Mormon Church Threatens Activists With Excommunication

Image: Mormon Church Threatens Activists With Excommunication Kate Kelly, founder of "Ordain Women", holds two tickets to the all-male priesthood session at the 184th annual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on April 5 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 07:17 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints face excommunication for taking theological positions at odds with church doctrine, The New York Times reported.

Attorney Kate Kelly has been lobbying Mormons to ordain women as priests while John Dehlin, a doctoral student in psychology, has been publishing "Mormon Stories," a website that challenges Mormon dogma including on homosexuality.

Dehlin writes on his popular website that he wants to constructively challenge Mormonism from within. He said it was "heart-wrenching" to have to tell his family that the church he loved was putting him on trial for apostasy. Dehlin acknowledged that his positions "certainly led" the church to make the move and asked residents of his "very conservative Mormon town" not to stigmatize his wife and children over his activities.

Dehlin was notified by the regional head of his church that he should either leave or face disciplinary action over "recent statements and actions regarding this church and your place in it."

Dehlin acknowledges his religious doubts but says he still considers himself to be a Mormon.

Kelly runs the Ordain Women website which demands that the church end its male-only priesthood policy. Her local bishop informed her that she needs to close down the site and repent for "openly, repeatedly, and deliberately acting in public opposition to the church and its leaders" or face excommunication for apostasy.

Kelly said she was heartbroken. "What you're asking me to do," she told the bishop "is to live inauthentically, and that's not something I'm willing to do," the Times reported.

She wrote that excommunication was "akin to spiritual death" in the Mormon church, but that she would not backtrack on her advocacy of "gender equality."

The church has lately sought to present itself as open and inclusive launching an "I'm a Mormon" advertising campaign, according to the Times.

A statement from the church said Mormons could ask "questions" but when "members' actions contradict Church doctrine and lead others astray" by publicly attempting to change doctrine, local leaders may pursue disciplinary action.

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