But MSNBC Powerwall decided to release a number of additional more detailed excerpts. One of those excerpts details adultery by the mother of one of Bristol's friends, and how it destroyed her marriage and polarized an entire community when it became public. The adultery cost the woman her membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here's the excerpt (the "Uncle Mike" is Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten, who was the particular target of Sarah Palin's ire while she was governor, and not without some justification):
Bristol's Uncle Mike, a burly state trooper standing six foot four and weighing in at 250 pounds, was the cause of some early drama in her life. First, back in 2003, Bristol witnessed Uncle Mike shoot a Taser gun at her cousin, Payton. As Payton was recovering from the shock, Uncle Mike looked over at Bristol and said, “Bristol, you're next.” (Pg. 25) Bristol screams, and tells her mother about the incident. Later, it's revealed that there were a bunch of citizen complaints against Mike, ranging from boozing in his patrol car to people claiming they witnessed him illegally kill an animal on a hunting trip. Later on, Uncle Mike carries out a very public affair with Bristol's friend Jenna's mother. The affair results in Bristol's Aunt Molly divorcing Uncle Mike, Jenna's mom getting kicked out of the Mormon Church, and Bristol losing all her friends, as kids at school chose sides between Bristol's family and Jenna's, a la “Team Jolie or Team Aniston.” (Pg. 39) Bristol also thought, “It was the first time—but not the last—that I realized how someone's sexual sin could rock everyone around him or her.” (Pg. 40) Later, Mike confronts Bristol in the hallway of her high school—where he is an assistant coach—and calls her a “fucking bitch” under his breath. (Pg. 43)
Let's summarize the effects of the affair between Mike Wooten and Jenna's mother:
-- Caused the breakup of Wooten's marriage
-- Caused Jenna's mother to be excommunicated from the LDS Church
-- Bristol Palin lost all her friends
-- Kids at school took sides
-- Mike Wooten threatens retaliation against Bristol Palin
Now you understand why the LDS Church looks upon adultery as the third most serious sin, behind the shedding of innocent blood (capital murder) and sinning against the Holy Ghost. And now you should also understand why the LDS Church, almost without exception, will excommunicate a member who commits adultery, particularly if that member had a temple marriage and has also undergone the endowment ceremony. No probation, no disfellowshipment -- excommunication. It doesn't matter what the pop therapists and the "valuable intellectual properties" who infest academia say -- adultery is NOT a victimless crime.
Nevertheless, there remains considerable misunderstanding as to what should happen after excommunication. Fueled by harsh apocalyptic rhetoric about how excommunicants are "delivered unto the buffetings of Satan", some self-righteous souls will pile on additional personal judgment, sever friendships, and kick the excommunicant who is down. Such attitudes are actually contrary to official LDS Church guidance on the subject. A better example of how to deal with a truly penitent excommunicant is put forth in this post on Grace for Grace;
We were alone in a room in a church building. The young man in front of me had just been excommunicated from the church and was sobbing in front of me. I was the Elders Quorum President (mens group leader) at the time and I didn’t have answers for him that seemed to help. He asked questions such as: Why did I choose to do the things I did? How can I gain membership back into the church? Did God abandon me? Will I have the Holy Spirit and strength to re-commit myself to the Savior and His gospel?
As he cried and shared his feelings with me, I prayed silently “God help me help him feel your love and give him answers”. Suddenly I remembered something I had done numerous times on my mission with investigators of the gospel.
I looked at him and told him I didn’t have the answers to his questions, or the ability to heal his heart and offer forgiveness and healing for his sins, but Jesus did.
We dropped to our knees and I offered the first prayer. I opened my heart to God thanking Him for the blessing of the gospel and for the Atonement of Jesus. I asked Him for guidance and direction for this young man and that He would pour His love into the young man’s heart.
Next, the young man prayed. I have seldom heart a more honest and sincere prayer as I did that day. As the young man prayed, the Holy Spirit came into both of our hearts and we both knew the young man was forgiven. We both knew the compassion and mercy God has for us when we are humble and come to Him offering our hearts to Him.
One year later, the excommunicant was re-baptized into the Church. And all because at his moment of critical spiritual need, another Church member fellowshipped him rather than rejected him.
The bottom line: While excommunication is absolutely justified in the case of adultery, it is not our place to add to the judgment rendered in the name of Christ by a duly-constituted disciplinary council. If you were friends with the person before excommunication, and the excommunicant did not personally sin against you, there is no need to terminate that friendship. In fact, your friendship might be needed more than ever under those circumstances.