SALT LAKE CITY – A Mormon man who runs a website for church members questioning their faith said Monday that he expects to be excommunicated based the tenor of a disciplinary hearing Sunday night, but he may not find out for days.
John Dehlin said his four-hour hearing Sunday night in North Logan was difficult, sad and at times heart-wrenching. Five people — three family members and two friends — spoke on his behalf before a council of 15 regional church leaders, all men, Dehlin said.
Evidence presented by church leaders seemed to paint him in the worst possible light, he said. "It's hard for me to imagine an outcome other than excommunication," Dehlin said.
A decision will be made in the coming days, officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said. The church isn't discussing the details of Dehlin's case.
Dehlin said he has been told he will be notified by mail, perhaps as early as Tuesday.
Dehlin is accused of apostasy, defined by the church as repeatedly acting in clear public opposition to the church.
He said he was told last year that his website Mormonstories.org and his public support of same-sex marriage were reasons he is being accused of apostasy. However, letters from church leaders that Dehlin has released focus on Dehlin's questioning of key church doctrine, the forum he provides via the website for doubters, and him becoming an ordained minister in another faith.
The documents do not mention his support for gay marriage. Dehlin said church leaders have verbally mentioned his support of gay rights even though they are not in the letters.
Dehlin, 45, is a married father of four who has been a Latter-day Saint his entire life. He is a doctoral candidate in psychology who previously worked in the high-tech industry.
He could be censured or excommunicated, a rare move that amounts to the harshest punishment available for a church member. Although he would still be able to attend Sunday church services, Dehlin would not be allowed to take sacrament, serve in a leadership role or go to temples, where many people get married.
About 200 supporters held a vigil for Dehlin on Sunday night outside the church building in North Logan. Many of them were still there when he left the meeting, he said.
"It's very heart-warming and encouraging," Dehlin said. "It was a great uplift after a really trying disciplinary council."
But not everybody aligns with Dehlin.
MormonVoices, an organization that supports the LDS Church, said in a statement that Dehlin hasn't believed in the basic tenets of the faith for some time and has worked to get other members to embrace his views.
"John's religious leaders have worked with him for a long time to help him find a place in the Mormon community, but John has turned his own departure from the faith into a socio-political issue, and himself into a self-made martyr," said Scott Gordon, co-founder of MormonVoices.