A Mormon Bishop in a Mississippi Ward resigned from his calling during a message he delivered in sacrament meeting in front of his ward. He asked to be released from his calling and wanted his ward to hear about it directly from him. He states it is not because of any sins or because he’s hiding anything. He explains that there have been “a few things that [he’s] been required to do that [he] personally cannot morally stand by.” So, rather than violate his personal morals and, as he references in D&C 121, exercise unrighteous dominion as he’s being asked to do, he is stepping down from his calling. He says the calling is difficult and exhausting because he has to keep everything to himself and this has built up to a breaking point.
Here’s the transcript of his message:
Two and half years ago when I was called to be bishop, President Richardson came to my home and sat down on my couch with my wife and I and issued the call. When he left the home, I was quite emotional, but I remember shutting the door behind him and the words from Section 121 came to my mind: “It is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority as they suppose, as THEY suppose, they begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” And the spirit said, “Don’t you ever do it.”
And I thought about it, and I never have. I was talking with Brother Torres this morning. You know the word Israel means, “we who wrestle with God”. I want to tell you about a wrestle I’ve had. Ernest Hemmingway once said, “The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving something or someone too much, and forgetting that you’re special too.”
I owe it to my ward family, to hear it from me. I’ve asked to be released. Not because of some sin. Not because I’m hiding something. Not at all. There’s just a few things that I’ve been required to do that I personally cannot morally stand by. I can’t. So I need to step down. For me, and for my family’s well being. It’s not been easy. I feel in many ways I’m failing the ward, and I know that this is hard to understand. But I have to be true to my feelings. I’ve been angry. Every Sunday people look at me and they’re like, “Man, bishop, something’s wrong.” I can’t do that to you. I won’t. I won’t do it. Because that turns to anger and bitterness and malevolence.
I’ve written down a few things if it’s okay if I just share my thoughts. Sometimes due to church culture we feel that we’re not supposed to turn down or step away from a calling. I wish I’d known it was okay to say to myself, “I’m not okay. I’m not as strong as I thought I was.” To seek excellence is important, that’s my life, to seek excellence. More, giving more, being successful. It’s so much more important to know that you’re okay. And I haven’t been okay. This calling, guys, is so hard. You have to keep everything to yourself. And it builds up, and it is exhausting. And it is breaking me.
I didn’t have good parents. I wish they would have told me I was enough, but they never have. And that whether I had worth or not wasn’t contingent on how I acted. We are not loved for what we do or what we are going to do, we are loved for who we are. Not an expectation, but who we are. And to feel love for who you are is the most sacred kind of love. It’s a gift that we have the opportunity to give to ourselves.
If I could just say one more thing towards the youth, because they are the reason I have stayed as long as I have. I love them. If there’s ever injustice in the world, young men and young women, there’s not many here, but listen. If there’s ever injustice in the world, fight it. If there’s ever a bully somewhere, stand up to it. And if you ever have something to say, just say it. Don’t fear. Get rid of fear. And if you don’t want to do that, that’s okay. You’re still enough. Instead of judgment choose compassion. Instead of division, see everyone as you living a different life. And remember–maybe I’ll say it like Alma– and remember remember that you’re enough. And everyone else is too. You are redeemed, you are always forgiven, no matter what. Jesus was a man who came to know the Christ. Seek Christ, seek only Christ.
I realize a lot of people are going to have a lot of questions, I do. Join the club. So do we. This has not been easy for my family, this has not been easy at all. This hasn’t been easy for anybody. And this is not going to continue to be easy, but we want you to know that we love you. I told Jeff this morning, I said, “If we get called for tornado work, he’s still riding shotgun.” I’m just not going to wear the silly shirt.
I know Brother Baily has prepared quite a bit for the next hour, so I’m going to sit down. But I want you to know that I love you. This is very hard for me. I know it’s hard for you. But I know it’s the right thing to do. Someone else who is better suited will do the job. So with that being said, let’s close out the meeting. It’s kind of ironic, by singing hymn number 227, “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today”! After which we’ll have a benediction, and I totally forgot who it was who was supposed to give the prayer.Mississippi Bishop, Sacrament Meeting
He quotes D&C 121 which discusses the natural tendency for men to gravitate toward unrighteous dominion as soon as they have any authority or power. He also quotes Ernest Hemingway, who stated that it is a painful thing to lose yourself in the process of loving someone (or something) too much and forgetting that you are special too!
The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.Ernest Hemingway
Men Without Women, 1927
Afterward, the Bishop in Mississippi received a flood of messages expressing love and understanding. He posted a follow-up video. He doesn’t clarify if he’s resigning only from his calling or resigning from the church as well, but he references the ex-mormon reddit in the thank you video and states he takes issue with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
Good morning, everybody. Exmo reddit. Mormon reddit. This is all fairly new to me.
We have to remember, that these people are just simply us who haven’t yet learned the truth. I don’t know what the answer is. Part of me thinks if we stop talking about it and just love them. Maybe. Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe we quit dogging Joseph and Brigham. Those people have heard it. They know. They’ve just been brainwashed. They can call it whatever they want but that’s what it is.
But, our family is doing okay. We have been struggling so much. We’ve taken advantage of friends in the church to help us cope with the realization of what we’ve come to know. So,this affects so many people. And people are so tender. And I don’t want to hurt people. Both, on either side, of Mormon and non-Mormon.
But just so you know, yesterday was extremely heavy. For me,yes, but more for my wife and my kids. We’re in Mississippi. There’s no exmo group in Mississippi. My kids are homeschooled, so their friends, I pray that their friends will remain true to them regardless of what they believe. But, I just wont subject my children to the programming anymore. No more FSY trips. No more camps. No, that’s where they abused me. We’re not going to do that. Things are changing.
The world is changing. Don’t believe the wars and the rumors you hear in the news. Yes, they’re real. But that’s all fog to put fear in the hearts and minds of the people. Look upward. Seek the higher self. That is where Christ is. He doesn’t come from the clouds. He comes from within.
We are so grateful for you guys–on both sides. I can’t believe the love I’ve seen. Yea, there are some assholes out there that just want to be negative. And that’s fine. Let them have it. I’ve been that guy. But thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for the love that you’ve made my family feel in a time where they felt nothing. You don’t know what you’ve done for me. So, I love you all. I pray that we may find peace. Y’all have a wonderful day.Mississippi Bishop (or former Bishop) in video shared on Reddit
This story shows the intense difficulty of standing up for what we know is right over what our church culture and leadership want us to do. If we bend our morals even for those we saw as the good guys, we are exercising unrighteous dominion, and are no longer a good guy.
Thank you Bishop for standing up for truth and honor and showing your integrity! Your words are an inspiration. We hope you are an example to many more and we can all soon say “Things are changing. The world is changing!” We invite you and any who have been affected by this story to consider sharing your story with the world. There are multiple podcasts to make a guest appearance on or if you wish to write your story, wasmormon is a platform enabling any ex-mormon to own and share their own story and also add it to the collection of stories.