The Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has long been plagued by allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct within its ranks. Over the years, numerous survivors have come forward with stories of abuse, including rape, sexual assault, and harassment.
Despite these allegations, the Mormon Church has been criticized for its lack of action in addressing the issue. Many survivors had reported being silenced or ignored when they attempted to report their abuse to church officials. At the same time, perpetrators have often been allowed to continue serving in leadership roles or to be transferred to other congregations without facing the consequences.
This article will explore the types of reforms necessary to create a safer environment within the Mormon Church and how they can help.
Accountability and Transparency Reforms
Accountability and transparency reforms are measures designed to hold individuals and organizations responsible for their actions and prevent abuse. In the context of the Mormon Church abuse cases, accountability and transparency reforms may include:
Let’s start with some accountability-specific reforms:
Mandate immediate reporting of abuse to law enforcement
The Mormon Church could require all members and leaders to report any abuse to law enforcement immediately upon becoming aware of it, regardless of the victim’s age or the time that has elapsed since the incident.
Remove the statute of limitations for reporting abuse
The Mormon Church could remove any statute of limitations for reporting abuse, allowing victims to come forward without being restricted by a time limit. This change would enable more survivors to share their experiences and seek justice, especially those who may have been too traumatized to come forward earlier or obstructed while trying.
Create an independent, external review board
The Mormon Church could establish an independent review board, staffed by outside experts with no connection to the Church, to review abuse allegations and provide recommendations for handling them. This board could operate independently from the Church’s existing leadership structures, ensuring that abuse reports are handled with the utmost impartiality and care.
Establish a victim compensation fund
The Mormon Church could establish a fund to compensate victims of abuse for damages they have suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma. An independent third-party organization could administer this fund and would demonstrate the Church’s commitment to supporting survivors and making amends for past harms.
For transparency, here are some reforms the Mormon church should implement to make protecting survivors and congregation members a much easier task:
Publish an annual report on abuse cases
The Mormon Church could publish an annual report detailing the number of abuse cases reported, investigated, and resolved within the Church, including information on how many cases were reported to law enforcement and the outcomes of those reports. Resolutions to past abuses should also be made available to see what the church is doing to commit to reforms.
Publish a clear and accessible abuse reporting policy
The Mormon Church could publish a clear and accessible abuse reporting policy outlining the steps members should take if they witness or experience abuse. The policy should include information on reporting abuse to the Church and law enforcement. It should be widely publicized to ensure that all members know their responsibilities in preventing and reporting abuse.
Provide training to all members on abuse prevention
The Mormon Church could provide comprehensive training to all members on recognizing, preventing, and reporting abuse. This training could be tailored to different age groups and should be mandatory for all members, including leaders and volunteers who work with children or vulnerable populations.
Establish an independent ombudsman
The Mormon Church could appoint an independent ombudsman to receive and investigate abuse complaints from members. This ombudsman could operate independently from the Church’s existing leadership structures and provide an additional avenue for members to report abuse and seek redress.
These are not, by any means, all the things the church could do, but they form the foundation of a system that eliminates secrecy from the process to ensure justice is not obstructed to protect reputations at the expense of victims.
The Church Can’t Be Silent and Secretive Forever
To address the issue of sexual abuse within the Mormon Church, it is essential to implement robust accountability and transparency reforms. The Church must prioritize the safety and well-being of its members, particularly those most vulnerable, by establishing clear reporting procedures, implementing preventative measures, and increasing transparency around abuse cases.
By addressing abuse, the Mormon Church can rebuild trust with its members and demonstrate its commitment to preventing future abuse. To this end, we urge the Mormon Church to implement the reforms outlined in this article proactively.
These reforms are necessary to ensure the safety of the Church’s members and promote healing and justice for survivors of abuse. It is time for the Mormon Church to take responsibility for its past failures and to take the necessary steps to prevent future abuse. By doing so, the Church can create a better and more just community for its members.