Join us now on Mormon Stories Podcast as we interview Tonya Guest. Tonya shares with us her story, which includes:

  1. Experiencing a Mormon faith crisis
  2. Expressing a public statement on social media—specifically regarding issues of women and the church—and then
  3. Having her bishop (Ransom H. Love) question and shame her publicly for what she shared.
  4. We will also be discussing Tonya’s attempts to discuss the issue with her stake president, and we will read stories/experiences from others with similar experiences.

The full conversation between Tony and her bishop can be found below.  We will also include the full text from an email sent to Tonya’s bishop from a concerned listener.

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FACEBOOK CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN TONYA GUEST AND HER BISHOP, BISHOP RANSOM H. LOVE 

Tonya Guest – May 2I’ve been told repeatedly throughout my life that as a woman in the LDS church that I have value, that i’m equal to a man. Why don’t I feel or see the equality? Because of satan’s subtle ways, my own selfishness, feminism? Why does the church continually need to address this if there isn’t a problem? Why is Utah ranked last in gender equality in the united states?  Why am I, as a woman, not allowed to even hold my newborn baby while she is given a priesthood blessing from her father?  Please stop telling me i’m an equal and show me that i’m an equal!

Bishop Ransom H. Love – I think that there are so many that do not want to respond to this post for fear of offending. Yet, they find some of the comments somewhat offensive or at least belittling to woman and men who believe differently. You ask for equality but I am not sure that is what you really want or are asking for. To you being equal is that you want woman to hold the priesthood or to be the same. Man and woman are equal before the Lord but by nature they are different. Not less but different. Does it not follow that if in nature we are different that we have primarily different roles? The Lord offers us access to the same blessings. A man cannot enter a temple without taking upon himself the oath and covenant of the Priesthood, young or old. Yet a woman can enter without it and receives every blessing offered a man. Is that equal? Is that fair? Apparently, a woman does not need it to receive everything the Father has. Why does a man? Could it be the Father has already given her what she needs to return to Him and receive all He has to offer. Men and woman have divinely different roles. Thank goodness the Church continues to change policies but not core doctrines. The Family: A Proclamation to the World is the Doctrine. It outlines the divine roles and responsibilities through which both a woman and a man can receive everything. You do not give woman or womanhood enough credit. It would appear that you want men and woman to be the same, when I believe the Lord wants us to celebrate and honor the differences, not to oppress but to bless and fulfill.

Tonya Guest – I am not sure you understand or know my beliefs of women or motherhood so it seems unfair for you to assume I don’t give women enough credit. I can see inequalities between men and women everywhere. I don’t believe that it is just a problem within the lds church. I could make a list throughout mormon history of where women did not have all the same privileges as men in the church. That wasn’t the point of my post. I am not asking that men and women be the same, I am merely sharing my feelings that I don’t have an equal voice in this religion. If God wants to celebrate and honor our differences why not allow more women to share and have more of a voice.
Bishop Ransom H. LoveTonya you do not believe that these men are apostles and prophets of God. You do not believe that they speak the mind and will of God. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Was he the Son of God, God incarnate? We have been studying the Four Gospels in Sunday School. Have you found anything or any reference anywhere that Christ treated men and woman differently? Was Christ equal to men and woman in his treatment? If anything, He treated woman better. They were clearly among His closest of friends and associates. He even showed himself as a resurrected being to Mary before his disciples and even before He returned to His Father. Yet, not one of the 12 Apostles or the 70 He called to administer His Church and go before Him in the world anciently were woman. Not one. Was He being prejudice or bias toward woman? No! Was he afraid to change the accepted customs of the times? No. He clearly did just that. There was another reason. What was it? He was God in the flesh. How can a Church that calls itself after His name and for its doctrine claims it is His restored Church not be organized the way He organized His Church anciently? It can’t. This is not about equality. It is about truth. You can know if it is true if you will read, study and pray about the Book of Mormon. It is true. Jospeh Smith is a prophet of God. These men you speak of are prophets of God. Women in the Church do things that only paid ministers do in nearly all faiths on the earth. Do men and women sometimes abuse authority given them? Yes. Does that mean woman must hold the priesthood to be equal to men? Not in God’s Church if it is what it claims to be.
Tonya Guest – Again, it seems unfair for you to assume my beliefs.
Bishop Ransom H. LoveI will touch on one more thing you have raised which may be even more important. You have carried your children in your womb for 9 months. Your husband had to depend solely upon you and God to bring that child to light. That miracle and sacrifice of pregnancy and birth has given you a bond to that child that never will be broken. It is something a man does not have. Yet you and your children must now depend on your husband to bless and protect you and the family through the priesthood he bears. Is that how he obtains that same bond? Yet you would in the name of equity take that away? The codependency creates love, unity and respect. It creates a family. I fear that what you want is not equity, but validation and vindication. You were offend because you fill you were deceived by an organization you trusted. Unfortunately, you did not do what the organization counseled you to do, seek, obtain and maintain a testimony. You still refuse to find out for yourself. Instead, you run out and take for facts the lies, distortions and deceptions for truth. You lash out against the truth seeking others to validate you and/or in hopes of causing harm. Just as a child throwing a tantrum or an animal being prodded by a sharp stick kicks out aimlessly to seek to cause harm but often only succeeds in causing itself harm. The scriptures call it kicking against the pricks. Unfortunately, it is also the spirit of apostasy. A spirit of anger and revenge. One that will consume your soul. You seek that which is contrary to truth and you will never be satisfied. You begin to fight truth rather than seek it. Rather than being filled with the love of God and light, you become consumed by anger and darkness. Please seek truth and real answers. Do not openly allow yourself to be deceived. You have so much to offer and have so much given. Do not through it away.
Tonya Guest – Bishop L – I’m not sure how me sharing my feelings and pointing out injustices that I see is taking away the bond between my husband and our children? I am not sure how any woman participating in priesthood blessings take away from the bond of a father and child? I’m not asking for men to give women the priesthood, I don’t think they need permission from a man to exercise the power they innately have. But how does a mother or women exercising or using the priesthood power take anything away from a man? How is that changing a bond? Is it possible that the bond between the family unit could become stronger? I don’t see why the focus here is on what a man would be losing. And you are right, I was hurt by the church. But my questioning isn’t because I was offended it is because there are serious issues that I have problems with. And I did try to do what the organization taught me to do. I did everything I was supposed to do. It is possible that the problem might not be me, it could be that there are problems and issues within the church. I am tired of being told that it is me, I have the problems… I didn’t have enough faith, I didn’t pray enough, I didn’t attend the temple enough, the list could go on and on. But I did those things, I tried. But there came a point where I realized that maybe it wasn’t just me being deceived by satan, maybe there were actual issues and it was okay to acknowledge those and my true feelings about them.
Tonya Guest –  Bishop L I would also like to encourage everyone to seek to find their own truth and real answers. “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
— J. Reuben Clark
Tonya Guest – Bishop L., I am also deeply offended that you are comparing me sharing my thoughts to a child throwing a tantrum. I guess when people are counseled to talk with their leadership or that it is okay to have questions those were just lies?
Bishop Ransom H. Love.A public forum is the wrong place to have a discussion because it lacks so much context. This conversation is now over two years old not just an innocent post of an opinion. In the beginning, I spent many hours talking to you and trying to understand your opinion and the many questions you had. I spent many more hours researching the sites and books you gave me to help me understand where you were getting your concerns. I read through the sites claiming they were just innocent questions only to find the most vial lies and misrepresentations of truth. I discussed them with you. I spent hours researching valid information with real source material and offered that to you. I believe you dismissed most if not all that material because you felt it was biased. Yet you accept for truth material without references because it agrees with your views. We have held special meetings to address the very topics and asked individuals to research and provide the information with real data. At the core of this discussion is a testimony of Jospeh Smith. Without it, nothing matters. With it, everything makes sense. The only way to know that is to read and pray about it. You have refused.
Bishop Ransom H. Love – So here is the core of the concern and I sincerely apologize for you assuming I called you a spoiled child. It was never my intent. I was trying to explain the spirit of apostasy so I will try to do so differently because I care a lot for you and your family and for others reading this post. When we seek answers or truth, one of two things happen. If we are humble we receive it rejoicing. It feels us with light and joy. However, when we reject it, because it goes against traditions, the world or what we want to believe or just want, we begin to rationalize and justify what we want to believe. We then seek the justification from others. We take our issues public to seek others who agree with us. We start with family members and then friends. Social media has now given us each our own personal pulpit. The challenge is the positive response seems to confirm our rationalization, and it feeds our pride. There are many examples of this in the Book of Mormon. We become more hardened in our views. Our hearts harden and we reject the truth. But we keep being reminded of the truth. It is like being prodded with a sharp stick. We become angry and intentionally and maybe even unintentionally at first lash out against those who believe differently than we want to believe. In the worst case, the person then tries to take as many with them as possible. I do not know where you are at in this cycle, but you seem to have taken steps down this path. I care enough to call your attention to it and if you are not headed this way, I am overjoyed. I would never do this publicly and especially on Facebook, but I am somewhat scripturally bound to do so because your views have been made public. Others who are struggling, who are facing challenges can be caught up in the innocence of the questions being raised just like they have been with the sites you have sent me to. Questions are wonderful if we truly seek the truth and answers. As I have said in the past, I do admire your willingness to raise questions. However, questions raised to cause others to doubt their own faith or questions raised to gather others to our cause can be incredibly harmful. Only you know where you are at. I never intended to insult you, but I did want to give you and others key insights or ways to consider these issues and let you know how others feel who do care for you. There is a line I must guard.
Nathan Guest Bishop L,  no matter what your intentions were…. I want to let you know the large number of currently active (mostly from our ward) people that have reached out to let us know how inappropriate they felt your comments were. Some saying they were “fuming”. Rather than seek understand as many did, your goal was to discredit her immediately and belittle her feelings. Her post was just stating she would like to hear more female voices in the church and to feel more equal. She did not link any “anti” material or ask anyone to question their faith. As an active member myself, I welcome the discussion, as it is a daily topic in our home. I try my best to understand her side. I still let her know that I believe what I believe… it’s okay to have discussion. It’s okay to have differing views. Tonya was not combative, but you are fueling fires of rage within her and many people by using analogies that are belittling. You stated she is just as a child and an animal. How is she not to assume you called her that? Reread what you wrote… the lesson I am teaching today in Sunday school is on forgiveness… I am going to have to try harder than normal to practice what I preach
Tonya Guest – Bishop L. to your first comment from last night. The conversations we had were private but you have taken those convo’s and shared them with everybody reading this. My initial post was merely sharing some feelings about how I felt on wanting to hear from more women in the church, you have now shared my personal questions and path with all those who know me. How unfair of you to do! And those conversations were again private, not me publicly telling everyone my struggles and questions for the past few years. I don’t see my post as an attack on anybody or their beliefs. My purpose was to share how I felt. Is it so wrong to have another perspective within the church? And I have read a lot of info from LDS sights, I have read the church essays, I have read books from Deseret Book, I have listened to podcasts from faithful members, I have tried to go to the original source in as many instances as I can. I have read pages and pages from the Joseph Smith papers, his own journals, documents from that time. So please don’t tell me that I have completely dismissed those. I will no longer be told how I should think about those things, I will use my mind and decide for myself.
Tonya Guest – Bishop L, I feel like you are telling everyone that I have the spirit of apostasy and am trying to take as many people down with me. Not at all, I was merely sharing my thoughts and feelings on wanting women to be viewed as equals because I do not feel that in the church. And thank you, for making sure everybody knows that they should discredit me and my thoughts because I have the spirit of apostasy. Thank you for sharing that with all my friends, family, and neighbors.

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Below is the text of an email sent to Mormon Stories Podcast and Bishop Ransom H. Love. by a concerned listener:

Bishop Ransom H. Love.
Meadow Rose Ward
5017 West Grand View Peak Drive
Riverton, UT 84096

Ransom H. Love
Portfolio Director
Media and Publishing Services Department
3740 West Market Center Drive
Riverton, UT 84065

Stake President Michael Peterson’s email address: mjpete62710@gmail.com

Re: In Defense of Tonya Guest and Thousands of God’s Children Just Like Her

Dear Bishop Love.,

A friend of mine recently forwarded a podcast called “Mormon Stories” in which I listened, painfully, to the public interactions you had with a member of your congregation. I was mortified by them.

Based on your public comments, I surmise that you really care about Authority and most likely will not consider any type of feedback unless it is said by someone with Authority. Therefore, I feel obligated to share some of my LDS credentials with you. I am a life-long member of the Church, an AP for more than half my mission, I taught in the MTC for several years, went to law school at BYU, and worked for years in a capacity where I associated with Apostles, Seventies, and other Church leaders on a monthly basis. I have served in several Bishoprics, a high Council, and in Ward and Stake leadership positions for decades. I frequently associate with current and emeritus General Authorities.

 With that said, I will address my offenses in turn:

  1. Your Facebook comments treated a member of your flock as if she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, not a black sheep that has wondered from the Fold.
  2. You broke your ecclesiastical duty of confidentiality by disclosing the content of extremely personal and painful details that were divulged to you within the confines of that sacred trust.
  3. You demeaned this daughter of God by comparing her to a child throwing a tantrum or to an animal “kicking against the pricks” (the irony of the length, tenor, and ferocity of your response compared to hers in this regard was not lost on me) rather than kindly acknowledging her legitimate concerns, even though you disagreed with them.
  4. The braggadocio with which you stated how often you have counseled her and the pains you went through to address her concerns not only broke confidentiality, once again, but made it appear as though counseling with her was a burden that you did not want even though it is a basic responsibility of a Bishop. If you don’t like fulfilling your responsibility, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
  5. You shamed this sister in a public forum. Even in your comments you acknowledge that social media creates a “pulpit” from which to pontificate. Congregants would be rightfully disgusted if you stood up on Sunday, called out a sister by name, and ranted against her for ten minutes. What you did, via Facebook, was no less egregious.
  6. Because of your leadership position other members of your flock saw your comments and felt justified to “pile on” and follow your example in shaming one of their fellow sisters.
  7. You created an “us” versus “them” mentality between a member of your congregation who is “straying from the path” and those active and believing members who are in your care.  Where a flicker of disagreement was created by a Facebook post about woman’s role in the Church, you fanned the flame into an inferno of enmity that not only engulfed many members of your congregation but the friends and family of the poor sister who you so publicly berated.
  8. Like the pharisee’s of old, you sit in the “chief seat” and from your pedestal of so-called authority condemned a woman for her beliefs while ignoring the “weightier matters” like mercy and kindness. Cloaking yourself with the authority of Jesus Christ while acting like a pharisee is not only hypocritical in the eyes of the public, it nullifies your Priesthood in the eyes of God. Your public actions typify “unrighteous dominion” and take the name of God in vain because you did so by virtue of your Priesthood office.
  9.  You incorrectly assume that your duty is to “guard the line” of the Church doctrinal tent as if it’s your responsibility to attack those who dare to extend its boundaries. Perhaps a scriptural review of Jesus’ examples of “watching the flock” would help you to realize how backwards your view of your duty is.
  10. You lashed your fellow sister in public and then reprimanded her for being offended as if the whole situation was her fault. Such actions are emotionally abusive at any level let alone from one is so willing to publicly declare his role as Bishop.

I could go on, but suffice it to say I am outraged on behalf of this women.  Even though I have never met her, I personally feel her pain. As one who shares her same doubts and desires for change I know that I have been talked about by Church leaders in the same way that you spoke to her. Fortunately, my Church leaders have never been foolish or insensitive enough to call me out, by name and over the “pulpit,” but I know they have treated me the same way behind closed doors.

The doubts and concerns of hundreds of thousands of members of the Church are real. The doubts are based on historical facts and validated by Church publications and desperate apologetics. When doubting members of the Church are treated as this sister was, it pains all of us deeply.

Unfortunately, my current familial and professional obligations make me uncomfortable disclosing my identity and taking a public stand against a Church that justifies, encourages, and protects leaders like you. So, just like hundreds of thousands of other former members I will vote with my feet and silently walk away and take my tithing, my children, and my grandchildren with me.

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Screen Shots of the correspondence between Tonya and Bishop L.

 

 

31 Comments

  1. Craig C. June 17, 2019 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    I’m so sorry for Tonya being bullied by her bishop. Every statement in his facebook posts were completely inappropriate and especially sharing items from private conversations even if he believes he’s a “watchman on the tower.” He violated every rule under the sun when it comes to privacy, decency, kindness, love, respect, etc. There could be many explanations of why he attacked Tonya; his own insecurities, the loss in his ward due to truth claims, his own arrogance, his own narcissism, etc. It’s also possible the reason why the stake president hasn’t met with her is due to “legal” reasons. We know that everything that is done in the Mormon church gets the blessing of their legal team/scribes. Just like the “reporting” of abuse, the handbook requires local authorities to call the church’s legal advisers first meanwhile the harm continues. In any case, it’s completely inexcusable for the stake president to not meet with her. This is LDS leadership roulette at it’s worst. Best of luck to Tonya and her family for being put through this despicable act of unrighteous dominion.

  2. Karla M Call June 17, 2019 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    This was so horrible, my hands are shaking as I am commenting on this. Bishop L. needs to be reprimanded and pulled from his calling. He clearly has no respect for women or for the privacy that his calling demands. Bishop L.’s openly rude and misogynistic behavior has me fearing for his congregation and what he says and does behind closed doors.

    Please update us as to whether or not Tonya’s stake president has bothered to get in touch with her. His non-response is as horrifying as Bishop L.’s shameful rants. I am concerned that Tonya has been threatened in some way as her May 2nd post has been removed from her FB account. If Tonya’s stake president continues to be elusive regarding this matter, or if Tonya has been threatened, please provide email addresses of the area presidency over the Herriman Stake so that we can send letters of sincere concern. Thank you!

  3. Karen Sowards June 17, 2019 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Thank you for providing and maintaining the full transcript. Light is the best antiseptic.

  4. Cara Nielson June 17, 2019 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    I am so sorry! This was so triggering for me. Your Bishop and mine must of gone to the same training. So, so painful. Wishing you peace.

  5. Faith June 17, 2019 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    If her bishop would reflect and look at his own last name, then this situation will be different. He needs to change his name to bishop apathy.

  6. Ashley W. June 18, 2019 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Tonya seemed reticent to share any thoughts or feelings beyond what she shared on Facebook. John provided most of the commentary with just a lot of “right, right, I agree, yeah” from Tonya, starting and stopping any real comments (yeah, i mean……). I wondered if she was trying to minimize the damage to her reputation in the community while fearing future retribution like a “court of love” if she shared any tangible thoughts. I applaud her for her courage to bring attention to this issue and also encourage her to continue speaking her truth out loud, regardless. To Nathan, bravo for providing partnership over patriarchy in your home.

  7. Snj June 18, 2019 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    I am appalled by Bishop L. His behavior is one of the many reasons so many people think Mormons are weird. Think of all the people reading his judgmental comments along with the people who supported him. I live in an area where there are few Mormons. Trust me when I say that mormons don’t have a good reputation in my area and the public verbal abuse by this bishop and his supporters just validates people’s ideas about Mormons. It’s no wonder people think the Mormon church is a cult. Also, there is no excuse to treat anyone condescendingly, especially by a pastoral leader.

    Also bishop L needs to study church history much deeper than Mormon apologetics/lds.org and come to the realization that many of the so called “lies” about the Mormon church are actually true and amazingly the lds church archives almost all of the evidence supporting the many disturbing church history issues in their own storage and research facilities.

  8. Travis H June 18, 2019 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Tonya – you seem like a very strong, amazing daughter of God, so I’m sure you don’t need my support , but I feel compelled to stand next to you and John and condemn the response and actions of this so called shepherd of God. I’m sure this bishop has good qualities and is not all bad, but the way he represented himself and treated you is one of the most disrespectful, demeaning responses I have ever come across from someone who is supposed to lead as Jesus Christ would. My prayers are with you and you are 100% correct that there are major problems with the church, historically and now and I pray God will continue bringing these things to light through brave souls like you, my wife, John Dehlin and so many more. I also hope your husband has seriously condemned this Bishops actions to his face and makes sure his actions are known to higher leaders that can take swift, immediate action to either pull him from his position or put him through the necessary disciplinary actions the church should have in place for things like this. Prayers are with you and your family. You have a tribe and support in us. Travis and Melissa Holding

  9. Denise Eaves June 19, 2019 at 7:08 am - Reply

    This makes me mad in so many ways! Not only does he shame her on Facebook, he reveals confidential information. This Bishop needs to be released. If he thinks she is the only one in his ward feels the way Tonya does, he lives under a big rock. Even TBM’s feel that the church has a long way to come as far as a voice for women in the church. If I was in his ward, his comments would be enough to push me over the edge and I would not return until he was released, or ever. If he is not released for this, then it is another big red flag that there are so many problems within the church and they protect the MEN and let them get away with crap like this.

  10. Dan Boyle June 19, 2019 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your story…wow, that bishop is unreal. I had a bishop-then-stake-president who was just like him when I was growing up in SLC..hearing the way he talked to you reminded me of my old bishop-stake president. I felt like he was back in my ear, talking with so much arrogance…yuck. There are lots of good guys as bishops, but there are many many like this one. The church has no way to weed them out, no training, no system to prevent such abusive behavior. So they will always be around..luckily more and more of us are leaving. They will soon be very lonely dictators.

    Thanks again for putting your story out there !

  11. Maggie Rayner June 19, 2019 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Thank you Tonya for your courage in sharing this painful experience. I can’t imagine the far-reaching consequences for you and for your family of this Bishop’s public bullying and violation of your privacy – and of his betrayal of your trust in the position that the Mormon Church has given him. You and your family deserve much more than an apology from him and from the Mormon Church. I was touched by your asking, as the mother, to hold your baby during a church blessing – and felt sick to my stomach at the love withheld from you and your family when you were refused.

  12. Steven Reid June 19, 2019 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    I think this conversation should not have taken place in public. There are women who think they should be equal in everyway but physideally and spiritually and mentally. I have always said that if a woman can-do as well or better than men and if that is what they choose. I do not know why God give the priesthood to men or why women where chosen carry the children. However and for what I have seen women are more nurturing thereby tempering life’s lesson and to raise their children in the gospel a thing which is rightous. To be honest the women stay and raise their families even as father’s disappear. To me that is the most importantly of the gospel that you are the gluethat holds the family together. There has been a lot of change over the last 70 years and used our prophet bringing about change as fast as the Lord gives it to him.And one more thing men are gross and we need refined women to baLance us out.You don’t really want to be equal to men do you because it is a long talk to get there. Let’s wait a bit to see what happens for God is giving us revelation fast as we can handle it and the Lord knows your desires.

  13. Freedom West June 20, 2019 at 9:22 am - Reply

    But, Reid, remember that it is men who have given us the scriptures (Even B.H. Roberts in his book, about the Book of Mormon, said that it is very likely than Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon.), and men want a god who is male. How else can men be controllers of women? Why didn’t women write the scriptures? The only reason you believe there is a god is because a man told you. Like in today’s politics, there is a strong Christian movement that tells us that Trump has been ordained to be president. And more and more people believe this because evangelical Christian males say so.

    Tonya seems a bit fearful of the Mormon priesthood shown by her not being eager to answer John’s questions. She should be fearful. The Church is probably thinking about a disciplinary court on her right now. I thought it interesting that an earlier podcast on the Witnesses, as a JW talked about such a court with 3 white men but the LDS Church has how many? 15? Stake Pres, two counselors and 12 high councilmen? And they are white men. Never women.

    Thanks, Tonya, for having the courage to be on this podcast. “Do what is right, let the consequence follow”. And, “That which can destroyed by truth, should be.”

  14. Nancy June 20, 2019 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Regarding the Bishop’s spelling/misuse of homonyms and pronouns: there is a disorder, which he has clearly demonstrated in his lengthy responses. Aside from available guides he could use, we should let this go. Let’s concentrate on his anger, his desperate need to shame, and his willingness, at the expense of the member, to ‘stay in the [sinking] boat’.

  15. Dallin June 20, 2019 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    I know one prick I’d like to kick.

    • Dallin June 21, 2019 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      …Sorry, maybe that was too harsh, but that was initial reaction late last night after watching this. I was absolutely appalled by this Bishop’s abusive and un-Christlike attack on a member of his “flock” that he’s suppose to love and care for without judgement. I want to add, thank you Tonya for taking the higher road than this authority-drunk Bishop. I’m very sorry that you were a victim of ecclesiastical abuse and in such a public and demeaning way. Your story should be an Ensign article on the principle of “Unrighteous Dominion” warned about in D&C 121. A more perfect case study than this there could not be.

      34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

      35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—

      36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

      37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

      38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.

      39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

      40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

      41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

      42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile

  16. Robert M. Hodge June 21, 2019 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    There is something about this Church that seems to foster unrighteous dominion. That’s how I read this Bishop. That and an immensely smug sense of superiority.

  17. W June 24, 2019 at 10:25 am - Reply

    A woman will never be equal with a man insofar as she continues to value the essence of manhood as the highest good. The very expression of wanting equality with men by having what men have is to acknowledge man’s superiority and the woman’s inferiority. And a man’s lack of value for the essence of womanhood as a lower good while getting what he wants from her will always keep him content, never wanting what she has, and wondering at the woman’s desire for what he has. Both man and woman are to blame. The man will try to dominate the woman while the woman will try to master the man. True or not, who ever wrote the story of the fall was on to something. It’s unfortonate Mormons have hardly tried to understand that story and worse, imposed their doctrine on it. And with certain temple changes it is now likely lost to Mormons for good. It’s a shame. If anyone was to get it, it should have been Mormons. That story holds the key to all this trouble with “inequality”. IMHO.

    • Old Dog June 25, 2019 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      I don’t know any women who believe that the essence of manhood is the highest good, even if those women can see that the authors of the scriptures thought so, and those women are religious, and they picture God as a man.
      I don’t know any women who believe men ARE superior, although they know that from an early age males seem to FEEL superior.
      Most women know that sex is their main, but not only, value to men. If you are thinking there is such a thing as “penis envy,” you are nuts.
      Most girls understand while still very young that most boys look down on them and would not want to be girls.
      Many young girls think most boys are stupid or mean, and resent boys’ domineering and condescending attitudes toward them.
      The only reason the average girl would want to be a boy is for the greater freedom from restrictions and the sense of entitlement and superiority that a world run by men gives him.
      The only reason the average woman would want to be a man is for acceptance into the “good old boys” network where financial and political and other forms of power and influence are concentrated.
      Women often try to master men when their men cannot manage self mastery.
      What I “get” from the STORY of Adam and Eve and the Fall: Ever since God ran out of ribs and had to take one from Adam, men have had a strange suspicion that women owe them something. Ever since Eve listened to a snake, women have been accused of being delusional. Ever since Adam listened to Eve and fell from God’s presence, men haven’t been able to hear to a word women say.

  18. Old Dog June 25, 2019 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    The universal problem at the crux of this discussion is the continued influence that patriarchal and sexist religious traditions have on the cultures of the world. As long as people believe that ancient religions are their doorway to heaven, and as long as they believe that ancient religious writings are the word of God, ancient attitudes will continue.

    Look at our own Christian legacy:
    Genesis 3:16, “. . . thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
    I Corinthians 11:3 (Paul), “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”
    I Cor 11:7 (Paul), “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head; forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man.”
    I Cor 11:8 (Paul), “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.”
    I Cor 11:9 (Paul), “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
    I Timothy 2:11-12 (Paul), “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
    I Corinthians 4:35 (Paul), “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
    Ephesians 5:22-24 (Paul), “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

    A predominant idea since ancient times has been that a man is entitled to respect just because he is a man. It was acceptable for him to expect, demand, or coerce respectful behavior from a servant, spouse, children, and subordinates in order to take charge and remain in charge. While most men in modern society today realize that they need to earn the respect of women, in the Mormon church, all males over age twelve are given some degree of Priesthood authority, along with the respect attached to it, simply as a right of passage, while Mormon girls or women have no such entitlement. Perhaps this accounts for the attitude of Bishop L. and other leaders like him.

    If men run the church and the world, then women can only gain true respect and equality in the church or the world through them. Men have respect for those they see as worthy competitors, those who can measure up to, or exceed, them. As women have competed for and earned positions in traditionally male domains (the university, the workplace, the halls of congress, the board room, the military, the church hierarchy, and professional, competitive sports), men have been forced to acknowledge and respect their abilities outside of the kitchen and the bedroom. As with any marginalized group, women first have to secure political power in order to have their voices heard. Only as they have the power to influence or put forth legislation that addresses women’s issues, only as they take more powerful positions of leadership in our governmental, political, educational, business, financial, military, and religious institutions, will they feel that they have an equal say, that they are properly and equally represented, and that they are being seen and treated by men as truly equal, although different.

  19. VFanRJ June 30, 2019 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    Not everyone is cut out to be a bishop, or any other leadership position.

  20. Aaron Kelley July 5, 2019 at 10:02 am - Reply

    John, this is my least favorite Mormon Stories episode yet. In fact, I’d have to go as far as to say I hated it. I thought the tone of discussion was extremely bias, unfair, and even cringy at times. You also spent way too much time and effort putting in your own opinions and conjecture while the interviewee sat there and said “right, right, right,…” , rather than allowing her to speak her own commentary. DISCLAIMER: I am an ex-mormon who agrees that there is much within the Mormon church that is unfair to women. With that being said, there is much that is wrong with this interview and topic. Here are a few points:

    First of all, you are creating victimhood where there is none with the whole Facebook aspect. Facebook is only as public as you make it, yet the whole time you’re talking as if this bishop went on some TRULY PUBLIC forum, UNINVITED, and spilled her personals for everyone to see. When, actually, the day this girl “friended” her bishop on Facebook, was the day she gave him permission to be a part of, and comment on the posts that she makes. Regardless of yours or anyone’s opinion on whether his comments on Facebook where befitting of his position as bishop or not, he was totally within the realm of what should be an understanding of what Facebook is and how it works.

    Next, this bishop is made out to be some evil guy who blatantly attacked this girl. The worst I think he did was possibly cross the line with some confidentiality breaches which I agree should be called out. However, with the way you set and built things up I was expecting to hear some pretty awful stuff; but to my own surprise, after you read aloud his initial and subsequent statements, I found them to be very much, shall we say, expected? All the while, you’re making a show of being completely surprised and disgusted at what he wrote. This, of course, has me confused, so I go back to listen again thinking I must have missed something. But no. All he was really saying is what I think any defensive TBM would say if you happened to poke them the wrong way. I could agree that maybe as a bishop he should have been more professional and taken a different approach, but if this would have been any other TBM not in a leadership role, it would be nothing more than a person making some rebuttals on Facebook she didn’t agree with. That’s it. End of story. But with how much offense you’re taking to his actions and statements as a bishop, one would think you, John, are still a TBM yourself; and we all know that’s not the case.

    And let’s not forget, she DID open up this “can of worms” herself on Facebook. FACEBOOK! With the bishop as her “Facebook friend”!! We NEED to take responsibility for our own actions. I myself don’t post things on Facebook without the understanding that it IS semi-public and that there IS the possibility of my comments being bashed and derailed by even my own “friends” and family. Everyone should understand this.

    Furthermore, I didn’t see anything wrong with his general theme of men and women being different and playing different roles. But you made him out as being some kind of misogynist for saying it. Look, I’m all for equal opportunity between men and women; at least as far as it’s possible; but let’s be real, men and women ARE different; are they not? And that is not to say at all that one is beneath the other. Just that they ARE different and that they compliment each other. They fit together like two puzzle pieces to make a whole; literally and figuratively.

    Even if you don’t agree with such ideals, you have to acknowledge, everything this bishop is saying is through the lens of a TBM. Why would you expect him to say otherwise? You can’t expect the Mormon church or its leaders to think the way you think otherwise they are no longer the Mormon church as we see it; and they are no longer TBM’s. But then maybe that’s the goal of your podcast now? To tear them down? Not that I would care too much being an ex-mormon myself, but a lot of your content and approach is seemingly more and more “anti” over time.

    The overall tone of this discussion seems to suggest that “one side” can have their view points and opinions, but ‘how dare!’ the “other side” voice their view points and opinions. Which is just WRONG. If we don’t have true dialogue, then what do we have?

    Lastly, I didn’t appreciate how you read the bishops comments aloud with an overly aggressive tone making it out to sound worse that it would have if you would have just read it more neutral. This part was so cringy, I had to stop it to take breaks several times. Very unprofessional and bias.

    I’m sure everything I’ve said could be mistaken as me defending this bishop wholeheartedly. Well I’m not. But we need to see and treat things as they really are. Or, at the very least, try to see and approach beyond our own biases.

    • John Dehlin July 5, 2019 at 10:48 am - Reply

      I genuinely appreciate the feedback, Aaron.

    • Eric July 27, 2019 at 8:41 am - Reply

      I agree with Aaron to the extent that I think those who post things on controversial topics on Facebook should expect a response; I don’t think there is anything wrong in principle with a bishop sharing his thoughts on Facebook, even if they differ with a member of his congregation.

      On the other hand, I found what the bishop had to say and how he said it every bit as egregious as John’s lead-up said they were. From his very first post, the bishop starts with an insult to Tonya by telling her what she thinks. That’s inappropriate, counterproductive, offensive and wrong for anyone, and even more so by someone in authority. And it gets worse as he goes along as the insults become more blatant. (I agree with Aaron that it would have been better for John to let the posts speak for themselves. I think most of his listeners are smart enough to recognize bullying when they hear or see it.) Let’s just say that if I were the stake president I’d be looking for a new bishop.

      My best wishes for Tonya. I appreciate that she refused to stoop to the bishop’s level and managed to act gracious even when under attack. I hope she finds whatever answers she is looking for.

      And for what it’s worth, I’m glad that bishop isn’t mine. (I’m an active member with progressive beliefs.) To judge from his worship-the-prophet mentality and right-wing political postings on his public Facebook page, I wonder if I’d be welcome in his ward.

    • Steven August 4, 2019 at 8:00 am - Reply

      I think the things Aaron mentioned sound a little extreme and crazy. After watching the podcast, I didn’t perceive any of these things Aaron mentioned. Tonya and John were simply just sharing how they perceived the Bishops comments. I agreed with the majority of what Tonya and John said in the podcast.

      In my opinion, the Bishop should be released from his calling, if he hasn’t already. I think he should appear before a disciplinary council and be lectured on how he should’ve handled the situation differently. I also think he should be lectured on the equality and rights of women from a pro-women perspective.

      Based on Tonya’s Facebook and podcast interview responses, I think she handled herself really well. I don’t think she should’ve done anything differently.

  21. Brian S. August 22, 2019 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    I loved listening to this and have found great truth in many of the discussions in the podcast and in the comments. I feel for Tonya and see where she’s coming from. She didn’t deserve that, even if she chose to friend the asshole and make the comments. Just like walking alone in a bad part of town, I do agree with Aaron and Eric that she should have expected it. I completely disagree that she deserves it, or it was a consequence of her actions, but expect it nonetheless.

    This is exactly what the 15 (and hundreds of dead ones) have told bishops to be. They are the judges and will be responsible for the sins of their people if they don’t call them to repentance. I’m actually shocked that everyone one of them ISN’T like this, or worse. I mean if you truly knew (beyond a shadow of a doubt, like they like to say) that you will be accountable to a god of unthinkable power for people like Tonya and her public apostasy, you would act like this too. But most already know, at least subconsciously, that it isn’t true.

    Don’t get me wrong, though, this is just one more piece of evidence for me that people are actually good despite religion-not because of it.

  22. Andrew Teasdale August 23, 2019 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Sorry, the “text of the email from a concerned listener” has no business being on this page. The closing statement: “Unfortunately, my current familial and professional obligations make me uncomfortable disclosing my identity and taking a public stand against a Church that justifies, encourages, and protects leaders like you” should eliminate this letter from any sort of publication.

    So, let me get this straight, you go along with the Church because you benefit personally and professionally but you’re not willing to take a stand because it might cost you? Keep lobbing those stones from the front yard of the property containing your glass house. Write the letter again when you develop the courage to stand for something.

  23. Mark LeBaron September 12, 2019 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Bishop Love, for confirming, once again, that my decision to leave the cult founded on a hoax by hucksters; which you represent, was the right one. I hope every member of the LDS Mormon church reads your responses on her Facebook post. Most will see that there’s no “Love” in them.

  24. Lizzie September 25, 2019 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I actually feel bad for the bishop. All those long meetings with her. Unpaid, untrained, and doing the best he can. Time away from his own family and doing the things he wants to do to in his own personal life to answer her questions for what? Celestial glory? I don’t know about that.

  25. Debi October 6, 2019 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed reading your comments. All of you have valid points for readers to consider. I am most inclined to agree with the wisdom of OLD DOG. “As long as people believe that ancient religions are their doorway to heaven, and as long as they believe that ancient religious writings are the word of God, ancient attitudes will continue.” This OLD DOG is capable of learning new tricks! (Maturing) That is a compliment and I hope you will take it as one! I enjoyed the Adam and Eve analogy.

    Unfortunately, I am sad to say, that in my experience, the behavior of this Bishop is characteristic of Mormons in the “faithful” stage or what is referred to here as a TBM (True Blue Mormon). The priority in this stage is to be faithful, Loyal and obedient to the covenants they have made, to the LDS Church, no matter what. Christ-like love is not the priority. Do they know how to extend this kind of love in this stage? This stage seems to be more about judgment, punishment and rewards. Behavior from a member in the “faithful” stage can be “bewildering” to a member who has moved into a “logical” stage where the truth is more important than obedience. Logic upsets the “faithful” member. I don’t even try to reason with those that are in the “faithful” or TBM stage. They don’t want to hear it. The only thing that matters to them is that their submission will bring them “promised” rewards, if not in this lifetime, in the world to come. Some people never grow out of this stage.

    Bias. I understand the opinion of staying unbiased in reporting. In writing down some histories and spiritual experiences for a family member, who said that she did not want these experiences to be made fun of, I wrote them exactly as she told me, without interjecting my biases. Yet, what are the guidelines for this podcast? I would think that it is permissible to include John’s perspectives in Mormon Stories. Talk-show hosts do the same. And what is a Mormon Story without emotions? (I just barely started listening.) If the purpose of some of this podcast is to support members in a faith-crisis or faith-transition, then how they feel about what happened is important. Sometimes, people won’t talk unless asked. John’s tone in reading the Bishop’s remarks was a surprise to me, at the same time, I had to laugh because the tone was exactly how I have been spoken to by True Blue Mormons. I tend to avoid them or at least refuse to talk about religion because I want to avoid this kind of upset.

    Authority. We consult with authorities outside of ourselves because we have been told to do so. Yet, what is the use of that? Lindsay Hansen Park comments very briefly on the sickness of following professed authority in podcast 551 where I learned about Year of Polygamy and John Dehlin in podcast 1158 THRIVE CONFERENCE, mentioned Jesus and the scripture in Luke 17: 20-22 KJV, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” John said, “I’m OK pointing at any Guru who points you back into yourself.” We can’t see that the real authority is within ourselves. Those in the “faithful” stage must be faithful to outside authority. And if they are the person in authority, those under their “jurisdiction” must be faithful to them and their advice. And yes, sometimes they exercise unrighteous dominion.

    FACEBOOK I am not a member of FACEBOOK because people can be vicious!

  26. Veronika October 20, 2020 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    Wow…this saddened me to listen to. Not necessarily due the back & forth with the bishop, which is also sad. But mostly because it seems your entire faith journey had been uncomfortable and unfulfilling…from wedding to baby blessings to not being given clarity to your very real questions.
    Being a part of the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be healing, joy full & life giving….I assure you it’s not supposed to feel like that. So you’re right to be questioning things. Keep seeking clarity until your mind and soul are at peace.

    I encourage you to look deep into the history of the church, back from the very beginning 2000 years ago… you will come to find there has always been one true church, that was established by the apostles and has preserved the full truth from the very beginning. This is the Orthodox Christian church, or also known as the ‘ancient faith’.

    You seem like an incredible young woman, I usually never comment on things but couldn’t help myself after listening to this. May God bless your journey, I imagine it likely won’t be easy for you but it will be well worthwhile… pray & keep seeking the full truth about God and his church, if there is someone worth seeking after it’s God.

    Much love from a fellow young female in Canada 💗

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