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Church discipline proceedings on a member who no longer lives in the stake boundaries?


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14 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I don't know. But it is my understanding that she signed an agreement not to record the proceedings prior to her refusing to hand over her phone. Kind of makes me wonder what the point of signing the agreement was.

This agreement is publicly available in full (with names redacted) on her Facebook page. No where does it prohibit “recording devices” and it doesn’t mention cell phones. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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13 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
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In my view, this suggests that Helfer-Parker is improperly construing inappropriate behaviors (activism/opposition, "{publicly} us{ing} disparaging and vulgar language to describe the Church and its leaders," etc.) as part of her "professional activities."  If so, I don't think that's accurate or correct.

I’m sorry, but your committing a logical fallacy here.

I'm open to correction.

13 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

It’s clear that the church draws a huge line between privately held beliefs and practice and public criticism of its positions and leaders.

Agreed.

13 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

So you can hold all the views of Helfer and practice privately and never face church discipline.

Agreed.

13 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

That does not mean that Natasha’s public work is not part of her professional activities. She clearly runs both a private practice as well as a public facing practice. 

I think this is where we disagree, though not by much.  I don't see "{publicly} us{ing} disparaging and vulgar language to describe the Church and its leaders," etc.) as part of her "professional activities."  If I, as a lawyer, were to say such things, I could not reasonably say "Hey, I was just doing my job."

Again, there are thousands of Latter-day Saint therapists who rather easily puruse "professional activities" without "{publicly} us{ing} disparaging and vulgar language to describe the Church and its leaders," and without trying to characterize such behavior as part of the job of a therapist.

13 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

And please note I think it’s fine for the church to draw a line of distinction here in defining what it will tolerate. Again based on Helfer’s public antagonistic statements, I think the church has a great case based on its policies. 

Sounds good.

The Church seems to recognize that there can be some tension between an individual member's professional work and the teachings of the Church.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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4 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

exclusively on the behavior outside of her profession.

You are defining her profession more narrowly than she does. That’s okay, as long as everyone is clear on what they mean. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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4 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
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Well, no.  What "she said" is an imputation as to the motives of the stake president.  What "he said" is the stake president speaking as to his own motives.  As between the two, the latter should clearly be given more probative weight.

If Helfer-Parker has evidence of her allegation, I think she would have presented it by now (as part of her 15 minutes).

When speaking of the motives of an individual, I'm more inclined to lend credence to the individual as compared to the hostile mindreading of the other person.

If her "professional activities" had been implicated in the disciplinary proceedings, I think we would have more to go on that Helfer-Parker's unadorned say-so.

It’s not so simple. They both know what statements are problematic. He says they aren’t part of her practice, she says they are. 

That's a fair point.  I guess we'd have to consider the statements.  There are thousands of Latter-day Saint therapists who have professional practices that do not involve, as the stake president put it, "{publicly} us{ing} disparaging and vulgar language to describe the Church and its leaders."  

Thanks,

-Smac

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On 4/22/2021 at 9:57 AM, SeekingUnderstanding said:
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exclusively on the behavior outside of her profession.

You are defining her profession more narrowly than she does.

And perhaps she defines her profession in an unreasonably broad way.  "My professional ethics and duties as a therapist obligate me to publicly use disparaging and vulgar language to describe my Church and its leaders" doesn't really pass the smell test.

There are all sorts of members who publicly criticize the Church these days.  Some of this rhetoric is problematic and may merit discipline, whereas some of it is legitimate (though I question the propriety of publicizing such things).  But this sort of thing is generally better categorized as personal, not "professional."  So Helfer-Parker's argument doesn't seem to work well.  Dressing up personal opinions about the Church, couched in "disparaging and vulgar language," as "professional activities" doesn't really speak well of her professionalism.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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14 minutes ago, smac97 said:

That's a fair point.  I guess we'd have to consider the statements.  There are thousands of Latter-day Saint therapists who have professional practices that do not involve, as the stake president put it, "{publicly} us{ing} disparaging and vulgar language to describe the Church and its leaders."  

Thanks,

-Smac

Are you assuming the only issue is disparaging and vulgar language?  Because if not, then why is that evidence that it is not also about her public side of her practice?  I do not see why tone alone would determine if part of work or is personal. 

Edited by Calm
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Note: This is a general observation, and not an indictment of anyone in particular (or any particular comment) on this thread.  It's simply a general observation.  It's hard to know what to call anyone under any particular circumstance in the progressive minefield that our ever-more-PC world has become these days: After all, apparently, there are an infinite number of genders, failure to read someone's mind regarding the person's preferred form of address or preferred pronoun is a capital offense, ("OK, so, ex-ee how your preferred pronoun is spelled?  How do you pronounce that?" :huh: :unknw:)  and so on.

If I didn't know better, and I'm not sure I don't know better, I would be tempted to say that the whole thing is nothing more than an exercise in making someone an offender for a word.  You want to do you?  Fine.  Do you how you do you.  But believe it or not, the rest of us have lives to live, as well.  It really is okay if the entire world doesn't revolve around you and your wishes, even if your fondest wish is your perpetual desire to never be offended even to the smallest degree.  Maybe it's not so much about how the rest of us need to avoid giving offense (particularly when someone is bound and determined to make that impossible), and it really is about how you just might (however unlikely the prospect may seem) need to grow just a leeeeeeeeeeetle thicker skin.

Notwithstanding what the Purveyors of Eternal Indignation and Perpetual Offense might tell you, the world really isn't out to get you.  Really.  It's not.  Most all of us have better things to do, and bigger things to worry about.  Lives to live.  Really.  We'll be happy to leave you alone.  In the vast majority of cases, use of the wrong pronoun or form of address isn't a Glaring, Blatant, Heartless Attempt to Give Offense.  Most of the time, it's a simple slip of the tongue.  Really.  Honest.  Cross Our Hearts and Hope to Die, Stick a Needle in Our Eye.  Really.

 

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3 hours ago, Teancum said:

Your approach is obtuse and not just towards me.  and I know quite a bit about the LDS view of the Godhead.  But right now I no interest or time to discuss it with you.

Your response is entirely normal.  Most people don't appreciate being confronted by their own ignorance.  I never did.  The solution is to break out the books and learn something.  And it does take time . . .

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15 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

offender for a word. 

One mans “offender for a word” is another’s “disparaging and vulgar language” ;)

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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2 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

After all of this almost all of my questions and criticism's of the church continue to be procedural. And there are a few things I'd still like to know.

1- Why were her records maintained in Kansas instead of following her to Utah 18 months earlier? Did she fail to give the needed info to her Utah ward so they could request them? Was there a hold on her record? Was she already under some kind of discipline?

2- Why did it take 18 months for Kansas leaders to hold the trial. Even considering the November date they originally scheduled it for we are still looking at a year after she moved. It seems very strange to me.

3- When the trial was rescheduled, how much notice was she given? Was it months like some suggest or was it 2 weeks like Natasha suggests?

4- Was she informed ahead of time that she wouldn't be allowed to bring her phone into the meeting or was this a surprise requirement when the council started?

Depending on the answers to those questions makes a huge difference about whether or not she was treated fairly and I just don't know the answers. 

 

Something I noticed from the letter and I can't remember how we used to do it when we wrote those letters after a council. Aside from the actual loss of membership and activities she is now prohibited from, there was no mention of loss of blessings; baptism, confirmation, temple etc. She was told she couldn't attend the temple but that's not really the same thing as losing temple blessings.  Does anyone recall if the loss of blessings is usually mentioned in the letter or is that usually more of a verbal communication? Or was this letter even more vague than most?

Went through her Facebook page and she made the following publicly available:

 

Quote

I am releasing the following documents that I just sent to Stephen M. Daley, President of the Derby Kansas Stake in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Please know that I am prayerfully choosing a clinically-minded path of mindfulness, intentionality, transparency and honesty in my choices to the best of my capacity. These are my personal values which also coincide with principles of community health.

I would like to warn that this document and the fact that I am being brought to this council partly for my support for gay marriage may be triggering for LGBTQ+ members of our Mormon community. Wherever possible, where this story has become so national, I respectfully ask local community centers, mental health clinics, Pride Centers, and all other LGBTQ+ affirming entities to be aware of this particular Mormon wound so many are revisiting or currently living. We need your help. 

I would like to say that I have received much advice and suggestions from numerous people from all walks of my Mormon community... this support has carried me and sustained me in a time of personal and professional need. I will be forever grateful. At the same time, I have not heeded most of the advice. I consulted with nobody about releasing these documents. While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often relies on legal counsel, I have relied on my professional wisdom and personal spiritual tools. And both led me down the same path. 

You do You... 

Which has been sobering... to have to take the simple-sounding, yet profound advice I often share in my clinical chair, in my parenting role, and in my friendship circles. 

My warmth and love to all as always.

*I want to honor that it was in a chat with a transgender sister today where I received what I consider personal revelation of using the “You do You” as a mantra for this journey I am on. 

Document #1... My official response to my summons letter to a membership council:

April 16, 2021

Stephen M. Daley
Stake President
Derby Kansas Stake
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dear President Daley,
 I am officially accepting the invitation to attend in person the council being held in my behalf on April 18, 2021, at 7:30pm (CDT) at 1409 S Rock Road, Derby, Kansas. I appreciate your flexibility in moving the date that had originally been set for April 11, 2021.

 I understand that this council is being held to discuss what you consider my “repeated, clear, and public opposition to the Church, its doctrine, its policies, and its leaders.” I plead “not guilty.”

 As you know I did not receive your letter dated November 8, 2020 until February 13, 2021. That was the date that both my Facebook messenger and my Email account can confirm your attempt to contact me after you must have sent your letter to an old email account of mine no longer functioning. The letter I sent back to you expressing that I was willing to address any concerns locally, and my official request that my records be transferred to the Wilford Utah Stake, was sent to your email on February 27, 2021. I will attach that letter here for your council to review. You also know that a copy of your summons letter dated March 21, 2021 was hand delivered by a representative of the Wilford Stake on April 4, 2021, Easter Sunday, General Conference Weekend.

 In the short text conversations where I have asked a few clarifying questions to you and Bishop Labrum of the Bel Aire Ward, I have found out that I will only be allotted one hour for this event. This includes any persons who are willing to speak to the council on my behalf. I did request that I be allowed an hour and a half: half an hour for witnesses and one hour for me. I understand that this request has been denied. I was also informed that none of these persons could use video conferencing means to be present at the meeting (i.e Zoom). I also want to know that there was no communication to me as to how many persons could speak on my behalf until yesterday, April 15, 2021. 

You did inform me that I should send you a list of individuals willing to represent me and my reason for their participation. I submitted the following individuals and reasons: 

April 12, 2021 Andy Parker: As my spouse for the last 25 years, he is intimately aware of many dealings in regards to my relationship between my faith and my profession.

April 13, 2021 Kattie Mount, Jana Spangler, and Jody England: All are witnesses to my professional work in regards to serving LDS communities. 

April 14, 2021 Jen Johnson: Believing member in a stake presidency who attended the “Marriage on a Tightrope” class and does not agree with all of my clinical positions. 

April 14, 2021 Jennifer White: She helped me found the MMHA and also worked with me professionally for several years in my practice. I’m currently her supervisor for AASECT sex therapy accreditation and has a calling in her ward. 

April 15, 2021 Paul Shipp: He will be representing as a member in good standing who is in a mixed orientation marriage and also with expertise in social justice advocacy. *Because the summons letter stated “legal counsel may not be present,” I also included “He is an attorney by trade. But he will not be representing me legally. Nor representing his firm in any way.”

I was informed yesterday that you would be limiting the witnesses to the first 6. I have informed those individuals of their approval to participate and shared the form they will need to sign before doing so. 

I want to note that I started asking for support and speaking directly to potential witnesses as to their willingness and availability on April 11, 2021. This is because I spent April 5-10, 2021 contacting as many people as I could to see if this council could be avoided. This includes contacting and speaking with an emeritus general authority, who I will not disclose due to promised confidentiality. I was concerned about public backlash, potential embarrassment for the Church and the pain and division such public events cause our membership. Every membership council of high profile that I know of has led to members resigning from the Church, which pains me greatly. I wrote a letter to Elder Brian Rawson, North America Central Tenth Quorum Area Authority, outlining several concerns as to: 

why the council could not be postponed, 

why concerns over positions that I have held for many years were needing to be addressed now and in a stake I no longer reside in,

why concerns could not be addressed in my local stake,

several conflicts of interest I feel I have in my relationship with you personally, and 

why I was being subjected to the undue stress of travel, not having local resources and witnesses available to me, not to mention being close to my social network that could offer me support. 

An almost identical letter was also co-jointly sent to M. Scott Newbold, President of the Wilford Stake (where I now reside) and Jon Smith, Bishop of the Wilford Ward. In this letter I stated, “I would like the opportunity to speak to my local leaders about these matters or concerns. If a membership council is still needed after doing so, I would be more than happy to participate and decide how to continue forward from there.” I received the following response from President Newbold: “I wanted to let you know that we have counseled together and counseled with President Daley and feel it is best for him to handle the council in Derby, Kansas as scheduled.”

I would like to accept the offer to invite the Bel Aire ward Relief Society president to be present and provide support. Although I do not believe I know her personally, I am encouraged by the many efforts the Church has made to include its women in administrative responsibilities. I would like to honor those efforts by extending an invitation. Please let her know on my behalf. 

I would also like to request that all members of the high council attend this meeting. Section 32.9.2 of the General Handbook states “Members of the high council do not normally participate in stake membership councils. However, the high council may participate in difficult situations. For example, the stake presidency may invite the high council to participate when: (bulleted point #3) the member requests their participation.” Please let them know on my behalf. 

I would like to request that I be informed, as soon as possible, of who will be present in this membership council, as well as their current callings in the Derby, Stake. 

I am also requesting in writing, before the council takes place, what specific steps or actions are being required for me to be able to retain my membership. I have been through the Church’s formal repentance process on several occasions, and have always known what the expectations were for repair and returning to full fellowship status. I am concerned that this is not the case on this occasion. I cannot consent to reparation requirements if I am not informed as to what they are. I need time to prayerfully consider what will be asked of me. 

I understand that these meetings are respectful in nature and that participants are expected to agree to the Church’s procedures and confidentiality. Part of this agreement includes “no participant is permitted to make an audio, video or written recording” because the Church considers membership councils to be sacred and confidential. I will agree to these conditions on my end. However, I forego any confidentiality agreement on yours. You are free to make an audio, video or written recording of the proceedings as a record of this meeting. I believe it will be an important record for the field of Mormon Studies and Mormon History. Although things may be sacred, I do not see that as always equating to them being secret. A principle of good community health is transparency, and I am willing to speak to any of your concerns publicly. 

I agree that 2020 has been a very difficult year for many. I also agree that trials, albeit painful and challenging, are also opportunities for growth, learning and building resilience. I agree that gospel principles and the teachings of Jesus Christ offer many blessings that soothe my soul. His gospel teachings, which speak to: 

the need for continuing revelation, 

the privilege of personal revelation, and 

the awesome responsibility of continued education (The glory of God is intelligence. Doctrine and Covenants 93:36)

bring comfort to my soul at this time of tension between members, as we all strive in diverse ways towards the global and diverse building of Zion. 

I want you to know that this has been a season of great personal anguish and contemplation. I spent last Sunday, using the Sabbath principles to focus on prayer, meditation and attending to the promptings of the Spirit. I intentionally quieted my mind and asked my Heavenly Parents for wisdom and guidance: to be able to take care of my own needs, while simultaneously being aware of the needs of our Mormon community. For me this includes members of the Church (regardless of “standing” status) and the many others who may no longer commune with us in membership, but share our Mormon lived experience & heritage. I also asked for a priesthood blessing from my dear brother in the Gospel, Mike Hansen. And sat in a circle of prayer with my dear sisters in Zion, Jody England, Jana Spangler, Carie Fox, Sara Hughes-Zabawa and Lisa Butterworth. These heavenly pleadings and rituals, that I honor and value, have provided me with much peace and comfort. I have felt the Balm of Gilead. I can share my testimony that I have sincerely felt my God’s power, enlightenment (flow) and comfort.

I will be submitting several other documents that will address the concerns mentioned in your letter dated November 8th, 2020, as well as some of my own concerns. I know I will not have the sufficient time to do so this coming Sunday. I would like to use the time I do have, to discuss whether or not we can go forward in a mutually respectful way: where my professional ethics and best-care practices that my license depends on, can coexist with my personal faith and devotion.

I offer you the same blessing you offered me: may your family continue to be safe and well. May you be blessed and inspired as you have many difficult considerations weighing on your shoulders. 

With love,
Sister Helfer
Natasha Helfer, LCMFT, CST, CST-S

Document #2: Attachment of my letter requesting that my LDS records be transferred to the Stake where I currently reside. 

February 27, 2021

Stephen Daley
Derby Kansas Stake
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dear President Daley,

 I appreciate the time you have taken to put your questions into writing and am grateful you care enough to engage in a dialogue. At the same time, after having some time to ponder our last meeting which included Bishop Labrum, I am requesting that my records be transferred to my local ward/stake. I’m not sure why this hasn’t already taken place since I have not lived in your stake boundaries since December of 2019. You are no longer my stake president and I think it makes more sense for me to handle any concerns locally if deemed necessary. 

 I wish you and your family well in your ongoing life journey. 
Thank you,

Natasha Helfer

 

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1 hour ago, Fair Dinkum said:

But for these men, the word of a woman was NOT valued nor considered credible.

What evidence do you have that this denial was based on gender? 

Could they have instead been insistent on no recording devices because many celebrity council events in the past found a way to sneak in a recording device despite implying or saying they wouldn't?

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45 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

You are defining her profession more narrowly than she does. That’s okay, as long as everyone is clear on what they mean. 

I believe it’s quite likely that, at least in her mind, there’s so much overlap between her professional life and private life that the only time she has anything that has the semblance of a private life is when she’s sleeping.

Edited by teddyaware
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5 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

I believe it’s quite likely that, at least in her mind, there’s so much overlap between her professional life and private life that the only time she has anything that has the semblance of a private life is when she’s sleeping.

How charitable of you. 

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48 minutes ago, Calm said:

Are you assuming the only issue is disparaging and vulgar language?  

No.  I am assuming the stake president considered both the form and content of her public statements.

48 minutes ago, Calm said:

Because if not, then why is that evidence that it is not also about her public side of her practice?  I do not see why tone alone would determine if part of work or is personal. 

I'm not sure I understand the question.

I spent a few minutes perusing her blog, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/mormontherapist.  I just skimmed, but I did not see anything about pornography that seemed out-of-bounds.  She says that viewing pornography is often a coping mechanism, a position I find eminently reasonable.  She did not seem to justify looking at it, but rather seemed to take issue with the Church's approach, which she characterizes as simplistic.

Her public statements about masturbation seem a bit more "at odds."  

I didn't really notice any posts that I would characterize as containing "disparaging and vulgar language" about the Church or its leaders (or anything else, for that matter).  She writes in a frank and candid, but not vulgar, way.  But again, I was just skimming her blog.  And I have no particular interest in perusing her podcasts or other media that may include problematic materials.

Thanks,

-Smac

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37 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Went through her Facebook page and she made the following publicly available:

Gotta say, I'm impressed with her.

I think she erred in publicizing this.  And in aligning herself with folks like John Dehlin and Sam Young.  Major mistakes on her part, IMHO.  And yet I get a sense that she really does value the Church and the Gospel, something I have not felt as pertaining to some other dog-and-pony-show operators.

From her Facebook post:

Quote

"I just opened this email.

It is done.

For now."

The "for now" bit may be a hind that she intends to appeal this decision, and/or to return to membership in the Church.  I hope that is the case.  If she has been in error, I hope she repents and returns.  If her former stake president erred, then I hope that either the decision is reversed (unlikely, but possible) or, if that doesn't happen, that she waits the requisite amount of time, rejoins the Church, forgives her stake president, and moves forward.

Heads, she can win.  Tails, she can win.  It's up to her.

Thanks,

-Smac

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41 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Went through her Facebook page and she made the following publicly available:

 

 

Thanks. That does answer some questions.

1- It appears the Kansas SP sent her an email in November 2020 inviting her to the DC. She never received it. She suggests it may have gone to an old email address.  So the delay from November was not her fault. In fact, it would seem to be the SP's. As a way to avoid these kinds of missed communications it used to be that notification of a DC had to be hand delivered by MP holders or sent via certified mail. That doesn't seem to have been followed here. Has that policy been changed?  

2- The SP seems to have learned after his failure of notification the first time. He had the April letter delivered to her. Great. But it was delivered on Easter Sunday asking her to attend the following Sunday. That was 1 weeks notice. Not great. Fortunately he accommodated her request to push it back another week to allow her 2 weeks.

3- Natasha and all of her witnesses signed the document agreeing not to record the event BUT she waived her right for the church to record if it wanted to. She was not notified her phone would be confiscated and it is reasonable for her to think she would have access to her phone since she'd already agreed not to record.

 

Someone downthread suggested that these technicalities and procedural issues don't really matter, but I disagree. Just like in law, technicalities matter because it allows for a level of fairness in the system. According to what Natasha wrote, it doesn't appear that the SP followed required and established policies which made the DC unfair. The same result likely would have occurred either way but it is always important for the authority to follow its own established rules.

Obviously the SP can do what he wants and it is unlikely to be overturned on appeal. But that doesn't mean he didn't bungle things to Natasha's detriment.

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5 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

1- It appears the Kansas SP sent her an email in November 2020 inviting her to the DC.

I’m not sure the first letter was an invitation to a dc, but rather an attempt to start a dialogue. 

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6 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I’m not sure the first letter was an invitation to a dc, but rather an attempt to start a dialogue. 

ah... So I wonder if the SP was irked that she never responded and then chose to escalate to the DC.

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10 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

ah... So I wonder if the SP was irked that she never responded and then chose to escalate to the DC.

There was a Zoom call between then when he tried to ask her some questions about things she had stated publicly.  IIRC, she informed then during the call that she'd prefer him to put in writing so she could respond appropriately.  He did and then the DC notice.

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41 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

How charitable of you. 

In my mind, I wasn’t being at all uncharitable. I see this woman as such a zealot that it’s hard to imagine she doesn’t think, breathe or do anything that doesn’t have something to do with her profession. Due to this same apparent all consuming focus on her profession, It’s just as easy to imagine that after hours she uses her elevated status as a prominent liberal Mormon sex therapist to push her fervently held progressive agenda. I imagine it’s quite possible that after official work hours she spends the vast majority of he time communicating and strategizing with others of similar mind concerning what they can do to further their goals. The same could be easily said about any member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, so I don’t see my observation as being derogatory. If I’m wrong about what I perceive to be her all consuming zeal, that’s fine. My observation is based on impressions of her from I’ve what read and what I’ve seen of her in action, I’ll gladly modify my impressions as evidence to the contrary is offered that will cause me to revise my impressions.

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1 hour ago, helix said:

What evidence do you have that this denial was based on gender? 

Could they have instead been insistent on no recording devices because many celebrity council events in the past found a way to sneak in a recording device despite implying or saying they wouldn't?

I'm sure the latter is the case. Bill Reel recorded his council meeting and released it publicly. John Dehlin surreptitiously recorded a conversation with his stake president that he then released to the press. Why wouldn't they be especially careful and cautious? This isn't a gender issue.

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8 minutes ago, teddyaware said:

In my mind, I wasn’t being at all uncharitable. I see this woman as such a zealot that it’s hard to imagine she doesn’t think, breathe or do anything that doesn’t have something to do with her profession. Due to this same apparent all consuming focus on her profession, It’s just as easy to imagine that after hours she uses her elevated status as a prominent liberal Mormon sex therapist to push her fervently held progressive agenda. I imagine it’s quite possible that after official work hours she spends the vast majority of he time communicating and strategizing with others of similar mind concerning what they can do to further their goals. The same could be easily said about any member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, so I don’t see my observation as being derogatory. If I’m wrong about what I perceive to be her all consuming zeal, that’s fine. My observation is based on impressions of her from I’ve what read and what I’ve seen of her in action, I’ll gladly modify my impressions as evidence to the contrary is offered that will cause me to revise my impressions.

 

Irony Meter.jpg

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44 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

ah... So I wonder if the SP was irked that she never responded and then chose to escalate to the DC.

 

31 minutes ago, ttribe said:

There was a Zoom call between then when he tried to ask her some questions about things she had stated publicly.  IIRC, she informed then during the call that she'd prefer him to put in writing so she could respond appropriately.  He did and then the DC notice.

So listened some to her Mormon Stories interview on my run today. 
 

Timeline based on my recollection (no guarantees) and obviously from Helfer’s POV. 
 

No contact from church leadership while Helfer lived in Kansas. She moved to SLC area in December of 2019. Her next door neighbor is the Bishop and they are  friendly to each other. Attended church three times in SLC before Covid hit. At one point bishop/neighbor asked about records and she told him to go transfer them. 
 

Feb 2020 Kansas bishop calls and tells Helfer he has concerns. Parker’s daughter was stuck in another country and Parker tells bishop it’s not a good time. 
 

Sept 2020 ish bishop reaches out again and holds zoom meeting with Parker and Kansas SP. Bishop and SP have list of statements they are asking her to defend. She states they were made over a period of years and it would be helpful to see the statements in context. Parker asks for a written response summary of concerns. 
 

SP sends letter in Nov 2020 that was not received (perhaps to no longer used email address)

 

Feb 13, 2021 SP messages Helfer on Facebook and asks for an update. Helfer asked for and receives written letter.

 

Feb 27 response from Helfer to SP previously shared. 
 

Apr 4 hand delivered letter from SP to Helfer. Calling her to membership counsel. Date set to April 11. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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49 minutes ago, helix said:

What evidence do you have that this denial was based on gender? 

Could they have instead been insistent on no recording devices because many celebrity council events in the past found a way to sneak in a recording device despite implying or saying they wouldn't?

From this article:

Quote

Helfer posted a copy of the letter addressed to her from the Derby Kansas Stake — a geographic unit of the Church usually made up of several congregations — where her membership records are located.

She moved to Utah in 2019 but was asked to return to Kansas for the meeting. She agreed to the meeting but once there was asked to turn off her phone and declined prior to the meeting. Local authorities there then declined to admit her to the meeting that would decide her membership in the worldwide organization.
...
She explained in a YouTube video that before the council started she was asked to turn off her cell phone. She declined, explaining she had her notes for the meeting on her phone.

"There was an agreement that I would not record, and I agreed to that and I sincerely meant it," she said in the video. "If you can only bring written notes, why don't you put that into your consent form?"

The Church holds that such meetings are sacred. Hawkins issued a statement previously about such councils.

"Membership councils are private, sacred settings. It is common for participants to be asked to turn off technology (including cell phones) or leave it outside the room, as was the case with this council. All but one of the participants complied with that request and had brought their statements in writing. Those statements were fully reviewed and considered by the ecclesiastical leaders as they proceeded with the membership council."

Other such meetings have been recorded in recent years and released by former members who were excommunicated.

Helfer also said she declined an offer to print her notes because they also contained information that was meant only for her own eyes.

My thoughts at the moment:

1. Not having recording devices in a meeting such as this is pretty standard.

2. The stake president's apparent concern that she or someone else would surreptitiously record the event was reasonable.  We saw it in Bill Reel's council (or was it Sam Young's?  Both?). 

3. The stake president's request that she turn off her phone was reasonable.

4. That Helfer-Parker chose to publicize and sensationalize the council made the situation more difficult.  It lessens the likelihood of good faith that I would otherwise have extended, and instead places her squarely among the irritating instances of people trying to parlay a membership council into 15 minutes of fame, to exert pressure on the local leaders of the Church, to publicly embarrass the Church, and so on.  Kate Kelly.  John Dehlin.  Sam Young.  Bill Reel.  Jeremy Runnells.  I have hoped that Helfer-Parker would have differentiated herself from these folks.  Instead, she emulated them.  Pretty disappointing.

5. Her refusal to turn off the phone was unreasonable.

6. Her refusal to print out her notes was unreasonable.

7. Items 5 and 6 above make her non-participation come across as pretextual.  She was given an opportunity to both have her notes with her and attend the council.  The stake president tried to accommodate her, and she declined.  That's a disappointment.  Her emails to her stake president (quoted above) seem eminently reasoned and calm and respectful, yet also clear and firm.  

8. Her concern (expressed in her email to her stake president) about having "several conflicts of interest I feel I have in my relationship with you personally" come across and understandable and reasonable, even if not definitive as to whether that stake president should have recused himself.

9. Her request for the High Council to participate (in her email to the stake president) is interesting.  Most people would, I think, want less attention paid to a membership council, but Helfer-Parker not only publicized hers, she also asked for more participants.  In any event, she was quite correct in noting that a member can request the participation of the high council.  Did this happen?  Or was it just the stake president?

10. I think her comment to her stake president (in her email) inviting/asking him to record the council is disappointing:

Quote

I understand that these meetings are respectful in nature and that participants are expected to agree to the Church’s procedures and confidentiality. Part of this agreement includes “no participant is permitted to make an audio, video or written recording” because the Church considers membership councils to be sacred and confidential. I will agree to these conditions on my end. However, I forego any confidentiality agreement on yours. You are free to make an audio, video or written recording of the proceedings as a record of this meeting. I believe it will be an important record for the field of Mormon Studies and Mormon History. Although things may be sacred, I do not see that as always equating to them being secret.

I think it's somewhat obtuse to characterize maintaining confidentiatlity as "being secret."

Also, that she is thinking of the council as being relevant "for the field of Mormon Studies and Mormon History" seems a bit off.  

11. She apparently has publicly called the leaders of the Church "patriarchal pricks" and has refused to retract or apologize for such.  Kinda hard to square this with the "They're coming after me because of my professional actions as a therapist" stuff.

12. I think the tone and tenor of virtually all of the comments to her on Facebook are what she was looking for: sympathy and encouragement and affirmation for her, vilification and disparagement and ugliness directed at the Church:

  • They had their minds made up before you ever stepped in the building. This seems to be the outcome they needed to save their reputations. I'm disgusted. As a member and as a colleague in mental health. I admire your grit, tenacity and authenticity.
  • What is just as troubling is he showed absolutely zero interest in exploring the hard science on the things Natasha is sharing. He is blindly following instructions given him from Salt Lake without no thought at all of how many children will die by doing so.
  • This is most definitely conditional love and not even love, it's controlling, manipulative and abusive-none of which are love. It makes me sick.
  • Perhaps various media outlets would like to see this. That was my first thought. I am sorry for how you have been treated, and that the outcome is not what you had hoped for. That letter is condescending and abusive.
  • If anyone would like a classic example of Narcissistic Abuse, here it is in black and white.
  • Yeah, every word of that was classic narcissistic gaslighting with a healthy dose of sanctimonious manipulation.
  • I'm so incredibly sorry Natasha, this has been shockingly wrong and abusive every step of the way.
  • Wow. There are no words.  I stand with you. I mourn with you. And I celebrate with you.  You are a pillar of strength and truth and no council, letter, or group of men have the right to tell you otherwise.
  • This "council of love" has held nothing but disdain, lies, and heartlessness from start to finish.
  • I’m honestly so disappointed in an organization I have dedicated my entire life and money to.
  • Sue them all. Sue them for defamation and abuse.  ... They should have THEIR membership called in to question for how this went down. This was behind dirty and they had their minds made up.
  • This is an abuse of power and a violent act. I’m so sorry, Natasha. You have my solidarity. I will never support an institution that pulls this.
  • This is full of gaslighting and condescension. It reeks of entitlement and privilege and there is an underlying theme of oppression ... It’s simply disgusting and awful.
  • F**k. 
  • So it sounds like they didn’t like being called Patriarchal Pricks.
  • Ugh! Notice that they never specify what exactly this "repetitive, clear, and public opposition" is. Though from. the vulgar language comment I'm guessing it was the term "Patriarchal Prick."
  • Yeh.... THAT was a GREAT word. Tells it like it actually IS!
  • I think I’ll start a company that sells T-shirts with patriarchal pricks printed on the front!
  • The alliteration is spectacular.
  • Seems the prick is a bit sensitive... as pricks are.
  • So impressed by you. In all things.
  • It feels like the ultimate hostage situation. The SP says do what I say or else you’ll lose all the blessings like being with your family in the eternities. We will humiliate you for a year until you’ve proven yourself to our standards. That’s bullshit.
  • This is gross. So much gaslighting and control. I hate it.
  • This kind of abuse is the worst. The kind that appears so sweet and kind.  Wow. Christ's church, huh?
  • I would go to church, look this *** in the eye and take the sacrament.
  • Same here...
  • and chew with your mouth open while you do it.
  • take an handful..
  • can you imagine just clearing off the tray?
  • This is disgusting, appalling, and infuriating. I am beyond ashamed of a church who treats people this way.
  • Not surprised. This letter is full of lies, obfuscation, and gaslighting. That’s not surprising either.
  • The news outlets now need to follow up on this and embarrass the Church.
  • I'm hoping Peggy Fletcher Stack (SLTrib) works her magic to write a story that 1) is solid in terms of journalism and accuracy and ethics, but also 2) shows, however subtly, that the church is the bad guy in this disgusting "morality play".
  • A strong woman cannot stand in the church! You are loved and we are amazed at your strength!
  • I'm so sorry Natasha xxx you are clearly such a beautiful soul. No religion can hide your obvious natural spiritual energy...
  • This letter is so disturbing and wrong in so many ways. I’m so sick of being associated with this religion.
  • Such cowardly language-- "it was the decision of the council to withdraw your Church membership . . ." They don't even use the language of excommunication.
  • each year they couch their hate speech in softer cloth
  • Thousands stand with you and beside you. And we wonder which of us are next in leadership roulette.
  • Eff them. Disturbing and disgusting behavior on their part. So much love to you, I so admire you.
  • I deeply admire how honest and vulnerable and real you have been through all of it. You are glorious in every way, dear, beautiful goddess.
  • I tried my dang best to not compare Mormonism with narcissistic abuse, but this was the tipping point.

These are just a few of the first 100 or so comments.  There are many hundreds more.

She invited this public commentary.  She went out of her way to court this commentary.  She is stoking resentments against the Church.

Kinda hard to square this with her previous response regarding "concerns that {she has} encouraged people to leave the church":

Quote

The last issue, that she encouraged people to leave the church, is untrue.

I have never encouraged an individual, couple, or family that I have treated clinically, or even in my own friend circle to leave the church.

She has never encouraged someone she has "treated clinically" or within her circle of friends to leave the Church.  Well, okay.  But based on the remarks above, she seems to be inviting that sort of thing awfully much on Facebook.

Nevertheless, I hope she finds a way back.  Meanwhile, however, she's positioning herself in pretty clear opposition to the Church.

Thanks,

-Smac

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