CASE REPORTS OF THE MORMON ALLIANCE
VOLUME 1, 1995
STANDING UP: AUTUMN 1993
The act of voting not to sustain the stake
presidency, since Stan Powell was still the executive secretary, was a
turning point for Jack and Merradyth. The McCallisters felt that they
could not condone what they perceived as the stake presidentís
A cycle of ward conferences was beginning; and on 12
September 1993, the McCallisters attended the meeting in Scottís ward,
Edmond Second Ward, where, according to custom, the general and local
officers would be presented for the sustaining vote of the members and
speak during the time normally devoted to Sunday School and sacrament
meeting. Merradyth and Jack sat with Tara, who was holding her newborn
son, Skyler. Scott, Barrett, and Tennille sat in the rear overflow. When
the names of the stake presidency were read, they stood and raised their
hands when the opposing vote was called for. Because Powellís name, as
executive secretary, was not read separately, they focused their
opposing vote on the men who had called him.
Their vote was noted and they were asked to meet with
the stake presidency after the meeting. When Leon Fulton spoke, he
delivered a blistering set of new rules designed to root out sexual
sins, which he listed and described in graphic detail. He threatened
that any young man or woman who did not voluntarily confess sexual
transgressions to him before leaving for a mission or for school would
be returned to himówithout exceptionsóif their sin was discovered.
They would be on probation for a year, not allowed to return until he
considered their repentance complete, not only for the sexual activity
but also for lying to the priesthood leader in an interview. He further
announced that these new rules had come "straight from Church
headquarters" and would be strictly enforced but, rather
confusingly, also said, "I donít care how other leaders operate
in other areas because God has called me to preside over this stake and
Iím speaking by revelation and authority."
The McCallisters were not the only members who were
surprised at his harshness and the sexual explicitness of his language
in a meeting attended by youngsters down to age twelve, but Jack, stiff
with outrage, described his reaction in a letter on "prevention of
child sexual abuse by priesthood leaders" four days later (16
September 1993) that he sent to Leon Fulton with copies to the First
Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve with particular attention to Elder
James E. Faust, the Office of the Presiding Bishopric, and Neal Hancock.
I attended a ward conference... last
Sunday. President Leon Fulton outlined for parents and youth twelve
and over his concern [about] and definition of personal moral
worthiness. He described how he plans to strictly enforce the morality
code in an effort to reverse the current trend toward sexual
promiscuity by in-depth, graphic, personal interviews to qualify
individuals [as] worthy or unworthy.
He publicly defined adultery and
fornication to mean mutual masturbation, traditional vaginal
intercourse, anal intercourse, and oral-genital intercourse [between
I find this topic and these specific
subjects to be totally inappropriate for priesthood leaders to discuss
in detail while privately conducting interviews with members of the
Church and especially youth. There is a greater potential for harm
done from the results of the interview than the rewards of discovering
This method of establishing a
criterion for worthiness to participate in social activities,
educational opportunities, missionary labor, and temple worship have
the appearance of verbal sexual harassment or its potential.
Unfortunately, by my own personal experience and that of other family
members, we have found [that] the obstacle of qualifying for
participation via these personal worthiness interviews has simply been
the gateway to a pervertís position of power in the priesthood
through mind control.
Therefore, I will not tolerate
anyone, in or out of the Church, promoting the discussion of personal
sexual issues with any of my family members without my prior knowledge
and consent. If so, I will immediately bring the strictest criminal
charges applicable under law against the offending party and demand
prosecution by the district attorney.
By then, the McCallisters had already chalked up
their third negative experience with Leon Fulton. In addition to the
imbroglio over the girlsí camp incident and what they felt was
dismissive treatment of Scottís report, the meeting after ward
conference had not gone well. Present in that meeting were Jack and
Merradyth, Merrill and Meg Woodford, Tara McCallister Godwin, and two or
three other supporters, not all of whom had voted not to sustain the
Fulton conducted most of the meeting standing, his
arms folded across his chest or fists perched on his hips. His opening
statement was the demand, "What are you doing here? What are you
even doing in this building? You donít belong here."
During the meeting, Merradyth and Jack saw Merrill,
under the withering barrage of scorn and threats, slump lower in his
seat, his head sinking on his chest. Then he leaned forward, his elbows
on his knees, his head hanging. His face turned gray. "It looked
like he was just curling up into a fetal position before our eyes,"
she recalled indignantly. Jack remember Fultonís announcement that
Jack alone was responsible if anyone suffered over this issue. Jack was
strangling on Merrillís suffering. He stood up to physically draw
Fultonís fire away from the defenseless and shame-oppressed Merrill.
"Is there anything else you have to say to me personally before I
leave?" he announced. "Iíve already said everything I have
to say to you.
Arnie Clinton yelled at Jack to sit down and listen
to President Fulton. "Youíve betrayed my friendship," he
charged. Jack didnít have any idea what Clinton meantóstill doesnítóbut
he did not sit down.
Fulton glared at Jack: "Iíve cut you all the
slack Iím going to because of your mental condition," he snapped.
"I just want to know one thing. Are you going to stop talking to
other members of the Church about this before it splits the stake apart
or am I going to draw up the papers to have you excommunicated?"
Jack, keeping a tight leash on his temper, replied,
"Let me put it in a positive way. Iíll talk to whomever,
whenever, about whatever I choose. Does that answer your question?"
"Fine," rasped Fulton. "Iíll start
"Donít let anything slow you down,"
invited Jack. "The sooner the better."
Fulton looked at Merradyth, then demanded,
"Jack, do you speak for your family, too?"
Jack, angered at Fultonís bullying and
intimidation, answered flatly, "Contrary to Mormon tradition,
Merradyth is capable of speaking for herself. I honor her right to do
that She will stay in this meeting for as long as she chooses and say
whatever she chooses."
Then Jack walked out. He had surprised himself by his
behavior and he was surprised at how it felt. "I had no fear. I had
no shame. I had openly defied brute, tyrannical authority for the first
time in my life, and it felt great! I felt glad to be alive. I had
broken through my own personal shame barrier, and the sonic boom echoed
in my ears as I walked down the hall."
He sat in the car waiting for Merradyth to come out.
The minutes passed. Merradyth didnít come out for another hour. By
then, Jack was frantic and sick with anxiety. "I felt as if Iíd
escaped, leaving my loved ones behind in the enemyís hands," he
recalled. And that was about what had happened. Merradyth, terrified of
male authority her whole life, was desperate to appease Fulton.
Excommunication for herself or for Jack, ostracism for their children,
and the dissolution of their temple marriage was her worst nightmare.
She and Tara "pled with Fulton for mercy, begging for Jackís
soul." Furthermore, unlike Jack, she believed that for some
inexplicable reason, Fulton simply hadnít understood the situationóthat
when he understood, he would act. Surely she could find a way to explain
it to him more clearly. Surely there was one piece of evidence she was
overlooking that would make everything perfectly clear to him. She was
buying time by agreeing to submit until things clicked with Fulton.
It was an illusion Jack had given up. In the car, he
reassured her: "You need to make your own decisions, Merradyth,
independent of mine. Iím through being the patriarch. I wonít ever
try to control you again. But nobody is going to use you or the children
to control me, either. I wonít be silenced again. My personal
integrity and protecting children comes first." He looked squarely
at her. "It comes ahead of my membership. It comes ahead of every
relationship. Do you understand?"
Merradyth swallowed and nodded. How could they end up
on opposite sides? But Jackís integrity came first. When Merradyth
wrote her letter to President Hinckley in March 1994, her report of this
meeting reveals her sense of betrayal:
We felt as if there was no spirit of
love, no mantle of compassion and discernment. We felt only contempt
for us [from] President Fulton.... He told us we had "crucified
an innocent man and destroyed his family. We had slandered him
[Powell] without any proof except for a single witness (our son). They
couldnít accept Scottís word over that of a priesthood leader held
in high esteem. We were guilty of splitting the stake apart. Powell
was one of his sheep, too. He had denied doing anything wrong. There
was nothing further that could be done."
Are we not some of his sheep too?
Jack came home still focused intensely on his
new-found resolve. It had taken weeks of soul searching and his best
efforts at meditation before the "no vote" to identify his
spiritual path and search for inner strength. He was not just engaging
in shoving games with President Fulton. Instead, he was learning to
follow his own inner voice without official, external approval. He wrote
a strong memo to President Fulton that same afternoon, identifying
himself as a "man without a God, a country or a Church."
You and Clinton donít intimidate
me in the least with your pious threats of condemning my soul to
eternal damnation with a Church court. Iím not afraid of hell
because Iíve lived there for thirty years, thanks to the power of
the priesthood in my life.... Iíd rather take my chances in hell
than this organization where righteousness by appearance and position
by politics is the name of the game.
My wife and daughter donít speak
for me. This is between you and me. I donít trust or respect either
of you after today. Donít ever pretend to be my friend again, or
"give me a lot of leeway because of my mental condition." Iíve
already been betrayed by you three times with your pronouncements of
hypocrisy. Thatís enough for me. I want out of this church the
quickest way I can. Whereís the form, the sooner the better?
You have such a keen grasp for what
you perceive as damaged lives beyond repair via gossip but you have no
clue what a damaged life from the perversion of sexual abuse is. I
was killed when I was fifteen years old by the "laying on of
hands" and the formality of a burial just hasnít happened yet.
Thereís nothing you could do to me that could possibly be worse than
what the priesthood in action has already done to me.
Iím not guilty of anything you
have accused me of [basically, "talking to members"] since
the original meeting on Friday. Iím only ashamed now for what I
havenít done. I havenít screamed loud enough, long enough, or to
... While you and Clinton were out
saving souls for two years on your missions, all white and tidy, I
went to Vietnam because I was unworthy to serve, thanks to a
thoughtful bishopís intervention in my life....
Itís the same betrayal all over
again. You donít have the guts to stand up to Powell. You donít
care how many boys he screws as long as nobody makes waves and
everything looks proper from the outside. You donít want to believe
what happened to Scott was true because you canít handle raw, vulgar
truth. Maybe if you had been the one screwed by Powell or your own
bishop as a kid you would have the privilege of writing this letter
instead of me. You could feel screwed again by the big cheesy leaders
that strut around with everything under control in a clean
gospel-wrapped package where prayer, scripture study, and family home
evening solve or prevent all of lifeís messy, little problems or
they donít exist. Go ahead. Look the other way. Apparently God has.
You donít scare me.
The other side of Jackís anger was self-destructive
depression; that night, he checked himself into the Veterans
Administration hospital, afraid that he was slipping into a suicidal
Despite Merradythís efforts to placate President
Fulton, something in the meeting was a turning point for her, too. She
later told Meg, "As I watched Merrill shrivel and curl up right in
front of our eyes, I made this resolve: I will not let this happen. I
will fight for the survivors. I will go over the stake presidencyís
heads. I will not let this be a secret." Meg made some calls to LDS
Social Services and confirmed the authenticity of the Pace memo but
withdrew public support: her family situation and her husbandís
emotional equilibrium were too precarious for a public battle.
Jack and Merradyth had sent a copy of their letter to
Elder James E. Faust, then an apostle and currently a member of the
First Presidency, because he was attending their regional conference in
October 1993. Merradyth stood in an island of isolation while Powell,
who was in charge of security with the Oklahoma City police department,
was masterfully "in charge." She watched him hug members and
heard him ask earnestly, "You believe me, donít you?"
In October 1993, Jack and Merradyth learned more
about the "crazy lady" that Leon Fulton had used as such a
contemptuous example.1 It was their own
former neighbor and ward member, Roseanne Hales Campbell. She had moved
to Texas in the summer of 1992 and divorced her husband Peter, who was
still in the ward. It was "too bad," people agreed. They
seemed like such a nice young couple. And such sweet children. They did
not know that Roseanne Hales was battling for her own soul and those of
her five children against the darkest kind of nightmare, Satanic ritual
Rosanneís own account, she had never talked with Leon Fulton nor had
he ever talked with her before, during, or after the divorce.