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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clearfield, UT

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.

m.g. scott
clearfield, UT

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.

clearfield, UT

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.

Henderson, NV

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.

Iowa City, IA

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.

Montesano, WA

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?

Lawrence, KS

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?

LDS Alcoholic
Phoenix, AZ

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.

Cedar Hills, UT

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.

Holladay, UT

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!

Littleton, CO

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.

Declo 68
China, 00

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 a human.

Maple Valley, WA

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.

faith in deed
Mesa, AZ

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 Ted
agreed... 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.

Isaiah 1:15
Ogden, UT

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

On the other hand
Riverdale, MD

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.

Springville, UT

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.

Beverly Hills, CA

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.

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