A group of Mormon parents is beginning to push back against a longstanding tradition within their church that allows bishops to interrogate children about their sexual habits.
Salt Lake Tribune columnist Peggy Fletcher Stack explains that the "bishop's interview" process long employed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is increasingly seen by many parents as unnecessary and invasive of their children's privacy. The interviews typically involve one-on-one interviews between bishops and children, and the questions asked of the children can get very personal.
"Some bishops pose pointed questions about moral cleanliness in these conversations, perhaps quizzing about masturbation, heavy petting or fornication, while others keep their queries more general," she writes.
However, Stack says some parents are challenging this practice, while noting that a recent online petition has gathered more than 6,000 signatures by urging the church to "immediately cease the practice of subjecting children [ages 10 to 17] to questions about masturbation, orgasm, ejaculation, sexual positions or anything else of a sexual nature."
Julie de Azevedo Hanks, a Salt Lake City therapist and the wife of an LDS bishop, tells Stack that such reforms are long overdue and would make for a more heathly environment for young Mormons.
"[The interview practice] is intrusive, inappropriate and sends a mixed message regarding boundaries around sexual conversation with adult men," she says. "In no other situation would a parent allow or encourage their minor child to have sexual conversations with an adult."