Prominent U.S. Mormon activist appeals against excommunication

(Reuters) - A prominent Mormon activist who was excommunicated for apostasy after he supported same-sex marriage and questioned church doctrine appealed on Tuesday against his expulsion, saying it was unjustified and calling for his case to be heard again. The excommunication of John Dehlin, the outspoken founder of the "Mormon Stories" website and podcast, was one of the highest profile disciplinary actions taken by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) as it seeks to counter challenges from the left to its theology and practices. In an open letter to the church's First Presidency, one of its highest governing boards, Dehlin said that since his excommunication he had heard from many active LDS members that they now fear the church has no room for them because they share some, or all, of his views. Whether or nor his expulsion was to be reconsidered, Dehlin wrote, "these members deserve clear guidance from the First Presidency as to whether they are also subject to be cut off from the body of the Church for their unorthodox beliefs." Dehlin added that his case should also be re-heard because his disciplinary council had failed to follow procedural rules, which he said resulted in a "flawed and unfair" process. Asked for comment, LDS spokeswoman Kristen Howey said in an email, "The decisions of disciplinary councils are always open to appeal and the Church will proceed accordingly." Last month, a church spokesman said Dehlin was excommunicated by local leaders who determined that he had disputed the divinity of Jesus Christ, labeled the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham as fiction, and denied the church's divine authority. Dehlin's expulsion followed that of feminist Kate Kelly, the founder of the website Ordain Women, who was excommunicated last June after church leaders also found her guilty of apostasy. (Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)