It is more of a policy emphasis than a policy change

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on March 26 it is in the process of making considerable changes to its abuse guidelines policy. This change was a knee-jerk reaction after scores of women alleged LDS church leaders encouraged them to stay in sexually abusive or physically demeaning relationships. The First Presidency of the Church mentioned in the announcement that the church leaders' hearts and prayers remain with those members who are affected due to this severe problem.

The revised guidelines predominantly deal with how the church's local leaders should manage abuse reports and the one-on-one meetings they have with youth. An important new rule allows children to bring an adult or parent with them during their one-on-one interviews with bishops. Parents until now were permitted to sit in the adjacent room. The label “bishop” is applied to local church leaders in the Mormon church. However, if a youth wants, then that individual could still give the interview alone.

The new guidelines also state that church members must not be pushed to stay in any situation or a home which to them is an unsafe or an abusive one. Mormon clergy are now instructed to listen to every abuse allegation and not ignore them. They are also not to instruct a member to stop from reporting any kind of criminal activity to the relevant law enforcement personnel. The official statement from the church said that the letter and resource document sent on March 26 is a component of the ongoing effort to teach leaders. The document is the latest version of the 2008 guidelines. The letter was signed by Russell M. Nelson, the church President. There were two co-signers: Henry B. Eyring and Dallin H. Oaks, both Presidents and counselors.

This announcement came days after a sexual assault accusation was made against Joseph Bishop, the former MTC president. Tiffany Turley, the BYU Title IX Coordinator, said that she appreciates the Mormon church's new emphasis on stopping abuse. She opined that the latest endeavors of the LDS church are more policy emphasis than policy change. Bishop Jim Stone of Provo YSA 138th Ward fully supports these changes. He said that all members must be as comfortable as possible. He also said that although it is good to have a trusted person present in meetings, it is sometimes more comfortable to go alone.


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