Carol Kirkham was a 16-year-old girl, being asked in a Mormon chapel in Farmington, Utah, for details about her intimate life. Like if she had an orgasm.
Her Mormon bishop Greg Bell (today, a major player in the Utah political scene) asked the question.
“He’s been in my house a couple of times, for my daughters’ wedding receptions,” said Ron Johnson, Kirkham’s husband.
Kirkham was willing to meet with Bell – she was raised Mormon. But by no means should Bell been that invasive in the one-on-one interview, Kirkham said in Salt Lake City last month, while participating in a demonstration in front of the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As part of the Protect LDS Children initiative started by Sam Young, they were seeking for the church to “stop sexually explicit interviews of Mormon youth behind closed doors, all alone, with an older man.”
She and Johnson have since left the church.
“I thank God my kids aren’t in the church anymore,” Kirkham said.
Most of them. Her oldest daughter is raising her own daughters in the church, and Kirkham and Johnson are concerned.
So were 55,000 others – that was the number of signatures, according to KUTV2, on a petition delivered the Friday afternoon that Kirkham and Johnson closed their business for the day, traveling an hour-and-a-half north from Logan, Utah.
“I’m glad we came down,” Johnson said.
Fifteen books were also delivered to church public relations representatives at the protest, KUTV2 reported.
Young is a former bishop himself who said he remains a believing, practicing Mormon.
Debbie Coleman Squires traveled from England to be with family for her granddaughter’s Mormon blessing. She’s also a believing, practicing Mormon.
“I’ve been a member of the church for over 40 years now, so it’s in my blood now,” she remarked.
But possible family time nor her adherence kept her from attending the protest.
“(There is) greater child safety in England,” Squires added.
In a statement, a church spokesman wrote that “a caring, responsible spiritual leader plays a significant role in the development of a young person by reinforcing the teaching of parents and offering spiritual guidance.”
“We express gratitude for the thousands of volunteer Church leaders—men and women—who selflessly serve and mentor youth, individuals, and families throughout the world,” the statement read. “As with any practice in the Church, we continually look for ways to improve and adjust by following the Savior in meeting the needs of our members.”
Kirkham, who later said she is not “anti-Mormon,” suggested that some Mormons understand this issue.
“Thank God for millennials,” Kirkham said.
The week the protest occurred, the church announced it had changed a policy to allow another adult to be in the room when a bishop is interviewing someone, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Photos courtesy of the author.