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  • Non-profit takes on child abuse in LDS Church/BSA
    by Lauren Elise McNamara
    Published - 02/23/16 - 12:36 PM | 5 5 comments | 81 81 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Volunteers, especially in the healing arts professions and especially those with trauma and/or child abuse experience, are being recruited now by Restore Our Humanity (Courtesy of ROH)
    Volunteers, especially in the healing arts professions and especially those with trauma and/or child abuse experience, are being recruited now by Restore Our Humanity (Courtesy of ROH)
    SALT LAKE CITY — Lauren Elise McNamara, member of the board of Restore Our Humanity said that members of this human rights organization and their peers within the academic community have for years noticed some startling trends.

    "There is a child abuse problem in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and within Boy Scouts of America," McNamara said. "In Utah, and in other States with large LDS populations, there is evidence of a culture of non-reporting and of protecting perpetrators. This has kept justice from being served and has impeded the rights of survivors by preventing access to counseling, treatment, and to due process. Restore Our Humanity intends to address this head on and has a legal team in place to help."

    Restore Our Humanity (ROH), a Utah-based 501c4 organization announced Tuesday its launch of a new initiative aimed at providing support and awareness to survivors of child abuse, especially childhood sexual abuse —specifically those inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon, LDS) and Boy Scouts of America (BSA). ROH is looking for the media's help in urging victims of abuse worldwide to come forward and stands prepared to offer physical, emotional and legal support where and when needed.

    A hotline has been set up at 801-215-9748 as well as a survivor registration form at www.restoreourhumanity.org the purpose of which is to identify survivors who are looking for resources and support. ROH is seeking to assist survivors of abuse whose perpetrators were representative of the LDS Church or BSA or whose abuse was covered up or kept from authorities, due process or counselors in any way by representatives of these organizations.

    Survivors or individuals representing minor children who are survivors can register their experiences with ROH by clicking on the yellow “Survivors of Sexual Abuse” button and filling out the form on the corresponding page or by calling the Survivor Hotline. Anonymity, unless the survivor chooses to go public with their story, is of utmost priority.

    Legal counsel has been retained to provide comprehensive legal support to survivors in order to help them better understand their rights and if necessary choose the best path of support and possible litigation consistent with pursuing those rights. ROH has retained the pro bono consultative service of lawyer Matthew Long of Rowley, Chapman & Barney, Ltd., a firm located in Arizona (Matt Long is featured here speaking about child sex abuse cases with Mormon Stories Podcast host John Dehlin). In addition to legal support ROH is consulting with national support groups, trauma care professionals and other experts in the field to put together resources for survivors for the duration of this program and beyond.

    It is the goal of ROH that any services offered or litigation pursued may be done at no cost to the survivors.

    Volunteers, especially in the healing arts professions and especially those with trauma and/or child abuse experience, are being recruited now. Individuals interesting in volunteering are asked to contact Volunteer Coordinator Karen Crist at Karen@restoreourhumanity.org. The next volunteer informational meeting will be held Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Salt Lake City Public Library, 1 p.m. MST. If you are not able to make the event, please contact Karen for more.

    Finally ROH is teaming with media and documentarians nationwide to offer survivors, who feel ready, the opportunity to share their stories with the world.

    It is the hope of ROH that through believing first, then providing survivors with the resources they need, cycles of abuse in the LDS Church and BSA can be addressed. Restore Our Humanity invites members and leaders of both communities, who have shown such great compassion and commitment to activism, to join ROH in this endeavor, to encourage their loved ones to come forward for help, to love those survivors in their communities through this often difficult process of healing and to themselves commit to bravely confronting this difficult issue. Together we can offer voice, justice and healing to survivors and we can do the work so that our communities become safer for our children.

    Utah based non-profit, Restore Our Humanity led marriage equality to victory in Utah and across the nation as the progenitors of the groundbreaking 10th circuit case Kitchen v Herbert. ROH advanced a public education campaign to expose the discriminatory practices and agenda of LGBT hate-group the World Congress of Families and was the first Utah based organization to apply for a charter with the BSA under their new inclusive guidelines, which were announced in 2015. Since 2012, Restore Our Humanity has been committed to human rights through grass roots actions to make Utah and the world a better place.

    Comments-icon Post a Comment
    February 23, 2016
    Bradley1985, you're right, there are those who we've trusted and who've been abused that trust in a horrendous way. It happens in virtually every environment, hence why I'm opposed to focusing only on two entities (I see it as prejudicial and dishonest). This report is a 2013 release of a five year study: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2013.pdf

    Look at Table 3-3, Child Victims 2009-2013. Then look at Table 3-8, Sexual abuses: Utah is 10th not first (though still far too high). When we examine demographics of a study, we must include all of it. Utah is 60% Mormon, there is much to consider within that total population and goes well beyond specific institutions that represent what humanity ought to be like, contrasted to those who don't care or are careless.

    Again, I feel it dishonest to focus on institutions that represent the very opposite of the crimes (i.e. LDS Church, BSA, Catholic Church, Baptist, et al., and Community Service based Fraternities and Sorieites, Food Coalition, etc., government employees and officers, military, etc.) when it's the individuals who break faith with said institutions who we should focus our energies.
    Rebekah Titwell
    February 29, 2016
    It DOES happen in every demographic. However, in those two organizations there has been systematic and methodical cover up and denying victims their civil rights. THAT is a crime more heinous than child sexual abuse. When those behemoth organizations do this child predators multiply and exponentially more children are devastated by this crime.
    February 23, 2016
    Focusing exclusively on the LDS Church and BSA in identifying and repairing child abuses is misplaced; the approach can be misleading, the article suggests underlying and unstated reasoning. The roots of child abuses, along with the myriad other forms of abuses, are found in and independent of every organization (and in conflict of their basic tenets) and have existed since the dawn of humanity. The old adage "Do unto others as you would be done to" is universal and key to ending the plaque of abuse. If ROH is genuine it's focus must be universal, not specific to selected groups. (My pseudonym "Maryland" reminds me of early Catholic settlers of that area were, once, also widely abused.)
    February 23, 2016
    That's true Maryland, however Utah is the #1 state for child sex abuse, a majority of which go unreported. My sister was abused by our bishop. She was asked to sign a form by our Stake President. And guess what. NOTHING happened to the bishop.

    Talking with survivors, this is commonplace in the church.
    February 24, 2016
    I have never understood how the notion of how callings in the LDS church come through inspiration can be reconciled with episodes of child abuse.

    If a loving deity can't inspire a bishop to not call someone so as to prevent CHILD ABUSE, what possible good is inspiration at all?

    And how possibly can a child molester be called as a bishop? Can't the Mormon God see everything that has ever happened or will ever happen? Since every bishop's calling is approved by the First Presidency, for a child molester to be called as a bishop, either the prophet isn't getting inspiration on incredibly important matters, or the Mormon God is willing to allow child molestation.

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