Mormon Bishop Richard A. Bastard
Or How Loyalty and Wealth Lead to Power in Mormon-Ville.
I first met Bishop Richard A. Bastard, or as he prefers to be called Bishop Rich Bastard, over 30 years ago in England. A charismatic middle-aged man with love for expensive cars and suits to match. He had two councilors serving with him on the Bishopric; Brother N. Titled Dick and Brother I. M. Pennywise. It was an interesting trio. Brother Pennywise was a good guy, although somewhat occupied in all things financial. Brother Dick, on the other hand, never let a moment pass by without reminding you he was a third-generation Mormon. Almost royalty in Mormon circles in England! Within a few months of baptism, Brother Dick surprised me by telling me, “I don’t trust you . . . Leopards never change their spots.” I was surprised to learn that although baptism was supposed to make you clean and give you a fresh start in the church, it didn’t apparently work that way for me, according to Brother Dick.
So my first baby steps into the Mormon church, I was told Mormon rites don’t mean anything, and I was to see arrogance, entitlement, and the flaunting of power and wealth. That surprised me as most of the congregation members were poor single mothers with children or elderly people with little resources. A large proportion of the members were people who at one time were vulnerable and had serious daily health or mental challenges. Many did not even have transportation to get to church. In fact, almost every Mormon congregation I have been part of for over 34 years has been that way. The exception is in certain parts of Utah, such as Alpine or Bountiful, where wealthy older couples are the majority. I can promise you that Bishop Rich Bastard never had time to sit in the tiny unkempt kitchen of a single old lady with no resources eating beans on toast. That US and THEM attitude, even in meetings, slowly made me uncomfortable enough to start asking questions. Of course, asking questions means you are not loyal . . .
So what’s my point? I guess my point is to ask why I continued to attend church and didn’t leave after a few months. Of course, like every abuser, the church taught me it was my fault. If I had read the Book of Mormon more or prayed more, I would understand. As a last resort, the church leaders would tell you Satan was trying to destroy you because you were so special. The church and its leadership were the only organization/person not at fault. Would you not expect a religious institution that proffers the idea that the Mormon church is the only church in the world belonging to Jesus Christ, while all others are fake, to be at least Christ-like and honest? Yet you stay!
Like Scientology, the answers you are looking for are always at the next level. And just like Scientology, money is necessary to illustrate your faith. Well, actually, maybe we should rewrite that last sentence. Money is necessary to illustrate your loyalty as a Mormon. When you are counseled and told to have more faith, what is really meant is you need to be more loyal. The loyalty and financial contributions result in powerful positions locally, regionally, and nationally. It also helps if you belong to the royal family of the church. That for sure will give you power. Nepotism is alive and well in Salt Lake City, my friends!
Everyone eventually has to make a choice. Do you stay with the Bastards and the Dicks? Do you become one of them? Or do you accept you lost 34 years of your life and the trauma that comes with that?
© Stephen G. Arrowsmith 2022
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