Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shaking in my (tall, black, leather, four inch-heeled, fuck-me) boots

From:     Rhonda Relief Society* <> 
Subject:     Contact with LDS Church
Date:     August 7, 2009 8:26:27 AM EDT

Hi Amy,

It has probably been a few months since you last received an email from the 1st Ward Relief Society, due to our slower summer, vacation filled months. I hope your summer is going well.

I'm grateful that you allow us to send you (via email) invites to these activities, but we definitely do not want to be a burden and end up in your spam box. I'm certain that there are reasons why you and your husband have not been attending church services (or perhaps you have and I just haven't met you yet). In either case, I would like to ask you (and your family) what your desire level of contact with the church is. Would you be comfortable with home and visiting teachers, newsletters, telephone calls, receiving weekly ward and RS email announcements, or no contact at all. This last option is quite extreme resulting in either a personal, telephone or mail contact from and with Bishop Oooohhh Intimidating Priesthood Authority**.

Please prayerfully consider what you would like and what you would like us to do, and I hope to hear back from you within the next few days.

Thanks for your time and understanding.


This was an email from some woman, maybe the RS President, in the local ward.  I had never attended there.  My thoughts were:
  • "How did they get my email address?" After I searched through my emails I remembered that I had sent an email in response to one of these "invites" informing them that they had been sending the emails to my husband's email address and that I was never going to attend a RS event. We assume that they got his address through the online student directory where he was a student, which can only be accessed by students and faculty and is specifically NOT supposed to be used for non-academic purposes.
  • "I am sure she sincerely hopes that a stranger's summer is going well. Stupid niceties."
  • "Are you grateful?  Really? Why?"
  • "When did I give permission or state that I would 'allow' you to send these emails?  And how could I have prevented it?"
  • "You TOTALLY want to be a burden and you TOTALLY ended up in my spam box."
  • "You are certain that there are reasons I am not attending?  Yeah, no shit.  I don't do anything without some sort of reason. I am certain that you just threw in this sentence so that you could passively-aggressively imply that my reasons are invalid."
  • "Perhaps you just haven't met me?  You have some doubt about whether I am or am not attending at yet you are willing to send this accusatory email?  Would it not be worth finding out if I attend before sending this?"
  • "Is my desire(d) level of contact with the church not implied by my complete absence from it?  If I wanted contact, I would show up occasionally or respond to my home teachers.  I might even give my phone number to someone."
  • "Wait. Whoa. Has there been some sort of paradigm shift in the church since I left?  Have gender roles been eliminated?  Do I actually get to speak not just for myself but also for my family and the priesthood holder in my home? Can I be trusted to determine what is best for me? Is my husband's authority over me and my submission to his decisions no longer required?"
  • "No contact at all. I definitely choose no contact at all."
  • "Oh, that last 'option' is 'quite extreme'?"
  • "Are you threatening me?  If I don't show up or submit to allowing others to harass me I will be forced to submit to harassment by the Bishop? And how will that be enforced? How can I be made to meet with, open the door for, answer calls from, or read correspondence from the Bishop? Bwaaahahahahahah!  You actually think that the church has some authority over me!  That I would recognize or tolerate that authority! Silly woman."
  • "If I believed in prayer would you need to ask me to please prayerfully consider what I want? Wouldn't I have already prayed about my relationship to the church?  Has it occurred to you that perhaps I no longer attend because I don't believe in a god to whom I could pray?"
  • "Oh Honey!  Believe me when I say that you do NOT want to hear back from me.  I don't respond calmly to veiled threats, passive-aggressive insults, or faked concern. I've got nothing nice to say to you and I am hoping that my non-response is understood as the response that it is intended to be."
  • "I don't 'understand' you or the motivation behind this email at all."
  • "Shit.  Fuck. Damn.  Am I about to be excommunicated? Is this email intended to elicit a response that can be used as evidence so that I can be convicted of apostasy? Am I paranoid?  Has the church been notified about the negative things I say on my blog. Why is this email sent now, eight years after I stopped attending? Very minimal effort has been made to have contact with me previously but I haven't been threatened with Bishop confrontation before."  
I didn't respond to the email.  I was tempted to tell this woman exactly what I thought of her tactics but I held myself back.  I never heard from her or the Bishop or anyone else for that matter.  This email was the last straw for me.  I knew I was never going back but I wasn't sure resigning was really necessary.  This email made it clear to me that the attempts to visiting/home teach me, drop-in visits from the missionaries, emails, letters, and phone calls would never stop until I insisted that they MUST.
    *Name changed to protect the passive aggressive bitchy stranger innocent.
    **Name changed to protect the Self-Important Local Patriarch innocent.


    1. It's not genuine concern on her part. It's an assignment and obligation to contact everyone. Period. By ignoring her, you'll always be on their list of things to do and be that little nagging inactive that just won't go away. Since we've left the church, I've noticed we've been checked off the list, they've moved on. No need to keep us in mind anymore.

      Yeah, don't make it easy for them. That last extreme option just kills me. Threats with the big bad scary bishop!! Oooohhhh!!

    2. What Fanny said.

      My blood is boiling. How about a short response: "Ms. Rho: Be advised you are not authorized to use this email address or to contact me or my husband in any fashion. IPH has no authority where I or my family are concerned. Please pass this email on to him and let him know that any efforts to contact us will be reported to the appropriate authorities. I am saving this correspondence for my records. Sincerely, Amy (who will kick your ass with her fuck-me boots).

      Boundaries. These people don't understand them so we have to set them in no uncertain terms.

    3. Its crazy to me what members (I was one) put up with. These people think by their persistence that they are padding their great reward in heaven. The ignorance exhibited tells you exactly what small minded people the "leaders" are.

    4. I should clarify. This email is a little old and I have resigned officially since then. I specified in my resignation letter that I would consider any further contact harassment and would involve lawyers/legal authorities if necessary to ensure that it stopped. I haven't been contacted since then. I just post this because it made me so angry at the time and I never got to rant about it. I also think the email is sort of funny in a sad way. I feel that way about a lot of my interactions with TBMs. Sometimes I get angry at them. Sometimes I laugh at them. But I always pity them.

      On one hand, I don't know why she thought this email would work on me. On the other hand, I think there must exist a subset of people this sort of sweetly threatening contact does work. There are those that have periods of inactivity because they were offended, do want to rebel/sin, or are just lazy and I suspect this tactic might intimidate them back to activity.

    5. I like what CD said - They don't know what boundaries are, so go ahead and tell 'em.

    6. "Would you be comfortable with home and visiting teachers, newsletters, telephone calls, receiving weekly ward and RS email announcements, or no contact at all?"

      Would you be comfortable with us totally invading you or is that, like, not something you'd be comfortable with? If not, I'll totally tattle on you.

      Boundaries! But, I agree with you, it is a little funny.

    7. Thanks for posting this.

      I am awaiting a similiar email in my own life. To be honest, I am sort of looking forward to it. I think I want to resign. No, I mean, I DO want to resign. Probably. Or whatever. But an email like this would be the tipping point. And then I could gather my courage to do it.

      Would you ever be comfortable posting the letter you sent when you did resign (with particulars changed)? Or is it already on your site and I just haven't seen it?

      Anyways, good on you for doing what you do and being who you are. Thanks for this.

    8. M- I have no problem with posting my resignation letter. It was largely just the template recommended on most of the ex-Mo sites with just a few personal additions. I don't have the file on my laptop though so I will have to pull that from the old desk-top at home.

    9. God. When we were less-active the EQ president tried the whole "ooh i'll tell the bishop on you. then what?"

      my husband said "i'll still say no."

      i dunno where they get off. (or perhaps they do)