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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All of us are at various stages in our journey through life and each experiences different things. Some things come in time, while others have experienced some things while they're young.

Some may have experiences that they can say they "know." Like the Prophet Joseph Smith seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ. While others not having had these experiences trust what the other has said is true, so they "believe" what was said.

Others, though they have not seen God the Father or Jesus Christ, they have had their own experiences in answer to prayer that thought they have not seen they, too can say they "know."

Might not be the best analogy, but to me it's kind of like being a blind person. Though the blind person might not be able to see a person standing in front of them, using their other senses they still know someone is there. To recognize spiritual things, we need to learn how to use our spiritual sense.

Hope this helps.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


One point I might add - but it is to the parents vs. the child. As many on this board have pointed out, the world changes entirely when she turns 18. They need to prepare and look toward that day. For them, perhaps the point to focus on is not strictly church attendance but to work toward the development of a testimony.

I know - far easier said than done. But I still think that is the key. Other than the basics, the exact "how" is something that requires seeking and strictly following the Holy Ghost.

The other thing is for them to let her know that she is always loved. No matter what. And to look to find ways to keep the relationship strong (despite the bumps). Should she choose a hard path, having that relationship still open will be key. Should she not, then it will just a source of greater joy to both her and the parents.

Finally, I might suggest reading James Faust's excellent talk titled Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered.

G L W8

Okay, so I'm going to critique my own earlier comment: "Most of the responses given here are simplistic answers to a complex question." After re-reading the posts of others, I find there are many excellent points scattered throughout that cover some of the issues where Amy and her parents need to come to terms.
They would do well to sit down, make a list of possible areas that may be bothering Amy (the article, blog, and these comments could help compile the list), throw out the ones that may be irrelevant or speculative in her case, and plan together a course of action that reduces the tension between them. That, I believe, may reduce or eliminate the feelings of "force" that Amy has. Among other possibilities, she may be struggling to find her way out of what's left of childhood into full blown acceptance as an adult.


It sounded to me like the parents aren't trying to force belief, but rather attendance, although certainly that's what they hope comes of it. Is 3 hours of family unity on Sunday too much to ask of a child? There are a lot worse things they could be forcing on an unwilling child, surely we can agree on that? And this isn't an LDS perspective only, I grew up in the Bible belt, church was expected, no arguments allowed, in families of all faiths. I believe it's the things we didn't do in life we regret the most. I think looking back, pleasing her parents in this way will be one of the things she does not regret regardless of her religious beliefs.

Harwich, MA

There is nothing important about "going to Church". It only represents the "Culture" of Mormonism not the Doctrine. If you learn one thing from Joseph Smith about parenting it's this, "Teach them correct principles and they will govern themselves". He didn't say "force" them correct principles. Parents can be such idiots sometime. I'm 61 years old, I only went to Church because of the culture and friendships, never because of fear, guilt and doctrine.

Little Andy
Tremonton, UT

All children are different. We teach them all the same things and have several different outcomes. We had a child leave home when they were 17 years old. This person is now almost 25..This person has had almost eight very very hard years.Now perhaps a start to be headed in the right direction.I did not state the gender because it applies to all. Hopefully LOVE is the answer and wil be the problem solution. I have seen it happen many times..

South Jordan, UT

Dennis: You're wrong. The very word religion comes from the same root as the word ligament. Just as a ligament is designed to bind muscle to bone, so religion is designed to bind man to God. It is not always effective but that is its purpose.

Clifton Palmer McLendon
Gilmer, Texas

To the whiny girl: Do as you're told. As long as you live in your parents' house, they make the rules, and you are to follow them.

Bill Fitz

The rule is, As long as you are in this family living in our house we go to church as a family. Simple


I forced my oldest daughter who wasn't Mormon to attend Seminary @ 5:30 every morning in Las Vegas because I thought she would gain a testimony of the church and gain more discipline also. Although she had the discipline that made her a wonderful student, she did not gain a testimony of the church and was never baptized into Mormonism. As I reflect back, I now realize that she was a disciplined student because of how her mom and I raised her before high school, not because she had to get up that early before any of her friends to attend Seminary and then go to school. I now regret forcing her to go to Seminary because she despises the Mormon Faith and the four years of Seminary wasn't a factor in what type of woman she turned out to be. Later my wife and I adopted 4 other kids and left it up to them whether or not to join the church. Three did and 1 didn't. Don't force your kids to keep up with Joneses.

terra nova
Park City, UT

In the mid-90's BYU did a study designed to isolate behaviors that would save a child from engaging in deviant behavior. They fully expected church attendance to be important. But their study indicated there was no correlation. They hated the outcome so much that they expanded the size of the study dramatically. Second time around: Same conclusion.

Church attendance was not a statistically important indicator of a child's likelihood to engage in deviant behavior.

The authors of the study didn't like the outcome, but they did find a bit of truth. Here it is: Public behaviors (like church attendance, family prayer, family fasts) are not useful indicators of probable deviant behavior. However, PRIVATE behaviors (personal scripture study, personal fasting, personal prayer) absolutely correspond.

Parents care about kids acting in a gospel centered way, they should focus more on helping a teen engage in private behaviors and less on public behaviors.

This does not mean church, family scripture study and so forth are unimportant. But they take a back seat to public behaviors, especially FORCED public behavior.

Each family is different, but I suggest the parents fast and pray about it and re-think forcing the issue.


Amy should know that, unfortunately, there are many adults who feel forced to attend church. Forced by their elderly parents, forced by a spouse, forced to attend for fear of their job or that their business will lose customers. There are sadly many people who attend only because they feel forced to do so.

Cedar City, UT

@JoeBlow She may be 16 years old and capable of making her own decision regarding religion, but she should still attend church with her family even if to do it simply because it is a family activity. The same would apply if she was raised in a different religion and wanted to attend LDS meetings. Besides, it is just two more years. Better to keep the peace and just stick it out for the sake of harmony.

Paul in MD
Montgomery Village, MD

My father-in-law realized at 16 that he really wasn't sure what he believed about the LDS church. He decided he needed to find out for himself, so he read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, praying about it as Moroni 10:3-5 says. No one was pressing him to do this. He did it on his own, despite what he later realized was dyslexia.

He came away with a testimony that prompted a lifetime of service to others in the most selfless example I've ever personally witnessed.

I'd recommend the young lady do the same, find out by reading the Book of Mormon and praying. Maybe she's already done this, the article doesn't say.

Her parents definitely have the right to require she attend church until she's 18. As she says, they can't force her to believe anything, but they can require her to follow house rules, like attending church.


The first question that I would propose to this young individual would be, why don't you want to be a member of the LDS faith anymore?

Second, do you have a testimony of The Book of Mormon? If not, why?

Unfortunately forcing anyone to do something they don't want to can have serious repercussions later in life. Granted her parents have their rules and that is the way it needs to be. I agree that when this individual turns 18 she can do whatever she wants with her life. I can understand how she feels as my parents were converts of the church when I was really young. And later in my teenage life I did not want to be affiliated with the church any longer. There were many reasons for my choice, but it came down to not understanding who I was or my purpose in this life. I had no testimony of the restored gospel, no belief in God or His Son.

I wanted nothing to do with the Saints at that time. Being in the Lord's church can be difficult at times. But things have changed since that time as I know who I am.

houston, 00

I too growing up did not want to be a Mormon...most of my friends growing up were not LDS so i wanted to do what my friends were doing...and the "friends" that were LDS did not want to be my friend (which confused me) My parents always taught me that the gospel is perfect not the PEOPLE..I did become inactive for a few years while i did what i thought i needed to do..I am now back in the church with 3 children of my own who happen to be teenagers, they too do not want to go church. They are teenagers and i understand where they are coming from...i will be patient and keep on praying! :) it is sad for me to hear that people leave the church because they were offended by someone or something.keep on going my friends it will be worth it in the end. This young lady needs to find out for herself what is best for her and she will.

Murray, UT

As a parent it is difficult to see your children not seek after and grasp hold of the promptings of the Holy Ghost. We make rules that in and of themselves will not bring a person to Christ, but are methods and means to helping our children receive their own spiritual guidance. That is what makes the Gospel of Jesus Christ so great, that no matter what I say, or do as a parent. It is the Holy Ghost that does the instruction. It is the Holy Ghost that testifies of Jesus Christ, His prophets, His Scriptures, His priesthood, and His commandments.

To not seek after that spiritual guidance and obtain your own witness of eternal truths is to not follow God and our Savior.

So yes as a parent I get to make many decisions for my children, as parents have done in all generations of time. I get to teach, instruct, and guide. But I am most grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost because at some point, it will become their quest for the truth and not just mine.


@Brahmabull - the imperfection of the people, and their lifetime of striving, is part of the perfect gospel. It's not a copout line. It is the plan.

Brent T. Aurora CO
Aurora, CO

Brahmabull for the record, even if it was just us that would disqualify the idea that NO 8 year-old chooses to get baptized. Our four children all made that choice -- one even waited till being nearly nine -- because we insisted that they be able to do so. I do believe in God and He said that 8 year children are old enough to make this decision. In fact I played devils advocate and basically tried to both talk them out of it and to really think about/delay such a big decision. Our oldest was fortunate to be able to literally pray about his decision while kneeling in prayer in the Sacred Grove near Palmyra. He knew exactly what he was doing. Two my daughters do not attend church; one (29) has a fair amount of antagonism about the church. But she is aware that she can have her name removed. But she openly has told us she made the decision and never felt forced.

Brent T. Aurora CO
Aurora, CO

Think dung beetle makes an excellent point. There is huge gap in this letter as to how well the parents know their daughter. Is this a rash decision? Is this a deep, thoughtful child or impulsive? Leader/self assured or follower/low self esteem? Think Angela's advice to her is spot on. It is just two years. Find the positives of which living at home is usually a pretty secure, cushy deal for a 16 year old teenage girl. Negotiate parameters and compromise. Make it work. Relish the time with family versus throwing it aside. To repeat, it is just two years and life after 18 is full of opportunities.

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