The Mormon church has excommunicated a popular podcaster, saying his public dissents from the religion’s core beliefs have led others away from the church.
John Dehlin, founder of the podcast “Mormon Stories,” describes himself as an “unorthodox” Mormon whose church roots reach back five generations. Under Tuesday’s penalty, however, Dehlin may not participate in church sacraments for at least one year. He has the right to appeal the decision.
Dehlin is the second Mormon to be excommunicated in the past year, following Kate Kelly, who was kicked out last June for pushing the church to admit women to its all-male priesthood.
Tuesday’s excommunication was announced in a letter to Dehlin from his Brian King, the stake president, or local church leader, in North Logan, Utah.
King said that Dehlin was not excommunicated for criticizing the church, which he has openly admitted to, but for denying core Mormon doctrines. The church has concluded that Dehlin’s views on the following amount to apostasy:
— Questioning the nature of God and divinity of Christ;
— Calling the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham, two central texts, fraudulent;
— Teaching that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon church’s official name, is not the “true church with power and authority from God.”
“You have spread these teachings widely via the Internet to hundreds of people in the past and have shared with me, in previous correspondence, that you will continue to do so,” King wrote to Dehlin in a letter dated February 9.
Dehlin has said that he suspects his support for female ordination and same-sex marriage, both of which Mormon leaders oppose, was behind the effort to excommunicate him.
King and Mormon church spokesmen say that’s not true.
“Church disciplinary trials are usually kept private, but when the member has chosen to air their grievances in public, the Church reserves the right to correct the public record,” Mormon leaders said in a statement.
“Church discipline is not designed to be the end of the process,” church spokesmen said, “but the beginning of the road back to full fellowship.”
Dehlin, who has run the Mormon Stories podcast and a related website for about a decade, told NPR that he stopped attending church last year.
In a statement on Tuesday, Dehlin said: “My wife, Margi, and I are proud to stand in support of both free expression and gender/marriage equality within Mormonism. While we are saddened that the LDS Church has chosen to excommunicate me for publicly supporting these values, we support the church’s right to make this decision.”