Simon Southerton Excommunicated from the LDS Church

I’ll comment more on this later, but for now I wanted to update you on the Simon Southerton case, in his own words.

Hi Folks,

Sorry this is so slow to get to you. I am snowed under at work
(three interviews today) not a lot of sleep and Jane with a sprained
knee from weekend sport, so I am running the home at the moment.

I was excommunicated for “having an inappropriate relationship with
a woman” when I was a) a member of the church (not attended for 5
years at the time and no contact from the church in that period) b)
married to my wife (separated for several months by then) and c) a
priesthood holder in the church (they really get into this
priesthood, men only crap). The meeting went for 3 hours. I spoke
to them for about 1.5 hrs; my wife was in there with me for about 10
minutes of that time. They deliberated for the rest of the time.
The entire meeting was cordial and the council followed the usual
process.

I was not excommunicated for adultery. I was not prepared to
discuss my private life with them. They did not have evidence to
support that charge. They attempted to get evidence this week but
were unsuccessful. They didn’t press this further. It was clear
that someone connected with either family has pressed for the case
to go to a disciplinary council. Each family is now left to wonder
who this person was, as the Stake President would not disclose this
information.

When I was invited to respond to the allegations, I refused to
discuss my private life with these men. I challenged the Stake
President about the appropriateness of prying into family
relationships in order to deal with me. What was to be gained by the
church interfering now when the events they are obsessed with
occurred almost 2 years ago and for the last 6 months both
relationships have been healing? I have been back with my wife for
almost 8 months. He thought it was appropriate because of the damage
that the events did in the lives of each family.

The Stake President denied that they were avoiding the issue of
apostasy and that the charge they were investigating was more
important. I seriously question this claim. I am now convinced that
they were intent on avoiding a council on the charge of apostasy. I
was clearly instructed before the meeting that if I attempted to
talk about “DNA” and my apostasy that the council would be
immediately shut down and that it would be completed in my absence.
I respected their request (foolish me), but told them that it was
very difficult to defend my integrity against their charges if I
couldn’t give good reason why I didn’t believe in the claims of the
church anymore. I also told them that it was extremely unusual for
the church to pursue someone who hadn’t had anything to do with the
church for the last 7 years. In my 10 years on numerous bishoprics,
I never observed this.

I strongly challenged the council of 15 men about their motives. I
asked if alleged misconduct over 2 years ago between separated
adults was more serious than the charge of public apostasy for the
last 6 years. There is clear evidence that I am doing my best to
heal the relationships with my wife and family but I have given no
signs of stopping my apostasy. I was stunned when members of the
council assured me that the alleged “inappropriate relationship” was
more important than the apostasy. I then quoted from the LDS General
Handbook of Instructions, which contains disciplinary council (DC)
guidelines, where it says that a DC must be held for apostasy and
may be held for adultery. I am confident that there are thousands of
Mormon bishops and Stake Presidents who would strongly disagree with
the entire council on this issue. Clearly they were set on the path
to excommunication regardless of anything I said and the route they
took to achieve the objective

I urged the Stake President to consider calling the council off and
to hold another council on the other charge if they wished. I said
that I was quite prepared to make this a painless process because I
could not deny the obvious evidence of apostasy that is plain for
all to see. Clearly, my words fell on deaf ears.

After reading out the decision of the court I asked the Stake
President if he had been instructed by his superiors to carry out
this council and he denied this. I am inclined to believe him. I
think the Stake President is inexperienced and he received poor
advice from the council. He risked losing face if he called off the
council and everyone else risked letting the President down if they
questioned the appropriateness of the decision.

It is a very curious result and one that I may be challenging. None
of the four partners in the two families invited the SP to take
action and none of them provided evidence. The Stake Presidency
acted on hearsay about hearsay with reckless disregard for the two
families that are both already putting the whole thing behind them.
My conscience is clear. I never did anything behind my wife’s back,
even when my “inappropriate relationship” started when we were
separated. The other woman was separated from her husband (now
divorced) but they are also working to get things back on track. My
separation is what SAVED our marriage!

I believe that the Stake President unintentionally lied to the
council when he said that his actions were not motivated by my very
public apostasy. You would have to be a complete fool to read it
any other way. In the court he admitted to re-reading my letter on
the exmormon website in the days before the council. It was clearly
ON HIS MIND. He also specifically requested that I didn’t discuss
the apostasy in the court. He admitted to having several sleepiness
nights before the council, worrying about the families involved and
I’ll bet he is in for a few more. What he should have realized was
that it was his conscience trying to tell him that what he was doing
was immoral.

They were gunning for me and they avoided the family-friendly route
of an apostasy hearing.

Gotta run.

Simon

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About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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