A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me

JUNE: “Bishop, I’m scared…in my own home.” He sat silently. “My kids shouldn’t hear me called a ‘F***ing bitch’ by their father. I am being…coerced sexually. He kicks me out of the car and leaves me on the side of the road if I upset him. I…I don’t understand what’s going on. We need help…please.”

My plea hung in the air while his eyes raked me over. In ironic foreshadowing, I found myself foolishly and hopelessly wishing my husband, my abuser, was there to protect me. He sat in the foyer. He’d had an hour-long chat with the bishop ahead of me. When he exited the office, I was invited in. I begged for help. Continue reading “A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me”

Sex Offenders in Church Leadership is Not News

READER POST: To gain perspective on the church’s problem with sex offenders in leadership, it’s good to take a look at religious news. The Southern Baptist conference is finding itself in deep yogurt on this topic, with journalists and Monday Morning Quarterbacks alike taking great delight in pointing out the issues that led to repeated and sustained cover-ups of pastoral abuse.

Continue reading “Sex Offenders in Church Leadership is Not News”

When Women Use the Temple as a Weapon

READER POST: Early in my marriage, I learned that my mother-in-law loves the temple. To her, it’s the pinnacle of family bonding time and the first thing she wants to do any time the family gets together. For instance, the evening before one family wedding, her sons had to explain why it would be insensitive for those of us with recommends to ditch the bride’s parents and the groom’s grandparents, who did not hold temple recommends, in order to attend a session together.  On another occasion, my mother-in-law picked up family at the airport and informed her travel-weary relatives that they were heading straight to the temple for a 2-hour session. Yes, she loves the temple that much, and its a problem. Continue reading “When Women Use the Temple as a Weapon”

The Silencing of Women in the Church

READER POST: At the foundation of the patriarchal culture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the silencing of women. Until recently, women were not allowed to speak in General Conference. Their voices are excluded from critical councils of the Church–the councils that make policies which determine the quality of a woman’s life and how a woman may participate in the Church. Under these conditions, women are expected to obey Church leaders without complaint. Those who refuse to do so are too often marginalized and shamed. Continue reading “The Silencing of Women in the Church”

Yes, I Can Forgive…

READER POST: In his October General Conference talk, “The Ministry Of Reconciliation,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland states, “Surely each of us could cite an endless array of old scars and sorrows and painful memories that this very moment still corrode the peace in someone’s heart or family or neighborhood.” I have those scars. In fact, I do not attend church right now because it is not a safe place for me. People don’t ever ask why, but they are quick to tell me to forgive and forget and beware of pride and victimization. Continue reading “Yes, I Can Forgive…”

The Good in General Conference

SERENA: I have never been a leader worshiper. I believe the brethren serve out of a place of love. We are all fallible, our human leaders included, and I worship Jesus Christ, not man. I have admiration and respect for the apostles, general authorities and general officers of the Church who devote so much of their lives to the service of our Heavenly Father. I believe they are good men and women doing their best to do the will of the Lord. I sustain them by listening and seeking revelation as to how to apply their teachings in my life in ways that strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father and help me be more in tune with His will for me.  Continue reading “The Good in General Conference”

Women, How Will You Travel the Covenant Path?

DEBORAH: I hear with different ears than those I heard with in my youth. As a new convert, then a wife and young mother, I heard the men at the General Conference podium through ears of hope and expectation. I relished their promises that following their counsel—being a wife devoted to the betterment of my husband in both career and church, being a sacrificing mother intent on raising my children in a new, exciting gospel—would result in a happiness unmatched outside the reach of the gospel. Every inch of my soul longed to please God and, with my whole heart, I trusted the men called to speak for Him.

I’m at the other end of life now. I’ve raised my children and am watching them raise theirs. I’ve lived as is prescribed for Mormon women. I earned an education—a bachelor’s before marriage and a master’s degree in midlife—but I’ve not had paying, full-time employment since my first child was born. I ensured my children learned the gospel; we attended our meetings, held callings, and lived an existence centered around the church and gospel.

When I listened to General Conference last weekend, I listened with the ears of an experienced Mormon woman and with eyes wide-opened by time. While most of General Conference was uplifting, some of it rang as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Certain things said leave me wondering if some of the men who lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand women at all. Continue reading “Women, How Will You Travel the Covenant Path?”

On McKenna Denson and the Pulpit Watch Tower

READER POST: A few years ago, my daughter had a lesson in school about early American history. In it, the teacher mentioned (but did not detail) the rape and abuse of the native peoples on a mass scale and taught that such terrible acts have been used in war and oppression in all of history. He taught his students that we learn about these things so we can recognize the evil in them and fight it. Because he comes from a culture that has experienced a great deal of violence and persecution, he wanted to be honest about history.

When my daughter came home, she asked me several questions about war and rape. I felt physically ill. I was horrified that her teacher had torn back the curtain on our broken world and revealed it in all its ugliness—revealed that rape isn’t limited to isolated violence behind closed doors, but, throughout history, has been used on a mass scale as a weapon of war, subjugation, and torture. Continue reading “On McKenna Denson and the Pulpit Watch Tower”

Mormon No Mo Yo

PILAR: Although Juliet opined that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” Anne of Green Gables disagreed and memorably said, “I don’t think a rose would be as nice if it were called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” I’m not sure which character I agree with more, because they both make valid points.

This week, Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church, announced that the  Lord “has impressed upon my mind” that God doesn’t like the use of the word “Mormon” for this, that, and the other thing. No more Mormon or LDS Church. Strictly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, unless you use the so-called shorthand “restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” Continue reading “Mormon No Mo Yo”