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Special Episode: 296: Sex Abuse, Victim Shaming, and Sabbaticals

With the recent MormonLeaks audio regarding MTC president self admitting he sexual abused others, it became necessary to speak out about sex abuse and the unhealthiness here inside the Church.  I start by telling some stories from my growing up and tie into how good Mormonism was for 17 year old me.  I then explain how slowly over time I came to barely hanging on in hopes the Church would choose to be good.  We then take a long look at this recent leak and the understanding that comes out from it and finish sharing why this and other events have helped our family make peace with the sabbatical we have taken from Church activity.

Audio and Transcript from Mormon Leaks (I recommend the Audio)

Church Official Response

Church’s Former Official Response to Sex Abuse Generally

Church Updated Version of their Official Response to Sex Abuse Generally



18 thoughts on “Special Episode: 296: Sex Abuse, Victim Shaming, and Sabbaticals”

  1. Thank you for this episode, Bill. It was nice to hear my own anger and sadness and disappointment in the church, reflected back to me by another member wanting to make things work with the church, but having a hard time with it. I want the church to be what I was taught it was growing up. Sadly, the reality is that there isn’t any magic in mormonism more than there is in any other religion. Just good feelings for people who believe it and a feeling of fullfillment. But once you don’t believe, it becomes painful to attend. I had serious doubts hit me in the beginning of 2016 but attended that entire year to try and make things work, but it just became too painful to attend full time as a nuanced believer. I’ve been less active for over a year now, but only stay on the records to make things less awkward in the ward for my husband. A part of me wants the church to still have magic because there’s nostalgia in that innocence I used to have. But the way I used to view the church just isn’t real, and I was naive. Now the church actually brings me unhappiness, and I look forward to the day when my husband is more comfortable with me officially leaving.

  2. I have been agonizing over the release of the audio since the first hour it was released. I made a multi-page timeline of events, complete with multiple citations and sources, talked with members of my family for hours (some receptive to my frustrations, some not), listened to the two-hour-long recording three times, and have done serious soul searching about whether or not I feel comfortable in a church whose leaders make these kinds of choices.
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! They have touched me and brought me clarity in ways you may or may not be able to understand. I too am so grateful for the Church for teaching me from birth good principles, and how to connect with Christ and God.
    But you’re final words in this episode, “May each of you make the decisions in your life that bring you peace, that give you a safe space to be you,” have made me realize that whether or not the LDS Church is technically the “right” church does not matter if I cannot agree in a moral level with what the leadership is doing. I have felt uncomfortable in church meetings for a long time, and now I’m starting to realize why.
    I don’t know where I’m going from here, but thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can only pray that I have the strength to follow what I believe is right while dealing with the storms of judgment that will come.
    Thank you again!

  3. Bill, this reminds me of when John left. I that everyone said it would happen to you.

    The Church is better with you in iT

    And worse with you out.

    Please come back.

    1. The church may be better with him in it, but is he better for being in the church? It certainly sounds like the leaders of the church have created an environment where he doesn’t feel welcome, an environment that is open for abusers of all kinds, one that turns it’s back on those who need it’s support the most. The church is, in his first story, at worst, the boys who wanted to rape that girl, and at best, the boys who went along and said nothing against it.

  4. Years back, on NOM I gave you 5 yrs to excommunication. I’ve never understood the route you have taken but came to greatly respect your dedication to the ‘good’ cause which you have pursued.

    Like your two stories tonight I have watched you standup for what is right, against the grain and the odds. I’m surprised at a hint of sadness in me over your announcement here of your sense of defeat in the cause. I thought I would be glad to hear it.

    You are a good man Bill Reel. New prediction; in 5 years you will walk away from all of this and live happily ever after.

  5. Reading the previous comments: “anger,” “sadness,” “disappointment,” “pain,” “awkwardness,” “unhappiness,” “agony,” and “frustration.” Those are not feelings one would have when they align themselves with a vibrant, healthy church. But the pain is real. Bill, your pain is truly shared by many, many people – along with all the other emotions cited above. Thank you for sharing. God help us all.

  6. Why lay this wholly at the feet of the church leadership? In my book God and Jesus get part of the credit. Which to me is more in settling.

  7. As a teenage convert I had so much gratitude for the church in turning my life around. But now as an adult I see it really was me not them. They were just the vehicle I used to turn it around. As to the church changing I can’t see it happening. That would mean giving up some of their power and who willingly does that? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  8. Funny, I too have been considering taking a sabbatical from the church, although I’m not closer to start doing that just yet.

    I hope you do find peace and healing and can return stronger than before, but if not you have my love and best wishes.

  9. My husband and I visited with our bishop last week and told him that we are stepping back from the church. It is painful in many ways, and has been a long time coming, but the final straws are much like yours. Our wonderful bishop said nothing negative, just nodded his head, told us that he loved us and appreciated our contributions to the ward and our sincerity and hugged us as we left his office. We make the 9th family to leave from our ward in the last couple of years. We are in our mid 60s and have been 100% in our entire lives. Our faith crisis journeys began at different times and for different reasons, but recent events brought us finally to this decision. I listened to your podcast this morning and it totally resonated with me. Thank you!

  10. Good, heartfelt podcast, as always, Bill – you have been doing a great work for in trying to encourage positive change in the LDS Church. Although on a much smaller scale than you, mainly in my own ward, I, too, tried to be a catalyst for change for a few years until it dawned on me that the Church wants nothing more than to maintain the status quo of being the one true church. Its sole desire is to retain power among its top leaders and to squash any hint of change that would be positive coming from the lower ranks.

    I stopped attending the LDS Church just over 15 months ago and couldn’t be happier. I am now part of a local post Mormon group I found through the Mormon Spectrum site. Our little group has grown a lot since my joining and there is always a need to help and support people who are transitioning away from Mormonism – a very difficult process under the best of circumstances. I imagine that need exists in other post Mormon groups and am curious if you have ever thought about taking your assistance and care for others to that next level – you would be great!

    I still believe the Church has the potential for good, but I, like you, cannot see that coming to fruition for decades. Past experience has shown that the Church is capable of meaningful improvement when its very existence is under serious threat and the only way I see that happening is if good members can transition successfully away from it, taking their time and money with them.

  11. Bill, the state of affairs and the truth of it all is so very sad.
    Jesus would be sad if he were here to observe “His Church” in these things.

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