Those who are excommunicated have their lives changed. On the one hand, they
are shunned by the Mormon community because it is thought the reason they were
excommunicated is because of sin. On the other hand, they immediately gain an
11% increase in salary and end up living better lives.
I respect those who have been involved in LDS Church disciplinary councils who
point out that sometimes personalities get in the way. I trust that that has
happened as the commenters have described, but in the LDS councils I sat in,
nothing remotely like that occurred. The article was excellent. My
frustrations came after reading some of the comments to the article by critics
of the Church who have no first-hand experience with the councils that the
article talks about, yet who speculate as though they have first-hand knowledge.
Respect for things one does not understand requires a high level of maturity
that many of us (me sometimes included) need to put more effort toward
Here is my story with the church disciplinary council: I was born
and raised in the church. I am an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. When I was 12 years old my primary abuser went on a mission for the
church. At the age of 14 he came back into my life and approached me. I told
him it was wrong and the abuse stopped. Next thing I knew, my mom
told me I needed to go talk to the bishop. I walked into the bishop's
office and I was told that I had things I needed to repent of and the
disciplinary council had decided that I would be on formal probation until I
repented. I was handed a copy of 'The Miracle of Forgiveness' and
sent on my way. I spent the next 10 years on a path of destruction,
fueled by the guilt and shame I was feeling.After working with an
awesome therapist (non LDS) for the last 5 years, I can finally say the abuse
was not my fault and I will not repent for something I couldn't control.
This article provides a set of wonderful examples that serve to highlight the
dramatic contrast between what disciplinary councils should be--a venue for
confession and repentance of sin (usually grievous sexual sin like adultery,
rape, pedophilia, or pornography addiction)---and what occurred last Sunday to
Kate Kelly when she was excommunicated in absentia despite being a devoted and
faithful Mormon woman and by men who would never see her again.
It is only the brave, who are humble and contrite in heart in which their
conscience is expose to sorrow open their mouth to speak out not minding what
FATHER Will decide for their action. Those who regret their actions FATHER weep
for them and embrace them either directly or through their leaders. I love
FATHER.HIS decision is final.
@Left Field,If this article does not meet the "full rigor of
journalistic standards" because it does not describe the experiences of
those who did not want to be invited to participate in a council, by that same
argument, none of the stories that you have read about this whole situation
would meet those standards. I have yet to see any of the articles in national
media describe anyone who had a positive experience with a disciplinary council.
So, where would you like to place the rest of those stories since they
don't belong in a newspaper either?
Thanks DN for printing this article...I agree with the majority who have posted
comments. I have witnessed a few people who have gone through this experience.
Those who chose to be humble and repentant were the ones who really grew and
were stronger. Those who chose to be proudful and arrogant were the ones who
went on and made public display and tried to bring attention to themselves. The
first of these two are happier...so I believe!
As a Church leader I was involved in the excommunication of a Brother in the
Gospel. Years later I ran into him... and with tears in his eyes he gave me a
big hug and thanked me for having taken that action. He said it totally changed
his life. He eventually was re-baptized and had his blessings restored. He
married in the Temple and was serving as a Counselor in a Bishopric. That
brought great joy to my heart. And it made me realize how blessed we are to have
the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, which teaches us to uphold
God's standards. It ultimately helps us greatly to pass the all-important
test of mortality.
Excellent article. Very insightful, and provides a rare insight into how Church
councils work. I had a close relative that was excommunicated, but who repented
and is now serving as part of his ward's bishopric.It is an
unfortunate necessity that those who engage in apostate actions be removed from
Church membership. To allow someone who openly engages in immoral or illegal
activities, or openly opposes Church leadership, to stand as worthy members
would be tacit approval of their actions.
When converting to this church I found out that historically there were things
that people said about this church that was either incorrect or skewed.
I'm hoping this is the case with O.W., that perhaps there is more than what
is in the news. My daughter and I have been discussing this issue/case this
evening. She hears from members and non-members and the non-members have not
seen the church in a favorable light regarding this issue. Those outside of the
church do not understand the way the church is run. So, when those outside of
the church read of the church actions they see them as being archaic, and
perhaps more importantly threatening to its members for speaking out. To some
degree it may frighten actual members and stop them from expressing their
thoughts and feelings. I can certainly understand removing the right to enter
the Temple, because you take on certain covenants, but excommunication I just
think in this case is out of order.
@ Sparrow, I think you misunderstood me or at the least I was
unclear. I was not commenting directly on whether anyone in O.W. was sinning.
I do not want to judge them. I couldn't possibly do so fairly for several
reasons. I was merely responding to Patriot Jim's statement/ (query?)
about Chapter and Verse where God or Jesus gives someone...
It will now be interesting to see which of her disciples will admit that they
support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings
or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints?
@Patriot Jim re. "Will someone please quote me Chapter and Verse where God
or Jesus gives someone else the power to interfere with your efforts to obtain
Eternal Life."Matthew 16:19.
@HamathMosiah 26 states they were led into sin by unbelievers. The
O.W. are not sinning they are asking for change, they are asking for the women
to be allowed to hold the office of the Priesthood. The women of the church,
as a majority, do not want this, and therefore are not being led into wanting
this change. This is not an issue of, "sin," it is an issue of these
women being unable to hear or listen to the voice of the women in the church.
People can are are led into sin, from people within and outside of the church.
I think that the lines are getting blurred and so are the issues.
I'm a convert to the church as of 2005. I've read the scriptures that
were quoted in this article and I don't get the connection. The first
three had nothing to do with any formal church discipline. The last one had to
do with obvious sins. I understand the need for repentance and some form of
discipline for egregious sin/s. However, I don't understand any form of
repentance for something that is not considered a sin. Disagreeing with church
culture, or traditions is not a sin. (There were female prophets during the Old
Testament times, which can lead one to believe that women held some form of the
Priesthood. We all know the Bible isn't complete, so it is possible.)
Women, at this time, do not want to hold the priesthood. So, I feel the OW,
should drop their quest. Ultimately, I do not see this as a cause for action on
the part of the church.
@The Deuce:Alfred, so what if God did show up and asked you what you have
been doing since he explained everything through his prophets..."Which prophets? Muhammad... who instructs on the proper method of
subduing/mistreating women?"Do you really want to have that
conversation or do you want to take the time to discover for yourself where and
what the truth is."The 'truth' is different for
different people."Doesn't take much development or work on
ones part if God showed up every time you had a question."Did
your dad help you with spelling and math? And how about social skills? Did he
counsel you on that?I'm just saying homosapiens would fair
better if the Creator would show up more often and personally lead the way."Maybe you need to start looking for the answers first and take some
time to ask God yourself."Baptists, Muslims, Episcopalians,
etc... likely do just that. And the answer to each appears different. Seems
God doesn't care much. Either that or He needs a better communication
medium. Perhaps phones. Or... texting. But not while driving.
From my father (who, properly, never shared specifics), I know that Church
disciplinary councils can be motivated by deep Christian love, and can be a
vital part of repentance and reconciliation.But is it possible that
not all disciplinary councils -- or the purposes for which they are used -- are
created equal?It is one thing for a penitent to come before a
disciplinary council after committing a sin of the flesh, and being pricked in
his conscience to repent. It is another thing when a person is brought before a
council *because* of what he perceives (rightly or wrongly) to be the dictates
of his conscience. There is an element of compulsion in the latter that is not
there in the former circumstance. Also, what message does it send
when a person who acts according to his conscience -- even if he is mistaken --
is subjected to the same discipline as an adulterer, suggesting that what he has
done is comparably immoral?
To southmtnman.....re:"What am I missing"....The point..
@ GK Willington,I used the word, "expected" instead of
"required" on purpose. The article was about Church discipline. When I
was being interviewed to receive the Aaronic priesthood, that verse was read to
me and the bishop used the word "expected" instead of
"required". He told me that as a deacon, he, the bishop, would expect
me to fulfil many assignments. HOW I filled those assignment was between the
Lord and me. He told me that I would account to the Lord for everything
"required", but that those who gave assignments would only
"expect" that I do what I had promised to do.To my
knowledge, no one has ever been "disciplined" because of failing to
fulfil an assignment as "required". We are judged by the
Lord on what we do with the knowledge given us. We are taught and assisted by
those in authority to understand how to complete assignments.As my
bishop told me, if I loved the Lord with all my heart, I would magnify each
assignment by making it important to me.
I don't see what Church leaders hope to gain by disciplining these people.
Those who "follow" them do not do so because of their authority or
membership in the Church. They all just agree with the same ideas. That
won't change by disciplining them. Indeed, it only confirms the suspicion
that male leaders are inclined to suppress "uppity" women in the Church.
That just reinforces the ideas that unite these people.Beyond that,
however, these people have repeatedly expressed their belief in, love of, and
loyalty to the Church as an institution. They willingly serve in callings if
allowed. They contribute to the diversity of the faith, representing the
"big tent" ideals some Church leaders have recently expressed.By just ignoring these groups, taking no disciplinary action, the Church and
it's mainstream members lose nothing.What am I missing?
A process that heals and gives hope. After 9 years serving on the High Council I
have seen many miracles performed by the Saviors Atonement.Compassion, mercy
abound in these spiritual proceedings. Healing is what the Savior is about. Not
mentioned earlier is that the men that sit in these councils are huge
benefactors of the spirit that abounds as the process unfolds and many of the
tears that are shed are by the council members.
@ Connell O'Donovan - Santa Cruz, CA - "My Bishop's Court was one
of the most devastating and horrific experiences of my life. There was no
holiness to it, no spirit, no love. Just lots of sadness, fear, and condemnation
on the part of the bishopric. Then, because I was an Elder, I expected a court
at the Stake level. However, none was held and I was summarily excommunicated
without the Stake High Council trial guaranteed me by LDS canonical law found in
the D&C. The 1st Counselor in the bishopric has since apologized to me for
how I was treated in the Bishop's Court - after he became a
non-believer."Yeah, I'd love to hear the other side to this
As a ward clerk, I was on several bishop's councils. I felt that the
Spirit was there, but they were mostly sad affairs. In all but one case, the
people involved refused to attend. Their actions were widely known, because
they chose to make them so. They had no intent to change their ways, and they
were excommunicated.In the case where the parties attended, they did
not understand why their almost illegal behavior was considered sinful, and did
not intend to change, so they were excommunicated. In all of these cases, the
door was open for them to change, but they chose not to.I have also
known two people who had committed egregious sins, illegal actions for which
they were incarcerated, did their time, and ultimately came back to the church.
I never would have known about any of that, but they both bore testimony in
church of their actions (not specifics), and the path they had to follow to come
Interesting how the church HQ says we are not part of this but they keep
throwing out news reports about this.
@ Patriot JimI am not sure you really want to hear this. But just
in case others read your comments, might as well clear something up that you
implied that isn't true, at least for people who believe in the Book of
Mormon. It appears that your reference to the D&C means that LDS people was
your audience. So Jim and others who might wonder, I actually just read about
this in Mosiah. You can find evidence in the scriptures of excommunication and
the rationale behind it in Mosiah Chapter 26. The entire chapter practically
deals with the issue. Now... Jim, I am not trying to convince you
that this is a right practice. I agree with you that there appears nothing
Biblical that supports the practice (if you believe in the bible). If you are
coming at this from a non-religious viewpoint it makes sense too that one could
think "only God should have the right to judge". Personally, I believe that God can and has chosen to give men the duty to help
people. Part of that help can and does through church discipline.
Amazing! Pass the Kool-aid.
I am happy the people interviewed had such good outcomes in their LDS Church
disciplinary courts. I wish it were the same for all. However, my personal
experience was not remotely like theirs. A member of my family was
excommunicated for sexual sins. Unfortunately, the real reasons for his actions
were not determined prior to his Church court. The correct cause was mental
illness. The Church leaders, once they had the sins to point to, never made any
attempt to find out the whole story of what had happened. His wife was never
contacted for information as to how this man had changed so quickly from a
temple attending returned missionary to someone having sex with total strangers.
I wish this were a complete aberration, but it is not. Two of my friends,
later diagnosed as mentally ill, had the same experience. One of them has been
subject to additional Church discipline, despite the fact she now has a formal
diagnosis and is under treatment. The leadership seems to operate under the
assumption that the medication available to treat mental illness actually works
in a way that a person's thought patterns are made normal. This is not
I am not surprised by this positive article coming from a church owned
newspaper. It is valuable to know that many have a positive experience with
church disciplinary councils. I have heard in training from my stake president
that the percentage of individuals that return to full fellowship after
excommunication is low. I think this fact encourages bishoprics in our stake to
avoid excommunication if at all possible. However, sometimes disciplinary
councils are used to protect the church's name. I am curious if this
Deseret News article topic was assigned by church leaders to provide a positive
spin on disciplinary councils to counter the somewhat 'negative'
coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune. I do not feel this coverage is objective and
was likely a response to current news coverage regarding councils for Sr. Kate
Kelly and Br. John Dehlin.
A detailed search of the Standard works shows only 1 mention of excommunication
- Section 134 of the D&C, which isn't even a revelation. It's a
report from a Committee meeting. I have not found any place in the Scriptures
where God, or Jesus, says that one person, or a group of people have the right
to judge the righteousness of another person. What I do find is a commandment
that we do not judge one another-- Behold what the scripture says—man
shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord,
and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay. - Book of Mormon - Mormon 8:20.
Joseph Smith was told to not join any of the churches because their doctrines
were the doctrines of men. That included the doctrine of excommunication which
had been practices for hundreds of years. Will someone please quote me Chapter
and Verse where God or Jesus gives someone else the power to interfere with your
efforts to obtain Eternal Life.
to Mike RInteresting that you used "expected" instead of
"required" as Luke 12:48 does.
My Bishop's Court was one of the most devastating and horrific experiences
of my life. There was no holiness to it, no spirit, no love. Just lots of
sadness, fear, and condemnation on the part of the bishopric. Then, because I
was an Elder, I expected a court at the Stake level. However, none was held and
I was summarily excommunicated without the Stake High Council trial guaranteed
me by LDS canonical law found in the D&C. The 1st Counselor in the bishopric
has since apologized to me for how I was treated in the Bishop's Court -
after he became a non-believer.
@2close2callI did not know who Byron Marchant was so I Googled his name.
I found a useful link to a relative who posted a profile on OW. For those who
don't know the history, he was held a calling as a Scout leader in a poor
area heavily populated by minorities. Some belonged to his troop. The Church
instituted a policy requiring quorum presidencies to hold the two top leadership
positions, excluding many worthy scouts in his troop from leadership. He
complained up the Church hierarchy but with no success. He was warned that he
might be excommunicated for his crusade. He was not despite the reported
threats. His relative wrote, "In October of 1977, Byron raised
his voice from the balcony of the Tabernacle during a conference session. He
voted no, and declared that he could no longer sustain the Brethren. Shortly
after, he was excommunicated." Eight months latter, President Kimball
announced that all worthy male members of hold the priesthood.I am
guessing because DC's are not public, but his mistake seems to be loudly
not sustaining the general leadership at conference, not believing that blacks
should hold the priesthood.
Some people have no regard for covenants. Baptism is a covenant where the
person being baptised commits to keep all of the commandments of Jesus Christ.
There are no "crossed fingers" in a baptism. The commitment is to keep
ALL of Christ's commandments. If someone who has been baptised will not or
cannot keep those commandments, the responsibility for keeping those
commandments MAY be removed by a Church council. Removing that responsibility
will require removing some of the privileges. That should be understandable.
Every business has rules, if an employee breaks the rules, he/she
may be fired, put on probation, be given a lessor job at lower pay, or sued in
court. There may be serious consequences for breaking company rules or
policies. Most of us accept that, but some people think that they can make up
their own rules when it come to God. Just the opposite is true. Our obligation
is to humble ourselves, learn what God would have us do, and then do our best.
Rebellion against the rules requires action. "Where much is given, much is
To: Alfred, Phoenix, AZ - SO, what if God did show up and asked you what
you have been doing since he explained everything through his prophets and asked
you why you didn't listen? Do you really want to have that conversation or
do you want to take the time to discover for yoruself where and what the truth
is. Doesn't take much development or work on ones part if God showed up
everytime you had a question. Maybe you need to start looking for the answers
first and take some time to ask God yourself.
The LDS church is criticized for being "secretive" about what occurs in
their disciplinary councils, they publish a story explaining it and what
happens? The church is then either criticized for being too open
about what happens in the councils or for supposedly 'cherry picking'
certain cases.Oh, brother....I was on a Stake High
Council in south Georgia and then later served as a 1st counselor in a small
branch in South Korea. In those ~ 26 months I was a part of 5 or 6 disciplinary
councils and in only ONE was the person excommunicated. I don't remember
any names or faces and only very, very few details. I do remember, though, the
love and acceptance that was shown towards every member we interviewed as we
discussed their situation. The one person who was excommunicated
was called home from his mission and after our (mutual) discussion and prayer, I
found him wandering in a daze on the other side of the church building. I felt
love for this young man, despite the horrible things he did, and told him so as
I put my arms around him. We all did. Disciplinary councils are councils of
@ Red Corvette - SACRAMENTO, CA - "Christ said "Judge not." Do these
men know more than Christ?"No, that is not what Christ, in
essence, said.Yes, He said "judge not" but what He meant was
that we should never try to judge someone in terms of an "overall / this is
your character in it's FINAL form" type of judgement. In other words,
we should not try to judge someone and pronounce a 'final' judgement
on them; "You're a bad person and you're always going to be a bad
person." THAT is the kind of judgement we simply are not qualified to
undertake. Christ said in John 5:22 that He is the final judge, not
us.When Christ was asked to judge the woman taken in adultery He
refrained from judging her at that time but that does not mean she will not be
judged by Him eventually.We, on the other hand, though we're
not supposed to try to render a "final" judgement, we must make many
judgements in life: Is the neighbor kid a good influence on your child? Is the
convicted sex offender 2 blocks over a wise choice to babysit your children?
See the difference?
re: A Scientist"It is evident that not all "disciplinary
councils" are positive experiences with admirable outcomes. To be fair, this
article should have presented cases on both sides."Agreed. Lets
save the Rah Rah fluff pieces for articles on byu football written by Dick
to John KateelAgreed. to Ralph West JordanLook around. Any Sunday morning along the Wasatch Front will do.
@Ralph West Jordan:"The make up of a disciplinary council is laid out
in the D&C..."Where?"I do not ever recall a
member having to divulge any of the intimate details..."What do
they say... 'I've sinned'... and let it go at that? How could
you possibly respond with reasoned judgement?"You ask the
question "Why is a bunch of men needed for the proceedings...? Why not just
one person... or maybe even some women?" The council is presided over by one
with the authority of the Priesthood..."Why is priesthood
authority required? If a female is involved wouldn't it be better for all
concerned for female peers to listen/provide encouragement/judgement. They know
the heart of women far better than men.But why not just take the
problem to God and let Him/Her decide? And if the sinner wants totally out,
they just write a letter and it's done."Now Miss Piggie May
I ask you a question? Was your post written out of concern about how the
Disciplinary council is conducted or Who conducts it?"Both.
@Ca. reader" Disciplinary actions are almost always initiated by the
individual Church member seeking to get back in touch with principles they know
to be true. "That's completely false. Maybe you meant
something subtler and misrepresentative like "they sinned first" or
"they confessed something to the Bishop and that's what started
It's nice that people shared their positive stories about church
disciplinary councils. At the same time, I like to remember everyone that there
are always two sides to every story. If we want to be well informed we need to
know both sides; so, if someone had a bad experience with church disciplinary
council, they should as well share their story for us to know. When we only hear
one side of the story, we don't have all the facts and we form biased
opinions about issues like this one here. the LDS church has the
social media tools (like this website) to make this happen. If the church would
allow its members to voice their concerns on sites like this one, there
wouldn't be so many people posting their questions on private blogs and
sites. Is is another opportunity for the church to pay attention to what members
are saying and posting, and also, to do something about it.
Church discipline is between the member and his/her church leaders not the ward
or the news media
For those of you who simply do not understand, or don't want to, there are
no roving compliance patrols seeking out miscreant Mormons. Disciplinary
actions are almost always initiated by the individual Church member seeking to
get back in touch with principles they know to be true. Ofenttimes Church
leaders are surprised to a certain degree when a member comes forth for counsel
on how to regain contact with the Spirit. It is the ultimate exercise of
one's agency. Think about it, if a member is not obeying the commandments
knowingly and is not concerned with the Church's stand on how they live
their lives, the person is not going to seek the Lord's help. What have
the people stated mentioned in the article said? They cried their eyes out when
discussing their actions with Church leaders. They felt true remorse for their
actions. If they didn't care they wouldn't be there in the first
place and they simply would feel no remorse for how they live their lives. We
do not maintain rigid caste discipline, which is illegal in most countries that
once openly practiced it.
@ Rocky 1782If this isn't important to you, why come on here and moan
Re: Miss PiggieThe make up of a disciplinary council is laid out in
the D&C and consists of the presiding presidency and 12 council members. 6
council members are chosen by drawing lots to assure the members rights and
needs are protected and met and 6 are chosen to see that the Church needs are
met, this is the case in a Stake Council. A Ward Council is attended by 3. In the numerous councils I sat in on I do not ever recall a member
having to divulge any of the intimate details of their transgressions to the
members of the council, this if necessary was always given during confession
with the presiding authority!You ask the question "Why is a
bunch of men needed for the proceedings, anyway? Why not just one person... or
maybe even some women?" The council is presided over by one with the
authority of the Priesthood and the council members must also hold the
priesthood! Women the LDS Church do not hold the priesthood which you surely
know! Now Miss Piggie May I ask you a question? Was your post
written out of concern about how the Diciplinary council is conducted or Who
I am so embarrassed to be apart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints. To oppress our members is saddening. I applaud these men and women
searching and demanding equality!
Several great articles available to read in today's Salt Lake Tribune
concerning issue. The comments that follow are interesting, as well.For a
bit of a different side of the story, one may want to check it out. We
need to remember there are always two sides of every story.
@alt Lake Dave:"If god is all powerful, why does he have a mouthpiece
that is a flawed human?"Yes, and why does He not show up more
often? He comes around maybe once in a thousand years. And once even as a
burning bush. What's with that? Can you imagine your father or mine
trying to teach their offspring the proper way of living, in absentia?No wonder we have such a plethora of religions and people supposedly speaking
It is quite possible that many especially those who are women say they
shouldn't go to a man to reflect upon their sins. Really, do any of you
understand that say this that when one kneels and prays to the Father that they
are praying to a man. The Bishop is the FATHER of the Ward just as the Branch
President is of the Branch. That is correct the Father of the unit. They hold
priesthood keys that currently is given only to men and only those called of God
to administer those keys. I've been lucky to never half to sit on a
council but have come close. However, I have seen the results where some return
and some do not. The choice on how one handles church discipline is up to the
individual and only the individual.For those who say I have asked
for my records to be removed it really in terms of the Father is an
excommunication though the term is not used. A letter signed and dated by the
individual to the Bishop is normally required. Anti-Mormon sites carry a for
letter used for it.
The disciplinary councils I have been involved with have been keenly focused on
the benefit of the individual. The expressions of love and concern have been
very real. The decisions reached were often quite different than the
preconceived notions those called to attend brought with them. Prayer brought
unanimity to the various views expressed. These councils have strengthened my
testimony of the truth of the church.
Excellent article. Excellent job DN.
@Red Corvette Of course, they do not know more than Christ. But does that mean
that they cannot talk to Him and He to them?
It's okay to say the hearings are strictly confidential, ........However, when that individual passes on "sacrament" the entire
congregation knows what's going on.I know one former Stake
President that stopped this process by threatening legal action (late 80S). He's still an "official member" and married his gay partner
a few months ago.
We just discovered what we assumed had been going on for the past 28 years,
following my decision to leave the church. Following a dramatic born-again
response to my simple prayer in 1986, I left the church and became an active
evangelical. I requested that my membership be dropped, but my requests were
never fully followed and my under-age children were kept on the rolls and
regularly visited without our permission for the next 5-6 years.After publishing local articles on LDS doctrinal changes and contradictions,
the new bishop decided to excommunicate me for apostacy, sans my record removal
request. Two of my own brothers have been spreading their (inaccurate) version
of my personal experience with as many family members as possible, including
silly and derogatory inaccuracies.Now let's see how local
leaders handle the offenses made by their leadership in the on-going,
unrepentant gossip and smearing of my reputation by my own brothers. Sadly, the
LDS family are embarrassed by their gossip, even though they don't agree or
understand my leaving.I will get back to you here on how
"delicately" and compassionately my offenses are handled, vis-a-vis
For Christians, our Lord gave us Matthew 18:15-17 to help restore relationships
when hurts and offenses have occured. Otherwise the pain, anger, and resentment
can destroy much more, including physical and emotional health and instilling
generational conflicts.As an active member for my first 35 years (in
3 different organizational presidencies), I was aware of the healing kind and
the prideful refusals of offenders. The latter were sad for all involved, but
as the article accurately points out, those "willing to give up ego, pride
and self-will" found forgiveness and restitution a much better life.I, myself, had a difficult experience when I had to share my (unexpected
but very real "Born-again") experience and reasons for requesting
removal of my membership. I felt no anger or hurt for the new bishop, where I
had not known anyone previously. I would have much preferred my friends of the
previous 20 years, but I knew the Lord wanted me to experience this kind of
"trial". I did get to share my full spiritual experience, sadness at
having to leave the people of my long heritage, and my new-found joy at
discovering the Christ of the Bible and history.Some decisions leave
I would very much like to outline a case in which I know the process did not
work as it should, but I will refrain. I guess the bottom line is that church
courts are closer to closed meetings of governing boards than of legal courts,
and there isn't much of an appeals process. Yes, the person can write to
the First Presidency and say, "President So-and-So treated me unfairly for
the following reasons...." but what are the chances of success? Church
courts are seeking humility and contrition, and a person being disciplined is
best advised to exhibit those qualities if his/her membership is dear.
The timing of this article is to bring a better understanding of the current
Kate Kelly church court pending in Virginia on Sunday. She has chosen not to
attend the meeting, but rather publish her defense on the tribune site.
Although she asks for no action to be taken, and paints a picture of a normal
upbringing in the LDS Church, she is doing more that just asking questions. In
her letter she admits to her comittment to continue actions aimed at disruption
of the church until it complies with her personal desires. Looks like her
membership is in jeopardy at this point.
I don't have a problem with God. The problem I have, is all the people
around the world who claim that they work for him and are his mouthpiece. If god
is all powerful, why does he have a mouthpiece that is a flawed human? These
people are often sincere, but they do diametrically opposite things, all in his
name. It makes you ponder the way we determine truth. My father was stake
president. Its interesting how god punished members differently, when they put
in a new Stake president. The church says that Excommunication is
not punishment. It can be an act of love, but the church, like people, has
mixed motives. Excommunication has an element of castigation and humiliation.
Lets be honest. As for me, I'm still working on charity and love.
Over 46 years, I've known many members who had been given various forms of
Church discipline... from probation to disfellowshipment to ex-communication.
The knowledge about these disciplinary councils came from the members,
themselves, and was not divulged by the Church leaders involved.At
first, I didn't understand why one case, which seemed exactly like another,
received a different ruling. But, I eventually came to understand that Heavenly
Father knows each of us as individuals. So, in reality, no two cases are just
the same because no two people, with varied experiences and understanding, are
the same.But, from the beginning, it has been obvious that those
disciplinary councils were conducted with love and compassion and the subjects
knew that their eternal welfare was paramount in the decision.Finally, just a reminder that the word "discipline", as used in the
scriptures, means TEACH.
Ralph West Jordan"I cannot recall a minute of rancor or animosity
during any of these proceedings, as others have stated only love, concern and
compassion prevail!"Why is a bunch of men needed for the
proceedings, anyway? Why not just one person... or maybe even some women?I don't think I would like being in a group of men and explaining
all my faults and failings to them... unless each took a turn to explain theirs
as well. Fair is fair.
Re: John Kateel 1:07 a,n,I continue to find your thoughts and
comments interesting! Like yourself I sometimes find in interesting when the DN
intertwines "Church Minutae" with the news. I feel it would be better
printed in the church New section, then again it wouldn't be available to
on line readers. That having been said I have to cut the news some slack on
this issue as in my opinion it is being driven by statements to press by some
who are claiming to have been summoned to Church Diciplinary proceedings!Your statement " It just seems like, once you are trapped in this
system their is no escape" however is not quite correct! If you sincerely
feel like you are trapped, you can always have your name expunged from the
records of the church in other words leave the Church! My sister did this some
32 years ago. For the record I should also say that last Jan. at the age of 72
she was re-baptized, it was my privilege at the age of 75 to perform that
Baptism. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us,
I sincerely wish you well!
They improve lives for sure. The sooner people can get out, the better off they
1- Whereas confessed immorality can be dealt with lovingly, apostacy cannot.
The Indian caste system analogy was very appropro, as is the required action
from Muslim clerics or Talibani against infidels/apostates, vis-a-vis Sharia
Law. While Matthew 18:15-17 deals with offenses in the hopes of
restoration, leaving the faith is not addressed here. Hence, I understand the
need for apostacy to be dealt with in a different manner and level. It is
possible, however, to leave the "trial" with open doors should return
ever be sought. As one comment accurately stated, the level of civility and
compassion depends solely on the individuals and experience involved.2- Having held an ex-Mormon support group for years, we can tell you the
gamut is not pretty. But there are recently many more leaders willing to just
"remove membership records" when requested, as opposed to
excommunication for apostacy. It is often the preferred action for those who
have extensive family in the church, to lesson the blow to their loved ones upon
the pain of their leaving.3- Now we will see how honestly church
leaders deal with their leaders involved in reputation smearing and gossip.
Will they be as honest with their own?
I have sat on three such councils. One was a tremendous spiritual experience
where the love was palpable. In the second, one could also feel love and
concern but the person was done with the Church and decided to leave. In the
final one, the individual was angry coming in and bound and determined to try to
turn it into a court case. As a consequence of both actions and attitude, he
was excommunicated. He has now gone contrary to many of the Church's
teachings and revels in living a more hedonistic life. Why do I share this? I
think it is important to note that the outcomes are varied with some people
feeling loved and others not so much. I will say that the attitude of the
brethren with whom I served approached the situation with great love. I wonder
if having women on such councils would change the dynamic. Not that women would
be less loving but that they might choose to focus the process differently.
To: Red Corvette, SACRAMENTO, CA - I am not a member of the LDS faith nor
pretend to know of their specific doctrine. However, I have studied the Bible
and teachings of Christ to know that Christ did not excuse sin in the least bit.
When individuals seem to pick out select phrases from the Bible and use them to
paint a broad brush stroke, remember, Christ never put up with sin. When the
leaders of the specific congregations of the LDS Church are put in charge, it is
their responsibility to work with individuals who have issues or problems. The
rest of us are not to judge the situation as we really don't have all of
the facts nor do we have the responsibility to pass judgement in these cases.
Christ loved the sinner and hated the sin. He took action when needed and
exercised love when needed. He didn't simply say go and do whatever you
want. He was quite specific with details of what he considered correct behavior
and what he didn't. Life is about making choices and taking the
responsibility for the consequences. If you play in the mud, you will probably
Scott1; I will surmise on this if you like, but realize, it is only conjecture:
Many years ago, I worked with a young man who told me he was an alcoholic
(addicted). As I got to know him we had long conversations about what he meant
about being addicted and how he came to be so. In one of our conversation, he
mentioned he had been clean and sober for more than 10 years. He also told me
that he felt that if he were to take even one drink ever again, it would kill
him because he would fall off the wagon and most likely drink himself to death.
He was so adamant about alcohol that he wouldn't even use cold medicine or
mouth wash that contained any alcohol. Now, I'm not saying I know the mind
of the member of the council that showed up on this brother's porch, only
that this is a possibility. What I look at in this is how the man worked on the
temptations that came his way.
Looks like we have another apology piece designed to take the heat off the
church for the coordinated attack against questions by the members. This is so
disingenuous because what is not stated but what is clearly the intent of the
article is to infer that there are moral transgressions on the part of those
called in for a "court of love". I don't believe that is the case
with John and Kate. Clearly, all the church general leadership is not in
agreement with where this adventure is headed. Someone needs to do some
"correcting" at a higher level. Knowing how church leadership works
there is ample opportunity for one of the 12 to give suggestions to underlings
and the other 11 know nothing about it until the news breaks.
It is evident that not all "disciplinary councils" are positive
experiences with admirable outcomes. To be fair, this article should have
presented cases on both sides.
To Scott1: Anyone who has attended rehab programs is invited to refer to
themselves as an addict for the rest of their lives, in recognition of the
possibility that they will relapse and they always need to be on guard. The high
councilman who said, "I'm an addict" is probably saying, I used to
have the same problem as you, years ago, and I've recovered, and I'm
offering to be your sponsor and help you through the recovery process. It's a nice gesture. And it does not indicate that the high councilman is
unworthy to hold his current position.
A person's "worthiness" should be between them and their god.
Nobody else should be involved at all.
I am a convert to the church and I totally admire the church council system. It
is really so much more complete and helpful than our earthly justice system. No
system is perfect but this is as good as it gets. It goes hand-in-hand with the
LDS concepts of accountability and responsibility.
The company I work for has clear policies and procedures regarding employee
discipline (laid out in our company handbook) for all to see. So why do we have
to wait for an article from the DN (presenting favorable testimonials) to get a
glimpse into the Church's policies and procedures regarding discipline?
Why isn't the Handbook of Instructions available to all members for
@higv"these men are called of God, do you know more than Christ?
"Remember, someone who doesn't believe these men are called
of God doesn't have to believe they know more than Christ.
I was excommunicated for nine months for fornication, it was not a pattern. I
was an endowed female. some people really questioned if this was the right
thing. I could have been angry or bitter, but I humbled myself and really grew.
The first and foremost thing in my life is the Gospel and my love for my Father
in Heaven. This experience refined and helped my spirit. I had moved to
another ward and instantly that Bishop got things going to get me re-baptized.
Going through all that really helped me for when my daughter left the Church not
long after, and John Kateel, I didn't disown her or look down on her. I
learned more of my Father in Heavens love for me by loving her no matter what.
I am a better person for having gone through that, most bishops would not have
exd me, but I have been greatly blessed in the last 12 years, the Lord put me on
a path for those blessings. I choose to sin, but I also choose to repent and
@Wilf 55Excellent comment. I too have witnessed many situations in
the church that were handled differently depending on the personalities the
bishops/stake presidents involved. Nobody is perfect, so in making judgements
about what lies in the hearts of others (which is inherently what a disciplinary
council is doing) the utmost care and restraint should be used.
A comment was made; citing scripture, about not judging. A key element is
missing from that passage - that we not judge unrighteously. We cannot escape
judgement on a daily basis - what do we wear, what products do we purchase, who
do we befriend?What the Savior expects of his leaders who must sit
on these councils as described, is to make decisions that will bless lives and
not exact revenge. For the most part, I think they do very well - all things
considered. As for the 'pressures' of being a church
member - from personal experience I can say that such pressures are inventions
of our own minds. It is human nature to constantly evaluate ourselves and often
to determine that we come up short. We are convinced that every other church
member is virtually perfect and we sometimes allow ourselves to become bitter at
the very thought. From Genesis we remember the council to Cain 'If thou
doest well, thou shalt be accepted.' I'm trying to do well, and
hopefully will one day do better.
I have struggled with sin my whole life. The first time I repented to my bishop
in my twenties, I was told by him that "Certain people are meant for the
Celestial Kingdom and I was not one of them." The next time in my thirties,
I was excommunicated for the same sin (fornication) after being newly married
and wanting to come back to church. I did everything they asked of me for 18
months, attended church, paid tithing through my wife's name, gave myself
to Christ to change me and at the end I asked to be re-baptized and my stake
president asked me all the standard morality questions, I answered them
truthfully with a clear conscious telling him how good I was doing, my marriage
was awesome and we were doing great. He looked at me and said, "frankly I
don't believe you." I was shocked and asked him why? He stated, "I
have never met anyone who has had as many sexual partners as you that has been
able to change. I will allow your baptism but I am not coming to it since I
can't support someone I don't think will change."
Thank you for these sweet stories. Red Corvette, I believe the whole idea is not
to judge, but to guide and serve the people who are struggling. And, yes, that
is what Christ would do. That is what the article is about, and that has been
what I have seen time and time again with people involved at both ends of the
"disciplinary" process. (There has to be a better term for that!)
John, you better be careful about saying "ever"! :)
@Red Corvette--It seems you don't understand what the term
"Make it a matter of prayer" means. These councils inquire
of God and directly appeal to Him about what to do, and feel of His promptings.
That's a very real thing--inspiration--that many in the world dismiss as
imagination or deny altogether. But prayer is a very real, very common thing.
Council members don't act unless they all receive the same prompting, which
they do.When Jesus said, "Judge not," He meant to not render
a final judgment about someone's potential. He also said to the woman taken
in adultery to "Go, and sin no more." That's what these courts do:
they do NOT pass lasting, final judgment, but help those in sin--and sin is very
real--to sin no more.Read this article again, more carefully, more
I have been involved in many disciplinary councils both on the ward level and on
the stake level. In all cases my experience was in line with those outlined in
this article. Great article! Thanks for the thorough investigating and
Thank you for this article. The stories in this article demonstrate how the
disciplinary councils could include women. None of the scriptures indicate that
only men need to conduct this work. I feel it is wrong to ask women to go to
their bishops (who are all men) to confess their "sins." Women should be
included in this entire process.I was disappointed that this article has
no mention of church leaders reporting suspected crimes to the police.
Unfortunately there have been instances in the LDS church where people who have
sexually abused children were part of this church disciplinary process and were
not brought before civil authorities. I hope that this situation has changed.
For the benefit of Red Corvette.Christ did say not to judge but it
was based on one person judging another, in public,and discussing it with others
which is judging. Unfortunately there are a few comments today which lack
knowledge since they have never seen a person who is broken hearted be restored
based on their own decision to seek help. The comment of Corvette and others who
are criticizing is why Christ said, Judge not that ye be not judged.
I am always so surprised when people who think they know anything about
something they know nothing about and they try and talk about it,,, this is a
beautiful article, and I know that the church keeps theses things very
confidential. I wish people would stop judging the church when they themselves
know nothing about it. Fine, if your not a member and you don't want to
be, keep it to yourself, and leave us alone... I love this church and I love the
Gospel. I will leave you alone and not push my beliefs on you, and will you
please do the same for me, and quite trying to push you lack of beliefs on
I am beginning to feel the LDS church eaders are trying to hard to protect their
decisions and actions by explaininng everything to everyone. I am not sure that
as a non-mormon it is of any importance to me or any other non-mormon.
I'm grateful for the emphasis on prayer and receiving divine inspiration as
an integral part of the process. Surely we don't know as much as Christ and
need His input in these matters.
I have participated in about half a dozen disciplinary councils and after each
one I am so very impressed by the love and concern that is expressed for those
involved. I really think it is a misnomer to call them disciplinary councils.
There has never been anything but the utmost respect and desire to help those
that want to return to be numbered among the Lord's flock in the councils
that I hasve participated in. I'm sorry that some who have commented here
don't understand how they work and as a result have made negative comments.
You are entitled to beleive what you will, I beleive we fought a war to give
you that right, as wrong as you may be.
This article gives you a nice glimpse into the world of church discipline, but
do realize that it is more of a PR piece than a news story that meets the full
rigor of journalistic standards. For example, you only hear from members
approaching the disciplinary council who are throwing themselves on the mercy of
the court. That's fine for what it is, and I do think the article
accurately describes their feelings about church discipline, but what about
those who are called to a disciplinary council under different circumstances?
Many, for a variety of reasons, are not happy about the "invitation" to
attend a church discipline council or they feel that the process failed them
somehow. Why are not their perspectives brought in to flesh out the full
spectrum of experience and emotions that church discipline entails? Lacking
that, this article more properly belongs in a church magazine rather than a
newspaper...even a church owned one.
@ red corvette,You have to read the whole scripture, you cannot just
pick out a couple of words. Read and know what is going on and then comprehend
the why it was said.
I believe there are certainly many "disciplinary councils" where the
Spirit is there, and the process blesses the lives of those involved. It does
not follow, however, that all disciplinary councils are acting as God would.
When someone knows that something is amiss in their life, and they know that
they have done something wrong, and they're searching for healing, then a
disciplinary council will be full of loving men trying to help someone "come
to themselves." It's an entirely different story when someone truly
feels like they're doing what's right, but the council is there to
tell them they're doing what's wrong, and then the council disciplines
them for not agreeing, telling them that once they've humbled themselves,
they'll be back in the good graces of God. In such a situation, the Church
is telling someone that they know better than a person's own conscience,
and they're not respecting a person's ability to learn to trust their
own promptings, which is vital. That is not going to be a very uplifting
I have sat in disciplinary councils. The principles may be good, but the
decision to hold a council and the way the proceeding is steered sometimes
depend too much on the personality, experience, and personal feelings of the key
leader. I have seen exactly the same cases handled in very different ways.
Besides the examples given in the article, there are also many examples of sad
outcomes.Moreover, in high profile cases which are not dealing with
"immorality" but with viewpoints and strategies, such as with John
Dehlin and Kate Kelly, too many people, emotions, and potential consequences are
involved to handle these cases appropriately at this time. If love is the
guiding principle, it would be good to consider such high profile cases in the
larger perspective, for the good of the whole church. We need de-escalation,
time to let rumors and emotions subside, and more dialogue. Perhaps then,
"pure love" can help us all.
So what would draw a non Mormon like myself to to the beautiful city of Salt
Lake? In a nutshell, the fascinating anthropology of a most peculiar sect of
people. I was fascinated by Utah after reading Mark Twain's " Roughing
It" back in 1998. Much of the idiosyncracies that he chronicled back in 1872
still exist today! In this day and age I can read the local paper owned by a
church that publishes church minutae such as internal disciplinary procedures as
if it were actual news! Can you imagine if the Deseret News were owned by the
Hare Krishnas and Krishna Consciousness stuff was intertwined with the hard
news? It is just so bizarre. My folks are from India. The disciplinary
procedures described in this article seem congruent with the procedures that
rural village tribal leaders in Bihar would use to maintain rigid caste
discipline. No marrying lower caste girls, no questioning the caste system, etc.
Like Mormons, they are the kindest and sweetest people, these rural agrarian
villagers. Bless their hearts. It just seems like, once you are trapped in this
system their is no escape except to disown your family and move to Calcutta or
as a young adult i had positive experience also which stregthened me
spiritually. This is The Lord Jesus Christs Church, I felt love, no personal
judgement and great concern.
Sorry, nothing uplifting here! It is one thing to discipline somebody for
cheating on his wife. It is quite another to excommunicate someone for fighting
against banning blacks from the priesthood and temple as what happened to Byron
Marchant many years ago!
The offer of 'highway' in 'my way or highway
@ Red Corvette these men are called of God, do you know more than Christ? He
only does what is in the best interest of his children, For the sake of the
transgressor sometimes church discipline is necessary, It is righteous judgment
by those called to administer what is best for God's children. Christ gave
his servants the right to sit on council over people's membership.
Amen, amen, amen to this article!
I too was uplifted by hearing of these personal accounts. I have been around
many local church leaders and have witnessed how loving they are to those in
Kudo's to the DN for printing this article! Because of the LDS
church's strict and total adhearance to confidentiality, respect and
fellowship, very little is known about Church disciplinary councils, the only
way they become public is if it is discussed by the individual for who the
council was held!In the past fourty years I have sat in and
participated in many councils, it could be twenty or thirty, I never found it
necessary to keep count. I cannot recall a minute of rancor or animosity during
any of these procedings, as others have stated only love, concern and compassion
"I thank the Lord everyday that I am not..."For the Lord
this must be like one of us getting a note everyday from a wayward child:
"Thankful not to be with you and happy I'm not coming back.":(
Disciplinary councils are one of the great evidences that the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. The miracles that occur there remind us all
of how loved we are by the Lord and how much he wants us to return to Him.
Christlike love prevails in these councils, as anyone who has ever served on one
Thank you for this article. I really appreciate the perspective of these people
who have been involved personally with disciplinary councils. I know
of two. It was inspiring to see the change in a man's life
following excommunication, & his eventual return. The joy it brought his
family to have him want to change & want to come back to them fully was just
the most wonderful thing.The second was when many stake members were
all waiting in the area near the Stake President's office, waiting for
Temple Recommend interviews to begin. One of the Stake Presidency emerged from
the High Council office & asked us to all step into a room. He came in with
us and closed the door & said they had been conducting a disciplinary
council--& to preserve the person's privacy and anonymity, they were
asking all persons in the building to remain sequestered until the subject of
the council left the property. It was standing room only in that room, with many
people I didn't know. But there was a feeling of respect that the
Presidency was so carefully protecting the person's identity &
privacy.Thank you again for a very enlightening article.
Re: John KateelInteresting comments! Could you be more specific
about " arcane pressure to keep up appearances." Thank you!
Wow! Living in Salt Lake City and not being Mormon ever is the best thing in
world. I thank the Lord everyday that I am not subject to that arcane pressure
to keep up appearances.