Area Man Not Sure He Wants Holy Ghost Coming Around Anymore

Jason Nielson said he was uncomfortable inviting the Holy Ghost into his home after the Spirit commented on the swimsuit his six-year-old was wearing.[1] Nielson reported his daughter was getting ready to swim at her friends’ house when the third member of the Godhead told her the suit was provocative. “She was real excited about splashing around in the neighbor’s pool. Playing water tag with her friends. You know, normal innocent childhood stuff.  Next thing I know she comes out of her room crying and says the Comforter told her she wasn’t properly covered.”

It took several minutes of listening to his daughter between sobs before Nielson understood the Holy Spirit of God had whispered the swimsuit was riding a little high in the seat. “We’ve been worried about layoffs and Jane decided the kids could just wear their suits from last year. You know how kids are, give them some sunshine, a popsicle and a sprinkler to run through and they couldn’t be happier.” Nielson is now reevaluating whether he wants the Testifier around his kids. “We’ve taught our kids to listen to the Spirit but if It is going to say stuff like that I’m going to have to rethink things. Frankly it’s a little creepy.”

The Holy Ghost was unavailable for comment but local woman Cathy Peterson said immodesty was an on-going problem with area children.

[1] See “Anita’s” story found about halfway down in Primary 3, Lesson 26: The Holy Ghost Can Help Us. This manual is to be used to teach children ages four to seven.


  1. Perfect.

  2. KerBearRN says:

    Mr. Ghost must have been hanging around with Santimonious Neighbor.

  3. KerBearRN says:

    Arg. Sanctimonious. #facepalm.

  4. andrew h says:

    Better than “The Onion”

  5. Genius and wicked.

  6. The Mormonion?

  7. Mat Parke is the Jon Stewart of Mormonism. Wear the title with pride, my friend.

  8. Jacob M says:

    I was horrified when I saw that story as part of the lesson, so I skipped it. Thanks for pointing this out in a much funnier way than I can!

  9. Just wait until this journalist reports on 1st Nephi Chapter 4…

  10. Yes. Just…yes.

  11. KerBearRN says:

    Glad my kids won’t be in primary today. My 8 year old daughter already refuses to wear even below-knee skirts without leggings, and I fear it is bc of lessons there. It makes me want to cry.

  12. Glad I wasn’t the only one to skip that story in my lesson today! I sprained my brain trying to figure out how a swimsuit gets too small on a 6-year old to become “immodest.”

  13. KerBearRN says:

    And why do modesty stories only seem to involve girls? Sigh. My husband just contrasted the current “modesty” obsession in our faith with articles he has been reading about Pope Fran, and his application of “modesty”. It seems like a better term might be humility– which has nothing to do with sleeve length.

  14. amandaaa says:

    Oh hey, I taught that primary lesson 3 weeks ago! Haha

  15. I read the actual story in the lesson. All it said was that she had a suit that she had worn the previous year, that when she put it on she realized she had outgrown it and that she wore one that her older sister gave her that fit her now that she was a year older. In summary, The girl outgrew a swimsuit and didn’t want to wear one that was too small for her.

    I have sons and daughters, of a wide age range, and that exact situation has occurred more than once in their lives.

    I get the point of the post, but what, exactly, is wrong with the actual story as it is written in the lesson? Is the actual story really that egregious, or is this a case of hyper-sensitivity to a particular topic?

  16. “And why do modesty stories only seem to involve girls?”

    Amen. I have issues with the way we teach modesty, and this is one of the central things that frustrates me the most.

  17. Come on, Ray. The HG didn’t “help” her to realize that it didn’t fit; it helped her realize that it was immodest and that God wants us to be modest. That’s the problem with the story, the way it’s actually written.

  18. I thought that would be the answer, Brad – and I respect that answer. I don’t think it’s that cut and dried, but I respect the answer.

    I don’t agree with the idea that it is impossible for children to dress immodestly, as is obvious from Mathew’s previous post and the discussion that followed. I won’t rehash it here. I will bow out of this discussion, since there isn’t anything new that wasn’t covered in the previous post.

  19. Corrina says:

    Ray, I typically look forward to your insightful comments so much. Please don’t let me down!! Yes, Brad said it right. I was so disappointed when I was preparing this lesson 2weeks ago as a primary sub. Relating her discomfort in the size of her suit to the HG guiding her in her life just made me want to scream.

    Thanks for the hilarious post.

  20. Corrina,

    Thanks for the first sentence. I appreciate it. I hope not to let you down, but I always try to be totally honest here and elsewhere when I post. I will try to explain why I don’t like this post, and then I will bow out for good, since, as I said, I’ve gone the rounds about this topic previously.

    I tend to dislike most extreme positions, believing in moderation in all things (modesty, in the purest sense). Mathew and I see the root issue the exact same in some very central ways, but we differ in some ways, as well. As I said, I respect that – especially since:

    I didn’t say I like the story.

    I didn’t say I would have used it if I had taught the lesson. (I would not have.)

    I did say I have issues with the way we teach modesty.

    I just don’t like caricatures that distort something nearly beyond recognition and take a stance that is FAR more extreme than what is being attacked. I’m not trying to defend the story in the context of the lesson as being a great example of how we should teach about the Holy Ghost guiding us – but, as a general principle, I just don’t like mocking and ridiculing as a good way to communicate about issues like this. Such approaches tend to do nothing but harden the views of people on both sides of whatever issue is being addressed – and I think that’s evident in the last thread about this basic topic in which those who disagreed with each other ended up slinging insults and calling each other names.

    The story, as written, without the distortions in this post, is one I could see happening, even if I wouldn’t use it in the lesson. I believe in the Holy Ghost less as a personage and more as a communicative link to God / level of consciousness – so I do believe such consciousness could “speak to someone” about things as seemingly trivial as what we wear, even, again, as I think we do a pretty bad job addressing modesty properly in the Church.

    You deserved an attempt to explain my reaction more fully. I really am sorry if it lets you down, but it’s how I honestly feel. I don’t expect you to accept or even understand my view, but if this forum is nothing more than an echo chamber on topics like this, nothing will have changed for anyone – including me.

  21. Ha ha, good stuff. I thought I was reading my blog for a sec. Well done, Mathew. And yes, Brooke, it’s called The Mormonion.

  22. Angela C says:

    We give teachers examples like this in the manual then tell them not to stray from the manual. This story is not only inappropriate but IMO incredibly unlikely. I don’t believe for a second that either god or Jesus care about a child wearing a too small swim suit. This is not what the holy ghost testifies of. This is the shame and worry people feel when neighbors are judgmental and trained to look for the slightest cultural deviation. How does one teach this lesson in a developing country where the implied wealth of having myriad swim suits to choose from is completely outside the scope of comprehension? How would the faithful members in the Cambodian branch I visited last year perceive it? We flaunt our wealth without knowing it. That’s not modest.

  23. But modesty only matters with respect to clothing!

  24. Meh. Maybe I’m just too old to find calling the Holy Ghost a creepy perv funny. (Yeah, yeah, I know the old “lighten up, it was only a joke” retorts are coming).

  25. I wish we didn’t use stories in the Junior Primary manual that are of dubious origin and/or clearly fictitious. There, I said it.

  26. Geoff, I think discomfort at portraying deity as lecherous and creepy is something you have in common with Mathew.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I remember this lesson from teaching Primary in years pasts. I don’t particulary like the shoe in the track story either in this lesson even though the prompting more appropriately helps the child solve the problem, it is just so frightening at this age to have a train coming up on two little children. There is a story somewhere else where the young man gives up his life to switch the track or do something on the bridge …. does anyone recall that that…and saves the others.

  28. I’ll never write anything satirical again. You, sir, win the internet.

  29. Aaron B says:

    Whether or not the Holy Ghost is a perve, Geoff, he’s certainly lazy. I spent two years inviting investigators to seek confirmation of the truthfulness of the Gospel, the Book of Mormon, prophets, etc. from him, but in the end I usually had to “help them feel and recognize” his presence, as he apparently couldn’t make himself known without my interpretive assist.

  30. I’d be happy is this topic was never broached on the bloggernacle again.

  31. Angela C says:

    I’d be happy if it’s never broached in the Primary again.

  32. What Angela said.

  33. I read the actual story in the lesson. All it said was that she had a suit that she had worn the previous year, that when she put it on she realized she had outgrown it and that she wore one that her older sister gave her that fit her now that she was a year older. In summary, The girl outgrew a swimsuit and didn’t want to wear one that was too small for her.

    Yes, in church we frequently discuss simple clothing choices. The bathing suit angle had nothing to do with the hyper-sexualization of 4 to 6 year old little girls. This was just a matter of discussing a practical problem of outgrowing one’s clothes.

  34. Angela C says:

    Corrupt Communication alert!

  35. Brad,

    Well in this case the story Mathew cited doesn’t portray the Holy Ghost as a creepy letch. The child in the story reportedly got a prompting that if she wore a certain outfit “she would feel uncomfortable”. So she changed. What’s wrong with the Spirit helping us avoid personally awkward or uncomfortable situations.

    I’m not saying I am a fan of the story — I’m not. But this attempt at humor regarding the God of the universe who we Mormons worship is surprisingly disrespectful for this site.

  36. Aaron B,

    Sorry you had such troubles as a missionary. When I was a missionary many of the people I taught the Gospel to were able to feel the Spirit and be converted with no “interpretive assist” from me at all. I guess we just had different experiences.

  37. Having been a little girl in a too small swimsuit long, long ago, I can testify that the LAST thing I would have been concerned about was modesty. I was a CHILD. And it was already bad enough that I had to wear a maddeningly uncomfortable contraption like a one piece swimsuit when my brothers got to wear comfortable swim trunks that didn’t ride up their cheeks every time they took a step. If, on top of that injustice, the Comforter, the kind and gentle link to my beloved Jesus, had been whispering modesty at me, I would have felt betrayed by God at 6 instead of waiting until 12. The story in the primary Manual is appalling. Why do we do this to our precious little girls?

  38. Once again most of the objections here are to form rather than substance. While I believe I am not mocking the Holy Ghost but rather the misappropriation of the Holy Ghost for a misguided agenda, I freely acknowledge that satire of this sort is not to everyone’s taste. Still, it seems that even among my critics I am not an outlier in thinking that the curriculum writers, magazine editors and various other church functionaries have got this one wrong. Here’s hoping that we won’t see any more of this stuff in the future–the church will be better off for it.

  39. “…As a result, the swimsuit did not cover her as it should and was now immodest.
    Anita knew that her friend was waiting for her to come over, and Anita wanted to run quickly over to her house to play. However, a thought that came into her mind helped her decide what to do. She was reminded that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ wanted her to be modest.”

    How is this story not about modesty? I can assure you that to a little girl, that is exactly what it is about.

  40. ” What’s wrong with the Spirit helping us avoid personally awkward or uncomfortable situations? ”

    That description of the linked story accompanied by the willful exclusion of the part about the attire in question being immodest for a 6-year-old is a pretty outlandish bit of obfuscation.

  41. Great satire! Depressing that once again the church is choosing to inadvertenly sexualize 6 year olds. Wonder what the church will say when there is an increase in the amount of eating/sexual disorders that will manifest in the following generations thanks to all the body shaming we are teaching our kids ( wait just our girls but our boys are learning to judge them so hey win win).

  42. Peter LLC says:

    this attempt at humor regarding the God of the universe who we Mormons worship is surprisingly disrespectful for this site.

    There’s the God of the universe we Mormons worship and then there’s the target of this post. The fact that you are having troubling distinguishing between the two suggests you may be in need of one of Aaron B’s interpretive assists.

  43. Someone should be tracking the number of responses posts on modesty generate as compared to … almost anything else. I agree that it represents a problem – a huge one, since it not only ties to things like young women’s body image, but also reinforces the silly Mormon idea that God is offended over arbitrary trifles.

    But look at the total ink spilled … At least part of this never ending discussion should be why it generates so much excitement in relation to the endless other nodes around Mormonism that are never discussed, barely, if ever, even acknowledged.

  44. in relation = relative to. Or, whatever.

  45. Aaron B says:

    Geoff, some of my investigators required no interpretive assists either. But alas, most of them did — or at least we never knew otherwise, since we rushed to interpret their experiences for them. You may recall that this was policy — HOFARTS was the acronymn. (And the policy preceded me and my experiences, as I’m sure you know).

    But I’m guilty of a snarky threadjack here, so I will now withdraw …

  46. glasscluster says:

    The post and comments are insightful.

    I admire and respect anyone who can provoke thought through writing, whether or not everyone finds what is written to be appropriate.

    Having said that, I want to comment on the topic itself.

    People are enraged that the Church would suggest that little children (presumably under 8 years old? 10 year old?) can be dressed immodestly…that no one looks at children in a sexual way.

    News flash. Some people do.

    I didn’t grow up in the Church. I got some confusing messages when I was a child…the result was I wanted to wear things that are “immodest” by mainstream church standards.

    I wish I would have had something like “The Friend” when I was a kid…to help me understand that there is a Heavenly Father who loves me and that the weirdness I felt wearing certain clothes and not others had to do with the Spirit trying to talk with me.

    Yes, the Friend is way too simplistic for my adult-analytic self …but I think it disturbing how many people have demonized it. It seems to me like the writers are trying to help little girls who are bombarded with messages to wear hyper-sexualized clothing from a very young age.

    Maybe you never felt the social pressure to do that. Maybe you grew up in a house where it was a non-issue…maybe your exposure to non-mainstream church standards of dress or values was limited anyway…and she sewed the kids’ clothes according to Amish guidelines.

    But we didn’t all grow up that way…and I respect what the Church is trying to do in terms of helping kids and parents to talk about stuff like this early on.

  47. Who told thee that thou wast naked?

  48. My sisters and I were raped repeatedly when we were children ages 4-9, and believe me, it wasn’t because of the clothes we wore!!!! Yes, people will sexuallize children. That isn’t right. But those people aren’t really caring about the clothes we wear. It is the innocence they want to steal! Sometimes the sweeter and most childlike is what they are looking for! The church teaches children that it is their fault. If only I didn’t encourage the abuse with my clothes. Oh well, no one likes a frowny face, change it to a smile, smile all the while.

  49. Geoff J, you said: “But this attempt at humor regarding the God of the universe who we Mormons worship is surprisingly disrespectful for this site.”

    No it is not. First, this attempt at humor was pointed at the nature of the God “we Mormons–150+ years of GA opinions, hyperbole, etc” have created–not God, generally.

    Second, much of the so-called doctrine, traditions, practices, beliefs, and truths “we Mormons” have been been subjected to needs to be dissected, discussed, belittled, or whatever. How else to work toward a better understanding of some actual truth? Sites like BCC, though some are more irreverent and “disrespectful’ (not as much genuflecting), are our (Mormons seeking actual truth) most readily accessible resource.


  50. Kate, I’m so very sorry to hear of the abuse you and your sisters suffered. I have read that feeling blame, however misplaced that feeling may be, is common in those situations. I expect this is even more often the case when the victim is young.

  51. I’m going to close comments now. Thanks all for your contributions.

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