I recently became aware of the Mormon church’s practice of conducting private “worthiness interviews” of young children and teenagers. Although they say this affords church authorities the opportunity to ensure that their children are “keeping the commandments,” I remember no such conduct growing up in the church.
Mormon Bishop Sam Young was excommunicated for his activities in calling public attention to this entrenched practice. National and even international media has reported with concern on this.
Unfortunately, as we know, Mormon bishops typically know nothing whatsoever about treading the delicate matrix of a child or teenager’s sexuality. Their general ignorance in matters of psychology and therapeutic counseling is well known (if not admitted) in LDS culture.
The church's blind eye to the very real potential for psychological devastation by many of these inept interviews is simply irresponsible. Instead of calmly considering the merits of some of their members’ concerns, they have instead expressed favor for legislation which, if enacted, would have made it unlawful for interviewees to make audio recordings of bishops and other authorities' conduct in such closed-door interviews — at least without the authority's consent.
It’s to the state government’s credit that the proposed “two-party consent” bill favored by the church failed to become law. Had it been enacted, Utah would have become only the tenth state to embrace such a transparency-unfriendly measure.
The church’s fear and reprisal history vis-a-vis member dissent is, of course, irrefutable. However, when it comes to the welfare of our children we, as members, can and should make it clear that the ubiquitous threat of excommunication is insufficient to quell our right to express disagreement with church policy.
William B. Jensen, St. George