While it was exciting to let loose on a bishop, I later felt a little bad about it. So I asked the seminar organizer for his email address and sent him the following message:
Dear Mr. Bishop (not his real name),
I wanted to apologize for yelling at you yesterday. I was more than a little surprised at the emotion your statement provoked. Such an outburst is not characteristic of me. I was offended at your assertion that excommunication is not punishment, but losing my temper was not the right way to handle the situation.
I understand that you view excommunication as a means of helping a person come to full repentance, and therefore view it as a loving act. What I do not understand is how you can minimize how painful the experience can be for the person being excommunicated. Your tone yesterday seemed to imply that it was really no big deal. After all, what reason could a person have to be upset over something that was done out of love? And they can still come to church, so what's the problem?
I'll tell you what the problem is. I believed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was God's church, and that my bishop was God's representative. Excommunication was a statement from God Himself that He did not want me in His church at that time. Unless you have experienced that kind of rejection yourself, I don't think you can imagine what that's like. It is an authoritarian horror, and I cannot understand how you can rationalize that it is a loving and merciful thing to do to a person.
Finally, I hope you don't feel that my presentation was antagonistic or anti-Mormon. You came in a bit late, so you missed my statement at the beginning that what I was sharing was my personal and subjective story, and I did my best to present LDS doctrine fairly and accurately. I steered away from some of the more esoteric and controversial "deep doctrines" and only gave milk instead of meat, in an attempt to cast the teachings of the Church in a respectful light.
My mother was my main example growing up, and she has always been very conservative, literal and by the book. I have since met other Church members, such as yourself, who do accept evolution and who do not implicitly accept every word from the apostles' mouths as doctrine. I recognize and respect the LDS Church as a legitimate way to be religious and spiritual. I do not recognize it as the One True Church that it claims to be, and whatever else it may be, if it is not what it claims to be, I personally do not want to be a part of it.
Again, my apologies. I do not know you and you yourself have not done anything to me. It was not right of me to treat you as I did. I hope you'll forgive my lapse in judgment, and perhaps we will see each other again at future discussions.
Leah Elliott Hauge