Elder James J. Hamula - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder James J. Hamula - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

It is the first time in almost 30 years that the LDS Church has had to discipline a top leader through excommunication and sources told both The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News that the 59-year-old married father of six was not dismissed for "apostasy or disillusionment".

In a rare disciplinary action, a General Authority has been excommunicated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That refers to teaching inaccurate doctrine or publicly defying guidance from church leaders.

Hamula, who was called as a General Authority and member of the Seventy nine years ago, was executive director of the church's Correlation Department, and previously had served as Pacific Area president for the church. Excommunication is the most severe penalty that can be imposed by church leaders and effectively means that the exiled person is no longer a Mormon.

But on Tuesday, the church was thrown into the limelight after it announced that it had excommunicated one of its high-ranking officials in the first such disciplinary incident in nearly three decades. When he returned stateside he served as assistant executive director of the Church History Department from 2014 to 2016.

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Excommunicated members can rejoin LDS through rebaptism, but only if they show honest repentance. LDS has roughly 100 general authorities.

Addressing Mormons worldwide during one of the faith's twice-yearly general conferences in October 2014, Hamula talked about communion and Christ's atonement.

'All church discipline is carried out in complete confidence, ' according to an article on the church's official Mormon Newsroom website. Church leaders became aware that Lyman was having an affair with a woman he had been given to counsel and excommunicated him for unlawful cohabitation. The church said then that Lee was removed for 'apostasy and other conduct unbecoming a member of the church'. The LDS Church handbook cites other moral reasons for excommunication including: adultery, burglary, embezzlement, spousal abuse and "homosexual relations".

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