Mormon Fighting To Stop Sexualized Youth Interviews Hauled In For Church Discipline

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

A Mormon man who waged a campaign to end one-on-one youth interviews with lay leaders was summoned for a church discipline hearing.

Sam Young of Houston has fought to end the current form of youth interviews because lay leaders have reportedly asked sexual questions on occasion that Young believes are inappropriate, especially in one-on-one interactions between minors and adults. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent Young a letter summoning him to a hearing that could result in his excommunication for expressing “opposition to the Church or its leaders.” (RELATED: Mormon Church And Boy Scouts Ending 105-Year Partnership)

“This letter is a formal notice that the stake presidency will convene a formal disciplinary council in your behalf, the result of which includes the possibility of excommunication, disfellowshipment, formal probation, or no action. The reason for this council is that you are reported to have acted repeatedly in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders,” the letter reads.

The church has accused Young of encouraging people to vote against church leaders and openly acting to oppose the church. The meeting is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Young recently completed a 23-day hunger strike to raise awareness about his cause. He also organized a protest in March in which 1,000 people marched to the church’s headquarters to express opposition to the interviews.

“I feel angry, betrayed and disappointed that this is the church’s response to somebody trying to protect the children,” Young said, according to The Associated Press Thursday.

Young and his supporters believe that the sexual questions sometimes asked in these interviews can shame youths. One such question is: “Do you live the law of chastity?”

The church openly posted the 13 questions asked during the closed-door interviews, and the guidelines for the interviews, for the first time in June. Mormon leaders said the interviews help bishops to understand whether youths are living in obedience to church teachings and to determine what spiritual practices they keep.

Young, for his part, said he does not wish to be excommunicated, but he will not stop trying to protect children.

“I don’t want it to happen. I’m not looking forward to it,” Young said. “But, I’m not going to stop speaking out for protection of the children. They are more important than my membership.”

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