Mormon blogger says he faces church slap-down, possible excommunication
The Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, where the church is headquartered.
September 24th, 2012
04:03 PM ET

Mormon blogger says he faces church slap-down, possible excommunication

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - A Mormon blogger in Florida typed his way into national headlines when he recently went public about facing possible disciplinary action from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

David Twede, who says he’s a fifth-generation Mormon, is the managing editor of MormonThink.com, an online publication that invites debate and open discussion about the LDS Church.

Late last week, The Daily Beast reported that after writing articles critical of GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Twede, 47, said he was called into church offices in Orlando, Florida, where he was “interrogated” and given “cease and desist” orders.

At the end of this meeting, Twede says on his personal blog that he was handed a letter, which he has posted online. The letter, which spells his name incorrectly, requests that he appear before a disciplinary council on September 30. It states that he is being considered for disciplinary action “including the possibility of disfellowshipment or excommunication, because you are reported to have been in apostasy.”

Twede admits that what’s driving this prospective spiritual slap-down seems to be a matter of debate. Was it Twede’s criticism of Romney or something else?

The church's actions around Twede, who recently returned to the church after a long hiatus, has nothing to do with his politics, LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy said in a statement:

"It is patently false for someone to suggest they face Church discipline for having questions or for expressing a political view.  The Church is an advocate of individual choice.  It is a core tenet of our faith.  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. Every organization, whether religious or secular, must be able to define where its boundaries begin and end."

The New York Times reported that it was Twede's public admission that he was trying to sway the beliefs of others at church that got him into trouble. The Salt Lake Tribune said it was his sharing of details about sacred LDS temple ceremonies – disclosures that faithful Mormons find offensive – that raised concerns.

The LDS Church is staying mum.

“While some may want to make their version of an issue public, the Church will not discuss the private lives of individuals,” Purdy said in his statement. “These matters are handled by local Church leaders and are done in an attitude of love and caring.  There are a number of possible outcomes to a Church disciplinary proceeding, only one of which is excommunication, which would be the most severe and least common result.”

Twede, who says he works in science and technology but wouldn't get more specific, hopes it doesn’t come to that.

He said he decided to become involved with the church after a five-year hiatus to get a better perspective.

“I cannot effectively address the concerns of members of my church if I am not there with them seeing what they see and hearing what they hear,” Twede wrote in an e-mail. “I believe if the LDS church officials do discipline me for my speech, it will show that the leaders in Salt Lake City run a cultist organization that is unable to withstand the scrutiny of a website that advocates honest and open discussion of its troubling history and present actions.”

The timing of his renewed interest is suspicious to some, including to Scott Gordon, president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, an organization that defends the LDS Church from detractors. He says Twede only began going back to church a couple of weeks ago after he assumed the managing editor role at MormonThink.

“He went to church for the purpose of being able to say he’s an active member in order to market his site better,” Gordon said.

But Twede said his identity hinges on being able to call himself a Mormon.

“I don't want to lose connection with my family culture that's existed with us for five generations,” he said by e-mail.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (863 Responses)
  1. Punky's Dilemma

    When I was a devot, "rule-following" mormon, I got in trouble for teaching a lesson about the "word of wisdom" (mormon dietary code) where I stated that caffeinated sodas were controversial, and some mormon leadership had suggested we not drink them. Too bad one girl's dad was a local mormon authority who liked Dr. Pepper. If they will reprimand me over something silly (and actually true–everything I said was a part of main-stream mormon doctrine), what won't they reprimand someone about? I used to take this very seriously until resigned my membership (it turned out I couldn't stomach the anti-gay, Prop H8 rhetoric and request for mormon member donations to oppress fellow Americans). It does not matter if Twede is a "real" mormon, or not. Apostacy trials for free speech about our elected officials is a nutso thing to do.

    September 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  2. Zeitguest

    The cult of Joseph Smith has refused to follow the law since it began. They still defy our laws and do may traitorous activities.
    We should crack down on these religious-themed groups of traitorous individuals and put the ringleaders in Federal prison.

    September 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  3. RE McCray

    WOW ... Proof that Mormonism is cult. That is astonishing that they censor freedom of speech ... just astonishing. And Republicans want Romney to run this country? Seriously? By a cult leader?

    September 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • David

      Romney has not said that he supports the excommunication of this man Twede. Perhaps someone will ask him if he does.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Ryan M.

      Not that I disagree with you, but look into this Obama guy- he isn't too keen on the freedom of speech, either.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      Ryan – TOTAL FAIL.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  4. pbernasc

    religion is for gullible people ...

    September 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Karim

      Religion, UFOs and the LOTO are for gullible people.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  5. Sam Yaza

    there's an easy why to tell if your in a cult. if you think you might be in a cult, your in a cult.
    paraphrasing Steven Colbert

    September 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • mama kindless

      True. And if you think someone maybe ate some bad food or got a little to high and that why they started imagining things (instead of claiming some dead guy talked to him, so therefore he thinks he's an apostle), same thing – sensibility says go with the sensible susp!cion.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      yeah i don't believe anything a wino or a drunk says

      September 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      that means Jesus

      September 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  6. toad

    i am a mormon. ive been to the temple many times, just like mitt. and i dont know what your talking about!

    September 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Yeshua bar El

      Don't imagine that prayer changes God.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Your Mom

      The indoctrination of children in supernaturalism is a form of child abuse that creates adults that are forever two year old children scared of the dark and in awe of the boogeyman. All one has to do to make their rational minds shut down completely is to touch on certain triggers that were created during this ritual abuse.

      That said, Mormonism is the Scientology of the 19th century, a completely made up confidence scheme built out of bits and pieces of similar schemes. Don't mistake these people for Quakers or someone else that who is actually nice and well-scocialized, the history of the LDS is one of treachery, murder, and genocide towards native Americans. And of course, they are now literally the most inbred people on earth, so who knows what you are liable to get on an individual basis.

      The blogger needs to GTFO of that Mormon circus as quickly as possible, he obviously has some real-world insights that just don't support the ongoing operation of the confidence scheme.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  8. Doug

    Aah, yes. Excommunication. What the Mormon elders like to refer to as the 'court of love'. Bwaaaahahahaha. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    September 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  9. Doug

    The most worrisome thing about Mitt Romney, is that he raised his hand to the square, and made a solemn oath in the Mormon Temples, that he would always put the building up of the Mormon kingdom on earth foremost in his life, ahead of anything else, including government. He has repeated this oath literally hundreds of times throughout his life, and understands the consequences should he choose not to keep that oath. Huge potential conflict of interest I'd say.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  10. Doug

    Have to say that the way follow and 'discipline' their members, exercising an inordinate amount of control over their lives, it seem an awful lot like Scientology.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  11. Blogger

    The headline might as well say "anti-Mormon" blogger, isn't that the whole point. If he doesn't agree with the church's beliefs and is posturing himself as a mormon to convince other people to agree with him, he probably isn't an authentic mormon in the first place. I think that's the whole reason they're telling him to either stop or else leave the church. Have to draw the line somewhere; if someone doesn't believe then they shouldn't be identified with believers.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Doug

      Wow, at least the Mormon Church wants to give him a trial, however unfair it may be. You seem to have him convicted already based on one article.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Sort of like all those fundamentalists in Utah who still practice polygamy?

      September 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • God hates Religion

      If the Mormon church is so perfect why have the changed things in the last hundred years? Without questioning doctrine then Mormons would still advocate multiple wives and blacks would still be denied leadership roles, asking questions and expecting answers is how things change for the better.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  12. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't?) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the human species.

    Take Christianity, for instance. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. It's way too unfounded to argue over.

    Get a good cup of tea, and sit down and collect your thoughts. If you find it helpful to pray to a god, fine. But it is really healthier for the mind to leave behind all the characters that people over the centuries have invented or given powers to, for which there is little or no foundation. Because with those invented characters and powers – that's where division and hate join the little party in your mind. That's where, in your mind, you are inheriting the division and hate from ordinary politicians, lobbyists and salesmen from long ago. My goodness.

    mama kindless

    September 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Blogger

      Christians aren't the only one's who debate the issues you presented- all faiths and people of no faith still debate things and don't always agree. Being irreligious hardly means that one is suddenly in agreement with every other person on every issue. If anything, religion builds cohesion among people because it gives them a common way to approach life and common values.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  13. truth be trolled

    Kirk Cameron's Anti-Mormon Movie
    For what it's worth, which isn't much.. He does have that televangelist hairline.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  14. Marilynn

    As a Latter-day Saint adult convert-in other words, no one can accuse me of being brainwashed from childhood-I find the allegations of this David Twede, as well as some of the people posting comments, blatantly false and misleading. No doubt some members have been raised in an oppressive home atmosphere, but being abused by an alcoholic parent is NOT tolerated in the LDS church. Indeed, if such misconduct comes to the attention of church authorities they are MANDATED to counsel the family and if the situation is not improved to REPORT THE ABUSE TO CIVIL AUTHORITIES!

    And then there is the whining I hear about how "my Mormon/Catholic/Jewish/Baptist/(fill in religion of choice here) upbringing ruined my life and now I am in a 12 step recovery program...." Oh, Puh-leeze! If I wanted to I could make a laundry list of everything my parents, schoolteachers,Sunday School teachers, city officials and the cashier in the checkout line did to make me a neurotic mess. Seriously, there are people who do need intervention and therapy for trauma caused by childhood events or mental and/or physical (genetic?) anomalies not of their doing, but for most of us, blaming the faith we were taught from the cradle is an excuse to avoid accepting personal accountability.

    As far as the Church proscribing (that's "PROscribing" not "PREscribing") medication or psychiatric treatment, well the good doctor (mormondoc) spoke truth to that falsehood.

    PLEASE, people, do not let your prejudices and preconceived notions blind you to the truth! We owe others the courtesy-if not the common decency-to seek out the facts in regard to religions and philosophies that are not our own. Making up stuff that fits your established opinions or forming opinions from rumors (ESPECIALLY Internet gossip) is neither intelligent nor ethical.

    And just for the record: I drive to church and to the temple in a car sporting Ron Paul bumper stickers since 2007 and have yet to be threatened with disciplinary action or revocation of my temple recommend!

    September 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Marilynn

      Sorry about the punctuation being inexplicably expunged from my post above, making it difficult to read in a few places.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • LeslieM1

      And I support Obama and I've never had any church leader threaten me - in fact I'm pretty sure my bishop is voting for Obama.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Space Cat

      MEOW MEOW!!

      September 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • wowzers

      Says a lot about your intelligence that you converted to Mormonism as an adult. Yikes. See also: Glenn Beck.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Your Mom

      For all your words you were obviously damaged by exposure to supernaturalism in some context, it's no wonder you ended up buying into still another rendition of the world's oldest confidence scheme.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  15. Yeshua bar El

    There have never been any Prophets. God does not speak through men. God does not speak at all. It has nothing to say to you because it wants nothing from you. It isn't even aware of you.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  16. Joe in Kalispell

    If they excommunicate this guy then that lying Harry Reid needs to be excommunicated.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Lucius Beebe

      No, they only excommunicate people who threaten the criminal conduct of the LDS.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  17. truth be trolled

    Welcome To This World .,.,

    September 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  18. truth be trolled

    "Why are you not a Christian?" (Bertrand Russell) .,.,

    September 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  19. God hates Religion

    The Mormon religion is a CULT. When an "organization" cuts you off from family and friends so that you are not influenced to think, you have a cult. Mormons cannot handle any kind of critisizm without excommunication, they are almost as defensive as the Church of Scientology, really there isn't much difference between the two when it comes to their cultish behaivor. I am sure this blogger is in trouble because of Romney, the church doesn't want it's favorite son being exposed as a money grubbing sociopath. Of all the crud the Mormon church does, the one that is beyond the pale is baptizing dead people of other faiths and dead agnostics and athesists. This is beyond wrong, you can't even be dead and be safe from this cult.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • JD

      They are as controlling as the Vatican. Jesus never started or preached a religion. That was started by ordinary men so they could control others. The sheep followed.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • God hates Religion

      JD.....Jesus said to keep God in your heart and prayer in your home, very wise words indeed.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Wrong

      The LDS church does NOT cut anyone off from their family. Ever. My entire immediate family are practicing members of the LDS church, with the exception of one brother who rejects religion. His position in our family is not different from anyone else's. My mother converted as an adult. Her family is Jewish. We visit with them regularly. Those who claim that the LDS church shuns anyne or tries to keep families apart are either woefully misinformed or lying.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • swingstater

      I'll say this in all seriousness, from what I've read, the LDS believe in Joseph Smith's "Golden Horse" prophecy–that an LDSer will come to power and save the US. However, I think they've got the wrong guy to pin their hopes on there.

      I read that Romney just said about airplanes, “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous."

      As bloggers at Gawker, Wonkette and Daily Kos pointed out, there are sound scientific reasons for having sealed windows on airplanes.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  20. truth be trolled

    Lewis Black – The Old Testament ,.,.

    September 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.