Is there a Human Being on the Planet…

Lion Innocence…who wouldn’t be devastated by this?

I bawled my eyes out.  It took me three attempts to watch the video before I could watch to the end.

This story was shared today on protectldschildren.org.  I spoke with the dad by phone.  How does anyone recover from this?

I did lose a 14 year old son to suicide in 2014, this petition is correct about the risk of suicide attached to these interviews.

In my most painful moments searching for what sparked my Samuel’s end of life decision, the issues presented in this petition quickly rose high on the list to investigate. Not just one, but two Bishop’s testified while speaking at his funeral just how conscientious Samuel was during his Bishop’s interviews with them. Also comments in his chat logs before he died hint that he was effected by these interviews.

After over 3 years of grueling and intense research and pondering to understand, I place these interviews and the feelings of shame they produce as a major reason for his end of life decision. My haunting regrets tell me he might still be alive if I had not required that he participate in these interviews, God knows how I wished I had a Sam Young to enlighten me before his death.

*** Samuel’s video is the heart-breaker ***

 

These Interviews Stop NOW!

It’s not just Sam Young….There are now 11,449 thundering voices that will NOT be silenced.  Our cherished children are at stake.

Other Resources

News Conference-Jan 18, 2018 Salt Lake City

Lion Protecting Cubs

When:    January 18, 2018  10am

What:    News conference

Where:  50 West Club & Café located at 50 W. Broadway in Salt Lake City.

Event:    Protect LDS Children

  • Current status of the Petition: Protect the Children—Stop Sexually Explicit Interviews of Mormon Youth.
  • Large collection of survivor stories.
  • Announcement of the March-for-the-Children to deliver the petition to the Church Office Building.

Three speakers will be on the podium:

  • Sam Young, concerned father, former Mormon bishop, petition organizer;
  • Joelle Casteix, sex abuse victims’ advocate, Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network;
  • Natasha Helfer Parker, a certified sex therapist and licensed marriage & family therapist.

For decades, it has been common place for a significant number of LDS Bishops to pose questions of a sexual nature to children, all alone, behind closed doors.  This practice has caused incalculable damage to our children.

The consequences range from childhood self-loathing all the way to sexual abuse and suicide. The goal of Protect-LDS-Children is to bring a halt to these dangerous and damaging interviews.

The petition has now garnered well over 10,000 signatures.  5,000 of the signers are from Utah.  Many of them are active LDS members.

To date more than 1,000 survivor stories have been collected.  They recount horrifying and heartrending interviews, the accompanying trauma and the lasting damage.  All of this has been done to our children behind closed doors of bishop’s offices.

The time has come to bring this practice to an immediate stop.  How this will be accomplished will be a central part of the news conference message.

Sam Young

Houston business owner, father of 6 daughters, active LDS Church member, decades of service to the LDS church including bishop, bishopric counselor, ward mission leader, ward young men president, stake young men president, stake public affairs director, stake activities director, high councilor, high priest group leader, seminary teacher, institute teacher and several special assignments.  Served full time mission in Guatemala/El Salvador.

Joelle Casteix

Named one of Orange County’s 100 Most Influential People, Joelle is the award-winning author of the bestsellers  The Well-Armored Child: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse (RiverGrove Books) and The Power of Responsibility (based on her wildly successful TEDx talk.) A successful writer and blogger, she is also a leading national “in the trenches” expert on the prevention and exposure of child sex abuse and cover-up, especially within institutions such as the Catholic Church.

A former journalist, educator, and public relations professional, Joelle has taken her own experience as a victim of child sex crimes and devoted her career to exposing abuse, advocating on behalf of survivors, and spreading abuse prevention strategies for parents and communities. Her writing has been featured in The Orange County Register, Parenting.com, and hundreds of other blogs and magazines nationwide.

Since 2003, Joelle has been the volunteer Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. In that capacity, she has traveled the world exposing abusers, helping victims get healing, justice and accountability, and researching predatory abuse patterns in institutions.

Her expertise includes an in-depth understanding and recognition of patterns of abuse, predatory behaviors, grooming, prevention, institutional disregard, and criminal cover-up.

She also conducts trainings for families, churches and communities on how to raise empowered children and keep our communities safe from child sexual abuse.

She has practiced for over 20 years, primarily working with issues of relational health, faith journeys, and sexuality. She is a Certified Sex Therapist and Marriage & Family Therapist. She writes a blog called “The Mormon Therapist,” and hosts the podcasts “Mormon Mental Health,” and “Mormon Sex Info.” She also runs a sex education program, “Sex Talk with Natasha” and her private practice, “Symmetry Solutions.” For more information visit natashaparker.org.

What Would MLK Do?

Jail

Today, I read an essay by Lesley Butterfield Harrop.  His powerful words touched and inspired me.

I am NO Martin Luther King.  But….maybe, just maybe, 10,000 resounding voices can echo the example of  this great man.

Lesley’s Essay

I attended my lovely little Unitarian Universalist Church congregation today. The theme was Martin Luther King Jr. and the freedoms that he stood for. I have to admit my public and private school education has failed when it comes teaching Dr. King’s remarkable insight into the social injustices and social psychology behind the very freedoms that he was so peacefully bit powerfully advocating for. The letter from Dr King penned from Birmingham Jail was read in the church service. I’d like to share some correlating thoughts that I’ve had regarding Dr King’s words and corresponding situations we now face in the social and political system of the Mormon religious institution. In particular, Sam Young’s work/petition to keep our children safe from harmful influences and practices that curiously and alarming seem to have a place within our faith system, as well as many of us who desperately who to advocate for changes within the church including racial and gender equality, LGBTQIA inclusion, and reformation of other harmful and abusive policies or messaging. I want to share a few excerpts from his letter first, followed by the correlation I can see.

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]”
16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms…

…But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid…

…I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection…

..I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality…

…I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality…

…I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen…

…In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists…” (Excerpts from Letter from Birmingham Jail).

The assertions that Dr King defines in his letter are strictly parallel to those we as brothers and sisters in faith face today. He outlines ‘The Why’ of his work. Certainly, he was asked and even demeaned for traveling to other places in order to advocate for freedom, just as we hear today from faithful TBM’s, in all areas, “Why do you need to advocate for these children if you trust your current Bishop, or if your children are grown, or if you are not even LDS, or if this never happened to you personally? And if you are not gay, why does this policy matter to you?” With Dr King’s words, we have beautiful reasoning as to why we must stand when there are injustices, no matter the effects on us personally. Regardless if these very injustices take place in our ward, our university, our community, our religion, or our place of residence, we must stand because somewhere in a ward, a university, a community they ARE taking place. We stand because we must. And we travel or spread our cause, because the need to reach these places of injustice will not be fulfilled until someone somewhere stands and says, “No More.”

Interestingly enough, it was NOT the extremists that Dr King found the most frustration with. It was those who were the Moderates. The ones who could understand the need for change, but ultimately chose to preserve the peace and order of system instead of standing and advocating for a new freedom-filled peace. Is this not what we are facing today? We all personally know those people who can understand our cause to stand for protecting children, fighting injustices, and calling out abuse. Sadly, the majority of this crowd will not ACT but remain COMPLICIT, justifying that it is not their fight, when deep down they just fear change. This group of people (the moderates as Dr King referred to them as) values peace over justice. Dr. King so eloquently points out the harm in a peace that allows evil and the true desire he has for a peace that thrives with freedom and justice. In our LDS wards and stakes we face this same question. We have peace and order, yes, but what type is it? Regretfully, it is the type of peace and order that is allowing injustices and evils to flourish, against our children and against our own brothers and sisters, no less.

Finally, Dr. King speaks of the church. The church that he LOVES. The church that he is a third generation preacher in. He speaks of this church disappointing him greatly because of its inability to stand with the oppressed. Why does this disappoint him? Because Jesus Christ himself championed the oppressed with peace and love. He did not turn away from the injustices or fall in line with the Roman rule
of order to keep the peace. He walked and served the least of these and HE is the EXEMPLAR to all of us who claim to follow him. Certainly, the parallel can be drawn to our church today. We literally and figuratively take upon ourselves the name of Christ each Sunday. We call ourselves The Latter-Day Saints of Jesus Chris himself. How can we even use that terminology when we justify, blame, minimize, rationalize, and doubt the countless horrific experiences of our powerless victims who had no voice and no protector.

I didn’t mean to write a novel, but felt such important conclusions were necessary to draw after seeing some of the responses to those who simply advocate for a resolution to injustices happening in our midst today.

Resources

News Conference: It’s Time to Roar for the Children.

LionMany continue to ask how they can help.  Well…frankly…you have helped a ton.

  • 11,000 signatures on the petition.  Much as a result of people sharing it with courage, passion and push back from your friends.
  • 152 stories shared on protectldschildren.org.  I now know how damn hard and painful it can be to reveal your story in public.  Regardless of whether or not your name is hidden or anonymous.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I have shed many tears as I read your words.
  • Today’s Tribune article by Ethan Dodge.

Here’s how you can help NOW

On Thursday January 18, 2018, we are holding a News Conference to protect the children.  Lot’s of media are expected.  Of course, it’s always possible that no one will show.  But, with all the press coverage during past 3 weeks, it’s likely that it will be a great media affair.

Besides media, I’m inviting EVERYBODY.  This can make a huge difference in our cause.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Come yourself
  • Bring others
  • If you can’t come, encourage others to come
  • Share this blog article
  • Mark that you are coming on the Facebook Event page  (Well…I don’t have that put together yet…It’s coming)
  • If you have media contacts, encourage them to come

If ten of you attend…I’ll be grateful.

If 50 of you attend…that will be awesome.

If 100 attend…it will be noted by the media.

If 300 come out…Oh My Goodness…It would be a precursor to the march that will be announced at the news conference.  Three hundred people would be a huge!  But, I’ll be grateful if ten is the number.

The wheels are turning.  The locomotive is moving.  We, the lions are roaring.  All for the safety of our children.

Below is the news release that has been distributed widely throughout Utah.

News Release–Protect LDS Children 

When:    January 18, 2018  10am

What:    News conference

Where:  50 West Club & Café located at 50 W. Broadway in Salt Lake City.

Event:    Protect LDS Children

  • Current status of the Petition: Protect the Children—Stop Sexually Explicit Interviews of Mormon Youth.
  • Large collection of survivor stories.
  • Announcement of the March-for-the-Children to deliver the petition to the Church Office Building.

Three speakers will be on the podium:

  • Sam Young, concerned father, former Mormon bishop, petition organizer;
  • Joelle Casteix, sex abuse victims’ advocate, Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network;
  • Natasha Helfer Parker, a certified sex therapist and licensed marriage & family therapist.

For decades, it has been common place for a significant number of LDS Bishops to pose questions of a sexual nature to children, all alone, behind closed doors.  This practice has caused incalculable damage to our children.

The consequences range from childhood self-loathing all the way to sexual abuse and suicide. The goal of Protect-LDS-Children is to bring a halt to these dangerous and damaging interviews.

The petition has now garnered well over 10,000 signatures.  5,000 of the signers are from Utah.  Many of them are active LDS members.

To date more than 1,000 survivor stories have been collected.  They recount horrifying and heartrending interviews, the accompanying trauma and the lasting damage.  All of this has been done to our children behind closed doors of bishop’s offices.

The time has come to bring this practice to an immediate stop.  How this will be accomplished will be a central part of the news conference message.

Sampic

Sam Young

Houston business owner, father of 6 daughters, active LDS Church member, decades of service to the LDS church including bishop, bishopric counselor, ward mission leader, ward young men president, stake young men president, stake public affairs director, stake activities director, high councilor, high priest group leader, seminary teacher, institute teacher and several special assignments.  Served full time mission in Guatemala/El Salvador.

Joelle Casteix

JoelleNewReleaseSex Abuse Victims’ Advocate; Western Regional Leader, SNAP, the Survivors Network

Named one of Orange County’s 100 Most Influential People, Joelle is the award-winning author of the bestsellers  The Well-Armored Child: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse (RiverGrove Books) and The Power of Responsibility (based on her wildly successful TEDx talk.) A successful writer and blogger, she is also a leading national “in the trenches” expert on the prevention and exposure of child sex abuse and cover-up, especially within institutions such as the Catholic Church.

A former journalist, educator, and public relations professional, Joelle has taken her own experience as a victim of child sex crimes and devoted her career to exposing abuse, advocating on behalf of survivors, and spreading abuse prevention strategies for parents and communities. Her writing has been featured in The Orange County Register, Parenting.com, and hundreds of other blogs and magazines nationwide.

Since 2003, Joelle has been the volunteer Western Regional Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. In that capacity, she has traveled the world exposing abusers, helping victims get healing, justice and accountability, and researching predatory abuse patterns in institutions.

Her expertise includes an in-depth understanding and recognition of patterns of abuse, predatory behaviors, grooming, prevention, institutional disregard, and criminal cover-up.

She also conducts trainings for families, churches and communities on how to raise empowered children and keep our communities safe from child sexual abuse.

NatashaNewsReleaseNatasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST

She has practiced for over 20 years, primarily working with issues of relational health, faith journeys, and sexuality. She is a Certified Sex Therapist and Marriage & Family Therapist. She writes a blog called “The Mormon Therapist,” and hosts the podcasts “Mormon Mental Health,” and “Mormon Sex Info.” She also runs a sex education program, “Sex Talk with Natasha” and her private practice, “Symmetry Solutions.” For more information visit natashaparker.org.

Let the Shunning Begin

Shun

Tonight’s communique to my Stake President.

Dear President______,

I have an acquaintance with inside scoop about Church headquarters.  A couple of months ago, he informed me that a Church security person and a public relations person had been assigned to keep watch on me.

My inside source also told me that orders would eventually be sent down to my stake president to ignore me.  At the time, he speculated that you likely had already been told to shun me months ago.

All this, after a member of the church stalked my private Facebook conversations for months and reported them to you.  Kind of weird that both the Church and its members have a need to stalk, spy and tattle.  Doesn’t sound much like Christ to me.

I have now been told that you have received instructions regarding my “Letter to the Apostles.”  The directive is to disregard me and my concerns.  I don’t KNOW if it’s true.  However, the source has been dead on in the past.

If you are ignoring me, don’t worry about it.  You are in a difficult position between me, a mere mortal member, and the powerful Seventies.  The issue I’m bringing to the fore is a headquarters matter anyway.  Of course, I’d love to address it directly with them.  That’s one of the reasons I’ve been so transparent about everything.  So far, not a peep out of any of the ranks of leadership.  Sounds like shunning orders have been issued.

I find it ironic that the Apostles say, “Don’t send letters to church headquarters.  If you do, they will be sent back to your stake.”  Then, when I send my letter to the stake, the General Authorities tell the stake to ignore it.  Oh well….like always….I’ll just keep moving forward.

Here’s what I’m hoping about my stake president…Deep down in his good heart, he’s secretly rooting for my success in protecting the children.

All My Best,

Sam

Additional Resources

Tears and Disgust at the Destruction of this Child

Lion Innocence

This is Sandy’s story.  Obviously, not her real name.

After reading her words, I bawled my eyes out.  Then vulgar words of anger welled up in my throat and I spit them out in rage.

Interviewing children behind closed doors is EVIL!!!  Outrageously EVIL!!!

I am now at war with the Mormon Church, my church, to topple this horrendous practice.   War?  Yeah, I’ll call it war.  Especially after hearing stories like you are about to read.  A war to protect our children.

This is the first time this woman has had the fortitude to share her story.  It happened when she was 7 years old.  Behind closed doors.  All alone.  In the bishop’s office.  At the mercy….of a pedophile.   In her own words, here is what happened to an innocent child.

Trigger warning: this post contains descriptions of spiritual abuse/shaming, as well as sexual abuse.

When I was about to be baptized, at almost 8 years old, I had already been being molested for several years by another member of the congregation, who happened to be the bishop-at-the-time’s brother.  In my baptismal interview, this bishop brought up the law of chastity, and asked if I knew what it meant.  I didn’t, really.  I mean, I was an intelligent kid, and so I could say that “relations between a man and a woman are reserved for marriage.”  But I had zero idea what that actually meant. He asked me if I had ever let anyone touch me under my clothes where a bathing suit would cover. I don’t remember exactly what I said, I just remember the fear I felt in that moment when I realized that *that* is what the law of chastity was talking about. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to be baptized, and so I wouldn’t be able to be with my family after I died. 

I remember feeling frozen, and being too afraid to talk anymore. He said it was okay if I didn’t want to say anything else, and he asked me to show him where, and how I had “let” someone touch me, by guiding his hands to do the same.  I was too afraid, and ashamed, so instead, he had me sit on his lap, and he hugged me tight, and told me that Heavenly Father understood that “these things” felt good, but that even though it was normal for me to want them, that that was the “natural man” and that it was very, very wrong for me to let anyone do them to me.  He told me that he needed to determine how *exactly* I had sinned, in order for him to ask God to forgive me, so he told me that he was “feeling prompted” to demonstrate a few things, and I only had to nod “yes” or “no” to let him know if I had done them before, and he told me he was also going to ask me if the things he was going to do felt good, so that he could determine how fervently he needed to pray for me to be forgiven.  In that “interview” he sat me on his bishop’s desk in front of him, and had me lie back with my knees bent and legs open. He stimulated me with his fingers over, and then under my underwear, and then digitally penetrated me both vaginally and anally, all of which I had experienced before. He asked me if each of the things he was doing felt good, and I nodded, and he asked me if I knew what it meant to orgasm. I had experienced it, but I didn’t know at the time what the word meant, so I said no. He said he would show me, and he continued to molest me until my body climaxed, and then he asked if I had ever felt that before, which I had.

He had me sit on his lap again, hugged me tight, and told me that what I had done was shameful and wrong. That it would take a lot of work on his part for him to get Heavenly Father to forgive me, and that we needed to pray together. He said it might be painful for him, though hopefully not for me. I felt DEEP shame listening to him as we “prayed” and he held my arms to my abdomen so tightly that he left bruises. I understood later that what he was doing then was masturbating, with me on his lap, and the noises he made that I thought were pain, were his climax. He then told me that I would be allowed to be baptized, as planned, and that I shouldn’t tell anyone, as this was between himself, the Lord, and me.

This is the first time I am recounting this experience to anyone. There are obviously SO many problematic things about this, and not all bishops are child molesters. But if my parents had been in that room with me, none of this would have happened.

So damn sad.  So..damn..sad.  So….damn….sad.

10,000 of us are going to make this sadness stop!!!  NOW!!!

If you haven’t signed…sign the petition.

If you have a story of inappropriate youth interviews, share them in the same place where Sandy shared hers.

Here’s what she messaged me after I cried my eyes out.

This is all I have to offer. My truth.  It’s emotionally exhausting.  To try and recount something like that, and stay coherent in writing, and honestly, functional, in the real world, afterward.  But if sharing my experience has the potential to stop something like this from happening to another little girl (or boy) then I can do it.

Well, Sandy, then I can do my damnedest to fight on.

For me, this battle started last march.  I was on the patio of a good friend.  Just he and I talking about his son’s experience behind a bishop’s closed door.

The battle is going to culminate one year later with a march on the Church Office Building.  ONE THOUSAND STRONG marching up State Street to deliver our TEN THOUSAND STRONG petition.

Sandy, I and my 10,000 friends are standing & speaking up for that little 7 year old girl you once were.

Our love and best healing wishes to you.

Dear Stake President-Please Forward My Letter to the Apostles

imageHi President ______,

I recently spoke with your executive secretary about setting up an appointment.  Of course, I realize that this is a very busy time of year.  I’d still like to speak with you directly.  In the meantime, here’s a heads up of what I hope to discuss.  All the issues revolve around the Petition to Protect the Children.  I sent you 2 emails about this petition and my concerns last November.

  1. The protocol for youth interviews in our stake.  I spoke with my bishop.  However, I still have a number of questions.
  2. I now know that explicit questions are being asked by our bishops.  Three members of our stake have reported that in 2017 they experienced interviews of such a sexually probing nature that they decided to leave the church.
  3. In the last few weeks there has been a firestorm of media coverage in Utah about the petition and our interview practices.  There is a story brewing that may very well be covered by major local TV news here in Houston  It could be highly embarrassing to our bishops.
  4. Finally, below you’ll find a letter that I’ve composed for the Apostles.  I’d really appreciate it if you would forward it to them. 
Thanks for your service & friendship,  Sam

_______________________________________________________________________

One Thousand of us are going to march on the church office building.  We will present Ten Thousand signatures calling for the immediate PROTECTION OF OUR CHILDREN.

National media outlets will cover our March-for-the-Children.

Your policy of taking children behind closed doors is going to be exposed to the world.

Your training and approbation of local leaders to probe our children about masturbation and other sexually explicit details is going to be unmasked to the public.

You and the church are not going to look good.  Sitting bishops are not going to look good.

Do the right thing.  Stand up with us to protect our kids.  Stop these interviews IMMEDIATELY.  Avoid the PR nightmare that is fast approaching.

We are marching to protect our children.

Sincerely,

Ten Thousand Thundering Voices