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  1. This is an incredibility sad report. I hope more facts can come out, so we can see more clearly what his local church leaders knew or did not know. I find it hard to believe he didn’t have a church court after having an “affair”, as reported here. My half century activity in the church as shown me that the church will take some kind of action on membership for an affair.

    There are over 16 million church members. These kind of things are going to happen. However, for the size of the church and the number of incidents we know about like this, it represents a very small fraction of membership. For example, 16,000,000 x 1% = 160,000, .5 = 80,000, .1 = 16,000. Even if this happens once in a eternity it is incredibly sad. I’m very sorry for those who have been victims of church related abuse.

    Now, some are going to dislike my comment because of how they feel about the church. Others, will see that the church has a very small problem with this type of behavior.

    The fact is that the church is a leader in teaching and maintaining high morals. The vast majority of church members are living a Christ centered life. Let’s be fair and acknowledge this.

    1. My Friend, if you believe these are isolated cases in the Church, then you are sorely mistaken. My childhood Bishop was a pedophile, and even after being reported to the Stake President, he was called as a Bishop elsewhere to continue his sexual abuse on other children. This is a similar pattern that we are seeing over and over. It appears to be the case in this instance as well. No action taken against this “good brother” to perhaps save his family embarrassment?
      A simple internet search for “sexual abuse cases and settlements involving the Mormon Church” will give you hours of disturbing reading. Literally hundreds of cases are documented.
      If you prefer a book try reading “The Sins of Brother Curtis” –but be forewarned, it will deeply sadden you to see how the Church protected the abuser and had no regard for the multiple child victims… (much like the recently settled case of Mormon sexual abuse in West Virginia.)
      This is a foul stain on the church… heck look at the recently leaked KirtonMcConkie files dealing with the same issues–
      It is an evil calculation when how to best protect the Church’s precious image trumps reaching out to help the victims. Unfortunately over and over we see just that happening.

    2. Teancum, you really believe there are 16 million LDS members? I’d be surprised if there are half that number, and still surprised if half of those are active. Anybody who got baptized and walked away after three sacrament meetings is a “member,” and anybody born after 1909 who did not formally resign is a “member.”

    3. The problem is the church tells their people that bishops are called by God through the power of discernment. So, either God sometimes calls pedophiles and abusers or there really is no power of discernment and these men are called based on the best hope that a SP has that the bishop they called is a good person. This is where the problem lies; members believing their bishop is called by God and placing unwavering trust in that person because God put them in that position.

      1. Before I make my statement, I’d like to say, that what happened was horrible, and inexcusable, but everyone here judging this man, a sinner just the same. We all are in one way or another. Whether is a million little ones, a few big ones, or somewhere in between. I think that it is only fair to consider that some people need a certain amount of responsibility. Have you met this man? Have you considered that maybe he could be a good-hearted man, dealing with challenges of his own? Or was it easiest to see all of the bad? I like to believe that the church will call a man, or a woman, into a position as much for their benefit, as it is for others. If you are not a member of the faith, which I assume most people on this page are not, you may not understand the church’s beliefs. One of which is repentance. God sees all of his children as equals and feels strongly that people can improve and better themselves. I’d like to consider that God had foreseen his challenges and wanted to give him all of the help that he could. I’d like to think that God called him to serve in the callings that he did, to strengthen his testimony, and give him his best chance of fighting the temptations of this world. I am not here to excuse his actions but, provide my insights as to why a church might have a man, believed to be so evil in such a place of leadership. Everyone here has made mistakes, big, small, no matter. I don’t feel that this matter pertains to you, nor I, but between this man, this woman, and God. Yes, there will be consequences for his actions, but on earth, and in the eyes of God. But I hope you can all see, regardless of the size or magnitude of sin, a sin is a sin, and judging this man for his, is yours. Leave it to this girl, her family, and this man and his. To law enforcement on earth to judge him, and for God to do so afterword.

        1. Thank you for this. “Judge not” is lost on all of us to varying degrees. You are missing the point of the post, which makes what you said all the better.

    4. Because the church enables sexual predators by not doing background checks, by promoting men in authority even when they know of their indiscretions and by allowing these men one on one access to women, youth and children means the church is NOT a leader in teaching and maintaining high values.

      And to say that “These kinds of things are going to happen” minimizes the situation. If the church were doing everything in its power to background check leaders, not allow one on one interviews, and have a good system to report abuse, maybe your comment would hold more weight. I wonder if you would still make the same statement if it was your daughter abused by this man. “Oh, no biggie dear, these things happen.”

      And the fact that you think the good church members need a shout out for being good is alarming. I’m a church member and the only thing I care about is the church doing everything in it’s power to protect it’s members. Please dont feel like you have to point out how awesome I am and how awesome many other church members are when there are real people hurting because the church failed to protect them when they could have.

    5. The fact is the church has been engaged in a long standing relationship with problem #6 as outlined above by John. That immorality is hardly the hallmark of a “moral leader”. I’m fine with being fair but in order to identify what that looks like we’ve got to be honest above all else.

    6. His relationship with the prophet is exactly what protected him. Those with certain pedigrees are treated much differently than the common member!

  2. Remember, this is a church that still hasn’t condemned Joseph Smith for seducing 8th graders and other men’s wives while they (men) were serving missions. Sounds like God may have ordered him to do this or threatened to have him killed by an angel.

      1. If the subject interests you read his books. Don Hennessy is the director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency in Ireland. The idea of “coercive control” and “grooming grown women” the way a pedophile grooms children are both ideas that need to take grasp here in the US like they have in Ireland.

        1. I get that Mr. Hennessy wants to use the stigma of pedophilia to condemn mental abuse. But I wish he hadn’t tried to use Latin root words so haphazardly.

          Pedo=Child. Phile=Lover of/Enthusiast for. So, “pedophile”=Lover of Children (illicitly, of course)
          Psycho=Mind. Phile=Lover of/Enthusiast for. So, “psychophile”=Lover of Minds.
          Wait, what??

          We don’t need to invent fancy-sounding nonsensical new words to describe the awful behavior of men who control the minds and actions of their spouse. What’s wrong with “manipulator,” “mental abuser,” “narcissist,” or good ol’ fashioned “creep,” “jerk,” or “a–hole”?

          1. I think you haven’t read his books. He uses the word to say that a psychephile acheives what he wants by befriending the woman’s mind. In other words, he uses the fact that the woman loves him to groom her and to brainwash her in order to reach sexual control.

  3. He was a neighbor of ours growing up. My sister experienced someone taking pictures with a flash in the middle of the night a few times outside her bedroom window. One time they left their footprints in the snow outside the window. My sister experienced quite a bit of anxiety for quite a while. This was before home cameras, cell phones, etc. Now I’m wondering if this person was Steve!

  4. He was in Nashville picking up his son from his son’s mission.

    Also, Steve tried to pay the mall security cash to get his camera back before he was arrested.

  5. The Mormon church is based on secrets. The Book of Mormon was secret. Polygamy is a secret practice. The Temple is secret. Growing up as a Mormon girl, at family reunions a meeting of my Aunts and Uncles would be held to talk about the Mountain Meadow Massacre in secret. They wanted to talk about it in secret because ancestors participated in that event. SECRETS !
    My heart aches for this family. Even Steven Murdock. The leaders and Steven Murdock are both at fault. I feel for this innocent girl who was just shopping at H&M.
    The Mormon Church will continue to allow this behavior because this pattern has been set from the first day the church was started.

  6. John, I agree with your comments on the damaging nature of sexual repressions, shame, lying and hiding that members suffer. My cousin-in-law is a former Bishop. At some point several years ago he was involved with a woman he met online. I don’t believe he was ever with her in-person. The woman got him to do something sexual on web-cam (I don’t know and don’t care to know what). She was a professional scammer. She recorded the “session” then blackmailed him. Over the next several years he paid her several thousands of dollars per month over years to keep it quiet. He made up lies to “borrow” money from friends and family that he never paid back. Sold his home, drained savings. He bankrupted his family over it. They have nothing now, all over the shame and to maintain appearances. It’s all coming out now. I have only sympathy and compassion for him over what this woman did to him, but have disgust for him for paying this blackmailer hundreds of thousands of dollars, destroying their family financially over his need to play the part of the perfect man/family.

  7. John,

    There is a reason why journalists use language like suspected, alleged, and accused. Allegations can be false and stories manipulated. McKenna Denson is a perfect example of this. Not only for your own protection but for the benefit of exactness in language you should distinguish from facts and allegations.

  8. OK, lets assume everything reported here is correct about Murdock. Why would his church leaders not convene a church court? Are they all like he is and protecting him? Are they relatives and don’t want their good name damaged? Are they trying to help him repent and felt this was the best way to treat this particular case having had success this way with past offenders?

    The point I am making is the church is not trying to ignore this kind of behavior. They are trying to help! Maybe they have learned that a church court in the internet era isn’t always the best way help. Could it be there is a history of success that warrants the approach they took with Murdock?

    Of course, in this case their decision turned out to be a spectacular failure and embarrassment.

    I don’t know the answer. But I am certain church leaders were doing what they thought was best.

    1. I agree to a point, that they thought they were doing the right thing. The problem is that with zero training they don’t have the experience or perspective to deal with these things appropriately. I doubt the Stake Pres wanted anything negative for the victims, but the emphasis on forgiveness of the abuser does in fact damage the victims. The local leaders need a lot of training, not the crappy 30 minute thing they just rolled out, but training on specific matters like “how a Stake Pres should handle an accusation against a Bishop”. The Stake Pres’s are currently handling this to their best ability, but they shouldn’t be left to their own ideas. They should know exactly how to handle it, there should be clear processes for this.
      But this is the point. The church has massive resources and is very good at creating processes and procedures around the things that matter. Think about the training, 2-deep requirement and regular auditing that goes into handling $$! Handling these allegations should be at least as important as that. The church is showing that it is not willing to allocate resources to really train its leaders. As to why? Who knows.

    2. Teancum~
      I understand why you would truly believe everything you said about the church is true. In the worst kind of way, I wish it were. But, it simply is not…, not at all. Everything discussed in this podcast about the way the church covers up and protects the abuser at the victims’ expense, sadly, is very true. I am only ONE person who happens to have had SIX experiences with sexual abuse coverups within the church. They took place over a period of 30 years, with 5 bishops in 5 different states, and the last one going all the way to the first presidency of the church [involving little girls as young as 2 and 3 years old being abused]. I made excuses, put up blinders, and looked the other way for 30 years! After a chronic abuser was excused, minimalized, ignored, and swept under the rug by the member of the first presidency, I realized it wasn’t individual bishops, who were just lay men trying hard to do the best they could, but had no idea how to handle the situations presented to them. It is malignant and systemic within the church and goes all the way back to Joseph Smith’s perversions with other men’s wives and 14 year old girls. If you aren’t aware of those, go to ‘lds.org’ and read everything on polygamy and polyandry and/or listen to the podcast, “Year of Polygamy.” Thousands and thousands of people are coming to the realization of the truth concerning the lies and deceptions the church has perpetrated to its members. Amazingly, it can all be found in the gospel essays on ‘lds.org’ and within the footnotes.

  9. Teancum, you don’t seem to know much about church membership and activity. Only around 33% of members tithe. That remaining number would be out of the valiant group. And to be valiant one would need to be a current temple attender. When I was an Elder’s Quorum president, I would spend a lot of time trying to just locate inactives. In my last ward, I would glance at the ward list where well over 59%, I had never heard of. Before I stopped attending, there was a couple of called temple workers, but except for those my wife and I attended by far more than anyone else, and we went once a month except in winter when the 4 hour drive was treacherous. Not many members went. I keep meeting members that I have never heard of, ones who haven’t attended in 40 years and ones who are active members in other churches. I have a close neighbor, a Mormon on the church list, who is in his 70’s and hasn’t attended since he was 8.

    If you want to believe that HF is happy with growth, go to ldschurchgrowthblogspot and you will indeed find that the church is growing rapidly but nearly all the growth is in Africa and not the U.S. And though most member seem to think the church is the fastest growing faith/religion in the world, according to PEW Research as quoted in The Deseret News, by the year 2100, Muslims will outnumber Christians, so the Mormon god must not be very efficient.

    These problems are so well covered up, like with the Catholics that we rarely hear of such abuse. And like people who believe President Trump when he says that he is ‘the chosen” of God, members can’t even imagine church leaders being guilty of anything. I know that to be true because before I found the truth of the church, I beliieved that way, too.

    Thanks again, John.

  10. John, you are asking all the right questions. Thank you so much for doing this story. Please continue to push the church on this issue.

    My LDS abuser had raped a minor, was disfellowshipped for a short time, then moved to our ward, and no one was warned. He was made a High Priest and everyone trusted him. Parents in our ward began to report to the Bishop disturbing allegations of this guy exposing himself to their children, and the church told them to not talk about it and it was a misunderstanding. When the truth finally came out years later, he’d sexually abused dozens of LDS kids. ALL OF THAT ABUSE COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED IF THE CHURCH HAD WARNED MEMBERS, reported abuse, and taken allegations seriously! And even after all that, the church kept all the sexual abuse quiet and told members not to talk to the police. This abuser moved again and is a current member of the church, and I would bet that no one in his ward knows how dangerous he is.

    Some of the victims of this man have committed suicide. I also struggle with depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, PTSD, relationships/trust, etc. The church needs to be held responsible for allowing/enabling the abuse of children, as they are in a unique position to stop it, and choose over and over again not to protect children.

    1. So why isn’t the LDS church sued with covering up all this junk with all of these stories?

        1. Wow! Only seven open cases at one time, worldwide for a church of 16 million people. That’s remarkably little. And only one case involving a priesthood leader. Compare that to over 140 cases of Catholic priests among the 2 million Catholics in Boston. That’s 160 times more often among Catholics in Boston.

          I agree with Heather and this article that the local church leaders need to believe victims, report incidents to the police, not discourage victims from talking to the police, and not keep abusers in church callings. But statistically, incidence of abuse in this church is nearly nothing compared to what happened in Boston.

  11. Thank you for investigating and shedding light on this.

    As somebody who has experienced sexual abuse, sexual assault, AND sexual harassment at church, I think it important that you distinguish them here in your post: Murdock’s unwanted sexual contact was sexual assault, not sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is abuse of a different nature.

    1. S.BRACE,
      You make a truly valid point here. Sexual assault is unwanted. Thank you for clarifying.

      I have a question for the readers here, how do we influence the church to enact change in the process of how things are done churchwide to protect victims?

      This is a problem and concerns me deeply at many levels.

      I have also been a victim of assault by a man who held the Priesthood and came to my home to give me a priesthood blessing. He offered me a drink and suggested I looked dehydrated, drugged me and assaulted me.
      I have witnessed and experienced (as painful as this is to admit) the church minimize, ignore, gaslight, turn a blind eye, tell me to move on and forget, I have been asked how do I know he hasn’t repented (and I am the victim) but he never served any time in jail from turning himself in and has never had a church court and has been allowed to serve in many capacities that give him access and trust to other victims. One of his Bishop’s whom I called to alert him and ask for a church court, scolded me for speaking outside the priesthood line of authority. He told me he would immediately call my Bishop and have me called in to address my misbehavior. WHAT???

      1. Church documents and protocol on paper suggest a mandatory church court for predators. He never had a church court.

      2. I reported it to at least 12 bishops and 6 stake Presidents. Nothing was ever done and as far as I know this man is still in good standing, and holds a temple recommend.

      3. Kirton and McKonkie (legal firm who represents the church’s legal issues) told me that they didn’t feel they would advise action from the church as the legal civil system of Utah dropped the case and he wasn’t convicted. (Only 2 percent of all cases of the less than 35 percent of women who come forward to report get a conviction). Utah legal system has a current undetermined timeline of backlogged rape cases they have failed to test and use as evidence and mine is still in that backlog. The state prosecutors office told me they didn’t feel they had the evidence however they failed to confess that they didn’t even use the evidence I suffered humiliation to endure to provide as evidence.

      4. I have called numerous times over the last 12 years and have asked for time in the presence of decision makers at church headquarters in the RS department, the Priesthood department, Public Relations Department, with the Area Authority Seventy.
      I was told to write a letter and told to go to my local priesthood leaders. I wrote a letter and never heard back. I called to follow up and they can’t find my letter and admitted that if they read them, they sometimes file them, sometimes delete them but that they couldn’t confirm what happened to my letter, which I emailed to them. No action or help.

      5. Church headquarters Public Relations Department has told me the following…they said on a phone conversation that they didn’t believe it happened and said prove it, before hanging up on me. On another occasion they told me I needed to work on my relationship with Christ and pray and on another occasion they asked why I would want to subject anyone to a church court. WHAT???

      (Please forgive my writing style or any errors in my effort to communicate. This was very difficult for me to even write on a public forum. Please also know that I am a devoted follower of Christ. I do want to see policy reform, procedure and policy training for ALL church leaders from the top down. I want to see advocates within the RS organization to help victims. And I want to see a formal reporting process and system put into place and not just nice words on paper.)

      What do you all want to see and how may we get to a place to invite the change we desperately want to see the church finally and truly adopt? Your thoughts? How can we all help to protect and support victims we already know about revover and heal?

      Thank you for reading.

  12. Really? You needed to put a picture with his wife? I don’t think this was thought out. I’m guessing they have children. I believe this happened when you had a podcast about Joseph Bishop and then you switched to just a picture of him. Please do that again.

    1. I support John posting the picture of Amy Murdock as well. After all, as has been reported in the news stories, SHE tried to bribe the alleged victim with money to keep all of this quiet. That’s witness tampering!

      1. Her crimes (as far as we know) do not begin to meet his. While I don’t agree with her trying to prevent police getting involved. I see her as another victim. Cant a little compassion be shown toward her and their children by not posting this photo of her?

      2. She was panicked, saw her life crashing around her, and did what her instincts told her to do. Also, I think it’s actually more adult to try to reconcile outside of court than in court. If he can recompense the victim on the spot it can have advantages for all parties, not just the perpetrator and his family.

        And I don’t think it’s witness tampering to try to persuade someone to not take legal action. As I read the law it’s not witness tampering if there is no official proceeding. And there was no mention of money in the articles I read, so bribery is properly not the form of influence they used.

        But I have to wonder why Amy Murdock would be ok with the other things that this article says she knew about or saw her husband doing. Counselling would likely help her think through her response to his creepy behavior.

        Finally, I think it was good in this case for it to not be reconciled in private. While painful to the Murdocks and the church I think it can lead to a better future for him, his family, and everyone in his sphere of influence.

    2. I too support John posting the picture he did. She is very likely a victim too. However she also played a part by asking to keep this quiet.

  13. This is a troubling case study for sure and raises the many concerns that you described.
    But let’s not get carried away with some of the hyperbole.

    A High Council position is NOT a “promotion” from the office of a Bishop. The office of Bishop is greatly more significant.

    It is not true that a high council is “a position of even broader influence”. Most members couldn’t even name half of their high council.

    It is completely false that ” a Stake High Councilman is a position of INCREASED visibility and influence.” Members have significantly less interaction with a high councilor compared to a Bishop. The comparison is not even close. A high councilor is usually assigned over one or at most two organizations in a stake, and they primarily work with ward presidencies, not regular members. Like I already said, most members probably couldn’t even name half of their ward council.

    This is a significant case with important ramifications. Let’s not over-sensationalize it with false facts. It makes you look petty and ignorant.

    1. Jedediah, why are you lessening the role of a high councilman? To say they don’t really have influence or visibility is inaccurate. To say it’s not a “promotion” is misleading since a high councilman is now on the stake level as opposed to a bishop who is only on a ward level. A high councilman sits in judgement of members in church courts. I think that’s a pretty influential position. They are the eyes and ears for the stake president because they do interact with members when they sit in ward meetings. Yes, members may not know the names of the twelve high councilmen. However do you think they care if members know their names? The visibility they care about is the kind they get from the stake presidency and other high council members. Not giving the full details of a high councilman undermines the amount of influence they really have and can “make you look petty and ignorant.”

      1. Jedediah is correct. A high councilman is insignificant compared to a bishop. The rationale that it’s more important simply because it’s a stake calling doesn’t hold up. Is the assistant stake music director more important than the bishops? Of course not.

        Bishops not only “sit in judgement of members”, but they PRESIDE at disciplinary councils, unlike high councilmen. And bishops do more of them than the high council does. Only Melchizedek priesthood holders who might be excommunicated for their offense have a stake disciplinary council, which is a smaller group than who bishops do disciplinary councils for.

        Bishops have WAY more interaction with the stake presidency than high councilmen do, because their calling is so much more crucial. But visibility to other members of the high council and stake presidency is totally irrelevant here. Remember, we’re talking about a) whether high council is a “promotion” from bishop (no, clearly not), and b) whether it is a position that allows more access or less access than bishop to potential victims of sexual harrassment, etc., (clearly less).

      2. I never said that ” they don’t really have influence or visibility”. I said that it was inaccurate to say that the HC has more influence or visibility than a Bishop.
        Of course the HC is an important role in the church. I never said that they don’t have an important role.

    2. Jedidiah is right… no one knows who is on the high council… haven’t you heard the term “Dry Council”? There is usually a collective groan from the congregation when someone from the High Council shows up to speak. They are not revered in the same way a bishop is.

      John…come on… you were a member at one time and know this. You give this position too much weight…unless you yourself were one once and think too highly of yourself?

      Also, while preserving confidentiality of your sources somehow… where is the proof of the claims you are making from your sources?
      We have the proof that Steven is a predator, thanks to his victim for standing up to him. But
      John, you are claiming a lot of damning things… if you are going to make accusations, back them up. I’m having a hard time of connecting all the dots of his affair, then being made bishop…etc without proof… unless you are asking me to have faith in what you are saying, but you don’t operate that way, right?

      I am in the Olympus Stake, although mostly inactive, I attend sacrament sometimes with my family. As a parent, I have never fully trusted letting my kids even go to the bathroom alone… and used to see Steven in the Hallways, crazy!!

      And… as an inactive member, I have met with both previous President Buie and the current President White once (to turn down a calling). But prove to me Buie knew this… in no way would I believe him to be complicit which is inferred here. The guy is a no nonsense straight shooter. You can be less active and still see the good that exists… not everyone who is a church leader is part of some conspiracy.

      If someone really has additional concrete evidence about further inappropriate actions from Steven, or anyone else in the church, then come out with it! You would be a hero in my book. You will be protecting innocent people or preventing future victims from being abused.

  14. I just read an article on get religion.org written by Terry Mattingly. I don’t know if he is a member but his deflection of the story makes me think he is. He is down playing the role of a bishop and high councilman. He is disputing other articles verbiage of a prominent or high ranking leader. He is making a case that Murdock was not high ranking but only a local leader. What he fails to report is that those “local leaders” have a lot more access to the members than the ” High ranking leaders” do. He also fails to mention that members are taught to listen and obey the ” bishop/ father of the ward”. Parents teach their children that the bishop is someone they are suppose to respect, love and pray for. And why? Because he is called by God to serve and lead their ward.
    I am at a loss, I don’t understand how anyone can not see the hypocrisy that goes on daily in the church. And I definitely do not understand how anyone can defend abuse and the covering up the abuse. Even if it is a small percentage. So God calls just a small percentage of leaders to abuse just a few people? What? I just can’t understand……….

  15. It looks to me like we have a lot of imperfect people casting the first stone. Your rumor mongering and delight in Steve’s mistakes makes you more of a voyeur than Steve.
    Of course you are all perfect and everyone in your religion is perfect. It appeares looking for the bad in others, gloating at the misfortune of others and running down the LDS members is sport for you. Find something constructive to do.
    Perhaps we could all benefit from the advice to “Judge Not”.
    It is a Shame in this time of Me Too there is no path in civilization for forgiveness and redemption. One public strike and your done.

    1. John Webb,
      There is nothing voyeuristic in this, and it’s not about “Casting the first stone” business. So get off your high horse. There are victims here, and it appears that there are quite a few. I am in fact a victim of sexual abuse, at the hands to someone, that the church leaders were fully aware, and let it continue. I know other victims of this man, and we have all had to struggle with it for most of our lives.
      Your attitude is blessing the problem and allowing it to continue. Only until the full scope of what has happened, and who is responsible for what acts is known, then there will be a chance to change things. Sure we could have a lynching, and a great many of us would feel good about it. BUT that is only taking out one small piece in a much larger problem. Murdock is a man with deep issues, and he has hurt a great many people over the years, that is pretty clear. Scott Buie having been aware of this, ANY OF IT, and left him in as Bishop, and called him to the high council after, shows that Buie is complicit in what was happening and has no care for the victims or the churches self proclaimed morality of its leaders, and them to be examples, live righteously, etc. IF Buie is going to go take someone’s temple recommend away for looking at pornography, but knowing to allow an adulterer remain as bishop, then he is no different than the pharisees, Ciaphas, and the lot.
      You fail to see the problem here John Webb. The church leaders and the higher-ups seem only to be concerned with Image, and their “Good ole Boy(d) Kay Packer” club. As long as they let this kind of thing continue, there will be these kinds of responses. Just like the #metoo movement, everyone is sick of the old school garbage, and it is time to speak up, if we want things to change. YES THE CHURCH NEEDS TO CHANGE…

    2. Sorry, John Webb, not going to fall for that “judge not” philosophy. Makes it sound like its a way justify and/or ignore the problems with sexual abusers in the Church. John, would you let your children (especially daughters if you have any) be alone with Brother Murdock? You wouldn’t “judge” him by his past actions and just let your child be interviewed by him behind closed doors?

    3. John Webb, Where is justice in your scenario? It’s not judgement. it is a matter of right and wrong! I can’t believe you referenced the ME TOO movement in this way
      What you don’t seem to understand is that anyone who is a victim of abuse, is changed for the rest of their life. . Even when they have received help and worked through the pain, it is always a part of you. Many years removed from the pain and abuse, it still creeps into your life. Women and children are finally saying NO MORE! We are not hiding from this anymore!
      The offenders need to take accountability for there actions. I won’t through a stone, but I will surely stand and support anyone who sheds light on an abuser and anyone who has any empathy within them will too!!!! When justice and a real change has been met, I am on board for forgiveness!!!

  16. I don’t know why it took five months to release him as bishop, but to be precise, he was not “retained by President Buie as a Mormon bishop”. All callings and releases of bishops by stake presidents can only be done under specific authorization of the First Presidency. I have seen the approval to call someone as a new bishop take around three months. It could be that this was just a long process (though I’m sure it could be expedited if they saw fit). It could be that Pres. Buie chose not to act for whatever reason. It could be that he interviewed Murdock after hearing the reports and Murdock snowed him, perhaps claiming that his getting fired was political or some such. With no personal knowledge of Murdock’s private work situation there wouldn’t necessarily be enough to go on to release him right away.

    1. I was taught that both a stake president and a bishop have the spirit of discernment, the power to be able to determine right from wrong, this being so important if and only if this is the one true church run by God. There have been times in Church history when the Church would gloss over supposed “mistakes”, but certain leaders are supposed to be able to discern. The giving of $300,000 for a supposed Joseph Smith letter, by a “prophet of God”, to a fraudster, has basically been forgotten because it would show the lack of discernment in the Lord’s highest office. In the case of Steve Murdock, those leaders who seemed to have ignored his actions, could not have used discernment. My patriarchal blessing said that I would have the gift of discernment. And I did have it. And it worked. I discerned that the Church is not what it said it was and I stopped attending. We can say that certain mistakes happen because leaders are not perfect, but if this is the Lord’s only church, then its “righteous” and “valiant” leaders have discernment to be used in the name of God and with His authority.

    2. John, I really appreciate how you’ve articulated this problem within the church and particularly how the church continues to deal with these situations.
      This story hits very close to home. Our daughter was recently a victim of something similar in Park City.
      In the summer of 2017 she received a letter from a so-called friend who was serving a mission. He confessed via email that he had secretly taped her and up to 20 friends in their own bathrooms and other private locations without their knowledge over the course of 3-4 years. In his email confession he specifically said, “don’t worry, I’m repenting of this and have no intention of coming home from my mission.” In addition, he asked the girls to keep silent and asked them to pray for him as he is “struggling to keep their naked images out of his mind”. As the girls started connecting and talking amongst themselves about the emails, most of the girls wanted to keep quiet out of embarrassment (which is a normal reaction for victims of sex crimes), but many also felt the additional weight of not wanting to undermine a “servant of the Lord who was where he needed to be.”

      Although very difficult for her, my daughter sought help from a therapist who reported it to the police. They thought it was too difficult to investigate because he was out of the country on a mission, even though there was a written confession. We had to hire our own lawyer to ultimately get an investigation. We had to escalate within the church headquarters to get the abuser sent home in spite of the fact that he had confessed to his mission president. In the end, only 4 girls were willing to testify, and 3 of them were the only non-LDS girls in the group.

      Two years later, this continues to be a major trauma in my daughter’s life and I’m sure the lives of the other girls. The abuser received only a slap on the wrist and was welcomed back into the ward with open arms as everyone rallied around him to ensure he was fully active. A bishopric member/friend even made a comment to my daughter that “boys do gross things” and “we need to forgive them and support them.” In contrast, no church leader attempted to contact any of the victims to ask if they needed counseling or support.

      In our view, there are 3 fundamental cultural problems that enabled this abusive behavior:

      1.) Young boys are taught to not do things like this because “they will lose the spirit,” not because it can cause years of trauma and hurt to others. The resolution for doing something like this is simply prayer and confession to get the spirit back with very little concern or regard for the victim’s long-term healing.

      2.) Missionaries are put on such a pedestal because they are “called of God” and “doing God’s work” that victims feel like they are undermining God’s plan if they do anything to disrupt the work.

      3.) Men are valued more than women. I know that that is a controversial statement, but I believe it permeates almost every aspect of the culture. Women are praised when they support and lift up their priesthood leaders, but if they challenge the leaders or reveal shortcomings or abuses of the leaders, they are a distraction. Even the young girls are taught that it is their responsibility to help the boys keep the spirit by being careful what they wear and how they act (“don’t become walking pornography”). Culturally, women often fall into only two categories: support for the priesthood or distraction.

      Sherri

      1. Sherri, this is awful. I’m so sorry for your daughter and the other victims. Would you mind if I share your story on instagram anonymously, w/o your name or city? I really want to bring awareness to these things happening in the church. The church also covered up my abuse and protected my abuser.

        1. Hi Heather,

          Feel free!

          I don’t feel I have anything to hide and would personally like to even give the perpetrators name (although, I recognize that may not be appropriate).

          Our first request of his family was that he make his technology available so that they could be investigated and the girls could receive official assurances that no images still exist and no images were transmitted anywhere. Also, he should’ve been encouraged to cooperate with the investigation for the sake of the victims. If the church were interested in the victims emotional well being, they would’ve have encouraged him to do this as part of the repentance process and they would have encouraged him to seek intense therapy treatment to reduce the risk of future abuse.

          But none of that happened, his father lawyered up and the church washed their hands of any involvement while rallying around him. On top of it, he is still active in the church and now has a photography business where he potentially has access to underage girls.
          His father told many people, “ that the victims over reacted and this isn’t something that should’ve ended his mission”.

          Like…WHAT???

          Go ahead and post it anywhere you’d like.

          Thanks for your support!

          1. Thank you!! I’ll post it next week in Instagram account “LDS Stories of Abuse”. I hope that the more these stories get exposure, the church will realize they need to prioritize protecting members over those who abuse.

      2. Sherri, thank you for sharing this. What a terrible situation! I really hope it ceases to be traumatic for your daughter. Is it traumatic because there are still ongoing proceedings, or because she’s emotionally scarred by it? I hope that the scars will heal and she will be able to move on.

        Could you tell us the details of how you escalated this within the church headquarters to get the abuser sent home? And what was the legal story once he got home? Was he charged? With what? How did that play out?

        Thanks for your analysis of what cultural factors enabled this. FYI, I feel like those are not universal, but do exist for sure.

      1. Scott Buie is a blowhard, he took every moment to get his word in. He would walk into sacrament meeting, and then “Take a moment if I may” and give a conference talk, swearing allegiance to the brethren, the policy, or whatever else he fancied at the time to come across as an especially holy and devout man. He caused a lot of unnecessary pain while he was SP. He alienated the LGBT members and the people who had family that are LGBT.
        He went up to girls camp and unloaded a chauvinist, sexist, misogynist tirade about how these young women should look to marry a worthy priesthood holder, and be like his wife who quietly allows him to exercise his priesthood. He got on them about porn shoulders and followed the whole “You are pornography” bit from the Brethren. Many members, mothers especially went to him and told him it was all inappropriate and he was so proud of himself over it. He was terribly arrogant about it because he really thought he would have impressed Dalin H Oaks.
        He especially gave the line “The family is under attack” for a while, though I asked him point blank how if my cousin and his boyfriend were able to marry was in any way a threat to my family or anyone’s. He dodged my question completely, and said simply that the prophet had spoken on it, and that a marriage was between a man and a woman, but still refused to answer when I pressed him for it.
        To know that he was aware of this type of behavior and kept Murdock in positions, is no surprise. He made it clear women had their place, and he told me that my husband not coming to church had something to do with me, though my husband lost his testimony ages ago, and just did not like coming for any reason.

    3. That is merely an excuse ‘not a bishop’.
      What if the perp, a bishop were arrested and put in jail as he should be? What would the area do about that? They would have to find an interim bishop or allow the counselors to do the job. Or would they allow the man to run a ward from prison like Warren Jeffs does?
      NOBODY wants an abuser to be their bishop, not for one month or five or one day. Be real!

      1. That’s true that if Pres. Buie or those above him were convinced that he needed to be replaced as bishop on an emergency basis it could be done immediately. This happened with Jeffrey Byron Head and David N. Moss, for example. But their situations were very different in that there were publicly available police reports and there was evidence. With Murdock there was no evidence and no accusers, just rumors from three ward members that the reason he left his employment was that he was fired for sexual harassment. The assumption in his ward was that the reason he left his employment was that he cashed out. So there really was not enough to go on for an emergency release, especially if he did not confess to the stake president.

        And to “Panhandle Rag”, it’s unfair to demand clairvoyance of leaders in the church. They have never claimed clairvoyance or taught that the gift of discernment or any inspiration comes on demand. It doesn’t. Just like you don’t receive divine guidance every time you want it, no one else does either. This leaves church leaders doing their best to learn the facts, figure things out, and look for inspiration along the way. Inspiration often comes, but not always. As Pres. Eyring taught, “good information leads to good inspiration.”

        1. “Not a bishop” – Three separate faithful members informed Buie that Murdock had been fired for sexual harassment. And provided full details. That should have been more than enough in my opinion.

  17. Thank you for the useful research and article. There are a few things in it that I feel mislead and leave the wrong impression.

    Being a high councilor is not in any sense at all a promotion from being a bishop, nor does it have broader influence, greater responsibility, or increased visibility.
    * High councilors are messengers, helpers, advisers to other leaders, and simply laborers on stake projects. They are not “over” anyone. On the other hand, bishops preside, typically over 200-500 members.
    * High councilors hold no authority, other than to be agents of the stake presidency in administering specific, basic leadership functions.
    * Being a high councilor is typically a 1-5 hour per week calling. Being a bishop is typically a 20-40 hour per week calling.
    * The calling of bishop must either be made by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve or approved in advance by the first presidency. High councilors are simply called by the stake presidency.
    * In terms of concentration of authority, there would typically be only 6-8 bishops in a stake, but 12 high councilors, so even if high councilors had authority, it would be diluted relative to bishops.
    * High councilors never conduct worthiness interviews. On rare occasion they may conduct interviews with adults to extend a call to them.
    * High councilors are not allowed to be one-on-one with any youth or child. In interviews, bishops are unless that youth or child would like a parent there.

    FYI, the current correct term is “high councilor”, not “high councilman”.

    I don’t feel like Bro. Hawkins’ description of bishop and high councilor as volunteer positions was trying to downplay their sacredness or power of the role, but to accurately provide the perspective that people with these callings are first and foremost church members, not “the church”. There are over 30,000 bishops and 40,000 high councilors at any given time, so I think the connotations of being a volunteer are applicable. We’re all amateurs, just trying to make our way through life like everybody else.

    It is not the church’s “doctrine and policy” that “the men in these positions were called directly by God, and were not voluntary.” Inspiration is sought and often received when extending callings, but that is very far from being “called directly by God.” And all of these callings ARE voluntary in every sense. Just like you might feel right about voluntarily accepting a role as PTA or HOA president, in this church you typically feel right about voluntarily accepting callings, but you ARE a volunteer. And I was in a priesthood leadership meeting once where a member of the Quorum of the Twelve was thanking us for our service and sacrifice of time, and he explicitly said, “We know you are all volunteers.”

    Finally, with a story like this our minds naturally rush toward youth and children, but is there any indication that Steven Murdock ever did or said anything inappropriate with a youth or child? He clearly had the opportunity, given his calling as bishop, but whether he did it or not is actually a pretty big deal as I see it. Any info?

    1. I totally disagree. There is plenty of published church material on church websites that say God chooses church leaders and that people don’t ask (or volunteer) for callings. Here’s one: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2005/11/called-and-chosen?lang=eng

      “We also need to support and sustain our local leaders, because they also have been “called and chosen.” Every member of this Church may receive counsel from a bishop or a branch president, a stake or a mission president, and the President of the Church and his associates. None of these brethren asked for his calling. None is perfect. Yet they are the servants of the Lord, called by Him through those entitled to inspiration. Those called, sustained, and set apart are entitled to our sustaining support. I have admired and respected every bishop I have ever had. I have tried not to question their guidance and have felt that in sustaining and following their counsel I was protected against the “sleight of men, and cunning craftiness.” This was because each of these called and chosen leaders was entitled to the divine revelation that comes with the calling. “

      1. So, you are saying we should ignore the fact that the Stake President knew that Steve Murdock was a predator, and called him as bishop? Was that divine revelation?
        These men had their little ring of immorality, and refusal to hold anyone accountable for years. They are hypocrites and turned a blind eye to the actions of a man, that would get anyone else excommunicated. A man who is groping women, making sexual advances, and generally being a sleazy jerk is hardly anyone that should be called in a position of authority in the church. Scott Buie thought so, so, if you are calling that revelation, then you are drinking the Kool-aid of the church’s double standard.
        This type of thing happens all through the church, and if these men are doing this kind of thing. I refuse to sustain a bishop who does such inappropriate things, with adults, or minors. In light of these “Revelations” of facts being brought to the public eye, shows clearly that these men are no different than the Catholic Clergy who did this sort of thing for years.
        Oscar, I would really like to know why you think what you just said. It makes you look incredibly nieve, and dangerous to any sort of victim, or potential victim.

        1. Hi Firestarter, I think you and I are on the same page. I was disagreeing with Samuel who stated:

          “It is not the church’s “doctrine and policy” that “the men in these positions were called directly by God, and were not voluntary.” Inspiration is sought and often received when extending callings, but that is very far from being “called directly by God.” And all of these callings ARE voluntary in every sense.”

          I was trying to show Samuel that it IS the church’s position that callings are from God, so for the church to now say predatory church leaders are “volunteers” is very deceptive. The church says church leaders are “called by God” when they want compliance from members, but church leaders are only “volunteers” when they are predators.

        2. No, I’m not saying anything at all about Steve Murdock or Scott Buie. I’m saying that the article is wrong as follows: It is not the church’s “doctrine and policy” that “the men in these positions were called directly by God, and were not voluntary.” And I think the author is being disingenuous about it, rather than innocently mistaken.

          “Voluntary” and “volunteer” are being used in different ways in this discussion, and it’s causing a disconnect:
          1) Anyone who does unpaid work on an amateur basis to help a cause they believe in (“I volunteer at my kid’s school”)
          2) Seeking or Initiating assignment to a particular role (“I volunteered for the mission”)
          3) Doing a task or assignment willingly, rather than under coercion (“I surrendered voluntarily”)

          I believe Bro. Hawkins is using definition 1. And that’s the definition I had in mind when I said that bishops, high councilors, and all lay callings in the church are volunteers. I believe you, Oscar, have definition 2 in mind when you quote Pres. Faust as “None of these brethren asked for his calling.” And I think John might have definition 3 in mind when he says that callings are not voluntary. No one coerces bishops or high councilors to accept a calling; definition 3 is absurd in this context.

          By the standard definitions of volunteer work used in the U.S. as regards churches and other charities, such as by the IRS and any other entity that cares, the work of bishops and high councilors is very clearly volunteer work. There is just no debating that.

        3. I agree with you and even though I believe in a higher power I think most religions are abusive in their own way and encourage cruelty instead of being a safe haven. I would love community in a church but I have found most of them are filled with those who seek power and are filled with gossip. Of course many churches do lots of charitable work and that is to be commended as that is what we are supposed to be doing.

  18. Individuals must “own” their desires:

    One issue that I rarely hear discussed in these matters is how TCOJCOLDS doctrine allows predators/abusers to be placed into positions of trust, within the church, and remain there even though leaders in authority over them know of their victimization of others. The doctrine that creates this problem is the teaching that the desire to “sin” comes from a source outside of the individual, i.e. Satan. So long as the church, both the members and more importantly the leaders, hold onto that belief they will continue to allow the organization to be used by predators to find victims.

    The admissions of Mr. Bishop regarding his sexual abuse of women illustrates this point. He kept saying how he was weak or struggled with temptation etc. He never acknowledged that those impulses originated from within himself. He confessed his actions to church leadership but excused himself of the desire to through the doctrine/teaching of the church that Satan was cause of the desire to abuse. The church leaders, also believing that Satan was the cause of the desire to abuse, would keep him in his position or even elevate his status because he was “a good person” and it was Satan who was the source of the abuse.

    Penn Jillette made the following statement: “I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero.” Within the church we need to start looking at abusers in the same way. They do abuse (sexually, financially, emotionally etc.) as much as they want to. Or to put it anther way, which may be more relatable, “Abusers do not abuse anyone that they don’t want to.” Sure they may have tried to suppress their impulse but ultimately the desire to abuse their victim(s) came from within themselves, not from anyone else, including Satan. Until the church abandons the doctrine that the source of sin is external to the individual, abusers will continue to deceive themselves into thinking that they are not responsible for their desires and actions; and therefore, not getting the help they need to prevent themselves from abusing others in the future. Similarly the church will continue to turn a blind eye to the acts of the abusers believing that they are “good person” who succumbed to temptation from Satan, rather than accepting the abuser is not a “good person” and without regard to “repentance” they must implement organizational safeguards to prevent them from abusing others in the future.

  19. If you imagine the Church hierarchy will do ANYTHING to change this deeply unhealthy, toxic culture, you are nuts! This church has sexual abuse ironed into its genes. It’s in its very DNA. The founder of the church was a sexual predator. Sexual predation has been a key part of its doctrine from Day One. Until the law is permitted to bring these criminals to justice, nothing will change. This church needs to DIE.

  20. I have proof that there is absolutely zero inspiration and discernment in the Church: I renewed my temple recommend! I don’t believe in Christ, the Atonement thing, just about everything in the bible. I don’t believe the whole Joseph Smith story, I can’t sustain the corporate leaders and the local leaders. I don’t wear my “G’s”, I drink the forbidden tea, and I do associate with people who hold beliefs and have perform actions that are contrary to church teachings. I don’t live the law of chastity since I have indulged in the viewing of rated R movies. Obviously my little fibs in this interview make me not very honest with my fellow man. Now members have to go through this two-tier interview process starting with a member of the bishopric and then a member from the stake presidency so I had to do and say what they wanted to hear, twice. Both the bishopric counselor and the councelor in the stake president looked me straight into my eyes as if to try to intimidate me that they will know if I’m lying. The funny thing is that this interview was so easy compared to the ones I had when I was a TBM.

    Now if you want to judge me on my integrity (might also want to scrutinize my church that I would have died for at one time) and blah, blah, blah, how I’m just as bad…blah, blah, blah. Just one thing to consider, we are all in different situations and I can not come out of the proverbial “I-don’t-believe-in-the-church-anymore-closet” because it would cause some real serious problems. Besides, I get free Ancestry.com and access to the church building! So membership does have its perks.

    Another comment I wanted to make is about my friend’s dad who molested his sister. He was known to be a member in good standing and was adored and loved by members. He was never disciplined because he denied everything. Obviously, there was no discernment by any of the church leaders in this case. My friend kept his children away from his dad.

  21. John,

    Your gaslighting if this unfortunate incident is so over the top I wonder where you got your training for such PR stunts you post on Mormon Stories & YouTube!?

    Oh that’s right you learned from church leadership how it’s done when you were a member. Well I take back my comments on the GASLIGHTING.

    Now I do think Johns coverage of this incident is completely appropriate considering the COJ-COLDS PR Team is DOWN PLAYING (gaslighting) the important callings as Bishops & High Councilmen as “Volunteer Positions”

    The simple fact I really wish John would pour some Gas On is the fact the Church hides behind the “Volunteer Clergy” argument to limit liability payouts or major jury awards in lawsuits against the church like in the case of the Catholic Church. losing Billions of dollars. The Catholic “Fathers” are Paid Employees who have been trained & have degrees in the ministry & therefore they along with any employer are LIABLE for sexual abuse claims proven in a court of law a long with punitive damages etc. if found guilty & liable.

    The COJ-COLDS will never really “train” bishops or ever pay them for the simple reason of LIABILITY!

    ITS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY HONEY it’s a shame many faithful members have not figured that out & actual eat up the church PR machine doing it’s monthly cover ups GASLIGHTING down playing the kind of religious CONTROL of its own members that these Volunteer Leaders have over them to perform their sex abuse behaviors on. All faithful members know a Bishop has major authority over every member in his ward to giving or taking away callings interviews temple recommends etc etc etc & to top it off CALLED OF GOD BY DIRECT REVELATION! This kind of belief leads a member to robot like responses or as we are taught OBEY YOUR PRIESTHOOD LEADERS! I guess we must obey when they sexually abuse us & when they tell us NOT to go to the police & NOT to sue in court. Yet there own PR representatives claim the volunteer position is of a local leader not of significance REALLY?

    To them money is the bottom line otherwise they would use their Billions of dollars to completely put a STOP to such practices. Mandatory 2 deep interview. Honest reporting stating the facts like the Volunteer position of Bishop has great power & authority over a local ward issues all callings & is the presiding authority at all meetings at all times unless a Stake President is in attendance.

    They reason they won’t be honest is they are protecting there name PUBLICLY.

    I remember the days in the church when we were taught it was good to be hated of the world but today they want to be loved by the world & God agrees he reversed the LGBTQ policy Yippee! We are accepted of the world!!

    Lawyers Run The Church Wake Up they sure as hell woke Russell M. Nelson up & reverses the Anti-LGBTQ Policy & of course it’s packaged for the faithful member as a “Revelation” Are We WOKE Yet?

  22. I don’t understand why the Church keeps all these predators secrets for them, enabling them to abuse more people. It would be very easy to help protect everyone, if the church told sexual predators that they needed to be publicly identified in the ward as having committed a sexual crime, as part of their repentance process. If they have truly repented and wanted to hold any church position of trust again, they would understand why they need to be publicly identified and be alright with the CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR OWN ACTIONS. It would protect members and keep the predator accountable and give them less opportunity to re-offend.

    1. Bill

      I really like your solution to this problem for the church. I am not sure why they can not move to implement such common sense solutions.

      My best guess is that any kind of procedures that are written & not ambiguous can be used in court against the church.

      This is why the have the fake church “hotline” which is really just a phone call transfer to Kirton & McConkie the churches Law Firm. Then they use legal advise in each case which is considered “Privileged” & “Confidential” & not subject to discovery in litigation.

  23. Since I haven’t known or been around sexual predators, I don’t really have a dog in the fight, but I thought it interesting the talk about calling by inspiration from God. Now as having been an Elder’s Quorum president in a small branch, that means that since I was the head of all our priesthood, I was required to attend all Sunday morning branch presidency meetings. I remember calling my counselors and other priesthood leaders and noting how most choices were desperation rather than inspiration. We didn’t have that many members so I was president, priesthood teacher, and preparation specialist at the same time.

    When after 13 years, my family moved to a medium sized ward and noted over the years there that callings were recycled. If a woman was a YW president, she would eventually be called as a RS pres. And bishops would be called after having been a bishop in other wards. My church employment supervisor once told us in a monthly meeting how he had been called as a bishop in a ward and had been called there 2 bishops before. He thought that the church should give more people leadership roles. But as he said and I’ve learned other times, members of bishops don’t want to spend time training so they choose people who have been trained in other callings. Inspired by God?

    I had an EQ counselor who because of his “obedience and righteousness” was called away from my quorum and put in the branch presidency. Eventually he moved to a large ward and was immediately called (By God???) to be a counselor in a bishopric. I encouraged him to visit me in another state, where he liked the area and moved. He was quickly, with his wife (Both with temple marriage) called to young single adults leaders, a calling influential to young adults. A year later, he took another wife, moved to Mexico and took a few more. He had always been very abusive to his wife (She would often come to meetings crying even when they were members of our small branch.), but she became a sister wife because she thought God wanted her to save her family. And to think I thought that God inspired me to call him as my counselor. Do you really think God inspired the man in his callings?

    A member of the bishopric in my last ward sent in his letter because of research finding that leaders like Abraham of the Bible, Joseph Smith, and Joseph F. Smith lying to Congress in the Reid Smoot case— “lied “for the Lord”. So I can see how easy it would be for Murdock’s SP to just overlook things. But, until I stopped attending, I believed that many callings were inspired. However, I remember in one talk in our ward, a man said, “My dad was a bishop and I hope someday I’ll be a bishop.” When our bishopric changed, he was “called”(???) to be the bishop. And lastly, when I was called to be EQ pres., the stake high counselor (EQ presidents are called by the stake, not the bishop.) told me that God (They say HF.) had told him that I would be in leadership for the rest of my life. Well, I guess I asked too many questions and so I never had any more than primary, asst. scout leader, or employment specialist callings again.

  24. Shattered! Sherrie W… my grand daughter is one of the four you mentioned concerning the shameful Park City event! A PERSONAL THANK YOU for you and your husbands efforts in dealing with that horrific situation which has left our grand daughter so damaged…
    Sterling Van Wagenen is my cousin….thankfully in prison now…. never thought I would EVER have to say that….
    Steve Murdock is my sons past Bishop and high councilor…… our family can’t breath………in our family’s world , Humpty Dumpty has taken a great fall……..😓

  25. So the author of this article uses this attack as a soapbox to argue for a handful of things. Some of these are relevant to this case and would be useful, such as more training of leaders in how to respond when impropriety by a leader is alleged. However, I disagree with two of the implications claimed in this article:

    1) Requiring background checks for bishops would not have had any effect in this case because there was no record in his background. He had not been fired or arrested until years after being called as bishop. In fact, can anyone cite a single case where a background check of a bishop would have found a record that should have prevented him serving as bishop? But also, bishops are (until year’s end) Boy Scout leaders, and all BSA leaders do have to pass a background check, so I believe that bishops already pass a background check.

    2) Preventing one-on-one interviews with youth and children would not have made a difference in this case. There are no allegations of creepiness or grooming in any youth or child interviews and no indication that Steve Murdock had any prurient interest in youth or children. I think using an irrelevant case to drag out every tired grievance against the church is intellectually dishonest.

    But regarding the grievance itself, what cases are there where a rule against one-on-one bishop’s interviews with youth and children would have made a difference in the bishop’s ability to act improperly? The only one I can think of is Jeffrey Byron Head. And in that one the settings where the abuse occurred were so far outside policy that having one more rule to break may not have deterred him or prevented the situation. He had already gone rogue in a big way.

    As a youth, I would not have wanted to have to talk to two adults about private, personal matters, and I am very glad the church does not require this. I think this policy would do more harm than good by closing off a youth’s ability to get help by having a private, non-threatening discussion. I think the church’s new policy of allowing the youth to choose to invite a parent at his or her own discretion is a good balance.

    1. Lynn,

      Answer to question 1 :

      https://fox13now.com/2019/02/20/former-vice-squad-cop-arrested-in-valentines-day-prostitution-sting-in-lehi/

      A background check would have found he was sacked from the Police force in St George years earlier on sexual abuse matters before becoming a bishop in the Lehi area. (may not be mentioned in that article, it is an other media articles)

      #2 : there are no cases that we know of. This guy obviously had long running moral issues for years, people in his ward clearly have identified how they felt around him. There is no way I’d want my Young woman daughter near that guy.

      1. Thank you. This is a good answer. I couldn’t find other articles referring to abuse, but that doesn’t mean they are not out there. From a church perspective, the consensual affair in St. George should have been enough to disqualify him as bishop. It’s too bad that it didn’t.

  26. Hi John, love you and appreciate you bringing this to light. Not to be nit-picky and maybe someone else has already brought this up (I don’t have time to read all the comments) –

    High Council is not a promotion from Bishop. And high councilmen do not give worthiness interviews of any sort, with anyone. A bishop is privy to a lot more info than a high councilmen generally is and a bishop presides at meetings, high council does not. Also, the stake president makes the judgment in court discipline, not the high council. The stake president may ask for their input and it is true that the high council is present to ensure both sides are fairly represented, but they do not vote, and the stake president doesn’t even have to ask how they would vote. (PS I am NOT in the least saying I think it was ok to put him on the high council, that never should have happened. But, it’s not a promotion).

    Also, there continues to be misinformation out there about the “Help Line” and Kirton and McConkie. I wish Family Services would talk about this so they could clear it up, but it is not true to the help line goes directly to K & M. They may or may not get involved, but Family Services is the one to initially screen the calls. They are there to assess whether further assistance is needed for the victims and if there is legal counsel needed then it can go from there. But I don’t think it’s fair to say the help line is there only to cover the church’s butt. (Again – I think there are problems with the help line. Really there just needs to be a help line for anyone who needs it in the church and it shouldn’t have to go through the bishop. And the fact that K & M is involved at all – they should be 2 completely different entities based on what is needed – but just saying, let’s be accurate).

    And one last thing – I’ve heard you say several times that Family Services therapists are somehow “less than”. Just want to point out that there are good and bad therapists in any organization. Every therapist with LDSFS is licensed and under the Code of Ethics for their discipline. I’ve known of several who had been terminated when they haven’t been up to snuff, and they are competitive to be hired into. Are there bad apples? I’m sure there are. But they all have the same education and licensing and code of ethics as anyone in the field, and some of them are very, very good at what they do. That being said, I personally have some major problems with some of their practices (such as bishop referrals) but…let’s just be fair. As with anything, it’s not all good or bad. This type of black and white thinking reminds me…dare I say…of where some of my major problems with the church stem from.

    Thanks for sharing this story. And thank you for approaching it from a systemic POV instead of focusing solely on him personally. Thanks for all you do, I really do appreciate it. Don’t mean to be critical because 95% of what you say I agree with. I just hear these few things continue to come up and want to gently correct them. You are welcome to contact me if you need more info on this, I can direct you to places :).

  27. I respectfully disagree that the most crucial part of the story is the LDS coverup, bad as the coverup is.
    In fact, I would argue that your line of reasoning empowers the corporate church and that you did not mention a far more important point.

    Nowhere in 102 minutes do I hear a celebration of the actions of Alondra Alcala in standing up for herself and for
    Calling
    The
    Police
    and for pressing charges.

    That’s why the story exists. Alondra Alcala called the police. She exercised her right to justice. She called the police. That is what may stop Mr. Murdock from preying upon more people.

    Ms. Alcala should be our role model. She is a denizen of the real world; she lives in a place the corporation has no authority.
    She did the right thing.
    She did not let him delete the evidence of his crime.
    She called the police.
    She pressed charges.
    (I highly doubt she consulted an ecclesiastical leader for permission to do so.)

    Calling the police is the only appropriate way to respond. “Call the Police” should be your endless drumbeat, and that of Sam Young as well, if he is serious about protecting children.

    Why not take a stand and tell listeners to call the police? Do you think that perpetrators should not face the legal system? We have an actual court system to punish perpetrators and to protect victims.

    Why put tacit support into the Mormon Church cleaning its act up when it has zero incentive to do so? Who cares what church authorities do in reaction to a reported crime? What the police does matters.
    Reporting matters. That’s what got Murdock fired from at least one job. Report. Report. Report. Early and often.

    The system of Mormonism in its corporate and cultural paradigms is a closed system designed to protect itself. It can only be affected by entities outside the system.

    John, you yourself have commented many times that Kirton McConkie exists for the sole purpose of protecting the corporate church. Last time I checked, they were an exclusively legally focused organization; they don’t make policy–they only deal with legal issues they are told to emphasize. They’re skilled and highly paid lawyers, not unpaid volunteers. Why do you think the church’s exoskeleton is not the armor of god but a legal firm? Because their ultimate line of defense is the law–not the culture that says let the church handle criminal acts perpetrated by predator, but the law. Disciplinary councils and the church’s internal “justice system” will only work to reinforce its power. The church has to answer to the law. They only have to answer to the law. So training unpaid volunteers to shield the institution from answering to the law is their highest doctrine.

    Your message actually reinforces the power of the church because you do not point outside the ecclesiastical hierarchy to the legal system.

    The church wins every time *anyone* conflates the ecclesiastical system with the legal system and subordinates latter to the former.

    Would it not be more effective to stop focusing on institutional coverups and encourage people to call the police and ship calling the bishop altogether? Call the cops. Early and often. Yes, there may be a loss in rage against the corporate church, but calling the police might actually result in justice. (cough, Sterling van Templefilm)

    In reality, the Bishop *is* just a volunteer–that is the church spokesman’s view and the legal view. That same unpaid volunteer is also on the front line of protecting perpetrators. Why does the KM hotline exist? To minimize corporate risk. KM knows they are not above the law, but any time they don’t even have to deal with actual law enforcement, they win.

    Only when a critical mass of people begin to call the police and not to make an appointment with a volunteer will the culture and policy shift. And that is the only house of justice that is not built on sand.

    I liked the pious lists of our complicity at the end of the episode. I feel the same way. But they are paper words flung against KM brick wall. Highlighting the empowered actions of Alondra Alcala is a way to make a role model of her and of her actions. She is the hero here.

    This may sound harsh: you’re empowering the wrong system, John. Elevate the legal system and encourage people not to take reports of crimes to unpaid volunteers but to trained officers of the law. You’re a professional. Why did you take a huge pay cut and become a professional? Should someone with a serious mental health issue talk with you or to a volunteer who happens to be an insurance salesman? And shouldn’t there be a “buyer beware” consciousness any time someone runs to tell an unpaid volunteer who has no training (and will sweep the problem under the rug or, worse, find a way to promote the perpetrator) instead of a trained professional who has real authority to stop abuse?

    The sunshine of the public record matters most, not the one behind the KM wall.

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