This seems to be what everyone wants to talk about, so I'll open a new thread for post-trial commentary and speculation on the disfellowshipping of Grant Palmer. I'll put media links below (updated as new stories appear) plus my general comments in paragraphs to follow.
- AP Story - 12/12 Palmer declined comment "except to report that he had been disfellowshipped and was pleased with the decision." The LDS spokesman declined to comment.
- Shorter AP Story - 12/12 "Palmer said he still loves the church, and he's pleased he wasn't excommunicated."
- SL Trib - 12/13 by Peggy Fletcher Stack
- Yahoo carries AP story
- Deseret News - 12/13
Maybe everyone goes home happy. On the postive side, the Church avoided a train wreck (excommunication), either by behind the scenes bargaining, restraint on the part of the brethren conducting the marathon six-hour disciplinary hearing, or simple good fortune. Ignoring the rhetoric, after two messy disciplinary proceedings (Murphy and Palmer) the score is "two witchhunts, no hangings." It's not pretty, but it's progress. Being generous all around, we can applaud both Palmer (for taking a bullet for history -- does the MHA award purple hearts?) and the stake leadership (for stopping short of exing Palmer despite implied hints from "The Committee"). On a personal level Palmer seems pleased with the outcome, and it's hard to take issue with a disciplinary proceeding where the accused walks away happy.
On the negative side, with everybody clamming up it leaves the producers and consumers of Mormon history wondering what the new rules are. I suppose one could say that if Insider's View doesn't warrant excommunication, then it's hard to think that any book will. Certainly Palmer's low-key comments over the last week laid the foundation for this rather gentle outcome. While he did speak with the press, he did not encourage or support organized opposition to the disciplinary proceeding, and his comments to the press about the ideas in his book and his own personal views were, on the whole, fairly circumspect. On the other hand, we can only be confused at the seemingly arbitrary results that have emerged from recent heresy trials. For published writings similarly critical of orthodox LDS claims, five of the September Six were exed (one later rebaptized), Murphy was accused but never tried and remains an inactive member in good standing, and now Palmer was tried and disfellowshipped.
Bishops . . . [and stake presidents] have a responsibility to help members overcome transgression through repentance. The most serious transgressions, such as serious violations of civil law, spouse abuse, child abuse, adultery, fornication, rape, and incest, often require formal Church discipline. Formal Church discipline may include restriction of Church membership privileges or loss of Church membership.Disfellowshipping falls under "restriction of Church membership privileges," although I confess I don't know how much discretion local leaders have in tailoring those restrictions. "Shunning" is not officially practiced in the LDS Church, although there is some social stigma attached to being disfellowshipped (or excommunicated). Here's an open question -- in all the pretrial noise, does anyone recall a specific statement by LDS officials or unofficial surrogates as to what exactly the transgression was that Palmer was accused of? While making an Apostle upset might explain why his Stake President got a packet in the mail from The Committee, you can't open a disciplinary proceeding by announcing to the accused that he's on trial for making an Apostle upset. What exactly was he accused of? And what did they talk about for six hours?