The Mormon Church is moving to punish a prominent progressive podcaster who supports gay rights and the ordination of women, he said Thursday. John Dehlin has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing Jan. 25 on a charge of apostasy and was told the outcome will be censure or excommunication.
Dehlin told NBC News that he would have to cease public support of same-sex marriage and ordination of women and take down podcast episodes that were critical of the church to avoid being drummed out.
"My conscience won't allow me to do those things," he said. "I would rather face excommunication."
He said the church's crackdown on dissent threatens to alienate the younger generations.
"I worry they are shooting themselves in the foot here," he said. "A friend of mine said that excommunication is a 15th century solution to a 21st century problem. But I love the church and I don't mean to bring it any harm."
Dehlin was warned in June that his activities could get him in hot water — days after the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints excommunicated Mormon feminist Kate Kelly.
In a statement, church spokesman Eric Hawkins declined to discuss the specifics of Dehlin's situation.
"We respect the privacy of individuals, and don't publicly discuss the reasons why a member faces Church discipline," he said.
"Those reasons are provided to a member by their local Church leaders. It's my understanding that in this case the reasons have been clearly spelled out in letters to John Dehlin. In the interest of honesty and transparency, he may choose to make those letters public."
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