Mormon News, June 23–27

In the News

Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement, was notified via email by her former bishop that she had been excommunicated in absentia this week by her all-male ward leadership. News of the decision was reported LDS Templeinternationally in hundreds of media outlets. The excommunication sparked a flurry of debate and discussion online and in op-ed pages. Bridget Jack Jeffries, a non-Mormon, wrote that her “LDS friends tell me that when a father comes under church discipline, he will be barred from participation in ceremonies such as the blessing and naming of his children as part of his punishment. This outsider finds it curious that the church punishes unrighteous fathers by treating them like faithful mothers.”

Some observers thought the point of the excommunication was to put all would-be Mormon activists on notice. Others, including Nate Oman blogging at Times and Seasons, wrote that while he is saddened by Kelly’s excommunication, it would be a mistake to read it as a blanket attack or message not to ask difficult questions. Kelly and other members of Ordain Women say they have no intention of shutting down their organization.

Months after hearing oral arguments, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that gay marriage should be legal in Utah. It was the first appellate court to rule on the issue after at least twenty lower courts unanimously found marriage to a same-sex partner to be a Constitutionally protected right. The LDS Church issued a statement that it will continue its opposition. The state, too, announced its intent to appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court, although there is no guarantee the high court will agree to hear the case. Some are predicting that the court may simply allow this recent ruling to stand, making marriage equality the law in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.

A Utah man, Wayne Dodge, was sentenced to thirty days in jail for assaulting another man who had saved too much prime space in the front pews at an LDS chapel in Plain City. The seats were intended for visitors who were attending a missionary farewell and baby blessing. Dodge showed his displeasure inside the chapel, then attacked the other man afterward in the parking lot.

On the Blogs

Lindsay Hansen Park, writing at Feminist Mormon Housewives, argued that excommunication is ingrained in Mormon consciousness because of psychological bruises we collectively carry from past persecution. The Strengthening Church Members Committee is a modern-day whistling brigade like the one that chased strangers out of town in Nauvoo. “The men who excommunicated Kate Kelly are not the enemy,” she reminded readers; “they too are our people. Our biggest enemy is our collective, unchecked self, and the bleeding scars of our history.”

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor