Mormon “Court of Love” - Not so Loving

The Bishop’s Court scene featured on Big Love [which they referred to as a "Love Court"] seems to have been more controversial than the Temple ceremony. Barb was effectively told she was headed for “Outer Darkness” albeit for polygamy but please keep in mind this could have been for pretty much any offense. Just as depicted in Big Love, you are made to feel guilty, regardless of the so-called “sin”.

Here is an explanation of the Bishop’s Court from the Book Priesthood and Church Government by John A Widtsoe:

“The Ward Bishop’s Court consists of the Bishop of the ward and his two counselors The jurisdiction of this court is limited to members of the ward presided over by the Bishop, unless upon a change of venue he is directed by the State Presidency to hold court in some other ward. This court can inflict the extreme penalty of excommunication from the Church upon lay members or members of the Aaronic Priesthood found guilty; but only disfellowshipment upon men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, though it may refer them to the Stake High Council for further action. (DC 42:84-92; 134:10, 11.) Appeals from the decisions of this court may be made to the Stake High Council.

“The Stake High Council consists of twelve High Priests, presided over by the Stake President, assisted by his two counselors. Its procedure is patterned after the High Council first organized February 17, 1834, at Kirtland, Ohio and presided over by the Prophet Joseph Smith. DC102.”

“Appeals from the Ward Bishop’s court go before the Stake High Council, though the hearing may also originate there. Only the most important matters should come before the stake council. Appeals from the decisions of the stake council may be made to the first presidency; The First Presidency Council consists of the President of the church (also known as the prophet) and his two counselors.”

Long ago, I had a conversation with the Bishop of the ward which I previously attended who wanted to hold a Bishop’s court. I told them to go ahead and hold the court without me because I had no interest in attending and did not recognize their authority .The main purpose of the Bishop’s Court is to make the member feel guilty enough to coax them back into the church. The way I look at it, if I agreed to the Bishops court, I would be have to go to the church building and sit before a group of men and plead my case of why I don’t believe in the Mormon teaching any longer. At that point I would be told of the errors of my ways with a big side of guilt and called to repent and turn from my personal thoughts and follow the teachings of the Prophet. If I did not show any remorse for my “evil ways” I would be disfellowshipped from the church. Then they could refer my case to the Stake council for excommunication. I would have to attend this next court and be told of the errors of my ways with another big side of guilt. It is the view of the Mormon Church and its membership that the only reason someone would leave the Mormon Church is because of some Big Sin that they must be involved in. However with me, it was simply that I did not believe the teachings any longer. When asked why I would not attend a Bishops Court my response was basically why would anyone want to go through all that when they do not recognize them as the authorities over their spiritual life? I guess in looking for my big sin they would simply find the sin of disbelief of the Mormon doctrine, their modern day Prophet along with modern day revelation. Oh, more on that later.


  1. Its very interesting and disturbing that one of the primary driving forces of the Mormon community since its early days under Joseph Smith, has been to establish a theocracy. Fortunately the actual courts of the Larger community they must live in, the U.S. state and federal jurisdictions, have had zero tolerance for nearly all attempts at "establishment".

  2. Jeffrey, I would like to encourage you (as a former mormon) to visit the World Mag Blog (for the insight that you could contribute) and stop by Andree Seu's, "The Flavor of Tea, Part 3" and Mickey McLean's, "Justin Taylor on a 'tragic mistake'". It is regarding Glenn Beck, who states that he is a mormon on his show, and Seu's article that she wrote claiming knowledge of "the mormon thing" but that he is "a new creation in Christ" and "red hot" towards God.

  3. Oh I completely side with you here. In fact, I drifted along in LDS official records for 17 years, partly because I no longer recognized their authority. Luckily when the official Church was so pivotal passing Prop 8 in California (where luckily I was already married to another man as of 8-8-08), I finally discovered online a procedure in which you write some central office of records and declare that you "resign from the LDS Church".

    Turns out, in the USA, we are members of churches by personal consent. This consent may be withdrawn at any time, and that church no longer has the legal right to subject you to an ecclesiastical court or other proceeding. This is a great relief, because as you imply, a huge part of the "Court of Love" is to demonstrate supremacy and dominance of the Church over the individual, a humiliation I was not willing to endure.

  4. The sad thing is that true belief is again bought into question by a false cult, Joe Smith was a fraud and a conman and this organisation carries on the tradition. Smith was a freemason and so too was Brigham Young and other so called prophets. I talked to some Mormons who did not know that Jesus is God and they believed who God The Father is flesh, they were oblivious of what the Bible has to say about this. I can only feel frustrated because of the many people that have been hurt by this cult. The poor gullible people who are duped by this order of religion, whom perish through lack of true doctrine is incredible, believe it or not, I would still vote for Romley over Obama any day. Good on you for coming out of the LDS organisation, do not feel embarrased because it is not your fault that you have been lied to. I have two LDS visiting me at the moment, they have no idea what they believe, when a scripture is used, they do not understand. This is because they have not been taught scripture and mouth empty retoric of the organisation. They surely are ill prepared and sadly lacking to talk to anyone on such a subject. What an evil organisation, they are not even taught the basics.


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