There are a lot who live pay check to pay check, on the edge of being homeless.
No one has got a raise that keeps up with inflation in years, overtime is cut,
and the light switch is turned off to save money. We are in the dark ages. Not a
good time to be self centered, even tho we are sad. we can still give the gifts
we can keep. your smile, your heart and your word.
This bishop is teaching some good things that we need to keep in mind about not
judging others based merely on their appearance or assuming that we know what
they are like and what they have been through. However, I have some
serious concerns about this method of teaching also. I think he should have
told a few more people...perhaps the first counselor and some others. Doing
what he did could have been very offensive to some of the members of his
congregation.Did it have the intended effect? Sure. Should missionaries, Primary teachers, and others start doing this?
Absolutely not! This BIshop would do well to consider that there
are many panhandlers and beggars who ask for money to take advantage of people
and feed their addictions.I think a far more effective way of
teaching this would be to have ward members, youth, and children help at a
homeless shelter or with serving a Thanksgiving dinner. It can send
the wrong message to some people and can make some even more skeptical,
especially those members who may not know the bishop well, be less active or
investigating the LDS Church, and so on.
I find this an interesting article though the idea is not original. It was
widely reporteda about a new paster in an evangelical church in California came
the first day as a homeless person. Going through very similar experiences -
being treated at times rudely, ignored and being invited to leave - then the
redemption and learning moment came when the "homeless person" was
introduced s the new pastor and he walked up to the lecturne. But, it certainly
makes us reflect about our own Christlike behaviour.
This just goes to show that we cannot judge people by how they look, how they
dress or how they appear to be...our blessed Savior Jesus Christ did not - we
are all the same in his eyes.I have known many persons in the church
that look down on others by what they wear, or how they look. Shame on them.
I'm not sure what I'm supposed to learn from this. It may have been
educational for the bishop, and shocking for his ward, but I really don't
see how this teaches me to be more compassionate or changes how I act with
When dealing with the alleged "homeless" it is always prudent to err on
the side of caution since you never know if the person has mental issues, will
pull a knife on you and inflict bodyly harm!Then when soemeone is injured
or killed by a homeless perpetrator; who is going to pay the medical and funeral
expenses and pick up the pieces?Anyone who intentionally sets out to
impersonate a homeless man should not be surprised how people react!
Loved this. And depending on our own experiences sometimes that drives how
we feel and how we act. But we can all improve.Glad people are thinking
about it and sharing it. Kudos to the Bishop for his take on all this, and the
make-up artist too. And for people embracing the posts about it on Facebook.Many lessons here.Lots to think about.
I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said "If you look for the bad in a
person, expecting to find it, you surely will" It seems to me Bishop
Musselman was 'looking for the bad in people.
Interesting. Comments are interesting also. Everyone's a critic! At our
ward building, the brethren take turns patrolling the parking lot during
meetings because there have been so many car break-ins, but I can't picture
them asking someone to leave.I sat in on a Relief Society lesson once that
was about being kind to the strangers. The teacher was telling about a visiting
authority/dignitary that sat in the back and was ignored. She seemed to be
saying you should be friendly to everyone because you don't know who's
"important". I found that annoying because who decides who's
important!? And I said so.
My oh my oh my... you do have to be wise in working with the homeless and those
that panhandle, but we can ask the Lord in prayer, in our hearts, to help us
understand what to do at that moment.As for the Bishop and his ward,
Matthew 25:40 "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one
of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.", right?
I think "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" surely would have been an
appropriate closing hymn for that particular meeting. Perhaps we should sing it
or even just read the lyrics a bit more often.
@belgie;Lesson: That "homeless" person you avoid could be
Jesus in disguise.
One of the reasons we go on missions is to learn to love people who are
different. I remember the admonition of my Bishop as I left for my mission
"Learn to love your people." We tend to separate ourselves from
unpleasant things. And in a sense, we fear that poverty could happen to us and
our loved ones. We have worked hard, done the right things, made the right
choices that have provided ourselves and loved ones with a good life. But
sometimes things go wrong. Read the story from yesterday about my friend Mike
Reese and his wife Michelle who died two days after he returned home after a
year abroad. His daughter is serving in a Utah mission, and his son is about
ready to leave on his mission. And now he has lost his job as well. We cannot
know the sorrow and burdens this good man carries. We can only help.
This isn't really that innovative. Alot of panhandlers are already fakes.
Wasn't it a few years ago that the General Authorities asked the people
around temple square not to give money to the homeless surrounding temple square
especially at conference time? There was also something going around that some
of those homeless panhandle for a living and make more money than an average
person. Some of these homeless use panhandling as a way to make some easy money
so they wouldn't have to work or to support their drug or alcohol habits.
I'm not sure if I agree with the idea of a bishop disguising himself as a
homeless man. I honestly don't think that Jesus would disguise himself as
such in this day and age because of the connotations which go along with being
homeless. My idea is to be kind and if you have food, give food instead of
money. My husband and I have done that and it seemed to be really appreciated.
Whether to give or not? Just let the Spirit guide in each individual case.
Great lesson, Bishop Musselman! As a bishop, you are entitled to the inspiration
concerning your flock and none of these nay-saying critics are. It's so
interesting to see how people reveal their own weaknesses for the world to see
by the criticisms they throw out. The Internet does that.
This was a different way to do it but it did receive good response. The main
thing is the Bishop has shown compassion and concern for the homeless We also
realize there are homeless who choose to be that and others who do not.
Hopefully his good desire to enlighten the membership of his ward will be for
life and they will think about this if ever they are judgemental with those who
are different or who have less. Bless him for caring.
I have mixed emotions and reactions to this.On the one hand I
understand about judging other people. However, we all need to judge one
another. If we took everyone at face value, then everyone would be a sucker and
prey for predators. For example a Bishop using his status to embezzle money from
his congregation or using a position of trust to manipulate others to invests in
his business etc.Having homeless and needy people coming into my
church each week, I welcome them. They either sit down and enjoy the service or
they immediately ask for money. There is a process to obtain help and I am more
than happy to begin that process for them. Most of the time they get really
angry and leave, hoping to have cash in hand.We had one guy that
kept coming back. Wouldn't give his name, his story changed each minute, he
had friends in the neighborhood, then didn't have friends etc. Eventually
after a few creepy things the police were called and they escorted him off the
property.I would never teach my child to trust every stranger that
comes up to you and do whatevertheyrequest.Thatisfoolish.
Amazing story. Great to here a message other than the importance of paying your
tithing so the church can build more 2.5 billion dollar malls or buy a bigger
percent of Florida. I admire this bishop for his effort for
teaching his congregation the importance of compassion.
Benjamin Franklin, Said: "This BIshop would do well to consider that there
are many panhandlers and beggars who ask for money to take advantage of people
and feed their addictions."What you are suggesting is not in
harmony with the revealed word of God. There is nothing in the Lord's
admonition to, "care for the Poor," that we should be concerned with the
motive of the beggars, in fact, it is to the contrary. In the Book of Mosiah we
are warned:"...and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up
his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.Perhaps thou
shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my
hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance
that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just." (Mosish 4:16-17It would be good for you to read the remainder of this text, you will
learn that you are also a beggar.
I'm sure the Bishop knew what his ward needed and prayed about this before
he did it. We members of Christ's church have a lot to learn and long way
to go before we are truly like our Savior. Isn't that the goal?
Would the Savior have dressed up as a homeless person at a gathering of Saints
to make a point? This well-intended bishop used the sacred institutions of his
calling and Sacrament meeting to make a point. The Savior taught by example, not
by deception. I am a little disturbed by this story. I think some of its
unintended consequences might be leaving members of his congregation feel judged
and less less trusting.
What a great story! Thanks to a Bishop who taught multiple lessons in such a
creative way. Learning not to judge is one of life's greatest challenges,
as evidenced even by some of the posts in response to this story.
I would also teach my children to use your brain and it's okay to judge and
ask questions.Yes, all homeless are not Mitchells looking for child
brides or predators or druggies etc. But, a good percentage are. About 95% of
the panhandlers in the valley are manipulating and deceiving people claiming
they have no money or income. Which is an outright lie.Your best
option is to donate directly to shelters, direct these people to those shelters
and explain that is where you donate your money to.There are soo
many resources in the valley for the homeless. There are over 100 locations
where they can get free meals (all three) everyday.Learn about those
locations and donate to them.It's good to ask questions and
learn about people around you. Even people you trust or are in a trusted
position. Even good people go bad.I don't think the Lord
intends for us to be brainless and fall into every wolf trap or allow wolves
into the herd. Even the Saviour took a whip and removed people from the temple
that didn't belong there. He said follow him and his example.
“..ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in
vain, and turn him out to perish.Perhaps thou shalt asay: The man
has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not
give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not
suffer, for his punishments are just—But I say unto you, O man,
whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent....For
behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even
God, for all the substance which we have.______________________________King Benjamin’s address in Mosiah 4 is matter for somber
reflection on this Thanksgiving Eve. Yes, there are dangerous people on the
streets. We have to use good judgment while trying to be imitators of Christ as
we are called to do.
I'm a bit surprised at reactions the bishop described, except for the one
he explained, and that one is understandable. A man with some
apparent mental issues, who could have passed for homeless, came to our ward in
So Calif on Sunday very poorly dressed and reeking of smoke and booze. I
didn't notice any kind of negative reaction. Everyone was kind to him.
@BrotherBenjaminFranklinYou are absolutely spot on. Seeing these desperate
people on a daily basis in L.A. County, it has been determined by many
researchers that most of these people are feeding their addictions. If I were to
give in to every one their demands, I would be broke. Even at that, I have made
exceptions, when felt to do so, by my inner feelings, on a one-one-basis.
Additionally, there is always a danger of taking out your wallet to pay. It can
easily be snatched away from you.In this area of the country, there are
many opportunities to feed the homeless at the various shelters, which is often
a church assignment in our local wards and stakes. It's quite rewarding
RE: VAN, Great to here a message other than the importance of paying your
tithing so the church can build more 2.5 billion dollar malls or buy a bigger
percent of Florida. True,For if there come unto your
assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a
poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth
the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to
the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye
not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?(James
I find this teaching method somewhat manipulative. The world teaches that the
end justifies the means, but I do not find that to be true in gospel teaching in
which the means is equally important as the end.
So what was the lesson of compassion taught?Was the lesson to the
people “Don’t discriminate because you might lose a reward”?
I think this is a great experiment and kudo's to the Bishop. It would have
had even a better effect if he had done this the Sunday morning after BYU had
lost to Utah and he had dressed the same, but worn a drum and feather U shirt.
Those who would have welcomed him and treated him warmly under those
circumstances would be saints indeed.
This is a tough one for me.Years ago, we had taken our family to a
park, when we noticed a few men whose appearance made me uncomfortable. I told
myself I was being silly and to stop judging them. Not long after this, one of
the men approached us and threatened us. I was grateful he didn't have a
weapon. I learned my lesson that day that if someone makes me uncomfortable,
then I need to follow my instincts. I wish the world were a safer place.
To me it seems obvious that many of the commenters to this article have missed
the point. It was an eye opener for me. That fact that we are all God's
children and that we should not judge others came through loud and clear. I have
some improvement to make in these areas.
I really don't agree with this at all. The homeless culture is one of
thievery, drugs, alcohol, and some of the most heinous crimes. Sometimes good
people fall on hard times, but 9 times out of 10 there will be a family member
or friend to help them out. Homeless people are on the streets because nobody
trusts them, and usually for good reason. Most homeless people have quite a
string of criminal records.I'm joyful when someone wants to
turn their life around, it's truly one of the greatest things to witness.
But sitting in a church pew doesn't mean you're automatically trust
worthy. All the bishop succeeded in doing is promoted is congregation and their
children to be more venerable and naive. To further drive his message, he
should show up to church with a bomb strapped to his chest.
This was done a few weeks ago by a pastor in a different denomination, though I
don't remember the details. Unless this bishop was influenced by that,
either subtly or overtly, it does make me wonder if our Heavenly Father is so
very concerned about the terrible economic state of affairs in this country that
he would inspire two people to do this very thing. When you have a candidate
running for president who disparages 47% of our entire population, the vast
majority of that percentage being the elderly poor, the poor who also have
disabilities, poor children, veterans returning from combat, the working poor,
and, yes, the homeless, and when that candidate is actually also Mormon, it does
make you wonder if maybe all of us should be spending much more time reading
King Benjamin and much less praising each other for our financial
"successes" in life.....
Sounds nice in theory but I do recall the Elizabeth Smart affair that started
with her father bringing her kidnapper into the home to do odd jobs in a attempt
to aid him. I have worked in a mental health setting and can assure
you some, not all, of the homeless are mentally ill to a greater or lesser
extent. Some self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, and panhandle or commit petty
theft to support their habit. The aid they seek may not be the help that they
need over the long run.Organizations exist for the purpose of
helping the "down and out". Pamela Atkinson a saintly and Christian
person if there ever was one has championed their cause and helped facilitate
support networks for them. We have been asked to support those organizations in
lieu of individual hand-outs. Hasn't the Road Home been given press and
credit for reducing homelessness?IMO Be charitable but wary. Yes,
the beggar should not have to petition us in vain, but how we respond is
important. We live in a sort of "Shire" and forget that
there is a rather dangerous world outside that wants in.
The lesson was great, using that venue however did not show good discretion.
Visual aids are discouraged in a Sacrament Meeting, and the drama of this event
is better played out in a setting more removed from remarkably sacred emblems.
Try this at a fireside or a ward Christmas party. The lesson would be equally
poignant without the risk of interfering with the unique purpose of that sacred
meeting. Remember, I applaud the message and the creativity.
Not entirely sure what lesson the Bishop meant to teach here. Is it simply that
we should be less judging & more compassionate up front or at all times in
all circumstances?And if the lesson is meant just to teach
compassion should it be motivated by guilt & embarrassment or by a desire to
truly understand a person’s unique situation? Too often it seems to be the
former and so we have people who just quickly toss someone their spare change
satisfied that they did their Christian duty, unaware (or not wanting to be
aware) that they may be doing more harm than good. [I can think of
very few scenarios where giving money directly to a homeless person is a good
idea.]It really comes down to foolish compassion vs. discerning
& insightful compassion and too often lessons like this seems to guilt
people into practicing simply more of the former.
If the Savior stood beside me would I say the things I say? Well this Bishop
got to find out just that. I wonder how those that turned him away are feeling
at this important holiday season? We should be thankful for what we have. I
think most of us have sufficient for our needs, yet, I wonder how many of us
impart of our overage with the poor around us, myself included. We never know
who is knocking at the door...maybe it's the Savior come to stand beside
us...I'm better because of this story...Thank you
for sharing it!
Great lesson and an admirable point. However, one only need read the article in
the local news about the literal organized crime of professional panhandlers
here in our area to know the concern with blanket application of endless
compassion.I doubt during the Saviors time there was the extensive
organized crime of orchestrated begging by people who are nothing but criminals
and thieves....often with jobs!I often help people in need but
unfortunately with the entitlement mentality that our government has built we
have created and enabled a web of thieves who believe they should have unlimited
access to other peoples money in any way possible and the end justifies the
means.When the president of our own country incites class warfare
and incessantly insinuates that people who have money "are not paying their
fair share" meanwhile they carry over 80% of the tax burden for
everyone....well that is a problem that has created another problem.Compassion is great but I would like to have some degree of comfort I am
actually helping someone who needs help vs a thief who simply wants to steal
which in turn enables more criminal behavior ie drugs etc
@ Ranch"Now, what's it going to take to get the rest of Mormonism
to wake up and smell the coffee?"This has little to do with
Mormonism -- it's more a lesson in human nature, because I think you'd
find the same reaction across all religions (maybe some more than others).
Argument #1--Those who treated the Bishop warmly are true saints and all others
have some work to do in the judge not lest ye be judged dept. This is very much
like people who spend two hours at church or mass and then begin gossiping about
people as soon as they get in the car to go home.Argument #2Those
who kept their children at a safe distance from the disguised Bishop may have
been the kindest of them all. They were protecting their children from a very
likely mentally ill person, a person who hadn't bathed and could possibly
spread staph infection and a person who might want to attack them for no reason.
They were also telling their children, "Lets get into church where you can
learn to obey the scriptures and you won't end up like this guy."Umm, I think #1 wins.
I think the overall message I learned is "be kind and vulnerable to those
who look like criminals, you never know when it's really a good guy just
trying to deceive you". Now I'm trying to decide if a "good"
guy is really very good if he's deceiving.
@Jon1I didn't miss the point at all. Maybe if you live in a
neighborhood or community that doesn't have homeless people then you need
the "eye opener".However, living in an area where crime is
rampant. Panhandlers on every corner, parks over run with druggies etc. You
can't walk around in la la land and think every person with a cardboard
sign has only your best interest in mind.Let's see you send
your little child to be wrapped up in the arms of people panhandling.I'm fully confident, that if these people decided to turn their lives
around and that is really what they wanted. And with the support of the
community and the resources we can help that person on their feet. The problem
is many of these people are not looking to get on their feet. They know what
heart strings to tug on to make you feel guilty and open your wallet to them.Again, it's better to donate to local shelters. They are staffed
and trained to help these people. Try volunteering at the shelters etc.Whenyougivetopanhandlersyou're just feeding the problem and not solving
I saw someone I know post this on FB.. On one hand its good lesson on not
judging people- like the previous poster said. However we are have heard
countless talks by various leaders in the church who have said the church is
true, the people are not. We all have things to work on and these folk maybe not
recognizing the bishop- wondered does this guy want the gospel or does he want
something from me? They don't know, no missionaries with him, but do know
they can give in fast offerings to those in need. Its not the place of the
bishop to judge his congregation. He helps them, counsels them, helps on the
right road to repentance when needed. However, being imperfect as we all are,
we all have room to grow. Was the bishop really judging the ward? Seems like it.
That judgement and I dont mean what comes with the mantle of being bishop, is
left to the Lord right? I have been in London where visitors have stolen things
from members while in church- so yes it does make you a bit cautious based on
experience not prejudice or judging. .
As Christians, we are to practice charity, the pure love of Christ, without
reservation or condition. If you are LDS and reading this, only one scripture
should come to mind: Mosiah 4:16-19. I won't quote the entire thing here;
just a few lines. "...ye yourselves will succor those that
stand in need...ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in
need, and ye will not suffer that the begger putteth up his petition to you in
vain, and turn him out to perish."Perhaps thou shall say: The man has
brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not
give unto him...for his punishments are just."But I say unto
you...whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent...and hath no
interest in the kingdom of God."It couldn't be any clearer.
"You will succor those that stand in need," not you should, or
you're excused if you've been hurt or it's that person's
fault. There may be times when you'll be asked to "judge with
righteous judgment." This isn't one of them.
Please don't judge those who were a bit fearful or distant with this man.
Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped and raped by a man who appeared homeless, and her
mother was kind enough to speak to him, help him and offer him work. Ted Bundy
played on people's sympathies to troll for victims. We've been trained
to be careful, and (unfortunately) sometimes fearful. As a mother, I'd be
careful too, if I saw a homeless-looking man at church. I hope we can find a way
to help others and be warm and welcoming, but not set ourselves up to be
@Ranch - or, it could be a genuine homeless person with a drug addiction looking
for someone with a little girl he could kidnap.
I can't believe how much I agree with Liberal Ted on this, when usually I
disagree with everything he writes :-)I also can't believe how much
people twist the scriptures around to fit their specific niche ideas and drop
one or two verse without taking into account the full body of Gospel teachings.
To RANCH: Pray tell, just exactly what does "smelling coffee" have to
do with the intended message? Putting 'anything' into ones body that
is not 'healthy' certainly does not, by any means, "a better
person make"! Perhaps sticking to the intended subject rather than
attempting to 'put down' anyone's religious beliefs might lead to
a more productive lifestyle.
At my sister's wedding dinner, a "homeless" woman came in, dirty,
dressed in ragged clothing, unkempt, etc. We all thought, "Oh great -- she
saw the 'Visitors Welcome' sign on the LDS church building and took it
literally!" My brother, who is no longer active in the LDS faith, was the
only one to jump up and graciously offer her some of the same fine food we were
eating. I kept thinking how this uninvited guest, with her deplorable condition,
was ruining the celebration. The expressions of the other guests told me they
felt similarly. The woman wanted to make a toast to the couple, and offer a
gift. When she pulled out an enormous pair of underpants, we began to realize it
was a prank arranged by friends of the happy couple. But what I took away from
it was how hardened I was in my own heart towards someone presumably in need. I
was grateful for the lesson.
This is one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard. The Bishop's
responsibilities do not include putting people in situations to expose their
weakness. It is to invite improvement. And there are myriads of more personal
ways that can happen. Hey, at least he got his picture in the paper. Mission
Am I mistaken or did the Savior discern/judge the Sadducees and the Pharisees
intentions before answering them?Are we not blessed with
intelligence to determine the ill intentions of others before we are deceived
potentially at others or our own peril?I think we live in a
different time and need to do our best to provide service and compassion to
others. There are plenty of opportunities to do so that lessen the risk of
personal injury or outright fraud/being taken advantage of.I suggest
people utilize what they have to make safe decisions about their service instead
of being defrauded by the organized crime of aggressive panhandling we have in
our area. It is not my opinion it is proven fact. Responding to that on the
street only makes our streets more attractive to those who may want to take
advantage and potentially harm others.Use your intelligence you were
provided/blessed with to make the best decisions you can. Don't enable
those with self-destructive behaviors or those who wish to perpetrate more crime
on our community. That does not improve their lives or yours.
Chilanga,"....Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped and raped by a man
who appeared homeless, and her mother was kind enough to speak to him, help him
and offer him work...."______________________________Let's not make that brute representative of homeless people. You may find
yourself living on the street someday. None of us should fool ourselves with the
smug belief that it won’t happen to us. No one asks for that fate and if
it does, it doesn’t mean we deserved it. In reading over these posts, it
appalls me to see the rabid extremes some resort to in order to avoid facing a
brutal reality we would much rather turn our faces away from.
Yes help those in need. When people are deceiving you and claiming that they
have no money, when in fact they do. It's okay not to help them.The scriptures state to help those in need, not those that are committing
crimes.It's up to you to determine the best way. If you think
handing money out to people, to make yourself "non judgemental" then
fine. The problem will continue to grow.If you give your money to
church organizations, shelters, women shelters etc. Then you know your money is
going to be used and given to those that are in need.Isn't that
how the scripture reads? To help those in need?
"The homeless culture is one of thievery, drugs, alcohol, and some of the
most heinous crimes."--- There you go, judging people whom
you've never met and have no clue as to their circumstances. Are you aware
that a very large number of homeless in this country are returned Veterans who
have suffered enormously for your freedom? Who are you to judge those whom you
know not?@Tyler D;The majority of religions rely on
guilt and embarrassment to get their adherents to conduct themselves
"properly".@Blue AZ Cougar;Oh, I definitely
agree, the religious frequently follow their basest inclinations when it comes
to meeting strangers. Please recall the parable of the Good Samaritan. This
particular article is about Mormons though, and Mormons need to start treating
other people better, imho.
Good learning lessons, I just think the reveal was in an inappropriate setting.
I think the Bishop was too worried about how many of his congregation
"cried". It could have left the same message if his "reveal"
was after Sacrament meeting was over.
I didn't see anything in this piece about whether or not to give money to
panhandlers. It was about treating others with respect and kindness
and refraining from being judgmental.
Contrary to some of the comments here, it doesn't seem to me that the
bishop was judging anyone. He was inviting improvement and self-examination in
the members. It was left up to each person to examine their own hearts and their
reactions to the "homeless man". And to those who say the bishop was
"deceiving people" and the Savior would never dress up as a homeless
man, of course he would! Isn't the hymn, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,
about that very thing? Not only would the Savior do that, he is doing it every
day. Each & every one of our fellow beings really "is" the Savior in
disguise. We ought not judge, and we ought not treat some people better than
others. Will we be filled with compassion, and act upon it, even when it is to
our own detriment? Ignoring the disapproval, scorn, and criticism of many?
Matthew 25, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did
it not to me." Mosiah chapter 4 and D&C 38 are also very enlightening.
"I am in your midst and ye cannot see me."
My wife and I lost our home and everything else a little over a year ago. At our
ages it is difficult to find. To remain self employed is difficult without a
base of operations. Our Stake President and Bishop helped as much as they could
officially. Then they went further personally because they knew that our plight
was serious and we were in danger if we were on the street. We have been helped
and befriended by angels unawares. To be on the outside looking in
may just offer a different perspective. I laud those who feel compassion and I
have compassion for those who castigate. Where are we now? Doing our
best to pull out of a very deep pit. Each day is a struggle between depression
and elation that we know that no matter how deep we go or have gone, we will not
have suffered as much as the Savior. I constantly pray that I can use my skills
to bring us back to a place of acceptability in society. We continue to hope. We
continue to work to do better.
What many of you are forgetting, is that the clothes or situation don't
make the "predator". I am not saying that you don't need to be
cautious about people you don't know, but as a mental health professional,
most problems aren't caused by strangers. They are people you know and
trust. On the people that are commenting that the guy could be mentally ill.
That is true, but realize that the congregation that you go to has as many or
more that are struggling with mental illness. We in the church have
a really hard time addressing mental illness, and we all need to be better at
understanding where people are at, including myself.
@Mugabe,"What you are suggesting is not in harmony with the
revealed word of God. There is nothing in the Lord's admonition to,
"care for the Poor," that we should be concerned with the motive of the
beggars, in fact, it is to the contrary. In the Book of Mosiah we are warned:...and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you
in vain, and turn him out to perish."The Lord also admonished
and expects us to be wise. What if the homeless person is a fake, or even
worse, a felon with insincere motives? How long would it take you to continue
to be kind and helpful? I'm not saying that we must shun them but that we
must be cautious and very very careful. We are living in a very different and
dangerous world now that we can't be too careless and nonchalant in our
desire to be good Samaritans to our own detriment. It's noble to help yes,
but we must also be wise about it!
To "van" luckily the LDS church didn't spend a dime of tithing
money on a mall. The poor should be grateful that the LDS church purchased more
land in Florida. Now the LDS church can run more cattle on that property, and
feed even more people.Think of it this way. What is better for a
church to do, give money to the poor, or purchase a farm and give their members
an opportunity to serve AND to provide fresh food for those in need perpetually?
I spent a number of years hitchhiking around this country,looking for work,
going to my mothers funeral, or following God's direction. Sometimes
experiencing bad rides, but 90+% of the time experiencing good fellowship from
those who helped me. Now whenever I see someone hitchhiking I send up a quick
prayer and ask my Heavenly Father if I should stop or keep on. The Holy Spirit
has only had me pass someone by maybe 4 times in the last 20 years. I do
the same with the homeless. Once in a while I will give a dollar or two but for
the most part I will give food, energy bar, etc., if I am able. A quiet silent
prayer on their behalf never hurts anything either. A pleasant greeting,
a smile, and remembering that admonition our Lord has given us in Matthew 25:40
"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of
these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." serves me well. Having been
there, done that, won the T-shirt, and bought the hat, I do not just walk on by.
I cannot just walk on by.
Re: VanI've been attending church weekly for more than 60
years, and I have never heard a message about "the importance of paying your
tithing so the church can build more 2.5 billion dollar malls or buying a bigger
percentage of Florida." I have heard many messaged about compassion and
charity. Tithing isn't used to buy malls or bigger percentages of Florida.
Do your homework before you make more ridiculously uninformed statements.
Many comments about panhandlers, others will say: are we all not beggars?.Who
are we to judge? How do we know why a person is begging or mooching. We have no
idea what the person has been through! And why they're is doing that! The
thing boils down 'us' and not 'the beggar'. Whether or not
they are what they claim to be, they'll be judged for who they claim to be.
We'll be judged on how we react to their petition. Who cares how they use
the money. That's their concern. We'll be judged for what WE do and
what's in our hearts. I remember a 'bad lady' begging here in
Draper. She asked if I had any spare change. I gave her what I had, mostly
pennies. She then asked for a ride somewhere. On the way she told me that she
begged for change (pennies mostly) to save them up and then donate them to
Primary Children's Hospital at the year's end. We never knowr
what's in a person's heart. Yes, we are to judge righteous judgment,
but always give and you'll never go wrong.
The Prophet Joseph Smith's favorite hymn was "A Poor Wayfaring Man of
Grief".King Benjamin's sermon also comes to mind.Trampling the poor and needy was the plight and ultimate down-fall of the once
blessed and righteous Nephites.Good call Bishop, Good call.
Saying hello to this stranger or giving him a kind word and a smile
wouldn't hurt anyone, would it? Welcoming him to church wouldn't hurt
anyone, would it? But there is such a thing as "idiot compassion". In
such a case, "we rely on a shallow and ultimately selfish notion of helping
that is primarily concerned with eliminating our own unease rather than truly
lending a hand......Avoiding idiot compassion suggests that we pause to consider
what is truly needed when helping others - that rather than jumping to solutions
or rushing to the rescue, we can be discerning and deliberate in our
efforts."- Michael Carroll
there was a time in my life when we were desperate. Many would have considered
us homeless although we had a camper and were together as a family. A homeless
beggar came up to our pickup window asking for change. We had one quarter to our
name and a bag of rice to feed our six kids and no help in sight. That man,
drunk and homeless that he was was an angel sent to us from God. He literally
fed US. All that summer he and his under the bridge trolls made sure we had
enough to eat and helped us find help. Never look at a person, judging them for
their circumstances. We might be their angel or yes. They might be OUR angel.
I'm a little ashamed by some of the comments here. The article says that
the Bishop was at home wondering what to do to teach his congregation about
judging when it came to his mind what he was supposed to do. How many of you
have been sitting doing the same thing to teach your children and you get an
idea in your mind? This is called inspiration or in even the most complex
personal revelation. Someone mentioned that a pastor got the same type of idea
a few weeks ago. This is a lesson that all of us are open to personal
revelation regardless of faith.The whole topic wasn't about
what this person needed but about pre-judging him. Some members had a bad
relationship with one like the bishop and turned him away. Personal experience
carries a lot. However, scripture is pretty clear that we are not to turn anyone
away. Even a person who has been excommunicated is to be welcome in our
congregation. The Bishop IS A JUDGE in Israel which pertains to his calling.
However, he too needed this as much as his congregation.
(Readers Digest very condensed version)27 ‘Love the Lord your
God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and
with all your mind’; & ‘Love your neighbor as
yourself.’”28 ...29 ... so he asked..., “And who
is my neighbor?”30 ... “A man going from Jerusalem to Jericho,
... was attacked by robbers. They stripped him ..., beat him and went away,
leaving him half dead. A priest ... saw the man, ... passed by on the other
side. So too, a Levite, ... passed by .... But a Samaritan, ... came ... and
when he saw him, took pity on him. He ... bandaged his wounds, .... Then he put
the man on his own donkey, ...to an inn and took care of him. The next day he
gave two denarii and gave to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him, and when I
return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense'....36
“Which of these three ... was a neighbor...?”37 ...,
“The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and
Wonderful story! Sometimes we need to be awakened to those less fortunate than
ourselves. Yes we need to somewhat careful but reaching out in caution is okay
I think there is a big difference between "judging" and being cautious.
This Bishop showed that there is often something beyond what you see on the
outside. Someone might be homeless because of a number of reasons. They may
have addiction issues or mental health issues or they may be so beaten down they
may not be able to get up. They may even *gasp* have a criminal history. Jesus
would have reached out regardless of the reasons and aren't we supposed to
live a Christ like life?Look closer people, you might see the face of God!
Thank you Bishop Musselman! You Rock!
Truth inspired by a hoax (Google Pastor Jeremiah Steepek). Interesting. I would
have loved to see the looks on the congregations faces! Well played Bishop, well
@Ranch"the religious frequently follow their basest inclinations when
it comes to meeting strangers"Not sure what religion has to do
with following your "basest" inclinations. Are there not atheists or
anti-religionists who would react the same way to meeting a stranger? Again,
it's a lesson in human nature, not religion.
Several years ago there was a man in our ward who was an undercover cop. He
really looked rough, but quit coming to church because of negative reactions he
was receiving. He was accidentally shot and critically wounded while working
security protecting the prophet at conference. I have a police friend who was
working narcotics undercover. He said when they moved into their home neighbors
would have nothing to do with them -- even forbade their kids to play with
theirs. After years of working undercover, he was promoted to Sergeant and had
to "clean up". I've so often wanted to ask what his neighbor's
reactions were when they realized that not only were they living in the same
neighborhood as a "good guy", but one that was out protecting them
everyday. I try to help when I can and the one I remember is a "beggar"
asking me to buy him a hamburger -- said he was $.27 cents short, and gave me
what he had to buy something to eat. Hopefully he didn't eat the money I
tucked in the wrapper. We should all learn from this. Example was always my
The Bishop may have meant well, but pulling a stunt like that takes the focus
off of true compassion. We recently were encouraged to "first observe and
then serve." Compassion comes from our heart and not from manipulation.
Panhandlers for the most part are manipulators. It is easy to hand someone a
dollar, but does that make you compassionate? Do you forgive others? Are you
patient and kind? Study, ponder and pray about the scriptures and let the Holy
Spirit guide you in all you do. Let the Savior soften your heart and you will be
compassionate. Opportunities are all around us, they do not have to be
As a bishop for six years in San Diego, I have mixed feelings about whether this
is appropriate to put the members in this uncomfortable position. I would be
surprised if the Stake President or Area Seventies would have approved this
ahead of time. We have strangers and homeless drop into our ward and
we always welcome them with kindness. However, when they start asking members
for money or disrupting the service with unusual requests, I always have the
members bring them to me so I can meet with them privately to see how I can help
them. I have a duty to protect the members from panhandlers but also a
responsibility to make sure I don't turn away a truly needy person without
giving some kind of help. I've had some dangerous situations related to
this but too long to detail here. I doubt you'll see other bishops
replicating this kind of object lesson as I doubt the Church leadership will
want to put the members through this. There's a reason it's not in the
Handbook of Instructions or you haven't seen the prophet do this in General
Perhaps what those who ignored him sensed he wasn't what he appeared to be.
While it is good to help the poor, lets not forget the warnings given to the
poor as they seek help. See D&C 56:17 "Wo unto you poor men, whose
hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not
satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men's
goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own
When I lived on The east bench in a MFH park in fort union area I had a similar
experience as this bishop which still hurts me to this day. The first day my
husband a doctor and my son went to church we dressed in our best clothes came
early to church . Bishop secretary come out say you new ask the particulars and
then said don't associate with any one in MFH park Nothing but user and
abusers Then says where do you live. We give him the address and he says sorry
I don't know where that is . I said in the MFH park. He turn and walked
back in his office . Had many who shunned us would not give us church jobs all
because where we lived . They were down right mean every Sunday after 2 years I
stopped going. and prayed every day for a new ward that I found in Magna.
Several years ago in Houston, Texas we had a similar experience at church.
There was a beggar in town, I had seen him many times. He was tall and thin and
had long hair and a beard. One Sunday I was surprised to see him on the
sidewalk outside our LDS chapel. As far as I could see, everyone, including me,
just ignored him. But during our testimony meeting - it was fast Sunday that
day - one sister told about her young son's experience with seeing the
beggar. He said, "Look mommy - Jesus!"
I'm somewhat appalled at some of the comments here. Of course you should
be prudent about what kinds of situations you put yourself into, and I
don't think this Bishop was insinuating otherwise. That does NOT excuse
you from following Christ's admonition to care for the poor and needy. In
the Bible I read, the Savior didn't say "Inasmuch as ye have done it
unto one of the least of these my brethren, provided they are not addicted to
drugs or alcohol, and provided that you can trust them to use your help they way
you think it ought to be used, ye have done it unto me." Rather, He taught
that if that is our attitude, we have "great cause to repent."Is it any different if you give of your substance to the poor and they use it
to buy food versus buying alcohol? As far as God concerned with you, it
doesn't matter one iota. Sure, they might be better off if they choose to
buy food, but are you any worse off if they choose to buy alcohol? Who are we
to judge who is worthy to be helped?
“Suppose that in this community there are ten beggars who beg from door to
door for something to eat, and that nine of them are impostors who beg to escape
work, and with an evil heart practice imposition upon the generous and
sympathetic, and that only one of the ten who visit your doors is worthy of your
bounty; which is best, to give food to the ten, to make sure of helping the
truly needy one, or to repulse the ten because you do not know which is the
worthy one? You will all say, Administer charitable gifts to the ten, rather
than turn away the only truly worthy and truly needy person among them. If you
do this, it will make no difference in your blessings, whether you administer to
worthy or unworthy persons, inasmuch as you give alms with a single eye to
assist the truly needy." ~ Brigham Young
“Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the
poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation
in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is
past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved! (D&C 56:16)“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth
his eyes [option #3 in this post] shall have many a curse. (Proverbs 28:27)“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would
borrow of thee turn not thou away. (Matthew 5:42)“And
now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is,
for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may
walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance
to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the
hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief,
both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. (Mosiah 4:26)
So often we think we are doing well in life. We’re going to church, paying
our tithing, reading our scriptures, saying our prayers, etc. Of us and our
situation, Amulek said:“And now behold, my beloved
brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have
done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not
the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who
stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold,
your prayer is vain, and vaileth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do
deny the faith. (Alma 34:28)I invite you to prayerfully ponder this
subject, and remember these things next time a beggar approaches you. I will try
to as well.
The basic idea is good but the Bishop is the wrong person to do it and Sacrament
meeting is the wrong place. It will be interesting to see how his relationship
with the ward members has been affected.
If nothing else, congregation members will probably long remember this meeting
and how they felt about the stranger. How many meetings do we actually remember
(let alone learn something about ourselves)? I have usually forgotten what the
speakers said by the time I arrive home. So I disagree that this was the wrong
time and place for the bishop to teach his congregation something about
I think this is a good exercise, but I'm not too critical of this Ward in
Taylorsville(?) I think? Of course people in a smaller town don't know how
to react to something and someone they are not familiar with. Yes, we should
become more comfortable with reaching out to those who are not like us, but why
would a homeless person have showed up at this Ward? Now, I would invite any of
you to come visit my Ward in downtown Denver and you would see people like this
all the time. We even have street people sleeping in our parking lot. But Denver
isn't Taylorsville and our experiences are different.
Interesting -- I see a pattern --those that are the most
critical of the "homeless" are also the most critical of the
Bishop.Another lesson they forget, Judge not...
There are so many facets to this experience and many lessons to be learned.
Like this Bishop noted, you have to be careful judging people and how they felt
to respond.I would like to suggest that this should bring to each of
us a need for interpersonal inspection. During the age of the Nephites, many
fell into the trap of social and economical stratification where the poor were
shunned and 'costly apparel' and riches caused hearts and heads to
puff up.We just need to be cautious that though we should be
cautious around such people, our motivation should never be one of 'I am
better than he is' and therefore we cross the road and continue on our
journey on the other side.
Van: You made a comment with regards to the church building malls and buying
land in Florida. My understanding is that no tithing funds were used to build
the City Creek Center. As far Florida I don't for sure. I would be
surprised if tithing funds were used. You seem quick to judge without all the
facts. I am serving an inner city service mission in Ogden. Many people come
to church in street clothes. One such person was recently baptized. I believe
to many LDS and Christians in general are to judgemental of others. We
don't always know circumstances or challenges others face. Many of the
homeless are mentally ill and need medication and treatment.
Sometimes people do all the right things, and never catch the brass ring. Or the
catch it, but it slips away. Some people never get the earliest lessons, and
figure it out, others, do what they can. We don't know, Jesus never tells
us to assume. He simply tells us to feed the hungry, give a drink to the
thirsty, a bed to the weary, clothing to those with none, shelter to the
homeless, healing to the sick. And to love our neighbor as He has loved us. Not
a lot. We can do some of that, whatever is in our power. We can lead them to a
source, take someone into a store and buy them a sandwich and a bottle of juice.
Every little bit helps. I know. I've been there.
While giving money to the homeless isn't advised it is still okay to be
polite and kind. I like what this bishop did....now he knows who the judgmental
jerks in the ward are.
Well done, Bishop! We all need so much more of those reminders. The importance
of being Christlike to all we meet, is so key. I'll never forget when I was
moving cross country a few years back. I visited a ward in Park City, UT, that I
was planning on moving into, and not one person said hello or even acknowledged
me throughout the meetings. I've never been treated that way at church
ever. I almost tripped someone to ask where sunday school class was. The
coldness I felt defined my decision, to not move there. I moved to AZ instead
and love it. Each time since then, when I see that someone is new or visiting, I
go out of my way to say hello to them, so that they know someone cares that they
are there. Thanks for your great reminder Bishop, to us all. Because, after
all... what would Christ do?
WWJD? There's probably a similar msg here like the good Samaritan.
I completely disagree with this bishop's "lesson." Perhaps the
Elizabeth Smart story is still too painful for my heart. I accepted a ride from
a "nice" man when I ran out of gas and he began to take me away from the
gas stations. It was a miracle I stood up to him and he fearfully returned me
to my car. Unfortunately, we Have to be wary of everyone, whether
dressed as a homeless man or in a suit and tie. This is so judgmental of those
whose background and experiences you do not know; and a poor way to teach a
lesson. I hope the children that witnessed his transformation on the stand are
taught and reminded by their parents that they need to be careful who they trust
and that it is okay to make judgements based on the promptings of the spirit.
But of course, that is one of the buzz words of Satan these days--"we should
not judge." (Yes! We should!)
This very type of scene... a homeless man's experience in a church...
changed my life years ago. It's a scene from the book, In His Steps, by
Charles M. Sheldon. It changed my life because my own mother was homeless at
the time, and it helped us turn our attention towards her to get her off the
street.Brigham Young said, Suppose there are 10 beggars. Nine of
them do not have good intentions. Do you not give to all 10, so as not to be
taken advantage of by the nine? Or do you give to all 10 so as not to miss the
one who is truly in need of your kindness? Thank you for creating
this experience for others and for sharing it.
LDS Liberal:It seems that you are distressed by the lack of
compassion shown towards the homeless by those of us who actually have
experience working with them. An understandable position, since the holidays
are full of treacly TV shows and movies which portray the homeless as innocent
victims with hearts of gold needing only a hot meal to get back on their
feet.In reality, roughly 90% of the chronically homeless are
mentally ill, addicted, or criminals (including serious sex offenders) and in
many cases, all three apply. Anyone who would open their doors and wallets to a
random homeless person off the street is putting themselves and their family in
significant danger.If you're feeling morally superior, come on
down to Pioneer Park in SLC any day of the week (just not alone or after dark).
There you will find dozens of chronically homeless persons in need of your
boundless compassion and unlimited resources. I DARE you to invite just one of
them into your home, no questions asked, and treat him as the Good Samaritan
would.If you decide it's too dangerous, then you're just a
An interesting experiment.We tend to avoid things that make us
uncomfortable, be they situations or people. While some might see Bishop
Mussleman's actions as being disingenuous, I think it was more along the
line of simply providing a splash of cold water in the faces of some who have
been lulled into complacency in their insular world.While we should
be wary of strangers, especially where children are concerned, wariness does not
rule out compassion and kindness, nor our obligation to love others as we love
ourselves.Perhaps the Bishop's lesson can be taken to heart by
all of us in that we should exercise more faith in Christ and follow his example
when dealing with those who may not share our blessings and bounty, yet are no
less deserving of charity, compassion and love.
Many judged and evaded the Savior because He was "different". I think
Bishop Musselman was inspired to do that, to teach his ward. I have been
misjudged, when my heart's intent was good, but due to appearances, I have
been treated like "a homeless man". I know what it's like to be
rejected, and avoided. May the Lord bless all of us to remember that "if ye
have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto
I understand what this bishop was trying to teach but disagree with his
methodology. Experts who work with the homeless state that it is harmful to give
money directly to them. It enables and encourages their behavior instead of
driving them to the organizations established to give them the help they need.
Donate or volunteer at shelters and other such organizations, but do not give
the homeless money. While doing so may make us feel better, we are not really
helping. As far as church goes, all should be welcomed, but I would be wary of
anyone who seems to be "off" in any manner, homeless or not, well
dressed and clean or not.
Matthew 25:40 states "...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Yes, the Spirit will warn
us if the "homeless man" is a predator or a fake. It requires that we
be in tune, and not just judge by appearance or the context in which we see such
a man. I have been suspected as being "homeless" when walking on the
Temple grounds, because I was alone, and I look "different". When the
feelings of one's heart are right with the Lord, yet those around you judge
you based on what they see on the outside, it hurts. The Savior died of a
broken heart, because His own received Him not, but took His precious, loving
life, judging Him to "be of the devil". May we remember to be "wise
as serpents, yet harmless as doves". May there be more of "the
dove", which is a symbol of peace, in our hearts this holiday season, is my
Scary costumes belong at a Halloween party, not at sacrament meeting. I would
have pulled my grandchildren away, being cautious for their safety.
This story is now reaching The Netherlands as well, as 2 regional newspapers are
reporting about it. On one site of the newspapers ('de Volkskrant')it
is the 2nd best read article of the day.
@Ranch:You're so close! You said "Lesson: That
'homeless' person you avoid could be Jesus in disguise."Lesson: that "homeless" person *is* Jesus.
The bishop's actions to play-the-part of a homeless man were quite
disingenuous. His attempt to teach was calculated, but insincere, as it fell
short of providing a human experience between different people. Would he
choose to play the part of a paralyzed person, to see if congregants would lower
him through the roof or leave him outside? Perhaps he'd consider playing
the bleeding woman, who upon touching Jesus' hem, is healed of her
hemorrhaging? A retired pastor, who ministered in inner city and rural churches
on the east coast, I had the fortune to serve congregations who counted homeless
individuals and families among them. As Jesus himself showed, a ministry that
seeks to bridge divides between different people or communities, provides
opportunities in day-to-day life for people to walk in others shoes. It would
have been far less calculating, and more sincerely relevant, if the bishop
himself had quietly lead them into ministry among those who are experiencing
homelessness, in their own places of life, rather than falsely appear among them
on the steps of the church.
The moral of the story isn't "don't judge" but rather
"don't judge unrighteous," "don't be holier than
thou," "be compassionate," and perhaps particularly "don't
turn away from the needy because you have so much and they have so little."
"I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, yet deals
justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than
the smooth-faced hypocrite" - Joseph Smith."It is better to
feed ten impostors than to run the risk of turning away one honest petition"
- Joseph Smith"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for
thereby some have entertained angels unawares" - Hebrews 13:2Matthew 25:35-40Matthew 5:42Luke 6:38Luke 12:33-34Matthew 10:8Mark 12:31Mark 10:21Luke 10:25-37"Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and
free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you." - Jacob
2:17"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and
though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me
nothing." - 1 Corinthians 13:3What both Jacob and Paul are
pointing to is that Charity is more than giving. Charity is loving. Job's
"friends" thought his suffering was due to sin. Thinking that
someone's suffering is due to sin is the diametricaly opposed to charity.
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with
grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed
him not". - Isaiah 53:3
I can understand the Bishop's intentions, but I am uncomfortable with him
doing this in a Sacrament Meeting. Perhaps the ward party would have been a more
appropriate place. I believe that this could become a problem if it is carried
out by others to a wider audience. We had an attempted abduction in a ward
building not long ago and while we should never judge someone by how they look,
we do have to provide a level of safety. In the church there is a pattern to
follow in giving to those in need. We are instructed in D&C to give to the
Bishop, who then allocates those funds as he is directed. In the church we also
have a transient Bishop who cares for those who may not live within the
boundaries of a local ward. I do feel that we can help others when moved upon by
the spirit, but we do have to consider the safety of those around us and
ourselves when being kind to a person we do not know. Give to the Soup Kitchen
or Food Bank instead!
The problem is not the these Mormons do not love the homeless. Their behavior is
a symptom of something far worse.
Great comment from momw 10:24 a.m.youth lessons for November
discussed ways to give, also self-reliance. Good reminders especially on Black
The so-called statistic of 90% that another writer states as fact, rather than
opinion, is incorrect and misleading. Start learning by working with the
homeless as I did for 15 years.The causes of homelessness include;
The deinstitutionalization movement from the 1950s onwards in state mental
health systems Redevelopment and gentrification activities instituted
by cities across the country through which low-income neighborhoods are declared
blighted and demolished The failure of urban housing projects to
provide safe, secure, and affordable housing to the poor. The economic
crises and "stagflation" of the 1970s,which caused high unemployment. The failure to provide effective mental health care and meaningful job
training for many homeless veterans. Many foster children become
homeless when they are released from foster care at age 18. Natural
disasters that destroy homes: People who are hiding in order to evade
law enforcement. Adults and children who flee domestic violence.
Teenagers who flee or are thrown out by parents Foreclosures of
homes Evictions from apartments Lack of support from friends
or family Lack of resources in place in the communities to help aid in
prevention of homelessness
This whole exercise was treating our neighbor with kindness and civility. No
where in the article does it state that we are to give or anything else. Yet,
I've there when a beggar has come and asked for money. I give him a dollar
almost every time without care or how he spends it. That is not my choice but
it is my choice to give. The Smart's were right to try to help and others
have done so as well. Yet, I wonder how many of you have stood in soup kitchens
administering to these individuals. How many of you give when the opportunity
comes or do you just turn your back.Many of you would turn a young
woman away if dressed in a miniskirt, rainbow hair and tattoos. Do you really
think the Savior would. This whole lesson was on compassion. You were asked to
judge the individual just to love. You have the scriptures to support you. It
is time to stand up and be counted. Someday you will be asked the same question
as the Savior did in the OT? What will your answer be, they were fake?
In my opinion, I think Mormons on the whole are judgmental about lots of things
and for me, and in my experience, not very Christ like and not all that
charitable to others, except within their own religion and church. I remember
my husband's family coming back from church, and then all they talked about
was golf, better cars and bigger homes. The church is really not like a church
at all, just bunches of people pretty much saying the same thing over and over
again. It was more like a social club. However, in this situation,
I think I understand the lesson, but at the same time if anyone approaches me I
will put safety first and then compassion second. Many homeless people have
mental illness and substance abuse problems and you do not know how the will
react. I have given money to many of them. I know where the money is going,
and it is not for food, but I can understand about addictions and mental
illness. Children are far more loving, caring and compassionate than adults,
until adults teach them otherwise.
For a state that shouldn't have already forgotten the Elizabeth Smart
incident, I find this an interesting article. People love to immediately
embrace the "Do Not Judge" remarks. If you don't judge, you are
opening yourself and others up to very dangerous situations. I
don't think the message to all those young children present that day should
be, "Hey that homeless guy is probably a loving, harmless Bishop in
disguise"! We need to be loving, and judge righteously. Although
he shouldn't be turned away, a very guarded welcome should have taken
place. Due to plans for a scenario like this, we had plans as a Bishopric that
someone would have immediately been assigned to welcome, assist, be there to
answer questions, and ESCORT this man in a very loving manner. Since the
Bishop was "absent", that would have fallen to the presiding counselor.
If you think the people were un-Christlike that wanted to turn him
away, take your children or grandchildren down to Pioneer Park and let them take
a stroll all by themselves and then see if a guarded approach is unwarranted.
I can see so many sides to this. My son lives a homeless life. He is 25. I
would want people, especially church members to be kind and receptive with him.
I do know on the otherhand, that altho he wouldn't rob anyone, he does play
on people's sympathies, just in his appearance alone. Money given to him
may go for food/clothing/room or substances. He has a home/family to go to but
chooses to make ask the world to support him. He isn't well. I can see how
we would judge someone in that position, out of survival. I also see how we
judge each other for our choices about judging him! I would want you to love my
son, give him food but please don't give him money. Buy him what he needs,
if you must. Many of the homeless are mentally ill. I wish the church had more
help available to them. I wish I knew the answers. Pray for them and count
I applaud Bishop Musselman for the inspiration that he received when he sought
how to give a instruction to his ward.Reading these comments, I have to
add something about judging. The lesson I have learned from my Heavenly Father
is that His Judgements will not come until AFTER all the facts, occurrences, et
al are in. Thinking on this I have determined for myself that I
'evaluate' the person using all my resources, the guidance of the Holy
Spirit first, then my own experiences ... Even in our courts the judging comes
after all the pros and cons of a case are considered, THEN comes the judging.
Judging is a 'final' determination; evaluation of a person
allows me to have more room for compassion. One of the main reasons we are here
in mortality is to learn HOW to judge, so I don't judge until all the facts
are in. We do NOT know all the circumstances surrounding any individual.
So I refrain from judging and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the
scriptures, my own experiences, all of them.Didn't Christ say,
"Judge not, that ye be not judged."
I don't have near enough time to read all these posts, but in case you read
mine, and no one has pointed it out, the LDS Church has discouraged us from
giving money to panhandlers due to the fact that in most cases it solves nothing
and likely exacerbates their problem. You see them often at or near General
Conference. Imagine if everyone of the 10s of thousands of people attending
Conference gave money to them. They would be millionairs by the time Conference
was over. Is that really what would help the down and out? I don't think
so. What did this Bishop expect his people to do? Offer to drive him to a
homeless shelter? He wouldn't have gone if they had. Give a lot of money,
when in fact the Church has fast offerings for such needs? As long as no member
called the person an ugly name, or in some way assaulted the Bishop, I
don't think any of his ward did anything wrong. It was a stunt, and I
suspect he will be hearing from his Stake President, and or the General
Authorities about it. It proved nothing.
And imagine if the Bishop had nothing but positive (as he sees it) reactions
from all who came to Church that day. People would be accusing him of trying to
make it look like Mormons are better people than all others. Yeah, that would
have played well in the cynical mainstream media.
Reading many of you one would believe, if they didn't know better, that the
Church never gives any money, service, shelter, ect to the needy in our world.
The LDS Church has set up probably one of the best welfare systems in the world.
One, which many governments would do well to copy. We, by giving our
contributions as members do much to help people like that Bishop was pretending
to be. Being generous with our time and money is not "proven" by
whether or not we gave or even acknowledged a particular person at a particular
time. If we did that at every opportunity, we'd have little time left for
all the other responsibilities we have every day. This stunt did not prove
anything about the LDS Church, its members, or any other organization out there,
religious or otherwise.
If my Bishop pulled a stunt like this, I would lose all trust in him. Not only
was it dishonest, but he was actually setting a "trap" for his
congregation. This is not a true principle for teaching people.
The word "judge" has been hijacked in our day and its meaning contorted
and confused. Hopefully, we all recognize who the author of confusion is. Our
Lord tells us that we must learn to judge righteously. Case closed.
I have not read all the comments, so I don't know whether this has been
pointed out before: Did anyone offer to take the disguised bishop to the
Bishop? The Bishop has resources to help and is a Judge in Israel.
why am I not surprised? I had a family friend years ago come to church he was
dressed like any other day as a hippy back in the 70's and a sister from
the ward goes up to him and says "we don't dress like that here!"
he never darkened the door of our church again. I have ever since encouraged
people to come as you are. I would rather see people in jeans and t shirts then
white shirts and ties. i would rather have people smell of cigaret smoke and
stale booze and beer, then perfume and cologne. Is not the spirit we come to
heal at church? how often have we judged a person just by the way they dress?
The varied responses to Bishop Musselman's keen experiment are not
surprising. My experience with Church members, however, are unfortunately less
positive and say a great deal more about some LDS members. (For the record, I
myself am a gentile, I employed young members of the Church, and my sister was a
convert.) For 12 years I managed a store across the street from Temple Square in
what was then Crossroads Mall. I regularly opened early during Conference
weekends so that visitors, foreign and American, could shop. One year, I
don't remember whether it was spring or fall, a shoplifter took several
items from our store. I tried to stop him, but he ran out onto S Temple and
headed east toward Main St. Although I shouted "Help! Shoplifter!"
several times, not one person who was standing in line to enter Temple Square
moved to assist me. Not a single one! What did I learn about the LDS faith that
day, I ask you?
What Bishop Musselman makes me proud to be a member. It shows how he was trying
very hard to teach his congregation that when you do it for the least you do it
unto him. I know there is a dividing line and I have seen people abuse the
Church and be dangerous and I won't ever give a beggar cash - offer to buy
then what they say they want instead. I've also seen people join the church
looking very scary and become leaders. As someone who has had difficulties with
living the Gospel I really applaud his trying to teach compassion for those of
our Heavenly Father's children who are more visibly spiritually sick.
I actually have a great deal of respect for what this bishop did. Say what you
will about the homeless - they do exist and they can't be ignored. My wife
is such a great example to me of how we should feel and react toward those in
desperation. Yes many homeless are on drugs and most use alcohol heavily. Many
homeless are scam artists. However I wonder how each of us would react if we
found ourselves in the same situation. My wife will always want to stop and give
money to the guy on the side of the street at Christmas time or some food. A few
weeks ago she gave a rather large food gift we received at a party to a homeless
man on a cold October evening. I remember my first thoughts - oh boy let's
not stop ...let's just drive by like everyone else... this guy is probably
a scammer anyway. The man took the food and as I handed it to him out the window
I could see the appreciation in his face.
This is still a free country!Everyone has the right to exercise his God
given agency!If you choose to be homeless then that is your own doing!If you choose to apply failure principles in your life, then you will most
likely fail!If you choose to apply success principles you will most likely
succeed and not be homeless!So spare me the phony sympathy for the
"lees fortunate' in society!They made their choices now they must
live with them!Actions have consequences!We already are being gouged
to extremes by ever oppressive governments via forced extortive taxation,
countless "social programs" to feed /house the homeless,/ eliminate
poverty; yet this national disgrace continues to expand exponentially with no
end in sight!
I have see several comments over the past few weeks about our tithe going to
purchase the Florida property and paying for malls. This was answered quite well
by a gentleman explaining that our tithe is used for church buildings, temples
but not for malls and land for businesses. Those are funded by the profit from
the other businesses run by the church, which also have a purpose, one being
preparation for disasters and hard times. We need to be certain of our facts
before making comments about where the money goes.
These kinds of scenarios always leave me a little troubled. I am bothered
because I may be the one avoiding the beggar and on the other hand I know from
my law enforcement experience to use good judgment. After living in Washington
DC area for six years and in China last year I think I learned something from
many beggars. This is what I learned.Not all beggars are equal. Some
are frauds and parasites while others are sincerely in need. How do I know the
difference? Usually I don't. Brigham Young said, in essence, give to all so
as not to miss the really needy person (Discourses, Brigham Young, p.274) or,
"do all things in wisdom and order" Mosiah 4:27?I think the
test is not in the beggar but in me. Why am I giving or not giving to the
beggar? (I give not because I have not." Mosiah 4:24) In China, I decided if
I couldn't make eye contact, smile and touch the person then I was giving
for the wrong reason. I began privately looking forward to seeing beggars
instead of seeing them as an interruption to my otherwise stellar performance as
I was treated similarly to what to how he was treated while attending a singles
ward in Bellevue, WA. It really opened my eyes.
@ liz"We need to be certain of our facts before making comments
about where the money goes."What facts are you certain of Liz?
Since the Church keeps all of its finances secret, you cannot be certain of any
facts. All you really know is what somebody said, which of course
is "hearsay". Hearsay is information gathered by one person from
another person concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first
person had no direct experience nor can it be adequately substantiated. It is
doubtful whether the person who made the statement you are relying on had direct
knowledge either. "Double hearsay" is when a hearsay statement offered
as evidence contains another hearsay statement.So your double
hearsay regarding Church finances is pretty much meaningless to me.
@van hope you'll consider coming into a mormon church on a Sunday and
give it a chance, to see if you'll hear a few more messages of
compassion.@Liberal Tedagreed... but we gotta have patience
with those who don't know or don't trust the process. Many who are
real down on their luck feel betrayed and think they can't trust anyone
anymore, so they think they're better off just getting the cash in hand.
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I
will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of
my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just--
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to
repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever,
and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. 19 For behold, are we
not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the
substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for
silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?22 And if
ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he
perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for
withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom
also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing
which thou hast done.Mosiah 4:17-23
We have a homeless man in our ward; his name is George. His presence took some
getting used to. He looks and smells homeless, but he does his best to be
presentable given his limited resources. He spends much of his time at church
sleeping on the sofa in the foyer, a testament to how basic his needs are. He
does not beg while at church (I don't know if he begs elsewhere). He's
a really gentle person with monumental challenges. He's been a member of
the church a lot longer than he's been homeless. Life has been hard on
him.The bishop makes sure George has food. It's my
understanding that the ward tried to provide him with shelter for a time, but he
preferred the streets to whatever arrangements had been made on his behalf (I
don't know the details). By assignment, a ward member coordinates other
assistance for George as needed. Many people have been called on to serve George
in some small way. George may not be representative of all people who are or
claim to be homeless, but we are blessed to have him in our ward.
KSL TV recently ran a series on our local panhandlers, most of whom were found
to be addicts. By giving, we're actually enabling them and, in the end,
making things worse. Might as well give them the pills and the booze.Help them out of the gutter. Don't encourage them to stay there.Nice stunt by a bishop who really isn't focused on the real problem, but
got his five minutes of fame.
I think what this Bishop did was amazing.We as LDS and Christians
can have a positive attitude toward the poor, sick and needy. Maybe we cannot
help everyone in every instance but we can choose to have a good attitude in
trying to help someone.
Legal Immigrant: Thank you for taking the concept of "free agency" and
turning it into a tirade against the poor.Funny, I don't see
anywhere in Christ's ministry where He withheld from the downtrodden for
This man is my hero.
Let's see...major deception by one having spiritual stewardship resulting
in feelings of shame by ward members; total annihilation of the reverence and
purpose of Sacrament meeting; naive expectation that one should place themselves
or their families at risk for potential harm in order to teach that we
shouldn't judge others? What kind of idiocy is this? Has anyone read about
Elizabeth Smart and how her experience began? Maybe this bishop should spend
some time figuring out a meaningful ward service project, accomplished in a
safe, supervised environment? I can't think of a single reason why this was
a good idea. I am stunned...
This article has stuck with me for days but the bishop and the author has
provided the reader with literally no practical advice for how to deal with a
homeless person. Literally last night a homeless person camped out in my
driveway and this morning although he is gone, his stuff is in my front yard so
he will be back. I want to do something for this man and in fact my husband and
I have offered him a job working to tidy up our yard, pull weeds etc. Our offer
seems to have been taken as an invitation to show up anytime day or night and
live on our property. I am at a loss for what to do to help and still remain
I'm surprised by the judgmental comments from church members about
homeless/less fortunate people. We have a few people in our congregation
(members and investigators) that look a little like that bishop. We also
occasionally have strangers come to sacrament meeting looking like that. I
don't know that they have been ignored, I have seen them greeted, and when
appropriate, directed to the bishop or bishopric. If all they want is to ask
for money there is a proper channel for that. We are here to help and to teach
if they are willing to listen. If they are not, they probably won't be
hanging around... there are easier ways to panhandle.