Mormons could be expelled from Brigham Young University for losing faith

A temple of the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Sydney, Australia.Photo: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Facebook Page

Students at Brigham Young University who are part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LSD) could face expulsion from the university for "losing faith."

Brigham Young Universtity in Provo, Utah allows students of any religion to enroll in the school but students who belong to the LSD enjoy discounted tuition in the BYU while other students have to pay $10,000 annually. However, according to the Daily Beast, this discount is dependent on an ecclesiastical endorsement from an LSD bishop who could revoke it with a single phone call.

If Mormons, the other name for LSD members, stop believing in church doctrine while at school, they could stand to lose their endorsement and be expelled from the university.

This was confirmed by a November 2014 statement from BYU's spokesperson Carri Jenkins.

"A former Mormon who decides to leave the church distances themselves from those promises and commitments," Jenkins had said in the statement. 

"The result is that they are not eligible to attend BYU," she added.

This, according to students who formerly identified with the LSD, creates "a pervasive undercurrent of fear" to the otherwise enjoyable student environment at BYU. The students, who spoke to the Daily Beast on condition of anonymity, revealed that many of them have sought counselling from therapists as a result.

The policy is currently being challenged by an alumni organisation calling itself FreeBYU.

According to the Daily Beast, the organisation has lodged a complaint with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCCU), which is in charge of BYU's accreditation, over concerns of intellectual freedom.

BYU's accreditation is due to be renewed this year.

The campaign is being led by former student Brad Levin, who accused BYU of violating the NCCCU's standards with its policy towards lapsed Mormon students. These students, Levin says, are not "intellectually free to examine thought, reason and perspectives of truth."

Levin's campaign questioned the fairness of the BYU's "unique" policy of automatically expelling disaffiliated people and putting the fate of students in the hands of clergy and not university officials.