Two days later on Saturday, 8 October 1994, Bishop Hammond told me that President Bacon had made his decision: there would be a high council court at which President Bacon would preside. He would set the date the next morning, presumably in consultation with his counselors and perhaps the high council. He had asked Bishop Hammond to tell me not to partake of the sacrament the next day and to ask me how many witnesses I planned to bring. I told him I had four and asked if my sister could be with me during the court to give me support and help me remember what took place. He said he'd ask President Bacon.
The next day I kept waiting for two priesthood holders to appear at my door with the summons, but they didn't come. Finally, about 5:00 in the afternoon, as I was finishing up in the ward nursery, I got a message to come to the bishop's office. He handed me the letter there and told me that the court would be held on Wednesday night. He said that President Bacon had agreed to let my sister be present.
Then he said, "I really don't understand you. I don't know why you're doing what you're doing, but I really respect your integrity. I appreciate it that you've always been very open and have always told me the truth."
I was feeling weak and nauseated from the day of stress and from the weariness of two hours of constant work with the children. I simply told him briefly, "I know the whole thing has been very difficult for you, but I feel that you've done your best to do what you believe is right. I'm glad that President Bacon will be holding the council instead of you." I didn't tell him that I had prayed it would be so.
I called Margaret and Lavina to tell them I'd finally received the summons. (Lavina is the Relief Society president of the dissidents, the marginalized, the abused, and the cast out.) The Mormon Alliance released a press statement (Margaret, Paul, Lavina, and I were among the trustees at that point), and Lavina started calling people to set things in motion for the vigil she had been organizing.
Monday night at 6:30, Keith Halls, a member of the high council who lived in our ward, hand-delivered another letter from President Bacon. "He wanted me to get this to you as soon as possible," he told me. I was astonished to read that President Bacon now authorized Bishop Hammond to conduct the court and that he would "sustain him in his decision." I wondered about the change of venue and what the new decision meant. I knew it did not mean that Bishop Hammond would be free to make his own decision. I suspected that it meant President Bacon had simply removed himself from any unpleasantness.
Why had President Bacon changed his mind? I had been observing him closely and I felt that he really wanted to conduct the court himself. I had done an interview with Channel 4 that morning and I had just watched it on the evening news. President Bacon had been briefly interviewed; he had said that it would be inappropriate for him to comment but referred them to Elder Porter's conference talk, affirming that the Lord would not permit the prophet to lead the church astray. Had he been upset by the publicity and shifted the responsibility to Bishop Hammond? But that didn't make sense. He had known there would be publicity, there had already been publicity, and my impression was that President Bacon rather enjoyed it—that it made him feel important. Bishop Hammond, on the other hand, hated it.
So had someone seen that evening newscast and made a quick phone call to President Bacon, pointing out that the Church would look less bullying if I faced four men instead of fifteen? Given the time frame, it was barely possible. Then I noticed the date on the letter: 9 October. But that was yesterday's date—Sunday. If the decision to change the court had been made on Sunday, then the newscast could not have been a factor. But if the decision had been made on Sunday, why had the letter taken so long to reach me? Keith Halls had specifically said that President Bacon wanted him to get the letter to me as soon as possible.
The letter arrived just as we were leaving for a program that three of our children were participating in at their elementary school. As we watched the program, I continued to puzzle over the questions that the change of venue posed. Who had made the decision? Why had it been made? When had it been made? I realized that comparing the two letters might provide a clue as to when the second was written.
After arriving home and helping the children with their evening responsibilities, I looked at the two letters. Both were on stake letterhead, both were signed by Carl Bacon, but the letters themselves appeared to have been typed on different machines. The typeface of the first letter was roman pica and the second was sans-serif with proportional spacing. The first letter seemed to have been typed on a typewriter and the envelope was addressed on the same machine. The second letter was definitely printed on a printer but without an address on the envelope. "Janice Allred" was handwritten on a green post-it note stuck to the envelope. The handwriting on the post-it note was not President Bacon's or that of either of his counselors. It appeared to be a woman's handwriting. The differences in the letters indicated that they were probably not produced in the same place. I concluded that the first letter was probably typed at the stake offices and the second was probably printed on a home or office printer that didn't have the capacity to print on envelopes.
I decided to ask both President Bacon and Bishop Hammond why the change had been made. I doubted if they would tell me the whole truth, but I wanted to see what they would say about it. David called President Bacon for me and inquired about the change. It was about 9:00 p.m. President Bacon told David that he and his counselors were talking about it Sunday night and "we decided it would be better for the Church and Janice both if the bishop handled it." He also told David, "Bishop Hammond understands what he's supposed to do."
Then I called Bishop Hammond. He told me that the stake presidency had decided it should be a bishop's court on Sunday night—that they'd been reading the handbook and realized it should be a bishop's court, but he hadn't heard about the decision until Monday.
The discrepancies were multiplying. If President Bacon had made the decision Sunday night, why hadn't the stake clerk typed the second letter as he presumably had typed the first? And why did they wait until Monday to tell Bishop Hammond? He needed time to prepare for the court and a simple phone call would have sufficed.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bishop Hammond called me to say that the court would be held in Bishop Runia's office instead of his own and that Margaret couldn't accompany me. "Since there will only be four men instead of fifteen, you won't need her as a support person," he said.
"But I also wanted her to be there to take notes or at least help me remember what happens," I said.
Bishop Hammond repeated that she could not come.
"Why don't you think about it and let me know when we get there?" I said.
Bishop Hammond also told me that one of his counselors and his clerk were out of town and he had chosen two men to replace them.
Lavina and her son Christian arrived about 3:00 p.m. to help us tidy up the house and make dinner for us. Channel 13 came down to do an interview about 4:00 and then Channel 2 and Channel 4 showed up before they were finished.10 Lynne Whitesides came to help also. Somehow I finished all the interviews and we ate dinner. The Toscanos and a number of other people arrived for the vigil, and we walked over to the church.
There were already quite a few people there. Later I would learn that while I had been inside, somewhere between seventy and a hundred people clustered outside with candles, singing well-loved Mormon hymns, and stepping up to the microphone to share their thoughts.11 A few came to disapprove, including a conservative political science professor who told the press representatives that the gathering was "sloppy agape." Teenagers driving by shouted, "Get a life!"12
I hugged a few friends and then Margaret and I started to go into the building, but a friend stopped me and asked to speak to me privately. We walked a few feet away. Speaking earnestly, he said, "I received a message from an anonymous source that comes from the highest levels in the Church. I'm supposed to tell you that the result of your court is not predetermined. If you cooperate, they'll let you off easily." His face grew even more serious. "Janice, don't let pride prevent you from cooperating."
I thanked him for delivering the message and walked into the building, processing this new information. In one way, it agreed with what I already believed. Bishop Hammond had told me on several occasions that he had not decided the outcome of my court and I believed him, but what was the meaning of this message? Did it mean that Bishop Hammond had not been given any instructions from Church headquarters, or did it mean that he had been told to let me off if I cooperated? I decided it must mean the latter since the source would not know that Bishop Hammond intended to let me off if I cooperated unless he had been instructed to. The message supported my suspicion that Bishop Hammond was receiving counsel or instructions from church headquarters, perhaps through President Bacon. When I later asked the bishop if any General Authorities had contacted him about me, he denied it. If all of his instructions came through President Bacon, then technically he was speaking the truth.
As Margaret and I entered the meetinghouse, I felt frustrated again by my inability to confront my accusers. I wasn't sure how to use the message I had just received. I decided to defend myself as I had planned. I was willing to negotiate, but not to deny my beliefs or compromise my integrity. Bishop Runia's office was empty, but two men from the ward met us. They said the bishop had asked them to monitor the halls and make sure no one caused any trouble. The court had been moved to the stake president's office, on the opposite side of the building from the vigil. Bishop Hammond told Margaret that she wouldn't be allowed to stay and she went back outside.
Present in the court were four men: Bishop Hammond, his counselor Gary Winterton, Keith Halls, a high councilor from our ward who had delivered the second letter and was substituting for the other counselor, and Paul MacKay, the elders' quorum president who was substituting for the clerk.
Bishop Hammond's first question was, "Are you taping these proceedings?"
Surprised, I answered, "No."
Then he asked me if I had ever taped any of our interviews. I answered that I hadn't. It seemed very strange; I wondered if these were standard instructions in disciplinary councils.
Bishop Hammond said I was guilty of apostasy and Keith Halls presented the case. He said that I had repeatedly acted in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders because I had disobeyed three bishops and one stake president. After all the talk about false doctrine (the second handbook definition of apostasy), the charge had now shifted to the first definition. He then presented letters from Bishops Lowe and Runia and President Hickman to substantiate this claim. Bishop Lowe had been my bishop in 1992 when I first met with President Bacon about my speech on God the Mother. He had been present in our first interview, but he had not said anything. He had never told me that anything I said was false doctrine and he had never told me to stop. President Hickman, one of President Bacon's counselors, had been present at the meeting in January 1993 when President Bacon first asked me not to speak on the topic of God the Mother. Bishop Hammond was the third bishop who was supposed to have counseled me not to publish my speech. I told them that none of the bishops had ever told me not to publish my article and that I had interpreted President Bacon's request not to publish as counsel, not a commandment, because he had not said that I would be punished if I disobeyed and because he had no right to give me commandments which I must obey or be punished.
I had prepared a single-spaced, twelve-page defense. (See text in Appendix A.) I read the first part which was a chronological account of what had happened up to that point. After that, I called in my first two witnesses, a husband and wife, good friends from my former ward. They are well respected and have both served in leadership positions in the Church; the husband is a member of the legal profession. The woman gave a character witness for me. She described me as "a seeker of truth" and "a pure soul." She expressed admiration for my "honesty and integrity" and testified that I had taught her many things which had helped her. The man then also made a strong statement about my integrity. He told them, "If you force Janice to go against her integrity, it will destroy her. Please don't do it." He spoke directly to the charge that I damaged people's faith. He had subscribed to Sunstone for many years and even served on its board for a while. While the articles had mixed worth, he said, its readers and those who attended the symposium were "already questioning" and had well-developed critical skills. He pointed out that my Mother in Heaven article was long and difficult; few people were likely to read it. He then approached the same topic from another tack and said, "If you are accusing Janice of damaging people's testimonies, then you have to have actual witnesses who will testify that their faith has been damaged and how." He advised them to weigh the small potential damage that my article might cause against the certain damage that disciplining me would cause me and my family and the Church. "To your neighbors and Church members it may seem that you are doing your duty," he told them, "but to the outside world this looks like oppression."
My next witness was a friend of many years. She described my mothering abilities and spoke eloquently of how effectively my children had learned the gospel, how willingly I had served in church callings, and how my papers had built her testimony.
My last witness, a BYU professor, was unable to come but sent a letter. In it he said that although he disagreed with the ideas I expressed in my papers, he believed that I had every right to express them.
After the witnesses spoke, I read the rest of my defense (Appendix A). First, I defended myself against the charge of disobedience. I read:
Next I defended myself against the charge of apostasy. First I stated my religious beliefs and commitments, concluding with the statement, "I consider myself to be a follower and servant of Jesus Christ and a faithful member of his Church." I continued:
I then quoted 3 Nephi 11:32-33, 35, in which Jesus explains to the Nephites that his doctrine consists of faith in him, repentance, and baptism, after which the Father bestows the Holy Ghost upon the repentant believer.
I then addressed the question, "What liberties do Church members have in regard to their beliefs?"
I ended my defense by saying:
Although I invited them to question me about my defense, they did not, nor did they comment on anything I said.
While I was reading my defense, a little after ten o'clock, one of the hall monitors interrupted, saying that there was an urgent phone call for Bishop Hammond. Bishop Hammond left and returned a few minutes later. Again he said to me, "I must ask you if you are taping these proceedings."
"No, I am not," I replied.
"Then I must tell you that we were informed beforehand that you were planning on taping these proceedings, so I must ask you again: Are you taping these proceedings?"
"No, I am not," I replied strongly.
"Then I must tell you that I have just received a message that Channel 13 has just announced on its news that you are taping these proceedings. So I'll ask you again. Are you taping these proceedings?"
"No!" I insisted.
"But I saw a Channel 13 truck outside your house," Bishop Hammond remonstrated.
"I was doing an interview with them, but I didn't say anything about taping," I told him.
I was feeling upset at having my word doubted four times and very confused. The subject of taping had not come up at all in the interview with the Channel 13 reporter. Where was he getting this idea from? I couldn't figure out what was happening. Then I thought that someone must know something about a conversation I'd had two days earlier. I decided that the only way to get Bishop Hammond to believe that I was not taping was to tell him what had happened.
On Monday night Lynne Whitesides had called, frustrated that people who were disciplined could not have access to the minutes of their trials. She had also been promised that a friend could accompany her at her court; at the threshold of his office, her bishop, Virgil Merrill (no relation to me), had said no one could come with her. When Lynne's husband, Alan, had protested that he should be allowed to be present since Bishop Merrill's actions would affect their temple marriage and their family, Bishop Merrill had again refused. Lynne told me that she had asked a reporter friend at Channel 2 about the possibility of secretly taping my meeting. The station had the equipment to do it and the reporter was interested. Did I want to do it? I agreed with Lynne that it was unfair to deny us a record of the proceedings, but I wasn't sure I wanted to tape secretly. I told her I'd have to think about it. When she called back an hour later, I told her that I didn't think it was honest to tape someone without their knowledge, so I had decided not to do it. She said that was fine, since the reporter from Channel 2 had telephoned to say that the station didn't want to do it because of possible legal repercussions.
Although secret taping is not illegal in Utah and I believe it might be justified in certain circumstances, I had had a strong feeling that I should not do it. I believed that it would betray the trust that ought to exist between Church leaders and members; and if this trust were broken, I did not want to be the one to do it. I also knew that secret taping would seriously damage the trust that I then felt Bishop Hammond had in my honesty, if he should ever discover it.
"I am not taping," I said firmly. "But I'll tell you what I know about taping." I summarized my conversation with Lynne, without mentioning her name. I concluded, "I told her I didn't think it was honest to tape someone without his knowledge, so I didn't want to do it. She said that was fine and Channel 2 wouldn't do it anyway because of legal reasons. I am not taping," I repeated.
Bishop Hammond said, "Okay, I believe you." He seemed relieved, and I was convinced that he finally did believe me.
After I finished reading my defense, it was about 10:30. The bishop and the other men who made up the court spent the next two and a half hours interrogating me about my beliefs, trying to get me to admit that what I had done was wrong, and trying to get me to agree to some restrictions on my writing and speaking. One of the factors that made the court abusive, in my opinion, was that the four men who judged me made no effort to determine whether I had in fact taught false doctrine or deliberately opposed the Church. Nothing that any of them said suggested even the remotest or most academic possibility that I might be right. Instead, to a man, they all assumed that they were right and I was wrong. Upon reflection later, I decided that this assumption is built into the structure of the disciplinary council. As its name implies, it is no longer a court charged with determining the facts of the case and, hence, the guilt or innocence of the individual, but rather a council whose purpose is to "save the souls of transgressors by assisting members to repent" (General Handbook of Instructions, March 1989, p. 10-1) and to determine what punishment they deserve. I went into the court prepared to defend myself and my ideas against the charge of apostasy, but they had already decided I was guilty; their purpose was to change me—to get me to see things their way or at least agree to be silent about my beliefs. But instead of using love and persuasion to change me, they used the threat of punishment. Although they were courteous and tried to be considerate of my feelings, it was very painful for me to hear again and again that my beliefs were false doctrine and my writings were damaging, harmful, and dangerous to people's testimonies, for they had given me great joy and caused my heart to burn within me many times; I had only wanted to share them with others.
Bishop Hammond said that I was guilty of apostasy for teaching false doctrine in "Toward a Mormon Theology of God the Mother." He totally ignored my defense that I was not guilty of apostasy by his own handbook's definition, since I had clearly stated that the ideas I presented were not Church doctrine but my own views. He did not discuss my ideas about God the Mother at all, but focused on my conclusion that Jesus is the Father. He did not consider the details of my argument or allow me to defend my belief but simply assumed that, because my interpretation does not agree with Church teachings, it was false doctrine.
He read the first question from the temple recommend interview. "Do you believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost?"
"Yes, I do," I answered, wondering what the purpose of his question was.
"I don't think you do," he said. "You say that you believe that Jesus is the Father. You have been lying to get your temple recommend all these years."
I was shocked and deeply hurt by these words. "I do believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. This is scriptural language and I believe it. If you had read my article carefully, you would know in what sense I believe it."
"You know what the Church's interpretation is, you know what the intent of the question is, so you did lie," Bishop Hammond pressed his point.
"I totally disagree. I have a right to my own interpretation. I do believe that statement," I insisted.
"How can you believe what you believe and still go to the temple?" Bishop Hammond demanded.
"I have some problems with the way the temple presents the Godhead, but I've been able to deal with them. The drama is very symbolic. I don't believe it depicts exactly what happened. I don't feel that I've been at all hypocritical or duplicitous in attending the temple."
Keith Halls wanted to know how I reconciled my belief that Jesus is God the Father with the First Vision. I started to explain some of my ideas. "I believe in the First Vision," I said. "It's not just something I discard. There are several different versions ..."
He interrupted me to inform me of his own interest in Church history. He was aware of all the different versions, and he spoke at length about his research in Church history. He had several unpublished manuscripts, he told me. Church history was his hobby. The implication seemed to be that theology could be my hobby and that I didn't need to publish either. We never got back to my interpretation of the First Vision.
We also discussed "Him Shall Ye Hear." They believed that this speech not only contained false doctrine but that it also constituted apostasy because it openly criticized the Church and its leaders. Rather than examining the ideas of the essay or trying to discover what points I had actually made in it, they simply used it as evidence of my alleged opposition to the Church, criticism of its leaders, and unwillingness to follow the prophet.
Bishop Hammond quoted from "Him Shall Ye Hear" to prove that I had accused the Church of going astray. He read: "I will not discuss the question of whether or not or to what extent the present LDS Church has gone astray. However, an honest study of the Church throughout time in the scriptures and historical texts should make anyone aware that in this world the Church of Jesus Christ always goes astray."
I pointed out that it was necessary to read my article carefully to understand what I meant by "astray." "You want to see it as black and white, but it's more complex than that," I pointed out. "I did not say that the Church is apostate but that it's imperfect. It has problems and we should be able to talk about them. General Authorities say some things that are not true. I say some things that aren't true. We're all imperfect."
When they accused me of teaching others not to follow the prophet, I objected. "I never said we should not follow the prophet. What I did say was that we should follow Jesus. When the prophet speaks the words of Jesus by the power of the Holy Ghost, then we should follow him. But no man is infallible. We should test the words of our leaders as the scriptures admonish us to do. You say that I teach people not to follow the Brethren. But look at my life. What have I done that demonstrates a lack of belief in God or an unwillingness to keep his commandments as they are revealed to the prophets?"
We spent a long time trying to work out some kind of limitations on my writing. I really tried to find something I could do that would be acceptable to them. I had told Bishop Hammond and President Bacon during our 6 October meeting that I was planning to publish "Him Shall Ye Hear" and Bishop Hammond seemed especially concerned about this. "You can show your willingness to work with us by not publishing this article," he said.
I knew that they were especially upset that I had contradicted President Hinckley in the introduction, so I suggested that I could take out this part. I had quoted President Hinckley to quickly establish how widespread the belief among Mormons is that the Lord will not permit the prophet to lead the Church astray,13 but I could make this point without referring to President Hinckley. Would that be sufficient? Bishop Hammond said it wouldn't be because the article contained a lot of false doctrine.
Keith Halls picked up my suggestion. Would I promise to never disagree with or contradict a General Authority? he asked. I said that I couldn't do that since I needed to be able to explore ideas that they have discussed and I might disagree with some of their opinions. Furthermore it would be impossible for me to research everything they've said to make sure I didn't contradict any of their statements. General Authorities disagree among themselves. I would not make such a promise because it would be impossible for me to keep. But I could agree to not contradict any General Authority directly. That compromise wasn't acceptable to them.
During this time, they asked me one question dozens of times in various different ways. The question was, "If you were asked to do something by a prophet or any Church leader, would you do it, even if it went against your conscience?" Every time I answered that I would think about it, pray about it, and then act according to what my best judgment and the Spirit told me to do. I had told them this many times in all our interviews. I had never given any other answer to this question. As it got later and later, I kept thinking, "Why won't they believe me? What do I have to do to convince them that I will not be controlled by them?"
Bishop Hammond kept saying, "Janice, I have to have something from you." But he wouldn't accept what I could offer. They kept telling me that my membership was at stake. Finally as we were talking about "Him Shall Ye Hear," Bishop Hammond told me that if I did not promise to never publish the paper, he would excommunicate me. It seemed to be a stark ultimatum. I considered it carefully. Was publishing this paper really worth my membership? Then I thought, "But this paper is my testimony that we must follow Jesus and do what the Spirit tells us. I have to publish it if I can. I have to do what I think is right."
"Promise not to publish it," Bishop Hammond insisted.
"I can't do it." I said. The words seemed to come out of my mouth of their own accord. "I would rather die. I love the Church, and I know that they'll reject me, but I have to be free." As I spoke, I felt my heart break. I saw a white bird fly out of it, flying up toward heaven. It cried, "I must be free." I began sobbing uncontrollably, partly from relief that the tension was over and partly from the powerful emotion of that vision. I left the room and went into the high council room, where I sat down and continued to sob.
The effect of my tears on the men was remarkable. One of them came in and asked anxiously if I was all right. I said that I was. He said that they had already sent for David. (In fact, the hall monitor had rushed to the west side of the building where a small group of friends and family was still waiting and said urgently, "Nephi, go get your dad. Hurry!") Then the bishop came in and nervously said he was sorry if he'd been too harsh, but he'd had to say what he did. "I have integrity, too," he said. "But no matter what happens we'll still be your friends."
I gradually calmed myself. I thought with wonder about the experience I had just had—about my heart breaking and the white bird, the dove, the spirit of God that must be free, my spirit that must be free, free to fly to God in my own way. I wondered if Jesus had accepted my sacrifice, my broken heart, if he would heal it or if it would always be broken like the wounds in his hands.
I looked at my watch. It was 1:00 a.m. Then David came in and sat beside me, his arm around me. I told him some of what had happened. Then I started crying again. "I tried, I really tried to find some way to compromise," I told him, "but I have to be free. I can't submit my conscience and my judgment to those men."
"I know," he said.
"They are going to excommunicate me," I told him.
"It's all right," he said.
We wanted to go see the people who were still waiting, but the hall monitors wouldn't let us. After awhile some of them started to drift over to the east side of the building. At about 2:00 a.m., David went to the west lobby where they were still waiting and brought them over. All of the children were there but John, the three little boys bundled up in quilts and fast asleep. I hugged everyone. I needed to feel their love. I told Lynne and Lavina as they walked with me to get a drink, "Well, my friends, I'll probably be joining you."
The trial had begun at 7:00 p.m. Seven and a half hours later, at 2:30 I was called back to hear the decision. David was allowed to accompany me. Bishop Hammond told me that they were putting me on formal probation. That meant that I was still a member and nothing was marked on my membership record, but there were conditions and restrictions on my behavior. I could not partake of the sacrament, hold a temple recommend, or speak or pray in Church. However, I would still be allowed to work in the nursery. Bishop Hammond was leaving the next day for a vacation with his family. When he returned, he would inform me of some additional conditions. If I didn't obey these conditions, he would schedule another court.
Looking at me sternly, Bishop Hammond asked me, "Will you obey these restrictions and conditions?"
I answered, "I'll obey the restrictions, but I can't promise to obey the conditions until I know what they are."
As we left the room, I felt sick. I knew that the conditions, no matter how they were phrased, would require me to do what I had already refused to do—to submit my writing and speaking to their judgment. "Why wouldn't they accept my decision?" I thought. "Do they think because I cried that I will change my mind? Can't they see that it means that I won't? Do they think that if there's more time, more pressure, more strain that I'll be too exhausted to go on? How can they make me do this again?"
I told everyone about the decision and the restrictions that had been placed on me. "But I can still work in the nursery," I added with a wry smile, and everyone laughed. "Yes, and you'll be allowed to wash the dishes and clean the toilets," Margaret remarked. I did a short interview for Channel 4 and walked home with Rebecca and Ammon. It was 3:30 a.m. I asked them if they'd seen the news on Channel 13. They said they had. "What did they say about my taping the court proceedings?" I asked them.
They were astonished. "Nothing," they said. I told them about Bishop Hammond's repeated questions and the Channel 13 "announcement." They were baffled. They insisted that there had been no such announcement. Lavina joined us and I repeated the story. When I told the part about the bishop saying that Channel 13 announced that I was taping the proceedings, Lavina said, "Janice, that is absolutely not true. Shauna [the reporter] couldn't have said it because it is not true, and Shauna wouldn't have said it, even if it were true, on the air during a live broadcast because it would be unprofessional."
When she said that, it struck me for the first time that the bishop had lied to me. "He lied to me? He lied to me!" I said again and again. I couldn't believe it.
Then Lavina shook my arm and said, "He was setting you up, Janice. He was trying to trap you." Later, as we all sat around the kitchen table eating toast and the soup that was left over from dinner, Lavina pointed out that the bishop might not have known it was a lie—that he might have been passing on a message from someone he trusted who was trying to trap me. I still felt betrayed—betrayed by lies and betrayed by a decision that refused to acknowledge my integrity and treat me as a responsible person. My children who were still awake had mingled reactions—alarm at the possibility of surveillance (had my friend's phone been tapped? had ours?) and entrapment. At the same time, they were thrilled. It was 4:30 a.m. when we finally got to bed and I lay there for three hours before I fell asleep.
President Bacon commented to the press, "`I'm extremely pleased we have a very capable and compassionate bishop.'"14 The press took the perspective that I'd been given a suspended sentence, a "second chance." So did many others. I felt that they had completely misread the situation. The terms of probation were not a kindly warning but another way of increasing the pressure on me.15 I felt exhausted as I explained my position over and over.16 Meanwhile, the tension increased steadily as I waited for Bishop Hammond to return from his vacation.
I found it somewhat unsettling to realize that strangers recognized me and had opinions about me. The day after the court, as I was returning home with my son Paul after taking him to our doctor's office for a throat culture, another car ran a stop sign and hit my car. Although no one was hurt, both cars were damaged severely and had to be towed. The policeman who investigated the accident drove me, Paul, and the other driver home. On the way, the officer, who was a stranger, said to me, "Janice, you contradict yourself in the newspaper."
"In what way?" I asked.
"Well, you say that you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that you also believe that Jesus Christ is the Father."
"Yes," I said. "What's the problem?"
"How do you explain the First Vision?" he asked. "Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ."
"There are several possibilities," I responded. "The other personage could have been the father of Jesus' physical body. Brigham Young taught that this was Adam."
"I've never heard that!" he exclaimed.
"Well, that's what he taught on several occasions. You can read it in the Journal of Discourses."
"Maybe Brigham Young should be excommunicated," he remarked.
"Who do you think was the father of Jesus' physical body?" I asked.
"Joseph," he answered, sounding a bit surprised that anyone would ask a question with such an obvious answer.
"Joseph?" I could not conceal my surprise.
"Joseph, the carpenter, Mary's husband," he explained patiently.
"The leaders of the Church have taught that God the Father is the father of Jesus' physical body."
"No!" Now he was surprised.
I suggested he find someone whose opinion about doctrine he trusted and ask him what he thought the Church teaches about this.
I found this conversation to be a delightful exchange of views. When I told David about it, he remarked that I had been remarkably coherent for someone who had just been in an automobile accident. Wasn't I in a state of shock? I realized that I had barely noticed the accident. I had been in accidents before so I knew how the accident replays itself in your mind, but that hadn't happened this time. I realized that I was already in a state of shock from the ordeal of the court the night before.
On Sunday morning, 23 October 1994, the letter informing me of the decision of the court was delivered to me. As I read it, I felt a growing fury that surprised me, considering that I already knew the decision and the terms of my probation. The letter read:
I thought, "What have I done that was contrary to the laws and order of the Church? I defended myself against the charge of apostasy but had no opportunity to defend myself against the charge of breaking any Church laws." Although I realized that inviting me to attend Church meetings "if your conduct is orderly" was a quote from the handbook, I considered it insulting and inconsiderate to say this. Did Bishop Hammond seriously believe that I would cause some kind of public disturbance? But the thing that angered me the most was calling the terms of the probation "sacred." How dare they imply that these conditions came from God and that I was under a covenant obligation to obey them? Sacred covenants must be ordained of God, and God always allows us the opportunity to freely accept or reject a covenant relationship with him. I felt that they were trying to trap me in obligations which were not required of Church members and which I had already rejected. I called Bishop Hammond and told him I needed to talk to him. He said he also wanted to talk to me as he had the further conditions prepared for me. He said that we could meet after church.
Our three-hour block of meetings did not start until two o'clock. I had missed meetings the previous Sunday because I was attending the Provo Canyon Women's Retreat, so this Sunday was my first time at the ward since the court. I was very nervous about going, but I told myself that I had made my case public because I value open communication and public discourse about problems. Now I should have enough courage to do what I believed in. I didn't know whether it would be harder to have people ignore what had happened or to face their possibly negative reactions and judgment. I have learned since this that, although it can be very painful to confront judgmental attitudes, ultimately it hurts more to have people pretend that nothing happened.
Although we lived barely a block away from the meetinghouse, getting there on time was always a scramble. This morning, we were a little late and sat in the chairs set up in the cultural hall. During the sacrament song, a great feeling of sadness overcame me. As I passed the trays on without partaking for the first time in my life, I struggled to repress my tears. I realized that dealing with my own feelings was going to be the major challenge for me at church.
After the meeting, one woman hugged me and said, "This has happened to many good people. I hope you'll keep coming and won't give up." I didn't know this woman very well, and it touched me deeply that she would extend herself in this way.
After sacrament meeting, I took John to the nursery and settled down to care for the children there. Neither of the two women who worked there with me acted as if anything unusual had happened. I wondered if they even knew about the court. How could they not have heard? But if they hadn't, this certainly wasn't the time to have a discussion. I didn't know what to say. I was sitting at one of the little tables helping a child do a puzzle when a father brought his little girl in. She was sometimes unhappy about staying in the nursery, and I'd been able to comfort her several times by reading her a story, so I greeted her and asked her if she'd like me to read her a story. Her father said gently, "I've been reading about you in the newspaper. I'm sorry about what has happened. I don't know much about it but I want to thank you for helping my daughter in the nursery. She talks about you and she likes to come now," he said.
This kindness also touched me. I struggled with my feelings for several minutes then realized that I could not keep back the tears. I didn't want to alarm the children, so I went quietly to a corner of the room away from their activity. One of the women came over and asked me if I was all right. I said I was. "Do you want to go home?" she asked. Gratefully, I said, "Yes, but I'll come back." John was playing happily so I slipped quietly away. When I arrived home I found David there. He had been too angry to sit through his meetings. We comforted each other; and when I felt better, about half an hour later, I returned and helped until all the children had been picked up by their parents. By this time I was feeling quite physically ill—weak and nauseated—but I decided to talk to Bishop Hammond anyway.
There were several things that I wanted to discuss with him. I definitely wanted to go into his accusations about the alleged taping in more detail. It seemed that someone had deliberately lied in order to catch me in a lie. Had Bishop Hammond known that it was a lie and a trap? How did he get information about my private conversation with Lynne? If Bishop Hammond's information did come from my conversation with Lynne, why didn't the source know that I had decided against taping? Since Lynne had talked to Channel 2, why did Bishop Hammond identify the television station as Channel 13? Who had made the telephone call during the court?
I asked my questions but received no satisfactory answers from him. He said that a reporter had told someone in the stake that I was planning to tape the meeting; he had passed the information on to Bishop Hammond. "I didn't believe it, but I had to ask you," he said. He did not look at me but kept his eyes on his desk.
I told him I felt betrayed, that somebody was trying to trap me, and that he should tell me who it was. Who had called during the court? He said it was someone in the stake, but he refused to tell me who it was. "This person deliberately lied," I said. "Who was it? Why did he lie? I have a right to know."
"He didn't lie. He just misunderstood," Bishop Hammond said.
"There was no way anyone could have construed Channel 13's report to mean I was taping," I told him. "Look, this is very upsetting to me and my family. Someone seems to know about a private conversation I had with my friend. We have wondered if our phone is tapped."
"No, no," Bishop Hammond said. "Someone at the station overheard something and called someone in the stake." I could see that he didn't intend to tell me anything else so I dropped the subject. A few days later, still concerned about this incident, I wrote him a letter asking him to help me resolve this issue:
Bishop Hammond has still not acknowledged this letter or responded to these concerns.
Lavina talked to both the reporter and to the news producer at Channel 2 almost immediately. The reporter had been home, not at the station, when Lynne talked to him. He had called his supervisor at her home and she had said that the idea was intriguing but not worth the possible backlash. The next morning she mentioned it to the producer and one other person. When Lavina reported Bishop Hammond's version of the story—that someone at the station had overheard the proposal and passed it on—the reporter dubiously said that the photographer might have overheard it, but none of these people is Mormon and they would all have known that the decision was not to tape. I doubt if there was any leak from Channel 2.
In June 1995 I learned something that shed a new light on the whole taping episode. A woman at a retreat I was attending described meeting with Harold Brown, managing director of Church Social Services, to discuss sexual abuse in her family. He had begun the interview by asking, "Are you taping this conversation?" Shocked and indignant, she exclaimed, "No!" She was so obviously upset that he apologized and explained, "I had to ask you the question. You're a friend of Lynne Whitesides, aren't you?"
Privately, I asked the woman for more information. She had never participated in any kind of "alternate voice" forum or been involved in any kind of dissent. A friend of Lynne's, she had attended the vigil in September 1993 on the night Lynne was disfellowshipped and appeared in some of the television news footage; she had been called in and questioned about her "involvement," but her ecclesiastical leader had backed down quickly when she angrily told him that his curiosity was inappropriate. He would not tell her who had given him the information about her—only that he had learned about it second hand. In a bizarre chain of events, her association with Lynne had presumably become part of a file that was transmitted as warning information to Harold Brown. I asked her when her interview with Brown had taken place. She said it was in May 1994. This surprised me. Her interview was five months before my court. My first impression had been that she'd been questioned about taping because the alleged taping at my court was associated with Lynne. Why did Church headquarters suspect that Lynne's friends would be trying to tape secretly? I knew that Lynne had never tried to tape an ecclesiastical interview secretly. She had openly requested permission to tape her disciplinary council, and Virgil Merrill had refused. But Lynne's court was supposed to have been "confidential." What was the link between Virgil Merrill and Harold Brown?
I later learned of another instance in which perople perceived as dissidents were asked if they were taping a meeting with a priesthood leader. Merradyth McCallister and her son Scott met with their stake president, Leon Fulton (a pseudonym), on 29 December 1995 to hear the First Presidency's response to Merradyth's appeal from the sentence of excommunication for apostasy and "unchristlike conduct." She had refused to be silent about their bishop's alleged sexual molestation of Scott and had gone to the media when she felt that the ecclesiastical response was inappropriate. This behavior made her guilty of "adversely affecting the good name of the Church." President Fulton began this meeting by asking Merradyth and Scott them if they were taping it. He gave the same reason for his question that Bishop Hammond later gave to me—"he'd `heard rumors that they would.'"17
I now believe that someone from Church headquarters contacted Bishop Hammond before the trial and warned him that I would try to tape it secretly. I think the fact that Lynne and I had had a conversation on the subject was coincidental; but since I believed that his questions about taping were related to my conversation with Lynne and hers with the reporter from Channel 2, Bishop Hammond simply went along with this assumption to cover up the real source of the warning. I do not know who devised the scheme to trap me, but I do not think that it was Bishop Hammond, even though he obviously made no effort to protest it but simply cooperated. I cannot imagine why anyone would think such a scheme was necessary or justified. Hadn't they read:
This incident and Bishop Hammond's subsequent attempts to conceal the truth about it from me sickened and angered me. I do not know if I will ever know the truth about it.
Another subject I wanted to question Bishop Hammond about was whether he'd been contacted by any General Authorities about my case. I knew that President Bacon had been—he had ostentatiously said so several times—but I'd never had any evidence that Bishop Hammond had received instructions from anyone but President Bacon until recently. Several puzzling aspects of this first trial suggested that someone from Church headquarters was making behind-the-scenes decisions. For one thing, why had President Bacon, despite his obvious enthusiasm for presiding over the court, changed the venue to Bishop Hammond? Had someone decided it would appear less brutal to have me face four men than fifteen? Part of the publicity about Maxine Hanks's and Lavina Fielding Anderson's disciplinary councils was that it was unusual for women to be tried in high council courts. Did someone think my court would look more "normal" and more "local" if it were a bishop's court rather than a high council court? The second piece of evidence I had that Bishop Hammond may have communicated with someone from Church headquarters was the message my friend had relayed to me just before I went into my court. He had said that the outcome of my court was not predetermined and that I would be "let off" if I "cooperated." This information came from the "highest levels of the Church," he had told me. How could this source have known that Bishop Hammond would let me off if I cooperated unless he had discussed it with Bishop Hammond or was in contact with another General Authority who had? And was this "cooperation" what Bishop Hammond had meant when he kept insisting, "Janice, I have to have something from you"?
Third, the length of the court's deliberations and the decision it reached also seemed strange. Bishop Hammond had given me a flat ultimatum under threat of excommunication, and I had flatly rejected it. Why had it taken two hours to reach a verdict—not of excommunication—but of formal probation? Was this decision someone's attempt to avoid the negative publicity that would be incurred by yet another excommunication while still sending a message that divergent opinions would not be tolerated? Formal probation is the lightest punishment after informal probation allowed in the handbook, and it carries no mandatory restrictions; but Bishop Hammond had imposed every restriction of disfellowshipment on me except two: He allowed me (temporarily) to keep my calling and, ironically, allowed me to sustain Church leaders. Did someone reason that this decision would look good in the press but still punish me severely enough that I would fear excommunication more?
A fourth incident, in context, may have been significant. When I left the court in tears, I went to the adjacent high council room. After David joined me there, one of the men asked us to go into a room farther away, adding, "so that you can't hear what they're saying." We had been talking very quietly or sitting silently and had not heard any conversation; but might we have heard the telephone ring? Bishop Hammond had taken no independent action in the course of this whole ordeal without checking with President Bacon. I found it difficult to believe that he would determine a verdict without clearance—at least from the stake president. But from higher up? I just didn't know, but the evidence pointed that way.
And finally, a person I trusted told me that Bishop Hammond had been in contact with General Authorities but had been told to say he was "on his own." Even though the information reached me third-hand, I believe that it was probably accurate. I was told who each person involved in transmitting the information was and how they were given access to the information. It made sense and there was no reason to suppose that any of them had lied. I also knew of other cases where General Authorities had instructed local leaders to take action in similar cases but to conceal the source of those instructions.
I had decided to ask Bishop Hammond point blank if any General Authorities had contacted him about my case, even though I realized that he would probably lie if he had. Since Bishop Hammond had told me on several occasions that he would do whatever a Church leader told him to do—with the strong implication that I should do the same thing—I felt that he would probably feel no hesitation in telling me an untruth if he had been ordered to do so. Of course, his denial could also mean that he really hadn't talked to any General Authorities about me. Even though it seemed like an exercise in futility, I felt a moral obligation to ask the question.
I told Bishop Hammond, "I have reason to believe that you've had contact with General Authorities about my case and what you're supposed to do about me. Is this true?"
Without hesitating, he said, "No."
I reminded him that President Bacon had told me that he had talked to two apostles about me. "Haven't you talked to anyone about me?" I asked.
"No," he repeated.
"You've always talked to President Bacon about every decision you've made," I said. "Do you think he might have been talking to a General Authority and then passing on counsel to you?"
"I did talk to President Bacon about my decisions, but not necessarily to ask him, `What should I do?' I was letting him know what I was planning to do," Bishop Hammond told me. I asked this question in various ways several other times, but Bishop Hammond consistently denied contact with anyone but President Bacon.
I next asked him about the change of venue. If the decision to change the court from a high council court to a bishop's court had come from Church headquarters, Bishop Hammond might not know this and he certainly wouldn't tell me if he did, but there were several discrepancies in the information I'd received, and I wanted to hear what Bishop Hammond would say about it now.
"I still have some questions about why President Bacon decided to give the court back to you," I said to Bishop Hammond.
"Well, like I told you before, he and his counselors were going over the handbook and they realized it should actually be a bishop's council since you're a woman," he said.
"That seems very strange to me," I persisted. "Certainly President Bacon already knew that. Wasn't that why he turned it over to you in the first place?"
"From the beginning I felt that it was something that I should do," responded Bishop Hammond. "You were my ward member and I felt that I was responsible." I remembered that he had also told me that he thought "it would go better" with me if he did it.
"Even after President Bacon turned it over to you in May he still kept his hand in it," I said. "He obviously knew that he had the right to hold the court if he thought there were good reasons for it."
"President Bacon did feel that it was a difficult case and he wanted to protect me so that I didn't have to do it, especially after the publicity started in August," Bishop Hammond said.
"I also thought it was pretty inconsiderate of him to change it at the last minute after he'd already set the date," I said sympathetically. "It was certainly an inconvenient time for you with one of your counselors and your clerk out of town and you leaving on vacation the next morning."
He looked uncomfortable. "It was all right," he said. "You were my responsibility."
Yet he had seemed very relieved when he had told me that President Bacon had decided to do the court himself. When I had called him up the Monday night after I received the second letter, I had asked about how he felt about having to do the court. "Probably about the same way you do," he had replied, his tone almost comradely, implying that we both found ourselves in a difficult situation against our will.
I dropped the topic but the question continued to bother me. In going over my notes to write this account, I noticed some additional details that reinforced my feeling that someone else might have imposed the change at the last minute.
President Bacon had explained to David on Monday night after we received the letter that "it would be better for the Church and for Janice" if Bishop Hammond conducted the court. Therefore, the Church's image was apparently a consideration in the decision. But if President Bacon thought of this, why hadn't he realized it before Sunday night? The Salt Lake Tribune had published an article by Vern Anderson on Tuesday, 11 October which included this statement: "Carl Bacon, president of the Edgemont Stake, did not immediately return a call Monday. Gerry Pond, a spokesman at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City said it was Church policy not to comment on disciplinary matters." The article said that President Bacon would be conducting the court.18 If President Bacon had decided on Sunday night that the Church would look better if Bishop Hammond conducted the court, then why didn't he return Vern Anderson's call and tell him about the change? Furthermore, President Bacon had given his limited comment to Channel 4 at some point on Monday, yet he again failed to tell them that someone else would be conducting the court. All this along with the differences in the two letters, the failure to inform Bishop Hammond and me of the change until Monday, and the discrepancy between President Bacon's and Bishop Hammond's accounts of the reason for the change indicate to me that the decision was made sometime on Monday. So why did President Bacon date the letter on Sunday and why had he told David that the decision was made on Sunday? It couldn't have mattered, in practical terms, to us. I wondered: had Gerry Pond, after talking to Vern Anderson, talked to someone with higher authority about possible publicity repercussions, and had someone called President Bacon to tell him to make it a bishop's court? And was misdating the letter President Bacon's clumsy attempt to hide the source of the decision by concealing the lateness of the switch?
We had been waiting for Gary Winterton, the counselor who had been at the court, to arrive before Bishop Hammond gave me the additional restrictions and conditions. Bishop Hammond and I talked for about an hour before he finally came in. Bishop Hammond handed me a typed sheet with one additional restriction and three conditions. The restriction was that I could not serve in a Church position. It was a blow. "He's not going to show me any mercy," I thought. "He wants me to feel the full force of judgment and exclusion."
"Have you told Karla this?" I asked them. Karla was the nursery leader. "Her baby is due this week and she's not planning on coming back to the nursery, and Beth [the other nursery worker] has asked to be released because her baby is due soon. It will be hard for the children to lose everyone they know."
Neither of them responded. It was obvious that the comfort of children at Church was not an important consideration in the decision. Bishop Hammond said that I would be welcome to visit the nursery since I had a child in it. I did go with John the next week. Karla wasn't there and Beth came late. A couple of the parents stayed to help and seemed to think I was in charge. Not unnaturally, so did the children. The next week all three of us were released, but no new nursery leader had been called. Again, I accompanied John. The two substitutes, the wives of Bishop Hammond and Gary Winterton, seemed glad to have me since they didn't know the children or the schedule. I continued to attend the nursery with John, but it was awkward after a new nursery leader was called the third week, since the children looked to me for help. I stopped going a few weeks later and David stayed in the nursery with John until he was ready to stay by himself.
We moved on to the first condition. It was: "You will need to stay in regular contact and be willing to counsel with your bishop."
"What will we counsel about?" I asked.
"Any writing or publishing you want to do or any problems with your family," he said.
I said nothing, and he read the next condition: "You are asked to not publish or speak in opposition to the doctrine of the Church as contained in the four standard works or official statements of the First Presidency, breach of which will be a violation of this condition." I recognized the parallelism of this condition with the second definition of apostasy given in the General Handbook of Instructions. Bishop Hammond was apparently redefining apostasy to rule out the defense I had made in my court—that I clearly labeled my essay as my own interpretation and therefore was not teaching "as doctrine that which is not doctrine."
"I've never spoken in opposition to the doctrine of the Church as contained in the four standard works and I have no intention of doing so," I said.
"Let me be very clear about this," Bishop Hammond said. "If you publish `Him Shall Ye Hear' I will consider it a violation of this condition." He seemed to feel that President Hinckley's conference address affirming that the Lord would not allow the prophet to lead the Church astray, which I had quoted and challenged, was an official statement of the First Presidency. He seemed unaware that "official statement of the First Presidency" means a written statement published and signed by all three members of the First Presidency. I could have argued the point, but it seemed hopeless. Since Bishop Hammond had written the conditions and would judge whether I was keeping them, he could interpret them any way he pleased. He seemed to believe that all he needed to do was say, "If you do such-and-such, I'll excommunicate you." Then if I did the forbidden action, it would be my fault if he "had" to excommunicate me. When did we ever get to talk about whether he had a right to set such conditions? I was struggling to function. I was dizzy and seeing double; the whole experience was beginning to take on a surreal quality.
The third condition was: "You should refrain from clear and open opposition and criticism of the Church or its leaders, breach of which will be a violation of this condition." This definition was virtually a quotation from the first definition of apostasy in the handbook except that Bishop Hammond had added "criticism." One point we had argued at length was whether criticism constituted opposition. I mustered my energy and reviewed my position with him again. I told him that I would be glad to agree to this condition if "criticism" meant "faultfinding," "derogatory statements," or "personal attacks against leaders." But I would not give up my right to disagree and dissent.
Bishop Hammond said, "I'll give you an example of what I would consider a breach of this condition." He picked up a newspaper clipping and read, "Allred said she is disappointed in the direction of Hunter's presidency, but not surprised since he and other Church leaders would have had to admit they were wrong about the earlier excommunications."19
I was stunned. So "disappointment" now constituted criticism? Bishop Hammond wouldn't even allow me to be disappointed? "You will notice that what you read is a paraphrase, not a direct quote," I said. "I don't remember exactly what I said, but I told the reporter that I had been very pleased with President Hunter's statement of conciliation towards disaffected members and his assertion that we should use love and persuasion to encourage more disciplined living of gospel principles, but I was disappointed that he seemed to back off this statement in some of his later remarks. I don't think that statement violates this condition."
Bishop Hammond simply repeated that he disagreed, then pulled out another list of conditions. This time he did not give me a copy. He told me that this list gave some specific interpretations of the conditions and he would read it to me so that I would understand what he expected. Because I was so ill and exhausted, I forgot everything from this list except that publishing "Him Shall Ye Hear" would be a violation of the conditions. Bishop Hammond never gave me copy of these conditions; but he used them in the second court. (See "The Second Disciplinary Council, 9 May 1995" below.)
Bishop Hammond had thought through a process of prepublication censorship for my writings and evidently thought he was being very fair in his requirements. I could get someone, not necessarily himself, to go over what I wrote and point out any false doctrine, which I would then agree to correct or omit. This seemed to be the crux of his program to make me an acceptable Church member who expressed only orthodox views. "I'm not saying you can't speak or write," he insisted. "You can; but if you really care about your Church membership, this is a way you can be sure you don't go over the line."
"Suppose I brought you `Him Shall Ye Hear,'" I said. "What would you do to make it acceptable?"
"Well," Bishop Hammond said, "I don't know. Keith Halls brought me two pages of doctrinal errors that he found in it."
Gary Winterton said he felt a bad spirit when he read it.
"I'm sorry you felt that," I said. "I don't understand why you would."
"You said not to follow our leaders," he said. "What you wrote was derogatory to the leaders of the Church."
"I didn't say not to follow our leaders," I corrected him wearily. "I said we should follow Christ; and when our leaders speak the words of Christ through the power of the Holy Ghost, we should follow them. I didn't say anything derogatory to any Church leader."
"I think with that paper the whole thesis was wrong so nothing could make it acceptable," Bishop Hammond concluded.
During this interview I was very careful not to make any commitments. Although I realized that Bishop Hammond thought he had the power to obligate me to obey his directives, I did not want him to believe that I had obligated myself. I didn't want him to be able to say, "But you promised!"
After the interview, I walked home in the dark, went into my bedroom, and wept—something I rarely do. It seemed so hopeless, and I was so exhausted and sick. David wasn't home, but the children who were gradually came into my room, sat by me, and put their arms around me. I told them what the bishop wanted.
"That's not fair!" said Miriam. "You can't do it, Mommy."
"Why are they being so mean to you?" nine-year-old Jared asked.
That night it became obvious to me that I couldn't keep meeting with the bishop. It was too hard on me physically and emotionally. I needed some time off from the whole process. The last two months had been devoured by the endless meetings, my preparations for them, and the resultant publicity. The three months before that had also been stressful. I was trying to keep up with my home and family responsibilities and deal with my health problems.
I had promised several reporters that I would let them know the follow-up conditions. I was still committed to an open communication process, and I felt it was important to let Bishop Hammond and the public know my views of the probation and my intentions in regard to the conditions and restrictions placed upon me. I decided to write Bishop Hammond an open letter which I would also give to the media. I started working on the letter on Monday, 24 October, and finished it two days later. In this letter I stated some objections I had to the action taken against me and explained my interpretation of the conditions and restrictions and my intentions in regard to them. I wrote:
I finished writing this letter on 26 October, and Nephi dictated it to Lavina over the phone that night. The next day she faxed it to the media, and it received wide news coverage during the next few days. As I suspected, those who felt that probation had been a "second chance" saw my open letter as defiance.20
David saw Bishop Hammond the day after our interview and told him that he didn't want him to talk to me face to face anymore, that these interviews were making me physically ill, and that I was suffering a lot. "She's a very calm, controlled person so it may not be obvious to you that she's in pain," he explained. "She almost had one of her babies in a waiting room because no one realized she was in the last stages of labor."
Bishop Hammond seemed concerned and assured David, "I've locked the files in a drawer and I don't want to take them out again."
David also asked Bishop Hammond if he had gotten "any pressure" from any General Authorities about handling my case. He denied it; the only pressure had come from members, some in our ward, who had demanded to know why he "hadn't taken action sooner."
When David told me about this conversation, I was upset with him for acting in such a patriarchal way. I didn't like his making decisions for me without consulting me, and I felt he was encouraging Bishop Hammond to use him as an intermediary. Of course, I also realized that he had acted out of love for me and a genuine concern for my well-being; and finally, in the weeks that followed, I came to realize that I was grateful that he had intervened and demanded for me the "cease-fire" that I would never have demanded for myself.
This "patriarchal understanding" probably gave me the respite—of sorts—that followed during the next seven months. When I sent Bishop Hammond the open letter in late October, I realized that he might interpret it as violating the conditions. The newspapers had reported that I had refused to comply with the bishop's conditions; and although I considered my statement more a refusal to be controlled than a refusal to abide by the conditions, more an affirmation of my rights than a defiance of the bishop's authority, I realized that Bishop Hammond probably regarded my letter as a rejection of his plan to rehabilitate me. Thus, I was half-braced for an immediate reconvening of the court. Nothing happened.
10An article with a three-column photograph of me holding open the issue of Dialogue that contained "Toward a Theology of God the Mother" had appeared that morning in the local paper. The reporter said that I seemed "incredibly in control and sure of herself" though "worried about the possibility of excommunication from the church she loves. `I've been a member all my life. I want to be a member. I want my children to be members,' she said." Sheila Sanchez, "Possibility of Being Excommunicated Worries Mother," (Provo) Daily Herald, 12 October 1994, B-1, B-2.
11Deborah Rossiter expressed support: "I'm here tonight to hold vigil for my dear friend Janice Allred because I love her. ... The message seems to be search, ponder, and pray, and then be quiet about what you find out." Deborah and her husband Bryant were close friends from Twentieth Ward. When Bryant was undergoing treatment for the cancer that would kill him within the year, I had "kept vigil" with Deborah while we were waiting outside the operating theater, a parallel she made. Paul Toscano referred to his own excommunication a year and a half earlier and commented, "When it happens to someone else, you feel the pain again. We're here to show that what they're doing is not approved by everybody in the Church, and that there are some of us who dissent from this abusive kind of treatment." Lavina Fielding Anderson, excommunicated the same month as Toscano, called the action "a terrible travesty and a violation of every principle of a Christian community." Nick Smith, a retired investment banker from Salt Lake City, "said he voluntarily left the Mormon Church, disillusioned with its alleged restriction on freedom of speech. `The leaders can't tolerate thinking,' Smith said. `And since my own thoughts are not always orthodox, I feel a strong affinity with Janice and others.'" Maxine Hanks, also excommunicated as one of the September Six in 1993, "said the excommunications were not about false doctrine, but about public censorship and free speech. `None of us who were excommunicated this past year were teaching our ideas in church—we were excommunicated this past year for public consumption in the secular marketplace of ideas. We became heretics and apostates when we refused to let our church censor us in public." Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, president of the Mormon Women's Forum who had been disfellowshipped for her feminist views in September 1993, delivered flowers to the stake center "as a symbol of devotion to Christ's gospel of love. ... In the spirit of peace, we make this appeal: Let the fear and reprisals end." Sheila Sanchez, "Verdict Pending in Church Trial," (Provo) Daily Herald, 13 Oct. 1994, A-1, A-2.
12Sheila Sanchez, "LDS Supporters Say Church Is Unfairly Portrayed by Media," (Provo) Daily Herald, 15 Oct 1994, A-3, reported negative comments. Louis C. Midgley, who teaches in BYU's political science department, was quoted as saying, "`We're just sitting ducks because the Church, the bishop, the stake president, the area president, or a General Authority will not say a word because they treat this as it should be treated—as a confidential matter and not as the public's business.' ... While hundreds of excommunications are conducted every year, the media only cover those related to `so-called intellectuals and feminists' whose agenda is to damage the LDS Church's image, he adds. `I just think it's one of the most tragic things that's happened on the margins of the Latter-day Saints' community in my lifetime to see people get caught up in this sort of public relations stunt and political pressure on the Church. They think that if they make a big enough stink, it will embarrass the Church so that the leaders will give in.' The purpose of the courts `is to get people straightened around. That's the way Latter-day Saints see it, and when you don't see it anymore in this way, then you end up with nonsense,' Midgley asserts. `It's all this sloppy agape and pride. I find it absolutely reprehensible, unseemly, and un-Christlike.' He says if the leaders of the Church don't crack down on theologians who postulate and explore religious doctrine freely, the Church runs the risk of becoming a `cacophony of crazy ideas.' ... Church leaders who conduct disciplinary hearings `attempt to keep the kingdom in order by preventing either false doctrine or immoral practices from contaminating the people of God.' ... And because he's not controlled by the Church's restrictions, Midgley says, `I can express my opinion about the hostility I feel toward this nonsense.'"
Vern Swanson, director of the Springville Art Museum, found "objectionable ... the characterization of Allred as a `mom' or a persecuted mother rather than as a scholar or theologian." John DePalma, a retired school teacher living in Orem, commented, "`I don't believe the Church's image is at all tarnished by the dissidents. I think members of the Church will study the scriptures more when they read about these new ideas that are coming forth from private interpretation.' What [he] finds most upsetting about dissidents is their willingness to give up their privacy rights by consenting to media interviews while Church leaders keep silent."
13President Hinckley had said: "This Church is established on principles that are divine. From the day of its organization, it has been led by prophets, and I solemnly testify that the Lord Jesus Christ, whose church it is and whose name it bears, will never let any man or group of men lead it astray." Gordon B. Hinckley, "Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 54.
14As quoted in Sheila Sanchez, "LDS Dissidents Say Hearing Was Flawed," (Provo) Daily Herald, 14 Oct. 1994, B-1, B-2.
15One person who attended the vigil published a personal account anonymously, under the title, "Allred Supporter Recollects Long, Difficult Night of Trial," (Provo) Daily Herald, 27 Oct. 1994, in the "Observations" column. She found this decision "extremely disturbing, ... a sort of non-decision that still gives the leaders the power to destroy Janice Allred at their convenience, rather than in the presence of the press. They put Janice through an eight-and-a-half hour ordeal and essentially told her nothing. She was not exonerated; she was not condemned. She is still up in the air." This writer speculated on whether the neck-and-neck campaign former Boston Stake president Mitt Romney was then waging in Massachusetts against incumbent Senator Ted Kennedy had dictated less publicity. (Romney lost, at least in part because he was seen as unsympathetic to women.) The writer also found the leaders "dishonest" in giving me an ultimatum of excommunication, then backing off from it. "Why the change? Why the almost two-hours delay?" Also troublesome was the vagueness about what I would be asked to do. "She took this trial seriously. She was upright and honest about the issues from which she will not back away. It seems to me that to raise those issues again would indicate duplicity. ... They really intend to take away Janice Allred's membership, but on a less public occasion. ... If the court is fair and the bishop is acting in good faith, he should not again ask Janice to do what she has made it clear that she will not do (stop thinking, writing, speaking and publishing on religious topics of importance to her). The bishop may ask her to meet with leaders or to read scriptures and books by General Authorities, or to write her feelings as part of this probation, but the sentence of probation was given with the bishop's full knowledge of Janice's position. If that position was not acceptable, he should have given another sentence."
16To the Associated Press I made three points: (1) I stressed that I did not feel hostile toward the bishopric; the hearing was "polite," the bishopric expressed desires to help; they "`made every effort ... not to give offense"; and "`I understand that the men in the court judged according to their best wisdom and I don't have hard feelings against them.'" (2) However, the mixture of "`hope that maybe we can work something out'" balanced against the stress of knowing that "`this very difficult process is still occurring'" was emotionally exhausting. (3) The main issue of free expression had not changed: "`It's not just my own ability to speak that's at stake here, it's also the ability of other members of the Church to speak, and I think that this is a very important issue; ... if one person is silenced, that increases the restrictions against everybody else.'" In answer to the question of whether I still could say I loved the Church, I answered briefly and perhaps cryptically, since many interpreted it as a statement of defiance, "`Maybe it's because I love the Church that I'm willing to give up my membership.'" Associated Press, Salt Lake City, "LDS Author on Probation Because of Article," (Provo) Daily Herald, 14 October 1994, B-1, B-2.
17In Lavina Fielding Anderson and Janice Merrill Allred, comps. and eds., Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance: Volume 1, 1995 (Salt Lake City: Mormon Alliance, 1996), 292, 304. The McCallisters live in Oklahoma.
18Vern Anderson, untitled version of wire story posted 11 October 1994 on the internet; photocopy in my possession. The Daily Herald ran the same story headlined, "Mom Faces Hearing for Alleged Apostasy," 11 Oct. 1994, B-1, B-2, with additional quotations.
19President Benson had been nonfunctional for some time before his death in May 1994. President Hunter who, unbeknownst to the Church at large, was dying of prostate cancer when he was ordained president on 5 June, had issued an eloquent press statement that, among other things, invited "those who have transgressed or been offended" to "come back." Since the action against me was the first high-profile case taken since his presidency, numerous reporters juxtaposed his invitation and the disciplinary council in their coverage. Lavina Fielding Anderson had made a similar juxtaposition when asked for a statement about my case: "The echoes from President Hunter's call to treat each other with `more kindness, more courtesy, more humility and patience and forgiveness' are still in the air, but here is another stake president who thinks that `because I said so' constitutes persuasion.'" "`I Pledge My Life and ... Full Measure of My Soul," Church News, 11 June 1994, 3, 14. Sheila Sanchez, "Mom Faces Hearing for Alleged Apostasy," (Provo) Daily Herald, 11 October 1994, B-1, B-2.
20Sheila Sanchez, "Allred Says She Won't Comply," (Provo) Daily Herald, 28 Oct. 1994, B-1, B-2. This reporter asked Bishop Hammond to comment. He said, "`I don't know what to tell you. I'm not going to make any comment. I hope you understand.'" But the final quotation was from David who, up to this point, had not made any statement to the press. He said he thought I was "`acting out of the deepest integrity of her being.'" See also Associated Press, "LDS Feminist Rejects Bishops' Conditions," (BYU) Daily Universe, 28 Oct. 1994, and Peter Scarlet, "Feminist Spurns LDS Restrictions," Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Oct. 1994.