By now, many of you will have heard that John Dehlin and, separately, Kate Kelly of the Ordain Women organization have been asked to appear before Church disciplinary councils within the next couple of weeks or so on charges of apostasy. You’ve heard it, I think, because they or their supporters very likely went to the national media with the news.
I’ve been asked by several people to comment on this matter.
So I offer some brief thoughts here. I may have more to say later, or I may not.
In certain quarters, it’s actually been suggested that what’s happening is, to some degree or another, my doing — or, at least, that I’m giddy with delight at the news.
Let me start, very quickly, by flatly denying the insinuation that I’m involved in this: I have never advised any Church leader with regard to either John Dehlin or Kate Kelly, nor expressed any opinion to any Church officer about how they should be treated. I’ve had no contact whatsoever with their local leaders. I have no stewardship over either of them, and do not feel it my place to interfere or seek to influence those who bear such responsibility. Stories of my alleged meddling in the earlier excommunications of certain others are out there on the Web, but they, too, are entirely untrue.
I’ve scarcely followed Sister Kelly’s activities at all, and haven’t had much to say about them other than observing here on this blog that I really don’t like public agitation by members seeking to affect Church policies or teachings. I never have.
John Dehlin and I have crossed paths from time to time. Among other things, The Interpreter Foundation, which I chair, posted Dr. Greg Smith’s two essays about Brother Dehlin’s public activities and comments, and Brother Dehlin has claimed credit for my ouster from the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, whose “new course,” since then, he has publicly praised. However, despite our deep and fundamental disagreements, our few personal encounters have always been polite, even cordial. I wish him no ill and have never sought to do him harm.
Nor do I take any pleasure at all in potential Church discipline with regard to anybody, including Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. Contrary to the claims of some, I haven’t been celebrating this news with anyone.
I recognize and believe in the right of the Church to determine the bounds of acceptable behavior and teaching among its members, and to excommunicate those who choose not to accept those boundaries. The Church is a voluntary association, and that works both ways.
I’m sorrowful when anybody leaves the Church. I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the unique repository on earth for the fullness of the gospel, the authority of the priesthood, and the ordinances required for salvation and exaltation. I hate to see anybody cut himself or herself off from those things.. However, in most if not all cases, those who are excommunicated for apostasy have already left the Church. In a very real sense, the decision of a disciplinary council to excommunicate such persons merely certifies that the departure has occurred.
That said, I offer no public prediction as to the verdict that will be reached in these particular impending disciplinary councils. That’s not my province, and it would be extremely inappropriate for me to do so. Those entrusted with keeping watch over the Church, its duly ordained leaders, will make the decision, and I have had no contact with them regarding these cases. Nor do I seek any.
I wish the best to all concerned.
Posted from Orlando, Florida