Excommunicated – No

David Whitmer said:

After I had left the Latter Day Saints, I heard that they had given me a trial and cut me off. The only charges that I ever heard they had against me (until I read this Saints’ Herald) were, for not believing some of Bro. Joseph’s revelations, and not teaching them; and for not believing and teaching the “Word of Wisdom.”

The proceedings of this trial, and all these other charges against me, I never heard of in my life before. Brethren, in the fear of God, and my time being almost at hand to go to meet Him, I do positively deny all of these charges against me, except concerning these revelations, and I still believe now as I did then concerning them.

The fact is – I will clear myself from this article in the Millennial Star; I will clear myself from their own evidence. To show you how this writer in the Herald has done, you will notice that he puts the words “using the money” in letters of emphasis to make the brethren believe that the Whitmer here referred to is myself; and tries to make it appear that I had used money belonging to the church, by emphasizing those words: It says “Phelps and Whitmer;” well – the Whitmer referred to is not myself, it was my brother, John Whitmer who is dead.

I heard afterward they had such a charge against John, but he was not guilty of it. In the charge about selling land in Zion, it says also “Phelps and Whitmer,” and this also refers to John, because I never owned any land in Zion.

But the writer in the Herald tries to make it appear that the Whitmer referred to is myself. Please note well the following point, as it clears me from their own evidence.

Elder Lyman Wight stated that he considered all other accusations against them (us three brethren) of minor importance, compared to their selling their lands in Jackson county; that they (Phelps and Whitmer) had set an example which all the Saints were liable to follow.

So you see they admit that all other accusations against us were of minor (small) importance. Now as I never owned any land in Jackson county. I guess I am clear of everything! The Whitmer referred to was my brother, John. He had to sell, to get out of debt.

You can see from reading those five charges against me, that I had already left the Latter Day Saints, when they were brought up against me. Also that I had already left them when they gave me a trial and cut me off. You can see this from the fourth charge which says:

In neglecting the duties of his calling and separating himself from the church while he yet had a name among us.

So this fact is established, and I WANT THE BRETHREN TO REMEMBER THIS because it is important, as you will see later on why I left the Latter Day Saints.

As to the balance of those charges I have this to say; I positively wrote no letters to Kirtland about Joseph, nor did I write any letter to the High Council at Far West.

I want to repeat that the man who wrote this letter to the Millennial Star must have written it a long time after I left the Latter Day Saints, which can be seen from his forgetting those names, and from being wrong as to some dates. I have no doubt but what some one, not very conscientious, wrote these things against me to the Millennial Star, and wrote them a long time after I had left the body and wrote the most of it on hearsay.

So we see that all they have against me was for “not keeping the Word of Wisdom,” and disbelieving some of Joseph’s revelations, and not teaching them. You will notice the remarks of the writer in the Herald about me not keeping the Word of Wisdom: I have this to say: If he drinks tea or coffee, or violates the Word of Wisdom in the least particular, I want him to read in Matt. 7:5, what Christ calls the man who says to his brother, “Let me pull out the mote from your eye, when behold a beam is in his own eye.”

As for me, my conscience does not condemn me for not keeping the Word of Wisdom: but those who believe it to be of God, if they violate it in the least particular, their conscience cannot be clear of doubt; and he that partakes with doubt is condemned. (Saints’ Herald Vol. 34, No. 7, February 5, 1887)

Ebbie Richardson said:

After members of the Council had read the letter from David they no longer thought it necessary to investigate the charges made against him. The feeling created by the letter caused the Councilors to consider him no longer “a member of the Church of Christ of the Latter-day Saints,” though there is no indication that his membership was ever voted upon. (Far West Record, pp. 123-125) Ebenezer Robinson was the clerk signing these minutes and refers to them years later in a publication defending David. He says:

“The council considered the charges sustained and consequently considered him (David Whitmer) no longer a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” There is no account that we can find of the church ever lifting their hands against him, which is required to be done by the law…Thus we are fully convinced, from a careful examination of the records, and our personal knowledge of the proceedings, that David Whitmer never was legally expelled from the church. (Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” The Return, (Davis City, Iowa: Church of Christ), Vol. 1, No. 9, September 1889, pp. 134-135)

Some of the historians of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also doubt the legality of the excommunication, and while David at times refers to the “Church leaving him,” yet he declared in his own book, “I left the body (church) in June, 1838.” (David Whitmer, An Address to all Believers in Christ, p. 8) (Ebbie L. V. Richardson, “David Whitmer, A Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon,” Provo: Brigham Young University, Master’s Thesis, August 1952, p. 71; Autobiography of Ebenezer Robinson, p.134)