Church doctrine is not decided by "surveys," member "concerns," or popular opinion. I also consider the words of living Prophets to be just as authoritative as scripture. I leave the decisions of excommunication (and, yes, that is what our Prophet calls it) in the hands of those who hold the Priesthood authority to do so. The only responsibility members of the church have regarding excommunication is to pray for those who have left the church (Yes, they made the choice), and to treat them with love. As brothers and sisters, we should yearn for and encourage their return.
The way it was explained to me years ago by a bishopric counselor, was that if people are breaking their covenants, they are living in sin. To excommunicate them means they would be released from their covenants and therefore not having the umbrella of the covenant over them while they sin. It's for their spiritual protection. If they are released from their covenants, it's better for them.
I agree another word needs to be used. Excommunication is an other-religion word. Perhaps "covenant release" would be a better way of stating it. I think non-members might not be so up in arms or insulted by another word as well.
You can be excommunicated--release from covenants--for your public opinions if they go against The Church's principles and dogma. These opinions might sway others to also think negatively about The Church and cause them to leave the church. This is being an apostate--a very serious sin.
Shortly after the Church started a phase where someone had to be accountable for a divorce my ex-wife "realized" that she had never really loved me and that she had 7 children with me because of social pressure. She wrote a long letter confessing all of my sins, some real but mainly imagined, and since I would not confess what I had not done my service as a full-time missionary, Sunday School President, Elder's Quorum President, Bishopric member and Executive Secretary to a Stake President was disregarded and I was out of the club. But life goes on and Heavenly Father seems to have deemed me worthy of continued blessings and opportunities to serve. Just not in ways and places I would have imagined. I have an appointment at the judgment bar that I look forward to with faith and appreciation,
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This stunning Bicentennial Calendar celebrates The First Vision with gorgeous photographs each month and with quotes from Joseph Smith that will fill your heart with wonder.