Fear & Reconciliation

I finally completed the first draft of my “Fear in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Pathway to Reconciliation, Meandering Philosophy and Musings Mingled with Scripture.”  Download Link

It is clearly and explicitly based on Danna Hartline’s work with due credit given.

Please let me know if you have any additions or corrections including grammar and spelling. My style of writing is to make occasional revisions.

Thank you!
Tom Irvine
email:  tom@irvinemail.org



To fear God is to have absolute reverence and awe for an Almighty God, the Creator of all things. But the fear discussed in this paper is worry and dread over potential loss or calamity. This fear can include angst regarding a pending change, even though that change may be a needed growth opportunity, or otherwise bring blessings. The fear may be deeply rooted in a person’s subconscious due to genetic predispositions or past traumatic experiences. Furthermore, fear can exist on an individual or an institutional basis. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has accomplished an immeasurable amount of good for innumerable souls by providing a faith community for like-minded people, offering disaster relief to those in distress and in so many other ways. In addition, the LDS Church provides excellent education opportunities through its BYU campuses and the BYU Pathway program.

But the Church has traumatized others via certain fear-based policies and unrighteous dominion. Some trauma victims leave the Church and may never return. Others are the “walking wounded” who still participate in Church for social or altruistic reasons even though their bubbles have burst, or their “shelves” have broken. This paper is neither a vindication of the Church nor an expose. Rather it is a paper that wrestles with some real and messy issues with the hopes that some mutual understanding and peaceful reconciliation can be achieved. This paper also has some autobiographical sections for my own catharsis and self-help. Perhaps relating my personal experiences will help someone else to heal from his or her own soul wounds. The wandering style of this paper was inspired by Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values,” published in 1974, although my paper is nominally nonfictional. Or maybe my experiences and musings have all been a dream.

The attention given to individual topics in this paper varies widely from one subject to the next. There is plenty of room for someone to build upon this work. Or maybe I will offer future revisions.


I humbly thank my Savior, Jesus Christ, who took upon himself the sins of all mankind including my own in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the Cross at Calvary.
I express gratitude to my talented wife Jan for patiently dealing with my vast idiosyncrasies, and I honor her as the loving mother of our three sons.

I deeply appreciate Danna Hartline and her seminal research on church trauma. Danna and I cofounded a Facebook group “LDS Church Trauma and Healing” which currently has over 1100 members.

Danna recently completed her master’s thesis, Understanding and Managing Church Trauma—Finding Help and Healing for Mormons, at California Southern University. My own paper draws liberally from her thesis in tone and substance. My gratitude also goes to my Facebook friends Blaire Ostler, Brian Bresee and Scott Stover who contributed insightful quotes to this paper.

Michelle Hunter and Sherrilynne Dalton enabled me to experience healing through their prayers, for which I am eternally grateful, as I sought to reconcile my own fears.

I thank former Madison, Alabama Stake President Keith R. Draughon and former Seventy Elder Bruce A. Carlson for the important lessons they taught me about fear in the Church. I look forward to the day, perhaps on the other side of the veil, when we can reach a peaceful reconciliation, see eye to eye, and recognize that some dilemmas have more than one “right answer.”



Has God given his power to men?

And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;

2 Nephi 28:5


Our Savior’s instructions for those brought before Church disciplinary councils


Matthew 10

[16] Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
[17] But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
[18] And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
[19] But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
[20] For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

* * *

Isaiah 51

[7] Hearken unto me, you that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear you not the reproach of men, neither be you afraid of their revilings.

* * *

– Tom Irvine

An Apostolic Witness of the SCMC

Here is an excerpt from 2012 BBC interview featuring Michael Purdy and Elder Jeffrey R.  Holland.   The interview was criticized for its “gotcha” style.  However, the excerpt is of historical significance given that the SCMC is never mentioned in Ensign articles or General Conference.

Video Link

Tom Irvine


BYU: See Something, Say Something


BYU Honor Code Office

Priesthood Leadership Training

Substitute the Church Handbook of Instructions for the scriptures.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sexual Abuse

“The LDS Church has long had a highly effective approach for preventing and responding to abuse. In fact, no religious organization has done more. Although no one system is perfect and no single program will work with every organization, the LDS Church’s approach is the gold standard.”

–  Von G. Keetch, chief outside legal counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints    Deseret News, Jun 5, 2010

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Protecting Members and Reporting Abuse


Paul Douglas Adams

Robert Berchtold

Keith Kenneth Bergstresser Jr.

Andrew Bishop

Joseph L. Bishop, former MTC president

Susan Brock

Paul Burdick, former bishop

Todd Mitchell Edwards, former bishop

Francis Heber Fuller, former bishop

Matthew Hack

Timothy Jame Hallows, former bishop

Jeffrey Byron Head, former bishop

Lon Kennard Sr., former bishop

Michael Jensen

Dr. Melvin Kay Johnson

Timothy McCleve, former bishop

Gerald E. Mortimer

David Moss, former bishop

Lonnie Kent Nyman

Michael J. Pratt, former LDS seminary principal

Christopher Jeremy Prue

Lowell Robison

Darran Scott

Keith Vallejo, former bishop

Sterling Van Wagenen


Other Notable Crimes

Paul Peterson


Protect Every Child

Utah Affinity Fraud & Ponzi Schemes

A 2012 article in The Economist reports that Utah is believed to have the highest per-capita rate of affinity fraud in the U.S. due to about two-thirds of the state’s residents being members of the LDS Church among whom such crimes tend to flourish.

The Wall Street Journal named Salt Lake City the “Fraud Capital of America” in a 2015 story.

Statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Robert Glen Mouritsen, former stake president

A former stake president in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has pleaded guilty in federal court to using his position to scam $1.5 million from friends and fellow church members over a 12 year period.

Robert Glen Mouritsen, 72, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, a federal felony, in federal court in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, November 13, 2019.

Over a 12 year period, Mouritsen collected $1.5 million, including $326,399.51 from one victim in his Ponzi scheme. The most recent investment from this victim occurred in or around 2016.

Julius Blackwelder, former bishop in Connecticut

Shawn R. Merriman, former bishop

Chad Bennett Reid, former bishop

Kevin Thomas, former bishop

R. Dean Udy, a former stake president and regional representative


Lori Ann Anderson

Gaylen Dean Rust Rust Rare Coin Inc.

Rick Koerber Founders Capital, and related companies Franklin Squires Investments and Franklin Squires Cos.

Dee Allen Randall

Martin A. Pool and Armand R. Franquelin

Landon M. Smith Real estate offering fraud and Ponzi scheme


SCMC Devotional: November 6, 2019

Bruna Martinuzzi, Intelligent Disobedience (excerpts)

I once worked for a technology company that encouraged employees to practice what they called “Intelligent Disobedience.” The concept originates from Seeing Eye dogs: while dogs must learn to obey the commands of a blind person, they must also know when they need to disobey commands that can put the owner in harm’s way, such as when a car is approaching.

Intelligent disobedience is not about setting out to be disagreeable or arbitrarily disobeying rules for its own sake. Rather, it is about using your judgment to decide when, for example, an established rule actually hinders your organization, rather than helps it. The antonym of intelligent disobedience is blind conformity. Conformity smooths our day’s journey at work. Conformity, however, can have its downsides. It saps creativity for one, and it is, in John F. Kennedy’s parlance, “the enemy of growth.”

Here are some ideas to inspire you and others in your team to establish a culture that values intelligent disobedience:

Consider the benefits of decentralizing some of the decision-making in your unit. If you are used to making all the decisions, allow those closest to the customer the flexibility to make appropriate decisions on the spot, as for example, to right a wrong, even if the decision is contrary to some established rule of the organization. This places the value where it should be—on customer satisfaction rather than on lockstep adherence to the process—but it also places value on team members by giving them the authority to bend the rules when necessary.

Catch yourself if you habitually insist on “going by the book.” Ask yourself: Is this necessary for every issue? Might you enhance your team’s productivity if you paid more attention to the restraining effect that this could have on the people involved? What would happen if you built some elasticity in your rules, if you allowed others to apply standard procedures more flexibly?

Barry Rand of Xerox, quoted in Colin Powell’s A Leadership Primer: “. . . if you have a yes-man working for you, one of you is redundant.”

Pursuit of Truth