Saturday, April 30, 2016

More on Excommunication

It has not been my initial intention to flood the month of April with posts about excommunication. As Simone de Beauvoir stated in her book The Second Sex (although her subject there was feminism) the subject is boring and repeatedly talked about. This is not to say that those who are being excommunicated are not important people and that we should not listen to what they have to say; certainly we should. But I am just pointing out to my readers that I much prefer to talk about matters relating to philosophy, science, and other areas.

However, after learning something yesterday, I was compelled to write upon the subject again. While I will not reveal names, a friend mentioned to me through Facebook messenger that a mutual friend of ours had two drastic things occur in his life recently: 1. His son had been sent home from his mission (reason was undisclosed) and 2. He has received a summons to a disciplinary council. While the reason was nut fully disclosed to me, given what I know of this friends interactions with his stake president, it is likely do to his vocal support for former LDS member Denver Snuffer. For those who do not know, Denver Snuffer is a lawyer and author who has written books such as The Second Comforter and Passing the Heavenly Gift. He was excommunicated from the LDS Church in September of 2013 for the latter book, which talks about how the Church has evolved from the time of Joseph Smith. Unlike Jeremy Runnells however, Denver Snuffer remains a believer in the Restoration, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

The purpose of this post is to show how both the people involved in courts and those associated with those involved should act and react to a summoning. First, remember that while a disciplinary council may be called, there may not be disciplinary action taken. A council means that a hearing will happen before a decision is made; that is all. I do acknowledge that at times a decision was already made before a council occurred, but I do not believe one is entitled to infer that this happens in every case.

Second, on the part of those being summoned. This is a time to analyze what you believe and what you do not believe. Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, do you believe that priesthood is active in the church, do you believe that at times priesthood leaders can receive inspiration, etc. If you believe in some or most of the central tenets of the church, then it may be worthwhile to go and state your case to a council. If you are more in line with people like Jeremy Runnells and John Dehlin, it would be more courteous and useful to merely resign and not go to a council. Why waste their time and your time?

Thirdly and finally, those associated with those being disciplined. Remember that their are two sides to every story and we are only going to hear one side. There may be things that a person does not mention to make themselves look more innocent than they in fact are, or they may be telling the whole truth. Regardless, our reaction to the councils and outcomes will need to rely on the amount of faith we have in priesthood leaders and their judgement. It is important to note that Jesus of Nazareth, not a priesthood leader will be the final judge (2 Nephi 9:41). If a mistake has been made, he will remedy it in the end. I am grateful that he, not a priesthood council, will be the final judge because he is far more merciful than they will be.


  1. While I don't necessarily disagree with your suggestions, I think you fail to consider something significant; the social and family ramifications of excommunication. Especially in the Mormon corridor, being excommunicated from the LDS church is extremely socially damaging and often causes family rifts that may never heal. All this for what is undeniably an arbitrary and subjective process. As is deciding "if you believe in some or most of the central tenets [sic] of the church." Who determines "central?" What is belief? Most? For that matter, what is a tenant?

  2. A tenant is a person who occupies land or property rented from a landlord.

    1. Sorry for the typo; thanks for catching that.