ANSWERS: 2
  • I can feel for her. Having been "interviewed" by the Feds, I can empathise with her. Nothing quite like pursuing the truth to invite abuse. What value faith that cannot withstand questioning? I chose to walk away from the cult. got Shunning? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunning
  • When I first saw this video on YouTube the quote in your question jumped out at me and is what I remember most from the video. . Having the confession process for a two month period and then at the end of it having the sanction of excommunication placed on me by the LDS Church, as you know, was the most destroying and demeaning thing I've ever been through in my life. When I was excommunicated, as as I tell Bishops etc when they ask, I felt relieved and joy, because the period of limbo and hell had eventually come to an end - I really didn't care what sanction they gave me - after all they are all the same but with different names! . The treatment I recieved led me to discover truth, truth that although is liberating, is also hard to live with. I at first could not accept the policies and conflicting doctrines behind dhurch discipline and my study of this topic and discovery of the truth lead me to reject completely the act church disipline and subsequently the 'authority' and 'divinity' of the LDS Church. . There are a number of quotes from others about 'the act of violence' that excommunication is so I will list their responses - unfortunately they posted on an online blog and the archive doesn't seem to exist now but I have been successful in lifting the following from the site: . http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:e6TTbVY950sJ:www.hrbjobs.com/%3Fm%3D200812%26paged%3D3+%22The+voluntary+resignation+commits+violence+against+the+authority+of+the+church,+with+the+pen+slashing+and+stabbing+at+the+institution+in+the+effort+to+eliminate+its+ability+to+exercise+dominion+and+judgment.%22&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk . And from my own records of the blog archive - along with my own notes: . "In the LDS church, members are written into the book of life with their baptism and confirmation. . The voluntary resignation commits violence against the authority of the church, with the pen slashing and stabbing at the institution in the effort to eliminate its ability to exercise dominion and judgment. It challenges the veracity of the book of life itself. It comes from the place where the book has no power. . The involuntary excommunication is the violence of corporal punishment. It is the parent who believes the only remaining path to teaching is to strike. The hope exists that the subject will make the correction in response to the intensity of the pain, and thus it becomes seen as an act of love. It is the great hammer of judgment and rejection that is meant to crush the pride out of them. The final and terrible weapon. It comes from the place where the book has complete power, because the veracity of the book of life is the very blade that cuts. . The person (disfellowshipped) is not able to participate in any public worship practices which would indicate endorsement or condoning of their positions, like holding callings, praying in meetings, or exercising priesthood. The only thing that excommunication does beyond that is the blotting out of their name from the book of life. . Once Church members begin seeing someone as fundamentally moral, although in opposition to a number of current Church practices or policies, I think we begin transitioning as a people from ecclesiastical violence to how Christ would act. . Frankly, most of the “violence” I have seen in excommunications does not occur with the action itself, but rather with the effects of the action – both before and after. It is the pain inflicted by people involved in the lead-up and aftermath – the harsh words and the rejection and the bitter feelings and the deaf ears, not always the disciplinary council and its formal decision. In fact, sometimes that official action is almost a balm – as people stop fighting and simply accept the outcome. . Imho, excommunication initiated by the Church should be reserved ONLY for those instances where the member has taken an unyielding and public stance (either within the Church itself or outside of it) that places that member in direct and active opposition to the Church – where that member actively fights the Church as an obvious enemy. (-Ties in with my notes under Guide to the Scriptures: . GUIDE TO THE SCRIPTURES . Excommunication See also Apostasy; Rebellion . The process of excluding a person from the Church and taking away all rights and privileges of membership. . (Note: This does not define excommunication as making all covenants void and null, it is not a severance from covenant it is a severance from the Church. Here we have to ask what the Church is in order to know what this severance is from. I believe it is a severance from Christ’s atonement and the blessings that come from obedience to the gospel, a severance however, because the individual has chosen to reject Christ’s sacrifice. Excommunication is the name given to the action of those that sever themselves from Christ and thus the Church; it is not something that is brought to pass or effectuated by the priesthood but the individual themselves.) . Church authorities excommunicate a person from the Church only when he has chosen to live in opposition to the Lord’s commandments and thus has disqualified himself for further membership in the Church. . (Note: It is important to note that it is the individual’s choice to live in opposition to the commandments of the Lord that brings this sanction upon a person. The word ‘commandments’ is plural suggesting that an excommunicate’s choice is a rejection of more than one commandment rather than an opposition or difficulty in obeying a particular commandment. Someone who chooses to oppose the commandments rejects them. Rejecting the commandments is the same as rejecting the Church. Rejecting the Church is equal to rejecting the atonement and therefore bringing damnation upon that individual who thus chooses. These individuals make a choice to reject the principle repentance and in rejecting the principle chose against applying it. It is my belief therefore that if an individual who finds themselves weak in the face of temptation and finds that this weakness causes them to fall but yet wish to change and wish to repent fully do not bring excommunication upon themselves.) . The hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, Alma 1: 24 (Alma 6: 3). If he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, 3 Ne. 18: 31 (Mosiah 26). Adulterers who do not repent shall be cast out, D&C 42: 24. He that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out, D&C 42: 28. Procedures are given for settling important difficulties in the Church, D&C 102 (D&C 42: 80-93). The bishop is appointed to be a judge in Israel, D&C 107: 72. Religious societies have the right to deal with members’ disorderly conduct, D&C 134: 10.) . Why can’t the church have a way to publicly state that they do not support or condone the opinions or actions of the person, but also send the message that they are still part of this family? Is there ever a point where a parent MUST disown a child because there is just no other option? . (Note: Prodgical Son was the one that chose to leave the Father, when he decided to return the Father came out to meet him while he was still a way off. Again it is the individual that chooses to reject and sever relationship ties and not the Father or the Church.) . I think we as a people are very unclear on the theology of membership, sin, and excommunication. . For instance, on my mission in Germany, as a district leader, I attended ward leadership meetings with my companion where the merits and demerits of singling out individuals for church discipline was discussed. This was in a context where church discipline had been wanton and arbitrary, sometimes imposed simply for extensive non-attendance combined with a desire for no-contact. . I distinctly remember the British bishop arguing with the German high priest group leader over whether it was kinder to excommunicate and enable individuals to “start over,” or to allow them to stay on the rolls and have the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I can’t remember now who took which side of the argument, but I remember the sadness I felt as I sympathized with those whose eternal souls were being talked about in this way. . After a similar conversation about cutting someone off from the church, Daryl Chase, when he was a stake president in Arizona, announced to his counselors and the high council that as long as he was stake president, there would be no one excommunicated in his stake. Right there is the strength and weakness of church discipline: local control and the lack of a clear, universal standard which one can follow and maintain membership, if desired. It is clear that in the Church we are victims of geography. . (Note: The argument here is between covenants, and if it is better to make those covenants void and as if they never were made in a chance to make them afresh with the same conditions and meaning as one who has not previously been baptized vs. righteous living granting the companionship of the Holy Ghost and permitted through covenant. There is great misconception that excommunication releases an individual from all covenants and therefore condemnation for sins committed as an excommunicate. The scripture ‘what is bound on earth is bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven’ is though of as applying to the covenants of an excommunicate rather than their choice of path, the path of salvation or the path of damnation, and how it is the path we choose that grants us our reward.) . (How an individual can maintain church membership if desired is a good question. Such a desire would suggest a willingness to comply with the prescribed path to salvation and a willingness to yield to the atonement in allowing it to change their life and bring about complete forgiveness. It has to be remembered that repentance is a life long pursuit and not something that occurs overnight; it is a journey that brings about change and our erroneous ways will be forsaken when we strengthen and overcome our weakness to succumb to temptation.) . Rest of my records on this post: . "Bruce, . No, I meant it exactly as a I wrote it. That is how I see it. Also, please note that I basically acknowledged the usefulness of disfellowship, and actually suggested that it could be used in place of excommunication. Excommunication goes from protecting the church by removing approval, to the escalated violence of the blotting out of your name from the book of life, which the scriptures indicate has some pretty serious consequences. Obviously the leaders involved hope you will repent and be re-baptised, thus they feel justified, but if you just take the fact that the person might not come back and you are possibly “casting them into the lake of fire”… its a pretty risky thing to do to a person when disfellowship can be effective enough. That is why I see it as violent. . From Clay . Excellent post, Clay. I agree with the basic idea that there is an aspect of “violence” in an excommunication, but I think we have to be very careful in how we define “violence” – which is why I agree with Bruce’s comment. Frankly, most of the “violence” I have seen in excommunications does not occur with the action itself, but rather with the effects of the action – both before and after. It is the pain inflicted by people involved in the lead-up and aftermath – the harsh words and the rejection and the bitter feelings and the deaf ears, not always the disciplinary council and its formal decision. In fact, sometimes that official action is almost a balm – as people stop fighting and simply accept the outcome. . I think your main point is spot-on, if I understand it correctly. I think we need to be MUCH more open to the idea that we need to find ways to decrease or even eliminate the violence that attends official Church discipline. Imho, excommunication initiated by the Church should be reserved ONLY for those instances where the member has taken an unyielding and public stance (either within the Church itself or outside of it) that places that member in direct and active opposition to the Church – where that member actively fights the Church as an obvious enemy. In those situations, violence can’t be avoided, but it still should be limited as much as possible. . Clay, after reading your #3 and re-reading my own #4 (which I wrote prior to reading yours), I need to make a clarification. I agree completely that excommunication is an act of real violence – even in cases where is can function as a “balm”. Cauterizing a wound still is a violent means of stopping the bleeding. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise, and I think I might have done so. I apologize for that. . From Ray . “where that member actively fights the Church as an obvious enemy. In those situations, violence can’t be avoided” . That is what I’m getting at. Why can’t it be avoided? Why can’t the church have a way to publicly state that they do not support or condone the opinions or actions of the person, but also send the message that they are still part of this family? Is there ever a point where a parent MUST disown a child because there is just no other option? . From Clay . I think we as a people are very unclear on the theology of membership, sin, and excommunication. . For instance, on my mission in Germany, as a district leader, I attended ward leadership meetings with my companion where the merits and demerits of singling out individuals for church discipline was discussed. This was in a context where church discipline had been wanton and arbitrary, sometimes imposed simply for extensive non-attendance combined with a desire for no-contact. . I distinctly remember the British bishop arguing with the German high priest group leader over whether it was kinder to excommunicate and enable individuals to “start over,” or to allow them to stay on the rolls and have the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I can’t remember now who took which side of the argument, but I remember the sadness I felt as I sympathized with those whose eternal souls were being talked about in this way. . After a similar conversation about cutting someone off from the church, Daryl Chase, when he was a stake president in Arizona, announced to his counselors and the high council that as long as he was stake president, there would be no one excommunicated in his stake. Right there is the strength and weakness of church discipline: local control and the lack of a clear, universal standard which one can follow and maintain membership, if desired. It is clear that in the Church we are victims of geography. . From John . “Is there ever a point where a parent MUST disown a child because there is just no other option?” . Yes, Clay, there is – if you replace “disown” with “separate from” or “kick out of the family”. (The concept might be the same to you and me, but “disown” implies a finality that isn’t there in excommunication – since members can be re-baptized after being excommunicated.) At some point, if someone is attacking in ways that truly are dangerous and damaging, protective walls do need to be built that keep the attacker outside the communal walls. . Real life example: . We helped raise a troubled young man for a little over a year. When we agreed to have him live with us, we had to make it crystal clear that there were certain things that we simply couldn’t tolerate in our house. Bringing drugs into our house and having sex in our house were two of them – IF those actions were deliberate and continued. He had to understand that doing those things against our expressed “command” not to do them would result in his being “kicked out” of our house. My wife and I saw those things as a direct threat to the well-being of our other children, so we were willing to “impose” those restrictions on him, as well. We wouldn’t have kicked him out for violating either of them once, but we wouldn’t have hesitated if he had done it repeatedly in open defiance of our core rules. . If our ONLY concern were the well-being of that one son, we would have had very different rules. However, we have six other children, and we simply couldn’t put any of them in danger of what we see as real harm to avoid inflicting harm on him. We had to make our decisions based on what we felt was best for the entire family, not just one member of it. . **I know that this is the area where most of the worst abuses or mistakes occur – the actions taken against one to “protect” others.** I know it is a fine line that is crossed or erased all too often. However, I also believe it is important to maintain the concept of that line and that area, even as we work to find ways to have it exclude fewer people. . Bottom line: . Sometimes the father needs to let the Prodigal Son leave and take ALL of his inheritance with him, but he always should be ready and willing to welcome him back. . From Ray . (Note: It's the prodigal son that leaves and seperates himself from the relationship not the father.) . * Disfellowshipment and excommunication are not a replacement for God’s final judgement. While God’s priesthood authorities judgments will be taken into consideration, it is possible for a priesthood holder to make a mistake. . etc. . Ray: Thanks for addressing the actual question. In the story of the young man, yes I agree with the need to kick him out of the house. But that is not the same thing as kicking him out of the family. I.e. his name is still a part of your family, right? Would it serve any purpose in protecting your family from his harmful behavior to declare that he was never your son and burn everything that has his name on it? I am essentially saying that I see your action as something like disfellowship, and not the same as excommunication. . From Clay . The only way excommunication can be standardized if there was some clear articulation of what merited the action: is Murder in the same category as opposing and denouncing a religion’s political agenda? Clearly the answer is no, but excommunication is a broad enough brush to cover both. It is sometimes an occasion of random violence. . Frome Ricercar . In this scenario, the Church is for everybody who chooses not to leave it. I love this scenario, and can imagine nothing closer to the spirit of Jesus Christ than to adopt some version of it. Because folks are still on the rolls, they would then be pastorally fellowshipped (sense the irony with the term disfellowshipment here?) because home and visiting teachers would still be assigned, and some basic church involvement could be allowed. . I was handed a list of close to 200 excommunicated persons when I arrived as a missionary in my first ward in Germany. They were all women and Aaronic Priesthood holders whom the previous bishop had summarily dismissed from their church membership, often with no formal proceeding having taken place. The new bishop was chagrined but felt that he couldn’t simply reinstate them, so I spent some of the next six months with my two companions visiting many of these people. The ones we were able to contact often didn’t even know they had been “crossed off the list.” . Personally, if I were ever a bishop or stake president, I would institute the Daryl Chase policy. I think the Church is in no danger of me ever being put in those positions, so I leave it to others like Ray, Bruce,and Andrew to develop compassionate and sensible forward-looking solutions to church discipline and the pain it causes. . From John . On the subject of respecting the right for those who believe in saving power and priesthood authority: You are still missing my core point. The fact that you believe so deeply in the value of my name being on the records of the church is exactly what adds the seriousness to your willingness to remove it. If being a member of the church were like being in any other organization, it wouldn’t matter. If you kick me out of a club, it has not implications on my eternal spiritual welfare. Maybe to the non-believer, the spiritual consequence of excommunication doesn’t really matter in and of itself… but the fact remains that someone who DOES BELIEVE chose to cut me off. . I don’t believe we are talking about actual fire and brimstone. From the believer’s view, if I am excommunicated and I don’t return, my salvation is in jeopardy and that is a horrible thing, right? So if you believe that, and are still willing to do it regardless of that risk… it doesn’t matter if I agree with the spiritual effect. You were willing to do it to me and that is the part that hurts. That is the violence that I’m talking about. . From Clay . The LDS church believes they have priesthood authority where what is done on earth is recorded in heaven. This is a basic core belief. However, there is no concept that if a mistake is made that God will honor it anyhow. Thus God is the final judge. . For the sake of simplifying things, let’s assume a worst case scenario that Clay is correct and excommunication does declare that believers consider that person now damned unless they repent. On a better case scenario, we can consider it merely being cut off from the community until certain changes are made to make them not a disruption to the community. . Now it seems to me that either way we have a doctrinal necessity here. If we perceive Mormon priesthood as having authority over salvation then being able to declare past saving ordinances null and void is a doctrinal necessity. . Likewise, if we just assume it’s about not distrupting the community and needing to be able to say “you are no longer part of the community unless you repent” we still have a doctrinal necessity. . Clay’s point is “aren’t we accomplshing the same thing with disfellowshipment?” But doctrinally they are not the same. One is temporarily asking the person to not participate as to not condone. The other is the cancelation of the perceived saving ordinances. . My counter point to Clay was that since he perceives them as different, then having two levels of discipline obviously means something and thus he’s answered his own question. . From Bruce . The problem is that I disagree with your interpretation of Mormon doctrine here. The belief is not necessarily that we are damning the person, as per John’s comment in #8 where it was percieved as a fresh start. In fact, the belief is generally that we are helping them in two ways: . 1. This might wake them up so they can come back 2. There is greater condemnation if they break their convenants then have them canceled. . So excommunication, from a believers point of view, is perceived as always merciful and never “a risk” as you are suggesting. . Thus I hold fundamentally different assumptions about how Mormons are supposed to perceive excommuncation. . If priesthood authority actually worked like you perceive it, then the right thing to do would be to never excommunicate anyone ever because, who knows, maybe that ordiance will somehow save them in the end. If we believed as you preceive it, then we would never ever perform excommunications except as an act of revenge and thus we should never do them at all. Thus I would agree with you. . From Bruce . (i.e. just like excommunicating them is supposed to reduce the condemnation). Bruce (Where on earth did u get this idea!?) . I think this is why we should be talking more about how to work out compromises and reduce excommunication rather than try to eliminate it or doctrinally nullify it. Everything we’ve said up to this point suggests to me it’s necessity to exist, but also suggests that there are real communal ramifications — not merely non-existent spiritual ones — that go along with the concept. Such impacts are very real and that’s exactly why they are often effective as a way of helping people want to change their behavior. I think we miss the boat to think of this solely in terms of how it “affects one’s salvation in the afterlife.” I think we miss the boat to even assume that is the primary concern of most members or post-members. . Bruce . To answer Clay’s question, WHY is it necessary to excommunicate, I think the answer is very primal. It’s the worst thing we can do, and we haven’t let the message of Christ sink into our hearts and church culture enough so that we feel an institutional act is necessary for someone to be forgiven of sin. I have never read this in the scriptures by the way, which is why I asked a pointed question about the theology of excommunication. We don’t have one, except by uncanonical tradition and policy, that for some reason, people’s sins are worse when they have made covenants and that repenting by throwing yourself on the mercy of Jesus Christ is not enough. . In summary, and this may be a bold statement, the NEED to excommunicate comes from the same dark place in our culture that produced a president of the Church who believed that there were some sins for which the blood of Jesus could not atone, but for which the sinner himself or herself must suffer by voluntarily (or not) having their blood shed. . Excommunication is spiritual blood atonement. . From John . Great Post Clay . I can tell this will be the shortest post here!! . I think all bishops, stake presidents and high councilman and possibly GA’s should be refreshed in their minds of what an excommunication means. . “Disfellowship basically accomplishes the most necessary functions to protect the church. The person is not able to participate in any public worship practices which would indicate endorsement or condoning of their positions, like holding callings, praying in meetings, or exercising priesthood. The only thing that excommunication does beyond that is the blotting out of their name from the book of life. It is an “eternity-level” punishment with no “temporal-level” impact above and beyond disfellowship.” . They should also be made aware of the percentage odds of a member returning to the church after an individual has been excommunicated and the probable effects this will have in percentage terms on that individuals posterity long term activity . James . I’m still a member of record. No, I don’t see God’s Book of Life as having any special LDS connection. Nor am I hedging my bets. I moved on in liberty to my allegiance to God and faith in Christ. To write a letter of resignation still feels like I’d be regressing to define my relationship with God as one of corporate “churchness.” While I have since received an “evangelical” Christian baptism and am very involved with another denomination, “joining” was not my motivation. . Therefore we seek to pursue God in liberty and have asked our former LDS leadership to honor that liberty. So far they have and sociable contact has been appropriate. Sure, some former LDS friends now avoid us, and some family members treat us very differently, but not all. We changed our community. So for those who define themselves strongly by affiliation this is a huge chasm to bridge — or not bridge at all. This experience has freed us to find good in the LDS community for those who don’t define their faith and religious practice primarily that way. Some have still reached out in authentic friendship and acceptance of our kids. Therefore, I still see opportunity with many LDS members for friendship and bridge-building. From Just for Quix . Oh…and the theology of excommunication is quite clearly in the scriptures “blotting out” and “if they do not repent, they must suffer even as I have suffered.” Mosiah 26 and D&C 19. There are also plenty of other references to disciplinary action such as Acts 5 (and others…I’m in a hurry right now, so if it’s still a hot topic, then i’ll discuss it further!) Russell . What, then, is the effect of resignation or excommunication on the salvation or exaltation of the individual (regardless of its effect on his or her standing with the remainder of the congregation or community)? Does it move him or her from the resurrection of the just to the resurrection of the unjust? . Assume 5 individuals with identical (let us say, righteous: tithe mint & cummin, love God with all heart mind & strength, love neighbor as self, whatever) moral codes, beliefs and actions: . Individual #1 is an active, endowed, sealed (always attending) member of the Church. #2 is an endowed and sealed member of the Church, who seldom worships with the Saints. #3 is endowed & sealed, but has resigned from the Church. #4 accompanies his LDS wife to her meetings, but doesn’t join out of respect to the wishes of his saintly mother. #5 is very involved with his or her Unitarian church. . Which of the 5 can expect to be included with the resurrection of the just? Of the unjust? Is the Atonement efficacious for some, but not for others? Which? Are the salvific ordinances necessary for inclusion in the resurrection of the just? Can administrative action withdraw the effects of those ordinances, or are they efficacious after having been received? . From Micah . Ok, Clay, . I think I had to get my connotative aversion to the word off my chest so I could better focus on what you’re saying. . In our case, my wife was disciplined. She was repentant. We were broken. And in this vulnerable moment the Church presents God as so displeased with her as to cut her out of salvational communion with Him. This happens to be inseparably tied to communion with the Church. The church at this time for us was a meaningful and non-meaningful blend of claimed divine access, authority, genuine community, family tradition, and mixed day-to-day benefits. Yet confessing and submitting felt to my wife and me the honest thing to do. All was severed in order to fully weigh the seriousness of her sin upon her mind and soul. . Our marriage almost being over was such a real and pressing concern at this time that such discipline just couldn’t seem as weighty to us as I can see it is from the LDS God-church perspective. My wife already deeply felt that she could never be worthy again of my love or God’s love, yet, she felt love from me and from God. The excommunication seemed, then, like a paper tiger in its coolness and formality. It seemed like she should feel worse about losing something like this, but it was so passively-aggressively delivered that it was more confusing than anything, I think. . The process probably was excessively draconian, but alleviated somewhat because the men in charge were kindly, smiling, bumbling administrators. The detailed questioning process probably should have felt more violating to her, but here were men she generally liked doing the act. The God-church was willing to say this state of transgression was also my failure because my eternal marriage was also severed till she resubmit. That could have been even more greatly hurtful, but yet I already was in a place where my faith, though weak, was not rooted in the church as my intermediary. . So, yes, I see the violence you speak of. Maybe we were already prepared to find hope elsewhere, and diverted so greatly by more pressing problems, that the process just didn’t feel violent. And while their actions gave us mixed signals, we truly felt free to start over. . Just for Quix . Excommunication means that a person is forbidden from communion, that is, from partaking of the sacrament. (or participating in other ordinances of the Church for that matter). According to the teachings of Jesus (in 3 Ne 16:28-32) it is properly restricted to the unrepentant, those whose definant disobedience threatens to destroy others. This would imply that it is not to be done to prune the inactive from the rolls, or for failing to pay tithes or offerings, nor in revenge for a slight, or for holding unorthodox doctrinal opinions, nor even for addictive behavior that the church member is trying to overcome. The Church doesn’t even have the authority to exclude those who are excommunicated from public worship, because as far as we mortals know, they could still repent and come to Christ with full purpose of heart. So, as far as casting them into hell…that’s God’s privilege alone. Confutus . http://mormonmatters.org/2008/09/05/an-act-of-violence/ . OH LOOK! Now there's the original link! I had it all along! :D

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