Marion G. Romney:
Some members assume that one can be in full harmony with the spirit of the gospel, enjoy full fellowship in the Church, and at the same time be out of harmony with the leaders of the Church and the counsel and direction they give. Such a position is wholly inconsistent. . . . Those who profess to accept the gospel and who at the same time criticize and refuse to follow the counsel of the prophets are assuming an indefensible position. Such a spirit leads to apostasy.
– Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (April 1983): 21.
Dallin H. Oaks:
We have the concept of apostasy. It is grounds for Church discipline. It is far less frequently grounds for Church discipline than immoral behavior. I think if you had 100 Church excommunications, 98 of them would be for immoral behavior. Two of them, perhaps, or one of a hundred, would be for apostasy.
Apostasy, being rare, has to be carefully defined. We have three definitions of apostasy: one is open, public and repeated opposition to the Church or its leaders. Open, public, repeated opposition to the Church or its leaders — I’ll come back to that in a moment. A second one is to teach as doctrine something that is not Church doctrine after one has been advised by appropriate authority that that’s false doctrine. In other words, just teaching false doctrine is not apostasy, but [it is] teaching persistently after you’ve been warned….
So, we go back to the first cause of apostasy — open, public and repeated opposition to the Church and its leaders. That does not include searching for a middle ground. It doesn’t include worrying over a doctrine. It doesn’t include not believing a particular doctrine. None of those are apostasy. None of those are the basis of Church discipline. But when a person comes out publicly and opposes the Church, such as by saying, “I do not think anyone should follow the leaders of the Church in their missionary program, calling these young people to go out and preach the gospel,” or whatever the particular issue of the day. And when you go out and begin to “thump the tub” and try to gather opposition and organize opposition and pronounce and preach against the Church — that can be a basis for Church discipline.
– Dallin H. Oaks, Interview with Helen Whitney, 20 July 2007, italics in original.
Joseph F. Smith:
Of course, if a member or members of the minority regard the action of the majority as a violation of some fundamental principle, or subversive of the inherent rights of men, against which they conceive it to be a matter of conscience to enter protest or absolute repudiation, I understand it is their right to so proceed; but this, let it be understood, would be revolutionary, it would be rebellion, and if persisted in, could only end in such persons voluntarily withdrawing, or being severed from the organization. They cannot hope to be retained in a fellowship and enjoy the rights and privileges of the Church, and at the same time be making war upon its decisions or its rules and policy. But no power on earth, certainly no power in the Church, can prevent men dissatisfied with the Church, from absolutely withdrawing from it; and such is the disfavor with which the Church is regarded by the world that such withdrawals would in most cases be rewarded by the applause of the world. Or, if the dissatisfaction of the member be only with the quorum or council of the priesthood with which he is connected, he would be at liberty to withdraw from that quorum or council, and still retain his membership in the Church. On the other hand, the harmony which I spoke of as being essential to the Church certainly demands that’ the Church shall not tolerate, and indeed, if the life of the organization persists, it cannot tolerate such internal conflicts as those just alluded to, as they would lead to confusion, anarchy, disruption, and final abolishment of the organization.
– Joseph F. Smith, “Editor’s Table: Harmony,” Improvement Era (1905); also in Gospel Doctrine, edited by John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1919), 130.