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Mormon church threatens to excommunicate member who criticized Romney

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A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says that church leadership is on a witch hunt against him after he criticized Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

David Twede, a fifth-generation Mormon, told The Daily Beast that on Sunday his bishop and three other church leaders in Orlando ordered him to “Cease and desist, Brother Twede” after they found discussions about Romney at the blog MormonThink.com.

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Twede said that he felt “attacked, cornered, and very anxious” as the church officials informed him that they had scheduled a Sept. 30 excommunication “for apostasy.”

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism defines an apostate as someone who has “seriously contravened or ignored cardinal Church teachings.”

Church leaders also chastised him for only using his first name on his blog, Twede recalled.

“I told them I hide my name precisely because of things like this,” he explained. “I said, ‘Look how fast you got to me.’ I know a lot of members don’t want their life disturbed. In the Mormon church, if you’re not part of the uniform group, you are ostracized.”

“When they interrogated me, they denied that they were on a witch hunt, but they kept asking me, ‘Who are the other individuals you work with on MormonThink?'” Twede said. “They continued demanding that I tell them. But I didn’t.”

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But the MormonThink managing editor added that he did not want to place all the blame on church leaders in Florida because they were “acting as agents of HQ leadership in Salt Lake.”

ABC News reported on Thursday that the Mormon church was urging members in Nevada to speak “with one voice” during the presidential election.

“Any Mormon would understand exactly what’s being said there,” Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer pointed out. “This is very thinly coded language.”

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Church officials, however, have denied that they were encouraging members to support Romney over President Barack Obama.

“The Church has always encouraged people to be a part of the political process and to register to vote,” church spokesperson Dale Jones insisted to ABC News. “However, we do not direct them on how to vote. We are politically neutral and do not support candidates or political platforms.”

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