Former LDS bishop excommunicated over podcast

Bill Reel was on thin ice with the church for openly criticizing leaders

ABC News 4, Utah/December 3, 2018

By Andrew Reeser

St. George, Utah -- A former bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on his website that he was excommunicated over a podcast that frequently criticizes church history, policies and procedures. 

Bill Reel's "Mormon Discussion" podcast recently took on Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Episodes typically have provocative titles; the episode about Elder Holland was called "Liar, Liar Pants on Fire," accusing the Mormon apostle of lying to members, including exaggerating the church's growth rate. 

In the episode, Reel describes a "friendly" relationship he once had with Elder Holland. However, Reel said during his own faith crisis, when he posed doctrinal questions to the apostle, he was met with silence. 

Reel announced Monday morning that the decision was made by his local church leaders to excommunicate him. He made his excommunication letter public.

"After many thoughts and prayers on this matter, we have determined that your views and behavior are apostate, and that there is no indication that you are willing to work on realigning your views or on changing your behavior," the letter read.

"We are still your brothers and sisters in the Lord, and you are a son of our Heavenly Father and He loves you. We will also be here to extend a hand of help and assistance when needed," wrote Reel's stake president. 

Reel said his family immediately sent letters of resignation from the Church upon learning of his excommunication. 

"The podcast will continue for the foreseeable future and I will continue to ensure that it offers the tools and resources to help others wake up and to deconstruct their religious system," Reel wrote.  "In fact I expect very little to change.

Recently, Reel said he was served with an invitation to a church disciplinary council by his Stake President in St. George. The letter, posted to the "Mormon Discussion website," told Reel he "repeatedly acted in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the church and its leaders."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not comment on the reasons for calling disciplinary councils to protect the privacy of its members. However, Reel said he believes his episode about Elder Holland was the last straw. 

"I always knew that full honesty and transparency and shining a light on unhealthiness and deception would eventually end with me being severed from my tribe.  But many around me expected better from the Church and are feeling hurt by this latest detail to transpire," said Reel in a post about the disciplinary council letter. 

In an interview with St. George News, Reel said he was also openly critical about the Church's treatment of LGBTQ individuals.

He asked for support from listeners of his podcast. 

Reel now joins the likes of other high profile members of the Church excommunicated for similar reasons, including podcaster John Dehlin and former LDS bishop Sam Young.

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