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The Mormon Church MUST change their irresponsible and outdated policies that have harmed so many children.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

Help Us Stop Child Abuse

*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.

*Climb a mountain and save a child.  Climb a mountain, a hill or a driveway.  Unfurl a banner, take a picture share it everywhere you can.

*On October 5, 2019, bring your banners to Salt Lake City and March for the Children.  Please register in advance.  This will be an historic event.  The first major march aimed at halting child sex abuse.  Be one of the 5,000 participants shouldering our sacred responsibility to protect every child.

Protect Children Quote

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Should Mormon Missionaries Tell the Truth about Children?

MissionariesToday, I had lunch with an old friend.  We feel quite a kinship for one another.   He’s a very faithful member of the Mormon Church.  However, he agrees with me that sexual questions should not be asked to kids. Here’s a snippet of our conversation.

LDS Friend (LDSF):  We are working with a family in my ward who are considering joining the church.

SAM:  Okay.

LDSF:  Do you think I should tell them about the youth interviews?

ME:  For me, my integrity would demand that I tell the parents about the dangers their children will face.  How would I feel when they confronted me after their children were interrogated behind closed doors?  I would feel complicit.  The only honorable thing to do would be to give them a heads up so they could make an informed decision about the safety of their children.

LDSF:  If I told them, I don’t think they would join the church.  Well, maybe if their testimony of the restoration was stronger than their concern for their kids.

ME  Everybody outside the Church is repulsed by this practice.  They recoil when you explain that twice a year children are taken all alone behind closed doors by the bishop.  People are shocked and incredulous to find out that the bishop will then ask the kids about their sex lives.  I would tell anyone considering joining the Church that they should wait until the Church changes it’s policies.  Too many children have been horribly harmed.

LDSFDo you think that missionaries should tell their investigators?

ME:  Absolutely.  They shouldn’t be hiding something this important.

LDSF:  We might as well just bring all the missionaries home.  Do you think the church should do that?

ME:  Doesn’t that say it all?  You are afraid to tell the family that is considering baptism, otherwise they’ll change their minds.  You fear that if the 70,000 full time missionaries were to be forthright about worthiness interviews, they might as well all be brought home.  If the Church has to hide how they treat children, it should be a clear sign that it’s a very bad practice.

After 2 hours of cordial discussion, we hugged and parted as good of friends as we’ve ever been.

So, what to do you think?  Should Mormon missionaries inform potential converts about the Church’s current interview policies?

Climb a Mountain, Save a Child

We have big plans this year to continue to press for change.  And not just in the Mormon Church.  Nevertheless, the LDS Church will still be central to our cause.  They are the poster child of unsafe practices.

I have previously announced our plans in various places.  HERE’s one.  More detailed explanations will be published soon.

What Can You Do

  1. Climb a mountain, peak or driveway.  Unfurl a banner or poster.  Take a picture & share.
  2. Share this opportunity with friends and family.  This is no longer just a Mormon adventure to protect Mormon children.  Invite your friends of all religious persuasions.
  3. In SLC on Oct 5, 2019, another march and rally will be held.  Make plans to come and wave your banner high.
  4. If you can’t come to the march, that’s ok.  We’ll carry a banner in your honor of the mountain you climbed.

This is a high and noble cause.  We are saving children, both in and out of the Mormon Church.

Last year, a THOUSAND people marched in the streets of Salt Lake City with bold and colorful signs.  It was magical.

Now imagine this fall:  FIVE THOUSAND men, women and children bearing banners from mountain tops around the world proclaiming a message of safety and healing.  That’s our goal–5,000!!!

BE A PART OF IT.

Preparations

PLDSC has a ton of preparation to do.  Two things that will happen soon to support you.

  1. A registry will be published where you can record in advance what mountain, hill or driveway you plan to climb.
  2. Banners have been ordered and will be available for purchase soon.  Of course, home made flags are wonderful.  That’s the route we went for our first mountain climb.

This will be an amazing adventure of a lifetime for all of us.