Sam: Protect our Children! Mormon Church: Apostate!

Sacred StoriesThursday, January 25, 2018, I met with my Stake President(SP) and Bishop(BP) to discuss my concerns about youth interviews.  The meeting lasted 3 hours.  These are very good men.  I would vouch for them anywhere.  The Stake President is the local representative who speaks on behalf of the Church with regards to me.

At the outset, I asked if they were recording the interview.  I believe that on two occasions, my phone conversations with Church headquarters have been recorded.  The SP assured me that he was not recording.

I told them that on three recent occasions, during meetings with Church representatives, I have been told that the conversations were to remain private.  This, even though the discussions were about church policy.  No longer am I willing to keep private things that are not private.  I told the SP this and then asked if he would like me to record the meeting.  That way, when I wrote or talked about it, I wouldn’t get anything wrong.  He asked me not to record it.  I didn’t.

I then presented the book ‘Sacred Stories of Sacred Children.’  It contains 250 stories of horrendous consequences suffered by our youth.  They quickly flipped through the book, not stopping to read.  Both the BP and SP said that they believe the stories.  That was very good news.  I could only guess that they had read them elsewhere.

I briefly described a few of the stories.  Instances of sexual assault by bishops, suicide and severe trauma.  The SP responded, “Shame on those men.”  Well, I certainly agree with that.  And I take it one step further, “Shame on the system that enabled the actions of these men.”

At that point, I invited them to join with me to protect the children.  That invitation was quickly brushed off the table for any consideration.

Then we launched into a long back and forth about why I thought the current policies are dangerous and damaging.  Followed by their defense as to why they are necessary and good.  Conclusion?  No changes will be made.

During this discussion, they brought up two valid points that I agree need to be addressed.

  1. My writings were hurting people.  I asked, “Who am I hurting?”  The SP said that I’d hurt him.  He then read from my most recent email to him.  It had hurt his feelings to the core.  I could see that.  My letter had been harsh and angry.  I had written it from the backdrop of being ignored for months and then reading another horrific story of a damaged child.  It was legitimate for him to call me out on this.  My anger should be focused on the correct target….the disgusting policy.  I’m committed to do better on this front.  The offensive letter had been posted on my website.  I decided to take it down, which I have.  The SP did not make this request.
  2. How are voluntary confessions to be handled?  I don’t know the answer to that question.  It does need to be addressed.  However, the vast majority of the youth interviews are NOT voluntary confessions.  13,000 of us are calling for the immediate stop of what is happening today.  Then, we can sort out how the few and far between voluntary confessions are handled.  Never-the-less, I still believe that they should not occur behind closed doors, all alone with the child.

The SP expressed concern about my change in attitude…the anger in my writings, the image of a roaring lion.  I didn’t respond in the moment.  But, how in the world can 1,000 stories NOT change my attitude?  If a person can read story after dreadful story and not be changed, they are capable of something I am not.  Yeah, you bet I’ve changed.  My heart has been broken a thousand times.  It’s now full of empathy and compassion.  While my belly is full of fire to protect our children.

Finally, my agenda had been aired….over and over again with no meeting of the minds.

Then the Stake President launched into his agenda.

SP:  Sam, do you want to be a member of the Church?

ME:  Yes.

SP:  Sam, are you an apostate?

ME:  No.

SP:  You are an apostate!

ME:  No, I’m not.  I’m speaking out about the need to change a policy.

SP:  You are an apostate!

He then flipped to the definition of apostasy in Handbook 1:

“Apostasy refers to members who repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.”

SP:  Sam, are you an apostate?

ME:  No.  I’m not speaking out against the Church of its leaders.  I’m speaking out against a policy.

SP:  You are an apostate.

He ended up reading the definition of apostasy a few more times.  It quickly became obvious that there was no debating this issue.  I had been officially declared apostate by the official Church representative.

SP:  You can’t continue speaking in public about this.  We will have to protect the good name of the church.


  1. In the face of hundreds of children being harmed…the Church will not change anything to protect this happening to our children in the future.
  2. I have officially been called apostate and told to be silent.
  3. With the repeated warnings of apostasy, the stage for my excommunication has been set.
  4. The SP had wanted my wife to be present.  I am so glad that she was not there to witness the thinly veiled threat made to her husband.

 My Public Response

  1. I agree that we need to protect the good name of the church.  How about that?  The Church’s reputation is being trashed by a dreadful policy that is doing severe harm to our children.  My fellow Mormons…join with 13,000 of us to protect the good name of the Church.  If this policy is not eliminated, those who didn’t speak up for change will be responsible for the bad name the Church is now accruing.
  2. I am not going to be silenced.  Our children’s protection is more precious than my membership.  I have made the temple covenant of sacrifice.  This is not a time to waffle on that promise.  If called to do so, I’ll sacrifice my membership for the benefit of the kids.
  3. Whatever the Church decides to do to me, I forgive them in advance.  My Stake President and Bishop are great men, having to operate within the system that they have been dealt.

P.S.  Dear Church leaders, If I got anything wrong, please let me know.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a recording to assist in writing this piece.


Sign the Petition

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Read the Stories

See the Stories






Sacred Stories–Graveyard of Our Children’s Innocence


A few years ago, my wife and I, along with two of our daughters, visited the American Cemetery on the beaches of Normandy.  I was struck with somber reverence.  Row after row of rectangular headstones representing the sacrifice of one life after another.

It was December.  The sky was gray.  The weather cold and blustery.  The tour guide walked us through the gravestones recounting stories of the fallen.  I teared up frequently as I pondered what happened so long ago.  It was an honor to walk among the noble.

These are sacred stories.

Today, there’s another location that’s scattered with sacred stories.  Row after row of white rectangles recounting the lost innocence of one child after another.  Childhoods sacrificed by shame and self-loathing.  Their worth was demolished behind closed and lonely chapel doors.

At first blush, these children’s stories don’t sound noble.  Oh…but they are.  They are so noble.  Their innocence crushed by inappropriate shame.  Now as adults, they’ve had the courage to share their hurt and pain on a white rectangle in a computer pane.

These children’s somber stories will help other victims heal.  Others now know they are not alone.  Others now know as a child they were wronged.  The authors of these stories should also know that they are heroes.  It’s they who will stop these wrongs in the future.

I’ve read every last word of every last story.  I’ve shed many a tear as I’ve pondered what happened so long ago.  It is an honor to walk among these noble.

These are sacred stories.

Gently I now ask, if you have a sacred story of childhood shame inflicted behind the closed doors of the bishops walls, I invite you to share….but only if you are ready.

Share Your Story

Read the Stories

See the Stories

P.S. To the 202 of you who have shared your tender and vulnerable stories, thank you my friends.  I see you.  I hear you.  I love you.


A Win for Our Children!!!

Lion Protecting CubsTonight, an amazing message came in from a good friend.  He’s an active member in a far far away stake.  Immediately, I composed an e-mail to my Stake President with his message at the core.  At this time, I can’t share all the details out in public.

The stake has decided to implement every last demand of the petition!!!!   And more…stuff that’s related but wasn’t included in the petition.  I felt that if the petition was to be successful, it needed to be focused on one issue….children’s interviews.  This wise stake presidency totally gets it.

Just so amazing.

Here’s the e-mail I just sent to my stake president.

Dear President _________,

Tonight, an active friend sent me the following message:

(Sorry everybody…I don’t have permission to share the details of what’s happening in this far far away stake.  But just imagine this…all our wildest dreams about changes to how sexuality is approached with our kids.  It is truly amazing stuff.)     

Changes to protect our children are inevitable.  This wise stake president has taken action without directions from Church headquarters.  I’m aware of 2 other stakes who are considering similar changes.

Let’s do the same thing here.  Take the lead.  I’ll follow.  Your flock will be delighted.



The Gloves are Off

LionTonight I sent this letter to my stake president and the newspaper.

Dear President ________,

Last Thursday, I held a news conference in Salt Lake City.  All the major media outlets showed up.  You’ll find the link below.

As I mentioned in a previous communication, media attention is coming to Houston.  In early February, I’m doing a press conference here like the one in SLC.  The media is very interested in this topic.  They are all stunned at what we are doing to our kids.

We have done massive harm to our children by our interview practices.  At this point, I’ve collected over 1,000 stories of horrid consequences.  Read them here.  Inform yourself as to why YOU should take action now.

Until last Thursday, I was giving bishops the benefit of the doubt.  That they are good men, with good intentions.

However, once we know that our interview protocol puts our children at great risk, we are NOT good men if we continue that practice.

From today on, if a bishop takes a child behind closed doors, all alone….he is not a good man.  He has harmed our children.

From this day forward, if a bishop asks a child about masturbation or any other sexual matter…he is not a good man.  He has harmed that child.

If you don’t understand how this damages our children, then inform yourself.  I have wanted to meet with you for months to discuss these issues.  I’d still like to do that.  But, I’m done waiting for the church, the ward or the stake to make changes.  Every week that goes by, further damage is done.  You are better than that.

I call on you to immediately halt one-on-one interviews with all children and youth.  Have a parent in all meetings with any child.

I call on you to immediately halt all questions about masturbation and other sexually explicit questions.  DO.NOT.SHAME.OUR.CHILDREN.

Order your bishops to protect the children…right now.  Have them cease these dangerous and damaging interviews.

You are the pastoral leader of a huge flock.  Be our pastoral leader.  Advocate for the children.  You might take some heat from your ecclesiastical superiors.  But, your concern should be for the well-being of the children in this stake, rather than compliance to directions from other men.

I have risked my reputation to speak out.  It’s affected my livelihood.  I’ve lost customers.  I’ve lost friends.  I’ve made the decision to die on this hill.  The hill of protecting children.  Ultimately, my reputation will remain intact.  Everyone outside of the church is appalled by what we are doing.  Many inside the church are also aghast.  Unfortunately, there is such fear in our Mormon culture, that those inside don’t speak up.

By not taking immediate action, you are also putting your reputation at risk.  No one outside of the church is going to think highly of a man who takes children behind closed doors and questions them about masturbation.  I no longer think highly of them, either.  I know the damages.  I have communicated them to every bishopric in the stake.  If you and they are not informed as to how we are harming our kids, you have no excuse.

Here’s my invitation.  Send a directive out to the bishops immediately.  Tell them to stop the interviews until things are sorted out.  Take the lead.  Don’t wait for a directive from the church.

Join me at the Houston news conference.  You make the announcement that you recognize the harms we have done and that we have changed course to never do this to our kids again.

The entire non-Mormon community will applaud your integrity and bravery.  The members in the stake will applaud you, too.  After all, these are their kids you are looking to protect.

You’ll likely receive some kind of censure from the church.  But, not from Jesus Christ.  He spoke unequivocally about our obligation to provide safety for our children:

“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Jesus made His point.  I am not going to be hanged by the millstone.  Let’s stand with Christ for our children’s sake on this one.

With determination,


Links in the e-mail

News conference

Read the Stories



News Conference Report–1/18/18


The first news conference for Protect LDS Children.  And my first one, too.  Natasha Helfer Parker and Joelle Casteix were amazing, as you’ll see.


Attendance:  75.  YAY!!!

Media:  4 TV stations, the 2 major Salt Lake City papers, several other significant local publications.   The Church’s media arms were there:  Deseret News and KSL TV.

Media Coverage:  Several articles in print, TV, & radio.  Major coup.

New Petition Signatures:  At least 700 so far.  They continue to roll in.  Awareness is on the rise.

Setting Boundaries:  A handful of members have reported that they plan to use the new template to set boundaries in order to protect their children.  This is huge.  It means that real children have actually been extended a new level of safety within the church.

The News Conference Video


My Remarks in Text

Last night I received this message:

“In 2014, l lost my 14 year old son to suicide.  His chat logs before his death hint he was struggling with feeling worthy.   I have no doubts that these Bishop’s interviews played a role in my son’s end of life decision.

After 3 1/2 years of intense research and pondering of his decision, I place these interviews as third on the list for why he made the decision.  My haunting regrets tell me he might still be alive if I had not required that he participate in these interviews.”

I don’t know how a parent ever heals from this.  This dad is watching the news conference as we speak from his home in Las Vegas.

My dear friend at your home, I and 11,000 others apologize from the bottom of our hearts that this happened to your son on our watch.  I was complicit by not paying attention to the practices of my own church.  I won’t make that mistake again.

These 11,000, which now includes you, are committed to warning all Mormon parents to the horrid dangers of these interviews.  It’s still our watch.  Now we are informed.   We will not be haunted by our own silence.

When it comes to protecting our children, I have no tolerance whatsoever for political correctness.  What I say next may offend every person I know.  But, I want to express the empathetic passion that I now feel after having read 1,000 stories of what we have done to our children.

So here goes.  We are killing our children.  This child is not the first to have committed suicide.  I know dozens who have attempted it.  Hundreds who have considered it.

We are raping our children.  Seven year old Sandy on the bishop’s desk.  Twelve year old Amy at the bishop’s knees.   Yeah, you can read their stories.  But, they are so hard to read.  Courageous Sandy and brave Amy,  thank you for making it safe for others to come forward.

We are shaming our beautiful children into loathing themselves.   We ruin their childhood.  We torment  their adulthood.  I have read hundreds and hundreds of these heart-breaking stories.

We are grooming our precious children to be unsuspecting targets of the pedophiles among us.

This has to stop.  And WE are not going to stop until it does.

Now, for the update that I promised in the news release.

  1. On October 31, 2017 we launched the petition: Protect The Children–Stop Sexually Explicit Interviews of Mormon Youth.  Our goal was 10,000 signatures.  That benchmark was reached on Christmas Eve.  Over 5,000 signatories are from Utah.  Currently, there are 11,475 thundering voices calling for the immediate stop of one-on-one interviews and probing questions about masturbation and other sexually explicit matters.
  2. The website has been created to provide an easily accessible location to share and read the stories of the damages that we are doing to our kids.
  3. 173 stories have now been recorded on the site.  Eight of them have been converted to video format.
  4. Some parents are waking up to the risk of their children and have asked for a letter that can be sent to their bishop.  One is now available on the website under “Set Boundaries.”  Click the button and up pops a simple template.
  5. So, what’s our next step? We are announcing that right now.  It’s The March for the Children.  On March 30th, 2018, 1,000 of us will gather at City Hall.  Then march 5 blocks to the Church Office Building.  There, we will deliver our petition directly to the Church.

But, our actions will not cease today, only to resume on March 30th.  Nope.  Our children are too precious to just keep sending them behind closed doors.

We are calling for this practice to stop immediately, today.  How can we accomplish that?

First, we call on the good parents of the church.  Starting today, do not permit your child to be interviewed alone.  Do not permit sexual question to be asked of your child.  A sample letter to set interview boundaries can be found on the website.

Second, we call on the good bishops of the church to cease this practice immediately.  Always invite a parent into every interview, to be inside the room, in support of their child.  Going forward, never ask about masturbation or any other sexually probing questions.  Do.Not.Shame.Our.Children.  Protect our children from all harm.  This will protect you, too.

Third, we call on the good leaders at the top of the church to give instructions to immediately stop this practice.  Protect our children.  Now.  Not in 3 months.  Not in 3 years.  Protect our children now.

Of course, I recognize that the church may not act quickly.  Parents…they are your children.  You CAN act immediately….for your children’s sake.

Finally, I believe the vast majority of bishops are good men.  Most did not intend to harm our children.  Until this past year, I did not understand exactly how we are traumatizing our kids.

But, now we know.  We are informed.  From this day forward, I will no longer give bishops a break for committing the blunders of the past.  They are no longer unintended errors of ignorance.  The next time a bishop takes a child behind closed doors…the harm is intentional.  The next time a bishop shames our children about masturbation…you have damaged our children intentionally.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I love the teachings and example of Jesus, especially this one:

 “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Today we call for the immediate stop of offending our little ones.

Other Resources

Is there a Human Being on the Planet…

Lion Innocence…who wouldn’t be devastated by this?

I bawled my eyes out.  It took me three attempts to watch the video before I could watch to the end.

This story was shared today on  I spoke with the dad by phone.  How does anyone recover from this?

I did lose a 14 year old son to suicide in 2014, this petition is correct about the risk of suicide attached to these interviews.

In my most painful moments searching for what sparked my Samuel’s end of life decision, the issues presented in this petition quickly rose high on the list to investigate. Not just one, but two Bishop’s testified while speaking at his funeral just how conscientious Samuel was during his Bishop’s interviews with them. Also comments in his chat logs before he died hint that he was effected by these interviews.

After over 3 years of grueling and intense research and pondering to understand, I place these interviews and the feelings of shame they produce as a major reason for his end of life decision. My haunting regrets tell me he might still be alive if I had not required that he participate in these interviews, God knows how I wished I had a Sam Young to enlighten me before his death.

*** Samuel’s video is the heart-breaker ***


These Interviews Stop NOW!

It’s not just Sam Young….There are now 11,449 thundering voices that will NOT be silenced.  Our cherished children are at stake.

Other Resources

News Conference-Jan 18, 2018 Salt Lake City

Lion Protecting Cubs

When:    January 18, 2018  10am

What:    News conference

Where:  50 West Club & Café located at 50 W. Broadway in Salt Lake City.

Event:    Protect LDS Children

  • Current status of the Petition: Protect the Children—Stop Sexually Explicit Interviews of Mormon Youth.
  • Large collection of survivor stories.
  • Announcement of the March-for-the-Children to deliver the petition to the Church Office Building.

Three speakers will be on the podium:

  • Sam Young, concerned father, former Mormon bishop, petition organizer;
  • Joelle Casteix, sex abuse victims’ advocate, Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network;
  • Natasha Helfer Parker, a certified sex therapist and licensed marriage & family therapist.

For decades, it has been common place for a significant number of LDS Bishops to pose questions of a sexual nature to children, all alone, behind closed doors.  This practice has caused incalculable damage to our children.

The consequences range from childhood self-loathing all the way to sexual abuse and suicide. The goal of Protect-LDS-Children is to bring a halt to these dangerous and damaging interviews.

The petition has now garnered well over 10,000 signatures.  5,000 of the signers are from Utah.  Many of them are active LDS members.

To date more than 1,000 survivor stories have been collected.  They recount horrifying and heartrending interviews, the accompanying trauma and the lasting damage.  All of this has been done to our children behind closed doors of bishop’s offices.

The time has come to bring this practice to an immediate stop.  How this will be accomplished will be a central part of the news conference message.

Sam Young

Houston business owner, father of 6 daughters, active LDS Church member, decades of service to the LDS church including bishop, bishopric counselor, ward mission leader, ward young men president, stake young men president, stake public affairs director, stake activities director, high councilor, high priest group leader, seminary teacher, institute teacher and several special assignments.  Served full time mission in Guatemala/El Salvador.

Joelle Casteix

Named one of Orange County’s 100 Most Influential People, Joelle is the award-winning author of the bestsellers  The Well-Armored Child: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse (RiverGrove Books) and The Power of Responsibility (based on her wildly successful TEDx talk.) A successful writer and blogger, she is also a leading national “in the trenches” expert on the prevention and exposure of child sex abuse and cover-up, especially within institutions such as the Catholic Church.

A former journalist, educator, and public relations professional, Joelle has taken her own experience as a victim of child sex crimes and devoted her career to exposing abuse, advocating on behalf of survivors, and spreading abuse prevention strategies for parents and communities. Her writing has been featured in The Orange County Register,, and hundreds of other blogs and magazines nationwide.

Since 2003, Joelle has been the volunteer Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. In that capacity, she has traveled the world exposing abusers, helping victims get healing, justice and accountability, and researching predatory abuse patterns in institutions.

Her expertise includes an in-depth understanding and recognition of patterns of abuse, predatory behaviors, grooming, prevention, institutional disregard, and criminal cover-up.

She also conducts trainings for families, churches and communities on how to raise empowered children and keep our communities safe from child sexual abuse.

She has practiced for over 20 years, primarily working with issues of relational health, faith journeys, and sexuality. She is a Certified Sex Therapist and Marriage & Family Therapist. She writes a blog called “The Mormon Therapist,” and hosts the podcasts “Mormon Mental Health,” and “Mormon Sex Info.” She also runs a sex education program, “Sex Talk with Natasha” and her private practice, “Symmetry Solutions.” For more information visit