source: The New York Times
Kate Kelly is a Mormon, and a human rights lawyer; she founded the Ordain the Women movement to push for women to be allowed to become ministers within the Mormon Church. John Dehlin created an online forum for Mormons and, as a doctoral candidate in psychology, published into the issues faced by openly gay church members; he wants the Mormon Church to embrace its gay members.
So, what do these two folks have in common? Well, because of their ‘radical’ ideas, they have been notified by the Mormon Church that they face excommunication for apostasy.
Yup, they are being threatened with being kicked out for their beliefs; and if it happens, it will mark the first time in twenty-one years that the Mormon Church excommunicated members for trying to bring the church into the present. In 1993, the Latter-day Saints [LDS] ejected a handful of members dubbed the “September Six” — members who published scholarly work against Mormon doctrine or criticized LDS leadership.
This latest move by the Church seems a surprise, as it comes at a time when it appears the LDS is ready to change the course of their rigid anti-gay, anti-women doctrine. They even released a new ad campaign, “I’m a Mormon”, which features people of all colors, and even some Mormons who identify as feminist, gay or liberal. Of course, these are the same Mormons that, until 1978, excluded many of their black members from the priesthood. Now, they are coming down strong against Kelly Dehlin, saying:
“Local leaders have the responsibility to clarify false teachings and prevent other members from being misled. Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by church headquarters.”
Dehlin was sent a letter by the president of his stake, or church region, whom he has never met, asking him to either resign from the church or face a disciplinary hearing. The letter also said, “Because of the love I have for you, I have become concerned about some of your recent statements and actions regarding this church and your place in it.”
Because of the love I have for you, I am asking you to keep quiet or be kicked out of the church, is what the letter is really saying.
Dehlin considers himself a true Mormon, and loves the church, but has always questioned the exclusion of gays and lesbians. His “Mormon Stories” website is aimed at Mormons who question their faith and it is because of the site’s popularity that he is being threatened with excommunication.
“Mormon Stories has always been about administering to those who have doubt and have hard questions. And I think Kate is doing the same thing. … I worry that the church is kind of shooting the messenger,” he said. “They’re shooting the people who are trying to help and be part of the solution.” — John Dehlin
The Ordain Women movement, organized last year by Kelly, clearly agitated LDS leaders by mobilizing protesters to travel to Salt Lake City during the LDS’ annual conference, in order to stand in line and be turned away from entering the male-only priesthood meeting. A demonstration in March drew 500 protestors who carried “proxy cards” signed by 400 additional supporters, but, still, the idea of female priests does not have broad support, even from Mormon women who say they are concerned about inequality and gender issues in the church.
Still, because of her organization, and her questioning leaders, Kelly received her excommunication threat earlier this month from her local bishop in Virginia informing her that she faced “disfellowshipment … on the grounds of apostasy [rejecting the revelations and ordinances of God, changing the gospel of Jesus Christ, or rebelling against the commandments of God].” She has also been called to a disciplinary council hearing later this month.
Kelly’s stake president also wrote her to say that if she did not shut down the website, dissociate herself from it and repent, she faced excommunication for “openly, repeatedly and deliberately acting in public opposition to the church and its leaders after having been counseled not to do so.”
Kicked out because she believes women should be ordained in the church.
So, while the Mormon Church plays this role, in media campaigns, of being more open, and perhaps ready to be inclusive of the LGBT community in the church, they are telling two members working for inclusion that they will be excluded if they don’t stop.
Excluded for working towards inclusion; it doesn’t get more hypocritical that that.