Mormon Bishop Dons Homeless Disguise

A Mormon bishop–David Musselman–from Taylorsville, Utah put on a homeless disguise and then attended his church meetings on Sunday.  USA Today reports that “five people asked [him] to leave the church property, some gave him money, and most were indifferent.”

Bishop David Musselman Before and After Disguise (Tara Staling's Facebook Page)

Bishop David Musselman Before and After Disguise (Tara Starling’s Facebook Page)

Musselman explained to a local television station that:  “The main thing I was trying to get across was we don’t need to be so quick to judge.” He received varied reactions to his stunt.  According to the Deseret News:

Many actually went out of their way to purposefully ignore me, and they wouldn’t even make eye contact, I’d approach them and say, ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’  The inability [of many] to even acknowledge me being there was very surprising.

Musselman was very impressed however with the reaction from children:  “I could see in their eyes they wanted to do more.”

To make his homeless disguise look authentic, Musselman contacted a Salt Lake City makeup artist (Tara Starling) and she transformed his familiar face into that of a total stranger.

Now here is a story worth reporting in LDS Church magazines.

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3 Responses to Mormon Bishop Dons Homeless Disguise

  1. Susan says:

    I don’t know why, but this Bishop’s actions made me a bit uncomfortable. I don’t know if it is because I’m not sure how I would have reacted. A part of me thought it was a novel approach at attempting to see how his congregation reacted to such a situation. But another part of me did not like the bishop “duping” his own congregation. I do have a coworker who had something similar happen in his ward a few years ago. However, it was not a simulation, the stories and characters were real. A man went to the podium dressed in a long white robe, dissheveled, dirty, long beard, etc., you get the picture. He addressed the audience (which quickly turned to foul language and hand gestures). He eventually had to be hauled out of there and was quickly arrested and apparently had a long history of mental illness. I just kept thinking about that real experience when I was reading this article. WWJD?

    • rogerdhansen says:

      The whole idea of posing as someone down-and-out on his luck is a difficult issue for me. Is this any different than putting on “black face” and pretending to be African-American in the 1960s, or grabbing a cane and pretending to be disabled? After the day is over, the actor can take off his makeup, and return to his regular life. The homeless man, or 60′s black man, or disabled person cannot (or could not). I don’t know about day tripping into other people’s experiences. You hardly get the full impact. And are you, in a sense, belittling their experiences? I haven’t explained myself very well.

  2. garyalison50 says:

    I guess he just wanted to know if the sermons were hitting home? Matthew 25: (New International Version) 37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

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