Unrighteous Dominion, Spiritual Abuse by Mormon Priesthood Leaders

I just became aware of a young woman who became inactive from the Church for a few years & committed sins for which she now feels totally repentant. She struggled in the agony of remorse for many years, but now feels she has reconciled to God & wants to move forward. Unfortunately, on seeing her Bishop, she was put through the agony of re-living the experience all over again & is being asked to recount each & every sin individually as part of her repentance process. She feels awful & is desperate to avoid going back over her painful past.

I really feel the emotional desperation & humiliation of this woman’s situation.

As I resigned from the position of Bishop only last year, I’ve had some time to contemplate how I used to think whilst I served in this office & calling for almost seven years.

The position of assumed authority carries a great deal of responsibility, which can be abused. Most members will listen to the advice of a Bishop as if it came from the Lord Himself. This should not be overlooked as a potential for possible ‘unrighteous dominion’!

The ordinary lay ministry of the LDS Church is not adequately trained for the responsibility they are expected to perform. It is ‘wrongly’ assumed that the ‘Spirit of The Lord’ will guide & direct them, and therefore leaders of the Church often erroneously conclude that ministerial training is unnecessary.

When newly called myself, I asked our Stake President for training in counselling skills. Most of the Bishops were appalled that I should ask for this & some expressed shock that I didn’t just ‘rely on the Spirit’! Their reasoning was that any formal professional training would distract from the ‘Spirit’ & handicap the will of the Lord!

Gladly our Stake President agreed with me (he was a management consultant by profession) so arranged two hours of training by the Church Family Services Counsellor.

This, I’m afraid, is grossly inadequate!

I’ve come to the conclusion, based on some small understanding of psychology & from personal experience in the ‘job’, that the way different individuals react in Church callings of leadership, where they have responsibilities for counselling others, is based primarily on their own individual sense of humanity & internal feeling of compassion for others, as well as how judgemental & rigid their thinking.

However, the desire to serve a role of ‘the leader’ & ‘protector of the good name of the Church’ can sometimes over-power their own natural, innate characteristic of human decency & consideration for others. This happened to me when I, as Bishop, verbally & emotionally attacked my brother and his wife when they left the Church, for being apostate & trying to teach others about the ‘uncomfortable origins & history’ of the Church. My role as ‘protector of the Church’ became paramount & all my compassion for my brother was over-powered by the emotion driven thinking of the amygdala response. A flight/fight primitive brain function.

Many priesthood leaders exercise unrighteous dominion over the members, because they are relying on ‘inspiration’ from God & ‘feel’ justified in their actions because they are acting on God’s will. After all, God is guiding them!!!

They nearly always have, what they think is, the best interests of the individual at heart, but without professional training they are often grossly unprepared & offer inadequate and sometimes inappropriate advice & counsel.

Often, as Bishops, we look for signs of humility & despair from those who confess their sins, as a sign of full repentance.

I was taught by the Stake President to create moments of awkward, uncomfortable silence during personal interviews, in which the interviewee was almost forced by embarrassment to reflect on their own personal unworthiness & confess any sins. In effect, to encourage a feeling of discomfort & humiliation, leading to feelings of abject despair & desperation so that the sinner would feel totally at the mercy of God & His servants.

To facilitate this I used to ask members to read aloud verses of scripture in front of me which focused on the nothingness of man & how we are at his mercy, like Alma 36: 12-21.

I felt that God was directing me to do this in order to help the individual trust in the Lord & feel His compassion, love, mercy & forgiveness. I had to witness for myself the person going through the steps of repentance!

I now believe that this ‘inspiration from God’ to the Bishop is just the individual’s own intuition or sub-conscious mind feeding him this ‘inspiration’. So it’s from himself, but he’s convinced it’s from God, so can be completely confident it is the correct thing to do, & arrogantly force his will on others.

My Stake President ‘bigged’ me up so much that the ward members were told to follow me just like they would the Prophet, because God was leading me & I was receiving revelation to lead the Ward! And they were told that the Lord wouldn’t allow me to lead them astray!

That probably explains why the Church got so worried when I resigned as Bishop (out of a sense of honesty and integrity) because of my change of beliefs with regard to the Church.

The role of Bishop as a Judge in Israel is fraught with potential for spiritual & emotional abuse. I don’t blame the Bishops, I blame the system!

Add to that the potential for further humiliation when you realise that the Bishop or Stake President has broken his pledge of confidentiality by confessing your sins to another priesthood leader when the ‘Spirit’ prompted him to do so!

This happened to me as my sins were revealed to the counsellors of the Stake President & I was shocked that they knew, when I trusted my Stake President to keep secret the confidential information intended only for him. It has happened to others with devastating consequences for people’s self-esteem & trust in priesthood leaders.

And consider if the priesthood leaders goes inactive or apostacizes from the Church. Your secret confessions go with him!

I wish that woman, who was humiliated by her experience with her own Bishop, all the very best. I would advise her that she needs to trust in her own sense of self-esteem & spiritual approval.

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34 Responses to Unrighteous Dominion, Spiritual Abuse by Mormon Priesthood Leaders

  1. jen says:

    I have encountered several bishops who believed they spoke for God… all of their thoughts were God’s thoughts, and I was supposed to follow them as if they were God.

    From the bishop who told me that my (now ex)husband’s affair was my fault, because I wasn’t fulfilling my responsibility as a wife. (The only responsibility a wife has is to keep her husband happy in his home. If he isn’t happy, it’s because she isn’t doing her job.)
    The bishop who told me the only way to recover from an eating disorder was to fast… I was starving myself to death, and the man told me to do it even more… just pray while I was starving myself.
    The bishop that gave me a book on communication when I told him my husband had thrown me into the wall and threatened to kill me.
    The bishop that told me that the only thing I needed to do was pay tithing, and my PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-disorder) would be healed.
    The bishop that told me that going to a professional therapist was a sign that I didn’t have enough faith in God. The only thing I needed was God and to work with him (bishop, my judge in Israel), and I could be healed.
    The bishop that told me the only reason I would be asking for a divorce from the man that beat me was if I was sinning… and asking me to confess my sins. (Which I did, and stayed in the marriage for a while longer.)

    I also had some amazing bishops who understood that they didn’t speak for God, but they did care about me.

    The bishop who had the youth over for ice cream Sundays on Sunday afternoons… just to talk and see how we were all doing.
    The bishop that helped me get into a treatment center (and had the church pay for my entire stay), then later took me in when I decided to leave my abusive husband. He read countless books on PTSD and abuse. He told me to follow my own heart, promised I had no sins (even though I argued with him and told him I MUST, because I was so depressed), told me to stop coming to church because church made me miserable.
    The other bishop who told me to stop going to church and had the church pay for an apartment for me for six months until the divorce was finalized and I could pay for everything myself.

    Now I understand that bishops are just men… and I can take or leave their counsel after I decide what works for me. But I didn’t have the knowledge until after I’d been through hell with many different bishops.

  2. ScottC says:

    Steve,

    It’s interesting that you would try to get gain on your own blog for what another said on a different blog. Why no link to the original posting so all can see what you are referencing?

    Would it be because you don’t want others to actually see what she wrote and how you purposefully chose your words in how you responded on here to try to sensationalize the story?

    You also don’t reference her response on the original post so all can see how well she is doing and that much of her apprehension wasn’t really the whole story. You don’t state how much she loves the bishop that she was concerned about in her initial meeting and how strong she is in the church now and that she has no real problems with what happened.

    Again, I ask you Steve, what do you have to offer? What’s positive in your world? If the LDS are wrong then where is the truth about God and the purpose of life?

    Do you have anything of substance and worthwhile to put forward?

    • stevebloor says:

      Dear Scott,

      In reply, I don’t intend to offend you, but I may not answer in full to your satisfaction.

      My purpose in writing my blog has only been to raise awareness of issues with the Mormon Church which I unexpectedly discovered starting about 19 months ago.

      I do not desire to persuade you against the Church, nor deconvert you. I don’t even know you. Nor you me.

      Most Church apologists seem intent on cynical character assassination, without ever knowing who I am or how I feel.

      I was once a ‘true believer’! If anything, I and my wife, along with the hundreds of thousands of other ex-Mormons, deserve empathy & compassion as victims of what the Church perceives is deception by the devil. It could be true to say in Christian philosophy, that according to Jesus’ teachings I, & many others, are “spiritually blind”. Yet we’re often treated with fear & derision as evil apostates.

      Suffice to say I have gone through a very emotionally traumatic faith crisis, as are many others. I have desperately sought to gain insight & clarity during this process of transition, so used the action of writing down my thoughts in order to achieve this.
      I only include those thoughts here on my blog to possibly help others who are going through the same process.

      Having been through this last year & a half I am finally discovering peace & tranquillity in reality & authenticity.

      My life is full of joy & I gain daily satisfaction out of relieving the pain & suffering of others in my podiatry clinic, as well as performing weekly service projects in the local community.

      I have four wonderful teenage children, and a loving & beautiful wife. Our relationships have grown immeasurably this last year & a half as we have been able to spend much more time together than when we were active, serving, believing Mormons.

      And unexpectedly our relationships have benefited from an honesty & sense of authenticity we could never have imagined before.

      After initially studying the origins & history of the Church & finding the lies & deception at the highest level (called “Lying for the Lord” by Brigham Young), I am now more interested in studying the psychology of belief in general.

      Life is more joyful, beautiful & colourful than I could have ever imagined when I believed in God & Mormonism.

      Reality & authenticity is worth swallowing ‘the bitter pill’ for!

      I sincerely hope you find such truth & happiness yourself.

      Best wishes,
      Steve

      • ScottC says:

        Steve,

        As you said, you really didn’t answer any of the questions posed to you. I find that to be the usual case when talking with people who are in your position. They talk in generalities, state they have found their joyful bliss in life and more often then not throw in that they have an extra 10% in their bank account which is fun to use.

        As also is common, you have the victim strategy down really well and seem to enjoy it. LDS folks don’t fear you we feel sorry for you. You belong to a growing crowd of folks who think they have found some new mysteries about the church and her history. There is nothing new that is being exposed at all.

        It’s also common as is shown in your posts that people who have left the LDS church have no ability to actually state why. As in the questions I posed to you many months ago and again today, what new truth have you found? Don’t tell me what you think is wrong with the LDS church but tell everyone what new truth is it that you embrace. Shout it from the rooftops! Share it with the world! If this new truth brings you the happiness, joy, new family relationships etc then one should share it with the universe.

        So, Steve, what is this new truth?

        I feel sad for you, especially for your children who you are leading away from the Tree of Life. I feel sad for you in that you are now choosing to ignore and reject the reasons you were sent to earth and what you were to accomplish here. I’m currently writing a letter to the patriarch who gave me my blessing as I found out he is still alive. I’m thanking him for being so in tune with the Spirit and giving me a blessing that could only come from my Father in Heaven.

        There are details in it that no one could have known. I bet yours is similar to mine.

        I do feel sorry for people like you, especially since you have to troll other sites to try to drive people to yours. Sadly, I’ve had too many first hand experiences with people like you due to my various callings. I much rather deal with those who are coming back into the church like the sister you mocked in this post.

        There will be a day of reckoning, either on earth or in the hereafter, but it will come. And you as the head of your home will have to give an accounting of your actions and at that moment you will have no excuses to give to our Savior. He will inquire as to why you lead your family away from the truth and into the philosophies of men. I don’t envy that moment in time for you.

        Enjoy whatever worldly peace you think you have stumbled upon right now. It is fleeting and will not endure. I truly feel sorry for you. No need to reply since you have absolutely no intention of answering any of the questions posed to you. That is normal for people in your situation since it would make you actually think about what you are doing and you don’t like that feeling.

        Cheers

  3. Geoff Staines says:

    Scott C is using all the tools he has at his disposal to confirm his position as someone who has read the book of mormon and standard works repeatedly and come the same conclusions about the rest of the world that we all did as mormons: No one can be happy unless they are jumping through all the Mormon hoops and ticking all the boxes.

    What he is trying to say behind his thinly veiled hate mingled with “scripture” is that you are going to burn. What his subconscious mind is saying is that he wants you to be miserable like he is in his mental straight jacket. Scott is obviously highly intelligent and must be jumping through all sorts of hoops in his mind to justify being this unpleasant.

    Continue to show him the love that we all deserve and maybe he will one day decide to learn form the philosophies of many men not just one man.

    Love you Scott.

    • denise says:

      That you can say, “Love you, Scott,” tells me you are a much better individual than I, Geoff. Scott’s bitterness and hatred is very thinly veiled in my view. it is also my view that people with that kind of judgmental anger are suffering greatly. They have been “strong enough” to ignore their own sensible conclusions in order to remain in that safe cocoon of the LDS church that gives them comfort and community. It is quite clear that many of us who were able to face our fears and find our own (and real) truth were once in that same position. Thank you, Steve for your honesty. I find no other agenda in your writings than to promote honesty and love between you and your fellow man.

  4. Hi Steve. I don’t visit your blog often as you are far too intelligent for me lol, but I do pop over once in a while and always find some interesting points. I can’t offer informed opinions on a lot of the things you discuss as they are often to do with your time served as a Bishop and priesthood holder, but the conclusions I have drawn from reading much of your musings are the same – that you have integrity in abundance and that you have a pure and genuine love for mankind. Responses I read from defensive Mormons such as Scott, above, rarely show me the same characteristics. I can feel contempt coming out of every line. So to me it’s irrelevant what you are debating here because your character and your empathy speaks much louder than any LDS apologist’s illogical ramblings. Enjoy the rest of your week.

  5. Here are some new truths from someone who has been a member for over 40 years, and has held some influential callings in the church:

    Unfortunately, Joseph Smith was not a prophet, seer, and revelator as is commonly represented:

    His prophecies failed

    His seer stone let him down

    He revealed falsehoods to man- and womankind

    I would rather trust in God than in Joseph Smith’s arm of flesh. That truth brings me peace.

    Scott, you are welcome to your worldview. Perhaps you are a better person with it than without it, but unfortunately you come across in writing as a pompous ass. Consider it. Perhaps you should work on that defect if you wish to help and influence others.

    Enough truths for now. Sorry if I have offended you as much as you undoubtedly offend others.

    And I wish you well nevertheless.

  6. ScottC says:

    Thanks each of you for your replies. I appreciate that you are running to Steve’s defense when he was called out for not answering any of the questions and for trolling other sites trying to drive readership to his. Your defense of Steve doesn’t change the facts.

    The questions still stand Steve.

    It is still true that you failed to show the young lady’s reply to her own letter and how well she is doing and that she loves her bishop.

    I’ve been in numerous councils where people like you have stated the same rhetoric and it still falls flat. That’s okay if it’s your position but it’s not factual or true. People have tried to state Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet from the beginning and all have failed.

    What’s also clear and actually proves my point is that the 3 of you who responded did the exact same thing Steve did. You try to tell Mormons where they are wrong but never detail what new truths you found. Why is that?

    In other words, what do you have to offer anyone? Intentional or not, none of you has offered anything of substance or worthy of consideration. We get it, you think the LDS church isn’t true and is wrong in all ways. Got it. And? Turn the page and we find what?

    I bet each of you still has your patriarchal blessing and will read it within 24 hours. The urge to do so will drive you nuts.

    Man is not the center of the universe and thank you all for showing me that you have nothing to offer except contempt and indignation for your former church. It is true, you can leave the church but you can’t leave it alone.

    Cheerio!

    • jen says:

      As someone who was extremely hurt by (more than one) bishop(s), I appreciated Steve’s post. I don’t believe that any of the bishops that hurt me intended to hurt me. They thought they were following God, and that in itself was harmful. Telling our stories, talking about the pain IS a way to heal it.

      I find your condescension and arrogance upsetting. I have left the church, and I have found amazing freedom and hope. I have found amazing people both IN and OUT of the church. I love my life today… and I’m aware that you won’t believe me, you’ll think you know more about me or my experiences than I do… that’s okay, and I’ll admit, I would love it if you put down your mormon colored glasses, so you could understand what I am saying. I’m not asking you to stop believing in a religion you find so important, I AM asking you to understand that maybe your experiences are not the only experiences that exist. Do with it what you will.

    • Dee says:

      ScottC, I’m an active LDS member, and quite frankly i’m embarrassed by your posts. People leave the church for all sorts of reasons, whether through bad experiences, confusion, historical concerns. As a Christian my responsibility is not to judge, but to respect each person and be genuine in my care for them, regardless of their choices in this life.
      As for asking what new truths they’ve found – this seems an entirely illogical question. Discovering a flaw in logic is a discovery of a truth. If you are asking what substitute they provide for the church, do they need to?
      If I find a flaw in economic theory and publish it or discuss why the economy isn’t working, should I be attacked for failing to find what a better solution might be?

      Please stop being so defensive, can I suggest you view this video produced by a member who offers excellent advice on how to interact with people who leave the church or struggle with doctrine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZQJc5SxnVs

      Steve has his reasons and has his own experiences, its not my place to judge, I respect that what has happened to him is his experience of the world. Likewise I respect Christopher Hitchens, whilst I don’t agree with his conclusions I have to respect the fact that the man has done his research, appears genuine, and argues from the heart. I have greater intellectual respect for a considered atheist over an ignorant one any day.

      Regards,

      D.

  7. Sue Pickersgill says:

    I don’t believe that any rational thinking person would see the following two statements as MOCKING the sister in this post, quite the opposite:

    “I really feel the emotional desperation & humiliation of this woman’s situation.”

    “I wish that woman, who was humiliated by her experience with her own Bishop, all the very best. I would advise her that she needs to trust in her own sense of self-esteem & spiritual approval.”

    Very sad to hear that she was subjected to such an ordeal of protracted pain and humiliation.

    Scott C., as a self-professed man of God, I feel your remarks are sadly lacking in humility, forgiveness, love and kindness. Why do you speak in such an arrogant, condescending and judgemental manner? I’m not saying that you are those things, just that you come across as such. What happened to turn the other cheek and loving thine enemy? The D & C warns “that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

    Only the Saviour can judge and He taught that with “what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged” so your own words should ring in your ears:

    “There will be a day of reckoning, either on earth or in the hereafter, but it will come. And you as the head of your home will have to give an accounting of your actions and at that moment you will have no excuses to give to our Savior. He will inquire as to why you lead your family away from the truth and into the philosophies of men. I don’t envy that moment in time for you.”

  8. NiksiVicks says:

    Wow! I’m usually just a lurker here but I feel compelled to leave a comment today. Most unusual.

    Scott, I feel so much anger coming from you. How can you talk about God and claim the truthfulness of mormonism when you are so full of contempt? I have many active LDS family and friends who I often discuss church teachings and histories with, but with love and respect for one anothers differences. Why do you feel angry that Steve has chosen to express his views and his opinions on HIS blog?

    I’m interested that you state “People have tried to state Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet from the beginning and all have failed.” How exactly have they failed? Why are members leaving the church in droves? For me it was simple. I was desperately trying to find my testimony of the gospel when I discovered the truth. And I would certainly agree with Steve’s description of finding joy in his life and a new authenticity in his relationships. I too feel that.

    I won’t be reading my patriarchial blessing tonight as I read it just a few weeks ago when I found it at the bottom of a drawer that I was clearing out. It’s true that I read it and cried….. I cried because I felt so deceived. It basically could have been any young woman’s patriachial blessing, stating that I would be a mother, would serve with the women and Young Women of the church and would be blessed with riches in this life. The Patriarch that gave me the blessing knew me well, so it wasn’t difficult to add in things such as I’ve been blessed with a joyful disposition in this life to worthy and faithful parents. He was one of their closest friends and he is the only reason why I’ve kept the blessing, because at that time we were very close.

    I believe we are answerable only to God, not to man. He knows the true intentions of our heart and wants us to be loving and kind to one another, not tear into someone for discovering the truth and having the goodness to share it. And you don’t need to feel sorry for the likes of Steve and me, we may have been decieved for many years but we’ve managed to free ourselves and have found true happiness.

  9. ScottC says:

    Dear Sue,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. If you read what the dear sister wrote on the original blog you would understand that Steve is mocking her and her situation be even posting about it here for his personal gain.

    I am comfortable in my own skin and fully understand that my confidence and knowledge can come off as you describe. I don’t make any apologies for it because if you actually knew me you’d know me to be a loving, caring, empathetic individual who will do anything for anyone at anytime.

    Your D&C 121 quote is meaningless since my calling in the church has nothing to do with any of the posters here. As for judging, we all make a million judgments a day. You do it, I do it, everyone does it. You might want to read the JST to those verses to gain a better understanding of what it really means. And when you stop making judgments each day, let us all know because you will be the first person in history, well, besides Christ, to be able to do that.

    I think often on my responsibility with my family and how I am teaching them right from wrong. I’m fully aware of the day I will give an accounting of my time as father and husband. Hence, I do all I can each and every day to be the best father and husband I possibly can.

    Thank you for your concern.

    • Sue Pickersgill says:

      Thanks for your reply Scott. You may well be a loving, caring, empathetic individual who will do anything for anyone at anytime and it would be really nice to see that side of you. Why not show it more of it so that a more open and fair dialogue can take place. If you are empathetic as you say, I would have expected to see a little more understanding of others points of view and feelings. Or is it only those that agree with you are deserving of that?

      Surely it’s not necessary for everyone to agree on what they believe or try to prove that they’re right. Asking questions and sharing opinions can be beneficial but only if done with an open mind and without condemning someone just because they’re looking at something from a different perspective.

      You ask for exmembers to give details of new truths they have found but would there be any real point in them trying to share with you – do you GENUINELY want to hear, sadly I suspect not… When I was a member for 33 years, I was guilty of hearing others views of the gospel but not really listening. I always felt I had more to offer them. Not a very humble attitude. I am happier with who I am now.

      As for judging, I know I’m as guilty as anyone else. I know that like everyone else, I can never be perfect, no matter how hard I try , which is why Jesus paid the ultimate price for us.

      Wish you well – genuinely!

  10. ScottC says:

    Sue,

    Thank you for your well wishes and back at you. You ask a very good question about me agreeing with those who just believe like me. Here’s the rub, I asked Steve on his blog here many months ago to share what it is he has now found for his beliefs and not once has he answered the question. No one has.

    The only answers Steve shares are why the LDS church is wrong and that he has great family relationships now. Those aren’t answers to the questions posed to him. No one on these blogs answers those questions. They dance around them but never give anything concrete.

    I know many former members of the LDS church and Steve is the typical example of their comments and responses. I get that they don’t believe the LDS church is true any longer. Got it. Now what? What truth do they know hold up as true and correct?

    The questions aren’t difficult and I guess quite frankly I suppose they don’t have an answer. If that’s the case then just say so.

    If someone has moved to the Catholics, Protestants, Methodist, 7th Day Adventists, Atheism, Agnostic, whatever, just say so. No harm no foul. I just find it interesting that no one will/can answer the few simple questions posed to them.

    As for me, I have no doubt what I believe is true and eternal. The happiness in life and joys with the family that Steve describes he has now found, I’ve always had. I absolutely know that the gospel of Christ has been restored and that the LDS church is the Lord’s church on the earth.

    I’m very familiar with much of the church’s history and yes there were mistakes made in many places and times. However, that doesn’t diminish that the gospel was restored.

    If you’ve found happiness where you are now, that’s great. I just find it a bit interesting that no one is able to share what they have now found to be true; it’s just a “LDS is wrong” theme.

    I’m tired of asking the same simple questions of Steve in which he refuses to answer. Based on over 25 years of being in councils and counseling with people like Steve, his inability to answer speaks volumes and we both know why.

    I’d love for someone to tell me what new truth they have found and how it guides their life. No one wants to share.

    Have a great day! Have a great life! I’m through responding to the non-responses that are being posted.

    • jen says:

      I’ll share. I’m a little nervous to share, but I’ll talk about the things I have found.
      The biggest thing I have found is a love for life. I am aware that there are people in the church who have a love for life, but I didn’t. I was SO suicidal. I thought about dying everyday… a big reason being that I didn’t believe the church was what it claimed to be, but I had to pretend I did in order to be loved and accepted by my family. (I thought I did, I’m glad I was wrong.)

      I believed I had to turn to someone else for authority – I waited for God’s prophets to tell me how to live my life. I found a deep self-confidence in following my own truth, my own light, my own intuition that makes life bright.

      I felt upset at the things people said at church, I disagreed with so much that was taught, but I believed I didn’t have a right to my own thoughts. I found my voice. I found my opinions. I found the things that I care about, and not just the things someone else thought I should care about.

      I have been in countless abusive relationships. Physical, emotional, sexual abuse has pervaded my whole life. As I read about what is abuse, I learned that so much of what church leaders did was abusive and controlling. By leaving the abusive relationship I had with the church, I found health, freedom, love… I know that calling the church abusive might be offensive, but I have no other way to describe the relationship I had. In leaving the church, I learned how to stand up for myself, to be honest, and to not allow people to abuse me.

      I also learned to think and reason and research things for myself. There are things that the church teaches that I appreciate and agree with. There are things that I don’t.

      I also love the freedom of being able to say, “I don’t know.” I don’t know that God exists. I don’t know that there is an afterlife. I don’t know that every human being has a purpose on this earth, or what the purpose is… I don’t know what everyone else should be doing, how they should dress, how they should spend their time, what they should think… I used to feel very anxious when I believed that the whole world had it wrong (except the Mormons). It turns out everyone has their unique and individual path, and I don’t know what that is. They do.

      I don’t know if you’ll care about my list – especially since there’s a good chance that you have all those things IN the church. It wasn’t possible for me.

      • “I believed I had to turn to someone else for authority – I waited for God’s prophets to tell me how to live my life. I found a deep self-confidence in following my own truth, my own light, my own intuition that makes life bright.”<<<THIS

      • ScottC says:

        jen,

        Thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate what you wrote and how you were willing to be vulnerable to a complete stranger. I have no doubts that your experience for you is real. I’m sad to hear that you felt so controlled and abused while a member of the LDS church.

        As you say at the very end, I have all those things that you indicate that you have now, in your post LDS life, being a member of the LDS church. As I said earlier, there are many questions to which I have no idea what the answers are. However, I do know why I am here on earth, I do know God and Christ live, I do know where I came from and I do know that the Book of Mormon is true and that the LDS church is the Lord’s church on the earth. I have had too many experiences with the Holy Spirit to deny what has been confirmed to me as true. As Joseph Smith said, I can’t deny it because God and I both know what I know and it would be a lie if I tried to tell someone otherwise.

        May you find peace and happiness in your life.

  11. Sue Pickersgill says:

    Scott, just a couple of afterthoughts: members who leave are often mistakenly judged as having taken offence or have sinned, or have a desire to sin and are now under the influence of Satan! I was asked why I left but when I have tried to share my reasons, I’ve then been accused of being anti-mormon. What are we supposed to do? Lie? It’s a no win situation! This causes upset and disintergration of relationships with tbm family and friends which is hurtful and sad for all concerned.

    Ironically, those of us who were once active members do understand where you’re coming from, as we’ve been where you are now. However members do not understand where we’re coming from and more often than not don’t try to understand. Thankfully there are a few who don’t understand but don’t condemn.
    ~
    And Jen, so sorry to hear about your experiences. I hope you have found healing and life is better for you now xx

    Ironically,

    • “Ironically, those of us who were once active members do understand where you’re coming from, as we’ve been where you are now. However members do not understand where we’re coming from and more often than not don’t try to understand. Thankfully there are a few who don’t understand but don’t condemn.”<<<<THIS

    • ScottC says:

      Sue, you are correct that people who have left the church are often judged in a way that isn’t true. I could go on and on about my first-hand dealings with people who decided to leave the church but I won’t bore anyone.

      I have no interest in hearing what ex-members say is wrong or untrue about the LDS church. While I don’t know all of the history of the church, I do know quite a bit and am unphased by what some try to say is all a bunch of lies and distortions and that’s why they left the church. Jeremy does that in his posts and honestly, nothing he states is new.

      I don’t want anyone to lie. All I’ve asked for is for someone to detail their new beliefs and how they came to know those things. From what I can tell by the responses it sounds like people have just come to believe in themselves, that man is the center of the universe and that their is no God. If that’s what someone believes, great! Just say so.

      While I understand your comment about you knowing where I come from because you were once here, unless we’ve had the same spiritual experiences your statement is superficially true. Everyone has their own testimony and is at various stages along the path.

      As I said before, I’m not interested at all in why anyone thinks the LDS church if false. I’m interested in what you now believe and why. If you want to share like jen did, great. If not, that’s cool too.

      There is a deep reason why Steve has chosen not to share. Since we have walked a similar path, I’m well aware of why he won’t share and he knows it.

      Have a great day!

      • stevebloor says:

        Scott,

        I’m interested to hear how you know me so well as to know that I have deep reasons why I won’t share the ‘new truths’ I’ve found!

        I’m not so sure you know me that well!

        I’m sorry, but I keep getting the impression that I’m being taunted with scoffing remarks.

        In these circumstances I am not disposed to respond to your requests as it would seem futile, as another commentor mentioned when he referenced the goldfish bowl.

        Everyone has to discover the truth for themselves.

        I don’t respond to ridicule, but rather to sincerity.

        If you are a genuine seeker of truth you will find it. Most often truth doesn’t fit our beliefs, so we need to be humble & adaptable enough to accept & embrace truth as it appears.

        One thing I have learned, is that what I thought I knew with every fibre of my being, that the Church was true, is in fact false.

        I unexpectedly learnt that my sure knowledge about Joseph Smith & the Church, which I have defended with fervour, was based on lies & deception.

        I’ve discovered that the problem is not “that people don’t know the truth.” The problem is people ‘know’ a lot of things which are just NOT true!

        As another commentator said, part of the process is eliminating the errors in our belief system.

        The whole Mormon belief system is based on ‘knowing’ through feelings, which sadly will not cut it in the wider world of knowledge, reason & factual objective evidence.

        The quotes below applied to me as I came to realise uncomfortable truths about the Church.

        “The Bitterest Truth is better than the Sweetest Lie.”

        “The eye cannot see what the mind cannot conceive or accept.”

        I took the ‘bitter pill’ & having endured a painful rebirth am enjoying the wider world of reality.

      • ScottC says:

        Steve, your post is nothing new. Same platitude, generalities and the LDS church is false.

        As a sincere seeker of truth, I’ve already found it. I know what is true and real.

        Man is not the center of the universe as many on here insinuate. Christ indicated that the Holy Ghost would bring all things to our remembrance. I know that to be true. I can no more deny that truth then you and your belief about going barefoot is best.

        Everyone does have to discover truth for themselves and I’m glad that I found it and have shared it with others who have come to know the restored gospel is true too. What a marvelous experience it is to see people humble themselves before God and come to know that man is nothing compared to the wisdom and knowledge of God. It’s undeniable.

        There are many in the world who think they are wise among men and who foolishly pooh-pooh spiritual things as nothing. Many are ever learning but never coming to an understanding of the truth. To be learned is good if and only if one hearkens to the Spirit as the natural man is an enemy to God.

        But you know all this. You’ve had those burning experiences that only a bishop can have. You’ve had that witness burned into your heart on numerous occasions. We both know it. It’s just that one of us continues to hearken unto that Spirit of Truth and the other has hearkened unto the arm of flesh.

        The path is narrow and straight and few be there that find it. We also know that many who have tasted of the most precious fruit will turn their backs on it for whatever reason suits them at the time.

        I’ve sat in on councils where people were where you are now and they realized what they had given up. Oh the sweetness of those encounters and the joy that fills that persons soul. It’s indescribable but it’s what Joseph felt as the 3 witnesses returned to the Church and never, ever denied their testimony.

        May you find peace and happiness in your life and find the courage to actually move beyond the LDS church and live a life of freedom instead of one of regret. As Lew indicated, there is a reason why the Brethren state that many leave the Church but can’t ever leave the Church alone.

        You personify that description perfectly.

        As I indicated earlier, I think to jen, whatever peace, happiness, family togetherness etc you found since you left the LDS Church, I have exactly the same feelings while in the Church.

        Take care Steve and when you find the gumption to actually share your newfound wisdom and knowledge, I would hope you’d share it from the rooftops since it is allegedly so wonderful for you.

  12. Sue Pickersgill says:

    Scott,
    I wonder why you seek to know what exmembers now believe? Whatever your reasons, I would be more than happy to share my beliefs as long as it can be done in a mutually respectful way. They are not necessarily the same as other exmembers which is to be expected as each of us are individuals with different experiences, attitudes and feelings.

  13. Scott

    You ask for “new truths”…. but this is a very subjective thing…… what makes a “truth”, “new”? As I found out “truths” about the church and it’s leaders these were “new” to me. They were “new” because I had not heard of them. But more importantly they were “new” to me as they were not what I was taught was the truth, and I then in turn taught on as truth. Let me give you one simple example…… I at the age of 16 when I was investigating the church was taught, and then during seminary, and then in the MTC, and then I taught on in the mission field, and then I taught on in 20 years of leaderships roles within the church…… that JS method for translating the BoM was, to have the Urim & Thummin attached to the breastplate, he would look through them and onto the gold plates and the reformed egyptian would become comprehendible to him. He would speak the words and the scribe emma/martin/oliver would write down the words. I don’t think anyone active LDS or not would disagree that this is what is taught as what happened. However the “new truth” I learnt was that this NEVER was the case. At NO time during the dictation process were the gold plates or the urim & thummin EVER present! He simply would bury his head in his hat and look into the “chocolate” (there were 3 black/white/chocolate) coloured seer stone (the same one that was on the alter of the manti temple when it was dedicated) and then speak the words that became the BoM. Now you are welcome to dispute whether this “truth” is “new” or not. However for me, it simply was. Now there are over 100 issues like this that were “new truths” for me. I’m not going to go into them here as this was simply an example. Another aspect of “new truth” for me is also my post-mo life. I am far far from a rabid anti-mormon. I love the church and my associations I’ve had with it. I know I will never go back as I could never believe it again or in god at all. However, I tell you genuinely, and purely that living the life I now live, I have never been happier. Much much happier than when I was an active, temple worker, sealed, church leader. And I can only put that down to one fundamental principle. “authenticity”. Now my life is totally authentic. I am true to me. I thank the church for cultivating in me the beautiful joy in authenticity. It is ironic though, as that is the sole reason that I do not attend church anymore. I felt joy in honesty and authenticity, but found that the church yesterday (JS/BY/JT/WW) and today (GBH/Jeff Holland) LIE. I simply wasn’t prepared to support an organisation that held me to a standard of being “honest in all your dealings with your fellow men”, and then proceeds to systematically lie to me, and worse still, gets me to repeat those lies. This makes me feel sick.

  14. Oh yeahhhhh and I haven’t read my PB for over 5 years…. no plans to….. NOTHING in it “came to pass” in the 20 years I had it so don’t see much value in it to be honest. Even during those active years I used to think why oh why has NONE of it come true. I remember asking my bishop and stake pres about it, both had the typical response….. “have faith Jeremy”. But it is very hard to accept it when things in it plainly could not be possible, eg having children.

  15. To leave behind a falsehood is every bit as valuable as discovering a new truth. In fact it is exactly the same thing. Opposites you see Scott: truth is reached through the eradication of lies. Test all things and hold fast to that which is good. Gradual accumulation of real wisdom and knowledge eventually displaces empty dogma and rhetoric.

    So, our integrity is tested as part of life’s course. When we search we find for example that it has long ago been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith perpetrated a fraud upon the world in his translation of the Book of Abraham, and that he had absolutely no idea what the Egyptian hieroglyphs meant, (let alone so-called Reformed Egyptian if that even existed); and when we learn this new information what are we to do with it? Shall we acknowledge it humbly, and learn the painful lesson that JS was not God’s mouthpiece after all, even though we so much wanted him to be, and gave so much of ourselves in sustaining that vain hope? Or shall we allow pride to prevent us from learning anything new and unwelcome, and pretend that the universe still revolves around our idea of what it ought to be?

    It is very apparent where you presently stand on this matter Scott. You seem to have much to say by way of attempting to discredit others, of whom you know nothing, but in the end you impart very little because you fail to listen. There is none as deaf as he who will not hear. We have our ears constantly open, because each day for us is an opportunity to learn a new truth. Tell us please how JS could possibly have translated the Book of Abraham so badly and still have been God’s prophet. I would love to hear someone do that, and am not alone.

    Please understand this: we have felt as you now feel, but we have awoken from the dream and now have felt much more. We have learned one of life’s hardest lessons, which is to ascribe a higher value to honesty than to loyalty. Do you really believe that God will condemn anyone who does that?

    You say you want to learn the greater truths we now have. I wonder whether that is really the case. But even if it is, how might one describe to a goldfish in a bowl what it is like to live in a lake? The goldfish just wouldn’t understand.

    We can only say to you that where we presently are is much bigger and much better, than where we were when we were like you. This lake is full of revelations and discoveries. If the time comes that you overcome yourself, you may yet learn this first-hand.

  16. Sue Pickersgill says:

    This is a comment left by someone under the Joanna Brooks article. Totally agree!!

    Would the Bishop tell you everything about the Church’s past? It certainly hurts the Church to revisit it’s own past. Would the Bishop like to talk about Joseph Smith’s fraud conviction or the way he married women that were already married to other men? How about Brigham Young’s racist statements including calling for the death penalty for those who mix races? How about the fact that he preached that Adam and God were one and the same? Would the Bishop tell you where tithing money goes? I would like to know why the Church would spend billions of dollars on an upscale mall. How does that big and spacious building belong in a world where so many people are suffering in poverty?

    • ScottC says:

      Perfect example of how nothing would ever satisfy those who have left the Church. All of these have been asked and answered a thousand times. If someone doesn’t know the answers then they haven’t been paying attention.

      My bet is that none of you have ever looked up this stuff for yourself, from the actual documents. I bet you have relied on the work and interpretations of others as you troll the internet for whatever it is you are looking for.

      In the end, it usually comes down to money/tithing.

  17. Pity. I was secretly hoping you might have some confidence restoring answers ScottC about the BoA, although reason suggested you didn’t, any more than anyone else has. Jeff Holland deliberately side-stepped the issue on TV recently, so it was asking a lot to expect a lesser mortal to produce a credible response. I’m sure if you had real answers you would feel it your Christian duty to enlighten us, so your silence merely confirms your inability to deliver.

    On the subject of using primary source material, if you can pull the necessary strings with the first presidency for us to study the original BoA papyri, as you obviously have been privileged to do, then we would all feel indebted to you. Otherwise it seems we’ll just have to keep using the high definition coloured photographs which have been available to students for some decades, and we’ll keep on relying on the scholarship of trained Egyptologists who unanimously confirm that JS’s “translation” of the papyri was an utter nonsense. At least by doing this we won’t have to resort to intellectual contortionism and pretense.

    • Marc says:

      ScottC – I for one am waiting for your response confirming the truth of the Book of Abraham. Even you must admit that it’s all a figment of Josephs and others imagination – and no, it was not translated under inspiration, Joseph said this himself.

  18. When I was a branch president I was approached by a lady who wanted to be excommunicated. She explained me that she was living in sin by living together with a man without being married. She cried as she kept asking that. As I went deeper, she told me that she was afraid of marrying, that there was no sex involved due to the fact that she has been sexually assaulted by her mother when she was a child until she left home. She had such a big trauma! I told her to go home and to be happy. I refused to make a ‘court of love’ because that would just destroy what was left of her and who was I to judge her. I never regret this decision.

  19. Pingback: “The Church Is True, But The Members Aren’t!” – Why We Fear & Hate The Truth | Steve Bloor's Blog

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