Mormon bishop’s fate under deliberation in Sugar Land
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is still deliberating which actions to take regarding Sam Young.
The Sugar Land resident attended a disciplinary council meeting Sunday night - and was expecting to learn if he would face excommunication, disfellowship, formal probation or no action. Church officials will not comment on the case and a decision had not been disclosed as of 9 p.m. Sunday.
Last week, however, spokesman Eric Hawkins issued a statement: “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.”
Young said he would be surprised if he were not excommunicated at this point.
Still, he felt confident when he marched into proceedings at the stake offices in Sugar Land.
“My cause is just,” he said. “My cause is right — and the whole world agrees.”
Young has been campaigning against the church’s interview process, which allows bishops to meet with children one-on-one to discuss topics regarding their faith, personal behavior and even sexuality.
His push for reforms included collecting signatures for petitions, building public awareness and a recent 23-day hunger strike at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
In response, the church sent Young a letter on Aug. 28, asking him to attend a formal disciplinary council meeting.
“The reason for this council is that you are reported to have acted repeatedly in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders,” the letter read.
Specifically, he has “organized more than one public ‘action’ that expressed opposition to the Church . . .” the letter continued.
Young had a few days to prepare his case.
“Which is more important - protecting the church leaders or protecting our children?” he asked the council. “The world sees how Mormons are treating their kids. They are disgusted by it. If you choose to excommunicate, the world will not only see what Mormons do to their own children, but they will also see how we treat those who speak up to protect our little ones.”
Kate Kelly, who was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2014, was not surprised that Young’s actions led to discipline from church officials.
She was excommunicated after advocating for the ordination of women to the priesthood.
“The process hasn’t changed, because the church hasn’t changed and doesn’t want to change,” she said.
Kelly opted not to attend her disciplinary council meeting. “It’s their game, and they made up the rules,” she said. “The deck is definitely stacked. There’s no question about that.”
She added that Young’s critique has power. “He’s an insider,” she said. “He’s obviously sincere, and that’s what scares them. It’s people who are sincere and authentic and really want the church to change from the inside who are the biggest threat.”
Making an impact - and having a positive effect in the church - is exactly what Young wants.
“Speak up for what is in your heart,” he urged the council. “Stand up for what you know to be right. Be on the virtuous side of history.”
He’s pushing for the private interviews - and questions pertaining to sex - to stop completely. He said that he had to take public action to let Mormons know about the practice.
“I didn’t know about this until a year ago,” he said. “Most members don’t know the tremendous danger to our children. If changes aren’t going to be made, then let the world know. They have to know what will happen to their children.”
Young is holding on to hope the church will make changes to the interview policy.
“The council is there to help people repent,” he said. “I don’t have anything to repent. I’m happy about the case that I made.”
He expects the council to make its decision by the end of the week.