Beliefs Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Excommunicating my Mormon rage

excommunicationI was so grateful to be on vacation last week — not only that I was visiting Turkey, a country vibrant with history and beauty, but also that I could hang a “gone fishing” sign on this blog and not have to react in the heat of the moment to the news of Kate Kelly’s excommunication.

I was disappointed by the council’s decision in Kate’s case, but not surprised.

What did surprise and alarm me was the level of vitriol expressed on both sides of the issue. So much rage out there in the online Mormon world.

Feminists like me were angry that the label “court of love” could be applied to any situation in which a roomful of men could unilaterally excommunicate a woman without her even being present. A woman has been silenced by a court in which no woman is permitted to have a voice . . . all for asking to have more of a voice. Somehow, feminists are not feeling the love.

Traditionalists were angry that the media portrayed Kate in a more flattering and sympathetic light than they felt she deserved. She went against the Church, the traditionalists said, issuing what amounted to a mandate for women’s ordination when the prophet had clearly spoken against it. What did she expect would happen to her church membership?

In all the swirling accusations and counter-accusations last week, several people saved my heart from despair, their voices rising up on both sides to remind me of the kindness of the Savior.

Neylan McBaine, who does not support women’s ordination but who over the last few years has outlined many helpful possible changes to practice and policy that would increase women’s participation in Church leadership, has written a couple of beautiful posts in the last few weeks on the mandate we have as Christians to mourn with those who mourn. (Check them out here and here.) I so appreciate her perspective and her tears.

Eric Samuelsen, a retired BYU professor, asks us to feel the other side’s pain. “Can we still find a way to press forward?” he asks. “To forgive, to admit we don’t know all the answers, and to confess to ourselves that we’re in pain, and that pain is perhaps the one thing our Savior knew most intimately?”

This is hard to do when we feel cornered: to admit that we don’t have all the answers, or show any sign of weakness. That’s why it’s all the more crucial. Literally crucial — i.e., of the cross.

In a similar vein, John F. at By Common Consent has written a helpful post on Mormon cyberbullying that looks at the discouraging fact that some Mormons actually seem to be rejoicing in Kate’s discipline. For example, a newish Facebook group created to oppose her “displays all the characteristics of classic misogynistic anonymous internet abuse.”  There’s just no place for this kind of shaming in the gospel, John F. writes:

“This has nothing to do with supporting or defending Kate Kelly’s problematic approach to opening up dialogue about the ordination of women. This is about Christian discipleship and the cause of Zion. Such behavior, hate, vindictiveness, and abuse as is found on this page should not be had among us.

And finally, Katie Langston wrote a beautiful post on bearing with one another, though I can’t find it now; if anyone has a link, please share and I will add it in. [Update: here is the link to “We Are Better Than This,” with thanks to several Facebook readers!]

The point of all this is that some things are still of good report. Some people are able to look beyond the considerable heat of the moment and check themselves. Amidst the anger and name-calling, these are the voices I choose to listen to right now, the ones that call me to be a kinder person and a better Mormon than I naturally am.

These prophetic voices invite me to convene my very own personal court of love in which I will excommunicate my own rage, my pride, my sense of having been wronged.

Even when I don’t agree with someone else’s POV.

Especially when I don’t agree.




About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.


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  • “There’s just no place for this kind of shaming in the gospel”

    OH Good grief. Where does one begin?

    WE Atheists might not always be nice – but at least we cannot claim to have the power of a claimed god on our side!

    Religion is completely constructed to shame people WITH GOD ON YOUR SIDE! That is the entire point of religion to separate ‘the goats’ from ‘the sheep’!!!!

    Jesus came to destroy people who were not worthy of his “love”.
    Why should you be different?

    “Execute them in front of me” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

  • You quoted a parable that Jesus gave. He didn’t actually command anyone to be executed in front of him.

    Anyway, not sure how your comment is relevant to Jana’s post, or in the reasonable spirit of it.

  • Good post Jana. Although I disagree with the proposition that arguments should never get heated. Sometimes, giving voice to the passions–not just the cerebral thoughts–is the only way to fully express them or understand them.

    I’m happy to see the vitriolic Mormon posts in opposition to Kate Kelly’s ordain women movement. These comments serve as a living documentation of the Mormon culture and they more roundly illustrate the many oppositions to Kate Kelly’s cause. Likewise, I’m grateful for the many frustrations expressed on behalf of ordain women as these frustrations give evidence to the exasperation of dealing with this culture. If the Mormon culture were in fact loving and kind and open to disagreement, then it would be fitting and appropriate for the ordain women movement to return the kindness and respect. That however is not the case as you know. Would it serve the cause well to hide their frustrations under a patina of kindness and diplomacy? Possibly. But that would half reveal and half conceal the problem. There’s a better way than this. It’s to brawl it out–respectfully always–and then to show love and kindness afterwards. Hug. embrace. Like Martial arts. The concept of bushido. Bushido says that you don’t truly know somebody unless you stand against them.

    Love and benevolence and diplomacy must never be the absolute law in all cases. Anybody who believes in absolute laws is immature. Not even love is absolute. Anybody who believes Christ ever loved a Pharisee has clearly never read the New Testament. Christ may have died for the Pharisees, but he never hung out with them and he certainly never loved them in a way that follows your advice here.


    Let what’s gone or ought’a go, go;
    There’s better to come what you come to outgrow.

    Know what’s important, though,
    To reap, to sow,
    To keep, forgo
    When ill winds begin to blow,
    Hot air, religio bravado,
    “It’s this way; you ought’a know!”
    “You gotta keep the status quo!”
    Detach, relax, let go the woe,
    Suffice a simple, “No.”
    Commanding your own balanced vessel be it sail, drift, motor, row;
    Charting your own compassionate course throughout life’s ebb and flow;
    Treasuring your own nurturing cargo in the soul’s hold below.

    Let what’s gone or ought’a go, go;
    There’s better, always better to come what you come to outgrow.

  • While it is true that there is no place for hate within the hearts and souls of those who profess to follow Jesus, it must also be remembered that Satan, who is the author of hate, and the master deceiver, will frequently inspire his followers to label comments as hateful, vitriolic, evil, simply because those comments reject false doctrines, point out flaws in logic, correctly describe apostasy and/or promote the loving action of chastening, which, (contrary to the warped current political correctness), remains in God’s eyes an act of true love.

    I have been wrongfully accused of being hateful on numerous occasions, when the absolute truth is that there was never any hate in my soul. That is because rather than deal with truth which contradicts a person’s preconceived notions, the person offended by truth sometimes seeks to shut it down with labeling.

    So as we go forward yes, we should check hate at the door, but so too we should see chastening as an act of love, and not label others as hateful in order to silence their truth. Some blogs which support OW censor arguments outright, others still exercise censorship but just do it more subtly by deceitfully decreeing a comment to be hateful, so they can feel justified in ignoring or censoring it. Intellectual dishonesty often colors things as hateful that are not, allowing the person to then marginalize it. The Pharisees felt no love from Jesus, though it was absolutely there in abundance, and seeing Jesus as a hater they tried to silence him with labeling (“say we not well thou art a Samartian and hast a devil’) and then ultimately by crucifixion. It is a sad irony that those who actually do hate, often project their own flaws upon others and see hatred where none exists.

  • @Yeti,


    John F. – “Such behavior, hate, vindictiveness, and abuse as is found on this page should not be had among us.”

    Want to avoid ‘shaming’? Then quit religion!
    Jana is writing about excommunication and shaming.

    She is wrong
    that shaming does not belong in religion – or with Jesus.

    Jesus was the first Christian Shamer!

    “About heretics there are two things to say. Their sin deserves banishment not only from the church by excommunication but also from the world by death.”
    – St. Thomas Aquinas

    What did Aquinas find to support this:

    “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17)

    Direct line to stoning laws:

    Deuteronomy 17
    “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant; 17:3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 17:4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel; 17:5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.”


    “Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 
41The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 
42and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” – Jesus (Matt. 13:40-42)

    “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14)

    “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor. 15:33)


    “If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst.” (Deuteronomy 13:7-12)


  • Being upset about be excommunicated while not in the presence of the “court” handing down the sentence is just silly. I understand the idea behind what she is saying, but against the backdrop of the secular us legal system and its prevalent use of the “empty chair defense”, I would say she was expecting more from the Mormon church court than is even available in America’s courtrooms.

  • Hmm.

    When mere disagreement is labeled “hate” for the purpose of silencing those who disagree, you will not find democracy, freedom, social evolution, or love.

    So if every christian who disagrees with you because you think there doctrine is “false”, and therefore they can only fight with mechanisms of “hate” to keep their uninformed doctrine/worldview alive deserves to be shutdown because of their perceived “hate”…I say you have had no honest conversation. No conversation of logic, equal freedom, natural right or the like. Your self deceived statist relying on a state entity to give you tools to fight for what they tell you is right.

    After all, you would need a supersocial power not found in common society in order to shutdown a few select people among equally free people.

  • As an interested observer and online commenter, I was also shocked by the amount of anger leveled at Kate Kelly, even *after* the excommunication. It has long been my view that the LDS church promotes sexism even if not all LDS people are sexist. But this Kate Kelly thing has been eye-opening. Extra internal discipline to avoid prejudice will be required going forward.

  • “Want to avoid shaming? Quit religion.”

    Oh yeah, blame religion. Logic is that absent a constant moral authority there is no need to be ashamed for any action. Rolling my eyes.

  • Couple of things. People’s ideas of what is “sexism” is primarily formed from a secular standpoint. Sexism as a concept isn’t really found in traditional religious doctrine, because to the followers its just plain doctrine. Personally I am all for women leaders in churches as I logically cannot understand how a woman is expected to be responsible for her own relationship with god without full participation or the potential for full participation.

    But arguing a church is eye opening by a secular view on sexism is to apply a secular measurement to a non-secular world. Its simply religion. If they resist change it means they are holding true to their original or most current doctrine.

    Its why the phrase holds true, “stand for everything, and you stand for nothing”.

  • As with excommunicating a person from an organization, excommunicating a set of thoughts or feelings seems both ill-advised and prone to increase, rather than to diminish, the essential conflict at the heart of the organization on the one hand, or person on the other.

    Better, I think, to give space to the feelings, whether satisfaction or despair, and reflect on whether or how those feelings lead us to seeing and perceiving more clearly and fully the situation as it stands before us.

    Yes, often both satisfaction and despair reinforce delusive notions of self-identity, self-right-ness, and separation. But their exile from the body seems to me to reduce the amount of relevant data accessible to us, rather than increase it.

    Better, I believe, to keep the unsettling voices of adversaries, whether individual sisters and brothers or particular emotions, close to our hearts, where they can provoke us to look on that which we’d prefer not to see.

  • sexism=prejudice based on gender
    any prejudice
    doesn’t matter whether it is inspired of religion, still sexism
    doesn’t matter if one believes the prejudice is valid, still sexism
    some may feel sexism is a good thing and they are entitled, still sexism

  • Well my opinion is one of disagreement. I guess to further demonstrate my point that a secular worldview defines your concept of sexism, I’d ask you what your opinion is of pornography in relation to sexism. From one extreme, religous sexism, to the other, pure secular freedom and sexism in porn (if any exists).

  • Jana,

    I enjoyed your words but wanted to take small exception to one sentiment you expressed. You said:

    A woman has been silenced by a court in which no woman is permitted to have a voice . . .

    Forgiving for a moment that there was not a “court” involved (it was, correctly termed, a “disciplinary council”), it appears that Sister Kelly was not silenced, as she is still very vocal in expressing her feelings. In light of her many statements since the council’s decision, perhaps you could further express how you feel she was actually silenced.

    And, to add to your list of excellent blog references, your readers might consider my first-hand recounting of a disciplinary council from the perspective of a bishop.


  • Porn… well, generally it objectifies both genders but perhaps more frequently women. It can be prejudiced, but it isn’t necessarily.

    Sexism isn’t subject to individual interpretation, IMHO. It very simply means to have preconceived notions and expectations about someone based on gender. Some people find that such notions are acceptable or even desirable, positive not negative. It’s still sexism. What you may be prickling at is that the context in which I used the word gave it a negative blush… a reflection of my opinion of sexism.

  • @Lles Nats,

    What is a “Constant Moral Authority” and exactly where does this item exist in Religion?

    If you say “God”,
    I will answer that “Allah” would disagree,
    As would “Ganesha”
    As would “Vishnu”
    As would “Thor”
    As would “Aphrodite”

    Tell me all about where you find this “constant moral authority”.
    I’d love to know what you are talking about.

  • @Lles,

    Is this the same person who just said “slut cheerleaders”
    Just a few paragraphs above? YES IT IS.

    Religion clearly has infected and sickened your opinion of humanity.
    Sexism is proof that God is not only manmade
    but male-made.

    He is (supposedly) a HE.
    Wake up. Religion is nonsense.

  • Jana –

    I’m glad (and, frankly, relieved ^_^) that your first full post addressing Kate Kelly’s excommunication conveys your beliefs and deep insights without allowing your anger to overshadow them. I believe your voice is an important one, regardless of whether or not I agree with your positions, and I hope it continues to speak to all of us in tones which encourage us to listen and to ponder your messages.

    One note you struck rang false for me, though. I’ve never known of a council held where the individual was not invited to participate. In fact, the notification of the member, including the invitation to attend, are formally structured parts of the process. Two Melchizedek Priesthood holders are assigned to deliver it in person, and they must subsequently file a signed statement as to the conditions of the delivery.

    (There are some exceptions. Registered or certified mail with return receipt is stipulated for circumstances when physical delivery isn’t possible. And invitations to attend are not sent to individuals who are incarcerated.)

    I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read Brother Allen Wyatt’s thoughts on his experience presiding over a disciplinary council that resulted in young woman’s excommunication. I too had been skeptical (at best) of the oft-used label “court of love”. My participation in similar proceedings, however (although never as a presiding authority), has likewise been characterized by strong feelings of our Savior’s love for each of us, including the person on whose behalf the council was convened.

    My assumption, then, is that Sister Kelly chose not to attend the council. In doing so, she forfeited her right to “have a voice” in the proceedings herself.


  • I was not happy Kate Kelly was exed, even though I did not agree with her or her tactics.

    I was upset, though unfortunately not surprised, about the hate shown towards Kelly.

    It is my understanding that Kate Kelly was offered to appear in “court” via Skype or teleconference and she declined. So, Kelly could have been present thanks to technology but she chose not to.

  • I’m curious about your take on something, Jana. There is a very similar Catholic organization also called Ordain Women. Actually there appear to be a few. Here is just one example:

    Why does the LDS church excommunicate OW supporters while the Catholic does not? I found it ironic that the same week Kate Kelly was being excommunicated by the LDS church, Italian Mafia members were being excommunicated by the Catholic church. To the world, it looks like Catholic church leadership has a better sense of right and wrong, a more fair sense of divine justice, etc.

    Why do good, kind and decent LDS church members not also see this? Sincerely, what is your take?

  • Kevin,

    Kate Kelly’s priesthood leaders convened the council in Virginia, where she no longer lives. They refused to move her membership record to Provo, where she currently resides, despite the fact that they could have done so electronically with a keystroke. This aggressive tactic was done with the full knowledge that it would result in trying Ms. Kelly in absentia, as she repeatedly indicated her inability to fly from Provo, Utah to Vienna, Virginia to attend the court–a burden of money and time that should not have been required and was totally unnecessary as an easy remedy was available to the leaders.

  • I have to admit, Jana, I thought about you a LOT over the past couple of weeks! I was certain you knew what was going on throughout your vacation, and had a lot of time to think about what the hell you were going to say when you finally sat down at your computer to weigh in.

    You jumped right in by saying, “I was disappointed by the council’s decision in Kate’s case, but not surprised.” I appreciate your candor. Anyone following your blog would expect the disappointment. I have been taken somewhat aback at those who have either feigned or legitimately felt surprise about the decision itself, and appreciate that you suffered no such illusions about the possibilities.

    With regard to “the level of vitriol expressed on both sides of the issue,” I have read a LOT of blogs and facebook threads on this story, and I haven’t personally witnessed very much vitriol nor rage. I’ve probably seen more people complain of snarkiness than actual examples of snarkiness, almost as if some are attempting to create the illusion of an outpouring of bad behavior on the part of those who agree with the decision where relative little exists. As best as I can recall, ALL of the blogs I have read, and most of the related reader comments, have expressed regret that this step was deemed necessary, and there has been near universal expression of hope that she finds her way back into the fold.

    I’m sorry you take issue with the term, “court of love,” though the term is probably a lot more applicable to LDS disciplinary hearings than many people are willing to concede. It’s a bit disingenuous to complain of “a roomful of men [who] could unilaterally excommunicate a woman without her even being present” when accommodations were offered that she could participate remotely. And to the outsider, claiming that “A woman has been silenced by a court in which no woman is permitted to have a voice” suggests that Kate would not have been permitted to speak had she participated, which we know is not the case at all. I have no doubt that “feminists are not feeling the love” right now. I might submit that when it comes to the manner in which they have prosecuted their advocacy efforts against the Brethren, most Latter-day Saints weren’t exactly feeling THEIR love either! Kate’s March 13 Facebook status update, “Come stare down the patriarchy! #literallyandfiguratively,” inviting people to her Priesthood Session protest in opposition to the direct and public request by the church to please stand down, is not generally interpreted by rank-and-file Latter-day Saints as loving or respectful, and the opposite of sustaining the leaders of the church.

    It is my hope that those who sympathize with Kate and the OW movement will not permit their personal disappointment to cloud the reality that this remains the Lord’s true church, that it is led by His anointed prophets and apostles according to His divine will, and that we will continue to be blessed by aligning our will to His, perhaps especially when we struggle yet humbly continue on the path whereon His prophets guide us in these latter days.

  • FWJ, your point is well taken. Accusations of hate often say more about the passion of the accuser than the vitriol of the accused.

  • Scheherazade, Kate was offered to participate via video link. She declined. Noboby expected her to hop a flight to Virginia.

  • If the LDS church had a strong Mafia presence in its membership, I suppose we could compare.

    But it doesn’t.

    This isn’t ISN’T, and has never been, about supporting female priesthood ordination. It has been about tactics which crossed a line in the eyes of those called and set apart to weigh such things.

  • Thanks, Kevin. Yes, naturally she was invited to participate in the council, as is the Church’s policy in disciplinary hearings. However, what was different in this case is that the stake president did not schedule the court until after Kate had left for the summer.

    I am not sure whether this delay was intentional, and I certainly hope it wasn’t . . . but the fact is that Kate was no longer living in Virginia when he initiated proceedings. (She is spending much of the summer in Utah and caring for an ill family member before leaving for Kenya next month with her family.)

    These circumstances of being excommunicated in absentia did not exactly contribute to the spirit of love claimed in the excommunication letter — email, actually — from her stake president.

    I’m glad you have felt strong positive feelings of the Spirit in excommunication proceedings, and perhaps it is sometimes like that for the person on the receiving end, but that is clearly not the case here.

  • Tom, thanks for reading. I was trying in my post to be careful to link to the commentary that I found helpful and uplifting and not to the snarky or nasty remarks. But I certainly did find that they exist, from people telling Kate that she was a daughter of Satan to a guy who could think of nothing more salient than to express to the world how ugly he thought she was. Like THAT’S remotely relevant.

    As for my comment on the all-male nature of an excommunication hearing being unilateral, I would love to hear of disciplinary councils in which Mormon women have an actual vote and a calling to participate in anything more than an occasional advisory capacity by male invitation. Having a woman say a few brief remarks before a decision is made by a council composed entirely of men is not the same as having a voice.

  • Sarah, thank you for this link. I had not heard of this Exponent article and I particularly liked the way the author tied it in with Esther and this month’s VT message.

  • Jana, by all means I’ve seen nasty remarks launched from opposite fringes like the rockets’ red glare. But the overwhelming response (>90%) hasn’t been like that, at least not from what anyone could realistically call normal people.

    Unfortunately OW has attracted some fairly venomous allies who haven’t the slightest interest in the church itself, but thrill at the chance to latch onto someone else’s story to spew their brand of vitriol which they readily employ at any opportunity to do so. Their actions do a grave disservice to those who believe the church is true, but who struggle to understand why things are the way they are, and who are thus sympathetic to OW (whether or not they even AGREE with OW).

    And yes, there are the occasional immature numbskulls who believe the church is true, support its leadership, but need some WWJD 101 lessons with regard to their commentary about Kate and OW.

    All in all, however, I’ve seen more people complain about those occasional goofballs than I have seen actual demonstrations of nastiness.

    With regard to disciplinary councils, no one is denying that the decisions are made by priesthood authorities, which by default are all-male. (That said, I’m fairly certain that an all-female body of ward, stake, or general Relief Society leaders would have decided similarly.) But your actual quote was, “A woman has been silenced by a court in which no woman is permitted to have a voice.” There is a huge difference between not having a “voice” and not having a “vote.” Had Kate chosen to participate live or via video conference, she could have probably spoken until running out of breath (you know her better than I do, perhaps I underestimate her capacity to filibuster!). I’m sure that most people reading your remark would interpret it as meaning that Kate herself could not speak, which would not have been the case. To the extent that you meant to imply the participation of additional women in the process, you might have phrased it more directly that way.

    Even so, to the extent that we believe the church is organized according to the direction of Christ, our faith needs to consider that councils are guided by inspiration as well, regardless of the gender makeup.

    I pray that Kate and those who struggle with her may be endowed with a fulness of Christ’s grace, a feeling of peace that He remains at the helm and inspires His anointed leaders, and the humility to accept His plans for His people even if they may contradict our own ideas of what they should be. And as Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a personal favorite, often said, “faith in His timing.”

  • Atheist Max, since you are falsely taking quotes from characters in Jesus parables and putting them in Jesus mouth, then by the same token, those same quotes should be attributed to you. Since you wrote that, in your comment, we will write:

    “Execute them in front of me” – Atheist Max, comment on the RNS blog

  • “Feminists like me were angry that the label “court of love” could be applied to any situation in which a roomful of men could unilaterally excommunicate a woman without her even being present.”
    There is no man who is able to seperate anyone from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. If a person truly belongs to Christ, they will always belong to Christ. Romans 8:37-39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  • Atheist Max, you have to go back to the practices of the jews 3000 years ago to object to Christianity? How very weak. You have to go back 1000 years ago and take the one quote from Thomas Aquinas that offends modern sensibilities, when secular authorities of the time did much, much worse? The church has always guided people to be more merciful and just, even if they were not always merciful and just by the standards of thousands of years in the future.

  • Want to avoid shaming – quit Religion

    Atheist Max is always trying to shame by misquoting the bible. So I suppose that if he wants to quit shaming he will have to quit…..atheism.

  • Its amazing how much misinformation is spread – purposely, one assumes.
    No, she was not silenced. She can talk all she wants.
    No, she was not shut out of the meeting, she was offered a chance to join by Skype and chose not to.
    When one side lies to me about such things, it becomes clear that no one should trust that side.

  • I have not seen many who have addressed the situation of the Church leaders who excommunicated Kate Kelly. As a past bishop, I will say that no leader is anxious to convene a disciplinary council, especially one that will draw national attention. Certainly no one was out to “get” Kate Kelly. She was very well aware of the rules and could have found some less volatile ground for her concerns. That said, I feel her absence and pray that she will return. She is a good, talented woman.

    As for the vitriol coming from Latter-day Saints and others, it is proof that we are all flawed human beings and need to live our religion and ethical principles more fully. Thanks for a very wise post Jana.

  • Eric Samuelsen, retired BYU professor, says “to admit we don’t know all the answers.” Sounds like a Unitarian Universalist. He’s welcome to join us.

  • @Jefferey,

    Word games? You will lose them all with me.

    “How terrific was Jesus’ fight for the world against the Jewish poison.”
    – Jefferey…RNS comment
    repeating his full support of Adolph Hitler’s love of the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19)


    In Luke 19 – The Parable of the Minas – Jesus plays the Nobleman
    as a lesson to his followers.
    The lesson is “Obey” and “Fear” your Boss or else!


    Catholic Christ Notes – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS:







    OUR Lord Jesus is A Soldier for God

    “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”
    -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922

    ANY defense of this disgraceful, immoral
    and pathetic JESUS is 2000 years too late!

  • @Jefferey,

    The only laws which matter to humanity
    are the ones which are good for humanity, as chosen by humanity and accountable to humanity.

    God is nothing but a manmade bug in that soup.
    A lie. An infectious, insipid and arbitrary cultural delusion.

  • @Jefferey,

    “When one side lies to me … it becomes clear that no one should trust that side.”

    The world is flat – Yahweh.

  • “When one side lies to me … it becomes clear that no one should trust that side.”

    You only accept the truth? But why start now?

    “ the third hour they crucified him.” (Mark 15:25)
    “the sixth hour…they delivered him to be crucified.” (John 19:14-16)

  • @Jefferey,

    “When one side lies to me … it becomes clear that no one should trust that side.”

    Tell me! Which side do you NOT trust?

    “But Jesus..said unto them..with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26)


    “The LORD…could not drive out the inhabitants…because they had chariots of iron.” (Judges 1:19)

  • @Jefferey,

    You said, “When one side lies to me … it becomes clear that no one should trust that side.”

    This is fascinating – Tell me which side is lying;

    Jonah 1:17 says, “…Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights”

    Matt 12:40 says “…Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly…” (whales and fish are not the same.)

  • @Jefferey,

    You said, “Its amazing how much misinformation is spread – purposely, one assumes.”

    I agree, so why are you being a hypocrite? Look at all this ‘misinformation’ right here:

    Matt 13:31-32: “the kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed which…is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree.”

    There are 2 significant errors here:
    first, there are many smaller seeds than a mustard seed, like the orchid seed; and second, mustard plants don’t grow into trees. There are many species of trees which are larger than mustard plants. The Sequoia and the Douglass Firs to name two.

    The Bible is the biggest bundle of lies around.
    How dare you defend it!?

  • I also was bothered by the sentence that Kate Kelly was silenced by the church action. She wasn’t silenced. She is still free to say anything she wants to. She can no longer honestly cloak her statements as coming from a member of the church in good standing, but she can still say anything she wants to anyone who will listen.

    Honesty is important in matters like this. Saying she was silenced is not an honest characterization.

  • I Corinthians 11:29 cautions believers to not partake of the sacrament unworthily.
    It is an “act of love” to help adherents repent so that they can take the sacrament worthily.

  • Unfortunately, it’s not the only example of comments that fit into that category. (Nor, in my estimation, is it the best example of such comments.)

  • If you put Luke into the proper context, reading the parable of which your claim is made, you would see that, in context, it is the first person of the parable who demands his enemies be brought before him to be executed, not Jesus. Reading the scriptures in context always helps us understand.

  • @Allen Wyatt,

    When Jesus commanded that people be slaughtered
    who “would not have him as their King”(Luke 19:27)
    he was speaking about those Jews
    who rejected his Messianic role at the time.
    (a role he spends a lot of time denying in much of the gospels, BTW)

    Paul had not yet ‘been sent among the gentiles’ if you recall.

    To invoke Godwin’s Law
    and as such claim Hitler is irrelevant
    is wrong twice:

    1. Hitler relied on Jesus’ command of slaughtering the Jews – he and Jesus were in direct agreement that Jews needed to be killed.

    2. Hitler invoked Jesus’ hatred of those Jews as his reason for the war to rid Germany of evil. Hitler used Jesus’ as the example of the perfect Aryan soldier (Mein Kampf).

    Instead of invoking Godwin’s Law as a cop out,
    You and Jefferey ought to be buying weapons
    to kill some Jews as Jesus commanded of you.

    Or explain why your despicable Jesus didn’t really mean to provoke people like Hitler in the first place.

  • @Kelly Knight,

    The CLAIM that Jesus intended executions – is not mine.



    Catholic Christ Notes – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS:








    But the Scholars all agree

  • @Kelly Knight,

    It is despicable that you would think there could be
    some context which might render this horrific line of nonsense
    useful to civilization:


    The world has been bathed in centuries of blood for sick delusions such as yours.

    Shame on you.

  • It is not logical to assume that because Jesus was cited by Hitler, that Hitler got it right and correctly understood and interpreted Jesus’ teachings. The truth is, that Hitler, like Max, relied upon flesh based, and flawed human reason to draw incorrect conclusions as to what was being taught. It has happened for ages, and continues to happen today. Men like Hitler, Ahmadinejad, Jimmy Jones, Saddam Hussein, and even Max, first self deify, and then try to use God and religion to support their private views and desires. That is no different that what all atheists do, they first self-deify, (making their private view of things absolute truth and elevating their private human interpretations to being supreme, and then applying that false sense of Godhood, they decree things to be so that please them, but which are simply not so)

    For example, those who read Jesus words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood (John 6) could, with the week rationale and flawed methodology employed by Atheist Max, begin a cult of cannibals, but they would still be wrong, no matter how many times they cited Jesus.

    The truths of the Bible, and all scriptures, including the teachings of Jesus, can only be truly known by revelation from the perfect God, and all attempts by the spiritless, and carnally driven humans to correctly understand and apply them are as flawed as the methodologies inevitably rely upon.

  • FWJ,

    “self-deification” ?
    “Imperfect humans” cannot interpret “perfect texts”?

    That is One heckuva Dumb God you have invented.

    According to you:
    God has failed to understand that we are too stupid for his texts – but he created them specifically for us anyway!!!.
    Or we have failed to understand because God created us to be failures at understanding him.
    And, either way we are going to Hell if we don’t figure it out in time before he strikes us dead!

    How did you arrive at this knowledge?
    If your “stupidity in the face of God’s text” is part of your argument, how did you manage to understand your argument is valid?

    Furthermore, why have you not followed Jesus’ commands in the text
    if they are perfect? Why have you failed to even try?

    There is no benign way
    preachments by the man named Jesus:

    “..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their king and execute them in front of me.” – Jesus

    “drown him with a millstone” – Jesus

    “I have come not to bring peace but a sword” – Jesus

    “I have come to burn the world.. I am so impatient to bring division” – Jesus

    Prepare for battle, “If you have money, use it to buy a sword” – Jesus

    “deem them unworthy…remove your blessings of Peace.” – Jesus

    and on and on!

    Garbage. All of it.

  • @Jefferey,

    “You have to go back 1000 years ago and take the one quote from Thomas Aquinas that offends modern sensibilities….”

    Rwanda was practically yesterday. 800,000 died at the hands of Catholics (priests and nuns did much of the killing with their bare hands) in the most Catholic country in Africa.
    Pope John’s policy against condoms killed 20 Million people – despite the Pope’s full knowledge that condoms prevented AIDS.

    You have no excuse to be ignorant of that information.

    Mercy? Love? more nonsense.
    Christianity is just a parlor trick.
    JESUS plays both sides of the coin.

    “Love enemies.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:44)
    “Kill enemies.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    “Judge not…” – Jesus (Matthew 7:1)
    Judge harshly, “remove your blessings” – Jesus (Matthew 10:3)

    “Blessed are the peace makers” – Jesus (Matthew 5:9)
    “I come NOT TO BRING PEACE but a sword.” – Jesus (Matthew 10:34)

    And on and on….

    Garbage. All of it.

  • Troll. You’re sort of the atheist version of that Calvinist fellow who jumps on Mormon posts to comment irrelevantly about how Mormons believe in salvation by works. It doesn’t have anything to do with anything – and he exposes his ignorance with every sally – but he imagines himself quite the crusader. You and he have much in common.

  • @Trytoseeitmyway,

    Actually, you are completely wrong.

    Jana has had an ordeal.
    If you cared to follow all of it you would understand that some people
    in the Mormon Church (as in all other churches) use
    a baseless, hollow philosophy of religion and dogma – all of it entirely man made – to destroy people, to wreck their happiness and to push them around just for being a bit different.

    Kicking someone out of a church or a group for questioning or not believing the dogma is the most common thing that happens in religion. In fact that is what religion is for – it is tribal nonsense from a primitive age.

    You clearly DO NOT CARE about people, about Jana, or others like her who are subjected to shunning and excommunication.

    But your lack of empathy and compassion is what makes you religious. That is the delusion – that you are on God’s side.

    You are one of those who find these disgusting practices perfectly civilized.
    “I have come not to bring peace, but a sword” – Jesus

    And you are delusional. This stuff is garbage.

  • “That however is not the case as you know.”

    You’re wrong about that. This is a very kind and loving culture. It’s why all the accusations, distortions, exaggerations, mis characterizations and false claims are so hurtful. They’re unwarranted and we know they’re unwarranted, so we question the moral qualities of their authors, on the same grounds that bearing false witness against one’s neighbor was forbidden by the Decalogue.

    Your ruminations about live and absolutes barely even qualify as sophomoric. I have to believe you’ve heard of the distinction to be made between sin and the sinner. That you seem not to have understood it, even so, is worrisome. I’ll agree with you that bad ideas deserve to be opposed. Hence these remarks. The Kate Kelly controversy was and is all about what First Amendment jurisprudence refers to as “time, place and manner” restrictions. Kate Kelly (and apparently Jana Reiss) couldn’t understand how or why a deliberate refusal to respect them could be inconsistent with membership. The vast majority of members, and even a great many not of our faith, grasp that concept easily. The difference between those who do and don’t understand that neatly defines the divide about which Jana comments here.

  • You need to be clearer on what you think ought to have been done. No one should think that a member can run from church discipline, and the council in her case was the culmination of a process begun with her – and defied by her – before she distanced herself from the ward and stake in which her records were and are found. Your remarks suggest that her visit to Utah was temporary, and I’ve not read that she went to a ward there to ask a new bishop to request her records. But even if she had, it is common to place move restrictions to avoid just the kind of forum shopping you think should have been allowed as a matter of course. But forever why? It’s not as though the travel is difficult for a person of her means, and she was offered alternatives for participation. The procedural objection is just a way of ignoring the problem that she wanted to keep crossing the line even after having it very clearly and patiently drawn for her.

  • Well, I guess we can tell each other that the other is wrong endlessly, but perhaps we can agree that there would be little to be served in that process. But your critique of Christian faith in general (that it is incompatible with empathy, a quality you find in yourself abundantly) is so manifestly counterfactual that the mere statement of it (then coupled with increasingly unhinged attempts to justify it) destroys your credibility. You skip blithely past the original observation that you display classic trolling behavior, which it suppose is its own admission. By the way, trolling isn’t at all empathic; quite the reverse, actually.

  • Interestingly, those who have self-deified, continue to misinterpret texts and posts, apply flawed dichotomous reasoning, and state things that simply are not so, because, as their own ultimate source of truth, they must be right. The tragedy is that in doing so they rely upon flesh based and flawed human reasoning. Pursuit of absolute truth through the application of flawed human reasoning is “One heckuva Dumb Process” but they will persist in it, because it is all they have.

    Max has already demonstrated his inability to understand spiritual context, historical context, even topical or thematic contexts. He confounds his error here by applying dichotomous thinking, and claiming a false interpretation to what I really stated. In essence Max does to my post, what Hitler did to Christ’s teachings, and for similar reasons, it is pleasing to the carnal man and serves his private purpose.

    So to help Max out I would suggest that there are many other possible interpretations of my position than the straw man conclusions he sets up for the purpose of knocking them down. For example, a loving God who provides a way for all his children to overcome flawed human reason, and imperfect human action, and to discover the truth.

    Contrary to His self deified pronouncement, as if from Sinai “There is no benign way to interpret these CRIMINALLY IDIOTIC AND DANGEROUS preachments by the man named Jesus:”…..The fact remains that there are many such ways to understand them.

    The real garbage is one who knows nothing of God, the spirit or scripture, who then tries to interpret snippets of scriptures with his flawed and obviously biased human reason, to mean what they do not, so that he can reject them, and their author, with impunity. It may work for him, but it is still a flawed methodology!

  • I guarantee that downtown Dave belongs to a church that will withdraw membership from those who preach or act in a way that offends his church’s principles. For him to suggest anything else is dishonest.

  • dave, the excommunication process does not separate a person from Christ, it separates them from membership within the church. The church encourages excommunicants to continue praying and maintaining their relationship with Heavenly Father & Christ, so that when the repentance process is complete they can be rebaptised. The only person who can separate a person from Christ, is that person themselves.

  • While excommunications within the LDS church are uncommon, they are certainly much more frequent than the ones you read about in the paper such as Kate Kelly and the September Six. When church members are convicted of serious indictable offences, they usually are excommunicated. If it became known that a mafia leader was in the church, they would almost certainly be excommunicated unless it was clear they had left that behind them (which also includes taking whatever punishment is appropriate under the law of the land).

    Out of respect for the person involved, the LDS church does not reveal the outcomes of church discipline, and doesn’t even reveal that a disciplinary council was held. The only reason we know anything about the Kate Kelly case is because Kate Kelly made it public. The church may have excommunicated a hundred mafia bosses in the last month, but we will never know, because the only people who will be aware of the outcome are the person involved, their direct ecclesiastical leaders, and the people in church offices who process the records, all of whom are supposed to keep these things confidential.

    When looking at the Kate Kelly case, remember that everything we know about it, has come from her. We do not know, and never will know, the deliberations that her Bishop and his counsellors went through to reach the decision of excommunication. We do not know and never will know exactly what discussions were held with her, prior to the Bishop’s decision to proceed with a disciplinary council. We do not know and never will know, exactly why the Bishop placed a move restriction on her records. It must be remembered that everything that is public knowledge has her slant on it. A kangaroo court is being held against the church in the blogosphere and in the press, but only based on the accusers testimony. The church is unable to defend itself any more than issuing broad statements of the principles involved. To do anymore would breach the confidentiality that the church values and grants to all, even if Kate Kelly doesn’t value it. One of the few things we do know (from the information Kate Kelly has released), is that it took the Bishop and his counsellors quite some time to reach a conclusion. From my experience having served on a few bishoprics, that would mean those men gave it considerable discussion & thought, as well as a considerable amount of prayer and fasting before they reached their conclusion. We can be confident this was not a decision that they took lightly.

  • To be clear, Kate Kelly was NOT excommunicated because she believes women should be ordained. The excommunication was because of the methods she was pursuing to achieve her aim. Deliberate protests, press releases etc, were all part of sowing seeds of discontent with the aim of embarrassing the church and bullying it into submission to her will. Even her public release of the intention to hold a disciplinary council was done in such a way as to cause harm and embarrassment to the church to attempt to bully it into submission. And based on her modus operandi, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if moving to Utah just prior to the DC, and forcing it to be held in her absence was another attempt at deliberate bullying of the church. It is quite ok to have a different understanding of the gospel than the orthodox church doctrine – I have a few beliefs that would be considered unorthodox, perhaps even heretical too. But it is quite another to use bullying tactics to try to enforce those views onto the church.

    If she truly does love the church as much as she professes, I hope that she does move onward, and humbles herself before Christ and returns to the church. She definitely has talents, which if directed toward the building up of the kingdom rather than tearing it down, could be a great asset to the church.

    At the end of the day it comes down to this – If you believe God leads the church, accept that he leads it on his terms, and if change is to come it will come when he wants it to. That doesn’t mean that if you think there is something wrong with the church as it is, that you just sit back and keep your mouth shut, it just means that you follow the established order of politely requesting the brethren petition the Lord. You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Alternatively, if you believe the church is not led by God, but is led by a group of old men in Utah, then may I respectfully suggest that you instead seek out a church that you do believe is led by God, even if that means creating it yourself.

  • @Trytoseeitmyway,

    You demonstrate that you are unhinged from empathy and compassion and have not considered the true meaning of either of those ideas.

    A troll is merely argumentative. I am no troll.
    Religion is toxic and what Jana is writing about is directly relevant to this matter.

    Religion demands shunning and excommunication
    in order for its ridiculous philosophy to function. The religious club must constantly organize against ‘out-groups’ to prevent distillation of its core principals – all of which are founded on nonsense!

    Love is trust, openness, empathy and compassion.
    Love is earned.

    Religion is not that!
    Religion says you must be compelled to LOVE that which you are also enjoined to FEAR

    This is not love. It is a sickness.
    It is Stockholm syndrome.
    Religion is sadomasochism.

  • There is a lot of misinformation being spread about this topic (and Mormons in general). A extremely small minority of LDS members were pushing to ordain women to the priesthood.

    When a member clearly goes against what the church believes, most of the time they stop going to church and sometimes request their membership to be removed. In rare cases a member like Kate Kelly goes against the church and wants to remain a member with full privileges. In those cases, when they refuse to repent and change their rebellious attitude toward the church their membership is revoked (excommunicated). The outcome is not at all surprising. It would be very surprising if the LDS church allowed her to vocally and continuously rebel against the church and remain a member.

  • I understand that Kate Kelly said she could not travel to the hearing of her bishopric, and that she also declined to participate via a Skype video call (something that many people do every day in their work). She did send many pages of information expressing her viewpoint, which was reviewed by the members of the bishopric (according to the letter which Ms. Kelly released). So her voice not being “heard” during the hearing was her choice, and it did not mean that she did not get to say what she wanted to say. I suspect that her failure to take the opportunity to speak to them live via Skype was an attempt to dramatize her decision to not attend, which makes no sense in this time when we make routine use of internet videoconferencing. Since she is an attorney, I am certain she must use skype and similar systems on a recurring basis. Don’t you think it is likely she used Skype or similar systems to conduct meetings with other Ordain Women leaders? If she has an iPhone, video calls are a standard feature.

    Jana, you have been a member long enough to know that any person invited to a Church disciplinary hearing is givena full opportunity to attend during the presentation of information, and to ask questions and offer an oral statement.

    Complaining that her bishopric is all male, and therefore cannot “judge” Ms. Kelly’s actions as a Church member, is on its face a sexist remark. You are saying that men are collectively too stupid or too evil to carry out such a task.

    The task of evaluating a member’s actions against Church standards has nothing to do with whether the member is male or female. The same standards apply to all members of the Church.

    Your criticism would also seem to criticize any female judge who passes judgment on a man in a civil or criminal hearing.

    Are you asserting that there should be a different standard of behavior for female Church members than for males? How is that consistent with “equality of the sexes”?

    You know very well that men who insist on teaching other members that the leaders of the church are signficantly misleading them, will be considered for cancellation of their membership on the same basis as a woman who does that.

    The most significant thing for you is whether you blame your own bishop for what has happened to Ms. Kelly. It sounds like you are saying that your own bishop has no real authority to make decisions on any woman’s membership, just because he is a man. It may be that your particular bishop is a jerk, but I would guess that he is more likely to be someone who is humbly trying to do the best he can with the heavy burden of helping the members in his ward, all in the time he can spare from earning a living and raising his own family, and is looking forward to the day a few years from now when he can hand off that burden to someone else in the ward. Are you really ready (and qualified) to pass judgment on the integrity and goodwill of Ms. Kelly’s bishop?

  • @ Doug “The excommunication was because of the methods she was pursuing to achieve her aim. Deliberate protests, press releases etc, were all part of sowing seeds of discontent with the aim of embarrassing the church”

    That’s another way that the Council and Mormon church is going against Christ’s teachings. The Mormon church and its counsel are behaving like those that persecuted, condemned and crucified Christ. The Mormon church and its counsel worship hierarchy and dogma; it’s the type of thing that Christ protested against. If Christ was here in physical form today, I wouldn’t be surprised if he would be shunned by the Mormon Council and the Mormon church.

    The Mormon church and its counsel are being heretics, hypocrites and pharisees.

  • Mormonism is a false religion. It goes against Christ’s teachings. It’s doctrine is not true.

    The church is wrong for discriminating against women and the disabled. The church is using the Lord’s name in vain to bear false witness, like claiming it doesn’t discriminate. The fact is that it does discriminate and is hateful.

    It’s horrible that it is so trigger happy to excommunicate Kate, yet it gives free passes to bishops and missionaries and other leadership that go against Christ’s teachings.

    Mormons have many good teachings and many have a good walk; but they are just as screwed up as other churches and faiths. It is not a “true” church, and it’s doctrine is not “true”.