#hearLDSwomen: I Suffered Ecclesiastical Abuse at the Hands of My Bishop
We had recently moved into a new ward. I had five children under the age of eight, three in diapers, and was homeschooling the older ones. My husband was between jobs, but we were trying to get by on our meager savings until he could find another. The stress took its toll on my health and sanity as I tried to still bring all my young children to church and hold a calling. I was desperately eager to please.
My bishop invited me to a meeting, telling me only that he’d like to chat. I, ever obedient, did not question him, but only obeyed. Then followed ninety minutes of brutal chastisement. He told me that he’d talked to the nursery leader, and he’d learned that when my two nursery-aged children cried about being left, that I stayed with them there, and he instructed me that I was NOT to stay with my children, but to leave them. I was not allowed.
He pointed out other mothers in the ward and said, “Look at them. They’re doing just fine taking care of their families and holding callings. Why can’t you be more like them?”
Still trusting, but feeling increasingly broken, I confided in him my difficulties at home, my fears, and my love of writing, and hope for becoming a writer someday.
The bishop leaned in and told me, upset, that I had not been working hard enough for the church, and that I was NOT allowed to write again until he said I could. “Forbid” was the word he actually used. He told me that unless I was writing for church magazines, I wasn’t allowed to write, especially not until he felt I was doing a better job as a Beehive adviser.
He said to me, “You and I both know you would never succeed.” He assured me that my dreams were just me kidding myself.
Maybe I looked rebellious—I felt shattered—because then he said, forcefully “Listen, I’m going to give you a scripture. Now you take this with you the next time you do an endowment session, and you open the scriptures in the celestial room, and you read this, and then you will know that I’m right.”
I went home and sobbed. I felt so violated. But I also felt like I was supposed to obey a direct order from my bishop, so I put down my writing for several months.
– Rebecca, Washington State, 2008
Pro Tip: Honestly evaluate your behavior on a regular basis and ask yourself if you have used your power or authority coercively. If so, repent, apologize, and be better. Do not give advice that goes beyond your expertise.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)