Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Inside Look At An LDS Stake Disciplinary Council Hearing: The August 2007 Excommunication Of Lyndon Lamborn For Apostasy

Ever wonder what a disciplinary court in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is like? You're about to find out. I have embedded below three different tapes of the disciplinary hearing of Lyndon Lamborn, who was excommunicated from the LDS Church for apostasy in August 2007. Lamborn audiotaped the encounter, transferred it to video, then uploaded it to YouTube. Because the audio is poor, a transcript is incorporated on the video. The recording was made without the explicit permission of the LDS Church, yet they've taken no action to have the videos removed. Nor should they -- if we censor our adversaries, we give them a victory.

Because Lyndon Lamborn was a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, his disciplinary court had to be convened by the stake president rather than the ward bishop. A stake disciplinary council is composed of the stake president, his two counselors, and the twelve members of the stake high council. Read more about church discipline in this previous post.

The purposes of this post are first, to convey information about what a disciplinary court is like, and second, to show that it is NOT some medieval-type inquisition or star chamber hearing. The tone of all parties remains conversational throughout, and James Molina, the stake president presiding over the court, fully allowed Lamborn to express himself:

Video 1 of 3:

Video 2 of 3:

Video 3 of 3:

Lyndon Lamborn fully explained the situation in an interview documented on Equality Time. A lifelong member of the Church, he had served a mission and held a number of serious callings, such as Elders Quorum President. One day, he found out about a book entitled "Under The Banner Of Heaven", written by Jon Krakauer. While reading this book, he found out that the Prophet Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage. Since he was never told this by an LDS source, he became distressed and began to question his faith. He also began expressing his doubts to others within his ward. This attracted the attention of the stake president, and at Lamborn's thrid meeting with the stake president, he had agreed to resign quietly from the Church.

But guess what? Ten days later, he received a summons to a disciplinary council. So it wasn't enough that Lamborn intended to leave; the Church decided to affirmatively kick him out for spreading apostasy, which seems a bit hard-nosed to me. They were even prepared to take the unusual step of publicly announcing Lamborn's excommunication at various ward meetings throughout the stake, but changed their mind when the newspaper story broke.

Initially, Lamborn did not intend to write the typical "kiss-and-tell" book, but later he changed his mind and authored "Standing For Something More". He's now done a video for the "I Am An Ex-Mormon" series, entitled "I'm Lyndon Lamborn and I'm no longer a Mormon." The series is designed to be a gentle mockery of the LDS Church's I Am A Mormon" series of videos done by individual members. Lamborn also has a MormonThink homepage HERE.

Analysis: Wow! So Lyndon Lamborn reads one book which presents a few uncomplimentary things about Joseph Smith, and he decides that's enough justification to junk the entire Gospel. He decides that the word of one non-Mormon author is more important than the word of sixteen Presidents of the Church, all of who were prophets, seers, and revelators. You gotta be kidding me -- what a nimrod! I read the same book, and it didn't change my attitude towards the Church one bit. When I finished reading "Under The Banner Of Heaven", Joseph Smith was STILL a prophet, the Book of Mormon was STILL the authoritative word of God, and the Church was STILL true. Nothing changed!

Of course, that's because I realize that no member of the LDS Church has or can reach perfection in this life. The term "Latter-day Saint" doesn't so much describe what we are, but what we are striving to be. But I'll leave you with this comment posted to Equality Time, which even better sums up my attitude:

Posted by: DLounsbury | October 02, 2008 at 03:22 AM
I listened to Lamborn's illegally recorded church court. I do not trust what anyone says when they are the only one in the room who knows it is being recorded. He tries to appear gracious in the court setting, but his few seconds of smug solo commentary spoke volumes.

Lyndon Lamborn discovered some less than flattering facts about Mormonism and he threw out the baby with the bathwater. First off, I have to say that I dated a girl in High School who had three brothers who were Baptist Preachers. To answer their questions, I studied and learned about the criticisms that threw Lamborn for a loop. For example, Lamborn appears stuck, like many, on Joseph Smith's polygamy. Surely that disqualifies Joseph Smith as a prophet? Not too fast. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all had plural wives. When companionship was scarce a drunkend Noah slept with his daughters. Jacob's twelve sons of Israel killed the entire male population in the town Shechem as revenge for the kidnapping of their sister. They did this by convincing the men to be cicumcised then killed them when incapacitated. (This makes the Mountain Meadow Massacre pale in comparison). Yet Judaeo Christians look at Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Noah as great prophets. Lamborn simply set the standard too high for Joseph Smith et al and got caught "whiting the sepluchure of the prophets" in his mind when the facts are out there for anyone who wants to read a few books. He wants to blame the church for his failure to study other facts, but he could have read about this in high school like I did back in 1982. Lamborn's other criticisms are all old news and have all been answered. Space does not permit an answer to all the problems Landon had with Mormonism but sufficeth to say, they aren't any bigger than the ones I find in biblical christianity. When one sets their mind to it, any idea, orgaznization, nation or movement can be critically attacked.

The history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, like the history of these old testament prophets is one of miracles--God's ability to bring to pass mighty works through very flawed folks. Landon admits he was treated well for years by the church and church members. But why the angst if the church was so wonderful? Joseph Smith explained that when one leaves and becomes and enemy to the church the spirit of the Lord is replaced with a commensurate spirit of apostasy. The more intelligent and spirit filled before the more obsessive and apostasy filled after. Like so many, Lamborn can leave the church, but he can't leave it alone. The angst is apparent in his ongoing rants about all the money he spent on tithing and all his time he wasted for the church. Like wolves that feed on the cancerous caribou, Lamborn's present attacks are an exercise in futility and will only serve to strengthen the herd.

My personal experience with Mormomism is that it (and God!) are at the root of all that is good in my life. I am the father of seven wonderful, healthy and happy children who are finding sucess in all their endeavors. I have a loving wife and sucessful business. our family works hard, plays hard and enjoys our time together. None of this would have happened without my upbringing in the mormon church. I lived the principles I was taught and God has blessed me with an abundant life.

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