SALT LAKE CITY — He was a highly trusted member of the Quorum of the Seventy, a general authority of the LDS church.
On Tuesday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the excommunication of elder James J. Hamula.
LDS general authorities are rarely excommunicated. The last time it happened was nearly 30 years ago when George Lee of the Quorum of the Seventy was excommunicated for apostasy.
In October of 2014, James Hamula spoke from the pulpit at the 2014 LDS General Conference, addressing the nearly 16 million members of the LDS church.
Hamula was sustained as a church authority in 2008, and was most recently serving as an executive director of the correlation department. In a statement released Tuesday, the LDS church confirmed the excommunication of Hamula following "disciplinary action."
“It's just a very sad and terrible experience,” said John Dehlin.
In 2015 John Dehlin - the host of the well-known podcast Mormon Stories - also went through a high profile excommunication.
“My heart is with Elder Hamula and his family because it's just so humiliating to not only have all the allegations but speculations spread across the world about what may or may not be the cause of the excommunication,” Dehlin said.
Dehlin says his name was pulled from church records for apostasy.
“I was excommunicated because I was speaking openly on difficult issues like same-sex marriage and Joseph Smith's polygamy and women ordination in the church,” Dehlin said.
The church's website says "church leaders have a solemn responsibility to keep confidential all information they receive in confessions and interviews."
Tthey refused to give a reason for Hamula's excommunication, but confirmed it was not because of apostasy.
“The church is basically wanting to make sure that members don't think it's because he doubted the church or had questions about the church,” Dehlin said.
Dehlin argues that, because the church made that statement, it makes matters worse for Hamula.
“It just muddies the waters and contributes to the shame,” Dehlin said.
Hamula had addresses in Utah as well as Arizona. Fox 13 checked both states and did not find any criminal records – only a minor traffic violation.
If Hamula chooses to do so he can go through a process to get rebaptized and become a member of the LDS church again.