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Temple recommend questions gone too far

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So the other day I was attending my temple recommend interview and the bishop asked if I am a full tithing payer, I said yes then he went on to ask how I pay tithing, I told him that I pay the church directly to cut out the middle man, the bishop asked why I pay it that way. I said because it's easy, and plus I like my privacy with not having others know how much money I make and give to the church. The bishop was not to happy about this, and kept prying in how I calculate my tithing, and how often I pay.

My question is would it be bad form to take this situation to the stake. I still have such a bad feeling about that line of questions.

Also a little bit more info when you pay the church directly the local ward recives no information about how much money you give.

Edited by Doctrine

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Also a little bit more info when you pay the church directly the local ward get no information about how much money you give.

I'm assuming you use what we call BPAY in Australia (using online banking and the Church's online biller code) when you talk about paying the Church directly. If that's the case (I could be wrong; you could be posting them cash for all I know), then the local ward, via MLS, certainly can see your donations and the dates they were made. It all shows on MLS - all members have their donation summaries (can't remember the exact word) printed from MLS at Tithing Settlement time.

Even at any other time, anyone with the MLS access for finances can print a record showing all donations made by a person between certain dates (dating back years if they so choose); this is possible regardless of whether said donations were made via traditional tithing-slip-given-to-Bishop methods or the online billing method.

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In the US, Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) to Church headquarters are not recorded in records sent to the local units.

Bishops should not be asking such invasive questions. You should first remind the bishop that the Church has stated that no one should be interpreting what constitutes tithing any further than "10% of of interest annually" which is understood to mean "income." If he doesn't back down, notify the stake president.

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Guest Doctrine
In the US, Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) to Church headquarters are not recorded in records sent to the local units.

Bishops should not be asking such invasive questions. You should first remind the bishop that the Church has stated that no one should be interpreting what constitutes tithing any further than "10% of of interest annually" which is understood to mean "income." If he doesn't back down, notify the stake president.

If he keeps bringing it up. I'll let him know and say that I'll need to talk with the stake about his line of questioning.

Also the feeling felt like I was being hit up for more money like he was a loan shark, that is why Iam concerned.

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So the other day I was attending my temple recommend interview and the bishop asked if I am a full tithing payer, I said yes then he went on to ask how I pay tithing, I told him that I pay the church directly to cut out the middle man, the bishop asked why I pay it that way. I said because it's easy, and plus I like my privacy with not having others know how much money I make and give to the church. The bishop was not to happy about this, and kept prying in how I calculate my tithing, and how often I pay.

My question is would it be bad form to take this situation to the stake. I still have such a bad feeling about that line of questions.

Also a little bit more info when you pay the church directly the local ward recives no information about how much money you give.

You are correct that in the US payments made direct to Salt Lake COB (regardless of how those payments are made) do not show on your local records.

The Full Tithe Payer question is a legitimate question.

Enquiring beyond that is walking a very fine line as they are not to deviate form the standard recommend questions; however, if the bishop has 1st hand knowledge or significant reason to believe something that may raise questions regarding your worthiness, he may & can enquire in a "broad sense".

So asking how you pay your tithes could possibly be legitimate as he may have known that your records at the ward level shows no tithes paid.

That said, once you said you pay direct to Salt Lake then his enquiry should have stopped & the recommend interview continued with the remaining questions.

Per Church Policy at COB, local leaders are not to promote nor discourage paying tithes & offerings directly to COB.

Discussing your concerns with the Stake President may be an okay thing to do.

If you do, you may want to have the donation confirmations that COB sends each month & year available. The Stake Prez probly won't care to look closely at them, I would guess a cursory glance would be sufficient.

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I suppose it depends on how much your bishop understands about EFT. I mean it is logical and understandable for a Bishop to question a status of Full tithe payer if his records show zero.

How quickly he understands the disconnect can vary greatly from Bishop to Bishop.

Although there is also the point were the Bishop needs to realize that a whole a lot of the the interview depends of the interviewees honesty.

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The bishop is only supposed to ask whether or not you are a full tithe payer or actually which of the three you are: full tithe, partial or none.

Disagree. The bishop is to make sure his members understand the principle of tithing. And then respect their choice on how they pay or not.

If a bishop sees a zero balance and hears a declaration of 'Full Tithe payer' he might easily assume that the person does not understand until he ask further questions.

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I'm not sure why you'd need to go to the Stake President unless the bishop is actually threatening some sort of action against you. The fact that he's asking things he should not is a simple matter to handle. Answer the questions that you don't mind answering and are appropriate or merely inquisitive. On the inappropriate questions, tell him it's none of his business. Unless he threatens to take away your temple recommend or something else like that there's no reason to escalate it, imo.

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We weren't in the room.

I agree with estradling75 that it is the Bishop's job to teach and emphasize the correct doctrines, and then help understand how the member is a full tithe payer - despite local records that could mean the opposite.

We don't know if the Bishop was patronizing or clarifying. We also don't know how Doctrine really responded - with defensiveness, or being very calm.

In essence, this isn't about the 'technicalities', but about HOW the interview was conducted and the Spirit that should've been there, but was probably lost due to a feeling of contention.

I'd have to leave it to Doctrine to determine if he wanted to talk to the Stake President about it. Since you'll need to talk to them for your second signature anyway, you may feel it appropriate to bring it up.

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General question for anyone who feels they have an answer:

What is strange or out of line about the bishop asking how one is calculating tithing and how often they pay it?

I don't understand the dilemma.

-Finrock

Temple recommend questions are scripted specifically so that variations of this sort don't happen. As I understand it, the interview should generally be conducted verbatim.

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Good Afternoon Wingnut. I hope you're doing well! :)

Temple recommend questions are scripted specifically so that variations of this sort don't happen. As I understand it, the interview should generally be conducted verbatim.

What if the questions about tithing are being asked outside a temple recommend interview?

I don't really know if the temple recommend questions are to be followed verbatim (I mean this sincerely). I think bishops have an obligation to teach, clarify, and minister to members of their congregation. From my experience as well bishops are many times prompted by the Spirit to ask or to say things that are outside of the Temple Recommend questions.

But in any event what I don't understand is how or in what way is it inappropriate, crossing a line, etc. for the bishop to ask how one determines tithing and how often one pays it?

-Finrock

Edited by Finrock
Grammar. Clarification.

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Bishops and bishopric members have stewardship to ask additional questions if necessary. If a bishop is informed about a member's unworthiness, or some other aspect, then yes, the bishop or bishopric member can ask additional questions. In one of the Worldwide leadership training question Elder Hyring touched base on this.

Example, bishop receives letter from ex-spuose about not receiving child support. In the temple recommend we ask, if you are required to pay child support, do you pay? If the member says yes, the bishop is well within his stewardship to ask clarifying questions because of the information he has received.

The bishop or bishopric member conducting the interview do indeed ask additional questions, especially if the question is induced by the spirit, or by some other information.

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So the other day I was attending my temple recommend interview and the bishop asked if I am a full tithing payer, I said yes then he went on to ask how I pay tithing, I told him that I pay the church directly to cut out the middle man, the bishop asked why I pay it that way. I said because it's easy, and plus I like my privacy with not having others know how much money I make and give to the church. The bishop was not to happy about this, and kept prying in how I calculate my tithing, and how often I pay.

This, to me, is really weird. When I set up a bank account at the Wells Fargo at BYU, I was told specifically that the Church prefers wire transfers for tithing because it reduces overhead at the ward level. I was even coached through setting it up by one of the Wells Fargo employees before leaving. It makes sense: each ward counts up their tithing funds after each Sunday and sends it to Church HQ anyway.

If your Bishop wants proof, you could always send him copies of the donation receipts that Church HQ sends you when you do a wire transfer.

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On the other side of the fence, one guy in our ward is quite a character. He holds some rather interesting ideas about how things work and how they should work.

Here's his deal: Whenever he earns money, he immediately converts it into gold eagles, official gold bullion coin of the U.S. So, if he makes $60,000 in a year, he converts it into somewhere between 40 and 50 one ounce coins, depending on current prices. Then, he takes a look at the back of the coin:

american-gold-eagle.jpg

See where it says "1 Oz. Fine gold - 50 Dollars"?

So, he takes his 45 coins, multiplies by $50 per coin, gets $2250 for an answer. In his mind, according to the US govt per the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985, he made $2250 for that year. At tithing settlement, he shows up with $225 in cash, which he gives it to the bishop (along with a lecture about the evils of FIAT currency).

(I got this story directly from this guy, during one tithing settlement.)

Not sure what the current bishop does with him, but my last bishop thanks him, gives him a hug, and asks the guy to tell him if he ever wants to get serious about paying tithing. I don't know if dood gets his temple recommend signed, it's none of my business.

*shrug*

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I once attended a Sr. leadership meeting presided over by an apostle. During Q&A, a bishop asked about worthiness interviews, where the bishop had strong reasons to believe a member was lying, but no conclusive proof. The apostle said to follow the spirit, and in absence of guidance from the Lord, to sign the recommend. His reasoning was that both the worthiness interview and temple attendance, were opportunities for folks to account for their stewardships to the Lord, and if a member decided to lie, that was between the member and the Lord. The bishop shouldn't act without conclusive proof, or clear direction of the spirit.

There is also a story floating around out there, about a critic lady who decided to "play mormon" with the intent of getting the temple ceremony on hidden video. She lied to get her TR, attended the temple, took the video, and then grew a conscience. She met with the bishop to hand over the video and her TR, assuming she'd be excommunicated. The bishop thought/listened for a moment, and asked her if she'd be willing to hold on to her TR, and go through a period of soul searching to see what exactly she wanted to do with it. She fasted, prayed, and then decided to repent, and worthily attended the temple a period of time later. (I know, I know, it's a story I heard on the internet. It was supposedly written by the lady, who signed her name to it, but yeah, I got it off the internet, so take it for what it's worth.)

Edited by Loudmouth_Mormon

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According to the Church Handbook of Instructions, Bishops are not to "add any requirements to those that are outlined in the temple recommend book." 1:11

That would include doing exactly what that Bishop is doing. This counsel is outlined again in the temple recommend book, they are *not* to ask anything in additional to the temple recommend question. I believe they are able to clarify questions but not ask questions that aren't outlined in the TR book.

I would say take it up the ladder. Who knows if he is going overboard with other members. I knew a Bishop who would deny temple recommends if they drank energy drinks. He made this a temple recommend question for his ward. It is completely wrong and should NOT be happening. It may be innocent but needs to stop.

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According to the Church Handbook of Instructions, Bishops are not to "add any requirements to those that are outlined in the temple recommend book." 1:11

That would include doing exactly what that Bishop is doing. This counsel is outlined again in the temple recommend book, they are *not* to ask anything in additional to the temple recommend question. I believe they are able to clarify questions but not ask questions that aren't outlined in the TR book.

I would say take it up the ladder. Who knows if he is going overboard with other members. I knew a Bishop who would deny temple recommends if they drank energy drinks. He made this a temple recommend question for his ward. It is completely wrong and should NOT be happening. It may be innocent but needs to stop.

Asking about energy drinks is an additional question. Asking about tithing is not - because it's in the temple recommend interview.

How is a bishop supposed to discern the faithfulness of members if he can't ask for clarification?

My story: I got asked the tithing question. I answered No. The bishop was taken aback and asked me why I said No. I said, I did not give 10%. He asked me why that is. And we got into a discussion of how that all came about, etc., with more questions and answers surrounding my tithing. The bishop gave me a recommend.

A bishop is not a robot asking scripted questions. Otherwise, the interview can be accomplisehd by just filling out a form that you can fill out and drop off at the bishop's office.

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Good Afternoon livy111us. I hope you are having a good day! :)

According to the Church Handbook of Instructions, Bishops are not to "add any requirements to those that are outlined in the temple recommend book." 1:11

That would include doing exactly what that Bishop is doing. This counsel is outlined again in the temple recommend book, they are *not* to ask anything in additional to the temple recommend question. I believe they are able to clarify questions but not ask questions that aren't outlined in the TR book.

I would say take it up the ladder. Who knows if he is going overboard with other members. I knew a Bishop who would deny temple recommends if they drank energy drinks. He made this a temple recommend question for his ward. It is completely wrong and should NOT be happening. It may be innocent but needs to stop.

Although I am trying to understand this perspective I keep coming up against the fact that asking questions about tithing is not the same as adding requirements.

The sense I am getting from some posters is that there is something intrinsically wrong with a bishop asking specific questions about tithing during a temple recommend interview. That idea is foreign to me. I think the idea that a bishop must follow a strict script when doing temple recommend interviews is not correct. They should not add or take away from the requirements for a temple recommend but they can ask questions that aren't included in the temple recommend interviews.

I would go so far as to say that a bishop is well within his right to ask or say anything that he is prompted or inspired to say through the Spirit of God. Certainly a bishop has a right and an obligation as a judge in Israel to determine if one is keeping their tithing covenants.

-Finrock

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Asking about energy drinks is an additional question. Asking about tithing is not - because it's in the temple recommend interview.

How is a bishop supposed to discern the faithfulness of members if he can't ask for clarification?

My story: I got asked the tithing question. I answered No. The bishop was taken aback and asked me why I said No. I said, I did not give 10%. He asked me why that is. And we got into a discussion of how that all came about, etc., with more questions and answers surrounding my tithing. The bishop gave me a recommend.

A bishop is not a robot asking scripted questions. Otherwise, the interview can be accomplished by just filling out a form that you can fill out and drop off at the bishop's office.

Additional questions about tithing would fall into that category. If they start asking about net or gross, how often you pay, how you calculate it, then yes, it is an additional question/requirement.

After I discovered what this Bishop was doing (he's a family member and not my Bishop) I did some research on this question. A friend of mine, who is also a Bishop, had a discussion about this as well. He showed me where it said exactly that the Bishop should not stray from the TR questions. If they answer "no" to any questions then the interview is over and then they can discuss the issue at hand or schedule another appointment. I don't know how many perform the TR interview exactly how it is supposed to be performed, but it is the way that is laid out by the Church.

Does anyone have the Temple Recommend book with the exact wording on how the procedure is supposed to take place? I think that might clear up any confusion.

Edited to add:

I found it online. It isn't black and white as I remember it but advises not to deviate from the outlined questions.

"Generally, do not deviate from the recommend interview questions. If, during an interview, an applicant asks about the propriety of specific conduct, do not pursue the matter. Merely suggest that if the applicant has enough anxiety about the propriety of the conduct to ask about it, the best course would be to discontinue it. If you are sensitive and wise, you usually can prevent those being interviewed from asking such explicit questions."

I still do not believe that Bishop was acting appropriately by pursuing a specific answer regarding tithing. It is either a yes or no. We have been told countless times that it is between us and the Lord.

Edited by livy111us

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Good Afternoon livy111us. I hope you are having a good day! :)

Although I am trying to understand this perspective I keep coming up against the fact that asking questions about tithing is not the same as adding requirements.

The sense I am getting from some posters is that there is something intrinsically wrong with a bishop asking specific questions about tithing during a temple recommend interview. That idea is foreign to me. I think the idea that a bishop must follow a strict script when doing temple recommend interviews is not correct. They should not add or take away from the requirements for a temple recommend but they can ask questions that aren't included in the temple recommend interviews.

I would go so far as to say that a bishop is well within his right to ask or say anything that he is prompted or inspired to say through the Spirit of God. Certainly a bishop has a right and an obligation as a judge in Israel to determine if one is keeping their tithing covenants.

-Finrock

Hello, Finrock!

Why yes, I'm having a wonderful day, thanks for asking! I hope you are also enjoying this beautiful day (at least it is beautiful in Utah).

The way I understand the situation, and I may be reading too much into it, is that the Bishop was trying to hold the OP to the Bishop's standards with tithing.

Hmmmm..... Actually, after re-reading the OP he was probably acting accordingly. My guess is that he knew that the OP was not paying tithing (at least through the ward and they didn't have record of it) and was confused that the OP answered in the affirmative that he/she did pay tithing and wanted clarification. I misunderstood the situation, most likely because I've seen several Bishop's be a little too liberal with the TR interview questions.

To the OP, I don't think you need to take it up the chain. I'd sit down with him to work it out between the two of you to figure out what he as thinking. It was most likely innocent but if not, then the SP needs to know about it.

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Was always taught to ask in this case ....are you a full tithe payer and you answer yes....then yes it is. Also was told to repeat question if you had an impression to do so...

Wondering how new your Bishop has been serving?

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