I Have a Question: How do you get banned from speaking in Sacrament meeting?

Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!

What would someone have to say during a talk or testimony to get escorted off the stand and not allowed to speak again? I’m not talking blatantly speaking against the church or preaching false doctrine, but here are some hypotheticals: Talking too candidly about their own transgressions; outing another ward member on a serious transgression; direct MLM pitch over the pulpit; threatening to physically harm President Obama (I wonder if this one has occurred and gone unchecked); quoting an R-rated movie … with the attendant R-rated language.

Steve: None of those things would do it. You don’t seem to understand how hard it is to get a permanent ban from speaking. You’d have to basically do something worthy of disfellowship or excommunication from the stand, and you’re already ruling out blatantly speaking against the church or preaching false doctrine. You’re not leaving a lot of options here! Mere weirdness won’t do it. It also depends on your calling at the time. If you’re on the High Council, you could call the bishop the son of a motherless goat and you’d probably still have to convey the love of the Stake Presidency week after week. There’s no hope at all. Fortunately, dear reader, it’s getting easier every day to get excommunicated! Declare your undying love for John Dehlin from the pulpit or speak the praises of Ordain Women, and that might be the ticket. But you never know ’till you try.

Scott: Given that I haven’t spoken in Sacrament meeting for over 4 years (the cycle in my ward is about 18-24 months for everyone else), maybe I should see if I can find the notes from that talk to figure out exactly what went wrong. But Steve is correct–excommunication is the only way to actually avoid this task, for two important reasons: 1) Everyone loves a redemption story and 2) Moving resets the game. As long as you are still on the records of the Church, you are fair game. In fact, the further you “wander” from the Gospel–either in regular life or in what you say in a lesson or talk–the more excited everyone will be to get you back in the ring when you decide to get your house in order. Regardless, penalty box sentences can only last if you stay in the same place. If you move, your membership record goes to a new ward, and you’ll have to go through it all again.

My question deals with excommunication in the LDS Church. When someone is excommunicated, how does that impact their eternal destiny? I understand about temporal impacts, but does the ex-communicant “lose” his or her salvation? Do they still go to heaven, but to a lower level than formerly (of the three)? Does an ex-communicant face the lake of fire? Do they lose their temporal ability to fellowship, enter the temples, etc., but there are no eternal impacts? It seems that in the LDS community, the Church is the vehicle by which salvation is granted (baptism, confirmation, etc.). Is it also the vehicle by which salvation is maintained?

Steve: Lake of fire?? Lighten up. But yeah, if you’re excommunicated, there are two schools of thought in the LDS Church. The first is that excommunication removes all ordinances performed by the Church, including baptism, ordinations, temple sealings, etc., such that it’s as if you were never baptized at all. Under this perspective, if you’re excommunicated you lose the spiritual benefits of those ordinances and your soul is in perdition. Spencer W. Kimball saw it thusly: “This dread action means the total severance of the individual from the Church. The person who is excommunicated loses his membership in the Church and all attendant blessings. As an excommunicant, he is in a worse situation than he was before he joined the Church. He has lost the Holy Ghost, his priesthood, his endowments, his sealings, his privileges and his claim upon eternal life. This is about the saddest thing which could happen to an individual. Better that he suffer poverty, persecution, sickness, and even death. A true Latter-day Saint would far prefer to see a loved one in his bier than excommunicated from the Church. If the one cut off did not have this feeling of desolateness and barrenness and extreme loss, it would be evidence that he did not understand the meaning of excommunication.” Cheery. Most religions don’t view it this way, but Mormons do.

HOWEVER: the second school of thought is similar overall but different on the edges. When people come back into the Church after excommunication, they are rebaptized, but they are not re-sealed. Temple sealings are not cancelled by virtue of excommunication; if an excommunicant’s wife wanted to marry someone else in the temple, the original sealing would still require explicit cancellation. There is a “restoration of blessings” ordinance that is performed, but that is a relatively recent development and is not quite the same as getting sealed de novo. Sooooooooo…. yeah. If you’re excommunicated, you’re damned, but what that means exactly we’re not quite sure, except it’s really bad.

Scott: Steve is over-thinking this. The impact of excommunication on your eternal destiny is pretty straightforward: You get a 10% pay raise and Sundays off in Heaven.

What happens if there’s a freak accident and an adult second-to-be convert drowns mid-baptism-dunk? Do they die a member or a non-member?

Steve: Did any part of their clothing or hair pop up to the surface? Handbook 2 lists this as the last step in performing a baptism: “Helps the person come up out of the water.” No mention of whether the person needs to be actually living at that point – so long as the priesthood holder is the one to haul the corpse out of the font, I guess baptism is complete. HOWEVER: they still die a non-member, because membership in the Church is part of the ordinance of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, not baptism. Thought you were tricky with that question, huh?

Scott: I’m confused. How long does it take to drown? Like more than 2 seconds, right? So how is this even plausible? Why wouldn’t the person in the font just lift them up if they’re drowning? PLEASE KEEP YOUR QUESTIONS REALISTIC, PEOPLE.

How long could a Mormon family (parents + say 3 kids) survive alone in a Costco? Assume running water + electricity + existing plumbing continue, plus full access to all parts of the store, including pharmacy. It’s got to be easily a decade, right?

BCC: Decades. Probably indefinitely, if you have a family with an engineer and the Kirkland Signature Imprisonment occurs during the Spring, when you have the garden stuff + soil there in the store. Plant a garden and thrive, you poor damned souls. You’d better hope that pharmacy is stocked full of antidepressants. If it’s a Utah Costco there’s probably food storage as well, so yeah, decades. Good Lord that sounds like an awful hellscape. An eternity of Costco. It’s like the perfect American hell. I guarantee you there are suicides and the whole thing will spiral into a Flowers in the Attic nightmare, I kid you not. Please don’t do this.

Who was the strongest prophet ever? I mean, the physically strongest, non-divinely aided, at the top of their game while a prophet. Since apostles are called as prophets, seers and revelators we’ll include them too. I’m not counting Bednar during his QB1 days, but he still looks to be doing P90X so he could hold his own as strongest prophet since Wilford Woodruff. I think Moroni wins it: younger than Moroni, a warrior, lugging those plates around.

BCC: Russell Crowe Noah was pretty freaking tough. Does Samson count as a prophet? (probably not, he was an awful person). Joseph Smith loved to wrestle, or so those amazing Truman Madsen tapes told me. Maybe Joseph’s athleticism was just a yarn spun by BIG MISSIONARY TAPE to keep me as a customer-slave forever. Still, Joseph was never a warrior, despite his saber-rattling. There’s no modern prophet that comes close to matching the barbarism and raw power of ancient scripture. Adam was clearly a wiener, though. Noah, Samuel, Moses, Joshua on the OT Team, then Nephi, Moroni, Mormon, Alma on the BoM Team. Complete savage beasts, all of them. Moroni was the youngest of them but he doesn’t seem to have the killer instinct to go full Beast Mode. All of the BoM team members are hard core, no question, but OT guys are living in desert wastelands in a state of total war. I’m going to go with Joshua, who single-handedly carried out a genocidal war in the middle east. Joshua would punch you in the nuts if you looked at him wrong. Don’t mess with Joshua. Moroni ran away to save the plates at the end of the Book of Mormon; Joshua would have killed all those Lamanites himself.

What would be the top 3 things JSJ would say if he came to a modern Sacrament Meeting?

Things Joseph Smith Jr. Would Say If He Came To A Modern Sacrament Meeting, Ranked:

As always, these rankings are authoritative.

  1. Why does everyone have a seer stone?
  2. How come the women aren’t doing more?
  3. No, I don’t have an “active” temple recommend. What of it?
  4. Excuse me, are you the Deacon’s Quorum President? Do I pass to the back-left pews first, or go straight to the overflow section?
  5. Bishop, the young man said “water” and trust me–I should know!–the revelation says “wine.”
  6. So who is this Truman Madsen guy, anyway?
  7. Yes, that is exactly what I meant at the time, but I did not intend to be quoted in a Minion Meme.
  8. Is that lady married?
  9. When do we speak in tongues?
  10. Guys, that wasn’t actually my “first prayer”. And that high note is impossible to hit.
  11. Man, you guys sure “know” a lot.
  12. That was the best Thank-imony I’ve heard since November 1840.
  13. I hope this bread is gluten-free.
  14. So just to be clear–we are supposed to Defend the Family, right?
  15. You guys are taking things WAY too seriously.


  1. I actually think he might say “Why doesn’t everyone have a seer stone?”

  2. Kirkland Signature Imprisonment sounds awesome. I would spend the first day trying on eyewear and shapeless cardigans, and blending berry smoothies for my children, who, naturally, would all be wearing affordable yet quality-made superhero costumes.

  3. Oh, didn’t you hear? Elder Ballard has banned all electronics in sacrament meetings.

  4. Seer stone = iPod?

  5. Best rankings list so far fwiw

    Costco actually would be kind of nice. Unlimited entertainment, snacks, hygiene supplies, etc. can there still be the free samples people so I don’t have to ever cook?

  6. In reference to question 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRaZWK_MwHY

  7. It’s way easy to be banned from speaking in Sacrament and banned from teaching positions. Just teach a few classes or give a talk as guided by the Spirit. Tell people what the Book of Mormon ACTUALLY SAYS, not what the latest cultural assumption think it says…for example, go over 2 Nep 28 where it says to beware of those who proclaim that all is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth. Or another, is to go over 3 Nephi 16:10 where the Savior prophesied of the church going into apostasy in the latter days and losing the fullness of the Gospel. You can also mention that in D&C 10:67 the Lord set the standard for becoming a member of His church as repenting and coming unto Him, that’s all. No sustaining as Prophets, Seers and Revelators a crowd of men in suits in SLC, no wearing white shirts every Sunday, no paying full tithing to the Corporate Sole before you feed your children, none of that stuff.
    Thanks for the interesting thoughts.
    James Russell Uhl

  8. In some wards, you don’t even have to go that far. Wear a colored shirt (male) or dress pants (female). If male, grow a beard and/or long hair (the more the better). And, over the pulpit, bash any indications of a prosperity gospel, or say that we’re not doing enough to take care of the poor. (My mention that other countries have essentially eliminated poverty and the U.S. has a long ways to go in that regard probably got me off the hook for speaking for a decade or more).

  9. As far as not speaking in church goes, make sure to be late to church every sunday and disappear immediately after. While it won’t ban you, it will make it harder for them to ask you.

  10. Also, to be banned from speaking, make sure to use the church essays to teach doctrine.

  11. James/Joseph, it’s easy to get released from callings. It’s hard to actually get banned from speaking in Church.

  12. I routinely wear blue shirts and have a beard, and all that did was, after 8 years as an assistant clerk, get me moved over to executive secretary.

  13. Technically speaking, dying mid-baptism would leave you as a non-member, since it’s the act of confirmation that makes you a member of the Church.

  14. Queuno, did you not read the answer???

  15. One nuance on speaking: It’s hard to get banned for life or in any formal way, but it is very possible to be banned by a particular bishop, and that can last for (the lesser of) your time in that ward or that bishop’s term in office. But wards change and bishops change.

  16. queno–it’s all about the ward. An inner-city or college area ward will sometimes let you get away with things that other wards won’t. I’ve been in branches and wards where male leadership had beards or ponytails. And I’ve been in wards where a blue shirt was entirely unacceptable, and a beard meant you wouldn’t ever even serve in an EQ presidency or HP leadership.

  17. With regard to the excommunication question, many prophetic declarations seem black and white on the subject (getting excommed=going to hell), but D&C 88:1-5 seems to say otherwise, at least on close examination. Among those in this group being promised the second comforter (the second comforter according to Bruce McConkie, among others, is the guarantee of exaltation) is Sidney Rigdon. Rigdon, as we know, was excommunicated in 1844, started the Church of Christ and later the Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion, and never returned to mainstream Mormonism. (see https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-student-manual/section-81-89/section-88-the-olive-leaf?lang=eng)

    So this raises the question, does excommunication by the administration of the church really cancel spiritual blessings? Which is more efficacious the alleged declarations of God or the actions of his alleged agents? I would like to think that I would defer to God.

    If we are to accept the fact that excommunication is more than an administrative action aimed to rein in the church as an organization/institution, this story, and others, needs to be reconciled with prophetic utterances.

    This principle can be conveyed conversely in the instance of an individual who is unworthy of a heavenly reward. If that person alludes administrative church discipline he/she has not found a back door into that heavenly reward.

  18. JS would be asking for the wifi password for his seer stone. Clearly.

  19. As for excommunication, it would actually mean an 11 percent raise. Think about it.

  20. Angela: Pioneer47.

  21. I have been banned permanently from M* and NCT and numerous times from BCC. Yet, I have never been banned from speaking during sacrament meeting. It is pretty hard to get banned. I would have found a way by now.

  22. A few years ago, my bishop asked if I’d speak in church. I said that our ward was so irreverent that I might end up swearing at people. As bishop, he knew the first was true. As a personal friend, he knew the second was possible. Even with changes in leadership, I haven’t been asked yet.

    And the answer to JSJ’s question #8 is: No, because she’s only 14.

  23. Quoting and R-rated movie is definitely kosher, Bishop Causse did it!
    Although to be fair, he was quoting “The King’s Speech”…

  24. A few other things I think Joseph Smith would say:
    “Lesson manuals? Whose stupid idea was that?”
    “Actually Section 89 approves drinking beer, I love beer.”
    “Why is everyone so overweight?”

  25. anon this thread says:

    Joseph. with modern technology and phones and text, its more difficult than ever to avoid the contacts unless you have all of their possible contacts in your phone.

    Steve Evans, James & Joseph: Try refusing a release from a call you like. That worked for me for a few years. I think it was just because it caught them off-guard.

  26. “What’s with all the acronyms?”
    – Joseph Smith, Jr.

  27. John Mansfield says:

    For those interested, my father-in-law wrote down in 1963 a detailed description of a restoration of blessings performed on behalf of his great-grandfather by Spencer Kimball. “Apparently, this was the first time that either Elder Kimball or the temple presidency had performed or seen performed this particular ordinance.” (link)

  28. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Joseph: who are these ‘pioneers’ people keep talking about and which fool led them into this desert?


    This is still happening? I thought it would all be over within 15 years.

  29. John — super interesting. Thanks.

  30. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Actually, we could come up with a sizable list of Joseph Smith quotes that began: “Which fool. …”

    For example –
    Which fool decided these YM should pass the sacrament?
    Which fool stopped ordaining black people?
    Which fool pissed off my wife?

  31. John: regarding Caussé and “The King’s Speech,” it’s worth noting that the category of “R-rated movie” is meaningless in France. #globalchurch

  32. I would think that repeated abuse of the open mike during Fast and Testimony meetings would pretty much cement the resolve in the minds of the Bishopric that inviting you to speak on an assigned topic during Sacrament Meeting is a no-go. On the other hand, if they’re desperate for SM speakers, your obvious lack of reticence in getting up in front of a crowd might actually move you to the front of the pack. This could be a coin toss. But I can recall one particular branch in France back in 1977 where someone from the Bishopric would always make sure to stand up and offer up a corrective testimony after the resident odd-ball member went off on a testimony-bearing tangent spouting obviously false doctrine that any visitors to the branch that particular Sunday might find to be mildly horrifying.

  33. What? When did Elder Ballard ban electronics in sacrament meetings? Citation?

  34. Little know fact: Chuck Norris was styled to be a latter-day Joshua.

    I know this because one of my former stake presidents was an entertainment industry executive and was asked by Chuck to consult with the real Joshua using a seer stone. After the seer stone experience the stake president routinely called to ask Chuck him to defend the family.

  35. Mortimer, the new Sabbath Day observance initiative. See here: https://youtu.be/Do6E84Mmfhc?t=5m20s

  36. I don’t think Rated R stuff would do it outside the states. There is member of the first quorum of seventy who regularly showed clips of Gladiator and 300 while he was a mission president.

  37. Not just cell phones but games and food. If any bishops tries to enforce this suggestion it will get ugly.

    If you don’t want to speak in sacrament meeting just say no. Or come dressed as a clown or in a speedo.

  38. Royal Scot says:

    I have had a short mustache and goatee since 1969 when I graduated from university. Since then I have been executive secretary, EQ pres and counsellor, SS pres and Gospel doctrine teacher, financial clerk and teacher of the 2 presidents of the church lessons each month in HP group. The callings I have managed to avoid with this ploy is be a member of the bishopric, High counsellor or Stake presidency, for which I am quite thankful!

  39. You know, if you’d keep up with Keepa, your questions would be more informed. Here’s how you drown during baptism.

  40. “You build meeting houses? What’s wrong with the Masonic Lodge?”

  41. EmJen, he said “one hour” during sacrament meeting–that means I can text//play games/shop Amazon/surf and eat snacks during Sunday School and Priesthood! And, presumably, during the other 10 minutes of sacrament meeting.

  42. With regards to question #1: White shirt? Maybe in Utah you have plenty of bodies, but out here in the Mormon diaspora it is nearly impossible to get banned from speaking. The brother who went on a filibuster and had to be repeatedly asked to wrap it up before he would sit down (the talk contained a combination of factual errors and false doctrine that I recall engaging me, if only to hear what would be said next) was back up speaking a couple years later. After that, I knew there was no hope. He may have spoken for 45 minutes. I feel better prepared for the eternities at least.

    The same brother was also repeatedly asked to pray, despite utilizing the same quantity over quality approach – we used to time them, it helped the minutes go by.

    New question: is there a definitive ranking for irreverent Sacrament meeting behavior? How many of the behaviors on that list, if done regularly, would disqualify you from the Celestial Kingdom? I might as well know where I stand.

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