This is a great website. I’m glad I’ve found it. I’m currently serving as a bishop.
I hope LDS bishops will use the new guidelines as a bare minimum of what is acceptable for interviews, because I think we can go a few steps further in order to protect our kids and still effectively accomplish the mission and mandate placed upon bishops as a judge in Israel.
After the new guidelines were published, and after considering them and how to involve families, I sent the following note to parents of youth in our congregation. We’ve also addressed the topic of interviews during a 5th Sunday setting for both youth and parents.
Here’s the note:
“Hi Youth Parents!
“First, I’ve attached the new policies to this message. Please read them, and if you feel prompted, have a conversation with your children about the purposes of these interviews. Specifically, please let them know they are welcome to invite someone else to be present during any interview, including worthiness interviews. We’ve been letting them know this at the beginning of each interview.
“At your discretion, it may also be a good idea to let them know that certain types of questions are NOT OK for leaders to ask during a worthiness interview and youth have the right to end any interview that makes them uncomfortable. For our part, I’ve instructed the bishopric to “stick to the script” with respect to worthiness interviews, which contain only yes/no questions. (These are not opportunities to fish for confessions.) On the other hand, it is the responsibility of families to teach the concepts of The Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity and other sensitive topics so that youth understand 1) the questions they are being asked during worthiness interviews, and 2) how and when it is appropriate to repent.
“One thing I think we can do better about is obtaining your consent when we conduct interviews. This has always been policy, but I think we’ve become lax about it. We’ve also decided that annual and semi-annual interviews, because of their open-ended nature, will only be conducted by the bishop.
“I’ve felt strongly about this topic for some time, and I think it’s great that the church is attempting to make church a safer place for our kids. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly. (Phone number redacted)
“Thank you. It’s a blessing to me to be a part of the youth program and to witness the spiritual strength and testimony of each of these kids!