Salt Lake City -- A prominent Mormon activist who went against the church by supporting same-sex marriage and the ordination of women has been excommunicated by a council that found he publicly doubted the faith's core principles, the church said on Tuesday.
The excommunication of John Dehlin, the outspoken founder of the "Mormon Stories" website and podcast, marks one of the highest profile disciplinary actions the church has taken as it seeks to counter challenges from the left to its doctrine and practices.
The move follows demonstrations by other members of the church who have called for the ordination of women, a cause Dehlin says he supports.
A local council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints returned the decision against Dehlin, a resident of North Logan, a community 70 miles (113 km) north of Salt Lake City, after meeting on Sunday to decide his case.
Dehlin, 45, told Salt Lake City radio station KUER he received a letter from church officials outlining their decision in a process he called "troubling and sad."
"It basically says that I've been excommunicated," Dehlin told KUER. "I don’t believe that my Mormonism can be taken from me by a process like this. Mormonism is bigger than the LDS Church."
Dehlin said the council faulted him for expressing doubts about orthodox teachings of the faith, and he has previously indicated the church took issue with his positions on same-sex marriage and the ordination of women.
He also acknowledged he doubts the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham, two sacred texts of Mormonism, are translations of ancient texts as the church teaches.
Church spokesman Eric Hawkins confirmed in a statement that Dehlin was excommunicated by local leaders who determined he disputed the divinity of Jesus Christ, labeled the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham as fiction and denied the church's divine authority.
In an excerpt of the letter sent to Dehlin and released by the church, a local church leader told the activist he was being ousted not for his personal doubts but for his public criticism of church doctrine.
Last month, the church announced it supports U.S. laws protecting gay rights as long as religious freedoms are not compromised.
In another prominent instance of church discipline, feminist Kate Kelly, the founder of the website Ordain Women, was excommunicated last June after church leaders found she violated its "laws and order."
(Corrects spelling of surname of Mormon church spokesman in 9th paragraph)
(Reporting by Peg McEntee in Salt Lake City and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Andre Grenon and Eric Beech)
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