Did you ask to be excommunicated?

John Dehlin Blog, Q&A, Writings

Not at all.  In the ten years we have lived here in Logan I have been investigated on at least three different occasions for concerns surrounding my online activities, research, and advocacy.  In the past my wife and I have participated in these investigations voluntarily, and in good faith — always to be vindicated in the end.  In one instance, my Elder’s quorum president/home teacher was secretly assigned by our bishop to investigate my internet activities, and to report this information to the bishop while simultaneously serving as our home teacher.  This investigatory activity continued for months before I was finally informed of the assignment (on accident).

About two years ago I began meeting weekly with my former stake president for over a year, wherein he concluded that I was worthy to be a member, and to baptize and confirm my son.  It is significant to me that nothing has changed in my beliefs from that point to now.  Nonetheless, in January/February 2014 our newly called bishop called me into his office, and told me that my Elder’s Quorum president had (again) complained to him about me, expressed concern that I might be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” and informed me that he would be initiating yet another investigation.

After reporting this experience to my wife, we agreed that we did not want our family to go through this ward-level investigatory process yet again: that it felt like intimidation and harassment to us.  Consequently, we sent our bishop the following email:

“2/2/2014

Brian,

Margi and I decided today that we would like to ask the following of you as bishop forward: 1) We would like to ask you to please not request any more interviews with Margi or myself. Please do not contact us again as bishop. As a neighbor, no problem. But as a bishop, please don’t contact us or ask anyone to contact us again (other than to confirm receipt of this email). 2) We would like to ask you to please take our names off of any home or visiting teaching rolls/lists. Other than for community service opportunities, we do not want to be contacted by the Elder’s quorum or Relief Society in any way. 3) Please dispose of our fast offering envelope such that the fast offering boys no longer come to our house. 4) Finally, as a person who claims to believe in being honest and charitable, we would like to respectfully ask you to please keep the contents of this email between us. For the sake of our children, we would prefer not to be gossiped about in the ward. We are hopeful that you can arrange 1-3 above without needing to embarrass us or our children with other ward members. Our preference would be that you not speak about us in any way during your ward leadership meetings — and that if our family comes up in such a meeting, you respectfully let the ward members know that we would prefer to not be spoken about. We would just prefer to be left alone. Finally, please know that we sincerely have no hard feelings towards you or anyone else in the ward. We have not been offended. We are very happy in our lives and still feel much love for you, your family, and for the ward members. We know that you and others are just doing your jobs as you feel moved to do. This is just what would work for us right now. If things change, we will let you know. Also, please know that we will still be attending church on Sundays in support of our children (when they attend), but otherwise would like you to please no longer consider Margi and myself as members of the ward. Thanks for respecting this request. As a courtesy, please reply to let me know you have received this email.

Sincerely wishing you and your family all of the best. John and Margi”

Our purpose in sending this email was not to rescind our church membership, but instead was to be left alone by our ward (if it was their intent to investigate us yet again).  While we were aware that this email would come across as harsh to the ward leadership, we were simply not interested in any more ward-level investigations.