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I just read a news article on Buzzfeed regarding women confessing abuse to their bishops. I was left with some questions about the content of the article. Any feedback to clarify will be appreciated. Especially appreciated would be feedback from people with professional training in law or domestic abuse.
The article in question is called, In The Wake Of Rob Porter Allegations, Mormon Women Say Church Leaders Encouraged Them To Stay With Their Abusers. Let me cite you a few portions from this article and address my confusing regarding its content. I will try not to cite too much as to not violate copyright protection of Buzzfeed’s article but enough to let my concerns known.
Buzzfeed bases their report on “more then 20” who spoke to them regarding their experiences in speaking with us supportive bishops and in one reported instance in the article, a stake president. Although Buzzfeed does mention several other articles having appeared reporting unsupportive LDS clergy, around 20 women does not seem representative enough for the Church as a whole. I say this fully realizing and fully agreeing with the idea that if any one of their reported testimony to Buzzfeed is too many. No abused women should find non support from anyone under the auspice of being an LDS clergy leader.
First off, was the boyfriend she’s dated attending the same “LDS church-run facility”? If so, did he see his bishop? Would anyone with first hand knowledge as to an LDS confession, including from non LDS members in “LDS-run universities” disagree that, if the report is accurate and assuming the woman from Colorado did nothing to provoke the assault (more on that in a bit), that he would not be condemned by said bishop?
Now, regarding what in no doubt controversial lanuage by me, “the woman from Colorado did nothing to provoke the assault”, let me explain. First and foremost, this woman from Colorado absolutely deserved no assault. However, that does not mean she did nothing to provoke anger in her boyfriend. No doubt Buzzfeed readers are left with the impression that she did nothing at all. That very well maybe true but not guaranteed. I’ve dated girls who’d pinch me to inflict pain because she was upset at me, I’ve been tripped out of jealous resentment by one causing pain, pulled away from hanging out with friends simply because she wanted to spend time with me after being 20 minutes separated, and other annoying events were provided to me by ex girlfriends. Everyone of those instances triggered resentment in me. In some of those cases, anger. This is in addition it my 20 years of marriage. There have been moments when my wife really has pushed me to my limits of my patience and anger. So the thought of hitting a girl has crossed my mind more than once in my life; but except for my own being a total jerk moment in 6th grade, I have never hit a girl in my life. You simply walk away, get your mind off the situation, on to something else you’re calmer or calmer and in control.
Now, back to the Colorado woman. Did she inflict physical pain upon her boyfriend? Did he hit her after she hit him? She slapped him and then he punched her in the face a couple of times? Again, she would not have deserved being hit and I believe she should not have been assaulted as she reported but her words do not vindicate her of any wrong doing so I find this reporting wanting in detail.
As for her husband, the man who developed mental illness, I think of my wife’s grandfather. After his first wife passed away, he remarried a woman who developed Alzheimer’s which became violent. At one point she tried to kill him with a knife. Eh placed her in a home and wiped out all his personal savings after insurance ran out. He paid for her stay unti the end of her life. I thought that was very noble of him. But, could he have divorced her? Absolutely. In fact, I think I would in the same situation. I’d make sure she’s taken care of to the best of my ability, but probably divorce her. As for her counsel from her bishop, I do believe that happened but under what circumstances is not known. What the bishop told her is not inherently wrong, but not correct in my opinion as per what was reported in this article. Under what circumstances would an LDS bishop counsel divorce or if they are prohibited from promoting divorce, at least think and / or feel that divorce was correct? My family was over at a friend’s house last Sunday for dinner. The lady of the house recently divorced and is a divorce lawyer by profession. Niki (my wife) and I have known her and loved her as a good friend years before there was even talk of divorce between her and her ex husband. I asked her about her experience with her bishop(s) and stake president through the ordeal. She said that although none openly advocated divorce they all knew it was the best course for her marriage. In her case, her ex husband had cheated on her several times during the last few years of their marriage, well, of their marriage and living together (the divorce took three years after their separation). She said that the stake president gave her the most grief out of all the leaders she spoke to. At one point he told her to pray again to make sure she was making the right decision. She said she simply told him no. That her mind was made up and divorce was her course of action. I told her “good”. Niki agreed with her as well as her new husband of four years, who is also very active LDS member.
I found nothing wrong or “unMormon” my friend’s response. Is there anything in the LDS Church which obligates a Mormon to obey his or her stake president’s counsel? And, if any Mormon believes he or she should, why? I understand that LDS culture does stress that many times but I have never found that foundation as correct. All LDS members should absolutely include God and living revelation into their personal decisions.
My last citation:
OK, a bishop said, ‘if you lost a little weight he wouldn’t cheat’? This sends up a big red flag in me. Under what circumstance would a bishop say such a thing? The only circumstance I can think of is a bishop responding according to his cultural learning. By that I mean his life as a whole. I cannot think of any official LDS Church teachings including conference talks, lesson mauals, and especially not scripture, which would influence and Mormon to think such a thing. This, in my view, is completely worldly, not remotely “LDS”. That said, i if there is a “Mormon culture” out there which teaches such a thing, is there any disagreement from any active / believing Mormon who would think in this manner is a result of worldly teachings?
Thanks for your time reading. I look forward to responses.
UPDATE: Taking so much time to write up this post and struggling to keep a sweet five year old off of my lap while typing all of this I had forgotten to bring up the lawyer at the end. He is stated that he in 26 years seen Mormon bishops speak to the the defense of accused male abusers but never to the female accusers. My question is of those times how many of those bishops were summoned to testify on behalf of the female accusers as opposed to being summoned to testify for the male accused? I think such data would paint a more accurate picture as opposed to Buzzfeed’s portrayal of some sort of widespread neglect amongst LDS leaders.
By Bernard Gui
Mrs. Gui and I have been involved in piloting the Addiction Recovery Program, emphasis
on the support of families and loved ones of addicts. When we had our initial experiences with
loved ones in addiction, there wasn't much the Church offered in the way of help, except
to point us to Al-Anon. Now, there are LDS12-Step programs for addicts and for families and
loved ones whose lives are messed up with co-dependency. The 12 Steps are similar to
AA, but Christ centered with quotes from General Authorities and LDS scriptures in addition
to the AA resources that are available. We have learned more about the Atonement and
its practical application in this program than we have anywhere else. It is hands-on and
I invite anyone who is struggling with any kind of addiction or who has had their lives turned upside
down by having an addict in the home to find the LDS ARP program near you. The Church
website has a locator. This is a huge step in the right direction.
These are effective spiritual tools and bring great blessings and healing to the victims of addiction!!