Two prominent Mormon activists, John Dehlin and Kate Kelly, have been threatened with excommunication for their social justice work advocating equality for women and the LGBT community within the Mormon Church.
Kelly is a human rights lawyer who is founder of the Ordain Women Movement. Launched last year, the movement has been mobilizing hundreds of protestors to stand in line only to be turned away at the male-only priesthood meeting of the Mormon general conference in Salt Lake City (shown above).
On June 8, Kelly received an email from her local bishop in Virginia threatening that if she did not shut down her organization's website, dissociate herself from the movement, and repent, she may be excommunicated "on the grounds of apostasy," for "openly, repeatedly and deliberately acting in public opposition to the church and its leaders after having been counseled not to do so."
Regarding Kelly's upcoming trial of apostasy on June 22, during which she will be abroad and thus be unable to attend, Kelly told Reuters,
I feel like being invited to a council of this sort is akin to being invited to my own funeral.
Dehlin, the second threatened activist, was sent a letter last Saturday by a church leader informing him he can either resign by June 18 or face a church court. He told the New York Times that he loves the Mormon Church but is open about his doubts. He decided on Wednesday not to resign.
Dehlin is the founder of "Mormon Stories," a website that publishes podcast interviews meant to "explore, celebrate, and challenge Mormon culture in constructive ways." The podcasts, downloaded by an average of 40,000-50,000 users, covers controversial topics within the Mormon community, such as being gay and feminism.
Like Kelly's activism, Dehlin's work has received national attention. Of particular popularity was Dehlin's TEDxTalk on being an ally to the LGBT community. Watch it here:
Dehlin is greatly concerned by the threats of excommunication:
I worry that the church is kind of shooting the messenger… They’re shooting the people who are trying to help and be part of the solution.