On Mormon teens, sex, and closed-door “worthiness” interviews with middle-aged men

Religion News Service | 8/14/2018 | Staff
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The LDS Church has been sharply criticized in recent weeks for its longstanding policy of requiring teenagers to be interviewed by male church leaders. These one-on-one conversations have ranged widely to cover not only spiritual topics but also intensely personal issues and sexual behavior, recounted in the stories many individuals have uploaded to the website “Protect LDS Children.”

The site is the project of Sam Young, a former LDS bishop who has recently engaged in a hunger strike to draw attention to the problem of LDS leaders being alone behind closed doors with teens and even children. One such girl was only eight years old when she was molested by her bishop at a baptismal interview, as recounted in this heartbreaking video.

Young - LDS - Church - Measures - Place

Young says the LDS Church does not have adequate measures in place to guarantee that bishops and other male leaders cannot take advantage of youth. Such abuse may be rare, but it happened to one of Young’s own daughters; she was just twelve when she started getting sexually explicit questions in her “worthiness” interviews with the bishop.

In response to the growing concerns about its policy on youth interviews, the LDS Church earlier this year updated the guidelines for local church leaders to use when interviewing youth (which happens once or twice a year). I’ve had a chance to compare the new guidelines from section 7.1.7 of Handbook 1 with that same section in the 2010 Handbook to see what is different . . . and the answer is that a few things have changed, but not enough.

What’s new:

The new guidelines are actually available to the public. This in itself is huge. Handbook 1 is restricted to bishops and stake presidents, so the fact that this particular section has been made publicly available (see here) means that the Church is taking...
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