MSWR: Church Courts Edition

By June 22, 2014

After a few weeks’ hiatus, we’re back and better than ever! Let’s go:

In case you don’t have Facebook/Twitter/receive a newspaper/talk to Mormons for any length of time, two high-profile Mormons (Kate Kelly and John Dehlin) are facing church discipline for “apostasy.” Here’s the most noteworthy articles on the subject:

First: A Guide to Excommunication in different religions.

LDS Church Responses

1 “Actions to address a person’s membership and standing in their congregation are convened after lengthy periods of counseling and encouragement to reconsider behavior. Ultimately, the door is always open for people to return to the Church.”

2 At the heart of the conversation are matters of faith and doctrine. We believe these doctrines are given to us by God in simple ways: through scripture and through living prophets and apostles. If our personal goals go beyond what has been provided from those sources, we must ask ourselves whether we are we trying to change His Church to match our own perspective.

JIers weigh in after recounting a history of women’s excommunication in Mormonism.

Although the case of Kate Kelly is different from the ERA or the excommunications of 1993 in its particulars, it has brought many Mormon historians, scholars, and believers back to those moments. To many, Kelly’s case seems to be just another casualty in a long line of men and women who have been disciplined by the church for their feminist activism.


Kelly and Dehlin talk to RadioWest

Ally Isom (LDS Church PR Spokeswoman) speaks to RadioWest the next day

Perspectives on the Church Courts (5 parts)

Newspaper Articles

Kate Kelly writes for The Guardian

                Religious women with concerns about gender inequality, like myself, are faithful people, yet we have earnest questions. Our voices speak words of concern with love. Far from being censured, the valid questions we are asking should be taken seriously at the highest levels of our institutions, no matter what creed or faith. After all, women make up at least one half of all church membership worldwide.

Kate Kelly shares part of her letter to her local leaders with the Salt Lake Tribune.

“I have been asking tough, sincere questions and speaking my mind since I was knee-high,” she writes. “I couldn’t stop asking them then, and I can’t stop asking them now.”

New York Times 1

From California to Virginia and states in between, more than a dozen Mormons interviewed in the past week said they had recently been informed by their bishops that they faced excommunication or risked losing permission to enter a temple because of comments they had made online about their faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

New York Times 2

The excommunication moves may have been foreshadowed last month in an open letter from Michael Otterson, managing director of the church’s public affairs office. He wrote that ordaining women would mean “radically redefining how Jesus structured His church,” and that church officials would not engage with those “who make nonnegotiable demands” that are “suggestive of apostasy.”

Washington Post

But can Mormonism and its top leaders—most of whom are old enough to have heard family members tell stories of trials and tribulation—finally release the memory of persecutions long past? Can they abandon once and for all the institutional paranoia that sees apostasy in dissent and brands those who disagree with church leaders as anti-Mormon? 

Wall Street Journal (by friend of JI, John Turner)

However cruel or inexplicable the pending excommunications may seem to reformers and outsiders, most Latter-day Saints understand those values of cohesion and obedience not as repression, but as a source of Mormon strength.

Salt Lake Tribune Op-Eds

1 How Ordain Women Gets It Wrong

2 Mormon PR Statement Doesn’t Match Facts

September Six Articles

Discussion of the September Six from the Trib

Lavina Fielding Anderson on her experience as a member of the September Six

Last, but not least, an article on how Mormons have adapted over time, including comments from Clayton Christensen about Mormons and gay marriage:

“Our understanding of God, and our relation to him, and questions like same-sex attraction and marriage, we’re somewhere between here and there….” 

Kate Kelly’s disciplinary council is scheduled for today. We anxiously await any news.

Article filed under Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup


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