Former bishop’s hunger strike puts more scrutiny on Mormon youth interviews

In this file photo, Sam Young, a Mormon father from Houston who is seeking an end to sexually explicit interviews of Mormon youth by their LDS bishops, talks during a news conference in Salt Lake City, Jan. 18, 2018 | Photo by Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune via Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Mormon man has launched a hunger strike to bring attention to a campaign calling on church leaders to bring an end to closed door, one-on-one interviews where youth are asked by adult lay leaders if they are following the religion’s strict rules on sexual activity.

Sam Young speaks to reporters in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 29, 2018 | Photo courtesy of FOX 13 News, St. George News

Sam Young of Houston, Texas, said he started his hunger strike Friday and is in Salt Lake City holding nightly chats with supporters across the street from the Mormon temple. It marks the latest protest taken by Young and his group over questions asked during the interviews about whether young Mormons are following the religion’s law of chastity.

Read more: Former Mormon bishop asks church leaders to stop interviewing kids about sex behind closed doors 

Young and his supporters call the questions inappropriate and contend they can lead to unhealthy shaming of youth. About 1,000 people marched to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in March demanding change.

The church changed its policy earlier this year to allow children to bring a parent or adult with them. Parents were only allowed in a hallway or adjacent room under old rules. Youth can still go in alone if they choose.

The church also for the first time last month posted a list of questions lay leaders are supposed to ask during the interviews, which usually happen twice a year starting at age 12. One of the questions asks directly: “Do you live the law of chastity?”

In this March 2018 file photo, about 1,000 Mormons and former Mormons march to the church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City to deliver petitions demanding an end to one-on-one interviews between Mormon youth and lay leaders and the sexual questions that sometimes arise during the meetings, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 30, 2018 | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

Mormons are taught under that code not to have sex before marriage, engage in passionate kissing, touch another person’s private parts or arouse “emotions in your own body” that are supposed to be reserved for marriage.

Church officials say the interviews allow bishops to get to know youth better and determine their religious habits and obedience to God. The bishops are instructed how to handle the meetings and swear to keep the conversations confidential.

The church noted in a statement Monday about the hunger strike that it had taken steps to improve relationships between young people, their parents and leaders. The religion said it shares a desire to protect children and that it’s familiar with Young’s position and noted leaders have met with him.

The movement to end the interviews comes as others push the religion be more accepting of LGBT members. The Mormon church has shifted its tone to be more welcoming and compassionate toward gays and lesbians but hasn’t changed its doctrinal opposition of same-sex marriage and belief that homosexual relations are a sin.

Dan Reynolds, the frontman for the rock band Imagine Dragons, recently held a concert in Utah to raise funds to support LGBT youth in the Mormon church.

Read more: Apple CEO, Imagine Dragons at Salt Lake City music festival for Mormon LGBT youth

Written by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Real Life July 30, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Man you Mormons sure are goofy sometimes. I guess you will have that when your bishop is asking you if you had an orgasm.

    • Phil Mcc July 30, 2018 at 7:40 pm

      Good job reading!

      • Real Life July 31, 2018 at 12:22 am

        Read the sign on the picture above.

  • comments July 30, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    ya been havin’ impure thoughts?

    ya been touchin’ urself in ways that displease the lard?

    ya been touchin ur little friends in ways that anget the lard?

    ya been havin’ them homasexural fantasies?!

    best be careful. heavenly father gonna send ya straight to hell!

  • Mild Winters July 30, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    The leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints represent the Lord on this Earth.
    The youth of today who live morally clean lives are blessed mightily. Their church leaders know this and strive constantly to help and strengthen the young men and women in their spiritual care to remain chaste…
    Encouraging a parent or guardian to sit in on the interview is a wise solution.

    • comments July 31, 2018 at 10:42 am

      How come your LDS church doesn’t do something about all the polygamous pedophile mormon sects in this state–these are direct offshoots of your LDS mormon church, using the same mormon bible. As far as I can tell the only reason anything is done is because of pressure from the feds. Why does the LDS church/govt apparatus of UT allow and enable this stuff to continue? I actually fully support the LDS “war on porn”, but I can’t help but feel that they are so hypocritical when the nations worst pedophile rape cults exist right here in zion, and operate under a version of mormonism so very similar to LDS mormonism.

    • Mike P July 31, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Yeah, you just keep believing that. That’s what they want. Just keep inbreeding more little robots to pay tithing

    • Anejo July 31, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      *Encouraging a parent or guardian to sit in on the interview is a wise solution.

      No. It’s bad enough that a child is shamed in front of an adult but compounded when it’s a group. Especially a parent.

      Here’s an idea. What if the interviewer uses their constitutionally protected status to respect the interviewee’s constitutionally protected right to privacy?

  • Icomments2 July 31, 2018 at 4:43 am

    All I can say is “I’m glad I’m not Mormon!!!” At 12 yrs old I was outside playing and having fun, and the first thing from my mind was boys and kissing!!! Sure I had crushes, but I wasn’t thinking about how I was going to passionately kiss the boy or if I was going to have an organism!!! These people are perverts if you ask me wanting to know if little kids are thinking that way!!! And if they are that’s between God and themselves!!! God is the only one who can pass judgment!!! And its up to the parents to teach them not to have sex before marriage!!! With all the LGBT crap they make it sound wonderful to have it anytime, and with anyone!!! If you are a God fearing person then you instill it on your children, that’s no one elses job!!! You just take them to church to learn and if they become God fearing too them nothing to worry about!!! Bishops, Priest, Elders, Pastors etc… have no place asking any questions of anyone period!!! And yes I’m a Christian, RLDS to be exact!!!

    • Icomments2 July 31, 2018 at 4:45 am

      *furthest not first sorry… Lol

    • comments July 31, 2018 at 10:44 am


      • comments July 31, 2018 at 12:52 pm

        I looked it up. Seems like another joseph smith worshiping cult…

  • 42214 July 31, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    This is Jones Town cult weirdo stuff. De-briefing kids about sexual feelings and intimate personal beliefs, you guys are whacko!

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