In September, editor and writer David Twede's battle with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints made headlines. At the time, TheBlaze extensively examined the Mormon blogger's claim that the church was threatening him with excommunication. Last week, he subsequently took the extraordinary step of officially leaving the church, announcing his decision during an open mic session at the Exmormon Foundation’s annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Last month, Twede, editor of MormonThink.com, sparked media interest after he publicly claimed that he was facing excommunication threats from the church over criticism he waged on his blog against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. That said, the situation has been a complicated one to nail down. Perhaps The Salt Lake City Tribune best recapped the confusion surrounding the reasoning behind the call for excommunication:
On Sept. 16, officials in the LDS Hunters Creek Stake in Orlando, Fla., gave Twede a letter, summoning him to a church disciplinary council for "apostasy," which they attributed to his writings.
The Florida blogger initially told the news media that the threatened church action was due to his Romney remarks. Hours later, Twede told The Salt Lake Tribune his LDS leaders never brought up the candidate in their exchange with him. The next day, Twede returned to "a feeling in [his] gut" that his Romney comments had triggered the now-delayed disciplinary council.
Clearly, it was difficult to assess how much of a role -- if any -- that politics played in the church's decision to investigate Twede's writings. While LDS leaders refused to comment in detail about the blogger's case, spokesman Michael Purdy claimed that it was "patently false" that a Mormon would be disciplined for questioning his or her faith or for holding certain political views.
"The church is an advocate of individual choice. It is a core tenet of our faith." Purdy explained at the time. "Church discipline becomes necessary only in those rare occasions when an individual’s actions cannot be ignored while they claim to be in good standing with the church."
In an e-mail commenting about his recent decision to leave the Mormon church, Twede pointed to doubts about his faith that he had purportedly held for some time. But he also said he was disenchanted with the way in which his disciplinary situation was handled.
"While I’ve been in serious doubt about the veracity of LDS claims for some time, I had become so disillusioned with how my situation was handled," he wrote, according to the Tribune. "That I just wanted to be free."
Despite the fact that the disciplinary council meeting ended up being suspended and postponed indefinitely, Twede said that he realized it was time to leave the faith. He cited "disenfranchisement" and said that the experience led him to conclude "that church leaders at all levels are not divinely inspired."
Last month, TheBlaze reached out to David Buckner, LDS’s New York City stake president, to gain further insight on the situation. In an e-mail response, he shared his doubts about the political nature of any disciplinary action that may be taken.
“The likelihood of the blogger’s membership issue relating to politics in my experience and estimation be zero,” he wrote.
In a subsequent phone interview, Buckner explained that, in his experience, there are typically two reasons why someone’s membership in the church would be questioned. Either the individual becomes openly agressive to the faith, denouncing its central tenets. Or — he or she encourages others to engage in activities that compromise the integrity of the church.
The Mormon church has declined to comment on Twede's decision to leave the church, but a spokesperson says that former members are always welcomed back with open arms.