Guest Post by St. Ain’t: “Everybody put your hands up!”

In a few days, SLC will be cheek by jowl with party members ready for the annual “I’m part of the Mormon elite, how ’bout you?” zip up your magic Wonder Undies and join the General Conference doodah parade on Temple Square. Members will be solemnly asked to raise their hands and sustain the board of directors, um, the general authorities of LD$ Inc.

But how effective has the practice of sustaining its leadership been in stemming the flood of abuse cases in the Mormon church? Is a balance between supporting the church and providing protection and support for abuse victims possible? Let’s examine the last few decades.

If you look at the number of reported incidents of ecclesiastical abuse (see Mormon, coupled with the number of court cases in the US alone, to cite just a few. Using this method has been as effective as calling 911 six months after a life-threatening emergency.

“Sustaining leadership” is one of the many tools of coercion used to keep the church members in lock-step with the ga’s humanly flawed will. It is a weapon of fear used to muzzle victims and parents who, in good faith, go to their Bishop to report abuse. And it is the nail in the cognitive coffin for those, like me, that have gone to their leaders expecting help and instead are told to keep quiet and not harm the church, don’t hurt the priesthood holder/guilty party, and to acknowledge their (the victim’s) part of the blame. The victim’s silence is then guaranteed for the rest of their lives by having it become a condition of Temple recommends, church callings, and their exalted (or not) status in the next life.

Can you imagine a 9 year old standing up in church and voting to not sustain a Bishop because she had told him in her baptism interview the year before that her Daddy touched her in naughty places and she begged the Bishop to get him to stop, but the Bishop did nothing? Should the mother stand up instead, when she has been told by that same Bishop that the abuse happens because she hasn’t been ‘submitting’ to her husband as instructed by the scriptures?

Or maybe the 12 year old boy who’s been abused by his Scout leader since Webelos? Certainly not the boy’s father, who was abused by his scout leader 20 years before and the dad’s church calling (and in many cases his job) is dependent on sustaining the ward and stake leadership.

The church says that it is perfect, but the members are not. Then why does this perfect church act more like a corporation intent on the $$$ bottom line, than the disciples of christ it claims to be? The LDS church declares itself the “one true faith”; yet Mormons share the same horrific record as Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox Jews and other insular religious societies; 1 out of 4 Mormon girls, 1 out of 6 boys will be abused.

Rather than change procedures to protect its most valuable asset (children, as future members) the church seeks only to limit its liability. The CHI tells the Bishop to check with local and state laws first, and only to notify authorities in abuse cases if they are required to by law. And the church has a cadre of lawyers assigned to challenge those legal requirements. It’s about monetary liability, not moral obligation to its most vulnerable members.

Christ said suffer the children to come unto Him; shouldn’t this apply to the victims coming to their church leaders for protection, counseling and ultimately, healing? Unless the church faces up to the fallibility of its leadership and changes policy and procedures accordingly, the abuse will continue.

Until then, raising your hands serves only to stir the hot air spouted from the podium.

7 thoughts on “Guest Post by St. Ain’t: “Everybody put your hands up!”

  1. Has that ever been what sustaining is about? Abuse is a criminal act. It should be reported and prosecuted. Those who shelter abusers should be prosecuted too. Sustaining is just a formality not justice. The sad part is when people expected churches to do the right thing. By now we should expect differently.

  2. yet Mormons share the same horrific record as Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox Jews and other insular religious societies; 1 out of 4 Mormon girls, 1 out of 6 boys will be abused

    Not sure where you get these figures from, but they seem inflated well beyond the point of absurdity. I can’s speak for Mormons, but I suspect their record (not counting the “fringe” groups that do child marriage) is similar to that of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is very low, as the following link indicates:

    • Mr Goat,
      RE: “1 in 4…”
      That number comes from the Boy Scouts of America and the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse. They both have multiple sources (ER, police records, state mandated reports, child protective services etc)
      As comfortable as believing that falsehood might make you, the numbers are not inflated. In fact, they are low, as the greater number of assaults, abuse, incest and rape go unreported.
      None of these figures come from an “anti-” source, either. The numbers are garnered from response personnel who’s “agenda” is only to protect and help the victim.

  3. Arthur, it was suggested by a church member on this blog that sustaining (or not) the church leadership was the proper venue for handling abuse.
    You are very correct that abuse is a criminal act, but the fact is the lds church has tried to avoid both obligation and litigation by instructing the Bishops to report the crime only where specifically instructed by law. And to use “penitent privilege” to shelter the abusers and to excuse themselves from liability.
    I hope you visited the above cited websites to read the particulars; the complete list would crash the site.

  4. Well-written, heart-rending, enraging. When will the members figure out that a church’s purpose should be about making their lives better, not the other way around? It’s a feat of diabolical brilliance that persuades them to keep bending over and submit cheerfully to their dehumanization by a fucking corporation, the leaders of which only care about their image and their bottom line.

    P.S. St.ain’t, you are such a good writer and so insightful, I keep wondering if/when you are going to start your own blog? Awesome post.

    • Thank you Ahab- I knew you would have helpful (hopeful) and relevant
      comments. I would encourage readers to visit your blog, Republic of Gilead,
      as you seem to always have a finger on the pulse of the right. Which is no mean feat since the beast seems to have at least 8 arms.

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