve never raped anybody.

Four of my daughters were asked questions from this list.  This is what set me off on my path to protect our Mormon children.  It was only last summer when my kids told me about this.  I was incensed to discover that my kids were abused all alone by these filthy, dirty, pornographic questions.

I have presented these questions to the highest levels of the church.  I challenged the apostles to condemn even one of them.   With their silence they have condoned every evil question that I’ll now read.  (Hand-out the question sheet)

Do you masturbate?

Do you know what a vagina is?

What were you thinking of while you masturbated?

Do you masturbate under or over the panties?

How many fingers do you use?

When was the last time you watched pornography?

What type of pornography do you watch?

Do you masturbate while you watch pornography?

Where and how did your boyfriend touch you?

Where your nipples hard?

Did you get wet?

Where were his fingers?

Where was your underwear?

What color were your panties?

Did you orgasm?

Did you know that once boys reach a certain level of arousal, they have no choice but to keep going, that they can no longer stop their sexual advances?

Have you ever put your penis in another boy’s anus and if so, did you like it?

Describe the sexual positions you engaged?

Did you engage in oral sex?

Did she orgasm?

Was she shaved?

Did you ejaculate?

How many times did he ejaculate?

Where did he ejaculate?

Did you engage in anal sex?

Did the boy ejaculate in your mouth?

Did you put your mouth on her vagina, or use your fingers?

Did he touch your breasts?

Did you touch his penis?

How far did he penetrate you?

To a rape victim:

Did you like it?

What did you do to egg him on?

What were you wearing?

Did you orgasm?

Let’s be men of God.  Let’s claim our rank among intelligent beings.  Condemn every question on this list.  Excommunication WILL send the message that you condone the hideously immoral practice of probing children with pornography like this.  I want all the men in this room and the entire world to know that I CONDEMN this in the harshest and angriest tone I can muster.  Tonight IS the time for you to follow Christ’s example of angry indignation.  Take the whip to the temple and overturn the tables of evil that have infiltrated our church.

Stories of Our Sacred Children

(Hand-out Books)

I’m gifting you something that I consider sacred.  These are children’s stories.  Accounts of what we have done to our precious little ones.  I applaud the courage that it took for adults to relive their childhood trauma by putting it on paper.  Most have suffered in silence for years and years.  For the majority, their healing began with sharing their story, in a safe place of validation.  Thousands upon thousands now rally around them in empathy and compassion.

As you know, I’m still a bishop according to church doctrine.  Last month I was joined by 38 other ordained Mormon bishops in apologizing to the victims you hold in your hands.   The apology was read by our friend, Bishop Bill Moore of the Sugar Land 1st ward, and broadcast to the world.

Bishops’ Apology

“As Bishops having been ordained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with humility and boldness, we apologize to you, the thousands of children, now adults, who were harmed by bishop interviews.

We didn’t understand how our words and actions could be dangerous and damaging.  We know now.  Some of you were groomed for tragic sexual abuse.  We apologize.  Some were sexually assaulted by their own bishops.  How can we apologize for something so unconscionable?  We.are.sorry.

We recognize that thousands were mercilessly and most often inadvertently shamed.  Shamed into self-loathing as youth.  Oh, how we apologize for that.  Many were shamed into making very poor life choices.  Some were shamed into taking their own lives.  To the parents of those whose children died by suicide, we sincerely apologize from the deepest depths of our hearts.

Many of you have suffered for decades with open wounds from what happened to you behind closed doors.  We are sorry and offer our sincere apology.

You are worthy.  You were always worthy.  We see you.  We hear you.  We give you voice.  What happened to you was wrong.  So wrong.  Hand in hand with you, victims of our dreadful policy, we now march forward to protect the children and youth of today.  Our sorrow is not expressed in words alone.  Hopefully, you will recognize our contrition by our strong and continued actions.

We love you.”

The Stories

#710  This happened about 2 months ago.

“My 17 year old daughter has been sexually active for a bit. Her mom and I knew about it and mostly talked about safe sex.  Daughter felt she needed to repent, went to the bishop—who is a really decent guy—and he pulled out a sheet of paper and said “I’ve been instructed to ask you these questions. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t have to answer them.” He then asked a bunch of explicit questions: who, how often, what happened, details, etc.

“She did not come out uplifted. She felt shamed and shaken. He’s a good guy, she said, but once it went to the questions on the paper, it went downhill fast. She hasn’t attended church for the last few weeks. Thanks Mormon church. You just lost another good one with your abusive policies.”

Guilt is feeling like you have done something bad.  Shame?  That’s feeling like you are bad.  Probing children about sex, all alone, by an untrained man, is heaping shame on our children.

Kip Eliason’s story.  As a teenager he took his own life.   Shamed over masturbation.  Something all boys do and most can’t stop.  He didn’t know that.  He thought he was alone in his shame induced self-hatred.  Reinforced by bishops who were clueless in their good intentions.  Clueless about how deadly shame is.  Kip is gone.  Died by suicide

#169 Samuel Bresee.  4 years ago, at 14 years old.  He died by suicide.  The evidence he left behind told the story of shaming from bishops interviews.  This boy came to dislike these meetings.  His father highly encouraged him to continue meeting with the bishop.  Today, this father regrets that he ever permitted his now lost son to meet all alone behind closed doors with an untrained man.   He will live with that the rest of his life.

You brethren, also, will have to live with whatever decision is made tonight.  Be men of God.  Stand up for our children so that none are ever shamed into suicide again.

#120 Sandy’s story, not her real name.  Many of you in this room know her family.

“When I was about to be baptized, at almost 8 years old, I had already been being molested for several years by another member of the congregation, who happened to be the bishop-at-the-time’s brother.  In my baptismal interview, this bishop brought up the law of chastity, and asked if I knew what it meant.  I didn’t, really.  He asked me if I had ever let anyone touch me under my clothes where a bathing suit would cover. I don’t remember exactly what I said, I just remember the fear I felt in that moment when I realized that *that* is what the law of chastity was talking about. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to be baptized, and so I wouldn’t be able to be with my family after I died.

“I remember feeling frozen, and being too afraid to talk anymore. He asked me to show him where, and how I had “let” someone touch me, by guiding his hands to do the same.  I was too afraid, and ashamed.  So instead, he had me sit on his lap, and he hugged me tight. He told me that he needed to determine how *exactly* I had sinned, in order for him to ask God to forgive me, so he told me that he was “feeling prompted” to demonstrate a few things, and I only had to nod “yes” or “no” to let him know if I had done them before, and he told me he was also going to ask me if the things he was going to do felt good, so that he could determine how fervently he needed to pray for me to be forgiven.  In that “interview” he sat me on his bishop’s desk in front of him, and had me lie back with my knees bent and legs open. He stimulated me with his fingers over, and then under my underwear, and then digitally penetrated me both vaginally and anally.”

#388 Groomed by bishop interviews that it was ok to go behind a closed door and talk about sex.  That set her up to be sexually assaulted by a Sunday School teacher

#456 Bishop sexually assaults another 7 year old

#481 Sex abuse by bishop counselor

#582 Raped by the bishop

#586 Raped by the bishop

#719 1st counselor raping girls in the ward

#758 Bishop groomed and later sexually touched a youth

#779  Bishop had this boy masturbate in the bishop’s office

#783 Sexual abuse by the bishop

#785 Sexual assault by the bishop

#788 Two bishops molesting kids

#799 Sex in the bishop’s office with a 17 year old girl

#805 Sexual abuse by a seminary teacher.  Groomed by bishop

The stories are gut-wrenching, tragic and so preventable.

Here are the consequences that are voiced over and over and over:

  • Childhood Self-loathing.
  • Self-loathing as an adult.
  • Normalizing children to sexual questions by adult men.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Impaired sexual relations after marriage.
  • Years of recovery from childhood shaming. Often lasting decades
  • Suicide ideation.
  • Attempted suicide.
  • Suicide completion.

Last spring, 1,000 of us marched in Salt Lake City, from City Hall to the Church Office Building.  We delivered similar books like the ones that you have in your hands.  Our hope was that they would land in the apostles’ hands.  President ______ confirmed that at least Elder Christofferson did receive the stories, read them and called them tragic.

But that was a private communication, through a third party, behind closed doors.  Publicly the apostles have said nothing.  These are the victims of a policy that the apostles mandate.  These are their victims.  Jesus plainly taught how we should act towards the wounded on the side of the road.  In his gorgeous parable of the Good Samaritan, the priesthood holders were painted with a very bad light.  In their haughty haste they turned their noses up at the sight of the bruised and broken.  It was the despised Samaritan who crossed the road.  He gently bound up the wounds.  He put the thieves’ victim on his own horse and led him to a healing path.

Tonight, my friends, you have an important choice.  One outcome will put you on the side of the priests.  The other will show you to be Samaritans.  I’m referring to this night as the Samaritan’s night.  People are gathered in many locations around the country in vigils awaiting your decision.  They are gathered as Samaritans, supporting those who have been so dreadfully harmed by what bishops have done.  Sometimes the harm was overt and purposeful.  Most times the bishop had no idea of the deep wounds he inflicted.  By excommunicating me, many victims will feel re-traumatized.

I invite you my friends to join the Samaritans.  Cross the road to the Samaritan side. Recognize & validate the survivors.  Engage the covenant path.  Mourn with those who mourn.  Comfort those who need comfort.  Minister to the least of these.

Regarding this issue, Jesus weighed in with powerful words.  This is the only time that he threatened physical violence.

“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.”

Stories of 802 millstones are in your hands.  Stand up and be men of God.  Risk doing what is right.  My conscience is clear.  I want yours to be clear, too.  Whatever the outcome is tonight,  you will have to live with it.  History will vindicate or villainize.  If the conclusion of this council is to facilitate harming our children, that decision will never be vindicated.

May this day be the day you chose to protect the little ones rather than protecting an institution.

This evening, I’ve delivered a witness to you.  I am not alone.  My sails are billowing with the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.  He is my dear and powerful ally.

May he be yours, too.

Amen

Patty’s Testimony (My wife)

I’m really glad I have the opportunity to be here to discuss the situation at hand with Sam.  I think my comments about his journey will address both issues that he is being held accountable for in this hearing.

Since we started dating 40 years ago, Sam has always reached out to the lonely, the shy, the widows, the needy, the overlooked, and the outcast.

As the stake single adult representative he would attend the events to make sure these marginalized members felt seen, heard and cared for. At dances he made sure that every girl was danced with and at firesides he made sure every person in attendance got a handshake and personal acknowledgment. Every assignment he has ever received he has always given 150% which is why he has been given many difficult callings such as high council member over stake activities and the older single adult program, stake young men’s president when we took our youth to Salt Lake City, ward mission leader, when he had to go to the mat with the mission president for taking our missionaries away, Easter Cantata chair, and countless others. In each situation he went the extra mile, but his most challenging and rewarding calling from the Lord was as a Bishop in the Maplewood First Ward where there were numerous needs were  from a diverse group of members living within the boundaries.  At least 30 children in the primary were being raised in single mother homes. These moms felt that the church leadership continued to focus on “ideal families”.   These women would come to Sam in tears feeling that they were second class citizens in the church, who were being forgotten.  Instead of being praised for making the best of their situation, they were being told they would never be enough.  He brought this issue to the attention of local leaders, who shut him down refusing to acknowledge the needs of these women.  He then tried to reach the higher authorities who wouldn’t accept his calls or return any communication from a Bishop concerned for his flock.  Finally, after several failed attempts to reach anyone in the priesthood, he reached out to the General Relief Society President who expressed her concerns for single parents as well.  She was grateful to Sam and told him to continue the good work of reassuring these women of their worth and value, but not to expect a swift change in current attitude.  So that’s just what he did, he spent time with them, listened to them, and even hired many of them to work for his business.  Maplewood also had several members who were handicapped, confined to wheel chairs and could not use the bathrooms in the church building.  This oversight kept these members from attending church.   When Sam found out about this situation he immediately went to the person in charge of church buildings in our area to remedy the issue.  He was told that Salt Lake refused to make the changes to install a  handicapped bathroom at this time, so my husband took matters into his own hands and informed the authorities that he would be hiring a contractor and paying for the remodeling himself.  The very next day, the building representative called and said that the changes would be made.  To say the least Sam is a man of action

Several years later, he recognized another group of members in the church who were being alienated.  People who had questions, doubts, or concerns about the church and no safe place to discuss them.  People who were dismissed by their leaders as unrighteous or unfaithful.  People who were hurt and confused, who needed fellowship.  After seeing the needs of these people, Sam began to have weekly “talkerias” where members could sit and discuss things they felt were not permitted within church walls.  He always encouraged ward and stake leaders to attend these events, but none ever accepted his invitation.  Sam was concerned  that too many good people were leaving the church and was looking to church leaders to help find a solution.    Instead they denied that this was a problem.

During this time, Sam joined several online communities of current and former members who posted about uncomfortable or harmful experiences with church leaders. He was very skeptical that these things could be happening in the church, but felt it was worth exploring.  After finding out that his own daughters were asked sexually explicit questions in this very stake, he began his campaign to end this practice.  First he went to his bishop who denied that these things were occurring and repeatedly insisted there was nothing that could or should be done, so Sam then went to the Stake President, who also decided  this matter wasn’t worthy of further discussion or any kind of action.  At this point, he was given no other choice but to reach out to the General Authorities, calling upon them to amend the handbook of instructions on how to interview our youth and children.  To keep our children and our leaders safe, but as before when he was bishop, his pleas to help the needy fell on deaf ears.

But again, Sam is a man of action.  So he took it into his own hands to bring attention to this problem, since conventional methods of reform were not working.  He began voting opposed to the policy of interviewing minors alone about sexual matters, not voting opposed to the church leaders themselves, but to the decision to turn a blind eye to this harmful practice occurring in our church.  and again our Stake Leaders didn’t try to really understand his no votes.  There only concern was that he conform to church traditions of never voicing a concern.  He began to promote his cause with the media in hopes to finally reach the ears of the apostles, who so far had refused to listen.  His public criticism to make the LDS church a safer place for our youth does not make him an apostate, but rather a disciple of Christ who wants the best for the Lord’s church.

During the last few years that I’ve been going through this process with Sam, I’ve had a chance to sit back and observe.  The one thing I’ve noticed is that this church has changed since I joined 48 years ago as a 15 year old girl.  All the teachings I’ve learned as a member seem to be lost and forgotten in the “legalistic” rulings from the prophets.  We talk less and less about the savior who is kind and loving and does not inquire about our worthiness because he already knows us to be worthy of His love and His atonement.  Since they raised the bar over a decade ago, the church has become more oppressive and punitive with little room for joy and happiness.  We are always being told to obey our church leaders or we won’t receive blessings.  It’s almost become tyrannical versus edifying.  The straight and narrow path is a road that allows for freedom and self agency to choose your passage, but the Church has shrunk that path down to a tightrope in which a small misstep leads to shame, embarrassment, and harsh judgment from the leaders.

Neil L. Andersen stated that “fear and faith cannot coexist in our hearts at the same time”, yet I see so much fear in the leaders and members of this church.  Leaders are afraid to be criticized, afraid to make change, afraid to leave the safety of their small circle of brothers. The members are afraid to speak up, afraid to ask questions, afraid of being excommunicated.  The apostles seem to treat their leadership position more as the executive of a corporation, than as the shepherd who knows each member of his flock by name. What does it really mean to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ

Luke 15:4 says “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, doth leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” Sam has continually gone after those lost sheep, he has done so much good to help people who have been harmed by unrighteous dominion,  who feel that any opinion other than the leaders is incorrect and sacrilegious.  He has sat with them, talked with them, cried with them, prayed with them, and helped with their healing process when the Church wouldn’t.

The Lord asks us to seek revelation. ALL are called upon, not just the Church leaders. All members of the Church, including Sam, should be free to express and bring forth their spiritual promptings without fear of repercussions. Oftentimes, my children have been my best counselors. They would bring something to my attention that may have been critical. This hurt my pride as a parent, but after honest contemplation, I realized they were right. Truth can come from the greatest of us, the smallest of us, and everyone in between.   1st Nephi 16:2-3  is one of our family favorites.  Please take time to read it.

Today, Sam is being judged by a handbook, not by his heart, his righteous desires, or his good fruits.  But on the final judgment day I am not worried about Sam standing before the Lord . Whatever decision you make today can and will be overruled by our Savior.

If you choose to excommunicate Sam today without having taken anytime to really understand the suffering of these victims nor have  personally witnessed the amount of healing that has occurred since Sam has tried to prevent this from happening to others; I don’t see how that judgment would be pleasing to the Lord .  There is no denying that Sam is following the will and example of Jesus Christ. The prophet just asked us to call us by our true name—members of the church of Jesus Christ, so that we maintain that emphasis that it is Jesus Christ we follow—not an organization or a handbook. These things are subject to change at anytime. The Lord’s command to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to leave the 90 and 9 to seek after the lost sheep is enduring. It was there long before any handbook and will be there long after this policy is finally updated.

I plead with you today to remember the wise words, “Who am I to judge another, when I walk imperfectly?” As his wife, the one who knows his heart, his intentions, and the fruits of his labors better than anyone in this building, I can tell you with confidence, that this work has been a good one. And it is not the will of the Lord that Sam be stripped of his saving ordinances for seeking to serve the Lord and to follow the example of Jesus Christ.