09 August 2017

WHOa! Mormons ExCommunicate An Elder For Predatory Sexual Behavior

Typical that no details about the removal were provided, but here are snippets from the published story

Elder James J. Hamula, First Quorum of the Seventy, Released and Excommunicated (multiple)
 Mormon News Report, 09 August 2017
GOSH!   "Oh boy. Let's get the big news out of the way first. I'll note at the outset that I want to cover this as objectively as I can, respecting the privacy of Elder Hamula, but also making sure the story is accurate. At around noon MST, the LDS Church announced that Elder James J. Hamula of the First Quorum of the Seventy was released and excommunicated. In a statement, LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said "This morning, James J. Hamula was released as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following church disciplinary action by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles."
Both the Tribune and the Deseret News cited church sources saying it was not for "apostasy or disillusionment." Hamula is the first general authority to be excommunicated since George P. Lee 28 years ago. Lee was excommunicated on September 1, 1989 for what LDS church leaders described as "apostasy and other conduct unbecoming a member of the church" following an hourlong meeting with President Ezra Taft Benson and his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Tad Walch of the Deseret News writes "when necessary, a disciplinary council for a senior LDS leader is comprised of members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. Church leaders have said they hold the faith's most senior leaders to the same standards of conduct as all other members, if not more so." Walch also quotes an article on the Mormon Newsroom website which states "In rare cases...the decision of a disciplinary council may be shared publicly to prevent others from being harmed through misinformation." Peggy Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune noted that Hawkins "provided no details about the removal." Stack also referenced the excommunication of George P. Lee, writing "Lee insisted the move was triggered by his opposition to the faith’s shifting approach to its Indian members, who Lee believed were meant to be leaders in the church. The former LDS general authority later admitted to attempted child sex abuse, and his wife divorced him. He died in 2010 at 67." And it's starting to gain traction - the early outlets picking up the story include Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post, who talked with Greg Prince regarding excommunication. Price said "the average member of the church wouldn’t know Hamula by name, despite his high-ranking job. That is because the leadership network has grown so much in recent decades with growth in the church. Sixty years ago, Prince said, there were seven members of the First Quorum. The number of church members has grown in that period from about 1 million to 15 million." Regina Graham of the UK's Daily Mail, and Fox News. Elder Hamula became a general authority in April 2008. From 2009 to 2014 Hamula was a member of the Pacific Area Presidency. Upon returning to Salt Lake City, he served as assistant executive director of the Church History Department from 2014 to 2016. His last assignment before his removal was serving as executive director of the Correlation Department. Be prepared - this is probably going to break tomorrow morning across all outlets (I'm surprised Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times hasn't reported on this yet). But let me be a broken record - I'm sick of faith politics. I can't imagine what both James Hamula and his family are going through. To quote my friend Lindsay Hansen Park, "My heart goes out to this man and his family. Regardless of what happened. This has happened to my friends before and they were treated very poorly. Should my name ever make this headline I only hope to receive grace and charity again. I guess that is the only thing is ask of my friends today- to extend grace and charity to a stranger whose situation we know nothing of."
Top Mormon leader is excommunicated; how much do we deserve to know about why? (Religion News Service)
"Friend-of-the-Report Jana Riess covers the release of Elder Hamula, and gets into the question that everyone seems to be asking (and I'm sick of answering) - what'd he do? Riess writes "I can see both sides to the Church’s longstanding radio silence where excommunication is concerned. On the one hand, confidentiality can protect excommunicants and their families from unwanted and unhelpful judgment. It leaves the door open for a potential rebaptism and restoration of blessings...Some things are private and deserve to remain private: loss of faith, for example. Some problems, however, have a community component and deserve to be made known, things like financial misdeeds, predatory sexual behavior, or repeated lying to the community (as was the case with disciplined-but-apparently-not-excommunicated LDS leader Paul Dunn). There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know what caused the excommunication of Elder Hamula. And there’s another part of me that wishes the Church would be more transparent, particularly insofar as members are now asked to sustain all general authorities during a temple recommend interview. I put my trust in this person. What happened to betray that trust?"

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