(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:
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:
"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.