There are two things I’d like to draw your attention to today.
First is a story out of Massachusetts.
After a weeklong trial, [LDS member Kevin F.] Curlew, who acted as his own attorney, was convicted by a jury on charges that he sexually assaulted a then-9-year-old boy he befriended while volunteering at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Hill Street in Methuen [MA].
Mr. Curlew’s assault of the boy began two years ago, in July 2004.
The abuse continued on several occasions at the church, while the boy’s mother attended church meetings.
When questioned by Methuen police, Curlew confessed.
Saying Mr. Curlew is a “true danger to society,” the judge sentenced him to nine to ten years in state prison, followed by ten years probation.
What really got my attention in this story was the way the abuse came to light and was reported.
- The abused boy told his mother.
- The mother told an LDS Church staff member.
- The LDS Church staff member told the Bishop.
- The Bishop told an LDS Church councilor.
- Finally the LDS Church councilor notified the State Department of Social Services.
I wonder why the abuse was reported through so many levels of LDS Church hierarchy before being reported to legal authorities…
The second thing worth noting is a story from the June 3rd LA Times. “Ex-Mormons Say Breaking Up Was Hard to Do” is a story about the Ex-Mormons for Jesus Information and Visitors Center in Orange, California.
Times staff writer David Haldane recently attended an Ex-Mormons for Jesus (EMFJ) monthly support meeting for those coming out of Mormonism. Reporting the stories of several former Mormons, Mr. Haldane also included information on the beliefs and purpose of the EMFJ Center and ministry, provided by the Center’s director, Charlotte Pardee.
- Mormons aren’t true Christians;
- Mormons follow false doctrines that preclude them from entering heaven;
- Leaving Mormonism is a profoundly difficult and isolating experience requiring the support of fellow ex-Mormons.
Not surprisingly, Tom Thorkelson, director of interfaith relations for the LDS Church’s Orange County Public Affairs Council, said none of that is true.
“First,” he said, “as a Latter-day Saint, I believe in and accept Jesus Christ as my savior. We are Christians, though we recognize that there are some theological differences.”
As for the alleged pressure on those who leave, Thorkelson said, it is no greater than that exerted by a member of any faith “who has deeply held convictions and finds somebody who shared those convictions leaving them and joining a counter group. I’ve seen lots of people whose families disowned them because they became members of the Mormon faith.”
I don’t think Mr. Thorkelson quite gets the point. The allegation that other faiths may be hard to leave does not bear on the truth or falsity of the EMFJ position: that leaving Mormonism is profoundly difficult.
“Our purpose,” said Pardee, who has never been a Mormon, “is to help Christians understand Mormonism and to give Mormons a place to come when they start doubting their faith. I’ve shed more tears over Mormon souls than I did over my husband’s, before he was saved.”
Mr. Haldane reported that the EMFJ meeting opened and ended with prayer. One person prayed for the Mormons and the LDS Church, that God would intervene and “turn the hearts of the Mormon elders…turn that church around, Lord.”
Clearly, the EMFJ ministry and the people involved care deeply about Mormons. Many have been hurt by the LDS Church, but rather than retaliate or seek vengeance they pray for those they believe are still lost.
Compare that attitude with the LDS spokesperson’s response. Rather than expressing sorrow for those he believes have gone astray, rather than tender concern for their painful experiences, Mr. Thorkelson is defensive on behalf of the LDS Church and mildly rebukes the ex-Mormons:
“I invite anybody to examine the lives of friends and neighbors who are practicing Latter-day Saints to see if they are striving to lead lives consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Rather than denigrate other faith traditions, we prefer to build relationships and let our lives speak for themselves.”
Well, in my opinion the stories, lives and prayers of former Mormons speak volumes and should not be ignored.
For anyone seeking help–those doubting or wanting to leave the LDS Church–the Ex-Mormons for Jesus web site can be found here.