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Mormon activist awaits fates after meeting regional leader

By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A prominent Mormon activist who faces possible excommunication met a regional church leader on Sunday but said there was no news yet on whether he will face a formal disciplinary process that could see him kicked out of the faith.

John Dehlin is the outspoken founder of Mormon Stories, an online discussion forum and podcast about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He could share the fate of feminist activist Kate Kelly, who was excommunicated last week.

Dehlin, whose forum includes debate on LDS history, doctrine, culture and practice, was asked to resign from the church by June 18 or face a disciplinary hearing, sometimes called a church court.

After the news became public and his supporters called for clemency, Dehlin was asked to meet his regional church leader on Sunday in Logan, Utah. He said it appeared the church wanted to "de-escalate" the situation.

"No news today," Dehlin said in a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon. "I will post if/when there is something to report. So grateful for the outpouring of love and support."

Dehlin's forum and podcast have also discussed the role of gay Mormons and the difficulties of struggling with questions of faith. Thousands of people listen to the broadcasts and contribute to online debates every month.

Efforts to reach Dehlin were unsuccessful, and it was not immediately clear how soon a decision might be made in his case.

Church disciplinary action is most common when leaders believe a person's actions or statements conflict with LDS teachings and threaten the faith. The outcomes can include probation, disfellowship, excommunication or no action.

Last week, church leaders in Virginia excommunicated Kelly, who founded a group calling for gender equality and women's ordination in the church. [ID:nL2N0P41HO]

Church leaders say her actions amounted to apostasy. Kelly plans to appeal the decision.

In a rare statement, the church's most senior leaders - the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles - said on Saturday that members are free to question and "earnestly seek greater understanding."

But they said advocating positions that ran counter to LDS leadership, or cultivating a following, amount to apostasy. The "blessings" of LDS priesthood are bestowed on both genders, they said, while "priesthood offices are reserved only for men."

Kelly's group, Ordain Women, said the statement was "an improvement in transparency," but denied the group acted against the church, taught false doctrine or committed apostasy.

(Reporting by Jennifer Dobner; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)

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