Anger, Fury, Outrage—Gifts from God

Lion RunningThe past 3 days have been really hard.

Last night, I reached out to my friend Sandy, one of the victims of an egregiously evil bishop’s interview.  Thank you Sandy.  It helped.  I’ve linked her story below.

Two more things happened today that have helped lift me. I’m not out of the woods yet, but, I’m starting to see the way out.
1.  I had lost hope that my cause had any chance of success.  Today, I talked about it with other friends and mulled it over on my own.  I have come to realize a major reason that hope was fading.  A few months ago, a former member of my ward reached out and let me know that she and her husband have basically left the church.  That was a shocker.  She had watched my journey and felt this quote was appropriate: “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” 

That sentiment resonated big time. 

Here’s what has happened over the past couple of weeks and in earnest over the past few days:  I have tamped…down…my…anger.  Of course, we should exert control over our emotions.  But here’s the problem.  Hope and anger are intertwined, according to St. Augustine.  As I have pushed anger out of the my mind, hope has started to flicker and wane.  Then followed by a descent into despair.  Today, I have embraced my anger again.  As I have, hope has come rushing back to burn brightly in my heart. 

After All….

  • How can I not be angry at a system that allowed and fostered 6 years of my sweet daughter being taken behind closed doors and grilled about masturbation?!!!!
  • How can I not be cut to the quick and outraged at what was done to 7 year old Sandy on the bishop’s desktop?!!!!!!
  • How can I not be brought to tears and incensed by what was done to 12 year old Amy in the bishop’s office?!!!!
  • How can I not be devastated and enraged at the tragedy of Samuel’s death?!!!!

Nope!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My anger is God-given.  I will embrace this gift from God.  Christ is my exemplar.  Hear the tone in his fiery roar:  “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.”

2.  This afternoon, the company’s top sales person came into my office.  He’s not Mormon, yet feels strongly about protecting LDS children.  We discussed all that’s going on, including the lack of support from my long-time active friends, the threat of excommunication, the total lack of concern and non-response I’ve received from the Church.   In conclusion he said this:  Sam, I feel it’s a privilege to witness what you are doing.  I hope you know that God is directing you.

 Occasionally, people express concern for me.  Here’s when you should worry….when I am no longer emotional about the hideous things we are doing to our kids.  Until my faith transition, hope was not much of an operative virtue in my religious practice.  It is now.  For me, the HOPE to protect our children inspires ANGER and COURAGE.  When I have both in my heart, I find myself standing tall with my 14,000 friends.  When I push either away, my heart starts to say, “Run away, Sam. Run away.”  I’m not running the hell away.  I’m embracing my outrage and running to meet Goliath.

If you see a spark of fury or observe a glimmer of courage……know that once again, I am full of hope.

Sandy’s Story

 

Amy’s Story

Samuel’s Story

March-For-The-Children

On March 30, 2018, one thousand concerned human beings will March-For-The-Children in support of changes to prevent the hideous damage we are inflicting on our kids.  This will be an historic occasion in Mormon history.

Make plans to join us now.  Arrange the day off, book your flight, put together your car pools.   Bring your family, bring your kids, bring your friends.  For most of us, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  One that we will treasure with fondness for the rest of our lives.

You can register to March-For-The-Children on Eventbrite or on Facebook.

***Please Share the March-For-The-Children FAR and WIDE***

Links

Sign the Petition

Share Your Story

See the Stories

Read the Stories

Other Resources

Finally, An Apostle is Leading the Charge

 

neldontanner

N. Eldon Tanner served as an apostle from 1962 to1982. In October 1978 General Conference, he directed his remarks specifically to bishops. He called them out for having asked explicit sexual questions.  YES!!!  Obviously, the top church leaders have been aware of this problem at least the past 40 years.  It’s time that we as Mormons heed the apostle’s words.

NEVER in general conference has an apostle given approval for explicit sexual questions being posed to our children.   Nope…NEVER.   On the other hand, an apostle, serving in the First Presidency, specifically forbid this type of behavior by our bishops.  What our bishops have been doing to our children is NOT condoned by the apostles.

The Petition to Protect the Children calls for the same things that Elder Tanner spoke out about.  Obviously, many of our bishops chose NOT to heed this apostolic warning.  The carnage detailed in the sacred stories of our sacred children is the unfortunate result.

March-For-The-Children

On March 30, 2018, one thousand concerned human beings will March-For-The-Children in support of Elder Tanner’s counsel.  This will be an historic occasion in Mormon history.  Marching both to protect our children and to show our support for the apostles.

Make plans to join us now.  Arrange the day off, book your flight, put together your car pools.   Bring your family, bring your kids, bring your friends.  For most of us, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  One that we will treasure with fondness for the rest of our lives.

You can register to March-For-The-Children on Eventbrite or on Facebook.

***Please Share the March-For-The-Children FAR and WIDE***

Links

Sign the Petition

Share Your Story

See the Stories

Read the Stories

Other Resources

The Historic March for the Children

Lion Protecting CubsToday, we officially announce our March for the Children.

This event will be historic in the annals of Mormon history.  These are our kids.  We have an obligation to protect all children in our society.  And PROTECT…THEM…WE…WILL!!!

Date:  March 30, 2018 (Good Friday)

Time:  12:00pm – 3:00pm

Place: Salt Lake City and County Building, 451 State Street, Salt Lake City 84101

We will gather at the park adjacent to the Salt Lake City/County Building.  A five block march will ensue to the LDS Church Office Building.  There, we will deliver the signatures that have been recorded on the Protect-The-Children Petition.  We will also present the book of Sacred Stories of Sacred Children, accounts of lives damaged from inappropriate childhood interviews.

In our petition to Protect the Children—

We call on the LDS Church to immediately cease the practice of subjecting children to questions about masturbation, orgasm, ejaculation, sexual positions or anything else of a sexual nature. This applies to all children up to and including age 17. There should be no one-on-one interviews with children. A parent or another adult of the child’s choosing is to be present.

We call on the LDS Church to publicly disavow this practice.

We call on the LDS Church to ensure that all congregational leaders, as well the general membership, are informed that this practice is prohibited.

Attendance Goal

We are shooting for 1,000.

At this moment, there are 14,659 signatures on the petition.  Close to 7,000 are from Utah.  There are people who plan to fly and drive in from all over the country.

Our petition goal was 10,000 names.  At the outset, it seemed impossible.  Nope.  It was totally possible.

Having 100 survivors come forward with stories seemed unlikely.  Over 2,000 survivors have now shared their stories.  330 have put them out in the open for the world to see exactly what we are doing to our kids.

1,000 marchers?  Is that even possible?  When I gave this estimate to the city permit department, they were pretty skeptical.  LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN.  Not for numbers sake.  For our children’s sake.  The bigger the numbers, the more likely will be the outcome we are looking for.

And exactly what are we looking for:

  • Protecting of our children by eliminating one-on-one interviews where sexual questions are posed.
  • Facilitating the healing of those children who have been harmed.
  • Protecting our bishops from risksing their reputations.
  • Protecting the good name of the Church.  The world recognizes the danger we are putting our children in.  It harms our reputation when we harm our children.

Registration

Please register for the event on Facebook or Eventbrite or both.  At the moment, 32 have signed up.   Only 968 to go!  We are almost there.

BTW, you don’t need to sign-up.  You don’t need tickets.  The sign-ups will help us and the city make the appropriate preparations.

I’m anxious to meet you as we converge on the common cause for our children.

***Please Share the sign-up page far and wide***

 

Links

Sign the Petition

Share Your Story

See the Stories

Read the Stories

 

More Good News From the Trenches

 

Victory

A letter sent to my Stake President tonight.

Dear President________,

More good news from the trenches.  These messages just came in today.

Idaho“My stake president brought up the discussion of how to protect youth during interviews.  You’re making an impact. Good work!”

Utah:  “I work with millennial TBMs.  Today we were having a discussion about the US gymnastics doctor situation.  My coworker noted that those kind of abuses make them hesitant to put their kids in sports and such where they might be 1:1 with an adult. Another, who’s a faithful member, piped up that he felt the same way about bishop interviews, citing ‘all the awful stories he’s been hearing about bishops abusing kids.’  I was shocked when the entire team—all TBMs—agreed without hesitation, saying they would never be sending their kids in alone for bishop interviews, and that the church should absolutely change that policy. 

So whether or not the policy changes now, people are changing.  Those are future parents and church leaders.  It’s working, even if it’s slow. Keep up the good work.”

Pretty cool that leaders and members are seeing the imminent dangers to their children by allowing them to be taken behind closed doors and asked questions about sex.

All my Best,

-Sam

P.S. ‘TBM’ is the acronym for ‘True Believing Member.’  It’s not a pejorative term in any way.

 Links

Sign the Petition

Share Your Story

Read the Stories

See the Stories

 

Thousands Call on Mormon Church to End Sexually Explicit Bishops’ Interviews

Houston News ConferenceEverything went spectacularly well at today’s press conference.  Two major Houston TV stations showed up, along with a great audience of 45 people.  Thanks to all of you who attended!!!

We are getting better at public relations.  I have been told that after a press conference, another press release should be immediately sent to the media.  We missed that opportunity in Salt Lake.  Not this time.  Below is the release that was just sent to thousands of media outlets, including every one in Houston.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    February 6, 2018

Thousands Call on Mormon Church to End Sexually Explicit Bishops’ Interviews

Press Conference Today Highlights Growing Grassroots Movement & Victims’ Stories Ahead of March 30th Rally to be Held in Salt Lake City

HOUSTON, TX – In just the last eight weeks over 14,000 Americans have signed a petition calling on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to end the inappropriate practice of “Bishops’ Interviews” and that number is growing each day.

The mounting support for ending this decades-long practice by the LDS Church — in which Church elders conduct one-on-one meetings with children, without their parents present, and which often involve discussions and questions of a sexual nature — was highlighted at a press conference organized in Houston today by the Protect-the-Children Initiative which is a grassroots organization founded by Sam Young, a Houston business owner, father of six daughters, and active LDS Church member.

“The long overdue national conversation our country is having on sexual abuse and harassment has laid bare the reality that practices that may have been accepted years ago should no longer tolerated today,” Young said today. “As the father of six daughters and a lifelong member of the LDS Church I believe it’s wholly inappropriate for children to have to sit behind closed doors with a male Church leader, and without their parents present, and be asked questions regarding their sexual history or desires. It’s time for us, as Mormons, and friends of Mormons, to stand up for our children which is why we’re calling on the LDS Church to end the practice of private one-on-one interviews with children and male leaders.”

Young was joined at today’s press conference by Michael Norris, a Houston SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) leader and Natasha Helfer Parker, a certified family therapist with 20 years of experience treating individuals, couples and families. They also presented over 300 Victims Impact Statements from LDS Church members who have already shared their personal stories of inappropriate, and in some cases potentially unlawful, interactions that have allegedly taken place during Bishops’ Interviews within the LDS Church. You can read and hear the firsthand accounts of many of these individuals by clicking here.

Over the next 8 weeks, the Protect-the-Children Initiative will continue to gather signatures and stories from LDS Church members from around the country and will hold a rally in Salt

Lake City on March 30th where the signed petitions will be formally delivered to LDS Church leaders.

“This movement is in no way meant to disparage the LDS Church, which many of us have devoted our lives to, but rather to protect both our Church and its most vulnerable members. The LDS Church, and frankly every religious institution, should be doing everything possible to ensure our children are protected and ending this antiquated and inappropriate practice would be a step towards doing just that,” Young concluded.

###

BTW, the video of the press conference is being edited and will be shared soon.

Until the harm to our kids stops, WE WILL NOT STOP.

 

Great Suggestions to Protect Our Children

Lion Protecting CubsIntroducing Timothy Birt, a mental health therapist who has run centers for sexually abused children for 14 years.  He has fundamental concerns about bishop interviews from a moral, legal, and ethical perspective.  His professional credentials:  MS, LPC, LMFT.

Tim has worked hard to come up with thorough and well thought out suggestions.   I present them for your serious consideration.

Tim’s Recommendations

To those of us who have signed the petition or submitted a story, I ask you to join Sam Young by considering what you can do to help protect LDS children in your own ward or stake.

A)  Consider asking for a meeting with your Bishopric and Stake Presidency.  Inform them of the issues and concerns about current church practices of interviewing children about sexual issues.  Let them know you have signed the petition.  Give them links to the stories of harm to our children.

B)  Consider sharing your own story with your church leaders, face to face, of how you felt having those interviews.  Or share difficult feelings you may have had about the church focus on masturbation / chastity.  Or the teaching that it would be better to die than to “lose your virtue” if you were raped or sexually abused.  Or what it was like sending your own children into private interviews.  Or how teachings about purity have affected your intimate relationship in adulthood.  Or your own story of sexual abuse or assault or sexual harassment and how church teachings did not prepare you to heal or have boundaries.  Consider sharing with them inappropriate questions asked by your church leaders.  Or whatever YOUR experiences were and concerns are now.  Then ask them if they can or will acknowledge how the practices of the church did YOU harm or impacted you personally or your children personally.

C)  Consider telling your local church leaders that you don’t support the practice of one-on-one youth interviews that discuss sexuality or worthiness. Consider telling your local church leaders that you are uncomfortable allowing your under-aged children to be interviewed alone or asked inappropriate questions.  Consider informing them that you will not consent to allow church leaders to request one on one interviews with your children.

D)  Consider suggesting to your local church leaders viable alternatives used in other wards, stakes and churches to support spiritual development of our youth that don’t require one-on-one adult youth interviews.  Namely the following options:

1)  Don’t do interviews at all.   Allow youth who want to go to the temple or have a calling or advance in the priesthood to do so if they desire to do so.

2)  If Church leaders feel they are required by the Church to ask children questions, consider asking to have those questions submitted to the parent in writing in advance.  Allow the parent to pass on questions they feel are appropriate for their children and let children respond in writing.  The child’s response could even be in a signed envelope. Any followup questions can be handled in the same way.

3)  Inform bishops and Stake leaders that they can communicate with youth in groups with parents and adults of the youth’s choosing in the room and state the expectations of the church for participation in temple work or callings and invite all those who feel they can follow those guidelines to participate and if they participate they do so with that understanding.

4)  Discuss other ways church leaders could teach and support youth that follow standard safe sanctuary / child protection guidelines that require background checks, two deep leadership, no one-on-one contact between adults and youth, and are careful and respectful in discussing sexuality with youth.

E)  If the Bishop / Church leader insists on interviews, ask that a parent or adult of the child’s choosing be present for the entire interview and advise the child they don’t have to participate in any interview they don’t want to have.  Allow the adult to object to any inappropriate questions.  In the rare instance where a child requests a private interview with a church leader, have two church leaders of the child’s choosing in the room so there is no one-on-one interaction which violates basic child protection principles.  Note that church leaders can be essential outlets for a child to make an outcry of child abuse and must be trained to know how to report and handle these cases correctly.  Consider informing the Bishop that he personally and the church collectively are subject to criminal and civil consequences if they mishandle reporting child abuse allegations and civil lawsuits if they violate confidentiality of certain things they hear as a church leader. Consider asking your Church leaders if they have been adequately trained about mandated reporting and confidentiality and if they are willing to follow the law? Consider letting them know you will hold them and the Church criminally and civilly accountable for their duties to follow the law in reporting child abuse.

F)  Consider asking your church leader if they will commit to following basic child protection policies in their ward/Stake by NEVER being one-on-one with a child who is not their own in any capacity at church or in church service and having two deep adult leadership present when adults and youth are together.

G)  Consider asking bishops and church leaders to not provide sex education or to delve into sexual activities in interviews with youth but to refer such issues to the parents.  Ask your church leaders if they will commit to this agreement.

H)  If a bishop or church leader insists on asking questions about masturbation or considers masturbation to be sinful and teaches that it needs to be confessed , consider asking the bishop / church leader to find in the General Handbook of instructions any policy that directly addresses masturbation and to read to you the exact words from the handbook. (Note: There is nothing in the handbook about masturbation specifically.) Then consider asking your bishop / church leader to commit to not asking about masturbation.  Further, you can consider requesting that they and every teacher in the ward not mention or teach anything about masturbation and to refrain implying that it’s sinful.  Ask if a youth attempts to confess masturbation as a moral problem or impacting worthiness in any way, that you request that the church leader inform the youth that masturbation is not addressed in the handbook of instructions and is a personal matter.

I)  Consider Informing your bishop and stake leaders that you want to discuss the damage that has been done to members and youth by uninformed and hurtful teachings about sexuality and forgiveness.  Inform them that 1 in 4 girls are victims of child sexual abuse and nearly all girls and women experience some sort of sexual harassment or assault during their lifetimes.  The church teachings about sexuality and chastity do not address the reality of sexual abuse and harassment in its past teachings about “chastity.” Many lessons taught are profoundly inconsiderate and damaging.  Boys and men are also abused and harassed and assaulted. Many unskillful teachings about sexuality (licked cupcake, chewed gum, hole in the board, a person’s clothing being responsible for causing someone else to act sexually inappropriately, males judged not able to control their sexual urges, etc.) are ubiquitous in our church culture and that such teaching are damaging.

Ask your church leaders to work with you to eliminate these antiquated and harmful perspectives and have trauma and consent informed teachings about sexuality as part of our church teachings and culture. Ask church leaders to evaluate church teachings and to discuss consent, respect, and responsibility and acknowledge sexual abuse and harassment.

Consider asking bishop / church leaders to have mental health professionals available to take referrals for those affected and to not attempt counseling or spiritual advising for victims of abuse or assault. Consider advising them that they are out of their depth and will cause harm if they attempt to counsel abuse victims.

Consider requesting changes to youth standards nights and lessons to be informed that there are victims of child abuse and rape and assault in the room when they are discussing “chastity” and to consider inviting mental health professionals to discuss in large groups how to address victimization.

J)  Consider asking bishop / church leaders to hear accounts of how the church and its leaders in their ward’s have hurt members by worthiness interviews and harmful teachings on morality and chastity (licked cupcake) and ask them if they feel it would be appropriate to make a formal apology to those hurt by such actions and to work to address the issues raised by those who are hurt by such actions and teachings.

K)  Consider suggesting that women leaders be involved when women need to discuss sexuality or abuse and not men.

L)  Consider requesting that bishop’s doors have a window not just a peep hole and all rooms in the church where children may be behind a closed door with adults, have a window installed.

M)  Consider requesting that all members called or allowed to work with youth have a criminal background check and youth protection training before they start their calling or responsibility.  Consider informing your church leader that you may choose to not sustain any adult called to a position with youth who has not had a background check and youth protections training.  Consider not sustaining anyone who has not had a background check when the calling is voted on in church.

N)  Consider speaking up in your ward so that every ward and stake in the church has multiple people asking our leaders to protect children in these ways. Understand that when every church unit has multiple members and non members requesting these protections for our children, change will be more likely.  This change can be bottom up and not wait on Salt Lake to make church wide changes.

If your local leaders don’t listen to your concerns or don’t implement requested changes to protect our children and redress harms, consider not voting to sustain such leaders in your local unit conferences.  Publicly tell why you’re not sustaining them.  The law of common consent is gospel doctrine and we need to use it.  The Church would have difficulty bringing church discipline on all members who have concerns. When we act in unity our voices can be collectively heard.  There are hundreds of thousands of us who will be willing to voice our concerns.  We can begin doing so at the local level where we can make a difference.

If any of these recommendations are a fit for you, consider taking action.  If they don’t, consider what you can do in your local church unit or community to make a difference.  Please don’t wait for the church to change from the top, start the discussion to protect LDS children in your own local unit now.

Be a True Texan–Gallop to the Rescue

SLC News Conf

Dear President______,

Here’s a report from church today:

“My bishop just said next Sunday there will be a meeting for parents about worthiness interviews for the parents knowledge about them. He is obviously holding this meeting because of the recent outrage at the church for these interviews.”

Change is coming.  The only question is when.  We, you and me, have the opportunity to protect the good name of the church.  Lead the charge to protect our children.

We…are…Texans!  We are independent.  We don’t lag behind.  When we see a need, we gallop to the rescue.  Let’s jump on our horses and gallop to protect our children.

I’m paying all the expenses for the news conference on Tuesday, Feb 6.  All you need to do is show up.  You will be highly respected by every single person in our fair city….including the 100,000 Mormons who live in the viewing area.

As President Monson said, “May we ever choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong.”

How sweet would it be if after the news conference, you and I were the ones making the rounds on the morning TV shows and then the afternoon radio shows.  I’d pay your way to fly with me to New York and Los Angeles for all the national media that is up ahead.  Make no mistake…IT IS COMING!

Of course, we both may be excommunicated.  But, that’s OK.  Is there a more noble cause than speaking up for the protection of our children?  You and I will go down as followers of Jesus Christ no matter the consequences.

Your brother in Christ,

-Sam

(I sent this letter to my Stake President today.)

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Houston News Conference Details

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