Former LDS General Authority George P. Lee passed away today in Provo at the age of 67.
You’re probably wondering “Who’s that?” and “Why should I care?” In 1975, George P. Lee was called by Spencer W. Kimball to be a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. This is significant, because Lee was the first (and only) Native American general authority. In 1989, Lee was excommunicated for “apostasy and other conduct unbecoming a member of the Church.” This too is significant, because Lee was the first general authority to be excommunicated since 1943, when Apostle Richard R. Lyman was excommunicated for practicing polygamy.
Lee’s “unbecoming conduct” refers to his attempted molestation of a 12-year-old girl. But of more interest to me–from a Mormon studies perspective—is the charge of apostasy. Lee was upset that President Ezra Taft Benson was phasing out the LDS Church’s Indian Placement Program.