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MORMON CHURCH

The judicial system of the Mormon Church is


described in detail in its General Handbook of Instruction
at pages 51-64. Situations when a Church Court may be
convened include:

"1. Open opposition to and deliberate violation of


the rules and regulations of the Church (including
associating with apostate cults or advocating their
doctrines)."

The decisions a court can reach are to: take no


action; probation, disfellowship, or excommunication.
Disfellowship means that the person loses certain rights
to speak or pray publicly or vote in church affairs, though
he can still attend public meetings and is expected to, in
order to get himself back into good standing. A person who
is excommunicated is no longer a member.

"He is not entitled to speak or offer a public


prayer, partake of the sacrament, sustain or vote
against Church officers, participate in any way if
in attendance at priesthood meetings, hold a temple
recommend, hold any office in the Church, or attend
any meeting of Church officers. Excommunicated
persons may, however, attend meetings in the
consolidated meeting schedule, and public conference
sessions, if their conduct is orderly, but they may not
take any active part in such meetings.

An excommunicated person should be encouraged to repent


and live the gospel standards to prepare himself for
baptism. In cases of murder or transsexual operations,
either received or performed, however, no readmission to
the Church is possible."

A person who has been disfellowshipped or


excommunicated can be reinstated. However, if a
person was disfellowshipped for "advocating or
teaching the doctrines of apostate sects that practice
plural marriage, or affiliating with such groups",
written approval is needed from the First
Presidency (the highest ecclesiastical quorum in the
Church) before the person can be reinstated.

To be reinstated after excommunication:

if . .. requires intense repentance, a life of


worthiness since the excommunication, and the
passage of sufficient time to demonstrate that a
permanent change has taken place."

The person must apply to the Church Court again for


reinstatement and this court can recommend his
baptism unless the person's "excommunication was for
one of the following reasons:

1. Advocating or teaching the doctrines of


apostate sects that practice plural marriage, or
affiliating with such groups."

In such cases the person must submit an


Application for Readmission into the Church to
the Office of the First Presidency who will only
grant readmission after the person has been
interviewed and found to be repentant and worthy.

In general, the

"children of persons excommunicated for practicing


so-called plural marriage may not be baptized until
they have enough understanding of the gospel to ask
for baptism. They must accept the teachings and
doctrines of the Church and repudiate the
doctrinal teachings of their parents that caused
their parents' excommunication."

The most sacred ordinances of the Mormon faith are


conducted only in their temples and no one is admitted to the
temple without a Temple Recommend. Temple Recommends
are issued only after the person has been interviewed by
his bishop and found to be "worthy":

"Bishops must take exceptional care in issuing


recommends to members whose parents belong to or
sympathize with apostate groups. Such members must
demonstrate clearly that they are free of any influence
from their parents' religious ideas.

They must accept the teachings and doctrines of the


Church and repudiate the doctrinal teachings of their
parents that caused their parents' excommunication."

The Mormon Church has also practiced censorship with


regard to scholars who dissent against or challenge official
doctrine or history. According to an article in the New
York Times Magazine of January 12, 1986:

“… in the early 1980's ... Mormon elders ordered


the closing of certain church archives to scholars they
regarded as unfriendly to the church. They also
disbanded a team of professional historians that Ezra
Benson, then an apostle, had condemned for attempting
'to inordinately humanize the prophets of God so that
their human frailties become more evident than their
spiritual qualities.'

Davis Bitton, a history professor at the University of Utah


and a member of the church historical team that was
dissolved in 1982, said members had been allowed
considerable freedom early in the group's 10-year
existence. But as time passed, they were progressively
denied access to certain documents and church
authorities increasingly pressured them not to
publish work on topics such as polygamy that might
embarrass the modern church. They were also forced to
'sanitize' reports that might show early church leaders
or the official doctrine in a dim light.

Stanley R. Larson, a New Testament scholar who lives in a


Salt Lake City suburb, says he was forced from his job in the
church's translations department this fall after writing a
paper that concluded that the text of a speech attributed to
Jesus in the Book of Mormon had probably been copied
from King James version of the Bible."