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The recent excommunication of John Dehlin really sets the tone for that coming era

The recent excommunication of John Dehlin really sets the tone for that coming era

There are the well-documented examples of ‘The September Six’, when it appears apostles pulled rank in order to ensure that excommunications were enacted

John, who has done much to support depressed, confused, overlooked and downtrodden members of the church throughout the world over the past decade, in the process of helping those many in need, seems unintentionally to have embarrassed a church leadership which was signally failing to perform its whole duty. John has literally saved lives, and marriages, and the mental wellbeing of hundreds and perhaps thousands or marginalised individuals.

Some of those he helped have since chosen to leave the LDS fold, not because he ever actively encouraged them to do so, but because their eyes were opened to a wider reality, and LDS orthodoxy could no longer accommodate them

Although John also encouraged people to stay with Mormonism if they felt able to do so, the fact that he was seen to be a catalyst causing some to leave, sadly meant that his excommunication in the end was as predictable as Kate Kelly’s had been in 2014. Unsurprisingly, John’s excommunication has been widely seen, (beyond foyer exchanges between ‘chapel Mormons’ at least), not as an indictment of him, but of the system which delivered that verdict. How much wiser it might have been to have embraced and worked with him, so that a welcoming place within a broader, kinder church, might have been made available to accommodate the needs of those in need of the support he offers. The LDS church has once more missed an exceptional opportunity by failing to grasp the right nettle at the right time, and an unfortunate message has been broadcast that those who entertain doubts or questions are not wanted. One more storm has been sown.

I realise of course that as the Europe Area Presidency you are far removed from this particular matter, and are in no way responsible for the decision reached. Equally I realise that your counterparts in Utah will not be in any hurry to accept responsibility for it, and of course it is a given that the Q12 will deny having had any kind of influence over it. It is clear that the ruling bodies of the church will, as usual, be fully sheltered from any possibility of criticism, and John Dehlin’s Stake President will be left to take sole responsibility for any future fall-out.

Yet of course long experience tells us that, regardless of the regular denials, interventions from General Authorities do sometimes serve to influence decisions reached by local disciplinary councils. It was all officially denied at Raya how does work the time, but was later persuasively demonstrated by President Benson’s grandson that this had been the case. And at a more immediate level Elder Patrick Kearon will undoubtedly recall an instance in Bristol Stake a few years ago, when a decision reached in a stake disciplinary council was overturned within a few hours upon the advice of the Area Presidency. I was a witness to that intervention, as was he, (he having made the initial decision, before being told to contact all the participants to inform them that his decision had been reversed upon orders received from higher up the chain of command). Furthermore, I have since learnt of another such example in the same stake, so these interventions are not in isolation, and it is simply untrue to claim that Stake Presidents always make such decisions without guidance from General Authorities, particularly in cases when there might be an impact upon the so-called public standing of the church.