About two hours ago, the New York Times reported that John Dehlin, the founder of Mormon Stories, and Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women, are facing disciplinary hearings that may result in their excommunications from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I’m heartbroken and angry, and not just because these are good people whose work I admire.

Kate is a courageous Mormon pioneer, asking our people to confront systemic inequality and bias against women, even when this has caused some people to hurl insults and threats in her direction.

John is a fifth-generation Latter-day Saint who has done more than any other person I know to help Mormons understand that doubt is not the enemy, but an integral part of a mature journey of faith.

I’m sad for them. But I’m even more sad for what the Church would look like without them.

Anytime the eye says to the hand, “I have no need of you,” we should grieve. Anytime the head says to the feet, “I have no need of you,” we should mourn. (1 Cor. 12:21)

And anytime an institution lashes out in fear against what it perceives as the Other, choosing dogma over love and advocating the tidy disposal of inconvenient people, we are all diminished.

The fact that these individuals received their disciplinary letters in a two-day period even though they live far apart from each other seems to signal that these are not isolated actions initiated by local stake presidents in two very different parts of the country, but a coordinated effort on the part of the LDS hierarchy in Salt Lake City.

I’d love to be wrong about that. But it doesn’t look like it, unfortunately. Already I have heard the question from a reader wondering if I am “next,” if this is a wider purge of bloggers and activists who have criticized the Church’s stance on homosexuality (check), women’s roles (check), or other matters (check).

If that’s what is coming for me, so be it. I would be terribly sad to be disfellowshipped or excommunicated from my church — excommunication meaning, literally, out of community.

I’ve been a Mormon for more than twenty years. This is my home, and Mormonism is part of my core identity. I love it.

But I have always known there might be a price for having my own opinions in a culture that so values conformity and obedience.

If the point of these pending excommunications is to strike fear in the hearts of other Latter-day Saints who love the Church but do not always agree with it on matters of social justice, then it has already failed. For Zion’s sake, and for my own, I will not keep silent.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 5.59.44 PM

I joined this Church in September 1993 — which was not, as you can see from the slide above, the most welcoming time for a feminist to be baptized as a Mormon! I knew what was going on with the “September Six” excommunications and knew that the Lord was still calling me to join this Church.

As a feminist.

As a scholar.

As a supporter of gay rights.

 

 

Categories: Beliefs

Beliefs:

Jana Riess

Jana Riess

Jana Riess is the author of "The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less . . . Now with 68% More Humor!" and "Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor." She has a Ph.D. in American religious history from Columbia University.

170 Comments

  1. Going after just the two is bad enough…as it is I think they’ll see a pretty decent exodus of anyone who was on the fence and struggling to make it work. Sending letters to anyone else will just increase that effect. Ugh. What are they doing??

    • I think that the point is the church has guidelines which members choose to follow. It’s not governed by the members, and their use of political and social pressure is contrary to the churches teachings. They claim membership, but practice and very publicly preach something else. Purges of church membership with those who dissent are not uncommon for those who have apostatized (strayed from the principles set forth by the church), especially in the earlier days.

      • Kirk, I think you have got it figured out. I do not understand why these people who do not agree with church doctrine wish to belong to the church. Let them go set up their own according to their own dictates, and we will see how long they last and how many people are drawn to them. These few individuals want to change the church to satisfy their own desires and beliefs, but forget there are millions of members who accept that it is God’s doctrine that guides the church and agree with that status quo. If they do not like the doctrine, let them quit the church. If the church were to allow women to hold the priesthood, then I would have to quit it.

        • Hi, Tim. Yep – it seems so very logical – if you’re not happy with the way a church is run, why stay in it? It’s so simple: walk away. It’s funny, though, that you refer in one breath to the status quo as God’s doctrine, yet in another you state that you could not abide by the church’s doctrine should it change. Because – should it actually change, it would still be God’s doctrine if you really believe the President is a living prophet of God who receives direct guidance for the running of the church. Just an observation of interest – food for thought. ;D

          • Women do not hold the priesthood of God. It is not a part of their responsibilities. People who would compare this to blacks holding the priesthood rather miss the point that at some point the church would have to spread into Africa, and for that to happen, black men would have to hold the priesthood. When they were given the opportunity to hold the priesthood, it did not bother me. Women holding the priesthood is a whole different story.

          • What are you afraid of Tim ? Will women holding the priesthood rain on your male entitlement parade ? Don’t tell a woman what her “responsibilities ” are as if she should be subservient to the church / men ~ and have no dreams or goals of her own. Get off your high horse, it is not your right to tell women how to behave and what her responsibilities are.

          • Lois, I am only afraid of the members who wish to remake the Church in their images, who after accepting baptism and vowing to sustain the General Authorities now think they are better qualified to guide the Church’s doctrine than those who have been, if we are to accept the Church as true, chosen by God and sustained by the general membership of the Church. Now, if the Church is not true and not guided by God, then the priesthood, or the authority to act in God’s name, is irrelevant. Unless God commands it, then assuming something called the priesthood without God’s blessing is ludicrous, because none of the Godhead will recognize any acts by persons not authorized by them.

            So you bunch of twits find yourselves in a Catch-22 position. If the Church is true, then females holding the priesthood has not been authorized by God through his appointed representatives, and all of your haranguing of Church leaders for a God ordained privilege, not a right but a privilege, is just so much foolishness. If the Church is not true, then seeking the authority to act in God’s name through it is absolutely ridiculous. If you do not do as he commands, then you have no promise.

            You are as the Egyptians, seeking to claim what you cannot have:
            (Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 1:23 – 27)
            23 The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;
            24 When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.
            25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.
            26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
            27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;

        • Tim……….what???? Wow, I was following you-in fact, agreeing with you-right up until the very end when you said you would have to quit the church were it to allow women to hold the priesthood. Do you honestly fail to see the stupidity of your last sentence? Surely it was a thought which you didn’t spend too much time thinking about before you hastily typed it out.

        • Jo Ellen Harris

          In special places and in special times women do hold the Priesthood. The head of our church is all knowing and perfect. We are hi children. We have many “Godly” ideas because we are working is children…we always still learning. To ask…is to learn. To learn is to grow. If we truly believe that “As man Is now, God once was. As God is now, man may become” Then there is still more to learn…..Even more to be revealed! God’s not finished.

          • The Old Testament, the New Testament, the time when Smith said that if the women holding the priesthood keys to work in the temples were blessing the sick and the sick were healing then God was blessing them having the priesthood, when they assist their husbands in giving their children blessing as Joseph Fielding Smith said they could do, in the temple now; I could go on but you get my point. We need more revelation, not more hibernation.

        • “If the church were to allow women to hold the priesthood, I would have to quit it.”
          –Seriously? Did you stalk out in a huff when black people were allowed to hold the priesthood, too?

          • Blacks being given the priesthood did not bother me in the least. The church had to spread throughout the world, and the only way for it to spread into Africa was for the blacks to be given the priesthood. Men hold the priesthood, women do not.

          • Ugh? Huh? The church published a report years ago where it pointed out that the GA’s had been receiving requests for years from various Africans who were requesting the church be established in Africa. If the mission of the church is to go into all lands, then blacks had to be granted the priesthood at some time or it would not be possible for the church to fulfill its mission http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=361.

        • In your various replies, Tim, you appear to imply strongly that women can never and will never hold the priesthood. But there is no scriptural or prophetic statement that that is a doctrinal statement. In Elder Oaks’s talk on the keys and authority of the priesthood in this past general conference he states that currently the Lord has directed that only men can hold priesthood offices. Elder Oaks even took pains to explain that the keys to change that have not been given to the Prophet or any of the presiding authorities and therefore no leader of the Church here on Earth can change that even if they wanted to. He did not say that the Lord cannot nor will not change that.

          He did say explicitly that women can be given authority, by those with the proper keys, to perform priesthood functions/ordinances even without holding the priesthood itself.

          Are you saying that even if at some future date the Lord directs the Church via revelation to the President of the Church to ordain worthy women to priesthood offices, that you would have to quit the Church? It sounds like to me that Elder Oaks is only saying that no mortal presiding authority of the Church can change this, not that the Lord can’t change or that the Lord will never change it. Elder Oaks does quote a number of statements to explain why the status quo is the way it is. But none of those statements say that that is the way it must always be throughout the eternities or even throughout the current dispensation. Remember that Elder McConkie used to state that Blacks would never be able to hold the priesthood in this dispensation. But after the 1978 revelation he famously said that he and others had spoken with limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that had come into the world via the 1978 revelation.

      • I did not mean for the “report abuse” button to be clicked on this comment. My three year old is sitting next to me and she reached over and touched the screen and just happened to push that button. Anyway, sorry.

  2. Jana,

    Please don’t misunderstand this, but I hope you ARE next. You are expressive, inquisitive, and bright. And it’s those qualities that make you inherently incompatible with the LDS church.

    As a former bishop and worker in countless other callings, I, along with my dear wife, were given the same ultimatum Kate and John have been given: Shut up, resign, or face excommunication. Our sin? Discussing what we had sadly discovered with our six children.

    Life has never been better for us, now two years later. I wish you well whether or not circumstances bring you here.

    • Jana Riess

      Dear Bernie, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I pray it does not happen to me, to Kate, to John, or to anyone else.

      It’s ironic that this Church has taught us to be honest in our dealings with all our fellow human beings . . . and then also tells us to stop telling the truth. I’ve been told many times, especially on this blog, that “It’s fine to have opinions. It’s just not fine to say them out loud!”

      What is that if not dishonesty?

      • Jana, you say “What is that if not dishonesty?” But there is a thick line between (A) posing questions seeking honest answers (questioning church doctrines and posing questions to your family, friends, home teachers, local church leaders, and to the Lord in prayer) and (B) posing questions or expressing doubts or criticism in a public forum with the design to (i) cause others to question their faith, (ii) embarrass church leaders into changing policies to be consistent with your opinions, or (iii) for personal gain (e.g. to increase one’s public profile). The former leads to a closer relationship with the Lord. The latter leads to apostasy.

        • I have seen nothing in the actions and words of Kate Kelly to suggest that she wanted others to question their faith, embarrass church leaders, or gain publicity for herself.

          She had a sincere question as a faithful devout Mormon, she found that others also wondered about this and they came together to ask for an answer of their leaders. From what I have heard and seen it seems this brought them closer to the Lord than they were before.

          • Luci – if you have a sincere question and are seeking an actual answer, you write a letter to a church leader or ask a local leader in person, you don’t storm the castle with a mob demanding the Church change to conform to your personal opinion. They already had their answer from the Church, yet they still mobbed together in demonstrations to try to put PR pressure on the Church into changing core doctrine. This isn’t your local city council meeting – it is the Church of Jesus Christ.

          • Core doctrines? It’s the church that changed it’s core doctrines on the sisters, you do realize that women once held the priesthood in the church don’t you? Or maybe that’s an inconvenient truth the church would rather us women forget about ?

          • Although I think it could be argued that the initial honest question turned into issuing categorical, nonnegotiable demands and organizing marches. I will be the first to admit that I know little of Ms. Kelly herself, but those actions are generally not the hallmark of an honest inquiry.

          • ” if you have a sincere question and are seeking an actual answer, you write a letter to a church leader or ask a local leader in person, you don’t storm the castle with a mob demanding the Church change to conform to your personal opinion.”

            This is an odd comment, Wonder Woman. You realize that Kate and other OW leaders have tried repeatedly to meet with Church leaders and have been ignored? And you realize that the Church explicitly discourages members from trying to contact GAs, right? So there’s really no way to get your concerns heard.

            Even given that, your characterization of her as “storm[ing] the castle with a mob” is hilariously false. Politely asking to be admitted to a meeting is hardly storming the castle with a mob.

          • Ziff – I should have been more clear in saying meet with a “local” leader in person, who can then write a letter to Church Headquarters if a doctrinal questions is unresolved. From the handbook:

            “Members who need spiritual guidance, have weighty personal problems, or have doctrinal questions should make a diligent effort, including earnest prayer and scripture study, to find solutions and answers themselves. Church members are encouraged to seek guidance from the Holy Ghost to help them in their personal lives and in their family and Church responsibilities. If members still need help, they should counsel first with their bishop. If necessary, he may refer them to the stake president. . . . Stake presidents who need clarification about doctrinal or other Church matters may write in behalf of their members to the First Presidency.”

          • “Follow the Brethren”, “Obedience is the first law of heaven”, etc. The leaders follow a strict rule book which allows them to say, “It’s my way or the highway”. Oh, they say to get your own revelation on a doubt you have, but if your answer does not agree with theirs, you lose. They know better than you. How can members allow these self-proclaimed holy men have that much control over them?

          • Not “self-proclaimed holy men,” Joanne. Called and anointed by God, and sustained by the body of the church. Nobody campaigns for this. And if I had to deal with some of these agitators, I’d be looking for an escape hatch. God bless these awesome and inspired prophets in our midst!

        • I agree. If you count yourself as part of the Church, stay within those four walls and keep your mind tightly closed, lest the light be shown to yourself and others. Go to lds.org, watch the MormonChannel on youtube, listen to General Conference etc. Never let even one ray of light from outside the dark walls of your dark and sinister cult. Otherwise, you will swiftly be shown more and more light and eventually you will need to break out as well as show others the way to break out. I am in 100% agreement with you, Wonder Woman. Bare, raw truth is a dangerous thing to those who wish to stay within the Mormon Church

        • How are they embarrassing the church leaders , if they have nothing to be embarrassed about in the first place ? “Personal gain” ? that’s really quite funny since the leaders of the church gain quite a lot of $$$$ from the members tithing to support them in their “comfortable” lifestyle. I wouldn’t mind a “stipend”like they get in their leadership positions.

      • @Jana,

        All religion is incoherent.

        You said, “this Church has taught us to be honest…then also tells us to stop telling the truth.”

        This is exactly what it is impossible to be honest AND RELIGIOUS.
        Religion cannot survive any honest questions. The Mormon Church (like all religion) would disintegrate if people simply spoke honestly and sought the truth.

        Religion IS immoral for that reason alone.

      • I don’t feel like the Church has told me to stop telling the truth. I feel like the Church has told us to not act as though our opinions are truth, and then try to convert others to them. There’s a pretty large difference.

        From the OW website: “As much as possible, encourage the Mormon community to coalesce around the goal of women’s ordination. Help them see that anything less is insufficient to address the gender inequality in the Church.”

        That’s quite different than speaking your opinions. That’s not even asking for revelation. That’s predetermining the result of revelation and refusing to accept anything else, and trying to get everyone else to see it your way.

      • I don’t think Sister Kelly’s problem is having her opinions, but rather the manner in which she advocates them and overtly seeks disciples to agitate against the Lord’s anointed prophets and apostles – people she has raised her hand to sustain on countless occasions. Was she being dishonest to do so?

  3. “And anytime an institution lashes out in fear against what it perceives as the Other, choosing dogma over love and advocating the tidy disposal of inconvenient people, we are all diminished”.

    Beautifully expressed. Your voice has meant a great deal to me. Thank you.

  4. Is there still a place in this church for people who dare apply the teachings of Jesus Christ to the actions of the LDS Church? Is there a place for those of us who seek to promote social justice within the confines of this organization? I think not. These actions send a clear message to progressives and people of conscience in the LDS Church: “We dont want you. Conform or get out.”

    Message received.

    • Where does Christ say we should “promote social justice”? How can we know what is just and unjust. The only thing I think we are really supposed to teach is that we need to be like Christ and try to constantly repent so that we can become like him. We can also only approach him as a combination of male and female, as that gender difference is intended to draw not only a married couple together but all of God’s children together into one great whole.
      I think this is where many of the teachings of modern day feminism get it grossly wrong. It appears that they think of men and women as independent actors, when by themselves, a man or a woman is wholly unredeemable in the eternal sense.

      • Riley, you have spoken wisely. I hear the hurts of those that see the world through the same lens as Kate and John. I try to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. He never taught social justice. He wants us to be one. Not the same. But Zion… and so differences, and injustices and inequities will occur. The idea is to integrate differences so that all can be heard, cherished and appreciated. Valued. Not the same. He did not seek to force sameness. He sought the love of difference. Embracing difference. And I see wisdom in the boundaries he suggests are “truth–unchanging.” That the inherent tension between male and female must be worked out — each balancing the other. Every year I live I see His wisdom in the way the Church is set up. I feel like I get it. I doubt most of us do, but that’s why I hesitate to criticize those who lead his church. I think the patience I get to practice while I wait, the humility I get to practice while I watch the imperfection suits me well… Humility — in the long run the most important of the -ity virtues… God bless us ALL to drink deeply of the waters of humility.

    • Yes, there is a place in this church for people who critique the Church. Kelly and Dehlin are in no way the only individuals to do so. The amount of physical and virtual ink spilled in critique of the Church is innumerable, and pens held by everyone from bloggers to BYU professors. Saying that disciplinary action against two individuals means impending doom for all who disagree is logically fallacious. It assumes, for one, that there are no differences in how one can disagree or how one can act on that disagreement. There are differences between disagreeing – and stating that your position is the only correct one and anything less than agreement with you is insufficient, and you’re going to try to get everyone to agree with you because to think otherwise is wrong (OW website: “As much as possible, encourage the Mormon community to coalesce around the goal of women’s ordination. Help them see that anything less is insufficient to address the gender inequality in the Church.”) There are differences between posting public critiques of the church (which dozens upon dozens have done for decades) and creating evangelizing tools designed to promote a specific viewpoint and get people to support your view (“six discussions”). There’s also a difference between asking for more revelation, and stating that you already know the solution and pretty much anything else is patriarchy.

      I do not believe taking these cases and making statements about progressives in general is logical. It is patently false that the Church excommunicates all those who disagree and who write publicly about it.

      • Well said, Jen. The issue isn’t the opinions, it is the overt effort to gain personal disciples while drawing them away from the Lord’s church and His anointed leaders. The moment Sister Kelly decided that priesthood ordination was a non-negotiable matter, and sought others to join her in this non-negotiable quest, she placed herself on very thin ice.

    • If you think there is that large a gap between the teachings of Jesus Christ and the teachings of an organization then you really should consider separating yourself from it.

      If you are dependent on the organization for your identity and are seeking to align it to your needs then you should re-evaluate what being a member of that organization represents. When you join the church you are – with knowledge and instructions – committing to live in a certain way and adhere to a set of principles.

      If it no longer meets your needs then either adjust your needs to be in harmony with the principles you adhere to… and if your concept of ‘justice’ is to follow the largest or loudest or most rhetorically persuasive or most emotionally needy crowd, then you will not be satisfied, you will have to find that satisfaction elsewhere.

      However you might want to give serious thought to seeking peace instead of satisfaction. You have been instructed on where the only source of peace on this earth can be found now, but if you think that peace is to be found elsewhere, you will need to seek him there.

      This is not a ‘movement’ issue, it is a personal path to Christ issue. IF you believe him to be found elsewhere, go there, but go carefully, prayerfully and with respect and caring for those that do not feel as you do.

  5. Oh, Jana, I’m so sorry. I’m an odd (exmormon) and occasional (interested in women’s issues, not so much christian/spiritual stuff) fan of your blog and this must be devastating. May sound strange, but I’m an exmormon who doesn’t want the Mormon church to become irrelevant. It’s my history, my heritage. I wasn’t converted to Mormonism, I was *raised* in it. It is the jungle of my youth. Kate Kelly, your blog, and a few other moderate Mormon voices in the past decade gave me hope that progress might actually be a possibility. Very disappointing.

    • What’s important is aligning our will to God’s rather than trying to redesign His church to conform to our personal wants and desires. The only progression that matters is that which places us squarely in the center of the path that He has established, not that which the many voices of modern man wishes were the case.

      • How do you know it’s Gods will ? Did he personally tell you that ? I think not.
        There are many “revelations ” that Brigham Young supposedly had back in the day, that the present day leaders are trying to distance themselves from, and are embarrassed that brother Brigham uttered those things in the name of God.

  6. J. Nelson-Seawright

    One thing I hate about this is that two vibrant, complex, faithful, wonderful people are already being turned into thin symbols. People who lived their faiths openly together with us and shared their hopes, doubts, struggles, and missteps are now either martyrs or villains. That is an act of brutality.

    Silence is golden, and faithful togetherness is heresy. If that’s the choice, then heresy is the clear answer for people of goodwill.

  7. Your thoughts and opinions have helped shape my feelings and opinions about a lot of Mormon issues. I don’t always agree with you but I deeply value your voice and scholarship. Thank you for all your contributions thus far. Here’s hoping we can all keep thinking and talking together in the future.

  8. Jana: in the words of Elder Oaks, “It’s wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true.” Doing so never leads to the desired result, it only causes hurt all around. I don’t think the Holy Ghost ever prompted anyone to criticize a Church leader. Leave the correction and chastisement of church leaders to the Lord; he liberally chastises church leaders when required. See, e.g., Joseph Smith, Lehi, Brother of Jared, Jonah, Moses.

      • Sher – if you personally believe in the Church, please explain how publicly criticizing church leaders helps the Church? (If you don’t, I totally understand where you are coming from, so no worries.)

        • Sometimes it helps the church to be honest about its imperfections, to call it to accountability, and to question its policies. The church has changed substantially over time – some hope it will continue to learn and grow and advance, but in a world in which people can learn and question more than ever before how can the church flourish without open and honest discussion?

          • Luci – “how can the church flourish without open and honest discussion?” The same way it has always flourished: through continuing revelation from God, despite the occasional bumps caused by well-intentioned but mistaken leaders.

          • How dangerous an organization which preaches one can never criticize the leaders of the church, even if the person who is criticizing is correct. Not. Okay.

        • SanAntonioRob

          It helps overcome historical bias for one. Paul’s letter publicly criticizing Peter’s conduct toward “Gentiles” has been canonized into scripture. We believe Peter was the equivalent of the President of the Church. We revere Paul’s public criticism as scripture, but Kate’s is cause for excommunication? I publicly oppose Kate’s methods, but I don’t see how they justify excommunication.

          • She staged an illegal public protest at a religious event. I don’t think such things merit respect, regardless of religion.

          • Rob – First, even though Paul was right and Peter was wrong, that does not mean that Paul was correct to publicly disagree with him, seems like they both made human mistakes in that chapter; Second, it was not until Peter received revelation about taking the gospel to the gentiles that church policy changed (not because of any criticism, in fact Peter was criticized for changing the policy); Third, Paul was an apostle with authority to counsel with Peter re church policy and was not out of place in counseling Peter that what he was doing was wrong; Lastly, the result was a unified mindset between the two, not a situation where Paul continued to disagree with Peter’s counsel.

          • SanAntonioRob

            WonderWoman,

            The more I read about the situation, the more that I feel the church disciplinary councils are warranted for both Kate and John. (Funny since I am reading mostly blogs and comments sympathetic to them, or their own words).

            With that being said, this may sound like a trivial matter – but I think it’s an important point. Public criticism of Church leaders is not always bad. The example between Paul and Peter was not Paul counseling “with” Peter, apostle to apostle. Paul “withstood [Peter] to the face, because he was to be blamed.” He then chastised Peter “before them all”. Then he publicly wrote about the exchange, still apparently feeling Peter was wrong and he (Paul) was justified. And since it is canonized, is there any reason to believe Paul was wrong? No scripture makes that assumption. I don’t think he was wrong. And I don’t accept that it’s okay since Paul was an apostle, but it wouldn’t have been okay for him to do the exact same thing if he were, say, just one of the marginalized gentile converts. There is absolutely nothing in our doctrine that would support that assertion. Peter was still Paul’s priesthood leader.

            The reason this important is not because I believe there is frequent cause to criticize our Church leaders. It is important because “criminalizing” (in a spiritual sense) the vocalization of valid criticism of Church leaders can be just as damaging to the individual and the Church as the frequent vocalization of unfounded criticisms. It would make easy the job of anyone wanting to “cover their sins” and “gratify their vain ambitions” through their priesthood authority, if every public criticism of them is automatically seen as sinful.

            This doesn’t justify all that Kate or John did and said, or what they encouraged others to do and say. But then again, what they did was not just a valid public criticism. If that had been all, we wouldn’t be talking Church discipline right now.

        • Choose the Rice

          “… convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.”
          – Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, pp. 15-16

    • Wonder Woman, you are exactly the type of person the the LDS Church wants; but I fear if this course of action continues you may be the only ones left. And the church will be much poorer without inspired progressive members like Kate Kelly and John Dehlin.

      • Porter – I totally agree that it is sad to lose Kelly and John, though the Church will try to not let that happen if it can be avoided. But the very fact that they are publicizing their church disciplinary letters in an attempt to shame or embarrass the Church demonstrates why the Church may need to take action to separate them from the Church. Think of a spousal relationship — you may have plenty of criticisms of your spouse and may still maintain a healthy marriage by keeping those criticisms between the two of you; but if you publish those criticisms outside the marriage in order to embarrass or shame your spouse into changing, that boat’s going under.

      • Porter, I agree with you that the Church would be poorer without a variety of voices.

        I think the Church has plenty of progressives still in it (myself included), and interpreting these actions as actions against progressives is not sound logic.

        Additionally, excommunication, as I commented further down below, is also not casting someone out of the community in the way some might think. I’ve known people who were excommunicated who were so active in coming to Church that I had no idea they were excommunicated. Excommunication is a disciplinary action that revokes specific blessings and rights, however, it does not mean someone has to “leave the Church” in the sense that they are still welcome with us every single week. Marking someone’s teachings or ideas or evangelism or actions is not a rejection of them, or casting them out.

      • Good thing that’s not at all what’s happening then, huh?

        There are dozens upon dozens of active LDS people who write critiques of the Church, regularly. That these two are the sole ones getting attention points to the need to look at how their actions may have been different from the other hundreds. If this action happened all the time, people would not be treating this as sensational or newsworthy as they are. It points to it being an exception.

  9. As I type this, to my right is a mormon.org ad with the beautiful face of someone I knew in college, a gorgeous Iranian-British woman, representing the changing, growing, globalizing face of Mormonism. That campaign depicts us as inclusive, diverse, “big tent.” The juxtaposition seems almost cruel next to this story.

    This is not a move that will warm us to non-Mormons who already see our religion as sexist and out of touch. But it’s not directed at them. This is a calculated move to undermine the credibility of Kate especially (and to a lesser extent John) in the eyes of other Mormons. Kate has one of the brightest, most sincere testimonies of the Gospel I’ve ever heard. It is undeniably one of the things that makes OW so successful. OW has maintained a faithful, positive and hopeful tone that help appeal to Mormon women like me, who were never all that sure about priesthood. This action will mark her as an outsider, not to be trusted. This is the scarlet letter that the church hopes will signal to other women to keep their distance.

    And that is sooooooo disheartening to me. I was grasping for any reason no matter how small to believe that the church was improving. At a snail’s pace, but still… forward momentum. That hope has been dashed. While the church PR team is having giddy love-fests with extreme voices like Skaggs, and then this happens, I’m suddenly forced to consider the idea that the church may never change. They’ll be worse off for it. And I have to figure out what that means for me. Because I surely don’t know.

    • By definition, one cannot really have “one of the brightest, most sincere testimonies of the Gospel” if one is “never all that sure about priesthood.” The fact of the matter is that she has made HERSELF an outsider, and from a doctrinal perspective CANNOT be trusted. If the LDS church is truly the restored church of Jesus Christ, which I believe it is, then fully sustaining His anointed leaders and trusting that He guides His prophets and apostles in every necessary way is very important. If it is not the true church, then none of this matters one whit.

  10. My first reaction, before I even got to the part where you talk about if you are next, was to wonder the same thing, if you are next.

    I am an atheist who started following your blog within the past year. Not everything you post interests me, but enough does to keep me checking in. I recently thought of unfollowing your blog, asking myself why I’m following it when I already have too much to read. It is probably because you are not afraid to ask questions or challenge your church, so I’m curious to know what those are. This is an interesting development, so I’m glad I stuck around to see what happens next.

    I was once trapped in a Christian cult that considered doubting and questioning to be sins worthy of shunning and excommunication. But I escaped that psychological prison and when I discovered that doubting and questioning are crucial to understanding the truth I became an atheist.

    As someone said, religion is answers that may never be questioned and philosophy is questions that may never be answered.

    • the church doesn’t excommunicate people just because they question and doubt. It is not in speaking in dissonance with the church or the gospel that gets one into a disciplinary court, but actively campaigning and fighting against God’s prophets.

  11. My book explains how we were strict members of the church, trying to be the best people we could. We were led to believe that we needed to go beyond what the current church required to prove worthy to meet Christ. But once the media caught wind of our group, we were excommunicated for apostacy. It happens all the time, even to people who aren’t celebrities. I’m glad I left and happy that I attended my church “court of love”. The leaders are vindictive and arrogant. Let them have their club. I want no part of it.

  12. I had the initial thought that there is a growing schism among the GAs with the smaller group (and getting smaller I think) of more hard-core traditionalists who don’t like any of the recent movements the Church has officially made, many of which Jana has commented on such as Pres. Uchtdorf’s recent general conference talk, and the lds.org website articles on blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, DNA, and Mountain Meadows Massacre, and the wide range of people who have uploaded videos to the Church’s “I’m a Mormon” website, or the Church taking an official position on non-discrimination of gays in housing and employment, for example.

    Maybe they feel cornered or are trying to make a “pre-emptive” strike to try to halt the movement of the Church in these directions. Just a thought.

    But I really worry for some members I know who want to stay in the Church and are having a hard time with a number of issues, but are making all kinds of efforts to stay, some of whom are just hanging on by their fingernails, so to speak. This doesn’t help them in the slightest.

    Also, I’ve actually asked in a lesson I gave, referring to a Gallup poll that was posted a year or two ago about various characteristics of Mormons in the U.S., politically, socially, economically, etc. vs. the “average American” positions on all the same issues. I pointed out that in some ways Mormons were actually drifting further away from mainstream Americans. And my question was: How are we going to get your average American to even want to listen to the missionaries, if Mormonism is considered so outside the mainstream that he or she feels like they have nothing in common with Mormons–even though that may be completely false and they might actually love almost all the LDS gospel principles. But they never hear them or learn of them because of this perception of a growing chasm between us and them? This really bothered even the most conservative/traditional members of the class.

  13. Lynn in Europe

    The purging of the September Six was the beginning of my husband’s and my decision to begin detaching ourselves from the church we had loved and faithfully served (as missionaries and then in numerous callings, sometimes numerous concurrent callings). We hung in there a bit longer until the church made it ever more clear that people like us — people with questions, people with the desire to contribute ideas (rather than just time and money), people who dared to speak up in class, or in stake meetings — weren’t really welcome in the church.

    Over the intervening years, I have followed stories and church personalities with interest, have been a presence in various LDS-related forums, etc. This latest action is “déjà vu all over again.” Seems like the church punishes people for raising questions — for pushing those so sustained as “prophets, seers, and revelators” into a corner, in essence asking them to do their jobs. But they don’t. They punish people for exposing their weaknesses, their tone-deafness to genuine needs, their lack of a hotline to heaven.

    Sad. Most of the active members will go right along with the punitive actions and happily justify the punishing of people who made things uncomfortable for a while. It won’t matter to them that the hemorrhaging of the active members “on the fringe” will intensify. It won’t matter that legitimate questions remain unanswered, it won’t matter that “the heavens are as brass” in our day… after all, one can pick up a framed, calligraphic copy of the family proclamation (“next best thing to genuine revelation”) from Deseret Book and pretend that it’s divinely inspired despite being riddled with flaws in language and reasoning throughout.

    I’m sorry for Kate and John and those who love them for what they’re going through, which simply would not be the case if top leaders directing these actions (and instructing compliant local leaders to lie on their behalf) were to ever subject themselves to honestly questioning “is this what Jesus would do?”

    • Lynn, NOBODY is being punished for raising questions. The issue at hand is overt public efforts to undermine prophets and apostles, seeking to employ activist tactics to shame church leaders into making changes which only the Lord can and should make if He chooses to. Sister Kelly has proclaimed her position to be non-negotiable, and in rallying disciples to her cause in opposition to the position of the church has placed her own self in her present predicament.

  14. Thanks for breaking your rule, Jana. I find this action so disheartening! It signals that only the rude fundamentalist-leaning members are wanted. And on a practical level, if all the interesting people are chased out, what will there be for the rest of us?

  15. Excommunications don’t strike fear in the hearts of church members. If they know what and why it is done, they would also know that it is only done out with much love and of course sorrow. They church does not want to lose any of it’s members. One can work their way back into good standing and be re-baptized. It is better that an LDS person become a non church member and not have to be held accountable for such sins as caused them to be excommunicated should they perish before they are able to repent and come back into the fold. If a person doesn’t understand why there is need of repentance for a particular sin, especially one that has brought them into apostasy, they clearly lack understanding. The people mentioned here don’t seem to have any idea as to why their acts are considered apostasy. In reading these articles I can pick them right out. The church doesn’t bend to “popular” demand. Jesus Christ is the first leader of his church. The prophet is his mouth piece. The prophet doesn’t decide to make changes. Nor do the apostles. It is done through revelation. Someone complained that women should be allowed to attend the general priesthood sessions. Has anyone complained that men of the church don’t attend Women’s conference? I think someone wants to make trouble and make the church look bad. Why? Maybe to make a name for themselves. Maybe that ugly sin of Pride is at work again. It doesn’t take a PHD to figure out that someone’s got pride issues.

    • I’m reminded of the anecdotal tale of a person in a temple recommend interview and it comes up that the person hasn’t been following the Word of Wisdom.

      The person says “Now Bishop, you aren’t going to deny me the blessings of the temple over a simple cup of coffee?”

      The bishop responds “No I’m not. Are YOU going to deny yourself the blessings of the temple over a simple cup of coffee?”

      No one is surprised by the disciplinary action. Kelly, Dehlin, Reiss, and all of us can choose for ourselves whether we’re going to repent or not.

      • It is for the reasons you state, Brian, that I don’t see very many people on the receiving end of church discipline over this. Many people might be sympathetic to the situation, but most when forced between a choice between the Lord’s anointed and a sympathetic agitator will ultimately side with the Lord’s anointed.

    • Patti…

      “Has anyone complained that men of the church don’t attend Women’s conference?” You’re kidding, right? Who is always the keynote speaker at any church women’s conference?

  16. Jana,

    Beautifully expressed…as always. Thank you for providing a “voice” for so many of us. We appreciate your candor and intellect as you approach these issues. I am worried for all of us. I am feeling Prop 8 dread bubbling up all over again.
    Thank you Jana.

    • kelly, you kind of make the point. The First Presidency was very clear about the position of the church with regard to Prop 8, as well as how the California Saints should respond to the matter. Regardless of a person’s personal views, the call to action from the First Presidency SHOULD be enough to set one’s personal preferences aside and yield to the voice we sustain as being the Lord’s mouthpiece. One needn’t like it. One needn’t agree with it. One may dread it. Yet we are called to follow the prophets and apostles anyway, just as if Jesus Christ were to personally declare it. Whether it be by my voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same.

      President Harold B. Lee once said:

      “We have some tight places to go before the Lord is through with this church and the world in this dispensation, which is the last dispensation, which shall usher in the coming of the Lord. The gospel was restored to prepare a people ready to receive Him. The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. There will be inroads within the Church. There will be, as President [N. Eldon] Tanner has said, ‘Hypocrites, those professing, but secretly are full of dead men’s bones’ (see Matthew 23:27). We will see those who profess membership but secretly are plotting and trying to lead people not to follow the leadership that the Lord has set up to preside in this church.

      “Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, ‘as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith’ (D&C 21:4-5). There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).”

      President Lee was a man of God, and he spoke the truth.

  17. Linda Andrews

    I could not agree with you more wholeheartedly! “If the point of these pending excommunications is to strike fear in the hearts of other Latter-day Saints who love the Church but do not always agree with it on matters of social justice, then it has already failed. For Zion’s sake, and for my own, I will not keep silent.” – {See more at: http://janariess.religionnews.com/2014/06/11/facing-mormon-purge/#sthash.x5CB2uDQ.dpuf”}

    My heart is breaking and I just want to weep.

  18. If you’ll allow me, for a moment, to step out of the current context and comment on one piece that is at once quite narrow but much broader: I think we might consider for a moment the nature of excommunication, what it means, and the language we use surrounding it.

    It is a serious and undoubtedly devastating move. But I don’t think descriptors like “the tidy disposal of inconvenient people” or “out of community” (or “spiritual death”) are particularly accurate, and I actually think they are unhelpful and even uncharitable when used in discussions of excommunication. Excommunication is not irretrievably permanent, and it’s actually meant to be a beginning and not an end. Although there are serious consequences that go along with it (related to ordinances and gifts thereof, names on records of church, holding callings, etc), people who are excommunicated are not disposed of nor are they out of the community. People for whom that action is invoked can (and often do) attend church weekly and church activities, receive home and visiting teachers, associate with members, and meet intensively and regularly with their bishop. (In this way, excommunication may differ quite dramatically from the way the same word is used in other traditions.) They are by no means thrown away or spiritually dead, and we are to remain without judgment of them and welcome them in our community just as we would anyone else. Elder Ballard said “When members need to have certain blessings withheld, the Lord’s object is to teach as well as to discipline” – if they were truly “dead” or “thrown away,” the Lord’s object would not be to “teach,” which implies that it’s part of a process, the end goal of which is to bring them back to Him. Honestly, referring to those who are excommunicated as though they have been disposed, out of the community, or spiritually dead is probably deeply hurtful if not insulting to those among us who are still with us and working toward the restoration of blessings. (It’s also worth noting that when that restoration happens, the church records show no indication that they were ever excommunicated – it is on the records “remembered no more.”) I feel some of this language needlessly weighs these beloved individuals down and labels them with descriptors that don’t fully show the goal or purpose of the situation. It may burden them with a sense of judgment, permanence and doom that is not appropriate.

    It is certainly appropriate to speak of the seriousness and eternal consequences of excommunication, I am not denying that, or acting like it’s just a little thing you can easily overcome. I’m just saying that this language falls short of where the description and discussion should end, and it’s not a full picture of what is desired or possible.

    I’m also not commenting on the appropriateness of excommunication in this or any particular instance, or speculating on the results or hurt or necessity thereof. My comments are quite narrowly regarding the language we use to describe this process, one which is desired to be a part of a process to bring someone closer to God and back into the Church – and not summarily and totally cast them out of it. I think that language matters, and we should think clearly about it, and use it with intention.

      • Excommunication is a form of shunning or ostracism, which causes real psychological harm.

        http://www.alternet.org/culture/social-death-penalty-why-being-ostracized-hurts-even-more-bullying

        http://books.google.ca/books/about/The_Social_Outcast.html?id=QxxVzwDcfFkC&redir_esc=y

        • Perry, excommunication is not synonymous with ostracizing someone. They’re very different things. If someone ostracizes someone who has been excommunicated, they are the ones in sin. We aren’t to judge anyone for their church standing, and welcome them and home teach them just the same. I’ve sat in church next to people who were excommunicated and only found out about their standing years later.

          • How I understand it, excommunication means suspending or removing rights and privileges of membership in a religious group. Sounds like a form of ostracism, shunning or social rejection or punishment, to me.

            I should clarify, Jen, that I am arguing from a secular point of view, while your’s is a specific theological point of view, which may be different in other religious traditions where excommunication is far more serious than you say it is in the Mormon context. From my perspective, excommunication no matter what tradition is a form of bullying, a form of ostracism. It is spiritual coercion by the ‘gate-keepers’ of the group, those who get to decide who is in or out, to force the subject to conform to group-think.

          • Perry, thanks for clarifying the lens through which you’re examining excommunication. I think it’s important to acknowledge the space from which one makes a discussion point. You’re right that we’re coming at this from two ways of looking at it.

            I genuinely understand why you would say that excommunication is a form of bullying. However, speaking as someone who has had family members and friends be excommunicated, I really don’t see it as a form of ostracism. As I said in my initial comment, these folks attended church, had home and visiting teachers, met with the bishop regularly, maintained friendships amongst the community. In fact, with one of them I didn’t even realize was excommunicated until a family member of theirs told me just before their rebaptism. That, I think, says more than anything about the nature of excommunication in the LDS tradition – it’s possible for fellow members to not even know. Ostracism is more a sense of banishment or active exclusion in a social sense, which is actively spoken against in the LDS tradition (doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, for sure, but anyone who ostracizes an excommunicated person is themselves in sin). The whole goal of excommunication is in fact to help the person work toward the ‘restoration of blessings’ – it’s seen as part of a process and not an end.

            You might find this article interesting, or at least has a different perspective. I appreciate the civil way you’ve approached our discussion. Thanks. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1990/09/a-chance-to-start-over-church-disciplinary-councils-and-the-restoration-of-blessings?lang=eng

          • Jen, thanks for your clarification. I didn’t know those things about mainstream Mormon excommunication. I’m not too interested in the theological nuances that make it different from other traditions, so I don’t really have any reason to argue with anyone here. But the discussion in general interests me, so I added my two cents. I think pretty much all my comments on this blog have been fairly civil. I tend to reserve my more pugnacious side to situations where I feel attacked or disrespected. I think I’ve only had a couple mild disputes here, expressing my opinion.

            I guess I just wanted to point out a different perspective because I’ve seen and read about a lot of harm caused by excommunication in other traditions. And usually the more fundamentalist, the more harm caused. Excommunication that completely shuns and exiles people can break up families and really destroy peoples lives. It happens in groups like the Exclusive Brethren and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and of course fundamentalist Mormon break-away sects such as the FLDS. But I accept your word that its different in the LDS church.

          • Hi Perry, I’ve also heard stories (no firsthand experience) of the damage that excommunication/shunning/ostracization has had in other communities so I see where you were coming from. I appreciate you being open minded and chatting with me about a different tradition. Wishing you the very best.

    • I think that the consequences of excommunication are both dependent on the individual context and rarely entirely within the individual’s control. For instance, excommunication for writing and speaking to deliberately challenge social norms and community values (slavery, women’s rights, spiritual abuse, gay marriage) that one feels spiritually called to challenge as unchristian is qualitatively different from excommunication for behavior in violation of legal rules or norms (embezzlement, adultury). The latter is clearly offered as a chance to ‘restore behavioral rightness’ with the community, while the former is far more likely to insist not merely on a change of behavior, but also on a far more difficult internal change of spiritual and emotional foundation and meaning. The fact that the process of excommunication treats these situations identically is a failure of the system itself. Not to mention the fact that excommunication itself frequently leads the excommunicant into a serious reflection on the meanings and content of such concepts and words as authority and power. An institution that resorts to excommunication as a method of dealing with challenging ideas strikes me as an institution responding from weakness and fear, rather than strength and faith. God is strength and faith. And the very antithesis of fear.

  19. Amanda Templeman

    Jana, I do not understand why you want to be apart of this church even after attending Columbia Univ and getting your degree in American religious history??? It’s baffling.

    • I think the point, Amanda is that she would rather be “a part” of this church rather than “apart” from it. And from what I’ve read previously, Jana wasn’t necessarily willing to make priesthood ordination a non-negotiable demand. More of a heartfelt desire. And something she wanted the Brethren to ponder and pray over. But I don’t think she had ever published something akin to “the prophet and apostles are wrong if they do not change the priesthood policy.”

  20. Some of our ancestors sacrificed family, homes, and status to follow the Lord. Today some members throw a fit when asked not to protest at a religious service.

  21. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The local Church leaders who asked them to each come in for a meeting to clarify their views and beliefs toward and about the Church (according to the quoted portions of the letters they received) are not able to hold a press conference or put out a press release to explain their reasons for doing this, or the history of their prior meetings with them in order to understand their actions and statements. Complaining to the New York Times invites the world to pass judgment on their local church leaders, as a preemptive strike before the leaders (including the entire stake presidency and 12 man High Council) pass judgment on their continued membership in the Church. They are clearly seeking the publicity “to be seen of men” and women, and rejecting the authority of their Church leaders. The letters invite them to come in and talk about their feelings and views about the Church and their membership obligations, made in covenants at baptism as well as in the temples. Apparently they don’t want a confidential talk with their stake presidents, but would rather attack their stake presidents for asking these members to even consider the possibility that they, Kelly and Dehlin, might need to repent of something they have done. Their efforts to hold the Church up to ridicule strike me as very self-righteous on their part, a manifestation of pride and self-worship. On the one hand, Kelly has been trying to provoke the Church to respond to the publicity she has been creating, so now she gets her wish. On the other hand, Dehlin has been trying to stay under the radar with his apparent efforts to encourage members to participate in the Church, but not believe in it. It eventually boils down to a matter of their own intellectual and religious integrity.

    I can think of no reason why you, Jana, should be concerned about a Church disciplinary council. I have never seen anything in your voluminous writings that indicate hatred toward the leaders of the LDS Church, or that preach to other members the idea that they should defy the advice of those leaders. Your statements are distinct from some of the voices that comment on your blog, including several of those that appear in this collection, which brag about leaving the Church, because the Church is not worthy of their exalted and brilliant presence.

    I think that Kelly in particular is relying on a mythical concept of how the 1978 on priesthood revelation came about, thinking that anti-Mormon demonstrations and criticisms were the driving factor in President Kimballs lengthy prayers that eventually resulted, after months, in the revelation and the concurrent revelation received by the Quorum of the Twelve. I was doing research ini the LDS Church archives during the year leading up to the announcement. It was clearly not a response to any public pressure, all of it having dissipated years before. It was remarkable and unexpected, with no precipitating event that could be pointed to by analysts outside the Church. There was no Mormon that the New York Times could identify who had brought public scrutiny onto the Church and was rewarded by the revelation. A few people who had openly attacked the Church over the issue in earlier years were excommunicated for their disrespect for the authority of Church leaders.

    If there was any moving force behind Kimball’s prayer for a revelation, it was the strong and clear requirement in scripture that the Church has a mission to reach out to “every nation, tongue and people” with the fulness of the restored gospel, something that was impossible without ordaining Africans and descendants of Africans to the priesthood. The strong general mission trumped the specific limitation. And the growth of the Church in Africa has affirmed the need for that change.

    The core logic of the Church mission does not militate for a change in how men but not women are ordained. The fact is, in the LDS Church, women do not NEED to be ordained to receive the full scope of blessings in both mortal life and in eternity.

    • Raymond,

      I am not a fan of someone making public a private letter from a church leader. But I’m also not a fan of judging other people’s hearts. As we’re taught in the scripture, men judge by outward appearance, but “the Lord looketh on the heart.” We can’t know that they were doing it “to be seen of men,” or to what degree they are “self-righteous.” We just can’t.

      Having sat on my own stake’s high council for several years, I know how excommunication works. Every case I was involved with was done out of love for the member who had sinned. But I have to say, excommunication for speaking one’s mind seems different. I haven’t been able to find anything in what Kate Kelly has said that is false doctrine–but maybe I need to look harder.

      I will say that I think it is you that are operating under a “mythical concept” of how the 1978 revelation came about, since you seem to believe it was all pure inspiration and unrelated to the real-world factors that the brethren were dealing with. The pressure on the church had done anything but dissipate–there were actually active protests in SLC the week before the revelation was announced. And analysts both outside and inside the church have long acknowledged that external considerations were a factor (for a start I would read President Kimball’s son Edward’s excellent article on the subject). The church’s recent article on “Race and the Priesthood” itself teaches that barriers to missionary work and the new temple in Brazil were both factors in the ban being lifted. This is not to deny that revelation was involved–just to acknowledge that it was a combination of public opinion (including protests), logistical problems, and inspiration that led to the revelation.

      I myself would not choose to try to get into a priesthood meeting as a way of getting my message across. But expressing your feelings that it’s unfair that women don’t have the priesthood is definitely comparable to those who (often loudly) expressed their feelings with regard to the unfairness of the priesthood ban. And did so for years and years before anything changed.

    • They don’t need to repent of anything, for they have done NOTHING WRONG. Don’t make me laugh with the” private conversation with their stake president” He sneakily waited for Kate to move (thousands of miles away) before he threatened her with any disciplinary action, knowing full well that she would probably not be able to travel all those thousands of miles back after moving to defend herself in a church court. Sneaky and underhanded goings on indeed.

  22. I think they are in more trouble for specific actions than they are for their individual views. There is a big difference between saying “I support the ordination of women” which I am not really against and saying that then trying to stand in line to get a ticket to General Conference. I think Ms. Kelly’s organizing efforts hurt more than anything. With Mr. Dehlin, I can’t tell what’s going on, he has far too many posts on his website to really read them all in a short time, but I think we all know that sending his confidential letter to the NYT will do him no favors. It seems, however, that he has admitted that he no longer believes some fundamental church beliefs. I would ask him, in that case, as I would a Methodist who no longer believes the teachings of Wesley, why he continues to attend. This is not to say that I think he should leave, surely I do not think he should and it’s not my place either way, but it’s an honest question. To me, this is far more about actions rather than particular thoughts and words.

  23. I am not going to read all of these comments, so this may have already been said. But I’ll share it anyway. I don’t mean to address the whole article with this… Only part. I can see both sides and have great empathy for both sides. I just want to share a scripture in conjunction with the Corinthians one mentioned in the article: Matthew 5:29-30 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Obviously these are very harsh words from Christ, and I believe excommunication involves a greater deal of love and caring than it is given credit for.

  24. Jana,
    24 years ago, almost to this day, I, then a seventeen year old boy, had proven unable to keep the law of chastity over a longer passage of months, and my sweetheart was pregnant. Over months the bishop had counselled us and pleaded with us to take the steps that would make sure that we kept our covenants with God. Over months he had sat with us on an almost weekly basis, trying to get through to us, but to no avail. We really wanted to get married, and had wanted to for the last 7 months, but by the laws of our home country and that time, I was not yet of age (back then you had to be 18 as a man, and then a judge could pronounce you to be fit for this one marriage, if the parents agreed. I was 17).

    We were called to a disciplinary court on a warm night in late May or early June, and the bishopric asked us about our circumstances. The bishop’s counsellors so far had not known anything about our situation.

    We were first interviewed together, and then I alone, and then my sweetheart was called in and I sent out. As I knelt in prayer in the ward garden, the LORD told me that I would need to be excommunicated, but my sweetheart would be allowed to retain her membership. This was the LORD’s will, and I was glad for her.

    Then the bishopric deliberated the case, and then we were called in. As the LORD had told me, so it was done, and the bishop informed us, that up until they had knelt in prayer as a bishopric, laying their decision before the LORD, they all had thought that nobody needed to be excommunicated, but then the LORD had told them His will.

    Six months later we married. Another six months, and the bishop called us to another disciplinary court, and we were restored to full membership. I was rebaptised.

    Three years ago, I was called to be counsellor in our bishopric, and I have witnessed how bishop’s disciplinary council works from the other side. And I can tell you, a disciplinary council is not at all a happy day. We cry a lot over what members face. We rejoice over every such council that does not end in excommunication. Tough situation for everybody.

    We often believe that thouse councils are about punishment. They are not. An excommunication is not “hey, we do not want to have you around!” On the contrary, we are told to attend church regularily. In fact, nobody in the ward knew about our excommunication, until I was rebaptised! And not only, if you are breaking your covenants with sexual sin, but also, if one breaks one’s covenant by leading the Covenant People of God astray.

    You mention the September Six, and you surely know that Maxine attended Church faithfully until she was rebaptised. Lavina attends Church on a regular basis, though she is still not ready for rebaptism. And you surely know that neither Avram nor Michael were ex-ed for feminism. Lynn was not ex-ed but she left the Church to practice Native American Philosophy. What is the value of the Church, if God’s rule is not accepted? If those that do not believe in Christ at all, are seen as part of the body of Christ? Yes, the head cannot say to the foot, “I do not need you”. But also the foot cannot say this to the head! And Dehlin says “No” to Christ, “No” to the Prophets. “No” to the scriptures. How is this noble, while the church leaders facing tough decisions (like Jesus saying ” If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”) are somehow doing the wrong thing? Jana, are you serious?

    So, what is it about? If one breaks the covenants massively, then excommunication is considered to ensure that there is a way to repentance and rebaptism. A way to totally erase one’s sin. Priesthood leaders are counselled to not publish, if disciplinary measures are taken, and they are counselled to destroy even their journal entries about disciplinary courts, if the member has repented and becomes a member in good standing again. The apostle Paul, whom you are fond to quote, says that those who are unworthy of the sacrament, need to be forbidden to partake of it, or they will eat and drink to their death! And in an other instance of sin, he said that the church needs to excommunicate the evildoer, so that he may be saved in the days to come. Excommunication is an extreme measure of salvation, not damnation, according to the apostle Paul.

    But some people are not willing to be subjected to God’s representatives. They want to be a law unto themselves. And so they spread the word that they are “singled out”, that they are “cast out for their opinions”, hung and left to dry. They have candle-light vigils organized and are angry and stage protest marches and publicate their side of the issue. They do not keep private what is between the LORD’s representative and them. In such cases, the Church will publish that measures are being taken. But they will not publish the reasons behind it.

    For instance, we do not know what the reasons for the excommunication of Avram Gileadi was. He never said it, and the Church likewise keeps silent.

    For Michael D. Quinn, he claimed it was about his integrity as historian, and that the Church wanted him to compromise, which he could not. Thus he was excommunicated. But if you read all that has been published, you will see that even Lavina Anderson went on the record saying that to her, Michael had told an other story all together. And Michael’s homosexual living style seems to be in line with this other story.

    Likewise, for those that know John Dehlin and his actions in the last 5 years or so, it doesn’t come as a miracle that he faces church discipline, but rather we marvel at the longsuffering of his priesthood leaders who have not taken those measures years ago, pleading with him to rediscover faith in Christ and laying aside his idea that there is no god and that the Church is a solely social construct, of which to not be inclusive to everybody, no matter their beliefs or deeds, is cruelty. It seems, that now all other measures are used up without helping, so now it’s church discipline. His gay support is only a drop in the pond of his public apostasy.

    And I mourn with the family of John Dehlin (and I know some of them personally), that he was not willing to believe in God, believe in Christ and believe that Christ restored His church to Joseph Smith. That he was not willing to believe that we are led by revelation, and that sin never was happiness. I mourn that after all those years, the day has come when a disciplinary council is the only way left open. I also mourn for John, with whom I have exchanged some eMails while we were in the same eMail list. I mourn for his wife. Not at all a happy day.

    Concerning OW, the priesthood is about the order of God, about keys and honoring the keys. About being in unity with the head and all the parts of the priesthood line. To campaign against the keys of the Priesthood while similarily demanding to be ordained to its offices shows total lack of understanding of what the Priesthood is and what it is for. If Kelly were not a woman but a man, and a man in my ward, there would be no chance for such a man to be ordained to the Priesthood of God. Rather, with such an attitude, I would fear that actions would follow soon, where excommunication is necessary. And yes, the last year has seen exactly such actions. Her excommunication is not about the priesthood or about her ideas about the priesthood, but about actively opposing the keys of the priesthood, becoming a law of one’s own and rejecting and fighting against the authority God has given.

    I do not know Kelly. But I mourn for her and hope that some day soon she will see where she is wrong and change her ways.

    Jana, I have no keys over you. So I cannot say. But if you are currently active in the church and have a temple recommend, I do not see you being excommunicated in the next months. No need to fear. It is not speaking in dissonance with the Brethren that gets one into a disciplinary court, but actively campaigning and fighting against God’s prophets.

  25. I have followed both of these individuals and their views in the media for some time. However Sister Kelly and Brother Dehlin have published formal letter from their local LDS leaders which clarify the situation somewhat.

    I found the May 22nd follow-up letter from Sister Kelly’s May 5th meeting with her Stake President to be quite clear as to what she did and did NOT need to do to end her informal probation. For instance, she did NOT need to change her personal thoughts or questions, but she did need to change some specific actions. If she decided to NOT repent, further disciplinary actions would be required (See http://www.scribd.com/doc/229282164/Letter-confirming-Kate-Kelly-placed-on-probation ) as is now happening. Probation is NOT an agreement to continue to disagree. I note that in the June 8th letter from her Bishop, her temporary residence status is acknowledged and reasonable accommodation is offered (See http://www.scribd.com/doc/229281605/Letter-threatening-excommunication-to-Kate-Kelly ). The process had began in Virginia in early May. Has Sister Kelly asked, or does she plan to ask, to have the disciplinary council and entire matter transferred to her current ward and stake of residence? Her Bishop and Stake President, wherever she resides, have the specific responsibility, as common judges in the Church, to make such decisions after careful consideration, consultation, and prayer. Instead of working within the framework of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Kelly seems to have chosen to work in the media/political framework which is certainly her legal right. However, the Church also has a legal right to end the membership of those who refuse to abide by their basic responsibilities. I hope she will reconsider, change her mind and return to full-faith and fellowship.

    The June 7th email to Brother Dehlin is also quite clear. He may think he should remain a member while no longer believing “many of the fundamental LDS church truth claims” of the Church, publicly teaching against them, and refusing normal contact with his local ward (congregation) and leadership. His Stake President seeks to meet with him and help resolve his concerns, if possible (See http://www.scribd.com/doc/229280355/Stake-president-letter-to-John-Dehlin ).

    All of these leaders express love and concern. Having previously served as a Bishop, I have every reason to believe that their expressions and caring are genuine. They do NOT want to excommunicate these individuals, if Sister Kelly and Brother Dehlin will choose to follow basic LDS teachings they have covenanted to live. Basically the gospel is about repentance through the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is an ongoing process with faithful members. However, we cannot work persistently to hinder the sharing of the gospel and growth of the church under the cover of being a faithful member of the Church. A critical decision point has arrived. I hope this Brother and Sister will carefully consider the counsel they have received from those ordained to give such counsel. If not, it may well be better that they are no longer bound by those covenants they previously made. Of course, even if excommunicated, they can repent and be rebaptized (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_Six ).

    • I’ve been particularly intrigued by the many comments I’ve read here and elsewhere by former bishops and people intimately familiar with such proceedings, and you all seem to hit the same themes of love and repentance. I’m not at all surprised, but it is reaffirming to read anyway.

  26. Jana, thank you for your sincerity, courage and integrity. keep up the good work. I live in a country where the church is small and belong to a small branch and have felt very much alone with a lot of my insights and deeply held convictions.
    It has been wonderful to see my own insights voiced by people like yourself. it gives me so much comfort to know that I am not alone. thank you for your voice, it has made me feel less alone. as have people like Kate and John. you have my respect.

  27. Has Kate Kelly been abandoned by Mormon feminists?

    One could imagine that if Kate Kelly were to come out and say that she will no longer be advocating for women’s issues, then other mormon feminists would instantly encourage her to reconsider. However, when Kate Kelly does things that will surely cause her to leave or get her kicked out of the church, mormon feminists encourage her to stay the course and not change anything, which has led to the inevitable point that we’re at.

    In fact, the ONLY people giving any sort of practical advice on how Kate Kelly can remain a Mormon feminist are those to oppose her tactics. Ironic, isn’t it?

  28. I am sorry for these people, however I am a feminist and strongly agree with equal rights for women, however as members we need to remember we all have our roles. Just because l don’t have the priesthood doesn’t make me less of a member. I don’t want it. I am happy with my role as I run my household. I am happy with my role as a lds woman. I don’t have time to be running around giving blessings or having to sit through another boring meeting. My husband and I work together and till recently I was the main income earner as a support manager. When would I have had the time to have the priesthood too. My family suffered with me working so much and even though it us a financial burden for me not to be working, we are better off. My place is as wife and mother. Not priesthood holder too. Maybe woman who want it are lacking something else in their lives. I am a member and I love the church and the gospel and therefore I follow and believe in it in its entirety. I m a well educated woman but I can still see that there is a reason we don’t have the priesthood and I am happy with that. I hope you all find peace and comfort.

  29. Someday religious people are going to have to wake up.

    Totalitarianism and dictatorship are at the heart of religion.
    Unquestioned fealty and LOYALTY is the heart of religion.

    “FEAR and OBEY” the LORD (meaning elders, priests, pastors, nuns)

    Grown ups should NEVER allow ANYONE to talk to them in that tone of voice!
    How dare they?

  30. Jana,
    thank you for your ongoing honesty and wrestling with the tough topics in Mormonism, while finding the light and truth amid the flawed and human. Thank you for joining this Church during one of its hardest times, I’m sure your light helped offset some of the darkness. My journey has been greatly enriched by you and your work.

    I don’t think most major voices are at risk for discipline. It seems the tensions John and Kate are facing with their local leaders were initiated by those leaders own concerns, not by any directive from higher up.

    Regardless, what they and our community needs most now is greater understanding, compassion, and better communication, for all.

    • I too appreciate Jana Riess, as I have Joanna Brooks on other sites. Appreciate does NOT mean total agreement, but both of these Sisters raise thoughtful issues in constructive frameworks.

      If these are just the issues of local leaders, I’m sure the internal lines of communication will allow the general authorities to communicate with them. Further, if improper decisions are made at the local level they can be appealed to the First Presidency. The rest of us should be patient and compassionate. Over time issues tend to clarify.

      As we remember the Savior and His Gospel which teaches we are all brothers and sisters, beloved children of our Heavenly Father we can have faith that we will find our way through crisis and draw closer to Him.

  31. enlightenedskeptic

    Jana, whatever your opinion about Kelly and Dehlin (or the lds church for that matter) this piece seems to be more about you trying to draw attention to yourself and paint a bullseye on your own back for some reason.

    To wit: “If that’s what is coming for me, so be it. I would be terribly sad to be disfellowshipped or excommunicated from my church — excommunication meaning, literally, out of community.

    I’ve been a Mormon for more than twenty years. This is my home, and Mormonism is part of my core identity. I love it.

    But I have always known there might be a price for having my own opinions in a culture that so values conformity and obedience.”

    You’re acting as though you a) have all the facts about their situation; and b) that you’ve been tried convicted and executed already. You haven’t paid a price at all, other than getting quasi-famous with this blog.

    If this isn’t a johnny-come-lately attempt to simply garner attention by name dropping these two and trying to point out your particular “offenses” (which are held by many strong and active members in the lds church), why poke the bear in this manner?

  32. Everyone assumes they will be excommunicated. Can we wait and see what happens? the Church would only publicy speaks of a court if those called to the court started the public disccusion. Faith assumes we have questions, doubts, and plenty of uncertainty. disagreement with a gospel principle is common, asking the Church to change its doctrine because you know best is a path to apostasy. But in the spirit of Christ we should reach all to all with love an undertanding. Even in excommunication charity should shine.

  33. Common consent: All those who can sustain (such and such, who and who) please do so by the uplifeted hand. … … … Any oppossed (by the same sign)

    D&C 26 lays out the doctrine. The Church website gives at least one page from a 2006 D&C student manual explaining the ins and outs of giving or with holding consent.

    “No man can preside in this Church in any capacity without the consent of the people.” If we, the presided overfeel we are not being led with correct doctrine, with the spirit of love, of the Lord merely grumping about it in a blog or internet article is not enough. With hold your consent. Do not voteconsent to that which you feel is wrong or evil.

  34. Mormonism is unique in that it claims to be the only true and living church of Jesus Christ, led by Him through revelation to modern prophets. As soon as you think the Church needs to change, that the prophets don’t know what they are talking about, that you need to crusade against it and lead others to do so, you don’t believe in those central core tenets. Why then, be Mormon? Instead of trying to change the Church to fit your whims, choose another Church? An extension of these central tenets is the right to personal revelation from God certifying that these tenets are true. Why not get those certifying reassurances that are offered by deity? It is that spiritual certitude that keeps worthy Mormons worthy in the face of doubt, which every single Mormon eventually encounters. I’ve been a member of the Church for 50 years and see no authoritarian overstepping by church leadership at all — simply them dealing with people who miss the central point of belonging who may be destroying the fragile witness of those around them. I emphasize the kind and spiritual nature of church disciplinary courts. They are loving and caring to the utmost. This is not the Inquisition.

    • GTOBoomer: Men are weak and make mistakes. Stopping blacks from receiving the priesthood then giving it to them later and now admitting that there was no reason given from God to take it away is proof that the leaders do what they want without God’s revelations. This is a topic we are just as clueless on. The idea that people want to know is a sign of faith in these men, not as sign of doubt.

      • Dave, the fact of the matter is that we don’t know the origins of the ban whatsoever. We know certain historical tidbits of life at that time, but lack sufficient knowledge to judge Brigham Young or anyone else. And furthermore, it’s not even our concern to judge them. We all have our own beams to focus on.

  35. trytoseeitmyway

    Jana, please calm down. First, the evidence of the two events being coordinated is thin. Second, the evidence you cite is inconsistent with the idea that you would be “next.” If the coincidence of the two events is evidence of the coordination, then any coordinated plan to subject you to discipline would have occurred already, right? The better inference is that the two events are unconnected and related to the specific circumstances in each case. If you don’t try to persuade others that the doctrines and teachings of the Church are untrue, then you have no need to be concerned about your own standing.

    In a comment, you write: “I’ve been told many times, especially on this blog, that ‘It’s fine to have opinions. It’s just not fine to say them out loud!’ What is that if not dishonesty?” But is that really am accurate, verbatim quotation of what you have been “told many times on this blog?” I wonder. (If not, consider the dishonesty of the false report.) I think that it would be more accurate to distinguish between sincere doubt, on one hand, and advocacy of contrarian views on the other hand. If one wonders aloud whether a canonical statement is true, that can have a different effect than raising a question in one’s own mind or in private conversation with a priesthood leader or other confidant. It is a misuse of language to suggest that to avoid calling public attention to personal doubts or denials is in any way “dishonest.” Many times in life we avoid giving expression to thoughts we may privately hold; this is often kindness and it is rarely dishonest.

  36. Bill Richardson Mesa

    I have listened to Mormon Stories on and off for years. I have followed Kate Kelly (more recently) in the news. I read Gina Colvin’s writings as they appear in the news. I also read Joanna Brooks’ missives and commentaries. I have read Jana’s writings regularly as well (and there are many other blogs like feministmormonhousewives, zelophehadsdaughters. etc.). I have often
    wondered where the line is (however faded or however indistinct) between open opposition to the church and a sort of personal musing or self analysis about issues that arise in one’s mind on a particular church-related issue. As the volume of the cacophony has increased, it has begun to
    sound more like open opposition and abject criticism, and less rhetorical or less like a resource for those who have genuine questions. The rhetorical question that I often ask myself is how will this article be perceived by (1) non-members or (2) members who are struggling to remain strong in the church or
    even (3) true blue Mormons. Very often, I conclude that it sounds like criticism.

    Additionally, it seems that the media (e.g., realclearreligion) gives more frequent and a greater voice to those who are in some way dissenting. This is, I think, a disservice to both the reading public and to the church. One might assume that there is a huge groundswell of internal criticism of church policy when there is no groundswell at all. This is very damaging to the church, in my view, and is grounds for advocating a more moderate tone on the part of, among others, the foregoing authors.

    I see their writings as often being directed to the members of the church with the intention of
    fomenting a revolution of sorts. Their writings (Jana’s less so) sometimes (often, for some) cross the line from mere discussion of issues we rightfully address as members of the church, and appear more like “in your face” criticism of the policies and doctrines of the church. I do not think that the church is wrong to address these issues.

    I do worry when any excommunication or discipline occurs. I think that any discipline needs to be meagerly and respectfully meted out (1) by carefully protecting the privacy of those involved (some folks show their stripes by going to the media) (2) by assiduously respecting the value of open discussion and allowing for the honest questioning of any doctrine and (3) by administering the least amount of discipline (if any) possible. The subjects of church discipline would also do
    well not to take a confrontational approach. I have been involved in many disciplinary proceedings and it always works best when people approach the matter both humbly and prayerfully with an eye toward understanding each other.

  37. I was approached my by two female Missionaries and became an “investigator.” Not being satisfied with their superficial answers to my tough questions, I did the unthinkable — searched on-line. I found the Mormon Church to be misogynistic beyond any reasonable tolerance. The more I discovered, the more I found it was controlling on so much of a person’s life it seemed almost cult-like to me.

    Sadly, the local church was nice and its members warm and welcoming when I visited . . . but I won’t join a group so far off on things that I see have little, if any, relevance to faith and Christianity.

    I now understand who so many lifelong Mormons are flat-out leaving. This will be a blow to that church that will not be recovered from, IMO.

  38. I would suggest taking a look at Dan Peterson’s observations at his blog at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2014/06/kelly-and-dehlin-further-observations.html. And then Greg Smith’s two articles regarding john Dehlin at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2014/06/the-pending-cases-of-john-dehlin-and-kate-kelly.html. Sister Kelly decided to take on the First Presidency and appears to have lost. And as for Brother Dehlin, what can I say? Dr.Smith’s two articles fully demonstrate why Brother Dehlin tried so hard to keep them from seeing the light of day. He’s not the paragon of light and truth some would suggest.

  39. Jana,

    I think your fears are understandable, but I don’t think they will be fulfilled.

    I am a faithful member of the church who both supports the brethren and thinks they could be wrong about things. I actually think it’s alright for them to be wrong at times. I think the Lord gives us the truth we deserve. I also am aware of the fact that I could be wrong about just about anything, especially what the church should do at any given moment.

    This whole situation makes me sad. As I read the comments of those who are feeling pushed away from the church, it makes me even sadder.

    I can’t tell anyone else what they should do when they think the church is wrong. I think people should make their own judgments and decisions on that.

    Some people leave the church. Some stay silent. Some stay and speak up, but, I think there is a difference between speaking out, which is what I think you do, and actively pushing the members of the church and its leaders to change on some issue. To me, that seems a little too much like saying you have been called to lead the church because the current leaders have gone astray. Of course, 99.9% of the world’s population reject the idea that the church is led by prophets of any kind, so for most people the idea that they aren’t doing the Lord’s will isn’t exactly controversial.

    I have opinions and sometimes think the church is wrong, but God has never told me I needed to save the church from its errors. I am also always aware of the fact that I could be wrong. I really believe that the Lord is in charge and that when it is time for any change to be made, it will be made. I don’t feel a need to change the church from within or without. I accept it as imperfect, just as I accept that it is alright for me to be imperfect.

    This is what works for me. I don’t expect every member of the church to respond the same way. It is my personal opinion that people are better off when they carefully (and prayerfully) decide what is right and then do it, even if they make mistakes along the way. For me, that applies to everyone: the First Presidency, Stake Presidents, Bishops and all members.

    Personally, I wish everyone on both sides of this dispute well. I wish you well, also. I hope you find peace and resolution in a time that is clearly very difficult for you and some other members of the church.

  40. Most faithful members I know (and confirmed by a recent Pew poll regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood) will be unaffected by these two disciplinary actions. As for the ranks of the inactive, in my experience, Matthew 7 (the parable of the sower), John 6:66 ( “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”), 2 Nephi 9 ( to be learned is good if one hearkens to the counsels of God), our belief that Satan will rule with blood and horror on the earth, and Matthew 7 again (wide is the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and strait is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it.). Any purge worth talking about that is taking place in the kingdom right now is the natural purge of distancing oneself from the Spirit through disobedience to God and his servants. I lament the loss of any fellow member, but I remain as a faithful member of the church because I know the Restored Gospel is true and am not interested in being overcome by pride or Satan.

  41. Jana, hopefully this won’t come back to bite me later, but I doubt you have much to worry about. I doubt you’ve ever tried to publicly humiliate the Church in front of the world media because of a difference over doctrine.

    As for John Dehlin, I took a quick look at the link to his blog and found this list of things he does not believe: “anthropomorphic God, “one true church with exclusive authority,” that the current LDS church prophet receives privileged communications from God, that The Book of Mormon and The Book of Abraham are translations, polygamy, racist teachings in the Book of Mormon, that ordinances are required for salvation, proxy work for the dead.” Some of these are differences in interpretation, but most go to the heart of being a Mormon – as fundamental as someone insisting that, as a Catholic, he doesn’t believe that the Pope is the leader of God’s church in a line leading back to Peter. I would say that in Dehlin’s case, excommunication would simply make official what is already true in his heart.

  42. I’m glad this is happening. I’ve felt for some time that Dehlin did more to foster doubt in others and spread misinformation than anything else, and the whole Ordain Women movement should have disbanded after the last General Conference if not sooner. The fact that they continue to push in opposition to the direction of the church crosses the line. I’m not going to say if they should excommunicated or not, there are those called of God to make that judgement and I’ll leave it to them, but it is encouraging to see that they church has the guts to hold the line and that being a public figure and having supporters won’t give somebody clout to operate against the church from within.

  43. Responding to this section of the original post: “The fact that these individuals received their disciplinary letters in a two-day period even though they live far apart from each other seems to signal that these are not isolated actions initiated by local stake presidents in two very different parts of the country, but a coordinated effort on the part of the LDS hierarchy in Salt Lake City.”

    My bishop was in a meeting on May 17 with Pres. Ballard and Elder Clayton with bishops and stake presidents in the DC area. At that meeting, people were asking questions about how to handle matters related to OW. Elder Clayton made it unambiguously clear that Salt Lake was leaving this up to local leadership, and that they were not going to get involved.

    I’m going to give that evidence more weight than the possible illusory correlation of the dates of these letters.

    • Seems as legit as anything anyone has stated on the matter. The funny thing is that I don’t see how it would be the least bit problematic if such efforts WERE instigated in Salt Lake. So what?

  44. As I have mentioned before, the only issue i have with the OW movement is the same one I have for the opposing view- the all or nothing approach. Let’s face facts – when you, the OW, start discussions to teach people why you are right and the Church is wrong, it’s time to start your own church. When you, anyone in general, are okay with the idea of excommunication, it’s time to just walk away. When God told you, Jana, personally that women will get the priesthood but not in your lifetime yet you push for women to have it now, who are you rejecting the religion or God? I’m (in the minds of some) at risk for excommunication because I want revelation on the topic, like Smith would have looked for. I’m not even talking a side, just looking for God’s will. This makes me wonder if ANYONE cares what the Lord wants. But I don’t get the impressions that the LDS Relief Society President cares what God wants any more than the OW founder does. If I were the bishop of both of these women I’d be talking to them both about apostasy. This is sad. And the idea that you, Jana, are in the middle of it doesn’t make you the open minded blogger I thought you were when I first started reading your posts. Everyone is taking a stand, I think it’s time to stop taking a stand and for everyone to get on their knees, hold hands and get some real answers. If we don’t do that there is really no point to this church, as that idea, unity and revelation. is what the religion was founded on.

    • Bottom line is that the vast majority of Latter-day Saints would be fine with female ordination IF it were the revealed will of the Lord. They are equally fine without it if that is the will of the Lord. If the last General Conference talk from Elder Oaks is any indication, the present state of affairs is that the Lord is not revealing any such thing at this time. If our primary concern is that the will of the Lord be done, then agitating for any given position as if the prophets and apostles are out of touch places oneself out of harmony.

  45. Hi Jana,
    Your article seems to indicate that Kate and John were harmless in their approaches. Organizing a group of like things to hold a personal conference with the brethren would have been harmless and acceptable. But when antagonists of the Church are willing to abide by the Church’s request–that they stay on the opposite side of the road during Conference–but member protesters are not, there is a definite problem there. When the mentality becomes, “The Church will change if we get enough populous and publicity behind us,” that turns something sincere into something political. Just as in the Book of Mormon, the Church’s downfall always came from within. Will that happen faster by spreading the good word as written in the Bible and Book of Mormon and heeding the prophets and apostles counsel, or by picketing for change? If you do believe it will fall faster with the former, then as much as I hate to say it and you hate to hear it, why remain in an untrue and unliving Church? I for one do believe in the gospel of Christ, and in the inspiration of its leaders.

  46. When I was a child my father gave a talk in Stake Conference about “Courts of Love” and how they are a part of the repentance process. A woman who had carried around the guilt of a moral sin for many years because she was so afraid to confess to her Bishop was able to finally go to her Bishop and complete her repentance process. Years later after I was excommunicated, my path back was eased by remembrance of that talk.

    Excommunication isn’t about not being wanted. I view membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as a privilege. When one chooses to be baptized, promises are made. There are certain standards that are expected, and if someone chooses to go against those standards, they may have the consequence of being disfellowshipped or excommunicated. If administered correctly, decisions made during a disciplinary council are prayed about. Certainly there is a large gamut of people with the same behaviors and what discipline, if any, they receive. I believe that at least part of the reason for this is that God knows what will be of the most use for that person to have a repentant heart.

    • Thanks for your comments, Wendy. One of the most interesting consequences of the publicity of this issue has been the coming forward of many people who themselves have gone through excommunication and rebaptism, and it has been gratifying to see how they have thrived in the process of rejoining the church, and in most cases cherish their membership in a way that most of us take for granted.

  47. John Dehlin has openly stated he stays in the LDS religion for cultural reasons and he is now an Atheist. I do not understand what took the church so long to call him in. I honestly do not understand how an Atheist can help people stay religious.

    As for Kate Kelly I do not agree she should have been called to church court. Since she has been called in, then there are others, like Tom Phillips and some of his buddies, who should have been dealt with long ago.

  48. Jana,
    I have enjoyed your blog many times, and will continue to check in, but seriously–A PURGE? Two disciplinary councils for individuals who publish or run to media with their differences vs. LDS doctrine and culture is a purge?

    Your blog is an opinion piece, and an enjoyable one–not a legal brief, I get that.

    No disrespect to your apparent affection for Ms. Kelly, but here are some questions I have as I watch and read from 1000 miles away–I don’t know the answers, but my questions and skepticism are real:
    Why are we bestowing sainthood upon her so quickly, and treating her church leaders like storm troopers?
    Is Kate Kelly a disciple of Christ or an activist–which comes first in her heart and head? She seems to be going the activist/political route. As she keeps pushing the envelope in that way, how does she expect her self-made reality show to end?
    Does she believe that revelation from God comes as a result of hers or our activism? (Not sure that I do) Does she pray about her concerns to God as quickly as she takes them to the Washington Post, the New York Times, or a TV outlet?–is she seeking truth or seeking to rally others to her position?
    We don’t know what specific concerns will be addressed in her disciplinary meeting. We only know that it is happening, because she has chosen to make it publicly known. She strikes me as a very good lawyer and advocate. If a person believes in God, is this how we get direction from Him?

  49. So what I’m getting from the majority of posts here, is people are scared to discuss anything that the hierarchy in the LDS church does not approve of. I see, so it’s come down to such mind control of it’s members that they are afraid to say anything out of place, incase they are perceived to be “apostates” . Well so be it, Unfortunately members of the LDS church will continue to be trampled upon spiritually,will never stand up for themselves ( even though they secretly agree with the “dissenters” ) they are scared to “discuss” or outwardly support Kate and John,because they want to keep in line with the rank and file and not cause waves in their little protected bubble.That is their prerogative, they might even view themselves as heroes or missionaries ” speaking up for The Lord
    / Prophet, well so be it, as for me, I fully support Kate and John and what they are trying to do.But you who want to continue drinking the koolade , veiling your face & bowing your head and saying yes to everything the “brethren” ask of you, then hey, be my guest, as for me , I prefer my mind to be clear and my sense of fairness and justice to be intact. Good luck John and Kate, there are many out there that support and applaud you for what you are trying to do.

  50. It seems that if people disagree with an organization and especially an organization’s fundamental doctrine which is not man made but divinely revealed revealed, they would be more comfortable not being part of that organization. Why bang your head against a stone wall; just find a soft pillow and be at peace somewhere else. If a person really believes in a path, they should accept all aspects of it not just pick and choose then whine and scream about things they don’t like. Kate should be happy to be unaffiliated with a bunch old of MCPs and be free to do her own thing. Whoever doesn’t accept divinely revealed truths shouldn’t have to be tormented by affiliating with those who do and the more members who decide to leave because they don’t believe, the better for us and them. Hey, in my temple interview I happily admitted I support FLDS dress standards and some of their oldtime religious beliefs and that I fully support Shi’a Islamic lifestyle plus a few other things that could get a person in trouble; but they knew me as a harmess free-thinker and didn’t care. As long as we don’t start a divisive destructive hate-mongering movement or blatantly promote homosexuality or something, we vMormons have a ton of leeway in our personal beliefs. Dr. L. Miller

  51. I’m a little late to this conversation, and I was only able to make it through about 25% of the posts, so I apologize if someone has already said the following: Kate Kelly’s fault was not in holding an opinion that differed from the current doctrine of the church. Her fault was in recruiting others and actively teaching doctrine in opposition to the church. She made herself an enemy of the church. I personally believe we have much progress to make on different issues in the church, and I believe we are starting down that road. But it’s a long road and we need to have patience. Kate may have accelerated the discussion on some women’s issues, but only to her own detriment. She could have retained her membership and still effectively advocated for change if she had done so in a less adversarial fashion. It’s important to have different opinions and diversity of thought in this church. What a boring place it would be if we all thought the same way….

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