Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mormons excommunicate dissidents

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons, is in the process of excommunicating two high profile dissidents. One of these dissidents is Kate Kelly from the group, Ordain Women, which is an interest group within the Mormon Church that supports the ordination of women. The other dissident is John Dehlin, a blogger prominent among Mormons for his support of women's ordination and same-sex marriage. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints opposes both the ordination of women and same-sex marriage.

One the one hand, boundaries are essential for group identity. In the Episcopal Church, as remains true in the Church of England, confirmation was required to receive Holy Communion. That policy shifted to welcome all of the baptized to Holy Communion. Supporters rightly argued that refusing Holy Communion to the Baptized made no sense because in Holy Baptism an individual becomes a full member of the body of Christ.

I'm opposed to current moves to welcome anyone, regardless of baptism, to Holy Communion. That move eliminates the last boundary defining who is and who is not a member of the Church.

One the other hand, I strongly support both the ordination of women and same-sex marriage, views with which Ethical Musings' have repeatedly seen affirmed in this blog. However, protesters should expect to pay a price. Protest without price is akin to cheap grace, i.e., almost worthless. I first learned this lesson when in high school when I wanted to join an anti-Vietnam war protest in lieu of attending a social studies class. When several of us queried the teacher, she replied that protesters unwilling to pay a price for their actions could not change the world. The US and India would both be very different countries today if thousands of people in both had not been willing to pay the price of protest. When people protest injustice, then the arc of history bends inexorably in support of their protest and reactionary defense of injustice will eventually prove futile.

Both of the Mormon dissidents, Kate Kelly and John Dehlin, have stood fast, not abandoning their views in the face of Mormon threats of excommunication. Change will come to the Mormons. May the examples of Kelly and Dehlin on this weekend before the annual commemoration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., inspire us to similarly stand for justice, regardless of personal cost.

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