Thursday, September 25, 2008

Prop 8 Excommunication

This post falls in that between ground, as is not a a gay site as focused on LDS issues as I necessarily am here. But I caught this story last night on the news:

Man faces possible excommunication from LDS Church for supporting same sex marriage

It says, “ are reported to have participated in conduct unbecoming a member of the church and have been in apostasy."

Andrew Callahan responds by saying, "I am a member of a church that is oppressing people and that just seems wrong to me and I am trying to stop them."
The LDS church certainly has a right to do this along with a right to the consequences and atmosphere within the congregation following such a move. It seems Mr. Callahan began the site signing for something to fight Prop 8. I'm not sure what it took to cause the church to act against him above that, or if there is anything above that (can anyone enlighten me?).

Regardless of the reasons, the press has spread the message. I personally fear how this will weigh on the minds of my siblings and LDS friends who have supported my family in the past. Will they be there the next time we ask?

[sigh] November can't come and go fast enough for me. I need a break.


Kengo Biddles said...

It really, really saddens me. You have to wonder if the Church will ever stop taking the "hard-line" stance?

Will he be re-admitted posthumously like the German saints who fought against Hitler and were first excommunicated then re-admitted posthumously?


[kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] said...

This is a huge political blunder for the church. It's making them look even more vindictive and unable to accept any sort of criticism, and making it even more obvious that their claims of allowing their members to act as they please on political matters are a lie.

Dichotomy said...

I do believe that the Church is making a mistake, but it's not quite as cut-and-dried as it appears.

In addition to creating Signing for Something, Mr. Callahan sent numerous letters to mid-level Church authorities (temple presidents, mission presidents, area authorities, etc.) containing an array of "cards and code-words" and "instruction sheets" claiming to be from an organization that was organizing against the first presidency. He used this deception in the hopes that they would get his letter fast-tracked to the first presidency and quorum of the twelve.

He explains himself in a couple of YouTube videos (1) (2).

I think his intentions are good, and I don't think that he has done anything that should be considered excommunicable, but I do think that he showed poor judgment in the means ho chose to get his message to the higher-ups in the Church.

I do agree that disciplinary action against him might cause members to think twice about speaking their minds in the future, which is a tragedy (though the Church might not see it that way).

MohoInTx said...

I don't think it was his stance that did it... just the way he went about announcing his feelings... kind of like what dichotomy was saying.

And I think we all want November to just come and go. :)

Dichotomy said...

I suppose that technically, what they've got him on is a charge of Apostasy. Page 94 of the 1999 edition of the Handbook of Instructions says:

As used here, apostasy refers to members who:
1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders

His opposition to Church leaders has been clear, open, deliberate and public, so I guess it fits the definition.

(I'm not saying that they're right in taking disciplinary action--just pointing out that it does fit within the Church's guidelines)

Anonymous said...

According to his posts on, he also used his ward list to send out letters to members of his local congregation, which was what (I think) especially got his local leaders' attention.

Too bad for him; I'm not sure he wanted to leave the Mormon church. Hopefully this will get Prop 8 some very bad press, at least!

Beck said...

I think it was raised to the point of a disciplinary action because of what DICHO has pointed out. Had he not gone public to openly recruit against the Church I don't think it would have gone to the point.

Excommunication, in my experience, has been used as the first step of repentance in coming back. Why excommunicate someone who doesn't want to be a member anymore?

In this case, though I profess no knowledge, it seems like the step is taken to "make him an example" and that is sad.

I hope my blog won't be considered 'apostate' material of openly recruiting in a 'public' manner others to move from the Church if I voice a different opinion. Am I naive to believe there is still room for a difference of opinion? I hope so, and I hope we're talking the "manner in which it is done", not that "it can't be done".

Dichotomy said...

Officially, I believe excommunication is called for either:

1) As a first step to repentance, as Beck points out or...

2) As a means of protecting members of the Church from physical or spiritual harm.

In this case, I'm sure the leaders consider it an instance of the second case--he's causing spiritual harm by leading people to question the Prophet. By excommunicating him, they will theoretically shelter the members from the spiritual damage.

(Of course, there's no reason to assume he'll stop speaking against the Church's involvement in Prop 8 after he's been exed, so I'm not sure how much "protection" his excommunication will provide. Unless we're talking about it having the effect of causing members to think twice before voicing their opposition, lest they be excommunicated too...)

[kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] said...

Not allowing members to ever voice concern or criticism of their own leaders is far more dangerous than one man's opinions on gay marriage.

While some may view it as "protecting members from spiritual harm", this action (and similar) of publicly getting rid of people who voice their concern about the church leaders' actions and political stances is far more harmful in the long run. It serves (probably purposefully) to make church members afraid to voice any dissent or concerns they may have and feel that they have to agree 100%, or if they don't pretend they do or face excommunication.

It makes me wonder what they're so afraid of if they're so convinced that they're right. Why can't they listen to criticism once in a while? They claim to be fallible men, but they never make any mistakes which might warrant some further enquiries oversight?

chosha said...

Read it. Was disappointed. Signed the petition.

Scot said...

I usually try to reply to everyone, but that's just too many comments :-). Let me say, thank you to those who brought up the additional information (and signed the petition); I suspected there was more to the story.

Still, it is sad. And still, regardless of what the guy did, the message, intended or not, sent to LDS members, some that are allies of my family, is in the headline: "Man faces possible excommunication from LDS Church for supporting same sex marriage"

Dichotomy said...

If anyone's interested, here's the latest from Mr. Callahan's Stake Pres:

"Dear Brother Callahan,
We have decided to defer your disciplinary council to a later date given this politically charged election season. We feel that a more measured and considered discussion can be held at a date sometime in November."

Perhaps the disciplinary action was just his Stake President's doing and someone higher up who is more media savvy has put their hand in?

Or possibly the whole thing was orchestrated from higher up and the media attention has made them nervous?

Scot said...

Ah, thank you Dichotomy!

Will be interesting to see how it plays out after the vote.

kevin said...

Hey, I'm new to your blog.

Walking from Shakespeare to Grammar on BYU campus the other day, I saw a "Vote Prop 8" sign on one of the department boards in the basement of a campus building...they even distributed absentee ballots in the student center.

Anyways, I was sickened and wanted to tear down the sign. I guess if it would have cost me my church membership had I done so, so for my wife's sake, I'm glad I refrained.

Apparently I'm not the only one who was upset with the poster, as it was quickly removed, thank God.

Scot said...

Hi Kevin, and welcome.

At least the sign was short lived; I hate to think how such affects some of the gay/SSA students there.