THE MORMON CURTAIN
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CHILDREN AND MORMONISM - SECTION 2
Indoctrination in Mormonism begins in early childhood. Mormon children are taught that they must obey all the commandments. They are taught that it may sometimes be difficult, but this life is a testing place. Temptations must be overcome, and a good Mormon will be able to overcome them. If you obey priesthood authority, attend church, study the scriptures, pay a full ten percent tithing, avoid people and places where you might find temptation, then you will be able to keep all the commandments. If you are not able to keep all the commandments, then it is because you have failed to protect yourself from temptation. You have done something wrong. You have allowed yourself to have a sinful thought. You have not prayed enough. You have not read the scriptures enough. You must repent and hope that you will not sin again.
| His filthy digit tasted like rust and fish. "I can hurt you without leaving any marks," Brent growled as I writhed in agony on the ground. I struggled for breath as he mounted my back, put his finger in my mouth, and pulled back on my cheek, fish-hooking me. The pain was incredible. I tried to beg him to stop, but the words would not come.
After he finished beating and bludgeoning submissiveness into me, he pulled me up by the rope that was lassoed around my waist. The wool army blanket I had fashioned as a skirt had shifted askew and I stood there in my boxers bleeding from my nose, humiliated.
My green Utah Boys Ranch t-shirt had been ridiculously stretched out and looked more like a low cut blouse. I loosened the noose around my waist and pulled the itchy blanket through the loop and folded it over so it looked like a brown bath towel secured by a belt. He wasn't satisfied, he wanted more. I just wanted out of this classroom. I started to think about how I got here.
The Utah Boys Ranch appears to be a kind of tough-love school with a Christian-esque undertow. My parents thought as much when they employed its services in hopes of corralling their spiritually wayward son.
Being kidnapped was probably the last thing I was worried about at 15 years old. I was staying at my grandma's house that fateful night. My step-dad and I had been at war since I had refused to go to seminary, a church service for Mormon kids in high school that began at the ungodly hour of six in the morning.
I loathed early morning seminary more than the three hours of my Sunday regular LDS church service consumed, or the three hours on Wednesday nights. My opposition, paired with my step-dad's religious fanaticism, resulted in being grounded almost to the point of indentured servitude. Grandma's house was my sanctuary. Ironically, when I looked up at the clock that next morning - as two imposing silhouettes entered the house my mom grew up in - it was five minutes to 6 a.m. on Valentine's Day.
I was camped out on the sofa bed in the TV room with a plate of leftover lasagna from the fridge. It was half eaten and a Roseanne re-run was playing when they first walked in. They looked around as if they had been told where to go, but hadn't quite envisioned it right. They looked to their left, saw the terrified eyes of a 15-year-old, and pounced. They shoved clothes and shoes on me and I was gone before I was able to think about which way I should run. They told me very little. Their first names were Paul and Barry.
Barry was a white guy, a big mother. At least 6'5", and I would not be surprised to hear that he weighed more than 300 pounds, but he was not fat. Paul was shorter and had a darker complexion. He was big too, and meaner than Barry. He turned to me when we first got into their white mid-sized rental car and said, "You have a choice. You can be cool and get on an airplane with us and be there in a couple of hours, or you can sit back there with handcuffs on for the next 12 hours. Non-stop."
"Where are we going," I asked, still in shock.
"Utah," Barry answered casually from the passenger seat, without turning his head. "We are from the Utah Boys Ranch, Eric, and your parents have asked us to take you back with us."
"What?" My head was spinning. I felt like I was going to throw up. There is no way that this was happening. My mom would never allow this. Utah? What the hell is a Boys Ranch? I couldn't breathe.
"I guess we're driving," Paul said odiously.
I knew the child-lock would be on and as I saw the familiar houses of my grandmother's street pass by, I started to roll down the window. We weren't going fast enough for them to notice yet and the warm Agoura Hills climate didn't tip them off. I rolled it down enough to fit my arm out and open the door from the outside when Paul paused at the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, looked back at me, and stopped the car.
He shoved the gear into park and pulled handcuffs out of somewhere and told me to give him my wrists. I sat there cuffed for a moment when I realized that I really would die from this feeling in my chest - a physical manifestation of angst. My heart was beating furiously, and I knew that I couldn't last 12 hours.
"You can take me on a plane. I'll be cool."
"Now that's more like it," Barry said kindly. "My wife will be happy."
The first person I met in Utah was Senator Chris Buttars. I had no idea who he was until that point.
All I knew was that he was to be feared, and I was scared to death of him from the moment I first saw him.
"Sit down," he squawked in a loud, high pitched, galling voice that sounded like a cross between a buzzard and an old cowboy. He continued to make it very clear that I was at his mercy. He told me who he was - politically - and the influence he had. If I ever wanted to leave I was to do what he said. "How old are you?"
"Fifteen," I mumbled.
"Three years might not be enough for you. I can have a judge order you to be here until you are 21," he croaked. With that he sent me off to be "changed and put on work crew."
I was led down a long hall of doors with nameplates. I had no clue what kind of place this was. I didn't see any cows or horses...no sign of what I thought a "ranch" would resemble. Paul took me into a small room that was no bigger than a broom closet, which was stacked to the ceiling with three colors of cloth, blue, green and brown. There were green t-shirts, blue t-shirts, and blue jeans.
There were also brown army wool blankets, and I remember thinking that I didn't want to sleep under such a coarse covering before I was told to "put it on." I was told to wrap a thick, itchy blanket around my waist like a towel and wear it like a dress.
I was then given a "leash" made of climbing rope and what I think was a square knot to tie around my waist.
I had never imagined being tethered and walked like a dog, but here I was, being walked like a dog towards a cluster of about 12 other boys. They were lined up facing a wall while two large men in red sweatshirts watched them from a couple of chairs off to the side.
Some of the boys had camouflage pants on, a few others wore dresses. I wondered how long I was to be in this blanket dress. I was later told that it was so I wouldn't run away - and they were right - I literally could not run in this humiliating getup. I could barely get a full stride walking.
That's when I saw Brent - or 'Captain America,' as he was called disparagingly - for the first time. My leash was handed off to him, but he told me to wrap it around my waist and go join the group of young men who were standing with their noses touching the wall, all spread out about arms length from each other.
I turned to the boy who was standing to my right and asked him how long he had been here, but before I could get my question all the way out, my forehead careened into the carpeted wall in front of me. A sharp pain stabbed the back of my head, and suddenly bad breath filled my nostrils. "Are you talking on my work crew, boy?" a red-shirted man screamed at me.
My head was ringing. I was still trying to piece together what had just happened when I looked behind me and massaged the pain in my head. Suddenly my legs fell out from underneath me and I was on my back.
He had just slammed my forehead into the wall, and now he had put his foot behind mine and pushed me, sending me to the floor flat on my back.
He stood over me and bawled, "Don't look at me. Don't look around. Don't you MOVE without permission! You don't do anything without permission! If you talk, I think you are talking about running away, and I will restrain you. Do you understand?" I nodded. I knew then that I had to get out of this place. I wasn't going to last here.
It was only my second week on work crew when Neil Westwood refused to turn his back to Brent and place his nose on the wall, which is what the command "face the wall" plainly meant. It was a Mexican standoff for a few moments. Stunningly it seemed like Brent was going to let Neil get his way. I had never seen an older boy in a pissing contest with a staff member before. The younger kids refused commands, but they were always quickly thumped into docility.
Neil was a big kid, a lot bigger than me - probably 230 pounds or so, and over six-feet tall, but dispelled any image of toughness with his glasses, disproportionately small arms, and frizzy hairdo. Neil was as obnoxious as he was an easy target, but I still can't believe that no one reacted when Brent stood up in a flash of rage and chucked a full, unopened gallon of milk at Neil's face from about five feet away, crumbling him to a pitiful puddle of tears, blood, and non-fat milk.
The work crew was depraved. When they didn't have us facing the wall for hours at a time we were digging ditches with spoons, only to fill them back in again.
We made huge piles of heavy rocks taken from the field, the field that both surrounded and contained us, only to be told to move the massive mound to another location. They worked us in ways redolent of Stalin's gulags.
There was an agonizing week of all-day sod laying - with bits of mud and grass sticking to the inside of my wool dress - in preparation for some ceremony the work crew boys weren't privy to. The Scarecrow Festival was even worse. We worked for weeks from eight in the morning till eight at night in preparation and to take down that contrived fall carnival/ fundraiser. Boys wished for death. There was also a dry-cleaning service that they operated somewhere in town, which was supposedly much better than any job on campus - even kitchen duty.
Getting off from work crew meant school during the day, and considerably less work. Some sadist there created a t-shirt caste system that involved wearing either a blue t-shirt or green t-shirt. "Blue shirts" could talk, receive letters (which were opened and read first), talk to their parents, and possibly go off campus.
"Green shirts" were allowed into school, but that was about it. No speaking, sitting, or anything but working or reading LDS literature. A "green shirt" was forced to read the Book of Mormon, in particular the first 22 chapters. We were interviewed by one of the four full-time Mormon missionaries that worked there and had to paraphrase all of "First Nephi" before receiving a blue t-shirt. What good derives from reading the Book of Mormon under duress is anyone's guess, but I did it. I had to.
I had to go to church and seminary too.
It turns out that any form of decadence - smoking a little grass, telling your math teacher to sit on it, being gay or bi-curious, sexually assaulting a family member or young girl - is curable by a little hard work, tough love, and Mormon doctrine. Boys with "sexual issues" are housed together in what could only be some cruel showing of satire.
They were constantly being caught jerking each other off onto each other, or, more tragically, assaulting younger boys. Whatever it was, they would be shoved into blankets and thrown on work crew. On Tuesday night they would meet with all the boys with sexual issues and provide remedies like IcyHot on the penis to stifle homosexual urges.
I was kept there until they couldn't keep me any longer, and on my 18th birthday I walked out the front doors into a cold October morning with nowhere to go and nothing but my freedom. If I didn't experience it myself I would not believe a place like this exists. A Mormon gulag.
How do they get away with all of the abuse? The forced religion, the stifling of freedom of speech? Was it legal to prevent us from reporting abuse to authorities, or to restrain us with ropes, wool blankets, and duct tape? Is it legal to force young boys to talk about masturbation with Mormon clergy and missionaries? How does all of this go unnoticed? We were young and naive and didn't know that most of what they did to us was illegal. Buttars was famous for telling us that we had only three rights: food, safety, and shelter. They failed to even live up to those standards.
Besides being callow, we hardly had the chance to report any abuse. They instruct parents to ignore any claims of abuse from their children. They call any complaints from children a manipulation tool - "fear factor" - and instruct parents to be wary of the "tactic" they say they encounter most.
There were also no phones to call the police. No nurses or medical examiners to talk to. No government authorities to check in on us. Incongruously, this Orwellian facility desperately needs government oversight.
Sen. Buttars said it all when he told a reporter, "What sets us apart is that we're the only residential treatment facility that doesn't seek or accept government funding. If we did, they'd control us."
| Camp was probably some of the worst experiences I've ever had. I am grateful for the basic camping skills I learned, but other than that, it was utterly horrible. I watched as this transition happened. Each year became more and more dreadful. Each each, everything that used to be fun slowly became more and more about testimony building.
When I started going to camp, there were just simply fun nights: a night for skits; a night for bonding with your cabin mates, and so on. As the years progressed, skit night became skits about the theme that year... then they had to specifically have a spiritual message.
One year, they made quite a few girls cry because of their program that was related to the theme and it wasn't a good cry either. They literally played out the parable of the ten virgins. We each had lamps and had to earn oil throughout the week. Then the last night, we lit our lamps, and those who had lamps still burning literally got to go to dinner with one of the priesthood leaders dressed up as jesus. I went to the dinner (because I lied and earned my oil). Apparently the girls who didn't get to go got lectured to about how they were bad people.
| I have heard a lot of really sick extreme doctrines come out of the mouths of local level church leaders, especially seminary teachers. I want to focus on seminary teachers (released time ST’s, aka CES employees) because;
Here are a few comments made by my ST’s that I remember;
- I believe seminary age kids are at a very vulnerable age (14-18) in trying to define their religious beliefs.
- Most 14-18 year olds don’t have enough knowledge to openly refute or question the doctrine being presented by the ST's.
- Many ST’s decide to teach seminary because of extreme belief in Mormonism which often equals ‘extreme mormonism’.
- Seminary teachers often will give their opinions on certain doctrine. Students often confuse these opinions with actual doctrine.
These statements were made by several ST’s, a couple of them I really liked. For me, this indoctrination was extremely abusive. I wasn’t able at that age to roll my eyes and chalk it up to extremism. I took it in as doctrine, something I would have to accept and believe to be ‘a good mormon’.
- A woman should be able to find a way to satisfy all of her interests while staying at home. Any desires to pursue work or interests outside the home are unrighteous.
- Once you find the right man that honors his priesthood, you will want to obey him and have him be the decision maker in your home.
- Polygamy will be mandatory in the Celestial Kingdom.
- Any woman that gets turned on by looking at nudity (including her dh) has become very loose in morals and this is unrighteous. Men get turned on by images while women get turned on by subtle things..like rubbing a button (20 years later I still haven’t figured this one out, but it really makes me wonder about this man’s wife!).
- Girls should not be cheerleaders because the uniforms are immodest but it’s ok for boys to wear less modest clothing for other sports. (We had one seminary teacher that talked some of the girls into wearing sweat pants under their skirts on game days. It looked pretty stupid.)
- The only way an unmarried pregnant girl can fully repent of her ‘sin’ was to give the baby up for adoption.
My questions are... Are seminary teachers getting less extreme? Did anyone else feel that seminary made them start to dislike the mormon church?
| A friend of mine I'll call Angie, lives in the next stake over and invited me to attend the opening party for her stake youth conference. Youth conference, in our area, is a two day campout for ages 14 to 18, filled with faith promoting meetings, fun crafts and games and testimony bearing. Angie was very excited about her part in planning the opening activity and thought I'd like to come get some ideas for our stake for next year. She has NO idea I'm questioning the church.
Actually, the first part was nice. The kids checked in at the stake center, got a souveneir t-shirt, played games at the booths set up in the gym, went to a "restaurant" to snack and talk with their friends - even did a fun craft. Then, about 45 min later when it seemed everyone had arrived and mixed and mingled, they announced a program.
They thanked planners then had the stake president say a few words. He bore his testimony of the BoM then said "I promise you that as you keep the commandments, you will prosper and as you fail to keep the commandments, you will fail in your endevours." WTF? So all people who aren't successful are sinners who don't keep the commandments?
The next item on the program was truly creepy. All the bishop's from the 9 wards participating came on stage, dressed almost identically in dark suits and bore their testimonies in a sort of pre-written, chant form. They looked like mafia hit men and read from sheets of paper. It went sort of like this:
Bishop #1 I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
Bishop #7 I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
Bishop #4 If we read the Book of Mormon, we will come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Bishop #9 The Book of Mormon is another testiment of Jesus Christ.
All Bishops in Unison: The Book of Mormon IS another testiment of Jesus Christ.
It went along in this vein for several minutes. It's actually giving me the creeps to type this. They chanted this in a sing-song voice. Two highlights from this were the bishop who said he'd loved reading the BoM since his days on a mission in South Dakota to the Lamanite people. It strengthened his testimony to work with these wonderful sons and daughters of Father Lehi. But my favorite WTF statement was the bishop who said "I know the church is true independent of any other source." What does that even MEAN? Is that because every independent source has proved the LDS church FALSE?
Wow, once you go through to the side of truth, it's amazing what you see and how weird Mormonism is when you look at it objectively. I felt so sorry for those kids who are in for two days of this - of brainwashing with half-truths and word game BS. I could hardly wait to get out of there. It seemed, as someone else here put it, so sinister.
| After some thought on the matter I have decided that the two most harmful beliefs of Mormonism (and in a broader sense Christianity) are the Atonement and the Holy Spirit. I decided on these two ideas because they striped me of identity in my youth. The Atonement is supposed to be the greatest gift that God has given, but in my eyes it is a constant reminder of my worthlessness.
The Holy Spirit however takes the cake. Two weeks in a row at church someone from the pulpit has reminded me that unless I am worthy I will be unable to have the Holy Spirit, and without the Holy Spirit it is unlikely that any of my decisions will be what God wants.
To these two concepts I add in my adolescence, and the process of puberty and you have someone who Jesus died for in vain, and also doesn’t have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Why, because my fourth grade teacher was beautiful, or because I took to long cleaning my nether regions while bathing. In addition to all the minor sins like swearing, wishing your dad would get off your back and hating your sister for the afternoon.
While it appears that most of us suffered and may have overcome there are a lot of children, mine included who should be spared the dehumanizing and humiliating teachings of a church who openly declares that the natural man is an enemy of God.
| I was the ward project for 4 years, from age 14 to 18. The entire YWs organization was working on bringing me back to the fold.
They started by giving me callings. I accepted one and refused the others.
They assigned me to speak in SM. I did this once and did not use the assigned topic. LOL, I basically chastised the entire ward for being judgmental. Ah, to be 16 and absolutely sure of yourself again.
They got the YM involved and tried to get the various males in the ward to ask me out and fellowship me. I was told this by one of the guys in the ward who was my age. I refused all dates, though I did manage to get sucked into their stupid Gold and Green ball. Yuck. I still cannot believe I caved on that one. But I was too young to stick up for myself and too unsure to just say "no".
They called constantly and used a variety of coercive techniques to get me to participate. When I stopped answering the phone, they began showing up at my house, often times on Sunday morning bringing me clothes to wear to church, as I'd told them I no longer had any appropriate dresses for church.
On at least 3 occasions that I can clearly recall, I was "kidnapped" and taken to activities.
On Saturday nights, I was always the last one to bed. I would disconnect the telephone lines and the doorbell in preparation of their Sunday visits.
Then there was the bishopric. Also constantly calling me and any time they saw me at church, on those rare occasions, they would immediately usher me into the office for an interview, where I would be interrogated about drinking, doing drugs, sex and the music I listened to. I was a good kid, a good student, but I looked a little different and didn't want to be Mormon. Therefore, I must be a filthy drunken/stoner whore.
Personally, I don't know if stalking is strong enough a word to describe what I went through for 4 years. I don't know what to call it, but it left an indelible mark on me. It simultaneously made me angry and self-conscious, to the point I felt I could only blame myself for their perceptions of me.
It took me many years to get past it.
| Since leaving the church, I've been leading by example and patiently waiting for the church to shoot itself in the foot for my family. Its starting to happen.
My daughter's Youth Conference this year was after her school began, so she missed the first half, but came up for the weekend activities. She is a upbeat and really great all around girl, but she had a cold and may have not been fully up to her game. The one activity that really shook her and my husband up was an event they held on the last day. They made up the building to be the 3 kingdoms and took the kids through them explaining what types of people will end up in each kingdom (i.e., murderers and sinners in telestial). The big kicker was that at the end, each child was given a slip of paper with their name written on it and the kingdom they had been chosen to attend. The leaders explained that they had been judging them throughout the week and their kingdom was based on their actions.
My daughter was one of only a few that got Telestial, she was very hurt. The kicker for her was her close friend who was chosen for Celestial and could see no wrong in the leaders judging everyone. It really opened my daughter's eyes as to how brainwashed members are. My husband was very irritated, but blames individuals, not the church as a whole. Baby steps.
Anyhow, my daughter has started fresh research and discussions with me. She can now see how irrational and impossible it all is and we are working together to remove her from the church's clutches (will be really ugly for a while). Social aspects had kept her playing the game until now, but they've even made those so ridiculous its hard not to see the cult aspects.
| I decided to check on my child in nursery yesterday. When I arrived, the little children were gathered together to learn about the First Vision. The children first held hands in a circle, then raised their hands high in the air and repeated aloud the words, "I'm a tree." They they knelt on the ground together to pray like Joseph Smith in the grove. The nursery leader then told these 18 month to 36 month old children that when Joseph asked Heavenly Father and Jesus which church he should join, he was told that all the churches on the earth were wrong.
Wow! I thought nursery was merely for entertaining children too young to atttend or understand primary. My limited memories of nursery include eating saltine crackers with chocolate spread and fighting over the best toys. There might have been a mini-lesson or two on how Jesus loves us, but NOTHING about other churches being an abomination in the Lord's sight!
The children then looked on as the leaders put on a CD and sung the ever-repetitive primary song, "Follow the Prophet. Follow the Prophet. Follow the Prophet! Don't go astray! Follow the Prophet! Follow the Prophet! Follow the Prophet! He knows the way!"
It really hit me just how cultish this song is. It is really spooky that the song is written in a sad, minor key. Over the course of all the verses of the song, the children repeat the phrase, "Follow the Prophet" over 50 times!
Wow! These kids are way too young for such religious indoctrination. I can't stand for this. I'm gradually on may way out of Mormonism. Those with TBM spouses can understand the complexities of this. The experience above may serve to accelerate things.
| Unless at least one parent fully believes in it and is strenuously instisting.
Once the parents realize that mormonism is false, they owe it to their children to pull them out.
Yes, some older very indoctrinated kids won't want to leave cold turkey. Parents will have to use their judgment on dealing with this problem.
But the mormon SS and primary program strives to indoctrinate children from babyhood on.
Indoctrination is inevitable in life. I did it as a teacher when I taught songs and stories about respecting the environment and building esteem, honoring learning, and building study skills.
The indoctrination in mormonism teaches kids to disrespect nonmormons. This is especially hurtful to them when grandparents, neighbors, or one or both parents are nonbelievers. Kids should not be taught that they are responsible for saving or judging adults who care for them.
Other aspects of the morg children's program which are unhealthy:
1. The mormon church doesn't respect normal differences or normal levels of child development. Young kids shouldn't be expected to routinely attend a three hour program where they're expected to be so-called "reverent," and they have no chance to run, play hard, climb, or make noise.
2. The mormon church program favors kids who happen to have compliant subservient personalities. Highly individualisc and boistrous kids are frequently marginalized.
3. The program doesn't make it easy for parents to observe or participate in the program. Parents are generally expected to blindly trust those who are in charge of the program, no questions asked.
Good programs for children require professional planning and training. Young children can suffer if the teacher has no idea about norms for what to expect and how best to deal with kids of different ages.
It's wrong to say that it doesn't hurt kids to put them in a program that is far beyond their stage of development. What this says to the child is that their needs are not important and that they are not measuring up when they can't understand and comply with what's going on.
If it's wrong for bishops without training to interview minor children, it's also wrong for untrained church persons to take charge of even younger kids. Some of the nursery and primary leaders will be good and acceptable, but that doesn't have to be a criteria for choosing them for the jobs they do. Our kids deserve the best.
| When I was a Deacon and Teacher our assigned temple was the Oakland Temple in California. It was a 8-9 hour drive from our area in Oregon so we would drive down on the first day, do baptisms the second, and go back home on the third. Usually, we were done with baptisms by noon or one on the second day which gave our leaders time to plan activities. One time we went to Marriot's Great America. Another time we went to the Golden Gate Bridge. We always stayed in Marriotts because we got great discounts and free breakfasts. But we always looked frward to the afternoon after the temple because that's when the real fun happened.
We had a new YM President who had moved from the Bay Area and he had a true dislike for "the Gays" as he called them. The Gays were going to lead to the downfall of the country, The Gays were given AIDS as a "reward" for having anal sex. The Gays were Democrats. Every lesson had to mention The Gays and as a young man in the early-80's I was easily swayed by his persuasive arguments. I just knew The Gays would infiltrate our town and ruin everything and give us all AIDS through blood transfusions.
As we were getting ready to go on the temple trip he decided that we would make a list of phrases or questions that he would let us yell at The Gays as we drove by them on the street or passed them on the sidewalk. Our afternoon following the temple was going to be at Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf and he told us that there would be plenty of Gays to yell at. So our list consisted of the following:
These are a few of the comments that I remember although there are more.
- Which one of you is the guy?
- Don't fart because I don't want AIDS.
- Stop checking me out, I'm just a kid.
- I bet you like to eat weiner wraps for dinner.
- Sausage smoker!!!
The afternoon arrived and we were excited to head down to the waterfront for shopping and seeing what The Gays looked like. I was sure that The Gays would stand out like a sore thumb because we knew that they wore rainbow clothing and had funny colored hair. Plus they held hands a lot and kissed each other on the lips in public. We unloaded from the van and headed off to look for The Gays and practiced our newly learned insults on each other. We were laughing and thought it would be fun to see the reactions as we yelled at The Gays.
But a funny thing happened. We didn't see any Gays. We saw a lot of families and kids, and grandmas but no Gays holding hands, kissing, or with funny colored hair. We asked our YM President where the Gays were and he said that The Gays were sneaky and tried to blend in with the normal people. So we spent the next few hours looking for any suspicious characters who looked Gay. But we didn't see any.
We soon lost interest in The Gays and decided to do some shopping and touristing. Around 6 in the afternoon we met up back at the van with all the other kids and adults and headed off to the hotel. As we were leaving the parking garage our fearless leader excitingly exclaimed, "There's some!!", pointing at a group of guys walking together on the sidewalk near the exit to our parking garage. He told us to get ready and when he gave us the signal we could yell out to them. As we turned onto the street he said, "OK, NOW!"
We all looked at each other, then at the guys on the sidewalk, and yelled out our greatest insults and then ducked down and hid on the floor so The Gays wouldn't see us. Our leader drove away laughing and telling us that we showed them. We were sworn to secrecy that we wouldn't tell our parents and we all agreed that that would be a good idea.
As I look back on that experience I can understand the power a youth leader has over the young men he has stewardship over. We looked up to him and thought he was cool. But he wasn't cool. He was a bigot.
And the saddest part of the whole experience was that as all of us grew older two of our group came out and openly disclosed their homosexuality. And they were some of the most vocal of the group that day in San Francisco. Group think and peer pressure made them lash out as people just like them.
The YM President moved back to California a few years later and I saw his name recently as a leader on the Prop H8 movement in California. I guess some people never change.
| When I was a "youth" (teen), the leaders in my ward decided that they were going to do "mystery trips" one summer. They'd get all the teens who couldn't get out of it into cars and drive halfway across BFE and not tell anybody what we would be doing until we got there. Then we'd get out and canoe down 20 miles of a white water river or something without any adequate preparation whatsoever, because we had no idea what it was we would be doing. I can't watch the movie Deliverance without thinking about that canoing trip. It was terrible. After that experience, I absolutely refused to attend another one of these misadventures. I was thinking about that when bdawn was talking about her shithead ex forcing her 12 year old daughter on that stupid "trek", and if I'm not mistaken I don't think he even did it himself.
It makes me so mad, because that kind of thing went on all the time when I was a kid in the Mormon church. I never had any choice in the matter and was forced into these stupid things, whether it was a "mystery trip" or a weeklong scout camp or a "day camp" or whatever it was. All I knew was that it was always in the hot sun, there was never enough water or shade, and I couldn't say no.
Another time when I was about 14, a car full of Mormons pulled up to my house and sat in the driveway beeping the horn until my mother came and got me. I got filled in on what we were doing on the drive over. We were cleaning up an overgrown cemetery for someone's Eagle project related to genealogy. Again, all day in the hot sun without enough water or shade and without adequate preparation.
The shoe is on the other foot now that I'm a parent. I see the look on my son's face, and I know when he doesn't want to do something. Sometimes he needs to do things he doesn't want to do for his own good, and I understand that. He understands that too. But there are times when I know some activity is unreasonable and he will hate it, and I don't make him go if he doesn't want to. I don't understand what makes a parent put a cult ahead of their own kids.
| It's often difficult for me to articulate my emotions with any degree of clarity, so forgive me if I come across as incoherent or vague. I just need to vent what's weighing me down as best as possible in order to to experience a limited catharsis. It isn't the same as interpersonal conversation, but I'm glad the board is here for me since I am not currently able to express these emotions to anyone at this time.
The reason for this post--fast Sunday and all the horrors that come with it. It's a new kind of hell for me, not directed at me from others, but just the general environment produced by the testimony meeting. The ward I and my family are in is quite young, dozens of small children everywhere. Parents in their early twenties trying to go to school, raise a family, hold down a job, and keep up with their church callings. Being a witness to that pains me, but what pains me more is what they force their children to go through, to say.
Every fast Sunday I sit in a pew, watching them encourage their little children to bear 'their testimonies.' It's soul crushing, knowing that these children have no idea what kind of commitments their parents are forcing them to make. These kids don't know any better, they're just doing what they're told. I sit there, watching as parents whisper into their children's ears, siblings into younger siblings ears and so on. The usual mantra of “I know the church is true.”
Then comes my reflection, realization perhaps. I sit there, thinking of their future. What they're being forced to become. Boxed up to go like some pre-made freezer pizza; god forbid they wish to be something else. That's what pains me, I sit there in the pew, watching these kid's lives being decided for them, being indoctrinated into a dishonest, horrid cult. As they bore their testimonies yesterday, I took a look around at the other youth my age, some of them staring out into space, others overwhelmed with guilt due to some alleged sin they performed. Something that shouldn't even be defined as sin.
I look at those kids bearing their testimonies, feeling good because they made their parents happy and received some ultimately meaningless praise. Then I look at the kids my age and realize that is the future for those innocent children. A life of eternal social inadequacy, guilt, shame, and pain in the church. That's what kills me; I sit there in the pew, knowing, that this is where the church will take them and I can do nothing about it.
When I sit there, in fast and testimony meeting, Frank Zappa's “Little Girl” plays through my head. “All your children are poor unfortunate victims of systems beyond their control. All your children are poor unfortunate victims of lies you believe.” Every one of these nightmarish meetings that I am forced to sit through kill a little bit of me. If these kids knew what was down the line, they'd run like hell. But they're too young to even comprehend what tithing and many other demands the church has for them. They'll grow up and be stuck with a violent, cruel, taskmaster, or they'll grow up and escape. Losing their families and everyone who told them they loved them in the process.
I hate everything about this cult; it chains potential, destroys lives and souls. Not a day goes by that I'd wish it would all burn down. Every last part of it. So much pain could be averted, so much heartbreak prevented. That I know it will never happen is what kills me. That I know I can't prevent the indoctrination of those kids and my little brother kills me. That I know I can't help the youth around me because it would endanger my own secrecy, kills me.
| This topic brings back so many memories of growing up in my TBM parents home. I many other stories about growing up it would take me all day to share them. But, these are just a few nuggets:
-No playing with friends, watching TV, playing outside, swimming, or naps on Sunday. These activities are all disrespectful to God and Jesus. We were allowed to read on Sunday.
-Absolutely NO face-cards at all. I snuck a pack home once and my mom threw away all the Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Aces. I was grounded for inviting the devil into her home.
-We weren't allowed to say: gosh, jeesh (or sheesh), shut-up, shoot, flip, fetch, freak, heck, piss or ticked (as in pissed-off or ticked-off,) peeved, crap, suck, hate, butt, or man (as in Oh, Man!) -- These are all 'replacement words' for swears and when we said them we might as well be saying the swear word itself.
-To this day my TBM parents have a devise called the "TV Guardian" on every television in their home. It pre-reads the closed captioning and mutes out any word that might be offensive. Then puts a 'replacement' word in closed captioning. We had to turn it off for conference because it would edit the talks anytime God was said and replaced it with Man.
-No caffeine or 'hot drinks' of any kind. So, no hot chocolate or apple cider in the winter.
-There was absolutely NO reason whatsoever to skip church. If we were sick then we took a bowl with us incase we couldn't make it to the bathroom in time to throw up. Yeah, I know, it was terrible!
-Watching a television show was a very rare and special occasion. We mostly watched movies together as a family and NOTHING over a PG rating. But these TV shows are a few that were specifically outlawed in my house because they were evil: Roseanne, Beevis and Butt-head, The Simpsons, Family Matters, and any Daytime programing (because those especially are porn.)
-We were not allowed to own or watch the Living Scriptures cartoons. Because Jesus and the scripture characters are NOT cartoons and shouldn't be portrayed that way. I actually remember telling a friend at her house that I couldn't watch that movie!
-Every family member had to be present for 6;30am morning scripture study no matter your age. Yes, when I was six I was awake at 6:30 am to follow along in the BOM.
-Every family member present for family prayers. If we were at a friends house they would call us home for prayers. If we had a friend over they had to join us for prayers. As we got older and started dating we'd say family prayers before the date (after our dates had arrived at our house to take us out.) Yeah, that wasn't an uncomfortable way to leave home for a high school dance.
-No Gum, because it looked like chewing tobacco.
-No friends on Monday- that's family day.
-And my all time favorite story: During the semester break after I had been away at college (for one semester) my parents took the family out to dinner to Chilli's. I decided to be ballsy and ordered the "Tequilla Lime Chicken." My TBM rents had such a problem with this that they refused to order or pay for it. We got into a fight about 'avoiding the very appearance of evil' and how I had become a 'woman of the world' while at college. They told me that I wouldn't be able to order it because I wasn't 21. Even after I explained that the alcohol is cooked out of it, they refused. So, when the server came to take our order they placed theirs and in 'better-than-though and I told you so' TBM fashion then told the server "Our daughter has something she would like." I ordered the chicken and the server said, "Ok, on a separate check?" They were so angry that I actually ordered it and the server didn't ID me or refuse me that they wouldn't talk to me all night. They also didn't tip the server!
Needless to say I moved as far away as I could from them when I was 18 and stopped going to church. From 18 - 28 I was off and on active. They know that my DH RaptorJesus is an atheist and that I'm a deist. But if they were ever a fly on our wall and saw how we really live our daily lives, my mother would die of a stroke!!
| I posted previously about my daughter who attends the Mormon church with her dad every other week. Her dad asked if she could be in the Primary program on my weekend, which I agreed to, until I found out that she was supposed to say the line, "I can know the church is true by listening to the prophet." I said that it sounded like brainwashing and can she say something else, they said that it can't be changed, so I didn't take her.
Now, two weeks later, my daughter comes back from attending church with her dad, complaining that she didn't get a present because I didn't let her say her line in the Primary presentation. She said that the girl who said her line for her got her present, she thought it was a doll or something. I think someone told her that the other girl got her blessings that she would have had for saying the line. They are making her feel bad for something she had no control over, and they are making me the bad guy in her eyes for not taking her to church. I hate the fact that I have to allow my daughter to be exposed to this kind of manipulation.
Why can't they just teach her good things instead of brainwashing and manipulating?
| So far from civilization.... Right!
I had to go get my daughter at YW camp, because her grandfather died, and we all had to catch a plane back to our old hometown, for the funeral. There was no way I could get hold of her--no phone service--and no one knew where the heck the campers were. Everyone I talked to said that the girls "CAN'T" leave in the middle of camp. It was getting dark, and someone said that the bishop had visited there to give a talk about morals, so I went to his house and made him draw me a map. I drove for 3 hours, to I'll-never-know-where, on the highway into the mountains, then on dirt roads, in the pitch dark.
The camp leaders were almost hostile, that I had interrupted their campfire, and invaded their territory. I was polite, and quietly explained the situation, and no one cared that my daughter had lost her grandpa. Instead, they told me it was against the rules for a girl to leave. My daughter was horribly embarrassed, and seemed afraid of leaving. She said she would stay at camp, miss the funeral, and stay with friends, while the rest of us were away. Fear! I didn't want to bully her, so I told her it was her decision, and got in the car, and turned it around. I thought, "Who makes the so-called rules? I'm allowing these women to bully me, and interfere with our family!" I walked back to the camp, and the girls had resumed their meeting around the fire, which was a testimony meeting, and a girl was bearing her testimony and sobbing, and the other girls were crying, too. Anyway--it struck me as VERRRRYY cult-like! I walked up to my daughter, and said, "You're coming with me. Go get your things.
Driving back home, my daughter started to cry, and said, "I'm so glad you came back for me!" She said she wasn't crying for Grandpa, whom she barely knew, but she was crying because I had rescued her from that awful camp.
| My son went once, then decided for his own reasons that he wasn't interested in doing it again. So the next time around, he tells his teachers quorum advisor that he can't go, he has to pack for family trip that night(which was true, we were leaving the next day). So, after the meeting block, his teachers quorum advisor comes up to me in the hallway with a concerned look on his face, like he needs to talk to me about something of grave concern. This was when I was NOM and didn't really care if my son did baptisms for the dead or not. So I told him the same thing my son had told him.
The next thing i know, the first counselor to the bishopric wants to talk to me. Again, he's acting like this is a serious matter. I repeat the same thing. He's not going. Sorry.
Later that evening, I'm picking my son up from a bishop's fireside at the bishop's house. This is a stay-in-the-car-and wait-for-my-son-to-see-me-from-the-doorway pickup. I don't even honk. The first one at the passenger door is not my son, but the bishop himself, leaning through the window, wanting to know if my son can go to baptisms for the dead.
Full-on panic mode for all the leaders involved. In spite of repeating myself, they just couldn't fathom that one of their own was NOT going with the program.
| My children were treated this way. These strong-arm tactics did not work for my children, and, yes, it helped drive the away from the cult. On several occasions, adult priesthood holders came into our home, when I was at church doing the music. They pulled my sons out of their beds and onto the floor, shoved their clothes onto them, and butt-kicked them to church. They threatened my sons not to tell, because I would punish them for sleeping in and missing church.
The Mormon church separates children from their parents!
I actually yelled at the priesthood leaders, when my son told them at least 5 times, on 5 different phone calls, that he was not going to be baptized for the dead. My son was crying. The men came to our door, and my other son opened it, and the men made it into our living room, and I came in there yelling, "My son has homework and a test, and is not going to leave this house."
When they started to preach at me, I said, "In this family, School comes before church."
That made them start to bully me (I'm a single mom with no man around to protect me) I said, "I am the parent, here, and head of this household, and I'm telling you that my son is NOT going! Good-bye!"
Definitely, my son hated church after that--and my son is a good, cooperative human being, that usually loves others.
| Daughter had a 12 yr old interview...gets home and asks "what's masturbation?"
My daughter just turned 12 and had her YW interview.
I was against her going but apparently I'm the crazy one for thinking something is wrong with an older man alone with my 12 year old daughter behind closed doors. The wife thinks its perfectly ok and took her to the church.
When she got home I asked her how the interview went. She responded by asking me what masturbation is?
The bishop didn't call back after I left a pretty nasty message on his voice mail. Instead he showed up at the house wanting to talk in person. I didn't invite him in and stepped out on the porch and closed the door behind me. I looked him in the eye and told him he will never spend another minute alone with my kids in any form of interview. I asked him why the Scouts have a two deep leadership policy and the church does not? He back peddled and claimed he was only following the handbook. I called him on his bullshit. He apologized and left.
I was able to talk in detail to my daughter. I really had to bite my tongue and hide my anger. I used the same appeal to emotions approach the church uses to manipulate members into feeling the spirit. I specially asked her how she felt sitting there alone. She answered she was nervous. I then asked her to explain why and she said she didn't know what to expect. She explained she felt creeped out so I asked her why? She explained and I told her that was her instincts telling her it was not right. She agreed. I told her that she can always choose to leave a situation when she doesn't feel comfortable and she agreed. We then talked about masturbation and I explained gently that it is natural for both boys and girls to explore their bodies and that it was not considered a sin. She's been very naive when it comes to sexuality So this was a good opportunity to have the discussion. The conversation went well and she understood that its nobody else's business and that it was inappropriate for another man to ask her personal questions.
| I was interviewed at age 14 before being able to get a temple recommend and travel with the ward youth to Ogden for baptisms for the dead.
The pr*ck, er, bishop asked me if I was morally clean. As I was about to answer, he said "by that, I mean are you in the habit of touching your private parts or letting boys touch your private parts".
I blushed furiously, was utterly mortified (I was 14 - I'd necked and been petted to 1st base).
I lied, of course, but that "interview" still makes me feel like I was violated in some way. I didn't tell my parents about the specific questions because I was ashamed for having lied, embarrassed at what was asked, and because he was the bishop - Mr. Priesthood Authority - I had no idea what he'd done was really 'wrong'.
Edited to add: this was in 1983.
| I was asked this by a bishop when I was 14. I did not know what the word meant, and asked what he meant. He then asked if I played with myself.
I was traumatized by that question. I lied of course, and then felt guilt for lying to the s.o.b. 32 years later he is greeting me at the temple at the recommend desk. He has no idea who I am, but feel like punching his lights out.
Those kinds of questions are extremely inappropriate!! I wish I could go back in time and get up and walk out of that room when he asks that, and tell every one in the building what the perv is asking.
My kids will not go through that.
| Consider yourself warned! Bishops WILL ask your children inappropriate questions.
Questions that I believe constitute abuse. No child should have to sit with an adult and answer questions about masturbation/touching themselves.
If you let your children attend the Mormon church, they will be asked this plus more. If you want to protect your child, DO NOT LET THEM BE INTERVIEWED!
THIS MAY REQUIRE THAT YOU ARE PROACTIVE AND YOU HAVE TO CONATCT THE BISHOP AND TELL HIM HE IS NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK TO YOUR CHILD, ESPECIALLY ABOUT SEXUALITY/CHASTITY etc.
DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD BE A VICTIM!!! WE ALL KNOW THEY DO THIS!!!! YOU CAN NOT ASSUME YOUR SPOUSE WILL SUPPORT YOU IN THIS DECISION! Obviously their thinking is warped if they believe in the cult.
Please, be the parent, set boundaries that protect your child.
| At age eight, their was little understanding if any of the commitments MOs make. Or baptism for the sake of appeasing parents and peers was important for home and church morale.
Most had no clue as to what covenants they were adhering to so why not just go ahead and baptize babies as other churches do if the parents are so inclined?
The mormon doctrine is (not surprisingly) vague and muddled on this point.
So from a BIC standpoint, age 8 is the time to get baptised whether you are ready or not. If you fail to get baptised at age 8, this is a risk that your parents are taking by not forcing you. If you were to die before baptism, them your parents will be judged for not having forced you to get baptised.
Yet, we rarely get baptised ON our actual bday, because it is inconvenient for the church.
Also we are told that the reason for age 8 is the age of accountability... yet we are supposed to force our kids to get baptised, so screw accountability, because you have no say in the matter.
From a convert standpoint, it is more about ensnaring kids while church is still fun. Primary may not be the funnest thing ever, but it is social, you make friends, and you don't have any responsibilities. Once you turn 12, the church changes drastically. Your private affairs are pried into, you are asked to do service regularly, and you are given boring responsibilities.
It is MUCH easier to baptize someone < 12 than some one 12 or older.
| Why are 8 year olds being taught about the law of chastity in primary?
Flipping through my lesson manual this year, I noticed a section about the law of chastity. It's included in the lesson about the salt lake temple being built, but it's still very much a chastity section. The manual is used for the 8-11 year olds, and it's near the end of the manual so most of the kids will be 9-12 by then, but still.
"The law of chastity is a commandment to remain sexually clean and pure. This means we should not have sexual relations with anyone but our husband or wife. The law of chastity also includes being pure in our words, thoughts, and actions. We should not say, think, or do anything that shows disrespect for this great power Heavenly Father has given us."
What the heck?
| I was germ-phobic (long history of tortures from my brother caused this, so it was serious) but nobody knew.
At LDS girl's camp, when I was 14, we were playing baseball, and no one wanted to play in the outfield, because of the yucky mud. I made a closer inspection, and discovered that a sceptic tank had broken, and raw sewerage was leaking out onto the baseball field. I told the leaders about it, but they ignored me, and said that we had to play baseball anyway. I was catcher, but still had to handle the crap-encrusted ball. Everyone who played basebell got the stomach flu. I think there were only 4 of us who didn't get it!
My best friend and I kept telling the girls not to drink the water in the creek that ran through our camp, but they and the leaders laughed at us, and drank anyway. We were experienced campers, but because we were younger, they thought we were stupid. The whole camp got violently ill, except for me and my best friend. We were mad, and went on a hike out of the camp boundaries. About a mile up the creek, we saw a herd of cows, wallowing on the banks to keep cool. They were also peeing and pooping into the creek. We really lost it, and ran back to warn everyone.
Well, no one appreciated our discovery of the source of the plague; in fact, we were punished for hiking out of bounds. For punishment, they leaders tried to make us clean the toilets, that were covered with vomit and poop. This was my worst nightmare! I started to cry, and they threatened that if I didn't clean, my best friend was going to be forced to clean my half, too. They used every threat and manipulation they could. We were not allowed to eat that night, and we told them that we were the only healthy girls in the camp, and that they were trying to make us sick, too. None of the parents were informed about what was going on--otherwise, most of them would have gone to pick up their sick little girls.
That night, my friend and I stole cookies from the food supply shed. The next morning, a supply truck came, and by good fortune, one of my boyfriends (Eagle Scout) was driving it. We were not allowed around the truck, but I sneaked over, and begged my boyfriend to take us home. We sneaked in the back, and made our escape from that prison camp from Hell.
No one ever reported us missing. No one ever reported about the massive outbreak of gastroenteritis. Nope. Everything was perfect at YW Camp. When I walked in the door of my house, my mother asked why I came home early. I said that everyone at camp was sick, and I decided to ride home with my boyfriend. Mom was RS President, so she didn't press the issue. I'm sure the Board of Health would have shut that place down. Some of the girls became quite seriously ill, for weeks.
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