SALT LAKE CITY – The Mormon church excommunicated the founder of a prominent women’s group Monday after she created an organization and staged demonstrations in a push for women to join the faith’s priesthood, a rare move that brings down the harshest punishment available.
The ousting of Kate Kelly marks one of the most significant excommunications in recent church history and sends a warning to others publicly challenging church practice and forming groups pushing their cause, scholars who study Mormonism say.
“It does more than excommunicate Kelly,” said Jan Shipps, a retired religion professor from Indiana who is a non-Mormon expert on the church. “It warns everybody.”
Shipps said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is implementing “boundary maintenance,” using Kelly as an example to show people how far they can go in questioning church practices.
Church officials had no immediate comment on Monday.