Grass Roots Changes in the Mormon Church

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka the Mormon Church, still has a policy in place that requires congregational leaders to regularly take children behind closed doors and ask questions of a sexual nature.  There is no requirement to notify parents when these “worthiness” interviews take place.  The meetings are usually one-on-one unless the child “desires” that another adult be in the room.

Except for the vague instruction that they should not be “unnecessarily probing,” there is no limit to what untrained Mormon leaders can ask a child.  As a result, many bishops continue to ask totally inappropriate, shaming and harmful questions like those found HERE.

The Mormon Church MUST change their irresponsible and outdated policies that have harmed so many children.

Fortunately, there is anecdotal evidence that thoughtful parents and local Mormon leaders are stepping up to protect children on their own.  Here are 3 recent examples.

#1:  Stake president instructs, no one-on-one, no sexual questions!!!

Message receive this morning, July 13, 2019:

Sam, just thought I would drop you a line.  I have followed you for a while and have appreciated your efforts and thought you would enjoy hearing some positive news.

I was recently put into a bishopric in a Utah ward.  During my interviews with the stake presidency, I was determined to tell them that I would not do one-on-one child interviews and would not ask sexual questions.  If that were to be an issue, I could not accept the calling. 

To my great surprise, I was told by the stake presidency without any prompting from me that while I would be doing interviews with children, under no circumstances was I to ever interview a child without a parent present and I am not to ask questions of any sexual nature.

While I don’t know if that same advice was extended to the new bishop I was relieved to hear that from local leadership.  While it is a small step, it made me feel like if enough local leaders feel this way the church will change regardless of the brethren…common consent will eventually win!

#2:  Bishop eliminates one-on-one interviews

A message received yesterday:

Hi Sam, 

I have a family member who is the executive secretary to his bishop.  In their ward there has to be a chaperone for interviews with all minors and all women. Basically their bishopric has decided that if a minor or any female meets with any member of the bishopric, one of the other members of the bishopric or the executive secretary has to also be in attendance as a “chaperone” as they put it.

I know this isn’t being done everywhere and that it may not be the policy at a stake level.  Either way I know I’m happy to see it’s being done in that ward and a good step.

#3:  Bishop asks all parents to be in interviews

Recently the Mormon church sent out a survey soliciting opinions about a “proposed change” to the age for “worthiness” interviews.  Following is one of the public comments on 2KUTV’s FB page.

My brother in law is a bishop.  Every interview with a minor, he invites the parents/guardian to join them. Sometimes they refuse and other times they join. He says he interviews the same.

Good for the bishop.  There is no policy to ask parents to be present in the interviews.  He has chosen a path of protection for both the child and himself.  I can only hope that this bishop has also ditched the sexual questions.  To ask them in front of parents would be doubly shaming for the child.

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*Protect Every Child (PEC) is no longer a lonely voice.   A COALITION of 7 organizations have rallies to our cause.  If you are part of an association who is working to protect children or support survivors, please let me know if you would like to be added to the coalition.  PEC applauds and supports the good works that all these organizations are doing to stamp out child abuse.

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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.

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