The Mormon church has excommunicated the founder of a prominent women's group called Ordain Women, finding her guilty of apostasy (defined as "repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings") in a disciplinary hearing last weekend.
Kate Kelly created the organization that advocates for women to join the priesthood in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"The ousting of Kate Kelly marks one of the most significant excommunications in recent church history and sends a warning to others publicly challenging church practice and forming groups around their cause, scholars who study Mormonism say," according to an Associated Press news story.
A story in the New York Times last week talked about a broad crackdown on Mormons who were critical of their church online, threatening discipline and excommunication - even to some posters who thought they were anonymous.
Here at the Spectrum blog, we can't help drawing parallels. Maybe we can count ourselves lucky?
The New York Times story, by Laurie Goodstein, said, in part:
From California to Virginia and states in between, more than a dozen Mormons interviewed in the past week said they had recently been informed by their bishops that they faced excommunication or risked losing permission to enter a temple because of comments they had made online about their faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
These members said their bishops had questioned them about specific posts they had made on their blogs, Twitter and Facebook, in the comment streams of websites or in conversations in chat rooms.
The kinds of comments that have attracted the scrutiny of bishops and stake presidents, who are regional supervisors, include support for the ordination of women; advocacy for same-sex marriage; serious doubts about church history or theology; and. . . protests that the church demands more in tithes than its doctrine requires.
The story quoted one expert as saying that the church was working on "boundary maintenance."
Mormons are such active bloggers and voluble writers that they have created a whole universe of sites, which they call the Bloggernacle, where they go to discuss their faith. The church cannot police them all or shut them down, but it can demonstrate to members where it draws the boundaries of acceptability by scaring those who stray.
The church, in a statement this week, said that disciplinary actions were handled by local leaders and were not coordinated or directed by church headquarters. But some of the Mormons facing disciplinary actions said they had been told by their bishops that the instruction to investigate Internet activity came relatively recently from more senior leaders.
Image: Kate Kelly during a vigil in Salt Lake City. AP.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6074