The LDS Church fails to provide a healthy environment for independent thought. Members are expected to readily accept Church dogma. Many Mormons, including dissident scholars, have been disfellowshipped, excommunicated, and fired from Church–related jobs, for writing and teaching alternate views on topics such as Mormon racism, Mormon feminism, gay rights, genetic science, and Church history. Speaking publicly in opposition to Church policy or doctrine is not tolerated. It does not matter how much supportive evidence, including documentation, is presented, members found guilty are punished through Church courts because they disagree with the “official” LDS position.
LDS officialdom is overly preoccupied with the performance of Church members. The “worthiness” of individual Mormons is measured by their degree of obedience to LDS leaders and the Mormon cause. LDS membership is influenced by the “we alone are right” persuasion, in a delusional world of domination and submission, where the “carrot-and-stick” approach is used to induce members to conform to Church standards.
Church members are offered a combination of rewards and punishments to regulate their behavior. Obedient Mormons are rewarded with social acceptance, Church assignments, and the promise of eternal salvation, godhood, and happiness with their families forever. Unmanageable Mormons may be reprimanded and threatened with disciplinary action.
General Authorities of the LDS Church are implicated in abusive behavior because they empower local LDS leaders to maintain “the law and order of the Church” through private, faultfinding Church courts that — more often than not — guarantee the “tarring and feathering” of non-compliant members who make a noise — especially a public noise.
In a spiritually abusive system such as the LDS Church, where the belief in an authoritarian priesthood power is extolled, LDS leaders require the place of honor. Mormons are encouraged to place their leaders upon pedestals. Members are taught to never criticize Church leaders, past or present, even if the claims are true. Not only do some LDS officials expect special recognition, they may use their Church status to coerce members by instructing them to deny their inner voice and decision-making process.
Charles Parsons, an LDS bishop in Hurstville, Sydney, Australia, offered me a ward secretarial position, in early 1975, when I was still an active Mormon. After I declined his proposal, Parsons insisted I should have prayed for the strength to fulfill the “calling” and not prayed and asked if the position was God’s will for me — as I told him I had done. After the run-in with Parsons, I received no Church assignments for the next six months.
LDS leaders may give counsel in any area, not just in spiritual matters. Church members do not need to ask their bishops for permission regarding mundane daily acts. Mormons are encouraged to “choose the right” in every aspect of their lives. They are counseled to read the scriptures and pray about private matters. If a personal choice involves the offer of a Church “calling” or work assignment initiated by a Mormon official, like Parsons, for example, the Church requirement would ordinarily take precedence over personal responsibilities. If a member wishes to remain in good standing, he or she will obediently accept all formal Church demands and put his or her “shoulder to the (Mormon) wheel.”