No big deal?
It is, actually.
Clayton got called after he sparked, it appears, three of perhaps the highest-profile recent excommunications.
Those would be the bootings of Kate Kelly (Ordain Women), John Dehlin (Mormon Stories, more) and Denver Snuffer (“Passing the Heavenly Gift”). All three have been given credit for leading legions of Mormons out of the LDS Church. (There have been four mass resignations in the past four years, with a fifth quitting scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14.)
Find the report here and below:
Elder L. Whitney Clayton Involved in Church Discipline Again?
“On its website the LDS Church said Elders Whitney Clayton and M. Russell Ballard held a training meeting with local leaders in Virginia on May 17th. Two News sources who have knowledge of what happened at the meeting say the local church leaders asked Elder Clayton what they should do about the Ordain Women group. Elder Clayton reportedly said ‘female ordination is against church doctrine’ and that ‘public advocacy of ordination is an act of apostasy’.”
Well, yesterday Denver Snuffer, a member who was excommunicated last September for apostasy, wrote a blog post titled “The Facts.”F Denver Snuffer is considered by some the first high-profile member to be excommunicated at the beginning of this new purge (is it a purge?) of church members (reminiscent of the 1993 September Six excommunications). We compiled an on-going list of names of people facing church discipline here.
In his post “The Facts”, Denver Snuffer claims that during a meeting with his stake president 5 months before his excommunication “the phone rang in the office, and I was asked to step into the hallway for a moment. When invited back in, I was told that ‘one of the Seven Presidents had called’ and he instructed that President Hunt was ‘to do nothing’ while he and Elder Christofferson of the Twelve studied what I had written. The interview was over and I was free to go.”
Then Snuffer says, “The seventy who called was Elder L. Whitney Clayton.”
Who is L. Whitney Clayton?
L. Whitney Clayton was a lawyer who work in Newport Beach, California. According to Wikipedia he has been a “bishop, stake high councilor, counselor in a mission presidency, regional representative, and area seventy.” In other words, he has climbed right up the Church leadership ladder and now sits in the third most powerful group in the LDS Church: the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Clayton also, interestingly, played a prominent role in the 2008 campaign for California’s Proposition 8.
Called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in 2001, he entered the Presidency of the Seventy in April 2008. He was originally assigned to the North America West and Northwest areas. Since January 2012, he has supervised the three Utah areas: Utah Salt Lake City, Utah North, and Utah South areas (recent assignment this year kept him over these areas).
With Denver Snuffer’s account, we now have assertions of Elder L. Whitney Clayton having direct influence in the three most high profile cases of church discipline over the last year:
- Denver Snuffer said “Elder Whitney Clayton was responsible for the interview of the bishop who was released. I believe he was also involved with pressuring the stake president in the other case, as well”
- John Dehlin is quoted as saying that things in Logan also changed after a visit by Elder L. Whitney Clayton last year.
- Kate Kelly received a letter from her stake president the week following Elder Clayton’s visit to Washington D.C. on May 17th which said (among other things) that “to end this [informal] probation” she would need to “have taken down or done all you can to take down http://www.ordainwomen.org”.
Rock Waterman also asserted “that an area seventy — a layer of LDS leadership above stakes (groups of congregations) — told his bishop to take action”. We don’t know whether that was Elder Clayton or not.
In his blog post, Denver Snuffer also claims that “Elder Russell Nelson of the twelve heads the Strengthening the Members Committee.” The fact that Elder Clayton talked to Snuffer’s stake president is a result of him also being a member of the Strengthening the Members Committee or just being the area authority of Sandy, Utah (where Snuffer resides). We believe that both of these are the case.
From his activities listed above and his geographical location of being the area authority over Utah, Elder L. Whitney Clayton is, in our opinion, almost certainly another member of the Strengthening the Members Committee.
Interestingly, it was Elders Nelson and Clayton together that sent a message to Sharon East Stake’s president which was read over the pulpit after a number of residents in Utah County opposed the building of a new MTC building in Provo. It stands to reason that such group opposition to the Church’s construction plan was discussed to some extent in the Strengthening the Members Committee meetings as the letter said they “consider the MTC rebuild an ecclesiastical matter, a decision that was the result of careful and prayerful discussion.” Public opposition to ecclesiastical matters and decisions apparently often end up at the Strengthening the Members Committee meetings.