On Sept. 1, the First Presidency issued the following statement:
"The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicated Elder George P. Lee of the First Quorum of the Seventy for apostasy and other conduct unbecoming a member of the Church. This action was taken at a meeting at which George P. Lee was present on Friday morning, Sept. 1, 1989."Bruce L. Olsen, managing director of Church Public Communications/Special Affairs, said, "The excommunication of George P. Lee is heartbreaking for Church leaders and members worldwide, as it also is for his family and many friends. The action taken against him was formally announced because Brother Lee held a general Church position."
Beyond the brief announcement, Church leaders and spokespersons have declined to comment on the reasons for the discipline. Brother Olsen explained, "We try to protect and respect the individual and the family from undue publicity, and will not comment or speculate on any aspect of the proceedings. The action to excommunicate Brother Lee was not precipitous, and came only after General Authorities counseled with him over a period of many months."
In public statements and letters he released to reporters following announcement of the action, Brother Lee criticized what he described as misinterpretation of scriptures pertaining to those who are the true seed and blood of Israel, and claimed the Church was reducing its concern for Lamanites and trimming educational programs for native Americans.
Brother Olsen said, "Church leaders and members have a great love for the descendants of Father Lehi, and the Church will continue its programs for their benefit. We are aware that there is much to do in their behalf and are committed to do it."
George P. Lee, 46, was sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy on Oct. 3, 1975. He had been serving as managing director in the Curriculum Department at Church headquarters and previously was assigned as a counselor in area presidencies, as an area executive administrator, and president of the Arizona Holbrook Mission.