Protect LDS Children Founder Says New Mormon Church “Guidelines” Still Leave Minors Vulnerable To Abuse

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March 30th Rally Scheduled in Salt Lake City, Over 55,000 Petition Signatures Now Gathered to Definitively End One-on-One Meetings With Mormon Children & Male Church Leaders

“This should not be complicated and Church guidelines should be crystal clear. There should be no place in the LDS Church for sexually-explicit conversations between male Church elders and young boys and girls, and that policy should be in writing. Full stop."

In response to growing criticism and new reports of sexual abuse by Church leaders, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced yesterday that for the first time parents of minors may be allowed in one-on-one meetings between children and Church elders, but the founder of a national grassroots movement aimed at protecting LDS children said today these new guidelines do not go nearly far enough and leave key issues unresolved. Notably, the new LDS Church guidelines do not mandate a parent or guardian be present, but rather, leave it up to the children to decide, and also do not address the issue of sexually-explicit questions and conversations between male church leaders and minors.

“This announcement is a small step forward but it’s concerning that LDS Church leaders still don’t seem to understand the seriousness of this issue,” said Sam Young, a Houston business owner, father of six daughters, and active LDS Church member. “This should not be complicated and Church guidelines should be crystal clear. There should be no place in the LDS Church for sexually-explicit conversations between male Church elders and young boys and girls, and that policy should be in writing. Full stop. Further, either a parent or a guardian should always be present when male Church leaders are interviewing children which is for the physical and emotional protection of the child and legal protection for the Church.”

Young last year founded the Protect-LDS-Children Initiative which to date has helped gather over 55,000 petition signatures from LDS Church members calling on Church leaders to end a decades-long practice 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. Their organization is planning a rally in Salt Lake City this Friday, March 30th, where Young and more than 1,000 fellow Mormons and others will formally deliver the signed petitions to Church headquarters. This effort has gathered nationwide support, as more survivors and families have come forward to share their stories of how one-on-one “interviews” by LDS Bishops negatively impacted their self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional well-being. You can read the petition by clicking here.

Young also penned an op-ed published in The Daily Beast on Monday, titled, “The Mormon Church Must Learn from #MeToo,” writing: “[A]s Mormons and non-Mormons alike raise their voices to bring this issue into the light, the Church has a unique opportunity to stop and condemn this practice that has no place in our mission or our community.”

Monday’s announcement by the LDS Church also comes in the wake of yet another documented report of abuse by a Church leader has become public this week. As the Salt Lake City Tribune and other news outlets recently reported: “A former president of the LDS Missionary Training Center has admitted that he took a young woman into a small room at the Provo campus in 1984 and asked to see her breasts, according to a report released Wednesday by Brigham Young University police. The release comes three days after MormonLeaks published an explosive, taped conversation between the woman and Joseph L. Bishop, whom she accuses of attempting to rape her.”

“All institutional churches in America have already implemented a certain policy to curb abuse and protect children except the LDS Church. Our Church is lagging behind and it’s time to catch up and protect our children,” Young said.

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Katy Summerlin
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