Guest opinion: Why we need LDS bishop-youth interviews

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  • JanSig Belmont, MA
    Jan. 5, 2019 10:47 p.m.

    Bishop's youth interviews, when done with love and appropriate boundaries, can be great experiences. Many of us have had great ibishop's youth interviews. In the 80's the questions given to bishops for youth changed in response to the women's movement, with direction to ask sexually based questions. This change helps us understand why the problem has grown. I have spoken to youth who were subjected to detailed questions about specific acts, including if they climaxed, that have scarred them for life. One young woman, who was 12, didn't understand the terms the bishop used, was embarrassed by her lack of knowledge so looked them up on-line and was introduced to a world of sexuality she hadn't know existed. The measures the church has taken to date do not address the problem sufficiently to protect our children. I am saddened that the writer finds it tolerable for some to be victims of sexual abuse in order for the majority to have this interview experience. Zero tolerance is the only acceptable standard in my view. There are simple steps that can be put in place, a look to the corporate world provides some excellent practices that should be adapted by the church quickly.

  • lefthandloafer55 Alpine, UT
    Sept. 19, 2018 10:48 a.m.

    For me, this decision has little to nothing to do with statistical analysis. Rather, I’ve come to the conclusion (through the course of my lifetime) that I do no want the local CPA (as an example) talking to my little grandkids’ about sexual matters: of any kind. I’ve apologized to all of my adult children for my wife and I allowing this to happen to them. I will do everything in my power to keep my grandchildren away from (what I consider to be) an unwholesome and potentially dangerous practice.

  • mittcoats Providence, RI
    Aug. 22, 2018 8:53 a.m.

    Perhaps it should be called bishop mentorship, instead of priesthood/progress interviews. The framing of the conversation makes it super challenging to get to true counseling or mentorship. I’ve never sat across a mahogany desk from someone in power and thought, wow, this is such a disarming environment, I’d like to talk about my sexuality and deepest relationships.

    And asking the youth when they want to set up their interview doesn’t truly respect their agency. First, youth should be asked if they want one at all.

    Joseph Smith, after all, was a youth who refused to follow the church leaders of his day because he found their leadership wanting.

  • Suomilainen Tytto Gresham, OR
    Aug. 8, 2018 2:53 a.m.

    My dad was schizophrenic. So my bishops were my healthy father figures. 1:1 interviews were life saving. Because of my home life, I had warped views of my personal worth, Christ’s atonement, and boundaries. I didn’t understand God was eager to forgive. I confessed, timidly, that I hated my dad, which startled bishops. But that was all I had to confess at first.
    I started having steady boyfriends, so, in spite of my testimony, I had to make appointments over and over with my bishops. I was disfellowshipped twice, which made sense. Neither they nor I understood my dichotomy. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. This isn’t about you being good or evil. This is about making wise or foolish choices. If you stay in a car parked outside your house together for hours at the end of the night, something is going to happen.” They frankly loved me, were clearly rooting for me, and taught that the purpose of guilt was simply to prompt change. This helped, but I didn’t know how to end toxic patterns. Finally, a bishop said, “Maybe this is about your dad” and referred me to LDS Services. The counselor helped me forgive my dad, freely love him. Learning to live the gospel came much easier.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 6, 2018 9:13 p.m.

    @2close2call: "You are attempting to once again disregard my opinion"

    No. I've pointed out that you are never again going to participate in Bishop's interviews no matter what the LDS Church does. Yet you--and other non/anti-LDS seem to have much stronger opinions about how the church should operate than do active members.

    "Or do you actually think you have no right to an opinion because you are Mormon and not Catholic?"

    I have strong opinions about any criminal conduct.

    I assert yet again, that most who are demanding an end to Bishop's interviews are far less worried about extremely rare cases of abuse (an interview last 5 to 10 minutes with another adult right outside the door, not a lot of chance for abuse), than you are opposed to the LDS Church teaching its members' children traditional Christian, sexual morality.

    You and other have very noticeably avoided answering my question:

    If LDS Bishops were telling youth that whatever "safer", consensual, sexual conduct felt good to them was ok with God, would you be opposed to these interviews?

    Do you object to explicit sex ed in public schools even without parental consent?

    The real reason anti-LDS object is clear.

  • soicanspeak2 Rigby, ID
    Aug. 5, 2018 12:47 p.m.

    There are so many stories of abuse on the protectldschildren dot org website. I am #521. It seems like we can do better as a Church with minimal effort. With this many stories, don’t we owe it to our children to figure out a better way?

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Aug. 5, 2018 6:51 a.m.

    @ london_josh

    " is the church supposed to find predators and protect members from those horrible situations if they aren't allowed to ask questions?"

    Are such questions the primary purpose or a standard part of bishop interviews? It sounds to me as if the answer is no; that the questions are actually centered around the child's conduct with respect to doctrinal worthiness. If this is the case, then your question is beside the point. Also, it implies that there are no others ways of providing kids opportunities to disclose abuse, which of course is false.

    @ 2close2call, directed to @NoNames:

    " you actually think you have no right to an opinion because you are Mormon and not Catholic?"

    Excellent point. I would add that the DN is a public forum, open to all, and that the ripple effects of abuse are society-wide, making it everyone's business.

  • london_josh Lincoln, CA
    Aug. 5, 2018 12:54 a.m.

    For those requesting a stop of the one on one interviews, you can ask your leadership not to do it, and they'll obligue your request.

    Meanwhile, millions of us feel that while it's not perfect, the overall results are generally very positive.

    To each his own, right?

  • rmk South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 4, 2018 11:53 p.m.

    The problem is that you have untrained leaders talking about these things and they don't understand the consequences. Many children have unique circumstances that people may not know about or think about. Most of you seem to either object or agree to the notion of a trusted adult encouraging limits on adolescent sexual conduct. How do you do that without talking about the law of chastity, worthiness, virtue, sin and shame?

    As bishops and other leaders are laying down the law to twelve year old kids, what is an adopted kid thinking. What about a child living with his grandparents or a single parent? Is it the shame knowing how they came to be? Do they think they are nothing more than a discussing sin! They are already living with issues of why they were abandoned and now they have it laid out about how their birthparents committed sin.

    What about a woman that is raped and has been taught her whole life about virtue and saving herself for marriage, what does she feel like after years of hearing it in bishop interviews?

    It's great that the author was 19 when he joined the church but he missed all of the interviews as a kid and hasn't had that experience.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    Aug. 4, 2018 9:07 p.m.

    @ NoNamesAccepted
    You are attempting to once again disregard my opinion by making statements like "You prove my point. Non-LDS not participating in bishop's interviews regardless."

    Well, I honestly tried to give you my opinion!

    Riddle me this NoNames Accepted, What is your opinion of the Catholic church in the past, not immediately going to police when they knew a priest had committed sexual abuse of a catholic member, and even went as far as simply relocating the priest?

    Or do you actually think you have no right to an opinion because you are Mormon and not Catholic?

  • Imprimis American Fork, UT
    Aug. 4, 2018 12:29 p.m.

    Thanks for the article and discussion.
    My experience has mirrored many on this thread: No problems with the interviews, all from men not "trained" as professionals.
    A few thoughts on training. In my profession, much is made by some that a person needs a state-issued license to really be competent and professional. That is a falsehood. While it may assist some in being better than they would have been, competency and ethics and morality are soon discovered to be independent of anything the state has a person go through to be state-endorsed.
    References to trained personnel are always vague. Trained by who? How? When? How often? Under what criteria? What ultimately determines competency whether one holds a state certificate or not? The implication by some commentators is that "trained" persons will solve all problems, no further questions necessary; just get those untrained bishops outta there.
    None of my numerous bishops have been trained therapist or interviewers in the worldly sense. But their genuine interest in me, the love they show, and the guiding influence of the Spirit transcend and supersede any "lack" of "professional" training.

  • 1aggie Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2018 8:29 a.m.

    Stop the one-on-one interviews.

    The only adult interviewing minors should be someone the minor chooses to talk to. Maybe that person is a youth leader or favorite teacher or parent or scout leader or?

    No adult should be interviewing minors unless they are professionally trained to do so. And especially no adult males should be interviewing young women.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    Aug. 4, 2018 8:16 a.m.

    Millennial Saints are leaving the church in record numbers, entire "Pioneer Stock" families are doing the same. 80% of new converts don't even last a year. Certainly, this isn't the only reason, but I'm sure the overt indoctrination and shame resulting from these meetings aren't helping. It is odd that the church is doubling down on this during a period of societal awakening regarding the Me Too movement.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Aug. 4, 2018 8:12 a.m.

    The problem for Bishops is that they, for the most part are not educated in the field's necessary to be put in the positions that they have been called to.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2018 6:07 a.m.

    I say if you teach young people correct principles, you can then let them pretty much govern themselves. I got this idea from somebody else.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 4, 2018 4:43 a.m.

    @2close2call: "Did you read the comments from a current bishops wife?"

    I also read the 20 comment from well known anti-LDS posters. I wrote "most", not "all".

    "people like me who are ex Mormon"

    You prove my point. Non-LDS not participating in bishop's interviews regardless.

    "What proof do you have of this? I disagree completely!"

    I read what posters wrote, I recall what many have posted on other stories, and I read between the lines. I say again: The real objection is that anyone presumes to suggest limits or controls on sexual behavior. It is the teaching of conservative, Christian sexual morality that bothers these people.

    "There's morality outside of Christianity"

    You again prove my point as to what real concerns are.

    Be honest. If LDS Bishop's were telling youth there is no shame in whatever consensual, "safe" sexual conduct they found personally fulfilling, would you oppose bishop's interviews? Do you object to "comprehensive" sex ed in public schools?

    Bishop's interviews are an important part of instilling LDS sexual morality in young Mormons. These values stand in contrast to popular culture. And that is the primary objection most have to these interviews.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    Aug. 3, 2018 9:01 p.m.

    "1-Most of these objections are from those who are not LDS and will not participate in these interviews."

    IMO not true at all. Did you read the comments from a current bishops wife? At worse, the objections are from people like me who are ex Mormon & have participated in these interviews but wouldn't allow their children to participate in them without their presence(if their spouse was still active), as there's too much room for error by errant bishops.

    "2-Most seem to object to the notion of a trusted adult encouraging limits on adolescent sexual conduct. Note that most of these posters have no objection to very explicit and graphic sex ed in public schools."

    What proof do you have of this? I disagree completely!

    "The real objection is that anyone presumes to suggest limits or controls on sexual behavior. It is the teaching of conservative, Christian sexual morality that bothers these people. "

    IMO not true at all. There's morality outside of Christianity my friend, and that kind of comment is an ad hominem attack, against non Christians, who, because of personal moral beliefs, don't think religious leaders should have one-on-one interviews with minors!

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 7:36 p.m.

    It is interesting to read both what is written, and between the lines, by those who have objections to LDS Bishop's interviews with youth.

    A few observations and thoughts:

    1-Most of these objections are from those who are not LDS and will not participate in these interviews.

    2-Most seem to object to the notion of a trusted adult encouraging limits on adolescent sexual conduct.

    Note that most of these posters have no objection to very explicit and graphic sex ed in public schools. Some want information presented without parental consent or prior review.

    Clearly, their objection is not discussion of matters sexual or personal. The real objection is that anyone presumes to suggest limits or controls on sexual behavior. It is the teaching of conservative, Christian sexual morality that bothers these people.

    Once we realize what their real objections are, everything else is just smoke screen.

    These posters object to parents raising their children within a faith and cultural tradition that teaches sexual control, sexual morality, and that certain sexual conduct is immoral, wrong, harmful to one's true self, etc.

    Would that more of them were honest enough to just say so.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 7:20 p.m.

    My thanks to the author and to the DesNews for this piece.

    My experiences with Bishop's interviews both as a child, an adolescent, and as an adult have been almost uniformly positive. A single exception was an interview with a Stake President. And I found that to be merely impolite rather than anything beyond that. Turns out all the Lord has to work with are imperfect people. I can no more expect perfection from others than I would want anyone to expect perfection from me.

    It is useful to have this kind of article that puts Bishop's interviews into larger social and religious context, in addition to the "that's how we do things in the Mormon Church" perspective.

    Always fascinating to see how strong of opinions about how the LDS Church should operate its internal business are held by those who are clearly never going to darken the doors of an LDS Church house.

  • Natester Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 6:49 p.m.

    This article was from a ‘guest’ writer and really, printed comment responses are from ‘guests’ as well. I happened to really appreciate and agree with this article. I’m a current Bishop and also a professional therapist. Many commenters point out the problems with lay clergy - that they don’t possess the training needed to speak to youth about sensitive things. Many here suggest there are “big problems” with many rogue Bishops. I don’t agree with that (just my opinion). LDS Bishops all have direct and immediate access to LDS Family Services therapists, 24 hrs a day. I happen to know they are always very busy with this. I’ve received ample training, as a Bishop, as do all of the others in this Stake and Area. It’s actually by design, though, that they aren’t expected to give therapeutic support. Bishops are encouraged to refer for that (including me). Of course some don’t follow this plan as they should, which is always tragic, but the right structure is in place (an opinion shared by the silent majority). There seems to be an awful lot of assumption that the LDS Church is engaging in harmful policy by those who know nothing about it.

  • HEMM Eagle Mountain, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 5:33 p.m.


    You asked, "how do they guard against sexual problems in membership and leadership when you remove the mechanism that allows church leaders to become informed of and involved in solving said issues?"

    Bishops are not trained to deal with sexual problems. They are realtors, accountants, lawyers, CEO's, professors, and on and on, but the one thing they are not is professionally trained to help someone with their "sexual problems." If there is abuse, it should be reported. One on one interviews are not necessary for abuse reporting. A young female or male can report to a leader. That leader can sit in on the interview. A young woman who has been raped should never be victimized by being asked if she had an orgasm or what she wore to lead the rapist on. I could go on and on but you clearly have no desire to go read the stories. You are more interested in bad mouthing a man who simply cares about protecting the children in the church.

  • Freiheit Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 3:39 p.m.

    Having had experience with interviews both in the LDS church and other settings like school and business, and with both youth and adults, I recognize the possible pitfalls of one on ones. However, there can be great benefits as well, many of which wouldn't occur in another setting. Explaining what constitutes abuse and who is responsible is just one. Other personal problems can come up as well. This comes, not from invasive questions, but by establishing a relationship of trust and confidence. It would be a shame to lose an opportunity to clear up confusion or lift needless guilt with a blanket policy because a few have stepped over the line. How often do we see advice to victims of abuse to tell a trusted adult? How do they do that if there are other, less trusted persons in the room?

  • MaxPower Eagle Mountain, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 2:02 p.m.

    @Bill Reel

    Thank you! I love your measured responses, and enjoy hearing your messages. I wish we had more of you.

  • jzwillows willows, ca
    Aug. 3, 2018 1:57 p.m.

    These interviews are valuable. The very few cases of abuse doesn't justify eliminating them but do warrant strict guidelines as to what should be asked. And the Church provided that guidance. My only issue with the guidance is that it allows the child to decide if a parent should attend the interview and says nothing about the parent's right to make the decision to accompany the child. It should be a parent's right to attend the interviews when they want to, particularly when a parent is uncomfortable with the child being interviewed by a particular bishop (in contrast to the parent just being uncomfortable with bishop's interviews). This could help prevent abuse, for example, when a parent discerns or senses something morally wrong with the particular bishop.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    Aug. 3, 2018 1:53 p.m.

    Additionally, technically, everyone who has ever changed religions, is an apostate, including all religious that convert & Jesus himself. That does not mean their opinions on matters should simply be dismissed.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    Aug. 3, 2018 1:43 p.m.

    Those who really think Sam Young was lead into apostasy by disagreeing with one-on-one interviews by bishops with children under age 18, in order to protect children from abuse by a few of the bad apples that could and have taken advantage of children in bad ways, need to ask themselves why, something as moral as wanting a policy that would protect children(and the LDS church for that matter), made him an apostate?

    IMO, It does not even make sense, but, as an apostate myself, some of you will simply disregard what I have to say as well.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 1:35 p.m.



    Al least three times you intimate that those of us who oppose the one-on-one-bishop-to-child interviews are talking about intimate questions between adults.

    I have no problem with bishops and other leaders who are choosing the bishops; asking intimate questions including to help screen against predators, nor even to screen for child sex abuse. As an adult I have no problem going to my bishop and discussing sexual sins. I am not against the interviews (whether confessional; temple recommend; or any other) conducted within the LDS church.

    Indeed when it comes to child sex abuse I have long since called for parents to begin teaching children about appropriate sexual behaviors (including not allowing others to touch them; and ideas of consent) by potty training age; and called for the same comprehensive education in the public schools; and by all means cover it in church classes; but NOT in one-on-one interviews where there is the risk of creating an abusive situation.

    Further I have no problem with LDS teachings that sexuality should be between husband and wife properly married; even limiting self gratification. But we can teach children in safe ways.

  • london_josh Lincoln, CA
    Aug. 3, 2018 1:20 p.m.


    Sam young is the definition of apostate, you get that, right? Look it up, he couldn't fit the definition better. This is absolutely apostasy - don't let the connotation confuse you about the definition.

    How many instances of abuse have been avoided? Any stats there or just the negative stats?

    I keep asking the same question that nobody wants to reply to. If the lds church can't ask people if everything is okay in their life, how do they guard against sexual problems in membership and leadership when you remove the mechanism that allows church leaders to become informed of and involved in solving said issues?

    That would likely make matters significantly worse, right?

    Maybe you and sam and others can try it out, send us a postcard and let us know that's it's much better than the old system.

    Kind of just sounds as if you like to complain.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 1:16 p.m.


    I ran up against my limit on the last article on this topic and was not able to answer your questions; so I will try on this since it is the same topic; also you ask one here.

    My beef isn't with the topic or even the asking of questions; it is in the manner of normalization of one-on-one adult to youth relationship in a position of trust to which predators will always be drawn; and therefore limiting such risk.

    Without room to fully answer your questions, I have to really truncate my responses, here is my best.

    Not all sexuality for children is illegal. Indeed it is developly normal for a 2-year-old to touch his own boy parts; yet as a child (around age 12) I was told this was "sinful" behavior; and I would need to go tell the bishop about it. Reading of other's experiences, I would say this is very very common.

    Children under 12 are "groomed" to believe it is normal to tell a single unrelated adult about their own intimate behaviors.

    A child should be given the opportunity to report abuse to a trusted adult; that can be accomplished even better with two unrelated and different gender adults in the room.

    Asking questions was never my beef; only limiting risk!

  • HEMM Eagle Mountain, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 12:55 p.m.

    For all of those who have dissenting opinions on Sam Young's desire to stop sexually explicit interviews, I have a question for you. Have any of you gone to and read the stories. There are over 600 stories of abuse. Over 600 stories from people who shared the shaming and guilt techniques that destroyed them to actual grooming and abuse. Did you know that in 2017, the church published an over 300 page summary of abuse cases that have been reported to police? How many others were not reported? Did you know that the church has sought indemnification from lawsuits as a result of church leaders (bishops, stake presidents, teachers, etc) who have abused children under their charge? How about you do the research yourself and read the stories. One story is one too many. One child abused is one too many but there are hundreds and hundreds of children. Educate yourself instead of automatically assuming Sam Young is an apostate.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 12:19 p.m.

    Another article I can't finish before being compelled to comment. So far by this line I am not seeing any compelling reason for one-on-one interviews:

    "She attributed this success, in part, to the higher number of nonparent adults who played a meaningful role in a teenager’s life."

    By that line, it should be even more important to have "the higher number of nonparent adults" would include having two adults in the interviews; even one that are not sensitive in nature (such as baptism).

    By bringing in another adult (it could be an ecclesiastical leader; though preferably unrelated opposite gender as the bishopric member; such as a the ward Young Women's President).

    I don't see anyone saying that the LDS church should put an end to ecclesiastical interviews. But; rather that the LDS church should adopt "best practices" for organizations that cater to children and families by always having two adults present (never one-on-one). It is not the interview topic that is the problem, it is the secrecy of the interview.

    2-deep leaders when dealing with children is the safety standard everywhere else. The LDS church can still have the benefits from these interviews with added safety.

  • Bill Reel Sandusky, OH
    Aug. 3, 2018 11:00 a.m.

    “Any legitimate organization that works with underage youth requires double deep adult supervision. That is, no single adult should ever be alone with a child ever, for any reason. Normalizing private encounters with minors is a grooming strategy where children begin to think it's normal and OK for an adult to be alone with them and ask them intimate questions about their bodies. So, whether the adult does anything additionally inappropriate or not, what they've done is prepare the child for other encounters that are not so wholesome by normalizing it in their offices.”

    For those defending the church current way of doing things, do any of you disagree with this?

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 10:05 a.m.

    If the paper is going to have an opinion series exploring ideas and issues at the intersection of Faith and Thought, it should have both sides fully addressed. Will we see a piece taking the opposite view? And not merely a news article covering someone stating opposition.

    By the way, I'm kind of torn on this issue. I've seen Bishops abuse their positions and authority, even unknowingly. I used to defer to the inspiration of the Bishop, but experience and observations have undercut that deference. I've seen a few really inspired Bishops, Stake Presidents and General Authorities, but I've seen even more who really weren't.

  • Mister Lindsay North Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 9:21 a.m.

    No one has answered my question yet, for those who support LDS youth interviews and the kind of relationship between LDS youth and leaders that the article supports, do you see an equivalency between Catholic priests mentoring, interviewing, being adult examples, and spending individual time with their young people? Do you support both of these examples or do you support one and not the other? Thank you.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    Aug. 3, 2018 8:45 a.m.

    The biggest problem I can see is untrained Bishop roulette. I see this as a legal liability down the road instead.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 8:41 a.m.

    I find it very unusual that a newspaper owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose spokesman is President Nelson and whose head is Jesus Christ, finds it necessary to give more space to those who speak against the Church than it gives to those who stand at witnesses at all times and in all places. Try as I might, I have never found a single verse in the scriptures where Christ told his followers to listen to those who spoke against him and then to compare what he said to what his detractors said.

    Christ has told us clearly and plainly that sex outside of marriage is wrong. He has told us that marriage is between a man and a woman. He has told us to cherish virtue. He has instucted us to teach those things to our children. AND he has placed sentinels all along the path of life to point us in the right direction and to pick us up, dust us off and assist us to restart if we stumble. Bishops are among the most important of those sentinels. Bishops' interviews should be welcomed in our lives as questions are asked that remind us that Christ expects us to keep his commandments and that a bishop will assist us if we falter.

  • AZC9 South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 3, 2018 8:12 a.m.

    As a former YW President I personally witnessed the Bishop of our ward severely damage the spiritual and emotional health of several youth in our ward with his voyeuristic questions. Within 2 years we had three suicide attempts among the YW. His damaging nature didn’t just hurt the youth either. I watched in disbelief as he berated and humiliated adults as well. Yet- most of this damage was done behind closed doors. Like most abusive personalities he was/is skilled at keeping his abuse out of public view. He has now been called into the Stake Presidency. For those who say that abusive bishops are a minority I would respectfully ask “how do you know that?” I think the problem is much larger than we care to admit. These bishops are accountants, business people, dentists, etc. They receive no formal training in family counseling or psychology. Yet we teach our kids they receive direct revelation from God. It’s a dangerous practice. A potentially deadly one, unfortunately. My children are no longer allowed to be alone during interviews.

  • london_josh Lincoln, CA
    Aug. 3, 2018 12:25 a.m.

    The question I asked the other day to the critics of this practice (interviews) is yet to be answered.

    Given that most who oppose the asking of interview questions also have made comments in the past criticizing the church for not spotting predators - how is the church supposed to find predators and protect members from those horrible situations if they aren't allowed to ask questions?

    It would seem very dangerous to not ask.

    Furthermore, what about the millions of people like me who think that the questions are appropriately asked, or at least in my case and that of my family they have been. Should our experience within the church be changed by the request of those not attending church?

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:22 p.m.


    “And easy way to remove the ambiguity and objective nature of bishop interviews is to create a sin tier system with corresponding consequences. The bishop asks if you’ve committed a tier 1,2 or 3 level sin without detail and then upon confession articulates a set time frame for retribution“

    This is an honest question:

    If Jesus died for people’s sins, why would there punishment or retribution?

    What was the point of Jesus and precisely what is one saved from by him?

    Aug. 2, 2018 9:41 p.m.

    I have never considered a bishop a mentor as the article mentioned. I have always looked at a bishop as a judge in Israel. Spirituality is ambiguous and impossible to quantify so these “traditional” interviews are used to determine some ambiguous level of “worthiness” as to determine which members can take the sacrament, attend the temple, serve a mission etc. I believe most of the “Volunteer” clergy have good intentions but lack formal training in mentoring and counseling. I do see however, an attempt to change the church as opposed to change one’s self to fit the church. And easy way to remove the ambiguity and objective nature of bishop interviews is to create a sin tier system with corresponding consequences. The bishop asks if you’ve committed a tier 1,2 or 3 level sin without detail and then upon confession articulates a set time frame for retribution. I know it’s procedural and less intimate but it creates consistency. We all know of situations where two people commit the same sin but receive significantly different consequences upon confession. Sorry for the novel.

  • NeilT Ogden, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 9:23 p.m.

    My wife was the victim of abuse perpetrated by her father. I am so grateful for Bishops and other church members and leaders who helped her get through this terrible ordeal. I am grateful that as soon as the abuse was made public he was immediately excommunicated. I once had my Bishop ask an uncomfortable question and I have remained an active member all my life. Just because the Bishop asked you a personal question is a lame excuse to leave the church.

  • Straitpath PROVO, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 8:27 p.m.

    Thanks for an interesting and enlightening article. I will personally apply what I learned as a Grandparent. Anything to help these young people.

  • n8ive american Shelley, Idaho
    Aug. 2, 2018 8:13 p.m.


    Shaming someone for their sexuality? You DO realize that only the worthy are allowed into Temples, right? Those are the Lord's Houses and all must be worthy to attend. It is not a weapon when you keep unworthy youth, or adults, out of the Temples. No unclean can enter God's House.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 6:45 p.m.

    It seems my retelling of bishops interview questions was too graphic

    That should say something about this practice

    My other point was these interviews have never been about discovering abuse

    Questions of do you pay tithing or masterbate have no ability to derive this information.

    It’s a poor excuse for an awful practice

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 6:29 p.m.

    “They give teenagers an opportunity to report abuse by someone in their household“

    This has never been the purpose of these interviews

    You can do that without graphic questions about masterbation.

    “Do you live the law of chastity, have you viewed or read pornography, have you heavy petted or kissed passionately, have you ever laid on top of a woman, have you ever aroused yourself” -all questions I have been asked by bishops- have nothing to do with molestation by a parent, etc.

    This is just the latest excuse for an inexcusable practice that no other religious congregation would tolerate

    If those questions are too graphic to let me post this, it’s a sign I never should have been asked this, alone, by an adult neighbor

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 5:58 p.m.

    Whose Church is this, Christ's or naysayers'? Christ instructed his prophets to safeguard the youth by using Bishop's interviews. Those who don't connect Christ with his restored Church are full of advice. How many naysayers knelt in agony or hung in unbearable pain to pay for our sins and transgressions. Who but Christ understands what sin does to those for whom he suffered? It's his Church. He makes the rules, including the rule that his servants, HIS Bishops, are to have regular interviews with each youth in the ward.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    Aug. 2, 2018 5:58 p.m.

    The author mentioned an important benefit of bishop interviews: They give teenagers an opportunity to report abuse by someone in their household or congregation, to a trusted adult. The interviews perform a positive function to rescue teens from abuse and support them in making a report to law enforcement and child welfare authorities.

    Based on my own experience serving on a high council, and as a prosecutor, I believe the number of such abuse victims is far larger than persons who allege verbal abuse by a bishop. Ending bishop interviews would result in serious harm to many victims of abuse.

  • Paul Duane Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 5:03 p.m.

    Parents should be the religiously articulate adults who have these sensitive conversations with the kids. Their own kids.

    This reminds me a bit of public school breakfast & lunch programs... the reality is that sometimes parents fail, and so we look to larger institutions to provide the support that kids need. Of course, sometimes this fails, horrifically.

    It does take a village to raise a kid. We are tribal animals, and it really is good for kids to have positive mentorship relationships with adults in their community. I most definitely benefited from many adults in my life outside of my good parents.

    Moms, Dads, We are the first line of defense, the first line of resource, for the kids. Let's handle the really sensitive stuff in the walls of our own homes so that the bishops, scout leaders, teachers and neighbors don't need to pick up so much slack, but can perform their role as extra adult role models.

  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 4:49 p.m.

    Re: utefan4lyf

    Plenty of religions with professionally trained college degree clergy have had sexual abuse related issues. Along with almost any occupation that involves children. Even some therapist have been convicted. Most lay and professional clergy are very good people. The key is to weed out the wolves among the sheep

  • Clinton King (Ephraim) Ephraim, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 4:01 p.m.

    This was a great perspective on this topic.

  • TAS Tehachapi, CA
    Aug. 2, 2018 3:44 p.m.

    As someone who has belonged to the Church for almost 70 years, here is a historical perspective. Youth interviews are a recent development. I grew up in the 1950s and the Church did not have that program then. The !st 2 Bishops interviews I had was when I was getting ready to go to the Temple and go on a mission. I seem to have survived without a youth interview.

  • Mister Lindsay North Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 3:07 p.m.

    I'd like to interject one more thought in reference to this article. I'm wondering for those who support LDS youth interviews and the kind of relationship between LDS youth and leaders that the article supports, do you see an equivalency between Catholic priests mentoring, interviewing, being adult examples, and spending individual time with their young people? Do you support both of these examples or do you support one and not the other? Thoughts? Thanks!

  • Utefan4Lyf West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 2:43 p.m.

    This is one excellent example of the detriment of having a lay clergy leading your wards. While there is guidance related to these interviews, the subject matter itself is typically driven by the adult, which turns a confession by a child into a discussion of which the child may have been previously unaware. Whether a parent is there or not, introducing a new subject to a child is bound to drive questions they may not have previously had. If the bishop were properly trained in religious doctrine through years of schooling, perhaps there could be more continuity among these meetings. In addition, the spattering of stories of completely inappropriate questions and discussions from those who have experienced these interviews should be enough to give any leaders pause.

  • Glen Danielsen Yorba Linda, CA
    Aug. 2, 2018 2:34 p.m.

    “arabengineer” wrote “Here's some real irony. The author of this piece, David Dollahite, is also the father of Luke Dollahite, who is serving 10 years to life for stabbing 4 classmates at Mountain View High School in Orem, Utah.”

    And your point is? Lehi had two murderous sons. Does that discredit him? Not in the slightest, nor does it even reflect on him as a parent. I reported your post as a personal attack, because that is what it is — pointless and not germane.

  • Holy-Schamoly-What Baloney Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 1:25 p.m.

    I suppose (big sigh...) I should say "thank you for yet another source that is attempting to tell the leaders how to govern the Church." The Brethren don't need to be justified as long as they are following the revelation they are given. Even though everyone is instructed sufficiently to make them a good and safe driver, we still have accidents and those who violate or ignore the parameters of Church leadership for their particular responsibilities in the kingdom will themselves be required some day to answer for that. That's soon and thorough enough of an accounting to satisfy me about a leader's behavior. If, however, I felt there were gross issues, I'd vote in the negative when it came time to sustain that person and then the reasons would be explored, vetted and investigated. I wouldn't write to the newspaper!

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 1:14 p.m.

    What bishop is promoting shame? If a youth comes to talk to a Bishop about sexual sin didn't they become because they felt ashamed because of their own conscience? The Bishop helps them to feel God's forgiveness and for that shame to go away. Or are we saying it's "shaming" youths for a Bishop to ask if they are keeping the commandments? If the youth doesn't believe the commandments they won't feel shame - if they do then they already feel shame. And ultimately, nobody is forcing these youth to say anything to their bishops. I suppose a parent could "force" their kids to go to the bishop's interview - but they can't force them to say anything.
    For me personally I enjoyed my interviews with my bishops, and still do as an adult. I look back at the bishops I had as a youth and they are men I love and respect to this day. My interactions with them left me feeling better. They helped me to feel God's love. They gave me wise snippets of advice that helped me to make better decisions. They reinforced the things my parents taught me at a time that I didn't realize just how smart my parents were. I look forward to my children having the opportunity to interview regularly with our bishop.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 2, 2018 1:00 p.m.

    " . . . . research and experience suggest that ending these interviews would hinder the spiritual development of LDS youths."
    What it serves foremost is to impress on young minds the authoritarian nature of LDS religion and organization. Spiritual development of the youth is primarily a parental responsibility as it should be.

  • DimpleDell Sandy, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 12:56 p.m.

    The key is how qualified the bishop is. I am no longer active, but in the time period I was, we had really wonderful people as bishops who were extremely helpful and encouraging. We also had some seriously horrible ones that made you wonder why they got the calling. If they want interviews of this nature, perhaps they should have trained people to conduct them who won't cause harm to those they interview. Leaving it to some person who is a construction foreman or car salesman in life (no offense to those professions--an example) is NOT the way to go on something this important.

  • arabengineer Cedar Park, TX
    Aug. 2, 2018 12:54 p.m.

    Here's some real irony. The author of this piece, David Dollahite, is also the father of Luke Dollahite, who is serving 10 years to life for stabbing 4 classmates at Mountain View High School in Orem, Utah. Which isn't to say it's the parents fault that their son's mental illness went undiagnosed to the point at which he attacked his classmates, but this idea that bishop's interviews are part of a mentoring program that promotes healthy adolescents is just ridiculous.

  • arabengineer Cedar Park, TX
    Aug. 2, 2018 12:47 p.m.

    This is what apostasy looks like. The purpose of the interview has evolved over time. Originally it started out as a simple mechanism to facilitate confession and repentance, specifically to support the person seeking absolution and to help them feel forgiven. No different than what many other churches do.

    But then with polygamy and all that it evolved into this tribal vetting process to find spies among the ranks. Sex questions not added until the 1970s, and then things started to really get invasive and intense with all the hysteria over homosexuality in the 80s and peaking in the 90/2000s. People thought masturbation was a stepping stone to homosexuality, so men in particular started being harassed about it.

    There is no doctrinal basis for bishops acting as assigned mentors. It's not a Big Brother program for the youth. Frankly, that's offensive. Bishops do not exist to police parents and assume roles that belong at home. Moreover, it's not effective! Neither children or adults enjoy these interviews, they are terribly awkward social situations at best that turn people off from going to church.

  • omahahusker Modesto, CA
    Aug. 2, 2018 12:32 p.m.

    Bishop interviews can be enlightening, nerve racking or embarrassing. With past cases of of child or young adult abuse or intimidation it makes the case to review what has occurred in the past and modify how these interviews are conducted.

    Going to the temple is a sacred experience and a sacred place to be. That should be the purpose of the interview. The guidelines should be taught at home by parents first, then youth leaders and teachers. The interview can ask some basic questions about paying tithing, word of wisdom, respect for fellow human being and ask the basic question, do you understand the law of chastity and do you try to live it? When the interviewer goes deeper than that, it puts both in a sensitive area. Should a youth have deeper questions then reschedule for a counseling session. If another adult is needed by all means have another available so that all are comfortable.

    The old way of doing business doesn't work any more. I remember being asked some uncomfortable questions and could have easily left the church, because a couple bishops/youth leaders were over stepping their bounds.

  • sgallen Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 12:21 p.m.

    Dale you hit the nail on the head with your last line

  • Mister Lindsay North Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 12:01 p.m.


    First, I agree with you about the hunger strike. In my opinion it's a waste of time and is not constructive. Actually, I think it will do more harm than good. The church has proven over and over again, it does things on their time frame or when politically pressured ( Blacks in the Priesthood 1978, Polygamy, etc.)
    Where I disagree with you is on the benefits that you see from the interviews, but understand how you might feel this way. I served as a counselor in a bishopric and saw first hand it's affect on some of our youth. (we had one of our young men come out as gay and ended up taking his own life). Last, I would support these interviews if the Bishops were trained mental health professionals and that their parents could be outside during the interview process.

  • DaleG slc, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:41 a.m.

    Misleading Title: "Why we need LDS bishop-youth interviews"

    Reality: ending interviews is not Sam Youn's or anyone's goal.

    The article then immediately admits that it's about one on one interviews but does not admit that it's more than the subject of sex, it's probing and shaming and even vulgar questions of children, about sex.

    Failure to state people's positions honestly is a sign of dishonesty.

  • Mister Lindsay North Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:33 a.m.

    I see a lot of "research suggests" but I only see one citation. What you cite has nothing to do with interviews of our youth. Here are a few that you do reference: "when youth have positive interactions with religiously articulate and active adults, they are better equipped to navigate life's challenges." You further cite Professor Kenda Creasy Dean who attributes "this success, in part, to the higher number of non parent adults playing a meaningful role in a teenagers life." I don't disagree with this. There are a tremendous amount of amazing YM/YW leaders, SS Teachers, Scout leaders, etc. Not sure that I saw mentioned, 1 on 1 interviews where a myriad of topic including sexual worthiness is discussed. Many, myself included, adjusted just fine without church interviews. To think a young man or young woman relishes the opportunity to go in and discuss their extremely personal thoughts and views, with someone that they know will only be in that position for an average of 5 years, that has no formal training is absurd. In my opinion, it'a about trying to exercise control. With all due respect, the narrative you suggest has nothing to do with Interviews of our youth. Apples/Oranges.

  • threedegreecougar Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:30 a.m.

    @ Man From Dear River

    Disagree. The study is so generalized about adult interaction, and completely irrelevant to the specifics of the bishops interview. There is no way to establish correlation, itself unreliable, let alone causation for positive/negative impacts of the bishop's interview to the results of the study, given the number of other variables.

    It's a fallacious attempt to use science to justify religious practice - which is both bad science and bad religion.

  • Man from Dear River West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:17 a.m.

    to threedegreecougar. The study generalizes a study that is not specific to "bishops interviews" but is valid and relevant.

  • Kokobeam Riverton, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:10 a.m.

    A personal interview between a child and an adult church leader can be very intimidating, and will usually result in the child saying what he or she thinks the church leader wants to hear. Why not just skip the worthiness questions, perform the ordinance or advancement and let the Holy Spirit of Promise sort it out? Isn't this what ultimately happens anyway?

  • sgallen Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:07 a.m.

    Maybe bishop interviews shouldn't end, but more training should be given in mitigating sexual shame. Sex is natural and, like one commenter noted, shame is a perfect way to control somebody.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:04 a.m.

    I member my first and only Bishop interview . when my Bishop asked me one very personnel sex question I was shocked, and ashamed and felt guilty for a long time.

    And began me on my path out of the Church.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:03 a.m.

    I guess this is a good attempt at explaining to a very broad readership about what bishop's interviews are and why they are done. I suppose the attempt to fit it into a social science context assists with that effort.

    But the fact is that these interviews boil down to just a few very basic but critical things: youths are enabled to confess serious sin after the scripturally mandated pattern and clear their consciences through repentance, and they are enabled to have precious spiritual experiences that hold them close to God and His Church. Gospel learning and counsel on maintaining high standards are sweet benefits.

    And some ignorant people want to do away with all this precious good, because of a tiny minority of bad that has happened.

    Now some guy goes hungry as a publicity stunt to try to blackmail the church into changing its methods; good thing the church doesn't heed such tactics and moves forward to bless the lives of its members despite all the attempts at distraction.

  • threedegreecougar Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 11:00 a.m.

    "She attributed this success, in part, to the higher number of nonparent adults who played a meaningful role in a teenager’s life."

    As I increasingly find in LDS apologetics, the justifications they give to suppor their positions contain fallacies. This author quotes a study that shows that the above criteria is beneficial to youth. But the finding has little to nothing to do with one-on-one interviews with bishops. LDS youths have extensive adult interactions outside of one-on-one interviews. The author uses a study irrelevant to the bishop's interview to justify the practice.

  • AlanSutton Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2018 10:49 a.m.

    The LDS Church has always counseled its bishops to be especially careful when conducting youth interviews. I remember very clearly a General Conference address by President N. Eldon Tanner in the 1970s where he told bishops - and everyone else listening - to be very careful in the topics they discuss with young people. Stories about bishops who may not have followed such counsel get lots of attention, but are a very small minority of cases.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    Aug. 2, 2018 10:41 a.m.

    If you can shame somebody about their sexuality, and use it as a weapon for Temple worthiness it becomes much easier to control (give guidance) in other aspects of the life.