Two Mormons who have gained national attention for pushing their church to ordain women to the priesthood and to accept openly gay members have been notified this week that they face excommunication for apostasy.
The two are Kate Kelly, a human rights lawyer who founded the Ordain Women movement, and John P. Dehlin, the creator of a popular online forum for Mormons and a doctoral candidate in psychology who has published his research into the problems faced by gay church members.
It is the first time since 1993, when the church ejected a handful of intellectuals, that it has moved so forcefully to quash such prominent critical voices.
The move is a sudden change of course for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had been working to project an image of greater diversity and openness. Its public affairs office did not have an immediate response.
Kelly and Dehlin were notified of the action against them on two consecutive days, leading them to suspect that the move was coordinated by officials in church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Dehlin was sent a letter on June 7 by the president of his stake, or church region, who he said he has never met, calling on him to either resign from the church or face a hearing before a disciplinary council.