Mormon Church must end children's sexual interviews, members say – BBC News

Mormon Church must end children’s sexual interviews, members say – BBC News

Mormon Church must end children’s sexual interviews, members say By Jo Adnitt and Joice Etutu BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 29 June 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption David Sheppard: ‘My teenage years were coated in shame’ Current and former members of the Mormon Church are calling for an end to the practice of asking children as young as eight intimate and sexual questions during annual interviews by church officials.
“I suffered with a lot of guilt, because I did things we weren’t supposed to do,” 27-year-old David Sheppard told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.
“They teach us masturbation is just below murder, and I felt like I was some sort of sexual deviant or pervert for doing it.”
Mr Sheppard, from London, was brought up within the Mormon Church.
From the age of 12 he was interviewed alone in a room by a bishop for what is known as a “worthiness interview”.
The Mormon Church is divided into wards, similar to parishes, with the bishop being the spiritual head of a local ward.
The worthiness interviews, the church says, are designed to prepare children and teenagers spiritually and ensure they are obeying the commandments.
They often start around a child’s eighth birthday, when Mormon children are baptised, and then again at the age of 12.
They are meant to be carried out at least annually thereafter into adulthood. You may also be interested in: Rebel Wilson must repay defamation win
The most controversial element of the interviews relates to something known as “the law of chastity”, though some bishops choose not to ask questions about sex.
In the Mormon Church – officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – sex outside of marriage, pornography and masturbation are banned.
Mr Sheppard says between the ages of 16 and 19 he had “a few girlfriends” with whom he had intimate relationships, without having sex.
“I decided to confess to what I had been doing and it resulted in six hours of interrogation,” he adds.
“They asked questions like, ‘Did you touch her?’ and ‘Did you make her orgasm?’.
“They even tried to get me to give up the names of the girls so that she could be dealt with.
“At one point during the interview I felt sick from anxiety and asked to leave and go to the toilet but they wouldn’t let me do that.
“I felt as though I had a total loss of control.” Image copyright David Sheppard Image caption Mr Sheppard in Germany in 2011, while doing missionary work
The interviews are conducted in a closed room, one-on-one with an older male bishop, unless the child or teenager requests another person to be present.
They have caused controversy in the US, and now in the UK – where the church says there are 190,000 believers – a campaign to stop the practice is gaining ground.
“As a person, the bishop was a good man,” says Mr Sheppard.
“He was just doing what he was told to do, but I think the interviews should be consented to by the child, and they should have someone else in the room.
“The bishops aren’t even trained to do this sort of thing.”
The Victoria Derbyshire programme has also heard first-hand accounts of a woman who says that as a teenage girl she was told not to use contraception, and a man who says a bishop spoke to him about “praying the gay away”.
The Mormon Church said it “condemns any inappropriate behaviour regardless of where or when it occurs”.
It added: “Local church leaders are provided with instructions regarding youth interviews and are expected to review and follow them.
“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.” Pornography ‘satanic’
Stephen Blomfield, from Bedford, was on the church’s Stake High Council until 2011 and is still a member of the Mormon Church. He did not conduct interviews but acted as an advisor to people who did.
But he also now believes the interviews must be scrapped.
“At my first youth programme aged 12 or 13,” he says, “we were told kissing was bad, and touching was bad.
“So I adopted huge feelings of guilt, because I had already kissed girls.”
Masturbation and pornography, he adds, were described as “satanic”. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Mormon Church has an estimated 12 million members worldwide
Mr Blomfield – whose father was a bishop – says, in his experience in the 1980s and 90s, how intrusive the questions were during interviews depended on the bishop.
“Some leaders asked really explicit questions… whereas others never asked unless you confessed first.
“The interviews could be really embarrassing, exposing and stressful.”
Mr Blomfield now has children of his own, but says he has informed his local church they will not be interviewing them.
“If they want to, they need to discuss it with me first or make sure I’m present.
“I’m of the opinion the interviews should be scrapped.
“They’ve been around since the religion began, but they should have never been set up.
“They’re intrusive and ask private questions, and I think they’re the reason some Mormons can suffer shame- because they can’t live up to the standards set.”
Watch the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel in the UK. Related Topics

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‘Stop shagging men’: Sarah Hanson-Young accuses senator of ‘sexist slur’ | SBS News

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NSW senator David Leyonhjelm has been accused of telling the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young to “stop shagging men” and then swearing at her when she confronted him in federal parliament.
Senator Hanson-Young told the Senate the Liberal Democrats senator made the remark on the floor of the upper house during a division on a motion about arming women with tasers to combat violence. READ MORE:
“I asked whether I heard him correctly. He confirmed he yelled, ‘You should stop shagging men, Sarah’,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“Shocked, I told him he was a creep. His reply was to tell me to ‘f… off’.”
She said Senator Leyonhjelm refused to apologise for the comments, which she says are offensive and sexist.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale has approached Senate President Scott Ryan over the incident.
Senator Hanson-Young said it was a sexist slur against her.
I have formally put this event on the record in the Senate and asked Senator Leyonhjelm to withdraw his comment and apologise directly. — Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) June 28, 2018
“This slur was yelled across the chamber during a vote on a motion about violence against women – namely, to arm women with pepper spray and tasers to prevent men from raping them,” she said in a Facebook post.
“This is sexism, and it’s wrong.”
Senator Leyonhjelm said he was responding to Senator Hanson-Young’s interjection, which was “along the lines of all men being rapists”.
“I responded by suggesting that if this was the case she should stop shagging men. I did not yell at her,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.
“Following the division, Senator Hanson-Young approached me and called me a creep. I told her to f*** off.”
He said if the Greens senator took offence, it was an issue for her.
“I am prepared to rephrase my comments. I strongly urge Senator Hanson-Young to continue shagging men as she pleases,” Senator Leyonhjelm said. Source: AAP – SBS

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Scotland could see hottest June day on record – BBC News

Science Centre roof ‘melts’ on hottest ever June day in Glasgow 28 June 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image caption The roof of the Glasgow Science Centre started leaking a pitch-like substance as temperatures soared on Thursday Scotland’s largest city has enjoyed its hottest June day in history.
The mercury hit 31.9C in Glasgow, which weather forecasters round up to 32C. Thursday beat Wednesday’s record as Scotland’s hottest day in 23 years.
Temperatures triggered speed restrictions on rail routes in central Scotland and roads melted in Aberdeenshire, Moray and Fife.
The “weatherproof” membrane on Glasgow Science Centre’s roof melted and dripped black “goo” down the building.
Thursday has become Scotland’s warmest day of 2018 so far.
Forecasters thought the day’s temperatures might get close to Scotland’s record highest June temperature of 32.2 recorded in Ochertyre in Perth and Kinross in 1893. Image copyright BBC weather watchers/Graham Image caption People soak up the sunshine in Glasgow’s George Square Image copyright Camperdown Wildlife Centre Image caption Brumma the bear enjoys a giant ice lolly to stay cool at Camperdown Wildlife Centre
While the heat did get close, the record still stands.
The high temperatures caused problems across the country. ‘Black goo’
Sharon Lyons from Glasgow Science Centre said: “As Scotland enjoys ‘taps aff’ weather, the weatherproof membrane from our roof is quite literally melting.
“The structural integrity of the roof is completely sound, but we are left with a bit of an unsightly black goo on the roof.
“When we return to typical Glasgow colder climes, we shall set about cleaning it.” Image caption The “weatherproof” membrane melted in the sun
Gritters were sent out after roads were reported to be melting in high temperatures.
Poor conditions were encountered on the A920 between Huntly and Dufftown and on the A916 Craigrothie to Cupar road.
On Wednesday, Aviemore reached 31C, making it the hottest single day in five years before the record was surpassed 24 hours later. Staying safe and cool in UK heatwave conditions Image caption There were delays at Central Station as hot rails caused speed restrictions
Train services between Glasgow Central and Lanark faced disruption for most of Thursday, the morning after major signalling problems caused issues on commuter routes. ‘Rails buckling’
ScotRail said this was because of speed restrictions due to high track temperatures.
Speed limits were also put in place between Bathgate and Edinburgh and were expected to last until about 19:00.
Services between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High were reduced to a half-hourly service and journeys between Edinburgh and Dunblane were cut to hourly.
Network Rail activated its “extreme weather action team” (EWAT). Image caption Temperatures across Scotland were expected to climb throughout the day
David Dickson, Network Rail’s infrastructure director for the ScotRail Alliance, said: “On very sunny days, rails in direct sunshine can be as much as 20 degrees centigrade above air temperature causing the steel to expand markedly and could, if not carefully monitored and action taken, buckle causing travel disruption.
“Our engineers and specialist extreme weather teams are monitoring track-side temperatures and vulnerable locations and will, if necessary, introduce temporary speed restrictions during the hottest part of the day to keep trains running, albeit more slowly than normal.”
Some rails have been painted white to absorb less heat. Because of rising rail temperatures we have imposed a number of speed restrictions at locations across west central Scotland and Fife as a precautionary measure. We will continue to monitor through the afternoon. Please follow @ScotRail for service updates and information pic.twitter.com/u0UY4dzquu End of Twitter post by @NetworkRailSCOT
Other warnings have also been issued ahead of the increase in temperature.
Police have reminded people to be careful around water, particularly quarries.
They issued a warning on Twitter, saying: “Some quarry lakes may look inviting on a hot summer’s day, but there are a number of hidden dangers! Deep water, submerged abandoned machinery & car wrecks, underwater recesses, hidden currents, dead animals, pollution.”
The message added: “More dangers of quarry swimming are sheer faces, falling rocks, quick sand, and believe it or not hypothermia – despite the weather, water deeper than a few inches will be cold enough to cause cold shock!” Image copyright PA Image caption Even pets have to stay cool and safe in the sun
NHS Dumfries and Galloway sent out guidance on the risk the heat may cause to health.
Dr Nigel Calvert said: “It’s important to remember though that, for some, temperatures like these, over more than a day or two can be really uncomfortable and pose a risk to health.
“People who may be at risk include the over 65s, young children and those with heart and lung conditions.
“It’s important that we keep an eye on friends, family and neighbours who may be at risk, and chances are we’ll all know someone who may fit into these at-risk groups.”
A reminder of the dangers of hot cars to dogs was also sent out on social media by Police Scotland, after officers smashed a car window in Fife yesterday to rescue a dog which was inside in record-breaking heat .
It read: “Please DO NOT leave your pets in the car, even if only popping into the shops – cars heat up extremely quickly.
“The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with partly open windows can rapidly reach a level high enough to seriously harm or kill your pet.” Image caption The high temperatures have attracted sun worshippers to The Meadows in Edinburgh Image copyright PA

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Karamo Brown: Queer Eye host urges Netflix subtitle change – BBC News

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She wants Netflix to be more transparent about how it handles complaints, so that users can check in whether action has been taken.
Student Chrissy Marshall, 18, studies film at the University of California and runs a YouTube account trying to raise awareness about deaf culture, accessibility and sign language.
She was one of many who took to Twitter to complain about inaccuracies in Queer Eye’s subtitling.
For her, online streaming still remains one of the best entertainment options available.
“I don’t watch cable or normal TV because captioning is always messed up or lagging. As for movie-going in theatres, the experience normally sucks,” she told the BBC. Image copyright Chrissy Marshall Image caption Chrissy Marshall says she finds it offensive when she can lip-read differences with captions
“Netflix is what I use as a primary source for streaming because typically it is the most accessible, but even the most accessible has its issues.
“Captioning as a job is not to ‘clean up’ language, it’s to provide accessibility, full accessibility.
“We don’t care if it’s a bad word, vulgar, or maybe inappropriate, if hearing people get to know what is being said, we deserve to know as well.”
This is not an issue isolated to Netflix itself. While regulations are in place for closed captioning (user-activated) subtitles on typical television services, many on-demand services still lag behind.
One YouTube vlogger, Rikki Poynter, has dedicated years to working on accessibility on the platform, lobbying it to improve its automatic subtitle service using the hashtag #NoMoreCRAPtions. ‘Second-class service’
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission has strict regulations which specify that captions “must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible” – but it only requires the regulations on shows on television, which means that Netflix-exclusive original series may not qualify.
The National Association of the Deaf sued and made a four-year agreement with Netflix in 2012, where it committed to ensuring all its programmes were subtitled.
Although the four-year decree has now run out, on Thursday the group told the BBC it was “disappointed that Netflix appears not to be providing captioning at the level that was promised” and said it hoped it would ensure it was using verbatim and accurate captions.
In the UK, Action on Hearing Loss has spent three years on a Subtitle It! campaign aiming to get the UK government to extend regulation to captioning of video-on-demand content.

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Syria war: Air strikes knock out hospitals in Deraa – BBC News

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that at least 14 civilians were killed on Tuesday as pro-government forces stepped up their bombardment of rebel-held areas, which brought the number of civilians killed since the offensive began on 17 June to 46.
At least 39 rebels and 36 pro-government fighters have also reportedly died.
On Tuesday, Syrian state media reported that the army and allied militias had captured two key towns in north-eastern Deraa province and cut in half a strip of rebel-held territory running north from the Jordanian border. Image copyright AFP Image caption Rebel forces have vowed to repel the government offensive but lost ground in recent days
Troops also shelled south-eastern districts of Deraa city, which has long been divided between rebels and the government, ahead of an all-out assault.
The United Nations said the government’s artillery and air strikes had prompted between 45,000 and 50,000 people to flee their homes in Deraa province and head towards Jordan and the Golan Heights.
It warned that the displaced population was in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and that southern border communities would soon be overwhelmed because Jordan had said it would not allow in any more refugees.
The kingdom has said its financial resources and infrastructure are already strained by hosting close to 1.3 million Syrians who have arrived since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, including 666,000 refugees registered with the UN.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said those displaced in Deraa province had “nowhere else to turn” and urged the international community to “urgently step up and offer substantial support” so Jordan could cope.
Jordan has joined the US in calling for the “de-escalation” agreement to be preserved in order to prevent a wider confrontation between Israel and Iran, which backs Mr Assad and supports thousands of Shia militiamen fighting in Syria. But neither Amman nor Washington have said they will intervene to protect civilians. Related Topics

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