Mormon Bishops interview for children

by starvalleysaint Jan 2012

Just a thought for those who's kids still go to church....

Upon trying to decided whether to allow our 16 and 11 year old to make their own choice about church the thought hit me...why would I EVER, even as a Mormon let an unlicensed man who is acting like a therapist sit alone with my kids and discuss their lives in any detail?

!?!? It hit me as to how irresponsible that is, as a parent to allow such behavior. Upon this sudden realization, I was able to instantly make the choice that if they did want to continue on, their mother would be sitting through every interview, every meeting. I'm sure that won't fly well with the bishop boss, but that's how it's going down.

Just wanted to share, I case others like myself had not thought about the craziness of bishop in Hells Bells did I not see this religion as a Freaking Cult for so long!

Night :)

Re: Bishops interview for children
Apart from the serious risks to the children, bishops have a conduit for prying into the homes and lives of parents and siblings. I was often amazed at how the irrelevant minutae of our family daily lives was known to people in the church who had no business having such knowledge. This stuff was relatively harmless I know but children say things in innocence to people they've been taught to trust.

The stassi (sp) and the inquisition, witch hunts, gave the model and the church, once again, have copied.

It works well doesn't it?


CA girl
thanks for doing a thread on this, starvalleysaint
My sister has an undergraduate degree in family counselling. (Her graduate degree took her another way with her career). But even though she isn't a practicing counselor, there is a HUGE difference between telling her my problems and telling one of my best friends. The calm tone of her voice, the sort of questions she asks, the non-judgmental tone of her comments ... all leading me to think things through for myself. You can tell she's been trained, at least a little.

Compare this to a bishop who feels he's been chosen to be a judge in Israel with Jesus. To a bishop who thinks his word is law and listening to him is like listening to a commandment from God. Now some bishops take this very seriously and become better people. Others let it go to their heads and become arrogant jackwagons. But in both cases, they don't have counselling experience to really help the members. They only have their gut feelings, which they believe is God telling them what to do. Their behavior is only marginally monitored by the higher ups in the stake, who usually side with the bishop if there are any problems. They receive little training and are hugely influenced by their own personal opinion. For example, in my sister's ward boys with long hair are allowed to pass the sacrament because in her bishop's opinion, the boy is more important than the letter of the law. In my husband's ward, the bishop is extremely appearance oriented and would never allow that. This bishop chewed out parents during one whole Sunday School about their bad example, wearing non-white shirts to church, not being modest enough, listening to rock music, reading Twilight. It was a harangue. Now imagine each of these men taking your children alone into a room to decide if they are worthy children. One would obviously do better than the other, IMO, but you have no SAY in which man is allowed access to your child. You have to go to church where you are assigned and take the leader forced upon you. And let him have your child, alone in a room, without supervision. Twice a year, is the recommended number of times children should be so interviewed in Mormonism.

And while the content of the interview is loosely prescribed in the church handbook for leaders, so much is left alone to the bishop's discretion. Some bishops won't ask a 12 year old if he masturbates and will simply ask if they are morally clean. Other ex-Mormons have reported that the first learned about masturbation from a bishop who asked if they practiced it then explained what it was when the child didn't know. Remember, these are men who are called to serve in this position for approximately five years. No counselling training, no pastoral training, usually no religious degree of any kind. Our last three bishops have been a man who held a middle management position at a national chain headquarters, a movie producer and an investment banker. All who would have the chance twice a year to interview my 12 and 15 year olds and ask them about masturbation, if they chose to. Alone in a room without me present - if I believed in Mormonism that is, and allowed such a violation. Furthermore, the current bishop assured my son back when he was 12 that anything my son told him would be held in the strictest confidence. The bishop promised my son he wouldn't even tell his parents what they talked about in bishop's worthiness interviews. And he said this right in front of my husband and I. Fortunately, we left the church shortly after this for other reasons, so the bishop never got the chance to hijack our parental rights that way.

And finally, what if you get a freak show bishop like my sister-in-law has? She was a single mom of a teenage son until she remarried about a year and a half ago. That teenage son, her son, masturbates. I know this because SIL herself told me this story. My nephew confessed to the bishop, who forbid him to take the sacrament, so nephew was embarrassed publicly. He wasn't allowed to pass the sacrament, which is assigned to boys his age in Mormonism. He wasn't allowed to advance to the next level of priesthood like all his friends because of this. Worst of all, the bishop interviewed my nephew at least once a month about his private sexual practices. When my nephew inevitably messed up and went back to masturbating, the bishop wanted to know. At one point, this middle aged businessman was having my nephew text him daily to reassure the bishop that he hadn't played with himself that day. Finally, even my fanatically Mormon sister-in-law got tired of her son being publicly embarrassed and stayed home from church until the bishop caved in and let my nephew advance in the priesthood. But then she went back to church and continued to let this inexperience leader "help" her son with his "problem".

And that is why bishop interviews are rightly termed as "craziness".

Re: thanks for doing a thread on this, starvalleysaint
Thank you for taking the time to write such an insightful response. I hope this helps keep parents from allowing ANY interview to take place without the parents hopefully just run away as fast as possible.

Re: Bishops interview for children
I have been warned by a couple friends to expect the same thing between my son and my ex, once he gets older. At some point, I'll have to explain to him that when I ask "how was Mom's," I mean was everything OK with you and not "I want a complete report on your mother."

Re: thanks for doing a thread on this, starvalleysaint
I think the best thing is to simply get them away from the cult. At some point a Bishop, or one of his councilors, will have an interview with your child behind your back, either because he is unaware of your feelings, or because he feels it is his duty.

I also hate to say this, and while untrained Mormon Bishops are the last people who need to be interviewing a kid, but at some point kids need the right to talk to adult authority figures on their own, without Mom and Dad hovering over them. I don't mean like an interrogation with the cops, but more like a sit down with a school councilor, or a principle. If it wasn't for the missed up views about sex and masturbation, I would even extend the same courtesy to Bishops. Sometimes a kid needs to talk to a responsible adult about stuff he is not comfortable talking with his parents about.

hopefully this will be the year this story finally breaks.
post Catholic priests scandal, this country is atuned to these shenanigans and has zero tolerance.

and as someone stated above, it's all the marment parents who are accomplices. Catholic parents can honestly say they did not know.

Marment parents will be called out on this one.

Raptor Jesus
The amount of discretion a bishop has is another act of cowardice by the church.
It gives the institution a cheap way out.

As the worthiness interview stories break, the church and its liers will say, "that's not in the handbook. Those must be wacko bishops."

Those of us with memories and integrity know better.

Re: School counselors
Kids can have more than one session with a school counselor with a parent's permission (at least in my district.) What ususally happens is that kids *love* to see the school counselor and will beg to go at every opportunity.

Principals can also interview kids one-on-one, usually if a kid has gotten into some sort of trouble, etc. Principals typically will focus on the issue at hand. Although I suppose these type of interviews could be abused, in practice I've never seen it happen. Often the door is open or the school secretary is just a few steps away.

Re: thanks for doing a thread on this, starvalleysaint
OMG - that story of your nephew is just SO WRONG. I'm trying to remember - was it BKP or SWK who said that masturbation leads to homosexuality... If instead of merely a first class jerk, that bishop was actually a pedophile, and armed with the sage teachings of BKP and SWK, and you have the perfect fertile bed planted for an abuse situation a la Jerry Sandusky. A real nightmare for a trusting young boy who hasn't yet been instructed by his parents to not reveal such information to anyone and to trust those in authority.

I'd like to think that has never happened yet, but in a church of 14 million members, the numbers probably don't bear that out.

Ick, Ick, Ick...

CA girl,
I think that you make an excellent point that there is a huge difference between a trained counselor and a good friend.

I used to work in a school with particularly difficult children. Maybe once or twice a week I would check in with the school counselor at the end of the day to have a venting session. She was and continues to be my friend but she also has a Master's degree in counseling and extensive experience. She was not only available to me, but to the other teachers as well.

Her ability to listen in a nonjudgmental manner, to reflect my thinking, and to help me think things through and process traumatic events was quite wonderful. I always felt better when I left her office. A subsequent school administration recognized her value in this area, and she was given a new assignment in which counseling school staff plays a prominent role.

Re: thanks for doing a thread on this, starvalleysaint
Excellent post CA girl. Having served as a Bishop, Bishop's Counselor, and in a variety of Stake Positions, I think you are very accurate. You do see different types of Bishops and SP. Sometimes I am amazed how different these people are. But, the training is weak, the handbook is vague, and people have such different personalities, opinions, etc. But, what always sticks out to me is how the power of the position affects people--some get so ego driven and become bigger ass holes and others become more humble and better individuals.

Re: School counselors
The Church could do a lot of good with these interviews if they changed a few things. First, the Bishop should have another adult present, preferably a councilor, or the YW president in the case of a girl. They don't have to be in the room, but they should be right outside with the door open.

Second, they should drop the obsessive witch hunt on masturbation.

Third, the interviewer should have some basic training on talking with kids about problems.

Finally, the goal should not be to discover if the kid is up to no good, but rather to make sure he/she isn't into any kind of trouble of a serious nature. Are they being abused, hanging around criminals, using or being tempted with drugs/alcohol, engaging in risky sexual activities, that sort of thing.

Of course the Morg will not do any of these, they just want to see if your kid masturbates and pays a tithing on his allowance.

That is one of the reasons people call it a cult

CA girl
Agree in general with your points, cokedrinker
But what bothers me is the MANDATORY bishop interviews and the idea that the bishop gets to decide if that child is a worthy child. Also the usurping of parental authority without permission. I agree kids need an adult to confide in - often outside the family circle...a favorite aunt, a trusted band teacher, a school counselor, a long-time family friend. It's the demand for confidences that is the problem. Children should get some say in IF they want to confide in an adult and WHEN they want to confide and WHAT they want to talk about. If DS were out jogging and ran into Bishop Jackwagon and needed his help or advice about a personal problem, believe it or not, I wouldn't mind him asking Bishop a friend. But bishop worthiness interviews are the opportunity to abuse power combined with the lack of training combined with the secrecy combined with the right to DEMAND a child and his/her parents compliance makes for a toxic mix.

Re: Bishops interview for children --- I compare it to the first confession in the Catholic church.
That is usually around seven, I am told, sometimes older. There is a whole procedure to prepare the child to meet in private with a priest to confess their "sins."

What we may think is appropriate really has nothing to do with what church traditions typically include.

Masturbation is a sin in other religions, not just Mormonism.

Apparently it is a sin in Catholicism and is to be confessed in the confessional.

Re: Bishops interview for children
I grew up Catholic. I never confessed to masturbation in the confessional, nor was I ever instructed to do so. In fact, I never heard of the word through my church at all.

Young Catholic children do receive extensive instruction in how to assess their sins and make a confession. Confessions are made anonymously -- they priest never sees or has contact with (other than by voice and a shadowy silhouette) the child in question. There is a small closet sized room and a small screen dividing them.

A typical kid's confession would be, "I backtalked to my mom, I stole Suzy's crayons, I thought a bad thought, I said a bad word." The priest does not ask about anything other than what the child herself brings up. As long as the child is sorry for her sins, she is absolved and told to go say a few prayers in penance.

I would have considered it highly inappropriate and offensive if a priest ever asked me the types of quesitions that Mormon bishops routinely ask their youth.

Given the catholic cult's track record ...
... I'm inclined to agree wholeheartedly with the original poster.

Why, indeed, would any parent, even a TBM, let an unlicensed man who is acting like a therapist sit alone with his or her kids and discuss their lives in any detail?

Because catholic parents do it and sometimes get huge cash settlements?

That's real sound reasoning.


Re: Bishops interview for children
My youngest, a boy, turns 12 this year. I have a letter prepared for when he does, the same as I did for his older brother. They go to church in their dad & stepmom's ward and believe me, I will be all over the Bishopprick if they even try to go there. Forearmed, and forewarned.

You're right. It's extremely irresponsible parenting.
And I knew, when I was 17 and wanted to die when the bishop was asking me all kinds of pointed sexual questiosn and then explaining things to me that I didn't know, that there was no point in ever telling my parents how uncomfortable it made me because they would have been mad at ME for saying something like that about the bishop. There is no way in hell they EVER would have confronted the bishop or asked him what he said to me. They would not have cared.

And when I look back on it, knowing what I know now, I am 110% SURE that he was behind his desk with his hands inside his fly while he was talking to me. He was in his 40s, there's no way he could not have been. That in itself is reason to demand that the door be kept open, not that the way the desk is positioned someone could have seen anyway. So best thing is either be present or keep your children away.

Re: Bishops interview for children
I'd disagree with the notion that child abuse was more understandable with catholics because "At least catholic parents didn't know."

I had a cousin who was hit on by a catholic priest. He told my aunt and uncle. Fortunately, my aunt believed her child. My uncle wanted to do what so many parents of that era would have done--punish the child for saying nasty things about the good father.

Catholic priests had, and I think still continue to have, although to a somewhat lesser extent, an almost godlike presence to the believers. Their authority was pretty close to absolute. I have no doubt that if my brothers had told my parents they were being abused, they would have been punished.

There is no excuse for catholic parents not knowing better.

+ 1000! 

Raptor Jesus
Thank you.

CA girl

Re: Bishops interview for children
what is it about masturbation that these people find so offensive its a normal and very natural part of human nature ,did these bishops never do it ????llike hell they never

Joe Laban
Re: Bishops interview for children
I was a convert in my mid 20's. By the time the big "M" question came up I knew then the Lord would just have to accept me until I got married in 6 months. I did not know what the big "M" was until my doctor gave me a physical at 17 for college and told me to "M" for health reasons. He checked and went wow! He had to explain to me what it was and he offered to help me. I may have been naive about the big "M" but I was not stupid. I was not offended, but it was my doctor and I was 17. I went home and took the doctor's advise. I can see this being a huge problem interviewing with a bishop and being younger.

Fortunately, my kids bishops never asked about the big "M". One of my sons had to volunteer the information.

"Recovery from Mormonism -"