David Twede - managing editor of the website MormonThink and a Mormon in good standing - is now facing an excommunication hearing on September 30th as a result of a series of articles he wrote discussing Mitt Romney’s faith, along with the intersection of Mormonism and politics. MormonThink is a website written by active members of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints – commonly referred to as Mormons -who are seeking to create an open dialogue about Mormon history. Their mission statement is:
[To promote] Education and openness of our religion's unique history and heritage. If people want to learn about the true historical issues of the church, that they won't hear about in Sunday School, they can learn about them here. We aren't afraid to discuss the tough issues. We hope to make the church we grew up in a better place by making it more honest.
Our goal would be that no knowledgeable member should have to be afraid to speak the truth in church to avoid offending a naive member with the truth about polygamy, the BOM translation process, Masonry, or any other historical aspect of the Church. We want the Church leaders to be 100% open and honest with the members so we can be 100% open and honest with our children, families, friends, investigators and fellow members.
By necessity, the MormonThink authors have to remain anonymous. In 1992, the Mormon Church excommunicated or dis-fellowshipped six prominent intellectuals, known as the September Six, for publishing scholarly works that were not aligned with the Mormon Church’s official teachings. This was a prominent example, however, over the years there have been other examples of sanctions taken against member. Grant Palmer, who spent 34 years working as an educator for the Church Education System, was dis-fellowshipped for publishing the book “An Insider’s View Of Mormon Origins” and later forced to resign under threat of excommunication. Although the accuracy of these scholarly works have not been questioned the issue is the fact that these books paint the early history of Mormonism in a manner that is not faith-promoting. Boyd K. Packer, who is the acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, has stated "Some things that are true are not very useful." In this spirit, the Mormon Church seeks to preserve the faith of their members at the cost of historical accuracy. Members are instructed to only read history that has been sanctioned by the Church; all other sources are thought to be Satan’s way of leading the faithful astray.
There are two articles that lead to David Twede being threatened with excommunication. One article is titled “The History Of LDS Politics”, which delves into the relationship the Mormon Church has had with politics, Prop 8 being only a small blip on a long history of political interference. The second article that is sparking controversy is titled “Mitt Romney’s Faith”, which discusses his beliefs as a Mormon.
David Twede has made the following statement on his blog concerning the matter:
“Open and honest dialogue will allow members to choose, according to their agency, whether these facts are too troubling or in the end, humanizing. What do I mean? If we learn that the prophets are just as human, just as weak as we are, perhaps we will not feel anxious about our imperfections. Perhaps we will be more at ease in the church and more tolerant. Yes, I believe an honest view of Joseph Smith's weaknesses and by opening the facts it will bring love and tolerance to the wider membership of the church because they will lose their need to feel inadequate about imperfections in themselves and others. The Mormon Church needs to jettison Perfection Syndrome.
That is Christianity at its best, I think.”
MormonThink is a valuable resource; the website is run by active Mormons and gives members the opportunity to learn about the full history of their faith in an honest and balanced manner. The editors strive to approach the issues from all possible angles, allowing both sides of the story to be heard.
MormonThink: an excellent resource on the history of the Mormon Church
David Twede's blog, where he discusses his pending excommunication hearing and the events leading up to matter
The History Of LDS Politics: A full accounting of the intersection of the Mormon Church and political matters
Mitt Romney's Faith: The specifics of Romney's beliefs as a Mormon