Letter to President Martin re: text for disciplinary council

10th May 2011

Dear President Martin,

Hoping you, Linda and family are well.  And you are not too stressed with work.

I received the following text from my friend ____________, the bishop, notifying me of plans to hold a disciplinary council in my behalf.

Friday 6th May, “Steve so sorry i have not been intouch this last week   hope all is well i have been asked to ask if you could possibly attend a stake disciplinary meeting on either may 25Th  Or  june 1St  speak tomorrow about this  thanks ________”

Could you please confirm this is for an official Stake Disciplinary council?

I’m just a little confused, last time you claimed the reason you called the council was so you could get to speak with us.

Has the situation changed since our last meeting when I was assured by bishop _________ that the disciplinary council was not going to happen?

My recollection was that you would be letting me know. Bishop _________/ assured us the “ball was in his court” and that as far as he’s concerned “the disciplinary council was definitely NOT going ahead!”

The problem we seem to be getting is that communication lines are unreliable as messages intended for me via Bishop __________ are, with the best of intentions, altered before I receive them to make them sound friendlier.

For instance:

I did not intend to avoid you over the past few months when you and Elder Ford made special efforts to see me. It must have appeared to be very rude, but that was not my intention.

There seems to be a simple explanation based on the principle of Chinese Whispers.

Since the message came via a 3rd party, Bishop _____________, he had basically changed the tone of your request for a meeting with me, to make it sound more friendly and less pressured. He’s a nice guy who is my friend and didn’t want to put any pressure on me.

So the message I got was “Should you feel you wanted to speak with President Martin and Elder Ford, then they would make themselves available, no pressure, just a friendly chat!”

So it would appear that unfortunately, like Chinese whispers, the message you intended me to get, I didn’t receive!

So my polite declining of your ‘friendly invites to formal interviews’ could have been perceived as something I had not intended. If I gave this impression I am truly sorry.

At the time I was emotionally traumatised by my new beliefs about the Church and events subsequently.

With regards to the disciplinary council, I am confident you didn’t intend this, but unfortunately, the on/off nature of the decision to hold a council is really upsetting my wife. She was seriously considering going back to Church this week, but is so upset she couldn’t face it. She is concerned about the apparent lack of compassion towards our situation.

We had also planned to visit my wife’s frail mother, up North, at the end of May. Unfortunately, with all the emotional stress we are suffering due to impending Church discipline we cannot visit her for fear of triggering a stress reaction with her health. We thought she was going to die just before Christmas, and though she recovered she is still frail.

In January we had to tell her that we were struggling with our testimonies and I was resigning as bishop. We couldn’t let her find out through other sources. At the time she was distraught and replied “I wish I had passed away in December so I didn’t have to hear this!” Can you imagine what would happen if we left the Church?

If I leave the Church myself through resignation or was excommunicated there would be consequences beyond my control in how that event affects our extended family who are members of the Church.

I know you are a compassionate man and have always cared for individuals. You have my admiration and respect as a friend and brother.

Surely there is also compassion in Christ’s Church for individuals and their families.

I empathise with your dilemma as a priesthood leader. I’ve been there as a bishop with my own extended family.

Please consider the implications of the Church’s actions on my frail mother-in-law. Her health is poor and we want to protect her from the impact of our change of beliefs.

I would be quite happy to resign, were it not for the consideration of her health, and my brother too.

He has unfortunately been reliving his crisis of faith through my experiences.

As you probably remember the religious crisis caused an existential crisis culminating in him attempting suicide three times.

Yes, he was already suffering a psychological illness, but when he discovered difficult issues in Church history and started doubting his own faith his whole identity was put into question and he thought he couldn’t cope with life any more.

Unfortunately, non of his family could empathise or even begin to understand his mental trauma. In fact, on one occasion mum and dad left the area because they couldn’t cope with his religious crisis which triggered a chain of events culminating in him trying to kill himself.

If the Church carries on with this disciplinary process is it prepared for the problems which could ensue?

Has a psychological risk assessment been carried out on the potential harm it could cause our close relatives who are suffering mental and physical illness already?

I will be very happy to talk calmly with you about this situation. I am sorry I got a bit heated at our last meeting, but I was emotionally upset.

Just give me a call or we could arrange to meet up.

Kind regards and Love

Your brother

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7 Responses to Letter to President Martin re: text for disciplinary council

  1. Tom Milligan says:

    Sometimes leaders in the Church are so busy with a multitude of things that they don’t have the energy or time to give compassionate consideration to the facts and circumstances of a person’s situation.

    I was disfellowshipped many years ago. After about a year I got a call from my branch president saying that the stake president wanted to see me at the stake centre. I wasn’t told the reason for the meeting. I arrived in plenty of time for the 8pm meeting. After floating around the corridor for an hour and a half beyond our meeting time, without an explanation for the delay, at 9.30pm I was called into the office. The first thing I was told was that this was a church court. No notice of this was given to me beforehand whatsoever. Fortunately for them I’m a mild-mannered guy and didn’t get onto my high horse. After a brief non-descript discussion, without any mention whatsoever of repentance on my part, I was asked to leave while they discussed the matter. After about fifteen minutes I was called back in and told that I was re-instated. As a former branch president I was not at all edified by the whole non-spiritual and perfunctory experience. I felt as if I was simply being processed so as to get me back into working again for the church.

    I went on to be called to a series of ward callings, including mission leader and elders quorum president, until a time came when the emptiness and shallowness of my experience in that ward brought me to such a state of depression and emptiness that I walked out one Sunday and never went back. I was not surprised when, apart from one or two phone calls, I was not actively pursued in an attempt to re-activate me. I was further disappointed when two missionaries called on me later and, when I asked them what they knew of me, they recounted a story which they understood to be my reason for not coming to church anymore – which was untrue. It appeared that the brethren had protected themselves by spreading gossip which put me in a bad light and saved the reputation of the church.

    These days I’m at peace in taking full responsibility for my own life and not trying to live up to the unquenchable demands and requirements of an organisation which claims to hold the keys to my salvation. I’m not living in a world of fanciful imagination anymore.

    • stevebloor says:

      Dear Tom,

      Thank you for sharing your emotional exit story.

      You summed up the situation well in your final statement.

      It’s a more authentic life post Mormon isn’t it, when we’re not living in a world of fanciful imagination!

      Enjoy your new reality! Especially walking in the wonderful Irish hills!

      Best wishes,

      • Tom Milligan says:

        Yes, Steve, reality is good. Fanciful imagination is hot air at best and will eventually let you down. Better to realise this sooner rather than later.

    • Erin says:

      Well written! Thanks for aharing this!

  2. Erin says:

    Steve, I think you should just send your exit letter in and not tell anyone. Your MIL isn’t going to know. You are still giving these people way too much power. They still feel in control of your life. One of the the sickest parts of the church is their belief that we still subscribe to their threats and disciplines, even on our way out. It’s really ridiculous. They are so transparent to me now. Every little manipulation makes my skin crawl. Wish you well, and good luck – Erin ..AKA Sister Allen 😉

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