870: Sam Young and ProtectLDSChildren.org – Apostasy Charges and March for the Children

In this episode, we check in with Bishop Sam Young to discuss progress in his petition to end sexually-invasive questions to children during clergy interviews.  We also discuss his plans to organize a march on March 30 to deliver the petition of signatures gathered from ProtectLDSChildren.org to the LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.  Sam also details the threats against his safety he has received as well as charges of apostasy leveled against him by his local priesthood leadership.



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  1. Thank you Jon for a very good interview with sam and l wish sam all the very best for his petition and ongoing fight for helping the young people in the lds church and l really hope that he can make a really positive difference and help more change come about. l have signed the petition and will think of you sam and everyone involved as you go on the march in march, for future to change to interviews in bishops offices, for the young people of the lds church all the very best to you sam and may you win through as it is such a worthwhile so important a cause, bless you in all your endevours.

  2. Armand Hammer

    Bishops LOVE asking women and girls, especially the sexy ones, “Do you masturbate? How do you do that?” They won’t give that up easily.

  3. It is way simpler to just realize and accept that the church is just an organization made by a man based on books made by men! Sam is doing good work, but at the same time, he is determined to hold onto his testimony. Interesting and complex way to deal with reality!

  4. This is not going to die with the Mormon church very easily. You have to realize the foundation and reason “WHY” the church does what it does. It is all about CONTROL, over others, period! They love the control and the ego boost, why else would they fight this, b/c every good reason in the world is for the church to get rid of this practice. Another reason, if they admit they were wrong . . . . . there goes the “truthfulness” “inspired” “representative of Christ” “true church” facade they are trying to maintain. It is a falling house of cards.

  5. I have to disagree that Sam Young’s excommunication could push his agenda. While it could cause it to get more exposure in the media, I think it would guarantee almost no chance that he would reach his goal. I think we all know that since the church is seeing this as an offense, they are not going to change the way they are doing things – at least not right now.

    An excommunication would negatively stigmatize parents who take a stand against these private meetings and insist that they or another adult be present. It would negatively stigmatize the children, among their peers, who would not be able to be baptized or progress in the priesthood or go on temple trips with their fellow youth. It would possibly come to the point where active, believing members, would have to choose between risking their children’s safety and no longer attending church. I propose the idea that even as an active, mostly-believing member, I believe that my #1 priority in the eyes of God is to protect my kids. I can tell you that I will choose my children over the institutional church and we would just continue to worship the Lord in our own way.

    My parents allowed me to have these interviews but by the time my younger siblings were in YM/YW, they did not allow them. I had always planned to follow in their footsteps with my own kids. Now I feel like if I do this, I am going to be black-listed and if Sam is excommunicated, I’m probably going to be seen as an apostate. This is not fair. These are MY kids; they do not belong to the church.

    As an active, mostly-believing member, I cannot believe that my church is opposed to protecting kids. It’s like I grew up one day and everything that I thought we were flipped upside down. We have to do better than this. This is not asking for a change in doctrine. Why the hell can’t we include a second adult in the room. Can we at least get an answer to this question? Am I dreaming, here???

  6. I would take exception to Sam saying that the Mormon church is the only institution in America that has this type of thing going on. In Catholicism, members are encouraged to confess to a priest each time they masturbate, as it is a mortal sin. Here’s a small example of a 13 year old boy admitting to masturbation and the random answers he received…………https://forums.catholic.com/t/is-masturbation-acceptable-for-a-catholic-teen-help/411143/21. As a final example, I have a good Protestant friend who applied for a job as a Youth Pastor for his local church. It paid about $30,000 plus benefits as an fyi. He told me he felt he didn’t get the job because when asked about how he would handle questions about sex before marriage, his answer was to advise them to masturbate. The church deeply frowned on this.

    I realize this a Mormon centric podcast but context is important.

  7. Here is a really crazy idea. Maybe Sam could request that each of the 15,000 who signed the petition send their bishop an anonymous letter that they were ready to sue the church the very next time their child is interviewed in private. If 15,000 bishops got such a letter, there might be more of an impact than just a signature on a petition that most bishops won’t even hear about. There has got to be better strategies, more forceful strategies to get the church to make needed changes. Let’s help Sam brainstorm.

  8. 2each-their own

    Good luck Sam! A personal journey of this type is so amazing and so much of a growth inward as well as outward! It’s like you begin to see things through different eyes that for so many many years have been clouded! I personally have had an experience of my own of having a bishop struggling to know what to do about me coming out as gay and in so doing, sent me to a stake president that treated me so cruel and called me every disrespectful and despicable name he could possibly think of and was so hateful and mean – casting my spirit to hell he said! I walked out of that interview with a hatred for him that took many years to fade but is still very real to me to this day! My climb up out of that darkness was a personal journey and of great significance for me! It gave me the personal courage that had eluded me thus far in my life, it gave me a strength to stand on my own fully that had not been in my makeup until then! I was a follower that believed my leaders were inspired of God – and had to come to the stark realization that they were not inspired! It was a journey that has taken many years and is in some ways still ongoing! I asked to be excommunicated- demanding it! To rid my life of their constant belittling and degrading tactics and so called inspired words! My life changed at that time – knowing that I only answer to God not a man behind a desk! That realization freed me from those chains that held me bound my entire life up to that point! I felt a freedom and a closeness to my Creator that had never been before! Journeys are each different and not the same for any but love and compassion and understanding are three things that transcends all others! What Sam is doing is a act of love and compassion and understanding- never give up and demand that things change! Realize that God does know you and listen to each of us and inspire us for our own journey – the key is knowing the signs of those inspirational feelings and acting on them without always questioning yourself! Having a relationship with God your Creator isn’t confined within the walls of a religion or building – it between you and God however you see him/her/it/them!

  9. I am saddened by the great effort to taint the good that the LDS Church does. It is unfortunate that there are bad apples in the Mormon Church. But there are bad apples everywhere…both in and out of the the Church. This is not a Church problem, this is a human problem. And the politics of our day scream at the first inkling of someone doing wrong. I think there is way too much mudslinging going on, and not enough looking at the good that goes on. I am grateful for the many bishops that were there for me as I grew up as a youth. Not one of them every made me feel uncomfortable, or ever asked an inappropriate question. Sam Young and others have taken this to the extreme. I can see their desire to protect “children” but I think his actions are trying to create doubt and fear that hurts the good works of caring bishops who sincerely serve. In fact, what about all the therapists out there that have had inappropriate relationships with their clients; teachers who prey upon their students; stepfathers who prey upon their step-children? Where does it end? I agree that we must be careful to not put our children in harms way, but if the day is finally here where you feel you can’t trust your own bishop, then I’ll bet that you probably don’t trust a lot of people. I’m a former bishop. I know what sort of training and resources the Church has set up to help a bishop deal with his members that seek assistance due to abuse, etc. The Lord cares about his flock. I know the brethren make great sacrifice in their own lives to minister to the world’s people as disciples of Christ. They oversee an amazing organization here on earth, and help bishops and other leaders minister to their congregations. Its too bad that a few bad apples within the Church create fear in some. But, again, I feel that the vast, vast, vast majority of bishops and leaders truly love and care about their members, both young and old. I think we need to sew more faith, and not fear.

    1. Lesley O'Connell-Maritz

      How very odd that you should perceive the petition as tainting the good that the lds church does! We were always told that Satan would encourage one to do 9 good things just to get one to do one bad thing. “Come into my parlour ” said the spider to the fly. Little children, even those as young as 7 are groomed to go into that parlour. Did you never ask “Did you masterbate?” If the answer is in the affirmative then how could you have done that? I can assure you Sam Young is not trying to taint the good that the LDS Church is doing …the latter is succeeding all on its own. Consider the number of court cases pending etc. against the Mormon Church.

      Furthermore if the Church cared so much about following Jesus Christ, how did its leaders facilitate the many baptisms of Jesus Christ in the Temples? How blasphemous! And one just needs to research those second anointings to realise exactly what one is dealing with. I wish oh how I wish we had never allowed our children to have ANY interviews whatsoever… you have no idea of the terrible damage those caused in our family. Was no -one paying any attention to Boyd K. Packer when he said: “Bishop Help Me To Help My Son”? Not from the top certainly as every revelation so-called has been from the bottom up. And then all you have to do is read how the mormon first presidency actually deem a revelation according to its president…not from God. Just a thought from deep down in my subconscious : All these alfa males strutting around in their suits being addressed as president etc. …how hilarious and no-one actually voted them in! No respect for Jesus Christ….

  10. A physical rape is psychologically damaging to a victim. An emotional rape is psychologically damaging to a victim. The only difference between them is the physical act. Emotional rape does exist. It is an act of violence on a victim psychologically. The victim is emotionally manipulated and held captive in a non consenting power exchange. In these interviews the power exchange is a coercion of personally and/or sexually intrusive information in a manner that violates, degrades and robs the victim of their dignity and value as a person. The amount of violation is relevant to the degree of the power exchange.

    The worthiness interviews conducted by the LDS church are a playground for this kind of abuse to take place with or without the awareness of either the interviewer or the interviewee. Members are taught that the interviews are necessary for salvation. This puts the church in the position of a huge slant in the dynamic of power. The church and the leaders can and do hold the members’ salvation hostage in order to keep the members obedient to the churches’ demands of control. Choice is an illusion when a person has been taught to fear alternative choices. The bishops and stake presidents that conduct the interviews are put up on divine pedestals in the eyes of the members. What chances would a victim have in a he-said she-said situation against men on divine pedestals? Especially people who have been viewed and judged as less than good upstanding members. What chance do children have in these situations where they do not understand what is being done to them? Most of the adult members don’t even understand what is being done to them in these interviews.

    A huge problem as a victims is that many victims of abuses do not realize that what they are experiencing is actually abuse. Another problem is that victims are often told that their abuse is their own fault or that their feelings are not warranted.
    Examples of this in the LDS church:
    – “If you had kept yourself clean you would not have had to tell the bishop what you did.”
    – “The church can’t be wrong so it must be you that is wrong.”
    – “The leaders are called by god, they can’t be wrong, and if they are wrong, you must support them anyway.”
    Being coerced into supporting and sustaining a leader that has just emotionally raped you is another layer of emotional rape and confusion. I still do not have the words to explain the degree of powerlessness and how self degrading it is to do this. It is vocally agreeing to your rapist and yourself that after he chewed you up and spit you out, he can grin and piss on you too, and there is nothing you can do about it. In my experience I felt like I was emotionally ran over by a tank and death would have been welcomed.

    Indoctrination and manipulation exist by design. If you control what the people believe, you control the people. It is not a coincidence that government and religion are often in bed with each other. The best slaves are the one’s that do not know that they are slaves. Religion has an awesome ability to manipulate people to follow and obey it with blind trust, to become dependent on it and to fear leaving it. This is abuse. This also creates an environment of followers that will accept a polluted sense of morality.

    The church needs to be held responsible for damage caused by it’s doctrines, it’s teachings and for putting uneducated men in positions of authority and council over people. The damage is real. It’s not that the top leaders are unaware of the damage that is being done. The information is out here. It is apparent that the damage done to the members is collateral. Because of the actions of the leaders to defend their positions, without apology, instead of being open to listening to and acknowledging that these problems exist, it would appear that their egos, their power, their control over the members, their control over billions of dollars, the $200,000.00-ish in pocket change per year that they receive after all of their other expenses are paid for, that these are the things that are important to them. They treat the members as ignorant peasants that need to be kept fooled and under control.

    It is truly disturbing that people believe that this is the work of a god instead of the doings of a group of high power men that control a billion dollar tax free business.

    Do to my own traumatizing experience in the interview I had with my stake president, I am personally grateful to Sam and John for their actions to expose and stand up against this abuse.

  11. Sallie Sewell Shanahan

    So much of this podcast comes close to home, for so many reasons. A Bishop a few years back was very out of line when he interacted with our son. We told him he was never to have one on one time with our son. He did anyway. We left the ward that day. Fast forward about a year. The back yard to that house backed up to the parking lot of the church. We had a photographer over when a fire call came through my husband’s radio. He did not take the call; it was for a “heart attack” in the church parking lot. Our kids ran to see what the commotion was. It was a friend, who had not been fully embraced by the ward. He shot himself at the door to the church and called the same Bishop, who interviewed our son against our written directions, to come find him. The Bishop and the first counselor were standing in the parking lot, away from our friend, while he was dying (it drought a whole new understanding of the Good Samaritan) as the volunteer firefighters arrived. My kids saw it all. They were devistated. My eldest daughter messaged some friends in a private group. About the lessons she learned from the events. Someone saw her post. The heartfelt expression was twisted and even though we were gone from the ward ,word came back to us about how we are poor parents. That Bishop even took the time to have conversations with the Bishop of the new ward we were attending to tell him what poor parents we are. Of course, we found out about that on a three day Facebook rant lead by the wife of the first counselor in the ward we attended at least 2 years after we left the Hampstead , MD . Ward (yes it was the Calderwoods ward) It was all sickening. There is so much unacceptable things that go on within the church and the SOP is keep it quiet. No one will notice. I am kind of over that.

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