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Editor of Mormon-themed website quits church to avoid discipline

By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - The Florida-based editor of a Mormon-themed website has left the church rather than face disciplinary action and possible excommunication over writings that he said prompted accusations of apostasy.

David Twede's posts on MormonThink.com offer his account of the history of the church's political involvement, criticism of fellow Mormon and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and the author's take on Mormon beliefs about the nature of God and temple ceremonies.

Twede, a 47-year-old fifth-generation Mormon and MormonThink's managing editor, has said church leaders described his recent posts as anti-Mormon. A disciplinary hearing had been set for September 30, but was later delayed without explanation.

Twede told Reuters by email on Wednesday that he announced his resignation on Friday at a conference for former Mormons in Salt Lake City, and had sent an emailed letter to the church headquarters asking that his name be removed from the rolls.

"I wish to assure you that I am not leaving the church because of some personal slight or insult or because I have 'sinned' or can't 'keep the commandments,'" Twede wrote in the letter, which is posted on his blog.

"I have simply come to the very sad realization that the church is not what it claims to be, that its doctrine is false and that the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is not where I wish to be."

A church spokesman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday.

Church spokesman Michael Purdy said last month it would be "patently false" to suggest that any church member would face discipline for having questions or expressing personal political views.

"The church is an advocate of individual choice. It is a core tenet of our faith," Purdy said. "Church discipline becomes necessary only in those rare occasions when an individual's actions cannot be ignored while they claim to be in good standing with the church."

Founded about eight years ago, MormonThink aims to explore aspects of Mormon history, belief and culture. Its writers include current and former church members.

Mormon Church disciplinary decisions are made at the local level and outcomes can include probation, "disfellowship," excommunication or exoneration. Public excommunications are rare. But several high-profile scholars and feminists had their church memberships revoked in the 1990s.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Will Dunham)

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