Don’t Blame Me, I Just Report the News


ThisIsNotThePlaceEarlier this month, a Facebook event was created entitled, “This is not the place.” It is subtitled, “Mass resignation from the LDS Church,” and is to protest Kate’s excommunication. The event is scheduled to be held at City Creek Park on 24 July 2014 in Salt Lake City, which is Pioneer Day, a holiday in the state of Utah. I’m sure it will be well attended, at least by the news media.

Mass Resignations From the LDS Church

A similar event was held sometime after the Proposition 8 fallout. I knew some of the people who resigned at that time. I have kept in touch with many of them. They are still my friends on Facebook. They seem happy for the most part, but of course, I only know most of them from interactions on my blog over the years. I also have some friends who are resigning on July 24th.

We Are Losing Some of the Best and Brightest

From what I see, these are young people – well, young to me. I am an old guy, although not nearly as wise and experienced as those who lead this church. These young people seem smart. In fact, in my interactions with them, I know they are. They are, for the most part, college grads with good jobs, well-educated, many being returned missionaries, many married in the temple.

A Serious Step to Get Your Message Across

Why, we must ask ourselves, are these young people leaving the church? According to some estimates I have read, they hope to have thousands participate in the mass resignation. They are also encouraging those who are dissatisfied or disaffected by the disciplinary actions against Kate and John and Rock to ask their own priesthood leaders to hold a disciplinary council.

Understanding Why People Leave the Church

I’m just a blogger so don’t get upset with me for reporting the news. It’s not a secret. But I would like to point out another site created by John Dehlin several years ago specifically to help young people stay in the church, in spite of their feelings about being lied to about church history or about the discriminatory practices against blacks and women or other concerns they may have.

Consider the Contributions of John Dehlin

I have long been a fan or follower of John Dehlin’s work. I believe he has done more good to help those who are disaffected reconsider their desires to leave the church. He is an advocate for the LDS LGBT community and outspoken about marriage equality. I’m not saying I agree with his work as an activist but I do agree with his work to promote tolerance, acceptance and love.

You May Learn Some Things New at StayLDS

If you haven’t been to StayLDS lately, I encourage you to visit the site and view the presentation originally created by John. There is other good material on the site to help foster understanding about why people leave the LDS church. I especially enjoyed viewing the “Top Five Myths Why Committed Mormons Leave the LDS Church.” It may be an eye opener if you haven’t seen it.

Imagine Being Asked to Resign From the Church

John has been asked to resign from the church. He later reported he will be meeting with his Stake President in the next week or so. I met with my Bishop and Stake President earlier this week and am pleased to report we are working things out. I have a new appreciation from my dear bishop of just how my posts have affected some people I love and don’t want to hurt.

For the Record From Daymon Smith

In the spirit of Daymon Smith’s “For the record” posted Thursday, I would like to post my own official statement of disclaimers, specifically for those who want to know what my intentions are and why I write as I do. I record this late at night, in St George, on my way to a family reunion this weekend, after driving all day, so it may be a little incoherent, but I want to get it posted.

Question and Answer with Latter-day Commentary

Q. Do you feel you have changed your style or tone over the years?

A. I didn’t think so until a long-time reader pointed out some differences in the way I answered some questions put to me by a reader. I was much more church-centric back when I started.

Q. Can you explain what you mean by “church-centric?”

A. I started blogging in 2007. I specifically wanted to provide standard answers that I could use in answering all the common questions we were and still are getting on the Internet.

Q. Like what?

A. Plural Marriage, Blacks and the Priesthood, Mormons and Masonry, The peep-stone in the hat, Multiple versions of the First Vision, Book of Abraham, Adam-God, Mountain Meadows, Mark Hoffman forgeries, Elder McConkie’s treatment of George Pace, President Benson and Alzheimer’s disease, Kinderhook Plates, DNA evidence of American Indians, and on and on.

Q. So why do you call these “church-centric” issue and answers?

A. I tried to make my responses correlate as close as possible with what I had been taught as a missionary, what I had read in the correlated church handbooks and CES material when I was a seminary teacher and with the answers I found on official church websites.

Q. And now?

A. I am more focused on coming unto Christ.

Q. What do you mean?

A. I guess I’m not so concerned about all the historical issues the church has had. Most people who have studied them have concluded the church did not record them accurately, and in many cases, changed the record to make it look better. The church has acknowledged this and is doing something about it by publishing original documents from the very early days of the church.

Q. So you no longer focus on answering historical questions.

A. That’s correct. A few years ago I read a book that changed my life.

Q. You’re referring to Denver Snuffer’s “Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil.”

A. No, actually, I’m referring to his 2011 book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift.”

Q. You do know that’s the book for which he was excommunicated last year?

A. Of course. But still, it changed my life when I read it.

Q. How so?

A. I could not put it down. I picked it up to give it a quick perusal just before I went to bed one night to see what it was all about. A friend had asked me about it so I bought it and thought I would write a few words about it on my blog.

Q. And…

A. I stayed up all night reading it. It was a spiritual experience for me.

Q. What do you mean?

A. I mean, I had multiple sacred “ah-ha” moments of enlightenment as I was reading, and when I finished, I knelt down and asked the Lord to let me know what He thought about the book.

Q. And He told you?

A. In no uncertain terms.

Q. What did He say?

A. He said I didn’t need to continue my blogging efforts to answer everybody’s objections to the historical difficulties they were having with our church.

Q. Why is that?

A. Because Denver Snuffer had answered them perfectly.

Q. You do know, of course, there are many people who disagree with his conclusions?

A. Of course. But that means nothing when you get an answer from the Lord.

Q. Let’s move on to something else. You said you are more focused on coming unto Christ.

A. Yes.

Q. Can you elaborate?

A. I went back and read all of Denver’s books, including the other one you mentioned.

Q. “Conversing With The Lord Through the Veil?”

A. Yes. I decided the most important thing I could do with the rest of my life would be to live in such a way that I am prepared to receive a visit from the Lord in this life.

Q. And you believe that is possible?

A. Not only do I believe it, but the Lord has promised it in multiple places in the scriptures.

Q. Now, be honest. How many people do you know who claimed to have seen the Lord?

A. Less than a half dozen.

Q. And you believe them?

A. Why should I doubt?

Q. Because when you meet the Lord, you’re not supposed to talk about it.

A. That’s a myth, generated by those who can’t explain why it isn’t happening to more people.

Q. Let’s wrap this up. What are you trying to accomplish with your blog these days?

A. Let me do two things. Let me first state unequivocally what I’m not trying to do and then I’ll answer your question to the best of my ability.

Q. Please. Go ahead.

A. First of all, I am not trying to encourage anyone to leave this church. In fact, I am trying to do the opposite. Stay. We need you. We need your strength. We need your talents and abilities. We need your service, your help, your testimonies and your love of the Savior to share with us.

Next, let’s be clear. I am not the cause of anyone deciding to leave this church. Just because I report on events of the day or I write a book review about a controversial book, it is up to the individual to decide how they will take the news or if they like my opinion of the book.

And finally, I want to make sure everyone who reads this knows I have no doubts that God is our Heavenly Father, that He lives and loves us and answers our prayers. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior, our Lord and Redeemer. He is calling out to each of us to repent and come unto Him. I know Joseph Smith was called of God to translate the Book of Mormon.

He did this through the gift and power of God. It is scripture and we need to spend more time studying it so we can understand God’s will for us in these last days. I know the Lord established His church through Joseph Smith and restored priesthood authority and keys of the kingdom. I sustain the leaders of this church as prophets, seers and revelators and pray for their success.

Q. Thank you. And the last question: What are you trying to accomplish with your blog these days?

A. I am on a journey, a spiritual journey. I have questions I am trying to answer. I am sharing my journey with those who are interested. Sometimes the stuff I write may be mundane and boring. But it is my hope and prayer that something I write can help someone else who has asked the same question and is on the same journey, believing that D&C 93:1 can be fulfilled in mortality.

Q. And that concludes our interview with Latter-day Commentary by blogger Tim Malone since it’s now one o’clock in the morning. We hope to have future interviews and delve deeper into some of the subjects you raised, especially your contention that the scriptures about the Lord coming to visit men and women in this life are meant to be literally fulfilled in a physical way.

A. Thank you. God bless and good night.

Mormons Are a Submissive People


Jesus-Rich-Young-RulerI’ve noticed a constant theme over the past few years as I have written about those who have been excommunicated from our church. I don’t know if it’s just coincidence the subject has come up so many times or if I have sought it out. I’d like to explore the idea of submissiveness with you in this post and get your opinion as to what the right attitude should be towards this.

Opposite of Arrogance and Rebellion

I’ve told you I pray about my posts. I’ve also mentioned to specific individuals privately this post was coming. These good people are worried about me. I know they love me and have expressed concern I’ve been dealing in territory they say causes them discomfort. Rebellion and arrogance are the opposite of submissiveness. I’ve had experience with both as a young lad.

Remember Them Which Rule Over You

I’m not going to address the scripture in Ephesians 5:22 of wives submitting themselves to their husbands. I’ll leave that to others. I prefer to center my remarks on the scripture in Hebrews 13:7, which reads, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

Obey Counsel of Priesthood Leaders

I note in the Topical guide the word remember is replaced with the word Obey. If I recall correctly the Topical guide was compiled by Elder McConkie and Elder Packer. I believe we can safely surmise the word obey can be used in the place of the word remember, at least in this case. In short, we are to remember and obey the word of our priesthood leaders who preside over us.

Blind obedience not encouraged

That’s probably the crux of the matter. Some of my readers find it troublesome to think anyone could or should come between us and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. They can quote scripture and words from the Brethren – so can I – indicating how important it is to confirm all we receive from our priesthood leaders for ourselves. In other words, avoid blind obedience.

Examples from Disciplinary Councils

Put another way, we are to submit to their counsel, especially when it is given in love with concern for the salvation of our souls. Perhaps I can best illustrate with a few examples from disciplinary councils in which I have participated over the years. Don’t worry, I’ll provide no specifics; mention no names nor identify anyone in any way so you may think you know them.

Restoration of Full Fellowship

I have been blessed that the majority of these disciplinary counsels have been convened to consider bringing the member back into full fellowship after a period of disfellowshipment or excommunication or. I am pleased to report that most of these councils have resulted in positive outcomes. Tears and hugs all around have usually been expressed at the end of the proceedings.

A Willing and Contrite Spirit

In discussing as a bishopric or High Council what is different in the second council, it invariably comes down to a matter of attitude. We note the contrite spirit, the willingness to do as advised, the demonstration they have done as counseled over the year or years – I hate to see a disciplined member go more than a year without sacrament and temple blessings. They are different people.

Submissiveness Natural Result of Repentance

In other words, they have learned to be submissive. I have specifically heard penitent individuals express words to the effect of, “Bishop (or President), what would you have me do? I will do whatever you ask, anything you say to get my membership back or to be considered a member in full standing again.” There is no pride, no thought for self, only a desire to please their leaders.

The Lord Forgives, So Should We

Of course we ask them to relate their feelings about the Lord. We ask about their prayers. We ask if they feel forgiven. We ask if they feel the Love of their Savior. We ask about their efforts of restitution, if they have asked forgiveness of those they have harmed, used or abused (often a hard thing to do). We ask about their scripture reading, their gospel study and other habits.

Don’t Dwell on the Sin

If you have never gone through a disciplinary council, you may think this intrusive. We don’t dwell on the sin. We don’t rehash details of the sin. We focus on their efforts of repentance. I think my first disciplinary council was in 1989 as an executive secretary. Ordinarily the clerk attends but he was unavailable so I was asked to take notes and write up the report to Salt Lake.

Bishop’s Counsel is Recorded

I can only recall one council in which we decided the individual was not yet ready to be returned to full membership status. They obviously had not taken the bishops counsel seriously. We always provide a written record of what the bishop feels inspired to ask of them as evidence of their willingness to repent. That is his right and responsibility as a sustained common judge in Israel.

Counselors Provide Input for the Bishop

Having sat on the side of the table in which my duty is to provide counsel to the Bishop or Stake President, I have noted their response. With some leaders, it’s just a poll to see what we think, especially if it’s a cut and dry case. With others, the priesthood leader is genuinely interested in what we have to say. I have always appreciated that, especially when I was a new in the calling.

High Council Disciplinary Format Different

Remember, in a Stake Disciplinary council half of the High Council is to speak on behalf of the member. The member is allowed to have witnesses speak on his behalf and if I’m not mistaken, to have members of his family present to be at the proceedings, as long as they are reverent. The format is given by revelation. You can read about in in section 102 of the Doctrine & Covenants.

Submissiveness Shows Respect

Now, let’s return back to the idea of submissiveness and respect. I’ve always struggled with the habit we have in our church of standing when a General Authority of higher authority comes into a meeting. To me, this smacks of hierarchy worship. That’s not to say I don’t follow it. I do. When I conducted sacrament meetings and a member of the Stake Presidency entered, I stood.

The Unwritten Order of Things

When sitting in Bishopric training meeting or High Council or Stake PEC, I note that we always deferred to the presiding authority as the last to speak and having the final ward. We usually expressed our opinion from youngest to eldest. It’s just the unwritten order of things that Elder Packer discussed in his talk offered so long ago on the subject, which many said they disliked.

I’m a First Generation Mormon

I suppose it’s the natural man in me, the rebel of a first-generation Mormon. I come from a long line of Baptist preachers and Presbyterian ministers. I attended the Presbyterian Church with my mother until I was five years old and still remember the pomp and formality of the worship service. Dad was a lapsed Baptist. I have many living relatives I love who are ministers today.

Apostasy not same as Moral Transgression

I want to conclude with a short discussion of the difference between a disciplinary council convened for moral transgression as opposed to one convened for apostasy. I’m alarmed we have seen more of these apostasy councils lately. It wasn’t that way as I was growing up in the church in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Apostasy usually brings up visions of rebellion, arrogance and pride.

Apostasy Usually Decided At The Top

However, in cases I have investigated first hand, I found none of these were present on the part of the individual who was excommunicated. Of course I wasn’t there so I can’t say for certain, but I have interviewed them or read their account of the proceedings and their letter of appeal. I sense a difference in the actions of the presiding authorities – their minds made up in advance.

Stake President Carrying Out Assignment

This was clear in the account of Denver Snuffer. There is no doubt his stake president was told by members of the SCMC in Salt Lake what needed to be done with no room for negotiation. In other words, the decision was made. The stake president was simply under orders to carry out the formalities of discipline. I feel the same thing happened with Mel Fish and with Brent Larsen.

Even Good Men Can Err in Doctrine

This quote from Joseph reminds me of my friend Paul Toscano: “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (HC 5:340)

The Sanctity of Dissent

Paul wrote a book explaining his side of things, “The Sanctity of Dissent.” The more I think about it the more I agree with Paul. I believe we have a right to disagree with the interpretations of scriptures and doctrines as offered by our General Authorities. I believe we should be able to share that on our private blogs without fear of reprisal or punishment from church officers.

Blogs are For Exploring New Ideas

Of course, as I have written many times, I would not dream of teaching my personal ideas or interpretations from the pulpit or in the classroom. I sustain the Brethren and their right to declare what should be taught uniformly throughout the church – but NOT to censor what we write in private or semi-public, such as a blog. Our blogs are not official word of the church.

Blogging is Following Counsel of Elder Ballard

That’s why I wrote in my previous post how it troubles me when we are punished for trying to follow the counsel of Elder Ballard to be involved in the online dialog about the church and our doctrines. We want people to understand us, even if we differ somewhat from the standard or orthodox interpretation of the official doctrines that are presented by teachers in our classrooms.

Seeking to Remain Informed

For those who have expressed concerned I have gone apostate because I enjoy reading, writing about and discussing the writings of certain individuals such as Denver Snuffer, Max Skousen, D. Michael Quinn, David John Beurger or just about anything from Signature Books, please don’t think this affects my testimony of the fundamentals of this church. My testimony is intact.

Many Prophets In Addition to Joseph

I revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. In spite of his flaws, he was a prophet of the Lord in these latter days. But don’t take away from me my right to call Denver Snuffer a prophet as well. I accept the Book of Mormon as the Word of God, intended to be a warning for our day. Again, please don’t take away my right to read and discuss the writings of Denver Snuffer on my blog.

Seek Guidance From God in What to Study

As I’ve written many times, I love this church and love the people in it. I love to serve in the small capacity in which I am asked, be it as a home teacher or in my current calling as the Stake Financial Clerk. I seek the guidance and direction of the Lord each day in what I should read and study in addition to the scriptures. I feel lead and am grateful for that still small voice to my soul.

Submissiveness to Local Priesthood Leaders

I like to think I am a submissive individual. I try not to take any offense when corrected by my priesthood leaders. I try to welcome it with a cheerful attitude. I know they love me and have my best interests at heart. As I’ve always said, I would remove my blog in a heartbeat if they said it caused people trouble or caused them to doubt their own testimonies of God and of our Savior.

Expressed Willingness to Remove my Blog

I wonder if the day will come when that changes. This is probably getting repetitious to my regular readers. I am growing. I am learning. I am seeking the face of the Lord. I do not feel this blog is being written by commandment of the Lord but by suggestion and a desire to follow the counsel of prophets and apostles. God bless them, especially those who suffer effects of old age.

Seek Learning by Study and by Faith

God bless you my brothers and sisters. May you seek learning by study and also by faith. I strive to do both. I will not leave my eternal salvation to what I hear taught each week in the three hour block of meetings. It is simply not enough. It is my personality and learning method that I must write and share as I read. Otherwise I do not feel a commitment or internalization of what I read.

Keys to My Participation in Ordinances

Please, rest assured, I intend to be and remain submissive to the direction of my priesthood leaders. Unless the Lord tells me otherwise, I will do as they direct. I sustain them and grant them authority over me. At this point in my life, the spirit directs I should do so. I want and need the sacrament and the temple. These brethren hold the keys of those blessing in my behalf.

Excommunicated for Priestcraft


MelvinGwenaFishIn the Mormon Church, excommunication is devastating. It is a real and constant threat for those who write publically about the church. In the five years I have been blogging about LDS themes, I confess I have written a few controversial essays. But I have never felt something I wrote could get me into trouble. This essay is different. You may find it to be critical of church leadership.

For the most part, serving in leadership positions in the LDS church is a volunteer assignment. The official phrase is “to receive a calling” but in effect, you are asked to accept a responsibility, often at considerable sacrifice of time and effort. In the local congregations, we have no paid ministry. Instead, the men are asked to lead the meetings and counsel local members as needed.

Being an old guy in the church, I have had my share of leadership assignments, but always in a support position. I would not want to be a Bishop or Stake President because of the difficulty of the task. My role has always been as a counselor or clerk to a Bishop or Stake President. Years ago I served on a Stake High Council, the group of men assigned to assist the Stake President.

Disciplinary Councils

One of the duties of priesthood leadership is to participate in disciplinary councils, something I never enjoyed. I am an imperfect man and am hesitant to pass judgment or even offer an opinion on the worthiness of another individual in the church. Gratefully, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Bishop or Stake President and never a bishopric counselor or High Counselor.

In the eighteen years I have served in leadership positions, I suppose I have probably participated in a few dozen disciplinary councils. That’s where a group of men get together to determine if another member should be allowed to remain in fellowship with the rest of the Latter-day Saints. When serving as a clerk, I have also written the follow-up reports that we send to Salt Lake.

In the years prior to the time I started serving in priesthood leadership, a disciplinary council was referred to as a church court. I never liked that phrase. To me, a court focuses on proving guilt, something I personally find distasteful. The purpose of a disciplinary council should be to help an individual struggling with personal moral failings find strength to turn their life around.

The Ideal Standard

I feel blessed to have served with men who loved the Lord and wanted to do his will. The Stake President with whom I served as a High Counselor is now a Mission President. He was and is a kind man, who always exhibited great care and concern for the welfare of the individuals who were called into judgment under his tenure. Let me share just one example of his kindness.

I recall an elderly gentleman who had been excommunicated for teaching false doctrine. It was evident the man had some mental and emotional problems. But he wanted to come back into the church. For those who don’t know, a disciplinary council must again be convened to reconsider the original evidence and to determine if change is evident and sufficient to be baptized again.

This stake president went out of his way to ensure this elderly man and his family members were comfortable with the procedure. He had his executive secretary sit with the family members the whole time the disciplinary council was being held. He sent his clerk out to the waiting area to keep the man and his family informed while we deliberated his case in the High Council room.

Justice and Mercy

Again, for those who may not be aware, in a Stake disciplinary council, half the High Counselors are assigned to look out for the interests of the person whose case is being heard. The interests of the church are the primary concern of the other six High Counselors. I have sat on both sides of that High Council room. In my experience it seems to be a fair and equitable system of justice.

In every disciplinary council in which I have participated, both as a bishopric member and as a High Councilor, without fail, mercy and love have been the prevailing concern. I said I dislike disciplinary councils. At the same time, I can tell you that it is in these councils that I have felt a strong closeness to the Lord as I have witnessed an outpouring of his love for these individuals.

Tears have almost always been shed by most of the grown men in the room as, in the end, we either brought the individual back into the church or pronounced that he or she would no longer be considered a member of our church. Tears of joy or tears of sorrow were accompanied by an overwhelming witness from the spirit to each of us that the will of the Lord had been done.

Zoob’s Law

I want to tell you about a friend who was excommunicated for priestcraft but before I do I need to tell you a little bit about what he does and why it is troubling for some people in the church. I also need to refer to Zoob’s law, which reads: “Generally people tend to oppose that which they don’t understand, the degree of their opposition being directly proportionate to their ignorance.”

In other words, when learning about something new and different, the non-informed attempt to hide their ignorance by a degree of aggressive descent roughly equal to the amount they do not understand. The greater their ignorance, the greater the opposition. If you think about it, you will recognize the truth of this axiom and circumstances in which you may have witnessed it fulfilled.

If you have not had personal experience with something and witnessed the good that it produces, you may feel uncomfortable with the idea or practice until you have had time to study it out for yourself to make your own determination if it is worthwhile. Imagine how you would feel if you are asked to pass judgment on a subject you don’t understand and only heard about hours before.

Opposition in All Things

In contrast, there are those who do understand something, at least to a small degree, and have decided it is not something of value because it exposes personal weaknesses or causes them to feel condemned by the light contained in the thing being considered. For example, if you are a controlling individual, wouldn’t you object to anything that gives freedom to those you control?

Even though it is expressly forbidden in our church, sadly, there are those who exercise control or compulsion upon others, usually their own family members, all in the name of priesthood authority and their right as the head of a household. This control may manifest itself in emotional abuse of their family members, and even more sadly, sexual and even satanic ritualistic abuse.

For those who are not aware, the problem of sexual abuse is well known and documented among church members living along the Wasatch front. In a 1990 document written by Glenn L Pace, then a member of the Presiding Bishopric to the Strengthening Church Members Committee, he detailed sixty alleged incidents of ritualized child abuse among Utah and Idaho Latter-day Saints.

Trauma in Southern Utah

I don’t want to focus on that negative element of the story but you need to be aware it does exist. The victims of that abuse experience deep psychological pain and trauma. It drives some to acts of self-loathing and even suicide. Because some of these individuals are strong, they seek help and healing from counselors and therapists in an effort to find peace and get on with their lives.

This is where my friend comes into the story. Melvin Fish has a Ph.D. in Counseling. He lives in Southern Utah, where, for some reason, there are a large number of individuals suffering from the trauma of sexual or emotional abuse. I know this because I have been studying the subject for about twenty years. Other counselors in Southern Utah have corroborated this fact, at least for me.

Now, to be fair, people come to these counselors from all over the Western United States, in fact, from all over the world. But our story takes place in Cedar City, where the men who sat on the High Council decided to excommunicate Mel Fish for priestcraft. I defined this unusual term in a previous essay but need to expound on the subject to make it clear in the minds of my readers.

Priestcraft in the LDS Church

The scriptural definition of priestcraft is that men set themselves up as a light instead of pointing others to Christ. The definition of priestcraft that seems to be used in the LDS Church today is that men charge money to help people find healing through Christ. As long as a man does his counseling the way the world recognizes and approves, the Church seems to have no problem.

As long as you practice techniques approved by the APA (American Psychological Association) or the AMCAP (Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists) then you are more than welcome to charge professional fees for your services. In fact, the church will support your business by sending you people from local congregations and then paying your regular fees.

In case you didn’t know, there is no place in the APA or AMCAP for the belief that problems of a psychological or emotional nature can be caused by the influence of evil or unclean spirits. In fact, there seems to be little belief remaining in the LDS Church in general that such beings exist. Even if you profess to believe that evil spirits cause problems, you can’t use that in your work.

Spiritual Counseling

On the other hand, let’s say you obtain a PhD in counseling with the intent of helping people resolve emotional issues that trouble them. You set up a practice and begin to see clients but are troubled by the fact that they have to keep coming back over and over to get help. Talking about their issues only seems to make them worse. You conclude that psychotherapy is ineffective.

So you search for other, more effective means to help people and are led to ideas and techniques that produce positive results in record time. Not surprisingly, these techniques center in ideas found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of others is central to this technique. The belief that problems can be attributed to the influence of evil and unclean spirits is also essential.

Encouraged, you start practicing a technique of discovering and teaching unclean spirits to go to the light of Christ. The people who come to see you are healed in record time. They go away from their counseling sessions filled with joy and relief, happy to be free of the burdens they have cast upon the Lord. You publish books and teach others how to do what you have done.

Discovering Hidden Stress

Well, that’s what Mel Fish has done. And for this he has been excommunicated. This happened in 2009 about the time I first learned about his work. I purchased his books in 2010, studied them and discovered they contained teachings that brought me closer to Christ, especially as I applied the principle of forgiveness of others and myself. His visualization techniques are powerful.

The problem with what Mel Fish did is that he was too effective. He helped people who were bound by the adversary and in the process upset a few people who lost the control over their family members they once had. They could no longer be manipulated or coerced into doing what the controlling individual wanted. These individuals found fault with Mel and his techniques.

Now unless you’ve been exposed to kinesiology or muscle testing, you may think this method of discovering and identifying hidden stress or darkness is, well, simply put, weird. I have written a blog specifically dedicated to the process of how I first learned about muscle testing and saw firsthand how it helped my family. I appreciate that the weirdness factor takes some adjustment.

Strengthening Church Members

I mentioned this committee previously. When someone finds fault with what another member of the church has written or is doing, they tend to call Salt Lake to complain. Of course the Church asks that such complaints be resolved through local church leaders. But even those leaders will sometimes call Salt Lake because they don’t know how to handle the complaints they receive.

If enough of these complaints are received, it comes to the attention of a loose committee of individuals identified as the Strengthening Church Members Committee. When Elder Oaks was asked about this committee he characterized it as a clipping service. It is much more than that. This committee keeps track of anything that is published about the church by church members.

That includes blogs, which is why I mentioned that this essay about a controversial subject – the excommunication of a prominent published member – is something that could come back to bite me. I don’t want my stake president to get a call or letter from this committee asking him if he is aware of my blogging activities. Ordinarily I do all I can to hold the church up in a positive light.

Telling Mel’s Story

In this case, I would like to share with you what I consider to be failing in our church, brought about because of the efforts of the Strengthening the Church Members Committee and the local priesthood leadership of the Cedar City Utah North Stake. Ultimately the fault can be attributed to the adversary as he works to keep people ignorant of the true power of Christ’s atonement.

When I met with Mel last week, my intent was to write a better book review. I wanted to focus on his work and his books. I was only incidentally interested in telling the story of how he was excommunicated. As we met and discussed things, it became obvious that bringing his story to the attention of a wider audience was more important and what the Lord wanted me to do.

What happened to Mel Fish should not happen to anyone in our church, but especially to a man who has spent a lifetime serving the Lord and helping God’s children heal from pain and sorrow. I can tell you from personal experience that Mel and Gwena Fish are loved of God. I know this because I asked God in prayer with my wife and received a revelation of God’s love for them.

The First Disciplinary Council

Mel first published Healing the Inner Self in 1999 at age 66 after counseling and helping many hundreds of grateful people over the previous decade. He received his PhD in Counseling in 1995. Anybody who has done the work for a PhD dissertation knows how difficult it is to meet the strenuous academic requirements. Mel’s work involved many years of clinical experience.

In 2007 Mel’s Stake President was asked by the Strengthening the Church Members Committee to hold a disciplinary council. The council was held and no action was taken. In preparation for the disciplinary council, the Stake President received expert witness and testimony from Dillon K Inouye, a beloved professor in the BYU Psychology Department before his death in 2008.

I have a copy of that expert testimony and can understand why Mel’s Stake President took no action on that occasion. The document is convincing in demonstrating that Mel Fish’s work is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, it shows that Mel’s techniques are superior over three other well accepted techniques of producing psychological behavior modification.

The Second Disciplinary Council

A copy of that expert testimony was sent to Elder Holland, Elder Bateman and Elder McMullin. Mel’s Stake President was released in 2008. New priesthood leadership was put into place. In 2009, a second disciplinary council was held in which the testimony of the first Stake President was presented, along with a personal endorsement from Elder F. Enzio Busche, all to no avail.

Mel was not allowed to speak in his own defense. He was not allowed to explain his work or how he helped people discover and then relieve their burdens by giving them to Christ. As far as Mel knows, there was nobody assigned to see that his interests were met. At age 76, he was also required to stand for seven hours while the charges were considered and his case deliberated.

At that point in the story I knew something was terribly wrong. It seemed obvious that the church had received one too many complaints about Mel’s work and had made it clear that he was to be excommunicated, no matter what. The disciplinary council was not concerned about Mel. They were only concerned about meeting the technical requirements to justify the action taken.

Final observations

Of course I wasn’t there so I’m only telling one side of the story that I heard from Mel. As I wrote previously, the church does not comment on disciplinary actions. If you are familiar with the September Six, you know what a chilling effect the Church’s crackdown on intellectual criticism caused at that time. It seems now the Church has done the same thing among healers.

If you were at the disciplinary council I would like to hear from you (Strike that. It’s not an appropriate request to ask someone to break confidences). I doubt anyone will respond but as one who is familiar with the process from personal experience, I want to know if there was a spirit of love and concern expressed for the welfare of Mel’s soul. What efforts were made to help Mel understand what he had done that the Church found so offensive about healing lives?

I still intend to write that review of Mel’s book within the next few weeks. I received training in the techniques Mel uses so I know they are real and produce valid results. I have never seen a conflict between what Mel teaches and practices and what we find in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I welcome your comments. Mel gave permission to share the BYU document endorsing his work.

Update 3-28-13: I reviewed Mel’s book in this post.

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