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.

Not So Perfect

If you haven’t paid a visit to Cognitive Dissenter lately, you ought to. This post eviscerates the notion that The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsTM is perfect, despite the traditional saying that “the Church is perfect, even if the people aren’t.” It’s a damning collection of information. It would take quite a bit of Kool-Aid to overlook it all and not simply be taking the piss when you deny it.

But let’s say all of that factual information doesn’t matter. Let’s simply examine the structure of the church to see whether or not it is perfect, despite the failings of its people:

If the Church is perfect even though the people are not, then the Church ought to be structured in a way to have checks and balances on human imperfection.

The organisation that makes the rules is the same organisation that investigates violations of the rules. Conflict of interest much? You couldn’t run a government or a charity that way. If human imperfection is inevitable, then why doesn’t LDS, Inc. have a clear and public method of reporting abuses, addressing dysfunction, and exposing malfeasance on the part of volunteers and paid staff?

If the Church is perfect even though the people are not, then why don’t leaders have to go through a repentance process when they wrong a member under their guidance?

Have you ever received horrible counsel from a bishop? Stake president? Oh, you too then? Did anybody ever apologise? I’m not talking about publicity stunts like paedophile priests washing feet. I mean a simple, clear, heartfelt apology as part of a repentance process when an all-too-human Mormon ecclesiastical leader harms a parishioner intentionally or unintentionally. Have you ever heard of that happening? Me neither. Are you aware of any policy requiring this in the Church Handbook of Instructions, or even informally? Me neither.

A church that is allegedly perfect would have to deliberately look out for ways to compensate for the mistakes and abuses of men given substantial amounts of power over other people. These failsafes simply don’t exist in the LDS Church, and when someone is hurt, they are usually ignored or shrugged off as collateral damage. A perfect church would recognise in advance that it would have to do a good deal of repenting on a regular basis.

Mormons, please stop repeating this bloody nonsense that the Church is perfect. You’re only enabling the systematic devaluing of people who have experienced abuse and driving more members away from you. Sorry if I spilt your Kool-Aid there, but perhaps it’s time for you to consider a more grown-up beverage anyway.

Apparently Billy Ray Don’t Watch South Park

/ begin rant

I think my face might be melting here. Miley Cyrus’ little sister is launching a lingerie line for girls, including couture that could be used as costume pieces for a film version of Lolita. In the announcement of the new fashion line, the thing dressed like a street-walking tart is nine years old. That’s the “designer” and the daughter of country music one-hit-wonder Billy Ray Cyrus, who now makes a living pimping his offspring.

Dear Billy Ray:

You are turning your daughter into a Stupid Spoiled Whore(TM). When adult women behave this way, it’s awful enough. But a child deserves better than a parent who encourages her in this behaviour. Do not be surprised when, to top this year’s accomplishments, little Noah makes a sex video on her tenth birthday.

/ end rant