Sam Young has decided to let the world find out at the same time he does whether he is being excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The former bishop — who has been campaigning to get the Utah-based faith to end all one-on-one interviews between Mormon clergy and youths, sessions that sometimes include sexually explicit questions — has scheduled a news conference for noon Sunday, across from the church’s iconic Salt Lake Temple, to reveal his membership status.
During this event, Young said in a Friday news release, he plans to open the letter Latter-day Saint leaders delivered to his Houston business earlier this week and “read aloud this verdict for the first time.”
In his defense, the Texas businessman noted that he is against some church policies, not church policymakers. He urged his local lay leaders to “be men of God” and stand up against these youth interviews.
To further his cause, Young previously formed a group, Protect LDS Children, launched an online petition and led a march to church headquarters to deliver tens of thousands of supportive signatures. He also staged a three-week hunger strike.
Young said he expects to be excommunicated but explained on The Salt Lake Tribune’s "Mormon Land” podcast this week that hopes to retain his membership and work for reform from within the church.
Sunday’s news conference is set for South Temple across the street from Temple Square.
The church declined to comment on Young’s plan Friday, reiterating a previous statement that noted “the personal nature of church disciplinary matters.”
“To respect the privacy of those involved, the church does not provide information about the proceedings," spokesman Eric Hawkins wrote in an email. "Church discipline is administered by local leaders who are familiar with the individual and his or her circumstances.”
In March, the 16 million-member faith updated its policies, adding the option of an interviewee to have another adult present. Young insists that that approach doesn’t go far enough, and that few members, especially teenagers and children, would afford themselves to that possibility.
Church leaders have also stated that bishops are taught to avoid graphic detail during interviews and to “not be unnecessarily probing or invasive in their questions.” But Young points to cases in which such grillings still take place.
“Protect LDS Children has compiled a list of 29 actual questions that bishops have asked young children in interviews,” Young said in his news release, “most of them too explicit to be read aloud in public.”