Featured Image | AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
A former bishop and Texas businessman has been excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after a formal disciplinary hearing with his local Church leaders.
Sam Young, who founded Protect LDS Children as a campaign to end all one-on-one interviews between Latter-day Saint youth and adult leaders, appeared before his leaders earlier this summer for a disciplinary council to determine his standing in the Church.
The Protect LDS Children movement has garnered much attention, including a petition signed by over 55,000 members to end private one-on-one interviews with Church leaders.
Specifically, the council was formed to determine if he was aggressively speaking out against Church leaders and encouraging others to do the same.
The result of the disciplinary council was sent by his stake president and mailed privately to Young, who came to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, to read the letter out loud. The decision of the council was to excommunicate Young from the Church. You can learn more about excommunication here.
Before reading the letter out loud to a group of on-lookers, Young became emotional. The letter read, in part:
“We have carefully and prayerfully reviewed this matter in order to reach a decision on what action to take. It is the decision of the council that you be excommunicated for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church…This action was not taken because of your opinion or position on protecting children. The issue is not that you have concerns–or even that you disagree with the Church’s guidelines, rather it is your persistent, aggressive effort to persuade others to your point of view by repeatedly and deliberately attacking and publicly opposing the Church and its leaders. You are entitled to your opinion or position, but you cannot remain a member in good standing while attacking the Church and its leaders and trying to get others to follow you.”
The crowd expressed their anger and disappointment throughout the reading of the letter.
“I don’t oppose the Church and it’s leaders. I oppose a policy that is harming our children,” Young stated. “And you better believe I am going to be aggressive and outspoken when children’s lives are at stake.”
After reading the letter, Young read a statement he had prepared in case the verdict was excommunication.
“What a supreme disappointment. Let me start by forgiving my stake president. In a church court, he is the sole decision maker. No one else has a vote. But I’m not going to lay this travesty on him. I don’t believe he had any choice. This has been orchestrated by the very people who felt their authority was threatened by me, the leadership at the very top. They have shown their true colors. The verdict is all about them and their power structure. They send down the edict to protect themselves, rather than to protect our precious children. They continue to mandate one-on-one interviews where sexually explicit questions are approved and facilitated.
At the tribunal [disciplinary council], as part of my evidence, I gave all 16 members of the council, a printed book with 802 accounts of abuse resulting from one-on-one interviews with probing sexually explicit questions. No “thank you” was uttered. No compassion for the victims was spoken. Instead, they chose to kick the whistleblower out.”
The Church has pointed to an earlier statement concerning disciplinary councils in response to the excommunication:
“Because of the personal nature of church disciplinary matters and to respect the privacy of those involved, the church does not provide information about the proceedings. Church discipline is administered by local leaders who are familiar with the individual and his or her circumstances.”
In an earlier statement, the Church responded to Young’s protests as he continued to request meetings with Church leaders:
“Church leaders at every level—from Sam’s local bishop and stake president to a recent conversation with a general authority—have met with him to express love, to listen and to counsel with him. They have received and reviewed his materials and understand clearly his viewpoint. Further meetings with him are not necessary to clarify his position on this matter.”
Young has stated he hasn’t given much thought to what he will do next, but he will likely appeal the decision to the First Presidency, which is an option provided to him within 30 days of receiving the letter.