A New York Times article reports a recent trend of Mormon Church members receiving threats of losing permission to enter a member's temple or even excommunication because of the opinions they expressed online. More than a dozen of these cases have been springing up across the country in recent weeks.
GLAAD wrote last week about the latest of these incidents when two Mormon advocates, John Dehlin and Kate Kelly (shown above), were told they either had to stop supporting equality for the LGBT community and for and women, or get kicked out of the church. This incident is not isolated, but rather represents a broader trend "affect[ing] Mormons perceived as dissidents from across the ideological spectrum," the New York Times reports.
Besides Dehlin and Kelly, other victims of this trend include Rock Waterman (shown right), who protested in his blog Pure Mormonism how the amount of tithes the Church demands from its members is more than its doctrine requires; and Kevin Kloosterman (shown below), a former bishop who expressed his support for marriage equality. The New York Times reports:
Mr. Kloosterman, who was a bishop from 2007 to 2012, attracted headlines and scrutiny for an emotional talk he gave at a conference in Salt Lake City in 2011 apologizing to gays rejected by their Mormon families. He also lobbied for same-sex marriage in his state. But there were no consequences until March of this year, when, at a meeting, his bishop cited a Twitter post by Mr. Kloosterman congratulating the first gay couple to be married in Utah.
“Jesus would never do that,” the bishop said, according to Mr. Kloosterman. He said his bishop informed him that an Area Seventy church leader had weighed in on his case (Mr. Kloosterman declined to name him), and that leaders had been monitoring his Internet activity and knew he supported groups that disagree with church teaching.
The bishop revoked Mr. Kloosterman’s “temple recommend,” denying him entrance to the temple, where important rituals like baptisms and marriages are held and where he and his wife used to go regularly for spiritual uplift.
“It’s been devastating,” he said. “I’m in shock still.”
The recent trend appears to be a sign that certain officials within the Mormon Church are more severely enforcing boundaries.
Though church statements contend that these threats are led by local leaders and not coordinated by church headquarters, comments from threatened members give a different picture. According to the New York Times, "some of the Mormons facing disciplinary actions said they had been told by their bishops that the instruction to investigate Internet activity came relatively recently from more senior leaders."
“It feels scary to have all the words I say on Facebook and Twitter monitored,” said Kloosterman.