Comments about ‘Mormon bishop disguises himself as homeless man to teach congregation about compassion’

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Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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george of the jungle
goshen, UT

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.

Brother Benjamin Franklin
Orem, UT

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.

Fairview, WY

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.

Farmington, UT

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.

Tualatin, OR

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 homeless people.

Holladay, UT

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!

City, Ut

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.

Larry Case

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.

Puyallup, WA

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.

Taylorsville, 00

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?

Leesburg, VA

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.

Salt Lake City, UT

A stunt.

Here, UT


Lesson: That "homeless" person you avoid could be Jesus in disguise.

Winchester, VA

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.

Montreal, QC, 00

This isn't really that innovative. Alot of panhandlers are already fakes.

Manti, UT

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.

Glendale, AZ

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.

Mount Pleasant, UT

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.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Saratoga Springs, UT

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.

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