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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Salt Lake City, UT

" 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. "

But if someone doesn't believe the church is true, they won't think they're making a decision that affects the eternity, making the eternity aspect a non-issue.

"Young women, the streets are littered with the tired and smashed bodies of those who thought the church teachings are too strict. "

The state with the lowest crime rates is New Hampshire, which has the highest rates of atheism and one of the lowest (I think Vermont is lowest) rates of church attendance. Seems like a lot of these people turn out alright.

"If the gospel as taught in the LDS church is true, then this decision is the most momentous of her life"

Would God rather someone be honest and leave what turns out to be his church if they sincerely don't believe it, or effectively lie and stay in a church they don't believe?

Salt Lake City, UT

I wish I had that problem when I was in my early twenties - my problem was that I lived far from the nearest chapel and needed to rely on other members to get too and from the church. Unfortuanately my parents whom I lived with weren't members and didn't understand that we help each other. My mom put it in my head that I would be riding with strangers and that something bad could end up happening to me or my children. I wish that I had fought her on this I wanted to go to church but because I didn't I made some very stupid mistakes such as I went inactive. I went to church once in awhile but that was it. After years of sitting on the fence I finally started going regularly. Had wonderful visiting and home teachers and was able to go through the temple. Stay in the church, read your scriptures and always have a prayer in your heart. Heavenly Father will guide you if you let him.

dung beetle
Bountiful, UT

It's really pretty simple: She lives in their home, eats their food, sleeps in one of their beds; she's gotta live by their rules. When she's 18 if she won't live by their rules she can go establish her own home where she can make the rules.

Whether requiring her to attend weekly church services is a wise rule or not depends on a lot considerations not illuminated by this letter - and that doesn't really matter. This kid wants it both ways - room and board provided by her parents, but she wants veto power on their rules. Sorry, kid: might as well learn now that life ain't like that.

Salt Lake City, UT

I kind of hold with the idea if you are not an adult and are the ward of or in the care of another person who feeds you, clothes you and shelters you, you are obligated to live and follow the rules of the house. The behavior demonstrated by the child is, well, childish. The parents have a right to dictate behavior and performance of their children until they are of age and independent.

The cost of room and board and clothing is three hours of time in a religious meeting once a week. Acceptable social behavior is required, it teaches manners and adult behavior.

Once 18 and independent the young lady is able to make her own decisions, and live with the results. Should she be like a lot of adult age young people who can't make it on their own and still life under the parental roof, you are still expected to comply with house rules.

Is it "fair" she doesn't get her way? It is life, we all experience disappointment, hurt feelings, injustice, contrary winds for our sailing ship through life.

Brother Benjamin Franklin
Orem, UT

I encourage people to read the blog between Angela and this teenager. I was exceedingly impressed with the quality of this interview and the maturity of this young woman's answers.

I personally believe that religion is an intensely individual thing, no matter one's age or religion. Angela's advice is excellent and I commend her for taking on this difficult topic. I also appreciate that she took the time to give us much more detail in the article and blog regarding the situation.

I disagree with the parent's approach, but I respect their judgment in raising their children and running their household as they see fit. I think this girl is going to do what she chooses, regardless of how her parents handle it. I just hope the parents the right balance between supportive and protective.

I admire the character of this family. I am not LDS, but this is a good problem to have. Good luck to this young woman!!!

SLC gal
Salt Lake City, UT

Amy -you remind me of me at your age. I didn't have much a testimony either, and church was a huge pain in the butt. When it got to be too much, I would sometimes fake sick, or you're sixteen, so you can get a job that may sometimes require you to work on Sunday.

The more mature option is what Angela suggested, look at the positives, and in the meantime, do some research on your own. Research those things that make sense to you and go from there.

Austin, TX

As someone that can relate to Amy, I will just leave my experience. My parents, while they did not "force" me to go to church, had a rule. I didn't have to go to church, or seminary, but I was going to be up, dressed, and ready to go should I decide I wanted to LOL!. by the time I was up and ready I just as well go.

it's two years to your 18th, it is your parents house so their rules apply, and as long as they are paying your bills and you are living in their house you owe them the respect of living by their rules. Down the road, you may or may not be active but you will always appreciate what they did for you

Boise, ID

Only one supportive point: these issues always bring out the opinion that there's no "proof" to substantiate what the LDS call truth. There's plenty of proof for those who have exercised their spiritual muscles enough to receive, test and live it. On the other hand, there's no possibility of proving to unbelievers what they refuse to acknowledge because the evidence begins with faith, although it doesn't end there. Those who insist intellect is the only way to experience "proof" are either ignoring whisperings of the Spirit--even their own--or they honestly don't know how to recognize these otherworldly influences. There's no shame in lack of knowledge. The character flaw occurs when presuming that nobody else can know what they don't know themselves, or want to know. Arrogance doesn't replace intellect nor does it appear very intelligent.

utah cornhusker

I joined the lds church at age 18 (I was of legal age) but still had 9 months of school to finish before I moved to utah. My parents made me go every other week to the Methodist church in whichi was raised and than the other weeks I could go to the branch an hours drive. The branch presidencys wives would com and pick me up and take me home. That was difficult for me but I still had to respect the rules they had set. My situation is a little different but Im sure her parents love her like Mine did, they just have a hard time with it.

Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Yeah, how horrible. We forced our kids to go to school. This only deepened their bitterness toward schools, and created problems for teachers and staff that had to deal with them.

Yeah, because if we waited until they were old enough to decide for themselves whether they wanted to go to school or not, they would be illiterate.

We also forced them to clean their rooms, do their chores, do their homework, blah blah blah.

And yes, we, like many many other parents, forced our kids to go to church. They turned out just fine, thank you.

Today, with all of the 'pop' psychologists around us, we're raising a nation of pansies. And we're not the better for it.


No one has a problem with parents expecting their children go to school even though few will be writers, mathematicians and scientists. So why is it wrong for parents to expect their children to attend church? If that is what the parents believe, they have a responsibility to teach their children the gospel. When the children are grown they can make their own choices. As to what to believe, no one can force another to believe.

Salt Lake City, UT

". We forced our kids to go to school. This only deepened their bitterness toward schools, and created problems for teachers and staff that had to deal with them. "

Sarcasm aside, isn't that the argument being used by people who agree with that one state reps' push to end compulsory education?

Gymea, NSW

Ever cross anyone's mind that she probably just wants to take control of her own life and is trying her wings to break free? Perhaps she is staying up late Saturday night and is would rather just sleep in?

They say youth is wasted on the youth and this is typical behaviour of a sixteen year old.

Parents, spend more time as a family including discussions around the meal table. Give her grown up responsibilities. She is formulating her own testimony now so treat her as you would an investigator. Have the missionaries over more for meals etc.

Talk with her about what the Gospel means to you and your relationship with the Saviour. Don't assume she knows, she is now hearing things as an budding adult.

To the girl I'd say be patient with yourself, your parents have raised you to be an adult but you're not quite there yet. You don't have to discard your parents. The relationship changes now, allow them to be your friends too. Trust their wisdom. They earned it. Visit your grandparents and trust them too, if you don't have any, adopt some from the ward.


To assert that no 8-year old chooses to get baptized is nonsense. Are there children that are "told" that they will be baptized? Regrettably, yes. Is that the most common case? Absolutely not, in my experience.
An 8-year old has an interview with their bishop, alone, before their baptism. I suspect that it is extremely rare for a bishop to hear that the child doesn't want to be baptized. They may change their mind by the time they are 16, but at 8 they are choosing it.
The parents of "Amy" are not forcing her to believe anything. Nor are they telling her she has to believe it. They are simply saying that as long as she is a minor and living at home she must attend church with the family.
In many cases an 8-year old is a better decision maker than a 16-year old. Adolescence plays havoc with many teenager's brains.
Finally, I agree with what many here have said. "Amy" needs to figure out what she does believe and want to be. Deciding to just not be something is childish and likely the reason that her parents have the rule.

G L W8

Most of the responses given here are simplistic answers to a complex question. The issues of faith, agency, choice and accountability, hope, dealing with real or assumed "teen rebellion", peer pressure, and many more such issues are all in play. The one key word which seems to be at the center, both in the article, and the blog, is the word "force".
If Amy and her parents can come to the point where she's not feeling "forced" and her parents can deal objectively--with continued love--with the issues she's facing, there will probably be an acceptable outcome for all concerned. But it may not be what either Amy or her parents are expecting at this point.
Every family has those who have chosen lifestyles other than committed LDS activity. There will be those "prodigals" who eventually may decide to return. But for all: give them a little time. As far as our knowledge goes, judgment is a long way off.

Las Vegas, NV

...so if this 16 year old wants to date a 25 year old or wants to become a prostitute living on the street...to follow the logic of some on this board, the parents should step aside and let her decide for herself. What’s the difference between the parents stepping in and stop her from ruining her life and making her go to church until she is old enough to make her own decision?


I'd like to thank the poster that pointed out that there was more to be found on Angela's blog. It is a very interesting exchange.
I just want you to know that it is very common for people in the church to use the words "know" and "believe" interchangeably. Sometimes it is innocent enough, but in this case it has caused you some angst. In the Doctrine and Covenants is tells us that to some it is given to "know" and to others it is given to "believe" (I'll leave you to look up the whole scripture). Both of these spiritual gifts are mentioned in a context that allows that perhaps someone might have neither of these two "gifts." Personally, I think that for many this means that we have to work hard and consistently at nurturing a testimony. I think you have convinced yourself that you are more different, and alone, than you really are. We humans are really good at this, especially in our teens. I recommend Elder Holland's recent talk "Lord I believe, help though mine unbelief."
Most of all, be glad that your parents give a hoot. Many others do too.

San Francisco, CA

Is there more to this than what is in this letter, or in the excerpt Angela quoted?

Saying she doesn't want to be LDS anymore is only half the story. Does she have any alternative in mind, for example another church she might be interested in (perhaps, the church of a boy she is interested in)? Or is she rebelling because she wants to sleep in on Sundays, wear revealing clothing, ditch Seminary, or drink frapuccinos?

Toddlers, immature children, and brats of all ages say "I don't wanna" and "I'm not gonna." At 16, she is old enough to stop the babytalk and have some positive alternatives. If my teenager were seriously interested in exploring another spiritual path, I might be inclined to allow it. But if this is just rebellion for its own sake, there ought to be a price. For instance, since you no longer believe and Church teachings mean nothing to you, you can make yourself useful on Sundays and have every dish clean and stored, every floor vacuumed or swept, the garbage emptied, every pet fed and walked, and dinner ready when the rest of us get home from worshipping God.


I have known a few people who wanted very much to join the LDS church, but their parents would not let them be baptized until they turned 18. I suspect Amy's parents as well as the parents of my friends all have had the best interest of their children in mind and are doing their best to teach and raise them according to the knowledge and understanding each has of things. Then it's up up to each of of to find out for ourselves what we really want and what we will believe.

Parents aren't perfect, but they care about you more than anyone else. Being a teenager, living at home with a simple request to continue going to church isn't so bad. Time will come soon enough and you're grown. Enjoy your folks while you still got them. You'll miss them when they're gone.


Part 1 of 2

Reading more into the blog, I can relate to feeling uncomfortable when folks get super emotional sharing their testimony. It doesn't really have to be testimony meeting where folks get all weepy, though. It can be movies or what have you, leaving me wondering what is wrong with me because I'm not. But have I had prayers answered? Sufficient for me to accept they have been. So then when I share my testimony, is it ok for me to then say I "know" prayers are answered?

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