Sorry for two quick posts, but I’ve just learned my friend Grant Palmer has been summoned to a Church court a week from Sunday.
These issues can become heated very quickly, so I’m hoping to avoid discussions that vilify Grant or his accusers, whomever they may be. (Grant’s Stake President received a packet from the Strengthening Church Members Committee one year ago, but otherwise there’s no evidence that this action comes from higher up.) Rather, I’d like to ask the question, Is there any value to excommunication?
In cases like the current one, chances are that the Court of Love isn’t going to inspire repentance, since the accused doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. So one might ask, what good does excommunicating an elderly gentleman with cancer do? He’s already been released from his calling, and he doesn’t cause any trouble in his ward (he doesn’t speak out or offer comments). All he does is attend Church and take the sacrament. We could argue if he’s worthy, but there’s probably a lot of people, if we knew the details of their lives, we could have that same argument about.
In the case of someone who is repentant and wants to do better, why excommunicate them? Take away their calling, ask them to stop taking the sacrament, and so on. They’ll work with you and do what it takes to return to full fellowship.
When someone is excommunicated, the ripple effect is far and wide. Let’s be honest – usually we’re not just excommunicating one person, we’re excommunicating a family and friends. Especially in cases like Grant’s, for the one person kicked out, there’s another dozen at least who know the accused, don’t believe they deserve excommunication, and leave the Church over it.
Excommunication strikes me as an outdated, generally unnecessary practice. Is there any value to it?