The group SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is petitioning for the Mormon Church to change their system of bishops interviewing children because it currently “is an open invitation for predators,” according to Joelle Casteix, SNAP’s Western regional leader.
Currently, meetings between bishops, who are always male, in the LDS Church and minors are held behind closed doors and referred to as a “sacred opportunity”. The private conversations, in which it is not uncommon to talk about sex, have been a perfect opportunity for sexual predators to take advantage of kids.
Caste comments, “Putting a child alone in a room with an adult in a position of power — who can ask the child probing questions about sex — is an open invitation for predators. What child will report that something bad happened during a meeting that the LDS Church calls a ‘sacred opportunity?’
LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins wrote a statement that read, “Leaders are instructed to be sensitive to the character, circumstances, and understanding of the young man or young woman. They are counseled to not be unnecessarily probing or invasive in their questions.” He added that parents are allowed to stay close by in the next room.
An online petition signed by 8,500+ people is calling for the LDS Church “to immediately cease the practice of subjecting children to questions about masturbation, orgasm, ejaculation, sexual positions or anything else of a sexual nature.” The petition was created by former LDS bishop Sam Young.
The petition has the support of SNAP, and Casteix commented, “We hope that LDS Church leaders embrace him and his idea, instead of shunning him… He is a hero for the children of LDS.”