David Twede, 47, a scientist, novelist, and fifth-generation Mormon, is managing editor of MormonThink.com, an online magazine produced largely by members of the Mormon Church that welcomes scholarly debate about the religion’s history from both critics and true believers.
A Mormon in good standing, Twede has never been disciplined by Latter Day Saints leadership. But it now appears his days as a Mormon may be numbered because of a series of articles he wrote this past week that were critical of Mitt Romney.
On Sunday, Twede says his bishop, stake president, and two church executives brought him into Florida Mormon church offices in Orlando and interrogated him for nearly an hour about his writings, telling him, "Cease and desist, Brother Twede."
Mormon leaders have scheduled an excommunication "for apostasy" on Sept. 30.
This is why we don't have a theocracy in America (not yet, at least). This is why we separate church and state.
Of course, Twede had to hide his identity at MormonThink.com anyway. The phrase "witch hunt" is used for good reason, a tragic reminder of our religious history.
“I told them I hide my name precisely because of things like this,” he says. “I said, ‘Look how fast you got to me.’ I know a lot of members don’t want their life disturbed. In the Mormon church, if you’re not part of the uniform group, you are ostracized.” ...
“When they interrogated me, they denied that they were on a witch hunt, but they kept asking me, ‘Who are the other individuals you work with on MormonThink?’” he says. “They continued demanding that I tell them. But I didn’t.”
He's lucky they can't use red-hot pincers these days!
But this also demonstrates why you shouldn't belong to faith-based groups. Criticism of any kind is anathema to religions, because they all have faith they already know the truth (even though different religions disagree vehemently on what that truth is).
What good is criticism if you won't use it to correct your mistakes - heck, if you refuse to recognize even the possibility that you might be mistaken? Religions value faith, not skepticism, for good reason.
Science values skepticism, because scientists want to be corrected if they're mistaken. But religions can't afford that. Skepticism is too dangerous to religions built on the sands of wishful-thinking.
But facing excommunication for criticizing a presidential candidate? It's pretty clear that Mormon leaders think they'll have the president in their pocket, if Mitt Romney is elected.
Admittedly, this doesn't seem to be just about Romney:
Twede started contributing to MormonThink about four years ago and says he was recently asked to be managing editor when the former editor resigned after also being “confronted and pressured” by the Church leaders, according to Twede.
“Rather than go through the excommunication, he resigned for family reasons,” explains Twede, who notes that after the former editor resigned, LDS leaders kept it quiet. “They didn’t want anyone to know about MormonThink. They wanted him to take the site down.”
What's the difference between a religion and a cult? Size, only size. A religion has more members, more money, more property, more power. But it's just a cult at heart.