In January 1998 the bishop was released. In mid-May he moved to Pennsylvania. Loosing a friend was hard for me, and I mentioned the hurt to my online support group. That post apparently generated a rumor that eventually reached my stake president that Sandy was having or had had a relationship with her bishop.
On May 31 of 1998 my husband and I met with the stake president at his request. The only information the stake president had was that somebody named "Sandy" was having a relationship with "a" bishop. He correctly assumed it was with the bishop that had recently been released.
My first impression was that this was a breech of confidence. I feel
the accusations should not have been made in front of my husband. Fortunately,
my husband was aware of all aspects of my personal relationship with the
bishop. If he hadn't the results of the meeting could very well have been
disastrous to our relationship.
The sadistic and misdirected nature of the stake president continued when he asked if the bishop's wife was aware of this relationship. When we both replied no, that we didn't feel it was necessary. His reply to that was that "wasn't it a shame, that yet another innocent would be hurt".
I was questioned by the stake president on the spot, with no time for thought,
personal prayer or preparation. Later I learned, in a conversation with Eric
Hague, the stake secretary, that my punishment had been previously
planned in a stake meeting, based on the sketchy information from the
non-identified informant, and that nothing I said in defense of myself would
have mattered. What they didn't know was that the bishop had taken a special
and unique interest in me and had wisely referred me to the
stake psychologist who diagnosed me with
Borderline Personality Disorder, and that my relationship with the
bishop was called a
counter transference. Might this all have been avoided if the stake
president and his counselors had petitioned my former bishop for his side
of the story before issuing judgement and punishment on me?
But nothing mattered. In one breath he released me from my calling as FHC
director, revoked my temple recommend and told me not to take the sacrament.
The release from the calling was the hardest. It had become what is know in
borderline terms as a
major object. It was the final straw in a four-fold attack. My bishop
had been released, he had moved away 15 days earlier, the ward building was
under renovation and my FHC had been relocated, and now I lost my calling.
It was as if my world had fallen apart.
My cousin Brigham Young once said, according to The Discourses of Brigham
Young, vol 8 page 367: "You may, figuratively speaking, pound one Elder over
the head with a club, and he does not know but what you have handed him a
straw dipped in molasses to suck. There are others, if you speak a word to
them, or take a straw and chasten them, whose hearts are broken, they are as
tender in their feelings as an infant, and will melt like wax before the flame.
You must not chasten them severely, you must chasten according to the spirit
that is in the person. Some you may talk to all day long, and they do not know
what you are talking about. There is a great variety. Treat people as they are"
I couldn't have said it better! I was suicidal. I was one of those people
who melt like wax before the flame, and President Watkins chose to beat me over
the head with a club. My husband wouldn't let me be hospitalized, but he did
drive me to Leesburg three nights a week so I could spend four hours in a
support group until I could get medical assistance to cover the cost of
The following text is taken from the 1998 Handbook of Instructions.
My comments are in itallics.
CALLING MEMBERS TO POSITIONS
Everyone called to a position in the Church is entitled to be called by the
spirit of inspiration. Therefore, Church leaders should seek earnestly to know
the will of the Lord when considering the calling of members to Church positions.
When deciding whether to call a member to a position, the person extending the
call is to determine the member's worthiness, ability, and willingness to serve,
and whether the call will benefit those being served, the member, and the
member's family. After reaching a decision, the one issuing the call should
pray for confirmation of the decision by the Spirit.
They apparently exert much more care and concern in calling people to
positions than they do when releasing them. Does it never occur to them that an
on-the-spot release can be just as life-altering to a member as can be a
calling to a position?
Only those who need to know should be informed of releases before they
are announced publicly. The leader under whom a person is serving should be
notified beforehand that the person will receive a new call or be released.
This protects the person performing the release from public criticism or dissention or responsibility in the event the decision was found to have been made on information haphazadly gained or irresponsibly assumed.
10. Church Discipline
THE PURPOSES of Church DISCIPLINE
The purposes of Church discipline are to (1) save the souls of transgressors;
(2) protect the innocent; and (3) safeguard the purity, integrity, and good
name of the Church. Church discipline includes giving cautions in private
interviews, imposing restrictions in probations, and withdrawing fellowship
The first purpose of Church discipline is to save the soul of the
transgressor (see D&C 1:31-32, 19:13-20, 42:37, 58:42, and 64:12-13).
What purpose did my release serve in saving my soul? What innocent
person did my release protect, and how did my release protect the good name
of the church? Most of the patrons I served as director think the church
is crazy for throwing away a devoted, competent family history director.
Church discipline helps save the souls of transgressors by assisting members to repent. It
helps them recognize and forsake sin, make restitution, and demonstrate their
renewed commitment to keep the commandments of God. The demands of justice
require punishment or repentance for transgression.
I never recognize my relationship as a sin, I had no restitution to make,
and my calling was my major tie to the church and commitment to keeping
the commandments of God.
Often, the change that results from repentance can be brought about by informal Church
discipline, including private counseling or informal probation.
The stake president had no way to know about my past of sexual, physical and
emotional abuse and my resulting disrespect of authority and rebellion against
discipline. Actually, he made no attempt to find out. Or did he recall the
temple recommend interview I had with him when I mentioned my struggle with
borderline personality disorder and my sessions with the stake psychologist,
Roger VanKomen by name, and figure I was no longer qualified to serve as
director. That's discrimination.
A bishop (or a stake president) may temporarily restrict a member's privileges
as part of an informal probation. Such restrictions may include suspending the
right to partake of the sacrament, to hold a Church position, or to enter a
temple. Wisely administered and humbly received, such restrictions can be very
effective in helping a transgressor repent.
Unwisely administered it could lead the released member to apostasy.
In less serious cases, a bishop may determine that a member needs a more
active rather than a less active exercise of the privileges of Church
membership. In these cases, an informal probation may include positive
conditions, such as regular Church attendance or reading selected
scriptures or Church literature, for example.
This, along with retaining my calling, probably would have kept me active
in the church.
A bishop generally should not inform anyone of his decision to put a member on
informal probation. No official record is made of such decisions but the bishop
may make private notes for his own guidance.
Funny thing is, I was also instructed to keep it confidential. I had been accused of doing something by a unnamed non member, that something was interpreted by the stake president and his counselors and secretary as being sinful, and as a result I was released from my calling. And I'm suppose to lie still and not complain?
With encouragement from my LDS support group, I went a step above the stake president to the AREA REPRESENTATIVE.
The duties of the area president are listed as such:
The specific duties of an area presidency include implementing the policies
and instructions of the General Authorities presiding over them; instructing
area leaders and members in the principles of the gospel; selecting and
training regional representatives, stake presidencies, and mission leaders;
counseling with local leaders, members, and missionaries about
Church-related, personal, and spiritual problems; establishing
priorities for a broad range of Church activities; supervising the work of
area staff personnel; conferring with community and religious leaders on social
and moral issues of common concern; and making regular reports to higher
Church leaders on conditions and progress in their area.
I explained my story to my area president in a 3-page appeal letter which
brought this e-mailed
He hadn't listened to me at all!
Meanwhile I am still banned from working in the Family History Center.
And I no longer associate myself with the church. My family is
Updated 6 SEP 1999
From: "John Carmack"
Subject: Dear Sandy:
All the best to you on your problem. My advice is to trust your bishop and stake president. Do what they say and you will be eligible for the Lord's blessings. They are chosen servants of the Lord. Our prayers are with you and with them.
On July 20 President Watkins wrote to me implying I had been released for reasons other than those associated with my probation
When I began this calling the phrase that continues to echo in my memory is "magnify your calling." According to his letter it has since changed to: "As an aside, we have been counseled when a member begins to think of a calling as 'belonging to them', it is usually time for release." Why wasn't I notified of a change of procedure, and what, as I strived to magnify my calling, did he interpret as me thinking the calling belonged to me?
Apparently, the stake president has come to realized that my relationship with the bishop was not sexual in nature, but is not man enough to admit his mistake. Or was it an intentional mistake, masked as an accusation to cover for discrimination? If mistaken, I assume he realizes it was such, because he called the bishop to assist the ward clerk, and the bishop presently serves as a high priest group secretary in Pennsylvania. If there was any remaining belief that the bishop and I had a sexual relationship, would the former bishop be serving in those positions?
He hadn't listened to me at all!
Meanwhile I am still banned from working in the Family History Center. And I no longer associate myself with the church. My family is supporting me.
Updated 6 SEP 1999