Politicians and the mainstream media might do well to pay more attention to what is going on in Utah; and maybe work themselves into action to stop it.
Ominous news reports reveal that Mormon (Latter-day Saints) officials have kicked another high-profile member, John Dehlin, out of the religion.
An Associated Press story states that a regional church leader wrote Dehlin that a unanimous decision had been made to excommunicate him for apostasy.
The story states that the church defines apostasy as “repeatedly acting in a clear public opposition to the faith.”
That phrase alone ought to send chills up and down whatever proverbial spines congresspersons might own, given their clear opposition to the wishes of the majority of voters, except very near election time.
What’s more, politicians and other leaders should be aware that if the church is successful in kicking Dehlin out, a precedent could be set. The “ousting” movement could spread to other cultures. They ought to remember also that, last June, Kate Kelly, founder of a group pushing for women to be allowed in the religion’s lay clergy, was ousted.
Thus far, that ruling stands.
Dehlin’s primary offense, it seems, is making statements opposing the faith that were “disseminated on his website.” However, the letter reportedly advises Dehlin he was not being kicked out because he doubted and asked questions about church doctrine. Another church spokesman is quoted in the article as saying that while Dehlin’s views on gay marriage go against church teachings, they were not the reasons for his “discipline.”
If such ousting acts by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are allowed to remain unchecked, think of the possible consequences.
Coming immediately to mind is what might happen within the modern Republican Party.
It is easily imaginable how conservatives, Tea Partiers especially, could mount a campaign to toss out members of the more liberal, often called moderates, wing of the party.
Ousters could make the case that politicians like House Majority Leader John Boehner (sometimes dubbed John the Baptist) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (the Beav) have consistently and covertly, yea, sometimes openly and publicly, supported doctrines in direct opposition to the stated principles of the Republican Party.
Therefore, the reasoning could be, Boehner, McConnell and their likes should be ex-communicated from the party.
Conversely, the Republican Party establishment might turn the proverbial other cheek and lash out viciously pursuing an anti-conservative campaign that argues that non-moderates within the party, in particular rabid conservatives, are extremists, that they are people on the fringes.
To paraphrase some supporters of John Dehlin, they would be saying: “We don’t want you in the party.”
As for the other major party, an effort to kick out members of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party is likely to meet with success, if for no other reason than that there are so few of them. Dominant liberal/progressive Democrats, with strong support from President Obama, could probably easily kick a few weak conservative Democrats out of the party, if not out of the country.
A factor in the ouster argument is that such a purge of fringes from the Democratic Party could persuade members of the so-called “moderate” wing of the Republican Party to switch to the Democratic Party, where they might feel more comfortable, notably ones such as Boehner, McConnell, and Sens. Lindsay Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz).
The movement could actually result in a net gain for congressional Democrats. Not only that, it would probably bring into the official Democratic camp most Republican leaders from Massachusetts, New Jersey and other northeast states, not to mention Puerto Rico.
At the same time, the loss of such notables would enable Republicans to strengthen its conservative positioning.
Ergo, the goal of giving voters a real choice would be achieved.
Perhaps the two parties could even change their names, effecting, not a reform within the parties, but a death of the old parties and the birth of new parties, one solidly progressive/liberal, the other solidly conservative.
A third party wouldn’t be needed, because voters would have a clear choice, one they could make with as much sureness as could be had that what they voted for would be what they would get.
L.E. Brown, Jr. is a columnist based in Magnolia, N.C. Email him at [email protected]