Dear Mormon parents, tread lightly, your gay kids are listening.

Dear Mormon Friends,

I appreciate your loving, compassionate words and the way you have reached out to me. I love you and will always love you. I understand that for someone who loves the church and has a kind heart like you do that this is a hard thing. You have been posting responses to mine and sharing blog entries that emphasize a loving perspective while remaining true to your Mormon beliefs. You have to believe your leaders are right because they’re prophets. If they’re wrong, what does that mean? It’s scary and you trust them, so you try to find a way to bridge the gap. I get that.

Let me just say this: I have a gay child.

I left the church before I realized she was gay so that has nothing to do with why I left. But I was an active, believing Mormon raising a child that I didn’t know was gay. And I was living in California in 2008, so the Proposition 8 battle was raging. We sat in the pews every Sunday as our bishop read a letter from a prophet telling us to give everything we could to the cause of righteousness. Week after week testimonies were born of how hard everyone was working to stop the “gay agenda” and how they knew they were following the prophet and God. We heard talks on the sanctity of traditional families and why only male/female households fit into the plan of salvation. We heard how gender was an essential characteristic and each gender had a divine role that could not be changed by the whims of society.

Each ward member was assigned a list of people in the community to call. My list was several pages long. I was not asked if I would participate, I was simply given an assignment that I was expected to fulfill as I “heed[ed] the prophet’s voice”. I took that list home and stared at it for days.

I didn’t really know how I felt about same sex marriage. I’d never thought much about it before. I’d always heard it was wrong and that homosexuality was not part of God’s plan, but something in me didn’t feel quite right about what I’d been asked to do.

I pushed forward anyway.

I called several people on my list before I gave up. I hate making phone calls and I hated doing something that felt inexplicably wrong. It was if my heart was whispering to me, but the whisper was small and being drowned out by the voices I heard every Sunday at church.

I spent long hours after my Wednesday night Young Women’s activities with a fellow member of the Young Women’s presidency and talked about the issue. Neither one of us was comfortable. Neither one of us knew where we stood.

A few days before the ballot I agreed to participate in a demonstration outside my daughter’s elementary school. During morning school drop-off we would be highly visible. My daughter was in the first grade at the time and was excited to see what mom and the people she looked up to from church were doing, so she stood by me outside and helped by holding up a sign that said “Vote YES on Prop 8!” My green-eyed, freckle-nosed first grader. Of course she asked what we were doing and I explained it to her in the kindest terms possible.

Six years later I remember sitting in the living room of our new house in Texas as those same green eyes looked uncomfortably into mine before they quickly flitted to the side. In a quiet voice she said, “Mom, I think I might be gay.”

Now, we’d left the church at this point and I’d long since regretted participating in any way in Proposition 8. But over the next few weeks as I learned more about what she was feeling and how I could help her, the memory of that day outside the school returned to my mind. Over and over I pictured myself standing there, looking down on her as her brown hair reflected the golden light of the sun, mother and trusting daughter doing what our prophet asked of us, oblivious to what it really meant to both our futures. And I cried. Not just tears leaking from my eyes and gently rolling down my face, but big, ugly, heaving sobs that made me grateful all my kids were in school and my husband was at work. I could not believe that I had fought to banish equal rights for gay couples with my gay daughter standing beside me. Shame on me. Shame. Shame. Shame.

The LDS church’s approach to people who are gay, bisexual and transgender continues to hurt her. She’s tough on the outside and doesn’t show it to others much, but I know and love this beautiful girl and I see how it hurts her, even though none of our little family believes in the truth claims of the LDS church. It hurts because Mormons have always been our tribe and because we have so many family members and friends who still believe in the LDS teachings. It hurts because kids don’t understand nuance and so the message they turn back on her is that being openly gay is a sin. They tell her gay people shouldn’t get married. They tell her if she spends her life alone then god will reward her in the next life by fixing her so she’s not gay. Teenagers only hear the underlying messages and those are coming through loud and clear. She is wrong. She is other. She is broken.

I guess I just wish for believing Mormons to say, “You know what, I love my prophet and I love my church, but they’ve been wrong before and they’re wrong this time too.” Maybe that would soothe my heart a bit.

And remember, dear Mormon friends who are parents, and aunts, and uncles and grandparents, that child listening to you and learning from you might some day come to you and say the words that are terrifying them, “I think I might be gay.”

Or maybe they won’t. Maybe those words won’t be able to make it out of their mouths because they’ve heard you and everyone at church talk about the “gay agenda” and the “attack on the family” and “love the sinner but hate the sin” and they won’t be able to make those words come out. And then they might stew in shame and self-loathing, praying for god to fix them so they can be the way they’re “supposed” to be. And maybe it will be too much. Maybe they’ll seek some way out from the pain and shame they feel for being gay or transgender. Don’t make me say what can happen then because I worry about it. I know the statistics for LGBT kids. I know what can happen when teenagers feel shame and rejection and don’t see a way out. I worry about it all the time.

Please, dear Mormon friends, it’s easy to dismiss someone else’s pain, but it’s so hard when that someone is your child and you just never know. I never guessed I would have a gay child. Honestly. Never. Watch your words. Be careful what you justify. Take care with those little hearts.

Sincerely,

Your friend Cherry

Avoid Speculation?

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.”

― Walter ScottMarmion

As a child in the LDS church I was taught principles of honesty and integrity. I learned that although doing the right thing was sometimes not easy, that should never stop you from doing it! As a child I loudly sang ‘do what is right and let the consequence follow!’ Now I think if only that same religion could heed its own council… As it and many other religions move into this new millennium I believe they are facing an accounting. Sometimes past leaders  kicked the ball of deception so far down the road that current leaders are hard pressed to stop the ball rolling.

The thing about deception in this age of free access to information is you can’t keep it up. It’s far too easy to get caught redhanded  in the cookie  jar swearing it wasn’t you. Believe me, I don’t envy LDS leadership at all with this current state of affairs. Especially the local leadership that, based on my anecdotal conversations, most times doesn’t even know about the church’s essays and efforts to inoculate the current membership from the realities of its history.

Case in point. Here is a link to the new seminary teaching manual in regards to the polygamy practiced in the early church.

Reading through this I was dismayed at the deception employed to caution members from looking beyond the blinders it endeavors to put on the student.

avoid speculation jpg
This was the lesson’s first glaring evidence of deception. Any dedicated student of church history knows that celestial marriage = plural marriage to the early leaders of the church.   Later in the lesson we are told that it is only ok to get additional information from two places…

“Reliable historical research concerning the practice of plural marriage can be found at josephsmithpapers.org and byustudies.byu.edu.”

Interesting, because in ten seconds I found this link via the google search engine (but not the search function on LDS org :))

https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=8744

SmithNauvoo marriage

 

As I said, in the early days of the church celestial marriage and plural marriage were one and the same. The 132nd section of canonized scripture in D&C was dedicated to this concept. Over and over in every history book you read from that time celestial marriage was equal to polygamous marriage. In fact Sarah Pratt who resisted the prophets advances called the results of these marriages ‘celestial consequences’ in this rather disturbing testimony as to why we can’t find of the seed of Joseph that according to the Book of Mormon is the only legitimate reason according to God for polygamy in the first place.

So why are the educators in the church so adamant about ‘avoiding speculation’? Why is it so very important to keep our eyes straight ahead and not look to either side? Why is the church putting blinders on its seminary students?

blinders and cart

Are the blinders for the benefit of the horse? Or more for the owner who doesn’t want his cart overturned and to end up walking…

Speculation is a natural human trait. It’s the beginning of critical thinking and us opening our mind to new ideas.  Before we can change our mind about something we need to speculate about alternative explanations.

Go make yourself a timeline on polygamy using only the josephsmithpapers site for reference. I dare you! You will find out just like I did that this statement in the lesson contradicts the facts of history.

 “(As students respond, write the following principle on the board: Plural marriage can be authorized only through the priesthood keys given to the President of the Church.)”

The fact is, the very first plural marriage1 went down BEFORE the keys were restored to do them. (And a long time before the “revelation” that made it all legit was ever penned down. Seriously from a normal perspective it totally fits the bill of an excuse made up after getting caught!)

That is just one of the things you will find if you do your own followup research. No wonder the teacher is repeatedly warned to avoid any derailment! 2 This seminary lesson is rife with internal contradiction and careful wording designed to keep the student from digging any deeper and speculating any alternative explanations for polygamy in the early church. Was Joseph Smith a con man bent on duping people out of money and coercing women into his bed and in the process created a religion, just like Muhammed with Islam? That is the speculation that you MUST AVOID at all costs in order to still believe. Why is that? Frankly, because it makes too much sense. If you start considering this possibility and you for a moment realize that you can’t always trust your feelings, you might just start looking and eventually discover the tangled web of lies that have been intricately woven since one horny guy told a girl that God was gonna kill him if she didn’t do the nasty.

Yes, avoid speculation, don’t even consider the possibility that Joseph might have just been a Warren Jeff’s type con man a couple hundred years ago when he could get away with it. Don’t remotely postulate that he could have been smart enough to make it all up and charming enough to get people invested. Don’t ever question the validity of your own feelings and for the love of Fridge never ever consider you might be the one that has been fooled by your own emotions in the same way you are sure the Muslim is when he proclaims the same devout belief about Muhammed. Don’t ever speculate. 3

blinders-on carrot

Because speculation leads to questions and questions lead to the collapse of your own shelf and then… The cart will have one less horse pulling it. Because unlike horses, once our blinders are off we humans are smart enough to ditch the yoke too.


fences free

 

  1.  To the maid Fanny Alger. Seriously, it is that cliche, we are talking about the 17 year-old live-in maid!!
  2. Personally I see this whole thing as fulfillment of Fridge profesy in regards to polygamy.  “As the profet of the Fridge I kind of expect this particular admission to have more of an effect than all the others to date…” I have found that self proclaimed profets love it when they get a hit with their own speculations!!
  3. Here are some more things to not speculate about:

    GBH has a video link on the lesson where he vehemently denies a church belief in polygamy… so why can you get sealed to another wife after the first one dies?

    Why would God need to send an angel with a sword to force polygamy onto Joseph Smith? Isn’t force Satan’s plan?

    Why did the guy that gave his 14  year old daughter to Joe think it was for a guaranteed place in the celestial kingdom?

    Why in the world is this topic detailed now if the history of it all has been in the church archives and documents all along?

    And maybe the some of the most important questions. Why are the exact same actions if done by Warren Jeffs despicable? And honestly do you think he has followers that just as devoutly believe he is telling the ladies God’s word? Why are they confused and you not?

Farewell to a Once Grateful Nation

In the spring of 2014 as I slept, the light of the noonday sun filled my room and I awoke to the shining face of Ángel Coronai gesturing through the window.

Following him to the backyard, I was led between the trees where he was laying new cable, and he revealed to me a stone box in the ground. Inside were many strange objects including a book of ancient workmanship.

BOB_Golden_Plates_in_stone_box_2

Breaking the seal revealed a set of golden plates engraved with squiggly characters, which I believe are a kind of Reformed Gypsum. And as I pondered these things, my Corona passed over the characters, and they miraculously resolved into words.

I quickly drank another and taped the bottles together. And by means of these goggles, the following story was revealed … the final chapter in the history of an ancient civilization.

_______________________________

And it came to pass that I, Boloni, High Priest of the Neophites, was greatly aggrieved. For of the many plates of gold which my brother, the General Moron, gave to me as a record of my people, few now remain.

For being desirous of adornment, the princess Leahona took of the plates of gold and fashioned a plain and precious necklace, and also a tiara, and matching bracelets and earrings, and a belly chain, and many other delightsome and ingenious ornaments that are beautiful to behold.

And though I am sorely desirous of her beauty in her many adornments, and wish greatly to provide her with more, I have sent her into hiding with General Moron, and I must needs lay my stylus down and flee also for my life.

For behold, the Neophites, my once grateful people, have brought war and rebellion to the palace gates. And they are wroth with me, for I have taken the tithes and offerings required for temple worship, and brought merchants to the creek and visitors to the square. And all this I have done to increase the strength of the church and my store of precious things.

And the people say I have strayed from holy matters, and demand an accounting of the tithes I have collected, and the return of their gold and their bili-bíribongs and kilikili-kilí-kis and other precious things, and wages for their unpaid service, and restitution for their sufferings.

And their anger has soured them as the Lemonites of old, and therefore I rename my people Lemonites. And though the true Lemonites of my generation are sweet and peaceful, yet they have refused me sanctuary. And therefore, I curse them all together with ignominy.

BoloniBidsFarewell_2a

And not one senine shall my people receive to reward their selfishness and pride, after such great gifts as I have already given them; to wit, the sweat of their brow and relief from the temptations of the fruits of their labor.

And thus, war lies now heavy upon the land, and the city burns. And even mine own armies do rebel against me, excepting only the Sons of Shelaman, who remain at my side.

And behold, the palace door is broken, and I lay my stylus down and depart to preserve my life and secure my treasures in the earth, even the remaining leaves of gold and the princess’s shapely breastplate and her jeweled eyepiece.

And there they shall remain, until this war is done, and I return to my sweet princess Leahona, and lay these lovely adornments upon her. And I earnestly pray that this may soon come to pass.

And thus I, Boloni, seal this record as a testimony against my lost and fallen people, there to remain until I return, or a peepstone discover it, or the world end. Amen.

The role of the LDS church in developing torture

Torture_by_eWKn

The brutal “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed by the CIA to extract information from suspected terrorists were developed by two Mormon psychologists, Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell. 1 The techniques included waterboarding, sleep deprivation and forcing prisoners to assume “stress positions.”

John Rizzo, the acting CIA general counsel who met with the psychologists, wrote in his book, “Company Man,” that he found some of what Mitchell and Jessen were recommending “sadistic and terrifying.” One technique, he wrote, was “so gruesome that the Justice Department later stopped short of approving it.”

In fact, the Mormon church provided four key players in  the CIA’s quest to evade the Geneva Convention, since Judge Jay Bybee signed off on memo’s that redefined the term “torture”, enabling interrogators to use more brutal methods in their attempts to extract information from detainees. Rounding out this infamous group is Timothy Flanigan,  deputy White House counsel at the time, and one of five attorneys who referred to themselves as the “War Council”.  2

How is it that a church that undoubtedly preaches love and basic Christian goodness has in its midst four individuals who developed, enabled, and implemented policies and techniques that resulted in the brutal torture of human beings in the almost universally fruitless search for useful intelligence information?

I believe the problem lies with the LDS church’s supreme emphasis on authority. Joseph Smith claimed to have restored God’s only “true church” and proper “priesthood authority”. The leaders of the LDS church continually teach that authority is necessary in all important things, from leadership of the church, to leadership of the ward, to leadership of the home.

There is a clear hierarchy in all things and that hierarchy is to be respected and obeyed.

If two people disagree on something within the church or their families, the individual with the highest authority prevails.

Authority is supremely important in the LDS church.  Talks in LDS General Conference stress that members are not to doubt or question the authority of their church leaders. Leaders are called of God, given priesthood authority through a lineage dating back to Adam, and because of that will not lead membership of the church astray. Members are reminded in ways big and small that if they have opinions which contradict those in authority over them the member is the one at fault, not the authority figure, and that member must bring themselves in line or be in sin.

The 12th Article of Faith states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” This in itself is a fairly noble belief. The LDS church does not support anarchy or special privilege of its membership to violate the laws of the land. However, the church teaches that the United States was formed by men inspired of God expressly for the purpose of creating a country with the necessary freedoms in place so that God could return the true and everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. The leaders of the United States, while highly imperfect, have authority that protects our nation and our freedoms, especially the religious freedoms Mormons value so highly. Once again, the leaders of our land have authority that has an almost divine sanction to it, at least at its origins.

Now, many of you may have heard of the Milgram experiment. In 1961, Yale University researcher Stanley Milgram set up an experiment in which participants were instructed to deliver increasingly strong electric shocks to invisible individuals. The individuals, while not seen, could be clearly heard. While the individuals received no actual shock, the participants believed that they were administering higher and higher levels of shock, and even as the invisible recipient screamed and begged to stop, up to 2/3 of the participants administered shock all the way up to the highest 450-volt level.

Milgram

Participants were more likely to administer the shocks when a researcher was in the same room with them. Results remained consistent across racial groups and genders.

The Milgram study showed that people will do seemingly immoral things when told to by an authority figure, and has served as an important means of understanding the events that occurred in Nazi Germany as well as at other times throughout human history.

Stanley Milgram declared, “A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority.” According to Martha Stout, Ph.D., in her book, The Sociopath Next Door,

Milgram believed that authority could put conscience to sleep mainly because the obedient person makes an “adjustment of thought,” which is to see himself as not responsible for his own actions. In his mind, he is no longer a person who must act in a morally accountable way, but the agent of an external authority to whom he attributes all responsibility and initiative. This “adjustment of thought” makes it much easier for benign leadership to establish order and control, but by the same psychological mechanism, it has countless times rolled out the red carpet for self-serving, malevolent, and sociopathic “authorities.”” (page 63)

A paper recently published in the British Journal of Social Psychology by researchers Professor Alex Haslam (University of Queensland), Professor Stephen Reicher (University of St Andrews), Professor Kathryn Millard (Macquarie University) and Professor Rachel McDonald (University of Kansas) argues that the meaning of the experiment has been misunderstood. 3

Participants in the Milgram experiment were not distressed by their participation, but rather felt happy that they were part of an important contribution to science.

Professor Haslam said: ““This provides new insight into the psychology of oppression and gels with other evidence that perpetrators are generally motivated, not by a desire to do evil, but by a sense that what they are doing is worthy and noble.”

Professor Reicher added: “This new analysis suggests that we may have misunderstood the ethical as well as the theoretical issues raised by Milgram’s studies. We need to ask whether it is right to protect participants’ own wellbeing by leading them to think that harming the wellbeing of others can be justified as long as it is in a good cause.”

So four individuals, from a  religious background that heavily stresses authority and obedience, and who esteem their government as being originally sanctioned by God participate in the development of a scheme of cruel and inhumane torture that they perceive as for the betterment of society and the protection of the (God-given) American way of life

It would appear that is the case, given that earlier this year, James Mitchell defended himself by stating, “I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country.”

And as Mormon Studies expert Professor Patrick Mason has told Mormon writer Joanna Brooks,  “Mormonism has “no systematic theology” on issues like human rights or poverty or war. Its view of morality is “highly individualized.””

In fact, within the LDS church there is virtually no discussion of morality. Right and wrong comes from scripture and revelation, usually to those with priesthood authority. Morality, in most LDS discussions, refers to keeping the LDS law of chastity, the Mormon rules for sexual conduct, not to the generalized means of determining right from wrong. Search for the word “morality” on lds.org and this is what you will get.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 11.22.01 AM

The LDS church is not concerned with the question of morality, i.e., the constantly evolving discussion of right and wrong that has occupied philosophers and religionists for millennia. Rather, the LDS church teaches obedience above all else and defines morality in terms of one specific behavior.

The LDS mentality is a perfect breeding ground for the type of individual capable of doing what Jessen, Mitchell, Bybee and Flanigan have done. It would stand to reason that the antidote would be independent thought, support of reason, and questioning of authority. And those aren’t things you’re going to learn in any Mormon church.

 

Supporting the Cos

In light of the renewed accusations of rape against Bill Cosby, I would like to share an article by Tom S. Monsoon, from the 2014 Shark Week edition of the Sinsign.

__________________________

Much has been made in recent weeks of the vile sexual allegations against our first and greatest comic, Bill Cosby.

Amid this chorus of confusion, many that trust in the Cos have been led into doubt. Wherefore I say unto you, be of good cheer. The laughter you once knew shall be restored unto you. With the Holy Joke as your guide, your good humor shall not fail.

For those in doubt, I exhort you to remember the scripture, ‘By their networks shall you know them.’ Therefore, search in your heart for memories of the Cosby Show. If you ever laughed or learned from them, let those happy episodes be your guide. Furthermore, ask yourselves. Can those vile accusations coexist with your feelings of love and adoration for the Cos? I say unto you, no. Therefore cast them out and doubt no more.

cosby - remember the cake

In keeping with our quest for levity, trust not in the methods of man: to wit, historical, forensic and objective evidence, for they are the enemy of lightness. Heeding the stories of those women will destroy the laughter in your heart and draw you into the dark.

For the resentment and anger which lie in their hearts are the surest proof of their false wittiness. It matters not what injustice they may have endured … you will know the righteous and truthful by the love and good humor you find in their hearts, not by their bitter anguish and pain.

And to those who seek actively to destroy our noble Cos, ask yourselves: Why such hatred for a man whose financial empire has brought so much joy to the world? Will you allow the words of so few to destroy the happiness of so many?

I exhort you and all of you to remain faithful to the Cos. Wear your sacred sweater, attend all his reruns and celebrate every season. Welcome his blu rays of light into your home, pray for the lost episodes and seek him out on tour. Above all, remain faithful to the routines he has revealed. For only the faithful will stand up to great applause at the last day.

I testify unto you that his humor has power, even over the grave. He has promised everlasting laughter for the faithful few. I have laughed at the man and I will laugh again, even the last laugh at the last day. As the great one once said, ‘Join me now in laughter and let us think on these things no more.’

Amen

 

Caught in the Web

In case you hadn’t already heard, the LDS church has acknowledged on its website, lds.org, that Joseph Smith married women other than his wife, Emma, including one as young as 14. The LDS church wants you to think that it’s okay because he was a prophet and God told him to do it. News flash: polygamy is not okay. Not then. Not now. Marrying children is not okay and never will be.

This is what it looks like when a young girl is married to a man 20+ years her senior.

yemeni-child-brides-husbands-615

This is what it looks like when a “prophet” marries a young girl in modern times.

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Dieter Uchtdorf, of the first presidency of the LDS church, has given a number of speeches directed at women. Here are a few thoughts from one of them.

FMNflat

You can’t have it both ways. If the Lord loves women, he does not tell his prophets to marry young girls under the threat that it’s the only way for them to go to heaven and be with their families.

If the Lord loves women, he does not give them to men to collect  like dolls.

Meet The 'Barbie Man' From Florida

If he wants us to be happy now, not at some vague point in the future in some as-yet-unreached heaven, then he does not ask women to turn their lives over to a man so they can be one of many, where true love may not exist, real intimacy is not shared, and a valued partnership never occurs.

If God loves women, he does not coerce them into unwanted marriages with threats of physical violence against their prophet and an eternity of separation from beloved parents.

If God is God, he does not manipulate, he does not lie, and he does not sell his precious daughters en masse to his favorite sons.

Polygamy has been the spider lurking in the corners of Mormon history for a long time.

spider

Now that it’s out there, don’t swallow the lies.

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