I was taught two contradictory concepts as a member of the mormon church. I was taught that god speaks to each individual and every person has the opportunity to receive god's word and will personally. Yet, a person was also supposed to follow their leaders without question.
What does a person do when these two ideas conflict? What about when the views of the leaders contradict the views of the individual? Often, I found out, even when it was just opinion, the individual was expected and required to submit to the opinions of the leaders with no dissent.
It is a popular thing in the church to re-enact the handcart experiences of the pioneers for the youth in the individual wards. As a ward I was involved in decided to do this, my oldest daughter would be involved. The leaders put in charge had decided they wanted an authentic experience for the youth, so they were going to deprive the youth of food and water throughout the day and not allow them to even carry extra food with them, so they would actually have to experience hunger and thirst as they pushed these handcarts in 90 degree weather. I was alarmed at this, as were others and we voiced our concern. We were immediately told to stop our dissent and support those in charge.
My daughter, as well as others, had health problems that would be complicated by food and water deprivation. I was already concerned with putting her in this position and how it would impact her health, but now I was considering not even allowing her to attend, if these were the types of decisions that were being made and our concerns were not going to be heard. We made several attempts to voice our concerns. We were told to step in line and be quiet each time.
We finally went to a former leader and asked him to speak to those in charge on our behalf. Through his influence only, were we able to get those in charge to back down and allow the youth to have adequate food and water on the trek.
As I began to question how church callings were made with the the spirit of god and weather the spirit of discernment was used by the church leaders, I questioned the church leaders about these things. The answers I receive were not that god was charge, but that man was. As I stepped away from activity and voiced my concern over these matters; my husband and and the church leaders met with me at my house.
I was told to submit to my leader's authority and my husband's authority. I was experiencing a crisis of faith at the time, and was needing understanding and help with what I was going through. What I got instead, was to blindly follow and step back in line.
I walked away instead.
In name, the leaders may say there is individual inspiration, but when it comes to leadership, there is only blind obedience. No asking, no doubting, no questioning.
Not for me. Not for many people.