As of yesterday, John Dehlin has officially been excommunicated. While I had intended to just let this fiasco pass with no further comment from me, something has come to my attention which I feel compelled to comment on, namely because I just don’t think a person should get away with such sheer abuse of power without at least undergoing some kind of public scrutiny.
It is well recognized that public figures wield power, what I will call “personal power.” It is a power to influence and affect the thinking of others. While it is odd to think about for me, this includes me and that (limited) power I wield with this little blog, and I try to keep this in mind whenever I write something. In a lot of ways, the issue for Dehlin had more to do with how he wielded his personal power more than anything else. Now, we all know that quote from the first Spider-Man series—“with great power comes great responsibility.” The fact is responsibility always comes with power, and it has been my observation that while Dehlin often wishes to take credit for the good his power yields (or perceived good), he is not too keen on taking responsibility for the harms (despite his constantly wanting to hold the Church responsible for various things). But you are not off the hook just because you want to be.
The anonymous author at Dear John Dehlin has recently noticed what is potentially a gross abuse of personal power. In a nutshell, Dehlin—who is, or at least aspires to be a mental health professional—while fully aware of the harassment his Stake President was receiving on a daily basis from Dehlin supporters, directly linked to President King’s profile on a platform designed for rating his professional performance as a physician, thus opening him up to further potential harassment, the kind that could potentially affect his livelihood.
While the intent of doing so is unclear, the act of linking to President King’s profile must be deliberate—one does not provide links by accident. Thus, this is at best, a serious, serious lapse in judgment on Dehlin’s part, and at worst, a major violation of professional ethics. Neither case would reflect particularly well on Dehlin, but I sincerely hope that it was merely a major lapse in judgment. If not, then it would be, in my view, a clear cut case of “unrighteous dominion,” a charge that has been leveled unfairly (and I would add, under the circumstances, perhaps ironically) at President King.