I love movies. So it makes sense when I read the news about former Missionary Training Center President Joseph Bishop (yes, that’s his real name) my first thoughts are of award winning, based on a true story, film Spotlight.
For those yet unfamiliar, I would say, stop what your doing right now and go watch it, it is an excellent film. I won’t put any movie spoilers here, but here is a short summary of what events the movie covers, just in case you are at work or somewhere you just can’t watch the movie.
In 2001, editor Marty Baron of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll and Sacha Pfeiffer interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.
That leads me back to my initial topic, which I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Joseph Bishop.
Recently a recording of an interview with Joseph Bishop was released revealing that Joseph Bishop, as acting Missionary Training Center President, had a rape room in the basement of the MTC.
Horrible? Yes. Disgusting? Yes. Surprising? For believers of the mormon church, probably, but for those looking from the outside in on practices of the LDS organization? Not really.
Here is a little context on the timeline of everything that has come to light:
1984: Joseph Bishop assaults a missionary in 1984. She (allegedly) reports it to church leaders at the MTC and nothing happens.
1987: After her mission, victim told her bishop about the assault. The bishop said he never relayed the allegations higher because he felt the “allegations were groundless.” Further, he said her story was hard to believe because of the heavy vetting done for MTC presidents, which means they could not possibly do something like that.
2010: The victim goes to the church again about the incident and also threatens Joseph Bishop. The church files a report with the police not about the sexual allegations, but to report the threat. Victim claims she was joking, the police and church do nothing further.
2017: The victim then goes to BYU police in 2017 and interviews Bishop to get his confession on a recording.
January 2017: Victim then gives the audio to BYU police and church leaders. The church begins a settlement process while doing nothing to punish Bishop (that we know of – official statement from TSCC only states they are investigating).
February 2018: The church then begins with with the state government to make these kinds of recordings illegal going forward, so that other members can not make recordings with their bishops or other church leaders.
March 19: Mormon Leaks releases audio and transcript of the conversation with Joseph L Bishop. Hours later the Deseret Books website removes their Joseph Bishop books.
March 20: TSCC releases a statement that makes sure to mention that the victim is a former member who only ‘partially’ served her mission.
March 21 AM: Deseret News (owned by the church) publishes their story that undermines the victim by ignoring all quotes from the transcript while using defenses for Bishop from his son. They also make sure to note that the victim has a criminal past.
March 21 PM: The Salt Lake Tribune releases story that BYU police would charge Bishop with sexual assault if the statute of limitations had not expired. They also note that Bishop admits to asking the missionary to expose her breasts, and that his story is different from hers because “he either can’t remember it or that [she] was exaggerating her account.” (Deseret News would have had access to this information, but for obvious reasons chose to ignore it)
This is one hell of a timeline for the church to now claim is not a cover-up and that they take these allegations seriously…
Are there horrible people everywhere? Yes, horrible people can exists in any organization. But that’s not the point here. The point here is HOW God’s “one true church” reacted to this. They didn’t immediately excommunicate Joseph Bishop when they found out about this. THEY TRIED TO COVER IT UP. On top of that THEY TRIED TO BLAME THE VICTIM!
This is advice that LDS leaders GIVE OUT!
What’s worse, is that the LDS church (along with many other religions, such as the Roman Catholic Church) creates an environment RIPE for this sort of thing. Sure the girl in question (or girls as Bishop admitted to more than one) was not a child so it wasn’t pedophilia, but Joseph was in a position of authority and used that to his advantage to take advantage of her.
“Children are taught that their leaders are gods. If I am asked a question, I answer it. If a leader says I am something, then I am. If a leader tells me not to tell my parent something, I shouldn’t. Children are taught to be submissive and quiet.
It is the perfect situation for abuse.
Then, predator or not, these leaders teach our children that their bodies are public property. The children get so used to answering questions about their own bodies that it doesn’t scare them anymore. It doesn’t send out alarm bells, because this is just what you do. Your body isn’t your own, it’s just property of the church.
So, even just by having these interviews, regardless of intention, the child is already hurt. They already lose something – they already do not get to see their bodies as their own.
Then, it happens. Sexual Assault. Molestation. Rape.
The children don’t tell anyone, because who would they tell? And their body isn’t theirs anyway, so it’s probably not worth mentioning. But it’s scarring and traumatizing. It breaks you.”
So even as children are growing up (and let’s be honest 18 years old [the new lowered age for mormon missionaries] although “legally” an adult, is still a very young adult, practically a child in many aspects depending on their youth, and since the LDS organization infantilizes its members to keep them like children, they are certainly still children mentally) when they leave to go on a mission they are still very young. So no, it’s not surprising to us on the outside looking in that a former MTC President had a rape room in the basement of the MTC.
Bottom line? Get your kids out of the LDS organization. The good people inside said organization are good IN SPITE of the mormon church, not because of it.
So, trying to wrap up my thoughts here and I want to bring back Spotlight for a moment. I had heard of a few cases of catholic bishops being excommunicated from the catholic church because of rape and pedophilia, but I had never understood the extent, the rampant, widespread reach in which this was happening. After watching Spotlight it really hit home how much of a problem this is with religious organization. Mormons held so much pride because they thought they were part of the “one true church” and that sort of thing just didn’t happen in their church.
Well, yes, yes it does. Worse, the LDS organization works hard to cover these things up. Does that sound like a church run by the benevelont all-loving all-knowing God mormons claim to be the head of?
No it does not, not to me.
For God’s sake, the man himself admits he would be the Mormon Harvey Weinstein.