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LDS Church announces new guidelines for interviewing youth

The angel Moroni on top of the Salt Lake City temple of the LDS Church (Photo: Larry D. Curtis / KUTV)

(KUTV) — Guidelines for bishop's interviews with youth members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have been updated, the church's leaders announced in a press release Wednesday.

In a section titled "Protecting against Misunderstandings," the church specifies that any time a bishop, stake president or other assigned leader meets with a child, youth or woman, the leader should ask a parent or other adult to remain in an adjoining room, foyer or hall. The updated guidelines clarify that any person being interviewed may request the presence of a parent or other adult during interviews with bishops, counselors and stake presidents.

"Leaders should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood," the guidelines state.

The newly updated guidelines include specifications for when and why interviews with youth should be conducted.

Youth in the Church should be interviewed at least once per year by a bishop or counselor, but ideally twice per year. Those counselors should maintain their worthiness and prepare spiritually for interviews, as well, the release states.

Though parents bear "the primary responsibility to teach and nurture their children," interviews with members of a bishopric are necessary in the following circumstances outlined by the Church:

  • To help youth prepare spiritually, interviews are required for sacred matters such as temple recommends, priesthood ordinations, and mission calls. Leaders work with parents to help youth prepare for these interviews.
  • Parents encourage their children to meet with the bishop when they need his help with spiritual guidance or with repentance.
  • If a youth desires, he or she may invite a parent or another adult to be present when meeting with the bishop or one of his counselors.

The church outlines specific matters for discussion that could necessitate an interview with bishopric members, including Priesthood ordination, Seminary attendance, missionary service and temple attendance.

Sam Young, a former LDS bishop, has led the movement to eliminate one-on-one interviews said the new policy announcement was a small improvement.

"This is another teeny tiny baby step. It does not curtail one-on-one interviews. It does not eliminate sexually explicit questions. We still remain the only institutional Christian church on the planet that subjects our children to this dangerous and damaging practice. It has got to stop," he wrote in response to the announcement.

"If you are a parent, YOU can stop it yourself. Do not permit your child to go behind closed doors, all alone with any church leader. Do not permit a single solitary sexually explicit probing question," he wrote.

The church also included a simplified list of recommended questions to assess a youth's worthiness to receive a Limited-Use Temple Recommend. These include:

  1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost?
  2. Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?
  3. Do you have a testimony of the Restoration of the gospel in these, the latter days?
  4. Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?
  5. Do you live the law of chastity?
  6. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
  7. Do you support any group or person whose teachings oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
  8. Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and priesthood meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?
  9. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
  10. Are you a full-tithe payer?
  11. Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
  12. Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been?
  13. Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances?

"Leaders adapt the discussion to the understanding and questions of the youth," the guidelines state. "They ensure that discussions about moral cleanliness do not encourage curiosity or experimentation."

The revision was announced after months-long protests wherein activists and a former LDS bishop called on the church to stop the practice of asking interview questions some considered "sexually explicit."

Protests included a march on the Church's headquarters in Salt Lake City, in which nearly 1,000 current and former LDS members implored the Church to end one-on-one interviews and the use of interview questions that addressed topics sexual in nature. Protesters delivered 10,000 signatures to be given to each of the church's members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency.


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