Friday, December 01, 2006

on not telling the bishop

When I stopped going to church, I didn't tell the bishop. For a while, I was torn about that. On the one hand, he was my ecclesiastical leader, so he felt logistic responsibility over me as a member of his ward, and spiritual responsibility over me as one of his flock. It would be common courtesy to at least inform him that I'd not longer be coming, right?

There were other reasons to not bother. He didn't know me. He always got my name wrong. What was he to me, other than the man assigned to me by other people higher up in the hierarchy? I no longer saw him as my spiritual leader; I felt he had no authority over me any more.

I also figured that if I did agree to an appointment with him (which he tried to schedule twice), he would be of no help. He would tell me I was wrong and try to get me to come back, to reconsider, to read some scriptures. He would have lectured; not listened. He would ask me to tell him my personal business. But why should I have? Tell my personal spirituality to a bare acquaintance?

Would it be of any use to tell him why I was leaving? Would my voice add to and become a force with all those other disaffected voices, all those others who simply can't be a part of the church anymore? Or would it be lost in that office, excused as nothing more than a young, inexperienced, prideful, confused woman's complaints about the wise ways of the Lord that she just can't understand?

I tend to think the latter. So I didn't bother.


Simeon's Peep Stone said...

I testify that the way you handled this was the way to go. How do I have this sure knowledge? I'm the guy that took the other path. 5 long drawn out conversations later and I too know that it is a waste of time to talk to the Bishop. It's not that they are bad guys, it's just that they have no perspective and have no answers.

from the ashes said...

Yes, simeon. They aren't the bad guys, they're just not equipped to help us, as much as they may try and want to. They are part of the organization.

Another thing I didn't want to deal with was being accused of sin. First of all, it's none of his business. Second of all, I was a perfect little Molly Mormon until after I left.

Or he might have asked how I was offended. Nope, I wasn't offended by anybody. (Though many aspects of the church itself I find offensive.)

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I felt exactly as you...I just didn't know him well enough to warrant the whole discussing it thing. I sent a little note in the mail asking to be released from my primary counselor position, and that I didn't want to be put on the list of inactives to contact, because I find that intrusive and rude.

He called me the day he got the letter, but we were at dinner at Olive Garden and I told my husband to tell him I'd call him later. Then I didn't, and when he called me again, all he said was, "I'm here if you need anything." I said thanks, and we hung up. Talk about NOTHING.

I felt like you, though. It's none of his business.

from the ashes said...

I did notify the RS pres that I wanted to be released a couple weeks before I stopped going. And I did talk to her about my disaffection, but only because she was also a friend. I'm sure she then turned around and broke the friend-confidentiality because of her capacity as RS pres and reported in the ward council meeting or whatever.

And she arranged a dinner at which a Mormon theology student would be able to "answer any of our questions," without asking us if that was okay first. I felt manipulated. We did not pour out our hearts to him, to be sure.

To this day, she misunderstands why I left as "wanting to get away from the restrictions." Nevermind that I didn't even think of them as restrictions until after I left.

Molly The Mormon said...

Having problems in your marriage, or just want to spice it up a bit? My latest post (Stand By Your Man) has everything you need.


Molly the Mormon

Anonymous said...

I told my Bishop I wasn't coming back over and over again. They always try to get us back, especially the kids. My #2 is the 1st counselor in the Beehives. She doesn't go on Sundays, but enjoys the weekly activities. It's her choice. My kids know about my struggles, I am open about it (as much as I can be with age appropriateness) with them.

My #4 will be 8 in February, and I know there will be a big stink about it all when we don't do the baptism thing. Her cousin is 6 weeks younger, and last year my brother & I did a double baptism for his #2, and my #3 who are 3 weeks apart. I don't even want to attend his son's this coming year, or their baby blessing (his wife is preggo w/ #5). I'm tired of explaining, and I'm even more tired of the judgment and/or comments.

My ward doesn't even know I've legally removed my ex-husbands name from mine. They still call me Sister "X". My daughter once told the Bishop in passing conversation that she wanted to adopt a baby from Vietnam (she has an obsession about Asian babies). He told her that she would need to pray about it first.

He also called in my oldest son to tell him that he wouldn't be called to be a Teacher, because we didn't go to church. He chastized him for not working on his Eagle. WTF? Um, hello, where the hell is his Peter-Priesthood father? 1,000 miles away with Wifey #2, and his 4 step-bitches. Whatever. My son felt like crap for an entire week. I had long, long talks with him trying to undo the damage the Bishop had done. I told my son that he is amazing, and he had DONE NOTHING WRONG!

The kids learned a lesson though. The next time they get a call for an interview with the Bishop, they're going to say, "I'm doing great, and don't need to come in. Thanks for calling, anyway."

I have my letter typed up requesting to remove my name from the church records. It's in a drawer somewhere. I haven't been able to bring myself to actually physically mail it in. Why's that?

from the ashes said...

Molly- You're the closest thing I've had to an commenting LDS troll on my site. Congratulations. And the fact that my husband cooks as often as I do and I work outside the home--does that mean we're both going to turn bi? Your sage advice would be most appreciated.

poker- Getting my kid away from the clutches of primary and YM was a big mover for me to stop going to church. We haven't had any primary people hitting him up, luckily, not even for activities.

I'm sorry about your kids getting programed like that by the bishop. What a putz. It's really sad that he thinks he's doing something for their own good, that he's doing the Lord's work, but all he's really doing is making teenagers feel really shitty about themselves. The church really sucks when it comes to youth.

And what a pompous thing for the bishop to decide your son wasn't "worthy" to become a teacher. Please. If he was really in tune with Jesus, he'd be doing everything possible to help teenagers feel good about themselves and get through those tough years. At least your son and daughter have learned that maybe letting the bishop into their lives isn't worth it.

Anonymous said...

When my husband and I decided to stop going to church, he asked our bishop for a meeting to let him know that we needed to be released and wouldn't be back. Even though I live in the heart of SLC, our ward was tiny and struggling, mast active members had at least 2 callings. He was the finance clerk, and I was in the primary presidency. We couldn't just not show up without letting them know, you know?

So my husband met with the bishop, and explained things to him. Bishop was shocked, asked a lot of questions, but ultimately respected our decision. I wrote a follow-up letter which made everything final and clear that evening, and put it in the mail the next day. About a week later, the bishop called to see if he could come over to talk to us, and I said no. Since then, he has stopped by the house one time just to see how we were doing.

I know our experience is an exception... but we knew our bishop pretty well, and he knew us pretty well. Everything went pretty much how I expected it to.

PS- ignore Molly the Mormon. She left those comments on everyones blogs, but for some reason deleted hers from mine. I don't get it.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

And I say, Don't ignore Molly the Mormon. She's pretty freakin' hilarious if you ask me. Great entertainment reading. Hope she gives me a Sunbeam Point for promoting her blog here.

You asked me a very important question, and the answer is:

Kama-Sutra: The Secrets to the Art of Love

:) Enjoy.

from the ashes said...

Christy- It makes sense that if you knew the bishop well, and you had big callings. (We did asked to be released, that is, we quit. Even the wording "asking to be released" gives all power to them.) I think Molly was just advertising her blog. And I do think she's funny, even if she offends people who don't realize her true intentions.

SML-Thanks! We've found a couple sites online, but the figures (one was wooden puppets) were a little hard to understand.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

The movie will delight. I promise. I found it interesting that the lady who was narrator (while you watch the action) mentions the pros of each "This position is good for fantasizing about another partner."


from the ashes said...

SML- Hmm, a post on the bishop turned into one about sex positions. :p I can't decide whether I'm delighted by the irony or disgusted by the juxtaposition of bishop and kama sutra.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I'm not disgusted if the bishop that comes to mind is attractive, I guess.


Bishop Rick said...

Did someone call for a Bishop?

from the ashes said...

bishop- Yes. We need to schedule an appointment to discuss in great detail exactly which positions are appropriate between a married couple. We couldn't possibly decide such a thing on our own.

Oh, wait, I forgot, we're not Mormon anymore. Now we can f**k how, where, and what we may.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

We should discuss this with the bishop at the party in Pete's van....