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Today we are interviewing Lila Tueller – daughter of prominent Mormon General Authority, Hartman Rector Jr. Today we will discuss Lila’s story, which includes:
Part 1 – Lila shares what it was like to grow up in the family of a prominent Mormon General Authority:
Part 2 – Lila shares her recollection of her father receiving the 2nd Anointing:
Part 3 – Lila shares how her brother’s disfellowshipment from the Mormon Church affected her and her family’s faith:
Part 4 – Lila shares how a near-death experience influenced her life:
Horseradish ain’t post or high end – it’s a weed and like growing in ditches – very tasty and essential for a bit of roast beef.
Please edit that – POSH not post!
Great interview! I was especially interested because I met Lila and her family at Aspen Grove in the 70’s and had a huge crush on her…played tennis with her dad even. Also longtime friends with Norman—who’s tragic story was related in the interview. I recently came upon Mormon stories and wish it existed back when it would have helped me more…40 years ago when I left my mission after the Tokyo South Mission numbers game that Kikuchi and Groberg ran.
I served in the San Diego Mission (1980-1982) right after Hartman Rector jr. was reassigned and my mission president Roy Middleton was called to replace him due to Rector’s attitude/doctrine that because we’ll have to baptize people either in this life or later in the temple and since no teaching is needed to baptize them in the temple therefore teaching would be optional during the conversion process in his mission. Consequently there would be sketchy late night baptisms without local leadership oversight which was filling the local unit rolls with incomplete membership records like the “wetback” baptisms where missionaries would drive a van out into a field, gather the workers up and take them to a nearby chapel to feed them chilli; if you got baptized you ate. I think the mission tally for Rector’s last month was 1,000 baptisms. It got to the point that local stakes began taking keys away from the missionaries to curb these reckless baptisms and there is a story about how Hartman Rector and Mark E Peterson had a shouting match in the mission office over this issue.
I arrived shortly after the change in presidency and the mission was split between ‘Rectorites’ who believed this doctrine and ‘Middletonites’ who were being trained to teach the lessons word for word; both Mark E Peterson and Elder Ballard came down and forcefully taught us that unless we taught our converts every doctrine of the gospel before baptism any sins they committed after baptism would be answered upon our heads.
Wow…I just heard essentially the same story from my brother who was in the same mission under Hartman Rector at around the same time.
I think anyone who served a mission around 1980 heard about the “wetback” van-load Rector baptisms of the San Diego Mission. We sure heard about them all the way over in Italy, where some of our leaders would berate us for being unable to baptize hundreds per month like Rector was doing in San Diego. I was hoping to hear a little more about this from Lila and it would make a great topic for MS if somehow we could get a little more first hand info besides legend and rumor.
I was in Pennsylvania on a mission and were told repeatedly about the windows of heaven pouring out baptisms in San Diego. Hundreds of baptisms a month. We were told to listen to the Hartman Rector tapes everyday. You need to work harder, be more obedient, sacrifice more, knock on more doors, fast more and longer, read and pray more. MORE was the solution to everything. The guilt and pressure was tangible and it had devastating mental, physical and spiritual consequences. The global collateral damage extended beyond the mission field into all of our lives for generations. The silence and cover-up of what was really going on insured that there was no evolution of learning and change until now. Thank you for telling your story!
What you describe is exactly what we (the missionaries) were told in Mexico a decade before and apparently continued into the 90’s. We too drove our pickups out the the poorest areas of the city and baptized hundreds every month. His “enthusiasm” for baptisms apparently didn’t slow his progress within tscc’s hierarchy.
I also served in San Diego 81-83 under Roy Middleton. The mission was still ripe with Rector lore. I was also “lucky” enough to participate in some “midnight baptisms” to assist some very ambitious zone leaders to make their baptismal goal for the month, so I actually got to experience some of the “bean-dipping” first hand (lucky me). I see Rector as a Trump-like disruptor figure (part crazy, part brilliant) whose presence can unveil that an organization’s real values are often only a window-dressing. To me, there’s chicanery there that’s cut from the same bolt of cloth as Joseph Smith himself!
Thanks for sharing your story, Lila. I can see that your father had layers and I think everyone is a bit complicated. We’re all doing our best with what we got. Keep on truckin’.
Thank you for this comment. It’s so interesting to hear what things looked like from your point of view! I knew he was doing unorthodox things but I didn’t know how scandalous it became!
Thank you for your insights as a missionary after my dad’s presidency in San Diego. Yes those were interesting times!
Near the time my wife and I adopted our daughter through the Church and picked her up in Salem, Oregon, we drove 50 miles, one evening to the Dalles, Oregon where we spent 2 hours listening to Hartman Rector, Jr. speak. I would later purchase two of the “No More Strangers” books.. Wish you lived closer to the Idaho Panhandle. I’m looking for someone to give my land to. My wife of 52 years, and I am looking for some friendship in our later years and for me just playing mandolin to Youtube accompaniment often lacks something., but you seem like a city girl and probably wouldn’t be into trees, creeks, and animals. Good luck in finding that introverted guy. And thanks so much for your interview.
Thanks for all your great podcasts, John. Those faith journeys are rough and I really have needed all the podcasts I listened to beginning with the MacLeans.
My name is Tracy.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I ask about your property?
I have been looking for property and I was a member for 25 years.
5 years Out of the church.
Liked your comment. I know someone who is a big time lover of trees, creeks, and animals. Contact info is email@example.com
I’m just seeing this comment! Thank you for listening and thank you for your offer to move to Idaho 😊 ! I appreciate the support! All the best to you❤️
Wow, the pain of growing up with parents who were torn between church service and family service. Gives me a whole new perspective on reasons for priestly celibacy. Hard to be married to a church and family I guess.
Linda Rector is my age. Very possible that I met her at some point in my teens. I was in my late teens in Jacksonville when Hartman was mission pres in Tallahassee. My dad was stake pres. Br Rector stayed with us a few times, a few days at a time, in our little house with 5 kids. He was fun to be around. I remember him asking about racketball partners. We had multiple apostles stay with us in those years. My dad later became AA-70 (Regional Rep) for several terms; temple pres; patriarch; etc. I relate to so much of her story (obviously on a much smaller scale) and it feels very close to home. Thanks much for the interviews, which had new content than RFM’s interview.
Lila…..This brought back so many memories. We went to Jesus Christ Superstar together. I remember going back to your house and being so confused at your parents’ reaction. Being the heathen of our friend group…..I think my mom drove us to and from the theater. 🤣 Have not seen you in so many years. You are just as beautiful, spirited and well spoken as I always rembered. I was in awe of you growing up.
All Good Things,
Susan Smith Turner
Sue!! How are you? Where are you? It’s been forever! I’d love to chat sometime… thank you for commenting! You were no heathen lol, and I was always in awe of you and thought you were so lucky and So cute and funny! Contact me on FB !?
Lila…..I am just now seeing this. Loved reading your message. I am not on FB. Deleted my account months ago. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Email me and I’ll send you my contact info. Would LOVE to catch up with you. XO
I listened to a good amount of part 3 and 4. I was especially interested in this because I remember when Daniel Rector was in charge of Sunstone and there were rumblings back then because he was a son of a GA. I’m saddened to see Lila throw out her belief in the Book of Mormon (like so many others) because translating that book was the one legitimate gift that God gave to Smith. Anyone who has seriously and honestly read and studied that book realizes there is no way that Smith could have written that book. Smith was never given a gift by God to establish a church, to set himself up as prophet, seer, or revelator, or do anything else beyond the production of the Book of Mormon. Please carefully read these posts to learn more:
CCA – Thank you so much for the mormon version of the “No True Scotsman Fallacy.” Best stated with and Oaks voice. Listen we could dive into the many messy problems of the bom that even faithful member acknowledge but whats the point. Rather I am curious why the passive aggressive attack. “i’m saddened to see Lila throw…..” If you luv the bom then great. Thumbs up for you. I don’t remember hearing Lila passively attack or call you a fool – in fact I remember her stating a few of her children are still faithful believers and she supports that. Instead you poke her passively like a lobster that can’t let other lobsters crawl out of the mormon tank. Members like to say that post mormons can’t leave the church alone however i find believers often shouting statements that tend to me more aggressively self reaffirming – You’ll never be ‘truly’ happy, lost your way, not really faithful, enticed by the devil, and more. I hear those statements as fear tactics to keep others and yourself in the mormon lobster tank.
Why is it so difficult to respect the agency of members that choose to leave. Please remember Russell nelson’s comments from 2004. “How can we have freedom of religion if we are not free to compare honestly, to choose wisely, and to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience? While searching for the truth, we must be free to change our mind-even to change our religion-in response to new information and inspiration.” Perhaps the intended audience was non mormons but I believe this statement applies to mormons also. Sucks when the ka-nife cuts both ways.
Go and enjoy your book of mormon. I mean that. But don’t passively poke other Scotsman [mormons] that they weren’t honestly reading or seriously studying mormonism… OR… or that we might have studied too much.
I’ve listened to your podcast for quite some time now. This interview with Lila hit me harder, closer and more close to home than all that I have listened to. Thank you John, thank you Lila. This helped me in my journey and will continue to do so as I grow and progress.
Lila is more of a truth teller than Joseph Smith ever was.
I was captured by her NDE experience
Thank you a Tracy! What a kind comment❤️
This interview really reinforced that the church has a blueprint for the life of a woman:
Thank you, Lila, for your story and your insights!
This interview really reinforced that the church has a blueprint for the life of a woman:
*marry early (before you’ve had a chance to mature)
*have a bunch of kids (no matter the physical, financial and emotional demands)
*educational and career accomplishments belong to men
*husbands make the important decisions; the priesthood is their trump card
*it can be a lonely life, for a man’s time and loyalty belong to the church
This is a prescription for frustration and depression. I imagine many women reach middle age wondering, “who am I?” and “who could I have been?”
I applaud Lila, and her mother, for their strength and goodness in the face of these challenges. Lila, I wish you well!
Lila I am happy for you now it’s so sad for what you’ve lost by being in this cult for so many years I understand because I also have been in for many years— but I don’t think you realize how different your life might have been if you had not had a father who was a general authority
What I’m trying to say is that I’m sorry that you have suffered so much and truly you have especially suffered in silence with depression and suicidal attempt I think so many women in the church can understand those feelings of inadequacy and frustration I’m so glad you are free
I loved this episode. Thank you Lila for your honesty and vulnerability. I identify with so much of your experience as a woman in the Mormon Church and with your comments of parents choosing the church before their family. May John’s matchmaking be the energy toward finding your happiness-match of a life partner.
Cried every day for many years . Men are that they might have joy . My heart just hurts because life is just plain short . I really have had a very blessed life being raised by very humble parents who did so much for so many but mostly for their 6 children . Simply put they put their family first. Lila you have done that your test is definitely in the rear view mirror . And if we get any infinite blessings for long suffering , you surely have them coming to you . My thoughts really go out to your children especially your 16 year old son . These late in life faith crisses are really tough on our children . Believe me my wife and I are walking that tiny tread of the straight and narrow because of our children and their spouses . Your comments to john were great also I have binge listened to Mormon stories for 2 years now and he really has been great with his guests every Mormon has a story. And venerability is the one trait that all Mormons have the worst time sharing but it is in fact what we all need . Thank you ! Now as your dad would say get out there be your best self serve those around you selfishly. As john would add thrive. !! Hug you children all 7 especially your 16 year old what a price he is paying for his turn on earth but you have the spiritual Capitol . Show him that paying is easy when you are paying with love . Love is truly the message of Christ. It’s the one thing that Joseph Smith missed he was so wrapped up in restoring the hate and envy and strife that was the Old Testament, that he missed the true message of the savior. lOVE You got that part sister. Now take it and don’t look back . I would wish you good luck . But . Luck has nothing to do with faith you play the cards you are dealt and you learn that life is lived in chapters . And the best ones in a good story are always the ones that are just ahead. Many of us can’t wait to see the next chapters in your book .
I remember Hartman was the guest speaker at our “High on the Mountain Top” Boy Scout camporee. This was in the early 80’s near Flagstaff, Arizona. I don’t remember what he said but I do recall that he was motivational and inspiring to us young scouts. I also remember the big deal that he was a convert and a general authority. At least he didn’t turn out to be a Paul H. Dunn.
Hey, I loved Paul H. Dunn. I remember as a kid going to the church office building with a friend to visit with Elder Dunn. We didn’t have an appointment but he had his secretary invite us into his office anyway. We spent a good 15 minutes with him . He made us feel good about ourselves. It was very positive experience for me that I will never forget!
Hi, I really enjoyed this interview and would do love to hear from Lila on her near death experience, i would love to email you like as learn more, would that be ok with you, best wishes
I too am very interested in the near death experience. Thanks so much to Lila and John for sharing. Amazing lady, so strong!
Wow, Lila. I am so sorry for all that you have had to bear in your life. My parents, too, put the church before their kids and only ever cared about “what will people think?” They made their choice and did their damage. So I get it, on a smaller scale of course, because my predatory pedophile father was no GA. Just a bishop. What you did for your husband in his last days is commendable. I don’t know if I would have had what it took to do what you did. I appreciate that you were willing to come forward and do this interview. I hope with all my heart that you find the happiness that you so richly deserve.
Wow Donna showalter now Lila rector when the most saintly depart from the church what will salt lake do? I think I mean I absolutely hope it is our father and mother in heaven saying enough is enough . And we as lifelong born in the church average people have the hardest time leaving the asylum. Mr I mean Dr Delihn is it really the best thing for these to leave? I’m just at a loss . My lifelong 5 generation both sides blood is still in me but I feel my spirit has been sacrificed on the alter Brigham and the danites designed long ago to keep their wives from running off as travelers passed through s l c in the 1850s and 60s and now it’s the money . Brigham has one prophesy nailed . the church is being tried way more by its wealth than it ever was by its poverty. And again the best of the best are leaving . The asylum s doctors will soon need their patients back . Sounds like the making of a good Steven king novella . That is the nightmare of leaving for most of us multi generational tbm s . I’ve commented on Lila s interview with r f m I briefly met her father many years ago . He knew something. And I really was convinced that I knew it too . Anyone who is reading this go and watch saints at war it is a documentary I think it was done by b y u and Hartman has a great interview in it . For me the very best parts of Lila and Donna s interview s are the places where they forgave others and they forgave themselves. Faith transitions require that . We are all getting older and wiser . We still have a hankering to go to the asylum each week because that’s all we seem to know . Maybe not. Our eyes are being opened. But mostly our hearts . Only mothers can do that . The women of the church need the priesthood like the apostles need huntsman S jet to go and give one more sacred second anointing to a wealthy stake president. Oz really never did give anything to the tin man that he didn’t already have. A line in a song I think about often when I hear of a woman wanting the priesthood. The priesthood is not your heart . And your heart is all that the savior asks of us . Religion just might be the smile on a dog mentioned in another song I know. With that said . I just want to say thanks Lila you deserve the very best as do your children . I’m a holder of the priesthood I send to you the blessings and all that your Heavenly Father has to bless you with . Yes it is still sacred to me yes it is my humble prayer for you and for Donna and for every other mother or sister who has suffered at the hands of a church that re invents it’s self every 40-50 years . My soul just aches for things to be made right . And it will be . They say the 1000 mile journey west was the test of the pioneers . These ladies john has been introducing us to are on a much more arduous journey. And they are finding joy in it . Just like the q15 find joy in the jet ride . Recognition is good relevance is best and these Mormon stories have been my favorite. Keep it up John you really are doing a great work . Even on the outside of the asylum
I would love to have a chance at a ‘Mormon Stories Marriage’ with Lila. (Would this be run like ‘The Bachelorette’ show?) She is absolutely amazing! I was so impressed with her incredible story, fun smile, sweet voice, bright eyes, gorgeous hair and caring personality. I mean she actually took care of her ex through cancer. Are you kidding me!?!?!? I honestly don’t know if I could do that…
I feel like Lila and I connect on many levels. I also grew up in a very orthodox home where my parents forced me to drink the waters of Mormon. I became an ex-Mormon around 4 years ago upon discovering the essays, CES Letter, Fawn Brodie, etc. And I have recently gone through a divorce after being married for nearly 24 years. I have 4 beautiful boys. I don’t smoke. But, I do brush (and floss) my teeth. I live in Provo. And I commute to Lehi for work where I am an Architect and a Mormon Stories junkie. (Thank you so much for all your help John.)
Please let me know if she would consider me a worthy candidate.
BTW – I would also love to be her groupie for her motivational Mormon Stories Thrive Tour.
Hi John, Love all the podcasts. Can you do something for all of us single/divorced exmormons? Like an event, or website where we can meet, etc? It’s brutal for those of us who have lost our entire community to try to meet people.
I have listened to many of your podcasts and Lila’s is near and dear to me. Thank you for sharing the thoughts and feelings I’ve had for some time now. I wish I were as brave
Does anyone really believe the growth currently happening in Africa isn’t just a repeat of:
In twenty years the smart money says they are closing stakes and wards created in Africa in the 2010’s and 2020’s.
Lila, thank you for sharing your story and the very personnel things about your family. The things you talked about brought back a flood of memories. As you mentioned, you have people all the time that has a story about your dad. I too have one. Hartman Rector was my mission president in San Diego from 1978-1979 and then Roy Middleton took over. I will never forget the things your dad taught me about working thru difficulties in life.
He helped me in a time when I wanted to give up on pretty much everything. One night, when I was as the bottom of a very dark time he took me in an office and sat down to listen to me. I don’t remember all the things he said to me but I do remember the love he had for his missionaries and the Christ like love he had for me. He gave me some counsel, advice and things I could do to make it better. After, as I was getting ready to leave he pulled me close and gave me the biggest hug and told me the Lord loved me and that he loved me. That was the first time in my life I had heard that. The feeling was overwhelming and I could not hold back the tears. I’ve never forgot that night and still think about it at times especially when life gets difficult.
My mission was the best of times and the worst of times.
We used to bring investigators to the your house (the mission home) every Sunday night for a fireside with your dad. I remember you and your younger siblings would greet us and then usually you would make a bee-line to your bedrooms as fast as you could go to avoid anymore company. Even then, we wondered how you guys put up with people always coming by. We wondered if you ever got time alone as a family. Your mom was a sweetheart and always made us feel welcome. She even wrote a little recipe book to help missionaries learn to cook, titled “Meals in Minutes” My wife and I still use it to fix meals at times. My kids love the recipes and still ask for them.
After your brother Danny, had completed his mission in South America he came to San Diego and your dad called him as a missionary for another 6 months. He brought back the techniques that were used to baptize thousands on his mission.
Yes, there were things that never should have happened. I too was there when we baptized 1000 new converts into the church in June of 1979. Many of the converts and baptisms were questionable.. Many of the missionaries were out of control at the time and took it to the extreme. The Assistants and Zone Leaders put so much pressure on baptizing numbers that many of the missionaries broke down from the stress. The plan was to get them into the water as fast as you can and teach them later. It was difficult not to get caught up in the frenzy. Many of us refused to get involved and continued to teach and baptize the old fashion way. The traditional plan was, “Teach all the lessons, bring them to church several times so the bishop could get to know them, help them gain a testimony and then baptize them. That was a time that kind of left me feeling ashamed to this today even though I didn’t participate in those methods.
I didn’t see anyone from my mission for years. Then one day when I was in the Bountiful temple waiting for my daughters wedding, in pops your dad and mom. Wow what a treat. I was so excited to see and talk with them. At first, I don’t think they remembered me but as I related our past experiences, your mom and dad took my hand gave me the warmest squeeze. I wanted to thank them both for all they did.
I know it must have been very difficult for you and your family but I do want to thank you for your sacrifice and sharing your personnel experiences. It’s made very deep impact upon my life.
Hey John. Always loved the podcast. Been with you from the start. I YouTube as Calisto Monserratt.
What strikes me about this, is something I see very often. Lila has reached a point, where she has distanced herself from the church and she doesn’t believe as she used to.
But when she talked about her father’s Calling and Election, you made the comment that you understood that the guarantee of salvation that accompanies the 2nd anointing extends to children and perhaps beyond.
Lila’s eyes lit up and she commented something along the lines of “I hope so!”
Does this reveal a deeper level of belief? That she never stopped believing after all?
This has been one of my most favorite podcasts from MormonStories. Thank you Lila for sharing your life story with us. I related to so many aspects of it. I always had questions, (I joined at 19) especially about the temple ceremony, polygamy, and all the “extra” meetings that we as members had to attend…geez! I was married for 30 years and then divorced. My former husband was always gone somewhere “fulfilling” his church calling….you know….just trying to “follow” the prophet and get those brownie points for entry into the Celestial Kingdom….and that is what brainwashing can do to us at the expense of those we love. It’s all a vicious cycle. I’m glad I’m out and finally free again to breathe and learn new things in this life without the chains of religion.
Thank you also to John Dehlin – you are a “SAINT”!!
Lila: Did you know that father approached wealthy members of the church and requested their Monthly or Annual financial support to supplement his income from the church? Supposedly it was standard procedure for lower GA’s back in the 70’s and 80’s. I know your father specifically did this. I don’t know to what degree he succeeded.
Really enjoyed the podcast. Listened months ago but just now getting around to posting this question.
I’ve been looking for Lila’s sister (used to be Laura Aiken) we had our first babies together and were in the same ward in the early 1970’s. I would love to reconnect with her. Thank you for sharing your story!
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