More Mormons are leaving the LDS Church than ever in its history. Not content with this, Church leaders are also kicking out Mormons in record numbers.

The last two years have racked up a spate of excommunications of Mormons for what is termed “apostasy.”

What is “apostasy”? Well, in practice, it is has come to mean holding the wrong idea and then telling it to somebody else. But what is this “wrong idea” members are not allowed to share? The answer to that is contained in the most recent excommunication of Alan Rock Waterman.

What Constitutes “Apostasy”?

First, we know what that “wrong idea” is not. It is obviously not hypocrisy and being two-faced.

How do we know this? Because in spite of the fact the LDS Church has publicly proclaimed it is okay to voice your opinion about Church matters and to blog about such things, th2Mormons are still being excommunicated for doing just that. If hypocrisy and being two-faced constituted “apostasy,” the entire Church leadership would have to excommunicate themselves.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning!

The list of those who have been excommunicated for “apostasy” is growing long. Denver Snuffer, Kate Kelly, Carson and Marisa Calderwood, John Dehlin, and last week, Rock Waterman. (I apologize if I have missed any names on the list. But one of the good things about apostates is you don’t have to worry about hurting their feelings.)

Despite the mixed messages the Church has sent about what constitutes apostasy, actions speak louder than words. A comparison of John Dehlin and Rock Waterman will make the point only too clear.

The Process of Elimination

Sherlock Holmes described the process of elimination this way: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

John Dehlin and Rock Waterman are as different in their religious beliefs as night and day. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. But they were both excommunicated.

I propose an experiment; that we utilize the process of elimination thXUYXSJWRby listing the reasons for why these two were found guilty of apostasy. Once we have done so, we can compare the list and, by the process of elimination, perhaps find out what apostasy really is.

1. The Book of Mormon—Rock Waterman believes the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. John Dehlin does not. No match there. This means that one’s belief in the Book of Mormon has nothing to do with apostasy. You can be an apostate whether you believe the Book of Mormon is true or not.

2. Joseph Smith—Rock believes Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. John does not. Again no match. From this, we may conclude you can be in apostasy if you don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. And you can also be in apostasy if you do believe Joseph Smith was a prophet.

3. Jesus Christ—Rock believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. John believes neither of these things. No match. Surprising as it may seem, it makes no difference what beliefs a person holds about Jesus Christ. You can have a burning testimony of everything the scriptures teach about Jesus and still be an apostate as far as the LDS Church is concerned.

4. Church Leaders—Rock Waterman does not believe modern Church leaders are necessarily “prophets, seers and revelators,” as they are billed.

But wait a minute. Neither does John Dehlin. We finally have a match!

What does this mean? It means that if we have found the one common denominator thbetween the excommunications of Rock Waterman and John Dehlin, we have likely identified the one thing that constitutes “apostasy.”  And with this match, we have done so.

The sole reason that Rock and John were excommunicated for apostasy is because of their lack of belief in the prophetic calling of current LDS Church leadership.


What is our take-away from this experiment?

It doesn’t matter what you believe about the Book of Mormon. It doesn’t matter what you believe about Joseph Smith. It doesn’t even matter what you believe about Jesus Christ.

If you have difficulty sustaining current Church leadership as prophets, you are in a state of “apostasy.”

“Follow the Prophet” has become the primary tenet of the LDS Church. More important than “Follow the Savior.”

Case in PointAs taught by the Church, if the prophet tells you to do something the Savior is against, and you do it anyway, you will be blessed. Who is given supremacy here? The prophet or the Savior?  Funny we never hear that saying the other way around.

Question:  Why is it the organization that claims to be Christ’s one and only true church is more concerned with its members’ views about its leaders than it is with its members’ views about Jesus?

Because “Follow the Prophet” is the primary tenet, th1“Doubting the Prophet” is the cardinal sin.

You can doubt almost anything you want in the LDS Church.  You can doubt the Book of Mormon. You can doubt Joseph Smith. You can even doubt that Jesus Christ is the Savior.

But don’t you dare doubt the prophet.

This is a strange state of affairs.

It might cause a person to wonder if this position makes any sense.

It might cause a person to reflect on the Church leaders who teach this.

And upon further reflection, it might cause a person to begin to doubt the inspiration of those Church leaders . . .

“By their fruits ye shall know them.”

The horror!  The horror!



Corbin Volluz lives in the beautiful foothills of the Cascade Mountains in western Washington state. He has been practicing law for 25-years with a focus on criminal defense and personal injury. Corbin joined the LDS Church in June of 1978, shortly after the lifting of the priesthood ban, and has been studying Mormonism ever since. He has been published in several venues, including the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies and BYU-Studies.

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