A Privileged Mormon Woman Defects

Bubbles

[My darling husband has finally read this post, and I am updating it based on some of his comments. One of his suggested edits was the title, which used to read "A Mormon Princess Defects." Though he mostly liked this post, there were a few areas where he felt I had written in a manner that invited misunderstanding. I have also invited Christine's daughter, Emily, to send me her edit of how she believes this post should have read, given my opinion but her knowledge of the hearts of Christine and Malcolm. This post will remain my work, and Emily's edit, if she submits it, will be a separate post.]

If you are familiar with me and Millennial Star, you know that we are always sorry when someone decides to constructively desert their faith in Mormonism. Some of my colleagues express this sorrow by attacking.

I express this sorrow by performing analysis, as I did with the discussions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) posted by those supporting/requesting/demanding female ordination.

I don’t typically listen to John Dehlin’s podcasts, but I have been wondering what was happening with him, in the wake of the recent excommunication of Kate Kelly. And so I browsed to his Facebook page and looked at the chatter going on over there.

This is how I came to listen to John Dehlin’s recent four-part podcast covering roughly six hours of conversation with Christine Jeppson Clark. Christine is a long-time friend of John’s, and her father is the now-deceased general authority, Malcolm Jeppson.

There are four points of interest here for me, as Christine describes her father’s involvement in coordinating discipline for individuals suspected of apostasy and her path out of the Church:

  1. An expanded view of how Church discipline is both local and yet under supervision.
  2. The importance of schema in interpreting our past and our present.
  3. The danger of living in fear and isolation, taught incorrect “truths.”
  4. How blessed I have been, by contrast.

I see Christine’s decision to depart from the faith of her childhood as a natural consequence of various factors, but I don’t take her actions as a legitimate critique of the Mormon faith. T 1 to paraphrase Baruch Spinoza:

“What Christine says about Mormonism tells us more about Christine than about Mormonism”.

Christine’s father, Malcolm, was a boyhood friend of Boyd K. Packer. When Malcolm died, President Packer said in his eulogy that Malcolm was the most perfect man he knew, or words to that effect. Christine has inferred that Packer’s funeral encomium must have meant that her father was perfectly obedient.

Malcolm Jeppson left behind a 600 page book documenting his life, including details of his Church service. Seen through Christine’s eyes, the book describes a Church at odds with the public story and a man who could not distinguish between cultural bias and “inspiration.”

Church Discipline

As discussed during these recent months, Church discipline is ostensibly carried out by local leaders. And yet there has appeared to be some level of direction from higher-level authorities.

As Christine discusses her father’s legacy, she speaks of three particular meta-events:

  1. Malcolm Jeppson’s decision to counsel with and discipline hundreds of sexually active young adults during the beginning of the sexual revolution in the 1960s
  2. Malcolm Jeppson’s concern about a leader who was holding a large number of disciplinary councils, going in to the meetings with the excommunication paperwork already complete.
  3. Malcolm Jeppson’s involvement with the excommunication of Avraham Gileadi based on incorrect information.

Christine, as one who no longer adheres to belief in the Mormon Church, found fault with her father’s attempts to exert ecclesiastical suasion on the sexually active singles in his single adults stake. Apparently she isn’t aware that sexual sin has long been a matter the Church leaders have worried about, or that sexual sin underpinned the conspiracy that led to Joseph’s death. 2 Her new, enlightened self finds fault with a father who would discipline young people for either having sex out of wedlock or being so intent on getting into a state of wedlock that they throw off other obligations (e.g., walking away from a mission call to wed and bed their honey).

However the next bit, about the concern the leaders and Malcolm had regarding a rogue, excommunication-happy local leader, speaks comfort to me. The higher-level leaders worked to correct this leader, to help him know that, though local decisions resided with him, he was being a whack job. Using my surgery analogy, this guy was whacking off spiritual limbs left and right. I think we all agree that it’s good when a supervisory level of leadership can reign in stupid at the local level.

Finally, Malcolm’s interactions with Avraham Gileadi indicate that Malcolm was poorly informed, thinking Avraham was merely a “rock star” turned “scholar” to defraud people and lead them away from “truth.” Malcolm, as the obedient leader in a position to advise local leaders, worked to ensure that individuals believed to pose a risk to themselves or the Church were brought to the attention of local leaders. This also showed how such cases are watched by higher leadership. It isn’t that local leaders are directed to necessarily excommunicate, but local leaders can be removed from leadership if they show a lack of willingness to counsel with individuals who higher leadership believe pose a threat. Going back to the surgery analogy, these would be leaders who would rather see the patient die than conduct surgery.

In the case of Avraham Gileadi, it appears someone in a high place had gotten a wrong “brief” on Avraham’s activities, intent, and the scholarly basis for his work. Avraham was disciplined for the wrongs others believed he had conducted. Ultimately the discipline was overturned when it was found the original premise for disciplining Avraham had been incorrect. Going to the surgery analogy again, this is like cutting off the wrong limb, or conducting surgery on the wrong patient.

As someone who had posted honestly on the internet back when the September Six were disciplined, I considered the threat of potential discipline. I determined for myself that if I were wrongly disciplined, that I would trust in the Lord to know that the discipline was wrong. In that case, I expected that the Lord would be able to correct every wrong. In my past, I have seen the calming effect it can have when an individual willingly submits (always presuming no one is in actual danger by so submitting).

This leads to the matter of how we understand what is happening, our schema or worldview.

Interpreting our Past

As Christine describes her past self, she speaks of someone who revered her father as a god, one in authority who must be followed. Christine never “partook” of unapproved literature, blindly obeyed at risk to her own life (speaking of childbearing 3), gave up her own hopes and dreams 4 to live the Mormon “ideal,” and did such Morg-ish things as oppose the Equal Rights Amendment without ever even reading the proposed amendment. She revered the handcart ancestor who obeyed ill-informed leaders making promises that weren’t fulfilled 5 and ended up stranded at Devil’s Gate. She reviled her ancestors who turned their backs on Mormonism.

Christine remembers herself as someone who lived in fear of those who did not embrace Mormonism with the purity and rectitude she held herself to. But she also fails to recount any memories of having a spiritual confirmation that Mormonism was true. 6 She speaks of talking with her Dad and getting advice by proxy from Boyd K. Packer, but she never says anything about going to God and getting her own answers.

In fact, she regards those instances in her father’s book where he describes the direction he received to be crazy stuff, not allowing that there was anything other than cultural bias for the “promptings” he received. 7

As Christine reviews her past through what I have elsewhere described as puke-tinged glasses 8, she sees people mindlessly obeying. In effect, she projects onto others what she herself had done for many decades.

What Christine fails to admit in her schema is the possibility that she, as a pampered Mormon princess a person with unusual access to the highest leaders of the Church, might have missed a fundamental aspect of the faith experience that some of us have enjoyed, in our obscurity. 9

Some of the rest Many of us have actually walked an unconstrained walk with God. Some of the rest of us weren’t just parroting the words our teachers taught us. 10 Some of the rest of us have reason 11 to believe in the Book of Mormon as something more than a young man’s invention (e.g., chiasmus, Helaman 5:12′s description of a tsunami and storm surge, the marriage practices illustrated by the story of the Queen of the Lamanites). Some of the rest of us have known about the scientific method and applied it to our Church experience from the time we were children. Some of the rest of us have known about the scientific method from the time we were children and applied it to our Church experience. 12

Christine now looks at the lives she used to revere and sees blind stupidity and coercive leaders. 13 She now looks at the ancestors she reviled and sees right-thinking individuals who acted to protect themselves from exploitation. She sees herself surrounded by those without authentic faith based on real data. 14 Christine merely sees deluded naifs propping up an earthly empire headed by leaders living out a 1950s version of the perfect world. 15

The Danger of Believing Incorrect “Truths”

The one point on which Christine had based her faith was the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, based on the pretty informed by pictures of Joseph sitting with his hands gliding across the inscriptions on the golden plates.

When Christine learned that Joseph mostly “translated” with his face covered and the golden plates often not even present, her brittle 16 testimony was shattered. The realization that her honored father had been involved in the excommunication of Avraham Gileadi and seemingly a million other things combined to undermine Christine’s confidence in the Church.

Christine , safe in her bubble, had believed with certainty so many subtly incorrect myths that the fragile her testimony she’d built in her bubble world couldn’t withstand reality. It isn’t even that all the pillars of her testimony were false, but enough had been false that the structure of her former belief system was destroyed. This is similar to how the slightly distorted published version of William Daniels’ testimony regarding Joseph Smith’s death caused the prosecution to discard all he had said. 17

From listening to the hours of podcast, it seems Christine believed that she couldn’t love those who were different, 18 that she had to serve until her soul had been strip-mined. 19 , that to drink or smoke or do drugs or have illicit sex damned a person forever. 20 Christine didn’t appear to have believed in a God who would save all mankind or in a Savior who will take any sin or sorrow on his shoulders if we would but turn to God and desire to return. 21

Given the God Christine worshiped, it is a wonderful thing that Christine can now love everyone (except possibly the deluded naifs who cling to the LDS faith). It’s a fine thing that she can sip an alcoholic beverage and realized that hell fire doesn’t automatically descend to consume her soul. 22 It’s great that she realizes that individuals can behave in a moral way whether they adhere to a faith tradition or not.

But for some of the rest of us didn’t fear we never feared our fellow men, but did love them all. We knew that cigarettes or alcohol or face cards don’t transform a person into evil. We knew that “godless” men and women can behave ethically.

Some of the rest of us had studied science, knew that all things must be proved, acted based on what we felt was right even when that didn’t adhere to the general expectation held up for the congregation. 23

Thank God for My Mother

Christine became a woman in the early 1970s. My mother went to college in the early 1960s and I went to college in the early 1980s. So though I didn’t live Christine’s exact life, I am aware of the milieu of which she speaks.

Christine [apparently] obeyed every whim of her culture.

My mother married an Asian man when it was still illegal to do so in Utah (they went to the LA temple to be sealed).

Christine talks about Elder Sterling W. Sill refusing to sit on the stand with a man who had a beard.

My mother got called in to talk to Elder Sterling Welling Sill, her grandmother’s nephew, and together with her intended was grilled about whether or not they should actually enter into an inter-racial marriage. I think Mom’s grandmother put Sterling up to it, personally. 24 After the extended interview, Elder Sill allowed them to be married and even gifted them a silver gravy boat. It is instructive to note that many of his concerns were realized in my parent’s lives.

Christine talks about how she never dared read anything that wasn’t from approved sources.

My mother read widely, and had friends who were feminists, who had been arrested for protesting on the White House grounds. She encouraged us to read and think and explore, and two of her favorite magazines were Scientific American and Exponent II. She told us she would love us if we wished to evade the draft by traveling to Canada and that she would love us if we told her we were homosexuals. She even still loved us when we refused to help with chores on Sunday because we didn’t want to ‘work’ on the Sabbath (though on that count she did admit to wanting to smack us for being self-righteous). 25

My mother handed me Nightfall at Nauvoo to read when I was a young teenager. And even though that book destroyed my fragile teenage testimony, it caused me to build a relationship with God. And that God encouraged me to remain a Mormon despite my doubts. That God eventually smiled with subdued amusement when I finally realized His request that I remain a Mormon wasn’t just a phase.

Christine raised her children in the same rigid culture she herself had adopted. So it isn’t terribly surprising that many in her entire 26 family have left the Church along with her.

My mother raised us as though we were God’s children, and accorded us the same freedoms and respect God accords us. As my mother wrote:

The Gardener

 

If you were a gardener, your child the seed,

Your task it would be to garden and weed

‘way wild things that threaten destruction 27 and strife

and prepare the young plant for the rigors of life.

 

But a daisy’s a daisy. A rose is a rose.

The plant must be true to its form as it grows,

True to the form from the maker sent

And not to the will of the gardener bent.

I believe in a God who loves us all so much that He is willing to give us freedom despite the pain He knows we will inevitably inflict on one another. I believe it is within the appropriate purview of Church leaders to attempt to “garden and weed” and prepare the body of Christ for the rigors of life. But just as any parent will at times err, so our leaders, at times, will make some choices that are less than completely ideal. But a parent’s error rarely invalidates their right to be a parent. And so a leader’s error likewise rarely invalidates their right to lead (and luckily we don’t pay our leaders, so there should be no hesitation to release someone who is erring significantly, either whacking off spiritual limbs or refusing to perform life-saving spiritual surgery).

I submit that the thing Christine has rejected is a brittle 28 mockery of the Church Joseph founded, or the Church many of us believe in. It’s hard to get beyond a puke-tinged damaged view of the Church, but I do believe there is a future wherein Christine might be as bemused by her current actions as she clearly has been with her rigid days as a [member of the] Mormon elite Princess.

Notes:

  1. Obviously Christine is acting based on what she legitimately believes. I merely feel that the defection of any high profile member of a group is not necessarily a valid reason for deciding a group or movement is wrong. If that were the legitimate criterion for determining a movement or goverment was wrong, then there is no right in this world.
  2. This was me beating a horse that those not familiar with me won’t understand.
  3. Specifically, Christine didn’t use birth control during the first years of her marriage, when she gave birth to three children in less than three years.
  4. Christine had wished to travel to Vienna and pursue advanced education, but instead settled on serving a mission and then marrying.
  5. This was her female ancestor who traveled to Utah in one of the ill-fated handcart companies that got stranded at Devil’s Gate in 1856, who then arrived in Salt Lake City and became a plural wife. Christine supposed this plural marriage business might have come as a complete surprise to her female ancestor, however the Church had been open about its teachings regarding polygamy since 1852, making it extremely unlikely that Christine’s female ancestor could have been unaware that plural marriage was a possibility in her future as a Mormon woman.
  6. If the audio contains any mention of her own spiritual experiences, I did miss them. Her family may well be able to tell me that she has had such experiences, but I don’t believe the audio interview discussed those experiences or how she now reconciles those experiences with her departure from the Mormon Church.
  7. This is derived from her discussion regarding Avraham Gileadi’s case. Christine and John did not go into what they considered to be so unfounded and scandalous, as they didn’t want Avraham to be hearing about it for the first time on the podcast. But Christine’s clearly felt disdain for what passed as spiritual proof to justify her father’s actions regarding Mormonism.
  8. This deleted bit about modified spectacles merely had to do with how a person’s schema fundamentally affects how they not only perceive the world, but how they remember their past.
  9. Again, I am talking about her schema, which has changed to conform to her current view that Mormonism isn’t right. Christine no longer believes in the faith of her youth. If she had experiences in her youth that supported belief, she makes no mention of them in the podcast.
  10. My husband objects to me using “some” here, as he feels that word implies a minority of individuals. But I am content to leave this one “some” rather than “many.”
  11. Here I am speaking of objective reasons, rather than spiritual reasons.
  12. Christine’s daughter argues that it isn’t possible to apply the scientific method to spiritual experiences. But not all experiences related to Church are spiritual, and even spiritual experiences exist in a material world that informs the interpretation of the spiritual and sometimes has an impact on the material world, as in the case of visions, dreams, and warnings. I like a story told by a Brother Bench, ancestor to a friend. He kept feeling a prompting telling him to get off his horse. When the prompting became too loud to ignore, he slid of his horse. Almost immediately afterwards, the gear strapped to the back of the horse slipped, causing the horse to rear and fall to it’s death in the gorge below the trail up the mountain. In another instance, a friend spoke of having a prompting to turn back from a trip towards a promised “beach.” They did so, and the next morning they found that all four tires were flat. She interpreted the warning as having saved them from getting stranded at the remote beach without any means to continue their journey.
  13. I don’t believe this characterization should be in question, in light of the content of the podcast.
  14. This is based on the account of a friend bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon, and being unable to answer Christine’s inquiry regarding the factual or objective basis for the testimony.
  15. I myself have voiced the argument that some of the sayings from Church leaders regarding women in the workforce and the importance of mothers staying in the home are clearly informed and influenced by the need after World War II for women to vacate the jobs they’d taken in support of the war effort so shell-shocked veterans could have a job.
  16. I felt “brittle” went nicely with “shattered.” But it apparently caused some to object.
  17. Again, this is me referring to my other writings and theories, which people reading this post out of the context of my other writings won’t understand.
  18. This refers to her fear of non-Mormons.
  19. My words, but I think it’s clear that she felt she had to work very, very hard to support the Church, well past the point of what was reasonable according to her current schema.
  20. This was informed by the discussion between John and Christine regarding breaking the Word of Wisdom. This is a step John hasn’t yet taken, but that Christine has. There appeared to be a feeling on John’s part that this decision to imbibe alcohol was something momentous, as Christine recounted the care she’d taken to measure her blood alcohol level as she imbibed.
  21. I say this because I was married to a man whose Army Sergeant threatened him. Apparently it was this fellow’s modus operandi to get a clean cut Mormon kid and make him stand in the center of all his fellow recruits who were ordered to maintain a standing push-up until the Mormon kid would smoke the lit cigarette the sergeant had at the ready. The sergeant knew from past experience that he could break most kids of their Mormon faith by getting them to smoke that cigarette. My former husband replied, “Sir, I smoke, I drink, and I sleep with women, but I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and Jesus is the Christ.” Even though I eventually decided I had to separate from my former husband, I do enjoy that story. I find the practice of “breaking” Mormon kids by forcing them to smoke is somewhat analogous to the way the foreign students at BYU circa 1961 would seduce Mormon girls by forcing them to touch them in an “unchaste” manner. In both of these examples, the individuals “broken” by the experience appear not to have understood that Christ can forgive one from having smoked or touched a man’s privates. They don’t appear to have understood that coercion is the sin, not their exposure to the coercion. But then again, they probably didn’t have a Primary leader, like me, who talked about the fact that a Mormon kid participated in the My Lai massacre and begged them to never do a wrong thing merely because their leader told them to do it.
  22. Already discussed this with regard to Christine’s discussion of drinking alcohol and measuring her blood alcohol level.
  23. This was a reaction to Christine’s story of opposing the Equal Rights Amendment without even having read the amendment. Christine also makes much of the fact that she was unaware of the scientific method until very recently, and appears to believe that the scientific method destroys much of what she used to believe. If I have said I have a problem with stupid people, it is this–people who believe unbelievable things without thought. Christine pretty much asserts that this would be a valid interpretation of herself prior to deciding to leave the Mormon Church. As someone who believes and has crafted that belief based on the principles of the scientific method, I object to Christine’s characterization that her belief was based on fantasy and myth and the open inference that all Mormons adhere to unbelievable fantasy and myth.
  24. It’s not really germane that I think my great-grandmother was a bigot. But then again, that great-grandmother hated my mother for being the child of the “godless man” who had eloped with my grandmother, so it isn’t as though her “bigotry” was confined to foreigners. Ironically, family members, possibly from Sterling W. Sill’s side of the Welling family, had been bigoted towards my great-grandmother’s children because they were the offspring of an excommunicated polygamist.
  25. Apparently some of you think I’m self-righteous as well… LOL
  26. Four of Christine’s six children have left the Mormon faith, but two remain in the Church.
  27. Corrected the spelling on this.
  28. The word isn’t needed to convey my thoughts, and has merely served to make people angry.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for over four decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation, and is working on a midrashic treatment of the events in Nauvoo associated with early polygamy.

117 thoughts on “A Privileged Mormon Woman Defects

  1. Meg, nice poem by your mom. I also agree that as people become disenchanted with the Church they begin creating a false version of the church that bears little resemblance to the one we go to every Sunday. In my little town in Colorado, the church is absolutely central to the community: one of our high priests serves on the town council; we provide most of the volunteers for many of the town events; the town leadership can always count on Mormons to spring to action during an emergency (we had massive floods here last September, and Mormons led most of the work to help members and non-members recover). So, logic would dictate that the Church has had a mostly positive effect on our little community. Yet, when the disaffected vent their dissatisfaction they of course forget all of the obviously positive aspects of the church and magnify their disgruntlement, as it were. This seems to be what is going on with Christine.

    Regarding Avraham Gileadi, I am surprised that none of the disaffected appear to have considered the fact that he was excommunicated and then accepted back into the Church and is now apparently in full fellowship. Again, excommunication does not have to be an ending (although it seems likely that some people will turn it into an ending). It can be the beginning of something new and perhaps even better. I say this noting that I would never wish upon anybody wrongly administered church discipline, but the disaffected concentrate on the human errors without considering that the Father is in control of everything at the end of the day. If you truly have faith in God and in His servants, things will turn out all right in the end.

  2. Great post. Christine reminds me of Martha Nibley. The stories are rather similar. Except in Martha’s case, she claimed abuse from Nibley himself rather than abuse of power by her father like Christine.

    The wise man (or woman) build his or her house upon a rock…..

  3. One of the major functions of disaffected “Mormon Princesses” is to serve as media darlings e.g. Abby Huntsman and the daughter of Hugh Nibley. The press is more than willing to give them their moment of fame. Just imagine the frenzy of delight from the New York Times if one of Mitt Romney’s descendants turned their back on the Church. Fortunately most members of the Church are more focused on convert stories such as Pop Art icon Ultraviolet, who remained faithful for decades from the day of her baptism until her recent death, even while continuing her artistic career as one of Andy Warhol’s favored stars, complete with sporting purple hair.
    I have witnessed wandering from the Faith followed by return in greater wisdom among my own descendants. It is truly wonderful when a prodigal returns, particularly because, unlike the parable, the returning prodigal becomes heir to all the Father’s blessings.

  4. Unlike actual wrongful surgery, wrongful Church discipline can be expunged and forgiven.

  5. I lived a few years in a ward whose bondaries and stewardship included Venice, California. Venice was a magnet for Latter-day Saints who were abandoning their old lives, and children and husbands, if they had them. Among their number at that time were two General Authorities’ daughters.

    Elder Packer seems to be filling the role of devil for those who no longer believe in the devil, egging people like Malcolm Jeppson on to dark works.

  6. I am puzzled by such stories. In all of her life did she not ever get a witness from the Holy Ghost? When one receives such witnesses, which I receive often, then nothing else matters. Where am I going wrong on this? Am I just extra blessed?

  7. Meg,

    There is much to like about your post, and your mother’s poem is absolutely beautiful. But since so many of the other comments received so far seem congratulatory about your post and self-congratulatory about what a wonderful Church we all have, I’d ask that you consider the following points:

    1) The tone of this post, unfortunately, degenerates several times into sarcasm and personal attacks, i.e., “Apparently she isn’t aware that sexual sin has long been a matter the Church leaders have worried about…” Is casting these kind of stone really necessary? Are you in a position to cast such stones?

    2) You may be right that she placed too much faith in people and the institutional Church. But let’s tread cautiously about judging others and their inward faith. Who are we to say someone hasn’t placed their Faith in Christ? This should be between that person and the Lord. Could we not follow the Savior’s counsel about judging others?

    Relatedly, many people in her boat feel betrayed, because the people around them (sometimes even great Church leaders, as her father) explicitly or implicitly taught them to place their faith in men or institutions, rather than the Lord. Yes, the person made a mistake in misplacing their Faith – but they were following the message communicated to them by their church setting (either via the home, their ward, etc.). In some cases, it is undoubtedly true that on some level (personal, local, etc.), those responsible for teaching and counseling vis-a-vis the Church place too much emphasis on trusting imperfect men and institutions rather than the Savior. I’ve seen it personally. It sounds like you were very lucky to not have that problem with your upbringing, but please don’t suggest that everyone should have come to the same conclusions as you, even though they did not have the benefit of such a tolerant upbringing.

    The challenge for us as individuals, as parents, and as a Church should be to teach more clearly that our Faith must be Christ-centered. I think its fair to say that often in the Church (not always!), we heavily emphasize cultural conformity. When aspects of that culture end up looking mistaken, many people naturally blame the Church.

    Perhaps we need to more carefully consider what messages we communicate in the Church are really about Christ and salvation vs. culture. If they are about culture (beards, white shirts, etc.), then should we be emphasizing conformity to it?

    Thanks,
    Your brother in Christ

  8. Pingback: Trying to Listen (and feeling shouted at) | Out of the Best Blogs

  9. It is easy to envy those who seem to be raised under apparently ideal circumstances such as both parents being faithful members in the midst of a community of stalwarts with all temporal needs being met, yet so often these are the very people who wake one day with the conviction that it is all a fraud. My patriarchal blessing promised that there would be an influence in my home that would produce leaders. In retrospect I realize that the cause of my tears and despair also toughened the spirits of my children and helped them return to the Truth when they strayed. Of course we cannot judge the hearts of others, but when they publicly denounce and disparage the Church we can judge their actions. It is my dearest hope that they return and I will rejoice if they make that choice.

  10. Hi PP,

    Are you the brother in Christ I think you are? In which case, hugs!

    If I recall correctly, there were already well over 100 comments on this recording over at the Mormon Stories website, with lots of self-congratulatory notes saying Christine was absolutely doing the right thing, that the Church is a bad scene, etc. And that was when I started listening to the 6 hours of audio last weekend.

    The major point of my post is to convey important information Christine covers in her discussion with John Dehlin (regarding a role general authorities play in Church discipline) and convey information about my assessment of the faults in her faith pillars that caused her to abandon the faith of her youth.

    She has recently discovered the scientific process, which she has found to be utterly liberating. In my case, a big part of my ‘scientific process’ with respect to religion has been direct guidance from the divine. Therefore I’m inferring that Christine has not experienced what she deigns to consider such direct guidance.

    It may be that she has had what she would have considered spiritual experiences in the past, but now she regards those feelings and impressions to be the artifacts of the culture in which she was raised. Some comment about fevered imaginings comes to mind.

    I’m pretty sure Christine has not abandoned Mormonism for a different religion, but currently considers herself to be past the need for religion. This is a common thought among those who have newly discovered science. They are so thrilled with the new tools for detecting information that they fail to realize that science can only answer the “what” of life. Only one’s metaphysical construct (e.g., religion) can answer the “why” of life.

    For what it’s worth, Christine doesn’t seem to be hurting. She’s a bit too excited about her new-found liberation from the oppression of Mormonism to be hurting. If you doubt me, feel free to enjoy the podcast – part four of four (two hours) covers her own journey to a post-faith place in the sun.

  11. I don’t really have much to add (excellent post, though), but a lot of the insights you had here reminded me of Orson Scott Card’s tale “Worthy to Be One of Us”, which deals with a slight culture clash between Mormon “royalty” (children of General Authorities) and other Mormons (he makes this more explicit in his comments on the story in the “Keeper of Dreams” collection).

  12. PP, you make some good points, but there is a difference between privately striving with your faith and discussing it with friends and trying to work things out (which all of us do) and publicly trying to undermine the faith of others, which it seems Christine is trying to do. Context is important. Dehlin is using every trick in the book to create his own “alternate church” under the LDS umbrella. Christine is facilitating him in this endeavor. The game is to pick and pick at different areas of the church (usually in contradictory ways) to undermine the faith of people who may already have doubts. So, we can definitely have charity for those who are going through private faith crises; we should have less charity and more caution (and be wise as serpents) about those who are trying to promote crises in others.

  13. Hi Meg – Just wanted to clarify that I’m almost certain we’ve never met. This is the first time I’ve posted on the bloggernacle. But I appreciate the “hugs” anyway, and appreciate that we can be respectful about our differences. Thanks again, “PP”

  14. Hi PP,

    The PP I suspected you might be would, alas, likely not visit M*. We did used to go around and around over on mormon-l back in the day.

    Your comment was very kind, exhibiting love to both Christine and, by implication, to me.

    I don’t know if Christine would be game, but I’d be happy to hang out and have drinks (water for me for environmental reasons).

  15. PS for PP,

    You asked if I was in a position to cast stones, regarding my comment about Christine’s amazement that her father would dare discipline single adults for being sexually active. This was her comment, indicating that censuring someone for illicit sexual activity is unconscionable.

    The reason I feel I am in a position to comment on this is my research into what was happening in Nauvoo, when many men, including highly placed men such as apostle William Smith, Bishop Vinson Knight, and possibly Assistant President William Law were engaged in adultery. We even find indication that teenagers, like Orange Wight, were fully indoctrinated into this ring committed to illicit intercourse. The women involved, many of them girls, had taken to calling themselves “spirituals.”

    Many of the men identified as encouraging and engaging in illicit intercourse were later among the hundreds of conspirators who swore to murder Joseph Smith.

    So I’m not sure why you would question that I’m in a position to make factual statements about what Christine herself said and the past history of the Church.

    If you haven’t done so yet, you might want to read the posts I’ve been writing about Joseph Smith and Polygamy.

  16. Hi Meg,

    It’s very possible I misunderstood you, and if so, I apologize. I also think you might be misunderstanding me. I’m not saying that you are not in “a position to make factual statements about what Christine herself said and the past history of the Church.” What I did say was that I found the following comment sarcastic, snarky, and unhelpful: “Apparently she isn’t aware that sexual sin has long been a matter the Church leaders have worried about…” Given that she’s the daughter of a GA and has described her background the way she has, I can almost guarantee she is indeed so aware – and I strongly suspect that you know this too. I was trying to gently infuse the conversation with certain attitudes espoused by the Savior that are easily overlooked sometimes when trying to make a point with a rhetorical flourish.

    I don’t mean to make a mountain over a molehill, here. We’re quibbling over nothing. It’s fine with me if you’re right. Let’s just follow the Savior’s admonition and not only love our friends, but also “love our enemies” and act with charity towards them. – Matthew 5:44.

    Thanks again.

  17. Going back to listen, the bit about the ~300 Church disciplinary councils her father held during his eight years as a Stake President at the University of Utah is on the third of the four podcasts at 5:40 for about 5 minutes. Her dad had determined that no one had ever held a disciplinary council in that stake, and proceeded to make sure everyone was thoroughly informed of the importance of avoiding sexual sin. Christine mentions the shaming she felt due to this emphasis on moral purity, with her father saying he would rather see her in her grave than have her be guilty of sexual sin. Christine definitely portrays this emphasis on sexual purity as a new thing brought on by the sexual experimentation during the 1960s and the sexual revolution.

    A story from my mom regarding this was her experience at BYU being called in for an interview because she’d gone on a date with a man from Iran. Nothing untoward had happened during her date, but apparently some of the foreign students had realized you could take a girl to a movie, put the girl’s hand on your engorged member, and the girl would be so shamed that you could then bed her. Presumably, a girl once so bedded would be good for tricks thereafter as well. So this is the kind of predatory behavior that was going on in Utah universities at the time. It is this kind of behavior, along with the regular sexual experimentation of the era, that was making the brethren very concerned about the sexual morality of the youth.

    At 17:00 she talks about how she became afraid of non-Mormons and 17:30 starts the discussion of the individual who liked to excommunicate people.

    Christine views this time of emphasis on sexual purity and only sees the shaming she herself experienced. She doesn’t appear to wonder why the brethren were suddenly so concerned about the corruption of the youth. I suspect it wasn’t just consensual fondling in the back seats of cars, but predation on women. And that kind of thing makes Church leaders very upset. If a girl could be made to have the gumption to flee any hint of a place where predation would occur, that is the kind of healthy fear a father like Malcolm Jeppson didn’t mind inspiring in a beloved daughter.

  18. Meg,
    This was a great post.

    I think the problem is that this women viewed herself as a princess… better than others because of her “pedigree”, their parents church leadership positions, or other family history. The only two children of a church leader’s that I’ve met have been really down to earth, cool, righteous, but not pretentious. THere’s something up with these folks who try to use their family history as some sort of credential to tear the church down. If someone tells me they have 5 generations in the church, I don’t trust them anymore, only less…

  19. I don’t think it is correct to say that Gileadi’s discipline was “overturned”. Google “Gileadi” and “rebaptized” and you’ll find a Deseret News article that says that Gileadi was rebaptized 2 and a half years after he was excommunicated. I’m pretty sure you don’t get rebaptized if your excommunication is overturned on appeal.

  20. Hi Meg,

    Of course its no fun to be looked down upon as deluded by apostates who have “seen the light,” but your appeal to rationality as the basis of your own faith makes it potentially as brittle as Christine’s. I don’t think the basis of your faith is rationality, but that rationality happens to support it, since you are steeped in apologetic reasoning. But the real basis of your faith must be the call, “come follow me.”

    You’ve invested a lot of time into your apologetic treatment of Joseph Smith’s polygamy, but what happens if you encounter some new evidence, which, no matter how hard you try to spin it, that makes your theory crumble according to your rational mind? I think eventually, you would resort to faith, not reason.

    Who knows about Christine, but obviously her rational mind sees the absurdities of the LDS church, and because she has embraced rationality over spirituality, she has left. God is a stumbling block, a rock of offense. Maybe He has some other thing for Christine since He made her overly influenced by reason over spirituality. Maybe she will go to India, meet a guru, do some meditation and “find herself” and get to spirituality in another kind of way. Who knows.

    But in the end, it is exactly what your mother says:
    But a daisy’s a daisy. A rose is a rose.
    The plant must be true to its form as it grows,
    True to the form from the maker sent
    And not to the will of the gardener bent.

    You are a daisy, Christine is a rose, true to the form of the Maker, who says to you on the one hand: “come follow me,” and on the other hand of Christine: “I will blind their eyes and stop their ears, that they see not and be not converted.”

  21. Hi Nate,

    I would say that it is rationality, but I’m including certain spiritual experiences in that “rationality,” as that is part of the evidence upon which I am acting.

    Actually, I personally wouldn’t and haven’t had a problem with the possibility of a Joseph who could have been as sexually active as some presume. However I am persuaded that the data don’t support the idea that he was sexual with the vast majority of his plural wives, and there are alternate explanations for those wives others think may have been sexual. And I have the poem, which logic indicates only fits a small subset of explanations, none of which support a Joseph who was as sexual as has been presumed.

  22. N. W. Clerk,

    Gileadi’s excommunication was completely expunged. The Church has apologized to him and his family, and Gileadi prefers not to discuss the issue any more. This is according to his personal website. If you doubt it, go there and email him. However, he much prefers to talk about Isaiah.

  23. I have listened to the podcast and I understand your position. I am, however, struggling with your characterization of her as a Mormon Princess turned defector ( wearing puke tinged glasses no less). Even as someone who has left the church, Christine remains a daughter of God (Our King) and referring to her as a Mormon Princess comes across as rather derogatory. Perhaps a kinder description could be found? As you indicated at the end of your post, she may yet have a change of heart. In the meantime, charity never faileth, as my mom often said.

  24. I very much enjoyed the post Meg. I can relate to your thoughts on her recent discovery of the scientific method. I joined the church when I was 19, after a year of study and searching various faith traditions. My father has a PhD and my mother a masters degree and they always taught me that careful research was the way to discover truth, and that is how I approached the gospel from the beginning. Even my spiritual witness was the result of “experimenting on the word”. Then about a year ago I was engaged in a Facebook discussion with a dear friend who was raised lds, served a mission at the same time I did but has since left the church. He began talking to me about logic as if it was some novel concept I had likely never heard of and he needed to explain to me what it was and why I should consider using it. At first I felt a little insulted, but then I realized that for him it may actually have been a recent discovery of his that he assumed was at odds with his previous faith. Given what I know of his parents and upbringing this makes sense and not surprisingly he also has two siblings who have left the church as well. Of course I can’t help but think that if this is how Christine Jeppson was raised, that doesn’t speak very highly of her father’s parenting skills. I cannot imagine any of my children growing up with the attitudes you described in Christine and would feel like a total failure as a father if they ever did express such gross misconceptions of what Mormonism means. I suppose that seeing her father as a good man but a clearly flawed parent, and Christine as a product of her upbringing and yet having rejected the obviously false concept of God that she felt Mormonism represented, we can try to view both of them and everyone else as charitably as possible.

  25. I wonder how many of the admonitions that I be nice are in part inspired by the fact that I’m a girl, a Mormon, and an Asian girl at that.

    Girls and Mormons and Asians are all supposed to be nice.

    I am nice. But whenever one attempts to condense multiple hours of discussion and response into a few hundred words, there will be losses. In addition, my pre-readers were concerned that someone reading my original formulation of this post wouldn’t realize I disagreed with Christine. I guess I overcompensated.

    I am frustrated by those who go through the motions in Mormonism, making “nice” but fundamentally failing to grasp the power of the theology.

    Christine was in a difficult position. She had reason to trust in the arm of “flesh” given her father’s positions in the Church. She built her faith on faulty foundations. When those foundations became weak, she made the logical decision of deciding it was the failing faith that was wrong, not suspecting that the plastic goody goody 1950s culture she was raised in could have been the problem rather than the faith she had viewed through a schema heavily influenced by 1950s culture.

    I could wish that Christine had been raised in an environment where she was encouraged to ask questions, where she was encouraged to seek education, where she was encouraged to prepare for employment, as no one’s future is certain, even if Prince Charming shows up. I could wish when Christine’s father found himself as leader of congregations if singles engaging in consensual and coercive or even predatory sexuality, he could have sat down with his daughter and explained why he was so concerned.

    Christine, he could have said, I don’t want to betray any confidences, but you do know, I hope, that virtue is precious to God? This sexual freedom that so many young people desire, it is leading some men to feel it is their right to get sex from women, to even force sex from women.

    He might have continued, This has always been a problem. But it is now epidemic. So, darling, please. Love everyone. But keep yourself safe.

    And here I as a parent would tear up, because I just do. Darling, he would continue, if you are ever hurt by someone else, please, please, know that I love you and God loves you.

    I don’t think that conversation ever happened between Christine and her father. Instead, her father stands at the pulpit and tells the assembled hundreds that he would rather see Christine dead in her coffin that find out she has been sexually impure. It was kind of his way of cocking a spiritual rifle and telling the young men to stay the hell away from his daughter, and he was telling the women in the audience that they had a responsibility for fending off men wishing to lay them, that they should fight against being seduced as they might fight against being murdered.

    To newbie and Ash, I see that the stats on this post have been higher. This is, no doubt, because I did use “Mormon Princess” in the title. If you wished to reward me for being nice, you could have decided to read any of my other dozens of posts where I was polite and sweet and charming.

    I usually am polite and sweet and charming, and therefore you will likely never read another word I write. At some future day, if the final judgement Paul described occurs, where we see as we are seen and know perfectly, rather than through a glass darkly, then I think you and I will love one another and rejoice in our respective unique characteristics.

    But if knowing individuals as Paul described is “through a glass darkly,” when these were people with whom direct personal interactions were occurring, then what we do on the internet is like seeing through a minuscule peephole with line of sight to a dark glass across the room.

    Thus do we judge on a word and condemn on a tweet. I, you may say, have done likewise in my characterization of Christine, but at least I gave her six hours of my time.

  26. Newbie…

    Please help me understand how you struggle with Meg’s characterization.
    Do you not think Christine was a princess (a form of “faux-royalty” who felt entitled to things)?
    Do you not think Christine was a defector (one who now actively fights against an institution to which she claimed loyalty)?
    Do you think Christine does not wear puke-tinged glasses?
    Do you think that Meg has anywhere claimed in this post that Christine is no longer a daughter of God?
    Why is it OK for Christine to portray herself as one of the few-enlightened-enough-to leave-Mormonism. Isn’t that pretty derogatory when Christine does that?
    If you can’t point out facts that disagree with Meg’s claims, perhaps what you are seeking isn’t charity, but a lie.

  27. Records of excommunication are not “expunged.” Whenever a person is thankfully rebaptized the local records are changed to show the original dates of all ordinances performed before the excommunication. It is a process. If a man is sealed and excommunicated and rebaptized, his original baptismal date will be included on his local records. Until his temple blessings are restored, however, his local records will show a wife sealed in a temple but his won’t show a sealing or endowment date. Once his blessings are restored the local records all revert to their original ordinance date, thus creating the impression nothing ever happened. Perhaps that is what is meant by “expunged.”

    The only quibble with that is that SLC does not expunge its records. The records are never really “expunged” only hidden from local view. If a man is ex’d, rebaptized, temple blessing restored and then his name is submitted to SLC by an unknowing SP, SLC will review the excommunication records before making a decision-usually a rejection of the name. Further, if a brother is sealed to a woman who was excommunicated and his name is submitted to SLC for a calling requiring their approval, her records will be reviewed before approval is given. Since sisters at the ward and stake level do not get callings requiring SLC approval, the reverse process (checking on a husband’s church discipline records by SLC) does not occur.

    Bottom line is at the local level records are amended to make it appear nothing happened.

  28. Michael Towns:

    Interesting. “Expunged” doesn’t mean the same as “overturned”, does it? If I have a crime expunged from my record, does that mean that the government has decided that the original verdict was incorrect?

    Gileadi also claims that he was excommunicated “in a disciplinary council that began a wave of several thousand excommunications on the Wasatch Front in the 1990s”. I’d like to read more about these several thousand excommunications. Where might I do that?

  29. Wow, apostates and those who support them are coming out of the woodwork because a post tells it like it is. Charity does not trump truth. She was a Mormon princess who left the Church out of spite and daddy issues. No need to sugar coat it when Satan will do no such thing in his attacks against the Kingdom of God. Jesus and his prophets never sugar coated what they said about apostates and even some believers. If we use the Scriptures as our guide, kindness is what we do and not always what we say. In the end, I don’t hear, “be nice,” but rather “shut up!”

  30. Meg, I appreciate your acknowledgment. I have read many of your other posts and have enjoyed them. I apologize for not saying so. I only encouraged kindness in this matter because I was honestly concerned that the terms ‘Princess’ and ‘puke tinged’ took away from the otherwise fair and balanced message of your post. I definitely don’t expect anyone to be kind because of their gender or nationality.

    Jettboy, please do not equate a call for charity with apostasy. It is my firm testimony of my Savior’s infinite love that motivated me to comment. I believe we should exemplify His loving message whenever possible.

  31. Here are some of my favorite words of the Savior. To those people leaving comments about precisely which members, former members, or apostates deserve our charity or not: Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!

    Matthew 5:38 – … Matthew 7:1 – …

    38 ¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

    39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

    40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

    41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

    42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

    43 ¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

    46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

    47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

    48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
    ————-
    1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

    2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

    3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

    4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

    5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye

  32. “I don’t think that conversation ever happened between Christine and her father. Instead, her father stands at the pulpit and tells the assembled hundreds that he would rather see Christine dead in her coffin that find out she has been sexually impure. It was kind of his way of cocking a spiritual rifle and telling the young men to stay the hell away from his daughter, and he was telling the women in the audience that they had a responsibility for fending off men wishing to lay them, that they should fight against being seduced as they might fight against being murdered.”

    Do you have evidence to support this wild conjecture that rape was occurring en masse and this was the exact intent behind his words?

  33. I was a graduate student at the U when Jeppsen was the SP of my student ward there. Alas, I was clueless about the excommunications, or about the hanky panky that preceded them. Running with the wrong crowd, I guess.

  34. Hi Ash,

    If you read back up the comment chain, I have the report of my mother regarding the manner in which sweet Mormon girls were being seduced. Something synonymous with placing the woman’s hand on a tumescent body part which would lead to the woman feeling so degraded that they would allow the fellow to degrade them fully. It was a broad enough concern that the folks at BYU were interviewing any woman who went on a date with a certain set of foreigners.

    I also happen to know from long chats with various lesbians that the cause of their distrust in men was rape that occurred roughly around the time Christine’s father was SP for the U of U singles’ wards. They, in their day, were too ashamed to report the fellow, and in at least one case the rapist went on to rape the woman’s good friend. That set of conversations involved reports of numerous rapes. At the time I was a young teenager who simply didn’t want to go to bed, and was allowed to remain in the smoke-filled room at my aunt’s house where the conversations were taking place late into the wee hours of the next morning.

    I have never talked with Malcolm Jeppson, so I am merely inferring his reasons for telling hundreds of young adults that he’d rather see his daughter dead than immoral. I am reading between the lines, as we all must do. The fellow conducted 300 disciplinary councils over 8 years. Someone was doing something wrong, and I suspect they weren’t just french kissing.

    But perhaps the glasses through which I view the world have been all-too informed about rape, physical abuse, and murder. I still love all the perps and victims as children of God, but I suspect some of them will have huge struggles as they deal with their guilt and/or pain.

  35. “Interesting. “Expunged” doesn’t mean the same as “overturned”, does it? If I have a crime expunged from my record, does that mean that the government has decided that the original verdict was incorrect?”

    Precisely. Gileadi was a very special case. Out of the original Sept 6, he returned to the fold the quickest, not requiring 20 years, but only a couple. Turns out, unlike the others, he was never truly an apostate. The Church has made full amends.

  36. @meg, is the photo at the head of the post Glenda the Good Witch from The Wizard Of Oz?

    @nwclerk and MT: I think the synthesis of the two stories is that Gileadi was first rebaptized, and then later church leaders realized the mistake and “undid” the excommunication. Rebaptism itself can be said to “undo” an excommunication, because previous ordinances are restored, and previous dates are used. But they aren’t completely the same, since church Hq keeps “confidential” info that is not immediately available to local leaders.

    As mentioned, one reason to administratively undo an excommunication done in error ( “even if” the person has already been rebaptized) is that some callings are unavailable to an excommunicated/rebaptised person.

    Another reason to administratively undo an excommunication that was done in error is the current policy that a person gets only one rebaptism. If a person gets excommunicated, or resigns membership a second time , then they have to wait for a proxy baptism after they die. I believe that policy is in the confidential handbook of instructions, the one that is not online.

    That policy was put into effect supposedly because some antis were playing with the system in order to hurt the church from within. I think I read one of those in-and-out-and-in-and-out stories in the “They Lie in Wait to Deceive” series of books by Robert and Rosemary Brown available from FairLDS.

    So the two stories, “he was rebaptized” and “he had his excommunication administratively undone/expunged” could both be true.

  37. Hi bookslinger,

    Yes, I did use an image of Glinda, since there is all kinds of resonance between Oz and Mormonism, plus she’s such an obvious “princess” figure, encased in a bubble that is rose tinged, and the Glinda in that original movie was even an older person.

    But as I review copyright law, I see that images after 1923 might be problematic, so I have replaced the movie image with a remix from one of the original illustrations from Frank Baum’s books.

  38. Nice graphic remix. I wonder if anyone not raised in the fifties and maturing in the sixties can understand the need for increased vigilance regarding sexual morality. The introduction of non barrier birth control changed the moral landscape. Sex changed from being primarily concerned with procreation to being somewhat casual recreation. As an example of how skewed thinking could be, a young friend I was visiting teaching confessed that she had an affair with the young man who babysat her children. Her husband walked in on them. He said she must tell the bishop and possibly face discipline or agree to a divorce with custody of their children going to him. She felt he was terribly unfair, after all, he started smoking during his tour in Viet Nam. Yes there many in that day who equated The Word of Wisdom with chastity. There is a lot more effort since then to help youth value the profound aspect of preserving their integrity in sexual matters. As a parent and grandparents I’m grateful for the emphasis.

  39. “Unlike actual wrongful surgery, wrongful Church discipline can be expunged and forgiven.”

    But when it is not expunged and forgiven, the wrongfully excommunicated member lives the rest of his/her life separated from membership, unable to contribute, unable to see children get married, etc. This could potentially have ramifications for generations.

  40. “This could potentially have ramifications for generations.”

    Perhaps. And yet each generation is free.

    And someone who was wrongly excommunicated need not turn against God and a Church in which they believe merely because they have been cut off.

    I believe I descend from more excommunicated people than most. Hasn’t harmed me. Those of my extended family who have wandered from the Church don’t appear to have left as a result of the excommunications of their forebears, but because they have free will.

    Similarly, I am not a faithful member of the Church because of my grandmother, though she tried to lay claim to the glory for my belief. Rather, I am a faithful member of the Church somewhat in spite of her.

    Into every life enters enough pain and sin to part us from God. That is well known by those who believe in God.

    The glory of Mormonism, even when malpracticed by lay members of the fallen sons of God, is that there is a way for any and every individual to eventually return to God, no matter what pains and terrors occur in this life.

  41. I wonder why, when someone leaves the Mormon church they are, ‘deserting their faith’ but when someone leaves the Baptist church for Mormonism, they are praised?

    ‘Puke tinged glasses’….would it occur to you that maybe you are the one looking through these glasses? Ever judging but never understanding? Christine’s story is hers to tell, not yours to misinterpret.

    I’m often perplexed by the vile hypocrisy Mormons use to demean and diminish those who have found a different path out of Mormonism.

  42. I have known converts to Mormonism who lost the association of their family and former friends after their decision so it surely depends on persective as to whom is ‘deserting their faith. Your hyperbole ‘vile hypocrisy’ betrays your own hypocrisy.

  43. You speak of what you know nothing about. The concept that the church could be wrong does not exist in your universe. How can I make such a grandiose and sweeping statement? Because I was there. 5 years ago, I would have written this piece. Even now there are those reading this, thinking that I couldn’t have been that good of a mormon, or that I didn’t really have a testimony. I was and I did. But that is irrelevant. My status can’t exist in your reality. It didn’t exist in mine 5 years ago.
    Reading this article was like hearing a man describing what it feels like to give birth. He can’t truly know. Neither can a believer, truly understand the world of the informed unbeliever.

  44. Meg, I am Christine’s daughter, and while no one would ever accuse me of being unbiased, I can certainly tell you that you have grossly misjudged my mother and my grandfather. The entire article reeked of your smug self-righteousness. The “some of us” section was, frankly, revoltingly self-congratulatory.

    While you claimed to have listened to the entire podcast, you apparently didn’t listen very carefully, or you would know that two of my mother’s six children are still in the church. You also made a rather ludicrous statement that Christine “wasn’t aware” that sexual sin was a concern to the church leaders. When someone else pointed out how unlikely that was, you tried to justify it by saying my grandfather was trying to protect her from forced sexual contact. This is nonsense. The church’s position has been that ANY contact is a sin next to murder. Consent doesn’t matter, and that is exactly why the horrible “chewed gum” lessons are still given. (For example, Elizabeth Smart is on record as saying she felt trying to get away from her captor was useless because she was already impure from his assault against her. What a tragic thing to teach someone!) You also speculate on numerous occasions that she “never had a witness” or a testimony. I can assure you that she did. She studied more than anyone else I knew, and was exact in keeping every commandment. Nobody has six kids merely on a whim or because she is blindly following leaders without some personal reassurance that she is doing god’s will.

    I’m also astounded that you could claim that you have applied the scientific method to your faith. I’m not even trying to suggest that science would automatically disprove faith, I’m saying it’s impossible to apply it to the metaphysical realm. It’s like saying that science has proven that vanilla is the best ice cream flavor in the world–that’s obviously subjective, and not at all “science.” If you have a specific example of how you have applied actual science to your faith, I would be very interested to hear it.

    In short, please learn to stick to facts instead of ad hominem attacks. If you object to Christine’s conclusions, you would do far better to stop guessing at her motivations or attacking her character and instead focusing on what exactly makes you disagree with her. If you think her vision of what the church teaches is wrong, by all means, support your position with scripture and doctrine. But I will warn you that there’s far more on record to support her position than yours, and I would be happy to debate you on that any time you would care to make the attempt.

  45. Hi Ben,

    I was a species of informed unbeliever for decades. Because God told me to, I remained within the Church. But during that time I developed a lot of habits, such as not using Church terms casually and not referring to Joseph Smith’s death as a martyrdom but as a killing. So of course it exists in my universe that the Church could be wrong. Specifically, it definitely exists in my universe that individuals associated with the Church can be very wrong. It similarly exists in my universe that summer might not follow a harsh winter (see Year Without a Summer.

    Jacob 5 indicates that it’s rather a struggle for the Master of the vineyard to keep the “trees” in his vineyard producing true fruit. This is the argument Mormons make for not advocating union with the Catholic Church, this idea that an organization founded by even our Lord, Jesus, can go off the rails over time.

    In fact, Jacob 5 foresees a time when this most recent work in the vineyard will also go off the rails. I think there was a belief in the 1800s that if there ever came a time when no children were being born into the New and Everlasting Covenant, this would presage this end of times. This appears to have been the reason Lorin Woolley felt he had to act to restore plural marriage (which he believed to be synonymous with the New and Everlasting Covenant) as the women who had been sealed into polygamous marriages were nearing the end of their childbearing years in the late 1920s.

    You don’t report any details of why you have decided to become an informed unbeliever, so I can’t know which of the million reasons for leaving the Mormon Church applies to you. I suppose if we were to get into the details, you might be surprised that I don’t a priori disagree with you on every point.

  46. It is not surprising to see yet another apologist piece which blames the person in question for having a ‘brittle’ and ‘puke-tinged’ testimony of the Gospel as the cause for their lack of ability to believe the fantastical truth claims of Mormonism.

    This article tells us much, much more about Mormonism, than it tells us of the author, Meg Stout.

  47. I’ve read CESletter – it’s a nicely concentrated bit of anti, the vast majority of which presents information out of context and some of the “facts” are simply incorrect.

    Let’s chalk the CESletter as containing several thousands of the potentially million reasons folks decide to leave the Church.

    Before one were to jump ship over reading the CESletter, I would suggest visiting the FairMormon response to CESletter. Reflect on whether one has actually had experiences that appeared to reinforce the message that the LDS Church is true. And respond based on the collection of these experiences and discussion points.

    It’s interesting, though, to reflect on the great literature that arose from the existence of Mormonism. I can’t prove that Jane Eyre arose from rumors about Nauvoo and polygamy, but the timing is suggestive. The entire Sherlock Holmes universe arose from Arthur Conan Doyle’s attack on Mormonism.

    Whether you believe Mormonism is true or not, I think we can all agree that the world is a richer place because it exists.

  48. Hi Emily,

    My husband (finally) is reading over what I wrote.

    A few of his pointers so far:

    He felt pampered princess should be replaced by sheltered young woman.

    He felt “some of us” should be replaced by “many of us.”

    He suggested I should qualify some of my assertions by adding the word “apparently.”

    For the most part he liked it, but he felt there were a few word choices that were ill-considered.

    And he alerts me to the fact that I mis-spelled destruction when typing up my mother’s poem from memory.

    If you re-read my post and see inline edits, you’ll know that I have made certain corrections suggested by my husband.

  49. Hi Emily,

    Yes, Christine had mentioned that four of her six children have left the Church.

    Upon listening again to find the timestamp of the bit about Church discipline for sexual sin (discussed in this comment), Christine indicates that there had never been a disciplinary council in that stake. She did feel the emphasis on sexual sin was extreme, remembering that it seemed like far more than just 3-4 disciplinary councils (at the time called church courts) were being held per month. She also reports that she came to fear non-Mormons. When I was the age she would have been at the time, I remember just plain old being paranoid whenever I was in a vulnerable position around men. The late night discussion with my aunt’s lesbian friends discussing the rapes they had endured didn’t decrease that paranoia.

    Christine is the one who reported that her interactions with her father took place in his various offices, that they weren’t the kind of interviews one might imagine between a father and daughter, but more formal. It was this characterization of Malcolm’s formality, without a compensating discussion of any informal warmth, that led to my conclusions, which I believe you found to be unjust with respect to your grandfather.

    You, growing up with Christine and Malcolm, obviously are aware of much more than any listener could know, merely based on six hours of recorded audio. Certainly if you feel there is some reason, based solely on the audio, that I should have inferred a different situation, feel free to point me to bit of audio you feel I didn’t listen to.

    If you would like to edit my piece to remove the words you believe are unjust on my part (obviously without editing out my opinion of objective fact), feel free to send that to me and I’d be happy to post that edit.

    Regarding the sexual impurity business, this is why I think it is so powerful to consider the possibility that Eliza R. Snow was seduced by John C. Bennett in the context of almost all the 1842 plural wives being former victims of Bennett and his Strikers, as I describe in the posts:

    Wives of Sorrow
    Eliza and the Stairs
    Making it up versus the Scientific Method, and
    Manuscript of Eliza’s Journal

    How much more compassionate in our day would it be to realize that sexual sin happens, but can be forgiven, and that the one who has transgressed can not only fully repent and return, but become the leading lady of their respective congregation!

    Obviously there are a lot of faithful scholars who are vehemently unhappy with my documentation of possibilities in the life of Eliza Snow. Ironically, I would never have found the poems that scream of Eliza’s seduction were it not for the persistent objection that Brian C. Hales voiced regarding my original hypotheses (that Eliza might have carried a child nearly to term and had a miscarriage in March 1843).

    A past history where dozens and even hundreds of women were being seduced and used would more than explain the hypersensitivity the Church has retained regarding sexual sin. And this explains the lessons where a rose petal is passed around, or people who have lost their virtue are compared to chewed gum, or women are cautioned to do all in their power (e.g., be modest) to avoid in any way inciting the lustful appetites of men.

    It would be fascinating to be able to have a discussion with Eliza R. Snow on these topics.

  50. Hi Elizabeth,

    Nice use of rhetoric to criticize my post. From you comments, I glean that you find the “truth claims” of Mormonism fantastical.

    I do believe I’m the only one, however, who has ever used the term “puke-tinged” in describing someone who has lost an originally rosy impression of the Church. I first used it only a few days before posting this piece, and as far as I’m aware, the only other uses of the term have been people either noting it as a memorable turn of phrase or criticizing me for having ever used the phrase.

    As for asserting that my post somehow speaks for the Mormon Church, that would not be correct. So as resonant as your final summation might be, it is rather odd and incorrect.

  51. As one of the first commenters here who questioned whether the article was drawing fair conclusions in a fair way, I also note that some people displeased with Meg’s post are attributing Meg’s analysis or opinions to “all mormons.”

    Folks – generalizations are such a dangerous thing! I called out Meg for some things I found unfair, and now let me call out the “all-mormons-are-judgmental” folks here for their unfairness. Mormons are all so judgmental and all so bad? Really? Shoot – I didn’t realize that. I’m an active LDS member, and I thought that my comments above were directed towards the opposite qualities, especially since one of them merely quotes the Sermon on the Mount.

    Here’s food for thought: You’ll find judgmental people anywhere and everywhere, whether in the Church or out, whether on “Christian” or “Heathen” ground. Some people here are being awfully critical of Meg for being critical of Christine. Now perhaps I’m being too critical…

    We’re all imperfect, are we not? But at least Christ offers me a path to perfection, for which I’m extraordinarily grateful. Back to the Sermon on the Mount for me, a mere mormon, and one that believes that people of all stripes would benefit from its message…

  52. PP – I appreciate your recent post. (Made me think – wait, didn’t Geoff just post about making generalizations?) And after reading that nice post, now I am going to go and be critical. But, I just can’t help it in this case. (OK, I could if I wanted to, but this is how we justify things to ourselves.) But really, I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts here.

    Emily writes, “The church’s position has been that ANY contact is a sin next to murder. Consent doesn’t matter”

    I am sorry, but this is a ridiculous statement. You are really saying that the Church puts rape victims just a step below murders? I am not sure what ward you attended, but it certainly was not one that I experienced.

    Please show me the reference in the LDS authorized handbooks that supports this statement. If this is really what you were taught and where you are coming from, if anything it seems to support part of what Meg was saying with respect to schema.

  53. Hi Mike,

    It is clear that a part of the Mormon culture has included telling women that any illicit sexual contact is wrong, and that they have a responsibility for making sure it doesn’t happen.

    I expect Emily has extended it to the status of a Church teaching because this cultural view has been taught in Church and has informed various manuals in the past (e.g., the idea of passing a rose petal or clean handkerchief or putting ink in a clean glass of water).

    It is fascinating to realize that women in 1842 had to be taught that illicit sex was incorrect (see Arraigning the Band of Brothers if you are unfamiliar with this history). So in the Mormon community since the 1840s, women had taken upon themselves to protect against predators.

    Fast forward 170 years and almost none of the reason for empowering women to protect themselves had survived. Only the warnings and examples were still part of the culture. As that culture has encountered the wider world, where the particulars of 1842 Nauvoo were no longer operative, the artifacts placing responsibility on women to protect their own virtue have been increasingly stripped from formal instruction.

    Obviously no right-thinking person would blame a rape victim, but when you look at the reality of how rapists fail to be appropriately prosecuted in Utah and surrounding communituies, it is clear that the nasty and unintended side of 1840s era female empowerment has had horrible implications in our modern age.

  54. Meg,

    I appreciate your response to my comment.

    Rereading it, I can see how you assumed I meant other apologists used similar language. I agree with you that you are the only author who I have read who used the phrase ‘puke-tinged.’

    I did however, mean that your article read very similarly to apologist tactics, and while not using the exact same vocabulary, it did appear to discount Christine’s final conclusion based on your assessment that her original testimony must not have been based on sincere spiritual experiences. This appears to be a common tactic that I have noticed in other articles.

    As far as Mormonism’s fantastical truth claims . . . every human being should be able to easily see that Mormonism does require faith and belief in some very fantastic events – angels, translation via seer stone or funerary texts, and so on. This is not pejorative, rather is indicative of beauty and the fantastic nature of any religion, specifically in our case, of Mormonism! I would hope that all Mormons, regardless of their belief level, can appreciate that any religion requires the adherent to be stretched and challenged to work out their belief system of some pretty amazing, or fantastic, things. (Whether I personally believe them or not is moot, since we are discussing your reaction to Christine’s podcast.)

    Finally, you quoted Spinoza, which I interpreted to mean that you wanted to inform your readers that they should discount Christine’s experience, and it shouldn’t be trusted to speak for Mormonism more globally.

    I turned that around, and believe articles like yours actually can give the reader a greater understanding of Mormonism than you realize. (Your article, while giving some relevant personal life-story anecdotes, is not enough to tell us the full complexity of your life lived).

    What I mean by that, is that Mormonism seems to inspire often your kind of response. Christine’s experience was just an experience. All that she experienced is true for her; for she lived it!! Can we not just let people’s experiences be what they are? Can we not find the beauty, or pain, or joy, or complexity, in them without having to call them ‘puke-tinged’ as a way to discount them so others will be dissuaded from listening to the podcast?

    Can Mormonism just stand on its own peculiar, fantastic, beauty, without having to defend it, by tearing down another’s experience in it?

  55. Elizabeth,
    One could turn the tables on you.
    “Can Mormonism just stand on its own peculiar, fantastic, beauty, without having to defend it, by tearing down another’s experience in it?”

    Couldn’t Christine’s false-representations of Mormonism stand on their own without her burning her father’s memory, or other church leaders? Why is she allowed to sully other’s experiences, but she is above reproach? Do you see how utterly hypocritical that is? Or are you blind to truth?

  56. Hi Elizabeth,

    I absolutely believe Mormonism can stand on its own peculiar and fantastic beauty.

    As for my response to Christine’s account, she brings forward some incredibly pertinent facts regarding how mid-level authorities in the Mormon Church act to help regulate affairs across the disparate local congregations.

    However, in relating these facts, she makes it very clear that she has rejected the faith of her youth. Her reasons for rejecting that faith, to me, appear to be a rejection more of her unwise youthful credulity than a rejection of the faith I know.

    Criticizing others is not unique to Mormons and ex-Mormons. Have you listened to Christine’s podcasts? Am I wrong to have distilled an essence wherein she rejects the Church of her youth, paints herself as a privileged insider, and describes her past self to have done reprehensible things (I keep coming back to the unthinking and uninformed opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment)?

    If you have read what I have been writing here, you will know that I’ve been primarily focused on an alternate reading of the early history regarding polygamy and Mormonism, an alternate history which I think allows everyone to find a common historical basis. At that point, people could agree to disagree regarding doctrine. But as things stand at this moment, the history has been so polluted by hagiography and the tales of those willing to damn Joseph that common ground has been impossible to find.

    I find the Joseph and Mormonism I have found to be utterly inspiring and beautiful. His willingness to forgive is breathtaking. His religious genius is astounding (even if you don’t believe in what he produced). The series I’m writing about Joseph and his legacy is near it’s end, but if you like reading about sex, lies, and newsprint, I encourage you to peruse the posts of my Faithful Joseph series.

  57. Hi h_nu,

    Did you listen to Christine’s podcasts? I’m not so sure she reported untruths, but her interpretation of the things she reports is definitely aligned with her current schema.

    For example, we have her description of Sterling W. Sill refusing to sit on the stand with a man who was sporting a beard (grown because he was in a drama production). I don’t particularly doubt Elder Sill did this. But Christine offers no possibility for this behavior that allows for a true Church. She sees all the past through a lens of disbelief.

    By the way, I don’t particularly care for preventing posts from appearing. But let’s do keep things civil.

  58. This has to be satire. It’s the only way this piece makes sense. I say this because you, Meg, put yourself out there as a sincere believer in Mormonism, but have you ever heard of the Rameumptom? This piece reeks if it, if you are being sincere. And it’s not because you are a woman and an oriental woman. Look inside and clean your house first. It’s easy to point out the evils of others, isn’t it? Maybe you would be a more effective defender of the faith, if that’s what you want.

  59. Not satire.

    Since this piece has been up since last Tuesday, you appear to be one of those who was only alerted to its existence today, which suggests you learned of the post from one of the several new-to-M* visitors we’ve had today.

    I made the questionable decision to modify my original post but leave the original words visible but lined out, along with lots of footnotes explaining my thoughts.

    I assume by obliquely mentioning “the Rameumpton,” you are accusing me of hubris. The subsequent sentences appear to demand that I become more humble, that you would be as upset with my post if I were [insert some other gender or racial background]. Apparently I am not supposed to outline what I find to be errors in the arguments or stories I don’t agree with. Somehow, armed with humility but devoid of argument, I am then going to be a great defender of my faith.

    Here’s a challenge to you, then. Rewrite this so it is a humble piece that informs without offense, that comes from a pure heart that defends the faith. As I offered Emily, I will post the result.

  60. Emily, I am going to delete this comment. You are invited to re-submit it without all of the personal attacks on Meg and without all of the over-the-top language. You are certainly invited to defend Christine, but you will do so on this site in a polite way. Thank you for understanding.

  61. @Meg: in your note 27: “I object to Christine’s characterization that her belief was based on fantasy and myth and the open inference that all Mormons adhere to unbelievable fantasy and myth. ”

    Did you mean implication instead of inference? (The speaker/writer implies; the listener/reader infers.)

    @Meg: in a recent comment, “Fast forward 170 years and almost none of the reason for empowering women to protect themselves had survived. …. the artifacts placing responsibility on women to protect their own virtue have been increasingly stripped from formal instruction.”

    I’m scratching my head at that whole paragraph, but particularly those two phrases. Care to ‘splain what you meant there?

    @meg, re: Louis. he’s of the “we attack, you defend” school.

    @PP: “Some people here are being awfully critical of Meg for being critical of Christine. Now perhaps I’m being too critical…”

    It can’t help but get recursive, don’t it? :-) My standard rejoinder is that public comments may legitimately be publicly commented upon.

    @louis g: recursive, ain’t it?

  62. Wow Meg,
    You responded to the sexist and racist attitudes of Louis with much more grace than I would have…

  63. Malcolm Jeopsen was my stake president when I went to the U. He was a good man. He was of his time.

  64. Mike-
    I find it funny that you would ask Emily to “show me the reference in the LDS authorized handbooks that supports this statement.” As a woman, she does not have access, except on WikiLeaks, which then makes it not authorized, no?

    Mormon culture does support her statement, though, and the thousands of women who have been disciplined in the church for being raped or otherwise assaulted can attest to it.

  65. From bad to worse, Meg. For starters, your “examples” of science somehow informing your faith were stories of miraculous warnings that didn’t even happen to you personally. That has nothing to do with science, and are old faith-promoting stories I’ve heard over the pulpit many times. Please stop claiming that science is somehow involved when it clearly is not.

    Next, you reference ” describes her past self to have done reprehensible things (I keep coming back to the unthinking and uninformed opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment).” First of all, she was trying to be obedient to what she felt god’s representatives on earth were asking her to do by voting the way they told her to, which is hardly what most people would call “reprehensible,” even if it was uninformed. Secondly, is obedience to church authorities something you disagree with? Surely you’ve heard the famous “When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done” adage. My mother can hardly be blamed for following her leaders. Stick your head into any Primary and listen to what they’re singing: “Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don’t go astray!” Until they change the words to “follow your conscience” or “do your own research,” you’ve got no right to criticize her for her faith in her leaders.
    You also claim my grandfather was somehow “cold” in his parenting because he saw my mother in his office sometimes to address her concerns. He was a doctor and a very involved church leader. “Busy” doesn’t even begin to describe him. What could be more natural than to schedule some time in his busy day in order to make sure his oldest daughter received his attention and advice? Christine says several times in the podcast that her parents were warm and loving. You know nothing about her or her family, and yet you keep making these armchair psychologist types of pronouncements that you have neither the knowledge nor the training to offer.

  66. My mother can hardly be blamed for following her leaders. Stick your head into any Primary and listen to what they’re singing: “Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don’t go astray!” Until they change the words to “follow your conscience” or “do your own research,” you’ve got no right to criticize her for her faith in her leaders.

    Don’t they also sing

    Listen to the still small voice!
    Listen! Listen!
    when you have to make a choice.
    He will guide you always.

    and

    Oh, may I always listen,
    to that still small voice.
    And with his light I’ll do what’s right”?

    and

    Let the Holy Spirit guard;
    Let his whisper govern choice.
    He will lead us safely home
    If we listen to his voice.

    and

    Choose the right when a choice is placed before you.
    In the right the Holy Spirit guides; . . .
    Let wisdom mark the way before.

    and

    Search, ponder, and pray
    Are the things that I must do.
    The Spirit will guide, and, deep inside,
    I’ll know the scriptures are true.

    I can’t vouch for the specifics of Meg’s post; but your post here does seem to confirm one of her ultimate theses: that Christine Clark’s experience with Mormonism (at least, as she now presents it), if not an outright caricature, at best is incongruous with many of our own experiences with the Church.

  67. JimD:
    Let’s try a little experiment, shall we? Go to your bishop during a temple recommend interview, and tell him this:
    “Great news, Bishop! The Spirit has told me that I no longer need to pay tithing! Isn’t it great that I can follow my conscience and the still small voice?! How soon can you renew my recommend?”
    How do you think that exchange is going to end?

  68. Hi Kristi,

    You write:

    “I find it funny that you would ask Emily to “show me the reference in the LDS authorized handbooks that supports this statement.” As a woman, she does not have access, except on WikiLeaks, which then makes it not authorized, no?”

    Nope, if it is word for word accurate, I would say that it was the same as the authorized version. I am just looking for some concrete evidence of this position, not just hearsay.

    “Mormon culture does support her statement, though, and the thousands of women who have been disciplined in the church for being raped or otherwise assaulted can attest to it.”

    I disagree. I have never seen this on any level, and I have been immersed in Mormon culture in a variety of different environments. In the few instances of assault that I am aware of, I am not aware of the woman being disciplined for being coerced. I think that the vast majority of active members would agree that she should not be, as well. So to say that Mormon culture supports this seems quite incongruous to me.

    Do I agree that Mormon culture puts a high value on sexual purity? Yes. Does it even seem to put more burden on the women than the man? I can see that. I do think that the YW have more lessons on it and are put under more “pressure” in this subject. But to twist that into the idea that Mormon culture (well, she actually said it was the church’s position, not the culture) supports a view that “The church’s position has been that ANY contact is a sin next to murder. Consent doesn’t matter” is far outside of my cultural experience, and hopefully the cultural experience of the majority of members.

    I am not saying that there are not individual instances when people have been made to feel that way. But I disagree that this statement is either the church’s official position or even the prevailing cultural position. (And that assumes that there really is a majority “cultural Mormon” position considering how culturally diverse the church is world-wide.)

    Anyway, this is just from my admittedly limited experience. I know that others have experienced the church differently. But still, I think that it is likewise only fair that those who make “cultural claims” realize that they have an equally limited perspective, as well.

  69. Emily Butler,
    While you always have the agency to choose your actions, you do not necessarily get the to choose the consequences for those actions.

    Brave folk recognize that just consequences and accept them.
    Cowards complain.

    If Jim D truly thought your hypothetical was true, he’d be willing to accept the consequences for choosing to act that way. If he didn’t truly believe he wouldn’t act that way, because Jim D is a stalwart, real character.

    Other folks try to get out of the consequences for the behavior they’ve chosen. It does reflect poorly on them, and makes folks like me less likely to trust them. Again, choose the behavior, but you don’t get to choose the consequences.

  70. I read the original post and the first 50+ responses.

    I agree that many of the men that are discussed should be excommunicated in the cases as described. I will grant that they are accurate in spite of it being just one side. It pains me to hear of such abuses. These behaviors are heartbreaking and frankly sickening.

    However, they do not show thousands of women being disciplined for being coerced into sexual relations. So I do not see how it supports your statement of “The church’s position has been that ANY contact is a sin next to murder. Consent doesn’t matter” in any way at all. And I thought that this was the discussion.

    As a side note, I also do not see how this supports KK in any way either. Unless two wrongs really do make a right. Pointing out the wrongs of others do not make our choices any less our own responsibility.

    Are there problems in the Church? Of course. Do lay leaders make mistakes? Absolutely. Does this prove that there is no God? Nope.

  71. @ Emily:

    I find that any conversation that starts out with such an in-your-face challenge as you proposed in your 2:02 post tends to go poorly and end quickly. That’s not Patriarchy™; that’s just human nature and general principles of effective communication.

    I also tend to find self-serving revelations like the one you hypothesize to be extremely suspect; though that’s a matter for another post. But as a general principle, I’m quite confident that if I met my bishop and said “You know, this isn’t going to seem very orthodox, but I’ve been praying about this and this is the answer I keep getting”, we’d have a very lengthy and interesting conversation. I don’t doubt that if I make my case in a reasonable and respectful manner it will be given due consideration and that if it’s something that can be changed, it will be changed in due time.

    And, yeah. Some things aren’t going to change (at least not immediately). That doesn’t mean I’m Oppressed™. It just means that the leaders are the leaders, and I’m not; and I can either choose to keep going where the Church is going or I can get off. At that point the challenge becomes to “do what is right, let the consequence follow.”

  72. Emily writes:

    “JimD:
    Let’s try a little experiment, shall we? Go to your bishop during a temple recommend interview, and tell him this:
    “Great news, Bishop! The Spirit has told me that I no longer need to pay tithing! Isn’t it great that I can follow my conscience and the still small voice?! How soon can you renew my recommend?”
    How do you think that exchange is going to end?”

    Emily, as somebody who has actually done temple recommends and had similar conversations, I can tell you *exactly* how such a conversation would go. First of all, tithing is up the the conscience of the individual. If you had gone through a temple recommend interview, you would know that you are asked “are you a full tithe payer?” You either answer yes or no. There is no audit process and nobody checks up on your answer. If you believe that your $1 a year makes you a full tithe payer, then you are, and the honesty of your answer is on your own conscience. This does NOT mean that people should do this, but it does mean that tithing is a personal thing. Some people pay 10 percent gross or more, other people pay a lot less. In my experience, lying about stuff so you can get a temple recommend is certain to backfire, but if you really feel your $1 a year tithing makes you a full tithe payer, then you can go ahead and answer “yes.”

    Emily, with all due respect, your comments here show that there is a disconnect in your mind between how the Church actually works and your perception of how the Church works. A little humility would go a long way when commenting on a faithful Mormon blog, which this is. For the actual human beings who actually go to church, your comments are going to ring pretty hollow and show you really do not know much about the church at all. This is pretty common among the disaffected: they invent a church that is completely at odds with the actual church that millions of people attend every Sunday.

  73. Hi everyone,

    I’ve offered Emily and Louis an opportunity to re-write my piece in a manner they believe would be less offensive, while retaining my points, and provided each of them my personal e-mail address so they wouldn’t have to google me like others have done. So far they haven’t sent me anything.

    I looked at the stories at FMH. It’s basically a bunch of tweets asserting mostly unnamed men have done horrible things, with the hash tag #yettheyexcommunicatekate. I could generate several of those myself, if I so chose. In the case of one man of my acquaintance, I would submit that they liked Kate more than they liked my acquaintance. Often easier to let someone who has already withdrawn from the scene remain a stranger, rather than attempt to engage them in ecclesiastical conversation.

    As for my personal reasons for believing in God, I have described them various times here on this blog, if not in this post. I’m not terribly inclined to search them out to display for you here now.

    As for blindly obeying Church leaders, the hackneyed assertion that when the Prophet speaks the thinking is done is a stupid statement that was almost immediately retracted.

    In an experience a bit closer to me, my brother-in-law planned to go on a mission. He didn’t even think to question this. However a friend told him about how amazing it is to pray about going on a mission and get a confirmation.

    So my brother-in-law prayed. And he was told to not go on a mission. Through a series of additional instances of guidance, he ended up being in a critical position to lend aid in a manner that significantly blessed individuals, but that wasn’t the typical “mission.”

    As for how women are sometimes treated in the Church, there have been wrongs. This is why it is argued that some form of female leadership could help mitigate wrongs and provide a safe haven for women who have been damaged.

    That is a separate matter from whether external lobbying for the priesthood is the appropriate way to make this change.

  74. For those of you who have characterized Christine’s experience as a “caricature” of Mormonism or “outside of the cultural experience of the majority of members”, you are speaking for several million members when you personally can’t possibly have witnessed even a fraction of the personal and private experiences of all members. Especially when most of these things happen behind closed doors in ward houses. Discounting one persons very personal experience is wrong and hurtful and doing it without knowing the whole story smacks of gossip and hyperbole.

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged… Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
    -Mathew 7 (3 Nephi 14)

  75. Ryan, there do seem to be a couple of ironies in what you write.

    First, you seem to suggest that the sort of experiences Christine relates may be happening more commonly than has been reported because such experiences happen “behind closed doors”. Has it not occurred to you that the instances that were reported also occurred behind closed doors and that, more often than not, we do not have both sides to those stories either? This is doubly ironic because you later (rightly) point out the importance of having “the whole story” before engaging in “gossip and hyperbole”.

    Second–and I’ll be happy to retract this if it wasn’t your point–but you seem to be saying that it’s OK for Christine to make broad assertions about how her own anecdotes represent “the Mormon Experience”; but you refuse to allow those who disagree with her to make similar assertions. This does seem a bit of a double standard; and I’d be interested to see you explain why you think it appropriate in this circumstance.

  76. Ryan, to back up JimD’s point, you write:

    “Discounting one persons very personal experience is wrong and hurtful and doing it without knowing the whole story smacks of gossip and hyperbole.”

    So, if I use actual examples to show that my experience is the opposite of Christine’s then by your logic isn’t it “wrong and hurtful” for Christine to claim her experience is common in Mormonism?

  77. Hi Ryan,

    JimD is the only one who has used the term “caricature.” I’m not sure if he listened to the last of the four podcasts to form that opinion, or if he was merely assuming my report of the podcasts was accurate.

    My very personal experience is that I’ve enjoyed robust and intellectually satisfying experiences in the Mormon Church. And if I ever did something based solely on the command of a priesthood leader without learning about the matter myself, I would expect to be ridiculed. Thus my experience and Christine’s experience do not appear to be substantially similar.

    During the last of the four podcasts at 1:37:40, for example, we find Christine explain that everyone should be free to find themselves, to break out of the narrow prescriptive model that she apparently found herself limited to.

    I haven’t found myself to be limited in the way she describes. Her distress at what she clearly feels was an extremely repressive and prescriptive environment is what prompted my reaction. If what she lived was so repressive and so prescriptive and so patently false, then I have to wonder what lack of heroic spunk allowed her to wallow in such a terrible state for so long.

    Again, I didn’t mindlessly conform. I’m an engineer who for many of my thirty years of work was the only female in the room. My husband is the parent who stays at home. I attended the Exponent II 10 year reunion when a teenager (by myself) and I’ve presented at a Sunstone symposium. As mentioned above, I’ve spent time with lesbians and transgender folks and homosexuals. I’ve been loved by a counter-espionage agent (who threatened to go after my bishop with a semi-automatic rifle). I’ve traveled on ships with sailors free to drink booze and have pin-up girls on their screen-savers and slept in equipment spaces where all had access. I’ve run a marathon and eaten bull testicles and fished for squid in the middle of the Pacific.

    And I’m a Mormon.

  78. For clarification, I was summarizing one aspect of what I believed Meg’s thesis to be, which was that Clark’s experiences (as related by herself) came across as “if not an outright caricature, at best. . . incongruous with many of our own experiences with the Church”

  79. “I’m an engineer who for many of my thirty decades of work was the only female in the room.”

    Meg, you are certainly not that old. ;)

  80. Hi JimD,

    I would say the random bit I heard, re-listening to 1:37:40 of the fourth podcast for a few minutes, reminded me why I desired to comment on Christine’s views.

  81. Emily did respond to me and suggested this as an outline for a post regarding her mother’s podcast that would have been less offensive:

    “Wow, this person decided to leave the church after a lifetime of sincere belief and devoted service! How interesting! Even though I disagree with her conclusions, I would never dream of insulting her character, making judgments about the quality of her testimony, or questioning her commitment, because I really know nothing about what must have been an incredibly difficult decision! Here are the DOCTRINAL (not personal) points that I would take issue with, and the corresponding citations (not personal anecdotes) from the scriptures/leaders to back up my opinions. I wish Sister Clark all the best in her journey, because my god isn’t petty enough to refuse someone salvation for following her conscience, nor is his church so weak (if it’s really the one true church) that it needs to fear if someone disagrees with its truth claims. The end.”

  82. So the way I would have said that is:

    I was wondering what was happening with John Dehlin in the wake of Kate Kelly’s excommunication. So I browsed to his Mormon Stories page.

    There I saw he had posted an extended podcast with his very good friend, Christine Jeppson Clark, daughter of a recently deceased general authority who had been a boyhood friend of Boyd K. Packer. Christine’s extended podcasts covered the experience of growing up in the Church during the 1950s, “at ground zero of conservative Mormonism” as the summary of the first podcast segment says. Christine also had information to share about her father’s involvement in the excommunication of Avraham Gileadi. Further, Christine would describe how she, her husband, and four of her six children, formerly an orthodox, committed LDS family, ultimately decided to leave the LDS Church.

    I was intrigued to know which of the many reasons people give for leaving the Church might have been operative in her case. Had a reason been disillusionment over Joseph Smith and polygamy, I had a vested interest in understanding how this had impacted her, as readers here will know.

    [Summary of mid-level Church officials and how they regulate local discipline across the Church.]

    As Christine describes the reason her testimony was challenged, it turns out the fatal blow was discovery that Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon with his face covered, that the plates themselves often weren’t even in the room. Though Christine doesn’t focus much on the Book of Abraham, John Dehlin clearly has taken issue with the fact that the extant papyrus fragments do not resemble the content of the Book of Abraham.

    Christine describes [4th podcast segment, 1:37:40] a rigid formula she felt she had to conform to, a formula that she is now so glad to put behind her.

    Part of that formula was blind obedience, characterized by her opposition to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment even though she hadn’t read the content of the ERA and had therefore no personal basis for her opposition, other than doing what she was told.

    I am very glad for a mother who raised me to think and question, to seek it out in my own mind if it be right (c.f., D&C 9:8), who shared with me the miracles and visions that had at times saved her life, or other times merely helped make sure we children were able to get back from vacation in time to attend school. Above all things, my mother taught me that I could embrace all truth, because all truth, eventually, would testify of God, as Alma said to a doubting Korihor (Alma 30:44). Korihor, in his day, contributed to a great falling away, which led to decades of civil war as recorded by Mormon. Korihor did lead away the hearts of the people, testifying unto them there was no God. If I am guided by these scriptures, I fear for Christine and those who creep towards unbelief because of her words. For as Christ said, “all…shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28, 29)

    The bright hope of the gospel restored by Joseph Smith is the ability to extend the redemptive ordinance of baptism to all mankind, across all nations and all eras of time. Thus all will have the chance to look to Christ and live. (John 3:14-21)

    I believe Christine and those like her were only born after having pledged to accept Christ as their Savior, having been beloved daughters and sons of God. And I believe in a God and Savior who will do everything appropriate to persuade us to return. Therefore I expect and hope that Christine, in some future day, will look back to this time of unbelief and regret it, as she now does her days of sheltered obedience.

  83. One interesting tidbit of information…
    Apparently some of her sources (Christine’s) can be found at the church history library. I requested the source be digitized, but the library said they do not own the copyright. I will attempt to view it the next time I go to Utah.

    You requested:
    Standard / Up Close And Personal: The Life History of Malcolm Seth and Marian Jeppsen / Jeppsen, Malcolm Seth 1924- / M270 J545u 2003 / Manuscript / .

    I’m sorry, but we do not own the copyright of that particular item so we cannot digitize it for you. I apologize for the inconvenience.

    “Up Close And Personal: The Life History of Malcolm Seth and Marian Jeppsen” / Jeppsen, Malcolm Seth 1924- / M270 J545u 2003 / Manuscript / .

    I’m sorry, but we do not own the copyright of that particular item so we cannot digitize it for you. I apologize for the inconvenience.

  84. A lot of these comments remind me of the time here on M* I posted on Richard Dutcher leaving the church.

    It seems if you don’t approve of someone leaving the church, there’s an internet brigade that will descend on your post and chastise you for being judgmental and self-righteous.

    (the funniest part was when I got several rather nasty e-mails from one guy who kept asking me “Who are you? What makes you think you can declare leaving the church is not the best option for someone?” – and I Googled to guy’s name to find out he had recently left the church to start his own polygamist cult).

    Meg has much more grace and patience than I do. I eventually decided to just ignore all the noise, because that’s what it mostly was, and responding just fed their self-righteous attacks on my supposed self-righteousness.

  85. A note on process:

    I am not the owner of this blog, despite how frequently you’ve seen me post here. As a relative newcomer, think of me as someone who “rents” space here.

    My personal preference is to leave all comments in place.

    However those who have a more vested interest in the nature of this website have developed policies regarding what they will and will not tolerate. Therefore they will at times either delete a comment or put a particular individual on automatic comment moderation.

    I respect those who created Millennial Star, and will not second guess them when they decide that the nature of discourse in comments is incorrect. And when they tell me to modify a post (as occurred during the height of the furor over Kate Kelly) I will do so.

    Similarly, I don’t know how it is decided that comments should be closed for a particular post. It might be based on the amount of time elapsed or some other metric. I will not close this for comments, but if it were to become closed, it is based on the rules of those who own Millennial Star.

    As for obedience, to obey is good. To mindlessly obey is a thing even Brigham Young deplored. To mindlessly obey and then become so disturbed by one’s actions that one determines it is necessary to severe a relationship with the organization to which one had sworn fealty betrays an attitude towards oaths that I find to be both lazy and questionable. To mindlessly obey, then break oaths to separate oneself from an organization, and further go on to openly attack and demean the organization from which one has parted makes the matter public record.

    And when something is a matter of public record, it appears within my first amendment rights to comment on the public record. As it is within your rights to comment on my comment. However it is not within your rights to force the owners of Millennial Star to give you bandwidth on their website. Please read the comment policy and adhere to it, else those who maintain Millennial Star may take actions in accordance with their policy.

  86. Hi Meg. Thanks for an extensive review and thorough responses. While we may not agree on every point, I really admire your willingness to respond to the questions and counters made in the comments. Thank you.

    I have a question for you, and it is a follow up to what GeoffB said above. Dehlin says this is the most important podcast he has done – out of some 400 plus podcasts. What do you see in this that would make that the case? After listening to every segment of Ms. Clark’s interview, what would you highlight as the most important aspect for the subscribers to Mormon Stories or to anyone else?

    You referenced the 600 page history of Malcolm Jenssen. Do you know if the personal journal of a general authority that Dehlin claimed to have in his possession, which would explain this so-called discipline that was pending, was in fact this 600 page history?

  87. I think for John, this is the interview that proves his worldview. He has asserted that the discipline of the September Six was based on a coordinated “attack” from upper Church officials, and Elder Jeppson’s book explains how this did, in fact, occur. Of all the September Six excommunications, the excommunication of Avraham Gileadi was the most underserved, and Elder Jeppson was completely involved.

    It appears this book is available at the Church History Library, so folks local to Salt Lake City could arguably go read it for themselves. I would presume this 600 page tome is the document John thinks is so important. Apparently it is badly edited, including not having redacted as many sensitive details as Elder Jeppson thought he was redacting.

    John’s perspective is that he has been constantly under mid-level Church surveillance, and every time he gets a new Stake President, he feels that one of their instructions has been to go meet with him and discipline him. John’s gotten tired of it. Elder Jeppson’s book, for the first time apparently, describes how this aspect of Church discipline works, with local leaders getting guidance from mid-level authorities.

    To summarize again what was in the original post, the middle-level general authorities (e.g., Seventies) apparently have as one of their duties to regulate local discipline. So when an individual runs amok, the Seventies and Area Authorities reign them in, to mitigate the damage done to the body of Christ by aggressive leaders. Similarly, when there is a local leader who isn’t willing to discipline when it is needed, the Seventies and Area Authorities reign them in, to mitigate the damage done to the body of Christ by undisciplined members.

    I think John also feels that Christine, as a product of the 1950s and 1960s version of conservative Mormonism, demonstrates how hollow and untrue the entire construct is.

    I’m tempted to go on and on about other aspects of this podcast might be viewed by John as important, but if I keep talking, I’ll just get more and more angry, which will come out as snippy and alliterative barbs, which will lead to another round of individuals calling me to repentance for being so danged unChristian.

    Feel free to listen to Christine and John talk for six hours. If listening makes you feel comforted and validated, that’s fine. I think I’ve made it clear how I felt about the podcast.

  88. Good place for this link:

    How to keep from getting hurt in a church.
    http://www.victorious.org/howhurt.htm
    by Dale A. Robbins. (He’s not LDS.)

    Main headings:
    1) Avoid developing unreasonable expectations of the church.
    2) Don’t place an absolute trust in people.
    3) Focus on common ground.
    4) Don’t expect any church to be perfect.
    5) Don’t seek to promote yourself or your own agenda.
    6) Avoid blaming the church for personal problems.
    7) Treat others as you wish to be treated.
    8) Have a teachable, cooperative attitude.
    9) Don’t oppose or hinder the church.
    10) Be committed to forthrightness and truth.
    11) Be devoted to love and forgiveness.
    12) Don’t get caught up in the offenses of others.
    13) Don’t personalize everything that’s preached.

    I recommend reading the entire article, because he gives examples of how we can unknowingly violate the above principles. His explanations of a few of the points are not immediately obvious just from reading the headings, are very insightful, and appear to be scripturally based.

  89. Thanks, Meg.

    stating the facts, and using common sense or analysis, is often confused with anger or unchristian behavior. i think this is a topic that can be addressed factually and if that generates anger, so be it. i certainly do not think you need to apologize for that.

    Thank you for the insight on the publication from Jeppsen. I still find it curious that Dehlin would promote this as the private journal of a general authority, and then again as the private memoirs of Boyd Packer’s personal physician. I find both those promotions, especially from someone claiming to be a mental health professional, to be very unethical, at best.

    If you are right about Dehlin’s perspective, that he has been under mid-level surveillance and that this is tiring him, he should take no comfort or validation from Jeppsen’s book. there is a huge difference between him and Gileadi – one was publishing his own original ideas or research, and the other is constantly agitating the local and higher authorities with his personal promotions. Dehlin has every right in the world to publish his own thoughts and interviews, but when the subject of those interviews is meant to get the attention of the mid-level authorities and higher, he should not act surprised to have the attention of those authorities.

    I found the podcast to interesting for different reasons. I think mormons are attracted to celebrities and their own royalty. We have the world’s most extensive search engine for connecting our relationship to almost anyone. The church has gifted these ancestries to presidents, among others. the interest in celebrities and the validation that an insider gives to one’s position, does not stop when people leave the church. I see the interview of Ms. Clark as a parallel to Steve Benson. it is the closest thing to an insider’s view of the general authorities that Dehlin has published, and in his world, among his followers, there is real mormon credibility to that. I do not see the same parallel to Martha Beck that others see.

  90. “[Christine Jeppson Clark's interview] is the closest thing to an insider’s view of the general authorities that Dehlin has published, and in his world, among his followers, there is real mormon credibility to that.”

    As there was real credibility when Ann Eliza Webb defected from Mormonism, having been the wife of Brigham Young and a child from a family of early Mormon converts. Plus Ann Eliza was attractive.

    I’d forgotten Jeppson was Boyd K. Packer’s physician. I don’t recall them talking much about that aspect of the connection between Boyd and Malcolm. I think boyhood friend was primary, followed by close ecclesiastical colleague. Doctor was in there, but ran a distant third, as I recall.

  91. Pingback: A rejoinder to “We attack, you defend.” | Junior Ganymede

  92. So Geoff B,

    Don’t we in Mormonism actually tell people to do the following?

    4) Don’t expect any church to be perfect.
    13) Don’t personalize everything that’s preached.

    I think many people have a hard time parsing the difference between “perfect in doctrine” and “perfect in people”. There are different definitions of “doctrine” even amongst the brethren. This one is sticky. How many times have we been told to apply the scriptures and everything we read to ourselves, it’s way to easy to personalize everything that is preached. If anyone doesn’t do that, (say for instance, a MoFemLib who ignores Elder Oaks statement about focusing on responsbilities not rights) we (rightly IMO) accuse them of apostasy. What’s the point in having inspired leaders if we ignore them?

  93. H_nu,

    4) Don’t expect any church to be perfect.

    i stand by that 100%.

    As long as the church is administered by imperfect people, (only our Head is perfect) the church will be imperfect. To use Geoff’s parable, there have been occasional piles of dog poo here and there. They eventually get cleaned up. The church is still authorized/official/divine. To use an example in this thread: Gileadi’s excommunication. Some may see that as human error, some may see it as an imperfection in the church since it was an official act. Well, it got cleaned up at least.

    I personaly saw a lot of both open and behind the scenes messes in my mission. _From my viewpoint_, the church was very tardy in cleaning up the missionary messes, and was about 20 years too late in raising the missionary bar. I still don’t know if the delay in raising the bar was human error on the part of church leaders or the Lord’s will. The church is still true/official/divine/authorized, either way.

    Article of Faith number 9 say we have a lot more doctrine to be revealed. So our current doctrine is incomplete, if not imperfect.

    The church as a whole failed, and has not recovered from failing, in living the United Order. The early saints lost it due to human failings, and it has never been restored. it’s a “missing piece.”

    Pres Benson said the church, as a whole, was still under condemnation for treating the BoM lightly. No prophet since then has said we are finally out from under that condemnation.

    Meg’s ongoing series illustrates a heck of a lot of imperfections and messes in the roll-out of polygamy in the church in the early days.

    Martin and Willy handcart companies and the MMM were huge messes (boy, talk about steaming piles of poo), and failures of local leaders, yet the church is still true.

    You can’t go a day without the “Henrys” of the bloggernacle pointing out the imperfections in the church.

    Yet look at the Old Testament, New Testament, and Book of Mormon. Every dispensation has their messes, mistakes, imperfections, etc. From one of Adam’s sons killing his brother, many good guys falling from grace (Samson, Saul, David), Moses and Aaron screwed up some too, to all the messes that the ancient apostles kept trying to fix (note the epistles).

    If ever a church gets “perfect” it gets taken up to heaven, as in Enoch. And it even took him 300 years to get that group to that point of perfection.

    The church is authorized, official, divine, divinely inspired, led by Jesus Christ, etc., etc., but not perfect. Even saying “The church is perfect, the people aren’t” sets people up for disappointment.

    13) Don’t personalize everything that’s preached.

    ” What’s the point in having inspired leaders if we ignore them?”

    You must not have read the article. I said that his explanations go farther than what the headings imply.

    Perhaps you are also misconstruing “personalize”. And perhaps it should be rewritten, “don’t _always_ personalize _everything_ that is preached.”

    Moreover, what is “preached” doesn’t just mean the prophets at gen conf or scriptures. “Preaching” in the context used by non-lds, mostly means what is said over the local pulpit.

    “Don’t personalize _everything_ that is preached” means don’t take _everything_ as a personal accusation. Sometimes, speakers preach against specific people/actions in the audience. like Jacob speaking against polygamy and concubines. Sure, everyone else needed a “reminder” not to do it, even if just for clarification. But oftentimes, speakers in the church, from local level to gen conf, often paint with too broad a brush, and end up accusing the whole audience, or else aren’t fully clear about which segment of the audience they are addressing.

    For instance, right after I was baptized in the 80′s, the bishop berated, and I mean really verbally SCOLDED the brethren in priesthood opening exercises for not meeting the ward’s Temple assesment. I took it personally, and wrote out a large check for my contributions the next week for Temple Construction. . Then the following week the bishop took me aside and scolded me, accusing me that I was trying to buy forgiveness for something. So there was an example of both an imperfect ward with an imperfect bishop, and someone (me) taking something personally that shouldnt have been taken personally. Fortunately, my testimony was strong at that point, because what i was thinking, but I managed to keep it stifled, was “You idiot, I only did what you told us to do. And now you accuse me of sinning because of it?”

    A few years ago our stake president scolded our ward over the pulpit in sacrament meeting for not being friendly enough. He was correct about our ward as a whole, but it did not apply to 100% of the ward. We lost some converts to inactivity and some resigned, we lost some new move-ins (already members) who quickly moved out, we lost some investigators. One couple went to the stake president in tears complaining how unfriendly our ward was, and how they were treated as invisible.

    Many people needed to hear that message (ie, those who dont do HT/VT, those who consistently arrive 2 minutes late for sac mtg, and leave on the dot when the 3rd hour ends), and some didn’t. Some people did make good efforts to welcome new members and move-ins, but they couldn’t get around to everyone. That was also a case where some people didn’t need to personalize (ie, take the accusation personally) and some did.

    Go read the article.

  94. I was unclear on the sequence of events, let me fix that:

    Prior to his talk, I had noticed that we had lost some converts to inactivity and some resigned, we had lost some new move-ins (already members) who quickly moved out, we had lost some investigators. In his talk the SP mentioned one couple went to him in tears complaining how unfriendly our ward was, and how they were treated as invisible.

  95. GeoffB said: “Dehlin is using every trick in the book to create his own “alternate church” under the LDS umbrella. Christine is facilitating him in this endeavor. The game is to pick and pick at different areas of the church (usually in contradictory ways) to undermine the faith of people who may already have doubts. So, we can definitely have charity for those who are going through private faith crises; we should have less charity and more caution (and be wise as serpents) about those who are trying to promote crises in others.”

    Geoff, i cannot thank you enough for this comment. I really cannot. The events of the last few weeks where a common friend was laid to rest, have rattled me at the core. while you and i may be (and have been for years) on opposite ends of the spectrum, i cannot tell you how comforting this comment is to me.

    I have infinite tolerances for people with faith. and for people that lose faith or change their faith. my tolerance for exploiting anyone that may be in pain, especially for personal gain or self-aggrandizement, has probably waned to nothing.

    i look forward to reading and seeing more of your comments and observations on this front. thanks again.

  96. back to the topic at hand. dehlin promoted the interview with ms. clark as one that included boyd packer’s personal physicians journal or history. he also promoted ms. clark as a phd candidate specializing in dementia. i believe she is a student with dehlin at USU. like others have said, he is using her to promote his own business/religion and to not just sow doubt, but to sow crises. i do not see weaving the medical histories and premature qualifications as a coincidence.

    he is causing, in my opinion, real harm in real people by promoting a resolution to crisis that is unhealthy and unsustainable. specifically, his own method which is to straddle every conceivable fence. while that may work for a particular entrepreneur or minister, it is an unhealthy convention to promote.

    =====================

    Location: Logan, UT (location to be announced)
    Date: Sunday, August 3rd
    Time: 9am to 5pm
    Price: $300/couple. Discounts available based on need and space.

    The current schedule for the workshop is as follows:

    8:30 – 9:00 — Meet and greet – Informal
    9:00 – 9:30 — Guidelines and Introductions (John)
    9:30 – 10:00 — “Departing Eden”
    Expectations and framing of marriage and faith crises (John)
    10:00 – 10:05 — 5 minute break
    10:05 – 11:05 — Pillars of healthy relationships (Natasha)
    Forgiveness ritual
    11:05 – 12 :00 — Embracing, celebrating, and navigating faith transitions (John)
    Values exercise
    12:00 – 12:30 — Lunch
    12:30 – 1:30 — Strategies for conflict management (Natasha/John Together)
    Communication exercise
    Time out
    1:30 – 2:15 — Spirituality after orthodoxy (Margi Dehlin)
    2:15 – 3:00 — Raising kids after orthodoxy
    Natasha/John/Margi — Opening thoughts
    Panel with children of John/Margi — Anna (18), Maya (16)
    3:00 – 3:05 — Break, snack
    3:05 – 3:45 — Sex after Orthodoxy (Natasha)
    20 min. preez
    25 min. Q&A
    3:45 – 4:00 — Summary/wrap-up
    4:00 – 5:00 — Final discussion (Open Q&A)

  97. ME, I think a lot of people in the Bloggernacle are onto Dehlin’s game, even those who disagree with me heartily on a lot of issues. You would be amazed how many public and private messages I get basically saying, “I disagree you on a lot of things, but thanks for telling it like it is about Dehlin.” He is a Mormon Elmer Gantry, profiting off of the deep feelings that religion engenders in people. I feel sorry for him but also for the many people he is using for his own gain.

  98. Thanks Geoff. I think I have been banned from mormon stories more often and with less effort than i have within the entirety of the bloggernacle.

    i actually had some hope for dehlin and have often said that despite our differences i would sit with him for a beer or a burger. i think the last few weeks were a perfect storm for me – specifically, the sensational promotion of his fantasy discipline, the death of a friend (not his doing obviously), and then his launch of Mormon Mental Health Associates where he is financially tied to the association but did not overtly attach his own name to the project (including Peggy Fletcher Stack’s Promotion of the association without using Dehlin’s name.) I am over it, and my patience for the exploitation has evaporated.

  99. H_nu, my apologies for the tone and snippiness/snarkiness of my previous comment. I was in a bad mood and shouldn’t have taken it out on you. Sorry.

  100. mayan, I just noticed that that seminar is on a Sunday, from 9 to 5. That kind of says it’s not geared towards active participating Mormons.

  101. and it is not geared toward mormons that are fasting, apparently.

    the seminar is now pimping for people to pay, even if they are not attending, sort of a scholarship program for people. so strange.

  102. A follow-on to Bookslinger’s posting of a link to a non-LDS minister’s article on how to avoid getting hurt at church — that site also has another article on advice to consider before one quits his or her church — excellent reading and god advice at http://www.victorious.org/leavechu.htm. Being a convert, I understand where the author is coming from — although the author is non-LDS, his advice could fit us well.

  103. It was interesting how he ends his post:

    “Never spread your “unhappiness,” criticism or dissatisfaction to members of the body — this doesn’t do anything to help, and stirs up discord in the church, a sin God hates (Prov. 6:19).If you can’t keep from spreading your discontent to others, sadly, it may be in your best interest and for the peace of the congregation, for you to move on to another church. Compassionate leaders who are unable to reason with such persons would be wise, and justified by scripture, to encourage their departure from the fellowship. “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease” (Prov. 22:10).”

    A challenge for the scoffing Mormon is that they sometimes aren’t able to simply go find a different Christian congregation and be happy. This came up at the Exponent II 40 year reunion, when a non-Mormon in the audience wondered why folks would take such pains to attempt to correct Mormonism (regarding a more female-friendly culture, in this case) rather than simply leaving to find a Church where the particular policies they desire are available. I forget the exact words that were said, but it was along the lines of “But it is the true Church… I can’t leave.”

  104. Bookslinger,

    H_nu, my apologies for the tone and snippiness/snarkiness of my previous comment. I was in a bad mood and shouldn’t have taken it out on you. Sorry.

    No problem, thanks for the apologies, but the only way you can offend me is by telling me I should:1) enjoy pornographic films like “Les Miserables”, 2) make friends with apostates like Jana Riess, or 3) censor my comments that disagree with church policy or your personal understanding or interpretations… As far as I know, you’ve never done any of those… A somewhat more substantive response follows…

    I am comfortable recognizing that the church is administered and comprised of imperfect folk. I am less comfortable with saying we shouldn’t expect perfection, or at least full truth, in the doctrine. Reading the sentence qua AoF9 out loud, I’m comfortable with “incomplete”, but not with “imperfect”. I count myself amongst the orthodox, but even I get angry stares when I suggest that any given conference talk is slightly less than infallible and maybe even incomplete, even while trying to soften the blow by lauding the inspiration, and my gratitude at its content. I just feel the icy daggers that would exist if I tried to say the church wasn’t perfect!

    On an unrelated note, maybe the church was supposed to fail on living the UO, but that is a topic for another post. If anyone would respond to my emails, I’d consider writing a guest post on it.

    On the related note, I think you may be interpreting the text differently than I do wrt the church and the Church. I think saying “the church” is under condemnation is different than saying “the Church” is under condemnation, which is even different than saying, “the Prophet is under condemnation” (for instance, should he ever go around preaching the veggie-nazism so prevalent amongst some anti-meat, pro-diabetes agitators). I also somewhat disagree with your interpretation of Meg’s series, which I read as a far more positive look at the data than even the most “faithful” apologist (I mean that in a good way Meg). I personally look at M&W and MMM as larger failures of individuals who disregarded higher leadership (M&W) and those who chose to not disregard over-hyped rhetoric (MMM). Seriously, in M&W: church leadership told them not to go, local leaders said, let’s go anyway, what could go wrong, and a lot more went wrong than they expected, (but that’s OK, because all is well, “And should we die…”). In MMM, BY’s over-the-top rhetoric wasn’t ignored (as it should have been), and thinking individuals should have said, “My duty is to keep the commandments of God, not men.” And no, Brigham did not order it.

    In the end, I’m not saying I’m right, I’m saying, “I’m uncomfortable saying the church is imperfect.” qua saying ‘ “the church is perfect, the people aren’t” sets people up for disappointment.’

    WRT “personalizing”, perhaps I am misunderstanding, but I don’t feel like a statistical outlier in this. I’m not completely convinced by your argument of your restatement… I do think that sometimes what is said doesn’t apply at all, or it is completely off the mark. For instance, we once had some low-level GA (area 70 maybe), come to a stake conference. Hadn’t met literally anyone from the stake, and started parroting the “all unmarried men are lazy, sinful” tripe that emanates from the I15 corridor. I remember thinking, as a first year grad student in a very prestigious University where literally all the men were pursuing PhD’s, “Man, this guy is not inspired at all in what he’s saying here” because the type of men I met, and knew, and was, were not what he described I know that thought might upset folks like JMax, but the longer I live, the more I believe that it is correct. In time, each of these men continued to grow in the gospel, found the women they were well matched for, and moved on to the commitment in the proper time, and I feel certain that that low-level GA’s comments had no positive contribution to that process. But that low-level GA was not, and is not “the Church”. The idiotic “unmarried single men are lazy” tripe (which may or may not be true in the corridor) is not “the Church” even if spoken by the highest levels. I guess another way of stating what I’m thinking is, “A prophet is only a Prophet when he is acting as such” is descriptive of reality rather than a definition of authority. Truth is authorization, not standing Standing is an obligation to do things right rather than a club to hurt those beneath you. I think that’s what Meg and SilverRain mean when they talk about taking things to God and getting answers from the spirit, general truths apply to us in specific ways, and we are to God for the application He gives us through the spirit.

    And BTW, your Bishop was a [edited], and I would have told him that. If I ever meet him, I will.

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