Mitt Romney’s church
“Could you try to keep it short? I have a lot to say today.”
A year ago, I was finally called to give a church talk after 2 years of holding various callings and listening to married members giving talks. You don’t feel like a member of the Mormon church unless the Bishop calls you to give a talk. Back when I had been married, I was called to speak in church from time to time with my husband.
Brother Hamstring is a clean cut married member of the 4th Ward whose wife looks like a fashion model. Generally three people are called to speak on an ordinary Sunday, and I was the first one up. Brother Hamstring was second, and he wanted to be sure there was time for his message. I assured him there would be. Although I didn’t know it, he was about to be called to the Bishopric.
Brother and Sister Hamstring heard me bear my testimony one fast Sunday about a year before that. I had just been told I had been sentenced to five days in a Utah jail for withholding visitation even though I had hired an attorney. I had a court case coming up and was barely getting by financially. I didn’t know who to trust, but I definitely needed help, so I bore my testimony.
After church that day, Brother Hamstring approached me and said that his father was “the best family law attorney in Salt Lake City” and that he would help me. I spoke with him on their cell phone. He wanted to know who my attorney had been in the case I had just lost. I told him and he didn’t know the guy. Then he wanted to know the name of my ex-husband’s attorney. I told him and he seemed to know him well. “Damien Bourbon,” he said, reminiscing. I wanted to ask him what he knew about Damien Bourbon, but it didn’t seem appropriate at the time. He asked me if I wanted him to speak to Damien on my behalf. I declined to give him permission.
For the next few months Brother Hamstring’s dad listened to me from time to time, giving me suggestions on the trial brief I was drafting. He really had me on an emotional yo-yo, at times telling me I had a good case and at times telling me things probably wouldn’t work out for me. It must have been a real power trip for him. At one point, he had me crying and begging on the phone.
Finally, having done the best I could researching federal laws concerning child support and custody at the Rochester Law Library in the Hall of Justice, I drove out West to present my case. But for all his encouragement, Brother Hamstring’s dad, the best family law attorney in Salt Lake City, somehow didn’t tell me to notice my motions. My case was thrown out, and I drove back home again. At least the judge had withdrawn the jail sentence.
The last time I called Brother Hamstring’s dad, he told me he could help me but I needed to pay him $5,000 up front. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll never abandon you.” His words sounded comforting, but I didn’t believe them, and it all seemed like a cruel joke after I had already paid two attorneys who didn’t help me at all, after I had spent thousands of dollars driving across country to represent myself. I wanted to ask him where he thought I was going to get that kind of money.
It was a few weeks after I had spoken with the Bishop about the fact that I had never been asked to speak in Sacrament. I had been asked to speak about the Word of Wisdom, and I managed to compare a loving home where children keep their father’s rules to the children Moses led, who were homeless but still had their Father with them, making rules for them to show them He loved them. I felt the Spirit when I spoke, and the talk ended when it was supposed to. It lasted a little over 7 minutes. My absent father talk.
Brother Hamstring got up and droned on and on at the podium. Months later, when he was First Ward Counselor, I was scheduled to sing a solo. His wife was scheduled to give the first talk that day, and Sister Hamstring babbled on for nearly 40 minutes about how many wealthy political friends the Mormon church has in Rochester and how wonderful it is that “we” have a Mormon Presidential candidate this year. I sat wondering how many other musical numbers had to wait for an inconsiderate speaker to finish. Finally I got up and just waited behind her. I did an excellent job with the musical number and got compliments afterward, quite a few from Sister Hamstring herself, her voice ringing falsely and her words sounding vaguely insulting.
It wasn’t possible to bring myself to continue attending Mitt Romney’s church after that. I feel nauseated to think that speakers standing in front of large crowds droning on and on uselessly could be considered “leadership” and that the poor continue to be oppressed in the name of Jesus.