The Church issued this statement:
SALT LAKE CITY —
Holding a disciplinary council for a member of the Church is not something that any local leader takes lightly. Such councils are always held in private, and the member is always invited to be a part of that discussion. The decision as to whether to hold a disciplinary council, when and for what reasons rests with the local leader who knows the individual best. Local leaders operate under general principles and guidelines of the Church.
Such councils are always far better when all involved respect the principle of confidentiality. At the very least, this principle helps those members who wish to return to full fellowship at a later date. When the member has chosen to air their grievances in public, the Church reserves the right to correct the public record. In this case, attempts have been made to create the impression that the disciplinary council convened on Sunday, February 8, 2015, and which has resulted in a loss of Church membership or excommunication of Mr. Dehlin arose largely because of his views on same-sex marriage and priesthood ordination for women. Although his stated positions on those subjects are not consistent with the Church’s teachings, they were not cited in the local leader’s letter delivered to Mr. Dehlin on February 9, which spelled out the reasons for the local council’s unanimous decision, as follows:
Disputing the nature of our Heavenly Father and the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Statements that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are fraudulent and works of fiction.
Statements and teachings that reject The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as being the true Church with power and authority from God.
In his letter the local leader stated, “I want you to know, Brother Dehlin, that this action was not taken against you because you have doubts or because you were asking questions about Church doctrine. I also want you to know that I acknowledge your right to criticize the Church and its doctrines and to try to persuade others to your cause. Our Heavenly Father has given us moral agency to decide how we will live our lives, and cherished free speech rights in this country allow you to openly state your opinions. But you do not have the right to remain a member of the Church in good standing while openly and publicly trying to convince others that Church teachings are in error.”
View local leader’s letter courtesy of the Deseret News
Church discipline is not designed to be the end of the process, but the beginning of the road back to full fellowship. One who leaves the Church is always welcome to attend weekly worship services and is always welcome to return to Church membership through the grace and Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Of all the silly arguments made by supporters of John Dehlin and Kate Kelly, the silliest of all is that they are doing something “brave.” If you do a search for “John Dehlin brave” or “Kate Kelly brave” you will encounter dozens of sycophantic followers claiming they are “brave” for standing up to the Church.
There is nothing courageous about it. In fact, contradicting the Church in this day and age is so certain to please the crowds that even the basest coward can do it.
Elite media have turned Dehlin and Kelly into heroes. Nothing would be known about their disciplinary councils if Dehlin and Kelly didn’t immediately run to the press to let them know because the Church does not release details on such councils. Dehlin and Kelly, however, emit press releases and try to turn private, sacred events into circuses by ginning up public support. In Kelly’s case, it involved protesting General Conference. For Dehlin, it is an attempt to ask his supporters to hold a “vigil” at a stake center during his disciplinary council.
Since when it is “brave” to take actions certain to be applauded by the mainstream media and supported by crowds of people?
The truly brave people are those who do what is right even when the crowd disapproves. Today, that means maintaining God’s standards even in the face of overwhelming public disapproval. For example, here is a brave man:
“Our doctrine—not just belief, but doctrine—that sexual relations are only appropriate and lawful in the Lord’s eyes between man and woman legally and lawfully married is unchanged and will never change.” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve
It is a certainty that maintaining such a position will become increasingly unpopular in the coming years, and Church leaders will not cave and will indeed be courageous.
Tucked away in this sympathetic article about John Dehlin are details about his post-Church discipline plan: starting his own church for people “transitioning away from Mormonism.”
From the article:
Whatever the outcome, Dehlin plans to capitalize on the momentum.
In a year-end podcast, the charismatic host promised even more support for those “transitioning away from Mormonism,” including interviews, podcasts, websites, workshops, radio/TV programs, books and more academic research. He offered to help listeners create “Cyber Wards” of like-minded friends and is opening his private counseling practice to help “progressive and post-Mormons.”
The article points out that Dehlin made $90,000 per year in 2013 and that his donations are up since then, so he is doing well financially.
The Book of Mormon appears more and more prophetic. Here is what 2 Nephi 26:29-31 says about priestcraft:
29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.
31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.
Thus are the scriptures fulfilled before our eyes.
This story reports about a conservative Oklahoma politician, an Assemblies of God pastor, who has introduced a bill that would end government marriage licenses. Marriages certificates would be signed by a religious official and then filed with the county clerk. For nonreligious marriages, people would file affidavits of common law marriage.
Here are more details:
The Cordell Republican says he wants to protect court clerks from having to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He doesn’t want these workers put in the position of having to condone or facilitate same-sex marriage.
Under his plan, a religious official would sign a couple’s marriage certificate, which would then be filed with the clerk. Marriages would no longer be performed by judges. If a couple did not have a religious official to preside over their wedding, they could file an affidavit of common law marriage.
“Marriages are not supposed to be a government thing anyway,” he said Wednesday.
Russ, a credentialed Assemblies of God minister, is upset with rulings that have supported same-sex marriage.
“There’s a lot of constituents and people across the state who are not through pushing back on the federal government for the slam down they’ve given us with Supreme Court rulings,” he said.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Oklahoma in October. That’s when the high court declined to review a federal court decision striking down a voter-approved ban on the practice.
My quick thoughts: this proposal does not “get government out of the marriage business.” Marriages must still be filed with the government. Would this plan help protect marriage as an institution or not? I don’t know if it would have much effect at all except on county clerks.
Any thoughts from M* readers?
It is worth reminding ourselves that when somebody is brought up for Church discipline, we are only hearing one side of the story. The Church does not discuss reasons for discipline because of the charitable policy of personal privacy. Only people looking for publicity with an aim to embarrass the Church will make disciplinary councils public. So, if you have heard about the impending Church discipline against John Dehlin it is because he publicized it (with a press release, no less!).
Very often, we do not see the Church’s side of the discussion. So in the interest of fair disclosure, I would like to draw your attention to this post, which actually cites the reasons for John Dehlin’s possible excommunication. (Reminder: John Dehlin has not been disciplined yet. His council will reportedly be held on Jan. 25).
They are (in summarized form):
1. Promoting atheism/agnosticism.
2. Denying or doubting the divinity of Jesus and the reality of the Atonement.
3. Denying the Restoration of the Gospel.
4. Denying the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
5. Denying the inspired calling of Church leaders.
6. Being ordained a minister in another faith.
That last one really is a doozy. Does anybody reasonably expect that you can remain a member of the LDS faith when you have been ordained a minister of another faith?