Guest Post: An Open Letter to My Ward Members #MormonMeToo

By Carmen Cutler

To my fellow ward members,

Yesterday was Good Friday.

And in Mormonism this week, we need Good Friday, a day of fasting and penance. A day to bring my heart to Christ, to view the cross anew, to see His pain and His love. I need to see the face of Jesus clearly right now, in this moment when the clearest things in my mind are these:

An MTC president groomed and then sexually assaulted missionaries in a basement office.

His leaders knew about it. They did nothing. Worse than nothing, they promoted him.

The current response of this church that I have placed trust in is “There was nothing we could do.”

I have watched this week for some ripple, some indication that these reports were enough to trouble the still waters.

But, ward members, you aren’t talking about it. Not a sound. How do you not know? How can you not be aware? How can our chapels and meetings and quorums fill with words and songs that ignore this, that move easily forward as if nothing happened? My social media feeds are full of pre-General Conference chatter, quotes, requests to join us and listen to church leaders, to find peace with us, post after post of happy words. I am usually the one doing that too. But not this time.

Today I approach the foot of the Cross, with all these women:

The woman who was sexually assaulted as a missionary by the MTC president, and who watched him move through the ranks of priesthood leadership with no legal or ecclesiastical consequences.

The woman who reported intimate partner abuse to her bishop and was told to repent for causing it.

The woman who sat in a YSA Relief Society meeting as her bishop took the entire hour to give instructions on what she should do to not get raped and how to repent if she does allow it to happen.

To the woman who was sexually harassed by her mission president, repeatedly, relentlessly.

I cannot approach General Conference this time with any measure of joy. I am mourning, mourning with every person who has been sexually assaulted by an ecclesiastical leader, mourning that no one believed them, mourning that no meaningful changes have occurred in policy or structure, having little hope that things will change anytime soon.

So. If the conference talks Saturday and Sunday are about institutional accountability and transparency and actual healing from this specific wound in our faith community, then I am there.

If not, I have Easter things to do, and wounded sisters to attend to.


  1. thank you for raising your voice in support of your sisters. it is a time for leaving behind false paradigms and hurtful policies, we need radical change in this area

  2. I’m so sorry to hear that this happened to you. It was stories like yours that gave me the courage to speak out at the Saturday Afternoon session of conference. If you would like, I would like to share you stories with the stories of others

    • I didn’t watch the sessions as they aired but I definitely went back later and listened for your voice specifically— it was the best conference talk of the day!

      Your work to share stories and advocate for us all is so vital. Thank you for the energy you bring to this! My own personal experiences are not dramatic, just your run-of-the-mill mormon sexual harassment (I guess that’s part of the problem right there), so I am leaning toward amplifying the voices of others who should be believed and honored.

  3. YES. But I feel powerless to speak out. These men have the authority to dismantle my entire family’s bonds in the eternities if I upset them and they have threatened to do so whenever I’ve voiced too much pro-women rhetoric in the past, so they’ve trained me to keep my mouth shut. Also, I have a good friend who, during a period of extreme burnout, kept turning down callings but eventually was forced to accept one because her bishop told her, “you realize your membership is on the line, right? That I have the authority to take it away without even Stake President approval if you don’t start cooperating.” We thought he was lying but we did some digging and sure enough, turns out that her husband’s membership was safe (stake president approval required to ex an elder), but a women’s membership can be yanked by a bishop who is mad about anything like a woman who won’t accept a calling. Talk about terrifying! So yeah no wonder we aren’t speaking up about this stuff. No wonder we are staying silent like good little stepford wives. I don’t blame the women who are keeping their mouths shut. I blame the system that forces us to do so. The system that holds our covenants and by extension entire families hostage unless we keep our mouths shut. “No free speech for you, or we will rip apart your entire eternal family structure and rob you of your covenants, sealings, and all joy with your family in the eternities!” Great way to squeeze forced, fake loyalty out of us, guys. Stepford-like, we plaster on our plastic smiles and pretend we know nothing about what is going on. What MTC president? Who is Joseph Bishop? Never heard of him. Our sweet lil ole selves just over here sustainin’ the brethren!!

    Hey, it works for the fundamentalist Mormons–they put one toe out of line, they get their families taken away, right? Mainstream Mormons are using the same tactic. Speak out, they take away our family’s eternal bonds. I’ve seen divorces and families destroyed by this, by a woman speaking out and the church going full attack mode on her. Nope, much safer to stay silent. Some of us DO want to scream out like the woman in conference (God bless her) but we have too much to lose.

    • Amen to this. I have only shared my hurt about this to maybe two very trusted people who I know won’t betray me to church leaders. How sad that our hurts have to be communicated in a secret sister underground? But I have these same fears for my family and covenants. And another thing I want to add is this: why is it that there is such a one-way block in our communication with the brethren? Sisters, don’t ever speak ill of the brethren, but the brethren are free to compile a dossier of dirty gossip about rape victims and send it to the media to smear her name with zero consequences. Shouldn’t there be penalties for ALL members who besmirch the name of a fellow saint? Aren’t we ALL the Lord’s anointed? Also, why is it that we sisters are constrained by levels of authority and hierarchies and have to adhere to chain of commands when contacting the brethren, but priesthood holders are allowed to pick up the phone and pester us whenever they darn well please? Just once I’d like to be able to say to one of these men, “I’m sorry, but you need to contact my Primary Secretary and have her bring this to me. You need to follow the proper chain of command” and then hang up on him.

      • SC and Jenn, thank you for bringing up a crucial point— this post is a call out to my ward members (and church membership in general) that already enjoy power and are doing nothing. The ones who have mountains of unused social capital. The ones who are unaware of #mormonmetoo because they don’t want to know, they would rather not be aware and therefore stay in spaces where they don’t have to reckon with it. Those are the people who could be allies right now and aren’t. Their silence is so loud, I can’t hear their testimonies over the sound of it.

        I do not think that you who have already sacrificed and spoken and carried the weight should bear this burden any more than you already are. I would not ask that of you.

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