As John Dehlin awaits the verdict of Sunday's disciplinary council, I'd like to point out once again that excommunication is an act of religious savagery. If you believe in the truthfulness of Mormonism, excommunication is essentially the spiritual death penalty. Not only could John lose his membership in the church, but he can be stripped of all the blessings he's been eligible for in the past. This means his baptism is nullified and his temple marriage is no longer valid. Unless he reconciles with the church leadership, he cannot qualify for the highest degree of glory...and even if he did, he would no longer be sealed to his family.
It's a cruel, barbaric overreaction on the church's part that this kind of punishment exists and is even being considered in Dehlin's case.
And in terms that the church leadership can understand, this is a bad PR move. A decent amount of the world already thinks Mormonism is weird. The media attention that this has attracted, while not exactly front page news, can only convince more people to shift Mormonism from the "weird" category into the "cult" category.
I don't exactly understand John Dehlin's personal stance about the truth claims of the church, but I do think that he's a genuine, well-meaning guy who's done a lot of good. Also, unlike some people who have utterly failed to put themselves in John's shoes, I think he is truly brave for defying a religion so central to his life and his identity while being willing to risk such harsh, public punishment in order to follow his conscience.
Although I'm overjoyed to see that the church is behaving so irresponsibly because it might help the membership and the public come to see it for the damaging, fraudulent organization that it is, it's hard to see something so appalling happen to a good guy who's just trying to do the right thing.
I don't drink alcohol, but tonight I'm enjoying this jamocha shake from Arby's in your honor, John. Best of luck to you and your family during what is surely a harrowing time.
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