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Former LDS bishop speaks out against possible excommunication following hunger strike

Posted at 7:13 PM, Sep 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-06 00:31:48-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- For the first time since receiving notice that he may be excommunicated, a former bishop from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a press conference, demanding for more accountability from the church.

Surrounded by supporters across the street from Temple Square, Sam Young told the crowd how he plans to walk into the disciplinary council this upcoming Sunday in his hometown of Houston, Texas.

“I go as a lion to the slaughter,” said Young.

Young received a letter from his stake president, informing him that his membership in the church is in jeopardy.

“I’ve been willing to sacrifice my membership from the get-go for the real purpose of this movement. The real purpose of the disciplinary council will be to put the institution on trial,” said Young.

Young has been an outspoken critic of the church's policy allowing bishops to have one-on-one interviews with children.

“Countless children have been shamed into self-loathing, ruining their childhoods,” said Young.

Several months after speaking out about the issue, Young realized it happened to his own kids.

“I went to one of my daughters and I said, 'honey, were you ever asked if you masturbate?' (She said) 'Yeah, dad, when I was twelve and what I did is I asked my friends. They didn`t know, so I went to the internet. I found out what masturbation was, I found out how to do it, and I found pornography,''" said Young.

Young says three of his six daughters were asked similar questions that were sexual in nature.

“This behavior by congregational leaders is abhorrent to the world. It should be abhorrent to all Mormons,” said Young.

While Young acknowledges that these questions are not part of church doctrine, he said he's heard thousands of stories where similar questions are asked.

“It should not be confidential what the bishop is talking to our kids about. We need transparency. That is one of the horrid parts of our church,” said Young.

The LDS Church recently issued new guidelines for bishops interviewing children, including a “protecting against misunderstandings” section, where, “parents are encouraged to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall."

Young says these new guidelines don't go far enough. He went on a 23-day hunger strike demanding change, but his actions may lead to his ex-communication instead.

“They have clearly shown their colors. Rather than standing for protecting children, they only stand to protect the institution,” said Young.

Young believes that his disciplinary council was ordered by church leaders here in Salt Lake City and that his local leaders in Texas are just following orders. In response to that point, the church referred Fox 13 to a former statement from spokesman Eric Hawkins, that reads in part:

"Church discipline is administered by local leaders who are familiar with the individual and his or her circumstances."

The council is set to take place this coming Sunday.