Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Suffer the Little Children...

Much has been written about the Mormon church's new policy on banning children of the LBGTQ community from being blessed or baptized into the Mormon church until they are 18. Even then, these children are required to move out of their parent's home and disavow their parent's . This is directly out of the bishop's handbook of instructions, with highlights added:

The Mormon church has claimed this in the best interest of the children. I disagree on every level with them since the Mormon church believes baptism is a saving ordinance and they are denying a saving ordinance from children:
1. They are making children choose between a saving ordinance and their parent
2. They are making children choose between their parent and the church
3. They are separating the child from their peers, while they are advancing the peers in the priesthood and the young womens, they are preventing these children from taking part in these rituals., including doing baptisms for the dead with their peers
4. They are setting these children up to be ridiculed and bullied by their peers because they are setting them apart, making them different by not allowing them to participate in giving talks in church, in praying, in advancing the same way their peers are
5. They are usurping the role of parent since it is the role of parent to determine what will and will not cause harmony or discord within the family and it isn't the role of the church to determine this
6. It is the role of parent to determine a religion for their children, it isn't the role of religion to determine what religion a child will or won't be raised in.

One more thing I must add. Many Mormons have been quoting their favorite apologists blog, Greg Trimble where he says that Jesus didn't accept everyone, implying that Jesus would reject the same people that Mormons reject. I agree with the premise that Jesus didn't accept everyone, I absolutely reject the premise that Jesus rejected gays, as there is NOTHING in any Biblical scripture to suggest such a thing. 

I will agree with Greg Trimble that Jesus did reject some people. Jesus rejected people who took financial advantage of people by selling things at the temple, he rejected the church leaders who did not take care of the poor and did their alms in public. He rejected the leaders who were hypocrites.

When I stopped believing in all the tenets of the Mormon church, I started drinking coffee, tea and alcohol, since I no longer believed these things to be sinful. I also had these things in my home. My true believing Mormon family, however, believed me to be sinful and would not come into my home, even when my Mom died. My family traveled great distances for my Mom's funeral and spent a great deal of money to be here for her funeral. I offered my home as respite for them. Not a single family member would stay in my 'sinful' home to save money or share in our grief together. I was shunned because of my sins. Love the sinner, hate the sin, right? It is impossible to separate the two out.

If Mormon's truly believe this new policy will not shun children and parents, they are in error. 

I wish people would think for themselves. If your first reaction to this new policy is one of revulsion, then your morals are telling you it is wrong. Why would you trust any person above your own ethics?


Monday, April 6, 2015

We are Glorified by Love

After I was strangled a few years ago, it was the Christian thing to say to me, 'There is a purpose for everything".  I would bristle at this and say in return, 'There is no purpose for abuse." At this, there is a pause and without fail, they would have to admit I was correct and they could think of no purpose for abuse.

This is the main reason that when I left Mormonism behind, I also left Christianity behind. Yesterday I attended the UU service. Since it was Easter Sunday, the minster discussed Jesus and the atonement and the resurrection in detail.  My anxiety was building as she was talking because I do not feel comfortable with these topics, as I do not believe in them. As she talked about Jesus' death, she said the only way we can understand his death and ultimate resurrection is if we understand it as myth...when she said this, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Yes, I can accept Jesus as a man who spoke wise words and died a normal death, then his followers turned his death into a myth because it was too painful to accept his death.

What has happened with his death since then, I cannot accept, that his followers have turned suffering into a glorious thing. This; I cannot accept:

Then this, from the Mormon church:

“A good friend, who knows whereof he speaks, has observed of trials, ‘If it’s fair, it is not a true trial!’ That is, without the added presence of some inexplicableness and some irony and injustice, the experience may not stretch us or lift us sufficiently. The crucifixion of Christ was clearly the greatest injustice in human history, but the Savior bore up under it with majesty and indescribable valor.”
—Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience (1980), 31
Or this:
“Sometimes … we find that even when we do our best to serve the Lord, we still suffer. You may know someone who faces these most challenging of circumstances: consider the parent whose child becomes ill, for whom everyone prays and fasts with all their heart and soul, but who ultimately dies. Or the missionary who sacrifices to go on a mission, then develops a terrible illness that leaves him or her severely disabled or in chronic pain. … The key is to remember that faith and obedience are still the answers—even when things go wrong, perhaps especially when things go wrong.”
—David E. Sorensen, "Faith Is the Answer," Ensign, May 2005, 73

Where does this idea come from, that there is glory in suffering? From this concept that Jesus was glorified in his suffering.  If he was glorified in his suffering, then we will be, also, right? 
I reject this notion. I reject the notion that a woman who is beaten by her husband should endure in silence because her endurance will bring her glory. I reject the notion that a child who starves to death will be glorified, I reject the notion that genocide will glorify a nation, I reject the notion that pain and suffering brings glory. 
Abuse of any kind does not glorify any of us; if all abuse was abolished from the earth today, this earth would be glorified. This, I believe. 
If we look at the death of Jesus as a myth, then see that the women who attended to him loved him, we see that his life was about loving the unlovable, we see that his life was about alleviating suffering and and bringing comfort. This changes the entire story of Jesus' life to one of love and not suffering and in this way it can change the way we see our lives and society.
We are glorified by love. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Journey of Opposition

Today several brave souls stood up in General Conference and raised their hands to oppose the sustaining of the general authorities as current leaders of the Mormon church.  As a part of the movement that is in opposition to the current leadership, I'm so proud of the brave people who had the courage to do this (there were
three others, by the way.)

I have had my own journey with this controversy.  When I was in high school, there was a new bishop put in our ward. Within a year, several families felt he was using his position as bishop to financially abuse them, to take financial liberties and to financially ruin them.

They took their evidence and frustrations to the stake presidency and as I recall, this was not a small group of people, even though it was a minority in the ward, there were about a dozen families involved, (including my own). They put their grievance before the stake presidency only to have it divide the presidency and cause further divide within the ward.

The families who brought the charges were not getting any redress, so they were being rather vocal within the ward with their frustrations, as well.  This was causing a great divide within the ward.  Ward conference was coming up and the stress level for everyone was high.  When the stake presidency called for a sustaining vote of the bishop, the opposition was high, and vocal.

The stake presidency said they would meet with those in opposition after church, which they did, but they only decided to leave the bishop in his position (two members of the presidency voting to keep him in, one voting to remove him), thinking that removing him would cause the ward members to distrust them and the process.

Several ward members went inactive over this and several family members lost homes over business deals and the financial repercussions were severe, who ever was at fault.

Years later, when I was going through my faith crisis, I began to realize that the church leaders did not make decisions based on listening to promptings from god, but on the leanings on the arm of flesh. This realization led me to the conclusion that I could not raise my hand to sustain church leaders.  There is great pressure to go along with the consensus, the group think has incredible pressure within the church, so being the lone person to raise my hand in opposition did not seem like a viable option.

What I chose to do instead; every Sunday for a few years, was to not raise my hand at all, and so for years I would not raise my hand to sustain my leaders. I would not raise my hand to sustain new people being called, I would not sustain bishops, apostles, nobody.

As I look back, I wonder how many people were also silently protesting the group think, the system that didn't give us a voice, the pressure to conform.

My heart goes out to all those who continue to feel stuck in a system that doesn't work for them, who are continuing on with their silent protests. I will raise my arm with a glass of wine in it to you today, in solidarity to those of us who refuse to be part of the group think.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Accepting others where they are

This last week I read and re-read the book, "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay. She talks about many of us (herself included) that have suffered abuse, but even though we are able to leave the pain behind, the belief systems surrounding that abuse we seem to carry into adulthood.

She talks about how those belief systems serve us, but they also hinder us.  For the past 10 years or so, I have lived by most of what she says in her book, but I obviously still carry some of those belief systems with me still.

She talks about how this is a process, not a one time step and she used to be angry at herself when faced with belief systems that were harming her, and now she just looks at it and says to herself, 'I love you the way you are and this thing still needs to be adjusted."

I'm a caretaker and as such, I tend to want to fix things and especially fix people. I run a support group for people in transition. I have learned a very important lesson over the years; I have learned that each and every one of us are responsible for our own behaviors, thoughts and emotions. 

Even when people's behavior, thoughts and emotions are harmful to them, it still isn't my job to fix them. The more I live by this, the more I am able to allow others to make their own mistakes, even when they are harmful to themselves.  

When we allow others to be responsible for their own actions, this also leaves no room for victim blaming, a victim doesn't cause abuse to happen to them because the person who does the damage is solely responsible for their own actions.

It is also easier to let go of telling others how to live their lives because they are responsible for how they live their lives, even if their choices bring them harm. 

We have a right to set boundaries when other people's behavior treads on us and causes us harm, however, so let's not confuse setting boundaries, which is good with allowing others to lead their lives.

I am still needing a reminder, but this has helped me live a better life.

Monday, March 23, 2015

It isn't all about you

Have you ever just gone about your own business, just doing your own thing, but there is that one person who has to make everything in life about them?

If you say the whether is rainy, they complain that it is raining just to irritate them.  If the cashier is abrupt, it is just to piss them off, and if you break up with them, they must make it all about them and how you are unfair to them; 'didn't i cook dinner for you well, and clean the kitchen and pay half the bills? What's your problem for not being grateful, after all?'

I have to wonder how ego-centric they are to make everything in life about them. They must be so deprived of self love to have to go through life feeling like that all the time.

Maybe, just maybe it's about me. Maybe I want a man in my life who is financially solvent, who communicates directly rather than passive aggressively, and who isn't depressed all the time. Maybe I want a man in my life who isn't always flirting with every skirt that walks in the room and instead makes me feel like the most important woman in the room.

Maybe it's about me because I have a right to make it about me.

Friday, January 30, 2015


Recently, the Mormon church had acknowledged that past prophets have not been completely infallible, and have indeed made mistakes.

Joseph Smith married other men's wives when it is expressly forbidden by god, Brigham Young was a racist, and the church leader's murdered men, women and children in the Mountain Meadow's massacre, among many other mistakes.

As I've pondered these and many other mistakes, I've come to wonder why does God, who people say is perfect, needs fallible men to communicate with us humans here on earth? If he is go grand and glorious and great, and full of power, then can't he figure out a better way to communicate with us than through fallible men?

I mean, really, scientists have been able to communicate around the world with people through televisions, telephones, and computers, you'd think god could be as clever and creative, if not more so!

People have been able to put up an electronic billboard in times square, for heaven's sake!

What? God can't think to build an electronic billboard in the sky and talk to us through it?

Wouldn't that be more effective than telling us women through an old man to only wear one pair of earrings?

How about a billboard in the sky telling us to stop killing each other over religion? How about telling us to stop hating each other because of how we dress, or look, or who we have sex with?

How about a billboard in the sky telling us that the most important things are to just love and accept each other and tolerate differences? Wouldn't that be better than discriminating and hating on each other?

How about that, god?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Remember the turnaround....

It's all well and good until...

This last week the Mormon church came out with what they are calling a 'balanced approach' to marriage equality and recent laws being passed across the nation that will refuse public places to discriminate against the LGBT community. conditional support

The Mormon church wants other laws to be passed to also protect religious rights. Well, I have news for them, there are already laws in place, its called the first amendment.  Any laws written will only give equal protection to the LGBT community that is already afforded the religious community.

There are no *special* rights being given to anyone, just the same rights that everyone else, including religions, already enjoy.  The same day the Mormon church held their press conference, the Utah legislature also introduced  HB66  that would allow public officials who have a strong religious objection to marriage equality to refuse to issue marriage licenses. This is what the Mormon church calls a *balanced approach*.

This simply doesn't work. Why not? Because by giving public officials the privilege of claiming strongly held religious objections, then religion will trump law every time, every day....it will put religion ABOVE the law.

Can a person discriminate against a person by denying them housing? No. Oh, wait, unless they have strong religious objections.

Can a person discriminate against a person by denying them the ability to marry? No. Oh, wait, unless they have strong religious objections.

Can a person discriminate against a person by denying them medical help? No. Oh, wait, unless they have strong religious objections.

This always sounds all fine and well, that is until it is turned around. I wonder how these Mormons are going to feel then these *balanced approaches* are turned around on them?

How are the Mormons going to feel when their missionaries are refused haircuts because they aren't considered Christians?

How are the Catholics going to feel when they are denied the privilege of banking at the banks owned by the Jews?

How are the Evangelists going to feel when they are denied access to Indian or Chinese restaurants?

It's all well and good until what you wish for is turned around on you.
Be careful what you wish for, Mormons.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Emotional Abuse and Autonomy

Emotional Abuse and Autonomy

“You need to have more kids, especially with how beautiful all your girls are.” My mother-in-law tells me for the hundredth time. Inside I’m seething, as I have to wonder why it is anybody’s business how many kids I have, especially my mother-in-laws when she knows how difficult my pregnancies are as well as the deliveries. She only has three kids, so who is she to tell me to have more kids, anyway? Why is it anybody’s business? I hate it when people tell me how many kids to have. I’m overwhelmed as it is, and this only makes me feel more overwhelmed.

“I’m going to take you to Africa and swing you from the trees.” Joe, an acquaintance tells me in a flirting manner.  I feel so uncomfortable, I don’t know what to say, what kind of come-on is that anyway? How completely inappropriate. I never know how to handle this, so I answer with a soft no, “I’ll just build a tree house and hide from you in its safety.” My soft no doesn’t work, as it often doesn’t, as he persists; “I’ll just build a ladder and come into your tree house.”  I walk away at this point because I’m so disgusted. My guy friends tell me it’s my fault for not giving him a strong no by just telling him to fuck off. I contend that a soft no would be respected by any person who respects boundaries.

“Your behavior is so juvenile, you need to stop acting so silly.”  I’m told this on the internet by someone who doesn’t like my sense of humor.  Why do I need to stop acting silly, I ask myself, I’m not hurting anyone, if it bothers them, why don’t they go somewhere else where it isn’t bothering them? If my behavior isn’t harming them, why do they feel compelled to tell me I must act according to what they want?

I’m tired, I want to go to bed.”  John then tells me it would offend him if I didn’t stay up and watch a movie with him.  The next day, I could hardly make it through my work day, I was so tired and then I resented him for making me too tired to make it through the day.

“I think this is funny!”
“That’s not funny, that’s stupid, and anyone who thinks that’s funny is stupid.” Says my friend.  Well, now I just feel ashamed.

“I’m so angry at Randy!”
 “How dare you…anger is of the devil, you need to repent.” 
“I’m sorry, was just expressing how upset I was that Randy raped me. Now what do I do with all these conflicting emotions?”

“Stop texting and listen to the speaker!”
 “But it’s boring.”
 “I don’t care.”
 Now I’m bored and frustrated.

As I left a controlling church, I realized how much I was told how to think:  your thoughts will condemn you, your bad thoughts lead to sinful actions, sexual thoughts are evil, etc.  I was told what to feel: anger is wrong, jealousy is wrong, sadness is wrong, be happy all the time. I was told how to behave: wear modest clothing, attend church every Sunday, do your church calling, listen to uplifting music, etc. As I look back on this, I realize that very little of these things had to do with harming others, but more with controlling me.

I began to learn to set clear boundaries and take control over my own emotions, thoughts and behavior. This has been a big learning curve for me. I have had to learn from others how to do a lot of this. I have been taught that my thoughts, feelings and behaviors aren’t really mine, but in the control of patriarchy as well as authority.  I have had to learn assertive communication skills in order to take back my personal power.

I remember listening to some women who were going through marriage counseling and how they were being told they could not control the behavior of their spouse, they could tell their spouse what bothered them, but their spouse was in complete control of their own behavior and could then choose to change their own behavior or choose to not change it. This was very difficult for me to understand at first. What if that behavior was damaging to the relationship? Wasn’t the spouse obligated to change? Could they be compelled to change? I have come to understand that we cannot compel others to change, not if we want a healthy relationship with them. We can assertively ask for what we need in a relationship, then after that, we have a choice; we can accept, compromise or walk away.  This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn.

Sulking, giving the silent treatment, yelling, or name calling are not healthy ways of communicating our wants and needs. We can ask for what we need, but the other person can choose to accept, reject or compromise. We become manipulative and lose ground if we use passive aggressive or aggressive tactics.

There are behaviors that are harmful, such as abuse, name calling, withholding money to control, etc. that should not be tolerated and if the person does not change, walking away is the best option. But I’ve often wondered about lots of other behaviors that are annoying but not harmful. How do we deal with the annoying behaviors of others?  I have learned we do the same. We can ask people to change, but they are still in charge of themselves and if they choose to not change, we choose to ignore or walk away.

Walking away can look like a lot of things. We can go into the another room, we can leave a party where someone is being obnoxious, put on head phones so we don’t have to listen to annoying sounds, etc.

As the years wane, I began to ponder why people think it is their right to tell other people how to act when it isn’t harming them. I wonder why people think they must tell others how to dress (mostly modestly) how to think (it isn’t okay to think about sex) or how to feel (it isn’t okay to feel anger, jealousy or sadness). 

I run a support group and this is always a point of contention within the group, as people attempt to control others by telling them what behavior and feelings are acceptable and which ones are not. This causes the most contention within the group than anything else. I have learned a lot over the years as I had to moderate the group. I have learned this; that people have a right to their own self-determination over their own thoughts, feelings and behavior as long as they are not harming others.

It is when others attempt to control our thoughts, behavior or emotions that causes the greatest amount of friction in relationships.  We seek autonomy.  I see other’s attempt to control us through passive words, behavior, ideas as well as through aggressive words, behavior and ideas. People are not separate from their behavior, and to say their behavior is bad, wrong or in error, but they are not is the same as calling them bad, wrong or in error.

Such things as sulking, the silent treatment, yelling, or name calling are just a few ways people use to attempt to control other people’s behavior, emotions or thoughts.  Why is it so difficult to allow other people the autonomy to self-determination?

The definition of emotional abuse includes this: verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth."

So, when a person attempts to assert control over others, it is a form of emotional abuse. Each person needs to be able to determine for themselves, from the very small things, to the very large things. We can choose our sexual partners, when we are tired and need to rest. We get to choose how many children we are capable of having (or none at all), as well as which emotions we are feeling, from sadness to frustration to anxiety to anger to happiness. We get to choose our clothes, and even our laugh and sense of humor.  We choose our thoughts and ideas as well.