In Dec 2021 I was disfellowshipped from the LDS church for the crime of apostasy. On the website for the LDS church the current definition of apostasy is:
“When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy.”LDS.org
In the handbook however apostasy is no longer defined as going against the Gospel of Christ, but against the LDS church:
“Repeatedly acting in clear and deliberate public opposition to the Church, its doctrine, its policies, or its leaders”LDS Handbook 18.104.22.168
This updated definition is rather convenient from the perspective of the LDS church. The church is now elevated to a higher level of protection from critical analysis. It certainly makes sense as to why they would do this however personally if I was doing something wrong then I would want someone to point it out in a kind way, certainly. The leaders may not be open to this level of correction.
Being disfellowshipped or excommunicated from any group almost never is the result of an instantaneous action. It quite often is the result of a long series of actions that manifest over time. The following is an explanation of the events that ultimately led up to the “court of love”. Before I get into that though, having gone through a membership review it is painfully obvious that the meeting was not for me to change, but for me to comply with my leaders. There was no discussion about what I did wrong and whether it was in fact scripturally wrong. There was no advanced notice about the specific charges with evidence so I could defend myself. There was no reasoning about the scriptures. There was no desire to see things from my perspective. The only point of the meeting was for me to admit I was wrong and to do what my leaders said. That was the only way back into the good graces of my leaders.
In early 2020 when news first broke about Covid-19 I was of course skeptical since we had already heard about numerous “end of the world” pandemics that were incessantly hyped by the media however were nowhere near as deadly or harmful in reality. This included the HIV scare of the 80’s, SARS scare of the early 2000’s, swine flu nonsense in 2010, Ebola panic in 2014, and the Zika overreaction in 2016. Each of those diseases were of course concerning, in their own right, however none of them needed a fundamental shift in society in order for us to handle them.
In early 2020 we certainly didn’t have much data about covid as we do now however the early reports from doctors were that it was ‘flu-like’ and a ‘disease of the elderly’ or those with several co-morbidities. Thus, I was honestly surprised when the church decided to close down globally. We of course started to have church services at home which was interesting at times with my 7 children. I however honestly liked it and felt that it was more natural instead of the more prescribed approach I had been accustomed to.
Around this same time we started to get confusing and contradictory statements from government leaders such as:
- Covid was similar to a bad flu (Mar 2020)
- We “did not have to worry” or it was “not a major threat” (Apr 2020)
- HCQ was not an effective treatment even though it was rated the best out of an international poll of 6000 doctors.
- Covid was highly contagious, and we should socially distance however tinder meetups are ok. (Apr 2020)
- Masks are not effective and covid can pass through all except the highest rated. (May 2020)
It was all very confusing so my wife and I researched and asked God for direction and he told us we didn’t need to worry, masks were unnecessary, and we were going to be fine. This however didn’t quite help with the people who were starting to panic and make life more difficult.
A few months after this governments started to issue mandates such as requiring facemasks and social distancing. However, we very quickly saw the leaders themselves violating the mandates and setting themselves up as a separate class of people. My wife and I studied and prayed, and God told us that we shouldn’t comply. The mandates were unrighteous. It also all seemed foreign to me and contrived since all levels of society seemed to be parroting the same talking points almost identically. It also was further confusing since we were being forced to comply with unconstitutional mandates while we were studying the righteous examples of people like Abinadi who spoke against his political system, Captain Moroni who fought to defend truth, and Samuel the Lamanite who delivered a message from God at the risk of his own life. Comparing these men of God with the general membership of the church was a stark juxtaposition. Government leaders were telling us to jump, and many were saying ‘how high.’
Where was Freedom?
A few months after this church reopened with unimaginably draconian measures in order to attend. These included: temperature checks at home, ushers to escort people to their proper seats, unnatural sacrament protocols, mandatory masks, contact tracing, no singing, and excessive cleaning after each meeting. All of this for a virus which was statistically likely to only effect the elderly who could easily stay home themselves. We were treating each other as toxic when in reality there was close to a 99.7% chance that a given person would not get covid at all.
My Bishop even went so far as to write:
“Just to be clear, if you can’t agree to wear a mask, have a fever, won’t social distance, plan to sing the hymns, will hug everyone, etc… you MUST stay home.”Loving words from my Bishop
This certainly didn’t make us feel welcome or included and actually further alienated us. We had medical exemptions to wearing the masks and were told we were not welcome and shouldn’t even try to attend. It honestly really hurt my wife who longed for the social interaction of church.
However, the idea of contact tracing alone was enough to make me not want to attend. In the worst case one member of the congregation could have tested positive and then everyone could have been forced to quarantine for 2 weeks. I sent my Bishop and Stake President an email asking about contact tracing and unexpectedly received a phone call from my Stake President. The call was pleasant however I was very concerned about why we were capitulating and not defending the Constitution like most of the prophets said we should. It seemed like we were taking the 12th article of faith to a whole new level.
In Nov 2020, my wife sent a very polite email to my Bishop and Stake President to inform them we have a medical exemption to face masks and according to WA state law we should be allowed to participate in society. She also mentioned that the isolation was stifling and not sustainable. My Bishop responded that since we had a YouTube option then we were not welcome at church. However, since there was no other option for my older children then they were welcome at youth activities.
In Jan 2021, President Nelson and the other senior church leaders all received the vaccine while encouraging the members to do so. President Nelson declared the vaccine to be a “godsend”, “safe and effective”, and “miraculous”. I was alarmed though because the vaccine was minimally tested, used a totally new mRNA technology, and administered by a historically corrupt industry that favored financial profit over health. My wife and I studied and prayed individually and came to the same conclusion that we were going to skip the vaccine. I personally feel like God told me it is unnecessary and will cause more harm than good.
My wife and I continued to attend remotely and in May 2021 I discovered that my younger children were being intentionally excluded from their primary activities. I sent an email to my Bishop and Stake President and notified them this was in violation of WA state law. My Bishop spoke to my wife and rearranged things to allow them to attend which I was thankful for.
In Jun 2021 my wife sent an email to my Bishop referencing this scripture.
Nevertheless ye are commanded never to cast any one out from your public meetings, which are held before the world. Ye are also commanded not to cast any one who belongeth to the church out of your sacrament meetings; nevertheless, if any have trespassed, let him not partake until he makes reconciliation.D&C 46: 3-4
After that email my Bishop’s stance changed and we were allowed to attend which we did after more than a year of being excluded. It was honestly nice to be able to attend again. It also was helpful because at that time if you were vaccinated then you didn’t have to wear a mask so we could ‘blend’ in without causing any adverse effects.
Scriptures are Forbidden
In August 2021 I felt inspired to stand before the congregation and bear my testimony. I spoke of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. At the end I referenced 3 scriptures and then mentioned I didn’t want to be a “good global citizen”, but a “citizen in Christ.” The scriptures were:
- JST Matthew 21: 50-56. Gospel taken from the gentiles
- D&C 112: 23-25. Latter day destruction will begin on God’s house.
- D&C 64: 38-40. Zion is to police itself.
In sharing those scriptures, the thought never occurred to me that I was going against my leaders or criticizing anyone in any way. I never mentioned any leader specifically or generally. I thought I was sharing doctrine and was trying to get people to awake from the “All is well in Zion” mentality Nephi wrote about in 2 Nephi 28:21. I am frankly sorry it was perceived in any other way.
Immediately after that my Bishop informed me I can no longer speak in church unless it is 100% uncontroversial. I told him that was difficult because everyone interprets things differently. He said then it may be best to no longer talk at all.
A few weeks pass and I am trying to be careful while also still feeling like I can participate in a helpful manner. Sometimes I wouldn’t make any comments at all while other times I would make very minor comments.
Comments Not Allowed
On Sept 19th 2021, we were discussing D&C 102 and someone asked if the church still followed the disciplinary steps outlined. Someone spoke and said that the church still did. I however disagreed and mentioned how I had read a few accounts where the church clearly did not. The class said I was wrong and the information was likely biased because it was from disaffected individuals. There is however ample proof that we in fact no longer follow D&C 102.
On Oct 17th 2021, we were discussing tithing and fast offerings from D&C 119. I had some questions which we discussed then I said it was confusing to me that an independent group, Bountiful Children’s Foundation, was needed to combat childhood malnutrition when the church was so rich. I mentioned how according to them approximately 900 active LDS children die per year from malnutrition and 80,000 children suffer chronically. The class then got somewhat upset and the teacher then said essentially it was okay to die if you were following the prophet. I was dumbfounded and stopped participating.
In response to the sentiment of the class I proactively sent my Bishop an email informing him of this. I then mentioned that he could send me a formal request to no longer speak if needed which he did. I did this because he had mentioned that it would be the natural next step. I however had never shared anything wrong or critical of any leader past or present. Nothing however will ever improve if we are not able to critically analyze and discuss issues in the church.
Approximately 1 month after receiving the letter we were discussing the idea of Ministering and I made the comment that ministering was hard for me because I am not naturally social, and it felt like being assigned a friend. I was in the middle of speaking and I was cut off by the Elders Quorum president and then ignored for the rest of the lesson. However, my brief comment was picked up by others and started to be discussed by the class as a whole and others agreed. I again proactively sent my Bishop an email stating that my comment was on topic, helpful, and others agreed. I also asked for clarification from the handbook since I felt I was doing nothing wrong and was being accused of going against my leaders however I never did and never was. The reasoning alone was quite cyclical. I am going against my leaders because I wanted clarification of how I was going against my leaders.
My Way or the Highway
My Stake President then wanted to meet with my wife and I. He started the meeting with simple pleasantries and then stated the purpose of the meeting was that I was guilty of apostasy and need a membership review. There was no desire to understand my perspective, to council with me, or to discuss anything. I was told I was going against my leaders and was an apostate. I never shared or stated anything that was wrong, or unorthodox. Everything I ever stated or shared was accepted doctrine of the church. I never wanted or attempted to destroy anyone’s faith or testimony in their leaders or the church. All I wanted was to help myself and others to prepare for the second coming of Christ. During the meeting my Stake President asked my wife if she believed President Nelson was a prophet of God. She stated that she did in fact believe that. My Stake President then told her point blank that she in fact did not believe that because she would not wear a mask or get the vaccine. She was confused and dumbfounded how someone could be so dismissive of her beliefs like that.
It is mind boggling that someone can even be kicked out of the LDS Church for something as minor as what I did. I am guilty of no crime before God or man except to share edifying things in church. If something I have said is incorrect I ask, and even beg, people to help me be correct. I want to be pleasing to God. However today you can no longer share things that may hurt someone’s feelings. Honestly when was the last time we heard in general conference that we are all vile disgusting creatures before God and need to repent to avoid destruction. Instead we get variations on the prosperity gospel where God loves us, he will take care of us, and everything will work out fine.
Certainly, I was officially asked to no longer speak, and I honestly did speak after that point. However, I asked for clarification as to the rules pertaining to that situation and was literally ignored by my Bishop. My only desire in life is to build up the Kingdom of God and be pleasing to him. I felt as if God wanted me to bear my testimony that day and I felt as if I was doing the work of God.
Treated Like a Cancer
Going on 5 months now and my EQ President and Bishop have still not said a word to me. I am treated as a cancer to be avoided and now study in the foyer during class. I do meet monthly with my Stake President where he generally tells me I am wrong however he doesn’t have to tell me how because he is my Stake President. During one of our meetings, I read a quote from Bruce R. McConkie which stated that false doctrine is in fact taught in the church and that we need to base our beliefs on the scriptures and not men otherwise we would vacillate back and forth with every leader. At the end of this quote, he got so mad he literally kicked me out of his office.
Prophets are men and they make mistakes. Sometimes they err in doctrine. This is one of the reasons the Lord has given us the Standard Works. They become the standards and the rules that govern where doctrine and philosophy are concerned. If this were not so, we would believe one thing when one man was president of the Church and another thing in the days of his successors.Bruce R. McConkie
I get it that some things are hard to consider. I get that the truth is inconvenient sometimes. I also get that at one point in my life I was a, do-anything-the-prophet-says member. I don’t fault anyone for the choices they are making, and I totally understand the motivation. I am however very grateful to my Heavenly Father for showing me a different way.
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and I know that the Book of Mormon is scripture. I am very thankful to the work that Joseph performed in bringing the Gospel back and I really look forward to when the restoration can continue, and we will receive the fullness again. This will be a time of great rejoicing where we can enjoy the divine protection of heaven and become the people that God wants us to be.