Latter-day Saint Leaders Can’t Understand Why Teenagers Have Trouble Converting People to Their Church

Although the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent decades instructing their official teenage representatives to rush to challenge everyone they meet to be baptized, they are apparently baffled as to why their official teenage representatives have for decades rushed to challenge everyone they meet to be baptized:

Church leaders don’t know where these practices began, but “it was never our intention to invite people to be baptized before they had learned something about the gospel, felt the Holy Ghost, and had been properly prepared to accept a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ,” said President Ballard. “Our retention rates will dramatically increase when people desire to be baptized because of the spiritual experiences they are having rather than feeling pressured into being baptized by our missionaries.”

The paragraph occurs in an article from The Church News about a talk President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave in June “to 164 new mission presidents and their companions” (companions meaning wives, since mission presidents are always male and married) about how to get missionaries to be more “Spirit-led,” or inspired by God, when asking people to be baptized.

The first thing I learned in the Missionary Training Center in the mid 1980s was the baptismal challenge, “because you’ll use it more than anything else.” It began, “When Joseph Smith and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, translated the Book of Mormon, they learned that everyone must be baptized.” As it turned out I didn’t use the baptismal challenge more than anything else, because I felt it was unethical to ask people to commit to joining a church they didn’t know much about. However, I certainly knew it was the expectation:

Some missionaries have felt pressure to invite people to be baptized during the first lesson or even the first contact. “These missionaries have felt that inviting people to be baptized the very first time they meet them demonstrated the missionaries’ faith and supports their thinking that inviting people to be baptized early is what is expected,” [Ballard] said. “Other missionaries have felt that an invitation to be baptized early allowed them to promptly separate the wheat from the tares. In this case, some see the baptismal invitation as a sifting tool.”

Missionaries are typically exceedingly young—still in their teens or barely out of them. The virtues they are told to cultivate are obedience and orthodoxy, not innovation and invention. If missionaries have taken the first opportunity to challenge the people they’re teaching to be baptized, it’s because they were told to. Sure, we were told to listen to the Spirit about when to pop the baptismal question—but we were also told that the Spirit would likely lead us to do so sooner rather than later if we were doing our jobs properly and relying on inspiration about who to teach.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out the church’s website featuring the very first bit of text in the very first lesson for missionaries to teach: it’s all about preparing people for baptism.

Preach my gospel baptism 1

Scroll down for instructions about how to give someone an “Invitation to Be Baptized,” also in the first lesson:

Preach my gospel baptism 2

As explained in a history of Preach My Gospel, the church’s curriculum for missionaries since 2005, this emphasis on baptism was a deliberate, considered decision by Ballard, who became the chair of the Missionary Executive Council in 2002, and those he oversaw:

When Preach My Gospel was published, one of the main goals in a missionary’s teaching was to connect the baptismal interview questions with the content of what was being taught. Consequently, each of the five lessons in Preach My Gospel has the baptismal interview questions right at the beginning of the lesson.

Asking people to commit to joining the church shortly after they’re introduced to it is indeed problematic: it’s aggressive, confrontational, and creepy, and, as the article from the Church New notes, it makes people “feel like missionaries are more interested in the baptism event than in what they are really experiencing spiritually.”

But also problematic is claiming that adolescent missionaries turned people off from joining the church not because they were following flawed instructions but because they failed to hear and heed divine inspiration. You’d think, if nothing else, that Ballard et al could have asked for more inspiration in devising the missionary lessons, so the missionaries wouldn’t have screwed things up so badly.

For Ballard to feign ignorance of the role of his own work in this situation is a dodge and a deception so craven and contemptible that you have to be embarrassed for him. It would be so easy for him to say, “Our efforts didn’t work as well as planned, so we’re trying something new,” instead of blaming the crappy results on woefully inexperienced missionaries who were doing just what they’d been taught.

As things stand, M. Russell Ballard is gaslighting a bunch of kids who’ve believed that one way to receive inspiration is to listen to him. Clearly, he’s as lost and confused as anyone else.

Eyes in the Back of My Head

by Johnny Townsend

In the life of every atheist raised in a religious household, there comes a moment when we encounter our first question that can’t be answered. For me, it was when as a young Mormon teen reading lots of science fiction novels, I encountered aliens with amazing abilities. I’d think, “Wouldn’t it be great if humans had that feature?” Nature programs added non-fiction traits other species already had, species inferior to God—according to God—yet obviously superior in some of their physical attributes. If God was the ultimate being, how could that be?

Why, for instance, didn’t humans display more attractive coloring? Blue, red, green, purple? We were mostly drab beiges and browns. We colored our hair and tattooed ourselves and wore flashy clothes because we understood the need to improve upon nature.

Often when I was trying to nail or tape or cut something, I’d think, “Boy, wouldn’t it be great to have an extra arm or two?” What if we could tell ourselves, “Put your finger there so I can tie this”?

When bullies crept up behind me at school, how could I not wonder why humans, made in the image of a perfect God, didn’t have eyes in the back of our head?

Why did we have unprotected shins?

If shivering generated heat when we were cold, why did people who still had adequate stores of fat freeze to death before burning up their reserves?

Why couldn’t we breathe in both air and water?

Why couldn’t we fly?

Why couldn’t we regenerate lost appendages?

Why didn’t we have a mouth on the end of some new appendage that we could manipulate more freely than we could move our head?

I had lots of questions, but the biggest was why a being that clearly didn’t have the best of all possible bodies was still able to label itself the Supreme Being in the universe. And if we as Mormons had the opportunity to become gods ourselves, with the same bodies we had on Earth, only “perfected,” wasn’t it a bit unfair that we beat out other species that scored so much higher on any objective evaluation of overall traits?

Something wasn’t right.

Of course, I would eventually decide that the issue of physical attributes was the least of the problems most theologians created.

Why, for instance, did other animals and insects need to suffer when their moral character wasn’t being tested to determine if they qualified for godhood? They just suffered.

Why was suffering the only method for helping humans progress to the next level? The most intelligent being in the entire universe couldn’t come up with anything better than that? If God himself is bound by “natural” laws, who made up those laws? Atoms and molecules did that all by themselves?

The questions didn’t stop there. After reaching a certain threshold, though, there wasn’t much point even asking anything else.

Despite the dangers of unregulated genetic manipulation, I now accept that our fate is in our own hands, and we have to be proactive in ensuring our advancement. Perhaps soon we can create features to turn us into the superior beings we want to be. More intelligent, more compassionate, more altruistic. Maybe we’ll be able to individually choose specific genes for ourselves. On the issue of sex alone, I can think of quite a few improvements I could make to my body.

Don’t tell me you don’t have a fantasy wish list, too.

The possibilities are as endless as the number of people out there.

But no, we’re stuck with two eyes, two arms, two legs, and—sadly—just the one penis.

If God is the most intelligent, most powerful being in the universe, why can’t he figure out safe genetic engineering?

I don’t need Noah’s flood to make me doubt. I don’t need anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. I don’t need any of the vast multitude of theological issues debated regularly to open my eyes to the implausibility of God’s existence. The eyes in the front of my head are enough for that.

America’s Greatest Mystery Novel

Once you strip away all the Book of Mormon’s pretenses of scriptural import, what you have is nothing more nor less than a lusty tale of America’s favorite subject: families and murder….

Murder and ruin are written across the breadth of Joseph Smith’s pre-American panorama, and because violence always demands an explanation or a solution, the Book of Mormon’s unexamined greatest revelation is a truly startling one: As Moroni looks at the blood-reddened land around him, and as he reviews the full reach of the history that led to this mass extinction, it is plain that the force behind all these centuries of destruction is none other than God himself. It is God who brought these wandering people to an empty land, and it is God who established the legacies that could only lead to such awful obliteration. God is the hidden architect of all the killing at the heart of America’s greatest mystery novel, the angry father who demands that countless offspring pay for his rules and honor, even at the cost of generations of endless ruin.

The single strongest instance of blasphemy in the Book of Mormon occurs when a charismatic atheist and Antichrist named Korihor stands before one of God’s judges and kings and proclaims: “Ye say that this people is a guilty and a fallen people, because of the transgressions of a parent. Behold, I say that a child is not guilty of because of its parents.”

For proclaiming such outrageous words, God strikes Korihor mute, and despite Korihor’s full-hearted repentance, God will not allow him forgiveness. Korihor is left to wander among the people of the nation, begging for mercy and support, and the people take him and stamp upon him, until he dies under their feet. –Mikal Gilmore, Shot in the Heart

You’ve never read a book quite like Shot in the Heart. Even if you’ve read The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer, which deals with some of the same subject matter, you’ve still never read a book like SitH, which is a lot shorter and far less boring than The Executioner’s Song (which I am convinced went to press without any serious editing, because it’s such a bloated mess). People admire TES because of the power of Gary Gilmore, the person at the heart of the story, not Mailer’s sloppy thousand-page account of Gary’s life, crimes, death, and notoriety.

Gary Gilmore, in case you didn’t know, murdered two young Mormon men in Utah County on subsequent nights in 1976, for no reason but meanness. He was swiftly tried for one of the murders, convicted, and sentenced to death. He then refused to appeal his death sentence, which enraged people. The most devoted supporters of the death penalty had no interest in killing someone who wanted to die, because that was no punishment; they only wanted to execute people who wanted to live. On January 17, 1977, Gilmore was shot to death at the Utah State Prison in Draper (if you’ve ever driven from Salt Lake City to Provo, you went right past it; it’s just to the west of I-15), and became the first person executed in the United States in almost a decade, after the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty in 1976.

Gilmore was in Utah because he had family there; his mother was born in Provo. Gary was never Mormon, but his mother and his younger brother Mikal both were, though Mikal went inactive as a teen–he was asked to stop attending when it became obvious just how much he loved girls and rock & roll. (Mikal wrote for Rolling Stone for years and has published a history of rock & roll entitled Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock & Roll.) Mikal’s insider knowledge of Mormonism makes his analysis of it all the more compelling. He gets a few details wrong (for instance, misremembers some of Mormon lingo across three decades), but he really nails some things, as when he describes his Utah cousins as “prissy and mean at the same time–in the way that only well-bred Mormon children can seem.”

Shot in the Heart is both a Utah story and a uniquely Mormon book on the one hand, and, on the other, a harrowing tragedy that transcends place and religion. Like the Book of Mormon, it is about love and loyalty and devotion and murder and intergenerational violence and children punished for the sins of their parents. It’s a ghost story and a family history. It’s scriptural exegesis and true crime. It’s an elegy and a polemic about the US prison system. it’s grim and despairing–it’s really hard to be cheerful when your brother is the most notorious murderer in the country–and still somehow uplifting. It’s a work that should help inform the mission and scope of Mormon Alumni Association Books.

It was made into a crappy TV movie in the early 2000s. Skip that and just read the book, even though it’s long. It’s a heartbreaking work of staggering genius in ways Dave Eggers’ work can only hope to be.

Call for Submissions

Mormon Alumni Association Books is seeking LDS-themed novels in all categories, including literary, commercial, and genre fiction. We will also consider short fiction and poetry collections.

We are looking for completed manuscripts that explore the unique Mormon experience. Works may be critical of or sympathetic to the LDS Church and its members. However, we are not looking for books that focus on whether or not “the Church is true.” We are interested in stories drawn from across the greater LDS community, featuring convincing characters tackling real-life challenges.

If you have completed a book that seems a good match for us, please send your first 20 or so pages along with a query letter that includes a synopsis of your work to: mormonalumniassociation@gmail.com

A Mormon By Any Other Name

by Johnny Townsend

A Mormon by any other name would smell as sweet. Or, more accurately, a Mormon by any other name would smell as saccharine.

I don’t mean to sound offensive. That’s always the trick, isn’t it? Not sounding offensive.

It’s perfectly okay to be offensive, though, right? “I love you but I hate your sin of homosexuality, so you can’t bring your ‘friend’ to dinner.”

Granted, we should be happy when Mormons use the word “homosexuality.” Just as they tend to bristle when people label their religion a “cult,” gays and lesbians don’t like being called “people suffering from same-sex attraction.”

LGBTQ folk shouldn’t feel singled out, however. Black skin used to be “the mark of Cain.” For over 150 years, “pure and delightsome” characters in the Book of Mormon were described as “white and delightsome.” That particular book of scripture used to be a record of the Lamanites, indigenous people known by most others as Native Americans. And it used to be about all Native Americans, but now Lamanites are considered to be “among” the original inhabitants of the Americas, and the book is definitely no longer a “history.”

Speaking of scriptural adjustments, the Book of Abraham until recently was a “translation” of the papyri Joseph Smith purchased. Now, with evidence that the actual translation is vastly different, Church leaders say Joseph’s version was merely “inspired” by the Egyptian funerary text.

Words matter. That’s President Nelson’s reason for insisting we no longer use the word “Mormon.” What used to be a proud nickname embraced by the “I’m a Mormon!” campaign, and reflected in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, mormon.org, Mormon Newsroom, and countless other official Church terminology, is now a “slur.”

It’s that insistence on “correct” usage that is so maddening both for Mormons and those who interact with them regularly. When a Disciplinary Council is labeled a Court of Love, when enabling sexual predators is described as “protecting the name of the Church,” when gender discrimination is explained as “we all have different roles,” people are not fooled.

“I say people. You say apostate.” Come on, sing along.

After “anti-Mormon lies” are verified, Mormons change their claim to, “The Church has always taught that.” When embarrassing facts are hidden on the Church’s website, often only decipherable if one looks up the references in the footnotes to see the actual information, Mormons call this “transparency.”

Words matter. They can be used to illuminate. They can be used to obfuscate. And they can be used to oppress.

Kicking out one’s gay child isn’t “tough love.” It’s heartless cruelty. Keeping non- member family away from a temple wedding isn’t a matter of “worthiness.” It’s both a form of punishment and a means of control.

The list of deceptive and manipulative terms used by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could go on and on. The “Church,” by the way, is actually a corporation. That’s not a slur. It’s a fact. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Some people like roses. Others like Shakespearean plays. And some prefer Bible fan fiction.

That’s all fine. People like what they like. They believe what they believe. But let’s call a spade a spade. Mormonism by any other name would smell like nutrient-rich fertilizer. Oh, who the frack are we kidding? You know what it smells like.

Congratulations 2018 Brodies Winners!!!

The results are in!!! Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to all who participated!!

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Podcast: Marriage on a Tightrope

Best New Blog/Channel/Site: Unrigeteous Dominion

Best Podcast: Radio Free Mormon

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast: The Drunk Mormon Podcast

Best Site of Images/Memes/Comics: Stuff You Missed in Sunday School

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast: The Drunk Mormon Podcast

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor: CosmoMormonMagazine

Awards for Individual Works:

Best LDS-Interest Book (fiction): Mormon Erotica, by Donna Banta

Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction): Educated, by Tara Westover

Best LDS-Interest Song: Theme song to “The Drunk Mormon Podcast”

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image: Mormon Deadpool images

Funniest Humor Piece: ShadowLeaks Discovers a Modest-Is-Hottest Proposal

Best Parody or Metaphor: ShadowLeaks™ Releases LDS Church’s Sacred Memos

Most Poignant Personal Story: McKenna Denson/Joseph Bishop interview

Best Life Journey Piece: Truth Seeking with Hans and Birgitta Mattsson

Best History Piece: My Book of Mormon ep 209 on the lost D&C Section 101 on monogamy

Best Activist Action or Movement Within Mormonism: Sam Young and Protect LDS Children

Best Leak or Personal Recording: McKenna Denson/Joseph Bishop interview

Best Watchdog Piece: Bill Reel, Mormon Discussions: Elder Holland, Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Best Discussion of Activism: Mormon Happy Hour’s two interviews with Lesley Butterfield: on Joseph Bishop and on UnrigheousDominion.org

Best Op-Ed: Open letter to LDS Patriarchy, by Lesley Butterfield

Best Film or Media Presentation: Believer

Best Scripture Study Piece: The Drunk Mormon Podcast: The Frickin’ Golden Plates!!

Best From the Pulpit Sermon: Thomas Shaffer

Best LDS-Culture Piece: The Drunk Mormon Podcast: We Know Who Bigfoot Is

Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS: Radio Free Mormon: General Conference Death March

Best Theological Discussion: Some Things that are Useful are Not True, by Alex

Best Discussion on Race: The Racism 101 podcast

Best Discussion on Polygamy and/or Sexual Abuse within Mormonism: Mormon Happy Hour: Mormon Sexual Trauma Dumpster Fire

Best Discussion on Gender and/or Orientation: Mormon Women Speak, featuring Mica McGriggs, PhD and the Hushed Ones Documentarians

Here‘s the list of all of the nominees and the results of the polls. And here are the button graphics for the winners — feel free to display these on your site:

2018-Brodies-Black

2018-Brodies-White

Thanks again for your participation!!

Time to vote for the 2018 Brodie Awards!!!

2018-Brodies-200px The polls are now ready!! A huge thanks to everyone who nominated and shared with us this fantastic crop of amazing content from 2018!!

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Podcast

Best New Blog/Channel/Site

Best Podcast

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Site of Images/Memes/Comics

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Awards for Individual Works:

Best LDS-Interest Book (fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Song

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Funniest Humor Piece

Best Parody or Metaphor

Most Poignant Personal Story

Best Life Journey Piece

Best History Piece

Best Activist Action or Movement Within Mormonism

Best Leak or Personal Recording

Best Watchdog Piece

Best Discussion of Activism

Best Op-Ed

Best Film or Media Presentation

Best Scripture Study Piece

Best From the Pulpit Sermon

Best LDS-Culture Piece

Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS

Best Theological Discussion

Best Discussion on Race

Best Discussion on Polygamy and/or Sexual Abuse within Mormonism

Best Discussion on Gender and/or Orientation

The polls will remain open until Sunday, February 17, 2019 @ 10a.m. Switzerland time. Good luck to everyone!!!

Last call for Brodies Nominations!!

2018-Brodies-200px Thanks for all of the additional nominations!!! I am really sorry for losing so many nominations between the first and second nomination threads — there was this cute little button marked “older comments” which I somehow didn’t notice when I did my earlier roundup. I hope I have everything now — if you see any errors, please comment below (or you can email me: chanson dot exmormon at gmail dot com).

I have mostly finalized the categories — I have moved some nominations from one category to another in order to try to even out the categories a bit. In particular, I think the categories of “Best Blog Post” and “Best Podcast Episode” are just too general, so I have moved those nominations to more specific categories. If you would like me to move any nomination to a different category, please say so in the comments — but keep in mind that I need at least three nominations per category. I still might have to eliminate some categories, but I will try to move the affected nominations to other categories. (If one of your faves is in an incomplete category — feel free to nominate some competition! 😀 )

I will keep nominations open for one more week because of the confusion over the lost nominations. So you have until February 3, 2019 to add your nominations.

Here’s what we have so far:

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast/Site

Best Podcast

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Site of Images/Memes/Comics

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Awards for Individual Works:

Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)

Best LDS-Interest Song

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Best Humor Piece or Parody

Best Metaphor/Analogy/Allegory

Most Poignant Personal Story

Best Life Journey Piece

Best History Piece

Best Activist/Activtist Movement Within Mormonism

Best Leak or Personal Recording

Best Watchdog Piece

Best Discussion of Activism

Best Op-Ed

Best Film or Media Presentation

Best Scripture Study Piece

Best From the Pulpit Sermon

  • Thomas Shaffer
  • This category needs two more nominations in order to go on to the voting phase

Best LDS-Culture Piece

Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS

Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion

Best Discussion on Race

Best Discussion on Polygamy and/or Sexual Abuse within Mormonism

Best Discussion on Gender or Orientation

The nomination guidelines are found here. I look forward to seeing the rest of the nominations!! 😀

Brodies 2018 – intermediate nomination roundup!

2018-Brodies-200px Thanks for all of the great nominations so far!! I haven’t added my own nominations yet, but I plan to do so this weekend, and then I’ll make the polls. So you have one more week (from this posting) to nominate and then two weeks to vote.

It would appear that the most hotly-contested race this year will be for “Best Podcast Episode” — with whole lists of episodes getting nominated per podcast!! It looks like people are maybe suggesting that each podcast should get its own category (eg. “Best Mormon Happy Hour Podcast Episode”, “Best Drunk Mormon Podcast Episode”). I could potentially do that if that’s what folks here want (feel free to discuss in the comments) — but I’d really prefer to keep the Brodies a little tiny bit competitive.

Here’s what I’d prefer to do: For each podcast, the podcaster can select (in the comments below) their best episode to go in the “Best Podcast Episode” category, and then we can move the others to the more specific categories based on the content (eg. humor, history, church watch, race/gender discussions, best title, etc.). Some of the specific categories haven’t gotten any nominations yet, but can still go to the voting phase if people nominate some pieces this week.

Here are the nominations so far:

Year-long awards for people and groups:

Best New Blog/Channel/Podcast This category could use some more nominations — note it is limited to blogs/channels/podcasts that first started posting during 2018 (or very late in 2017, eg. December).

Best Podcast

Best Humor/Satire Blog/Channel/Podcast

Best Mormon History Blog/Channel/Podcast

  • Drunk Mormon Podcast
  • This category needs two more nominations in order to go on to the voting phase

Best Exmormon Reddit Contributor

Other potential categories that could use nominations: Best LDS-Church-Info Site, Best LDS-interest Discussion Forum

Awards for Individual Works:

Best Podcast Episode

Best LDS-Interest Book (Fiction)

  • Mormon Erotica, by Donna Banta
  • This category needs two more nominations, otherwise it will be merged with the “Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)” category.

Best LDS-Interest Book (non-fiction)

  • Educated,
    by Tara Westover
  • This category needs two more nominations, otherwise it will be merged with the “Best LDS-Interest Book (fiction)” category.

Best LDS-Interest Song

Best LDS-Interest Comic or Image

Funniest Humor Piece or Parody

Most Poignant Personal Story

Best Life Journey Piece

Best Activist/Activtist Movement Within Mormonism

Best Leak or Personal Recording

Best LDS Church Watch Piece

Best Op-Ed

Best Full-Length Media Presentation

Here are some potential categories that haven’t gotten nominations yet:

  • Best Post or Episode Title
  • Best Exit Story
  • Best Metaphor/Analogy/Allegory
  • Best Poem
  • Best From the Pulpit Sermon
  • Best Response to Apologetics
  • Best LDS-Culture Piece
  • Best History Piece
  • Best Scripture Study Piece
  • Best Discussion on Parenting
  • Best Discussion on Race/Gender/Orientation
  • Most Insightful Commentary on the CoJCoL-dS
  • Best Philosophical/Theological Discussion
  • Best Short Media Presentation
  • Best Book Review

For any category that has at least two nominations by January 27, 2019, I will either try to find an appropriate third nomination myself or I will merge it with another category so that reader nominations will not get lost. That said, it would be really nice if people who are following this could encourage their friends on social media to swing by and add their own nominations for the best LDS-interest content of 2018. 😀

Congratulations to X-Mormon of the year 2018: Sam Young!!!

sam_young Sam Young — a former Mormon Bishop — has spent the past few years shining the light on a shameful practice within the CoJCoL-dS: having untrained lay bishops give one-on-one, closed-door interviews with children and teens in which bishops are expected to ask the minors about their sexual experiences (chastity) and are allowed to ask for some pretty graphic and explicit details.

This is a problem that has been hidden in plain sight for decades. Those who were raised Mormon know about it. I’ve read TBM comments online explaining that the bishop sometimes needs to ask for graphic details in order to determine what type of repentance is required. And I guess the idea is that if the kid feels ashamed while being asked precisely what their hands and other body parts did, then that’s good — they should be ashamed.

The problem is that that sets up the perfect opportunity for abuse. Kids who think they deserve to feel ashamed certainly aren’t going to dare tell their parents about it, knowing the response is more likely to be “You did X?! You should be ashamed of yourself” rather than “X is a normal part of growing up, and this untrained middle-aged man had no business asking you about it.” Thanks to Sam Young for his tireless efforts to call attention to this practice that absolutely shouldn’t be treated as ordinary and acceptable.

Sam Young caught the public eye in 2016 by voting opposed in General Conference. Over the past few decades, this voting procedure in the CoJCoL-dS has morphed into just a “sustaining” vote (in which “no” votes are inappropriate). But Sam Young argued that according to the scriptures the church should be governed by common consent, hence the vote should be a real vote.

Since then he has been the primary organizer and driving force behind the Protect LDS Children organization. After hundreds marched with Protect LDS Children in protest of this policy and Sam Young went on a hunger strike, the CoJCoL-dS finally changed its policy — now allowing parents to sit in on the interviews.

Yay?

Well, yes, except that — in accordance with its usual M.O. — the CoJCoL-dS pretended that the change was a total coincidence that had nothing to do with the organization and demonstrations. In September of 2018, they thanked Sam Young by excommunicating him. Shame on the CoJCoL-dS, but a big thanks and round of applause to you, Sam Young — 2018’s “William Law X-Mormon of the Year”!!!

Please get your Brodies’ nominations in as soon as possible on the intermediate nominations roundup thread — anyone can nominate! You can see the results of the X-Mormon of the Year voting here.