Unpacking the Polygamy Wound

Most families (and most individuals) lug a couple of proverbial storage trunks around with them. Into these, we pack the unpleasantries. The first trunk hides away the things we hope go unnoticed, often facts about our history we’d rather no one realize or things we’d like to forget. In the second trunk, we store our unexamined behavior and ignorance because out of sight and out of mind seem to belong together. We don’t reach into the first often, but we reach into the other too often. It shouldn’t surprise us that Mormonism also hauls around the same two trunks; after all, Mormonism is a collection of human beings, each linked as family in the way of strong cultures. The existence of these two storage trunks in Mormonism doesn’t diminish the many wonderful things each openly displays, like our love for God and one another. Yet, we can’t fully know ourselves unless we examine the things we’d prefer not to look at, nor can we grow fully. Continue reading “Unpacking the Polygamy Wound”

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Protect LDS Children with Reason, Not Hunger

The Protect LDS Children movement aspires to eliminate closed-door, one-on-one interviews between LDS lay leaders and the under-aged members within their stewardship. The movement is led by Sam Young, a former Mormon bishop, who rightly asserts that closed-door interviews may groom young members for abuse by adults because of the way it normalizes sexual subjects in adult/child relationship. Young has collected thousands of survivor stories and garnered 56,000 signatures on a petition which asks the Brethren to end the practice. This week, Young launched a new initiative, which he told Mormon Happy Hour (MHH) is titled “Hunger Strike and Spotlight.” It is three-pronged, incorporating a hunger strike, an effort to focus attention on the hunger strike, and, lastly, temple-side chats with individuals of the Brethren about the pitfalls of closed-door, one-on-one interviews. He is also asking the 56,000 petition signees to join him by fasting during his hunger strike. (Pls see Correction)

I support the goals of Protect LDS Children. I signed the petition, and, in the vein of “there’s no such things as bad publicity,” I will do as Young asks by shining a light on his effort right here, right now.  What I won’t do is pretend to like Young’s hunger strike. Continue reading “Protect LDS Children with Reason, Not Hunger”

Polygamy Culture and Temple Rites

In my previous discussions of polygamy culture, I mentioned that the 19th century practice of Mormon polygamy has had a lasting impact on the emotional health of contemporary LDS women, but I shied away from a detailed discussion of how the still-present practice of sealing multiple women to one man negatively impacts LDS women. At its core, polygamy culture continues to thrive because of this issue. And, in reality, the ways the current practice of temple-authorized polygamy (geared, to be clear, for the next life) are so numerous that I can only scratch the surface here. But it’s a surface that must be scratched until the problem is clearly exposed. Continue reading “Polygamy Culture and Temple Rites”

Why Race Matters

I am white. I grew up in a very conservative home in a very conservative suburb of Los Angeles County. The headquarters of the John Birch Society was walking distance from my house. In my 12 years in one school district, I never had a black classmate. Then, in my late teens, I joined a religion just stepping away from a doctrinal stance that denied black men the priesthood and all people with “Negro blood” access to temple worship. Across 40 years, I’ve watched as the LDS church first claimed that “the curse of Cain” was God’s will, and then shifted, insisting the Curse had been policy, not doctrine.  I watched as the Church was pelted by the undeniable reality that its leaders had taught bigotry as if it were the word of God. I’ve watched the Church limp hesitantly toward an accountability it doesn’t want to bear. I’ve watched. Safely distant. Comfortably oblivious that some of my brothers and sister were living it all like a daily beating.

On May 17th, 2018, top LDS leaders met with leaders of the NAACP. During that meeting, a devastating hoax was perpetrated against black members of the LDS church, all in the name of satire. Continue reading “Why Race Matters”

Polygamy Culture, Pt II

My recent post regarding polygamy culture, followed as it was by this interview from Sisters Quorum, has raised some controversy. The discussion has rankled some LDS members who perceive the phrase as an attack on Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. In other quarters, some claimed “polygamy culture” is just patriarchy. Today I’ll address both these arguments in brief, acknowledging that, like any developing concept, growth and adaptation are likely ahead. Continue reading “Polygamy Culture, Pt II”

Polygamy Culture

There’s “rape culture,” and then there’s “polygamy culture.”

Most people understand that “rape culture” is a term that identifies ways a society blames female victims for the inappropriate (and often criminal) behavior of men. The classic example is the man who asserts a woman “was asking for it by wearing that short skirt.” Polygamy culture, on the other hand, is one in which a man is, essentially, justified (or too-readily forgiven) for inappropriate sexual behavior while the woman who refuses him is villainized.

Both rape and polygamy cultures are generous to the man and critical of the woman; however, polygamy culture excuses itself, not by blaming the woman, but by claiming, in one form or another, that the compassion of God rests with the man. In polygamy culture, the woman is either seen as unrighteous for not giving consent or not seen at all. Too many Mormon women are abused by polygamy culture.

These are a few examples of what polygamy culture looks like: Continue reading “Polygamy Culture”

The Bishop, the Mission President, and the Sexual Predator…Now What?

It sounds like the lead-in to a bad joke, but the reality is, Joseph Bishop, a former LDS bishop and repeat mission president, is also a sexual predator. In the recent MormonLeaks audio release, a former female missionary confronts Joseph Bishop, her MTC Mission President in the 1980’s, about his attempted rape of her in the basement of the MTC, and then levels additional accusations of sexually predatory behavior with other women, including another young female missionary. He withholds confession of the attempted rape (he just doesn’t remember that pesky detail; it was so long ago), but aligns himself with adulterous husbands and accepts the title “sexual predator” without denial. To make matters worse, priesthood leaders up the chain of command—specifically Carlos E. Asay (deceased) and Robert E. Wells (emeritus)—took no disciplinary action against him. In fact, they allowed him to remain in his positions of authority and did not prevent him receiving other assignments in which he had private, intimate contact with vulnerable women. Needless to say, people are talking. Screaming. There is justifiable, warranted outrage. But the one thing that I have not heard anyone say is “I don’t believe it. This could never happen.” Continue reading “The Bishop, the Mission President, and the Sexual Predator…Now What?”