Aug 31, 2010
Tom sits down with Dennis and Sue and lets them tell their heartbreaking leave story.
Podcast: Play in new window
By John Larsen
Tags: Anger, Bishop, child, Christianity, Church Employee, death, discipline, employment, faith, family, funeral, God, grief, Heber Kimball, Love, Obedience, Olympics, polygamy, Prayer, religion, Utah County, Vilate Kimball, visiting teaching, ward
Seems to be some technical difficulties here. Unable to listen or download. Hope this is fixed by tomorrow so I can listen at work.
This story was heart wrenching and utterly tragic. Thank you Dennis and Sue for sharing what you’ve been through. It’s refreshing to hear that I’m not alone in finding faith after leaving Mormonism since as Tom said it does seem to be less common (which is totally understandable). I’m glad you’ve been able to experience some redemption in the midst of so much horrendous pain.
I totally agree that children should never be left alone with a bishop (or any church official for that matter). As this story makes so tragically clear, positions of authority within Mormonism are not necessarily given to people who should have them).
A very heart wrenching story. I am full of admiration for Dennis and Sue in the way they have not only survived the tragedy of the loss of a beloved son but also the loss of the faith they held so dear, and yet continue to give of themselves to help others get through their pain. There are so many good sincere people who gave so much to the church who only sought truth, as we were told it was all about, only to have their lives and families devastated, and then are subjected to this relentless campaign by the church to paint them as sinners and losers who must be avoided and discredited. It just makes me ill. I’m so grateful things like Mormon Expression are here to give voice to these people and expose the dishonesty of the Church’s apostate branding. It is the most non-Christ-like thing they do.
If I’m not able to listen in my car I often shut the door to my office and listen while I work on other things. I got about half-way through this one and I knew I couldn’t continue in my office. First, I simply couldn’t focus on something else while this story played out. And second, I could feel my eyes welling up. I didn’t want to walk out of my office red-eyed.
I listened to it at home and got red-eyed just like I thought I would. That was so poignant and painful to listen to.
And yet Dennis and Sue remain beautiful and hopeful people in spite of what they have been through. Thank you for sharing this story.
Listening to Sue tell their story of the Bishop giving a talk about Violet and Heber Kimball being tested with polyandry reminded me of a meeting my wife and I had with our stake president. We were meeting the SP because we were struggling with church history. One of the stories that he shared was this same story of Heber Kimball. He meant it to be a faith promoting story. But it was not. We of course already knew the story but we could not believe that he saw it as faith promoting. We left the church about a month later.
Just beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time. Thank you for sharing. I also bawled most of the way through and was reminded of my own loss of faith and the horrendous loss that it brings. Thank you for opening up your home and allowing people like me to meet people like you!
Big hugs to Dennis and Sue.
I’m in the process of downloading to listen later, but I can already tell that these are very brave people. I myself am having doubts about the church, but I still fully believe in God and the truthfulness of the gospel- not the vessel (or church).
Definitely a very touching account, however I cannot agree with their statement that “the church” is what killed their son. The church itself can do nothing, but I will definitely agree with the fact that a jerkass bishop who apparently believed he was infallible was the force that dealt the major blow to the poor guy. And several backbiting members of their ward on the same level (Didn’t the Lord punish the saints for this in Missouri?) certainly did not help especially if they refused to believe that the bishop was incapable of doing wrong.
The son did not kill himself either as it was an accident involved in mixing those medications. If anyone, the manufacturers of those drugs are the most responsible- especially with the recent studies of how a majority of the manufactured drugs these days are not only completely ineffective, they end up doing more damage.
I wish Dennis and Sue the best. I lost my brother and can only imagine the grief my parents have gone through.
That was a very helpful post for me in many ways. Thank you for conducting the interview. Thank you Dennis and Sue for sharing so much. You will most certainly help many people with your kind and open hearts. I learned a lot.
The story is very sad, however I did not feel the church had anything directly to do with the death of their son.
The church’s handling of it was terrible however, and the Mormon belief that people are punished immediately for not living the Mormon way is very damaging to people who may already be feeling some degree of guilt.
It’s strange how many religious people believe God punishes people by hurting the ones they love. Mormonism uses the fear of this very effectively as a control mechanism. It’s a sick way of thinking.
Mormons seem to have a very low opinion of their God if they believe the agency fought for by Jesus is undermined constantly by the Father who punishes the innocent to attack the “guilty”.
I’m agnostic, but in my opinion any perfect father would not behave in this way.
Great points OzPoof
Ditto. Well said OzProof.
Many thanks to all of you for your comments about our podcast. Several people had to encourage me to allow publication of our interview because I just didn’t know if I should be so public about our story. It is so gratifying to see that many of you have been touched, and maybe even helped, by what we had to say. For those of you that have commented that “the church did not or could not kill our son” you are absolutely right. Sometimes emotions take over while telling a story and especially when you are being interviewed for the very first time in your life about the most painful experiences of your life. No, the church was not responsible for physically taking our son’s life but they did have a hand in destroying his spirit and love for life.
To all of you, I just want to say thank you for your love and support. We all have each other to lean on and for that I am truly grateful!
I can only imagine how difficult this was. Thank you, thank you for sharing your story…
Thanks Sue for sharing your story.
Thank you so much for this painful story. I wish I had something more than gratitude to offer.
You two are two of the best people I know and I’m so glad I’ve found you as friends. When talking about looking up to people…. you’re right up there! I love you guys!!
Dennis, Thanks for sharing this on line. I’m honored to know you. I hope I get to come to Utah sometime and attend one of your CALM meetings.
Thank you so much Dennis and Sue for your story. I really appreciate your honesty and your continued faith through the process. Sue, some of the things you said about your own spiritual journey were very inspiring. As a result of this story I actually started telling youth I interview (I am a member of a bishopric) to talk to their parents or a trusted grownup if there is anything said inappropriate to them in one on one interviews. I just had a hard time hearing about that strange and seemingly perverted Bishop. I am really sorry for what happened to you.
Also, I said I was sorry to my sister, who left the church a while ago, because I think I made her feel alienated because I got upset with her and her husband when they left the church. I could have been a much better listener and could have encourage others in my family to reach out to them more in their trial of faith. Thank you. God Bless.
Molskinner, first let me say “thank you” for YOUR honesty. I am so impressed. Its responses like yours that make my journey worthwhile. Who knows how many youth you might save from the pain that our son, Ryan, went through. It really touched me to know that you apologized to your sister and realized that you could have listened better to her and her husband while they were going through such a difficult and painful time in their lives. If only there were more people like you in bishoprics! God bless you, too!
i’ve had this on my iPod for some time and havent listened yet….tonight i am with my fiance helping him to paint an apartment and i decided to listen….several times i audibly expressed anguish and sorrow (i got a few weird looks from him) and once i stopped mid-paint stroke for several mintues just listening as paint dripped on the floor..oopsie! one of the most beautiful stories i’ve ever heard…and is it my imagination or was a window open during the taping of the show and it was raining outside? it added a whole ‘nother level of sorrow that was also divine… thanks Tom, Dennis and Sue…
Where do I find the list of “crimes against the church?” What do you mean when you say that Harry does not have a clue to be a member of the church? Are you saying that he is just too ignorant to be convicted of his “crimes?” I am dying to hear what would cause modern members to want to bring back blood atonement, in the temple too!
I would echo Stephanie’s sentiments Mike. This shows a lot of integrity. Well done.
And, frankly, we’ve all done this a time or two . . . or three . . . or four . .. or . . .
(well, at least I have)
Now – since I’m sensing a teachable moment here – going forward I would remind you that anything on a public website on the Worldwide Web is indeed WORLDWIDE with a theoretically potential audience of 6.92 Billion people. Further, because you never know who’s in the actual potential audience it’s best to use some degree of discretion.
So, I’m thinkin’, that perhaps wishing public figures dead and stating that driving javelins through people’s hearts as a means of saving their souls is best left off the Worldwide Web – agreed?
The good news is that you’re most often in panel discussions where the other panelists can directly and immediately challenge you. Which leads me to my REAL advice:
Mike, I would advise you to listening to your critics — especially your fellow panelists — rather than blowing them off (as, frankly, you’ve demonstrated a tendency to do in times past).
You listened to your critics in this case and I suspect that you will find great reward for doing so both now and going forward - especially, IF you stay in this tender, listening, teachable place and don’t leave it – ever!
After all doesn’t that Bible say:
“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.”
– Proverbs 18:2
Don’t be a fool Mike.
God bless you and your household Mike Tannehill and thank you for showing such bravery and integrity.
I agree, but would add that Mike might want to actually answer his critics all the time, instead of doing what Mormons do so well – ignoring what makes them uncomfortable.
Mike, if you are presented with facts that even you can’t use any apologist to refute, that’s a red flag you should take notice of. If the church is true, there will be no awkward questions that can’t be answered.
“What I came to realize is that just because Harry is a member, that does
not mean he has a clue as to what that means. I am told he often
teaches a sunday school class, but reading and repeating are different
that consuming and internalizing. I have no right to judge and condemn
the man, nor do I have the right to wish for his death.”
Did you connect these two intentionally? It sounds like you’re saying that if Reid DID know and understand what “being a member means” in the same way you understand it, and made the same political and personal choices, that maybe you WOULD have the right to condemn, judge, and wish for his death. It sounds kind of like you’re saying you shouldn’t wish for his death ONLY because (you presume) he is ignorant.
Instead of assuming Reid’s ignorance, implying that his choices regarding his life, his faith, and his political role cannot be conscious and deliberate, maybe it would be better to refer to his understanding of what it means to be a member of the LDS church as disagreeing with some opinions in the church, rather than simply ignorant of some obvious (to you) truth. It’s not a matter of knowledge, but of belief. Reid believes in a different definition of what it means to be LDS than you; that doesn’t make him ignorant.
So you apologize for wanting him dead but then insult him by explicitly saying that he doesn’t know how to be a real Mormon. Of course you happen to be an expert in this field. I am not impressed.
Thanks to all those who approve of my apology. I have always had charity and love issues and I need to work on that. I’d hate to arrive on the other side to have Moroni slap me upside the head and ask “What the hell?”
@Kyle – I am no expert on being a perfect mormon, but I know enough about the gospel to realize you dont ignore the Apostles of the Lord when they personally ask that you support families and fight against the homosexual agenda. Harry Reid sides with homosexuals and other deviants. If this were Book of Mormon times he would be a kingman.
@Carla – I think that chastity and the blessings of eternal marriage and family are fairly basic concepts that anyone in the church can appreciate. I dont know or understand how brother Reid sees the things he does as being constructive in regards to his helping build up the kingdom as he has covenanted to do. The only thing I can imagine is that he feels he is being supportive of free agency and does not wish to create laws that set up boundries. I dont hink that is the case. I think he is at the least misguided and worst evil. But it is not my place to judge so I have decided to just let go of my hatred. God will do with him as he wishes.
@Johnny – No one is looking to bring back blood atonement. When I was preparing for the podcast we did on the handbook of instructions I made myself a list of reasons as to why brother reid should be excommunicated. I found five. I have since thrown the list away. The reasons I can best recall had to do with encouraging immoral behavior and abuse of public office as a highly visible member of the church. Is he ignorant of his crimes? I do not know. I know he refused the direct pleading of an Apostle when it came time to vote in support of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
“Judge not, that ye not be judged”, “Let those without sin cast the first stone”, “God is Love”.
Focus more on Christ and less on Lies, Deceit and Spin. You should be the poster child for all the judgmental self-righteous Mormons. Thankfully I no longer have anything to do with Mormonism, I am free to use my agency, and I chose to leave. Thank you so very much for reminding me why it feels so good to be unfettered by The Corporation of The President. All your apologist rhetoric and convoluted excuses remind me of an abused spouse denying that her husband beats her up and abuses her physically and mentally. “He’s really a good man and cares so much for me and the children.”
Baby steps. But I think Kyle nailed it (apology with an insult?). And Carla double nailed it (twisted implications). A Fred triple nailed it (learn to be self-reflective). I hope you are learning from them Mike. Thanks for the kind mention. I value your friendship as well.
Even if we accept your rather insincere sounding apology for advocating the murder of Harry Reid, this is only part of the story. I wonder how many in the ME community are aware that you also defended the Oklahoma City bombing.
People of other faiths who support the deliberate massacre of innocent people in order to make a political statement we lock up in a cage in Guantanamo. I am ashamed that I was ever affiliated with an institution that could produce someone who could hold such views.
Jake, thank you for posting the link. Frankly I’m stunned. One of the things that used to scare me about being mormon was how seriously some of them take their self righteousness. I thought vengeance and judgment belonged to the Lord.
I agree with you on every account. I think if kids have a healthy view of sex, they will make better decisions as to when, and with whom, they’ll have sex. I just read an article yesterday predicating that one in every four people in America has an STI, so with numbers like that it, it is important to be judicious.
Sex is not “dirty”. I have a friend who is a marriage counselor who’s practice is within walking distance of a BYU campus. She has a thriving client base that is growing. Not being LDS she nonetheless has figured out that if the people she is working with grew up under Pres. X or Y, then she needs to address a certain set of “baggage” and unhealthy ways of handling marriage and relationships. One of the worst: Spencer Kimball. Control with guilt. (R-U-clean?)Sex is one of the most wonderful and intense experiences a person can experience, to be with a person emotionally, physically, mentally and yes, spiritually. To literally be with another person without anything to hide behind or from and be together in ever sense of the word, is a remarkable thing to know. It is such a powerful experience to bond and share with another person on a really profound level. It is not dirty, it so special that it should not be taken lightly, that is not dirty. I can still remember the incredible feelings of being one with my wife, we just held each other for over six hours (yes, were both naked) I can’t even remember if we talked, we just bonded. It was one of the most amazing moments in my life. And no the room was not dark, I think we had a couple of candles burning.
In the Mark Peterson podcast someone mentioned that Mark had said that he had never seen his wife naked. What kind of screwed up baggage is that, and he is handing out “counsel” and advice on how to live your life and be joyful? He must have been full of dirty, filthy thoughts and that is what drove him to such sorrowful statements. And as a bonus: he was a racist.
Sex is not dirty, it is an incredible opportunity to bond, share, give and receive pleasure, passion and intimacy. How many lives and relationships have been harmed, damaged and scarred because of this evil attitude? What emotional and self image problems as well as relationship erosion has this caused? A fetching mountain sized pile of broken lives is my guess.
I so agree with you about Deconstructor! I was already familiar with that website.
Yes, I could already tell before your reply that you and I are in full agreement on this issue, but I felt a need to reinforce the Idea that despite how wonderful and fulfilling sexuality can and should be, injudicious and indiscriminate use of it can have tragic consequences.
I think you would also agree that prudish, doctrinaire attitudes (like those of conservative religious organizations like the LDS Church) that conflate sex with evil, filth and guilt, and discourage open and frank discussion and dissemination about the reality of the joys and benefits of healthy, human sexuality only tend to increase the probability of risky, inappropriate, exploitative and abusive sexual behaviour. Religious conservatives have trouble dealing with the embarrasing fact that countries (such as Holland and the Scandinavian countries) that have a much more open and less restrictive attitude about human sexuality also have much lower rates of teen pregnancy, abortions, STDs and sex crimes that the USA does. If I am not mistaken, they also have lower suicide rates.
Agreed on all points!
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