Abuse in the LDS church and Sam Young (September 12, 2018)

One of the bigger stories regarding the LDS church lately has been Sam Young and his 'Protect LDS Children' movement. Sam is a Mormon bishop that has been asking for the LDS leadership to remove the questions regarding sex from the worthiness interviews as well as ending the practice of 1-on-1 interviews with the youth in general due to the potential for abuse, shame, or general confusion.

Currently Sam is awaiting the final decision from the church regarding the possibility of excommunication for his role in this movement, and it has split both faithful Mormons and ex-Mormons because of the tactics that Sam took. The Deseret News wrote an article on behalf of the church that alleges Sam said ""I would not join the church today" and encouraged others not to join." (Deseret News) It is worth noting that the Deseret News quotes Sam for saying "I would not join the church today" but does not have an actual quote for the allegation that Sam Young encouraged others not to join, which Sam has strongly denied.

While the truth is probably somewhere in the middle with Sam telling people he would not join while these interviews were allowed, the bottom line is that there are reasons for wanting these questions removed. After Sam's daughters went through an interview with inappropriate questions, Sam began collecting the stories of other young adults in the church to determine who else was feeling shame, guilt, and sadness after these interviews, and began receiving so many horrifying examples of Bishop's that went beyond the realm of appropriateness. Here are a few of the questions the youth were asked by LDS bishops according to Sam Young:

  • Do you masturbate?

  • Do you know what a vagina is?

  • What were you thinking of while you masturbated?

  • Do you masturbate under or over the panties?

  • How many fingers do you use?

  • When was the last time you watched pornography?

  • What type of pornography do you watch?

  • Do you masturbate while you watch pornography?

  • Where and how did your boyfriend touch you?

  • Where your nipples hard?

  • Did you get wet?

  • Where were his fingers?

  • Where was your underwear?

  • What color were your panties?

  • Did you orgasm?

  • Did you know that once boys reach a certain level of arousal, they have no choice but to keep going, that they can no longer stop their sexual advances?

  • Have you ever put your penis in another boy’s anus and if so, did you like it?

  • Describe the sexual positions you engaged?

  • Did you engage in oral sex?

  • Did she orgasm?

  • Was she shaved?

  • Did you ejaculate?

  • How many times did he ejaculate?

  • Where did he ejaculate?

  • Did you engage in anal sex?

  • Did the boy ejaculate in your mouth?

  • Did you put your mouth on her vagina, or use your fingers?

  • Did he touch your breasts?

  • Did you touch his penis?

  • How far did he penetrate you?

  • To a rape victim:

  • Did you like it?

  • What did you do to egg him on?

  • What were you wearing?

  • Did you orgasm?

 

Of course this is not the "norm" with bishop interviews, but that is not the point. The point is that these inappropriate questions are happening often enough that something needs to be done. Would you feel comfortable being asked these questions as a teenager? Would you be happy if your daughter or son were asked these questions at a young age? Bishops are just regular people being asked to do uncomfortable things without any training, which is purposefully done so that bishops have to call the Kirton-McKonkie help line when problems arise or when members need to report abuse. More on that later.

I agree that Sam Young knew that excommunication was likely when he began this endeavor as a Mormon bishop, and Sam admits it as well. I personally think the church is making a mistake if they excommunicate him because it will look awful to those not in the church to see a man kicked out trying to help make the church a more comfortable place for the youth, but it is obviously their right to make that decision.

This post will be extended with some history on how the church has handled sexual abuse claims in the past, but I think it is important to note that while Sam Young might have taken the wrong tactic to get his message out, the church leaves him no other choice. In the LDS church, there is no room for dissent. If you do not sustain the leaders of the church, the problem is with you and not with the leaders, and in this case the leaders refused to listen.

As we summarize in all of our essays and pages, this is not a church that is founded in the way they portray their story to the public. There is no discernment from me, you, or the prophet - the priesthood leaders do not have any more ability to protect your kids from abuse than anyone else does. When I was attending church regularly with the priesthood, there was no difference in my ability to understand the problems of the world than there is for me today without going to church. With that in mind, it is necessary to keep in mind that when you leave your children alone with bishops or other priesthood holders in the church, you need to make sure you trust them as you would another parent from school, a neighbor, or a coworker. Because at the end of the day, that's what bishops are - people in the community who are just trying to do their best, but with no training or screening to make sure your children's best interests are protected.

We will continue this post soon with some historical info on how the church handles abuse allegations, which is even more eye-opening given the way they are trying to silence Sam Young today. Talk to you all soon!

Back to LDS Discussions Blog Home