“Strangers In Zion”?

June 24, 2014    By: Geoff J @ 7:21 pm   Category: Life

Just saw a news piece that mentioned a brand spankin’ new group calling themselves “Strangers In Zion”. The group has a fancy new web site and everything. The stated purpose of the group is this:

Strangers In Zion is a grass roots movement for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are requesting to subject themselves to church discipline in solidarity for other wrongfully excommunicated and otherwised [sic] disciplined Latter-day Saints.

Well alrightee then.

Why just fade into inactivity in the church when you can try to leave the with a bang? I guess I can see the appeal on some level.

Of course folks will probably end up surprised by how hard it really is to get excommunicated from this church.



  1. In some ways it would be really easy to get excommunicated. Have intimate relations with someone who you aren’t married to and report it. Any other is a waste of time because you have to work at it like kk did. As you said, they are not very knowledgeable about what it takes to even be brought in. Most of the things I can think of would be illegal first.

    Comment by Jettboy — June 24, 2014 @ 8:31 pm

  2. Looks like they wasted all their mental fuel on the snazzy name.

    Comment by Jeff G — June 24, 2014 @ 9:49 pm

  3. Fair point, Jettboy. A quick call saying “Bishop, I’ve been cheating on my spouse and don’t intend to stop; let’s have a disciplinary council” could do the trick. But seems like you would then have to have your spouse play along with the ruse, and that could be tricky.

    Jeff — You have to hand it to them for choosing a pretty fancy template for their new blog. And it looks like that logo looks custom made.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 24, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

  4. On the dumb chart 1-10 this gets an 11. They could just say: please someone pay attention to me; please look at me; but it you do I am a victim.

    Here is the really ironic thing — the moron who put it together forgot to put his/her name on the website.

    Comment by Blake — June 24, 2014 @ 11:53 pm

  5. The point is to show solidarity to people like Kate Kelly(, John Dehlin, etc.) not to get excommunicated per se for any reason.

    Comment by chriswir — June 25, 2014 @ 2:17 am

  6. Strange indeed.

    Seems like the logic goes like this:

    Request excommunication for supporting OW for example.

    If they do not excommunicate you, they should not have excommunicated her.

    If they do excommunicate you, then the church is not inclusive enough.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — June 25, 2014 @ 4:26 am

  7. When Andy Warhol mentioned his 15 minutes of fame quote, he neglected to note the years of quiet infamy one has afterwards….

    Comment by rameumptom — June 25, 2014 @ 5:44 am

  8. We should probably make today a national holiday of some sort, because for a couple of minutes, at least, Geoff J. and I are in complete agreement :)

    Comment by Kristine — June 25, 2014 @ 8:45 am

  9. I’d like to think that people having faith problems have some principled intellectual reason for doubt that they are hoping to resolve, or perhaps are just so confused about political correctness that they use ideology as the yardstick to measure the Church instead of vice versa, but these folks give themselves away: they want to sin without guilt. That’s an unfortunate bolstering of the overly simplistic assertion some make that if you scratch a Mormon intellectual you’ll find sin, and probably moral sin. If you scratch anyone you’ll find sin, of course, but what’s interesting here is the open admission that the Church is supposedly wrong because it doesn’t want people to satisfy every base urge that pops into their heads. These folks are mad at the law of chastity.

    I have to say too that it’s very tiresome to hear the “loyal opposition” claim from people who actively promote their conclusion that the Church isn’t true. If the Church is true then it’s insane to oppose commandments revealed by God. If the Church isn’t true, is there any reason to hang around the deluded and the liars other than to gratify one’s ego by emphasizing one’s higher understanding, or to hide from the unpleasantness of ducking out on the family’s culture?

    Comment by paulw — June 25, 2014 @ 8:45 am

  10. Once again it proves the observation that people leave the church but seldom can leave it alone.

    Comment by DeepintheHeart — June 25, 2014 @ 11:54 am

  11. Like a train wreck or bad auto accident, you can’t just look away. I’m guilty of that myself. As a clue to their feelings about the church, they illustrate their “News” link with the familiar picture of Abinadi preaching to the priests of Noah. By implication, the wicked priests are the local leaders who ex-communicated poor Kate. I am now going to repent and wash out my eyes, as if that would do any good.

    Comment by DeepintheHeart — June 25, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

  12. Is this this movement reminiscent of how the Catholic/Protestant wars started between London and Belfast? How far do we imagine the hostilities will escalate?

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — June 25, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

  13. Well Jim, since this particular “movement” probably consists of about three disaffected Mormons, my guess is it won’t escalate at all.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 25, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  14. I don’t think this will escalate too far. Some people will leave, but I don’t think that number will be very high, maybe a small blip in the immediate future.

    Kate Kelly herself told her audience not to leave the church, to stay and try to make things better.

    I think the Church will suffer a little bit of PR damage, but it won’t be too much (but the rehash of the issue in the media may have a longer term impact.)

    I think the real “threat” is how differently young people tend to view these issues, and how their different perceptions will impact the Church. For example, Pew did a survey of Mormons, and found that something like 80% of Mormons under 25 support gay marriage.

    If we fast forward 10 years or so, if significant numbers of younger folks “fade away”, there will likely be a review at the highest levels about the nature of the problem and what to do about it.

    (To be fair, many other churches are having similar challenges, which is part of the reason LDS missionaries in Latin America are having great success. The Catholic church is WAY behind the times on issues like letting priests be married. They’re having acute problems finding priests and nuns.)

    Comment by Mark — June 25, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  15. From the website–

    “List of Participants: Coming soon”

    Yeah, I’ll bet it is.

    Comment by JimD — June 25, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

  16. The latest entry on Mormon Stories reveals who initiated this project. Ironically, it’s one of the hosts of the now dead “A Thoughful Faith” branch of the Open Stories Foundation. The same podcast John Dehlin claims exists to help people stay in the Church. Good one!

    There’s also a small Facebook group with a few dozen members. To their credit, I do believe they intend on being upfront with their identities.

    Comment by Tim Quezada — June 25, 2014 @ 7:58 pm

  17. The more I look into this the more bizarre it becomes.

    Consider the following, copied straight from the website:

    “We feel like there is nothing about our character and integrity that should put our Church membership at risk or invalidate our standing within the Church.”

    “We are not asking people to leave the Church, nor are we asking our Church leaders to kick us out. We are simply requesting a disciplinary council.”

    “While I have no desire to resign my Church membership…”

    Yet I notice that the mass “This Is Not the Place” resignation scheduled for July 24th is hosted by the same Micah Nickolaisen who started up Strangers in Zion and who, I assume, played a role in the authorship of those above statements.

    Seems a bit disingenuous doesn’t it?

    Comment by Tim Quezada — June 25, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

  18. Seems pathetic. Because it is.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 25, 2014 @ 8:46 pm

  19. It appears that [Amanda Hugankis] has requested a disciplinary council.

    Comment by Lemuel — June 25, 2014 @ 9:40 pm

  20. Strictly from a church disciplinary procedural point, I don’t think there is a way for a member to request a disciplinary council. The Bishop/Stake President is the one who has to initiate the council. I think if I were serving as Bishop/Stake President and I received a letter requesting one, I would contact the member and have a meeting. Then, depending on what was said in that meeting, a disciplinary council might then follow.

    Comment by IDIAT — June 26, 2014 @ 10:09 am

  21. Nothing new about apostasy in the Church. French Mission Apostasy 1958.

    Procedural issues are beside the point. If someone manifests that they no longer wish to abide by common rules for Church members, it should be respected, and they should be relieved of responsibility.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — June 26, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

  22. It is sad to see someone resort to a publicity stunt.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 26, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

  23. I agree, Jacob. I suspect this post and that channel 13 story might end up being the height of publicity this ridiculous stunt will get. I hope so at least.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 26, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

  24. While on the face it seems like a bad idea, anything that rubs jettboy the wrong way must have some positive merits. You know, like black men being able to have the priesthood and women begin able to speak in church.

    Comment by gimperville — June 28, 2014 @ 9:04 am

  25. “Of course folks will probably end up surprised by how hard it really is to get excommunicated from this church.”

    Maybe not. Just positively mention Denver Snuffer and in the blink of an eye you may find yourself half way there.

    Comment by stephen — July 7, 2014 @ 5:08 am

  26. Stephen,

    If you mention “Denver Snuffer” at church you’ll get nothing but blank stares in 99% of wards. Or people will assume you are randomly bringing up some Colorado serial killer.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 7, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  27. Yeah, you’re probably right. But push that envelope just a little, and I’m probably right.

    Comment by stephen — July 7, 2014 @ 10:38 am

  28. Meh. Repeatedly spouting false doctrines normally is generally ignored in wards. The spouter just gets a reputation as being eccentric. In severe cases it might get someone released from their callings.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 7, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

  29. “Repeatedly spouting false doctrines normally is generally ignored in wards.”

    So this explains why most are zoned out and meetings are a bore.

    Now, what happens when true doctrine is spouted?

    Comment by stephen — July 8, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

  30. Now, what happens when true doctrine is spouted?

    Trying going to church for a while and see for yourself. It’s a beautiful thing when truth is taught and the spirit is there to confirm it.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 8, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  31. Thanks for the invite, even though I’m already there. It is indeed beautiful when truth is taught.

    [Edited to stay on target]

    Comment by stephen — July 8, 2014 @ 6:02 pm

  32. I have serverd as a bishop(2x),H.C.in a stake pres.(9yrs) and released as a stake pres.5yrs ago.I have held many D.C.I have never held one on a member because of what they belived only because of their actions.You can request your name to be removed and I have done many of those.
    Perhaps if some of you bloggers were on the other end of that decision you may see things a little differently.
    Just for the record I have never had an apostate return to the church even when why they left was corrected. “A foot or hand ”
    cannot exit long without a body.The worst part of their decision is they take generations with them ( that aiso has to be a factor a leaders decision).So many factors that members no nothing about

    Comment by wanas — July 27, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

  33. Thanks for your insights on the process, wanas.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 27, 2014 @ 3:51 pm