***Warning you may find the post below controversial, however please understand that “it doesn’t impact you until it impacts you, or someone you know personally.”***
Just recently as I was traveling with my husband he showed me an article from Fox 13 about inappropriate Bishops interviews. http://fox13now.com/2017/12/01/former-lds-bishop-calls-for-church-leaders-to-stop-interviewing-teens-about-sexual-practices
As I read the article and the comments that were posted it brought back some painful and shameful memories from my youth. When I was a teenager I felt the need to confess to my bishop about some sexual sins and to become right with God. Unfortunately, my Bishop decided that he could use this shameful and vulnerable time to take advantage of me and ask me some very inappropriate, detailed, and voyeuristic questions. I will not go into the specific questions here but suffice it to say that I didn’t even know some of the terminology he was using, which upon looking at it turns out to be considered vulgar and slang according to the dictionary.
I was young, naïve and had complete trust in my ecclesiastical leader to do the right thing in this circumstance. I had been raised and taught that this man is a “common judge in Israel” and it would be with him and through the repentance process that I could be clean in the eyes of God again. I had no reason to believe that this was not how it was supposed to be handled. Now that I am older and more experienced in life I can recognize and acknowledge the inappropriateness of and shall I say the transgressions of this Bishop. I hadn’t ever told Kevin about any of the details of my interviews and he was shocked, hurt and angry. It was good that we were far from home because he was able to cool down and let level heads prevail. What made it even harder to comprehend is that these transgressions involved, him, my now husband. He went through the exact same process with his bishop at the exact same time. His experience and outcome were completely different from mine. For some reason my punishment was much harsher and longer than his. This has always been a source of shame and self- doubt in my life. Somehow, I was held to a higher standard as a female. It is my opinion and I can now see that it is possible that this Bishop was abusing his mantle and was not acting in accordance with Gods will.
Upon returning home I contacted my current Bishop to get advice on what to do as well as let him know that he is not to ask my children any sexually related questions. Now let me be clear I have great respect and admiration for my current Bishop, he is a good man. He was also able to acknowledge that the things I had experienced were not right. He stated that he has not been provided specific questions for youth interviews and he has just used the guidelines in the For the Strength of Youth manual. He said he asks the youth if they follow the Law of Chastity and he doesn’t get any more detailed than that. He suggested that we meet with our Stake President regarding the pain and uncertainty that has resurfaced, and we followed that advice. Our Stake President took time to meet with us and hear the feelings and emotions that I am dealing with. He was concerned at how the repentance process was handled in my situation. He took the time to pull my confidential records and reviewed them. He expressed to my husband that things did not look normal. He has referred us to an area 70. The area 70 agreed to meet and we are currently waiting to hear when this meeting is to take place.
Now I am not trying to talk against the Church. I believe that 99% of the bishops out there are good and worthy men with good intentions. As part of the LDS church, I have felt close to my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I am grateful for, and I love my church family. I have many deep, long lasting friendships because of my association with this gospel. What I am trying to accomplish is to raise awareness as my parents had no knowledge at the time and were shocked to learn of these things. I am sure that other parents are not aware of these potential situations. I hope that you can see the importance of not being complacent just because “it is the way it has always been done”. The bible teaches us how important children are to God. In Luke 17: 2 we learn that “…It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones…”. It is in this spirit that I call on all parents to protect their children and to take an active role in these interviews.
As well I would ask the church to review these practices and see if there is a safer and better way of conducting these interviews. We have policies and procedures in place that when donations are counted and deposited that 2 priesthood holders are constantly present. Do we really place the higher concern where it comes to money? We are taught to strive to do better and be better and always reach higher, and I believe the LDS church can do the same. Just this month Dallin H. Oaks our new 1st councilor in the Presidency of the LDS church, second to the Prophet stated that “We don’t believe in infallibility of our leaders” in response to a question about past issues in our church. If we can do anything more, anything at all, to protect the innocence of our children, I think that is a step in the right direction.
Please take a moment and go sign this petition. http://bit.ly/2Dw06fh I believe that this is the best way to bring awareness and change right now. You can no longer say that this type of thing does not happen as you know me, and you also know my heart.
Please keep all comments civil and kind, as this was not easy for me to share.
Update as of March 26, 2018: I have met with an area 70 who gave me his word that he would take my post higher up. I haven’t heard anything regarding it. Thank you for everything you are doing. I will not be able to make it to the March this week but I hope all goes well.