After reading reports about the Associated Press’s “expose” more than implying LDS Church culpability in certain cases of actual sexual abuse of children by “members” of the Church — and the joyous pleadings on social media from every corner of the LDS Haters Club — I have some thoughts, to put it politely, the last polite framing included in this commentary.
Let me hit the highlights in brief. First, to the LDS Haters Club members, fuck you. Get a life. You’re no victim of the LDS Church. The LDS Church as an institution did not victimize you. No LDS Church doctrine has victimized you. You are a victim of a person, your own issues, or your own decisions. Second, to any lawyer or LDS Church leader who cockblocks justice in any way against child abusers, fuck you too and you should be fired, disbarred, or dishonorably released or excommunicated, respectively.
As for putting AP’s “expose” and LDS Church “members” in quotes above? AP did its job and reported on a newsworthy issue, but it did not expose an LDS Church full of pedophiles. My guess is that AP employs more child abusers per capita employee than the LDS Church membership per capita. But that’s just my uninformed opinion. I do not know. But what I do know is, in other words, the LDS Church is not culpable for child sexual abuse just because the LDS Church exists — much to the dismay of members of the LDS Haters Club.
Second, a sexual abuser of any sort, of children or adults, is NOT a member of the LDS Church. In other words — and I’ll take this point slowly for all of the assholes who cannot process an intelligent thought beyond their own perceived victimhood as “former members” of the LDS Church — if a member on the rolls of the LDS Church behaves in any way that would get that member excommunicated but hasn’t yet just because that behavior has not come to light or has not yet been adjudicated by Church authorities, that “member” is a de facto excommunicant. If Brother Jones sexually abuses his daughter Jones, Brother Jones is an excommunicant regardless if nobody other than God Himself knows about it. So both AP with its implications and members of the LDS Haters Club should shut-the-fuck-up about ideas of LDS Church culpability for merely existing and maintaining self-proclaimed “members” upon its membership rolls.
Now let’s address actual culpability or what arguably could be culpability by the LDS Church in cases where members still on the rolls of the Church — be they members who believe they are faithful members or members who have disassociated from or disavowed their memberships — commit crimes and, in this case, crimes of sexual abuse against children or adults.
As a matter of fact, like it or not, a bishop or stake president is protected legally — and even constitutionally — to not report such abuses to secular authorities EVEN WHERE STATE AND LOCAL LAWS “MANDATE” IT. The ecclesiastical/parishioner privilege is the same as the attorney/client privilege. Again, like it or not. LDS Church guidelines on such privilege are no different than a state bar association’s guidelines on such privilege.
These public debates about culpability are really about the IS versus the OUGHT — what actually IS versus what actually OUGHT to be. Perhaps surprising to some folks, I am an OUGHT person (read: Justice). In other words, if I were an LDS stake president and a member confided to me that he abused or regularly abuses his child or children, I not only would excommunicate him, I would turn his perverted ass over to the police. That is the OUGHT.
In such cases, I would care nothing about the IS regarding perceived guidelines. That is to say, I would risk my own release or my own excommunication to act the OUGHT rather than act the IS regardless of LDS Church guidelines for stake presidents in these instances.
So, IS a bishop or stake president culpable in not reporting to secular authorities a case of sexual abuse? As it happens, official LDS Church guidelines mandate reporting. In practice, LDS Church lawyers get all legal and default to their lawyerly idea of protecting their paying clients — which is why the Book of Mormon condemns the practice and culture of lawyering. That defense practice is evil. Justice is about truth. It is not about “providing a defense” regardless of the truth. A “Church Court” does not behave that way. Yes, certain high council brethren are assigned to “represent” the accused but the primary goal is the discovery of truth and not a representation of wrongdoing.
If the LDS Church is culpable in such cases, its culpability regards hiring these asshole lawyers who do not think like prophets, seers, and revelators — even when some of these asshole lawyers are called to be lower-level LDS General Authorities. LDS Church lawyers who both practice law on behalf of the Church and serve in official Church callings have divided loyalties. I have witnessed it time and again. The LDS Church would do well to have the asshole lawyer retire professionally before calling them to a General Authority position — or don’t call practicing assholes to become General Authorities.
A special note to all of my faithful but uptight (typically Utah) LDS friends who think anything said negative or negatively referenced about any LDS Church representative is “speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed”: Thank you for caring about my eternal soul and for defending your faith but your worldview — your Church view — is as fucked up as the apostates to whom you’re really referring. On point, do I believe as apostates that President Nelson or any other apostle would ever call or have someone call a local leader, silence him, and order him to not report sexual abuse to the police? No, I do not nor would I ever believe it. No. In fact, I believe the opposite. I do believe they required the Church Handbook to mandate reporting.
Back on track. Who IS culpable and, in addition, who OUGHT to be culpable?
In the Arizona case reported in the AP story, the abuser IS culpable. Of course, he IS. So IS his gutless, perhaps also perverted, wife-bitch referred to in the AP story as a “mother.” No other person IS culpable in that case. Neither IS the LDS Church.
Okay. Now. Who OUGHT to be culpable? First, the pornography industry OUGHT to be culpable. The abuser was an admitted porn addict and even published his abuse of his daughter as pornography on the Internet. By the way, if you have a problem with that point, you have a totally fucked worldview — and you OUGHT to be culpable too.
Any other person who knew of the abuse but did not report the abuse to the police OUGHT to be culpable. In that judgment, I include local LDS Church leaders. If a local LDS Church leader knew of the abuse but did not report it to the police, his loyalty was to LDS Church lawyers and not to the victim. He OUGHT to be culpable — and by culpable here I mean to act out anything from depths-of-hell repentance to hanging yourself as Judas did.
LDS Church lawyers who counseled local leaders aware of the abuse to not report it to the police OUGHT to be culpable. In this vein, ANY and EVERY LDS Church General Authority and LDS Church employee who has any part in the hiring of justifying, asshole defense lawyers OUGHT to be culpable. If justice means “the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God,” all lawyers, but especially lawyers representing the LDS Church, should not defend crime, particularly confessed crime. Lawyers representing the LDS Church in any matter should defend the Church against injustices — not commit injustices.
On this last point — and trust me when I tell you this — my mind’s eye goes to lawyers working for the LDS Church’s primary law firm — lawyers whom I know professionally (some personally) from past experience — who would look me in the eye, without breaking a wrinkle, without a wink and a nod, and explain to me how lawyering works according to the Utah Bar Association. The IS. They will tell me the IS — much like King Noah told Abinadi the IS. To them I say, go fuck yourselves, and I hope you suffer the same fate that you dole out in the corrupt ether of the IS.
Am I missing anyone?