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Mormons Excommunicate First Leader in Decades

This time, it wasn't for apostasy, church says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 9, 2017 2:05 AM CDT
Updated Aug 9, 2017 6:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Mormon church leader was removed from his post and kicked out of the religion Tuesday for the first time in nearly three decades. James J. Hamula was released from a mid-level leadership council based on disciplinary action by the religion's highest leaders, says Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hawkins didn't say why Hamula was ousted, but the Utah-based church said it was not for apostasy, which refers to teaching inaccurate doctrine or publicly defying guidance from church leaders, the AP reports.

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Hamula's removal is surprising because he was well-regarded and was even considered by some scholars as a possible candidate to join the high-level Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when the church was filling three vacancies in 2015, says Matthew Bowman, a Mormon scholar and history professor at Henderson State University. "He had a promising future," Bowman says. The last leader to be excommunicated was the late George P. Lee in 1989 after Lee, a Native American, called Mormon leaders racist. The church said then that Lee was removed for "apostasy and other conduct unbecoming a member of the church." (Read more Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stories.)

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