Expectation of Privacy (Weekend Poll)

by: wheatmeister

October 26, 2013

And then what happened?

Have you ever felt your ears were burning at church or had a sneaking suspicion you were being discussed?  It’s gossip and tittle-tattle when members do it.  What is it in ward council?  Where is the line of privacy drawn?

Is it acceptable to discuss information about less actives? (Choose as many as apply)

  • Not if it requires breaking a personal confidence. (83%, 62 Votes)
  • We should not say anything we would not say if the person were present. (69%, 52 Votes)
  • It is a violation of privacy to discuss health issues unless the person has authorized it. (55%, 41 Votes)
  • Talking about feelings and impressions received in visiting their home is helpful. (31%, 23 Votes)
  • Discussing their family situation, state of marriage or situations with children is acceptable if relevant. (25%, 19 Votes)
  • Yes, in order to save their souls through re-activation. (16%, 12 Votes)
  • Health issues should be discussed to provide support. (15%, 11 Votes)
  • Relaying personal conversations with the inactive member is OK, so long as they didn't ask that you not share the information. (13%, 10 Votes)
  • Reasons for inactivity can be discussed freely. (9%, 7 Votes)
  • Status of church discipline should be shared as it may be important. (7%, 5 Votes)
  • Unverified information from third parties such as gossip or rumors can be shared as long as it's clear this wasn't a firsthand account. (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Whether or not the person has a current temple recommend or is visibly wearing garments should be discussed. (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Activities the person was observed doing on a Sunday that might be breaking the Sabbath. (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Things you have heard in your professional capacity can be shared. (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 75

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12 Responses to Expectation of Privacy (Weekend Poll)

  1. Angie on October 26, 2013 at 6:14 AM

    Is this a legal issue? For example, does the bishop fall into the category of pastoral care, and if so, is confidentiality required? If not, then I don’t think we have any expectation of privacy. It would be nice if all of us used information in loving, need-to-know ways, but we’re all too flawed for that, IMO.

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  2. ji on October 26, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    Anytime we talk about someone else, rather than talking to him or her, we run the risk of gossip, even in a ward council setting. We sometimes seem to talk about someone more than we talk to him or her. We should never talk about someone in ward council unless we have already talked to him or her (or maybe if we have a definite intention to later talk to him or her). Otherwise, no good ever comes from it. Maybe we call it administering — but administering without ministering is of no value whatsoever.

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  3. fbisti on October 26, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Nothing of a confidential, or overly personal (potentially embarrassing, etc) should be discussed in Ward Council. That meeting has too many people (YM/YW pres, SS pres, often the FTMs, employment specialist, Primary Pres, etc). So, wrong meeting/question.

    Limit the group to the bishopric, quorum presidents, and RS Pres = Welfare Meeting.

    The problem with discussing how to best serve a particular family, and such discussions may require personal information be shared, is not only the age, experience, wisdom, etc, but numbers. People, though exhorted not to, share this info with their BFFs, counselors, spouses, etc–the leaks are multiplied by the number in the meeting.

    I have served with bishops or counselors who were doctors. They often shared personal health information (in clear violation of HIPPA) about members–though in the context of aiding them.

    So, the smaller the meeting the better–and we definitely need to do a better job of constraining the depth of the personal information discussed therein.

    In my (extensive) experience, and IMO.

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  4. dba.brotherp on October 26, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    I agree with ji and fbisti. They have said it better than I could. It’s been quite awhile since I have been in on a ward council. The only thing I remember is that the meeting was way, way too long.

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  5. hawkgrrrl on October 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    My understanding has been that the state of someone’s disfellowshipment can’t be discussed, but there has to be a practical consideration given too because the person can’t be asked to pray or serve in a calling. Obviously, if you say so-and-so can’t be asked to pray or given a calling right now, everyone will know why. But I would still leave it at that.

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  6. dba.brotherp on October 26, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Not to derail the thread, but I have a question. I can understand the reason for not allowing someone in disfellowship to hold a calling but I can’t understand not being allowed to say a prayer. Does anyone know the reason why?

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  7. hawkgrrrl on October 26, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    dba.brotherp: Have you seen the final scene of the first Indiana Jones movie? Something similar will happen I think.

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  8. Roger on October 27, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Hawk– I thought that scene was to represent the consequence of passing sacrament emblems with one word of the prayer misspoken

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  9. OD on October 28, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Disfellowshipment as with all formal or informal Church discipline is intended as a step of withholding blessings for a temporary period of time in the form of teaching to help the individual recognize the magnitude of their actions, seek full repentance, and regain their testimony. It should always be paired with counsel and care by a Bishop and other leaders as the Bishop and the individual in question determine is appropriate. Sometimes it is only in losing privileges for a certain period of time that a brother or sister can open their heart and receive the Spirit in a manner that will lead them back to a full relationship with the Savior and reinstatement of all blessings.

    As Elder Ballard once explained:

    When members need to have certain blessings withheld, the Lord’s object is to teach as well as to discipline. So probation, disfellowshipment, and excommunication, when they become necessary, are ideally accompanied by eventual reinstatement and restoration of blessings.


    So praying in Church, speaking in Church, exercising the Priesthood, partaking of the sacrament, sustaining Church officers, attending the temple, and holding a calling all represent actions where one is exercising the true privileges of membership. In part one is to refrain from speaking for the Church or within the Church in an official capacity until they are accepted back in full fellowship. You’ll recognize those last two words in that sentence as part of a phrase that is used over the pulpit when we accept a newly baptized member or acknowledge the receipt of records of a new member/family who has moved into a Ward and a vote of approval is requested of all Ward members in Sacrament meeting. The other reason why these capacities where one gives voice as a member of the Church would be restricted is because discipline is intended to safeguard the integrity of the Church.

    The comment might be made that a non-member could be called upon to speak in Sacrament meeting, teach a lesson, or even pray. Recall however that membership brings privileges as well as responsibilities in the form of our covenants. If covenants are violated then as the Spirit guides the Bishop or Stake President may withdraw those privileges. In other words, where much is given, much is expected.

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  10. dba.brotherp on October 28, 2013 at 5:43 PM


    Thank you for the explanation. I very much appreciate that you took the time to answer my question. Some of it makes sense but some of it seem counter intuitive. If “I were in charge” (a nod to mike s), I would have people who are disfellowshipped, etc giving all the prayers and helping to prepare the lessons. Don’t we say the way to get a testimony is by bearing your testimony? Barring people seems to be a bit vindictive and a bit like a shunning. It kind of makes church a country club for saints and not a hospital for sinners.

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  11. sallygirl on October 28, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    I’ve always felt that partaking of the sacrament and attending the temple are the things I need most when struggling the hardest. It seems counterproductive to take those things away in some situations where those blessings would be removed.

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