Mormon Bishop Hunger Strike Over Church Youth Interview Policy


In the Mormon church, youth are required to have periodic interviews with their bishop starting at age 8, typically once a year until age 12 and then twice a year after that. The purpose of these interviews is to determine a member’s worthiness for temple attendance and gauge how they are doing living the LDS gospel. In the interview, there are 13 standard questions the bishop asks the youth, including whether or not they sustain the church leaders, whether or not they pay tithing, whether or not they abide by the Word of Wisdom, and whether or not they live the law of chastity.

It’s that last question that has many LDS up in arms about the appropriateness of asking youth as young as 8 about sex. The interview is done behind closed doors in private with the bishop. Often, the law of chastity question moves into more sexually explicit questions, depending on the bishop doing the interview. Some LDS have called on the church to stop this practice of asking youth these types of questions, and even called on the church to stop having youth go through one-on-one interviews with their bishop altogether.

The man leading this charge is LDS Bishop Sam Young from the Houston area. He has 6 daughters and became concerned about this years ago when he learned that his daughters were asked very explicit sexual behavior questions by their bishop that made them feel very uncomfortable. Turns out his family’s story is far from unique. Over the years, he has been trying to get senior church leaders to listen but to no avail. He got so frustrated by the church’s refusal to do anything about this that he compiled a book of thousands of such stories from LDS members who went through the same thing or much worse, many of whom were abused as youth and had horrifying experiences similar to what happened to many Catholic youth at the hands of pedophile priests that led to the sexual abuse crisis scandal in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Young is currently on an ongoing 17-day hunger strike across the street from Temple Square in Salt Lake City (the church will have him arrested for trespassing if he does it on Temple Square grounds). What he wants is for senior LDS leaders to meet with him and eventually change the church policy on these interviews to 1) stop asking youth about sexual purity issues, and 2) stop the practice of youth being interviewed alone with their bishop. He has made 12 copies of the book (one for each member of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) to give to them if they will only meet with him. So far no dice.

Many LDS report that they were asked very explicit sexual questions in their interviews as youth, often about things they didn’t even know about or understand at the time. They dreaded going to their interviews knowing what was coming. Some experienced much worse things. As a result of Young’s efforts, the LDS church does now allow youth members to ask that one or more parents come into the interview with them, but Young believes this does not nearly go far enough as it puts the onus on the kid to ask for that rather than on the church to abide by certain restrictions.

Link to more info:


Oh wow. Good for him for standing up. He definitely needs our prayers.


It’s a cult. We pray for them to be led back to us xx


I am thankful for people like him. The world needs more people willing to stand up for our children. As Catholics during this trying time in our Church, we should be considering joining this man in his prayers and fasting as well.


I know that theologically we are far separated from Mormons, but that is still rude. I know many Mormons. All are truly family oriented and lead very moral lives. This man is setting an example that maybe we as lay Catholics should consider following. Our bishops are also needing to make some changes and have not been living up to their vocation. The good and holy bishops need us and our prayers and sacrifices more than ever as they work to root out the ones damaging our faith. Now is the time to unite our prayers and sacrifices with other faiths to bring sweeping changes to our world as a whole. That may even be the spark that helps to shine light on the path of reunion.


I am sorry if I offended you xx


Don’t feel too bad. There are many cultish aspects to Mormonism, one of them being how the church treats those who publicly oppose certain beliefs or policies of the church. The word “apostate” is thrown around a lot within Mormonism to describe those who do such things and they often receive threats of or actual punitive actions from local leadership for being critical of the leaders of the church. In fact one of the questions asked of members in interviews with their bishop is if the member is in any way involved with groups who criticize or oppose church leaders, beliefs, policies, etc. If the member answers yes to that question there will be problems.


Yeah I am just speaking from my own experience of it I know a man who was shunned from his Mormon family not allowed to his daughters weddings, had people following him and threatening him. I am sure their are good Mormon people out there of course there are but the organisation itself I feel can be very damaging and powerful if you step out of line so to speak


Yes for example the wedding thing can be a particularly agonizing for a family if one parent has a temple recommend and the other parent does not (maybe they are not LDS or they cannot get a recommend for some other reason like they haven’t been paying full tithes), which means they cannot attend the wedding ceremony of their own child.

What you said about “stepping out of line” is very true. If a member checks all the boxes and goes along with the entire program, life can go pretty smoothly. The minute a member has doubts and starts having some issues with the church on this or that, their life can get turned upside down pretty quickly. And it’s always the individual member’s fault…always.


Update…Bishop Young announced yesterday he is seriously considering resigning his membership in the LDS church over this issue. Sounds like the church is basically ignoring him and refusing to do anything about the problem.


This man is so broken - he has 8kids and hardly a relationship with any of them. Meanwhile his ex wife has got a new husband who toes the Mormon line and they call him Dad. My friend says that all the children still in the church are immature to the point where he worries about their ability to cope in the real world if they ever leave. They honestly believe drinking coffee is evil etc. It’s hard to kinda go ‘it’s ok there is the RCC here for you ! He doesn’t want anything to do with religion and I can’t blame him. I can’t support The LDS but I will pray for and love their members


It’s pretty disturbing. Imagine your 14 year old daughter being taken into the office of some old guy who she barely knows and who will be drilling her about things like impure thoughts, masturbation, and other things like petting or fornication. Your daughter basically has two or three choices. She doesn’t want to disappoint her parents so she reluctantly goes. Then, if she has done anything that needs to be confessed, she either confesses or does what most of them do–they lie about it. Another option is that your daughter can invite you to be in the room as well. The whole thing is incredibly awkward and uncomfortable for the youth and most of them have to deal with it. It’s humiliating. It’s meant to be. They want to frighten the youth into submission. The Mormon church teaches that your child would be better off being murdered than to lose their virtue. As a parent, you would rather bury your child than find out that he or she fornicated.

And people wonder why depression and suicide are so common among LDS youth.

It’s not a loving church. It’s about control. Anyone ever interested in investigating the Mormon church should turn and run.


It’s a cult.


And how many people hold that our Church is a cult? Whilst this is a major issue that looks like it needs sorting out I don’t think slagging other people’s faiths is really the best way to approach talking about it.


Yes the church will claim that it’s for the benefit of the child, but even if they really believe so, the psychological scars it creates can harm kids for life, especially girls. Plus, even if there is no actual abuse going on in the interview, the very process itself grooms kids for abuse by other potential predators. That’s one big reason why Bishop Young is trying to effect change in the LDS church youth interview policy, but so far they are not willing to make the changes that need to happen. I sure as hell wouldn’t want my teenage daughter being asked specific questions about sexual issues in a room alone with her bishop, no matter how well-intentioned he may be. That would be totally inappropriate, but it happens all the time to LDS youth.

In Catholic confession the discussion is driven by the confessor and not the priest. There are no pointed questions being asked, so it’s really up to the individual to bring up what they wish to discuss and not the other way around. What you bring up to your priest depends on your own comfort level, and you’re not put into the position of choosing between lying or telling the truth and facing the consequences. And of course the whole reason for going is to receive forgiveness where the sin is forgotten forever from that moment on.


In the Mormon church there are two sets of forgiveness. God #1 which is God the Father and God #2 which is God the bishop (or stake president). You’re not considered forgiven until both Gods forgive you.


Some of the same things being said about this issue here are also used by Protestants and others to show Catholicism is a cult. I have heard many times about how Confession is similar to what is being stated about the youth speaking to the bishop in the LDS Church. We are seeing the proof of how some perverts usd it to groom their victims even! We have no place to talk right now until we clean up our own messes. We should unite with the good people in all churches to fast and pray, and we need to take action. I know their theology is very different and far removed from our own. Bad mouthing a hurt man who is striving for a better way in his own church is not going to build bridges of unity. It just makes Catholics look so much worse

Look, I LOVE my faith and I pray that all Christians will someday be united. Catholicism holds the fullness of truth. However we are struggling with a crisis that is making the world think we are all hypocrites. It is perfectly fine to follow the good examples of others regardless of their denomination.


Yes LDS give an incredible amount of trust to their ward bishops in these matters even though the bishops have had no real training in how to deal with such sensitive issues. That’s why there is a such huge discrepancy from bishop to bishop in how such matters are handled. Mormons have a term for it–they call it “bishop roulette.”


Yes I think you need to reread the previous posts because no one here is bad-mouthing a hurt man. On the contrary, I think we are all quite sympathetic to what he is trying to do.

And this forum is Non Catholic Religions, so we are discussing a problem going on in one of the non-Catholic religions. There are plenty of threads in the other forums on this website that discuss the sexual abuse scandal in our own church.


Another thing I used to hear:

Bishops do some things by inspiration but most things by desperation.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit