LDS/Mormon Excommunication Questions


I just came across an article about someone who was excommunicated by a Bishop in the LDS church and was seeking re-entry, repentance and re-baptism. I am unfamiliar with this process and seek answers to the following questions:[LIST]
*]What sort of offenses would qualify one for excommunication in the LDS faith?
*]How does one repair the offense?
*]What is with the re-baptism? Do you believe that the excommunication erased the baptism?[/LIST]Thank you for your help in advance. This is all new to me.

God bless,



perhaps I can help. I am a former mormon and a catholic now. I was in a bishopric in the mormon church and participated in church courts that upon a few occasions excommunicated people.

in the mormon church venial sins are confessed to God only. mortal sins are confessed to the bishop. (like a pastor) this is not a regularly scheduled rite like catholic reconciliation but is by appointment. (however LDS are real into interviewing their members regularly which often results in confession) if a sin is serious enough and the person appears to be sincerely repentant then the bishop will usually schedule a “church court”. this is a tribunal made up of the bishop and his two counselors. the ward clerk is present to record the proceeding. the indivdual confesses to the group and they ask questions to fully understand what happened and why and what the individual is doing to repent and sin no more. Once this is complete the person is sent out and the bishopric deliberates on what should occur. in the end the bishop decides but he always listens to the counselors first. once the decision is made the person is brought back in and told their fate.

They can be told one of many things: 1) your repentance is sufficient and everything goes back to normal.(rare but allowed) 2) they are put on “probation”. this restricts them from praying publicly on behalf of a group (like a sunday school class), taking communion and serving in any ministerial callings. If male they are barred from exercising any priesthood authority. they must meet on a regular basis with the bishop until he decides to end their probation. 3) they are disfellowshipped. this is a more severe form of probation that is indefinite as well (at least a year) and requires that a new court be reconvened to allow them back into full fellowship. 4)excommunication. their membership is revoked and all sacraments invalidated. they are a nonmember and require special permission to “rejoin” the church.

coming back from excommunication one must be rebaptized. if they had been to the temple they must get a special ordinance called restoration of blessings to put their temple covenants back into effect.

sometimes if a person is blatantly apostate or considered a threat to other members or the good name of the church they will be exed without them going to their bishop.

in all cases of church courts they get an official summons notifying them of the time and place of their church court and why it is being called.

If a man holds the higher priesthood he cannot be exed by a bishop (except for some unique circumstances) but will have his court handled by the stake (like a diocese) high council with the stake president making the final decision.

These can be very painful experiences, especially for teenagers. adults to can feel the stigma of folks “knowing” by the fact they no longer callings or take communion.

things that require church courts include apostasy, adultery or fornication, felony crimes, serious misdemeanors, etc. murder is special in that the shedding of innocent blood is usually considered unforgivable. (except abortion which can not only be forgiven but sometimes is outright allowed)

getting back into full membership requires paying a full tithe, having a firm testimony in the LDS church particularly the restoration and the status of the 12 apostles and first presidency as prophets, seers and revelators and the BoM. one must remain chaste and free of of other serious sin and attend all church meetings. reading scripture and praying daily is required as well.


Wow! This is the first I have ever heard any of this. Very interesting.

Thank you!


There are no hard and fast rules as to what kind of sin would qualify one for excommunication, because a lot depends on the state of the penitence of the individual. If someone commits a serious transgression, he/she is tried before a Bishop’s court or a Stake High Council court. If he holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, he is tried before a High Council court; otherwise it is done before a Bishop’s court. There he is questioned and examined by the members of the bishopric (or of the Stake Presidency and the High Council), and afterwards a decision is reached through prayer based on the seriousness of the sin and the state of the penitence of the individual. If deemed appropriate, the person may be excommunicated. If not, a lighter sentence may be given. For example, sexual transgressions most often leads to excommunication; but not always. Violent crimes or felony may lead to excommunication. Apostasy leads to excommunication. Murder inevitably leads to excommunication.

[LIST]*]How does one repair the offense?[/LIST]

Through sincere and heartfelt repentance.

[LIST]*]What is with the re-baptism? Do you believe that the excommunication erased the baptism?[/LIST]

Baptism is for the remission of sins. It is also the gateway for entrance into the Church and kingdom of God. When someone is excommunicated, he is removed from the Church and is no longer a member of it. When he repents and desires to be readmitted, he needs to be rebaptized for the remission of his sins, and for readmission into the kingdom of God.

Thank you for your help in advance. This is all new to me.

“New to you”? I am not sure what that is supposed to mean.



It means that forgiveness in the Mormon “church” is strictly conditional, unlike the Catholic Church in which forgiveness is freely given through the Sacrament Of Reconciliation if the sinner is repentant. True repentance is known only to God.


There is also disfellowshipment and probation which are not as serious as excommunication. Much depends on the person and the knowledge that one has about the gospel and positions that one has had in the chuch. There are fast rules about this. The court has been said to be a court of love. But people can take their judgement quite hard at times.

But I think that as the situation is now changing in the world, and temptation is greater than ever before, heavenly father is more forgiven of our sins. Excommunication perhaps happens less frequently these days. But this is only my opinion on the matter.

And it should be pointed out all three do not mean banishment. There is still fellowship and all can still come to church.


Very true. Thank you for mentioning that, as I had overlooked to mention it.



I is a common expression, one which indicates that the information discussed is new or previously unknown to someone. Translation: Thank you for teaching me something new! I never knew that before!:thumbsup:


I get the feeling that excommunication is a LOT more common in Mormonism than it is in Catholicism. Probably this is also true of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who I understand kick people out all the time. I’ve never known of anyone locally to be excommunicated, or disfellowshipped, or anything remotely like that. I’ve heard of excommunications of certain high-profile people, like that archbishop Lefevre, for schism. But not for sins of the flesh like adultery or murder.

It seems to me that this apparent “laxity” of Catholicism is used as a criticism by the Mormons and Jehovah’s, as well as some others. I’ve heard this from the Jehovah’s especially, saying that the Catholic Church mollycoddles sinners. This is an attractive argument, and probably results in some unusally scrupulous people going into these cults.

Do the Mormons have a concept that sin offends both God and man? In Catholic life, I often hear about God forgiving our sin fully, without reservation, upon perfect contrition and/or sacramental confession. This leaves the sin against the community unresolved, which is where penance comes in.

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