Feminist housewife Janice Allred, who wrote about a divine mother in heaven and challenged the notion that Jesus would not allow the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be led astray, has been excommunicated, she said.
The action was taken late Tuesday after a five-hour hearing before a disciplinary council headed by Bishop Robert Hammond.Hammond declined comment. Bishops, who are lay leaders of congregations, are discouraged from discussing disciplinary cases. Spokesmen at church headquarters in Salt Lake City also decline comment beyond saying the cases are local matters.
Including Allred, at least eight high-profile feminists and academics have been excommunicated in the past two years on grounds of apostasy or public criticism of leaders of the church.
Church members believe their leadership to be divinely inspired. Supporters of the disciplinary actions contend that failure to sustain and obey church leaders is a repudiation of the church's most basic beliefs.
"I'm going to appeal. The next step is (to appeal) to the stake president," Allred said.
The step after that would be to appeal to the church's governing First Presidency.
Such appeals have not been successful in the other cases, and Allred does not expect her case to be different.
"I think that the decision was not just and it is a matter of principle to appeal," she said.
Regardless of the outcome, "I will continue to attend church with my family. I will continue to write and speak on theological topics," said Allred, 48, mother of nine.
Allred first came under fire for a paper delivered at the 1992 Sunstone Symposium in which she suggested that mankind's heavenly mother is actually the Holy Ghost and has a co-equal partnership with God the Father.
Mormon belief holds that the Father and Son, Jesus Christ, are distinct individuals with bodies of flesh and that the Holy Ghost is a separate personage of spirit. Church leaders have said that while the existence of a heavenly mother is a logical and reasonable doctrine, there is no revealed knowledge about her.
Allred said she was accused of teaching false doctrine. She contends that apostasy is defined by the church as the teaching as doctrine that which is not doctrine. She said she has never suggested her ideas were church doctrine.
"My bishop could never understand the distinction," she said.
The false-doctrine accusation also pertained to a paper delivered at last August's Sunstone Symposium. In it she contradicted a common church belief, which had been underscored by President Gordon B. Hinckley. President Hinckley said the church always has been led by prophets and "the Lord Jesus Christ . . . will never let any man or group of men lead it astray."
Allred contended there was no scriptural basis for that belief and that it ignores individual re-spon-si-bility.
Allred said she also was criticized Tuesday for talking to the press. "They felt talking to the press at all was being in opposition to church leaders because the kinds of things I said made the church look bad," she said.
"My defense is that calling attention to problems is not the same as tearing down the church," she said.
Allred is the first high-profile Mormon writer disciplined since President Hinckley became church president on March 12.