READER POST: I moved into a new apartment and a new singles ward to save some money before going to grad school. At the time, I was a 25-year-old returned missionary who was financially and emotionally stable. As is customary, when I moved into the ward, I had a meet the bishop interview. I grew up in a pretty chaotic home environment and it makes me pretty guarded. During the interview, I admittedly avoided questions about my family situation. This bishop was very nosy and, when I refused to give him specific information about my history, he had the executive secretary call me up for a second appointment.
I attended only to find out that he wanted to continue fishing for information about my childhood. I finished the second interview and declined when the executive secretary called me for another appointment. Despite regularly attending church for a year, I never received a calling. I assumed it was because I had refused to continue to meet with the bishop. I thought when I moved away for grad school, I would have a fresh start. However, I had a nasty surprise when I moved to my next ward.
My previous bishop had put a hold on my record. My first year in grad school I could not have a calling because they could not figure out why my record would not transfer. Finally, my not-so-new bishop called me into his office and asked me if I had anything I needed to tell him because he had found out there was a hold on my record. (He did not know the reason for the hold.) I was as confused as he was.
The next week he called me into his office and told me the previous singles ward bishop had put the hold on my record. In the attached note, that bishop had written that he thought I had serious mental health issues. This was completely untrue. The reality is, I had gone to therapy and resolved my past trauma years before. I just did not feel the need to share it with a complete stranger.
It frustrates beyond belief that because this man was the bishop he had the ability to affect my church standing so significantly. For over two years I attended church without being able to have a calling. His decision had a profound effect on my life. He made the decision after spending ten minutes with me. I wonder if he would have asked the same sort of questions if I were a man. I personally don’t think he would have ever asked such personal questions if my title was Brother, instead of Sister. I don’t feel like any woman should be forced to tell her story to a complete stranger.
READER BIO: Becky grew up in the LDS church. She has a master’s degree in social work and was employed in mental health and substance abuse for several years prior to becoming a stay-at-home parent. She loves baking, NPR, and fighting for social justice.
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