Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Elder Oaks: I Want an Apology

"I know that the history of the church is not to seek apologies or to give them," Oaks said in an interview. "We sometimes look back on issues and say, 'Maybe that was counterproductive for what we wish to achieve,' but we look forward and not backward. The church doesn't "seek apologies," he said, "and we don't give them." -- LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks

Dear Elder Oaks,

I want an apology.

I'm not gay, but I want an apology to all my gay brothers and sisters in the church. I want an apology for teaching them that they were wicked and don't deserve to be loved. I want an apology to all the gay men that the church physically tortured in an attempt to "cure" them. I want an apology to those gay men that were told to marry women and not tell them they were gay. I want an apology to all those straight women who were either not told when they married these men, or were led to believe that marriage would "fix" them. I want an apology to all the members for teaching us that our gay brothers and sisters were evil.

And while I'm at it, I want an apology to all women within the church. For teaching us to "know our place" and not to question it. For taking away our magazine and our voices. For telling us that we had the largest women's organization, and then maintaining full control of it. For advising us to stay home and out of the workplace even though that left many of us destitute. For leaving us out of our children's blessings, baptism's and settings apart. For having devoted women believe that they are equal even though everything around them proves they're not. For denying us opportunities to serve the Lord and overlooking our talents. For telling our young women that they should be ashamed of their bodies and demanding that they cover up in case they make the young men have unrighteous thoughts. For giving us a Heavenly Mother, and then taking Her away.

I want an apology to the men in the church, for telling them that they will be better husbands and fathers if they spent time away from their wives and children working at the church for free. For putting the entire financial burden on their shoulders. For demanding two years out of their lives at their expense at an age when life is just opening up to them. For making them feel guilty for natural sexual desires, even if they are controlled.

In fact, just apologize to all the members for really really bad sexual advice.

I want an apology for polygamy. For all of polygamy. For the women who were forced into it, the young girls who were married much too young and then raped, the young men who couldn't find wives because the older men married the young women, for the men who were forced into giving up their wives or forced to enter into polygamy, and for the young women who traveled from England after being told there was no polygamy only to be married off to polygamists. I also want an apology for the lies that were told about it all these years.

I want an apology for the whitewashing of Mormon history. The urim and thumim story that wasn't true, the one sided defenses that showed Mormons to be innocent victims in every case, the handcart company and all the deaths that happened there. All those devoted pioneers deserve an apology for all that they lost, families, money, limbs, in an effort to follow God.

I want an apology for Brigham Young. Just apologize.

I want an apology to the Native people for telling them that they were cursed and if they were righteous they would become white and delightsome, for lying to them about their heritage and for taking their children away from them.

I want an apology to the people of color. Everything. It was just wrong! For teaching them about the blessings and then denying them. For treating them like they were less than they are. For not recognizing them as sons and daughters of God, equal in every way to their white brothers and sisters. For not including their cultures into the church.

I want an apology to all the poor people that could have been helped by the church but instead had to gaze at multi-million dollar temples that they couldn't go into. Houses of the Lord, they are called. Well you know what? The entire earth is the House of the Lord. And He doesn't need fancy chandeliers. He needs His people fed and housed and clothed and to have decent jobs and clean water and education for boys and girls and women. And He asked you to do it.

And while we're at it, apologize to the members for putting a price tag on going to heaven. You know that one, where we're asked if we pay a full tithing and if we don't then we can't go to the temple which you tell us is the only way to God. By the way, apologize for that lie too. And for the Masonic ordinances - especially the ones where people vowed to kill themselves.

Apologize to families and especially parents who were banned from seeing their children get married. You claim to be pro family and then create rules that tear them apart.

Apologize for misusing funds that members entrusted you with. We don't mind church businesses that are about feeding people. We do mind when the money goes for billion dollar shopping malls and hunting preserves for the rich to kill for sport.

Apologize for leaders who aren't trained, for leaders that have been abusive, for leaders who have sexually molested trusting members, and for leaders who tell abused women to "go home and take care of your marriage". 

Apologize for claiming to be the one true church.

Apologize for insisting that the prophet is never wrong and will never lead us astray.

Apologize to all those who were punished for asking questions and voicing an opinion.

Yes, Elder Oaks. I want an apology.


116 comments:

  1. Thank you for this incredible piece! This says it all, this should be printed out and hung on every door of every Mormon church. All members should read this, and as a woman who witnessed and wondered why the church felt so eroded while preaching that only they had the rights off heaven, I believe they kept our society back and will continue to do so as long as they seek for their own good. They don't represent God, only selfish greed. I personally find someone who can blatantly lie like that to millions of people vile and disgusting. They deserve all the upcoming downfall headed their way.

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  2. Thank you.

    I want an apology for being told that I wasn't worthy of being present at my child's marriage ceremony. I want an apology for being told to take my hurting heart and wait outside. I want an apology to my daughter and her husband for being told that excluding her parents that day was what god demanded of them.

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    1. I know exactly how you feel. It happened to me - and I was a "worthy" member. Bad Stake President though.

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    2. I want an apology for not being able to say goodby to my dad. I wasnt worthy to help dress him after he died because I never did the priesthoid thing. And thanks for not letting me see the casket closed because of the hat thing is to sacred for a heathen like me.

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    3. I don't understand what you are saying. The church has nothing to do with the closing of the casket and who is there to witness it. So, what you are saying does not make sense.

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    4. “According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies: therefore we believe, that all marriages in this Church of Christ of Latter day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose: and that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority. We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this church from marrying out of the church if it be their determination so to do, but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

      Marriage should be celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving; and at the solemnization, the persons to be married, standing together, the man on the right, and the woman on the left, shall be addressed, by the person officiating, as he shall be directed by the holy Spirit; and if there be no legal objections, he shall say, calling each by their names: “You both mutually agree to be each other’s companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition; that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others, during your lives.” And when they have answered “Yes”, he shall pronounce them “husband and wife” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the laws of the country and authority vested in him: “may God add his blessings and keep you to fulfill your covenants from henceforth and forever. Amen.” -1835 Doctrine and Covenants 109:1-2

      It seems Latter-Day Saints should not have been marrying in the temple to begin with. Joseph had access to the Kirtland temple, but did not perform marriages there. This instruction on marriage was removed in 1872 with no explanation.

      I have to wonder how many individuals have been excluded from what should have otherwise been quite the joyous occasion, and there's no apparent justification for it.

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    5. I want an apology for being told by my temple recommend carrying niece's that I could be present while they dressed my mother in her temple clothes for burial, but could not touch the clothes. Watching them struggle to dress her, while the TBM mortician, experienced in dressing the deceased watched them struggle with the dressing.

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    6. I was converted to mormonism in my second marraige, I had two children from my first marraige. I was having financial problems and was having difficulties paying our bills, I went to our bishop and asked for advice, I had a choice of paying tithing or my child support, he said to pay my tithing and the lord would provide! so I did! The second and third month the same! I was arrested and taken to court, yes the good lord provided!

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  3. Yes! I want an apology, too. And I want back all the tithing money they conned me out of when I was young and naive. I want an apology for all the hokum they filled my head with when I was a trusting, impressionable child. Thanks for writing your letter.

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  4. I want an apology from the church for guilting my father into taking church callings when he had terminal cancer. For making him spend the little time he had at church meetings instead of being at home with his wife and young kids.

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  5. Thank you for this letter. It's right on! I think you should send this to the New York Times. I would love for every mormon to see this letter. It may help them realize just how abusive the church has been since day one.

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  6. I want an apology for allowing older members to brainwash their young children with outlandish and deceitful information. FOR SHAME!! And after you apologize, fix it by putting a stop to it!!

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    1. Members are only telling their children what they sincerely believe. There is nothing wrong with being a church going family.

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    2. You are right, nothing wrong with being believers and church goers. Inspired leaders give $10,000 to the families of true believer who martyr themselves as suicide bombers and go to the Afterlife and 72 virgins.
      Oaks is just like those who have youngsters do the dirty work.

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  7. This letter is amazing--I've already read it four times in the last hour! I felt every emotion while reading this. So powerful and incredibly written.

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  8. Thank you for this. I, too, want an apology. An apology for perpetuating the lies, and for teaching my parents and elders the b.s. that they would pass on to me. B.S. that resulted in extreme anxiety and soul deep issues that I'm still trying to extricate at age 55, 25 years after I left the church. My psyche is scarred so very deeply, seemingly beyond repair. What I was taught as "truth", from infancy, was so detrimental to my very -self-, so as to be labeled child abuse. I want a do over.

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  9. I want an apology for hijacking my mind. You taught me that my natural reasoning processes were of the devil, and not to be trusted. You did this before my brain was even fully developed. You neutered logic and reason in my entire family, none of whom have ever lived up to their intellectual potential.

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  10. WOW...It seems to me that all of you that are posting anonymous are in denial of your feeling and are afraid of being shunned by your family and friends. Do you honestly think that YOU had nothing to do with how your life has turned out. Do you honestly think your parents would teach you something that they thought would hurt you. Take a look in the mirror and blame yourself for not being honest with who you are and what you believe now. If you were in a marriage or relationship where one was active and you DID nothing to share your beliefs or try to teach your children your truth then it is YOUR fault and not the church. DO you really think at Jonah was swallowed up by a whale and spit out on the shore? Maybe the parables that are told are things we just do not understand, like the urim and thumim story. Go get a life and put your name to your comments and stop living in fear and except yourself for what you believe. The church has many things that we do not understand. If you paid tithing, was not able to attend your children's wedding or not able to
    give blessing because you were NOT going to live by the standards of the church, then whose fault is that? YOU had choices and you made them. Grow up and stop blaming others and the church for your own choice's you made. If you were not happy in your marriage and you allowed your spouse to raise your children in the church then shame on you for not making a stand when it mattered.
    You are just as guilty for not sharing your belief as you are now for not sharing who you are and how you feel.
    DO NOT think you are free from the life you are now living. You had choices and you need to go live your life and be free of your anger and learn to communicate with others how you feel. WE all have choices on how we live and how we choose to uplift others. It seems to me, everyone is trying to bring others down. Keep it simple and love everyone even if they have different opinions from you.
    I am not active and have not been for years, but I would never try to blame church, my family, spouse or say I was brainwashed. I made choice's and I accept those difference's that i choose. Each and every one of you had the chance to leave and live the way you believe, but you stay and complain and try to blame others for your disappointments that have to do with the church. You knew what was required of you to attend the temple, bless your children and yet you still complain. Your parents that taught you and their parents that taught them, loved you and would NEVER have done anything to hurt you on purpose. Accept the fact that YOU are the only person who can make yourself happy and accept who you are. Other peoples opinion does not matter IF you truly believe in what you say and how you live. Grow up.....

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    1. We left the church because it isn't true whereas you seem to have become inactive but still believe. There's a BIG difference between the two. You obviously have no clue to the meaning of this article so quit mouthing off to everyone. You just look like a big fool!

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    2. Jane: Please don't assume that a parent who can't go into a temple is unworthy. A member can be entirely worthy and all it takes is a Stake President who doesn't like you to decide you can't go. I know. It happened to me.

      And I think you missed the point of the blog post.

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    3. Jane Larsen: you are no different from those who blame rape victims. Stay in the corrupted Mormon church, you deserve it.

      Charles Rivera

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    4. Ah yes, victim shaming. What you see as cowardice, Jane Larsen, is actually a level of courage beyond comprehension. Keep sharing and healing, brothers and sisters.

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    5. This is just silly. People choose to remain anonymous on every online forum for many reasons. Some may actually be afraid of being found out, but many of us just value our privacy. We still want to express our thoughts without enabling random strangers to be able to track our every thought online.

      Honestly, though, if I wanted to express hateful, judgmental, and arrogant comments like yours, I would probably be embarrassed to attach my name to it.

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    6. That was one of the most hateful bigoted comments i've ever read. Congratulations on representing the church in all it's judgmental hateful glory.

      You seem to like to preach so here's a little preaching for you to read. Maybe you should pay attention.

      27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

      28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

      Matthew 22:27-28

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    7. Wow... you got quite the response with your comment. I, however, was glad you said it. Up until I got to your comment I'm pretty sure everyone started out by saying... "I want an apology". Any conversation that starts out with that doesn't leave much room for discussion and will automatically put people on the defensive. Maybe what you said was out of line, but it's so funny to me that so many people will get so riled up about it without realizing that the previous comments that elicited the response do the same thing but with the pretense that they don't. We all want apologies about something, but whining about them is the surest way not only NOT to get them, but to avoid having a real dialogue that leads to any productive change.

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    8. Jane Larsen, this is a completely worthless rant full of assumptions about a lot of people that you don't know, purely to create your own sense of self-righteousness.

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  11. > It seems to me, everyone is trying to bring others down.

    Oh I'm not trying to bring others down, I'm trying to lift others out of the sewer of Mormonism. You got a problem with that?

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  12. Replies
    1. That was totally unnecessary. The people who choose to remain anonymous have their reasons for doing so. Further abuse will cause me to delete your comments. I don't like to censor people, but calling names is not okay. State your opinion but leave personal attacks out of it.

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    2. As soon as Oaks, Packer, TubbyTommie and the gang have the Balls to SIGN the damn essays.

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    3. >Then show your name coward.

      Keep it classy Jane.

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  13. Jane, you are out of line and part of the problem. You have no right to judge, or instruct anyone on their lives. People here are hurt. When you have been shunned by your family, your religion and you are taught to fear yourself it takes time to undo that. For some disclosing their identity will bring divorce and the loss of everything they have. Please don't come here and abuse people.

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  14. And by the way, very few Mormon parents "love" their children. Most are so busy and so full of self hatred and guilt they are doing whatever they can to force their kids into the Mormon box. Plenty of Mormon parents hurt their kids and do it on purpose. Most children are looking to their parents for guidance and love and support and are not looking to be forced and lied to.

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    1. I would have to disagree there. Mormon parents love their children. They raise them in the church because they sincerely believe it's the best thing. I raised my children in the church because I wasn't and I had a hellish childhood. Please don't make blanket statements like this. Mormons are good people, and I never intended my post to say that they weren't. My post is to the leadership, not as a criticism of the members. I love the members.

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  15. Is Jane for real? What a judgmental and hateful comment

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  16. People are remaining anonymous because of the example set by the church with their essays.

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    1. I'm sorry didn't mean to hurt feeling

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  17. Made me cry; your letter is very well done. We can't take back the years of living a lie, but maybe help others with letters like yours. Do you think you could have an expanded version with footnotes? 'Obedient' mormons won't look at original documents and facts but there will be some who still have critical thinking skills.

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  18. Beautifully written. Is there someplace to share this on a large scale?

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  19. @Jane Larson: your disjointed, rambling response is full of nonsensical apologetics. Please get in touch with the Church PR department--they'd love to hire you.

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  20. ^^^^^^^^^^^^
    This. What the original poster said and not whatever comment appears above mine. This is all I want to say. You are genius. Thank you.

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  22. Sorry, I loved it so much I accidentally posted it twice.

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  23. Thank you for you for your post. And thank god for the internet which allow us to express yourselves even though "his church" will not.

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  24. I want an apology for using wonder bread and tap water as sacrament. It should have been Dasani and whole grain. Just sayin...

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  25. Thank you to everyone for your kind remarks.

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  26. Also, if you wish to share this, you have my permission to do so. Just be sure it's either directly linked, or if you print it out, that my name be attached.

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  27. So I can see it now -- you're "called in" to account for this blog post. And you'll be given the condition that you must "apologize" for having posted it. :-)

    How should one respond to that?

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  28. I doubt that's going to happen. I'm a single mom, not important at all and I don't have a following.

    But it happens all the time. They do try to censor people.

    Besides even if they "call me in" it doesn't mean I'm going to go. They only have the power I give them.

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  29. From Rita Bowles, Raggi Maggi Thank you for writing this, Anna Maria, on behalf of so many. As I read the responses and saw how many felt it necessary to sign off with Anonymous I was deeply saddened. I was once one of those who would've used Anonymous. It can take decades to rid oneself of the guilt and social conditioning that is inflicted on us as children. We think we are being "nice people" by not expressing our own thoughts that might offend family and friends. The brainwashing runs deep.
    Rita Bowles

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  30. Thank you for your post! My father was encouraged to marry a woman to "cure" him of being gay. Didn't work, so my parents were divorced leaving my mom to raise 5 kids on her own. And she blames him for "choosing" his gay life over us. Well, blame can be tossed around all you want, but it comes down to him not feeling free to be himself and following terrible advice. The pressures of following "the one true church" leaders have caused loads of heartache. Families first, right? *sigh*

    It's actually better now that we're all older, but I just see how a lot of sadness for everyone involved could have been avoided if the church didn't look down on homosexuality like a terrible curse.

    Anyway, an apology would sure be nice.

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  31. Thank you for your post! My father was encouraged to marry a woman to "cure" him of being gay. Didn't work, so my parents were divorced leaving my mom to raise 5 kids on her own. And she blames him for "choosing" his gay life over us. Well, blame can be tossed around all you want, but it comes down to him not feeling free to be himself and following terrible advice. The pressures of following "the one true church" leaders have caused loads of heartache. Families first, right? *sigh*

    It's actually better now that we're all older, but I just see how a lot of sadness for everyone involved could have been avoided if the church didn't look down on homosexuality like a terrible curse.

    Anyway, an apology would sure be nice.

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  32. I feel so bad for your mother. It must have been so difficult for her. Did she know before she married him that he was gay?

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  33. Hi. As the father of a gay son who has great faith, I just want to go on record saying that while Church members are not perfect, the Church is true and Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the living God.

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    1. I used to believe that too. And then I learned about Joseph Smith.

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    2. Hi Brian Hales,

      I hope you will take this comment in a spirit of love and concern, and not of criticism.

      As you support your son, and as you hold to your faith, and as you consider your boy's time here on earth, I hope you will continue to ponder what it means to require lifelong celibacy of him.

      The myriad studies on the affects of being single and unmarried indicate that such men can expect to die approximately 10 years before their married counterparts.

      Requiring lifelong celibacy will cut your son's life short.

      Regardless how you feel about your faith, regardless how you feel about LDS doctrine, regardless what your testimony may be, regardless of counter arguments saying that it's better to die younger here than to lose out on eternal blessings, I hope that you might consider that the real-time, on-the-ground results of the Church's stance will result in the premature death of your boy.

      Best, Bill

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    3. >Hi. As the father of a gay son who has great faith, I just want to go on record saying that while Church members are not perfect, the Church is true and Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the living God.

      That's actually completely false. But I would like to go on record saying that while Pink Unicorns from the planet Xenon are not perfect the church of the Pink Unicorns is true and that My Little Pony's are their prophets to lead them to the truth.

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  34. What makes him a prophet?

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  36. Uh, last time I checked no one was "forced" to be LDS. You could have left whenever you wanted. I want an apology from the man who took the parking space I was vying for. I want an apology from the woman who charged me too much for my hair cut. I want an apology from the stray dog who crapped in my yard. That's kinda how ridiculous you sound. I want an apology from the author who wrote this silly letter for stealing two minutes of my life and wasting my time.

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    1. I was born into the church. I'm also gay. In fact I was forced through some pretty awful stuff because as a child I wasn't aware what I was being taught about my sexual orientation was most often wrong. I was put through 'reparative therapy' and LDS Social Services hell because the church believed my orientation was changeable. I was subjected to all the terrible sexual advice the church handed out through the 80s and 90s which tormented me as a gay person (Spencer W. Kimball and Boyd K Packer 'For the One' nonsense). I left the church in my mid-20s. I'd like an apology for the hell they put me through during my teenage years and much of my 20s before I finally woke up and realized I COULD leave.

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    2. Michelle, you sound pretty angry. If you're that angry about a parking spot, imagine how it must be to someone who has believed in the church all their lives, and then learned the real church history. Or imagine someone who has raised their children in the church and taught them to get married in the temple, and then be denied access to the wedding, even though they had done nothing wrong. You may think my letter is ridiculous, but then I can guess that you haven't spoken to someone who has been deeply hurt by the actions of the church. And no, it isn't that easy to leave. It takes a lot to leave. Some people lose their families, marriages and jobs when they leave. Even when they don't, coming to the realization that the church isn't true hurts deeply. It's way more serious than you losing your parking space. Please don't tell me that a parking space is equal to blacks not having the priesthood, or young women forced into polygamous marriages.

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    3. Yeah and no one was "forced" to be a Nazi either. They may not have held a gun to our throats but they brainwashed us since the day we were born to follow the prophet and the scared and shamed us into doing what we were told or we would go to hell for eternity, be separated from our families forever , punished by our parents and shunned from our communities.

      So pardon my French but your comment is

      BULL

      SHIT

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    4. Actually the statement that you could leave whenever you want is not true. I've had plenty of friends forced to stay until they are 18 even though they knew that the Church was not true and they did not want to be there.

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  37. It is interesting to me that the church won't give apologies. Isn't that basically the same thing as being unrepentant? For me growing up in the church the process of repentance and how necessary it was for eternal salvation was drummed into us. Seems a big double standard here.

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  38. I appreciate the sentiments spoken in this open letter. I was wondering what the context and reference is for when Elder Oaks made this sad statement. Was it during all the recent publicity following the recent news conference? So many are just hurting, hurting, hurting in the LDS Church today. Validation through an apology could do so much to uplift and help face those broken hearts more towards our Savior. While I do have a firm faith in Joseph Smith, Jun. as a prophet of God and that this is still the church of Jesus Christ, much of that restoration has been tampered with, altered or hidden away. It must be brought back to what The Lord originally intended to be His gospel. I hope to see that one day.

    PS--Thank you for being diligent in keeping the comments section free from contention. It makes a huge difference when people speak honestly but with respect.

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    1. Found it: http://www.sltrib.com/home/2112602-155/trib-talk-115-pm-lds-leaders. It was from the Google+ interview that Elders Oaks and Christofferson did last week. It is only about 31 minutes in length, and I encourage everyone to give it a listen. I feel like I am understanding their perspectives a titch better. I do hope that more acknowledging in a spirit of love and hope and concern for all those hurting so deeply in and without the LDS Church will come out of all this.

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  39. I want an apology for wasting 10 minutes of my life reading this blog and posts.

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    1. Thank you for the 10 minutes of your time. Your salvation wasn't even dependent on it.

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    2. To quote the lady above:

      "Uh, last time I checked no one was "forced" to be LDS (read this blog post). You could have left whenever you wanted. I want an apology from the man who took the parking space I was vying for. I want an apology from the woman who charged me too much for my hair cut. I want an apology from the stray dog who crapped in my yard. That's kinda how ridiculous you sound. I want an apology from the author who wrote this silly letter for stealing two minutes of my life and wasting my time.


      Just thought the irony and hypocrisy from the Mormons was too good not to call it out.

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  40. Great letter!! I'm always amazed by the power that the church has on his members, it's ironic because while I was on my mission, I sat down with many general authorities and area seventies, one of them taught me what he call the looser list, basically it's 15 different things people do when they don't want to take responsability for their beliefs or actions... One of the main ones was ANGER, which is funny because all the angry post here are not written by fromer members, you know humility (one of the christlike attributes) would be to accept the facts that those things in the letter happened and are happening, but that you feel too good in the church because you're having a nice experiences full of promises that you like, and that you want to stay. You know it's ok to live on earth while bad stuff is happening in it, but for sure if you defend or close your eyes on it all then you're not christlike at all. That's the reason why I had to leave, I would leave this life if a peaceful planet existed somewhere else, it would be scary to leave but I would be much happier....

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  41. Lying roots yield lying fruits.

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  42. The church never said that homosexuals "don't deserve to be loved."

    The writer of this blog post started off with something so blatantly untrue and so obviously untrue that it colored the rest of her words.

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    1. The church told gay people that their feelings were evil. They have also told them to be celibate. When you tell someone that they should never fall in love and marry then it is the same as telling them that they don't deserve to be loved. Further, the church told the rest of the membership that gay people were evil and should be avoided. Ask a gay person if they've felt loved in the church, or if they've had to hide who they are, or if they've been told that they can fall in love and marry.

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  43. I would like to have the hold script of the talk given by Elder Oaks..please
    Nancy

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  44. I am a born and raised mormon. I served a two year mission. I am active in the lds church, temple recommend holder, and have a calling in this church and pay tithing. I have never been "forced" into any church decision but gave chosen to go the path i am on. (Which is not without sin or fault might i add). I defer these comments to this statement from the prophet Joseph Smith: "The standard of truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, army's may assemble, CALUMNIES MAY DEFAME, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independently, until it has penetrated every continent, visited every climb, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; until the purposes of God shall be accomplished in the great Jehovah shall say, 'the work is done'" -JS
    Do we as people think that our ideas or demands or concerns can change God's mind in this great plan? We cannot honestly think so highly of ourselves! How can we as God's children think we are smarter or have it figured out more than He Himself. Surely that day will come when we will all realize how every knee shall bow! The gospel truths are not up for a debate! We cannot simply want something and persuade the Almighty. He can judge. He can Demand. He can command. We are simply His children. The leaders of the LDS church are not deciding these decisions. These decisions are from Heavenly Father. The pride cycle we all have learned from ancient scripture is peaking yet again, we think we are all so smart, but we cannot see even this!

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    1. The pride is coming from the leaders who claim that they speak for God. The pride was from Joseph Smith for claiming that he was God's chosen.

      I happily follow God. But I won't follow a man who places himself between me and God.

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    2. Regarding the word "forced". When it came to polygamy, Joseph took aside young girls and told them that their families would be exalted if she married him, and that they would be damned and destroyed if they didn't. That's pretty forceful to a young girl who has no where to go. The saints trusted Joseph and were willing to do anything for him because they believed they were following God. They gave him their wives, they gave him their children. They gave him their property and their money. At this point it wasn't even active decision making. It's just what you do when you are following someone you believe speaks for God. Sounds pretty forced to me.

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    3. I'd just like to remind you that as Mormons we were brainwashed from the day to "follow the prophet" and threatened with eternal punishment, separation from our families forever, judged and shunned from our communities and punished by our parents if we didn't obey. So forgive me if your comment is pure and utter bullshit.

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    4. By the way since you seem to like quotes I have a quote for you to consider.

      "By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise." - Adolf Hitler

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    5. "God's mind....God's requirements....God's demands cannot be questioned? The leaders are just enforcing them?"

      Something for you to consider- how do you or any of the leaders know what God wants? All the words, instructions, books, rules- they all come from human men who claim to be a mouthpiece of God. Isn't it a lot more logical and likely that these human beings "speaking for god" are really just speaking for themselves? If I told you God told me to tell all you people that you must now stop eating chocolate because he commands it. You would laugh at me. But how is this any different from your leaders or Joseph Smith?

      You prayed and got a "warm feeling"? That's your bar for determining decisions? You probably but more thought, research and logical consideration into buying a car than you do into truly determining if these men are speaking for God when they say hand over your 10%- you will be rewarded in heaven. Wink Wink.

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  45. I want an apology from my 57 year old Bishop for teaching my 11 year old daughter about masturbation. In what world is it ok for a man to ask little girl sexual questions behind closed doors?

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    1. That happened to me too, but as a 14 year old girl! And I told my mom about this last years and I said to her that it felt SO wrong that he asked that question. And she said "Why didn't you say anything" Well you grow up in church to believe in your leaders. Now when I when I'm 31 I KNOW there is bad leaders and for me masturbation is not wrong, but I guess I feel that way because I have "invited" Satan in my life. I hope one day I will not feel so bad about everything I do feel bad about today. And I wanna raise my kids to think for them own and if something in church do not feel good, I hope they can use there mind that heavenly father gave them. Thats all!

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    2. When I was twelve a bishop asked me if I had a problem with masturbation. I didn't even know what the word meant and he awkwardly explained it to me. For the next couple years I lived in fear of accidentally touching myself and evoking some type of pleasurable feeling. I lived in constant fear of committing a sin. Not only was the conversation inappropriate for a grown man to have with a young girl, it was mentally damaging and caused me an immense amount of pain. It's crazy how we don't allow doctors to practice medicine without a licence that comes after years of training and education on the subject. Yet an individual with no formal training can be both therapist and sex educator to young children. The amount of blind trust Mormons are expected to give their leaders is ridiculous. For those of you who want to "defend" the faith, it is your right but be aware that you are perpetuating a belief that has caused pain to many people. I get it, I was defended the church along with it beliefs, never asking if they were my beliefs. When I became strong enough to ask that question is when I no longer found a need to be part of any religion. That my ability to connect to God was going to be my guide and I would no longer take another persons opinion about the matter.

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    3. When I was 12-13, my bishop (who happened to be my best friend's dad) asked me if I ever "touched myself." I had no idea what he was talking about. He was crying during the interview. It wasn't until years later that I realized he was talking about masturbation. So thank you, bishop, a grown man, for introducing me to such a concept.

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  46. Well said! I would like to add that Elder Oaks needs to personally apologize for his statement that it is wrong to criticize the church's leaders. This makes for a very dangerous, closed, unhealthy system. Also, the church needs to apologize for its inconsistencies that mean that in some wards, people are disciplined for their views on LGBT and feminist issues and others they are not (and Elder Oaks again, for denying this has happened). Also, the church needs to apologize for turning the other way when local leaders use what the church considers most sacred, the temple and permission to access it, as a way to control members and separate families. Essentially the bishop or Stake President can say, do as I say or you aren't sustaining me and you can't attend your family's wedding and you will be denied access to your own salvation. Also, apologize for the kangaroo courts on Kate Kelly, John Dehlin and many others. All of this has to first stop and then be apologized for. Otherwise, they shouldn't be surprised when, while not as extreme, they get compared to Scientology.

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  47. I want to thank you for this very insightful post. It was beautiful and brave. I am an active member with a lot of concerns. I continue to go because of my family whose hearts would break if I left, but I agree with you that apologies are in order. It would make things a lot easier for those of us who are struggling to stay in the church to at least have some of this acknowledged honestly.

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  48. Absolutely superb! It's about time someone said it, and you've said it very well.

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  49. And maybe while you're at it you can get God to apologize for all the great blessings to those who make sacrifices and live the gospel to its fullest. And the peace and comfort he has given when things don't go so well. I'm sorry, but I can't disagree with this article enough.

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    1. I never once criticized God. I honor and exalt God. He gives all the great blessings.

      Show me where I criticized God?

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    2. What part did you disagree with? Are you telling me you support men lying to women about their sexual preferences? Are you supportive of forced polygamous marriages? Do you really think that people of color are less than white people? Because all things things happened and were taught.

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  50. I think you are confusing the grace of God with the actions of mortal men. There is no weakness in admitting fault where there clearly has been. Mending the wounds of past words and actions could only help the church.

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  51. The woman at the well sought living water, and recieved that teaching from Jesus. I would suggest that for those looking for this level of apologies, they go to the Living Water and see if it will quench their thirst. And after the comfort of the Savior comes - because He is really the only one who knows just how much all this stuff sucks - then, if the inclination hits, ask Him which church is true.

    But if a church is not what you are looking for, and simply an apology, you will get that. But not from earthly men. Even if they did apologize, there would be literally millions of people ready to tear their words apart. Look to the past only that you might correctly form your future. But don't try to live there.

    For what it's worth: I wasn't taught any of this stuff mentioned in the letter.
    I was taught that I was a valued daughter of God and my body was a temple; that I would go on to be a creator and goddess like my Heavenly Mother. I was taught that God loved everyone, gay, white, black, asian, straight, stupid, clever, EVERYONE; and that the great commandment was that I do the same, no holds barred. I was taught from day one that there were some who practiced polygamy properly and those who exploited the practice with disasterous and aweful results. I was taught that Joseph was a man. I was taught that he made mistakes and that Brigham had a temper and was a pontificator (meaning sometimes he just liked the sound of his own voice and talked and talked). I was taught to pray to know the truthfullness of the words of the prophets and scriptures, not to simply accept them out of hand. I was taught that marriage in the temple was a choice and no one HAD to do it if it excluded their family. I was taught that sex was sacred because it's purpose was creation. The fact that it feels awesome when done right is a perk. I was taught that tithing wasn't about money or even about the church...it was about my relationship with money. Like the parable of the talents that I get to practice every month!

    Anyway, my point with that is that I'm suggesting it's possible that many (not all) of these gripes are things that were taught poorly by men, and misunderstood by men, who then perpetuated that misunderstanding. Granted, if that is the case, then it got perpetuated like mad and had some pretty dangerous repurcussions. And that sucks. No doubt about it. The fact that sucky things happened is not up for debate, obviously. But where to go for apologies, on the other hand... I'm just saying. if you want one, ask the guy who can actually give it to you and have it mean something.

    (psst: it's not Elder Oaks; he's just another of those "men" I was talking about. ;)
    It's Jesus. Talk to Jesus.

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    1. I agree with you that an apology won't do all the healing. But that's not the point. The point is that the church needs to recognize that these bad things were done and they need to hold themselves accountable.

      Must of what was in this letter isn't taught in the church. That doesn't mean it didn't happen.

      I agree that men perpetrated this. All churches make mistakes. But when you have a church that insists "follow the prophet he will never lead you astray" and to never criticize the leaders, and the belief that the leaders speak for God, you're going to have huge problems.

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  52. Thank you Anna Maria for posting this powerful letter that gave an articulate voice to a lot of members of the LDS Church that have suffered. I left the LDS Church many years ago for similiar reasons. My perspective about this has evolved over the years. My current thinking is most religions are formed by a wise person who is able to articulate a message of love and hope in response to living in a painful and difficult world. Problems arise, however, when institutions are created in an attempt to keep the message going. In this process, religious institutions can become dogmatic and rigid. The LDS Church is an example. The Church has made a lot of effort of trying to control the message by manipulating information that is dispersed in an attempt to not discredit the messenger (Joseph Smith) and to control members by highly valuing obedience and inducing fear. Leaders are not to be questioned and there is the lurking fear of eternal damnation for not being obedient. There is not much room for independent thought. There are a lot of good, well meaning individuals that see the value in the original message and are able and willing to adhere to this control and rigidity. However, those individuals that don't "fit in" for whatever reason end up feeling judged and rejected. Ironically, this is antithetical to the original message.

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  53. This should be printed out by the millions and tucked under every windshield and littered all over the grounds at every ward house, stake house and temple. On behalf of ALL of us - THANK YOU.

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  54. Take it from someone who grew up in a town that was predominately LDS and I was not. You are looked down upon and the "church" has a wide reaching hold and effects many things. For instance, there were kids who were not allowed around me because I was not LDS. I was just a kid in a very small town who didn't understand until I was much older and I found out that a "godly"LDS churchgoer had went before the elders or whatever they are called and requested that none of the LDS children be around me as I was a bad influence because I was a heathen. Ponder that for a moment...shame on that "godly" churchgoer for making a 13-14 year old kid feel terrible about herself.

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    1. That's awful. I've never experienced that because I've never lived in an LDS town. It doesn't happen other places. In fact what I've observed is that LDS kids have their church friends and they have their school friends and they don't always overlap, but that's in places that aren't predominately LDS. I think there's a completely different culture in LDS places.

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  55. I am a grandmother of 11, LDS all my life. My whole church identity was, how fast I could go and how much I could do. I was hell bent on having the prefect body, the perfect home, the perfect family. At about age 48, I was feeling beyond exhausted, achy, depressed and generally not well. This led to years of problems that, knocked the hell out of me both physically and emotionally and spiritually!! That's when I began to take my life back. I Stopped saying "Yes" to everyone and everything!! I started studying the scriptures more deeply than I ever had before. I began following footnotes that were attached to words in familiar verses and discovered the many, many other meanings that these words held. What I had been taught a verse was saying, was really not what it was saying, and usually it was teaching soooo much more! I shared with a sister, how exciting it was to be studying and searching more deeply into the scriptures, using the Topical guide and Bible Dictionary for deeper insight into word meanings and what wonderful hidden treasures began to appear! She said, "well, be careful you don't study too much, cause my nephew began studying like that and he ended up leaving the church."....
    So just "Sorta Search, Sorta Ponder,Sorta Pray".???
    I learned that Christ taught always using Parables and Allegories. We are not to take the scriptures literally!!! If we have eyes to see and ears to hear we will begin to understand the meanings behind the parables, the hidden treasures woven into the allegories, for in each story, you will discover the Very Real Powerful Truth about who You are and Were and Your relationship to God, Heavenly Mother and the Universe.
    I meditate daily, so I can hear my inner guidance. Christ said, " I Am In the Father and the Father in me and I Am in You" . "The Kingdom of God is Within" "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God" This is a very Personal Journey, not one that can be taken, when we are all thinking and acting the same.
    Probably the most profound information I found was a teacher by the name of Bill Donahue. If one is ready to stretch one's "scripture brain cells" like NEVER before, , then listening to what he has to teach, will change you forever. It did me!!

    I have not left the church as of yet, I do however have very tight boundries on what I will do and what I will Not do. I am done with all the "Fluff" and busy-ness that sucks the life out of me and my life. Instead of going to the Temple, I go inside myself in daily Meditation. I still contribute in my ward, but on My terms! I do not conform to confirm others!!! If I wear the garment and when I wear the garment is my business and not anyone else's. What groups or classes I choose to attend or learn with, is my business not some church leader prying into my life to see if I am conforming. And while we are on that subject, why are we not able to find out who out of the General Authorities are practicing Masons? Would that not be like they belonging to a group outside the church and therefore void their temple recommends?
    Also research the history of the garment! That uncovers lots of "loop" holes for sure!
    What I have learned about Tithing. We use only 10% of our brains and that 10% is usually so overwhelmed with worry and stress and problems and "to do" lists. The 10% Christ is talking about giving to Him, is taking the time stop! Make the time to slow down, sit in a dark quiet place, giving the crazy 10% "monkey brain" the message to STOP, by being still and going within and giving to Christ, all that is weighing you down. That is the 10% we are to be giving, not 10% of our earnings. Something to think about for sure and worth doing!!
    Just taking back my own Personal Power. I can listen and thank others for sharing and then going on with my OWN journey of seeking. It is an inside job and no one else can do it, No Prophet, Priest or King, it is mine and mine alone!!

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    1. I really like your comparison of tithing to our brains. Very thought provoking.

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  56. I want an apology for making me feel evil as a boy for drinking a soda with caffeine.
    For feeling bad my whole mission and unworthy because of natural feelings for girls when Joseph Smith married girls as young as 14.
    For teaching me that other kids not of our faith should not be our playmates since they were a bad influence.
    For making me pretend to believe so my parents don't die of a broken heart.
    I'll stop there

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    1. I don't know you, but I am so very sorry. Your last sentence broke my heart. I wonder how many others are in a similar situation. Hugs to you!

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  57. Apologies can never be given by those who profess to talk for God. To do so would reveal their fraud. So, we get word-crafting...the art of Mormon PR. It isn't just Mormon leaders who owe the human race an apology. It's every religion that has shamed and tortured individuals and divided humanity.

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  58. Sure, maybe I haven't been "forced" in the sense that I didn't have a knife to my throat, but the psychological manipulation and emotional abuse achieved the same means.

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  59. Merci Anna Maria,
    Well written text and to the point.
    It will help many people, first me and my wife (lds), our children (lds) then extended circle and so on. We are second generation LDS, raised in Europe. Our parents (my wife's and mine) have made countless sacrifices to the cause and today we see all that missed time with them.

    They sacrificed their energy. time, money, cars (wearing them out to go home teaching far away, to the temple 2000 km round trip, during a week at a time every year and then twice a year at retirement). We following their footsteps, doing the same until we said STOP, this is way too much. We do not have enough time for our family, our neigbours, our friends and so on. Let alone play time. Sometimes I feel that the church is in panic mode at the moment because of courageaous people like you. All the best to you Anna Maria.

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  60. I think the church is in panic mode too. You'll see them give small concessions (writing essays that admit to things they have hidden) claim that they have never hidden anything, and then dig in their heels at bigger things. For instance refusing to apologize. Or allowing women to give prayer in conference and then excommunicating a woman for asking for the priesthood.

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  61. Thank you so much for this blog post. I'm commenting a few months after you posted it, but I feel so much connection to this particular post. I watched the news conference and subsequent interviews, including the one where Oaks said that the scriptures don't have the word "apology." I was so appalled by his attitude that I still am outraged by it. And then with the most recent conference talk by Perry where he talked about "counterfeit" livestyles, I am fed up.

    I would like an apology for being the only family member on both sides that attended my daughter's wedding because it was in the temple, and her husband's family was from a different faith. I want an apology in behalf of my son-in-law's parents and sister and grandmothers, who were all denied the joyful occasion. I would like an apology for the mandatory one-year waiting period to be sealed if you get married civilly first, at least in the U.S. I want an apology for the negative stigma and assumptions of unworthiness of a couple that decides to marry civilly so that their entire family can participate.

    Despite the "families are forever" theme that has existed within the church, it is appalling that couples are pressured into marrying in the temple, even when the majority of family members are from other faiths, which prevents families from participating in and witnessing such a sacred event.

    I want an apology from the church for publishing a video that showed garments that are supposedly sacred. The church handbook specifically forbids members to show their garments to people who don't understand. Yet, the church's PR dept can publish a video, and hardly anyone bats an eye. I stopped wearing garments a few months after that video was released. Obviously, they are not as sacred as we have been led to believe.

    Anna Maria, I thank you so much for this blog post. I've been so angry and hurt this past year because of the church. Your post and many of the comments help me to know that I'm not alone.

    Christie

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  62. Thank you for your letter. I feel many of those things.

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  63. Grateful to have escaped. We needed the domestic violence shelter. I also want an apology for the church's removal of the power of my voice. Also want an apology for being deemed so unimportant, that I did not deserve to know that my cheating ex is gay. They knew. But I didn't have standing to know. We are all rebuilding and finding our own souls and characteristics, now that we are free from the intense, abusive control.

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