By Jessica Ravitz
(CNN) — A Mormon blogger in Florida typed his way into national headlines when he recently went public about facing possible disciplinary action from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
David Twede, who says he’s a fifth-generation Mormon, is the managing editor of MormonThink.com, an online publication that invites debate and open discussion about the LDS Church.
Late last week, The Daily Beast reported that after writing articles critical of GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Twede, 47, said he was called into church offices in Orlando, Florida, where he was “interrogated” and given “cease and desist” orders.
At the end of this meeting, Twede says on his personal blog that he was handed a letter, which he has posted online. The letter, which spells his name incorrectly, requests that he appear before a disciplinary council on September 30. It states that he is being considered for disciplinary action “including the possibility of disfellowshipment or excommunication, because you are reported to have been in apostasy.”
Twede admits that what’s driving this prospective spiritual slap-down seems to be a matter of debate. Was it Twede’s criticism of Romney or something else?
The church’s actions around Twede, who recently returned to the church after a long hiatus, has nothing to do with his politics, LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy said in a statement:
“It is patently false for someone to suggest they face Church discipline for having questions or for expressing a political view. The Church is an advocate of individual choice. It is a core tenet of our faith. Church discipline becomes necessary only in those rare occasions when an individual’s actions cannot be ignored while they claim to be in good standing with the Church. Every organization, whether religious or secular, must be able to define where its boundaries begin and end.”
The New York Times reported that it was Twede’s public admission that he was trying to sway the beliefs of others at church that got him into trouble. The Salt Lake Tribune said it was his sharing of details about sacred LDS temple ceremonies — disclosures that faithful Mormons find offensive — that raised concerns.
The LDS Church is staying mum.
“While some may want to make their version of an issue public, the Church will not discuss the private lives of individuals,” Purdy said in his statement. “These matters are handled by local Church leaders and are done in an attitude of love and caring. There are a number of possible outcomes to a Church disciplinary proceeding, only one of which is excommunication, which would be the most severe and least common result.”
Twede, who says he works in science and technology but wouldn’t get more specific, hopes it doesn’t come to that.
He said he decided to become involved with the church after a five-year hiatus to get a better perspective.
“I cannot effectively address the concerns of members of my church if I am not there with them seeing what they see and hearing what they hear,” Twede wrote in an e-mail. “I believe if the LDS church officials do discipline me for my speech, it will show that the leaders in Salt Lake City run a cultist organization that is unable to withstand the scrutiny of a website that advocates honest and open discussion of its troubling history and present actions.”
The timing of his renewed interest is suspicious to some, including to Scott Gordon, president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, an organization that defends the LDS Church from detractors. He says Twede only began going back to church a couple of weeks ago after he assumed the managing editor role at MormonThink.
“He went to church for the purpose of being able to say he’s an active member in order to market his site better,” Gordon said.
But Twede said his identity hinges on being able to call himself a Mormon.
“I don’t want to lose connection with my family culture that’s existed with us for five generations,” he said by e-mail.
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