Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

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Origami
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Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by Origami » 21 Aug 2014, 21:39

So my wife (GodisLove) and I have been trying to navigate a new paradigm with me nonbelieving and nonparticipating in church on a slow burn trajectory for going on 2 years now to where I am completely uninvolved for the past 8 months or so. GodisLove is very much a NOM and has issues of her own with the church but is trying to make/find value in still participating. We are open with each other and are trying to help our kids through this without hurting them or allowing them to be hurt. We have 5 ages 19,16,13,11,&5. The two older kids know about my unbelief. The younger ones don't. They are all still trying to participate at some level.

We live in SE Idaho and our current ward leaders are Pharisee's of the highest order. The BP is referred to by his counselors over the pulpit as the prophet of the ward and obedience is the first law of heaven in their eyes.

They have lost our trust completely over the past 4-5 years as we were both heavily involved in ward leadership with them. We don't want them asking/teaching our kids wrong or inappropriate stuff in private one-on-one interviews, period. They know nothing about my disaffection. No one from ward leadership has really talked to me in 2 years. They assume we are offended and are afraid to approach me. I don't recognize or respond to their authority in any way, but usually politely.

I'm glossing over some detail here but: I wrote a letter asking that they don't ask my children any sexual questions at all other than a, yes or no, do you live the law of chastity. I informed them we may choose to attend the interviews with our minor children and told them we have empowered our kids to not answer these types of questions and that they will tell us if anyone does. I asked for a response, in writing, before he tries to talk to any of my kids again. I sent it to both the BP and SP. I sent it 2 weeks prior to my son's 16th birthday hoping to resolve this before creating any weirdness for my son.

Radio silence for 2 weeks, after my son's birthday. I get a phone call one evening from the WS trying to schedule an interview for DS now 16. I tell him NO, and ask him to tell the BP not to ask again til he responds to my letter. Another month passes in silence until a 6 page typed letter comes in the mail. A page was dedicated to his ridiculous 6 week delay in responding and apologizing for trying to schedule an interview with DS 2 weeks after receiving the letter. 3 pages were dedicated to educating us on how the interview process really works and how important his job is as the Lord's chosen servant (we are both life long members and he knows it, no remedial church lessons required). A page or so dedicated to telling us how wrong it is of us to think he would ever ask inappropriate questions. and that we are risking out kids access to saving ordinances by our limiting his access to our kids. The finale is that he will be unable to judge our kids worthy for priesthood advancement or to have temple privileges with the restrictions we are trying to place on him. I am sure there has been review of this letter by the SP and probably Church Legal too based on some of the verbiage/statements in his letter. In the meantime our kids are in limbo and this is making church awkward for them.

I am fine with him never interviewing/advancing/judging my kids, I don't trust him, my wife does even less. I would/will tender my resignation over this if I need to. I am going to respond, likely with a politely worded F-You.

What do you all think?

Bear
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Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by Bear » 22 Aug 2014, 01:43

Take it to the area president? This sounds absolutely insane. Not giving your boy the priesthood and further a temple recommend just doesn't seem to be anything remotely connected to what you are asking of your leader.

Either that or wait till he is released and talk to the new bishop.

Complain to a higher "level" in the church. Even the "prophet of the ward" wording would turn on my alarms and I would probably talk to the sp about that.
Good luck! Sometimes I am so thankful I live in a country where the church is small with small wards. Keeps everyone humble I guess:) - most of the time.


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DarkJedi
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Re: Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by DarkJedi » 22 Aug 2014, 04:52

Acknowledging that we are short on all the details because of the need for brevity and privacy, it doesn't seem that you are asking anything out of sorts. I know people who sit in on interviews with their minor children and are opposed to probing sex questions or questions about masturbation. While I wouldn't say it is common, I think it's becoming more prevalent all the time. Your bishop may have taken this personally, that you don't trust him or his motives (and apparently you don't), which is contributing to this response. This might be one where you need to swallow a bit of pride and tell him it's not personal but is part of your own way you and your wife are stewarding your own family and that it would be the same no matter who the bishop or other leader is. Your bishop probably knows more about what you think than you think he does, although he could also be making some false assumptions (sin, laziness, offense). Also, the SP might not be as involved as you think. He's a busy guy, too, and the bishop is the first line in this case. If the bishop can't or won't deal with it then it falls on his plate. I wouldn't rule out talking to him. You are free to contact the area Seventy, but he is not a "judge in Israel." He may or may not decide to intervene (I would hope that he would). I am sorry for you and your family in that you have to deal with individuals like these (specifically talking about your bishopric), and I have mentioned in another post to you how the "prophet of our ward" thing is out of line and makes me cringe - a reasonable SP and/or AAS or above must understand that.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Minyan Man
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Re: Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by Minyan Man » 22 Aug 2014, 07:23

I would never permit my children to be interviewed by anyone I didn't trust.
Your said:
...I don't trust him, my wife does even less.
If you have the opportunity to talk with the SP, I would say it the same thing.

If the roles were reversed & you were the BP & had a family that was less than fully active,
wouldn't you welcome the chance to have an interview with the parents first? Or, include them
in the interview with their son (or daughter)?

Something doesn't smell right.

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Origami
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Re: Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by Origami » 22 Aug 2014, 08:57

He has a very strong authority complex and I don't think he likes anyone questioning that. I don't really care or recognize his authority, which doesn't help.

I believe he would stick to teaching and asking strength of the youth definitions of chastity, trouble is I disagree with a big portion of them and don't think he should get to decide what my children are taught. This very thing was extremely damaging to me as a teen and I have been permanently affected by this BS perpetuated by the church negatively.

Why isn't asking the temple recommend question just as asked to adults good enough for him? It is baffling to me, but it isn't good enough for him.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 22 Aug 2014, 10:17

I'd definitely talk to both the SP (explaining why you feel this response confirms the red flags you already had) and take it to the AA if that goes nowhere. Your request is reasonable and should be honored. Your kids are minors. HE'S the one preventing them from progressing.

Having said that, as a parent, I haven't placed those same restrictions, although I believe parents should make those decisions for themselves (and bishops should not seek to override parents). My oldest son said our previous bishop asked him questions about masturbation, and I felt that my son was just making a mountain out of a molehill (he said this after he had already told me he's a non-believer) because that guy is just kind of socially awkward, not dangerous or anything. Do I think my son was actually scarred for life by it? No. But I didn't mistrust that bishop really. I'd like my kids to blow stuff like this off to some extent. I think it's wrong to give kids sexual hang ups, but my method is to point out that they don't need to feel intimidated, and they will encounter people with a variety of attitudes about sex, authority, and religion.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 22 Aug 2014, 10:22

There is no good solution at the local level, and I think you both recognize that. I am sorry that is the case, but it is what it is.

I would do one of three things:

1) Talk with the Area Authority. In some ways, this is the easy answer.

2) Accept it is what it is and keep attending with your family. If anyone says anything about your kids and their status, smile and say, "The Bishop won't interview them the way we think is appropriate, so he won't advance them," or just, "We are having a difference of opinion with the Bishop right now. Nothing worthiness-related, so thanks for your concern, but it is what it is right now." That is harder, obviously, and it might get you in even more conflict with the local leadership, but it also is a proactive way to tackle it.

3) Do nothing; keep attending; be the necessary thorn in their side.

Please don't resign over this. They need a constant reminder, even if only visually, of their unrighteous dominion - and other members need to see you continue to endure.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Roadrunner
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Re: Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by Roadrunner » 22 Aug 2014, 14:58

I personally would take it to the stake president before going to an area authority, if for no other reason to find out his level of support / opposition to your position. He may have gotten a skewed version of it from the bishop, or believe it or not may not even know about it. Sometimes bishops go to the counselor in the stake presidency who they know will support them on that particular topic, i've seen it often.

This bishop is full of himself and impressed with his own position. Children are the responsibility of the parents and we as church members and leaders should never suppose we know more than parents.

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Origami
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Re: Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by Origami » 22 Aug 2014, 18:19

I sent this letter to both SP and BP at the same time…

The SP is also in our ward.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Bishop Youth Interviews: What would you do with this?

Post by SilentDawning » 23 Aug 2014, 15:04

We live in SE Idaho and our current ward leaders are Pharisee's of the highest order. The BP is referred to by his counselors over the pulpit as the prophet of the ward and obedience is the first law of heaven in their eyes.
What hokus to tell the congregation.
The finale is that he will be unable to judge our kids worthy for priesthood advancement or to have temple privileges with the restrictions we are trying to place on him.
Leadership arrogance at its finest. I'm always amazed at how we are encouraged to chase after less active people that are stone cold, yet the leaders behave this way when they have warm, often active members in their midst. "If we have you, we treat you poorly, if we don't have you active in the ward, we treat you nicely". I've seen this dual irony over and over and over in my church life. This is very typical. Whoever wrote this has an ego. And its a use of power to make you obey. Totally unacceptable. There are times I think this church would be OK to serve within if it wasn't for the TR policies the leadership uses to keep the membership in line.
I am fine with him never interviewing/advancing/judging my kids, I don't trust him, my wife does even less. I would/will tender my resignation over this if I need to. I am going to respond, likely with a politely worded F-You.

What do you all think?
I wouldn't respond with the F-you letter. That will only escalate things. I'm not convinced I would respond at all. I would probably take my kids to a different Ward, or get the males involved in a non-church scout group (if one exists) and if not, some community based group that helps kids learn leadership skills. Generally, when the people in power dig in their heels like this, they are offended in some way, and will sit back in their position of power and wait to smoke you out. Anything you say will likely be met with a "No" or resistance until you "behave". It sounds like you are in a deadlock until you move into a new Ward or stake.

At this point, I would weigh the followings questions. I am not implying any answers by asking these questions. They are not meant to rebuke you, and quite honestly, I don't know what the answers are -- that is for you to decide.

1) What is the most important message I want to send to my kids through this experience?
2) What are the larger objectives in this conflict for myself and my kids?
3) How might I still remain active and supportive of those in my family in their gospel endeavors in spite of the conflict I am facing right now?

For example, I took my family to a new Ward (not the one in which we live). The local leaders loved my daughter, and wanted to call her as a Mia Maid president. My daughter desparately wanted the experience, and cried when I said I was not buying a house 45 minutes from work simply because the church has a rule that you can't have a calling if the leadership in your own ward is so bad the only way you can keep the family active is to attend a different Ward.

As a result of this, my desire was to a) show my kids the limits I am willing to put on the church's influence on our life. I already had to buy a THIRD car because of seminary time and place in our area (ridiculous inconveniences due to it being too far from the school and makes kids miss the bus, Parents have to arise at 5:30, sit through seminary in their car, and then drive their kids to school -- and they won't let us into the car pool).

I told them that I was not willing to drop thousands and thousands of dollars in closing costs on a home, extra fuel costs, etcetera, just because the church has an unreasonable policy. That message came out loud and clear, and they eventually dropped the issue.

b) My objectives were to get my daughter hte leadership experience elsewhere, and to preserve our financial situation and my convenience in driving to work.

c) As a result, I encouraged my daughter to get involved in a school club, and she is president of that club now. I go to church with them almost all weeks as well to show support. And I help out in the Ward even though its the last thing on earth I want to do right now.

My example...
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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