Meet the bishop


Summer 1983. A Massachusetts woman, Carrel Hilton Sheldon, was eight weeks pregnant and had a life-threatening medical problem. Alternet goes on:

Sheldon’s doctor advised her that the overdose of Heparin might have also harmed her 8-week-old fetus and, given the possible fatal repercussions to her, he recommended that she abort her pregnancy.

Sheldon, a mother of four at the time (a fifth child had died as an infant), was then a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), outside of Boston. The LDS leader in Massachusetts at that time, called the “stake president,” was a Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Gordon Williams, and he counseled Sheldon to follow her doctor’s advice to terminate the pregnancy and protect her own life, so that she could continue caring for her four living children.

“Of course, you should have the abortion,” she recalled him saying.

But then she got a visit – an uninvited visit – from her bishop, Mitt Romney, who was there to try to bully her out of having the abortion.

“He regaled me with stories of his sister and her retarded child and what a blessing the child had been to the family,” Sheldon wrote of the incident. “He told me that ‘as your bishop, my concern is with the child.'”

That certainly sums it up, doesn’t it. “As your bishop, my concern is with the non-existent ‘child’ and not at all with you, the living breathing thinking hoping adult woman, and not at all with your four existing children, either. My concern is to ignore your needs and your children’s needs in order to focus on an eight week embryo. My concern is to try to negate your judgment and your doctor’s judgment and substitute my judgment, as ‘your bishop.’ My concern is to try to force you to obey a church official instead of doing what makes sense for all involved.”

There was no empathy forthcoming from Romney, according to Sheldon, no warmth or sympathy. Moreover, Sheldon contends, Romney cast doubt on her story about the stake president’s approval. He simply didn’t believe her. He threatened to call him and track him down. He didn’t seem to care a lick about her personal well-being.

“At a time when I would have appreciated nurturing and support from spiritual leaders and friends,” Sheldon wrote, “I got judgment, criticism, prejudicial advice, and rejection.”

In essence, Romney strapped Sheldon’s destiny to the hood of his Chevy and put his foot on the gas pedal, both literally and figuratively. He was so agitated about the matter that he confronted Sheldon’s parents about her decision as well.

According to R.B. Scott, author of the insightful Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, Romney’s only concern was for the unborn fetus. Last year, Scott, who is also a Mormon, interviewed Sheldon’s 90-year-old father, Phil Hilton, who remembered the incident quite vividly.

“I have never been so upset about anything in my life,” he told Scott. “[Romney] is an authoritative type fellow who thinks he is in charge of the world.”

Hilton was so offended by Romney’s single-mindedness and absolute lack of sensitivity to his daughter’s health that he ordered the young bishop out of his home. Hilton told Scott that he was fully prepared to “throw [Romney] off the porch if he paused for even a second.” Romney kept moving.

Sheldon had the abortion, and left the Mormon church.

And because of her ward bishop, Mitt Romney, Sheldon eventually left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, never to return. “Here I—a baptized, endowed, dedicated worker, and tithe-payer in the church—lay helpless, hurt, and frightened, trying to maintain my psychological equilibrium,” Sheldon wrote, “and his concern was for the eight-week possibility in my uterus—not for me!”

When he was confronted about the incident by reporters from the Boston Globe in 1994—little more than a decade afterward—Romney claimed no memory of the incident.

“”I don’t have any memory of what she is referring to,” Romney would later declare, “although I certainly can’t say it could not have been me.” It became the patterned Romney response to other conflicted moments in his life (the bullying of a classmate in prep school was a similar incident). Mormon feminists came up with a term for Romney’s calculated lack of memory: “Romnesia.”

That’s only a fraction of the article. It describes an amoral, cold, self-righteous man who thinks he’s always right.

Comments

  1. raven says

    It describes an amoral, cold, self-righteous man who thinks he’s always right.

    And future god according to his religion.

    I feel sorry for the 10 or 20 billion people who will get stuck on his future planet.

    Then again, maybe I shouldn’t. We apparently didn’t do so well ourselves. Our heavenly Father has already tried to kill us all in the Big Boat Incident to correct problems of…his own making.

  2. stevebowen says

    an amoral, cold, self-righteous man who thinks he’s always right.

    Meet pretty much any bishop.

  3. says

    an amoral, cold, self-righteous man who thinks he’s always right.

    Definition of a politician, his future career was obvious.

  4. steve84 says

    Look up the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder aka sociopathy. It describes Romney perfectly. He was also active in the three professions sociopaths thrive in: priest, company leader and politician

  5. Andrew G. says

    Not that it affects the story much, but remember that “bishop” is pretty much the bottom rung of the Mormon hierarchy above just being an (adult male) member, and in particular, “stake president” ranks above bishop.

  6. says

    That certainly sums it up, doesn’t it. “As your bishop, my concern is with the non-existent ‘child’ and not at all with you, the living breathing thinking hoping adult woman, and not at all with your four existing children, either. My concern is to ignore your needs and your children’s needs in order to focus on an eight week embryo. My concern is to try to negate your judgment and your doctor’s judgment and substitute my judgment, as ‘your bishop.’ My concern is to try to force you to obey a church official instead of doing what makes sense for all involved.”

    And now he wants to be “bishop” of all of America.

    It describes an amoral, cold, self-righteous man who thinks he’s always right.

    That certainly matches what I have been seeing during this election campaign.

  7. Rodney Nelson says

    Romney has made it clear that while he’s “concerned” about people in general, he doesn’t care about individuals.

  8. Tim Harris says

    Andrew Sullivan has a telling video of Romney coldly and cruelly brushing off a man in a wheelchair who takes medical marijuana since it’s the only thing that alleviates his pain, and who questions Romney about his resusal to countenance its use. The man – Romney, that is – is a swine,

  9. says

    One of the most damaging ideas in the mormon religion is that people’s spirits get together in the pre-existence and have a meeting with god and jesus and other pre-existent spirits to make a plan for life. Things will go according to plan if you decide to be a good mormon and follow the prophet. It means that children choose their families and all the bad things that happen to them in life. Romney was thinking that 8 week old fetus decided to get into harms way to test the faith of their mom, and she agreed but failed the test. Now the fetus will never get their body or get to spend eternity in heaven with their family.

    It is such a mindfuck.

  10. says

    @andrew

    Not that it affects the story much, but remember that “bishop” is pretty much the bottom rung of the Mormon hierarchy above just being an (adult male) member, and in particular, “stake president” ranks above bishop.

    Being an adult (over 12) male means you have authority over all the women and kids in a home. You get to dole out blessings and such. Its no small thing.

    Your bishop is in charge of a lot of shit, like worthiness interviews and making sure that members are current on their tithing. THEY are the ones who often take away temple recommends, which means they can prevent you from attending a loved one’s wedding or going to the temple. They also make decisions about who gets aid from the church and how much (though the headquarters in SLC makes sure that the budget for helping others stays very small at each ward).

  11. DutchA says

    Romnesia. Hilarious.

    That’s almost as great as the definition of Santorum on spreadingsantorum.com.

  12. blgmnts says

    Being an adult (over 12) male means you have authority over all the women and kids in a home

    (by skeptifem @ 11)

    and

    Mormon feminists came up with a term for Romney’s calculated lack of memory: “Romnesia.”

    I didn’t know that there are Mormon feminists. Is this a significant group (in numbers or influence), that try to drag Mormonism screaming and kicking into the 21. century?

  13. iknklast says

    “I didn’t know that there are Mormon feminists.”

    Look up Sonia Johnson (FFRF.org has a nice bit on her). She was a Mormon woman who became feminist after actually hearing someone other than Mormon men describe ERA. She worked for its passage while they were working against it. She was excommunicated, and lost her friends, her marriage, her entire family. Being a Mormon feminist is a difficult position.

  14. rizzo says

    ”I don’t have any memory of what she is referring to,”
    What we have here is the mating call of the Wild Republican!

  15. says

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