“You have the right to remain silent; everything you say in the mormon church will be misquoted & used against you”.
While attending church in the Belgium Antwerp Stake I experienced something I never experienced before during my life as a member of the mormon church: Fear. I noticed that if you were not a member of certain families, your behavior was seriously watched by others. What you said, what you thought, if you played with children (yours or not). Everything. When you gave a class, if you would say something that a member of certain families would not agree, then the entire leadership, would fall on top of you. When you get home you know that the leaders are talking about you, they are giving you a bad name and before you know, when you say the smallest little thing it’s immediately considered negative or the biggest stupidity anyone can say. The Holy Scriptures teach that we should not judge and yet, mormons are the most judgemental people I ever met in my life.
I remember last year correcting something in a priesthood class and the members of the bishopric dismissed me immediately saying that I was wrong, that they would do things the way brother X taught them. Even after reading the confirmation from the handbook, brother X was the one who was right. The following week the stake president confirmed my words via mail and brother X was still the one who was right. What more could I say? What more could I do? But when brother X 14 years ago said in a talk and on a blessing to his newly born grand-daughter that Jesus Christ would return on year 2000 everybody finished with a big “Amen”. Now we are in 2009 and I still didn’t see Jesus Christ returning and I also didn’t see the Millenium as he said that his grand-daughter would grow up in… Also when a sexual education class was given by brother X to the youth (with parents attending) with explicit drawings, everybody followed it with so much interest as if Jesus Christ himself was teaching the basic principles of sex. In my wife’s family they always laughed when they remembered brother X making a drawing on the board and asking what it was and then a young woman raising her finger and proudly saying “it’s a penis, brother!”
A few years later in another unit I refused to attend a fireside on sex given by the branch president and his wife, and because of that I was accused with the most vile things someone can be accused of. Later I found out via the former primary stake president that films were shown during that fireside on sex!
If you don't belong to the elected clan, this is how you will feel sooner or later in the mormon church!
So to protect yourself you decide to be silent because whatever you say is always interpreted the totally way around. You go to church in fear, you attend in fear and when you return home you are happier than ever because the torture of attending is over and because you still have (thank goodness) a few hours to enjoy of your Sunday. Or while you return home you see your wife and children crying because of the most stupid comments people made to them (since I wrote this post I received several mails of people in the US, Canada and Belgium telling me of the very same experiences!). To ilustrate this read Ken Clark’s story. What he experienced I also experienced so often during my mormon life…
You would also feel depressive because no matter how good you would do your best, it was never good enough for someone, there was always criticism, backbiting and you would see all your work being broken down by the members of the “elected families” who supposedly knew a lot more and always much better than you and everybody else put together (once in a correlation meeting I suggested a certain ward activity which was promptly dismissed. Two weeks later, a sister from one of those elected families, proposed exactly the same activity and was received with a big “great idea sister, go ahead!!!”).
These “illuminated beings” were always above all criticism, even when they spoke the most absurd things like “the stake president wrote that but I don’t believe that he really meant that, what he meant is what I said in the lesson (even if it was in total opposition to what that member had said)…”, ”those rules are for America, not for Belgium”, “first the studies, and then if there is nothing else to do then the young men can go on a mission if they want”, just to name a few. Sometimes I wondered what kind of church I was attending, but when I fell sick in 2006 I started to open my eyes. I wanted a blessing and it was never possible because my home-teachers (bishop and his son, who happened to be the Elder’s Quorum President) were always in a very important meeting. “Not today, next week”. I would hear this week after week after week. First filling stupid reports that the church loves so much, and later when everything was done, it was the members’ turn (unless you belonged to the “elected clan”). So they would make you wait and wait and wait (you being sick or not, you having kids or not, or if your husband was in the hospital waiting for you…) until they were ready. Even a relative denied me a blessing because he was not my home teacher. After that I asked a blessing to every quorum member and I always got the same answer. The same when I asked for home-teaching. When I needed the most, nobody was there except my home-teaching companion. Once when I was a bit better I confronted them with this fact, saying that I was hurt and suddenly they all acted like they were very shocked and even dared to say that all of them wrote me and they all called me, etc. Well, I never saw them and my wife and children didn’t see any sign of them either. And my e-mail box remained empty as well. The funny thing is that they even believe their own lies! Fortunately one Sunday I went to a unit in another stake and after requesting a blessing, the bishop himself postponed a meeting he had to attend to give me the desired blessing.
Then you would see those people who had always turned their back on you give the most beautiful talks on how to serve others and leaving the “elect group members” with tears in their eyes… I was amazed with so much hypocrisy those people had in their hearts!
Something that always amazed me was the fact that the most important callings were always given to the same clan all over the stake. So you would see the same people rotate several times in the “big” callings over and over again. Who was not in grace at the eyes of those families, than it was known in the stake and you knew that you would never be called to serve in the so called “important callings”. “So much the better”, I thought. Like this I could spend my time and resources with the most wonderful people I ever knew: my wife and children. All this while others were in meetings taking care of administration (the most important thing in the mormon church) and gossiping about someone else’s private life, or about this or that brother/sister’s intervention in one of the meetings, and therefore they were not fit to receive this or that calling, etc.
When these “leaders” would arrive in church on Sundays, you would see how they behaved and how they dressed, that those “hello, how are you” (if you were lucky enough to get one) was so cold, so false. Usually when I would make an intervention in a class and someone would not agree, I frequently would hear ”well, that’s the flemish mentality, flemish are like this. If you don’t like just return to Portugal”. I could not believe my ears, I listened so often to this! I work with flemish people and none of the flemish I know (except mormons) are so arrogant as this. Flemish people are nice, friendly, ready to help, have a nice sense of humor and are thankful. Most of the mormon leaders I met here in the Flanders are arrogant, they think they are better than Jesus Christ and I even had the chance to meet one that told me that if he would meet Jesus that he would ask him to apologize to the salesmen he expelled from the temple in Jerusalem. With this you have already an idea….
Since the very beginning I tried to raise my children in Portuguese and my wife would raise them in Dutch. Like this the children would be able to speak with both families and it would be easier for them later to learn other Latin and Germanic languages. I never received any negative comment from anyone except from members of the mormon church from the Belgium Antwerp Stake. How many times while I was talking to my children and suddenly there were members coming to me saying “You are in the Flanders now so speak Dutch!” Now, isn’t this what is taught in the church lessons concerning tolerance and the “pure love of Christ”?
Last night (29 Dec 2009) I told my wife that even if the bishopric would change that I would never return to that “church”. She said “Amen” to that! Today I don’t have a testimony that the “church” is true, I know for many facts that the “church” is not true and is not what it pretends to be.
See also this article by Steve Benson, grandson of former church president Ezra Taft Benson, about his experiences in the mormon church.