Ex-LDS bishop starts hunger strike to protest ‘worthiness’ interviews; church responds

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) People, including members of the Mormon church, held a rally and marched to the LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City to request that the faith's leaders put an end to bishops meeting one-on-one with children for interviews. Friday, March 30, 2018. Sam Young, the event organizer, speaks.

Sam Young is a former bishop with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is also the founder of a group that calls itself “Protect LDS Children.”

FOX 13 News reported that Young and members of the group started a hunger strike in hopes of influencing the LDS Church to stop allowing bishops to do one-on-one interviews with minors to determine their “worthiness.”

Church leaders counsel youths and often conduct a series of interviews, which Young and many other former and current LDS Church members say are inappropriate. Young says bishops often ask very detailed sexual questions to young church members, which he and his supporters feel can leave minors susceptible to psychological trauma and predatory behavior.

Young plans to fast until church leaders listen to his pleas and said he hopes the hunger strike will call the church to action.

“I am calling my fellow members to step up and not just protect our children," he said, “but protect the good name of the church.”

The LDS Church issued this statement in response:

"Children and youth are precious. We share a desire to protect them, to help them grow and develop faith in the savior Jesus Christ and to live good and moral lives. This includes building good relationships with ecclesiastical and youth leaders who can provide support in many settings including personal interviews.

“In recent months, the church has taken important steps to improve these interactions and to strengthen the relationships between young people and their parents and leaders, and will continue to do so."

The statement went on to say that church leaders — including Young’s bishop, stake president and “a general authority” — have “met with him to express love, to listen and to counsel with him. They have received and reviewed his materials and understand clearly his viewpoint. Further meetings with him are not necessary to clarify his position on this matter."

“The church will continue to look for ways to guide, inspire and nurture young people by strengthening homes, providing positive role models and offering activities and learning opportunities that build character and deepen faith in Jesus Christ.”

For the full story, go to www.fox13now.com.

Editor’s note • The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 News have a content-sharing partnership.