Baby Gods: How Mormon Doctrine Leads to Abuse

I was raised in the Mormon church. I attended services weekly until I was fifteen. Generations of my family on both sides were LDS. So I know their rules and beliefs. Aside from Scientology, they are the most messed-up and dangerous mainstream cult in America. Probably the worst thing about it is the way in which it shapes young men into abusers, rapists, and child molesters, because it encourages treating people as things.

Like all monotheistic religious traditions (particularly Catholicism and all of its bastard children), LDS doctrine is all about male exceptionalism; Mormon men are told that when they die, they will become gods. That is their destiny. Mormon women are told that their entire existence must revolve around giving her husband anything he wants and obeying his every command, and then bearing his “spirit children” for all eternity. (Why would any woman want to be a part of a church that relegates her to being a celestial brood mare for all eternity?) Young Mormon women are taught from the age of about twelve that their goal should be finding a husband and bearing his children. They are taught that their bodies are not their own and given a strict set of rules to adhere to so that they can go to this “reward.” They taught us makeup tips at the age of thirteen. Young women in the Mormon church are actively sexualized, and it teaches young men that women’s bodies exist solely for their pleasure.

The church also teaches men that their wives and children are their property, to be used or abused entirely at their whim. As a result, child molestation and domestic abuse is rampant in the Mormon church. I would let a drag queen babysit my granddaughter any day, but there is no way I would leave her alone -at any age- with a Mormon bishop or a Catholic priest. This is because those men do not respect any girl or woman’s bodily sovereignty. These are the same churches that are pushing to outlaw abortion. They cannot wrap their minds around the idea that women own their bodies.

If you dig a little, you can find some dark stories about the kind of men that the Mormon church tends to produce. I have seen firsthand the entitlement and the abusive behavior some of the most devout Mormon men engage in. There are a few who are genuinely nice guys, just doing their best. But they are shackled just as much as women are by the pressures and expectations and unearned adulation. “Boys will be boys” hurts boys. It prevents them from growing into good men. Boys need to be taught to respect women, to honor their bodily autonomy, to treat others with kindness and compassion. They  need to be taught that kindness requires more strength than cruelty does. We also need to encourage children to speak up if they are being harmed, that people who hurt them will tell them that the most awful things will happen if they tattle, but they are lying. The reason these predators go after young children is because little kids believe what grownups tell them.

Have you ever been part of the LDS church? Are you aware of the profound problems with its doctrines and practices? Did any of this change the way you see the religion?

Post-Script: Here's what I think: Joseph Smith ate some mushrooms in the woods and was in fact contacted by a kind of “god,” which are just pockets of independent sentience -not necessarily benevolent ones- within the vast matrix of collective cosmic consciousness. He did receive a message, but he was corrupt and he twisted and warped it out of true so now the statement: “You shall become as god” was completely misconstrued into the monstrous cult it has become. That “deity” was one of millions of such coalescences of thought, but young Joseph had been brainwashed to believe that there was only one god in the world. Then he decided that only men would become “as god” because he was a product of the patriarchy and that women’s purpose is exclusively to bear children. This strict division of gender roles would become the worst thing about the cult. I imagine Joseph Smith got a nasty shock when he died.

If you want to know more about how the LDS church handles accusations of sexual misconduct:

All of those links can be found by asking Google about Mormon child sex abuse. There are multiple lawsuits against the LDS church for covering up for child molesters.


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