Dear Margo: An Apartment or a Monastery?

When living with roommates, how do you find balance? Margo Howard’s advice

An Apartment or a Monastery?

Dear Margo: I met my girlfriend six years ago online when I was in college. I lived in the U.S. at the time, and she lived in Europe. After speaking regularly for two years, leading up to eight-page letters every other day, we decided to meet in person. When we did, we began an official romantic relationship. We visited each other twice a year for three to four weeks in our respective countries.

The problem came from my roommate’s reaction when I informed him she would be visiting (her first time) and staying in our apartment. We three roommates at the time were all Christians, but apparently with different views on what is acceptable behavior. One roommate, “Bob,” objected to my girlfriend’s visit on the grounds of moral impropriety. He was so adamant that he told me that if she stayed, even if I slept on the couch, he would have to leave our apartment during that time. Part of me felt that the apartment was his, too, and therefore he should have a say, but another part felt that as a grown man in a committed relationship, I should not be forced to divide my already minimal time with her by having her stay elsewhere. Ultimately, I allowed Bob to live elsewhere during her stay.

To this day, I wonder whether I made the wrong choice in choosing my desires (and my girlfriend’s) over Bob’s. We are still friends, but the friendship does seem to have been silently fractured by the incident. — Lingering Thoughts

Dear Ling: It is nice to have principles, but I find it onerously judgmental to lay them on other people. I’m glad Bob removed himself from the burgeoning Sodom and Gomorrah situation in the apartment. I mean, it’s not like you brought home three strippers. This man sounds like a prig to me, and I wouldn’t give the matter any more thought. — Margo, maturely

A Bishop Who’s a Lemmon

Dear Margo: I recently was baptized and joined the Mormon Church. I really enjoy my new “family” except for one person: the bishop. This feeling is taboo because people act like he walks on water. I say he is just a man appointed to a position. This man didn’t like me the minute he met me.

When I started at this church, I was in crisis, and I told a couple of people about it. They said go to the bishop. He turned me down flat-out and said, “We don’t help people financially.” That was a bald-faced lie, and I knew it. The excuses I got were that I was not a member yet, that he was stressed, blah, blah, blah. As time progressed, my problem became worse. Again, I was turned down, and he didn’t even call me by the right name. I corrected him twice about my name, and he still got it wrong, which was proof to me that he was doing it on purpose.

Do you think I am making something out of nothing? And to whom do I go to let someone know about this person? I think he treats me badly because I am disabled. (I think this because there are other disabled people who also dislike him.) — Disillusioned

Dear Dis: As in the Catholic Church, Mormon bishops are not at the top of the executive chart, and they are, indeed, appointed. Should you feel like voicing your displeasure with this man (which I don’t recommend, because I think it will prove fruitless), you can choose from among his superiors, as listed at this site:

While I don’t think you’re making something out of nothing, I also don’t think you should throw away the baby (the Mormon Church) with the bathwater (the bishop). Steer clear of him, and enjoy your “family” in the church you chose. I would look to public service agencies that are perhaps not church-connected. — Margo, evasively

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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89 Responses so far.

  1. avatar JC Dill says:

    IMHO, LW2 should complain, but not expect any immediate results for LW2s situation. Instead, LW2 should complain so that there’s a record of this behavior. If the bishop makes a pattern of treating certain classes of people badly, and enough of them complain, eventually the PTB above him will take note. Odds are slim that enough people have already complained that *this* complaint will produce anything fruitful, but eventually the complaints will mount, and eventually something WILL happen, and LW2 will be able to take comfort (when it happens) that the complaint LW2 made was one of many that it took to get the problem addressed.

    Another reason for complaining is to get it out of one’s system. If you complain *knowing* that the complaint is likely not going to do anything, but you can still write down your thoughts and send it out, for many people this helps them put it behind them and move on with the next step, instead of constantly stewing and thinking “maybe I should complain after all”. Just make sure the complaint is professional – if you really need to dump EVERYTHING into the complaint then write it up, print it out, and burn it. Make a ceremony of it for yourself rather than dump it all on someone else.

    • avatar luna midden says:

      I am having a similiar situation here at my church(though, I am not Mormon, but of another Prot. demoniation. We have a pastor who has been here for a few years and people who have been members for DECADES are RESIGNING THEIR MEMBERSHIP. We are a small church. This Pastor seems to have a control issue and EVERYTHING has to be under the thumb of the PASTOR, even though our denomiation wants LAY PEOPLE to step up and volunteer. In the last year, THAT I KNOW OF, 3 families that I know-have been told by the minister that they are UNDER HANDEDLY THREATENING THE STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH. These families were here for many many years, some born into our church. They all were on many committees, undergone training for layaty, and many other things. Of course, all were  HURT, SOME SEVERELY HURT. AND those who are the committee to renew the pastor’s contract are of course HER FRIENDS!

      I do  not know what is really happening in the lw’s story-but if it is true, and the person is religious, it can shake you to a core.


      • avatar lisakitty says:

        I agree with you luna.  Many of the posters below seem to think the LW joined the church looking for a handout, and while that is a possibility, there are ways a truly professional and compassionate spiritual advisor would handle the situation and still maintain an aura of kindness, compassion and spirituality.

        My church is going through a similar change as yours is, and what we have found is that the behaviour of the pastor is turning people away from religion altogether.  New members are especially affected by a bad experience with a spiritual advisor, and in the LW’s case, it seems it has soured a conversion for her. 

        Like it or not, and regardless of the behavior of the LW, the bishop is the “face” of the church.  He is the most high profile member and someone that the congregation should trust and feel comfortable with.  If he is inconsiderate (won’t remember her name even though she’s said it several times?  That’s pretty rude!) or short (assuming the LW was asking for money and he’s tired of hearing that and feels, as one poster below says “like an ATM”) or dismissive, well that reflects poorly on the church.  If he’s overwhelmed, why doesn’t he delegate some of these requests out?    the bishop is the one who acted incorrectly, in my opinion, and as you point out, this type of behavior can have repercussions for the spiritual life of the church.



      • avatar Katrina says:

        Do you REALLY think it’s NECESSSARY to IMPLY that we are all too STUPID to UNDERSTAND where to read the EMPASIS words in your SENTENCES?

  2. avatar WCorvi says:

    The thing I find telling about the Mormon church is that they proselytize yet never accept a convert as one of them. To me, the attempt to convert, hence save, souls is really an attempt to make themselves feel superior.

  3. avatar lisakitty says:

    LW2:  I am not a Mormon, so I am curious to see what other posters with experience within the Mormon church will have to say about this.

    The purpose of church, no matter what your religion, is to gain spiritual guidance.  Do churches also provide emotional/financial support?  Yes, but the primary function of a church is to provide spiritual guidance.  That is the most important thing to remember here.  If the bishop lacks compassion to not only you, but several other disabled members of the church, he is probably less than compassionate of other people in need.   THIS is spiritual guidance?  THIS is a standard you want to aspire to?

    I don’t know your bishop and as I have said, I don’t know about the Mormon church.  But if a spiritual advisor of mine treated a disabled and obviously stressed person like the way you say he treated you, I’d be looking at changing churches.  There are good and bad religious advisors in every religion, but the fact that this person was so inconsiderate to you…. I would be researching other churches immediately.  When you find a spiritual advisor who treats you with respect and compassion, that’s where you stay.      

  4. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Re LW#1:  The incident with Bob happened quite some time ago and you are still friends so I would let it go.  Part of me is empathetic to Bob, but not because I think it was his business to object on moral grounds.  I guess I wouldn’t want my house to be invaded by a roommate’s guest for weeks at a time and might object to the intrusion for that reason.  But, I learned long ago that unless its family or my husband….I don’t do well living with others.  I like my privacy too much.  I don’t like to share the kitchen or the bathrroom.  I have different ideas of what is necessary housekeeping than some people. So, I’m probably not very objective on what is or isn’t appropriate roommate etiquette in these situations.  

    Re LW#2:  I am not very familiar with the heirarchy of the Morman Church so I may be off base here, but I wonder if you are perhaps a little too sensitive.  How many people does a bishop regularly serve?  Is it one congregation or, as in the Catholic Church, dozens of congregations?  Is being a bishop his only occupation or does he have another job?  If he serves thousands of members, perhaps him getting your name wrong was not intentional but simply a matter of forgetfulness or distraction.  Is it common for the Church to give direct financial assistance to people who are not members?  I was going to say maybe he has a problem with converts, but I do know that an important part of the Morman doctrine is to reach out for new members, thus the 2 year ministry requirement for young men so its doubtful that would be an issue.  You may have left out from your letter other incidents of animosity towards you on his part but I’m not sure that forgetting your name twice and not giving you financial assistance means that he doesn’t like you or disabled people.  
    Whether he is a jerk or not, Margo is right.  I would not throw out your faith because of one man.  If he is only in charge of one congregation, perhaps there is another Mormon church in your town you can attend.  I live in a medium size city (not in Utah) and I know of at least 2 Morman churches here.  Complaining to his supervisors because he forgot your name and didn’t give you money when you asked for it will probably not result in a reprimand to him or his dismissal.  It will just make your relationship with him more difficult.  I would focus on the positive fellowship you have within your church, do what you can to volunteer within the church, and avoid him as much as possible.   


  5. avatar Sandy B says:

    LW 2
    I wouldn’t report him- but I wouldn’t “protect” him either. If someone suggests you ask him for help- just say you have in the past and that he always says “no”, and that you have spoken to him several times and he never even remembers your name- so you are not that comfortable speaking with him. Don’t interpret it- just stick to the facts.

  6. avatar toni says:

    LW2: “The man didn’t like me the minute he met me” — it sounds like the minute he met you, you asked for a handout. And even your own letter depicts subsequent meetings were of the same ilk. I would not be so quick to assume a prejudice because of your disability rather than a legitimate reaction to your behavior. I hope the Mormon Church is a wonderful spiritual home for you, and apologize for intuiting from your letter that you were perhaps looking for an ATM as well. Perhaps requests for assistance that were non-monetary — how to approach your problems differently, rides to work, food to eat, an ear to hear, rather than a straight out request for $$ might open better communication with your new spiritual leader.

    Forgive a business metaphor, but when I met the COO I tried to learn from him and showed my respect, not request a raise before I was hired.

    • avatar CatA says:

      good metaphor, toni.

    • avatar cleanslate says:

      Agreed. That is how it appears to me. Maybe the LW didn’t join the church to find a new revenue source, but it kind of sounds that way. Lots of people have money problems, and lots of churches help out their most needed, but no church is able to help everyone who asks, especially if they don’t have a history of active participation in the church first.

      • avatar A R says:


        “especially if they don’t have a history of active participation in the church first”

        What cleanslate said! 🙂

    • avatar martina says:

      Exactly, for what is she looking for financial aid?  Our church has a fund to help out members who cannot pay for heat, electricity, has a foodbank and would never turn away someone truly in need of basic necessities and would refer them to an agency that could help them if the church could not.  I know of one person who wanted them to make a car payment on her expensive sportscar after she went and got a $100 cut and color – they turned her down.

      How much contact do they have with the bishop?  Is he the one giving the sermons?  If he isn’t, she should just try to avoid him, enjoy the church family and just accept that they aren’t going to find financial aid there. 

    • avatar cl1028 says:

      Sorry, but I’m not sure I agree. Christians are called to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, etc. etc. Yes, we have to be prudent with our gifts and resources, but we also need to give generously, without trying to judge who “deserves” our help or doesn’t. (As I understand it, “charity” is quite different from a “job,” although I appreciate the metaphor.) Perhaps I’m being a bit naive, but I’d like to think it’s better to give someone the benefit of the doubt and give them a hand (even if, as another poster mentioned, all you can offer is a basket of groceries or a ride to work, not cash), rather than risk not helping someone in genuine need and just prolonging their suffering unnecessarily.

      • avatar lisakitty says:

        EXACTLY!  In my church, we ran out of financial aid ($$$) last year because of the economic situation.  What happened; the members banded together to help.  In one instance, there was a young mother who’s husband left her alone with three babies under 3 (there is a set of twins).  She’d never worked before and was overwhelmed.  One church member donated a rental property for her to use rent free for a year, another member gave her a job in his shop.  The church  moms were AMAZING:  day care, food and clothes for all those kids were taken care of.  A lawyer in the church represented her in the divorce with no retainer.  There are ways of giving without giving cash.  A person truthfully in need will accept any help offered.  I was in a position of need with the church as well and I can tell you, it made my head swim how soon people were helping me.  It’s what keeps me with the church even through the times of crisis we are currently going through.

        PS:  and the important thing is.. when you do get the help, give BACK!  Even through the problems I had last year, I helped in any way I could: voluntered my time to help with the church office, helped people get jobs through connections I had…. the young mother mentioned above has started a Saturday Night Date Night babysitting club for the kids that is popular (and free for church members).  There is always a way to give.  The fact that the bishop lacks this type of insight and creativity is a huge red flag for me that he may be more interested in the wealthier members of the congregation and seems to have little patience for people who come to him in need.

        PS:  because many government social programs have been cut, churches are overloaded.  But it’s a part of our faith to provide for the infortunate.  great post, cl!!!!     

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          @Lisakitty: I am no defender of the church, or its leaders, but when you made this statement: “The fact that the bishop lacks this type of insight and creativity is a huge red flag for me that he may be more interested in the wealthier members of the congregation and seems to have little patience for people who come to him in need.” I was amused. Quite a leap of logic if based on the letter in question.

          How do you manage to come to the conclusion that the bishop offers no other programs or resources for help, and that he never offered said forms of aid to the LW? The only thing it seems that Disillusioned asked for was “financial help”, or money, and that this was the only thing that she was refused. She then sounds remarkably sullen, and comments that she is “disabled” and that other disabled people don’t like the bishop either. Odd that everyone else seems to like the man…there is no mention in her letter of social status or financial wealth having a bearing on his treatment of people, or their fondness for him…only her grumbling that he “never liked her” and this vague allusion to other “disabled people” who allegedly dislike him.

          Were other forms of help offered, accepted, and freely used in quantity? We just don’t know, do we, because the sum total of the letter involves a quest for ***money*** that was rejected. The request seems to have occurred immediately upon LW2’s joining the church. My best friends are Christian. We have six churches within 5 minutes’ walking distance of our house, and literally countless more in the immediate area…all denominations, from LDS, all varieties of Baptist, Roman Catholic, Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Halls, Lutheran, Methodist…and everything else you can just about possibly think of…including synagogues and mosques. All of them have offered shelter during hurricanes and to the homeless, clothing, blanket, essentials and food pantries regularly, help with finding employment, legal issues…but I have never heard of ***any*** of them just handing out money. Not one. And that sounds like all LW2 is interested in…cash. Nothing else. No charitable organization, secular or religious, is a lending or welfare agency.

          I have to wonder why, if LW2 is truly disabled, she is not getting disability in some form from the government (despite comments to the contrary, it is surprisingly easy to get IF you are actually disabled, not just inclined to ride the Purple Wage. I automatically qualify…and I don’t take it, because I won’t until I truly can’t work). Again…I am an iconoclast. I loathe organized religion. But I’m not going to condemn this bishop. My husband worked for a company that was originally based in Utah, and all of the upper level people were LDS members, and they talked about the entire system of giving aid to people regularly. They were incredibly generous…with food, shelter, education, clothing, medical needs…but they didn’t just hand out money. Something is dissonant here.

          • avatar lisakitty says:

            Apparently, Briana, you missed the word MAY.

            How can I possibly know if the bishop offered up any other types of assistance?  I can’t!

            BUT, going off the contents of the letter (LW refused help, bishop mispronounces her name twice, treats her with disrepect), it seems a POSSIBILITY (hence the word “may”) that it COULD be the bishop is focusing more on other people in the church.

            This would be nothing new.  Many churchs have ministers who treat the famous, the rich, differently than people who come to them asking for help.  One church in my area won’t marry people who have been divorced because “it’s adultery”.  Yet, this same church defended two of it’s members (high profile football players) when they were picked up for trying to hire hookers.    Why?  Because those football players were in the news, made sure the church got in the news.  Another church turned down a friend of mine in need for a car, then the next WEEK bought a Cadillac Escalade for the paster’s son.

            It’s not unheard of for a church of any denomination or religion to kow tow to the wealthy.  I am merely suggesting this as a possibility.       

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            @lisakitty: Let me quote you again: “The FACT (my capitals) that the bishop lacks this type of insight and creativity is a huge red flag for me that he may be more interested in the wealthier members of the congregation and seems to have little patience for people who come to him in need.”

            Now let me remove a bit of text from this quote: Your statement is as follows: “…The fact that the bishop lacks this type of insight and creativity…”. You use the word “fact” in referring to the bishop’s lack of “insight and creativity” in providing aid in other ways, as in, again to quote you: “One church member donated a rental property for her to use rent free for a year, another member gave her a job in his shop. The church moms were AMAZING: day care, food and clothes for all those kids were taken care of. A lawyer in the church represented her in the divorce with no retainer. There are ways of giving without giving cash.” You are stating, by using the word “fact”, that the bishop did NOT provide any alternative means of help because he was lacking in “insight and creativity”.

            We do not know that alternative means of support, aid, shelter, clothing, advice, counseling…etc., were not provided, or that the bishop lacks “imagination and creativity”.

            We DO know the following things:

            1) LW2 has seen the bishop twice, requested money twice, and been refused twice.
            2) LW2 was NOT a church member yet when she (?) first asked for money (read the letter).
            3) Everyone except LW2 (and, allegedly, other disabled persons) likes and respects the bishop.
            4) After meeting LW2 exactly twice, one time as a non-member asking specifically for money from the church, the bishop couldn’t remember her name.

            Things we have no knowledge of whatsoever:
            1): Whether or not other forms of aid, counseling, shelter, food, clothing or guidance were offered and used. This is never mentioned.
            2): The size of the bishop’s ward, and precisely how long LW2 has actually been a member of the ward.
            3): The nature of her reason for asking directly for money (and yes, this might well matter) rather than financial or employment counseling.
            4): The reason the bishop has refused her twice.
            5): The nature of her “disability”.

            My point to you, lisakitty (and yes, I noticed the word “may”…do you now understand why it was insignificant?), was that there is a dearth of information in this letter, a high whining quotient, and a lot of me-me-me-me-me….and that you, and a lot of other readers, are assuming an awful lot of terrible things about one man based on…nothing at all. Two refusals to hand out cash…and a somewhat childish sounding LW’s claims that she just ***knew*** he didn’t like her and he couldn’t get her ***name*** right after only two meetings.

            You might do well to remember that this defense of a religious leader is coming from the site’s resident cynic, iconoclast and black-hearted bitch who generally detests dogmatic pontiffs of any stripe. However, I dually loathe whiny, puling people in search of a hand-out who boo-hoo about their terrible misfortune.

          • avatar Carol David says:

            Briana Baran says: I have to wonder why, if LW2 is truly disabled, she is not getting disability in some form from the government (despite comments to the contrary, it is surprisingly easy to get IF you are actually disabled, not just inclined to ride the Purple Wage.

            Uh – this is certainly not the experience of people I know, at least for permanent Social Security disability. Most people get turned down the first time and have to appeal; this is well known. One friend of mine with *three* disabling conditions – serious back problems, severe depression, and recently diagnosed multiple sclerosis – was turned down.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            @Carol David: “One friend of mine with *three* disabling conditions – serious back problems, severe depression, and recently diagnosed multiple sclerosis – was turned down.”

            But was your friend completely unable to work? I have two blown knees, a permanent back injury…and am diagnosed with the following: bi-polar I, irregular cycling; schizophrenia, delusional; OCD; PTSD; non-specified anxiety disorder; body dysmorphic disorder…and I qualify for full, permanent disability. These diagnoses have been in place for 15 years…I’ve had the full range of symptoms my entire life. I also suffer from migraines. I will not “get better”.

            I have never applied for that disability…nor would I unless it were absolutely critical (and that means that I was in full-blown break-down, which has happened only twice in my life…and I am 53). I can and would work rather than that. I still have regular symptoms, and I manage and cope. I am returning to school. I have known a lot of people with extremely severe disabilities who work full time, and support themselves and even children and a family…without laying claim to any aid.

            My cousin has MS and depression, and worked for the Post Office for 40 years. I knew a man with advanced CP who would never park in a handicapped space because he could still walk, and he worked even when he was in terrible pain. Both were fully qualified, neither took advantage of that fact.

            What to some seem to be crippling disadvantages, to others, who have, and who have known others who have worked despite such disabilities, seem not so terrible, or needing of aid. I guess I’ve seen far too many people completely cheat the system…and it simply adds to my cynicism.

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            My mother tried to get it and was turned down three times before she was finally approved. She had COPD (thank you Philip Morris), lung cancer and debilitating depression.

            The friend who was able to get it (surprisingly on the first time) had AIDS and colorectal cancer from KS. I’m very surprised Uncle Sam didn’t reject him—thinking he would be dead first.

  7. avatar CatA says:

    (I started writing my reply before toni wrote, and so I have an ally in my perspective…)
    I am seeing LW2 differently from most posters and even Margo.  I see LW2 as someone who joined a church seeking a hand-out rather than for the comfort, insight and life guidance that a true convert would be seeking.  Not once does the writer mention any religious convictions that s/he had for joining the Mormon church, except to say that s/he “enjoy(s)” the new “family.”  Yet, the writer promptly makes several accusations against the bishop, the most glaring being about money.  What church leader wouldn’t be taken aback by a brand-new parishioner rushing up not once, but twice, looking for a solution to their own financial problems?  And if the writer really is disabled, there are plenty of secular agencies to apply for assistance to.  At any rate, financial crises should be addressed by more usual means – like getting a loan and learning to manage debt, not joining a church in search of a hand-out.  


    • avatar toni says:

      BINGO, CatA!!

    • avatar toni says:

      I was rereading LW2’s letter and it occurs to me that the reason his new family keeps referring him (or her) to the bishop when discussing his problems is that he was asking them for money as well…

      I would make a very bad bishop. If a brand new acquaintance just wanted to complain, carry on ad inifinitum about their own problems, and try to bum money, I would forget their name too.

      • avatar Katharine Gray says:

        I agree with Cat and Toni.  In my reply I was trying to be diplomatic but clearly, I was too diplomatic.   And, I suspect Toni is correct that the LW was hitting up her new friends for money…thus the referral to the bishop.  Church’s do provide financial help in time of need but that is not their primary mission. 

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Re LW2: I have a friend who is a pastor in the northeast who has exactly the same attitude—the church is not an ATM.

      I get some red flags from LW2’s letter, particularly in his/her contemptuous attitude towards the other parishioners and their attitudes regarding the bishop. The letter comes across as a “poor me won’t anybody help, and this is supposed to be a church” sort of rant.

      LW1: I find it surprising that discussions about who was and was not welcome in the apartment weren’t made clear from the get-go. Or maybe they were and LW chose to ignore them. Most of the people I’ve met who were devout or conservative Christians made no secret about their beliefs of chastity or abstinence or cohabitation. And while LW paid for 1/3 of the apartment space—I would believe it likely was with the understanding that he would respect the moral restrictions of the other roommates. I’m not sure why he’s so concerned with the status of the friendship now—it’s kind of late for that.

    • avatar Violet says:

      I agree. It sounded more like the LW was joining for social reasons, rather than spiritual ones. I can’t blame the church leader for being suspicious of someone who it sounds like was baptized and then put their hand out. It makes the new member’s motives look suspect.

      Also, don’t Mormons have to tithe a percentage of their income to the church? I guess if that is the rule, maybe they have a heightened duty to help out when the going gets tough for a member, but being Jewish, I’m not exactly the resident expert on Mormon rules and culture. lol.

  8. avatar lildutch says:

    LW1- and the guy with the girlfriend isn’t imposing his own beliefs (that having the girlfriend over is fine) on his roommate???? Why should the roommate feel uncomfortable in his own home b/c the other guy doesn’t have a problem with ppl of the opposite sex over. The first guy should make arrangements for his girlfriend to stay elsewhere.

    as someone with roommates I know the feeling of having ppl over that make me uncomfortable. our rule is simple. no one has ppl overnight without getting it approved by the others. if someone is uncomfortable, it simply doenst happen and other arrangements are made. Its not that hard to do.

  9. avatar E4rthmoth3r says:

    Unfortunately, people do join churches looking for what they can get rather than give. JW seems like that type of convert unfortunately. She joined the church in crisis, repeatedly asked for money and when turned down, discussed with other people how she disliked the bishop. If I were the bishop, I’d reserve resources for those long standing, active members of the church who gives of their time and tithe…can you imagine if it got around, ‘become a mormon and your financial worries are over’…people would join in droves. I also thought it interesting she referred to herself as ‘joining the Mormon Church’…mostly they say LDS…later day saints.

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      Great points E4rthmoth3r, LW2 doesn’t even say that they were converted, just that they joined the church.  A bishop is more likely to tell you ways to get help than to hand you everything you need, just like any other belief.  If this isn’t what you want you are looking in the wrong place.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      “Unfortunately, people do join churches looking for what they can get rather than give.”

      That, in a nutshell.

    • avatar Carrie A says:

      Most members say Mormon or LDS…they’re pretty interchangeable. I know the church has been trying to get the members to stop using Mormon but it’s still a pretty common term.

  10. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: I’d try to let bygones be bygones. Perhaps your friend cannot also do that? It’s his trouble, then. Are you also feeling guilty somehow for letting girlfriend stay overnight in your apartment (especially if the situation didn’t remain platonic)? Regardless of that last question, your friend’s reaction was his. Chances are you’d have grown apart at some point in life anyway. Continue being friendly towards him, but don’t knock yourself out.

    L #2: In my experience, most people in religious leadership are jerks.

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      Cindy — Jerks, indeed. And folks who slavishly follow edicts of church leadership are fools.

  11. avatar Lisa Cornell says:

    LW#1 I once owned a very large house and I had roommates to help out with the bills. My house rule was that boyfriends were welcome to stay overnight 3 times a week max, this did not include one roommate who had a long distance relationship where his girlfriend would come for a week every three months or so. Any more than that, they were considered live-in and they would would have to pay. I also had one other rule which became necessary because of the behavior with one roommate. She would go out drinking several times a week and get so drunk, she would bring strangers home. She would wake up and not even know who they were. I considered it a potentially dangerous situation for everyone in the house and told her that for everyone’s protection, no strangers allowed to stay over. I offered to drive her and pick her up, but she continued this unsafe behavior, so I would get up and greet the stranger at the door, thank him and put her to bed. Sometimes the stranger would argue with me and I would point out she was barely conscious and unable to give informed consent and that a gentleman would not insist. That would end the discussion.

    I believed it was not my business who was sleeping with who, my only issue was if a boyfriend was there so often, was he a roommate, if so, then he needed to ante up. In the case of the girl who brought home strangers, I did not think she was immoral, I just thought she was exposing all of us to potential danger. I actually thought her situation was sad but she was a sweet girl outside of this. I eventually got her into therapy.

    LW#2 I am afraid I have to agree with most of the posters here. I am not going to question the letter writer’s motives behind her conversion, I assume any adult choosing to convert does so for faith-based reasons. That said, she undoubtedly got off on the wrong foot by asking for financial aid. She did this a couple of times. I think she needs to mend the fence. I think she should apologize to the Bishop and discuss how she thinks they got off to a poor start and tell him she would like to feel more comfortable around him and tell him how much the church means to her. I suspect the Bishop will warm to her immediately and she will have the relationship she wants with him. She needs to look to secular agencies for aid, not the church.

    • avatar A R says:

      Aw man, Lisa, I had a roomie who started doing that too during our last four or five months on the lease. She’d get wasted downtown (college town) and bring home guys. One night she brought home a dude whose name she didn’t know. I told her that she wasn’t being safe, and her reply was that he was going to sleep on the couch. That was the last straw. I told her that either she could have him call a buddy for a ride home, or I’d drive him back where she got him. She ended up getting him to call for a ride home. I was mortified that she’d let a strange dude in who could assault one of us in the night, steal all our stuff, or who knows what else. After that, I didn’t put up with stupid roommates any more.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      “I think she should apologize to the Bishop and discuss how she thinks they got off to a poor start and tell him she would like to feel more comfortable around him and tell him how much the church means to her. I suspect the Bishop will warm to her immediately and she will have the relationship she wants with him. She needs to look to secular agencies for aid, not the church.”

      I think this is fantastic advice. This will also serve two purposes: 1) the one you listed above about mending and strengthening a tie with her new religious community, and 2) testing whether those ties are worth strengthening at all. If the bishop is still the man described in the letter, this is a strong indicator to look elsewhere for spiritual guidance.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Lisa, I especially agree with you on LW2; I had (notice the past tense) a friend who was and still is a money pit, and has left a trail of ex-friends and estranged family members in her wake. She refuses to work more than part-time, and considers even that a major inconvenience; she is always short on cash and has quite the history of hitting everyone up for “loans” that you know will never be paid back.

      I mention this because her church has helped her several times over the years in major financial ways, and yet she continues in her habits of earning — by choice — just a little LESS than what she actually needs, repeatedly asking anyone and everyone for help… and getting it. Her little system has always enabled her to scrape by with minimal effort so why should she change?

      The church is a huge part of her life and she values it tremendously, and not only for the occasional handouts. I wonder: had her church realized that this was a habitual thing with her, rather than a true crisis, and had they denied her the financial help – she might have taken more responsibility for herself in the long run.

  12. avatar A R says:

    LW1: I actually disagree with Margo which is rare for me. I think that the LW and the roomie had a lease. He had as much right to insist that you not bring a 3-4 week visitor as you would if he wanted to bring a 3-4 week visitor to the home. Truthfully, I think the guy’s uptight attitude toward intimacy is irrelevant in this case. In fact, having lived with roomies who brought all sort of people around, I wouldn’t want someone in my space for that long either. Seems to me you should have respected his wishes even if it put a cramp in your social life.

    LW2: Red flag: you join a church and immediately “confide” to several members that you are in financial duress? Sorry, but that was a major mistake. No matter what your intentions, you made it appear as if you were looking for financial aid which is why the bishop shut your down. Do you know how many lowlifes and charlatans attempt to bilk religious groups out of money? A lot. Margo is right: turn to aid groups for aid. Keep your financial business out of your religious business.

    • avatar Carol David says:

      “Do you know how many lowlifes and charlatans attempt to bilk religious groups out of money?”

      Gotta laugh at this one. In my opinion if that does happen, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the reverse, religious groups bilking people out of money.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      “Do you know how many lowlifes and charlatans attempt to bilk religious groups out of money? ”

      Do you know how many “disabled” individuals make the attempt, and too frequently succeed, at bilking secular charities, welfare, disability SSS and employers out of financial aid? So many that it is becoming more and more difficult for those who actually are profoundly, acutely disabled to get financial support. However, if you are truly disabled, that is, completely unable to work and support yourself…it can be done.

      That said, I don’t know of many cases of those “lowlifes and charlatans” targeting organized Religious institutions (ie: actual churches)…you must mean religious-based charities such as Salvation Army, etc., and most of their problems come from within (rumors of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds come to mind)…or perhaps mega-churches and televangelists (same internal issues). I have to agree with Carol David, “In my opinion if that does happen, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the reverse, religious groups bilking people out of money.”.

      I’ve known people who met the tithing demands of their church, but couldn’t put food on their child’s table, or who gave thousands to some snake-oil seller of a televangelist. Poor churches. My heart pumps purple p…well never mind.

  13. avatar normadesmond says:

    forgive me father, but i must flee…..

  14. avatar GG1000 says:

    For heaven’s sake, if you don’t believe in premarital sex, then don’t have any – but you have no right to judge others for doing so. Dude, your “friend’s” a self-righteous prig. Why do you care?

  15. avatar Sariah says:

    LW#2, I am LDS. You’re right. He is a man appointed to a position (he definitely does not walk on water). He is human and fallible and as we like to say in the church – if it wasn’t true, the members would have ruined it a long time ago. 🙂

    He doesn’t sound very Christian towards you, but I also don’t know the circumstances of your ward. You may have a ward that is in dire need of funds, and there is only a limited amount of money to go around each month (from fast offerings). He may not be able to help you financially at this point because given the economy, there are so many people asking for financial help.

    He should, however, direct you to your Relief Society president who can set you up to receive food from the storehouse (and maybe get some meals brought in to you if you’re in need of that).

    And if you do feel like he’s ignoring your needs and that he’s treating you poorly, go over the man’s head. Go to your stake president (or one of the members of the stake presidency). Tell him what’s going on. If you don’t know how to get in touch with them, call your ward clerk, who should have that information.

    I know it probably won’t help, but there may be a reason the man was called to this position. Maybe he needs it to learn more patience and compassion.

    Take care – and don’t be afraid to call your visiting teachers and home teachers and let them know what things you need help with!

    • avatar lisakitty says:

      Excellent!  Thanks for the post!

    • avatar A R says:

      Mmmm… I want to point out that the LW didn’t mention being in need of food or clothing or shelter. She mentions being in a “financial crisis”. The bishop’s reply is very telling to me. He didn’t say, “Sorry we don’t have food pantry/clothing fund/transportation service.” According to her he said, “We don’t help financially” which implies that she asked for money, not goods.

      Most churches (of all types) will pony up food, clothing, shelter, and transportation pretty quickly. I’ve never known one that won’t. Sounds like the LW was asking for cash. Churches don’t do that normally. Just sayin’.

      • avatar Sariah says:

        You’re right – she didn’t verify what she needed the money for. But presumably, if she doesn’t have to pay for food or toiletries or transportation or things of that nature, whatever incoming funds she does have (whether it be from a job or disability or Social Security) will stretch further and help to cover her other financial needs.

        The LDS Church definitely does help its members financially in times of crises – I know this personally having been on the receiving end of it when my husband lost his job during the last recession. My point was that there is a limited fund for each congregation (ward) that is created by the members giving money that represents the cost of two meals while they fast. That money is there to help those in need. In my last ward in Ohio, there simply wasn’t money to go around for those in need because there were SO MANY people in need. The bishop may simply be short on funds.

  16. avatar Lila says:

    On the roommate issue, I like Lisa’s approach – not my business what you are doing or with whom, but if someone is visiting overnight really frequently, they are basically a part-time live-in and should contribute to expenses. And – for security reasons, no strangers!

    But I also agree with David – when entering into a roommate situation, expectations on what’s allowed or not, need to be clear from the start. Personally – I might take issue with a roommate hosting any guest in a shared apartment for 3 -4 weeks, twice a year, nor would I EVER presume to make that kind of imposition myself, without clearing it first with my roommates.

    Bob is presumably paying just as much rent as the LW, and his morals – while different – are not less worthy of respect from his roommates. Why should the LW’s morals trump Bob’s? Just because they are more common these days? I don’t agree with Bob’s ultra-conservative views but I also don’t think it was right to make him so uncomfortable that he gave up his home for 3-4 weeks (and this is why I would not have a roommate with very different views from mine).

    In any shared situation, if one member feels intruded upon or put out, I think other arrangements should be made.

    • avatar A R says:

      Excellent point, Lila. One set of morals is just as valid as another, even if others think they are stupid. I think the LW was in the wrong, even if I don’t agree with the other roomie’s religious code.

  17. avatar balen says:

    Hi:  Soemtimes I agree with Margo, sometimes not.  Love to read her every chance I get!   But this comment is about the Bishop question, and the LDS (Mormon) question. (Dear People please know something about an issue before you comment.)  

    Recent LDS convert here, and my Ward (basic LDS local Chruch structure) could not have been more welcoming and accepting.  Not all Wards will be the same.  Because Wards and Churches are made up of People!!  Bishops recieve a “calling” and serve for a limited time, normally 5 years. LDS Bishops serve in a “Bishopric”, (the Bishop and two Counselors) who counsel and assist the Bishop.  The Ward also has a Priesthood counsel who can speak to the Bishop.  If the new member was having trouble there are many avenues of assistance: they can speak speak to their Visiting Sister (female mentors) assigned to help and befriend female members; they can talk to their Visiting Teacher (male members) assigned to mentor families and male members and render assistance when needed), the Women’s Relief Society (every Ward has a Relief Society and their focus is on helping female members and families who are in need and to support the women of the Ward and build a spiritual Sisterhood.  All the mentoring/support groups meet with the Bishop regularly to let him know how the Ward can help its members, in spiritual or financial matters.  

    So, is it possible the Bishop is a jerk, absolutely, he is human!  But, is it just as likely, maybe more so that the LW is expecting a one-way ride from the Church, way more likely!!  And finally, I’ve met a couple of people who have asked our Ward to help them financially before they became members.  The world is filled with all kinds!   

    Thanks for reading my coment.  B.       

    • avatar toni says:

      Really insightful info being shared in this column by several posters including you.

      Thanks for shedding light on this. 🙂

  18. avatar handy0318 says:

    To LW#1, Issues like these should be hammered out prior to rooming with others. However, many, if not most, Christians have convictions regarding premarital sex and persons of the opposite sex living together, even platonically. By rooming with Christians, your room-mate may have not realized that the two of you were of different minds regarding the issue and assumed erroneously that the issue would never come up.

    When we are at conflict with someone who holds to much narrower convictions than ourselves, most of us Christians defer to the one with stronger convictions. As the Scripture state: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. I’m reminded of Paul who didn’t believe in the idea of “unclean”, and yet said, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.”

    The conflict here came in the fact that you put spending more time with your girlfriend over and above your roommate’s heartfelt conviction that he didn’t want even the appearance of impropriety within his home, even to the extent of his leaving his home for 3-4 weeks. If I were in your shoes, having made a decision and seeing my roommate leave home because of my decision…I’d feel the same way you are now. You said, “To this day, I wonder whether I made the wrong choice in choosing my desires (and my girlfriend’s) over Bob’s.” Since, even after all these years, you’re asking this, I think the answer is yes.
    You say that you and Bob are still friends, just that there seems to be a fracture within the friendship. If you’re still friends, by all means go and talk to him. He may have long ago, forgave and forgotten about the whole thing and will be surprised you’re bothered by it…or it may be an opportunity for the two of you, now a few years more mature, to talk it over, heal the breach and renew your friendship.

    • avatar Annie H says:

      Excellent Post! It is refreshing to see scripture used in a positive way, for a change..

    • avatar Dan Bingham says:

      This is exactly what I wanted to say, but you found better words than I could come up with. Thank you!

  19. avatar Carrie A says:

    I was raised Mormon and I find the bishop’s attitude to be really odd. The church has always helped people going through hard times. There are limits, but I know they do help people financially. And even if the person is not a member the church will still usually help them out if they ask. I’m also surprised he doesn’t remember her name – I think that is intentional as the bishop’s in my wards knew everyone’s name. Each individual ward (which the bishop is head of) isn’t normally too large. Usually under 100 people. But if she wants to complain she should talk to the stake president (there are multiple wards in a stake and the president is over all of them and the bishops). She shouldn’t hope for too much, though. They don’t usually “fire” bishops because they believe they’re appointed by god. Her best bet would probably be to change to a different ward and hope for a better bishop.

    • avatar Sariah says:

      Depends on the ward. 🙂 We recently moved to Utah, and our ward here is 600 people. Back in Ohio, we had a ward with 400 people. Those were both average sized wards for their areas. 100 people in a ward sounds really, really small to me.

      And the only way she can change wards is to move. They’re like school districts – you don’t just pick which one you want to go to – you go where you live.

  20. avatar Annie H says:

    LW #2; I have always admired how the Mormons took care of their own.  That being said; I will admit that what you are saying about your Bishop is strange.  Directly going to the Bishop was probably the wrong thing as I know the Church has committees (for lack of a better word) that handle different things wtihin the Church.  Especially, if you walked up to him right after a sermon or in the middle of some sort of activity.  However, he should have directed you to the appropriate committee or secular group that could assist or even said “call my office so we can set up a time to speak privately.” People forget that church leaders, Priests, Pastors, Bishops, etc, are human and make mistakes.  You need to consider how you approached him and what you said to him.  He might have been responding to how you acted.  He could always be a jerk, as well.  I liked the other posters suggestion of apologizing to him and trying to start new.  I would also suggest asking the office if someone needed help with food, financial assistance, or what not who they would talk to.  Since you said you are disabled, you should check with DSHS for help and ask if there are other agencies that could assist you.  With the economy as it is, every agency is being overwhelmed.  If you do receive assistance, please do something to pay that back.  Like volunteering, donating, or helping with things around the church.  If you are truly unhappy with the Ward and/or Bishop, you should check into going to another Ward. 

  21. avatar NvisibleGRIFFIN says:

    I am LW1 and I really appreciate the comments. It’s good to get various insight and opinions on the matter. That being said, part of my letter was actually cut in which I explained the thought never occurred to me that a roommate might object to my girlfriend’s stay and that this part was admittedly an oversight on my part. Clearly, that was my fault. That being said, no rules were stated on this matter when we moved in and in general, my roommates were not especially conservative. I even had a platonic female friend stay for a night or two, prior to the event in question and nothing was ever said (so I was completely unaware that my girlfriend’s gender would in some way matter). I was always considerate of “Bob’s” feelings in the matter, which is why I still think about it to this day. While I know my ultimate decision was selfish (on behalf of my girlfriend and myself), to label me such doesn’t seem fair because I doubt a selfish person would have given their roommate’s view even close to as much consideration as I.

    One thing I think most are unable to fully comprehend, understandably so, is the degree of difficulty and longing when maintaining a long distance relationship. And by long distance, I don’t mean two hours away, but rather an entire day’s travel. Not to mention flying across an ocean is far from cheap, hence the “long” stay. Three to four weeks is long if she were within the country, particularly closeby, but it’s a different thing when you are talking about two to three weeks after spending over a thousand dollars just to get there (the only time all year). Neither of us had much in the way of money either, so while she did buy food for the apartment during her stay, offering additional money seemed unreasonable.

    All this being said, I truly understand the opposing views. Hence the complication. Thanks again for the comments, everyone.

  22. avatar NvisibleGRIFFIN says:

    Wow. I can’t believe I just remembered this, but she was only staying there two weeks. The other two were spent in my hometown, at my parents’ place.

    I think that concludes the clarifications. Too bad I didn’t remember that one earlier.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Hi Griffin, some of us do understand the long-distance relationship – hubby and I spent one year in two different countries and no chance to visit; another 3.5 years separated by a six-hour drive or train ride; and another 8 months separated by a 12-hour drive. All in all, more than five years apart in our marriage. Unlike you, we did not have to consider the roommate angle when we did see each other, but we do understand what it is to live far from your other half.

      I still stand by my earlier comment that a roomie should not be made so uncomfortable that he leaves his own home for the duration of a visit. I’d second Handy0318’s recommendation to talk to him about it since it still bugs you, and put it to rest.

      • avatar NvisibleGRIFFIN says:

        Hi Lila. I’m sure you’re not alone in understanding the long distance, I simply meant that many don’t understand and that makes it easier to paint me in a negative light. That being said, thanks for sharing your opinion. I’d take your advice about talking to him, but I discussed it with him multiple times in the past and he assured me it would be and was a non-issue. Continuing to ask would only make “something out of nothing”. Truth is, it is most likely something I think about and he barely remembers, if at all.

        I agree that to a certain extent I was “in the wrong” with my ultimate decision, as it adversely affected my roommate, but were I to make her stay elsewhere, then I feel he would have been in the wrong in forcing his moral belief (which was never in question) upon both my girlfriend and myself. So I see many people are going to label me the bad guy here and I’m fine with that. Someone had to be that guy and I’m definitely ready to let this go.

        The comments have been appreciated, regardless of whether or not anyone seems to understand my side.

        • avatar G T says:

          Based on your follow up info, my impression is that you thought inconvenience and financial considerations for you and the GF should trump the moral code of your roommate. He felt moral and religious rules shouldn’t be thrown to the side because its inconvenient, costs too much or is only for two weeks. That would be hypocritical. You worked out a compromise, which is that he lived elsewhere for the duration of your GF’s stay.

          His code, according to you, distinguished between platonic female friends and romantic ones, so he was not being irrational or super uptight the way some are painting him.

          Now I don’t share your friend’s beliefs towards premarital relations, but I do find it refreshing that someone who sees himself as a conservative Christian actually try to take the no premarital relations tenet seriously and not just try to maintain a certain outward appearance. That includes, according to the Bible, not condoning it happening under his own roof. (I actually had a male friend talk glowingly about his church and how hip and great his pastor was, but was truly puzzled about why his sermon on how sex needed to be about love only addressed married people).

          As far as any fracturing of friendship goes, you two have a different moral code. Why should he continue being super close to you? Why do you want to be super close to him? If he wants to keep a certain distance, I’m sure its to keep any future “conflicts” from affecting his personal life. I don’t think its judgmental. I think its practical and result in a more stable friendship (just not closest buddies). I think you should maintain that distance as well so you don’t have future clashing moral agendas as well. Friendships and degrees of friendship aren’t locked in stone, they change with time and experience. I don’t think you are a selfish person, but you did do a selfish thing. If you continue to want to have things be back the way they were with this person, when clearly he does not, then that would be selfish too.

          Try this. Substitute another issue instead of your girlfriend sleeping over. What if your friend who lives hours away is coming for a visit and you want to let him smoke or get drunk or watch porn or “fill in the blank” inside the apartment even though roomie doesn’t do these things himself. Your roomie unexpectedly says no way even though you promise to keep it contained to the couch. Is he wrong to “impose his moral beliefs” on you two or ask you take it to a bar (which costs more money) or is he right to not even want be around those things and be comfortable in his own home?

  23. avatar Violet says:

    So, let me get this straight: LW2 goes to a church, has not even joined yet, asks them for money and they turn her [him?] down? Man, I didn’t even realize I could go to a temple and tell them I need rent money and have them give it to me.

    • avatar Jay Gentile says:

      You’re right. As my granfather used to say, “Churches are all in and no out.” They want money to come in through the collection plate, but they don’t want to spend any of it.

  24. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    People who join religious cults should not be surprised when its purported leaders turn out to be wicked, small-minded people who use their position to punish others.

    • avatar toni says:

      And then there are wicked small-minded people who use their posts to punish others….

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Considering Pope Benedict XVI (Holocaust denier, sympathizer and protector of rapist, pedophile priests, condemner of the use of condoms in AIDs and HIV epidemic, war-torn, rape endemic, and starvation ridden sub-Saharan Africa), Pat Robertson, Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum and their insane rantings on being able to cure homosexuality, weather and earthquakes being caused by insufficient prayer and sin, and removing woman’s rights to any choice in reproductive function, and so ***many others***…I do believe that Jay Gentile is just making a somewhat gentle point. Compared to mine, that is. And stating her opinion, as am I. I’m not punishing any readers. But the above mentioned? I wouldn’t just like to see them punished…I’d like to see them and their destructive, divisive, inhumane ilk eradicated.

        That you have conceived of one person giving her opinion on the sort of person that frequently typifies (note and disclaimer: I did NOT say “always”) the leaders of religious organizations as “punishing” other readers with her position (how can you punish someone unless they’ve done something wrong? Do YOU feel punished? If so, why?) tells me that you may have an issue with those of us who may have less than gracious feelings toward organized religion and those who most profit from it. This is an open forum, and we are all allowed our various opinions. I do believe that you are inferring something that was by no means implied.

        “Punishing”. Hmmm. Perhaps your inference is due to guilt by association.

        • avatar toni says:

          Your reply was too long to read and punishing in and of itself.

          People who judge others purely on their religion (or having one) as wicked are the small minded ones. Btw, I – like you – am spiritual but not religious. Just not ANGRY like you and Jay.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            If you are literacy or concentration challenged, and lack the ability and intellect to handle my replies, don’t read them. If you consider other peoples’ replies that contain opinions differing from yours “punishing”, you have the problem and the anger issues, not me.

            You also need an education in religious history and its violence, and the vile tendencies of religious leaders emboldened and fattened on the power of their stations. That is not anger, that is actuality. I don’t dislike all religious people. and in fact was careful to state as much…but it isn’t surprising that you’re commenting as you are…as you couldn’t manage my post.

            As for my spirituality…if I were you, I wouldn’t wander over that way. You’ll be lost and screaming for help before you’ve ventured even a bit down my path.

  25. avatar wishuponafallingstar says:

    LW#1– You are in the wrong. That house was for you+your roommates, NOT for you+ your roommates+ guests. Rules regarding guests are different when it’s just you, vs. you+roommates. When you live with roommates, you have to consider their comfort before bringing in overnight visitors.

  26. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: LW2: I am familiar with two different instances, in the pat, in which people specifically joined the LDS in order to gain financial assistance. Both were successful. In one case, it was a couple and their five children. They were living in California. The woman had attempted to get disability for herself based on a psychiatric diagnosis of schizophrenia (at the time, this was actually relatively simple in the state of California). She was tested FIVE times, and was conclusively determined each time to be entirely mentally sound. Psychiatrists can be extremely difficult to fool. Her husband was disinclined to work and tried to get disability based on an “injury”. Both narrowly avoided fraud charges. They had an enormous home in the San Francisco area, spent a lot, and then, shockingly, were seeing moths, not cash, in their wallets. Appeals to family were denied, as were welfare appeals.

    So, why not join the LDS? They did so, and successfully, I might add. Might I also add that they were dabblers in the occult who despised all forms of Christianity? Quite a come-to-Jesus moment, eh? Ended up with a $250,000 house, all debts paid, kiddos in excellent schools…within a year. This was about 20 years ago…so think about what kind of house $250,000 bought them then.

    The second story was almost identical…fewer children, more debt. Why do I, ever cynical me, see the possibility that LW2 might have heard similar tales (because they were, and are, numerous) and decided, “Hey, I’ll be a Mormon! Free Lunch!”? Now, I will grant you that I am an iconoclast, and that the LDS is NOT my favorite dogmatic money-making-machine (converting Jewish Holocaust victims? WTF? Really? Paying out all of that cash to get Proposition 8 passed? Lots of Mormons with twisted undies and emptier pockets after that got revoked), along with the Roman Catholics and the whole Fundamentalist Protestant snake-handler groups…but I would think that being thought of as an ATM would begin to sting after a while, and that maybe, just maybe, they’re being a bit more circumspect about those approaching them with open…and empty…wallets, and a gleam in their eyes that’s got nothing to do with seeing the light of faith.

    Sort of like the sad person on the corner with the sign that says, “No job, Hungry, God Bless”, who won’t take the food voucher or sandwich you offer, and gets really peevish when you won’t offer cold, hard cash. O, my, yes.

  27. avatar impska says:

    Since when does someone have to earn Christian charity?

    What if she did join the church just for a handout – if she is truly in need, why wouldn’t the bishop see this as an opportunity to reach out to someone in need who is clearly ripe for conversion?

    What if she asked for money for inappropriate things? Shouldn’t the bishop have tried to help her in other ways, by offering her financial counseling (or linking her with someone in the congregation who could)?

    What if he really did forget her name innocently? Shouldn’t the bishop be making an effort to get to know new members of the congregation? Teachers with new classrooms of thirty students start learning names after a week – and this guy can’t handle one person?

    Yes, we’re only getting one side of the story, but it’s a bishop’s job to make all congregants and especially new congregants feel welcome. Maybe she has a horrible personality and she’s a greedy whiner: it’s still the bishop’s job to “handle” her in a way that makes her feel validated.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      @impska: we have no idea if the the bishop offered her help with finding financial aid, housing, food, clothing, education, medical/psychological/therapy sources, child care, employment or anything else, because the LW’s ONLY commentary is in regard to his refusal to give her direct financial help, which translates to me, and apparently to quite a few others, as a cash hand-out.

      She claims he couldn’t get her name right, but she also claims that he “didn’t like her right from the start” (to paraphrase). Based on what? She only goes on to say that he refused to give her money. How does “Christian Charity” equate to doling out cold cash to every recent “convert”? And mind you now…I’m no Christian, and am seriously suspicious of the concept of “Christian Charity”, especially given just how often it applies only to those who meet the myriad conventions, checks, dogmatic details and qualities, and rigorous standards of any given organization.

      I do so love this comment of yours: “What if she did join the church just for a handout – if she is truly in need, why wouldn’t the bishop see this as an opportunity to reach out to someone in need who is clearly ripe for conversion?”

      This seems to imply that it’s a really good thing for any church to find desperate people who are on the verge of ruin with no choices except those of the utterly wretched who will be willing to degrade themselves in almost any way…even by joining an organized dogmatic financial and power mongering religious institution…who will be at their weakest, and therefore willing to convert in the hope of material succor without much flinching at sacrificing their ethics and intellect. Oops…I’m projecting my own iconoclastic thoughts on just how religion works…but golly gee, you did sound just a whit cynical there yourself, whether you intended to do so or not.

      And I also happen to think that you’re absolutely right…so why DID the bishop, who even the LW admits is beloved of his people, turn her down twice, forget her name and “dislike” her? Why would he fail to validate her, as you (ugh) suggest he should? Could it be that there is something truly unsavory going on? Something…tacky? Something so noxious that even the heavily invested in conversion (even after you’re dead, you’re not safe) LDS doesn’t want any part of it? Could be…

      Much as I detest the LDS, and their Garments, and bicycle riding boichiks who bang on doors and proselytize, and converting Jewish Holocaust victims, and trying to intervene in human rights…I will admit to their history of generosity to those who honestly
      convert, and are in need. So, just maybe the LW is actually not deserving for some reason, of money or validation. Not everyone is, nor is everyone obligated to give till it hurts. Not even churches.

      If you think people are both obligated and deserving, I invite you to hang out in Houston, and donate cash to every “homeless” beggar you see. In a month, you’ll be living in worse conditions than they are…and they’ll be smoking…something, and laughing at you. I guarantee it. Of course, you could try food kitchen or shelter vouchers…but then you’ll be cursed and snarled at. Cash, baby, that’s where it’s at.

      • avatar impska says:

        I am actually not a member of a church, but I know that many churches “adopt” families who are not members of the congregation and help them out at Christmas time. I also know that when our local social services run out of cash at the beginning of the month to help people with their utilities and such, they can do nothing but hand out a list of local resources which includes churches.

        Either this lady is so desperate that she’s willing to join a religion that she doesn’t believe in, or she’s not actually in true need and she had joined this church body and soul. If she’s truly desperate, then she “deserves” help, under any definition of supposed Christian charity. If she’s an actual convert, then she “deserves” help (maybe not the cold hard cash kind, but guidance, certainly) simply by being a member of the congregation.

        As far as I know, the ideal of Christian charity isn’t “We’ll help them if they deserve it.” or “We’ll help them if we like them.” or “We’ll help them if they EARN it.” The ideal is “We’ll help them because they need help.”

        And if the bishop can’t handle being kind to people he dislikes (for whatever reason – I don’t buy that he’s discriminating against her for being disabled – and I’m sure her totally illogical leap of “other disabled people dislike him, so he must hate disabled people” is part of what is making commentators suspicious of her) – then he’s not suited to the job of a bishop. I share your “ugh” sentiment – that’s why I’m not a bishop.

        And as a final comment: if there is something truly unsavory going on with this LW, then perhaps it is also the bishop’s job to sit down with her and tell her exactly why he thinks so.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          @impska: “As far as I know, the ideal of Christian charity isn’t “We’ll help them if they deserve it.” or “We’ll help them if we like them.” or “We’ll help them if they EARN it.” The ideal is “We’ll help them because they need help.””

          As far as I know, and I’ve read the unabridged version of the Bible three times (nope, not a Christian…I’ve read a lot of religious texts) for comprehension, that’s one of the ideas behind the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Charity comes with no strings attached, no questions asked, etc. However, a lot of “Christians” seem to forget the “Christ” element in “Christian” and revert back to that good old time religion of the Old Testament and it proscribing against…well, you name it, there’s probably a taboo against it so pick your personal prejusices and ignore the others and you’ve got The Word to back you up, Say Hallelujah.

          In this case, and I base this on a high degree of familiarity with the LDS church and its very serious and generous charitable efforts, I don’t think that the LW was refused all help…just an offering of cash. I don’t think that people would have sent her to the highly regarded and obviously beloved bishop (she even admitted this about him) if he were an uncharitable and inhumane man) with the expectation that she’d be treated unfairly. One thing about the LDS, they work hard to get converts and treat them very well (and, to reiterate, the LDS’ charity is the ONLY thing good I will ever say about it…it’s second only to the Roman Catholic church in my personal Book of Loathsomeness). I think her beef is that she didn’t get money, and she’s furious about it…and all of the “he never liked me, he couldn’t remember my name, other disabled people don’t like him” are mostly fabrications and angry claims from a bitterly disappointed, and perhaps single-minded, person.

          As for him trying to talk to her about her situation…perhaps he did, but we’ll never know. That he did, and was honest with her may be the source of her anger. she may be that dysfunctional. We only have her side…and it’s a bitter, angry and very childish and unpleasant side at that.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            That would be “prejudices”, not whatever I wrote. I have insomnia, I am 53, I still have my monthly enemy and peri-menopause and cramps and an incipient migraine and I am in chainsawing dust-bunnies mode. And two of the felines just yarked hairballs on the floor. Please forgive all typos.

  28. avatar JaneG says:

    Morals notwithstanding, the only people with a RIGHT to live in an apartment for more than overnight are people who chip in on the rent. What we have here is a non-paying temporary tenant who is being supported by three rent-paying tenants. Do someone’s sexual “desires” really trump consideration for others who are paying cash money for rent, electricity, water, etc, which the non-paying tenant is also using freely? Putting roommates in this kind of predicament is extremely rude, not to mention selfish. If anyone needed to move out for a few weeks, it was the roommate whose desires overwhelmed his sense of duty to his paying roommates. His “guest” was living in THEIR space, too. Again: overnight? Feh. A month? Ante up, moochers.

  29. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: Your friend may well be a prig … prig or not, he apparently likes a modicum of privacy in the square footage of his own domain, without a girlfriend (or any third party) gumming up the works. 

    LW2: I wasn’t aware that joining a church was immediate grounds for accessing it as if it were a credit union.

  30. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: L#1: I’ve never imposed a male “boyfriend” on anyone. I also have never lived with room-mates. I think that it would have been impossible. I have OCD. I can barely stand when my very beloved MIL, or my much loved son or husband move things in my kitchen, get in my space while I’m cleaning, leave certain sorts of things lying around. I have extremely low noise tolerance as well (this is not always something I can control, it has to do with my bad wiring) and insomnia.

    I do understand the LW’s position, based on L#1, and his follow-up comments. It cost his girlfriend over one thousand dollars just for travel. It was the only time she visited that year. She contributed to groceries. She only spent two weeks (he clarified this in his comments, it really helps if you read ALL of the previous posts before making your own, you know) at the apartment. It was her first time in the US.

    Okay, fine. Bob had moral objections based on his Christian views. You knew this. Bob maintained these moral objections even in the face of your offer to sleep on the couch while your girlfriend slept in your room. I think that the latter goes a bit beyond dogmatic objections. I will not say that Bob was being a “prig”. Personally, and this is my opinion, and based also in the fact that he had no issue with a platonic friend crashing on the couch, I think Bob was jealous (and not in a homosexual sense) when you brought an actual female partner into the apartment, and used his religious moralizing to try to talk you out of your decision. Men will do this. You brought a female of interest into the man cave, and he resented the intrusion. It was a man’s place, and there was no room, or need for, the opposite sex and its attractions and distractions. A lot of Christian (Old Testament, at no time does Jesus Christ rail against any sexual activity between man and woman) dogma that demands celibacy, proscribes against premarital sex…or sex of any kind other than for procreation is based in the fact that women are a distraction, dangerous, and a temptation. A lot of men who are insecure, dislike women, or are afraid of them gravitate to this kind of dogmatic morality AND to all-male room-mate situations…and they do NOT want the status quo disrupted by those tempting, corrupting females. The fact that he said he’d leave, and did so, because she stayed does not make him a prig. His distancing himself from you is a mark of his immaturity and inability to cope with change and women in his life.

    All that said…my ex, right after our divorce, became room-mates with a woman. Completely platonic (I know this because on occasion he tried to change the status quo and was firmly rejected). She had a nice house, large and spacious, with a few simple rules. Such as meeting any potential over-night guests before they stayed the night. Well, my ex met a woman who was the antithesis of anyone that the female room-mate would have said, “Sure, why not” to…very into the drug scene, wanted to live in a commune, poor-little-trust-fund-baby who never had to work, just call daddy for cash. One weekend, he invites her over, they smoke a lid or two, she stays a few nights while the roomie is out-of-town…and one morning the roomie, who has come back during the night and has no idea that doofus is entertaining, goes into her kitchen and finds a scrawny, red-eyed, reeking, staggering stranger there, wearing one of HER bathrobes and eating HER food (my ex never shopped). She tried to kick her out, which started Ms.L ovely screaming, and woke up ex, who tried to explain. It didn’t work out too well, as it happened. There were not supposed to ever be over-night guests when one or the other was away. Two months later, she abruptly canceled their plans to buy a house together, and kicked him out.

    I know that this is an extreme instance…but consider this. Some people are very torqued by strangers in their home. I am. My husband, who is very easy going, my polar opposite, is also this way. It’s weird when people are in your space, when your natural patterns and actions are curtailed, when you aren’t sure where to sit, how to act, what to say. When the bathroom isn’t as accessible. When your comfort zone is altered. When your waking and bedtime may bother the guest…or theirs seriously disturb you. It could be even worse when it’s a single sex household…and you introduce an opposite sex partner of one of the “family”. That could be exceedingly awkward. No one wants to offend. Tempers fray. And everyone is a little, or a lot relieved when it’s over.

    In the end, you probably were selfish, though much younger and somewhat understandably, and probably should have tried very hard to make other arrangements. I would have even if it broke the bank. I’d want the privacy. As for your friend, I’d let well enough completely alone. His reasons may be a lot more than dogmatic objections…and he will never be able to explain them to you for very male reasons. Drop it, and let it roll.

  31. avatar John Lee says: