Thursday, May 26, 2011

Episode 10: "I'm Not Threatened by the Risk" — Juliane's Story

Right click here to download the mp3.

This is the follow up interview with Juliane, one of our panelists, about the aftermath of her talk about the temple and her history as a convert from Germany.

Juliane has written about her experience on her blog: Molly Mormon's Evil Twin. You can also read the full text of her talk there, as well as the letters she wrote to her Bishop and Stake President. In this interview, Juliane discusses her journey as a convert to the church, and how her view of the church changed after she was a member.

Juliane will be watching the comments to answer questions or discuss issues raised in her interview.


  1. Juliane you are a hero. Your courage is incredibly inspiring, and you give me hope for a better future.

  2. Macha,
    I appreciate your kind words, Macha. I'm certainly not a hero, though. Speaking up gets easier the more you do it. I think I just learned that early in life, so I'm fairly comfortable with it now, even though I still get very nervous at times. It's just a matter of acknowledging the fear, and then doing it anyways.

  3. Juliane, much of what you said really reflected my own thoughts. I particularly liked your points about doctorinal aspects pre- and post-investigation, as well as the culture of fear in the church today. You're a fine addition to the panel and I look forward to hearing more from you.

    Sybil, I'm so grateful to you for starting this podcast.

  4. Wow Julianne I did not realize this had been so recent! I am amazed at this situation and how it has been handled! Good for you for speaking your truth though. I can only imagine how difficult this continues to be.

    I think you made an excellent point when you talked about the fear that many Mormons have as they question. When your life and family and culture all centers around the religion you question there are some very valid fears. I also really appreciated how you talked about these podcasts being sacred ground. There is definitely a vulnerability in verbally telling one's story. I have felt the same way...that this is an important place for speaking truth and exploring. Thank you for sharing YOUR story. It has been immensely helpful to me!

  5. You're so welcome, Lotus! It is so amazing to hear the stories of all these women and then to let others hear them, too.

  6. Lotus and michelliebean,

    this theme of fear in the church is really sad.
    1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."
    It really makes me wonder why there is so much fear in the church and in members' hearts, when the church should be an instrument in helping us all feel God's love.

  7. I am not even half way through but wanted to thank you, Juliane, and you, Sybil, for this wonderful and inspiring podcast.

    When you talked about being unable to leave home, I understood. I believe that my recent trials are what have encouraged me to actually voice my concerns about faith to my husband. I grew up in the Church and have found this to be immensely difficult as it leads to questioning my very identity. But hearing you voice your own concerns has helped guide me where I need to go.

    Sybil, I think you were greatly inspired to start this podcast. I know that for me this has been a tremendous support as I figure out my place in the Mormon church--and a powerful source of spirituality that I have not been getting through regular modes. Thank you a million times over.

  8. Amber,
    I'm glad this has been helpful for you and that you can relate. I feel the same when I listen to other women talk. Our experiences are so varied, but so many are similar too, and there is a common thread that binds us together. Good luck in finding your path and place, and kudos for questioning who you are!

    And yes, I agree, Sybil most definitely was inspired to start this podcast, and puts a great deal of effort and time into this, for which I am, like you, very grateful.

  9. I finished the podcast and must say, Juliane, that I hear you on being brave. My husband has warned me against being public in my own questions (he has even closed the windows as I listen to these podcasts), because he is worried that I might receive public censure/backlash. I told him, I don't care. Let people see me and hear me ask my questions, if they know me, really know me, then they understand that many of my questions evolve from love.

    Bravo, Juliane, bravo.

  10. Amber,
    right back at ya! The more people speak up, the more people will feel safe in voicing their concerns. Other brave women and men have paved the way for us, and have often paid with excommunication or disfellowship. I find it highly unlikely that the church will excommunicate everyone who is speaking out at this time, because there are already too many to simply excommunicate everybody. That would be terrible for the church's PR image (which they definitely are concerned about), especially because there would be plenty of people speaking openly about being disciplined by the church. And should that happen, I will deal with it then. It's not going to dictate how I live my life.

  11. I loved listening to both of Juliane's interviews today. I am a convert with many of the same questions and even the same struggles of trying to fit in and be the perfect mormon woman and I too, am just coming out of that and finding myself again. There is so much I identify with that she shared. I am a full-time lecturer at a university and my walk has been very different (and more difficult) than most women in the church and because I know that I was doing my best and really terrible things were happening and that it because clear that I HAD to work full-time, I realize that there is definitely not a one-size-fits all in the church, or the world. However, there are many people who judge me because I work or because I have HAD to work... anyway. It started some hard feelings that then have allowed me to take a good, hard look at myself and being Mormon...

  12. Crystal,
    good to see you here :) glad you could relate. Fitting in is overrated, huh? I'm 28 and thought I had learned this back in high school, but oh well, here I go re-learning something I thought I had down...
    I am sorry you had such a bad experience *cyberhug*

  13. Gail KnickerbockerMay 27, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    Juliane, thank you for sharing this in your own words with your own voice. I have read all that you have written regarding this issue of your Temple talk, I have listened to both podcasts. My husband listened to this latest one with me. I asked him if he saw any similarities between your story and mine and he said, "Quite a few!" I felt like you were telling a lot of my story for me in much more thought out expressions. Please keep us posted on your blog and elsewhere. I have not been excommunicated BUT I do not have a TR. My family are all still active but one son.

  14. Gail,
    I'm glad you could relate. Sometimes just having someone close (even if it's just on the web) who's experience is similar, makes things a little easier to bear. I hope you find peace :)

  15. As a Mormon, priesthood-holding male I enjoy hearing your perspectives and can really sympathize with the lack of inclusion women in the Church experience. I see a real need for Daughters of Mormonism, what a great thing you are doing. I can't wait to hear more.

  16. First of all Sybil thank your wonderful work putting this pod cast together. Speaking also as a man this speaks to my humanness in a beautiful way. You make my soul sing.

    Juliane thank you for you amazing courage. You are my hero. Also, I think I understand why you want your experience to be heard by the Stake president, and likely other church leaders as well. I do not think this is bad and maybe I am crazy but I do not think it is even futile, but I would encourage you to keep a perspective in mind if you do so. The reason your bishops actions simply horrify us is we see morality, or righteousness, or doing the right thing as treating others with love, kindness, or how we would like to be treated. Yes the church does teach this, but what comes first for these leaders is their job to have dominion over you. Yes this should be righteous dominion, but if you truly believe in the golden rule or what Christ says the greatest two commandments are how can you ever believe dominion can ever be righteous. When I hear stories like yours my first reaction is have these leaders ever read D&C 121 that no power or influence can or out to me maintained by virtue of the priesthood only by persuation long suffering and love unfained or something like that. The problem is the whole patriarchy contradicts this. They have power in the church by virtue of the priesthood. This very section inherently contradicts itself as well, because it is teaching priesthood holders the righteous way to exercise dominion over those in their charge. So please keep in mind that whatever priesthood leader you talk to about this and regardless of how nice they try to do their job their job is to have dominion over you, and therefor to get you to agree with them and support them. None of them believe their job is to support you, understand you, or take council from you. Their job is always to get you to do that for them.

  17. Gail,

    I really hope there are some priesthood leaders who don't fit your description, and I think I have met some of them. However, in general, I agree that whether or not dominion is exercised righteously, in my opinion it is always wrong. I refuse to believe someone in the church has the authority to dominate me in any way (however nice that may be). So, yeah, I realize I will keep running into the same problems probably....:)

  18. Juliane,
    In looking at my earlier post I think I sound very jaded, and I likely am. I have not attended church regularly in over two years now. Two and half years ago I asked to be released from the elders quorum presidency. I would like to say I think I know many loving kind priesthood leaders. My own bishop is one. My father, another, was my bishop when I was a teen 30 years ago he is 83 this year and he and my mother have provided an example of a very egalitarian marriage. I have an older brother that was in his stake presidency for years and a man I man I look up to. I believe I have been blessed with many examples of loving kind men in my life. I also believe the church has many contradictory theologies they have to some how balance. I believe as man in the church that the church does a lot to try and teach men to be kind and loving. The proclamation says that husbands and wives should work as equals, but this after it states that fathers should preside in the home. I once looked up the word preside in the dictionary every definition used the word control. I think the church would like the men in the church to not exercise unrighteous dominion. I think they want men to be King Benjamens and not King Noahs, but still the idea that men are in charge of women suggest to me they are still asked to be King. When I think of the temple I think of promises like Kingdoms, Principalities, and dominions with out end. Also if you are teaching men to avoid unrighteous dominion than are not teaching men by default to seek righteous dominion. Also it seems if there is any type of gender equality in the church in marriage or anywhere else it is because the men or man gave it to the woman. If it must be given it is not equality. The more I examen the idea of patriarchy I believe the idea of domination lies lurking behind it and is either constantly fought by men in the church on some leave consciously or un, but as long as the patriarchy is there their will always be times it is embraced in some cases whole heartedly embraced like your rebuke from your bishop.

  19. Gail,
    "if it must be given, it is not equality." You totally hit the nail on the head here. I absolutely agree, and I have the same feelings about dominion, whether righteous or not. The whole issue with the word preside is ridiculous. Of course it means control like you and I and everyone else can just look up in the dictionary. I'm getting so sick of people telling me that it means something else, like serve, and I just HAVE to roll my eyes. If it meant "serve", we could just use "serve"...arrggghh. But I have to say that I am glad that you as a man are aware of these issues. I think a lot of men aren't. Not because they are bad, or don't care about the women in their life, but because it hasn't occurred to them. So, talking to guy where I don't have to defend my egalitarianism is a rare treat :)

  20. Juliane,

    Thank you glad it was a rare treat.

  21. I wish it was a little less rare, Gail ;)

  22. You are right Juliane as I thought about it it does tickle me to think that something I said was a treat to someone, but I feel like apologizing on behalf of my gender, unfortunately I don't have that supper power.

  23. (Wo)man, what stupid priesthood leaders. I am really sorry you have had to go through this, Julianne. I am glad that you are turning the weakness of the church into your own personal strength, and I am grateful to you for sharing your insights with the rest of us in the same boat (men and women).

  24. Gail,
    none of us should have to apologize for someone else, so don't worry :)

    thank you. While I have felt alienated from the church lately, I have found community in other places. It's been a painful, yet freeing process at the same time.

  25. This podcast is AWESOME!!! :D I am currently starting my own path to discover my own truth, and this has truly helped me out. I really enjoyed the talk you gave and were willing to share yet again, it really spoke to me.

    Truly, if there's any a time you should feel like a pioneer it is now, you are treading ground many are too afraid to, and making a trail to allow people to follow you in finding their own personal truths.

    Thank you so much for sharing :D :D :D

  26. I have also juggled the question of trying to maintain online anonymity as I begin to be more bold in speaking about religious things (I've always been bold about other topics LOL!). But the phrase that came to me (that I wrote on my blog) just a few months ago was this:
    "It is what it is, I am what I am, and, come what may, now you know it too."
    I'm tired of the hassle of trying to play a game. I'll just be honest, because I believe that I am not doing anything wrong or inappropriate--no matter how different or radical I may be. The specifics of my story are very different from yours Juliane, but the conclusions are not so different...I haven't lost a TR at this point but I have been called in by the bishop and had some stern words. I've had several individuals express their concern over my spiritual wellbeing... But I decided to go ahead and join this podcast as myself. Nothing to hide. No Fear. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2Tim 1:7). So I'm going forth boldly. Come what may. It's nice to know we have a group of us going together, eh?

  27. Anonymous,
    thank you for the kind words. I think every time someone is genuine and open, it creates a space for the people around to also be genuine and open. I'm excited for your journey, though it may be hard at times, but you are in good company :)

    it wasn't really a question for me regarding anonymity. I always felt that it was important attaching my name to what I said, so that people knew there was a real person at the end of my words, not some faceless blob in cyberspace. I am totally fine with people knowing exactly where I stand. The only reason I sometimes regret not having a pseudonym, is that I can't be as honest as I'd like to be regarding other people in my life, because I want to maintain their anonymity. I signed up for this, they didn't, so I have to make sure I honor their privacy.

  28. yes, i'm right with you on the anonymity of the other people... it's doubly hard when i want to share some of these things with, say, my sister, but i don't want to divulge a confidence from, say, my husband... very hard.

  29. Hi Juliane. I admire and support you for speaking your truth early in your life. I felt like you 30 years ago when I had 3 children under 4 yo and was at my wits end. I had similar concerns about the temple and the role of women in the church. But I suppressed my questions and resentment of the church for many years, and finally, have grown enough self-esteem to be who I am. It is important to have alternative voices heard and not be silenced in the church. There is a large contingent of women who feel alienated, and if no one dares speak up, then each one feels so alone. When just one person speaks up, then the others can begin to feel their own power. Thank you for telling your story.

  30. Nonny,
    Amen to everything you said!! I'm glad you are on your own path now. Being authentic ourselves helps others be more authentic as well :)

  31. Juliane,
    Thank you for telling your story. You sound like you are where I was a year and a half ago. I can hear the heaviness in your voice and just want to tell you it gets better. I'm so glad you have found Yoga. It is a wonderful way to find peace and it will clear your mind. I find that sometimes all these Mormon blogs and podcasts can get really heavy for me. If you want an uplifting podcast that will give you many ways of thinking and help you to not spend so much of your life focused on Mormon issues check out Onbeing by Krista Tippett. She interviews men and women from ALL religous backgrounds(even the Dalai Lama)and civic leaders from around the world. It has helped me to escape at times and also taught me how many wonderful religions and ways of thinking are out there. It really has been a lifesaver for me. After 5 1/2 years of struggling with Mormonism I find I still am in a battle, but Onbeing takes me on a more positive and uplifting journey.

  32. I think it's pretty important for LDS women to know that the only "authority" some one has is how much you allow him to have.
    A bishop/husband has NO authority over you if you don't let him.

    It has always bothered me that people in the ward would address my husband when they want to talk to me. If they wanted to extend a calling to me, they would ask my husband.. and he would say "Why are you asking me? She's right here!"

    I remember a funny story about when I wore slacks to church, my husband told me later that he had five people come up to him and ask him why I was wearing pants at church. Not one person had asked me.

    I am pretty weird-ed out that your bishop said you wouldn't be able to bear your testimony or you would be "escorted" from the building. I did have a funny thought, that if you got up to bear your testimony any way, instead of it being about the church it would be that you're thankful for free agency, and that you live in a country where freedom of speech --- Hey! What are you doing? Let me go! Nooooooo! (Two Agent looking men from the Matrix drag you off the podium)

  33. Trinity,
    you're funny. Yes, I have contemplated doing something like that at the next testimony meeting...but of course I wouldn't (unless I felt so moved by the spirit). I thought it was pretty ridiculous, too, like they were gonna take me into some secret room, take a mug shot, and put me on some sort of black list....geez.

    The pants story is equal parts funny and sad...I've had the same thing happen with people asking my husband about my blog, but they won't come to me and ask me directly. Strange.

  34. I am floored that you could be accused in this way by your bishop simply for openly questioning. There is no shame in having questions or doubts, so why should they be hidden? I am appalled that he would try to disempower you by only dealing with you through your husband or with your husband present (especially being aware of your concerns), and double deal by being cordial and apparently supportive to your face, while investigating you behind your back. It is clear that he wanted you to feel powerless and submissive in that interview. Although I agree with you whole-heartedly about your temple qualms, it is the bishop's behaviour that most pointedly stands out to me as an example of the unequal treatment of women in the LDS Church and moreso because this kind of behaviour is far from uncommon.

    I spoke with a temple president's wife one day to express my distress over the part of the endowment where it says that women must look to their husband as their husband looks to God. I discussed my concerns about this inequality and the implication that I could not have a direct relationship with God, even though he is my Father as much as he is the Father of any man I might happen to be married to. I asked why I should be told to look to a flawed human for my counsel and authority, while my husband looked to a flawless God for his. She smiled and patted my hand and reassured me that of course I had a direct relationship with Heavenly Father, etc. I told her, 'but that isn't what it says'. She again assured me that this was the case and that I had no need for concern, despite the words of the ordinance. And that was all the answer I ever got.

    I resigned my membership two years ago. My self-esteem and enjoyment of my womanhood have both been strengthened as a result. Good luck to you and your family as you all find your path through this. (Oh and PS, kudos to your husband. There is something so hot, don't you think, about men who are not afraid of strong, intelligent women?!) :)

  35. Debbie,

    yes, feminist men are HAAWWWWT ;) My husband wouldn't identify as such, but he has always treated me as an equal.

    The temple matron's response is representative of what I've heard from so many people....don't worry about it, you will understand it eventually, it is so and so even though it says such and such, it's not important, not of eternal just made me feel that my concerns were stupid or unimportant, or that I just didn't get it. Sigh. I can understand why you resigned, and I'm glad you are happy now. YAY!!

  36. Juliane, I think its so unfortunate that we feel we have to label ourselves as 'crazy' to be able to be courageous enough to speak up about the questions we have as women and members of the church. I loudly applaud your willingness to be open and share your experiences and clearly put it out there on record that the church's rules and practices are inconsistent with a loving God who does not judge. I was so angry throughout your story of how the Bishop treated your questions. I feel that the church has created an environment that allows men to feel superior, yet threatened that any day the Bishop could be condemned and ruin his upstanding 'name' in the church if he doesn't harshly judge those who may be seen as questioning authority and the message of the church. I also don't doubt that members were calling and emailing him after your talk to pressure him to do something about you. That may explain why it took him 2 weeks to speak to you. I agree that God has given us a curious mind to question and we deserve to hear the truth.

    In any case, I feel your struggle and pain as I am experiencing the same feelings right now getting the courage to leave the church and prepare myself for all of the questions, loss of friendships and family members judgment. I want to speak out about why I feel the church's creation of an environment of judging and harshness under the guise of righteousness is wrong, and not allowing members to question 'why', but I am scared for so many reasons. Your actions give me strength to stand up for my thoughts and feelings and I am grateful for your candor and example.

    Debbie, I question that exact statement in the temple too! Why do I have to go through my husband when I am a capable person to answer for myself? That covenant, as Juliane said, 'makes my soul crawl'. Juliane, if you ever get that answer, please share!!

    By the way, I have an amazingly supportive husband too and we have never been closer or happier! Feminist men are HAWTT!!

  37. Cindi,
    I'm glad you felt strengthened by listening to the podcast. I'm sure you have a hard road ahead of you, as it is never easy to leave a faith that is so all encompassing in my opinion. You will know what to do, and when to do it.
    I don't think that we need a middle man, and therefore I reject those parts of the temple covenants that command me to defer to my husband, as wrong. I'm sorry, I don't think I will get a satisfying answer, because there isn't one.
    I wish you the best on your journey. Let me know how you're progressing, please!! And yes, thank heaven for supportive husbands!!!

  38. After listening to these last two podcasts all I can say to you Juliane is, Woman! I love you!
    By speaking so honestly, simply, and respectfully you have helped open a door to an entirely new phase of being for me. I've been rattling the door for a while, but now it is finally opening. Thank you for your courage and the beauty of your truth seeking soul!

  39. Kopela,
    I kind had a crappy day with people questioning my motives, so thank you for your words! The thing that hurts the most is people questioning whether I'm sincere in my searching. I'm glad the podcast was helpful for you :) Keep listening! There are some very awesome women to hear from :)

  40. I'm really wondering where the bishop gets this idea that he should not speak directly to a woman and that he needs to speak through her husband. Either its a direction he's received from church leaders or its his own interpretation and application of the the temple ceremony (and he's thinking of himself in the position of God and we all know what D&C 121 has to say about men like that). This may be the place in which to frame a conversation with a stake president and discuss the appropriateness of this view.

    I also really wonder why there is such a strict requirement to only discuss the things that bother you, Juliane, in the temple. Why can't those things be talked about outside of the temple? I may have a strange view on what it appropriate to be discussed outside the temple but there's really very little I feel is inappropriate to be discussed outside the temple. Is this restriction one that you feel strongly about or one that you feel is a directive that you need to follow?

    I've been following your story with interest and been hoping and praying for positive resolution. I feel that its possibly your ward and stake that is so toxic but that other wards and stakes elsewhere would not be so hurtful.

  41. Besides having almost the exact same experience with a Bishop who raked me over the coals for a very personal decision about my life, I found this podcast refreshing because the truth was honored instead of chased away with a stick as it so often is from weak minded people in general. Juliane, you are fulfilling your journey beautifully. My personal revelations of late have led me to the beauty of the depths and heights that the Lord has promised to those who seek them with faith and courage.

    It is interesting to realize how the spirit of truth is just bursting forth on the right and on the left and all around us and it is not happening from the pulpit, but from honest seekers of truth. The earth is truly being flooded with beautiful, sacred souls like yourself who will honor the truth with courage and love. Thank you!!

  42. I just found this quote and I thought it was perfect.
    "We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them [even] if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings until he turns from his folly".--Joseph Smith from The Millenial Star, Saturday November 13, 1852

  43. I'm only 1/4 way into this but I just had to write how much I identify with your questions and concerns about what drew you to the church and what caused you concern. Many of the points you have stated, have been the ones I've shared with others (especially concerning Mother in Heaven- It makes no sense to me, that all creation is made through the combination of male and female in some form, yet we have no mention of female in the narrative. It's time for a new one.)

  44. Thank you so much for this. Just.... Thank you.


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