Today we feature stories that correctly claim that the Church does not discipline its members for having questions or for expressing a political view.
Mormons do not face Church discipline for having questions or for expressing a political view
Several news reports contain claims that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is disciplining one of its members in Florida because of that member’s expression of a political opinion. The Church, however, has released a statement that says, “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.”
Fortunately, reporters from the New York Times and Salt Lake Tribune dig deeper and get it right.* The Times’ Laurie Goodstein correctly writes that this member is being disciplined “because he is an apostate who is trying to lead church members astray,” and she includes several quotes that correctly claim that Church members do not face discipline for their political opinions. The Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack also notes that this member’s leaders “never brought up [politics] … in their exchange with him.”
The full Church statement says:
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.
Church disciplinary matters are confidential. While some may want to make their version of an issue public, the Church will not discuss the private lives of individuals. To do so would be a betrayal of confidences and would affect others besides the person facing discipline. 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. However, regardless of the determined course of action, the goal is to help an individual put his or her life in order by providing all of the support we can offer.
*Since the time of this post, BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins also reported on this issue. His article was published on 28 September.