Ep 93 – CC Protect LDS Children

On this episode, we invite Sam Young of the Protect LDS Children campaign. Currently, Sam’s petition has over 16,000 signatures urging the LDS Church to change its policy concerning how Bishop’s interviews are conducted. As it currently stands, Bishops frequently ask sexually explicit questions during regular interviews in a child’s development, one-on-one, behind closed doors, perpetuating a cycle of shame and creating situations where sexual grooming is normalized. March 30, 2018 marks the public march to the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City to deliver the petition to the Church along with collected stories from people who’ve been affected by these invasive interviews. Please consider joining us in this grassroots movement, whether you simply sign the petition, share your personal story, or you’re able to make it to the march, Sam needs our support. This episode is longer than usual and it’s punctuated by stories which may cause some listeners to feel triggered; listener discretion advised.

Links:

Campaign Website
http://protectldschildren.org/

Read the Stories here
http://protectldschildren.org/read-the-stories-2/

P LDS C Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/ProtectLDSChildren/

Show Links:

Website http://nakedmormonismpodcast.com
Twitter @NakedMormonism
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Naked-Mormonism/370003839816311
Patreon http://patreon.com/nakedmormonism
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/

Protect LDS Children

Stories:

It’s been a bit of a struggle deciding what to do for this week’s show. Our regular episodes are typically a main history segment with a followup interview related to the subject matter of the history segment. However, this week is a bit different for a few crucial reasons.

Every first Monday of the month, we do our NaMo Home Evenings Google Hangouts which are reserved for listeners who support the show over at Patreon.com/nakedmormonism, but this month’s hangout was simply too important and timely to not air on the regular feed. What you’re about to hear is a conversation with Sam Young, the figurehead of the Protect LDS Children campaign who is currently organizing a march on the Church Office Building set to launch on March 30th, 2018. We discuss the campaign in detail and Sam fields a number of important questions from yours truly and from those who joined the call. It’s over an hour and a half. I’ve also decided to strategically break it up by peppering in a few of the stories people have sent in through Protect LDS Children.org, making the entire episode well over 2 hours. It’s a long one, but it’s well worth the listen.

If you’ve personally been affected by invasive Bishop’s interviews, I encourage you to go to the campaign website and write in your story, many of them are completely anonymous which is the writer’s prerogative. Any Utah listeners out there hearing this prior to March 30, 2018, I hope you’ll seriously consider joining us at noon that day in front of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City to march for this crucially important cause. You’ll find links in the show notes to Sam’s other podcast interviews and media appearances where you can gain a full grasp of the scope and desires of the campaign.

Before getting into the episode, I’m issuing a blanket trigger warning. Some of the issues discussed in the interview are of a sexual nature. Beyond that, some of the stories posted on the Protect LDS Children website discuss some very explicit sexual matters as well as suicide and suicide attempts. This episode may be hard for some of you to get through and if you feel you may be triggered by any of those subjects, you may want to skip some parts or even the entire episode. I’ll voice specific trigger warnings when a story is particularly painful, but these stories matter and they need to be on the record. At the end of the interview I’ll voice some additional concluding thoughts. You have been warned. Without further ado, here’s Sam Young.

#371 Name Hidden. CS: 1,2,4,7. Other: Loss of innocence.

When I was a very naive 12 year old, I attended my first bishops interview. I was scared & really had no idea what to expect. I was intimidated by anyone in a leadership position.

I think it all started out fine and then was hit with a question that I never imagined being asked.

“Are you and ________, (my best friend at the time), lesbians?” To be honest I had no idea what a lesbian was. So I said I didn’t think so, and asked what it was. He continued to ask me if her and I were inappropriately touching each other. I was MORTIFIED. I was as naive as they come and had never once even had that thought cross my mind. I was your typical silly 12 year old girl. We lived where there weren’t a ton of Mormons around, so when we would all get together for activities and see each other at church it was so much fun. We all had a special bond.

Well, he continued to ask me if I masturbated. Again, not a clue what that was. So he continued to teach me about masturbation. Including, how horrible it is. I had never been more embarrassed and ashamed in my life. I hadn’t even done what he was asking, yet still felt like I should feel guilty.

I wanted to share because this conversation has stuck with me for YEARS. I constantly was worried that my innocent friendships with girls, were not really considered innocent. Or that I was doing something wrong by merely having a best friend. I was so self conscious. Did I giggle too much, did we hang out too much, what was I doing to make people think this? Did everyone see something I didn’t??

I am so emotional writing this because it took such a toll on my innocence. I now have 2 daughters, and the thought of them going through what I did, makes me sick. My children WILL never be alone in a room with a man of authority over them. No matter how much I trust him.

I know there are so many stories far more damaging than mine. To my 12 year old self, however, it was horrific.

It changed me.

Trigger: Abuse, strong language

#374 Name Hidden. CS: 1. Other: Defending physical abuse by a priesthood holding father.

My sister and I, at different times in our respective childhoods mustered up the courage to tell the bishop about our dad, who physically, emotional and mentally abused us and our mother. I went in when I thought he might kill my mom after watching him choke her. I told my bishop about how he kicked, pulled hair, called us stupid bitches, and knocked me to the ground. My sister in a different interview told him about how our dad had pinned to her to the bed and choked her, and that he threw plates at her that missed and broke into pieces against the wall. I was only 100 lbs and my sister was much smaller. I once told my dad that he might kill us someday, to which he replied “no, I won’t let it get that far.” But here’s the problem: He was the ward clerk and a “righteous” and respected priesthood holder. I protested that he should not have a temple recommend and that he was a horrible human being. My sister and I both got the same response,”honor your father and mother.” I thought, didn’t you hear me? I had to threaten to call the cops to get him to let go of my mother’s throat! The interview ended and decided that I was right not to tell anyone all along. They simply didn’t care. By the time the next bishop was was called we had helped my mom kick him out, with the help of police, and she had picture evidence of being punched. The judge at their divorce hearing told him to never hurt a woman and granted her a much needed restraining order. After all this, the new bishop called my mother in for an interview, along with my little sister (I had moved out). They obediently went and, not long after sitting down, found that it was all a trick. The bishop had my dad come into the room so he could “just talk to her” about her breaking up the family. This bishop was clearly breaking the law and he knew it. They blamed my mother for the divorce. My mom and sister got up and left, not knowing that they could not count on a bishop to protect them. How can battered women ever escape in a system like this? And why don’t they matter? This was over a period where we had had a total of six bishops. The three of us do not believe bishops to have special discernment in the least. -B

Trigger: sexual assault, suicide

#299 Name Withheld. CS: 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9

I was a 14 year old child. I was raped. Had just had a lesson on “virtue”, the week before. I was so traumatized. I didn’t tell my parents because of the whole “it would be better to have your child come home in a pine box than to lose their virtue”, rhetoric. I went to my bishop because I thought I had committed the sin second only unto murder.

I was asked if i was morally clean. I said no. He asked what happened. I told him that a boy I was acquaintances with had forced himself on me.

He asked what I had done to provoke the boy. He asked what I was wearing. He asked me to describe exactly what my rapist did to me. He asked me how I felt while it was happening. He asked if I orgasmed during the assault. He asked if I had had ever “done this” before. He asked if I liked it. Where did he, my rapist, put his hands? How many fingers did he put inside me?

Then he told me I had committed a serious sin and must repent for my part in it.

I was forced to repeat this in front of the bishop, his counselors and the clerk. Every time I was asked a question it was like being raped again. 6 months disfellowshipped.

That night I tried to kill myself, the first of many tries. Luckily, I never succeeded.

I can directly pinpoint years of suicidal ideation to this incident. My bishop should have called the police. He should have comforted me and helped me to see that it was an assault. No consent. Instead I was punished for my rape.

I know I am not alone in this. I know there are other survivors of sexual assault who have experienced the same issues with Mormon bishops. I cannot articulate the deep devastation this has caused.

#294 Name Hidden. CS: 4

20-ish years ago, in the seventh grade, I had a history teacher. He was single, in his late 30s, and he was very interested in having kids come swim at his house, the ones who got good grades. He had several “hush-hush” parties of which he did not have permission from the school administration. Just he and a couple of students, to reward the ones who maybe got an “A,” or ones who “showed big progress.” What a nice guy, and how fair!” I thought! He was going above and beyond his job to give rewards to students. I thought he’d make a such good Mormon, Mormons are just like that. So kind, so generous. Surely, he should take the discussions. I could see how “improved” his life would be; maybe he could meet a young Mormon woman and get married in the temple.

I saw absolutely nothing wrong, no red flags at all, because I was used to being alone with an older man- a nice, caring, middle-aged man who asked deeply personal questions one-on-one with me a couple of times per year. This was very normal to me. How protected I felt, knowing I could talk one on one with not only my teachers, but my bishop, who was called of God, and his counselors as well. The world felt so safe, and Heavenly Father had blessed me in every possible way, was my thought.

A plot twist occurred here though. It was soon discovered that my bishop was having an affair with a ward member. The one who was a judge over me, who could question my chastity and “worthiness” was the one committing adultery, and had been for an entire year. I thought he was so righteous, a true man of God, and infallible. He was a bishop! How could this happen? This was a reality check for me as I suddenly recognized the very human tendencies of even “righteous” priesthood holders, even the most elect. The ones I am supposed to follow and to whom I should confess and discuss personal sins.

A few years later, the history teacher was arrested for several counts of sexual abuse of minors.

I am so fortunate that the abuse did not happen to me, but it terrifies me to think how close I came to subjecting myself to this because I saw no danger in the situation. I was perfectly willing to put myself in a completely abusive situation because of my own Mormon culture. There was actual danger all around me, and I could not see or discern the danger.

Where the rest of the world insists now that children/minors are never alone one-on-one with an adult—whether they be a professional teacher, coach, or physician—our church lags behind, and I believe all efforts should be made to stop one-on-one situations from occurring between minors and adults.

Trigger: sexual abuse

#278 Carrie B. CS: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

I grew up in an abusive home. I was raped for the first time when I was 7. I spent decades trying to convince my “leaders” that it wasn’t my fault. They insisted that I must have done something and I needed to repent (after all, what’s the point of a worthiness interview if you don’t get to spread some shame?). All the shaming just made me more vulnerable to the abuse. They could have helped me. They could have helped my abuser. Instead they dealt lasting damage to my sense of self and my sense of worth. I couldn’t get away from the abuse and the abuser until after my kids had also been damaged. We are now dealing with the 4th major mental health crisis to hit our family of 6. My daughter is in the hospital and has been for 3 months with no end in sight. It didn’t have to be this way.

#276 Name Hidden. CS: 1,3

The first time I ever masturbated was on my Mission at age 21. I knew I had to confess to my mission president, but I sat there in silence for what seemed like a few minutes unable so speak. Finally, I blurted it out. My Mission President responded with, Do you think that is why you are not baptizing?

We were teaching more lessons then just about any mission companionship, activating several families in a newly split area and that was the response I got. A guilt trip. Stop asking inappropriate questions and using shame/guilt.

#46 Dave S. CS: 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,10

I’ve lived with decades of shame, guilt and anxiety due to dozens of private worthiness meetings with LDS leaders when I was as young as eleven years old. The questions were always sexually-based and completely inappropriate. As a father and now a grandfather, I cannot fathom how this perverted system still exists. There is no doubt that millions of children have and continue to be emotionally harmed by this cruel and bizarre practice. IT NEEDS TO END.

Trigger: sex abuse

#86 Name Hidden. CS: 1,3,4. Other: Renewed shame and memories of past sexual molestation. She felt like she was molested again.

This is a story of two of my daughters who were interviewed by the same Bishop. One daughter was asked if she masturbated and what objects she used. This daughter was adopted and was abused by men as a young girl. She felt molested emotionally by the Bishop. This was traumatizing for her and turned her off to the Church.

Another daughter had been molested as a five year old in the church by a fifteen year old boy scout. The Bishop asked her details about her sexual relationship with her boyfriend. She felt the energy coming from the Bishop was molesting as well and brought up the past trauma of her molestation in the Church building. This was very traumatizing and lived with her for a long time. She still brings it up.

Both daughters are out of the Church. Not solely because of this experience but it definitely played a part.

Trigger: sexual assault, victim blaming

#81 Name Hidden. CS: 1,3

Not sure if it matters because it happened when I was an adult. After I had finally told my parents that I had been raped they convinced me to go to the bishop to hopefully get a recommendation to a counselor through the church. I did get the recommendation, but was also told I needed to atone for my sins for what had transpired. I left the bishop’s office sobbing.

Trigger: sex abuse

#80 Name Hidden. CS: 5

I wish I could share the details but the victims don’t want to go public. A man I loved and trusted as much as my own dad was a Bishop while he was molesting his own children. There is no question about this, he admitted to it when he was confronted. Who knows how many other children he abused behind closed doors. If you think a Bishop has some kind of special angel trust power, think again. Don’t trust anybody at church with your kids behind closed doors.

#127 Name Hidden. CS: 4,6

I have a child currently at BYU-I. The bishop there has asked several students how often they plan to have sex after marriage (including our child). The bishop then proceeds to explain that it isn’t as often as the student thinks because of things like pregnancy and menstrual cycles. We know of at least 3 students this has happened to, young men and young women. This is a sitting bishop. It has caused a huge amount of pain and frustration and even questioning of our faith in our very active LDS home.

I fail to see how a ~50 year old man asking a 19 year old girl how often she plans to have sex once she’s married and the giving advice on the effect of menstruation on that frequency has ANY place in our church or ecclesiastical leadership.

Trigger: suicide

#169 Brian B. CS: Suicide of my Son.

I did lose a 14 year old son to suicide in 2014, this petition is correct about the risk of suicide attached to these interviews.

In my most painful moments searching for what sparked my Samuel’s end of life decision, the issues presented in this petition quickly rose high on the list to investigate. Not just one, but two Bishop’s testified while speaking at his funeral just how conscientious Samuel was during his Bishop’s interviews with them. Also comments in his chat logs before he died hint that he was effected by these interviews.

After over 3 years of grueling and intense research and pondering to understand, I place these interviews and the feelings of shame they produce as a major reason for his end of life decision. My haunting regrets tell me he might still be alive if I had not required that he participate in these interviews, God knows how I wished I had a Sam Young to enlighten me before his death.

#184 Name Hidden. CS: 1,2,4,6. Other: Fear of sex, gynecological exams, etc

I remember having to decide whether to confess to masturbation at my baptismal interview a few months shy of my eighth birthday.

I decided to confess, since it was what god wanted, but chickened out when I was actually sitting in a room alone, across a heavy desk from my childhood bully’s dad, in my white “baptism dress.”

I went through with the baptism without telling anybody about the terrible sin I was carrying around, and promised god in prayer that I would stay clean and never do it again. Although eight-year-olds *are* champions of self restraint, I didn’t make it two weeks.

Guilt followed me through the next decade as I told myself that each interview would be the one where I would finally confess, and then failed as I sat across that desk from a parade of balding strangers.

As a Mormon girl, I felt like a profoundly broken person for having this “habit” (see: human need) at all, much less not being able to kick it.

Once I started having sex, I physically couldn’t do penetration because I would freeze up so badly (a condition called vaginismus). While my partner and I were able to overcome that, I still cry at every gynecological exam. And maybe worst of all, I didn’t ever think any of this was wrong until well into adulthood.

Trigger: sexually explicit questioning, slut-shaming, suicide

#229 Sara F. CS: 1,2,3,7,8,9

When I was 17 I slipped with my older boyfriend. I told my parents what had happened and they told me it was bad enough I needed to confess to the bishop. I’d never had an issue talking to a bishop before because luckily my mom and I were close enough she told me when it was ok not to confess to something or just say yes or no to get through a childhood interview. So I knew this time would be different.

I never did find out if I’d be in trouble because after my confession, instead of hearing comfort and what I needed to do to repent, the questions began. “Did he go over or under the clothes” did he insert fingers?” Would you have liked him to use his fingers?” Do you ever use you fingers when alone?” Ew, no no no! Finally in tears I told him I was feeling disgusting and to please stop those types of questions he said “do you know why you’re crying? Because you’ve realized you’re a slut. Does anyone respect sluts? Will anyone marry a slut?” I got up against his protests and left.

But it didn’t end there. This bishop has both a daughter and a niece my age [who] went to my school. I noticed people talking about me and laughing as I passed. My friend came up to me and said “you really shouldn’t tell your bishop things anymore” when I asked why, she told me that his daughter and niece were telling everyone that at [an] Easter get together he had told everyone about what I’d said, in confidence, in his office! He didn’t keep it quiet like he was supposed to! The bullying over being called a slut and whore at school thanks to this bishop made me feel I could never face these people again and his words “who would marry a slut” kept repeating over and over and over in my head. All because I came close to going all the way with my boyfriend but we were smart and stopped before it got to that.

I went home and took 20 pain killers, 30 sleeping pills, slit my wrists and waited in the bathtub. I couldn’t go to school and I was never gettting married now. My parents knew and thought I was headed in the wrong direction and kept forcing the idea of more meetings with the bishop on me. I wasn’t going back to that man just to watch him gleefully ask for details, and hear “slut” again. When I told our stake president he said I was a liar. So no one was on my side. I [had] just been through what, for an LDS teenager[,] is one of the worst things ever, mad parents, told I’m never getting married, a bishop who can’t be trusted, a school full of people who kept calling me a slut, and no one to support me. Luckily my mom found me in time and the ER dr.s were able to get the pills out of my system and the bleeding to stop and I finished up my junior and senior years of high school through BYUs distance learning program and i was allowed to go inactive until we had a new bishop. But first time I went to church 3 years later I had an anxiety attack and had to leave sobbing. I have never been in a bishops interview since. I chose not to get married in the temple to avoid a worthiness interview. That one bishop changed the whole course of my young adult life.

Trigger: Sexual assault, suicide

#233 Austin B. CS: 1,3,6,7,8

I looked at pornography in high school. My dad got a confession out of me by lying to me and saying that he would drive me to mutual but instead drove into a dark alley. He pinned me in a corner and forced me to confess. When I did confess to my bishop he told me I should avoid all women including my mother and sister because I was prone to be a rapist. In high school I got into a very toxic relationship with a girl who ended up raping me. I told my bishop and he said since I was a male that I liked it and I needed to repent. I was so depressed after this and wanted to kill myself. I tried to kill myself once but my best friend found me and saved me. I’m now married and my wife has slowly started to help me work through some of the deep damage my mormon experience has caused.

Final story. Trigger: abuse, sexual assault, slut-shaming, sexually explicit questioning,

#339 Name Hidden. CS: 1,2,3,4,7,8,9

I wish I was brave enough to post my name, but my family is still unaware of my faith transition. I feel like a coward. My heart is beating rapidly in nervousness as I type this out. But I need to do it.

I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family. My dad was a highly abusive narcissist and my mom just sat back and let it happen. I was essentially a co-parent with my mom. I developed severe bulimia that I nearly died from, along with severe OCD, depression and anxiety that would follow me for years (still does) as a direct correlation to my home and church life growing up.

I guess I would have called myself highly sexual from the time I hit puberty (I now know, I was probably just a normal, curious teenager). My first kiss was horrible. I had a boy two years older than me take me into his room when I was thirteen, pin my hands above my head, pull my shirt up, grope my breasts and begin yanking my pants down. Thankfully, my friend walked in and it was stopped. I am absolutely unable to explain the extreme guilt I felt. I was defiled. I didn’t really even understand at the time that I was taken advantage of, because the person I told of the encounter, the bishop, just punished me. I was told not to take the sacrament for several weeks and no temple recommend for me. I had to describe in detail what had happened. I was so ashamed and my anxiety was through the roof. This boy told everyone I had sex with him. I lost every single one of my friends in seventh grade. I remember he contacted me on messenger and said “you suck. You’re such a dumb slut. You told everyone we had sex.” I was so confused and had nowhere to turn.

Well, somehow this experience didn’t deter my sexual feelings. I wanted to feel desired by boys. I was so much taller and had developed much sooner than other girls and I was just sort of weird. Since people were calling me a slut anyway, I figured what I did didn’t matter.

I was extremely bullied all through junior high and high school to the extent of having many emails sent to me urging me to commit suicide because I was “better off dead, slut.”

I think I was pretty- though I didn’t know it. I was thin, but thought I was fat. My life at home was out of control and school was hell (enter bulimia as a way to gain control). I went to nearly every bishop I had pleading for help at home (I had a lot of bishops because my parents couldn’t ever afford housing so we moved a lot). My dad was so mean and so abusive- “PLEASE help me,” I begged. I got the same answers always- honor my father’s priesthood, I’m being dramatic, it can’t be that bad, because my mom stays.

Anyway, I had large breasts from the time I was 12. I was absolutely unaware of the effect my body had on older men at the time. I didn’t know I was dressing “sexy”. I wasn’t trying to be sexy! I was just trying to find something to wear while constantly growing and never having money to buy new clothes. During my 12-17 year period, I had two bishops. They both called me into their office monthly (not exaggerating) commenting on how my outfits were “turning men on” and I was “walking pornography”. Well, I just thought that was disgusting and not my problem. Additionally, my mom was always harping on me for dressing immodestly. I responded the only way that made sense- rebellion. Fine! If men were getting turned on- gross!!! Not my problem, and I will continue to dress how I want.

In the meantime, I was hooking up (Mormon version-making out, hand stuff for the most part) with any boy who would have me. I was disgusting and ugly in my eyes, and if boys were turned on by me, though I couldn’t understand why, I would take advantage and hook up with them, if only to feel wanted for a moment. I was in and out of the bishop’s office constantly. These two men questioned me incessantly every time I went in with a new confession. I would be nauseous with anxiety every time I had to see the bishop. I asked myself, WHAT was wrong with me that I couldn’t control myself? Why didn’t I love god enough to stop committing these sexual sins? These men would ask questions like:

-were your nipples erect? -did you orgasm? -how deep did his fingers go? -did you enjoy yourself? -how long did your climax last? -did your vagina get wet?

I have since found out both these bishops asked several of my same friends in the ward the same questions. But these were well respected and loved men- they were not wrong in my eyes, I was. I was told over and over that every time I committed another sexual sin, all the other sins were brought back on me. I am unable to explain the gravity of this comment. I was driven insane thinking of how immoral I was. My OCD and anxiety skyrocketed. I wanted to go to the lords house! I wanted to be good! But how could I do that when boys really only desired me when I used my body? I WANTED so desperately to be wanted.

Well, my boyfriend (now husband) and I ended up doing something really “bad” about three weeks into dating. This was my first time at anything like this. I knew I had crossed a line big time. I was SICK. We nearly broke up. I had JUST gotten my recommend back from a previous repentance process!

So once again, I made an appointment with the bishop, absolutely agonizing the days before my appointment over my grievous sin. The bishop told me my boyfriend had to be addicted to porn- where else would he get ideas like this? He said this is not husband material and recommended I end the relationship; this type of man that desired such sick, sexual things would surely grow up to be an abusive spouse and father. I remember this next part so well. This huge, 400 pound man leaned his head back, closed his eyes, and told me to describe in detail what had happened, asking probing questions along the way. I felt sick, but what could I do? This was gods representative- he knows what is necessary for me to be forgiven. (My husband is the best man and anything but abusive- I’m thankful I didn’t take the advice of my bishop).

Fast forward to when I am 21 and my husband is on his mission. I was at a party and someone spiked my drink. My friends described hearing crying and screaming from the upstairs room I was in. I deduced from this, and from the fluids on my dress, that I had been raped. I was devastated because how would my RM husband ever want me again?

This time, with a new bishop, I once again went in to repent. It honestly did not even occur to me that I didn’t need to repent because it had not been my fault. Once again, I was told that this may not had happened if I was being faithful to my missionary and dressed modestly. My heart was broken.

I can’t blame the church for my OCD and other issues. However, I CAN and will say they were ABSOLUTELY exacerbated by the policies of the church. I now know that in NO WAY is your worth attached to your sexuality- it just does not work this way. The teachinsg within the church regarding sexuality are harmful to every man and woman or child of any age.

I am not “out” to either side of my family about where I stand with the Church- the idea of what will happen when I tell them I no longer believe sparks too much anxiety. Thankfully, my husband wants to stay with me even though he believes.

These practices are HARMFUL and they do NO GOOD. The simple answer is no more interviews. I wish the church would drop their obsession with sexuality, but I know that won’t happen, so let’s at least protect our members, our children and STOP these interviews. A child does not need to think that they are any less of a person because they have sexual desires.

Yes, it may be “rare” that you have an actual story of physical abuse behind the door, but I am here to tell you that abuse doesn’t have to be physical! It can be mental- I believe what I suffered at the hands of bishops is abuse- and any of my non Mormon therapists will attest to that.

The LDS church should not be allowed to perpetuate this myth that they think family is the most important thing; they don’t think that. If they did, these interviews would have already stopped rather than receiving pushback from the church, and I’m sure this will result in the excommunication of Sam Young- what a travesty. If the church believed in families, they wouldn’t care if gays marry or if one race marries another- they would be happy more love is being created in the world. If they cared about families, they would make women feel equal to men, instead of having women give themselves to husbands in the temple. Please LDS business corporation, stop these interviews and do the right thing, for once.

In the intro I said these stories matter. We need to understand that we’re making history. A lot of history is taken from first-hand accounts in addition to verifiable documentation. First-person experiences put history into context for us, a crucial piece to construction historical models. The extent of uprisings in early Mormonism will truly never be known because of how little documentation we have of the period. Court hearings in the early church involved a single entry in “History of the Church” as (Held council for elder _____ who is led into error) because the history of the Church has been written by the victor. The number of first-person experiences this campaign has collected is how history is truly created. Those of us who study history can often become disconnected with the story of the people who experience history in our never-ending pursuit of seeing big-picture concepts. One thing we can’t lose sight of is the need to give these accounts the weight they deserve, and unfortunately they don’t carry as much weight as depositions and legal affidavits, but all these allegations of physical, mental, and emotional damage caused due to Bishop’s interviews all provide data and put the modern history of the church into context by adding that crucial human element. Legal cases are built upon allegations and the more of these data points we collect, the stronger the case becomes that the Church currently uses Bishop’s interviews to inflict pain, suffering, social, and emotional abuse on its members who are simply trying to be the most righteous and stalwart Mormons they’re capable of.

Let’s take a step back and appreciate something for a second. Look what the internet has done to the church. With such rapid access to information and the ability to tap into hundreds of stories from all across the globe in a matter of seconds. Any idea how hard it was to collect or consume that amount of information even 20 years ago, let alone 180 years ago when the Church was in its infancy? This campaign to Protect LDS Children and the stories it’s generating are vital to historians of the future. When historians in 100 years look back on the early 21st century, they’ll see how much these campaigns which arose solely out of the internet, have had on our society. We’re in the middle of writing history. The fact of the matter is, every tweet, every email, every court case which hits headlines, every single one of these interactions write history in some way. We’re lucky to live at a time when a conflict arising in Mormonism isn’t swept under the historical rug; instead, we can see the people this impacts and hear their stories first-hand. We can appreciate the pain and suffering, and all the psychological damage these interviews cause by witnessing all this information aggregate with a grass-roots movement just like Protect LDS Children, Mormon Stories, and Ordain Women.

That’s why these stories matter. No longer is Mormon history what the Church wants it to be. Instead, it’s the members and the outside world who’re actively constructing the historical models that our modern time will be viewed through by future historians. We have a duty to Protect members of the church, children, adults, practicing members, cafeteria or Jack Mormons, and ex-Mormons alike all need to understand what has happened to us and deal with the psychological turmoil caused by these policies.

And no single person or body of people are at fault here. I know we want to pin the blame for abuse on somebody and ex-Mormons will be quick to point the finger at the Q15, but the problem is that those 15 men are victims of the same self-perpetuating cycle which has hurt millions of people so far. They’re no more at fault than their forefathers for conforming to this damaging system. The hardest part about dealing with sex as a controlling mechanism is that throwing blame may make us feel better, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. Arguably, blaming somebody or a group of somebodys is counterproductive to moving forward.

If the Church is smart, they’ll take this movement with grace and on Saturday Morning, they’ll take the stand at General Conference and issue a public statement addressing the concerns of Sam Young’s campaign. They can turn this into a positive. They can stand at the pulpit and tell the 26,000 Mormons in attendance that they’re intent on listening to the concerns of their members. The issue of sexually explicit Bishop’s interviews has recently come to their attention and they have decided to respond to these concerns by agreeing to the two criteria of the campaign. Bishop’s interviews, from now on, will be conducted with more than one adult in the room, and questions about chastity and sexuality will be removed from this time forward.

The Church is bleeding members right now and I think it could largely be due to how little say Mormons feel like they have in their Church. The leadership is disconnected and insulated from the will of the people. What better way to restore faith and goodwill in the fragile relationship the leadership has with its members than by making a systematic change based on a public petition with more than 15,000 signatures?

Unfortunately for us all, that seems like a pipe-dream. I don’t know how this will play out in the coming months, none of us do. But, if history is any indicator of future events… the battle has only just begun.

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