Excommunication hearing set for Mormon women's advocate Kate Kelly for 'apostasy'

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Kate Kelly

Mormon women's advocate Kate Kelly was notified on Sunday that she will face excommunication for apostasy.

Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, will have a hearing on June 22 that will determine her fate.

Apostasy is defined by the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) as when "individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel."

The Mormon Church teaches that only men can become priests, and Ordain Women believes that female Mormons "must be ordained in order for our faith to reflect the equity and expansiveness of [Mormon] teachings."

Kelly founded the organization in March 2013.

Bishop Mark Harrison of the Vienna Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake informed Kelly of the charge against her.

"The bishopric is considering formal disciplinary action on your behalf, including the possibility of disfellowshipment or excommunication, on the grounds of apostasy," he wrote in an emailed letter.

"We love you and are concerned about your spiritual welfare. We encourage you to take the steps necessary to return to and stay on the path that will lead to eternal blessings and happiness. Our hope is to assist you in this effort."

In a response posted on Ordain Women's website, Kelly said that she founded the organization while living in Virginia, and informed Bishop Harrison of the group's activities. She stated that he never asked to meet with her, and that the letter was sent three weeks after she moved out of his ward.

Kelly went on to say that she will not attend the hearing, and related the disciplinary action to a "spiritual death."

"The life-saving ordinances you have participated in like baptism, confirmation, and temple sealing are moot," she wrote. "In effect, you are being forcibly evicted from your forever family."

"Given the gravity of the situation, I feel like being invited to a council of this sort is akin to being invited to my own funeral."

Mormon blogger John Dehlin told reporters that he also received a letter on Monday asking him to resign from the LDS Church or face an excommunication hearing for apostasy. According to the Associated Press, "church leaders are deeply concerned about Dehlin's recent comments about no longer believing fundamental teachings of the faith."

Cumorah Project church growth researcher Matt Martinich told the AP that the Mormon Church excommunicates 10,000 to 20,000 of its 15 million members annually.

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