Monday, September 24, 2012

MormonThink Editor David Twede Faces Disciplinary Council, But Excommunication Not Necessarily Guaranteed

Update October 22nd: David Twede announces his resignation from the LDS Church.

Update September 27th: David Twede's disciplinary council hearing postponed indefinitely.

An upcoming disciplinary council for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is generating considerable buzz. David Twede, editor of the anti-Mormon website MormonThink, has been summoned by his stake president to a disciplinary council to be held at 7:30 A.M. on September 30th, 2012 at the Orlando Florida Hunters Creek Stake Center. Twede displays a copy of the summons on his personal blog; the letter states that "The Stake Presidency is considering formal disciplinary action in your behalf, including the possibility of disfellowshipment or excommunication, because you are reported to have been in apostasy”. This means that excommunication is NOT a foregone conclusion at this point, and that Twede will be able to exercise considerable control over the final outcome based upon how he explains his actions and future intentions. Other possible outcomes include probation and exoneration.

Twede not only will face the Stake Presidency, but also the entire 12-man Stake High Council. He is entitled to have another Church member there to advocate on his behalf. Twede claims his supporters will be holding a vigil or rally outside the Orlando Temple on Windy Ridge Rd at 7:00 P.M. EDT on Saturday September 29th.

CNN posts a good summary of the story, including a number of pertinent links from other media sources. The Daily Beast originally broke the story publicly on September 21st, reporting that Twede had been handed the summons at a September 16th meeting with his stake president, bishop, and two church executives. At the time it was believed that a series of articles critical of Mitt Romney that he published on MormonThink may have provoked the local priesthood's ire.

However, according to a new Washington Post article, Twede now says his church leaders never brought up Romney, a Mormon, in their exchange with him. Twede apologized to Romney, saying, “I didn’t mean for (the story) to go this way.” Twede explained that local church leaders were more upset about the fact that he revealed things about the temple, and secrecy, and other things that they just don’t want anyone to talk about. Mormonthink did have an entire section discussing LDS temple ceremonies and their connection to Masonic rites, with links to photos and text of LDS temple rituals, which is why it's considered an anti-Mormon site. Opponents of the LDS Church have spent nearly 200 years trying to discredit it by playing the "Masonic" card, which also defames and smears Freemasonry as well.

Scott Gordon, president of FAIR, a nonprofit group that defends Mormonism, suggests that church leaders took exception to Twede's other writings, including an unflattering blog post detailing his attendance at a September 9th church service at Hunter's Creek in south Orange County. Gordon said some MormonThink contributors will do anything they can to embarrass the church in order to justify their own departure from its ranks.

In response, the LDS Church has made two statements about disciplinary councils:

"It is patently false for someone to suggest they face Church discipline for having questions or for expressing a political view. The Church is an advocate of individual choice. It is a core tenet of our faith. Church discipline becomes necessary only in those rare occasions when an individual’s actions cannot be ignored while they claim to be in good standing with the Church. Every organization, whether religious or secular, must be able to define where its boundaries begin and end."

“While some may want to make their version of an issue public, the Church will not discuss the private lives of individuals. These matters are handled by local Church leaders and are done in an attitude of love and caring. There are a number of possible outcomes to a Church disciplinary proceeding, only one of which is excommunication, which would be the most severe and least common result.”

You can review both MormonThink and Twede's own blog, and make up your mind as to whether or not they are anti-Mormon resources. The degree to which David Twede calls into question church doctrine, and the egregiously disrespectful syntax used, leads me to conclude that it is anti-Mormon, and that to preserve his Church membership, he should be required to at least take MormonThink down.

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