Sunday, December 5, 2010

Even Church Leaders Are Not Safe

I learned that even church leaders were to be feared and not trusted.  After my mother left her third husband and after being raped church became a place that I feared.  Having to see my rapist every Sunday was something that I was forced to do.  And if I ever tried to get out of going to church then my mother made sure to lecture me on how it is my own fault and that I have to attend church because it was my only chance at redemtpion.  I tried to keep my head down and tried very hard to never be alone while there.  I would usually find some missionaries to hang out with.  They thought it was because I had crushes on them.  When it was simply so that I would not be alone.

When I was about 14 we had a new branch president.  Our church had to few members to be called a ward and have a Bishop so we had a branch president.  He was very hands on with the young women.  To understand what is going on you have to know how Sundays work.  For Mormons there is 3 hours of church.  The first hour is usually everyone in the chapel for sacrament and talks.  The next hour is Sunday school where all the girls and boys are together.  The second hour the girls and boys(once teenagers) are then split up for Young Women's and Young Men's.  I had never seen a branch president so involved in the young women's classes.  Almost every Sunday he would be there.  Usually a Bishop or Branch President would attend only once a month and even that was not regular and only for a few minutes.  So this was very unusual.  Then it changed that any time the teacher could not attend then he was teaching us.  This was fine at first.  He stuck to what was in the book.  But then a few minutes at the end of class it would switch to him talking about art.  OK that is fine. We all enjoyed art.  He talked a lot about Greek statues and pictures.  Then he started to bring pictures.  At first they were not very graphic.  But then one Sunday he brought a picture of a completely nude statue of a man.  One of the girls asked him if we should be looking at that.  His answer was that it was art so it was OK.  We had always been taught that any kind of nudity was wrong so this was confusing for us but we didn't question it.  He was our branch president after all.

Several more weeks went by and during this time more and more time was being devoted to talking about "art".  Then he brought in some photographs of people nude.  The same girl again questioned him on it.  Asking him why this was OK but pornography was not.  He said that standing nude for art photos is not the same thing.  One was OK and one was not.  Again a few weeks went by of him telling us this and bringing in more and more photos.  We were curious so we did check them out and ask questions.  Then he started bringing pictures and younger and younger people till they were young teens like us.  All the time telling us that this was OK because it was art.

 I was getting increasingly uncomfortable about it and tried to discuss it with my mother.  She told me to stop spreading lies.  That the branch president would do no such thing.  And that the church taught us that a leader would be removed by God if he tried to lead us astray.  I was confused.  At this same time though my mother was having an affair with a missionary.  This was a big no no.  And I did not know at the time that the branch president knew and was hiding the info for my mother.  This missionary ended up being sent home from his mission disgraced because of their affair.  After talking to my mother I didn't know what to do.  He was a leader and I was taught to never question my leaders.  Then my mother invited the stake president over for supper one day.  During dinner he asked my sister and I how we liked our classes.  My sister was older then I was so was not in the same class as me.  My sister told him about some of the things she was learning.  Then he turned to me.  I immediately started to describe the "art" lessons.  The Stake President looked alarmed but said nothing.  He asked for some descriptions of the pictures and some of the things the branch president was saying to us.  My mother started to act shocked.  Saying she had had no idea and she wished I had informed her sooner. 

After the Stake President left I got a sound beating for talking behind an adults back like that.  That I had no right to spread such filth and so on.  And she said I would look like a fool when the truth came out.  She went on to say how ashamed she was to call me her daughter.  That Sunday the branch president never showed up for church and we never saw him again.  I later learned he was exed from the church.  And when my mother learned of this I again got a sound beating for leading another man astray and for causing him to think such impure thoughts.  I could never figure out how I was causing men to go "astray" so I started to spend more and more time alone and in my room.  I hated everything about me.  Hated the "effect" I seemed to have on people no matter what I seemed to do.

Then a year later when I was 15 an adult man in our branch became interested in me.  At first it seemed normal.  He had a daughter that went to school with my sister.  He was married also.  He talked to my mother about driving us all to school and back home after.  She was fine with it.  After a few months of this he started driving me more and more alone.  I trusted him since he was a member of the church and had callings.  His reason was that my sister and his daughter always got rides with friends and preferred that then driving with the old man.  He would ask me tons of questions about my day and me.  I never had my mother interested in any thing I did so I talked and talked.  After a while he started writing me letters.  This seemed fine at first.  It was basically just the same as our conversations.  Then he started signing them Love *****.  I thought of it as more of a father daughter type thing because I saw him as more of a father figure.  Then he started turning the conversations to be about polygamy.  He said our church still believed in it and that to get to heaven that a man had to have multiple wives and the wife had to accept the other wives for them to get in as well.  This became a constant topic that he would go on and on about.  Then one day he handed me a letter after he had drove me up to my house.  When I went in an read it my blood ran cold.  He was telling me that God had told him that I was to be his second wife.  This scared me to no end and I ran to my mother crying.  She read the letter and then slapped me across the face.  Demanding what he and I had been doing.  Screaming at me for again leading another man down the wrong path.

I don't know what happened after I talked to my mom but he never came to pick me up again.  Though he did follow me for weeks after and even left me love letters.  I started throwing them out because every time I would give one to my mother I would get a sound beating for them.  Luckily we moved a few months after that to another province.  But for years my mother took pride in telling people that I was such a whore that I could not leave branch presidents alone or even married men.  I constantly felt like I was being watched and hated.  Being alone became my only option.

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  1. Yes it is true... even Mormons are not perfect! Heavenly Father knows all. It's just a shame that you couldn't have grown up in one of those "perfect" Mormon families... the ones that seem to radiate Heavenly Father's love all the time. However, we must all go on regardless. It is very hard and we struggle. Long suffering indeed. Broken heart and contrite spirit indeed.

  2. I never said Mormons are perfect. Never even implied that they are suppose to be. These are my experiences with the churchs, their leaders, how I was raised in it and so on. If you had better experiences I am glad for you but my experiences are different. Mormons have just as many dirty little secrets as any other religion might have and that is a fact that even members of that religion must face.

    1. That's true. None of us are perfect. I'm just sorry that you have had the experiences you have. Many I can relate to...some not. Regardless...hugs!