Sugar Land bishop excommunicated for speaking out against Mormon church

September 16, 2018

Houston businessman and former bishop Sam Young stood in the heart of Salt Lake City Sunday afternoon, a letter from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in hand. Inside was his fate with the church — whether or not he was excommunicated from his faith for campaigning to end private meetings between children and bishops in the church, when questions about sex sometimes arise.

Before a crowd of supporters, he opened the envelope and read aloud the verdict. He had been excommunicated.

“The decision of the council is that you be excommunicated for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church,” Young read. “This means that you are no longer a member of the church and do not enjoy any privileges of membership.”

The decision came after Young had gathered stories of people who said they had been asked inappropriate questions during their one-on-one meetings with bishops in the church and spearheaded a petition to require the presence of a second adult at such meetings. The campaign coincides with a growing sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church.

In March, the church released new rules intended to address sexual abuse. The updated policies allowed, but did not require, another adult to be in the room for meetings between church members and local lay leaders. However Young said changes were not enough. “They’re idiotic!” he said Sunday afternoon.

Before the crowd gathered in Temple Square Sunday, Young read aloud the explanation that accompanied his excommunication. “The issue is not that you have concerns or even that you disagree with the church’s guidelines,” he read. “Rather, it is your persistent, aggressive effort to persuade others of your point of view.”

Young stopped reading the letter and looked up at the crowd. “You better believe that I’m going to be aggressive and outspoken, when children’s lives are at stake,” he said. “The whistle blower has been kicked out and branded with the label of apostasy. I’ll wear that as a proud label.”

He said he intended to appeal the decision and warned the church that he had received recordings teenagers had taken during one-on-one meetings with bishops.

“Bishops, be warned! People are now watching! Children are now recording! Your livelihoods and reputations are at risk. My excommunication is a clear demonstration that the church is not serious about child safety. And they certainly don’t give a damn about your safety, either, bishops!”

rebecca.schuetz@chron.com; twitter: raschuetz

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