Louis Kelsch Excommunication

November 21, 1934

Louis had been faithful in the LDS Church all of his life.  He had served in his ward as home teacher, meaning he went with a companion to visit members of the ward to teach and encourage them in their church duties.  As they talked while going from one home to another the subject of plural marriage came up.  Louis commented that if plural marriage was ever right it was still right.

Later Louis was given notice of his trial before the Stake Presidency for “advocating plural marriage”.  His brethren in the High Priest Apostle Quorum discussed the trial and advised him to do something Leslie Broadbent wished he had done at his own excommunication, and Louis agreed.

Louis was tried at 8:00 p.m. November 21, 1934, before the High Council of the Granite Stake of Zion, with Hugh B. Brown presiding, on the charge of advocating plural marriage.  The charge was read and his accusers gave their testimony against him, which he did not deny.  They asked Louis if he had anything to say.

He stood up and said, “Brethren if you will give me just about five minutes of your time undisturbed, I think I can answer the charges.”  He asked for a book of the Doctrine and Covenants, and had the same identified by the President of the Council as the law book of the church.

Turning to the Woodruff Manifesto, he showed it to be a document unauthorized by the Lord, setting forth the personal views of Wilford Woodruff, and his promise to obey the law.  Louis read from Church History a statement of Joseph Smith to the effect that if anything should be suggested other than by commandment or by “thus saith the Lord”, we do not consider it binding.

Louis said, “The Manifesto says, ‘To Whom It May Concern,’ and it doesn’t concern me a d***n bit.”

He then turned to Section 132, dealing with the principle of Celestial Marriage, and stated in substance:

“This section in the Doctrine and Covenants advocates plural marriage, and when you handle a person for advocating plural marriage as long as this section remains in the book, it having been given by “Thus saith the Lord,” you are forfeiting your priesthood, for the Lord says when we exercise our priesthood in any degree of unrighteousness, “Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”  This section apparently, then, means more to me than it does to you, brethren, and to proceed to handle me for advocating the word of the Lord as contained in this section, this is what you are doing to the word and law of the Lord.”

He then deliberately tore the revelation from the book, folded it, and placed it in his pocket, returning the book to the table and saying, “That is all I have to say.”

Stake President Hugh B. Brown said, “Is that your book?”

Louis said, “No, it is yours.”  The Stake President became angry and asked for the pages which Louis then gave to him.

The council sat amazed at the audaciousness of the procedure, and after regaining their breaths and asking a number of unrelated questions, the defendant was invited to withdraw to the hallway while the court proceeded to cast a pre-determined vote of “guilty”.

The vote of excommunication was reported to be unanimous and Louis was excommunicated.

He later said of the occasion that his knees were knocking but he had done what Leslie Broadbent asked him to do.

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