John Dehlin’s excommunication highlights Mormon hypocrisy on ‘religious freedom’

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(RNS1-June 12) John Dehlin. For use with RNS-MORMON-COUNCILS transmitted on June 12, 2014, Creative Commons image by Tom Caswell

(RNS1-June 12) John Dehlin. For use with RNS-MORMON-COUNCILS transmitted on June 12, 2014, Creative Commons image by Tom Caswell

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When the LDS Church excommunicates its own members for apostasy, it undermines the legitimacy of its freedom of thought, conscience and religion campaigns abroad.

  • Michael Worley

    Religious freedom is not the right to be associated with a faith that does not want to be associated with you. Should the Catholics be forced to let a believer in Islam take their communion? Or be baptized? No.

    In contrasts, should catholics be able to exclude Muslims from basic civil liberties? again, of course not.

    This post mistakenly views religious freedom as exclusively an individual right, when it is also a right to associate– or not associate– with other believers.

    This post’s theory of religious freedom has been rejected by the Supreme Court 9-0 in Hosana-Tabor v. EEOC. RNS should publish a response to this post clarifying the dual nature of religious freedom– protection for individuals and for religious institutions.

  • Michael Worley

    While the post does acknowledge the “right” to excommunicate, it claims that right is contrary to core principles of religious freedom. There is no right to be a member of a group or faith that won’t have you, and standing up for those rights does not violate religious freedom.

  • Michael Worley:

    I agree. This, from the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, seems apropos:

    “We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.”

    The LDS Church did not put Dehlin to death. They did not steal his property. They did not inflict physical punishment on him. In fact, he is welcome to still attend LDS worship services any time. It’s just (hopefully only temporarily) that he can’t do so as a member of the LDS Church.

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  • MinJae Lee

    This article displays a very juvenile and uninformed point of view. It is amazing that someone of such limited insight and understanding could be employed as the “director of global strategy” for any organization.

    In what way, Mr. Pellot, was Mr. Dehlin’s freedom restricted? (Please, be very specific.) He is free to continue to believe what he wants, teach and preach what he wants, meet with whomever he wants, attend church meetings if he wants. He is simply no longer able to claim that he is a member in good standing with this organization.

    Your article is simply stunning in its ignorance and lack of rational, reasoned thinking. Come back when you have matured a bit.

  • Brian Pellot

    I haven’t argued that Dehlin’s religious freedom has been restricted. I have argued that the church looks hypocritical, which diminishes its FoRB legitimacy, when it publicly endorses “the human right to think and believe and also to express and act upon what one deeply believes according to the dictates of his or her moral conscience” and then kicks out members who do just that, which I make clear it has the right to do, obviously.

  • Economist


    Let’s consider an analogous situation: Is it hypocritical for me to assert my support for the First Amendment and then disinvite you to my garden party after you have repeatedly–and very publicly–accused me of sexism, deception, and lying?

    Your argument is based on a fallacy wherein you conflate respect for freedom with a mandate of fellowship.

  • Ralph Merk

    Mr. Pellot apparently has trouble understanding what an organized religion is. It is (at least in theory and ideally) a voluntary association of people brought and held together by similar beliefs and values. That association’s purpose is to teach, maintain and propagate those beliefs and values. When a member no longer shares those beliefs and values, he or she is no longer existentially a member of that organized religion. The member has de facto left the religion voluntarily. When that fact becomes a public matter because the member actively and openly attacks the tenets of that faith, the faithful members of the religion have not only a right but duty to make it clear that the member in question does not speak for the religion, and further to recognize publicly that that member is no longer a member by his or her own actions and statements. That is not hypocrisy. That is honesty. It accurately describes the relationship between the former member and the religion. By Mr. Pellot’s standard, to defend freedom of (or from) religion means to erase the boundaries that define a system of religious belief. THAT is the end of religious freedom. But, judging from the often snide comments that accompany intros to some RNS postings, it is a common attitude at RNS. BTW, I agree with much of what Mr. Dehlin says about LDS, but that does not mean that the LDS community has to go along with the fiction that Mr. Dehlin still holds the beliefs that make one a Mormon.

  • Michael Worley

    I am grateful you have begun to clarify. I am glad you agree that the LDS church has the obvious right to do what it did. For much of the same reasons I stated above, the LDS Church doing what it did does not make it hypocritical.

    The LDS Church and numerous other faiths always distinguish between human rights of all irrespective of faith and the privilege to be associated with a specific group or religion. This distinction is also present in Supreme Court precedent.

    To be simple: A right to religious freedom does not contradict the freedom to not associate those with those who disagree with you. As a commentator below pointed out: “Let’s consider an analogous situation: Is it hypocritical for me to assert my support for the First Amendment and then disinvite you to my garden party after you have repeatedly–and very publicly–accused me of sexism, deception, and lying?”

  • Michael Worley

    The LDS Church can only take away privileges of memberships. If they were to say, imprison Dehlin, that would be a deprivation of rights. Not being a member in good standing is not a right; Dehlin has every Human Right that Thomas S. Monson does.

  • Eric Schulzke

    Sophomoric. Saying that freedom of religion requires you to embrace within your faith even those who don’t believe in it is like saying that if I believe in freedom of speech I am obliged to publish your repellant thoughts in my own publication. As a wise man once said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • lindasdf

    Everyone is free to choose to believe or not believe.

    Every church or religion is free to allow or not allow anyone to worship with them, or belong to their fold.

    Freedom works both ways.

    Like Mr. Dehlin’s stake president said, he is free to believe as he wants and complain or whatever, but he is not free to complain about the church as a member of the church.

    We are not taking any of his freedoms away, that would take any of our freedoms away.

    It’s like I always say, your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.

  • lindasdf

    Thank you, very well said. I am a faithful member in good standing of the LDS church, and what Mr. Pellot says here makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

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