Tattle

October 1, 2009 | 92 comments
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Someone feels the need to tattle on us to the bishop every so often. Okay, it’s only been twice (that I know of) in the last two decades, and it’s been about my husband because, unlike him, I’m just not that controversial. (Are you worried about the Times and Seasons blog thing? You’re too late. I already confessed.) But let’s talk anyway. I don’t get it. Perhaps I’m just a religious libertarian at heart because I’m really racking my brain to think of what would make me call the executive secretary, schedule a little chat with the bishop, and go tell on my neighbors.

This is my point of view (and, yes, they are real scenarios):

Know a ward member lied about doing home teaching? Not my problem. He, his conscience, and Heavenly Father can work it out.

See a ward member with beer in her grocery cart? Not my problem. Maybe she makes beer bread or does a beer hair rinse. Even if that’s not her plan, it’s not my problem. (Except for drunk driving in the neighborhood. That’s my problem, and I call the police.)

Notice a ward member digging a basement with a backhoe while on my way to church? Totally not my problem. Not going to look nor care. Teach them correct principles and etc.

Fighting with a ward member over a fence line or a dirty yard? Try talking. Or, if it escalates, mediation—and I’m not talking mediation in front of a Judge in Israel.

Okay, okay—I’ll admit that there was one time I tattled. I felt a student was in danger of harming herself. I asked my immediate supervisor what I should do and followed her suggestion: I first talked to the student and indicated that I was concerned but had no expertise to help, and I reminded her that many options for help were available, often free of charge at the university. Then I contacted her bishop. To the bishop, I said, “I’m really worried about [name].” He said, “Yes, I counsel with her weekly.” I said, “Thanks. I’m really glad you are aware of her needs and are helping her. Good-bye.”

After running through dozens of scenarios, I have come up with a few other situations that might involve tattling. I have decided that I would contact a bishop if a sexual predator had unknowingly been placed in a position to harm children (though how I would know that when no one else did is a bit of a mystery to me). And I know someone who felt like he should contact a bishop because that bishop’s first counselor had joined a fundamentalist group and was a practicing polygamist. That would have been a hard one, I guess.

I’m sure there are other situations, and I’m here waiting for you to tell me what they are. But, as far as I’m concerned, there are very, very few times to become an ecclesiastical tattler, and the motivation to do so baffles me. So, please, enlighten me. When is the appropriate time to tattle?

(Exception for my kids: I need my kids to tattle on each other. They miss important tattling opportunities and cause me trouble: “HELLO! Why didn’t you TELL ME your sister was scribbling on the walls while I was typing?”)

92 Responses to Tattle

  1. Kylie Turley on October 1, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    While you’re at it, could someone please clarify if it’s “tattle tell” or “tattle tale”? I’m suddenly not sure what it is that I’ve been saying all my life.

  2. annegb on October 1, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    In my experience, the church cares more about who’s drinking a cup of coffee now and then, than who raped the girl down the street.

  3. Kent Larsen on October 1, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Kylie, I agree with your sentiment. But now you have me wondering exactly what your husband was doing to draw the attention of those who tattled.

    I know, its none of my business.

    [FWIW, my "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" doesn't list "Tattle tale" -- sorry I can't help.]

  4. queuno on October 1, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    You live in a strange and twisted world, annegb. I’m glad for it, because it adds to my perspective…

  5. Justine on October 1, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    predators and eminent violence. And if I feel the need to butt in other than that, it should be private and one-on-one. The poor Bishop isn’t the babysitter for 500 people.

    I can only imagine what happened. Politics…

  6. Peter LLC on October 1, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    It may be an issue of jurisdiction, annegb. While your bishop gets paid to worry about WoW violations, he may feel it appropriate to leave felonies to the criminal justice system.

  7. Kylie on October 1, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    This is off-topic for tattling, but it relates to annegb: I just heard a beautiful story from an extended family member about young girl who was the victim of a high profile crime. President Hinckley called her and her family personally and invited them to visit the next day, which they did. He listened and spoke with them for quite some time before giving her a personal and specific blessing. The family feels this blessing has very much created a path for her healing.

    I should mention that in both of our brushes with tattling, I have no problems with how the respective bishops reacted. My concern is more about why someone tattles in the first place. What do they think it will accomplish?

  8. adam e. on October 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I always thought it was “tattle tail”, like a cat or something.

    I would tell on someone if I thought it would help advance my chances of advancing in Church leadership positions. That’s about it.

    In seriousness, I’ve thought about this recently, because one ward member has been interacting with a step-child in creepily-affectionate-but-not-obviously-wrong way. I was wondering whether a “general feeling of creepiness” is enough to go talk to the Bishop. I decided it wasn’t.

  9. Martin on October 1, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t have a problem with tattling. If someone feels concerned enough about something, I don’t see any harm with bringing it to the bishop, as long as they simply share the facts. Maybe I’m too idealistic, but my personal experience with bishops has been good, and they seem to know what to act on and what to leave alone.

    What I do have a problem with is busybodies and rumor spreaders. The first is a tattler who is unwilling to simply leave it to the bishop — they feel a need to nag him into action or decide to take some action themselves. The second is a tattler who tattles to random people in the ward, rather than the bishop.

    I think tattling on youth (to the bishop) can accomplish a lot. With adults, not so much.

  10. Kylie on October 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    That one would take some thinking, adam e. A feeling of creepiness isn’t a great reason to damage someone’s reputation, but, on the other hand, every rape and abuse training I’ve been to (I used to volunteer for the Utah Valley Rape Crisis Team) will tell you to “trust your gut feelings.” I do not envy you that decision.

    But telling on someone so you could advance to their church leadership position would be excellent. The information probably wouldn’t even have to be true. It would work out perfectly–if you want to lead and have other people come tattle to you, I mean.

  11. Kylie on October 1, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I agree, Martin. I might have to re-think my position a bit. I’d rather a seriously-concerned person talk to the bishop and leave it there than gossip with the whole ward.

    About youth: wouldn’t you prefer the tattler tell the parents?

  12. Mark B. on October 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    It’s “tattle tale.” It just is. Don’t ask how I know. Just like it’s “buck naked.” And try a different “tack.”

    As to tattling, maybe I could have avoided all those years in church callings if only someone had seen me coming out of the bar with the guys I played basketball with, and told the bishop. Or the stake president, if it was while I was the bishop.

    I think D&C 42 has an answer: if you are “offended” by someone, take it up with him or her directly.

  13. Vader on October 1, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    “… and etc.”

    That’s an unnecessary redundancy. Who’s your bishop again?

    But seriously, I don’t think the question is so much what situations warrant approaching the bishop, but what our motivation is in doing so. If I approach the bishop because I’m genuinely concerned for a brother’s spiritual welfare, I’m not sure how I can go far wrong. The bishop will likely correct me if I’m out of line.

    On the other hand, if I approach the bishop with the desire to get my brother “in trouble”, it wouldn’t matter if the neighbor had, in fact, raped Nancy Pelosi in front of the entire House. My motives are wrong and I am heaping damnation on my own soul.

    Curiously, the fact someone is talking to the bishop in private, rather than to the ward gossip in Relief Society, is a clue that her motivation is probably a good one. Not proof, but a good sign. In your case, Kylie, there’s something about the tone that suggests the neighbor was motivated by the desire to get your husband in trouble. I hope that’s not actually the case, but we all know people like that.

  14. bfwebster on October 1, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    In my experience, the church cares more about who’s drinking a cup of coffee now and then, than who raped the girl down the street.

    Anne, I love you dearly, but having spent much of the past 35 years in PEC meetings (and several of those years in bishopric meetings) in a variety of states and wards, I strongly disagree, and you slander the vast majority of thoughtful, loving men and women who serve in local Church leadership. Just sayin’. ..bruce..

  15. Bored in Vernal on October 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Vader, I really wonder about motivations, too. Earlier this year three different members of my ward felt compelled to inform my Bishop that I had written a post on my blog titled, “Why I would totally sleep with Joseph Smith.”

    Given that it was three different members tattling, I suppose I understand why he felt it necessary to call me in. But he DID have some trouble deciding what, exactly, to charge me with…

  16. Carol on October 1, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve learned that too often we expect church leaders to deal with legal matters. When we see abuse, we need to contact the police first not our bishop. If you see a friend or neighbor being abused, document the abuse in every way possible (journal dates and exact things heard and seen; take pictures if possible.)

  17. Natalie on October 1, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Kind of off topic but not really, what are your thoughts on going to the Bishop when you have financial troubles?

    Here comes my true story: I was having lunch with a friend and in the middle of her tacos she announced that she and her husband were three days from losing their apartment due to late payments, and that she was going to talk to the Bishop that night and ask for money. She’s gotten money from the Bishop before and had mentioned it to me that time, too. I guess I just thought the first time was such an out of the ordinary thing to do that when she mentioned doing it again I started to wonder if this is more common than I thought (I’d never heard of it before) or if this woman was really coming from left field. I know that fast offerings are often used to help families in the ward who are in need, and that is why we have the Bishop’s storehouse, etc., but still, I am alone on this one?

  18. JES on October 1, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    What do you do if someone told you why they weren’t coming to church anymore (harassment by a select few church members who have mucho problems of their own), but they haven’t gone to the bishop themselves about the problem. Is it tattling to say something to the bishop – “oh, by the way, so and so is having some serious problems with something, I thought you might want to be aware so maybe you could talk to them and help resolve the issue” – or would that be betraying a confidence? Does it make a difference if you’re on the ward council?

  19. Kylie on October 1, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Natalie (#17), there’s an article in the October Ensign that might interest you on receiving church welfare. If I were not so technologically challenged, I would figure out how to link to it. Alas . . . The title is “Freely Given, Gratefully Received” by Tonja-Maree Davis. You ask a good question: I was taught to rely on (1) self; (2) extended family; (3) possibly government programs (ie, Baby Your Baby); and–as a final resort–(4) the church.

    #16–I’ve been wondering about legal situations, too. I would tend to err on the side of letting legal authorities deal with legal problems and spiritual leaders deal with spiritual problems. But I suppose the question is when those two get intermeshed. Would you tell the bishop if you thought someone was lying in a business dealing? (It would be legal fraud but spiritually crippling as well.)

    Does anyone know: are bishops trained on this sort of thing? I know they have to report a confession of child abuse. Do they have to report tattling about child abuse (how could they? it’s just hearsay, isn’t it?)? What about confession of other crimes and tattling about other crimes?

  20. Marc Bohn on October 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Miriam-Webster says “Tattletale”.

    And Google seems to agree:

    Tattle Tale: 470,000 results
    Tattle-Tale: 469,000 results
    Tattletale: 395,000 results

    Tattle Tell: 362,000 results
    Tattle-Tell: 154,000 results
    Tattletell: 48,200 results

    Tattle Tail: 29,100 results
    Tattle-Tail: 161,000 results
    Tattletail: 154,000 results

  21. Rob Perkins on October 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I had a situation come up once where some gossip reached me that a young person in the ward was behaving self destructively, and another young person didn’t know whether to intervene.

    I went to the Bishop, told him what I’d heard and who the source was, and that I didn’t know the name of the troubled youth. He already knew more than I did about it all and thanked me for the discretion, expressing dismay that the source of the gossip was talking about it at all.

  22. Rob Perkins on October 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    It’s “Tattle Tale”; one is relating a tale. “Buck Naked” refers to the fact that male deer have no clothes. Taking a different “tack” is a sailboating reference; you change the tack of the sail or rigging or whatever to change the course of the boat.

    You’re welcome. :-D

  23. Peter on October 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    I have some qualms about using the word “tattle” in the context of sexual abuse or physical harm. If you genuinely are of the reasonable belief that someone is harming his- or herself or others, or that there is a case of abuse, that’s not tattling. That’s being a responsible adult, and in many cases it may be required by law (although I’ll be the first to admit that it’s terribly unclear in many jurisdictions). Neighborhood squabbles? That’s just tattling. Abuse or physical threats? That’s a moral obligation to protect.

    Also, I agree with Justine (#5) about doing the communication privately and respectfully.

  24. gst on October 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    This is a great post.

    Here’s my list of neighbor behavior that must be reported to the bishop out of concern for your neighbor’s spiritual safety:

    Sunday shopping
    Oakland Raiders boosterism
    Pool pump too loud
    Neighbor digging pit for you
    All violations of HOA bylaws
    Loud music with inappropriate lyrics after 9:30 p.m.
    Any loud music after 10:00 p.m.
    Watching TV shows with smoking with curtains open
    Suggestive garden figurines (e.g. http://ivyswoodcreations.com/garden/group_garden.jpg)

    Other than that stuff, I say “live and let live.”

  25. Ducheznee on October 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    If a tattle-tale/tell/tail-worthy matter is of such a serious nature as to be of interest to law enforcement officials, the Bishop is likely to find out anyway and will take the appropriate course of action with the member in question.

    Otherwise, in most cases where “tattling” is presumed to be warranted, I believe the proper channels should be respected according to the organization laid out by the Lord: home teacher –> quorum leadership (if necessary) –> Bishop (if necessary) –> Stake Pres. (if necessary) –> Salt Lake (if necessary). As Justine (#5) correctly stated, the Bishop isn’t a babysitter. The organization of the Church is designed to ensure that the Bishops (and higher) can focus on the really important stuff. We, as members, need to respect the Bishop’s time and mantle.

    Having served as an EQP for several years, it really sucks to sit in PEC/WC/Welfare and have the Bishop tell quorum leaders about certain issues that involve quorum members – stuff that the quorum leaders should have been either handling themselves or taking to the Bishop. Not the other way around.

    Use your best judgment.

  26. Bro. Jones on October 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Ever since the mother of my high school girlfriend received a “revelation” that I had kidnapped her daughter and was in the process of taking her virtue, I’ve been reluctant to involve people outside my immediate family based on hunches.

    Two interesting notes: 1) at the time she had this revelation, her daughter and I were studying for a physics test and we ran out to Taco Bell for a snack. 2) on a later date when, uh, there may or may not have been some diminishing of virtue, there was no revelation received.

  27. gst on October 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm
  28. Starfoxy on October 1, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I think the only time it is appropriate to tattle on someone is if their behavior is or would be effecting their calling (ie pedophiles shouldn’t be serving in Primary) or if their behavior is hurting someone else and in those cases in may be best to just go to law enforcement.

    I think just about everything else we should studiously ignore or deal with it ourselves.

  29. Kevin Barney on October 1, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    It’s tattletale, one word. From the Online Etymological Dictionary:

    tattle
    1481, “to stammer, prattle,” in Caxton’s translation of “Reynard the Fox,” probably from M.Flem. tatelen “to stutter,” parallel to M.Du., M.L.G., E.Fris. tateren “to chatter, babble,” possibly of imitative origin. The meaning “tell tales or secrets” is first recorded 1581. Sense influenced by tittle. Tattletale formed in Eng. 1888, probably patterned on telltale (1548).

  30. reader Rachel on October 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    In both my previous ward and branch, I got tattled out to the bishop/branch president about “inappropriate” books I’d recommended for the RS-sponsored book group. Believe it or not, one of the offending books was The Screwtape Letters. (Others were Siddartha and The Poet and the Madman). Of course, the tattler, in both cases, neither read the books nor attended the discussion.

  31. gst on October 1, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Ducheznee (#25), you give some remarkably bad advice that should be rebutted: “[I]n most cases where ‘tattling’ is presumed to be warranted, I believe the proper channels should be respected according to the organization laid out by the Lord: home teacher –> quorum leadership (if necessary) –> Bishop (if necessary) –> Stake Pres. (if necessary) –> Salt Lake (if necessary).”

    Wrong. If you think the bishop needs to know something, especially something sensitive, tell the bishop, tell him directly, and tell no one else.

  32. Ardis Parshall on October 1, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    gst, you’re going to have to rat out half the attendees at the-Relief-Society-meeting-that-used-to-be-known-as-Enrichment craft nights.

  33. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 1, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    In my years in a branch presidency, attending ward councils, and high councils, I have NEVER heard a discussion about anyone’s Word of Wisdom problem. I HAVE been involved in church disciplinary council proceedings involving abuse of children, and have voted to excommunicate the perpetrators and (because of my training as a prosecutor) explained to my fellow council members that sexual abusers of children are seriously compulsive in their behavior, have a difficult time reforming, and usually lie about it at every stage. If any young person goes to his or her bishop to report abuse by a family member or someone in the ward, and the bishop does not act on it, then he or she should immediately go to the stake presidency. This is, of course, in addition to the police.

    Because we have no professional clergy, there is a finite probability that someone in your bishopric or stake leadership is or has been involved in law enforcement in some way, as a police officer, social worker and counselor, probation officer, attorney or judge. My understanding is that the Church provides specific guidance about the duty of ecclesiastical leaders to report to legal authorities serious crimes such as sexual abuse.

    If you perceive some behavior of an adult toward a child as unusual and “creepy”, you should report what you observed to your bishop. He may have other information that, together with the information you give him, can lead him to make further inquiries with the affected people.

    Anyone who has been in the Church for decades knows of people whom they had no suspicion of who were in fact committing serious sins. One inactive man whom I saw at work confessed to the high council that he had been engaging in serial adultery with various women for several years. His guilt finally drove him to confess, leading to one of those excommunications in which everyone foresaw a much better situation down the road as he completed the steps of sincere repentance.

    I have seen a number of members who seemed within the range of normal Mormons who were identified as child sexual abusers, often by brave children and brave parents who took their children seriously. People in my own extended family have been both victims and, in one case, a perpetrator. Sadly, some of the former become the latter. The impact on children, and the adults they become, of sexual abuse is so great that we should err on the side of reporting to both Church and law enforcement officials any evidence we have of such acts.

    How would we know about them, and not the bishop? We might be teaching a Primary class in which a child says something shocking. A neighbor may break down in a private moment and confess that he or she suspects a spouse of doing something awful. When we are acting as home teachers or visiting teachers, we may witness actions or artifacts that are evidence. We should take such concerns to our bishop, so that other information can be accumulated, and the bishop can take appropriate action. In particular, the Church itself might be held legally liable if abuse is not reported in proper channels and action is not taken.

    There is a tendency for some members to refuse to believe that such acts could be committed by someone in their own family, or ward. There is a tendency, because of our belief in forgiveness through repentance, to think that such abuse might have been a single instance of which the actor has now repented and therefore should not be taken to the bishop. But just as we would not think it proper to arrogate to ourselves the role of laying judgment on a neighbor, we should not arrogate to ourselves the role of judging our neighbor free of sin when we have incomplete information and no position entitling us to make such determinations.

    As to the bishop’s counselor who had become a secret polygamist: How could you not report such a thing to the bishop? The man was a walking lie, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a deceiver who was in a position to ruin the lives and testimonies of many people. He has made himself our enemy. While some people might be misguided though sincere in joining a polygamous sect, anyone like that who plays at being a member in good standing is a predator. Such predatory behavior is an all too frequent occurrence among the apostate polygamist groups. While excommunications are not announced generally as they used to be, in the case of such a false leader, it would be necessary to announce his excommunication and the reason for it in the adult priesthood and Relief Society meetings to ensure that he would have no opportunity to commit further deceptions.

  34. gst on October 1, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Ardis, are they responsible for the suggestive garden art?

  35. jimbob on October 1, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    “Earlier this year three different members of my ward felt compelled to inform my Bishop that I had written a post on my blog titled, ‘Why I would totally sleep with Joseph Smith.’”

    Yes, because how could anyone misconstrue that title as possibly heretical? I mean, what were those rubes thinking?

    I’m sorry; I don’t mean for that to come off as mean as it probably sounds, but a pet peeve of mine is when people deliberately do something to draw attention to themselves and then complain about the attention. I read the article when you posted it, and there’s not much in there particularly offensive to me, but by picking the title you did, you had to know that some people might think you were going off the doctrinal deep end.

  36. Matt W. on October 1, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Real situations where I’ve “tattled”:

    Someone was starving and wouldn’t request a food order

    Someone was being evicted

    Someone wasn’t taking meds due to lack of funding

    Someone I had stewardship over didn’t think they could go to the temple due to some sins they’d committed

    Someone was dying and needed to make funeral plans but was putting it off

    Someone had cancer but was too stubborn to ask relief society for meals during chemotherapy

    Someone was raped

    A teacher was of youth was threatening them with violence if they didn’t comply with his requests for “respect”, going so far as to wrestle a 16 year old to the ground.

    Two teens in the ward had sex and ALL the youth were talking about it (yet the bishop was unaware)

    Someone lost their Job

    Someone had a mental disorder and kept talking to the investigators about missionaries beating him up as a child

    Are these wrong? Judge me.

  37. Hunter on October 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Kylie, I don’t mean to sound cynical, but I think part of the answer to when you tattletale (thank you, Kevin Barney) is: it depends on who your bishop is. Some personalities are just more prone to view ostensible misbehavior as a cry for help, while others are more prone to view it as a call for punishment.

    By the way, if I ever heard that someone tried to tattletale on me inappropriately, I would demand that the bishop have the accusor make the accusation to my face.

  38. Hunter on October 1, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    And to follow-up on my comment about how it depends on who the bishop is, I’ve seen one bishop who was uncomfortably lax with a recently-released-from-prison s*x offender (I took the time to say something in that case about something I thought was inappropriate), and I’ve also seen a bishop who was uncomfortably harsh with a sister who is going through a period of questioning her beliefs (in that case, I would be loathe to talk with that bishop about anyone’s moment of doubt for fear he might take precipitous action).

  39. Ducheznee on October 1, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    @ gst (#31) – You must have missed my catch-all “Use your best judgment” at the end of my post. That allows for you (or anyone) to circumvent the prescribed channels according to the promptings you receive, and absolves me of being tied down to any one thought. ;-)

    I’m not saying that, as EQP or HPGL, I would WANT to know about or deal with any of the situations that have been mentioned. I’m merely saying that many of them fall into that realm of duty.

    Taking Matt W’s list from #36 as an example (my opinions here – not speaking for the Church):
    food order – quorum
    evicted – quorum/Bishop
    meds – Bishop
    temple – Bishop (worthiness)
    funeral – home teachers
    chemo – visiting teachers
    rape – Bishop/police
    violence – Bishop
    sex – Bishop
    lost job – home teachers/empl. specialist

    There are a good 4-5 items that *could* be handled by people other than the Bishop. Of course, by way of reporting, the Bishop would be aware of/involved with all of the listed situations. That is what PEC/WC/Welfare are for. If the Bishop is just going to handle everything anyway, we might as well sleep in on Sundays.

  40. Kylie on October 1, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Raymond (33), thank you for your insights about child abuse. I hate to see anyone’s reputation damaged without concrete evidence, but I believe you are right in this case: err on the side of protecting children. Also, the polygamy incident went as follows: the person I know confronted the polygamist bishopric member and essentially said “you tell or I will.” The polygamist took a couple weeks to decide, then chose to leave the church.

  41. Kylie on October 1, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    “Are these wrong? Judge me.” (Matt W #36)

    No judging is coming from me. I’m the one who asked for people to tell me why/when to “tattle.” Your list sounds like a charitable person who is anxiously engaged in a good cause. I’m sure the bishop could find a calling for you, if you wanted to move to my ward. I knew someone could come up with good reasons–though I agree with #39 that some of those could be handled by other people than the bishop.

  42. Kylie on October 1, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Raymond (33), I’m wondering if you could expand on your ideas about when to talk to a bishop about someone who is possibly apostate. The polygamy example was extreme (though real). What about less extreme situations, less extreme doctrines? When would you feel the need to tell? FWIW, I’m asking sincerely. I respect your comments.

  43. Zen on October 1, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Of all the titles for Satan, the most interesting one by far, is “The accuser of our Brethren”, which “accused them day and night”. Rev. 12:10

    Accusations might be true, but that does not make tattling necessarily an action of charity. It can be, but not necessarily.

    We need to overlook a lot of little stuff.

  44. Idahospud on October 1, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Tattletell: derived from the N. Utah pronounciation of “tattletale;” also seen in sale -> sell (as in, “Dillard’s is havin’ a great sell with lots of good dills goin’ on!”). In Logan, if you hear the sentence, “I want to tell the tale,” spoken by a native, there won’t be any distinguishably audible difference between “tell” and “tale.”

    Now you know.

  45. Kent Larsen on October 1, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    I have to say that much of what has been said here ignores some of the issues with the definition of “tattle tale.”

    Dictionaries are wont to give simple definitions, and the discussion above has somewhat ignored the idea of the “tattle tale” as a gossip, as someone who is indiscriminate in what is todld.

    The sense I have for the word is that it either refers to:
    1) straight gossiping, i.e., telling what isn’t true or isn’t important.
    or 2) telling an authority figure information that is generally understood by those not in authority to be taboo (such as “ratting out” a fellow prisoner)

    I don’t believe the second should apply in this case, so my assumption was that Kylie was referring to information the Bishop would think isn’t necessary to pass on.

    Obviously, there is a bit of a line here. Its not always obvious what information should be passed on and what should not. Motivation is also part of the equation.

    But it sure seems to me like “tattle tale” refers to passing on information that the Bishop doesn’t need to know.

  46. Left Field on October 1, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Is there another way to say “different tack”? If so, I guess I’ve never noticed that anyone was saying it differently. The expression has always seemed to me an obvious allusion to the sailing maneuver, so maybe I never bothered to listen to see if anyone was saying something else.

  47. Bean421 on October 1, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    My parents have, in the past, been summoned to the bishops office because a family in the ward is very preoccupied with the music my brother was listening to at football practice. Why you couldn’t just talk to parents directly is beyond me.

  48. Alex Valencic on October 1, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    My wife has just informed me that I should be watching a movie with her, not blogging, so I had to skip most of the comments and leave a quick comment before I forgot my train of thought. And here it is:

    When it comes to reporting something to the Bishop, it probably isn’t any of your business. If you happen to be a mandated reporter for abuse, it might be, if the person is a minor and is a) being hurt, b) hurting someone, or c) planning on hurting someone.

    An individual’s personal worthiness, though, is none of your business. That is what PPIs, stewardship interviews, and Temple Recommend interviews are for (and as one of the many Exec Secs in the Bloggernacle, I know from experience that the members of the Bishopric spend a LOT of time doing these things!)

    Incidentally, a bishop of mine was involved in a Q&A panel discussion for a conference once, and he told those attending that things like the WoW rank relatively low when it comes to determining worthiness and the ability to have a calling.

  49. gst on October 1, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Alex, if you’re a mandated reporter, reporting to the bishop does not satisfy your reporting requirement.

  50. my viewpoint on October 1, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    I joined the Church as a teen, my Dad, not a member of the Church, threatened to talk to the Bishop about my messy room.

    On my mission I did report two things to the miss pres, one involved an elder viewing inappropriate magazine (“sex survey” ) in a popular magazine w/a recent convert..sadly sometime later that Elder was sent home early.

    another time I reported something inappropriate some were doing (playing a certain game). (at the home of a member family, my comp wouldn’t leave,etc and missionaries stayed too late.) But I reported this and my comp was upset..told me I shouldn’t have mentionned this to our Pres. She actually said something similar to I need not do that as “if he was inspired he’d know about it”

    In another case I reported an injury one of the Elders had sustained, he hadn’t wanted to tell the mission pres as the Elder didn’t want church money to pay for his medical care.

    I wish in some ways i’d been bolder. I wish for the Elder I could have said something that might have helped him turn around so he could have completed his mission.

  51. Cameron on October 1, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    The confusion on ‘tale’ vs ‘tell’ might be due to the painful Utah accent where ‘-ale’ sounds like ‘-ell’?

  52. Adam Greenwood on October 1, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    And I know someone who felt like he should contact a bishop because that bishop’s first counselor had joined a fundamentalist group and was a practicing polygamist. That would have been a hard one, I guess.

    Not really.

  53. Adam Greenwood on October 1, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    51.The confusion on ‘tale’ vs ‘tell’ might be due to the painful Utah accent where ‘-ale’ sounds like ‘-ell’?

    Its much of the West, not just Utah.

  54. Kylie on October 1, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Wow, my viewpoint (#50). She really said that an “inspired” mission president “would just know”? I do believe in inspiration, but that’s not how it works for me. It would be nice, though–like a crystal ball. I can definitely see the positives, such as always knowing where my kids are and what they’re doing. Wait. Sometimes I’m better off not knowing. In any case, if that’s how inspiration truly works, then this whole discussion is a moot point; obviously a truly inspired bishop has no need for anyone to tell him anything because he already knows it all.

    Thanks to all those who clarified the “tale” and “tell.” Not only do I now understand about tattle-tailing, but I also know why I can’t understand if the locals are asking about my Uncle Del or my husband’s Uncle Dale.

  55. Cameron on October 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    ^ Nice Kylie.

    I grew up in Oregon and Washington and never noticed the accent before I came to Utah. Was it another Californian import?

  56. Lupita on October 1, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    The appropriate time to tattle? I don’t think it would occur to me to do so. Informing appropriate people with stewardship (eg VTers, etc.) doesn’t seem like tattling. However, I do know someone who was tattled on for a conversation she had with someone she considered a close friend that veered into some doubt/skepticism issues. Why that person went to the bishop who then called my friend in remains a mystery.

  57. Jerry on October 1, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    My wife got yelled at by a bishop once for not tattling. She had been told in confidence of some marital problems (arguments no violence) and said nothing to anyone. When the Bishop found she had known for months of the problems and said nothing to him he was very unhappy. Right or wrong Bishops need information to do parts of their job. But I think you should be really confident the Bishop can actually help before tattling or telling him about others.

  58. Vader on October 1, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Hunter, your point is excellent. The scriptures are clear that you talk to the person you think is doing tattle-worthy things, in private, before doing anything else. The only exceptions that occur to me would be if there was a reporting requirement, or a reasonable basis for fearing for your own safety.

    After that? Well, if you’re doing it for the right reason — concern for the person being “tattled” on — you’ll go to whoever is in the best position to help next. That will very often be the bishop.

    Kylie, something puzzles me here. How do you know that someone tattled on your husband to the bishop? Did you bishop tattle on the tattler? (Would that make your bishop a metatattler?) Inquiring minds want to know.

  59. ZD Eve on October 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I’ve “tattled” to the a couple of bishop about about family situations of young women that I thought were borderline abusive, but I try to keep more trivial complaints to myself. Someone in my ward recently went to the bishop because she didn’t like the way my friend taught Relief Society, which is the kind of thing I always think about when someone clearly can’t stand it that he’s not the bishop: how much of one’s time would be spent either fielding the trivial or wrestling with the insoluble? I shudder to think.

    I consider it part of my duty not to bother the bishop with anything but really serious matters that he alone needs to know about and that he alone can appropriately address–i.e., people being abused, counselors turning into polygamists, etc.

  60. my viewpoint on October 1, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    #55 yes- I don’t recall the exact wording but it was definitely that I didn’t need to mention the inappropriate activity because he should be inspired to know.

  61. Sgarff on October 2, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind it if people made up things to tattle on me about. That way I could go on quietly living the Gospel while simultaneously not having to worry about being called to a position of serious authority.

    RE #50 While I would generally agree with Kylie about tattling on other members, I’m all about tattling on missionaries (unless it’s because they’re drinking coke, which happened to me a couple of times). The mission president is responsible for not only the spiritual welfare, but also the temporal welfare of those serving in the mission.

    Also, missionaries are in a unique position to damage the church through improper actions.

  62. Kaimi Wenger on October 2, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Commenters will please leave contact information for your ecclesiastical leaders, so that we can contact them if we deem any of your comments to be tattle-worthy.

  63. Ziff on October 2, 2009 at 2:18 am

    BiV (15):

    Earlier this year three different members of my ward felt compelled to inform my Bishop that I had written a post on my blog titled, “Why I would totally sleep with Joseph Smith.”

    I wonder if they weren’t secretly of the same opinion, but were mad that you were willing to come out and say it. :)

  64. Kirk C. on October 2, 2009 at 3:44 am

    As to the orig. question. What should you tattle on? If I knew someone in a leadership position was having an affair (which I have) I would tell (but someone else already did). Is it my business? I think it is my business if my priesthood leader is commiting serious sins while leading the people. I am talking about Bishops, EQ presidents, etc.

    I agree with Raymond in #33. They are wolves in sheeps clothing.

  65. Hans in California on October 2, 2009 at 6:20 am

    re: #56 “I grew up in Oregon and Washington and never noticed the accent before I came to Utah. Was it another Californian import?”

    Hey, when I lived in Utah, after being born and raised in California, I learned about the power of “prar” and taking things to the “Lard”. We also attended a “ward” (pronounced like “lard”).

  66. John on October 2, 2009 at 6:21 am

    What did your husband do — vote for a Democrat?

  67. TStevens on October 2, 2009 at 8:25 am

    I remember a few years back when I learned how much people in the Ward complain and/or tattle to the Bishop. I was pretty naïve about the whole thing as I had never been to see a Bishop in 25 years in the church unless mandated by an interview for a calling (recommend, ordinance, etc.). I assumed no one else did it either.

    This reminds me of the BYU cartoon wherein the officer says let him without sin throw the first stone and the person is buried under the stones. I have never been without sin I guess.

    The one effect of having the “veil lifted” is I never ever want to be a Bishop. For the most part, things I would find tattle worthy would find me going to the proper public authorities first.

  68. Adam Greenwood on October 2, 2009 at 8:29 am

    The Mormon persecution complex, it appears, is live and well, just . . . transmogrified.

  69. bbell on October 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I am with Raymond.

    The only time my wife and I have ever “tattled” is when my wife observed a primary teacher touching a 11 year olds girls back. This same man had been really inappropriate with my wife multiple times. After viewing this incident we told the bishop. He said he was already suspicious of this guys behavior and so he released him that next week.

    There would be other situation where I would tattle. Wow violations is so far down on the list that it does not even register.

  70. bbell on October 2, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I would of course also “tattle” on any polygamy issues

  71. Kylie on October 2, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Adam (69, 53, and 54)–I meant to write back last night and explain about the polygamy situation. When I said it would be hard to decide what to do, you replied “not really.” I’m sure to someone outside the situation, it would seem obvious what to do, and my flippancy unfortunately set you up to do that. However, in this case, the bishopric member/polygamist was my acquaintance’s family member. The entire extended family was, obviously, devastated–and worked for weeks to try to convince him that his reasoning was incorrect. They may have been wrong not to immediately tell the bishop, but they were weighing the church membership of he and his family and their relationships with this man against the possibility of him inappropriately preaching his new philosophies. Eventually my acquaintance told his family member, “You tell or I will.” The family member chose to leave the church and move himself, his wife, and his four pre-teen daughters to join the polygamists. Trust me, it was very difficult to decide what to do.

  72. Kylie on October 2, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Vader (59): I mentioned in a comment earlier that I was fine with the way both bishops handled things. In both cases the tattling was casually mentioned some months later. I think it came up during regular temple recommend interviews, if I’m remembering right, in a “oh, and by the way, so-and-so said this about you” type of way and not in a “what do you have to say to this accusation?” type of way. As someone mentioned earlier, different bishops no doubt handle things differently. Both of our bishops were completely appropriate, as far as I’m concerned, though I don’t know if the tattlers would agree.

  73. Crick on October 2, 2009 at 10:45 am

    -Kylie: I agree with you where everyday trivial disputes and personal foibles are concerned (including word of wisdom). But where an alleged sin that might put the Church or third parties in serious danger (major sins by church officers, abuse, and even adultery) I believe that “tattling” is not only OK but warranted. So while Vader has a good point about motivations, one should still tattle on someone stealing ward funds, even if that person is your enemy and you are wickedly enjoying it.
    -In the spirit of D&C 42:88 and Matt 18:15 I think we should resolve issues where we are the ones harmed or offended by going to the offender first and dealing with it personally (exceptions would involve abuse or incidents where you might be harmed).
    -I am not against Bishop’s being mediators and would submit to a Bishop’s jurisdiction in his attempt to mediate even if I were the one “tattled” on. This keeps everyone’s dirty laundry private and respects the Bishop’s role as judge in Israel. I recall then-Elder Kimball’s admonition that Latter-day Saints not haul each other into the civil courts (See his book MOF).
    - Raymond #33: I agree with you 100% in principal, but I think that reporting anything that could possibly be construed as potentially harmful to a child is going to far. The pendulum has swung so far that anyone’s subjective definition of “creepy” is now being used to make people’s life hell. Examples include the recent news reports of charges dropped against a couple who had lost their children for a year after a Walmart photo employee reported them for taking innocent photos of their daughters after a bath; or the guy who wrote into a Dear Abby column saying that he was yelled at and called a weirdo by parents whose child wandered up to his table in a restaurant and started talking to him. Of course, using one’s best judgment and the Spirit, I agree that if one feels they should tell, they should tell their Bishop and NOT report their suspicions to everyone else in the ward, thereby creating harmful gossip. Now if they see actual hard evidence of abuse, they should contact civil authorities immediately.

  74. Crick on October 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Sorry for all the typos.

    Raymond and Kylie, I would like to hear what you think about my comment. Sometimes its simply a matter of perspective and I respect your perspective.

    In practice I have never tattled on anyone (and have been aware of various things ranging from the Bishop’s own sabbath observance on up to a roommate’s disturbing web browsing history).

  75. Vader on October 2, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Kylie,

    Glad to hear how your bishop handled it. I trust my point was understood. Bishops are in a better position to gossip than almost anyone else in the ward, and can do more damage thereby than almost anyone else in the ward. I’m amazed the Church can find as many trustworthy men to hold the position as it does.

  76. ji on October 2, 2009 at 11:02 am

    If you know of someone who is going without food, don’t bother the bishop — instead, give him or her some food from your pantry.

    If you believe child abuse is occuring, don’t bother the bishop — report the suspected crime to the police.

    If you heard a rumor about sex, don’t bother the bishop unless you meet the standard in D&C 42 — but you can always tell the person you’re concerned because of the rumor you heard.

    If you see a Primary teacher touch a student in a way uncomfortable to you but which doesn’t rise to abuse which you must report, don’t bother the bishop — tell the teacher directly of your concern.

    If your home teacher didn’t visit you last month, don’t bother the bishop — kindly tell your home teacher that you are hopeful of his next visit.

    If you know that someone is violating bigamy or polygamy laws, don’t bother the bishop — report the crime to the police.

    If your LDS neighbor lets his kids play outside on Sunday, don’t bother the bishop — don’t judge him, and let him raise his own family and you raise yours, each according to your understanding of the Gospel.

    I hope my Latter-day Saint neighbors and friends will love me and strengthen me and help me themselves. But these postings here give the unwary reader a scary picture of LDS life.

  77. Crick on October 2, 2009 at 11:37 am

    The more I think about it, I think I am with JI on about 90% of those…

  78. Lon on October 2, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Let me argue a counter point to #77.

    Tell the bishop about the lack of food. He has way more resources to help them with food, employment, etc. than you do. Of course, help them immediately. And then get the bishop involved to help them in the long term.

    Tell the bishop (AND the police) in abuse situations. Police investigations can take time. Releasing someone from a dangerous calling can happen next Sunday. Even if you see some creepy, tell the bishop. He may have other pieces of information. Telling the teacher just helps an abuser hide better (of course, if they aren’t an abuser, talking directly to them is good – are you prepared to make the call?)

    Tell the bishop about polygamy/bigamy. That is worthy of Church discipline, not just a talking to.

    Don’t tell the bishop about ‘rumors’. Don’t bother the bishop about your HT lack – that should go to the appropriate quorum leader. Don’t tell the bishop about legal WoW violations or sabbath day observances.

  79. corktree on October 2, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I had never even considered “telling” a Bishop anything about anyone because I assumed they already knew (and in most cases it seems they do) but recently I have become frustrated to the point of boycotting certain meetings due to backbiting and general unfriendliness among certain groups of sisters in my ward. I assume the Bishop knows what’s going on as he has been talking a lot lately about ways to unify and become a more “Zion Ward”. So I think he must know, but my husband thinks it would alleviate my frustrations to have a chat with the Bishop and call attention to things (without names). I don’t know. Now I’m wondering how I would feel to be the “tattler”. I don’t really want to, but I don’t know how else to vent my frustrations without resorting to gossip (and my RS Pres and I don’t get along too well for a conversation to happen there without my feeling judged for even thinking bad thoughts of people).

  80. Mike on October 2, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I might have been wrong, but many years ago I was at the military hospital and found out that the wife of a member of the Bishopric was diagnosed with gonorrhea, not long after he came home from a 3 week unaccompanied tour. I saw the lab report including her name in her hand.

    Since my wife and I were among their circle of close friends, I asked her about it. (Totally tactless, I admit.) She was pretty causal and said it happened every time he went away for any length of time. She seemed resigned to it and she pointed out that he was otherwise a really great guy. She made a joke about both of them limping around and maybe not being able to sit through 3 hours of church after getting their shots of antibiotics.

    I thought the Bishop might want to know and that this counselor was not fit to work with the youth, etc. But then I considered the other options in that struggling ward. I decided that this was actually none of my business and he could repent on his own terms and never told anyone except my wife.

  81. Kylie on October 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Crick (74): yes, I’m in favor of tattling if someone is in danger (tattling or calling the police–whichever is most appropriate). I mentioned a suicidal student in the post. The way your phrased things reminded me of another time I tattled. I’m a visiting teacher to a sister who struggles with emotional problems and addictions. She can be very aggressive when she’s drunk. Since I’ve been visiting her for about ten years, I’m used to being careful and avoiding dangerous situations. But, when my VT companion happened to stop by after a walk a few weeks ago, our visiting teachee was pushy and aggressive; my companion found herself in a dangerous situation that she was luckily able to escape from. It dawned on me that the new RS president may have no idea about these special circumstances. I called her directly and explained my visiting teachee’s struggles and suggested that anyone who may need to visit at her home be made aware of the potential danger.

    Can you help me out with a specific situation the bishop would mediate? I would respond immediately if the bishop asked me to come in for mediation, but I’m having trouble imagining when he would do that. Certainly he “counsels” with disagreeing marriage partners or with anyone who needs his help or advice, but, even then, is he the one to–for example–mediate a divorce? I don’t feel like that is his role. I’m sure you or someone can come up with an alternative example that will make me say, “Oh, of course!”

    (#77), I assume you were speaking about adults and sex. A number of comments ago, someone was talking about teenagers and sex. I don’t think I, an adult woman, should speak to someone else’s child about rumors of his/her sexual activity. I do think talking (“tattling”?) to the parents is appropriate.

  82. m&m on October 2, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I just read a post on fmh that made me think of this one (on safe dating). I think the situation discussed there is a good example of when it might be good to talk to a bishop.

    I haven’t read all the comments here, but I am uncomfortable with the way the question has been posed, because tattling is riddled with negative connotations. I think there are times when talking to a bishop is appropriate, and only the Spirit can guide, but such a choice, imo, should not be labeled as tattling. I think by so doing, we may sometimes instill fear or shame in people who *should* be saying something.

    I definitely think there are times when things are shared that dont’ need to be. But by the same token, I think in a way we have to be patient with each other, because we each have different tolerance levels and perspectives on things, and sometimes that means we will define what we think the bishop should know differently.

    All of that, said, Kylie, I’m sorry to hear you were on the receiving end of ‘tattling’ that felt inappropriate. Ugh. To be misjudged is a painful thing.

    Being a member of a Church full of imperfect members is not an easy thing, all the way around.

  83. ZD Eve on October 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    This discussion is reminding me, guiltily, of a situation in which I now wish I’d tattled. Eight or nine years ago, in the course of a casual interaction with one of the elders then in our ward (an elder I did not know at all well) he ended up admitting to me that he and his companion had had a girl in their apartment at least once. He begged me not to tell anyone, and I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t, but if I learned of such a thing now I would inform the elder that I was going to phone the mission president, and then I would phone the mission president.

    I don’t believe in casual tattling, nor in “every member a mission president,” but in retrospect it’s obvious to me that that was a serious, potentially life-ruining situation, and that I would have been doing the elders a huge favor by heading it off at the pass.

  84. ji on October 2, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    I have re-written my no. 77, with added words in brackets–

    If you know of someone who is going without food, don’t bother the bishop — instead, give him or her some food from your pantry [and advise him or her that he or she can talk with the bishop if assistance from the bishop's storehouse is needed].

    If you believe [based on firm evidence that] child abuse is occuring, don’t bother the bishop — report the suspected crime to the police. [The church disciplinary council can be held after the person's indictment and arrest.]

    If you heard a rumor about sex, don’t bother the bishop unless you meet the standard in D&C 42 — but you can always tell the person [if he or she is an adult; otherwise, his or her parents] you’re concerned because of the rumor you heard.

    If you see a Primary teacher touch a student in a way uncomfortable to you but which doesn’t rise to abuse which you must report, don’t bother the bishop — tell the teacher directly of your concern [or tell the child's parent. Remember that people from different cultures have differing feeling regarding touching, and your feeling isn't necessarily reflective of the other person's feeling.]

    If your home teacher didn’t visit you last month, don’t bother the bishop — kindly tell your home teacher that you are hopeful of his next visit.

    If you know [based on firm evidence] that someone is violating bigamy or polygamy laws, don’t bother the bishop — report the crime to the police. [Or go to the person directly and give him or her a chance to explain or make corrections. The disciplinary council can happen after the indictment and arrest.]

    If your LDS neighbor lets his kids play outside on Sunday, don’t bother the bishop — don’t judge him, and let him raise his own family and you raise yours, each according to your understanding of the Gospel.

    [My bishop doesn't need my help as his investigator, prosecutor, inquisitor, evidence gatherer, or so forth. Our duty as normal members is to strengthen each other and help each other. If I ever need strengthening, and another Church member sees me in my distress or sin, I hope he or she will help me in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than reporting me to the bishop. This is still a scary posting, and I hope my sentiments are more typical of Latter-day Saints.]

  85. Kylie on October 2, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    ji (85)–I don’t think you should worry too much about whether your sentiments are “typical.” What I respect is that you took a stance and then either argued or accommodated as you gained more information/insight. Thanks for being a thoughtful commenter.

    m&m (83)–yes, it can be painful to wade through a long list of comments. If it weren’t my own post, I wouldn’t do it, either. But, if you had, I think you’d see that most agree there are times to talk to a bishop about someone else. I believe that and have done that. As you suggest, the word “tattling” is provocative, and few would label the serious times as tattle.

    That being said, I still think the reasons to talk to a bishop about someone else are relatively rare–and the times to talk about someone else to someone besides the bishop are even more rare (with a few exceptions for RS Pres or EQ; gossip is out of the question; I don’t consider reporting one’s stewardship as tattling). Crimes should go to the police; business disputes should go through the legal system; and problems with a particular person should be worked out with that person. There are always exceptions.

  86. Ducheznee on October 2, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Geeesh! Kylie, I wish you would have simply said that last paragraph at the very beginning. Great summary!

  87. Kylie on October 2, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Yeah, it only takes me 88 comments to figure out what I think. Thanks!

  88. msg on October 2, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    #81–Mike, that fellow is in the bishopric and he’s dishonest.
    If he himself can’t pass the interview for a temple recommend…
    I’m not saying you didn’t do the right thing by not letting the bishop know but the bishop may rely on him as a trusted counselor and he isn’t. This is a serious character flaw. Are any tithing funds missing? What if the bishop puts him in charge of something that he shouldn’t be in charge of?
    Ward members tend to expect that the people in their bishopric are fundamentally honest and worthy of their trust. This is far from expecting perfection of them. And I’m afraid it isn’t fair to the bishop and that he has a right to know.
    I think I would tell him–and I’ve never told a bishop anything about anyone in my life. But this is serious. This brother needs help and he won’t get it if those who know keep enabling him. At least get a message to the bishop, even anonymously, to ask his counselor if there’s anything seriously amiss in his life that he should know about because he’d like to help him if there is. Just my thoughts anyway.

  89. my viewpoint on October 2, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    well said #89. It is good you were concerned about that ward, but perhaps others would step up to do what they needed to do to help their ward.

    Of course the bad thing is #81 (as he deftly admits) was wrong for relaying confidential health care info to his wife..even if they are friends w/the wife of the Bishopric member.

  90. Crick on October 6, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Kylie,

    I do feel its OK for Bishops, SPs and GAs to mediate concerning disputes, including business disputes. But the more I think about it I am not sure if the Church wants people doing that! I guess maybe my opinion is my way of expressing that I hope I would be willing to submit to the temporal jurisdiction of the Church like my forbears did (Church courts resolving irrigation disputes, etc).

    I think JJ’s amended comment sums up my views, except that the proud poor may need more of a nudge to tell the Bishop. HTs and VTs should definitely relay those needs as should others.

    I think you (Kylie) got many of us thinking about how discretion and good judgment should guide our tongues. I recognize that the word “tattle” is something of hyperbole but hyperbole sometimes has a way of getting to the heart of the issue.

    For too many of us, talking about other’s private matters is too easy. There are a thousand ways of rationalizing it, but in the end there are only a few truly good reasons, and if we approached “tattling” with the reluctance of Laban-slaying Nephi, we might feel ourselves more justified in those few times (in a lifetime) when “tattling” truly is justified.

    If there is one thing I could get back in my life, it would be my own rehearsals of “bad reports” and those times others have broken my own confidences.

  91. Ken on October 6, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    I’m not sure I have anything constructive to contribute about when to tattle and when not to, so if this is too off-topic, feel free to delete it. (Heck, most people just ignore my comments anyway … ;D) That I know of, I’ve been “tattled on” twice, both on my mission. In my first area, a family told the elder I replaced that I’d used a four-letter word for “excrement.”

    I do have “favorite” four-letter words that I’m sometimes not wont to replace with their tamer “Mormon” counterparts, but that’s not one of them—at least, not outloud. ;-D Anyway, after hearing from the family, the elder—who was one of The President’s Pets but had, last I heard, been inactive for some time—went to the mission president, who called me in for a talking-to. (The elder later told me that, after he’d gotten to know me, he felt sorry for having done so.)

    The second one is a doozy. I’d just been released as a district leader and transferred into a new area. One of our first appointments was to meet the district leader at the home of some baptismal candidates who had completed all of the discussions. The appointed hour came and went with no appearance from the district leader. After waiting for about 45 minutes, I took my companion aside and suggested that since I hadn’t taught them and had just been released as a district leader, I could do the interviews if we could get President’s approval.

    Once his approval was secured, my companion asked me if I felt comfortable asking the questions from memory. I told him I did not, since I had only been a district leader a short time and had only done a couple of interviews. We raced home and I ran inside—OK, I admit, I walk with a pair of forearm crutches, so I have two speeds: forward and reverse; it would be a stretch to call what I do when I move fast “running,” but I came as close to it as I ever have ;D—turned to the appropriate page in the Missionary Guide, ripped it out, and we made a beeline back to their house.

    I read the questions verbatim. Both husband and wife indicated prior involvement in an abortion, and I, per policy, did not probe for details. I figured I’d just let the stake president handle it, and matter-of-factly told them that this was simply the next step in clearing them for baptism.

    I’m purposefully leaving some details out, some of which involve probable errors in judgment on my part, but still, I can safely tell you that whatever errors I made, what actually happened in this encounter and what the president eventually heard happened in this encounter bear only slight resemblance to one another. Yes, I was there, and yes, I did interview them. Other than that …

    Three or four days later, I got a call from one of the zone leaders. “Elder, I understand you did some baptismal interviews recently,” he began. “Yeah,” I said, “We got president’s approval …” “Well, we received information that you asked them about their intimate lives …” Whoo-boy. (I didn’t take THAT little bit of news sitting down …)

    This all happened right as there was a succession between mission presidents. I guess my first president thought, “Well, this is my replacement’s mess, now; I’m not gonna worry about it.” When I greeted the new president after the mission-wide meeting in which he introduced himself to us, the first thing he said was, “Elder, my assistants tell me we need to talk. Is that true?” And I said, “Well, president, if the assistants tell you we need to talk, I guess we need to talk.”

    And he took me into a classroom off of the chapel, where I told him the truth. Apparently, he then asked a stake president to dig a little deeper into some untruths he’d been told, and the further investigation led that purportedly-very-shaken stake president to exonerate me in a phone call to the president. (I wasn’t given any details, and wouldn’t have wanted them). I suspect, though, that a Ward Rumor Mill did a great job of transmogrifying a relatively innocent incident into A Monstrous Lie. (And notwithstanding the old saying about never getting a second chance to make a first impression, although this incident could have colored my entire relationship with my second mission president, I’m pleased to say that, fortunately, it did not). :-)

    It’s not that I could not provide excellent grist for the Ward Rumor Mill if I chose to do so. As an assistant ward clerk for membership, I’ve seen and heard a few things that could set the mill’s wheels grinding. But minding my own business is a full-time job. So if I haven’t advanced the discussion about when it’s OK to tattle, why post at all? Perhaps my story could serve as a cautionary tale for anyone tempted to provide grist for the mill!

  92. queuno on October 8, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    There were occasions when we didn’t have A/C, but I never felt it was something I had to go to the bishop about. Then I find out my wife’s VT had. Kind of embarrassing/annoying, given that we’d already called a guy and had it fixed.