Dear Bishop Harrison, President Wheatley, and President King:

In the next few weeks you might all find yourselves presiding at disciplinary councils for either Kate Kelly or John Dehlin. Here is my advice to you:

You must not excommunicate them. You do not want to be George Wallace.


Now, I am not suggesting that preventing the racial integration of schools and excommunicating members of the church over issues including — but not limited to — gender equality, feminism, and LGBT activism, are exactly the same thing. Obviously they are not. I will not take the time to parse out the similarities and dissimilarities here.

But here is one way that you and George Wallace could be the same. History remembers George Wallace and his actions that day. In 1963, there were certainly those who agreed with him and supported what he did. Since then, countless hearts have changed and countless others have stopped. How many do you think are left who would stand with George Wallace in the schoolhouse door? Even George Wallace would not, were he alive: “I was wrong,” he admitted in 1979. “Those days are over, and they ought to be over.” But nobody remembers that part.

I cannot tell you if his repentance was sincere. Nevertheless, sincere or not, I know exactly how I would feel if George Wallace were my father or my grandfather. I would be ashamed of what he did.

There are many arguments to be made against the excommunication of Kate and John. There are reasons I believe such an act to be morally wrong. However, I will not go into them here. Sadly, I suspect that if any of them carried any weight with you, you would never have initiated these disciplinary proceedings in the first place.

But here is something you should think about:

Since you hold leadership positions in the LDS Church, I can infer that you are married and have between two and several children. If you proceed to excommunicate Kate Kelly or John Dehlin, there will come a day — in a month, a year, or ten years — when your children, your children’s children, and so on (worlds without end), will be ashamed of you and your violent spiritual conduct toward these our sister and brother.

You may tell them that you believe you acted rightly, but they will still be ashamed. You may plead that you only acted reluctantly, in obedience to those in authority over you, but they will still be ashamed. You may tell them that you acted out of fear, to preserve your own standing in the church, and yet this will not diminish the shame they will feel.

My dear brothers, I plead with you — do what is right, let the consequence follow. If not for me, if not for Kate and John, if not for their families, if not for the thousands to whom they have given a reason to stay in the church, if not for the thousands more who will be punished by the precedent their excommunication would set, then do it for your children. Do it for your sons, who want to respect you. Do it for your daughters, who wish to look to your example. Do it for your grandchildren, who hope to remember you for courage instead of cowardice.

These days ought to be over; and someday they will be . . . that is the sole unchangeable aspect of the gospel. The future will make martyrs of your apostates. It will make saints of your sinners. You do not want to be George Wallace. You do not want to make shame the birthright of your descendants.

Be someone your children will never be ashamed to call their father.


Brother Orwell