Mor­mon leader ex­com­mu­ni­cated for the first time in three decades

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Mor­mon church leader was re­moved from his post and kicked out of the re­li­gion Tues­day for the first time in nearly three decades. James J Ha­mula was re­leased from a mi­dlevel lead­er­ship coun­cil based on dis­ci­plinary ac­tion by the re­li­gion’s high­est lead­ers, said Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints.

Hawkins didn’t say why Ha­mula was ousted, but the Utah-based church said it was not for apos­tasy, which refers to teach­ing in­ac­cu­rate doc­trine or pub­licly de­fy­ing guid­ance from church lead­ers. Ef­forts to reach Ha­mula at listed phone num­bers were not suc­cess­ful. The last leader to be ex­com­mu­ni­cated was the late Ge­orge P. Lee in 1989 af­ter Lee, an Amer­i­can In­dian, called Mor­mon lead­ers racist. The church said then that Lee was re­moved for “apos­tasy and other con­duct un­be­com­ing a mem­ber of the church.”

The last church leader re­moved be­fore Lee was Richard R Ly­man, who was ex­com­mu­ni­cated in 1943 for adul­tery but bap­tized again 11 years later. Ha­mula be­came a mem­ber of a group called the “Gen­eral Author­ity Seventy” in 2008. It is a group of nearly 90 lead­ers that sit be­low the church pres­i­dent, his two coun­selors and two other lev­els of lead­ers. They help run church op­er­a­tions by serv­ing as a bridge be­tween lo­cal lay lead­ers in Mor­mon con­gre­ga­tions around the world and the top lead­ers work­ing at church head­quar­ters in Salt Lake City.

Well-re­garded

Ha­mula’s re­moval is sur­pris­ing be­cause he was well-re­garded and was even con­sid­ered by some out­side Mor­mon schol­ars as a pos­si­ble can­di­date to join the high-level Quo­rum of the Twelve Apos­tles when the church was fill­ing three va­can­cies in 2015, said Matthew Bow­man, a Mor­mon scholar and his­tory pro­fes­sor at Hen­der­son State Uni­ver­sity.

Ha­mula was not cho­sen, but he was still con­sid­ered an up-and-comer des­tined for more im­por­tant as­sign­ments, Bow­man said. In re­cent years, Ha­mula served in im­por­tant roles as as­sis­tant ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of church his­tory and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of a depart­ment that re­views all doc­u­ments pub­lished by the church. “He had a promis­ing fu­ture,” Bow­man said.

His re­moval will likely be talked about among some of the nearly 16 mil­lion world­wide mem­bers of the Mor­mon re­li­gion, but it may not cause a huge stir be­cause it may be the first time many have heard of Ha­mula, Bow­man said. Ha­mula was born in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, and is mar­ried with six chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to his church bi­og­ra­phy. He was a lawyer un­til join­ing the lead­er­ship coun­cil in 2008. That year, he gave a speech at a Mor­mon con­fer­ence watched by mil­lions about choos­ing good over evil.

“Satan is mar­shal­ing ev­ery re­source at his dis­posal to en­tice you into trans­gres­sion,” Ha­mula said. “He knows that if he can draw you into trans­gres­sion, he may pre­vent you from serv­ing a full-time mis­sion, mar­ry­ing in the tem­ple, and se­cur­ing your fu­ture chil­dren in the faith, all of which weak­ens not only you but the church.” —AP

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