Subject: RELIGION I have been reading several posts about the Mormon Church, and I ran acr
From: Gene Giermann
I have been reading several posts about the Mormon Church, and I ran
across this article by Norman Hancock. Norman and Muriel, his wife
had been members of the Mormon Church and had raised a family in it.
It sounds to me like it is pertinent to the feminist discussion.
Norman says in his own words:
My wife who'd always worked hard wherever she was, had risen to the
highest position a woman can hold in the Mormon Church, Relief Society
President, and was a fine member for them. I said to my wife, "Hey, I'm
getting out, I can't take anymore. How about you?" She said "I want to
get out with you." So we wrote a letter, a simple letter. I'm going to
read you just the first sentence so you'll know how simple it was.
All it said was, "We request our names be removed from the rolls
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." Simple enough
request. Any fool could fulfill that. We delivered it in person.
Two nights later, there was a knock on the door. A couple of gentlemen
came in. First I thought they might be the FBI or CIA, they were
dressed so immaculately. They called my wife in to the room. They had
a piece of paper for us. It was a summons! It said something like
this, "You are hereby summoned to come to a Latter- Day Saint
church court, where your membership will be tried the following Sunday."
All of the sudden it hit me: [Ex]communication! Now remember I'm the man
who sat with the guy who blew his brains out over an excommunication.
I can't explain to you why it is so damaging, but after 160 years of
this close confinement and regulation of the mind, it has some damaging
I knew about my friend Clyde's excommunication. He was brought before
this tribunal. His name was read to 4,000 people as the lowest scumbag
in Mesa, Arizona, an apostate. You can't sink lower. Out of all of that,
he lost his wife, his kids didn't come out with him because his wife is
still with the Mormon church. I watched him being shunned myself when I
walked with him.
That Sunday my wife and I went to a Mormon church court. Everybody here
ought to have the opportunity to go to a Mormon Church court. It is such
a novel experience. They invite you to this big room where there are 16
men---- no women, because you know women don't have the intelligence to
sit on a church court. They formed the tables in a square 'U' or open-ended
rectangle. On either side of the tables facing each other are six men, making
12. They're the High Counsel. You sit in the open end and across from you
are the High Mucky-Ups of the Mormon Church: the state president, his two
counselors and a clerk. When they called me in, they said, "Brother Hancock,
this is a Court of Love. We want you to know we're holding a Court of Love
on you." Then they said a prayer, prayed for my soul, and the court began.
I can't remember all the charges. Everything from disobedience to improper
association; everything they could throw in there. I said, "All I want is
out. I just want you to let me out. I won't bother you if you won't bother
me." For an hour and a half it went back and forth. They said I'd lost my
kids forever, my soul was damned, my soul was going to burn in eternity.
Then it was my wife's turn to go in. It's bad enough on a man, but women
have no rights. They are the property of the man. After 45 minutes they
called me into my wife's court. She sat in the identical place I had,
same arrangement. They announced, "After careful studying and praying about
it, we can't let your wife out of the church." They addressed me, not her!
"Here's what we're going to do," they continued. "We have this fine
psychologist. [Referring to one of the members of the group. There were
also three or four lawyers, a superior court judge, the biggest land
baron east of Mesa, several businessmen, a teacher and so on.] We're
going to assign this psychologist to you for 30 days at half price."
What a deal---half price! There's got to be something wrong with you if you
want out of their church. "In 30 days, you can come back and plead your case
again, and we'll see if we'll let your wife out," they said. "Now go in
that little room over there and discuss it."
I turned to my wife and said, "Is this what you want?" She said "No, I
want out with you." I slammed my hand down on the table and demanded
that we both get out that day. (I still carry a little injury in my bone
from that.) Well, her letter read, "Your name is off the rolls of the
church." They never excommunicated her; she's a pretty lady and a nice
lady, but I think it was because they viewed her as my property, so she
did not deserve excommunication. It was my fault.
The story ends on a good note, they sued the Mormon Church, and got them
to stop ostracizing them, and publish a letter of retraction in the local
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank