The 'dirty little secret' of the Mormons scrutinised again

The 'dirty little secret' of the Mormons scrutinised again June 29, 2018

Last November Michael Stone, of the Progressive Secular Humanist wrote that ‘the aggressive interrogation of children about masturbation and sex by Mormon church officials constitutes child abuse’.

The Mormon church has a dirty little secret most outsiders know nothing about: children as young as eight years old are often aggressively interrogated by local church officials about masturbation and sex. These interviews are almost always conducted by an older man, alone, with a vulnerable and frightened child.
The interrogation and shaming of children and teenagers by the Mormon church is a routine ritual conducted in semi-annual ‘worthiness interviews’. In these interviews children are pressed to discuss their sexuality while alone with an untrained church elder, who is almost always an older man.

The issue received further attention this week when, according to the BBC, current and former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called for an end to the practice.
Londoner David Sheppard, 27, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme:

I suffered with a lot of guilt, because I did things we weren’t supposed to do. They teach us masturbation is just below murder, and I felt like I was some sort of sexual deviant or pervert for doing it.

From the age of 12 he was interviewed alone in a room by a bishop for what is known as a “worthiness interview”.
The worthiness interviews, the church says, are designed to prepare children and teenagers spiritually and ensure they are obeying the commandments.
They often start around a child’s eighth birthday, when Mormon children are baptised, and then again at the age of 12.
They are meant to be carried out at least annually thereafter into adulthood.
The most controversial element of the interviews relates to something known as “the law of chastity”, though some bishops choose not to ask questions about sex.
The church – which many regard as a cult (read this Christopher Hitchens article) – insists that sex outside of marriage, pornography and masturbation are strictly verboten.
Sheppard says between the ages of 16 and 19 he had “a few girlfriends” with whom he had intimate relationships, without having sex.

I decided to confess to what I had been doing and it resulted in six hours of interrogation. They asked questions like, ‘Did you touch her?’ and ‘Did you make her orgasm?’.
They even tried to get me to give up the names of the girls so that she could be dealt with.
At one point during the interview I felt sick from anxiety and asked to leave and go to the toilet but they wouldn’t let me do that. I felt as though I had a total loss of control.

The interviews are conducted in a closed room, one-on-one with an older male “bishop”, unless the child or teenager requests another person to be present.
The Victoria Derbyshire programme has also heard first-hand accounts of a woman who says that as a teenage girl she was told not to use contraception, and a man who says a bishop spoke to him about “praying away the gay”.
The Mormon Church said Llocal church leaders are provided with instructions regarding youth interviews and are expected to review and follow them.

A caring, responsible spiritual leader plays a significant role in the development of a young person by reinforcing the teaching of parents and offering spiritual guidance.

Stephen Blomfield, from Bedford, was on the church’s Stake High Council until 2011 and is still a member of the Mormon Church. He did not conduct interviews but acted as an advisor to people who did. But he also now believes the interviews must be scrapped.

At my first youth programme aged 12 or 13 we were told kissing was bad, liking girls was bad and touching was bad. So I adopted huge feelings of guilt, because I had already kissed girls.

Masturbation and pornography, he adds, were described as “satanic”.
Blomfield – whose father was a bishop – says, in his experience in the 1980s and 90s, how intrusive the questions were during interviews depended on the bishop.

Some leaders asked really explicit questions… whereas others never asked unless you confessed first. The interviews could be really embarrassing, exposing and stressful.

Blomfield now has children of his own, but says he has informed his local church they will not be interviewing them.

If they want to, they need to discuss it with me first or make sure I’m present. I’m of the opinion the interviews should be scrapped. They’ve been around since the religion began, but they should have never been set up.
They’re intrusive and ask private questions, and I think they’re the reason some Mormons can suffer shame – because they can’t live up to the standards set.

A petition calling for an end to the practice –so far signed by more than 20,000 people – lists the “actual consequences” of these interrogations:

1. Suicide.
2. Attempted suicide.
3. Suicidal ideation.
4. Inappropriate shame and guilt.
5. Childhood filled with self loathing.
6. Adulthood filled with self loathing.
7. Normalizing children to sexual questions by adult men. (Grooming)
8. Sexual abuse. (Pedophilia)
9. Impaired sexual relations after marriage.
10. Years of recovery from childhood shaming. Often lasting decades.

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  • gedediah

    End the practice? How is it not a reason to leave the religion?

  • Dennis

    Just fucking leave. Its a squalid money making cult started up in plain view by a first class con man. Everyone knows this. Just fucking leave and get your life back. And establish a class action to get back all the money you wasted.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    e has informed his local church they will not be interviewing them
    WHAT WOULD IT TAKE for you to change your mind about the church and recognize that they’re just another flavor of perverts?

  • andym

    I’m torn on this. I share the puzzlement that people want to stay Mormon. But , if they are staying,it might be better they are at least challenging and exposing the practices mainstream society find appalling. Much as I’d like the religious to exit en masse,realistically most will continue with it-they’ve been socialised into it since before they spoke. We might have to at least not oppose, those who are trying from within to make these organisations less malign.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    We might have to at least not oppose, those who are trying from within to make these organisations less malign.
    Well, I certainly don’t oppose such efforts.
    But it certainly seems like this is one little guy trying to fix one little flaw in one little corner of one little church, and then everything will be OK.
    He STILL goes to the same church, but now he has told them that “they won’t be interviewing” his kids. Does he really think that will stop them? God is on THEIR side, don’tcha know.
    This kind of myopia is why the Catholics are able to get away with sweeping it under the rug for a while, then shipping the priest off to the parish down the road.

  • StephenJP

    One wonders what might be going through the minds of those doing the interrogations. They’ve been brought up in the straitjacket of the cult themselves. Do they get off on the stuff that they browbeat out of these poor kids? What do they threaten them with to get them to divulge the dirty details? And do the “bishops” also carry out one-to-one interviews with the girls? The whole thing is child abuse on an industrial scale.
    Thank goodness nobody in our own State Church would ever dream of doing such things.

  • AgentCormac

    What’s the betting those ‘elders’ go home and wank endlessly over what they’ve forced children to tell them?
    Charlatans like these have always known that if they can insinuate themselves into people’s sex lives then they can wield massive influence. And the younger they can get to them then better. Make people feel ashamed. Make them feel dirty. Make them feel like their natural urges are abhorrent. Not only does it make the victims incredibly vulnerable and compliant, it gives religious perverts unrestricted access to what floats their own depraved boat.
    These bastards should be shut down now!

  • sailor1031

    Sounds even worse than the guilt trips they put on horny little catholic kids (who BTW are responsible by their wanton and provocative behaviour for tempting the clergy to rape them (I didn’t make this up – look in the archives)). What a truly scary bunch of perverts.

  • tonye

    It’s been a couple of years since the mormons last paid a visit to my door. The last time they did I have to admit I was in a mischievous mood.
    So I offered to join their cult if they could see the link in my next statement.
    Joseph Smith , the founder of your religion, was found guilty of the following, during his life:
    Banking Fraud.
    Attempted Judge Intimidation.
    Conspiracy to murder a Governor.
    Inciting a riot.
    So could you give me one good reason to join your cult?
    To their credit they did not try.

  • Robster

    Do have to wonder what it is about Mormonism that attracts a still substantial 00000000.3% of the population? Okay, their religious facilities have a strange sort of disneyesque architectural style, they get at the kids from the moment of excretion but still, if they were to give it a minute’s thought, they’d be off faster than a bishop’s knickers.

  • Brian Jordan

    Well, at least can now see the point of the magjc underpants – it’s to magic away any evidence of masturbation.

  • John

    THE problem for Mormons is that if they leave the cult they also have to leave behind all familial and relational links.
    It is not only a matter of abrogating your former beliefs but also a matter of abrogating all personal ties and identity.
    If they leave, they probably have to give up any employment they may have too and to start life all over again.
    They probably find it easier to keep their concerns to themselves.

  • tonye

    I realise most of this site will have seen this clip about the mormons.
    Still crazy.