Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Letter they Should have Written

I received the following letter from a friend, and found it very worthy of publication. This issue is personal for me, and I invite you to share this letter far and wide as an example of the type of response that is needed:


Sunday, March 25, 2018

To: Members of the Church

(To be read in sacrament meetings worldwide)

Dear Sisters and Brothers throughout the world:

It has come to our attention that a life-long Church leader named Joseph Layton Bishop, has confessed to immoral and inappropriate behavior with women who served under his direction in the Church over the years.

We do not yet have the full details of this man’s confession nor do we know the extent to which his actions have injured others, but because we are so concerned about those things he has already admitted, and because we take sexual abuse so seriously, we choose to share the information we have so that other victims, should there be any, will feel empowered to come forward.

In our continued effort to abolish all such abuses in the Lord’s Church, we invite all victims of church-related sexual abuse, regardless of age or gender, to contact Church Headquarters immediately at (801) 240-1000.

Let it be known that our only objective is to root out predators and their accomplices, find and identify victims, and expend every spiritual and earthly resource at our disposal to counsel, restore, nurture, and heal all those who have been injured.

To this end, we have decided to suspend all temple building projects worldwide until this matter has been fully resolved. It does no good to expend consecrated resources building temples when, at least in this instance, the very leader we believed we were inspired to call, has by his own admission, been defiling the sacred temples of the young women he was entrusted to protect. The sacred funds will be used to make reparations to whatever degree possible, recognizing fully that there is nothing we can do or say to restore that which has been lost.

On a related note, we now wish to address the obvious; we have a problem at the foundation of our Church. We, who have asked you to sustain us as prophets, seers, and revelators, have failed to righteously magnify those sacred titles and callings. This man passed numerous worthiness and temple recommend interviews; he was entrusted to be a mission president not once, but twice; he was allowed to be alone with vulnerable young women, all while having the heart and mind of a sexual predator. How this happened is a most haunting question, we, The First Presidency, must answer. At a minimum, since we cannot guarantee the safety of our youth, we can no longer allow them to be alone with Priesthood leaders, as we have heretofore permitted.

As imperfect men aspiring to be the Lord’s servants, we acknowledge that this unacceptable oversight demonstrates we were not inspired by God in calling this man, and have lacked discernment and revelation, as we have collectively interacted with him over the last 40 years or more. For this error, we are deeply sorry. We take full responsibility for our collective carelessness. We should have discovered this predator sooner, and we are ashamed that these women were placed in a position to be abused because they trusted their priesthood leaders, while ultimately serving the Lord under our care.

Any effort by anyone, especially by Church leaders, to downplay the seriousness of these charges is completely unacceptable. We refuse to focus on protecting ourselves or the Church when we have failed to protect these victims. Repentance requires that we act without hypocrisy and without guile in this matter, so that we may receive forgiveness, and the victims may receive healing from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
We acknowledge we have lost your trust, and the only way to earn it back is by uncovering darkness and bringing truth to light. To you who are victims, we express our greatest sorrow and beg for your forgiveness. Please contact us. We promise to protect you this time, and to do everything in our power to assist in your healing.

Sincerely your servants,

________________________________

________________________________

________________________________
The First Presidency

13 comments:

  1. Part 1:

    For comparison, the official church response on 3/20 and 3/23/18. Of note is that this is a corporate response. It is a fact that nobody signed their name to these statements, so as to hide behind the corporation.

    From https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/statement-former-mission-president-alleged-abuse-joseph-l-bishop-march-2018:

    In response to questions from multiple media outlets about allegations that a former Church mission president committed sexual assault, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

    These allegations are very serious and deeply disturbing. If the allegations of sexual assault are true, it would be a tragic betrayal of our standards and would result in action by the Church to formally discipline any member who was guilty of such behavior, especially someone in a position of trust.

    This matter was brought to the attention of the Church in 2010, when this former Church member, who served briefly as a missionary in 1984, told leaders of the Pleasant Grove Utah West Stake that she had been sexually assaulted by the president of the Provo Missionary Training Center, Joseph Bishop, 25 years earlier. They listened carefully to the claims being made and then this was immediately reported to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, and the police interviewed her at that time. The Church does not know what she said in that interview, but the Church received no further communication from the police concerning the matter.

    At the same time, the Church referred these allegations to the local ecclesiastical leaders of Joseph Bishop. Those leaders met with Mr. Bishop, who denied the allegations. Unable to verify the allegations, they did not impose any formal Church discipline on Mr. Bishop at that time.

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  2. Part 2:

    The matter resurfaced in 2016 when the same individual contacted a stake president in Pueblo, Colorado, and then again a few weeks ago in January 2018, when the Church was contacted by a lawyer representing her. He provided a copy of a recording that she had made of a conversation between her and 85-year-old Joseph Bishop in December 2017. Since that time, the Church has engaged in an investigation of this individual’s allegations. In the course of that investigation, both she and Mr. Bishop have been interviewed by outside legal counsel. Not surprisingly, the stories, timelines and recollections of those involved are dramatically different. This woman reaffirmed her allegations, and Mr. Bishop has again denied them. We have no record of an interview between Elder Carlos E. Asay (1926-1999) and this individual.

    The Church, as a religious organization, does not have the investigative tools available to law enforcement agencies. Nor can the Church substitute for the courts in adjudicating legal claims. The Church has great faith in the judicial system to determine the truth of these claims. Nevertheless, the Church takes seriously its responsibility to hold its members accountable for their conduct with respect of the laws of God and man. To that end, the Church is continuing its investigation of this individual's claims and will act consistent with its long-standing policy of no tolerance for abuse.

    Updated Statement

    March 23, 2018

    We share the anger and distress Church members and others feel to learn of incidents where those entrusted with sacred responsibilities violate God’s commandments and harm others. Such behavior is repulsive and sinful. The Church is looking into all aspects of the assertions on the recording of Joseph Bishop. This includes the work of outside legal counsel, who are interviewing priesthood leaders, family members, law enforcement officials and others with knowledge of these incidents.

    We are aware of one other woman (who is referenced in the December recording) who informed her local ecclesiastical leaders that she was sexually abused by Joseph Bishop while he served as president of the Missionary Training Center. When she reported the alleged abuse to her local Church leaders in 2010, they provided emotional support as well as professional counseling services. Mr. Bishop’s local ecclesiastical leaders were contacted and they confronted him with her claims, which he denied, and local leaders did not feel they could pursue church discipline for Mr. Bishop.

    On Wednesday, the Church, along with media outlets, received the unredacted police report from BYU Police, which included an admission of inappropriate sexual conduct. We are committed to bringing accountability for what has occurred.

    Sexual abuse cannot be tolerated in the Church. We continue to urge our leaders to take reports of abuse very seriously. Leaders should call the Church's abuse helpline, which has been established to assure that victims are cared for and that abuse reporting laws are strictly obeyed.

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  3. Adrian,

    If those in this "movement" were to take their covenant seriously, and actually live the doctrine of Christ, which means blessing (in action) those who have cursed them (the leadership of the LDS Church), what would that look like? Could it be your own "statement" that the principles you espouse actually have application and are even written on your hearts?

    What would be the letter that you in the movement (collectively) write to them (your 'adversaries')? Would it be condemning or an expression of love?

    You've penned the lyrics but it's time to sing the song, which will be as unique as a snowflake or a fingerprint or as a carved piece of art.

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  4. Was Joseph able to discern all of those who were not worthy or who were friend and not foe? John C. Bennett comes to mind. Even if he did not ferret these guys out ahead of time, I still consider Joseph to be inspired.

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    1. On the other hand, when Joseph received reports of sexual impropriety, he aggressively investigated them, and took appropriate measures against those who were involved. The LDS church had, at last count, 5 separate reports about this man, including to general authorities, who, evidently, did nothing.

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  5. The church handbook was just updated to reflect changes in regards to how bishops interviews, etc., are conducted.

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    1. Just in case these points are lost of some folks:

      1) The Church response above on 3/20 and 3/23 was undoubtedly penned by the Church law firm. I mean, seriously, what are the chances that an actual Church leader (ANY of the top 15 men) penned the letter independent of the law firm? I'm 99% this came from the law firm and NOT from any "ordained" GA. It was clearly written with every intent to protect the corporation LEGALLY, with a close second to make the Church look as savory as possible in the eyes of the sheeple.

      2) Were the Handbook changes (see below) a "revelation"? No, just a policy change. And to my point above, what are the chances the Handbook updates were NOT written by the law firm? Try 0%.

      I just read the letter (about the changes) that was issued yesterday. The relevant part about interviews is here, and I do believe this is a brand new addition (a "revelation" from the law firm) to Handbook 1:

      When a member of a stake presidency or bishopric or another assigned leader meets with a child, youth, or woman, he or she should ask a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. If the person being interviewed desires, another adult may be invited to participate in the interview. Leaders should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood (see Handbook 1, 7.4)


      This is something that wise leaders are already doing.

      The bigger question is why are the youth interviewed at least twice a year in the first place?

      The mainstream Mormon answer: "Actually, I've not thought about it. But I guess the reason could be to help the parents encourage their kids to live the gospel."

      The handbook answer (7.1.7), which you can find on the Internet:

      1) "The importance of sustaining the President of the Church and other general and local Church leaders should also be discussed."
      2) "Another matter for discussion is the importance of obeying the commandments, particularly:"
      2a) "...paying a full tithing."
      2b) "...refraining from any kind of sexual activity, and refraining from viewing, reading, or listening to pornographic material."
      3) The interviewer gives "special attention to their preparation for a full-time mission.
      4) The interviewer "encourages young women to support young men in accepting mission calls. Young women of eligible age who desire to serve a mission may do so, but they should not be pressured to serve."
      5) Lastly, sexuality is mentioned AGAIN: "When discussing moral cleanliness, the bishop adapts the discussion to the understanding of the youth. He also ensures that the discussion does not encourage curiosity or experimentation."

      The real answer: To mind condition, to create a connection with a church leader that will last into the future, for the purpose of encouraging a dependence on and reverence for Church authority.

      Is there really a need for ANY interviews? NO. Unless the parents or the youth request help.

      The danger: Handbook 1 (as quoted above) encourages the interviewer TWICE to broach sexuality. Yikes! "Danger Will Robinson!" Obviously, a sick individual predator like MTC President Joseph Bishop can take full advantage of the situation. Also, voyeuristic sickos can manipulate the youth to talk about stuff they have no business divulging to anybody.

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    2. Though the update to the handbook today was a baby step in the right direction, we should note two things:

      First, they re-affirmed the practice of having the parent or other adult wait in the next room. This is not a change at all. Waiting outside while your child went in alone with the bishop has been standard practice as long as I can remember.

      Second, offering to allow a parent or another adult in the room is NOT a change or concession. Parents have, and always have had, the RIGHT to supervise their children and ensure they are not locked in a room alone with an adult man to talk about sex. This RIGHT did not suddenly come into existence because someone changed the handbook. It has ALWAYS been the God-given right and obligation of parents to protect their children. The church cannot take that away, nor can they grant it, because they do not control it.

      When I told my bishop, several years ago, that he did not have permission to interview any of my children without me present, he readily agreed.

      So the change to the manual changed NOTHING.

      A real change would be to MANDATE that there is ALWAYS a parent or other trusted adult in the room. Period.

      Likewise, they should stop the unscriptural, and incredibly destructive practice of shame-based "worthiness" interviews over made-up rules that did not come from God or scripture. Stop asking children about sex and masturbation. It's that simple.

      http://www.totheremnant.com/2016/08/the-name-of-jesus-christ-conclusion.html

      At some point, if this doesn't change, the LDS church will be sued or regulated out of existence. You would think both leaders and LDS members would be anxiously engaged in changing this destructive policy before it's too late.

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    3. I was curious, so I dug up an old copy of Handbook 1 to compare to yesterday's changes.

      Old Version of Section 7.4: When a member of a bishopric or stake presidency meets with a child, youth, or woman, he asks a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. A parent would usually be available for a child. The leader should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood.

      Section 7.4 version as of yesterday: When a member of a stake presidency or bishopric or another assigned leader meets with a child, youth, or woman, he or she should ask a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. If the person being interviewed desires, another adult may be invited to participate in the interview. Leaders should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood (see Handbook 1, 7.4)

      Changes:


      Added: "another assigned leader" meets with a...
      Changed: the interviewer "asks" a parent... was changed to....the interviewer "should ask".
      Deleted: "A parent would usually be available for a child."
      Added: "If the person being interviewed desires, another adult may be invited to participate in the interview."


      So it went from "ask" a parent to be near, to "should ask". Neither one sounds too "mandatory" or like a mandate. So I agree, Adrian's suggestion is much clearer as a firm requirement. A real material change might read as follows: "When a member of a bishopric or stake presidency meets with a child, youth, or woman, a parent or other trusted adult must always be present in the room."

      The addition, as of yesterday, gives the ridiculous implication that it's the CHILD who decides if another adult is invited to the interview or not. A predator interviewer, could always justify to himself or others private interviews "because the Handbook says the child never requested another person to be present."

      In summary, the changes made to Section 7.4 actually embolden predators rather than putting preventive measures in to safeguard the youth. Amazing.

      Honestly, such youth interviews cannot be justified at all. I've already shown (above) that the official reasons for the interviews are to encourage idol worship (sustaining men who aren't true prophets), to give money to the church, to open up conversations about sex and "hopefully" detailed confessions of impropriety, and to encourage mission commitments by the YM, and to encourage peer pressure by asking the YW to encourage the YM to go on missions.

      I guess the Church must feel the risk is worth continuing the shame-based interviews. The Brethren must feel the payoff for the Church is greater than the potential liability.

      Delete
  6. Mormons like to say that Ex-mormons can leave the church, but they can't leave it alone.

    Joseph Smith was told: "you cannot always judge the righteous, or ... you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous." Christ chose Judas Iscariot as an apostle.

    Now, you can say that you're trying to make some other point, but it probably only appears that way to you. To me (and others) it looks like you're saying that the church must not be led by prophets because they couldn't tell that this man was wicked. Not a great argument, scripturally speaking.

    You removed what I thought was a really good post a while ago. The title was something like "Starting right to go right." It was about a women's council meeting. To me it showed a lot of humility and a strong desire to figure out what God wanted and to do it. IMO, you should put that post back up, and remove this one.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      You might notice that I really don't blog about the LDS church anymore, and have not in some time. I made an exception in this case because this is such a vital and destructive issue, and I care about and love those who are victimized by this evil system pretending to be the Lord's.

      Before you trot out your tired "you can leave the church, but you can't leave it alone" line, you may want to consider the following:

      1. I was sexually abused by a church leader as a youth. I bear those scars today. I have an obligation and duty to do all I can to protect others. Hell yes, I can't leave this issue alone. And if you were abused by a priesthood leader, I believe you would feel the same way.

      2. My son suffered from these abusive interview policies, including tragic mishandling of a critical situation by our bishop. Fortunately, my son trusted me enough to tell me what happened (after he suffered silently for months) and I was able to advocate for him. I met with the bishop about what happened to my son, and the Bishop made commitments to address the situation. But he never did. Even with my help, advocacy, and counsel, my son still bears emotional trauma from those incidents.

      If you don't care that this is happening to our youth and other vulnerable populations of our brothers and sisters, then by all means, leave it alone. I will not.

      As for the point that leaders are not led by revelation, I agree that it may not be particularly relevant. Everyone, even leaders, can make mistakes. But when the mistake is discovered, the true nature of the leader and the church is revealed by the response. General authorities were informed numerous times about this abuser and they did nothing.

      After I was abused, my parents and I met with my stake president, then regional representative (back in those days). Ultimately, nothing was done, and the man in question continued working with youth for many years.

      This must stop. I can't imagine faithful LDS people defending this practice at this point. The LDS church is the only major denomination that still allows one-on-one interviews of this type with youth. It is too dangerous.

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    2. Anonymous wrote, " Christ chose Judas Iscariot as an apostle." I have seen this thrown around numerous times as reasoning for a leader not having the "gift of discernment", as if Jesus Christ Himself didn't know Judas was a traitor.

      While I certainly agree that leaders often lack the gift of discernment, this was certainly not the case for our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ chose Judas as his disciple precisely because he knew that Judas WOULD betray Him, thus enabling Christ to fulfill his Divine destiny to overcome death and complete His atoning sacrifice.

      Additionally, I have heard people reason that Christ's Apostles also were not able to discern Judas as a traitor. At that time, Christ's Apostles had not come unto their own. The did not have the Gift of the Holy Ghost until after the resurrection. They did not make any claim to be Prophets, SEERS, and revelators as do some we know today.

      A SEER who claims to have the gift of discernment should exhibit the fruit of that title or admit that it is just that, a title.

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  7. Thank you for your response. I apologize. I understand your motives better now. Keep up the good work and God bless you.

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Hey everyone,

It's been brought to my attention that comments from mobile phones might not come through in some situations. If you commented and it hasn't appeared, try sending from a computer or other device, or use the "Contact Me" tool to reach out to me personally. Sorry for the problems!