Excommunicated for Priestcraft

MelvinGwenaFishIn the Mormon Church, excommunication is devastating. It is a real and constant threat for those who write publically about the church. In the five years I have been blogging about LDS themes, I confess I have written a few controversial essays. But I have never felt something I wrote could get me into trouble. This essay is different. You may find it to be critical of church leadership.

For the most part, serving in leadership positions in the LDS church is a volunteer assignment. The official phrase is “to receive a calling” but in effect, you are asked to accept a responsibility, often at considerable sacrifice of time and effort. In the local congregations, we have no paid ministry. Instead, the men are asked to lead the meetings and counsel local members as needed.

Being an old guy in the church, I have had my share of leadership assignments, but always in a support position. I would not want to be a Bishop or Stake President because of the difficulty of the task. My role has always been as a counselor or clerk to a Bishop or Stake President. Years ago I served on a Stake High Council, the group of men assigned to assist the Stake President.

Disciplinary Councils

One of the duties of priesthood leadership is to participate in disciplinary councils, something I never enjoyed. I am an imperfect man and am hesitant to pass judgment or even offer an opinion on the worthiness of another individual in the church. Gratefully, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Bishop or Stake President and never a bishopric counselor or High Counselor.

In the eighteen years I have served in leadership positions, I suppose I have probably participated in a few dozen disciplinary councils. That’s where a group of men get together to determine if another member should be allowed to remain in fellowship with the rest of the Latter-day Saints. When serving as a clerk, I have also written the follow-up reports that we send to Salt Lake.

In the years prior to the time I started serving in priesthood leadership, a disciplinary council was referred to as a church court. I never liked that phrase. To me, a court focuses on proving guilt, something I personally find distasteful. The purpose of a disciplinary council should be to help an individual struggling with personal moral failings find strength to turn their life around.

The Ideal Standard

I feel blessed to have served with men who loved the Lord and wanted to do his will. The Stake President with whom I served as a High Counselor is now a Mission President. He was and is a kind man, who always exhibited great care and concern for the welfare of the individuals who were called into judgment under his tenure. Let me share just one example of his kindness.

I recall an elderly gentleman who had been excommunicated for teaching false doctrine. It was evident the man had some mental and emotional problems. But he wanted to come back into the church. For those who don’t know, a disciplinary council must again be convened to reconsider the original evidence and to determine if change is evident and sufficient to be baptized again.

This stake president went out of his way to ensure this elderly man and his family members were comfortable with the procedure. He had his executive secretary sit with the family members the whole time the disciplinary council was being held. He sent his clerk out to the waiting area to keep the man and his family informed while we deliberated his case in the High Council room.

Justice and Mercy

Again, for those who may not be aware, in a Stake disciplinary council, half the High Counselors are assigned to look out for the interests of the person whose case is being heard. The interests of the church are the primary concern of the other six High Counselors. I have sat on both sides of that High Council room. In my experience it seems to be a fair and equitable system of justice.

In every disciplinary council in which I have participated, both as a bishopric member and as a High Councilor, without fail, mercy and love have been the prevailing concern. I said I dislike disciplinary councils. At the same time, I can tell you that it is in these councils that I have felt a strong closeness to the Lord as I have witnessed an outpouring of his love for these individuals.

Tears have almost always been shed by most of the grown men in the room as, in the end, we either brought the individual back into the church or pronounced that he or she would no longer be considered a member of our church. Tears of joy or tears of sorrow were accompanied by an overwhelming witness from the spirit to each of us that the will of the Lord had been done.

Zoob’s Law

I want to tell you about a friend who was excommunicated for priestcraft but before I do I need to tell you a little bit about what he does and why it is troubling for some people in the church. I also need to refer to Zoob’s law, which reads: “Generally people tend to oppose that which they don’t understand, the degree of their opposition being directly proportionate to their ignorance.”

In other words, when learning about something new and different, the non-informed attempt to hide their ignorance by a degree of aggressive descent roughly equal to the amount they do not understand. The greater their ignorance, the greater the opposition. If you think about it, you will recognize the truth of this axiom and circumstances in which you may have witnessed it fulfilled.

If you have not had personal experience with something and witnessed the good that it produces, you may feel uncomfortable with the idea or practice until you have had time to study it out for yourself to make your own determination if it is worthwhile. Imagine how you would feel if you are asked to pass judgment on a subject you don’t understand and only heard about hours before.

Opposition in All Things

In contrast, there are those who do understand something, at least to a small degree, and have decided it is not something of value because it exposes personal weaknesses or causes them to feel condemned by the light contained in the thing being considered. For example, if you are a controlling individual, wouldn’t you object to anything that gives freedom to those you control?

Even though it is expressly forbidden in our church, sadly, there are those who exercise control or compulsion upon others, usually their own family members, all in the name of priesthood authority and their right as the head of a household. This control may manifest itself in emotional abuse of their family members, and even more sadly, sexual and even satanic ritualistic abuse.

For those who are not aware, the problem of sexual abuse is well known and documented among church members living along the Wasatch front. In a 1990 document written by Glenn L Pace, then a member of the Presiding Bishopric to the Strengthening Church Members Committee, he detailed sixty alleged incidents of ritualized child abuse among Utah and Idaho Latter-day Saints.

Trauma in Southern Utah

I don’t want to focus on that negative element of the story but you need to be aware it does exist. The victims of that abuse experience deep psychological pain and trauma. It drives some to acts of self-loathing and even suicide. Because some of these individuals are strong, they seek help and healing from counselors and therapists in an effort to find peace and get on with their lives.

This is where my friend comes into the story. Melvin Fish has a Ph.D. in Counseling. He lives in Southern Utah, where, for some reason, there are a large number of individuals suffering from the trauma of sexual or emotional abuse. I know this because I have been studying the subject for about twenty years. Other counselors in Southern Utah have corroborated this fact, at least for me.

Now, to be fair, people come to these counselors from all over the Western United States, in fact, from all over the world. But our story takes place in Cedar City, where the men who sat on the High Council decided to excommunicate Mel Fish for priestcraft. I defined this unusual term in a previous essay but need to expound on the subject to make it clear in the minds of my readers.

Priestcraft in the LDS Church

The scriptural definition of priestcraft is that men set themselves up as a light instead of pointing others to Christ. The definition of priestcraft that seems to be used in the LDS Church today is that men charge money to help people find healing through Christ. As long as a man does his counseling the way the world recognizes and approves, the Church seems to have no problem.

As long as you practice techniques approved by the APA (American Psychological Association) or the AMCAP (Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists) then you are more than welcome to charge professional fees for your services. In fact, the church will support your business by sending you people from local congregations and then paying your regular fees.

In case you didn’t know, there is no place in the APA or AMCAP for the belief that problems of a psychological or emotional nature can be caused by the influence of evil or unclean spirits. In fact, there seems to be little belief remaining in the LDS Church in general that such beings exist. Even if you profess to believe that evil spirits cause problems, you can’t use that in your work.

Spiritual Counseling

On the other hand, let’s say you obtain a PhD in counseling with the intent of helping people resolve emotional issues that trouble them. You set up a practice and begin to see clients but are troubled by the fact that they have to keep coming back over and over to get help. Talking about their issues only seems to make them worse. You conclude that psychotherapy is ineffective.

So you search for other, more effective means to help people and are led to ideas and techniques that produce positive results in record time. Not surprisingly, these techniques center in ideas found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of others is central to this technique. The belief that problems can be attributed to the influence of evil and unclean spirits is also essential.

Encouraged, you start practicing a technique of discovering and teaching unclean spirits to go to the light of Christ. The people who come to see you are healed in record time. They go away from their counseling sessions filled with joy and relief, happy to be free of the burdens they have cast upon the Lord. You publish books and teach others how to do what you have done.

Discovering Hidden Stress

Well, that’s what Mel Fish has done. And for this he has been excommunicated. This happened in 2009 about the time I first learned about his work. I purchased his books in 2010, studied them and discovered they contained teachings that brought me closer to Christ, especially as I applied the principle of forgiveness of others and myself. His visualization techniques are powerful.

The problem with what Mel Fish did is that he was too effective. He helped people who were bound by the adversary and in the process upset a few people who lost the control over their family members they once had. They could no longer be manipulated or coerced into doing what the controlling individual wanted. These individuals found fault with Mel and his techniques.

Now unless you’ve been exposed to kinesiology or muscle testing, you may think this method of discovering and identifying hidden stress or darkness is, well, simply put, weird. I have written a blog specifically dedicated to the process of how I first learned about muscle testing and saw firsthand how it helped my family. I appreciate that the weirdness factor takes some adjustment.

Strengthening Church Members

I mentioned this committee previously. When someone finds fault with what another member of the church has written or is doing, they tend to call Salt Lake to complain. Of course the Church asks that such complaints be resolved through local church leaders. But even those leaders will sometimes call Salt Lake because they don’t know how to handle the complaints they receive.

If enough of these complaints are received, it comes to the attention of a loose committee of individuals identified as the Strengthening Church Members Committee. When Elder Oaks was asked about this committee he characterized it as a clipping service. It is much more than that. This committee keeps track of anything that is published about the church by church members.

That includes blogs, which is why I mentioned that this essay about a controversial subject – the excommunication of a prominent published member – is something that could come back to bite me. I don’t want my stake president to get a call or letter from this committee asking him if he is aware of my blogging activities. Ordinarily I do all I can to hold the church up in a positive light.

Telling Mel’s Story

In this case, I would like to share with you what I consider to be failing in our church, brought about because of the efforts of the Strengthening the Church Members Committee and the local priesthood leadership of the Cedar City Utah North Stake. Ultimately the fault can be attributed to the adversary as he works to keep people ignorant of the true power of Christ’s atonement.

When I met with Mel last week, my intent was to write a better book review. I wanted to focus on his work and his books. I was only incidentally interested in telling the story of how he was excommunicated. As we met and discussed things, it became obvious that bringing his story to the attention of a wider audience was more important and what the Lord wanted me to do.

What happened to Mel Fish should not happen to anyone in our church, but especially to a man who has spent a lifetime serving the Lord and helping God’s children heal from pain and sorrow. I can tell you from personal experience that Mel and Gwena Fish are loved of God. I know this because I asked God in prayer with my wife and received a revelation of God’s love for them.

The First Disciplinary Council

Mel first published Healing the Inner Self in 1999 at age 66 after counseling and helping many hundreds of grateful people over the previous decade. He received his PhD in Counseling in 1995. Anybody who has done the work for a PhD dissertation knows how difficult it is to meet the strenuous academic requirements. Mel’s work involved many years of clinical experience.

In 2007 Mel’s Stake President was asked by the Strengthening the Church Members Committee to hold a disciplinary council. The council was held and no action was taken. In preparation for the disciplinary council, the Stake President received expert witness and testimony from Dillon K Inouye, a beloved professor in the BYU Psychology Department before his death in 2008.

I have a copy of that expert testimony and can understand why Mel’s Stake President took no action on that occasion. The document is convincing in demonstrating that Mel Fish’s work is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, it shows that Mel’s techniques are superior over three other well accepted techniques of producing psychological behavior modification.

The Second Disciplinary Council

A copy of that expert testimony was sent to Elder Holland, Elder Bateman and Elder McMullin. Mel’s Stake President was released in 2008. New priesthood leadership was put into place. In 2009, a second disciplinary council was held in which the testimony of the first Stake President was presented, along with a personal endorsement from Elder F. Enzio Busche, all to no avail.

Mel was not allowed to speak in his own defense. He was not allowed to explain his work or how he helped people discover and then relieve their burdens by giving them to Christ. As far as Mel knows, there was nobody assigned to see that his interests were met. At age 76, he was also required to stand for seven hours while the charges were considered and his case deliberated.

At that point in the story I knew something was terribly wrong. It seemed obvious that the church had received one too many complaints about Mel’s work and had made it clear that he was to be excommunicated, no matter what. The disciplinary council was not concerned about Mel. They were only concerned about meeting the technical requirements to justify the action taken.

Final observations

Of course I wasn’t there so I’m only telling one side of the story that I heard from Mel. As I wrote previously, the church does not comment on disciplinary actions. If you are familiar with the September Six, you know what a chilling effect the Church’s crackdown on intellectual criticism caused at that time. It seems now the Church has done the same thing among healers.

If you were at the disciplinary council I would like to hear from you (Strike that. It's not an appropriate request to ask someone to break confidences). I doubt anyone will respond but as one who is familiar with the process from personal experience, I want to know if there was a spirit of love and concern expressed for the welfare of Mel’s soul. What efforts were made to help Mel understand what he had done that the Church found so offensive about healing lives?

I still intend to write that review of Mel’s book within the next few weeks. I received training in the techniques Mel uses so I know they are real and produce valid results. I have never seen a conflict between what Mel teaches and practices and what we find in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I welcome your comments. Mel gave permission to share the BYU document endorsing his work.

Update 3-28-13: I reviewed Mel's book in this post.


[...] Thanks for all the private emails. I have added a report of my meeting with Mel in this new essay. [...]
tmalonemcse said…
Ordinarily I would include a lot more links to explain the unique LDS terminology used in this essay. I wanted to get this posted before we leave Utah today headed back to California. I will scan the document Mel gave me from BYU's Dillon Inouye endorsing Mel's work. It is very convincing. I'll make it available online tonight. Update - Here is the link: http://3tcm.net/melfish_dilloninouye.pdf
rockwaterman1 said…
I was only recently introduced to the wonderful Melvin Fish through his DVD, Healing the Inner Light. I had no idea he had been subjected to such despicable treatment. On the other hand, it shouldn't surprise me. More and more the true Children of Light are being driven from this Church, while those who excel at administrative and managerial skills are retained and held to high esteem.

We might as well brace ourselves. The purging of the good and honest will continue until our "Courts of Love" will resemble the Court of King Noah more than anything else.
Lew said…
Thank you for sharing this man's story and telling about his healing work, I am certainly interested in truth and true healing princples. The LDS Church is very brutal corporation to go up against and some of the men in leadership roles are not very Christlike and are really confused darken minds. It takes a lot faith in the Lord to truly do His will, espeacially as a member of the LDS Church. I have no reason not to believe you are truly following the Lord in sharing these things, so I would like to say to you sincerely Thank you. I will be interested in reading the BYU document and any book reviews of Brother Fish's books you may do in the future.
DavidH said…
I used to think that appeals from disciplinary councils to the First Presidency were pointless. My understanding is that, in fact, local decisions do get overturned. Mel should seek to appeal.
Kris said…
I know from personal experience that my stake president received direct revelation from God concerning an action in which I was involved.
tmalonemcse said…
Thanks Kris. Do you want to elaborate? I'm wondering if you were on the receiving end of the discipline or sat on the council offering opinion and counsel to the Stake President? I take it you were not involved in this particular disciplinary council in the Cedar City North Stake, correct? Please note that I'm not saying Stake Presidents don't receive revelation when it comes to making the judgments required of them. I have seen much evidence of that myself in all the disciplinary councils of which I have been a part.

All I'm suggesting is that in this case, the action was taken because it was directed by Salt Lake. Anybody who has studied the public comments by the participants of the September Six knows that the action taken against them was mandated by someone in Salt Lake, even though the council was held locally. In this particular case, it was very clear that Mel was excommunicated without any consideration of the good he has done. Hundreds of people he has helped would have been willing to testify on his behalf.
gale said…
I was just about to start a healing excersize via emails with a friend in another state. I told her to look up Louise Hay and Dr. Melvin Fish and let me know whose work she wanted to work with. She surprised me with the information that Mel had been exed. I have been buying, reading, using and sharing Mel's work for several years. Last year, 2012, I got to be at a workshop he and his wife were teaching at a friend's house here in Idaho. I think Mel is one in a very small group of people who really understand love. If you get presecuted you might be doing something truely "right" - it goes with the territory. He has helped me greatly. Maybe the good that will come of this is that more people will start to recognize that casting out evil should be a common experience. If half of all the healings that Jesus did as recorded in the New Testament were casting out evil spirits, how come we never talk about this in gospel settings?
Nonrandom Set said…
I do not know anything specific about Melvin Fish, but I have direct experience with so-called healers and people involved energy healing and the like. It destroyed my family. My then-wife falsely accused my father of molesting me as a child on the sole basis of a "revelation" received by the healer. She has now falsely accused me of molesting my own children. She believes that she has the power of discernment, and can judge others' intentions. I would guess that's not how all healers operate, but anyone involved in this should be extremely careful. It not only destroyed my family, it did the same to several other families in my stake. There was one case, where the healer told a sister that her husband was cheating on her and molesting her kids; the sister, with no other evidence, called the police. She later recanted, but the damage had been done. Sexual abuse is obviously very real and heartbreaking, but it's important to keep in mind that there are many documented cases of false allegations, false memories, etc, and for some reason the energy healing really seems focused on sexual abuse.

Since I don't know any details, I can only guess about Melvin Fish, but I wonder if it was more than just the fact that he was paid, but the specific techniques that he was using. I actually consented to visit the healer because my wife was convinced that I would see the truth of it, but I came away with an overwhelming sense of darkness. The healer used very specific, sacred terminology, but performed it more like it was a seance. It's the only time in my life that I could say I felt sure I was in the presence of evil.

I have also visited a counselor through LDS services, and was very appreciative of being able to receive counseling in line with the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, I do see a clear distinction between someone offering services that are in line with the principles of the gospel and someone who receives payment for healing, i.e. use of the priesthood, commanding in the name of Christ, etc. I do not know if that is what Melvin Fish did.

I also have no direct knowledge of his disciplinary council, but having participated in several, I find it hard to believe that he was not given a chance to speak, or that he was required to stand for several hours. I have always found the councils to be extremely fair and positive as you have stated. I think that is the wisdom of having the 12 high priests. While you have admitted that it is only one side of the story, I think you have erred in asking for participants to speak up. They would be breaking confidence and should not do so. I don't believe it is our job to evaluate this disciplinary council. As suggested by another commenter, Melvin Fish can appeal the council's decision, and any one of the participants could have spoken up if they believed the decision was not valid.
tmalonemcse said…
Amen, Gale. I mentioned in my essay that the Lord had revealed to me how much he loves Mel and Gwena Fish. As I have served in Bishoprics over the years, one of the favorite things I have always enjoyed is giving priesthood blessings as I set people apart for callings. Often during those times when I have my hands upon the heads of the youth of the church, the Lord reveals to me how much he loves them. It is a privilege to act as voice in those blessings because the feelings come so much stronger.

That same thing happened the other night in prayer with Carol as I prayed for help in getting this essay completed before we left Utah. I prayed for Mel and Gwena and their family. As I did so, I was overcome with a feeling of love that kept growing until it nearly consumed me. It was so powerful I could not speak for a moment. The experience was the same as if I had my hands on Mel's head giving a blessing. The Lord revealed things to me about Mel, confirming to my soul that He knew and loved Mel and his work.

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a delightful comment. You are correct. Mel understands and emulates unconditional love. He does not judge. He deserves God's choicest blessings. God bless.
Nonrandom Set said…
I just read the wikipedia article on the pace memo, and thought I should point out this concluding section:

The LDS Church has made no official statement related to the allegations related in the Pace memorandum. However, one commentator has suggested that apostle Richard G. Scott's sermon in the April 1992 general conference of the church may have been related to the SRA allegations.[11] In his remarks, Scott warned Latter-day Saints:

“ I caution you not to participate in ... improper therapeutic practices that may cause you more harm than good. ... Detailed leading questions that probe your past may unwittingly trigger thoughts that are more imagination or fantasy than reality. They could lead to condemnation of another for acts that were not committed. While likely few in number, I know of cases where such therapy has caused great injustice to the innocent from unwittingly stimulated accusations that were later proven false. Memory, particularly adult memory of childhood experiences, is fallible. Remember, false accusation is also a sin.[12]

I should also point out that in the example you gave, pointing to the Pace Memo, independent investigations could not corroborate any of the reported abuse (reference 10 in the wiki article):

tmalonemcse said…
Thanks for your comments. It's always good to have words of caution and reason. I concur with your point that not all healers are of God. I have seen this firsthand. I have studied false memories and have counseled with individuals who experienced them. I also know of individuals who were falsely accused, and have seen the terrible, confusing effects it had on their family. This is a highly sensitive area where one can be easily deceived. The brother who first posted that Mel had been excommunicated noted this happened to him.

I appreciate you pointed out that I have only heard and related one side of the story. Mel already appealed the decision to the First Presidency. It was denied. If you have participated in disciplinary councils you know that those who offer counsel to the Stake President can dissent from the final opinion. I have seen this on a few occasions. That is the purpose of having six High Counselors advocate for the accused and six advocate for the church. We do not know if there wasn't some who expressed that Mel should not be excommunicated.

While I appreciate your caution about not breaking confidences, I can tell you that people with knowledge of the facts in situations like these do respond in private email to me. It helps me understand better what the objections are to what Mel and others who practice these techniques do. There are always two sides to every story. I know I haven't presented both sides. It just amazes me that I now know of three people who practice muscle testing to reveal hidden stress or darkness have been disciplined by the church. Why?

Every one of them has made it clear to me that what they do is to simply help the individual discover the root cause of things that trouble them. They are clear in pointing out that they are facilitators in that they point the individual to Christ. The darkness within is taught and invited to go to the Light of Christ. Any evil or unclean spirits are taught that Christ will honor their agency if they choose to believe and turn to Him. I hope to be able to explain this better when I get a chance to write my review of Mel's book. To me, it is simply amazing.
el oso said…
I think that many of Jesus' casting out of evil spirits are looked at as healing epilepsy or other mundane maladies by most modern people. Even some of the records from 19th century church history are now interpreted in that light.
Obviously, casting out of evil spirits who are causing emotional or psychological stress is not a common practice by professional counselors. If a BYU professor is stating it is better than other methods, maybe the practice should be more common. Let's see his expert testimony.
I know a former Stake President of that stake, but no current leaders that I am aware of.
Nonrandom Set said…
I'm glad we can have an open discussion. I understand that people may respond in private email, but whether it is private or not, it is breaking confidence. There is also the concern that there may be no real way to ensure that whomever contacts you was actually a participant.

I can't speak specifically to the muscle testing practitioners you referenced, but I can tell you that in my own experience with my ex-wife, it began very innocently with her concern over my son's constant ear infections. I personally believe the practice involved evil spirits. When my then wife was first involved, she seemed to be making positive changes in her life and becoming more spiritual, but it eventually became clear that it was much darker. I judge it by the fruits, and the fruits were anything but good.

This particular healer I had dealings with may have helped many other people, but she also did significant damage to several families. It did involve false doctrine, and although I didn't try to pursue any formal church discipline against her, I can certainly understand why others might.

When I read things such as "the darkness within is taught and invited to go to the light of Christ," and the following sentence, I am very concerned. That does not coincide with any gospel doctrine I have studied.

I like how you characterized my comment as words of caution, as that is really what I'm getting at. I caution anyone against getting involved in these practices as I have tasted the bitter fruit they produce. I understand that is not everyone's experience, but it is a real danger, and I don't believe these practices offer anything more than what each of can receive through prayer and fasting, and proper exercise of the priesthood, in line with gospel principles.
tmalonemcse said…
Hi again. I'm glad to see people taking the time to read and research. The Pace Memo is old news. It has been rehashed over and over again on numerous Internet forums. Thanks for adding the additional detail. I also concur with Elder Scott's counsel. It is indeed a sin to falsely accuse another. I wish I could share with you a recorded conversation I have on the home computer (still travelling tonight). I think you would be amazed how it supports the points I think you are trying to make - that false accusations can destroy families.

I will post it tomorrow. In a nutshell, a woman went to a therapist, participated in regression therapy and discovered a false memory of molestation. She didn't want to accuse her father so she went and got a second opinion. Luckily, she went to my friend in St George (not Mel Fish who is in Cedar City). This counselor found that the woman had a spirit attached to her and was able to communicate with her. I know this sounds crazy unless you have personally witnessed it firsthand.

Anyway, the spirit had lived in the 1800's in England and was the one who had been molested by her father. Once taught to forgive and go to the light, the spirit left and the woman was no longer troubled by MPD or false memories. It takes a real skill and talent to be able to discern the difference between these false spirits and what someone may think is their own childhood memory. I greatly appreciate your caution in this area. All people should be as careful as you are.
rockwaterman1 said…
Nonrandom Set,
There have indeed been so-called "healers" who irresponsibly implant ideas about revovered memories and other such nonsense, but this is not Melvin Fish's way.

And unfortunately, sometimes High Council trials are held without allowing the person being tried an opportunity to respond, or to have witnesses testify. It is a violation of Church law to conduct them in that manner, but they have been known to occur just the same.

The trial of Jesus Christ was a violation of Jewish law on a number of levels. Had he not been "tried" illegally, he would never have been crucified. Such despicable behavior will have to be answered for.
Nonrandom Set said…
All I can say is that I'm very skeptical - not that evil spirits exist, but that anyone should engage with them. I also believe that my wife had an evil spirit, but I believe she invited that spirit into her life through her involvement with energy healing.

Also, assuming someone does have a special spiritual gift for casting out evil spirits, I do believe it would be wrong to charge for that.
Al said…
I am curious about this "The darkness within is taught and invited to go to the Light of Christ. Any evil or unclean spirits are taught that Christ will honor their agency if they choose to believe and turn to Him."

Can you share more about this in your up coming book review?

Who are these spirits? Are they the spirits that choose to follow Satan in the Heavenly Council? I am curious about that because why would the evil spirits want to go to the Light now? Christ was not able to persuade them to follow Him in the Council, why would we as mortals think we could persuade evil spirits to follow Christ now when even Christ Himself could not do that? Do the evil spirits that followed Satan even have agency at this stage to go to the Light?
Al said…
Is there a link to the scan document from BYU?
Al said…
It is my understanding that we as mortals do have power over evil spirits and we can in the name of Jesus rebuke them and cast them out. An invitation to go the Light seems like it would not be powerful enough to make the evil spirits leave. Wouldn't commanding in the name of Jesus the evil spirits to leave be more effective?

If you could please address this in your book review that would be helpful, I would like to understand the author's point of view on this.
Al said…
Here is something I found on Evil Spirits, some good stuff in this paper: http://tamarasbook.blogspot.com/2008/12/fascinating-paper-on-evil-spirits.html
Anonymous said…
Having read that account, I think the excommunication is probably justified. Casting out spirits for money is likely to be 1) fraudulent, 2) Unfounded and 3) Just plain weird.

I think the clear reading is that the Church believes that someone who charges money to cast out spirits is being deceptive and worthy of discipline.
tmalonemcse said…
OK, I'll accept your opinion of the document. My conclusion was the opposite but I understand what you're saying. And based on the outcome, your opinion coincides with the opinion of the church as expressed through the stake disciplinary council which did as directed by the church. Again, we'll never know this because the church won't publish a formal statement unless it gets a huge amount of media attention.

However, I think a more careful reading of the document would have shown that Dr. Inouye was very clear in pointing out that Mel Fish does not cast out evil spirits for money. What he does is teach the evil and unclean spirits (two different entities) about forgiveness and the love of the Savior. He then invites them to go to the light. Yes, I know this sounds weird, especially if you've never witnessed it. I have. I know it is real and works.

Mel stopped doing one-on-one sessions for a fee. He does not charge to do private group meetings. You can see a sample of his group instruction by purchasing a DVD from his website. In my opinion, Mel is doing everything he can to comply with the directives of the church. If I were his stake president, I would reconvene the council and make that determination. Mel deserves to have his membership privileges restored.

Sadly, the bottom line is that you are right. Mel was disciplined because many people believed as you - that was he does is fraudulent (taking advantage of someone's emotional or psychological problems), unfounded (no proof of evil spirits) and just plain weird (I'll always agree with that assessment). But what about all the people who believe otherwise - that Mel helped him, that they love him and want to see him re-baptized?

Thanks for your comments, anonymous. Always helps to see it from both sides.
Matthew said…
Wow, thanks for both the pdf and the quoted story (and the original post).
tmalonemcse said…
For clarification, that account of the woman with MPD (now called Dissociative Identity Disorder) came from another counselor in Southern Utah, not from Mel Fish. I will share some similar accounts of the clinical work performed by Dr. Fish in the book review I am writing and hope to publish next week.
Bryan said…
Isn't it only fair that he would charge money for his services? I mean, he seems to be a man who dedicated a large portion of his life in order to help others. This obviously took a lot of effort, research, and his own resources to accomplish; he gained his PhD. I think there is a difference between seeking gain (seeking gain and power is utterly denounced in scripture) and working for a living. This doesn't seem to be something he just did on the side, it was his life work. Then again, I'm not familiar with his practices.
Howard said…
The darkness within is taught and invited to go to the Light of Christ...I’m very skeptical – not that evil spirits exist, but that anyone should engage with them. I've had some experience with this. It doesn't matter if evil spirits actually exist or whether a person's problems are actually caused by evil spirits. What matters is; if they believe evil spirits are involved then sometimes the issue can be reduced or eliminated by using mental imagery or guided fantasy to send them away, give them to the light, or to Christ as we would anything that burdens us. It is simply a positive affirmation, a mental visualization. So is raising the right arm to the square and invoking the Melchizedek Priesthood.
el oso said…
Thank you for the letter from Dr. Inouye. I can see why you think that Brother Fish was treated unfairly. Looked at from an academic or therapist perspective, Dr. Inouye seems to be saying that this is groundbreaking stuff and we need more research and more practice in this exciting new therapy. The church, or BYU (notice that former President Bateman is CCed), should investigate and expand and refine this technique.
I notice that he directly addressed the TR question that can be interpreted in more ways that the commerce clause of the US constitution. I know of several people in various parts of the church that have been denied a temple recommend based upon vague "affiliations with groups who teach contrary...." or the like. I have answered yes to this question several times in my life. The most recent time was to a member of the stake presidency when I said that my employer met several of those criteria. I received my recommend renewal and shortly thereafter received a stake calling.
Mr.X said…
The more I hear about the LDS Church excommunicating good folks like Melvin Fish, the more I am grateful for the scriptures, the Lord said that gross darkness would be present in His house in the last days. The LDS Church is fulfilling perfectly the words of the Lord. It is very upsetting that certain people are being abused by the LDS Church but they will be taken care of in ways only the Lord can do. Have faith in Christ!! The Lord is truly mindful of these events and people, both the accusors and the accused. We all who have bodies have agency, the word of the Lord will be fulfilled, we can be a humble followers of Christ or we can choose to follow someone else or an institution. Many people confuse the difference between Christ, the church as a institution and people with offices with in the institution. There are many false traditions and beliefs being taught to substitue actually seeking Christ and coming directly to Him. Man and institutions seek to control and have over step their bounds in this regard from what I am seeing.
DavidH said…
If Mel already appealed to the FP, and the appeal was denied, then I assume the FP (or a delegee) has reviewed the matter and determined the council was appropriate and the discipline appropriate. Given the recipients of Professor Inouye's letter, I doubt that this was an action that is flying under the radar.

Having said that, I should say that I am generally opposed to terminating the membership of almost anyone for almost anything. From what I read here, I think his ideas and practices are wacky. I cannot tell whether he is a licensed therapist. If so, I would be surprised if the regulatory authorities would not have carefully reviewed that matter. If he is not a licensed therapist, then I think, at a minimum, the Church should state whether or not his practices are consistent with the gospel, the doctrines of which are interpreted by the FP and 12. The Church recommends use of faith and priesthood blessings under specific guidelines, which his practices do not meet. It also cautions against use of unqualified and (I infer) unlicensed therapists.

Terminating his membership seems too harsh. (I felt the same way about the September 6.)
tmalonemcse said…
Not sure if this will show up in the right place. It's intended as a response to Nonrandom Set's Feb 19th 8:17am comment. First, I want you to know that I have thought about what you wrote earlier about breaking confidences. You are right. It was wrong of me to ask that. I have modified the essay to reflect that.

Second, I am glad to read that you are skeptical. We should all be skeptical until our doubts are satisfied. I can appreciate what you are sharing about the perceived downward slide of your ex-wife into darkness because of her involvement with a questionable healer. I know there are lots of quacks out there.

Third, I would like to set the record straight that Dr. Fish does not cast out evil spirits. He helps people find the source of the issues for which they have come to him seeking help. He then helps people teach the spirits go to the light. He is a facilitator in the process. I hope my upcoming book review will make that clear.
tmalonemcse said…
Hi Al. Believe it or not, that was the paper I had originally intended to use to write this essay but it evolved when I asked the Lord for direction on what would be most helpful on the subject. I have always been surprised that paper has not seen more commentary on the Internet in forums and blogs, especially among LDS who are interested in healing. I still plan to write more about it in a future essay.

In the paper you can find supporting evidence for my claim that members of the AMCAP do not acknowledge the existence of or use their belief in that basic Mormon doctrine of the existence of evil spirits as having any bearing whatsoever on behavior. It is sad and to me, a waste to go to an LDS counselor and not be able to consider evil or unclean spirits as a contributing cause of unwanted behavior.

Thanks for visiting my blog, reading this essay and leaving your helpful comment with that link.
tmalonemcse said…
Yes. I have added links in the essay. It can be found here (8MB PDF): http://3tcm.net/melfish_dilloninouye.pdf
John said…
I had Melvin Cottam Fish for a seminary teacher in ninth grade . This was probably about 1967 or 68.. I remember him a a quiet, kind individual. Other than that, I hesitate to comment only to say all we really know are the particulars as they have been related by aggrieved. I can sympathize with you (Tim) in feeling for him, but to reach out to those that sat in the council and asking them to break confidences doesn't sit well with me. Just my two cents.
tmalonemcse said…
Hi David. I looked him up at https://secure.utah.gov/llv/search/index.html. Not there. Not surprising. Doesn't appear Mel is a licensed therapist or counselor. I think he is acting as a teacher or facilitator. Same with my other friend in St George who practices this or a similar technique. He calls it stress management and as such, it is not licensed by the state of Utah. I had a friend in California who did the same thing. I wrote about my experience with this friend here: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2008/10/06/born-that-way-not-a-choice/
tmalonemcse said…
I agree John. I changed my essay to reflect that my request was not appropriate. I think I was feeling bad for Mel when I wrote that, having just interviewed him and his wife. When Gwena related how Mel had been forced to stand for seven hours in a corner like a bad boy, I felt incensed. I could not believe that such a thing could happen in our church.
Niklas said…
Hi, have you read this case study:
Confrontation and Rejection of an Evil Spirit in a Therapy Session

It was presented at AMCAP Convention in 1984.
tmalonemcse said…
In response to Niklas: No, I had not seen that case study. Thanks for sharing that link. That goes contrary to what Ronald Poulton asserted in his paper (linked to by Al above) that members of AMCAP do not deal with unclean spirits - that it is outside their professional worldview. Perhaps this was an isolated incident but it is good to see it documented. I will present a few more from Dr. Fish found in his book and associated book on clinical examples. Again, thanks for added to the dialog Niklas. That link is extremely helpful to my research.
john f. said…
Elder Oaks referred pretty directly to this in his talk in last fall's Regional conference for Utah and Wasatch counties, warning members not to fall for it and to avoid those holding themselves out as having answers/remedies based on non-scientifically vetted methods. So if you're looking for a source in SLC that might have direct this excommunication, you might try reaching out to him. I hear that he actually reads and sometimes responds to correspondence.
john f. said…
(When I said Elder Oaks "referred pretty directly to this" I meant that he seemed to be referring to these types of healing practices.)
tmalonemcse said…
Thanks John. And since I'm a pretty open kind of guy when it comes to non-scientific methods I have been enthralled with this since the day I was first exposed to it twenty years ago. I would write to Elder Holland but I've got some more homework to do first when it comes to the doctrine that evil spirits can repent, which is what you'll find in Mel Fish's book. I've written about this before (http://latterdaycommentary.com/2012/08/06/dealing-with-evil-and-unclean-spirits/) and I questioned Mel thoroughly about his experiences in this area. I intend to share one of those from his book in my next essay. Update: I've written about this here: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2013/03/03/all-are-invited-to-the-feast/
rockwaterman1 said…
Ironic that the Church has no problem supporting other therapists who use conventional means, i.e. charging money to have the patient return for "counseling" again and again and again, with no actual benefit to the patient.

Melvin Fish fixed the problems of those who came to him. One time. Occasionally a follow up by phone if necessary, but nothing was charged for the phone call.

The world is upside down. If you hang out a shingle and charge people money and you know you'll never solve their problems, you are approved. If you fix it so the patient never has to return, you're a charlatan. Go figure.
rockwaterman1 said…
David H Wrote, "If Mel already appealed to the FP, and the appeal was denied, then I assume the FP (or a delegee) has reviewed the matter and determined the council was appropriate and the discipline appropriate."

I wouldn't bet on it, David. Even though Church Law requires an appeal process, Church headquarters makes it almost impossible to appeal. If there were, we might hear about an excommunication being reversed now and then. Ask yourself, when was the last time you ever heard of someone being excommunicated, and that judgment was reversed? Ever? It used to happen quite a bit in the early days, because back then the Church leaders followed protocal.

Witness this short excerpt from the strange tale by JJ Dewey (Dewey and his nephew Curtis were excommunicated for reasons that, by any account, were not merely unjust, but downright ridiculous):

"D&C 102:26-27: 'Should the parties or either of them be dissatisfied with the decision of said council, they may appeal to the high council of the seat of the First Presidency of the Church, and have a re-hearing, which case shall there be conducted, according to the former pattern written, as though no such decision had been made.' "

"This was interesting. We were both dissatisfied with the results of our trials and this seemed to be a fair method of obtaining a rehearing to set things straight. There was only one problem. The scripture says that we were to appeal to the “high council of the seat of the First Presidency” and it was no longer in existence.

"In the early days this was called the “Standing High Council.” The Reorganized LDS Church still has such a council, but it seemed that the Utah church feels it was not needed. Could it be that they do not want to have any such council to hear appeals in order to silence those who are “put out of the synagogue?”

You can read the rest of the account here: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2011/12/infallible-authority-chapter-eight.html

Long story short, Curtis was scheduled a personal appointment with President Kimball to request a new trial as the scriptures promise. He traveled 300 miles and was early for his appointment. The secretary got Kimball on the phone, and Kimball made excuses not to keep the appointment, though he had nothing else scheduled for a full hour. Says Dewey:

"The rejection reminded me a little of President Van Buren refusing to hear the grievances of the early saints when he said: “Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you.” President Kimball refused to even recognize that our cause was just."

It may be time to start recognizing that those charged with administering the business of this church no longer feel they are bound by the rules the Lord set out for them to follow. Those who doubt the veracity of that statement need look no further than the example currently NOT being followed in D&C 104:71 which directs that that monies placed into the Lord's treasury shall “not be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by voice and common consent.” That directive has been ignored by those charged with obeying it since 1958.

I think blindly trusting those in charge, whether they be governmental or ecclesiastical to follow the rules they are bound by, is misplaced faith. There is a reason God warned us to trust not in the arm of flesh, but only on HIS word. When our leaders begin ignoring God's word, it's time we took notice. God was not just blowing smoke when He warned us that this Church is under His condemnation. President Benson reminded us that condemnation has never been lifted. We ought to start asking ourselves why that is.
Bryan said…
The church being under condemnation for not reading the Book of Mormon? I think that is what he (Pres. Benson) was referring to. Although, I'm sure there are many more things.
rockwaterman1 said…
Here's the pertinent section of the D&C Benson was referring to (Section 84) :
And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written."

There's more, of course, and taken together I interpret it to include the warnings given in Mormon 8 (among others) where we Mormon laments how in the future the Church will become polluted.
JR said…
I said this on another site and I will say it here. My parent's (father deceased and mother with advanced Alzhimer's) were very good friends with a couple. The man served as Bishop and on the Stake presidency and High Council. The woman served in many positions also. Their adult son was called to church court and found guilty. The parent's knew he was guilty and did not disagree with the outcome. What angered and shook them was how their son was treated and how they, the parent's were treated. The father served on church courts before and since he no longer held any church position felt he could finally tell the story that the courts he was on mistreated the accused like his son was mistreated. He said he begged the others to show love, have a Christ like attitude, show compassion, etc. but they never would. So then his son is called to court and was treated worse than any other. The parent's were appalled by the questions that were asked of their son. He was not given a chance to say much. The children of this couple are out of the church completely but the couple is still active (the man passed away 5 years ago) but they never had confidence in church leaders after their experience.
I believe that evil spirits exist, as they existed in the day's of the early Saints. They didn't go away with advancing technology and modern times. They have always existed so why are they no longer spoken of?
The more I read and study the church and doctrine I come to believe that the church is moving away from and has moved away from what the Prophet Joseph Smith restored and taught. The only way a person can get the attention of the church in SLC is to be rich and famous.
I believe that you are sincere and truthful in what you say about Bro. Fish not practicing priest craft. You are matter of fact about it. Just because something is not accepted by the academic community does not mean it is wrong or bad or doesn't work. Mankind would not be as far as it is if it were not for those thinkers that would not let their peers and others tell them their theories are wrong - like sterilization, washing hands, cholera in water etc.. And we would be farther along if the academic community would quit being so jealous of others who disagree with them, and would quit holding on to bogus theories and move on to new theories and accept new ways of thinking instead of taking years to figure one thing out or ignore it completely.
rockwaterman1 said…
Evil spirits do indeed exist today. Their presence is evident in most Church courts.
[...] One particularly eventful episode was my interview and subsequent report on what happened to Mel Fish, a man who searched deeply for truth, believed he found it and was excommunicated when he tried to [...]
lizzie Nelson said…
I went to visit Mel Fish about 10 years ago. I needed some counseling for some emotional trauma I had and hoped he could help me. I had visited 2 other counselors who used the way of book learning to counsel, and it did not help me.

He did help me. I use one very good visualization technique he gave me---still to this day, and it is the only way I can deal with some issues.

His counseling method brought me closer to Christ, and helped me learn to lay my burdens at His feet.

He did not tell me a charge for his labors. He told me I could pay him if I had money, and that I could pay him what I thought was right. I paid him close to what I would pay a regular counselor. After all, he has to eat, too, right?

I drove 10 hours to see him, and then turned around and drove home.

The visit was worth it.

Should Mel Fish be guilty of priestcraft, for taking money for his technique? Only if the General Authorities and Deseret Book are also guilty for their priestcraft.

I guess if he counseled through the ways of the world, it would be much better for him in the church's eyes.

But not for me.
Lizzie Nelson said…
Please read my personal experience with Mel Fish and counseling at the end of these comments.
tmalonemcse said…
Thank you Lizzie. I hope more people who have been helped by Mel will find this page and leave similar favorable comments. I especially liked your priestcraft comparison about General Authorities selling books that bring us closer to Christ through Deseret Book. I thought of making that point but declined. Well said.
[...] about doing a book review but still need to finish a couple of others in the queue, most notably Mel Fish’s Healing the Inner Self. The book seems to be based on what these folks have learned from Denver’s [...]
Steve said…
Thank you for telling the story about Mel. I have 3 of his books, and while I am unsure if fallen spirits can go to Christ, I sorrow for the way he was allegedly treated. I've always felt that leaders put themselves under condemnation for passing unrighteous judgments. I wonder if this is what happened in Mel's case.
yvonne bent said…
I have first hand experience with a healing for my son when my family went to see Mel Fish. He told us that the Lord told Mel that he would not recognize an excommunication, no matter what happened. I suppose that the writing is on the wall for the way the Brethren look at the adversary. Easier to say there is no devil there is no opposition.
Why is this no surprise? This is just more of the same ridiculous protocol that constantly takes place and allows us to make that stance for truth, no matter what the cost. Oh, my goodness, what is next?
Eli said…
He is a wonderful person and has been a blessing in my life.
Leonard Fish said…
My Name is Leonard Fish
I was at my dads excommunication four years ago. I have always been taught that when their is a church court it is a court of love. When I arrived at the church I was a little uneasy, yet I thought I would be greeted with friendly caring faces from members of the stake presidency and high counsel. I needed comfort, I received cold stares and a wall of tension upon my arrival. I felt like the Stake President and High Councilmen had already made up their minds before the court ever started.
My parents are friends with F.Enzio Busche an emeritus general authority who drove down from Bountiful to Cedar City to support my dad at his church court. While my dad was in the court Enzio Busche was able to visit with everyone who was waiting in the foyer. At one point Enzio pulled me aside and said their are five people in my life who have made a huge difference and your parents are two of the five people. It made me feel good and proud to have such wonderful parents. Enzio also had the opportunity to speak in the church court, when he came out of the room he said some people are harder to love than others and I didn't feel any love in that room.
I remember arriving at the church at 8:00 p.m. and staying their until 2:45 a.m. that is 6 3/4 hours. I have never heard of a church court lasting this long. Anyone who wanted to talk to the people in the court could do so. When it was my turn I was invited into the high council room where I noticed the room was full of people my dad was standing with no chair for him to sit on. This means he had been standing for over six hours. Is that a court of love?
Steve said…

I'm sorry for what you had to experience and your parents had to endure. I'm sorry that the leaders didn't seem to have the Christian decency to provide a comfortable place for your father to sit. I'm sorry that small-minded men seem to want to pass judgment on their unlike-minded brethren. I'm sorry when they don't deem it important to follow the Lord's instructions on courts. I'm sorry if they didn't realize that it was not just Mel on trial that evening.

The test of the righteousness of their judgment will be if your father can still feel the Holy Ghost in his life. If he can, perhaps they were in error.

tmalonemcse said…
I hope this shows up in the right place. It is intended as a response to Leonard Fish. Hi Leonard. I am honored that you left your comment on my post about your Father's excommunication. I hope you know I did not publicize this event to denigrate your father in any way. In fact, I have nothing but the utmost of love and respect for your father. I continue to be amazed at the good Mel has accomplished and the good he continues to do, years after the events in this story took place. If you want to know what drives Mel Fish, read his book, The Power of Unconditional Love. In my opinion, there is little chance that Mel Fish will be re-admitted through baptism into the church whose people he has loved and served before his own days upon this earth are over. But that will not change the fact that the Lord knows him and loves him for what he has done. I honor Mel Fish and pray for blessings upon him and his family. Thank your Leonard for sharing.
[...] a call from Mel Fish the other day. He thanked me for the favorable post I wrote last month about his excommunication. It’s funny. I had been thinking about him all day. I just finished re-reading Healing the Inner [...]
Anonymous said…
I am so sad to hear of Dr. Fish’s current situation. I met him last year via a referral from a friend of mine who is a psychiatrist here in SLC. I was serving as a first councilor in my ward bishopric at the time. My Stake President assigned me to help a young man who sent home from his mission early because he was having a “psychotic episode”. I had known this young man since he was 12 years old. When I picked him up, I could tell he had negative entities attached to him. This young man could tell they were attached but did not have much of a desire to get rid of them. During my ministry as a leader in the LDS church, I could often identify the presence of negative entities while I was setting someone apart or giving them a blessing. I would command the unclean spirits to leave during the coarse of the setting apart, blessing or ordination. The person receiving the blessing or others on the circle would often comment about how they could sense or feel the negative energy leaving. These people were completely unaware that these negative entities were attached to them. I am currently serving on the high council in my stake and on occasion will have the opportunity to expose these unseen beings.

Now back to Dr. Fish. I called him out of the blue and explained the situation with the missionary. It just so happened that Dr. Fish was holding a workshop in Sandy the following week. The missionary and I showed up and spent the day with Dr. Fish. Dr. Fish opened by understanding and gave meaning and definition to what i was already experiencing. Dr. Fish used a lite hypnosis age regression with the missionary and identified the entities that were with him. The missionary was taught how to expel them. That young man was healed because of the precepts that Dr. Fish taught us. The Bishop and the Stake President took a dim view on our recounting of the events of that day. Nevertheless, when someone in the stake says they have evil spirits in their home or they sense them round about them, the Stake President refers them to me. When someone is hospitalized for mental health issues, I am called to give them a blessing. After the evil entities have departed I teach the victim the concepts I learned from Dr. Fish. I have all of his books. His techniques are sound and applicable. Now, I don’t talk about these things in church or in a classroom. There have been an occasion or two where someone has gone to the Stake President of the Bishop and complained about something I said. Like telling a sister she did not always need a priesthood blessing to expel evil spirits and she could use the concepts taught in the temple. At any rate, I understand the application of what Dr. Fish is teaching and they work! I do believe that he is a man ahead of the times. Twenty years from now the church will catch up to his teachings and be a bit embarrassed that they have dealt so harshly with him.

I should also point out that Dr. Fish brought up some other concepts in the workshop that I did not agree with and seemed foreign to the gospel as I understood it at the time. I wasn’t offended and just put the concepts that he shared on a shelf in my mind. Over time, as I attended the temple and had other experience, I began to see how the concept fit perfectly within the context of the restored gospel. I have now read all of the book by doctor B. Weiss and clearly see new horizons even within the context of the restored gospel. Here again, I understand the bristling from priesthood leaders. I have been in disciplinary councils where we have disagreed on the outcome. Our experience and even our inspiration is different, it doesn’t make the gospel less true. We all will have issues with the institutional church, but the gospel is true. If it were permissible, I would be honored to call Dr. Fish a Master teacher and I, one of his students.
Cindy said…
I have Mel's books and have been to a healing workshop at a friend's home here in Las Vegas. It was an amazing experience for me. I think it's sad that there can be such a lack of warmth and love in the church. I have always firmly believed that the sign of a true follower of Christ is someone who demonstrates the pure love of Christ as is stated in the scriptures we claim to follow. Mel and his wife are two of the most loving people I have ever met in my life. I find it very disheartening that the church saw fit to excommunicate him in such a horrible and heartless way. I was raised in the church and grew up mostly in Utah. My father ritualistically sexually abused me all of my growing up years while we were "good" members of the church. He was finally excommunicated for it but was later re-baptized while I was in the MTC preparing for my missionary service. I fail to understand how those who abuse others so horrifically are treated with more love and acceptance than those who use their spiritual gifts to heal.
The damage that my father did to my spirit and my whole being with his emotional, physical and sexual abuse has caused me to seek gifted healers who have similar abilities to Mel's. I have found that as I have healed, I have come closer to Christ. In Moroni 7, we are told that the things which bring us closer to Christ are of Christ. I would not be here still today if it weren't for the help of these healers. I have found in my years of being in the church that there are a few members who have the spirit with them and many who just don't. It's just too bad when a true follower of Christ is removed from the church. I will never agree with or understand this. I would think that they would be following the counsel of the Doctrine and Covenants and being patient and long-suffering and using persuasion and love to help people who are believed to be "wayward" rather than exercising control to punish and coerce. I am grateful for reading these posts though. I have been struggling with a few questions of my own and now have the clarity I have been seeking to finally make a decision that has been weighing heavily on me.
tomirvine999 said…
I am not in position to judge either side. God is the ultimate judge.

But is this a case of Mark 9:38-41?

[38] And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
[39] But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
[40] For he that is not against us is on our part.
[41] For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
Emily King said…
These topics are fairly new to me but have been pressing on my mind as I have grown in age, experience & in the gospel. The answer I often come to when controversial issues about the Church in this regard come up is that always it seems there is a direct need in the Church for the greater good to prevail. In saying that, I mean the "greater good" as in how many more souls will come to Christ from one action or another. I am not sure that Mel is right or wrong in his practices but what I think is that- at his point in time the affects of "allowing" this type of treatment may cause more harm to more souls by other "healers" who try to copy cat these methods in an irresponsible way. That my rip apart more families and cause more damage then the amount of souls that Mel or others genuinely gifted like him can help. There fore it is my belief that the family & it's preservation is always the greater good no matter the issue. The gospel hinges on the preservation of the family so whatever decision is going to protect the family the MOST is going to prevail & that is the revelation the First Presidency will always follow. Each soul is valuable, important & loved by Christ. The mission of the Church is to bring to Christ as many souls as possible to Him.
Army Green said…
Thanks to the nice guy that left a comment about a general auth forgiving someone for murder and being allowed to be baptized...thanks...
Holli said…
Two things:
1. Having been a witness in a church disciplinary court, my experience was the same as Mel's son. It was not a court of love but rather a court of darkness. And although the accused was innocent, brought there on bogus charges with the result of no church action taken against him, my family members and I who defended him will always think of that experience as one of the most painful and evil-spirited situations we have ever been asked to endure. We all continue as faithful LDS, but it makes us sick how the falsely accused can be dragged in there at the drop of a hat.
2. Mel Fish should have been referring his clients to their priesthood leaders to deal with what he considered "evil spirits" or an evil influence in patients' lives. He had no business to usurp authority by combining his professional activities like counseling with those types of sensitive spiritual issues. Unless a counselor is employed by LDS Family Services they had better do what they are being paid to do and refer LDS patients to their Bishops and Stake Presidents for the rest. I'm not saying he didn't help people, but there were likely others claiming they were psychologically harmed by his techniques otherwise a disciplinary court would have never been held in the first place. Someone who went to a therapist like Fish was what caused #1 above.
tmalonemcse said…
Great comment Holli. Thanks for sharing. Yep, there are quite a few "counselors" out there who don't know what they are doing and cause mental, emotional and spiritual damage. Mel Fish made some mistakes, there is no doubt about that. I'm glad I got to meet him and ask him personally about his experiences, see him demonstrate his technique in helping my wife with an issue and then later to read all his books and write the review I had been intending to write.

The difficulty in referring clients to priesthood leaders to deal with evil spirits is that there are too many who either don't believe such things exist in our day and age or would know how to deal with them. I speak from experience. I'm not sure I would agree that Mel usurped any authority. His technique teaches an individual to invite the unwanted attached spirit to go to the light or, baring that, for the individual to cast them out in the name of Jesus Christ. Mel does not use the priesthood in his counseling.
Steve said…

What right do you have to say that Mel was wrong in dealing with these spirits himself? Or to instruct his patients to deal with them?

And given your experiences of someone being brought up on bogus charges, how can you say that a court would not have been held had there not been claims of harm?

Austin Myl said…
Sorry I haven't read any of the other comments, but when I joined the church in 2006 as an 18 year old, I was still dealing with the PTSD from being molested and a few other things. My mother drove me from California to Utah to see Melvin C. Fish. I can honestly say that because of Melvin C. Fish and the 12 hour car ride to Cedar City my life has been changed. I I feel like because of Melvin C. Fish I was able to continue my progression to feel the way a man should, and be 100% healed from what happened, and be a normal happy latter-day saint. He didn't use his priesthood, and he didn't ask for a dime. I'm pretty heart-broken to find out of his ex-communication. He changed my life.
Hi Austin,

Thanks you for sharing your story. I think you'll be pleased to know Mel called me the other day to tell me he is meeting with a member of the area presidency. He is hopeful this will begin the reconciliation process. Previous efforts to appeal to General Authorities were rebuffed, and very rudely I might add. All this is according to Mel. I continue to pray for him and his family that he may have he wish of his heart and be baptized before his time on this earth is over. He's such a good man.

Tiffany said…
I sometimes wonder if members who don't believe in "evil spirits" are reading from the same scriptures or attending the same temple sessions that I am??? Seriously, isn't possession exactly what Satan threatens to all those who don't fully keep their promises to God?
Did Jesus cast out evil spirits, or did he not?
Did he tell his disciples that they would do likewise, or did he not?
Did Joseph Smith also teach of spirits around us or did he not?
I think it quite simple when you add it all up, with what we have been taught in the church about eternity and this life and how it is associated with spirits and the spirit realm.
As Dr Fish has found out some are those spirits lived previously and are caught in Limbo afraid to go towards the light for fear of the retribution which awaits them, or simple lack of direction. They can also learn of Christ and be redeemed. Isn't this why we do work for the dead?
It may be contrary to "mainstream" psychiatry, mostly because they don't believe in God (or Satan for that matter), but as God fearing Christians we should certainly believe in these things and seek to understand them as God intended.
I appreciated Ann's comments above and suggest that saints would fair far better by paying a visit to Dr Fish and get some real healing through repentance, forgiveness and instructing spirits that have traped themselves to this realm to go towards the light, than to their current psyco-therapist for more mind altering drugs!
Amen, Tiffany. Amen and well said. Thank you.
kimball said…
The most important decision and wisest decision I have ever made was the decision to leave the Mormon church. Why? Because it is a church built and established on lies. There was no first vision. There were no ancient people that were visited by Christ. Joseph Smith was a con-man and not a very good one. Anyone that is truely seeking the truth can see plainly that the LDS church is just an institution run by men. And these men are just continuing the false teachings as they were taught as kids.

Don't try to change the church. Christ is not there. In fact, not only is Christ not there bit Satan is at the helm. You have a brain. Use it. Get out of the insanity.
kimball said…
Tiffany it doesn't matter what people like Joseph Smith or Brigham Young said. These were con-men. These were pedophiles. Wake up. You are alone on this floating rock. It's tough, but the truth is not so easy. Haha can you imagine a God that requires secret names and handshakes to enter his kingdom.?? Come on.

It is Satan that you follow in the LDS church.
David said…
If the church were built on lies & con how did Joe Smith just happen to get so many things right, i.e., the nature of God, man's relationship to God, the pre-mortal existence, vicarious work for the dead, even new names, etc is an ancient teaching carried over in the Catholic church. And how does Kimball account for the Book of Mormon, it's ancient language, and it's power to transform lives? No the Church is true, but as in history not all men (leaders) have been true to the spirit. I met Mel 3 months ago and attended a class of his in SLC. I'm shocked that this has happened. I think the issue is getting paid for spiritual work. That is my understanding of Priestcraft, and I bet what they got him on. Although as a military Chaplain I got paid for such - interesting. Yes I think Mel should appeal, and let more loving heads prevail.
Hi David. I spoke with Gwena today. They continue to express gratitude for this particular post and "all the good it has done." In other words, they have received more calls, emails and letters from people asking if they can help them with some long-standing problem that turns out to be related to unclean spirits. Taking offense is the number one way people attract negative energy into their lives. Another way is being ungrateful. I expressed my love for Gwena, told her I knew the Lord loved them and told them I was continually praying that their family would be blessed for all the good they are doing. I am grateful to have been able to be a part of something that I hope results in Mel having his membership eventually restored. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.
jmhiatt said…
Great thread Tim. So interesting. Truly, this is a travesty.
I just spoke with Mel again today. Even though I'm trained on how to detect and remove dark spirits, I had been unsuccessful in this case. He helped me. I just wanted to publically acknowledge his kindness. Thank you Mel for being a true healer and a servant of the master.
Antony den Dulk said…
Elder Oaks teaching not to fall for non-scientifically vetted things is funny. I would love to see what he considers as scientific vetting of his Apostleship as well as the scientific proof of the Book of Mormon, the First Vision and all the other things we members believe to be true. This sounds like a case where he presented his own opinion on a matter rather than God's truth.
From someone who sent this directly in an email, I include the following. I asked if I could add it to the comments here:


I am a member of the church, active, and believe that the church is the
most firm foundation that I have found to come closer to Christ and live
a very peaceful life.

I wanted to say that the church excommunicates people for priest craft
many reasons, almost all of which are political, and unfounded in what

Christ himself said -Luke 9:49-50
49 ¶And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

It is saddening to me when we have to consider the censorship of good
that is brought about by the church. It makes me sad and prepares me for the great sifting which will occur.

Just wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Vartan Ouzounian
lbcmrc@cut.net said…
That is a very interesting comment. #2... Really? I know a young lady who endured years of torment by unclean spirits... Begged bishops & priesthood brethren to help her. Not one could. Not for lack of trying, but they lacked the knowledge & possibly the faith to make a dent. Long story short, Mel Fish was the beginning of putting that nonsense down. When a person has a trial/condition of this magnitude, it does not help to tell the person via a priesthood blessing that they simply need to read their scriptures & pray more. They were already doing this. This problem is massive in the church. But ppl hide their situation because of the ensuing judgement. Thank God for Mel Fish.
M.A. said…
I had a guy with the exact same name for AP calculus at East High in 1993. He used to joke about his name "Melvin caught-a-fish." He was very sweet, mild, and funny. I am curious. It is an unusual name, so I am thinking it has to be the same guy.
M.A. said…
Thank you for what you said, John, about medications killing people. I nearly died from the medications I was prescribed by the top psychiatrist in my community. He is not a bad man, but works in an flawed (and I would even say evil) system. I am much more worried about the subtle ways evil has reigned in this world than working with specific evil spirits. I am happy to finally be able to identify what is evil in me and begin to actually work with that spirit (at least one that I know of). I have been tormented for about 30 years, and in therapy for over twenty years for this, and I am just now starting to understand that I need a more spiritual intervention. I need to get more information before I head to a healer like Mel Fish (who I believe was my calculus teacher in high school), but this information on this blog is helping me. I already feel part of my burden being lifted. I find the discussion to be largely uplifting, informative, open-minded, and not one-sided. I really appreciate what people are bringing up - both in the way of caution and what it really means to come unto Christ and utilize the atonement. I believe we are living in a day when all evil will be brought to the surface and made clear. I hope it is in my lifetime. I am a licensed therapist, and I am trying to learn how to best help others heal. I take my job very seriously - not only for this life, but considering eternity. I am not able to separate one from the other.
M.A. said…
I agree with what you have written here regarding evil spirits, JD. Thank you for sharing your experience and other thoughts. It gives me hope that we are close to that day when Satan truly will be bound.
M.A. said…
Tim - Thank you for this post. It has helped me sort out many questions I have had recently about healing and evil. I will continue to learn more about Mel Fish based on this post and the discussion following it. I have felt peace while reading many of the comments, and I am beginning to have hope about what I never imagined could be hopeful before reading this.

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