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Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. The word literally means out of communion, or no longer in communion. In some churches, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group. Censures and sanctions sometimes follow excommunication; these include banishment, shunning, and shaming, depending on the group's religion or religious community. This article addresses excommunication and spiritual condemnation often associated with excommunication, but not the religious censures and sanctions that follow excommunication. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Censure is a process by which a formal reprimand is issued to an individual by an authoritative body. ... Full communion is completeness of that relationship between Christian individuals and groups which is known as communion. ... In property law, condemnation is identical to eminent domain. ... See Exile (disambiguation) for other meanings. ... Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. ... Shame is a social condition and a form of social control consisting of an emotional state and a set of behaviors, caused by the consciousness or awareness of having acted inappropriately. ...




The Biblical basis of excommunication is anathema. The references are found in Galatians 1:8 — “But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be anathema!" Then also, 1 Corinthians 16:22 — "If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be anathema." The word can be translated several ways; the King James Version translates it accursed. Anathema (in Greek Ανάθεμα) meaning originally something lifted up as an offering to the gods; later, with evolving meanings, it came to mean: to be formally set apart, banished, exiled, excommunicated or denounced, sometimes accursed. ... The Epistle to Galatians is a book of the Bible New Testament. ... A Gothic angel in ivory, c1250, Louvre An angel is a supernatural being found in many religions. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The First Epistle to the Corinthians is a book of the Bible in the New Testament. ... This page is about the version of the Bible; for the Harvey Danger album, see King James Version (album). ...

Anathema was a used in the early church as a form of extreme religious sanction, beyond excommunication. The earliest recorded example was in 306. The Roman Catholic church still makes use of the sanction, though it is rarely used against an individual. Some modern churches refer to any form of exclusion as anathema. Events July 25 - Constantine I proclaimed Roman Emperor by his troops. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ...

Roman Catholic Church

See also: List of people excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church

Excommunication is the most serious ecclesiastical penalty levied against a member of the Roman Catholic Church. It is a seldom used punishment to discipline unrelenting defiance or other serious violations of church rules, especially by those who are accused of "spreading division and confusion among the faithful" -- meaning, in practice, that the option of excommunication is more likely to be enforced when the disobedient Catholic is a visible and presumably influential public figure (such as a politician), but only rarely in the cases of non-public figures. Excommunication is never a merely "vindictive penalty" (designed solely to punish), but is always a "medicinal penalty" intended to pressure the person into changing their behavior or statements, repent and return to full communion. . ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ...

Excommunicated persons are barred from participating in the liturgy in a ministerial capacity (for instance, as a reader if a lay person, or as a deacon or priest if a clergyman) and from receiving the eucharist or the other sacraments, but is normally not barred from attending these (for instance, an excommunicated person may not receive Communion, but would not be barred from attending Mass). Certain other rights and privileges are revoked, such as holding ecclesiastical office. The word leitourgia is derived from the two Greek words, leos and ergon. Leos, meaning the people of God and Ergon meaning the work. ... For other uses, see Eucharist (disambiguation). ... In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite that mediates divine grace, constituting a sacred mystery. ... An office is a room or other area in which people work, but may also denote a position within an organisation with specific duties attached to it (see officer, office-holder, official); the latter is in fact an earlier usage, office as place originally referring to the location of one...

Excommunication can be incurred either ferendae sententiae (imposed or declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court) or latae sententiae (automatic, incurred at the moment the offensive act takes place). Automatic excommunication is only applicable in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Latae sententiae is a Latin term from the Canon Law of the Catholic Church meaning by the law itself. When something is Latae Sententiae, an action causes the law to be invoked. ...

The excommunicant is still considered Christian and a Catholic as the character imparted by baptism is held to be indelible.[1]

In the Roman Catholic Church excommunication is usually terminated by a statement of repentance, profession of the Creed (if the offense involved heresy), or a renewal of obedience (if that was a relevant part of the offending act) by the person who has been excommunicated; the lifting of the excommunication itself, by a priest or bishop empowered to do this; and then the reception of the sacrament of penance. In many cases, this whole process takes place within the privacy of the confessional and during the same act of confession. The Roman Catholic Church or Catholic Church (see terminology below) is the Christian Church in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, currently Pope Benedict XVI. It traces its origins to the original Christian community founded by Jesus Christ and led by the Twelve Apostles, in particular Saint Peter. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

Offenses that incur excommunication must be absolved by a priest or bishop empowered to lift the penalty. This is usually the local ordinary (bishop or vicar general) or priests whom the local ordinary designates (in many dioceses, most priests are empowered to lift most excommunications otherwise reserved to the bishop, notably that involved with abortion). Pope Pius XI, depicted in this window at Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu, was ordinary of the universal Roman Catholic Church and local ordinary of Rome. ... This article is about a title or office in religious bodies. ... A vicar general (often abbreviated VG) is the principal deputy of the bishop of a diocese for the exercise of administrative authority. ...

The Roman Catholic Church has an extensive history of the uses of excommunication, especially during the Middle Ages. Popes and archbishops used excommunication as a weapon against high ranking officials and kings who fell out of favor with the Catholic Church. With the rise of the idea of separation of church and state, excommunication no longer has any civil effect. The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ...

An analogous penalty, interdict, arose as a form of excommunication of a whole area, barring celebration of the sacraments in a town or region.

Prior to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, there were two degrees of excommunication: vitandus (shunned, where the person had to be avoided by other Catholics), and toleratus (tolerated, which permitted Catholics to continue to have business and social relationships with the excommunicant). This distinction no longer applies today, and excommunicated Catholics are still under obligation to attend Mass, even though they are barred from receiving the Eucharist or even taking active part in the liturgy (reading, bringing the offerings, etc.).[2] Indeed, the excommunicant is encouraged to retain some relationship with the Church, as the goal is to encourage them to repent and return to active participation in its life. Canon Law is the ecclesiastical law of the Roman Catholic Church. ...

In the Middle Ages, formal acts of public excommunication were accompanied by a ceremony wherein a bell was tolled (as for the dead), the Book of the Gospels was closed, and a candle snuffed out - hence the term "to condemn with bell, book and candle." Such public ceremonies are never held today. Only in cases where a person's excommunicable offense is very public and likely to confuse people - as in an apostate bishop ordaining new bishops in public defiance of the Church - is a person's excommunicated status even announced, and that usually by a simple statement from a church official.

Automatic excommunication ("latae sententiae excommunication")

There are a few offenses for which Latin Rite Roman Catholics are automatically excommunicated: Latin Rite, in the singular and accompanied, in English, by the definite article (the Latin Rite), designates the particular Church, within the Catholic Church, which developed in western Europe and northern Africa, when Latin was the language of education and culture, and so also of the liturgy. ...

  1. Apostasy (canon 1364),
  2. Heresy (canon 1364),
  3. Schism (canon 1364),
  4. Desecration of the Eucharist (canon 1367),
  5. Physical violence against the Pope (canon 1370),
  6. Attempted sacramental absolution of a partner in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue (canon 1378),
  7. Ordination of a bishop without papal mandate (canon 1382),
  8. Direct violation of the sacramental seal of confession by a confessor (canon 1388),
  9. Procurement of a completed abortion (canon 1398), or
  10. Being a conspiring or necessary accomplice in any of the above (canon 1329).

These excommunications are not incurred when certain mitigating circumstances apply (canons 1323 and 1324), e.g., if the person is of minor age, is ignorant of the penalty attached to the act, or has diminished culpability do to force or fear used against them. In short, a person must be old enough, knowledgeable enough, and free enough in his or her action to incur the full weight of such a penalty. Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, meaning a defection or revolt , from απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of ones religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. ... The use of the term heresy in the context of Christianity is less common today, with some notable exceptions: see for example Rudolf Bultmann and the character of debates over ordination of women and gay priests. ... The word schism (IPA: or ), from the Greek σχίσμα, skhísma (from σχίζω, skhízō, to tear, to split), means a division or a split, usually in an organization or a movement. ... For other uses, see Eucharist (disambiguation). ... The Pope (or Pope of Rome) (from Latin: papa, Papa, father; from Greek: papas / = priest originating from πατήρ = father )[1] is the Bishop of Rome and the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church. ... Absolution in a liturgical church refers to the pronouncement of Gods forgiveness of sins. ... This 1768 parchment (612x502 mm) by Jekuthiel Sofer emulated the 1675 Decalogue at Amsterdam Esnoga synagogue. ... This 1768 parchment (612x502 mm) by Jekuthiel Sofer emulated the 1675 Decalogue at Amsterdam Esnoga synagogue. ... Catholic deacon candidates prostrate before the altar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles during a 2004 diaconate ordination liturgy Holy Orders in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, and Independent Catholic churches includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. ... This article is about a title or office in religious bodies. ... Confession of sins is part of the Christian faith and practice. ... At law, an accomplice is a person who actively participates in the commission of a crime, even though they take no part in the actual criminal offence. ...

Unless the local ordinary or an ecclesiastical court finds that the offense in question occurred, the obligation to observe an automatic excommunication lies solely on the excommunicated (Can. 1331 §1). Thus, even though an automatic excommunicant is forbidden to exercise any ecclesiastical offices, the excommunicant still retains the offices and all such acts are still valid acts under the law unless there has been a trial and finding of fact. Once this occurs, all subsequent acts become void and all offices lost (Can. 1331 §2). In law, a fact is a statement which is found to be true by a tryer of fact, sometimes a jury, but often the court (the judge or judges) after hearing evidence. ...

The removal of the excommunication incurred by offenses 4 through 8 is reserved to the Apostolic See, either personally by the Pope or through the Apostolic Penitentiary. Those who have incurred such a penalty normally go to a priest to confess, and the priest communicates anonymously and confidentially with the Penitentiary to receive delegation to lift the excommunication. The Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes, holy seat) is the episcopal see of Rome. ... The Apostolic Penitentiary, more formally the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, is one of three bodies in the Roman Curia that make up the judiciary within the Holy See. ...

Additionally, local bishops and other ordinaries of the Catholic Church have limited authority to create other grounds for excommunication. For example, from 1884 to 1977 in the United States, an automatic excommunication applied to divorced Catholics who remarried outside the Church without obtaining an annulment. (See Plenary Councils of Baltimore#Excommunications of the Third Council for details.) As another example, since 1996 in the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, an automatic interdict (and, under certain conditions, automatic excommunication) applies to members of certain organizations, including Call to Action, the Society of St. Pius X, and DeMolay International.[3] As with latae sententiae penalties specified in church-wide law, penalties imposed by the local ordinary are invalidated by certain mitigating circumstances. For example, no one under the age of 16 can receive a penalty under canon law, including excommunication, so most members of DeMolay would be exempt from this sanction. The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884) The Plenary Councils of Baltimore refer to three national meetings of Roman Catholic bishops in the 19th century in Baltimore, Maryland. ... The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lincoln (Latin: Dioecesis Lincolnensis) is a Roman Catholic diocese in Nebraska. ... Call to Action is an organization that advocates for a variety of causes within the Roman Catholic Church. ... Archbishop LefebvreFounder of the Society of St. ... DeMolay International (originally known as the Order of DeMolay) is an international youth fraternity for young men between the ages of 12 to 21 (members who reach the age of 21 are referred to as Senior DeMolays) with slightly over 18,000 members in North America. ...

Some ecclesiastical offenses incur an automatic interdict, which for a lay person is virtually equivalent to excommunication. For other meanings see Interdict The word interdict usually refers to an ecclesiastical penalty in the Roman Catholic Church. ...

Eastern Orthodox Communion

In the Orthodox Church, excommunication is the exclusion of a member from the Eucharist. It is not expulsion from the Church. This can happen for such reasons as not having confessed within that year; excommunication can also be imposed as part of a penitential period. It is generally done with the goal of restoring the member to full communion. The Orthodox Church does have a means of expulsion, by pronouncing anathema, but this is reserved only for acts of serious and unrepentant heresy. Even in that case, the individual is not "damned" by the Church but is instead left to his own devices. ... For other uses, see Eucharist (disambiguation). ... Anathema (in Greek Ανάθεμα) meaning originally something lifted up as an offering to the gods; later, with evolving meanings, it came to mean: to be formally set apart, banished, exiled, excommunicated or denounced, sometimes accursed. ...


Although Lutheranism technically has an excommunication process, some denominations and congregations do not use it.

The Lutheran definition, in its earliest and most technical form, would be found in Martin Luther's Small Catechism, defined beginning at Questions No. 277-283, in "The Office of Keys." Luther, being the profound biblical scholar that he was, followed the process that Jesus laid out in the 18th chpater of the Gospel of Matthew. According to Luther, excommunication requires: Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a German monk,[1] priest, professor, theologian, and church reformer. ... Luthers Small Catechism was written by Martin Luther and published in 1529 for the training of children. ...

1. The confrontation between the subject and the individual against whom he has sinned.
2. If this fails, the confrontation between the subject, the harmed individual, and two or three witnesses to such acts of sin.
3. The informing of the pastor of the subject's congregation.
4. A confrontation between the pastor and the subject.

Beyond this, there is little agreement. Many Lutheran denominations operate under the premise that the entire congregation (as opposed to the pastor alone) must take appropriate steps for excommunication, and there are not always precise rules, to the point where individual congregations often set out rules for excommunicating laymen (as opposed to clergy). For example, churches may sometimes require that a vote must be taken at Sunday services; some congregations require that this vote be unanimous [1]. Voting is a method of decision making wherein a group such as a meeting or an electorate attempts to gauge its opinion—usually as a final step following discussions or debates. ...

The Lutheran process, though rarely used, has created unusual situations in recent years due to its somewhat democratic excommunication process. One example was an effort to get serial killer Dennis Rader excommunicated from his denomination (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) by individuals who tried to "lobby" Rader's fellow church members into voting for his excommunication.[2] Democracy is a form of government under which the power to alter the laws and structures of government lies, ultimately, with the citizenry. ... Serial killers are individuals who have a history of multiple slayings of victims who were usually unknown to them beforehand. ... Dennis Lynn Rader (born March 9, 1945) is an American serial killer who murdered at least 10 people in Sedgwick County (in and around Wichita), Kansas, between 1974 and 1991. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

Anglican Communion

Church of England

The Church of England does not have any specific canons regarding how or why a member can be excommunicated, though there are canons regarding how those who have been excommunicated are to be treated by the church. Excommunication is seen as an extreme measure and very rarely used. For example, a clergyman was excommunicated in 1909 for having murdered four parishioners. The Church of England is the officially established Christian church[1] in England, and acts as the mother and senior branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, as well as a founding member of the Porvoo Communion. ...

Episcopal Church of the USA

The ECUSA is in the Anglican Communion, and shares many canons with the Church of England which would determine its policy on excommunication. No central records are kept regarding excommunications, since they happen so rarely. In May 2000, a man was excommunicated for "continued efforts to attack this parish and its members" who had been publishing highly critical remarks about the church and some of its members in a small local paper, many of them about the pro-homosexual stance the church had taken. The Episcopal Church or the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America is the American Church of the Anglican Communion. ... The Anglican Communion uses the compass rose as its symbol, signifying its worldwide reach and decentralized nature. ...

Calvin's view on excommunication

In his Institutes of The Christian Religion, John Calvin wrote (4.12.10): John Calvin (July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564) was a French Protestant theologian during the Protestant Reformation and was a central developer of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism or Reformed theology. ...

For when our Saviour promises that what his servants bound on earth should be bound in heaven, (Matthew 18: 18), he confines the power of binding to the censure of the Church, which does not consign those who are excommunicated to perpetual ruin and damnation, but assures them, when they hear their life and manners condemned, that perpetual damnation will follow if they do not repent. [Excommunication] rebukes and animadverts upon his manners; and although it ... punishes, it is to bring him to salvation, by forewarning him of his future doom. If it succeeds, reconciliation and restoration to communion are ready to be given. ... Hence, though ecclesiastical discipline does not allow us to be on familiar and intimate terms with excommunicated persons, still we ought to strive by all possible means to bring them to a better mind, and recover them to the fellowship and unity of the Church: as the apostle also says, "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (2 Thessalonians 3: 15). If this humanity be not observed in private as well as public, the danger is, that our discipline shall degenerate into destruction.

The Gospel of Matthew (literally, according to Matthew; Greek, Κατά Μαθθαίον or Κατά Ματθαίον) is one of the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament. ... // Dammit redirects here. ... In theology, salvation can mean three related things: freed forever from the punishment of sin Revelation 1:5-6 NRSV - also called deliverance;[1] being saved for something, such as an afterlife or participating in the Reign of God Revelation 1:6 NRSV - also called redemption;[2]) and a process... In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of doctrine pertaining to the Church itself as a community or organic entity, and with the understanding of what the church is —ie. ... A 19th century picture of Paul of Tarsus Paul of Tarsus (originally Saul of Tarsus) or Saint Paul the Apostle (fl. ... The Epistles to the Thessalonians, also known as the Letters to the Thessalonians, are two books from the New Testament of the Christian Bible. ...

Anabaptist tradition

When believers were baptized and taken into membership of the church by Anabaptists, it was not only done as symbol of cleansing of sin but was also done as a public commitment to identify with Jesus Christ and to conform one's life to the teaching and example of Jesus as understood by the church. Practically, that meant membership in the church entailed a commitment to try to live according to norms of Christian behavior widely held by the Anabaptist tradition. Anabaptists (Greek ανα (again) +βαπτιζω (baptize), thus, re-baptizers [1], German: Wiedertäufer) are Christians of the Radical Reformation. ...

In the ideal, discipline in the Anabaptist tradition requires the church to confront a notoriously erring and unrepentant church member, first directly in a very small circle and, if no resolution is forthcoming, expanding the circle in steps eventually to include the entire church congregation. If the errant member persists without repentance and rejects even the admonition of the congregation, that person is excommunicated or excluded from church membership. Exclusion from the church is recognition by the congregation that this person has separated himself or herself from the church by way of his or her visible and unrepentant sin. This is done ostensibly as a final resort to protect the integrity of the church. When this occurs, the church is expected to continue to pray for the excluded member and to seek to restore him or her to its fellowship. There was originally no inherent expectation to shun (completely sever all ties with) an excluded member, however differences regarding this very issue led to early schisms between different Anabaptist leaders and those who followed them. Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. ...


Jakob Ammann, founder of the Amish sect, believed that the shunning of those under the ban should be systematically practiced among the Swiss Anabaptists as it was in the north and as was outlined in the Dordrecht Confession. Ammann's uncompromising zeal regarding this practice was one of the main disputes that led to the schism between the Anabaptist groups that became the Amish and those that eventually would be called Mennonite. Recently more moderate Amish groups have become less strict in their application of excommunication as a discipline. This has lead to splits in several communities, an example of which is the Swartzedruber Amish who split from the main body of Old Order Amish because of the latter's practice of lifting the ban from members who later join other churches. In general, the Amish will excommunicate baptized members for failure to abide by their Ordnung as it is interpreted by the local Bishop if certain repeat violations of the Ordnung occur. The Amish (IPA: ) are an Anabaptist Christian denomination in the United States and Canada (Ontario and Manitoba) that are known for their plain dress and limited use of modern conveniences such as automobiles and electricity. ...

Excommunication among the Old Order Amish results in shunning or the Meidung, the severity of which depends on many factors, such as the family, the local community as well as the type of Amish. Some Amish communities cease shunning after one year if the person joins another church later on, especially if it is another Mennonite church. At the most severe, other members of the congregation are prohibited almost all contact with an excommunicated member including social and business ties between the excommunicant and the congregation, sometimes even marital contact between the excommunicant and spouse remaining in the congregation or family contact between adult children and parents.


In the Mennonite Church excommunication is rare and is carried out only after many attempts at reconciliation and on someone who is flagrantly and repeatedly violating standards of behavior that the church expects. Occasionally excommunication is also carried against those who repeatedly question the church's behavior and/or who genuinely differ with the church's theology as well, although in almost all cases the dissenter will leave the church before any discipline need be invoked. In either case, the church will attempt reconciliation with the member in private, first one on one and then with a few church leaders. Only if the church's reconciliation attempts are unsuccessful, the congregation formally revokes church membership. Members of the church generally pray for the excluded member. The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations based on the teachings and tradition of Menno Simons. ...

Some regional conferences (the Mennonite counterpart to dioceses of other denominations) of the Mennonite Church have acted to expel member congregations that have openly welcomed non-celibate homosexuals as members. This internal conflict regarding homosexuality has also been an issue for other moderate denominations, such as the American Baptists and Methodists. In some Christian churches, the diocese is an administrative territorial unit governed by a bishop, sometimes also referred to as a bishopric or episcopal see, though more often the term episcopal see means the office held by the bishop. ... The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after and influenced by the teachings and tradition of Menno Simons (1496-1561). ... ABCUSA American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) is a group of Baptist churches within the United States; headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. ... This article is about the current denomination africa. ...

The practice among Old Order Mennonite congregations is more along the lines of Amish, but perhaps less severe typically. An Old Order member who disobeys the Ordnung (church regulations) must meet with the leaders of the church. If a church regulation is broken a second time there is a confession in the church. Those who refuse to confess are excommunicated. However upon later confession, the church member will be reinstated. An excommunicated member is placed under the ban. This person is not banned from eating with their own family. Excommunicated persons can still have business dealings with church members and can maintain marital relations with a marriage partner, who remains a church member. Old Order Mennonites are a branch of the Mennonite church. ... Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. ...


The separatist, communal, and self-contained Hutterites also use excommunication and shunning as form of church discipline. Since Hutterites have communal ownership of goods, the effects of excommunication could impose a hardship upon the excluded member and family leaving them without employment income and material assets such as a home. However, often arrangements are made to provide material benefits to the family leaving the colony such as an automobile and some transition funds for rent, etc. One Hutterite colony in Manitoba, Canada had a protracted dispute when leaders attempted to force the departure of a group that had been excommunicated but would not leave. About a dozen lawsuits in both Canada and the United States were filed between the various Hutterite factions and colonies concerning excommunication, shunning, the legitimacy of leadership, communal property rights, and fair division of communal property when factions have separated. Like the two best-known Anabaptist denominations, the Amish and the Mennonites, the Hutterites had their beginnings in the Radical Reformation of the 16th Century. ...

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon) practices excommunication (as well as the lesser sanctions of private counsel and caution, informal probation, formal probation, and disfellowshipment) as penalties for those who commit serious sins. The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the largest attraction in the citys Temple Square. ... The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the most-recognized architectural symbol of Mormonism For other uses, see Mormon (disambiguation). ... Sin is a term used mainly in a religious context to describe an act that violates a moral rule or the state of having committed such a violation. ...

According to the Church Handbook of Instructions, The purposes of Church discipline are (1) to save the souls of transgressors, (2) to protect the innocent, and (3) to safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church. Excommunication is generally reserved for what are seen as the most serious sins, including committing serious crimes; committing adultery, polygamy, or homosexual conduct; apostasy, teaching false doctrines, or openly criticizing LDS leaders. In most cases, excommunication is a last resort, used only after repeated warnings. A recent (2006) revision to the Church Handbook of Instructions states that joining another church is also an excommunicable offense, however merely attending another church does not constitute "apostasy". Sin is a term used mainly in a religious context to describe an act that violates a moral rule or the state of having committed such a violation. ... Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse. ... The term polygamy (many marriages in late Greek) is used in related ways in social anthropology and sociobiology and sociology. ... Homosexuality refers to sexual interaction and / or romantic attraction between individuals of the same sex. ... Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, meaning a defection or revolt , from απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of ones religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. ...

As a lesser penalty, Latter-day Saints may be disfellowshipped, which does not include a loss of church membership. Once disfellowshipped, persons may not take the sacrament or enter LDS temples, nor may they participate actively in (as opposed to merely attending and listening to) other church meetings, though disfellowshipped persons may attend most LDS functions and are permitted to wear temple garments. For lesser sins, or in cases where the sinner appears truly repentant, individuals may be put on probation for a time, which means that further sin will result in disfellowshipment or excommunication.

The decision to excommunicate a Melchizedek Priesthood holder is generally the province of the leadership of a Stake, which consists of several local wards. Excommunications occur only after a formal "church disciplinary council" (what was once called a "church court;" the change was apparently meant to avoid talking about guilt and instead focus on repentance). The Melchizedek Priesthood, to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the authority and power to act in the name of God including the authority to perform ordinances and to preside over and direct the affairs of his Church and Kingdom. ... A stake is an administrative unit composed of multiple congregrations in sects of the Latter Day Saint movement. ... In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a ward is the larger of two types of local congregations (the smaller being a branch). ...

The procedure followed by a church disciplinary council is described in church handbooks and the Doctrine and Covenants 102:9-18. For a regular member, the bishop (leader of the ward) determines whether excommunication is needed. He does this in consultation with his two counselors, but there is no vote: the bishop makes the determination in a spirit of prayer. That decision is appealable to the stake leadership. Doctrine and Covenants The Doctrine and Covenants (sometimes referred to as the D&C) is a part of the open scriptural canon of Mormonism. ...

A Melchizedek Priesthood holder, however, starts at the stake level. There, the stake presidency and Stake High Council handle matters. Six of the twelve members of the high council are assigned to represent the member in question to "prevent insult or injustice." The member is invited to attend, but the council can go forward without him. Again, the members of the high council consult with the stake president, but the decision about which discipline is necessary is the stake president's alone. Officially, it is possible to appeal this decision to the Church's world leaders. A stake is an administrative unit composed of multiple congregrations in sects of the Latter Day Saint movement. ... In Mormonism, a high council is one of several different governing bodies that have existed in the church hierarchy on many Latter Day Saint denominations. ...

Considerations used in what form of discipline to use follows the following factors, listed in order from those that suggest a stern dicispline, to those that suggest a more lenient discipline:

1. Violation of Covenants: Covenants are made in conjunction with specific ordinances in the LDS Church. Covenants that might be broken, are usually those surrounding marriage covenants, temple covenants, priesthood covenants, etc.
2. Position of Trust or Authority: Area of responsibility factor into discipline. Leaders in the church have important responsibilities, and the same action committed by a member of the congregation may not result in as severe a discipline as a leader might receive.
3. Repetition: Repetition of a sin is more severe than a single instance.
4. Magnitude: How often, how many individuals were impacted, and who knows all play a part.
5. Age, Maturity, and Experience: Those who are young in age, or immature in their understanding are afforded leniency.
6. Interests of the Innocent: How the discipline will impact family members may be considered.
7. Time between Transgression and Confession: If the sin was committed in distant past, and there has not been repetition, leniency may considered.
8. Voluntary Confession: Did the person voluntarily come forward, or were they caught in the act.
9. Evidence of Repentance: Sorrow for sin, and demonstrated commitment to repentance, as well as faith in Christ all play a role in determining the severity of discipline.

Those who are excommunicated lose their church membership and the right to partake of the sacrament. Notices of excommunication may be made public--especially in cases of apostasy, where members could be misled--but the specific reasons for individual excommunications are typically kept confidential and are seldom made public. In Mormonism, the Sacrament is the Lords Supper, in which participants eat bread and drink wine (or water, in the case of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the late 1800s). ...

Persons who have been excommunicated are welcome and encouraged to attend church meetings, but cannot participate in the meetings: offer prayers for the congregation, give talks, etc., cannot enter LDS temples, or wear temple garments. Excommunicated members may be re-baptized after a waiting period and sincere repentance, as judged by a series of interviews with church leaders. The Salt Lake Temple is the most well-known Mormon Temple. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

Some critics have charged that LDS leaders have used the threat of excommunication to silence or punish LDS researchers who disagree with established policy and doctrine, or who study or discuss controversial subjects. A notable case is the so-called September Six. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Criticism of Mormonism. ... In September 1993, six noted Mormon intellectuals and feminists were expelled from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church). ...

However, LDS policy dictates that local leaders are responsible for excommunication, without influence from General Church leadership, arguing this policy is evidence against systematic persecution of scholars. In contrast, some claim that LDS leadership keeps watch on certain apostate groups such as Sunstone and the message boards at exmormon.org and report on speakers (and topics) to their local leaders. Apologists further suggest that some alleged excommunications never take place, or are used as a publicity stunt. They cite the case of Thomas W. Murphy, who they say only claimed he was threatened with excommunication or other disciplinary action because of his research of how DNA research challenges LDS teachings. (see Archaeology and the Book of Mormon). Recent evidence, such as witnesses at the meeting with the stake president and the letter requesting Murphy's attendance at the court, refute this claim that the disciplinary action was simply a publicity stunt. Apostasy (Greek απο, apo, away, apart, στασις, stasis, standing) is the formal renunciation of ones religion. ... Sunstone, a feldspar exhibiting in certain directions a brilliant spangled appearance, which has led to its use as an ornamental stone. ... Apologetics is the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of a position. ... The media itself often stage stunts for movies and television shows. ... Thomas W. Murphy (born circa 1967) is a Latter Day Saint anthropologist and writer. ... The structure of part of a DNA double helix Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions for the development and function of living organisms. ... Supporters and critics alike have long attempted to use archaeology to support their respective views of the origin(s) of the Book of Mormon. ...

Jehovah's Witnesses

See also: Beliefs and practices of Jehovah's Witnesses#Disfellowshipping

Jehovah's Witnesses actively practice something similar to excommunication—using the term "disfellowshipping" —in cases where a member violates requirements as understood by Jehovah's Witnesses. The following reflects the current beliefs and practices of Jehovahs Witnesses. ...

When a member confesses or is accused of a disfellowshipping offence a "judicial committee" of three to five local lay clergy called "Elders" is formed. This committee will investigate the case and determine guilt, and if the person is deemed guilty, the committee will determine if the person is repentant. Repentance is completely based upon evidence of repentance, which includes the attitude of being sorry and ‘works befitting repentance,’ as referred to in Acts 26:20 and 2 Corinthians 7:11, such as trying to correct the wrong, making apologies to any offended individuals, compliance with earlier counsel, principles, and laws based on the Bible.

If the person is judged guilty and is deemed unrepentant, he or she will be disfellowshipped. If within 7 days no appeal is made, the disfellowshipping is made formal by an announcement at the next congregation Service meeting. Appeals are granted to determine if procedural errors are felt to have occurred that may have affected the outcome.

Disfellowshipping is a severing of friendly relationships between all members of the Jehovah's Witnesses and the one disfellowshipped by reasoning on 1 Corinthians 5:11, which says: "What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Don't even eat with such people." Even family interaction is restricted to the barest of minimums such as presence at the reading of wills and providing essential elder care. The exception is if the disfellowshipped one is a minor and living at home, wherein such cases the parents are allowed to continue to attempt to convince the child of the value of the religion's ways and share in family activities.

In other cases a member may be deemed to have abandoned the faith through attendance of religious services of other faiths, the expression of disbelief in the approved doctrine, the acceptance of forbidden medical use of blood, or the acceptance of biological evolution. The resulting action called "disassociation" is said to be the wishes of the person who may or may not have been consulted. Disassociation has the same consequences as disfellowshipping.

After a period of time, a disfellowshipped person may apply to be reinstated into the congregation. The original judicial committee will meet with him to determine repentance, and if this is established, the person will be reinstated into the congregation, but is prohibited from commenting at meetings or holding any privileges for a period set by the judicial committee. (Or, if the applicant is in a different area, the person will meet with a local judicial committee that will communicate with either the original judicial committee if available or a new one in the original congregation.)


Recently there has been some controversy with their disfellowshipping practices in regards to recent sex abuse scandals. Claims of disfellowshipping being used as a punishment to silence outspoken members of the religious group have become numerous[citation needed]. Although there may have been cases where the directives from the organization were not followed properly, the official position of Jehovah's Witnesses is not to try to silence anyone who has been a recipient or knows of child abuse. They are informed that they have every right, without congregational ramifications, to inform authorities of the child abuse. In many cases, the law itself requires the elders who are aware of the incident to report the case to the local authorities. In states where this is not required, it is left to the offended parties to do so without any congregational sanctions of any kind against them. Those who are found guilty of child/sexual abuse are not allowed to teach in or ever again hold a position of authority in the congregation without sufficient evidence of repentance and a turn around from the former course as determined by the congregation elders.


Main article: Takfir

In Islam, takfir is a declaration deeming an individual or group kafir, meaning non-believers. "Takfir" has been practiced usually through courts. More recently several cases have taken place where individuals have been considered Kafirs. These decisions followed law suits against these individuals mainly in response to their writings which some viewed as anti-Islamic. The most famous cases are of Salman Rushdie, Nasser Hamed Abu Zaid and Nawal Saadawi. The implications of such cases have included divorcing these people of their spouses, since under Islamic law, Muslim women are not permitted to marry non-Muslim men. However, Takfir remains a very debatable issue in Islam primarily since Islam is not an institutionalised religion at the moment because of the absence of the Caliphate, and therefore there should not be a body with the authority to make such judgements. Muhammad reportedly equated the act of declaring someone a kafir itself to blasphemy if the person concerned maintained that he was a Muslim. In Shia terminology, takfir also refers to the practice of crossing the arms when standing upright during salat (or takattuf, called qabd by Sunnis). ... Islam (Arabic:  ) is a monotheistic religion based upon the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. ... This article is about an Islamic term. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The Caliphate (Arabic خلافة) is the theoretical federal government that would govern the Islamic world under Islamic law, ruled by a Caliph as head of state. ... For other persons named Muhammad, see Muhammad (name). ...


Main article: Cherem

Cherem is the highest ecclesiastical censure in Judaism. It is the total exclusion of a person from the Jewish community. Except in rare cases in the Ultra-Orthodox community, cherem stopped existing after The Enlightenment, when local Jewish communities lost their political autonomy, and Jews were integrated into the greater gentile nations in which they lived. Cherem (or Herem חרם), is the highest ecclesiastical censure in the Jewish community. ... Cherem (or Herem חרם), is the highest ecclesiastical censure in the Jewish community. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... For other uses, see Jew (disambiguation). ... ...


Hinduism,has been too diverse to be seen as a monolithic religion, and with a conspicuous absence of any listed dogma or ecclesia (organised church), has no concept of excommunication and hence no Hindu may be ousted from the Hindu religion. However, some of the modern organized sects within Hinduism (this might be true for a few of the modern Buddhist sects, too) may practice something equivalent to excommunication today, by ousting a person from their own sect. Hinduism (known as in some modern Indian languages[1]) is a religion that originated on the Indian subcontinent. ...

South Asia

In medieval and early-modern times (and sometimes even now) in South Asia, excommunication from one's caste (jati or varna) used to be practiced (by the caste-councils) and was often with serious consequences, such as abasement of the person's caste status and even throwing him into the sphere of the untouchables or bhangi. After excommunication, it would depend upon the caste-council whether they would accept any form of repentance (ritual or otherwise) or not. Caste systems are traditional, hereditary systems of social stratification, enforced by law or common practice, based on classifications such as occupation, race, ethnicity, etc. ... In South Asias caste system, a Dalit; often called an untouchable; is a person of shudra; the lowest of the four castes. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ...

See also

// Genesis 3:23 http://www. ... For other meanings see Interdict The word interdict usually refers to an ecclesiastical penalty in the Roman Catholic Church. ...

External links

  • De Fide, a non-profit association, uses Canon Law to defend the Roman Catholic Church from Heresy by filing lawsuits in Ecclesiastical Court, seeking the excommunication of impenitent offenders.
  • Elizabeth Vargas Reports on Sexual Abuse Inside The Amish Community on ABC's "20/20", Friday, Dec 10, 2004
  • Excommunication, the Ban, Church Discipline and Avoidance (from Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online)
  • Ritual and the Social Meaning and Meaninglessness of Religion (Social science study of Old Order Mennonite methods of baptism, discipline, etc.)
  • Ostracism on Trial: The Limits of Individual Rights (Amish)
  • ALL OR NOTHING STATEMENTS (From Those Who Have 'The Truth') (from cult exiter source)
  • Catholic Encyclopaedia on excommunication
  • The two sides of excommunication
  • Episcopal Church of America excommunication
  • ECUSA excommunication and Church of England


  • Encyclopedia of American Religions, by J. Gordon Melton ISBN 0-8103-6904-4
  • Ludlow, Daniel H. ed, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Macmillan Publishing, 1992.
  • Esau, Alvin J., "The Courts and the Colonies: The Litigation of Hutterite Church Disputes", Univ of British Columbia Press, 2004.
  • Gruter, Margaret, and Masters Roger, Ostracism: A Social and Biological Phenomenon, (Amish) Ostracism on Trial: The Limits of Individual Rights, Gruter Institute, 1984.
  • Beck, Martha N., Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith, Crown, 2005.
  • Stammer, Larry B., Mormon Author Says He's Facing Excommunication", Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA.: Dec 9, 2004. pg. A.34.
  • As told to Keirna Mayo, "My Family Disowned Me: Lauren Parsons, 19, Gave up her Family for a Chance to Live the Life She Always Wanted", [3], Feb 2004. (Mennonite)
  • D'anna, Lynnette, "Post-Mennonite Women Congregate to Address Abuse", Herizons, 3/1/93.
  • Anonymous, "Atlanta Mennonite congregation penalized over gays", The Atlanta Journal the Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA: Jan 2, 1999. pg. F.01.
  • Garrett, Ottie, Garrett Irene, True Stories of the X-Amish: Banned, Excommunicated, Shunned, Horse Cave KY: Nue Leben, Inc., 1998.
  • Garret, Ruth, Farrant Rick, Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life, HarperSanFrancisco, 2003.
  • Hostetler, John A. (1993), Amish Society, The Johns Hopkins University Pres: Baltimore.
  • MacMaster, Richard K. (1985), Land, Piety, Peoplehood: The Establishment of Mennonite Communities in America 1683-1790, Herald Press: Kitchener & Scottdale.
  • Scott, Stephen (1996), An Introduction to Old Order and Conservative Mennonite Groups, Good Books: Intercourse, Pennsylvania.
  • Juhnke, James, Vision, Doctrine, War: Mennonite Identity and Organization in America, 1890-1930, (The Mennonite Experience in America #3), Scottdale, PA, Herald Press, Pp 393, 1989.

Dr. John Gordon Melton is the founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion and is a research specialist with the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. ... John A. Hostetler (1918-2001) was an author, educator, and leading scholar of Amish and Hutterite societies. ...


  1. ^ The Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. ^ "Excommunicants lose rights, such as the right to the sacraments, but they are still bound to the obligations of the law; their rights are restored when they are reconciled through the remission of the penalty." New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, ed. by John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, Paulist Press, 2000, p. 63 (commentary on canon 11).
  3. ^ http://www.ewtn.com/library/BISHOPS/BRUSKWTZ.HTM

  Results from FactBites:
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Excommunication (11165 words)
Excommunicated ecclesiastics tolerati, however, may licitly administer the sacraments to the faithful who request them at their hands, and the acts of jurisdiction thus posited are maintained by reason of the benefit accruing to the faithful, most frequently also because of common error (error communis), i.e.
excommunications latæ sententiæ enumerated by the moralists and
Excommunication is therefore incurred under this head by all who provoke the intervention of secular tribunals, provided such intervention actually follow; by all who deliver orders or directions intended to prevent the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction; finally, by all who co-operate in these acts with aid, counsel, or support, unless under compulsion.
  More results at FactBites »



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