To the greatest of my dismay, it happened, as John Dehlin received his letter and shared it with the public on Tuesday, February 10.
The image above says it all for me. “You’re encouraged to question and find your own answers!” the Church chirps.
“… but only if your answer matches with ours” hisses the subtext.
In the local article (found here: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=33422568&nid=#ucVlRRjr7AzRRsfX.99) detailing Dehlin’s excommunication, it is carefully repeated (over and over and over again) that he was not excommunicated for having his own questions and ideas. Instead, they point to what he has done as “apostasy,” meaning, he took people away from the church with his questions and ideas.
Having already had an online discussion about this, people have used the above article as their entire argument with me, giving me direct quotes instead of their own opinions and shutting down when I ask them if they bother with primary sources and actually thinking. From doing both those things myself, however, I can say that Dehlin was for people.
That’s right—he wasn’t a salesman for any church. His goal was to help people as they struggled with their own religious identities. Sometimes that meant helping them cope with leaving, and other times that meant helping them cope with staying. Dehlin didn’t put pressure on anyone. He just helped them find what their opinions actually were and supporting them through whatever it was.
The good news is, Dehlin intends to found a nonprofit organization that would help people of all faiths through their journeys, always with the good of the individual (not the corporation) in mind.
The bad news is, I guarantee the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will very likely “smite” any Mormon who dares use Dehlin’s services.
If I had a Dehlin around through my teenage years, my spirituality might have turned out a lot differently.