Kim - Hi Bishop. I've seen the statistics and as a mother, I cringe. I understand that you have to be careful about what you share in order to protect you and your family, so rather than asking a bunch of questions you may or may not be able to answer, I say let's just talk and see what comes out of it.
Bishop - That's great and it works for me! Most people just want to hear big numbers and get big grants to come against it. They don't want to hear the story itself.
Kim - I understand. I believe that we, as people, accept that bad things happen, but they're always to "other people." We see horror in the news and stop to say a quick prayer for those involved and then we go on with our lives because they don't touch us. We delude ourselves into thinking that we're protected since we're not those other people.
Bishop - That's the thing. The devil's a liar and as long as he keeps you to where that's not me ... The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a good example. Wormwood and Screwtape, the two demons, are always talking about their clients, the Christians and just people. Wormwood goes, "Oh it's awful. He's going to church, he's on the Deacon board, he's in the choir." Screwtape asks him, "Where's his heart?" Wormwood answers, "His heart is where it's always been" and Screwtape says, "Oh good! You've got him right where you want him." I think that's the case of the church. There are a lot of times I just want to scream to the dry bones, "Wake up and start moving!" because it's dead. I've been in places where it's so dead that I couldn't move them if the building was on fire. It's scary. We've got to get to a place where we're not immune to everything; we're not numb to everything. We've got to recognize God when He comes in. I think that's what we miss.
Kim - You rose to chapter boss in less than a year. "Trust is earned," is a very true quote from the movie. So I know that you didn't rise to chapter boss by just walking around, looking really mean ...
Bishop - Here's the thing ... When I was young, I grew up in a Pentecostal family and going to church every time the doors were open. My mother believed 100%. She was committed to God to such an extent that I thought it was almost insane. I'd come home and she would be laid out in the floor, praying. She would pray over my room, putting oil on the walls and pleading the blood all over the house. I would think, "Man! This is extreme!" But I went, I watched and I saw the political side of the church. I started to get turned off. But my mother, she continued to be faithful and pray for me and my friends. When I was in my late teens, my mom was in an accident and she died. I got mad at God, shook my fist, raised my Bible up and said, "I'm done with it! I don't need this Jesus stuff. If he's going to take someone like that, then I don't have a chance."
I went as far from God as I could go. I turned 21 and opened my first bar. I found out that it was a lot of work and there are a lot of hurt people. I got involved in selling drugs from the bar. The Metro Police in the town I was in came in and they put poker machines in the bar and we were running illegal gambling. There was money and we never got locked up because they were all in on it. That was the first taste of organized crime that I had. We were selling tons of cocaine and money wasn't an object. I had tons of it and I got used to that life. I thought, "Man, this is a lot better than the church was. They were always yelling at me to give money and all the rules and regulations. In this, there are no rules other than do what you want. I don't have to give to anybody but me." So I got real selfish and kept growing the identity. I think that's what whole crisis of America, the youth and what causes the gang problem and everything else. I didn't know who I was. So I would constantly evolve into the next thing.
Finally, the feds decided that I had done enough so I got locked up. The day I went to prison on a 20-year-sentence, it didn't seem like I would ever get out. I was madder at God; I mean really mad at God because I wasn't taking any responsibility myself. I knew it couldn't be my fault. The crazy part is that I was a white-collar kid so I wasn't that typical "bad seed." I was in the Reserves, had made rank. I had everything going for me except having no clue who I was. I kept trying to be this thing that I wasn't. So I was in prison. One night, these guys try to kill me because they thought I was somebody else. They went to stab me and I ended up stabbing them. One of them was laying there bleeding out while the other guy was beating on the door, trying to get away from me. The next day, they moved me to another prison. The chief of security said, "You're going into protective custody" and I said, "No I'm not! I didn't come in here to be in jail inside of a jail."
So I got to the new prison and my cellie was the head of the Aryan Brotherhood. He had been doing it for years. He said, "I heard you stabbed that boy over at the prison" and I said, "Yeah, well they tried to kill me." I realized that I had taken another identity by just trying to protect myself. He immediately had a meeting. They call those "church," which I find unnerving. They use words like "blessed in" and "church," twisting and turning religion. They say things like, "You don't know me, you don't know Abraham or any of these things because your father is the devil." It's sad because people who haven't been taught the Bible will fall for it so easily. The devil does know Scripture!
So what happened is I ended up being the boss of the AB while I was in prison. I had 600 to 800 white boys running around doing whatever I told them because they had nothing better to do. All that was going on when this guy came by my cell and said, "I want you to go to church with me." I said, "Man, we just stabbed a guy 53 times. If you think I'm going to church, you've missed the boat completely. I don't need that Jesus crap. I don't need the rules. He didn't pay my bond and he ain't doing my time. You need to roll on." He left but somewhere in my spirit, I knew that this guy was trying to get to me. I got angry about it instead of accepting it.
The next day, he came by and said the same thing. I said, "You didn't hear me. I told you we would kill you." He said, "Man, I die in Christ daily. Don't threaten me with a good time. If I die, I'm going to Heaven so you can't do nothing to me."
It was like somebody hit me with a two by four. The reality of this guy being not selfish, not caring about himself and knowing we would have killed him ... I said, "I'll go but I'm going to prove that your God's not real and that's the only reason I'll go."
So I showed up and God showed out. This guy started singing a song and it just hit me. It was like God just sat down beside me. I said, "Lord, if you're real, show me the God that my mom knew and I'll worship you inside these walls forever."
Now I didn't think I was getting out for another 15 years. But about four and a half months later, they gave me a reprieve. I didn't even know what that meant but I knew I was getting out.
So I got out and a couple of months afterwards, I realized that I'd made a commitment to God. I think we forget those when we tell Him we'll do something. I eventually became a youth pastor. After about a year of doing the right thing, the feds showed up at my house and they said, "Hey, we need you to go into the gang again." I was like, "What??" I didn't even know I was still on their radar. My wife and I talked about it and prayed about it and I said I would do it even though I hadn't seen any of them in three or four years. We thought it was only going to be a six-month deal. It turned into four years.
Kim - When you went under, you were a man of faith. The things that you would have had to have done and seen to maintain the earned trust ... How did you live with those spiritually and mentally?
Bishop - Favor - unmerited favor. My wife and I were having to wake up every day and completely be somebody else. Every fiber was different. It was crazy. I had met her in church and she knew nothing about my old life. So when the feds came, she was like, "How do you know them?" They pulled out a file that nearly took a hand-truck to bring in and she said, "That's not the man I married."
I remember how I would wake up during our yearly corporate fast and the guys would be like, "Hey - we're going to smoke a pig today" or some other food and I would have to tell them that I was too hungover to eat. I couldn't say, "Oh, I'm fasting" because it would have been completely crazy. It was that kind of thing. You couldn't show weakness or flinch when it was time to knock somebody's mouth out. It was hard.
Kim - How many faces wake you up in the middle of the night?
Bishop - All of them! Those were my brothers. That part is also in the book. I didn't want to show them in a bad light and I get a lot of grief from that. The part that hurt the most in the whole case was that I knew how to fix them and help them, but I couldn't tell them that all they needed was Jesus so they didn't need the identity of being in the club.
The club does great things - most times better than the church. If you needed your water heater fixed, or you needed anything, we were there. Within a week, we would throw a ride and raise $25 to $30 grand. It would all go to the brother. The church, to even get a box of food when you need it, makes you fill out 50 forms and wait for them to have a board meeting. I don't think that's what Jesus had in mind.
Kim - We, the public, seem to forget that bikers have human sides too. We don't see them as being the same as us because they're the "monsters."
Bishop - Yesterday in an interview, I was asked what traffickers look like. I said, "They're your deacons, your next door neighbors, the lunch lady at your kids school. You never know. Everyone is vulnerable to it." Traffickers try to show you love first. I posted about a 170 page document on my site about how pedofiles target your child. It's sick. We live in a sick world. We've got to get awareness and get the demand stopped. There's a big argument out there about who to prosecute. They say you have to prosecute the pimp and the john, but not the prostitute and I agree if she is a victim. But if we could get the demand gone and see that the gangs see this as a whole new income stream, it would end. Drugs and guns can only be sold once but a person can be sold over and over again. Then when they're caught, the victim is prosecuted for prostitution and the gang never gets touched. We're not looking deep enough into it to see that it's the gangs and the cartels.
Kim - I was reading earlier that according to the American Psychological Association, the classification of pedophilia has been changed from a "disorder' to a "sexual orientation or preference." (Editor's note: the APA has said that was a "text mistake" that they plan to correct.)
Bishop - Oh my gosh! A minor attracted person. My head just exploded!
Kim - Mine too. What shocked me even more was comments I read from various church hierarchy that said things like, "Well, it's mostly just a editorial thing. It's not anything we need to worry about. We're teaching these people that if they're attracted to children, they just need to keep it in their heads. It's not a sin if you're just thinking about it."
Bishop - I think that's not what the Bible says.
Kim - Exactly! It's like our society is just shrugging its shoulders, saying, "Whatever works for you... who am I to judge?"
Bishop - We like to think that everything is rainbows and unicorns and we put Jesus in a box. We need to get Him out! You have to love people where they are, like Jesus did, but you don't have to agree with them and you don't have to make excuses for them. I think that's what we've done. "Oh, it's OK. It's just a character flaw." But that's not the case. It's destroying our children.
Kim - We have to look after our kids. We have to stop wanting to be their "friends" and parent them. Know where they are. Know who they're with. Don't protect them from the ugliness of the world so much that they don't know what a bad place it can be.
Bishop - That's how the gangs work. That was my whole thing. I would find out what made people tick, what they were missing at home. For example, we had a guy who had just had a child. When his child's birthday came up, he came to us and asked for days off to go out of town. I immediately knew that it was something that was important to him so I would say, "No, you can't do it this week because we've got such and such." Then we would have to come up with something we were doing to keep him busy. We were controlling when he got to be with his family because we could destroy his family. That way he would have to depend on the club. I just think about how those guys were good people who made bad choices. We're all guilty of that.