Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
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Can I Tell You About My Day?

**UPDATE: If you are linking here via my esteemed journalism colleague Joel Campbell please read this response.

I've written about my issues with Mormonism before. Here, here and here and about a million other places on this blog. Oh, this one's pretty good too what with all the childhood ballyhooing of being a sunBEAM for Jesus.

I will give you this. I still have issues. Always will. But my lingering rage anger doesn't negate that when the church is full of shit, the church is full of shit.

Today I arrived at work to find that during a speech to BYU students in Idaho, a leader of the Mormon church, an apostle, if I'm to use their terminology, compared the backlash against those who voted for Prop 8 to the African American struggle for civil rights in the south.

After I picked my eyeballs up off the floor and shoved 'em back in my head I read the entire story being reported by the Associated Press. Did he really say that? I thought those cagey, old, white dudes hid their true feelings better than that.

He did. He said it. And elaborated for ages about why he totally believes it.

Well, that's just plain wrong and fucked up eight ways to Saturday, the special day, the day we get ready for Sunday. The story was being reported on the Associated Press but was embargoed until three in the afternoon. That means no media outlet is allowed to release details of the story (oooh look at the fancy journalism speak) until after three which is the same time Elder Dallin H. Oaks would finish giving the speech to a stadium full of rapt BYU students. A speech containing ridiculous statements about the terrible, awful, discrimination suffered by Prop 8 supporters, those poor, poor Prop Hate supporters seeking to keep fellow gay Americans from recognizing their full civil rights.

I read excerpts from the speech, including this:

In fact, the Proposition 8 battle was not about civil rights, but about what equal rights demand and what religious rights protect," he said. "At no time did anyone question or jeopardize the civil right of Proposition 8 opponents to vote or speak their views. The real issue in the Proposition 8 debate, an issue that will not go away in years to come and for whose resolution it is critical that we protect everyone's freedom of speech and the equally important freedom to stand for religious beliefs, is whether the opponents of Proposition 8 should be allowed to change the vital institution of marriage itself.

Is that the "real" issue then, Elder Oaks? It's critical that we protect your religious freedom while y'all do everything in your substantial power to deny civil rights to hundreds of thousands of Americans? Really? I shouldn't have been but was absolutely shocked that the church continues to demonstrate not only a bold intolerance to gay/civil rights but had the balls (be they old and wrinkled) to spin the shit 360 degrees and liken its own struggle to blacks in the south. I was, of course, immediately outraged and began stomping around the newsroom muttering like Yosemite Sam. I was largely ignored as my co-workers are used to this type of behavior from me.

Minutes later I composed myself and, at the request of Boss Lady, I placed a call to the very mysterious LDS public relations office populated by folks who, contrary to the duties the title spokesperson suggests, rarely appear on camera. I expressed our interest in the story and they provided me with some more information about Oaks' speech. A short time later I took to my Twitter page because, seriously people, if I don't tweet then it never really happened, right? My news-related tweets are a service I so generously provide to the public-at-large. How else would you know about my bunions and sexy behind-the-scenes news action? Because it is sexy, people. So sexy. As the Associated Press story was embargoed until the ol' boy finished his speech I was careful not to divulge details, only that I was working on a story about a speech delivered by an LDS apostle and had sent a reporter to get reaction from the NAACP.

Within minutes, I kid you not, MINUTES, the usually elusive LDS spokeswoman called me directly.

HER: I need you to take down your tweet.
ME: (still cringing at term "tweet" as it's brings farting to mind) Why? I didn't divulge any information contained in the embargo.
HER: Yes you did.
ME: No, thousands of people know Elder Oaks is delivering a speech at BYU-Idaho. They're at it right now. And the rest was simply me elaborating on what I'm doing in the newsroom which is sending a reporter to get reaction from the NAACP.
HER: But you wouldn't know to get the reaction from the NAACP without the embargoed story. TAKE DOWN THE TWEET.
ME: I don't understand. I did not release any information contained in the embargoed story. I am tweeting (cringe) about my day in the newsroom, not details of the embargoed story.
HER: I need you to take down the tweet.

At this point my hands were shaking because OH MY GOD THE LDS CHURCH WAS CALLING ME PERSONALLY TO MAKE ME REMOVE A TWEET and then I hung up. And TOOK DOWN THE FUCKING TWEET! I let myself be bullied by some stern-talking Mormon church spokeswoman even though I believed her to be wrong. I looked at the clock. The embargo was up in fifteen minutes anyway. I couldn't believe this woman was logging my tweets although I guess I shouldn't be surprised as my "visiting teachers" have miraculously tracked me from locale to locale, including to New York City, showing up with brownies and a Book of Mormon each time I move. But this woman took the time to hassle me about an embargo that was up in fifteen minutes when I hadn't even mentioned the actual contents of the appalling speech in the first place. Why?

Now, let me go back. As this was all going down, for various reasons, I was direct messaging on Twitter with She Who Needs No Introduction about unrelated issues.

I messaged her what was going on and she was all OMG! And I was, like, I KNOW! She said, It's news! They want to silence the news? And I kind of shrugged to her through my monitor because I was absolutely dumbfounded that SOMEONE FROM THE LDS CHURCH CALLED ME TO REMOVE A TWEET. Then she said, you need to tweet that, that the woman told you to take down your tweet and I said, I know! I should! REALLY YOU HAVE TO TWEET THAT. DO YOU SEE ME AND MY CAPS LOCK!!! And I did! Lo, I saw her and her caps lock and behold, I knew she was right. Here I was, me, complying with LDS church orders about my Twitter page.

Still, I was afraid. But why? I'm getting to that, stay with me.

I went into Boss Lady's office all teary-like because I really was all teary-like because did I mention the LDS church was forcing me to take down a tweet? I know you all think I'm this big, cursing, hard-ass and I am, I totally am! I WILL CUT YOU I SWEAR but I was so upset and having LDS flashbacks which are not unlike LSD flashbacks and probably worse. I told Boss Lady and Manager McManagerson what just went down. And can I just say I work for the two best motherfuckers around? They were so kind in response that I became down right verklempt. I'm not saying there were actual tears involved but let's just say that someone handed someone (a giant pussy) a tissue but that could also be because Manager McManagerson sneezed. They said they were glad I took the "offending" tweet down because there was no need to get into a thing with the church but then Boss Lady was like, you go tweet that they told you to take it down because of the embargo and Manager McManagerson said, man, why do they care, the embargo is up in five minutes anyway?

I raced back to my desk to tweet my stupid tweet BEFORE the embargo was up to kind of thumb my nose at The Evil Empire. Here was my big nose-thumbing:

Broke embargo. LDS church spokeswoman asked me to remove previous tweet about story we're working on. Full information in five minutes.

And you can bet that at three o'clock on the dot I damn near broke Twitter tweeting the contents of that speech. But I'm mad. Mad that I'm such a pussy. Mad that I wrote that I broke the embargo when I didn't. Mad that my knee-jerk reaction was to take down the tweet just like my reaction growing up was to fearfully and blindly oblige anything any LDS church leader said.

Old habits die really motherfucking hard, I guess.

Reader Comments (61)

As a journalist I'm absolutely stunned that you have been allowed to report on any institution that you have such strong feelings about. If you replaced the words Church with "Audobon Society" I wouldn't let you near the outdoors.
The fact that you are allowed to report on matters of religion, especially the Mormon Church shows a lack of judgment on the part of your boss.

October 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterappalled

Keep reporting the TRUTH. Most of us appreciate a light shined upon a religion that refuses to move forward into the 21st century. Instead, they live in the 19th. America doesn't know too much about the LDS Church's adamant refusal to separate church and state. Whet the word gets out though, America will be very very pissed off.

October 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSanto

Oops...I meant the 9th Century. Not the 19th Century. In the 19th Century, the church was in the 2nd Century.

So they DO progress. But only at the speed of fry-sauce rolling up a hill.

October 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSanto

Hi Monica,

There are several things I would like to say but ... reality .. . you know.. .

I've seen a lot of things in my way-too-short 40 years of life that look like one thing from one position, only to be more correctly viewed from another position. A snake in the road has turned into a stick. A bear in the woods has become a tree stump. An impassable road has become easily navigable. The only difference in identifying things accurately has been my perspective.

I agree with much of what you've said, not all, but this post isn't about what you said. I just want to offer you sympathy/empathy from within the church you hate. I can acknowledge imperfections within the church because I'm not afraid of them (the church or it's imperfections). We are a LONG way from perfection and filled with people both good and bad, much like the rest of the world.

I also want to address your anger with the church and I really hope it makes sense. No matter what reasons you have for being angry, true peace and happiness can only be found through proper healing, not via external sources. Effective healing requires you to want & seek an accurate perspective on some basic but important things, namely - Your true worth as an individual (not based on internet traffic or who claims you as friend or lover, certainly not which belief system you follow, but based on an inner love for yourself and the real GOOD that you are); the value you place on real truth (not imposed or self-imposed ideals and not self-medicating ideas or behaviors, but actual laws of physics and etc, accuracy); personal accountability (you have to own your faults and personal contributions to your pain - I'm guessing you have a pretty good handle on this one). Finally, you have to desire healing. You have to desire love.

An occasional chocolate chip cookie doesn't hurt either.

When you have found the healing, your heart and mind and body will rest from the pain and anger. I think it's great you're a fighter, fight for healing.

I sincerely hope you desire good things, who doesn't right? You probably know all this anyway so consider this a heart-felt reminder .. .


Laron Wilson, SLC, single, male, student, Lakota, Mormon, gay <----- all just labels for others' use, not mine.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmends

I must say you are talking about how much hatred this church has toward homosexuals, but you are festering a lot of hatred yourself (it is written all over your blog), which makes you no better than that church. You should go get some therapy.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Late the the party...

Now you know: when someone starts a conversation with "I need you to...", you know you're about to get screwed by someone who is entirely too convinced of their own importance.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

I find it also ironic that the church is still trying to control the presses. Does anyone remember that their beloved prophet Joseph Smith was gunned down... NOT because he was the new prophet of Zion... but because he sent his goons to destroy the presses of the Nauvoo Expositor, the newspaper that competed against the Mormon Newspaper.

Mormons, like Bush/ Cheney, have a long history of controlling the presses in a vain attempt to keep the truth from coming to light.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

Good for you!! Those turds... trying to bully you around. Great post - felt like I was right there with you. Give 'em hell, girl! :)

October 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

You should have told them you'd take down the tweet when they stopped trying to take away everyone else's rights. Worthless fucking hypocrites.

November 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSean Robertson

I just found your blog last night, and have been up the past 6 hours reading as much as I could. I am delirious and exhausted but finally felt like I should comment.. i'm 22, was raised mormon, and finally, 3 years ago, accepted the fact that i'm a lesbian and left the church. Well I actually left a little bit after my coming to terms with the gayness, after I told my bishop I had been molested & he said it was my fault. I walked out and never looked back.
Your blog makes me really happy. I thought I was the only angry/sad exmormon. I appreciate you writing everything you do. You're the greatest

February 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClarke

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