Mormon church leader excommunicated for 1st time in decades

FILE - This Aug. 4, 2015, file photo, flowers bloom in front of the Salt Lake Temple, at Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. Mormon church leader James J. Hamula was removed Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, from a mid-level leadership council for undisclosed reasons based on disciplinary action by the religion's highest leaders. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Mormon church leader has been removed from his post and kicked out of the religion for the first time in nearly three decades.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a news release that James J. Hamula was removed Tuesday from a mid-level leadership council for undisclosed reasons based on disciplinary action by the religion’s highest leaders.

Hawkins didn’t provide any details, but the church said it wasn’t for apostasy. That refers to teaching inaccurate doctrine or publicly defying guidance from church leaders.

Efforts to reach Hamula at listed phone numbers weren’t successful.

The last leader to be removed within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the late George P. Lee. Lee, an American Indian, was excommunicated for apostasy in 1989 after calling Mormon leaders racist.

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