483-486: Christine Jeppsen Clark, Daughter of General Authority Malcolm Jeppsen

July 7, 2014
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261843_989736917299_5910793_nChristine Jeppsen Clark is a mother of six, a former Mormon Tabernacle Choir member, a Ph.D. graduate student focusing on dementia, and a dear personal friend.  She is also the daughter of the late Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen — former LDS General Authority, personal physician and best friend to Elder Boyd K. Packer, and a GA who was directly involved in the excommunication of Avraham Gileadi (one of the September Six).  In this multi-part episode with Christine we discuss:

  • What it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s in Salt Lake City as a very orthodox, devout member of a somewhat elite LDS family.
  • What it was like to grow up the daughter of an LDS General Authority, who was both a physician to, and best friends with Elder Boyd K. Packer
  • Elder Jeppsen’s personal and direct involvement in the excommunication of Avraham Giliadi — one of the September Six
  • How such an orthodox, committed LDS family including Christine (the daughter of a General Authority), her husband David Clark (former bishop of eight years, recent Stake Presidency member) and four of her six children could ultimately decide to leave the LDS Church, and
  • What it’s like to leave the LDS Church as a grandparent in your 50s and 60s.

Below are excerpts from “Up Close And Personal: The Life History of Malcolm Seth and Marian Jeppsen” relating to Avraham Giliadi (pages 433 – 437), shared with permission of Christine Jeppsen Clark (editing for spelling/grammar by Christine).  This excerpt describes how Elder Jeppsen was directly involved in the excommunication of Avraham Giliadi — a member of the September Six — all while the LDS church was claiming that the September Six excommunications were local matters (see here for the history surrounding the denials of high-level GA involvement in the September Six). As the LDS church claims that the disciplinary councils of Kate Kelly and myself are local matters — this provides important insight into how LDS General Authorities influence local leaders in such matters (acknowledging that my disciplinary council is not yet a foregone conclusion).

“A Widely Known Priest Crafter.”

“In October of this year another challenge presented itself concerning a brother who lived in the Salem Stake. His Stake President was President Randall Gibbs, an oral surgeon. The man had studied for a year in Jerusalem and then placed himself up as a “Jewish Scholar,” and became a true priest crafter. He would go up and down the state giving lectures on the end of the earth, etc., for $50 admission fee. He wrote a book entitled “The Last Days,” and that’s how I got involved. The Ensign was going to print a chapter of his book, which became immensely popular, as an article in the magazine.

I was serving on the Correlation Committee of the Church at the time, and our committee looks at everything the Church publishes, even music it sings or letters written by headquarters or anyone else, etc. The chapter was obvious false doctrine. We disapproved it, and even contacted the members of the Twelve whose responsibility was Deseret Book, and they agreed it was false doctrine.

His stake president was not interested in doing much about the problem. I prodded him two times and actually gave him a copy of a report from the correlation committee outlining his false doctrines that he was teaching. On his third visit to my office he thanked me for my counsel and was leaving when I put my arm around him and said “We’re short on counsel in this office but long on direction. I’m directing you to take action to correct or else excommunicate this man. He cannot be allowed to be teaching what he is teaching and remain a member of the Church.”

Still nothing happened, so he was released as a stake president. The new one called was a professor at BYU by the name of Leaun Otten. He was appraised of the problem, and moved to correct it quickly. I gave him permission to use his regional representative in any fashion he wanted, to cross boundaries of responsibility, and gather whatever evidence he felt he needed.

Let me just tell you what happened on the other side of the telephone call I made. President Otten came home from work that day really troubled about this disciplinary council he was going to conduct on this brother the following evening because of only having one witness. He even said to his wife I’ve had the feeling that my Area President is going to call me with another witness, and had barely said it when the phone call from me rang through. When I went to talk to President Otten on the telephone he didn’t answer. I was wondering what was the matter, when it finally dawned on me that he was in tears. He finally got out, through his crying, the statement :” President Jeppsen, we know who runs this Church don’t we”? To which I agreed we did.

I went to the meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve that morning being held in the upper room of the temple where we were always invited to meet with them, also the first Thursdays of each month, and reported directly to them what had happened. They were most interested in learning of this incident.

The brother was excommunicated, and immediately the next day other dissidents who heard about it came to him wanting him to sign on to a full page ad in the Tribune blasting what they were calling religious freedom. He would have none of it. Telling them he had made a mistake, but he still loved the Church immensely and would stop his seminars, etc., and do whatever he needed to do to get his membership restored. This he was faithful in doing, and in about 18 months he was rebaptized into the Church. I sent him a letter of congratulations when that happened and called it to the attention of the First Presidency.”

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236 Responses to 483-486: Christine Jeppsen Clark, Daughter of General Authority Malcolm Jeppsen

  1. DaughterofGod
    July 31, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Dear John and Christine,

    This is was such a heart-breaking interview, I just had to comment! It was so sadly devoid of the Spirit. It is only the second MS podcast that I’ve heard, (the other being the interview with Benji Schwimmer which was also terribly sad) but I have to say that I really don’t think these podcasts are positive or helpful! :'( (I know I’ll get slammed for that.)

    I just want to tell you both that you are in my prayers. I am sorry that you both have allowed yourselves to lose your testimonies of the true gospel. The 12 are apostles of Jesus Christ. They are prophets, seers, and revelators. They know how to lead this church. I am so sad to hear you critique them. They just don’t want us to delve into things that make us confused. They want us to stick to the basics. Those basics brings us happiness! I know Joseph Smith was a prophet. And I know he was commanded to practice polygamy just as in ancient times. Read Fair Mormon, it is so clear. Today, President Monson is a prophet. He preaches love and kindness, to be like the Savior. Please recall the feelings of the Spirit that you once felt and knew. Living the gospel brings peace and joy!

    The most painful part of this interview is when you both talked about stopping reading the scriptures and PRAYING! And you were both laughing about it! :'( Prayer and the Spirit are what guide are lives to the truth! Those feelings are REAL! The gospel only teaches people to be happy. Are you guys really happy out of the church, critiquing it, and without prayer, and the Spirit? I honestly love and will pray for you both and your families. I pray for all those you influence. God bless you both. <3 <3 <3

    • Zack
      July 31, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Dear daughter of god…..takes courage to come in this setting and respectfully give a different prospective.

      • DaughterofGod
        July 31, 2014 at 10:40 pm

        Thank you, Zack. Love to you.

    • tropical animal
      July 31, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Dear daughter of God,
      My dear loving sister, I know you are a very loving and caring person. And love is above all, above everything else, more important than anything else. I am also sad, that I can’t enjoy the full impact of your loving personality. But unfortunately to be where you are (which I was) I would need to compromise my intellect and reasoning. But to
      experience the loving interaction of loving people like you, I believe I would do just that. But this is the point that I want to make with love. It is for you and I to be able to sit together happy and comfortable in the same meeting hall and enjoy each other’s loving companionship. Please pray that the powers that be will grant us this.

      Love you so much, my sister.

      • DaughterofGod
        July 31, 2014 at 10:45 pm

        Tropical Animal, I do believe that the powers that be would grant us this! God is LOVE. He knows our hearts and will bless us accordingly. Love you too. God bless you. <3 <3 <3

  2. Dawn
    July 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I listened to the whole thing. I really feel for this family. The overriding thought I kept having was it must be really hard to live in Utah. I think a lot of pressures people have there are not the same everywhere else in the church.

  3. Jan Crane
    August 4, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Just finished listening to Chris’s story! WOW- it is so much like my own. Makes me wonder how many of us there are ‘out there.’ Like her I have been a lifelong, very active, faithful member- holding many leadership callings (my husband, too.) I too lost my faith in the divinity of ‘inspired’ priesthood leaders. . .having a gay son was the start and seeing how the church actively worked against equality with Prop 8. Further ‘forbidden’ reading (I strongly recommend “Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith”) and struggles with polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, and women’s issues lead to my eventual departure.

  4. Tyson K
    August 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks Christine and John. This was extremely enjoyable and the insightful. So very happy your children are all with you in various stages and admire your courage to follow the truth wherever it leads. Your thoughts around priesthood blessings hit very close to home. Wishing you all the best.

  5. LiloD
    August 11, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I grew up in a Utah Mormon community about 5 years ahead of Christine Jeppsen Clark. Her descriptions of the roles and expectations of girls and women that existed in the Mormon culture, and also in the greater American culture, were very familiar to me. However, something that was not familiar was the statement she repeated many times through the podcast :”We do it because the Lord wants us to.” While it seemed to be almost a mantra of her family, I don’t remember my own parents ever saying anything like that. This isn’t to say that my parents didn’t think God was important, but rather that God is most pleased with us when we make decisions using judgment based on the best that we find inside ourselves, using rational thought, personal conscience, and the teachings about love that came from Christ. Our family accepted doubt and questioning as natural, rather than fearful, and from my youth, I knew I could choose which parts of the rhetoric, folklore and Sunday School lessons were believable. I’m sure that her family had higher status and confidence from the “brethren” than my family did. My father was a Sunday School teacher, not a Bishop. My mother directed the road shows, rather than leading the MIA. But I think it is interesting that, all these years later, Christine and her family have basically left the church, while I and my family are still in it. I stay in the church, not because I believe everything connected with it to be flawless and true, but because I find much there that makes me a better person.

    As I’ve heard many stories on this podcast and other places of people in faith crises, I’ve observed that those who have suffered the most are those who have had the most uncompromising testimonies. It reminds me of the old Chinese proverb ‘A tree that is unbending is easily broken in the buffetings of the wind’.

    Perhaps the future of the church depends not on families who teach uncompromising testimonies, but on families which allow openness and flexibility.

  6. Mike X
    August 14, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    This story spoke to my heart. Christine’s experience and thinking is similar to my own and it’s refreshing to hear such an articulate account. Thank you, John and Christine for supporting me mentally emotionally while I transition out of the Church

  7. Patt
    August 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you for your poignant discussions which I listened to in their entirety. I was especially moved by the final segment in which you grappled with a definition of Mormon doctrine, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was to obey church authority. When I realized how my mind and will were being forced into a mold many years ago, I decided to leave the Mormon church. It broke my heart to lose the church community in my life, but that was better than losing myself! Today, as I listened to your discussion, I really got it that the Mormon Church is a cult, a very subtle cult, with many positive qualities that attract those who long for community and the safety and surety of having ‘the truth.’ Cults rely on ‘the burning in the bosom’ for proof of the truth they preach. But this burning is only an illusion of confirmation. Reading descriptions of cult characteristics helped me to lay to rest this one last concern I have had about my departure from the Mormon church. It had troubled me for years. No longer. Peace and blessings to all who struggle with this!

  8. LizPK
    August 28, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I just want to say thank you to John for doing these interviews and sharing them. Found some of your videos on YouTube a couple weeks ago and they have given me a lot of hope and strength that I am not alone in this journey. Thank you Christine for sharing your story. I’m only 27, but grew up as a literal TBM. After years of doubts and struggling with a spouse that no longer believed, I finally got the courage to study Joseph Smith and church history a couple months ago and quickly discovered all of the truths that I had never learned while in church. Anyway, I recently told my parents that I no longer believe in Joseph Smith and can no longer trust church leaders. I am the 3rd of my 6 siblings to leave the church. My parents are still unyielding. Christine, your story gives me hope for my parents who are in their 50’s, and your story also resonated with me and my experiences while growing up in the church. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Rose
    August 30, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    This podcast really helped my Mom. She spent her life serving the church and raising 10+ kids in the gospel faithfully. She didn’t finish her college studies but devoted herself fully to raising a righteous family in the church for almost her whole life. This podcast was really encouraging to my Mom and I am sure it was to other older women who have found themselves out of the “religious-matrix” after a half century of complete devotion and at a time when they feel like most life opportunities have past them by! Thank you, thank you, thank you so, so, so much Christine Jeppsen Clark for doing this interview! God Bless~

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