The Agitator of Languedoc, 1882 oil on canvas ( 115 cm c 150 cm). Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921). Musée Des Augustins, Toulouse, France. From: http://www.cathar.info

I’ve recently been reading a novel about the Cathars in France, and the entrance of the Inquisition recalled an earlier post. One of my first posts as a permablogger at W&T asked the following questions about church discipline:

Could investigation by the SCMC and becoming subject to subsequent disciplinary procedures come to be seen as a ‘badge of honour’ ?

Is there jurisprudence: do church disciplinary procedures and bodies, including the SCMC, follow laid down rules and procedures, with proper representation; are they fair?

Would the church benefit by being more open: both about any rules and procedures, and also more open with those under investigation?

Does it work long term? Did the cases of the September Six, for example, accomplish what the church was hoping to accomplish?

At the time of writing it seemed to me then, that the kind of discipline meted out to the September six might be a thing of the past. In the more than three years that have passed, there have been a number of high profile cases resulting in excommunication: Denver Snuffer, Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. In addition, I am aware that a number of bloggers have also faced discipline, including Rock Waterman and Will Carter. Most recently the author of the CES letter Jeremy Runnells chose to resign during a disciplinary hearing that would likely have resulted in his excommunication.

It struck me that perhaps we could revisit those questions.

Could investigation by the SCMC and becoming subject to subsequent disciplinary procedures come to be seen as a ‘badge of honour’ ?

This would certainly seem to be the case in some circles.

Is there jurisprudence: do church disciplinary procedures and bodies, including the SCMC, follow laid down rules and procedures, with proper representation; are they fair?

There have certainly been complaints about procedural irregularities.

Would the church benefit by being more open: both about any rules and procedures, and also more open with those under investigation?

We only get one side of the story when the church chooses not to present theirs. Still, I have some sympathy for the leaders on the ground tasked with meting out the discipline as well. They are volunteers, not career clergy. Just what is available to them in terms of either training or support? Is publicity fair to them?

Does it work long term? Did the cases of the September Six, for example, accomplish what the church was hoping to accomplish?

Perhaps a better question would be, just what does the church hope to accomplish by these actions?

What do you think?

Discuss.

Note: SCMC is the Strengthening Church Members Committee (footnote added 21 May 2106)