Truth and Transparency Foundation Petitions Utah Legislature to Remove Clergy Exemption from Mandatory Reporting Laws

On the morning of November 7, 2018, the Truth and Transparency Foundation sent the following email to every state-level lawmaker in the state of Utah:

According to Utah Code 62A chapter 4a section 403, “members of the clergy” are not required to report child abuse if it is confessed by the perpetrator. Various documents released by the Truth and Transparency Foundation (TTF), via MormonLeaks and FaithLeaks, show that clergy typically and intentionally avoid reporting abuse to law enforcement except in states where they are required to do so, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We, at the TTF, believe that any exemption of clergy members in mandatory reporting laws is an affront to the safety and well-being of abuse survivors and provides an environment where predators are enabled. Thus, we are proposing the exemption be removed entirely and that clergy members explicitly be required to report child abuse reported to them by any individual regardless of the reporter’s role in the abuse. Attached is our proposal in detail.

Some may claim this is an attack on religious liberty. We ask you to reconsider that argument and realize that the proposal does not oppress members of any religious denomination. In addition, some of the states with the highest rates of religious affiliation do not make any exemptions for clergy.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, all 50 states have similar mandatory reporting laws, yet only 12 make absolutely no exemption for clergy. These 12 states include Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. Like Utah, each of these states have majority populations who, according to Gallup, identify as religious.

We implore you to put the survivors of abuse first and to consider supporting and fighting for this proposal by sponsoring an amendment to Utah Code 62A chapter 4a section 403 in the upcoming Utah legislative session in early 2019. A petition has been formed that calls for this change and can be found here.

Please, do what is right, let the consequence follow.

A copy of the accompanying proposal can be found here and the petition can be found here. We encourage all of our supporters to place continual pressure on their Utah representatives by signing the petition, as well as contacting them and asking them to sponsor the amendment. When doing so, please feel free to utilize scripts we have prepared here. You can find your representatives and their contact information here.