The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Friday that suggestions by a Florida man that he is being excommunicated by the church for writing negative articles about Mitt Romney are “patently false.”
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy denied that David Twede, who is described in The Daily Beast as “a scientist, novelist and fifth-generation Mormon,” is facing church discipline “for having questions or for expressing a political view.”
“The church is an advocate of individual choice,” Purdy said. “It is a core tenet of our faith. Church discipline becomes necessary only in those rare occasions when an individual’s actions cannot be ignored while they claim to be in good standing with the church.
“Every organization, whether religious or secular, must be able to define where its boundaries begin and end,” Purdy added.
The Orlando Sentinel reported Friday that Twede “has been summoned to appear before the disciplinary council of (the LDS Church) in Orlando on Sept. 30, when he could face ‘disfellowshipment or excommunication.’”
According to a letter posted on his blog, Twede is “reported to have been in apostasy,” which the Sentinel describes as “an offense in which a member attempts to lead people away from church teachings.”
Which is precisely what Scott Gordon, president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR), an LDS-oriented study and research organization, thinks Twede has been doing on the blog for which he is editor.
“I believe their goal is to help people leave the LDS Church,” said Gordon, who, along with some of his FAIR colleagues, has examined the blog. “They want to present evidence in such a fashion as to lead people away from the church. (They) will do anything they can to try and embarrass the church.”
Referring to the current situation with Twede, he added: “This is just an opportunity for them.”
The Sentinel reported that Twede, who identifies himself as “agnostic, a doubter,” said “he had been a ‘less active to non-practicing’ church member” until he began editing the blog two months ago. At that time, “he said he returned to services to gain the perspective of practicing church members.” On his blog Twede wrote that he also returned to church to “increase credibility – that an attending Mormon is actually one of the essential staff” of the blog.
LDS leaders will not comment on the specifics of the disciplinary council because “church disciplinary matters are confidential,” Purdy said.
“While some may want to make their version of an issue public, the church will not discuss the private lives of individuals,” he continued. “To do so would be a betrayal of confidences and would affect others besides the person facing discipline.”
Purdy also pointed out that “these matters are handled by local church leaders and are done in an attitude of love and caring. There are a number of possible outcomes to a church disciplinary proceeding, only one of which is excommunication, which would be the most severe and least common result.
“However,” he concluded, “regardless of the determined course of action, the goal is to help an individual put his or her life in order by providing all of the support we can offer.”