Comments about ‘Ask Angela: It's unfair that I'm forced to go to church’

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Published: Saturday, Aug. 3 2013 11:00 p.m. MDT

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I M LDS 2
Provo, UT

Her parents are wrong. Forcing children to attend Church meetings only deepens their bitterness toward the Church, and creates a problem for Sunday School and YW teachers and leaders who have to deal with her. These parents are just asking for trouble. She will "act out" to escape their controlling ways.

FanofTHEgame
Mapleton, UT

Ultimately, life and the gospel of Jesus Christ are about love. Real love. Where do we find true love, in our acts of service. For most young people, they are bombarded with false versions of love and must wade through those fakes to find the true love though service. It is very difficult. When we serve others selflessly we are rewarded with a deep feeling of love. It is powerful and consistent. Christ's entire mission was service including his ultimate atonement.

Now, the LDS church is not perfect, but taking advantage of what a church has to offer is what makes it wonderful. And that is service opportunities. The LDS church offers the highest level of service opportunities (through the temple), but not the only and most churches help the soul through their opportunities to serve. We go to church to serve and be served. It is important and it is about recharging the soul. However, for most youth, they become ensnarled in themselves. The solution is difficult and it requires getting outside of ones self. I would try and teach this principle to every young and old person and then see them apply its truth.

IMAN
Marlborough, MA

The bottom line is that until she is no longer a minor and living under her parants roof she should have to submit to her parents direction on this issue. She can save her self and parents a lot of angst by at least trying to experience the church with an open mind. It will be very hard to do (I could not at her age) but when she is finally an adult and on her own she can make up her own mind and maybe still have a good relationship with her parents.

LittleStream
Carson City, NV

What is causing this young woman not to want to go to church on Sunday? Is it her "friends"? Is it her "boyfriend"? I would bet its one or both. If its just that she doesn't believe the church is true, she can wait the two years and go have a talk with the bishop and ask him to remove her name from the church rolls. After all, it is just her eternity we are talking about here. Please remember, if you choose not to live the teachings. Long after these "friends" have left your life, you will still have your eternity. Remember who you are!

poppycarlos
Scottsdale, AZ

This young person probably wants something a little less than what the LDS church teaches. She thinks she wants just the opposite--to be free and unrestricted. Perhaps she should try meeting kids that have run away from home seeking this freedom and the wonderful pimps on the street who require no such Sunday behavior and conduct as her parents require. Young women, the streets are littered with the tired and smashed bodies of those who thought the church teachings are too strict. These parents are right to expect conduct, but nobody is forced to believe. I have seen a lot of adults that would be grateful if their parents had higher expectations of them. A little stint in prison, a little rehab session for drugs, a few illegitimate kids, a life of beatings, addiction, abortion, poverty, welfare is what awaits those who run away from those nasty old restrictions of good parents and wise church leaders. When eighteen you should run and embrace the world. It will welcome you with open arms until you use up your usefulness and then you will creep back home and say your are sorry just like the prodigal son did.

Eliyahu
Pleasant Grove, UT

The young lady does have a choice here: She can go through the process of becoming an emancipated minor, at which time she'll be free to strike out on her own, find her own place to live, pay her own bills and support herself. In her situation, that probably doesn't sound very promising or attractive, so her alternative is to view church attendance as the cost of being supported by her family, deal with it from a positive point of view and make the best of it. It's really not much of a "cost", either. All it means is that once a week she will spend several hours in the company of people who aren't trying to lead her into trouble or giving her bad examples of how to live, and where she will get positive lessons about how to live her life in a productive way.

joe5
South Jordan, UT

The real question is: Why don't you like going to church? Do you believe, at 16 years old, that you have life figured out?

Three of my six children decided to leave the church. In each case, we ultimately learned they were not living the standards of the church, therefore they were not experiencing the happiness the gospel brings. They were dissatisfied with their lives (and still are) and the church was the easy target.

We love them very much and it aches in our hearts to see them struggle so much but we cannot give them happiness; we can only point them to the source of happiness. After that, it is up to them. We had until age 18 to do the pointing and then we set them free.

As a family, we are very close seeing each of our six children and nine (going on ten) grandchildren several times a week. All my children know they are loved not only by my wife and me but by their siblings as well. But it breaks our hearts to see these three suffer from self-inflicted wounds.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

I find it very ironic that they think she is old enough to decide she does want to be a member when she is 8 years old (baptism) but not old enough to decide she doesn't want to be a member until she is 18. That makes no sense at all. I can say that parents who force their kids to go to church are more likely to drive them away permanantly then keep them in it.

DSB
Cedar Hills, UT

Whether her parents are wrong is up to the parents to decide. How arrogant to think you are entitled to the inspiration for that family. And to the girl - a great big boo hoo. There are certainly a lot more oppressive rules some parents impose on their children. As a house rule for a child who almost certainly pays nothing for room and board, and probably gets her school, clothing, and social expenses paid, it shows an appalling selfishness and lack of gratitude to begrudge this expectation.

Maybe the parents are oppressive, overly strict, charge rent, and chain her to a bedpost to control every decision she might make. Based on the article, no one knows. But if she's living the average life of an LDS teenager, life could be a whole lot worse than being required to attend church.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Angela,

From this and other columns of yours I have read, I think you give solid advice.

Thank you.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

So, we have

- Her parents get to decide where she goes to church until she is 18
- she could go to court and move out on her own
- leaving the LDS Church = "self inflicted wounds"
- leaving means ruining her eternity.

Religious is a personal matter. A 16 year old is certainly capable of making their own decision regarding religion. And these ills are your belief. You may be right, but then again, you may be wrong.

I imagine the responses would be quite different if she was raised in a Muslim or Catholic household but wanted to attend the LDS church instead?

DonP
Sainte Genevieve, MO

Note to Joe Blow: Children under 18 are baptized into the LDS church only with the approval of their parents.

eastcoastcoug
Danbury, CT

Angela and Amy,

Angela has a good suggestion here: enjoy your time at church and find your own positives. I like the service idea. Find another teen who needs a friend and lift them up. Or a senior (e.g. widow) living alone who needs someone that will visit them regularly.

I find when I'm in a situation I don't like that many others find value, that I just need to find my own way to contribute. I don't know why your parents are forcing you to go, but you have a choice: be miserable 3 hours every week or do something positive with the time. You ALWAYS have a choice.

I had "issues" with my parents and their giving me choices growing up. I didn't even have many friends in my ward. But I found other things and people that I did like and decided to find out for myself if it was true and raise a family in an environment without the same "issues", with love as a motivator rather than fear.

Lastly, don't just decide not to be Mormon as soon as you can get out. Rather, decide what you WILL be.

joe5
South Jordan, UT

JoeBlow: Your attitude is the problem today. People don't believe in real truth; they only believe in relative truth. You seem to think that our opinions can shape the outcome of our choices, a completely ridiculous concept.

If the gospel as taught in the LDS church is true, then this decision is the most momentous of her life regardless of what she believes or hopes. She will still harvest what she sows.

So where is she right now? She knows her parents love her. Perhaps she even trusts them. What could they possibly have to gain by telling her lies. Either they have had the spiritual experiences they claim to have had or they would be lying to their children (and everyone else).

Most churches do not base their faith on the quiet whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It is either based on intellect or some kind of miraculous event. Those are both pretty weak foundations on which to make a decision that will affect your own life and that of your descendants for eternity. It takes a lot of work and humility, two things that are in short supply in today's society.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

DonP

Yes, an 8 year olds parents have to authorize their baptism... So the parents are essentially deciding that the 8 year old should be in the church. The 8 year old really has no say in it. It is no better then the catholics practice of baptizing an infant. If the 16 year old doesn't believe in it there is nothing wrong with that. What if she wants to be catholic, methodist, or have no religion at all? Isn't each person entitled to do what they want, and not be forced into attending a church she doesn't believe in? God gave her a brain to decide what she believes and what she doesn't. There is no shame in not believing, it is actually quite reasonable. It just isn't reasonable to those that believe because to them if you don't believe it means you are sinning or have done something wrong. Because nobody in history could not believe in church and still be a good and normal person..

joe5
South Jordan, UT

JoeBlow: The only exception I take to your last comment is your allegiance to intellect. I learned long ago that if someone can argue you into something, someone else can argue you out of it. I also learned that knowledge is not static. Much of what our intellect tells us is true today will be proven false in the future. That is a fine process for science, politics, arts and other temporal pursuits but is a woefully insufficient standard for eternal understanding.

antodav
TAMPA, FL

This is precisely the reason why I won't baptize my kids when they turn 8 years old unless they ask me to, nor will I make them do anything they don't want to do. Elder Larry Wilson of the 70 gave an excellent talk about respecting the free agency of our children and allowing them to make their own choices using the gifts and knowledge they have been given. Yet this counsel continues to be ignored in cultural Mormonism, to the detriment of the children of the parents who exercise unrighteous dominion over them.

This girl has nothing to gain and everything to lose by leaving the Church, but she's going to have to see that and learn that for herself. It breaks my heart to see life-long members go inactive, but sometimes the only way to learn to appreciate what you have is to go without it for a while. It probably is a chastity issue that is driving this girl away, and she is going to regret the decisions she makes later in life. But that is often the only path to a broken heart and contrite spirit—which is the only means of repentance.

OlderGreg
USA, CA

Amy's parents obviously love her very much. So many parents don't "make" their children do anything religious, saying/ believing that it is a personal choice best left to the kid when they grow up.

The trouble with that is the child grows up with nothing to use as a yardstick/ basis / standard / experience to make a decision with.

My bet is that Amy is currently experiencing the absolutely normal teen desire for independence, compounded by peer pressure. She is about the right age for parental intelligence to be approaching zero.

My suggestion for Amy: hang in there a bit longer. Pay the "dues" of family standards/ chores as payment for all the stuff your family provides for you at the moment. Have something to go to, instead of running away from something. After you leave home, explore other religious options (go "inactive" for a while, if you must), but don't drop your membership 'til you have found a new spiritual home.

grandmagreat
Lake Havasu City, AZ

Oh my goodness, I am wondering if you have talked to your Bishop? Have you attended Young Women, they probably need you as much as you need them. I know it is hard in this day and age to be a responsible young woman, and make the right decisions, all the time. Certainly 3 hours out of a whole week, is not a lot to ask. Just remember that your parents love you and want the best for you, if not they wouldn't care whether you went to church or not. There has to be an underying reason that you have made this decision, dig down and get it out, and go from there. Don't forget to pary. Grandma Great

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

How would LDS (or any church, but since that's the relevant one for this case I'll use that) parents want other non-LDS parents to handle a child of theirs wanting to visit or join the LDS church? I'd say that's probably close to the answer (obviously not an equivalent case since there's nothing in the letter about wanting to go to another church/religion).

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