For the benefit of my gentle readers who are not blessed to have been members of the one and only true church, a Mormon's decision between formally resigning vs. playing permanent hooky is a tricky one. Both options have their challenges.
LDS Inc. requires the resigning member to write the local bishop who may impose all kinds of pressure on the resignee before eventually passing his/her request on to the stake president who, in his own time, forwards the resignation to church headquarters. On the other hand, lapsed Mormons who remain on the church roles may expect to be contacted once, twice, even multiple times a year by eager beavers hoping to reactivate them - and for the rest of their lives, no matter how many times they move.
Evidently the group who protested last Saturday had the help of an attorney who was able to bypass the local bishops and stake presidents and deliver the resignations directly to the LDS Church Office Building. I find this all very confusing, probably because I haven't invested the time to study the matter. But I was under the impression that it had finally been established that once a person submitted a resignation from the church, he/she was out, at least from a legal perspective.
Just like once a person resigns from his/her job, he/she may pack up and walk out. The primary difference being, when a person quits a job, he or she usually gives a couple weeks notice, in the spirit of professionalism and good will toward the employer.
When a person quits LDS Inc. it's usually in the spirit of, "Take this church and shove it."
It's been 15 years since Mark and I formally resigned our membership in the LDS Church. When we quit attending in the 1990's there was no formal resignation process. At least not to our knowledge. If you wanted off the roles you had to be excommunicated, meaning you had to commit a grievous sin like murder or rape or child molestation. Or, even worse, have gay sex or write a factual book about Mormon history.
Later, when we became aware of the resignation process, we hesitated to make the step, simply because it seemed like too many hoops to jump through. And, lord knows, we'd already jumped though our share of hoops for the Mormons. Instead we asked to be "no contacts." "No contact" was supposed to mean that we stayed on the roles but the ward members were respectfully advised not to contact us. What it actually meant was that we stayed on the roles and the current ward leadership didn't contact us. Then the leadership changed and it was open season all over again.
Our last "contact" came from an Elders Quorum President who called after 10 p.m. on a weeknight to ask if we had a pickup truck.
The next morning we caved and composed our resignation letters. They were concise and professional, following a form we'd found on the Internet, and included no specific complaints or criticism, only our wish to be removed from the records of the church.
Our simple request set off a mind-numbingly frustrating back and forth that lasted a full 14 weeks until we were finally off the roles. The highlight was a letter from our bishop that juxtaposed his slant on our opinions, character and family against that of his own.
Descriptives used when addressing us:
- most serious action
- sincere regret
- distorted, uneducated and subservient
- completely disagree
- numerous examples to the contrary
- cutting yourself off
- reap a whirlwind from this unfortunate action
- erroneously take umbrage
- matters of spiritual life and death
- a tragic mistake
- strength of character
- worldly and educational accomplishment
- spiritual strength
- phenomenal successes
- unusual and continuing successes
- moral and ethical compasses