Beliefs Faith Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

How welcoming are Mormons to people with disabilities? At new Hartford temple, some room for improvement

The Hartford, Connecticut LDS temple is open to the public for tours until October 22.
The Hartford, Connecticut LDS temple is open to the public for tours until October 22.

© 2016 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Hartford, Connecticut LDS temple is open to the public for tours until October 22.

 

On Friday evening, my friend Ellen Painter Dollar, a writer who specializes in religion and disability, went to the new Hartford, Conn., LDS temple for a tour before its dedication.

She never did get to see the inside.

Here’s what happened, in Ellen’s own words in a letter to the temple presidency:

I have a genetic bone disorder and use a cane for mobility. You require visitors to put coverings over their shoes to keep your floors from getting dirty and damaged from all the visitors. I explained to a man who greeted us that the covers would make the bottom of my shoes too slippery and asked if I could go in without the covers.

I realize that the risk of slipping may seem minimal to many people, but I have compromised balance and fragile bones, and it doesn’t take more than a tiny slip to make me fall. I’ve had 40-plus broken bones in my 48 years of life, and I’m sure you agree that it would have been unfortunate if I slipped and hurt myself in your Temple.

The first man I asked said no, and also said, “We can put you in a wheelchair,” an offer that I declined. When he realized I was going to leave without taking the tour, he said he’d ask someone else if an exception could be made.

The whole conversation was being watched intently by the other hosts sitting in a row to offer shoe coverings; I looked up and saw a line of a dozen silent faces staring at me. That’s when I realized this was probably not going to end well.

The first man took me to the head of the line, to an older man who seemed to have some authority, and asked if I could go in without shoe covers for my safety. The second man looked me in the eye, shrugged, and said, “No, we can’t allow that. But we can put you in a wheelchair.”

PUT me in a wheelchair. I can’t quite decide which part of this whole thing was most upsetting, but the fact that the phrase, “we can/we’d like to/we need to PUT YOU in a wheelchair” was repeated several times may be it. This repeated phrase made me feel like an object to be put wherever is most convenient for Temple volunteers and your clean floors.

At some point, one of the men said, “I’ll push you in the wheelchair if you want.” (I didn’t – I know how to navigate in a wheelchair, and this suggestion further robbed me of my own agency and made me feel even more like a thing to be literally pushed around, rather than a person with 48 years worth of knowledge about my own mobility.)

Another man kept saying, “Please just go in a wheelchair,” which under the circumstances came across more like, “Please just sit down and stop being difficult.” I said I wasn’t interested in using a wheelchair, that I’d like to and am well able to walk, but can’t do so safely with covers on my shoes.

I ultimately told my husband and son to go on the tour without me, and went to wait for them in the car.

I cringed when I read this story. This is my friend, and as a Mormon I would hope for her to have a positive experience of the new LDS temple opening in her community. Instead, what she received was the message that she and her cane were not welcome.

At least one person realized that the way the temple volunteers had handled the situation was wrong:

The only redeeming moment was when a man (his name was Paul) who heard what happened came to apologize. It appeared that he and another young man . . . were the only two people who understood that the message I received loud and clear was that I’m not welcome, that I and my safety, my bodily autonomy, and my self-awareness of what I need to be safe are less important than clean floors, and that I need to be “put” somewhere I don’t want or need to be, solely for other people’s convenience and priorities.

Paul said he’d take me in for a tour, regardless of the rules, but by this point I was angry and humiliated and just wanted to go home. I explained that I work really hard, through physical therapy and exercise, to be strong enough not to use a wheelchair at this point in my life, and that I and every religion I’m familiar with consider people to be more important than floors—a point that Paul conceded. I felt bad for him—he so clearly wanted to make things better, to make up for how badly his fellow church members treated me, but by that point it was too late.

As a person without physical limitations, I take it for granted that I can walk where I want to, open doors, navigate stairs, etc. But I’ve learned a lot from listening to Ellen and other people with physical disabilities: Don’t demonize them as being “other,” and by the same token, don’t lionize them as superheroes, which is just another way of robbing them of common humanity and making them the “other.” They’re just folks.

Also, don’t assume that you know what they need. Just. Listen.

The Celestial Room in the Hartford, Connecticut temple

© 2016 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Celestial Room in the Hartford, Connecticut temple

It’s the “just listen” part of Ellen’s experience at the temple I find so troubling. How is it that these good people couldn’t see past preserving their carpets to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for individuals with disabilities? Ellen gets around just fine with a cane and some understanding of her situation. She does not need a wheelchair at this point in her life – a freedom that is hard-won.

Was this an isolated incident? I’d love to think so, but experience tells me otherwise. I’ve never been in an LDS meeting where we had substantive training on how to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Not once. Yes, it’s true that we’re an all-volunteer church, and that makes it difficult; it’s not like we have an ordained clergy who get sensitivity training and then pass that knowledge down to the hoi polloi. There are going to be gaps in Mormons’ knowledge of how to accommodate people with disabilities who come to our church buildings. But there should not be chasms.

Real hospitality is to welcome strangers as they are — not attired as we would have them be, or where we’re able to “put” them in boxes that make us feel more comfortable. Real hospitality is to welcome the stranger as Christ. As spirituality writer Robert Benson explains it in A Good Life:

Benedict calls us to a constant awareness that those who enter our world are all to be treated as though they were the Christ. He calls us to a posture, a way of seeing and of welcoming and of serving that is rooted in the sense of adoration of the Christ that is present in us all.

He calls for particular honor and care to be given to the poor, the sick, the needy, the guest, and the pilgrims. And who among us, who among those we know, who among those we shall meet tomorrow is not some or all or each at some time or all of the time?

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

73 Comments

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  • Don’t even get me started. When we toured the St. Louis Temple, my brother, who had spina bifida and was a wheelchair user, wasn’t allowed to use his own wheelchair. He had to use one that was provided by the temple. Luckily, he didn’t need a whole lot of customization for his chair, other than a special seat which could be moved over, but many people who need wheelchairs can’t just switch over to a generic chair.

    My brother was also never able to pass the sacrament, not even once. There was no talking to the bishop or stake president about trying to accommodate him, they refused to even think about it. Of course, these are the same people who didn’t understand why a ward building may need more than two accessible parking spots.

  • Not that it matters but the Temple Presidency isn’t involved with the Open House. I’m not sure how/who she got information to send a letter to the Temple Presidency, but it’s the wrong place to send the information. The Area Authority 70 would’ve been the open house committee chair.

    I can’t imagine turning away someone like this, I was intimately involved with a Temple Open house and my experience in cases like this was the Stake President/cy member who was in charge that day would’ve escorted her through himself and given special time and effort.

    The overall point, I think, about serving those with disabilities is well taken, however. We can do much, much better than we do now. While I can’t even fathom a deacon not being allowed to pass the sacrament from a wheelchair (I’ve never seen that happen in all my wards/stakes, I’ve been in plenty of places where boys passed from a wheelchair easily).

  • I too have a disability and walk with a cane. My bones in my feet are weak and fragile, and the collapsing of my arch is a real possibility. When I toured the Provo City Center temple, I readily accepted a wheelchair and was happy to be pushed along the tour. I understand that her hard work to walk was a triumph for her and an accomplishment to be proud of, but riding in a wheelchair is nothing to be ashamed of. Being sensitive to her feelings, of course, is paramount, and yet, her unwillingness to ride seems to me to be an issue of pride. Forgive me if I am making too little of this and am not seeing the whole picture.

  • I see things a little differently. I think most people understand that they will either be wearing slippers, or riding in a wheelchair. I too have a fear of falling and knew slippers were out of the question for me, so I knew before I went that I would be riding in a wheelchair. It would have been lovely if they had allowed you to take the tour walking without the slippers. And maybe they were being unreasonable where you were concerned, but I doubt they could have made those accommodations for everyone who refused the slippers. I truly wish you could have been accommodated, but I enjoyed the tour riding, just as much or more than I would have walking.

  • While I’m sorry for your experience and your disability, the greater sorrow is your pride. Your unbending sense of entitlement that says you don’t have to concede to the wishes of your host. Imagine if everyone reacted with your same arrogance, “I’m not putting on this unfashionable booties,” “What? What do you mean I can’t go anywhere I want in the temple?” “I’m sorry your tour dates are inconvenient to me, I’ll just come back whenever I want.”

    The imperfect human beings that were there tried to make a reasonable accommodation for you but you were too prideful. I suppose you wouldn’t have looked toward the serpent staff or bathed yourself in the river Jordan either.

  • and the fact that they rip out those cheaper carpets after the tours because they are so trodden with all the footsteps of so many people, in order to put in better quality carpeting before opening, makes it even worse that they did not allow her to go through unimpeded…

  • Providing a wheelchair to accommodate this visitor seems reasonable. Simply, if the visitor declines the wheelchair the temple staff are under no obligation to allow the tour. Also, the term “put you” is not demeaning as the airlines use it to put people in first class and car rental companies use the term to put people in certain cars. It seems the visitor has a chip on her shoulder and expects the world around her to be politically correct to her whims.

  • No, it really isn’t reasonable. And put you, in this case, is demeaning. It suggests that she has no choice in how her body is handled,

    Demanding bodily autonomy isn’t a whim.

  • After I posted my last comment, I realized that you may not have known about the need for wearing slippers. My apologies there. At the recent temple tour that I attended, I saw volunteers putting wheel coverings on specialized wheelchairs. Those with disabilities were not asked to change chairs. I guess different temple tours may have different rules.

  • The temple is a sacred place. In scripture we find that God expects shoes removed when on sacred ground (i.e., Moses). In the temple after dedication shoes are normally removed and slippers used, partly as a symbol of ancient respect for that which is sacred and holy. To keep the carpets clean is a more temporal reason, but a pretty good reason, too, as great sacrifices are made by some (even those who struggle with great disabilities) to contribute money to tithes and offerings and to build the House of the Lord. Many leaders and members feel a profound duty to show respect for the House of the Lord and those who sacrificed to make it possible by caring for the building as a symbol of what they hold sacred.
    It seems that this difference may arise out of some misunderstanding going both directions. And in such situations it seems that both parties must recognize the good intent of the other and both parties must each be willing to make a compromise out of kindness and respect for the other. But of course, guests must remember that opportunity to go into the House of the Lord is a privilege and not a right. And the hosts must remember that while protecting that which is sacred and showing proper respect, they have some flexibility as they try to be good hosts to all who have been invited so long as guests respects the traditions and sacred nature of the place.

  • “If every able-bodied person entering the Temple were told that they were going to be put in a wheelchair that they didn’t need for the purposes of cleanliness, would we see their refusal as an issue of pride?”

    Yes.

    You have a right to get around however you want. You don’t have a right to destroy someone’s property. If the property owners want to have rules to preserve their property then follow them.

  • “And a whole lot more people who were required to leave behind their own wheelchair or other mobility aid for a manual wheelchair”

    Too bad. No one has a right to track dog feces throughout another person’s building.

    Would you demand the same right to walk with your shoes into the home of someone with severe OCD who wanted to keep their place immaculately clean??

    Have you considered there might be worshipers or visitors TO that Temple that might have a mental or psychological need for the Temple to be CLEAN. Could you not offer THOSE people some respect and keep the place clean for THEM, or are you uncaring about THOSE people’s disabilities and special needs??

    “That a wheelchair was the only option that was offered was, frankly, a shock.”

    It wasn’t the only option offered, it was the alternative option for those whom the first option would not work. What other options do you want that would still preserve the cleanliness of the building??

  • “that I’d like to and am well able to walk, but can’t do so safely with covers on my shoes.”

    Then use the wheelchair. Don’t make a mess of the place you visit. Play by their rules. You are a guest.

    If your friend had OCD (assuming you are a decent person) you’d be willing to abide by their absurd standards of cleanliness when visiting them to ensure THEIR peace of mind, wouldn’t you??

    So this Mormon Temple has standards of cleanliness similar to that of someone with OCD. So follow their standards. You are the guest.

  • Oh, but people don’t have a right to demand their property be kept clean by visitors I guess??

  • Except you and I both know that the carpets get replaced and the temple is cleaned incredibly thoroughly top to bottom before the dedication. If they want it to stay pristine, they shouldn’t invite the general public to come for an open house.

  • “If they want it to stay pristine, they shouldn’t invite the general public to come for an open house.”

    That is not their only option. Their building, their rules.

  • You are correct, their building, their rules, but they should expect things like this to happen.

    What I don’t understand, and this is as a person born into the church, who spent the majority of her life in the church, and has been in several temples, to work, for open houses, and for dedication, is the steadfast belief that Ellen Painter Dollar wasn’t mistreated. Or that the error is all on her side and her sin was pride.

  • I guess I just have a very different perspective to many of the people posting. My youngest brother had disabilities, my husband has disabilities, and I have disabilities. There should have been some kind of accommodation made that made her trip to a temple much more accessible. Being told that she can be “put in” a wheelchair isn’t an accommodation that is for her. It is for the building. A building is never more important than a person. Not even the temple.

    It’s a very privileged position to say that she should’ve just gone along and not caused any trouble.

  • I wonder how this visitor would cope being released from a hospital where she might want to walk to the exit when the use of a wheelchair is required.

  • Different rules, different situations, different needs. That’s like comparing apples and hand grenades.

  • Sounds as if your sin may be being judgmental. You don’t get to be the person who decides what her sorrow or sin is.

  • There are similar threads to apples and hand grenades as well, they are both able to be thrown, but that still doesn’t mean that they should be compared.

  • It was not required to switch in to a different chair. It was an option, but people were absolutely allowed to use their own chairs.

  • As I stated above, it simply isn’t true that people has to move out of their own wheelchairs. While it was an option to switch to a chair with covered wheels, another option was to have the wheels of your own chair covered.

    Also, please clarify. Here you state that only one option (a wheelchair) was offered to you. But in the article above it states that “Paul” offered to take you on a tour, shoes and all, but that you had been humiliated so you declined. It sounds to me that while 1-2 people may have not been as sensitive as you would have liked, Paul was. Isn’t that kind of the end of the story?

  • Thanks for this post that has provoked some different thoughts about hospitality. I am a would-be Latter-day Saint. I like to think of the House of Lord to be OUR Heavenly Parents’ pied at terre where we children ALL ‘deserve’ to feel at home. It is OUR house too because parents want us to be there with them. Sure, if one of my sibs tells me, “Heh, take your shoes off because if you don’t I have to clean up after you” then I should be respectful of that. However, if I say, “Forgive me but I might slip and fall if I don’t wear shoes–and I hate being wheeled around in wheel chairs” then I would hope my sib would say, “Oh, okay, I will be glad to clean your shoes before you come in–or if you do mess things up, I will be glad to clean up after you.”

    In this sense the Mormons don’t ‘own’ the House of the Lord. All of the children of the earth ‘own’ it. At any age they are invited there by their Parents. We LDS custodians are serving the kids, and they come first. According to St. Paul, the children are holy temples–the building is just a building unless holiness is brought into it.

  • In Mark 2, four people broke up the roof of a house Jesus was staying in so that the man with palsy could approach the Savior and be healed. Jesus didn’t freak out about the roof, or tell them they were prideful for not being “reasonably accommodated” by the door. He acknowledged their faith and healed the man. Somehow I think Jesus would rather invite people into his house and have them feel safe while they move about there than for the carpets to remain pristine. Are clean carpets and house rules really more important than someone feeling the Spirit? If we are more focused on possessions than on people, how can we say we are doing Jesus’ work?

  • Because Jesus said, “If you have dirty feet, you can’t come in my house. Only the ‘clean’ are permitted here. GTFO.”

    Such “high” standards of attitude and behavior. Seriously, who would want to surround themselves by these people?

  • Ellen, are you in charge of implementing a policy of any kind at work or in some other organization? Making exceptions does in fact frequently open up a can of worms, or is at least a big inconvenience to deal with. It’s a matter of fairness. You were given a reasonable option: go in the wheelchair. People who are perfectly capable of leaving the hospital get wheeled out all the time. If that is demeaning to you, I think that’s an issue for you to deal with.

  • The rule was perfectly reasonable and hospitable. But I think the point is that you can only control your own reaction, and your response seems unreasonable to many other people, including others with similar disabilities.

  • Ellen

    What you need to know is that I was there that night.

    Clearly we are all going to see the world and events through our own lens. I am truly sorry that this turned in to a bad experience for you.

    I applaud your effort to help people see things through your lens. I applaud your effort to instigate a change in procedures at these Open Houses.

    I just wish could understand that your expectation of these three people, who are all volunteering their time, was pretty high. Had they been a paid staff maybe I would feel differently about it. But they are just average people trying to do a good thing. Your situation asked a lot of them, sensitivity, quick problem solving, and finding a solution that was also acceptable to you AND to the directions they had been given.

    As they work through their own ability to understand people different than them, I hope you will also forgive them for not meeting your expectations.

  • The phrase may be offensive to some. The wording has nothing to do with the churches “accommodations” for the handy-capped. If a wheel chair can get around to all the places people visit, then I’m sure the temples meet the specifications for handy capped. We really can’t do a whole lot for the way people word their suggestions. People say the silliest things… like this letter sent to the church for example.

    Perhaps the first person should have just let her leave, then we’d have no article and no letter.

  • Indeed. They do expect things like that to happen. That’s why they offered an “accommodation”. Perhaps what they didn’t expect to happen was this letter.

  • Hearing so many people place a material thing (the temple) above the simple needs of a person (a child of God) is painful. I agree it’s most likely a training issue for those particular volunteers and I choose to believe they had no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings. But I can understand how badly this experience could make this Sister feel.

    My wife and I have maintained our home to our desired expectations through the years…a task made simpler once our children grew up and moved to their own homes! But several years ago, our daughter needed our help and we welcomed her with joy back into our home along with our two grandchildren. Our 11 year old grandson is severely autistic and VERY active. We no longer have grass in the backyard, our flower beds are gone, the lower limbs of trees are leafless, his room is more gray than yellow, the carpeting is fairly worn out in areas, and our wonderful neighbors have learned to live with his very loud “singing”. But compared to his eternal spirit and the joy and love he brings into our lives, our house is nothing. It is him and his sister and our daughter and my wife that makes this house our home.

    Plus, houses are generally much easier to repair than people.

  • Fair enough. That’s how you run your shop. You should understand, though, that the people in charge of the temple see the edifice itself as an offering to God, and as such, it should be no less than perfect. Helping everyone see the beauty and–more importantly–feel the spirit of that place is a high priority, but preserving the physical cleanliness of it is also a high priority. In this case, there was absolutely no reason that it could not be both. You chose not to take the perfectly reasonable accommodation offered to you, but instead you demanded that you be accommodated *in the way you felt you should be accommodated* without stopping to consider why your hosts would offer you a different accommodation. Most telling to me is that in this entire story, you never mention any other ideas that might have addressed the concerns of those running the open house. You didn’t ask if you could remove your shoes entirely. You didn’t ask if there were slippers with better grip. No, you wanted it one way, and it was your way or the highway.

    I have tried and tried to consider this story in a way that casts you in the most favorable light possible, but I cannot see anything other than someone being treated reasonably and, that not being enough, demanded to be treated specially.

  • We hear. We understand. We don’t agree. You are demanding an apology from people who were acting perfectly reasonably and offered you a way to see the temple while still preserving rules that helped maintain the cleanliness of the Lord’s House. Contrary to your assertion, you can in fact forgive without acknowledgement of a mistake. That’s entirely up to you.

  • I don’t think your story depicts unreasonable people (not the temple staff, anyhow). It depicts people trying to accommodate everyone without sacrificing some of the concerns that policies are in place to protect.

    I honestly don’t think that most reasonable people reading your account will fault the Church. You were offered an entirely reasonable accommodation. People went out of their way to make sure that you could take the tour. What they didn’t do, and what they should not be expected to do, is solve the problem *in the way you wanted it to be solved*. That you refused to take the accommodation offered reflects much more on you than it does the Church. You’d have to somehow demonstrate that the Church’s offer of a wheelchair was insufficient, which I don’t think you have. Being pushed in a wheelchair is not an indignity. Frankly, it’s a little off-putting that you seem to think it is.

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience. But again, you choose how you feel.

  • Maybe part of the disconnect here is that you are comparing this to operations of your Church?

    This Open House is a one time event for this area. No one, including those in charge, had ever done anything like this before.

    The volunteers are not 100-200 people from the Hartford area. There have been hundreds of volunteers, possibly more than a thousand, who have traveled from upstate NY, RI, western MA and even VT to volunteer for a four hour shift. So I refer back to my original comment that your standard of care in this situation was very high for just regular people trying to share with the public something that is important to them.

    One last though-

    Some limitations are physical.
    Some are emotional
    Some are intellectual
    Some are social

    Some limitations are visible, some are invisible.

    Some are visible to all but the person with the limitation.

    We all fall short. You witnessed the limitations of some good people.

    I hope you find it in your heart to forgive them, even if they know not what they do.

  • I think this points to the “purity” issue that Latter-day Saints have, the simple idea that the packaging is more important than the thing inside as well as an obedience culture that discourages independence of action. Let’s face it, how hard would it have been to simply offer to clean her shoes for her and escort her in?

  • “If every able-bodied person entering the Temple were told that they were going to be put in a wheelchair …”

    Not only do you have a chip on your shoulder — you can’t write English either.

  • “… someone feeling that they were unwelcome because of their very simple …”

    More non-English …

  • “… someone with severe OCD who wanted to keep their place …”

    Fast Eddie Theman is as grammar-deficient as Ellen Painter Dollar.

  • “If your friend had OCD (assuming you are a decent person) you’d be willing to abide by their absurd standards of cleanliness when visiting them to ensure THEIR peace …”

    THREE grammatical errors …

  • The impression I’m getting is that after the Temple is dedicated, members are required or at least expected to wear slippers or special “inside shoes” while inside. When googling this, however, I also found that LDS sells various non-slip slippers for Temple use. The impression I got from the article is that the author was offered hospital-type shoe covers, which are in fact pretty slippery. Perhaps in the future, Temples could offer the former kind instead to people in the author’s situation.

  • What an odd set of comments on this article. We have Fast Eddie and Harold providing us bad logic in the form of false dichotomies (wear protective gear/destroy temple property vs some less extreme alternative) and false analogies (hospitals, rental car companies). We have SilivasDaddy beaming in periodically with cryptic remarks disparaging others’ grammar.

    Some of the remarks are so mean-spirited and abrupt. Apparently the concept of irony is lost on some of the people defending the temple’s handling of this incident. If I recall after 50 years of Mormon indoctrination, Mormons are the sole purveyors of the true and undiluted gospel of Jesus. Just for the sake of argument, let’s suppose they are correct. The tone of many comments here strongly suggests that superior knowledge does not necessarily translate into superior behavior.

    I think Some Guy hit the nail on the head.

  • The kind offered were disposable. It’s easy to come up with solutions after the fact, and one of those might have been a good solution, but it doesn’t appear that Ellen was interested in engaging in problem-solving, while she was offered a solution that let her both see the temple safely and preserve the cleanliness of the temple.

  • Did she make any such offer? Let’s face it, she was given a solution that addressed her disability and the concern for the cleanliness of the temple. If that was not good enough for her, it was up to her to suggest something else. It does not appear that she did that.

  • The Church used to replace the carpets after an open house, but now use the booties over the shoes so they don’t have to replace the carpets before the dedication. That would get expensive.

  • Possibly but that doesn’t refute or negate my point.

    The church was willing to make concessions and accomodations; she wasn’t.

  • Simple: she had already been offered a solution that addressed her needs and the church’s goals. If that wasn’t good enough for her, it was her turn to propose an alternative.

  • Being forced into a wheel chair did not address her needs.

    The church wanted to put on a PR event to show how wonderful they are, and all they did was prove that, like all religion, they care more about rules and appearances than people.

    Don’t worry, she and everyone who reads this story hears the message loud and clear.

  • She wasn’t forced into a wheelchair; she was offered one. And that wheelchair would have allowed her to tour the temple, so yes, it addressed her needs while also addressing the church’s concerns.

    I think it’s obvious to people who don’t have an ax to grind that this woman was acting unreasonably. She made no effort to address the church’s concern in her proposed solution.

  • Ellen and Jana—

    Thank you so much for sharing this story.

    Ellen, thanks to you especially for being willing to come and engage in this conversation under your own name. It takes a special kind of courage to share such a vulnerable story in the first place, let alone to brave the anonymous yahoos anxious to put in their ill-informed two cents.

    As a lifelong Mormon, I am astonished and, frankly, mortified to read the appalling comments of my fellow members so intent on defending the way you were treated—especially, bafflingly, after you were contacted by the open house committee chair. Thank you for sharing that resolution, of sorts, with us. It certainly doesn’t take away your experience, but I was immensely relieved to see that the issue has been addressed in such a way as will spare others a similar experience.

    May we as members of this church repent of our arrogance and keep our ears and hearts humbly open to those who would help us improve the way we minister to our brothers and sisters!

  • Bless Sis. Ellen, for having the courage to come forward. We’re both disabled. Jim’s a 100% disabled Vietnam War era veteran, and I (Cath ) have an unusual form of grand mal epilepsy BELIEVE ME, we’ve been dealt with in a manner that parallel’s dear Ellen’s SEVERAL TIMES, and THIS IS THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS for heaven’s sakes ! ! ! It was made pretty clear to us, that having TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (same as actress Sharon Stone and others) isn’t a legal disability BUT A MORTAL SIN. Yes, we’re Mormons with testimonies, and what better people to show Heavenly Father’s glory? ? ? Jim’s missing a part of his brain from his time in the military , yet he has 3 bachelor’s degrees, is an artist, musician, athlete, poet, all post bleed. Catherine H.

  • For insurance reasons I would think the wheel chair would be the the best option. They would not want her falling, tripping etc.. or having a hard time walking through the temple especially after telling them of the issues she has. . The people running the open house are not professionals, they are volunteers. It was also the first day– and even before the first day. I volunteered there and I am just a regular person . I may have not said the right thing here and there but was doing my best. I was there trying to be of service. I know they tried to accommodate with wheel chairs and even they had ambulances that had to come for various reasons many times for people who had health related issues walking through so I am sure a wheel chair would have been the best option. It was the first day and it was new to everyone. Forgive and let it go– that is what Jesus would do — have respect for the building and the members are trying to have respect for it too. I hope she will be able to not hold a grudge and be forgiving –maybe the tones were not as professional as she would have liked . I hope she is able to find peace in her life and love for those who are trying to help her.

  • I have a friend (Marks) who doesn’t speak or read english and he needs you to post all your comments in cyrillic. Yes yes there are websites that could do the translations for him but that would be insensitive to him. Please make sure all of your comments and posts are catering to his needs. Oh, and in Hebrew. Harvey might want to read them as well. And Polish since I might want Magda to read.

  • I appreciate Ellen’s comments and can empathise with them. There has been a missed opportunity to render service from heart to heart and with common sense. I can only imagine the emotional rigor that Ellen goes through to maintain her survival with some dignity. Emotional resilience to judgement can be a fragile thing when it beats at your door regularly. Walk a day in someone else’s shoes (or maybe longer, so you can get worn down), before casting judgement. Excuse the pun here.

  • One option that hasn’t been mentioned is that someone at the Temple could have offered to clean Ellen’s shoes so she could use her own shoes on the tour. That would have been my reaction if I were a volunteer there and she didn’t like the idea of a wheelchair. What a shame that so much hurt feelings and animosity were engendered — all very contrary to the goal of an Open House.

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