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No decision on Mormon gay rights advocate facing excommunication

Sunday, June 29, 2014
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John Dehlin sits in his basement studio where he broadcasts his podcast at his home in North Logan, Utah. Dehlin, a Mormon who is well-known for advocating for gay rights and questioning some church policies, is set to meet Sunday, June 29, 3014, with a regional church leader in northern Utah to discuss whether he still faces excommunication.John Zsiray, AP

John Dehlin sits in his basement studio where he broadcasts his podcast at his home in North Logan, Utah. Dehlin, a Mormon who is well-known for advocating for gay rights and questioning some church policies, is set to meet Sunday, June 29, 3014, with a regional church leader in northern Utah to discuss whether he still faces excommunication.

Updated: 9:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A Mormon man well-known for advocating for gay rights and questioning some church policies said no immediate decision was made Sunday by a Utah church leader considering whether he’ll be excommunicated.

John Dehlin, of Logan, Utah, said regional church leader Bryan King told him at a meeting that he needed time to think and pray on whether to send Dehlin’s case to a disciplinary panel.

Another meeting or deadline wasn’t set, and Dehlin said he agreed not to talk with the media any more about his case.

Dehlin, 44, a married father of four, has operated a website for years that provides a forum for church members questioning their faith. He was told in June to resign from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or face a disciplinary committee.

This is the third time in the last decade that Dehlin has faced possible discipline from the church. He has been allowed to remain a church member each time.

“Nothing has changed in my beliefs or behavior since then. It’s really frustrating that these inquiries continue to happen,” Dehlin said this week. “It feels a little bit like harassment, although I believe they are well-intended.”

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The meeting with King came six days after Kate Kelly, the founder of a prominent Mormon women’s group, was excommunicated – sending ripples through the country. Kelly is appealing that ruling.

Scholars say Kelly and Dehlin are the most high-profile examples of excommunication proceedings since 1993. That year, the church disciplined six Mormon writers who questioned church doctrine, ousting five and kicking out a sixth temporarily.

Jan Shipps, a retired religion professor from Indiana who is a non-Mormon expert on the church, said church leaders were practicing “boundary maintenance,” using Dehlin and Kelly as an example to show dissenters how far they can go.

Mormon officials haven’t discussed Dehlin or Kelly’s cases specifically, but they have said the church welcomes questions and sincere conversations about the faith.

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