My attitude to requests for name removal whilst I served as Mormon Bishop

Okay! Confession time!

If most bishops are anything like I was then members of the Mormon Church who no longer wish to be counted as a member may have to wait forever to receive confirmation of name removal!

As a bishop I hardly ever took the letters seriously. My ‘feelings’ were that the writers of the letters are obviously deceived by Satan & because name removal is such a drastic action I felt I knew best, in that it was better for them to stay as members in case they ever changed their minds & wanted to return to activity in the Church.

By omitting to process the resignation letters it also gave us as priesthood leaders more opportunity to try to rescue them.

I did intend to process the letters, just procrastinated actually doing so because it wasn’t important. So the letters languished in the bottom of a case or draw somewhere waiting for that final inspiration to action them as, and, when the members requesting name removal finally chased the letter up, if ever!

I realise that my feelings and actions went against Church policy, but I believed I had the best interests of the members at heart, so forwarding their letters was not a priority.

Do I regret it? Of course!

My opinion regarding the importance & urgency of this has completely flipped round 180°.

By the way, I have since spoken to one of my previous counsellors in the Bishopric who is now on the new Bishopric about those letters.

I said that my opinions regarding some things have changed dramatically & I now regret not processing them as requested.

I urged him counsel the new Bishop to follow Church policy as it was actually a legal requirement & the Church could be taken to court for not obeying the law.

Interestingly on one occasion I was actually told by the Stake President not to process a resignation letter, but to excommunicate the member instead. This goes completely against the Church Handbook of Instructions policy.

I didn’t hold a Church court, because I didn’t feel comfortable about it.

It’s funny looking back at how I used to think! 😉

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3 Responses to My attitude to requests for name removal whilst I served as Mormon Bishop

  1. You want to be taken through a Church “court of love”? Then remove these password protections and ramp up the writing. 😉

    It took my Bishop and Stake President 8 months — and a handful of insistent phone calls — to get the ball rolling. I remember thinking at the time they’d probably procrastinate for the same reasons you mentioned. Although it annoyed me a bit, I was never really offended because I imagined they really believed — as you did — their inaction was in my best interest.

    Personally, I preferred “walking-out” on my own terms, rather than allowing some bureaucratic religious zealot presume to dictate to me what my spiritual or religious options are. Besides, I really didn’t want to have my name associated to the homophobic bigotry brewing in the west…

    • stevebloor says:

      Hi Marcello, I appreciate your comments & brave example.

      I love your posts & tweets, because I value your rational reasoning. I also respect your opinions as another practitioner of medicine.

      As for the password protection. I’m still sensitive to my family’s feelings, especially my wife who is still coming to terms with life after Mormonism. As well as our extended family.

      Loving the freedom to think for myself though!

      Best regards,

  2. james says:

    I would assume that this is also why most members looking to leave are given advice to send the letter directly to Salt Lake City and skip the local authorities. I even heard rumor that you can do this via email now.

    I certainly don’t think your thinking was at all abnormal from how most bishops would proceed. The bishops I have known have all been good and caring men with the best intentions, very well meaning and compassionate guys who would only want to do what is best for the member, but therein lies the flawed logic that from their perspective, not processing a name-removal request IS what is best for the member.

    Anyway… your journey and story is inspiring. Best of luck!

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