Tom Phillips is a former stake president in England and has been the managing editor of MormonThink, a website many refer to as anti-Mormon. After he was released as stake president, Tom received the Second Anointing, also known as Calling and Election Made Sure, or the Second Endowment. While this ordinance was somewhat common in the early church, it was removed from practice for a time, and then reinstated. Details of this ordinance and how often it has been performed is clouded in secrecy.
Following a crisis of faith, Tom has published his experience of the secret ordinance on his website, along with a four-hour Mormon Stories podcast (or 102-page PDF transcript). More recently, he filed a lawsuit against the Church (colloquially known online as the “October Surprise”, despite some delays in timing) asking for repayment of tithing he and others contributed. The lawsuit alleged that the collection of tithes was fraudulently obtained because Tom feels that many faith claims are false. Notably, Phillips summonsed President Monson to be deposed on the stand in court. Eventually, the lawsuit was thrown out and dismissed.
MormonThink notes that “Tom took over as the managing editor of MormonThink and continued until March 2014. The last two managing editors resigned from the church after the LDS leadership called them to church courts for writing about church history and doctrine, as well as being involved with the MormonThink website.”
Many have wondered if Tom has been excommunicated, resigned, or neither. In light of the recent excommunications of Kate Kelly and Denver Snuffer, if Tom is still a member of record, it seems like a double standard because he surely meets any definition of apostasy. Some have wondered if he hasn’t been excommunicated, is it because of (1) the Second Anointing, or (2) his recent lawsuit. What do you think?
My personal view is that he isn’t active in the church. I’m not aware the church chases down inactive members for disciplinary action. I don’t think anyone is confused about him being a member in good standing. He isn’t presenting himself that way. I’d be very, very surprised if he attends his local congregation. So what would such action achieve?
Also there’s that second anointing thing that could get a lot more publicity perhaps. That’s just speculation on my part though.
Yeah Hedgehog, I’d hardly see this guy as active. We once had a Bishop who used to chase down less actives to invite them to have their names taken off the ward list! Unlikely here I think. I really feel sad that a man who has given such great service has ended up feeling so aggrieved, but I think we all have to take responsibility for our actions and I hope he will be able to see that he once acted to the best of his knowledge at the time, and now he feels differently, rather than feeling that this was all something which was ‘done to’ him. I’m also hoping that this hasn’t ruined him financially
There is a difference between those who are apostates and still consider themselves a believing (or faithful) member of the Church and those who distance themselves from it and go inactive. The Catholic Church has a theology that considers the latter as self-excommunicated requiring no official action. There probably is no need for the same with Tom Phillips. His case isn’t even similar to Grant Palmer who also considered himself and acted like a member in good standing despite his false teachings and apostate criticisms.
He`s inactive so it is pointless to help him via a disciplinary council. It is different with active members who stray or are apostates. Contrary to what most think the council is an act of love because a member as a member has a set of covenants or contractual obligations still active, like taking the name of Christ upon them and building up the kingdom of God , live law of chastity (higher law of chastity and not only avoid adultery for example) so if they are excommunicated they are released of those covenants, or they are excused from keeping those contractual obligations undertaken in baptism or the endowment and so, because of love, they are let go and wont have to face the consequences of their failure to live up to and keep those covenants on the judgement day.
With the inactive member, like Phillips, they are still under covenant and so are simply just adding sin upon sin when they fail to keep them as inactive members and therefore they aren`t helped nor assisted into or they aren`t being released from them via the disciplinary process ( ie of love).
Phillips is just adding sin upon sin each time he breaks more covenants and because of that in the questionnaire above the correct answer is that it doesn`t matter since he is going to hell anyways!
It doesn’t even make sense to speculate about someone’s membership status in a poll. It’s pointless. However, if his membership status is known, then I can see where it would be interesting to speculate on the 2nd poll question. This seems mostly silly.
Margaret Toscano, Grant Palmer, and Simon Southerton were all inactive and told they would be part of a Disciplanary hearing, so the point is not moot. Margaret was exed, the other two resigned. John Dehlin was mostly inactive when his stake president asked him to resign or face a court. So inactivity does not absolve someone of a “court of love.”
Tom meets all definitions of apostasy. If he was exed, I am pretty sure he would have publicized it. After all, he publicized his 2nd anointing There is an obvious double-standard going on here (especially when you compare him to Kate Kelly or Denver Snuffer.) If anyone should be exed, Tom Phillips should. Why is the church leaving him alone? He’s done far more damage than Kate or Denver, and has shown tremendous opposition to church leaders.
However all those people were still within reach of the local leadership and known to them. Phillips has apparently retired to Malta or some other mediterranean island and is in practice beyond the reach of the local leaders there. I doubt they even have his membership records. There is a process to follow even though sometimes stakes do bend the rules as much as possible.
As a side note John Dehlin wasn’t actually asked to resign or face a court. His stake pres was actually asking him to clarify the matter before he called a council. The letter is now available on scribd and the spirit of that letter is slightly different to what John suggests.
Put option for SOP 🙂
I thought I was the only one who noticed this glaring double standard. So thank you.
Quorum of the Seventy member George P Lee was excommunicated. In Joseph Smith’s day high authority members were excommunicated.
So why has Phillips not been exed?! Not right. Phillips has done things far, far worse than Kate Kelly…I still can not believe she was exed.
I believe Phillips will not resign his membership, just as Dehlin will not.
The inconsistency of church leadership is frustrating.
All_Blacks, Kate Kelly was exed in absentia. Why not Phillips?
It doesn’t matter that he’s living on an island. The church has a record of his electronic contact information (email) and if they wanted to hold a council they would do so.
I suspect it’s the second anointing that they don’t want publicized. Even though it’s now online thanks to Phillips, most members do not know about it.
As several have said, if they wanted to excommunicate Tom Phillips, they would.
He has already posted meticulous details about the Second Anointing ceremony he participated in so it’s not likely that that’s the issue.
Do you suppose, since he was an intimate of the inner circle, there are other pieces of information that he hasn’t published?
John’s stake president wrote: see http://www.scribd.com/doc/229280355/Stake-president-letter-to-John-Dehlin
This seems to wholly contradict your claim that “John Dehlin wasn’t actually asked to resign or face a court.”
I too would like to ask why Tom Phillips can’t be tried in abstentia.
“It doesn’t even make sense to speculate about someone’s membership status in a poll. It’s pointless.”
This is the internet. Pointless is what we do.
10. He should be ex’d in absentia, I agree. However Kelly was contactable and was offered a video link up or change of date for one when she could attend. They could still reach her easily but Phillips is a different matter. He’s in (i think) Malta and one would at very minimum have to be able to send him a certified letter informing him about the council, and my guess is that they can’t do even that much because they don’t know where he is, or where he is permanently. And I highly doubt they will send the letter to his lawyer in london. But I am guessing here cause I don’t know why nothing has happened, which I’m assuming nothing has happened as yet.
Also Phillips isn’t on ksl or other major news outlet matching on general conference. He did get some attention when with the pres monson court case but this comes after many years of living in (i thiink) Malta. So I doubt anything will happen.
-” this letter to you and inquire whether, by your earlier email to Bishop Hunt and your recent public statements, you desire to have your name removed from the records of the Church”
I read this to mean that he is simply asking and trying to find out if John wants to have his name removed after Johns earlier statements. ie whether John’s intentions are to resign now. I can’t see this as a ‘ resign or i’ll ex you’ type of situation. So my original “John Dehlin wasn’t actually ASKED to resign or face a court.” is still true I’d say. But then he does tell him that a council is now certain to happen, because of Johns own statements, and it should’ve been done by now unless the pres lacks cojones to do it and face all the media that will surely come because of it.
-As above, I think they should hold a council for Phillips in absentia however basic fairness does mean that they at very minimum would need to inform him that it will be done. I have my doubts that they can reach him. They could via his website off course but stake presidents and general authorities , i think, rarely go chasing people via obscure anti-mormon websites. Maybe its because there are thousands out there and one doesn’t want to give them more publicity. If both John and Kate have uploaded all their church correspondence to scribd then imaging what the more vocal anti mormons would do! heck Phillips himself has a ton of supposedly confidential stuff on his site, except what he thinks the church could sue him over (gutless that part)
12 ” he was an intimate of the inner circle, there are other pieces of information that he hasn’t published?”
he hasn’t published all of his correspondence with elder holland, so yes there are bits and pieces left out. However he has done more than enough to earn the apostate label, and maybe they did ex him already in london years ago because remember that he left the church several years ago, but I don’t think it matters much if there are more pieces of information from the second anointing ceremony left or that it matters. ie I don’t think that is why they appear to not have ex’d him yet.
What? Why? What would require them to do that? And what recourse would Phillips have if they did not?
They answered a lawsuit brought by Phillips. If they felt they needed to get in touch with him they know his lawyers’ name and address. Either an inquiry to them about his mailing address or a request to forward a letter ought to do the trick. Furthermore, Phillips has never shied away from publicity or confrontation so I have little doubt he’d be delighted to respond to any communication or disciplinary effort.
They have chosen to excommunicate Kate Kelly and not to excommunicate Tom Phillips who has been more aggressively anti-Mormon and on a wider international platform and John Dehlin (heard his recent podcast with Christine Jeppsen Clark?) who has far more active LDS followers than Kelly.
It’s impossible to avoid the question why — though I don’t think any of them should be excommunicated myself. The obvious answer is misogyny. But perhaps there’s more to it than simply misogyny. Perhaps someone here will know or have a promising speculation.
You argue semantics.
The church usually doesn’t have a habit of asking people to resign from the church, except in the cases of some overanxious people who want to get rid of inactives to make their attendance and home teaching numbers look better. I doubt that was the SP’s motivation. If it was, then it is unrighteous dominion anyway. The stake president was asking because it would save him the headache to avoid a disciplinary court. It would have been very easy to ignore John just like Phillips has been ignored. The letter was full of passive-aggression.
Alice, I will add one more reason besides misogyny. Nobody in the hierarchy knows Kelly. Elder Holland knows Tom Phillips for sure, and I suspect other apostles know him too. It’s easier to excommunicate Kelly because she has no personal relationship with them. It’s harder to do it to Phillips because they know him personally.
25 years ago, the Italy Catania Mission had a senior missionary couple in Malta, but i don’t know if there’s any presence there now. I don’t think so. At any rate, I don’t know if that fact would stop a disciplinary council from being held if it was decided to hold one; someone has his records.
I have to concur, at least in part, with MH – he’s done far more harm to the Church than Kate. I can’t see what’s holding them back. Even a personal relationship with GAs didn’t protect Fawn Brodie, and she never sued the President of the Church for return of tithing.
¨The church usually doesn’t have a habit of asking people to resign from the church, except in the cases of some overanxious people who want to get rid of inactives to make their attendance and home teaching numbers look better¨
Why would you think that? I for one always asked the trouble makers to just resign and go elsewhere and I´m glad I always did!. If I wanted to make the attendance numbers look better (which wouldn´t change anything by the way since budget depends on bums on seats numbers and not percentages) I would have passed more people to the unknown address file.
And I think you are misreading the text. the stake pres just simply asked him a question because of what John asked his bishop (no contact etc) . But we have covered this before however you are still misreading the letter so I´d leave it at that.
#22.¨someone has his records.¨ yeah some surely does and the most likely candidate is church hq and the address unknown file which now has millions listed there from all over the world.