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First my bona fides. I have served in two LDS bishoprics. I'm not bragging. This is actually more of a confession.
Both times I was the bishop's executive secretary. If you have to be in a bishopric, that's the best job to have. You get to know what's going on in the ward, but you're not really responsible for any of it.
My job was to take notes, keep track of records, arrange the bishop's schedule, deliver messages and, once, call the cops when some #&%@! showed up in a rage because we helped his abused wife get into a shelter.
That's about as exciting as the bishopric ever got. I enjoyed the calling and came away from it having learned two very valuable gospel lessons.
First, people are people no matter how many neckties they own. The human dynamic of an LDS ward is like that of any other small village populated largely by characters from a Monty Python sketch.
Second and I'm totally serious about this one if the church ever got desperate enough to call me as a bishop, I would immediately apostatize and begin worshipping Satan. Nobody in their right mind would actually want that job.
I think I did OK as executive secretary. Other than the time I showed up for bishopric meeting in a Bob Marley T-shirt, I never heard any complaints.
I told you all of that to tell you this: If I could be in the executive secretary to the bishop, pretty much anybody could who is Mormon, shows up at church most of the time and is not currently on parole for a violent crime.
Sure, it helps if you also care about people and don't mind the long hours. Also, I'm fairly certain they would want you to believe in God.
Lots of people could be the executive secretary to the bishop, including people you might not ever expect. Like, oh, a communist, a Scorpio, a gay man, a blackjack dealer, a Texan, some guy who thinks he's a pelican … whatever.
If you're LDS, it's important to consider this now that a gay man is serving in a San Francisco ward bishopric. Mitch Mayne identified himself as being gay but he's still in the bishopric.
The issue is being debated throughout the Mormon Internet community, with comments ranging from just how gay Mayne is, whether or not he's a practicing gay, how long it's been since his last gayness…
People are morons. Why should any of that matter? Apparently it does, though. When I opined on one website that being gay doesn't preclude any kind of spirituality, it made someone mad.
Him: "Would you want your bishop to be gay?"
Me: "How do you know yours isn't?"
For the record, I wouldn't care whether my bishop was gay. What I'd care about is whether he gave me good advice, kept me on some kind of speaking terms with God, and generally cared about me. It would also help if he kept any fashion tips to himself.
Ironically, the greatest condemnation lodged against Mayne seems to come from other gays and lesbians. He's roundly condemned by them for being a Mormon. It's like they didn't learn a single thing from the horrible way we've treated them.
A gay man in a Mormon bishopric. Big deal. We could all be so much more if we just shut up about each other.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/notpatbagley.