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

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

It's a common practice in the Mormon Church. At age 8, worthiness interviews begin. You must meet, at the very least, yearly with your bishop in order to receive a "recommend" that allows you to entire the Mormon temple, where you perform ordinances they consider essential in order to enter into the highest levels of heaven.

One of the interview questions is "do you follow the law of chastity?"

That in and of itself is fine, but unfortunately many, many church leaders take this opportunity to ask far more detailed questions such as "what kind of porn do you watch?" and "what do you think about when you masturbate?" and "describe to me exactly how you touch yourself?"

I have personally experienced this, and you can find many, many folks over at /sub/exmormon who have had to endure a far more intrusive line of questioning than I did.

I hope this man's petition inspires change. You can find the petition HERE.

Why the fuck were church leaders interviewing kids about sex anyway?

That in and of itself is fine, but unfortunately many, many church leaders take this opportunity to ask far more detailed questions such as "what kind of porn do you watch?" and "what do you think about when you masturbate?" and "describe to me exactly how you touch yourself?"

Holy shit... that is creepy!

But it's important to understand that this isn't a Mormon church policy to ask these types of inappropriate and strange questions.

Yet it's apparently widespread behavior within the church. That makes it 100% the church's responsibility.

“I’ve had many parents say their kids are not going to have one-on-one interviews – they didn’t know it was an option not to,” Young said

They’re your fucking kids! Of course it’s optional.

Important to note - most Mormons and leaders would agree that this is creepy and wrong. Unfortunately, because local leaders are volunteers and are in their roles on a temporary basis, thus receiving no formal training, many stray from official policy because of what they think is the "right way to do things", or some simply ask those types of questions because they were asked them when they were young by leaders in error.

It happens enough that the article posted is a very valid concern. But it's important to understand that this isn't a Mormon church policy to ask these types of inappropriate and strange questions.

Maybe they should stop interviewing kids about sex completely?

I don't see how asking an 8 year old about chastity is acceptable at all.

Them asking about details is really creepy. I was raised Catholic, and thus went to confession. Never had a priest ask about details like that.

I was raised Mormon and only was asked this once when I was maybe 15 or so. He asked several questions and only one was sex related. "Do you have any problems with masturbation?" Technically I answered truthfully when I said No. (Nope, things are well in hand. It works every time.)

He seemed a little uncomfortable with the question.

I don't want to defend this practice what so ever but I thought some might find it interesting.

I have been told by bishops and stake presidents that they have been mandated to expand on the chastity question by church leaders. Just because it may have been a verbal mandate not included in the handbook does not absolve higher up church leaders in this.

I have heard bishops say in anti-porn firesides, "I don't ask young men these days IF they watch porn. The problem is so bad that I ask them WHEN they last watched porn."

The point was "it's so sad that porn is such a prevalent sin" but I couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor 12 year old who felt trapped by such a crappy question.

Nothing says fun like being asked about your masturbation habits and what kind of porn you watch as a 14 year old - by a 50 year old man.

It's even more fun when they ask you to describe in graphic detail how you touched a girl and what she did to you. Fucking traumatic.

Agreed. I just wanted to point out that these types of inappropriate questions aren't mandated for the Bishops to ask. Quite the opposite.

That said, I fully agree that the church is responsible for addressing and fixing any type of widespread issue that occurs within the church.

I feel like I'm walking into a trap here, considering this is Reddit, which is generally extremely anti-religion and anti-Mormon.

But since you asked, I'll assume you're being sincere. The manifest purpose of these interviews is for youth to have a good relationship with their local leader and discuss their lives. I don't think it's inappropriate for a leader to ask young people if they feel that they're living their lives in accordance with the belief system. However, the issue, of course, is the young people feeling that they're obligated to discuss private things when they don't want to. I felt that way, and with certain leaders, I did not look forward to these interviews. However, I had other leaders that I didn't mind having them with. These leaders just wanted to meet with me, chat about my life, how school was going, how hockey/basketball was going, and asked if I felt like I was living my life in a way that God wanted. In these positive interactions, I was never made to feel like I had to talk about anything I didn't want to, it didn't feel like an inquisition, and I felt like the leader really cared about my life and wanted to help if he could.

But, like I said, the concerns being raised are valid. I never had a leader ask me the inappropriate questions that OP brought up, but I did have leaders that made me feel like I was being questioned and interrogated. I hated those. I can't imagine how much worse it would have been if I had been asked very inappropriate ones.

I hope this helps answer your question. I know the Mormon church comes across as very weird. A lot of it seems weird to me, and I've been in the church my whole life. I just wanted to provide some perspective and maybe some context into the discussion. I don't blame anyone for thinking that the entire notion of "interviewing" young people is weird or wrong. But from my experiences with it, it didn't feel that way, though I recognize and completely understand that others had worse experiences than me and want to see change so that no one else goes through that.

Questioning the way The Church does things? Blasphemy! Be more humble.

I left the mormon church and it took me years to get over these men who at the time I saw as “holy chosen of God” asking me about masturbation alone in their office. They brainwashed me into believing these men were ordained of a God so everything they did I believed was of God. In hindsight I was disgusted. I remember crying because I told my bishop I was looking at porn and he wasn’t going to let me serve my mission. It’s gross. I don’t care if you’re currently LDS or if it gives you comfort and peace, this practice really messes with people and it creates such a vile and taboo idea of what sex is or can be. Shame on them.

For what it's worth, the age those questions begin is actually 12. Also, local leaders who are asking follow-up questions that OP mentioned aren't following the Mormon church leadership handbook - though it is still prevalent enough to warrant a response.

An issue is that the questions can be phrased in such a way that those being interviewed feel obliged to give detailed responses. The official church policy is for leaders to simply ask questions like "do you follow the law of chastity?" or "do you think you're worthy?" and for the person to decide for him/herself if he/she is worthy. If a person wishes to discuss reasons why they aren't, they're supposed to work with the Bishop on repentance and becoming worthy.

As you can see, there's a lot of grey area there, and the issues become Bishops going too far as well as children/teens feeling significant guilt.

People with sexual development issues often join the clergy thinking celibacy will solve their problems. It doesn't.

That in and of itself is fine,

I'm sorry but it's really not. According to a president of the church "Immorality does not begin in adultery or perversion. It begins with little indiscretions like sex thoughts, sex discussions, passionate kissing, petting and such, growing with every exercise."

(Source: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/11/president-kimball-speaks-out-on-morality?lang=eng&_r=1 )

Which means you're expecting pre-pubescent children to feel shame and guilt for every hormonal surge they experience as they develop.

That's compounded by either having to admit you've thought of sex (so you can "work through it together") or lie to a bishop.

Frankly, I think treating children that way is nothing short of cruel.

Religion boyss

I have never been asked this or questions even close to this. I’ve attended multiple congregations in different states. I’ve also done interviews and I was explicitly given instruction not to ask for specifics. I question your definition of widespread but not that you’ve experienced this, there are a lot of bishops and each of them capable of making mistakes.

Seems like a lot of pedophiles wanting to talk nasty with kids.

Same way directionless people join the military looking for direction. It doesn't work because wherever you go, there you are.

I have been asked these questions. You probably haven't been asked because you always answered yes to following the law of chastity.

Probably so as many ex Mormons are, but as most ex Mormons will tell you it is for very valid and relevant reasons that they tolerated blindly for too long. I was also put through these interviews, at the age of 14 or so, it is very uncomfortable to say the least.

If you'll mosey on over to /sub/exmormon there are about 61,000 folks who would be glad to tell you about all of their bishop interview horror stories.

The only ridiculous thing I just read was that you were, and I'm paraphrasing here, "not anti-religion, but anti-mormon because they didn't follow hermetic principles." Not sure if you even understand what you actually believe there.

/clarivoyantcabbage is just asking you to back up your absurd statement. What is specific to Mormonism, but not religion, that you're against? I could list 20 for myself, but none of them would back up your odd claim.

a girl I dated a few years back was a mormon, but not living by all of their rules (booze & sex mostly). she told me she would be made to describe the sexual acts we were doing together in great detail during her interview. I always thought the person doing the interview was likely getting off on it ion some way

What I don't get is why you think it's acceptable to make children feel apprehensive (as you admit you yourself did) possibly for an extended period before some incredibly awkward meeting where an adult asks if you've had stray sex thoughts, masturbated or had sex.

It might not be phrased that way but your preferred "do you follow the law of chastity?" asks for exactly the same information.

Plus... What are the options presented to the child if they have had a fantasy?

Either... Answer yes, then have to explain in depth to "work through it" or answer no and lie to a religious leader (no doubt there are suitably draconian punishments for those who lie/break the "law"?)

Eternal damnation

Young said, “I felt a betrayal of my parental responsibilities – they’d been abdicated and confiscated.”

He betrayed his own parental responsibilities in letting a church raise his child.

I’m not sticking up for Mormonism, but I think that you are wrong about them not following ANY hermetic principals. Could you list the core hermetic principles as you understand them?

If anyone is interested in the creepy "little factory that must not be touched" talk this user mentioned, here ya go.

That doesn't mean they were acting correctly. I believe you that they indicated that. But if they're going against what's in the church handbook for leaders, then they're going against church policy. That's my only point here.

I am in full support with you that there's a major issue of leaders not following official policy. It's a huge problem and an issue for me.

Right and this is known as blaming the member and not the Church. It's a well known tactic for Apologists. The Church is responsible for changing this and they do not. No child under the age of 18 should be behind closed doors with a grown man - period. Mormonism allows this.

Main reason I stopped going to church. You shouldn't feel guilty because of the sort of hormonal changes you go through as a teenager. If God wanted you to be so completely perfect he wouldn't have created puberty.

Not to attend church, but to attend the temple. Separate things and ceremonies.

Yep, I've been asked questions along these lines as well, as a 12 year old boy.

Maybe because control and manipulation of sexuality is baked into the entire belief system.

I do want to point to the context of this news article. The protestor’s 12 year old daughter was being asked about masturbation without any prompting.

Yeah I think we’re talking about moving from one echo-chamber to another :/

It's almost like it's child abuse or something.

I replied to another comment, but I want to make sure that all the facts are being presented.

My former bishop and stake president both told me that they have been instructed by higher ups to ask questions beyond "do you follow the law of chastity?"

Let's not pretend like church leaders aren't aware these questions are being posed -- and further -- that they support it.

But it's important to understand that this isn't a Mormon church policy to ask these types of inappropriate and strange questions.

This has always been the practice. I don't know where you're getting your information from.

No. Because in the Mormon church only men have the authority to be behind closed doors with a child.

I can't believe you find any of that acceptable. This is one of the reasons Utah has such a big problem with gay teens killing themselves. Because your church feels entitled to interrogate people their entire lives. What you are describing ought to be criminal.

No alternatives are provided.

"Our young men and young women in the ward are going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead this week, so those who need a recommend can go have their interview after church today."

Plenty of people just skipped but imagine being the one boy who was told he CAN'T go because he touched himself. Or the boy whose guilt is eating at his conscience because he lied to a servant of the Lord....

You posted them with the same heading and everything. It just makes you look like like you have an axe to grind.

And I don't say this to necessarily defend Mormonism, but frankly, exmormon's are really annoying for this reason. Most of the Mormon neighbors I had in Idaho were super chill, but a conversation with exmormon's in which no one had been discussing religion before, usually goes something like:

"So, I was doing some hiking out in Utah last year..."

"Utah, huh? Tell me, good sir, what is the square root of FUCK MORMONS!"

EDIT: Relevant

https://i.imgur.com/QXmnvxt.jpg

You posted them with the same heading and everything. It just makes you look like like you have an axe to grind.

And I don't say this to necessarily defend Mormonism, but frankly, exmormon's are really annoying for this reason. Most of the Mormon neighbors I had in Idaho were super chill, but a conversation with exmormon's in which no one had been discussing religion before, usually goes something like:

"So, I was doing some hiking out in Utah last year..."

"Utah, huh? Tell me, good sir, what is the square root of FUCK MORMONS!"

EDIT: Relevant

I was NEVER asked such direct questions. I remember asking once for clarification and the bishop just looked at me and said "are you doing anything that breaks the law of chastity insofar as we have taught you and your parents have taught you?"

This looks like a lack of leadership. If I was ever questioned so specifically as a Mormon I would feel very uncomfortable

Mormon clergy is not celibate, nor "go" by own choice. They are usually married men and they are chosen based on their "dignity" but of course some bad apples would get in there but is not systemic. Ex here but I'm not bitter.

what in the hell is happening?!

That's horrific!

It's so they can get permission to go into temples. If you want to go to the temple, you have to meet with the bishop and he asks you a bunch of morality questions.