John Dehlin, Kate Kelly and Their Disciplinary Council


I’ve been going back and forth with whether or not to post about the story surrounding John Dehlin, Kate Kelly and their disciplinary council. It’s a controversial topic that has split many individuals and one that every member has an opinion on. Every side has its story and every side has their justification as to the reasoning for their actions. I do not try to presume to understand their personal situations, beliefs or motivations. I also do not want to try to vilify them as individuals as I do believe that they are following their hearts and their personal convictions. It’s easy to belittle or badger individuals we do not personally know so I’m going to try to avoid that in my conversation. Also, I’m going to try to avoid belittling the local leaders involved as to why and how they are handling the current situation. Anyone who has been involved in a disciplinary council knows how difficult those situations are and how sensitive the issues involved can be especially now, in light of the fact that this situation has been made so public. I’ve posted here both the NY Times article and the church’s response to disciplinary council as well. For me personally, I almost always tend to go with the following quotes as it pertains to these types of situations.

The members of the Mormon Church are among the freest and most independent people of all the Christian denominations. They are not all united on every principle. Every man is entitled to his own opinion and his own views and his own conceptions of right and wrong so long as they do not come in conflict with the standard principles of the church. If a man assumes to deny God and to become an infidel we withdraw fellowship from him. If a man commits adultery we withdraw fellowship from him. If men steal or lie or bear false witness against their neighbors or violate the cardinal principles of the Gospel, we withdraw our fellowship. The church withdraws its fellowship from that man and he ceases to be a member of the church. But so long as a man or a woman is honest and virtuous and believes in God and has a little faith in the church organization, so long we nurture and aid that person to continue faithfully as a member of the church, though he may not believe all that is revealed.

Joseph F. Smith Source:

I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.”

Joseph Smith Source:

We need to understand that it is ok to question ideas within the church. We don’t all think alike and we all have our various perspectives when it comes down to many of the church policies, teachings and methods of doing things. We also have a tendency within the church because of the situation we find ourselves in to categorize everything as right vs wrong when in reality they’re merely differences of opinions. However, I believe that this situation is more than just a mere difference in doctrinal belief or a doctrinal misunderstanding. I think the situation for both of these individuals goes a bit deeper than that. I highly doubt as many individuals have claimed, that this disciplinary council for John Dehlin is solely focused on his personal ideology and disagreements with the church. Here is the letter that was sent to John Dehlin concerning his disciplinary council provided by the Salt Lake Tribune. Stake Presidency Letter John Dehlin Excommunication disciplanary council I will let everyone make their own conclusion from the letter but it seems that this issue with him goes a bit deeper than just a doctrinal misunderstanding or difference. Again, with a church as large as ours, you’re going to have differences of opinions even on some of the most fundamental issues. There is no better example of individuals disagreeing in my mind than that of President Eyring’s father Henry Eyring and the prophet Joseph Fielding Smith. I have placed a link here for those who would like to read the entirety of their exchanges and disagreements One quote from Henry Eyring as to one of their meetings concerning their disagreement:

A lively hour-long discussion [on “radioactive dating”] ensued. As so often happens, each person brought up the argument which supported his position and we parted each with much the same position he held when the discussion began. But what was much more important, the discussion proceeded on a completely friendly basis without recrimination and each matter ended there. No one was asked to conform to some preconceived position. The church is committed to the truth whatever its source and each man is expected to seek it out honestly and prayerfully. It is, of course, another matter to teach as a doctrine of the church something which is manifestly contradictory and to urge it in and out of season. The author has never felt the least constraints in investigating any matter strictly on its merits, and this close contact with President Smith bore out this happy conclusion. Since we agree on so many things, I trust we can amicably disagree on a few. I have never liked, for example, the idea that many of the horizontally lying layers with their fossils are wreckage from earlier worlds. In any case, the Lord created the world and my faith does not hinge on the detailed procedures.

In Reflections of a Scientist by Henry Eyring he made the following comment:

I can understand how we sometimes object to being labeled. Some labels we accept. For instance, I’m content with “Mormon,” “devout,” “Christian,” “chemist,” “husband,” “father,” and so forth. Sometimes, however, a label is loaded with emotional baggage far beyond its usefulness or importance. For example, “organic evolutionist” or “creationist” are labels, either one of which I would reject, for myself, at least. They simply carry too much baggage and confusion for my taste. Considering the difference in training of the members of the Church, I never cease to marvel at the degree of agreement found among believing Latter-day Saints. However, organic evolution is one topic upon which there is apt to be wide disagreement. Such a topic becomes controversial partly because it is interesting to us, but it seems to be sufficiently nonessential to our salvation that the Creator has only briefly treated it in the scriptures. If you think about it, it makes almost no difference at all to the way we should live our lives and treat one another. Still, there are those who line up on both sides as if everything depended on the outcome of this year’s ‘monkey trial.’

President Joseph Fielding Smith and Henry Eyring disagreed as to many of the details of how the Earth was created, the age the Earth and how exactly men came to be. Even though Henry Eyring disagreed with President Joseph Fielding Smith on these issues, he understood that as it pertained to their salvation, it didn’t matter. He understood and openly stated that though they had disagreements, he knew that by listening to the council of President Smith (insert President Monson or the current prophet of God here) that we would ultimately find happiness and obtain salvation.

This is why I believe the Ordain Woman movement took the wrong approach in trying to get their message across. I have no issue with women who want to have the priesthood. I don’t even have a problem if they disagree with the brethren on the church’s stance on the issue. I actually didn’t have an issue with them forming their organization to discuss an issue that was very important to them. Almost all of the revelations that have been given in modern and ancient times have come about by asking sincere, thoughtful questions to the Lord. Though women as a body cannot have the priesthood now, doesn’t mean that the Lord in His infinite wisdom won’t reveal that they can have the priesthood later. It also doesn’t mean that He will grant them the priesthood as a collective body either. That is ultimately up to Him and Him alone to decide.

It’s one thing to disagree with the brethren; it’s another thing to publically launch a crusade against them. That’s where the Ordained Women movement in my mind stepped over the line. When they decided to take their movement beyond just a doctrinal disagreement and openly rejected the brethren’s request that they stop protesting at General Conference and continued to push against them at every turn. In short, they chose to go against the Lord’s anointed. Now having said that, I do believe that some members are starting to place emotionally charged labels on these women that are unwarranted including Kate Kelly herself. I don’t know her personally but I can assume from the individuals I do know that know her, that she is a good hearted individual with amazing talents and gifts. As it pertains to their disciplinary council, I honestly don’t care as it is none of my business. It is between them and their leaders to discuss and hash that out. Could the local leaders have handled the situation with Kate Kelly a little better? Possibly but again, it’s their call to handle the situation as they deem fit.

The main reason I wanted to share this post is to show an example of how we can disagree with the brethren and yet still sustain and support them in their callings as “prophets, seers and revelators.” Hopefully understanding that ultimately, as we follow their council and teachings, that regardless of the smaller differences that we may have we will reach our ultimate goal of exaltation and living with our families again.

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31 Replies to “John Dehlin, Kate Kelly and Their Disciplinary Council”

  1. I do not support John Dehlin, and Kate Kellyside’s side, not because of their beliefs, actions, or My own opinion. But because I believe that all excommunications done within ,the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day saints, has the Lords hand in it. This is serious stuff, and I know it was not mans decision, but God’s.

    1. The bishop’s action seems questionable from the very first. On May 22 Kate Kelly got the letter from her stake president putting her on informal probation, advising her on the things she should try to do to get back on the road. Just two weeks later, and after she had already moved out of his ward, the bishop decides to call a disciplinary council. Is he overriding the stake president? Not everything every person does is God’s decision–far from it. All individuals use their own judgement, prejudiced by their background and personality. This appears like a big mess that would have been avoided if the bishop knew what the stake president had told her.

      1. Actually she was talked to in December, March, and April about her choices. It was on May 5 that she was put on informal probation. After May 5th is when she decided to launch the 6 Discussion which is more than likely what led to her receiving the letter for disciplinary council.

    2. How wrong you are! Excommunications have been reversed when exculpatory evidence has come to light – ooops! Looks like the Lord’s hand has a day off now and then.

  2. Sometimes I have opinions about things, even though it’s not my business. I find that on this, I have no opinion. It is what it is. The Lord knows what He’s doing. Everyone else is just…I dunno. I don’t care. No, I care. I care in the sense that I hate satan’s freaking face, and I can’t stand that he’s getting to people. I care that this has become a public debate, including people who are not even members of the church. I care that it is causing some people to doubt, and some people to dislike the church, and some people to fall away. I care about that. What I DON’T care about is the specifics of the disciplinary actions happening. Those are personal, and there is absolutely NO REASON they should even be a topic for conversation for anyone except those involved. The only way those things become public is if the individual on the receiving end makes them public. But that does not mean that we all need to muck around in it. Just because they put it public does not mean that we need to treat it as such. We know better. At least, we should.

    1. I disagree. In the case of personal moral lapses — of sins of the flesh, and the like — I agree that confession and penance are purely personal.

      But discipline for “apostasy” has a public component. It is part of how an organization’s leadership shapes the thinking and conduct of *all* of its members. It affects all of us.

  3. Sounds to me like LDS Smile leans a bit toward sympathizing with Kate Kellly, calling her a great individual…I don’t consider anyone great who is in open rebellion to the Lord’s Prophet & doctrine. And saying the brethren probably could have handled it better is being critical of them…they handled it the way the Lord instructed them to.

    1. Actually it was quite the opposite. The statement was made because I don’t know her and don’t presume to judge her intent. Clearly the article is stating that we are not agreeing to what she is doing and I believe that we laid out a pretty clear explanation as to why.

      What I hate to do in these situation however is vilify individuals as we don’t know their situations nor the intent of their hearts. I assume the best because I know many individuals like her who I do know are great individuals. They don’t view themselves as being in open rebellion to the Lord’s Prophet, just merely disagreeing with them.

      The point of the article actually has nothing to do with John or Kate. I just used them as mere examples. The point is how we handle areas where we may disagree without running into the issues that both John and Kate are facing.

    2. Also I didn’t say that she was a great individual because I don’t know whether or not she is. I just stated an assumption that she was a good individual who is follow what she believes is to be right even though I disagree with what she is doing.

    3. Also I didn’t say that she was a great individual because I don’t know whether or not she is. I just stated an assumption that she was a good individual who is merely following what she believes is to be right even though I disagree with what she is doing.

      1. You state that so casually…as if she just made a simple mistake. Her membership is in serious jeopardy at this point. She’s not just merely following what she thinks is right but knowingly rebelling against the Lord & his doctrine publicly…a ‘good individual’ wouldn’t do so.

        1. The priesthood policy isn’t “doctrine.” President Hinckley acknowledged that it could be changed. The Church’s doctrine doesn’t change — only its policies. Therefore, if something could conceivably be changed, it’s policy, not doctrine.

    4. Every action taken by the brethren is not instructed by The Lord. They are men and make many of their decisions on their own accord. We do not know what was directed by The Lord and what was not.

      1. They are God’s mouthpiece & when it comes to any matters of doctrine, the Lord first has to approve any action the brethren take.

        1. That is where prayer, fasting, and scriptures comes in to play. I don’t worship, or follow the prophet blindly. If I have a question I ask the one who directs him directly, the Lord himself. I ask in faith “Father are these things the truth?” If you have faith you will receive an answer.

    5. Kate Kelly and the Ordain Women movement are NOT “in open rebellion to the Lord’s prophet and doctrine.” They have been very clear in their faithful and respectful intentions, but have not even been given a response by the church. They did not “protest” on temple square, but simply asked, one by one, to be allowed into the Tabernacle to attend the priesthood session of conference.

      And Mr. Huntinghouse did not criticize “the bretheren” because “the bretheren” were not part of this, only the local leaders. You have no idea whether they handled it the way the Lord wanted them to, and I doubt it was done absolutely correctly because of the big mess and inconsistencies and contradictions they caused.

      “We as members” are certainly NOT expected to judge her actions–that is completely contradictory to the commandments of God to NOT judge. I also find the Mormon Women Stand organization questionable, since its founder is the lady who thinks Frozen is an evil propounder of the “gay agenda.”

      1. I’m sorry, but they wanted this all to be very public. They contacted the New York times? SO, yes they are just doing this peacefully and not trying to cause big contentions and controversy in the church. They want fame more than the truth.

    6. (This response may seem off-topic at first, but bear with me.)

      I think Barack Hussein Obama is a catastrophically awful President. I think his fundamental assumptions about what America is and ought to be have been irredeemably shaped by his red-diaper-baby upbringing, and that when he says he wants to “fundamentally transform the United States of America, (1) he means it, and (2) what he wants to transform it into, is not something a righteous person should support. Indeed, I question even the legitimacy of his present tenure in office, based on credible reports that the allegedly nonpartisan civil service has been used to promote his reelection.

      Am I therefore in “rebellion” against the government headed by that man?

      Is a person in “rebellion” against the LDS Church, who has far less comprehensive criticisms, phrased far less severely, not even of the whole Church, or of its truly core doctrines, but of a policy that even the Church’s own leaders suggest could be changed?

      When I think “rebellion,” I think Lucifer’s army in Book VI of “Paradise Lost,” firing cannons at the hosts of heaven (and getting mountains thrown back at him; it’s a hilarious read). “I think we ought to do things this way” isn’t exactly firing at Fort Sumter.

  4. I don’t want to take sides, or get in the middle of the back and forth, but just to make the reporting more factual — I think the private meetings between Ms. Kelly and her Stake began long before this letter was sent, based on my personal experiences. Oftentimes, the church continues these discussions behind closed doors in the Stake they started in, whether the individual can attend or not, as the culmination and protection of the individual rather than forward all the details of individual situations to the new Ward and Stake.

  5. John, I love the sources you quoted. I think those doors have largely closed in the church today. We are so intolerant of any difference from our own opinions. And they are truly that–opinions. Many of our top leaders plead for understanding and for us to seek our own gospel knowledge, and yet lower-level people take rumor and assumptions about our brothers and sisters and condemn, condemn, condemn. I understand that, because it is human nature to cling to what we believe, and it is easier to cling if we make it black and white, with no room for variance of interpretation. I think we need to loosen up, think for ourselves and let others do that also.

    And for heaven’s sake, people, be thorough and objective with your information. So many people cry “apostasy” in these cases without even looking at what the accused people have said. I disagree that Ordain Women “launched a crusade against” the leaders of the church. They seem very respectful and within the philosophy of the church in their requests, but have gotten only public floggings by the church PR department. I think eventually some leaders of the church will have constructive dialogue with them, and that is all they have asked for. When President Kimball was asked why women didn’t have the priesthood, he said it was because they hadn’t agitated for it enough. Well, here they are agitating a little, and getting nothing but condemnation from many people. I say, let people ask questions, and let the leaders try to answer. We are uncomfortable with uncertainty, but I think that is a way we have room to grow.

    1. Dr. Eyring asked any question he was interested in and openly disagreed with Pres. Smith. He even published a paper on how organic evolution could have worked, knowing that Pres. Smith was teaching a literal interpretation of Genesis.

      However, Dr. Eyring did NOT take his issues to the NY Times or start up letter-writing campaigns or publicly call Pres. Smith names. He was one of the most highly regarded scientists in the US and was frequently asked to speak to academic and Church audiences, but he never used these forums to criticize Pres. Smith or other Church leaders. He didn’t stage protests during General Conference or attack PR representatives for pointing out that his opinion was in the minority.

      OW’s questions are just fine–their tactics are the real problem.

      1. When you are a member of the Church’s aristocracy — with a name like Clayton or Smith or Eyring or so forth — you have a latitude that ordinary members don’t.

        1. I’m not convinced that prominent members have any more latitude than others do. But even if it’s true, the Eyrings weren’t exactly well-known when these conversations took place–certainly not compared to Joseph Fielding Smith, the grandson of Hyrum Smith and great nephew of Joseph Smith. (If there IS an “aristocracy” in the Church, Joseph Fielding Smith would have to be at the top!)

          Dr. Eyring didn’t have some privileged life of ease in Salt Lake City. He was born on a working ranch in Colonia Juarez, Mexico. He entered the US as a refugee fleeing the Mexican Revolution, escaping with little more than the clothes on his back. When he introduced himself to the girl he eventually married, Mildred Bennion, she’d never heard of an Eyring–no one in the States had. He didn’t inherit any position or prominence–he worked hard for everything he ever had.

          The Eyring family is only visible in the Church now because of Dr. Eyring’s lifelong dedication to his religious duty, including his defense of the Church before scientific audiences, both large and small. (Among other things, he wrote The Faith of a Scientist, which taught that we should obey the commandments and follow the prophets.)

          It’s impossible to tell what kind of a person you are from an internet post, but I hope you’ll consider reading Mormon Scientist so you can get a better feel for how Dr. Eyring lived his life. I think you’ll come away with a broader view of how people can influence the world around them.

    2. Yeah, except that staging a protest is what you do when you are officially in opposition to something.

      So, time for Sister Kelly to flipping clarify what the fetch she thought she was doing by arranging a protest. We aren’t the Catholics. The Brethren do not decide doctrine via political pressure, but by the spirit of revelation.

      Now, that said, if I recall correctly Joseph promised that women would serve as priestesses, so I have no particular problem with women having a priesthood order(whether it be the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God, or possibly a Priestesshood after a currently unrevealed Order that serves to expand our comprehension of the Plan of Salvation). But let it be revealed in accordance with the will of the Lord after long meditation and prayer, and _not_ because someone became so prideful that they thought they could dictate to their spiritual leaders – you know, the people they _claimed_ to have sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators.

      As for Brother Dehlin, well, if he says he doesn’t believe the fundamental doctrines, he kinda _does_ need to clarify what he means if he thinks he ought to keep his membership.

  6. The only reason care so much and have opinions about this is because these women, aren’t just trying to find out truth or just having their own beliefs. They are trying to change the fundamentals, of our whole religion. That’s why people deem it fit to put them down and say ” Hey listen to the council of the prophets.” If what they were doing just affected them, and they were just saying that father in heaven created the earth this way or that way. That’s fine. The problem I have is that they are trying to destroy truth. The priesthood was restored along with truth, the fullness of truth was put back on earth. Now, because it’s here the adversary is trying his best to destroy it. It becomes personal when someone is trying to make my religion like all other religions. They can have the priesthood, in almost any other church. Not our because that’s not truth. They would corrupt and make our religion loose doctrine and truth. So yeah, it gets a bit personal.

  7. I agree that there is a difference between advocating a heterodox belief within an organization — even trying to persuade other members that your position is correct — and engaging in tactics, like media-driven protests, that to some degree attempt to marshal the support of outsiders to pressure the organization to come around to your side.

    The one is like making a radical speech in Parliament; the other is trying to get the French to threaten invasion unless you get your way.

    There is an issue of basic loyalty in Sister Kelly’s case, that takes this beyond the realm of mere heterodoxy, or even public expression of heterodoxy.

  8. There is a lot we don’t know about this whole thing, and that we don’t need to know. But I don’t believe that the Lord would instigate change in His own church by sewing division and strife among the people. I hope people don’t take this the wrong way, but I think that it’s kind of ironic that those who say we should not judge Kate or John appear to have no problems with judging their bishops and stake presidents.

  9. Kate Kelly is nothing less than a cheap, garden-variety apostate who is motivated only by personal pride and rebellion.

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