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The following was written by Christopher D. Cunningham and is excerpted from his blog on Patheos. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
This weekend some numbers from the upcoming “Next Mormons Survey” broke suggesting large numbers of Latter-day Saints are bothered by high profile excommunications.
43% of temple-recommend holders say they are troubled. 66% of millennial members say they are troubled. Unsurprisingly those who reported less commitment to the church were more troubled by the excommunications (though several commentators conflated those numbers suggesting without basis that the excommunications caused the lower commitment.) But across the board, a large number of Latter-day Saints say they are troubled.
Being Troubled By Excommunication Makes Sense
The vast majority of excommunications happen for pretty ugly behaviors. These tend not to be advertised. And they don’t generate much outrage or troubled feelings.
The “high profile” excommunications, on the other hand, are people who first appeared in public because they were criticizing the church.
These aren’t adulterers, or predators, or criminals. These are people who talked, and at some point, you may have even nodded along.
So if they can be excommunicated, maybe you can be excommunicated? Or maybe if you notice something about the Church you don’t like, you could be next. Or perhaps, you simply want more diverse voices welcomed within the tent of our faith.
These are all reasonable concerns. So I understand why so many might describe themselves as troubled.
“Excommunication” is Wrong
And by, “Excommunication is Wrong” I mean excommunication is the wrong word.
The word “excommunication” does not appear anywhere in the New Testament. And the word is weighed down with the baggage of religious debates about whether or not excommunication should include shunning.
The word “ex” “communication” comes from roots meaning that they should no longer participate in the sacraments of the religion. But combined with the shunning baggage, the word suggests that we should no longer communicate with that person.
But this is simply not the reality in the Church of Jesus Christ. Those who are excommunicated are welcome in our homes, buildings, meetings.
And a significant number of those who are excommunicated rejoin the church.
So if excommunication isn’t the right word, what is?
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.