Friday, November 20, 2015

Take This Church and Shove It

Last weekend over a thousand Mormons gathered near Salt Lake's Temple Square to submit their resignations from the LDS Church. It was the latest in a series of reactions to the LDS Church decision to refuse infant blessings and baptisms to the children of gay parents. Read more here.

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:
  • ill-conceived
  • 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
Descriptives used in addressing his family (which we could be like if only we were righteous):
  • strength of character
  • poise
  • worldly and educational accomplishment
  • spiritual strength
  • phenomenal successes
  • unusual and continuing successes
  • moral and ethical compasses
Tonight Mark and I will raise our Friday night cocktails to toast the over 1,000 brand new official Ex-Mormons who didn't have to endure all this s**t.

If we had it to do over again, I think our resignation letter might go something like this:

16 comments:

  1. Out and proud you are, Donna. I'm so glad to know you and Mark as free thinking human beings unencumbered by religious dogma. Oh, you're a lot of fun, too.

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  2. There was no resignation that I was aware of in the late 1980's when I left. I asked to be excommunicated and the stake president accommodated me. I actually wanted to go through the "court of love" simply out of curiosity. I've heard that all former members are still on the rolls, just with a box that marks them as potentially ready to come back, or something like that. I wish we had accurate numbers for how many members there really are and how much of their 15 million is just padding.

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  3. Thanks Bill! Hope to see you guys again soon.

    Johnny, I kind of wish I'd been exed now too. It's hard to say what they do with their roles and how they interpret their numbers. Everything is so secretive. I'm curious about it too.

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  4. Here's to freedom for you, Mark, and thousands of other former Mormons!

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  5. Life is good outside the confines of Mormonism. Cheers!

    I left the church at the same time as you and Mark. It took the local leaders several years to come to my home and excommunicate me. At the time policy had changed and only Priesthood leaders were important enough to have the 'court of love'. So my first excommunication took place on my front porch because the Bishop was by himself and couldn't come into the home of a single woman.

    For whatever reason that excommunication didn't take so a new Bishop came over. This time with a counselor so that he could come into my home. He excommunicated me at my dining room table while all three of my children sat in the next room and overheard. He did have the compassion to ask me if I wanted to 'repent' to avoid excommunication.

    I wasn't excommunicated for being gay but for acting gay and being a fornicator. Had I held out a bit longer I could have been excommunicated for being an apostate seeing that I'm now married and not fornicating. What eves Mormon Church!

    Life has never been better.

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  6. Like JJ says, life is indeed good outside of Mormonism, Ahab. Thanks!

    But JJ, honestly, what jerks! I didn't know people could be excommunicated at their dining room tables - much less, their front porch!

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  7. I feel so fortunate to never being exposed to this "church". It is my sincere hope that its members who want freedom can get it by just walking away.

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  8. I never resigned. I sent them a formal notice that I had terminated my membership with my PO box for the return address. They sent it back to me along with their boilerplate letter stating that they had to have my physical address in order to locate my membership record. I responded that their letter was BS given that they had addressed me by my full name, which I had not provided to them in my original letter. Therefore, they had obviously referenced my membership record that they falsely claimed they were unable to locate.

    I got their formal notice acknowledging they had granted my "request" a couple of weeks later. Slimy controlling lying bastards.

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  9. Jono, one of the reasons I think Mormonism qualifies as a cult is because it is so difficult for people to leave - even those who want to.

    AT, slimy and controlling indeed! They want your address so they can drop by and fellowship you, or at least collect your back tithing.

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  10. If my husband and I hadn't been threatened with a 'court of love' (insert eye roll) we would have gone inactive and just continued on with our lives. But this policy, 6 years after our resignation, would have made me angry enough to resign. Its absolutely disgusting.

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    Replies
    1. You guys were threatened with a "court of love?" You're kidding! Was it because of the coffee shop?

      I agree, Heather. Ever since I resigned, there have been countless times I've wanted to do it all over. Including now.

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  11. Thanks for including Lewis Black's rant; bonus material to your great blog post.
    Yes, if you resign you are magically moved to another list. And they track you through all of your change of addresses just like collection agencies- LD$ inc has a team of lawyers that found a loophole that designates back tithing in the same category as a lien. You move and your "possible debt" moves with you. Are you creeped out yet? It gets better- your location is in a GPS database. They claim it's for "Emergency management" in the event of a disaster.
    Hopefully someone will come forward, the same way the woman in genealogical research reported that Jews lost in the Holocaust were still being baptized for the dead.
    Maybe we could get Anonymous hackers to help.

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    1. This is truly creepy. Not long after we moved to CA I got a visit from the missionaries on my birthday. I saw them pull up in front of my house, come to my door, and then get back in the car and leave without tracting out the rest of our street.

      I shooed them away before they could say much, so I don't know if they actually realized it was my birthday, but I've since wondered if they were sent specifically on that day - per my membership record, of course.

      Our son, who has moved numerous times since resigning, got a visit from the missionaries right after he and his wife had a baby. The elders came to the door and asked, "Are you a Mormon?" Since he was a minor when we submitted his resignation, maybe they thought he'd actually resigned.

      Yes, I'm definitely creeped out. Thanks for sharing this info, anon.

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    2. Oops, I meant to say maybe they thought or son didn't know he'd actually resigned. Oh well. The point is LDS Inc. knew that he had.

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  12. A couple of years ago I spoke on the phone with a man over some of the missionaries at the church office building. One "opportunity" is to work in the area of Finding Lost Members." They spend all day trying to find members who, in my opinion, don't want to be found. Their main methods are calling active family members of the person, calling former leaders, and searching the Internet for clues. He said they have very good ways to successfully find people. I assume the only way to get off the list is resignation, because they probably will find you.

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    1. "Finding Lost Members," gee, what a cool opportunity! Amazing that they devote so much effort to stalking people rather than finding ways to serve others, reach out rather than exclude and enrich the members' lives in the hope that those who still believed on some level, might consider returning to the fold.

      Harassment isn't an effective missionary tactic, IMO. Thanks for weighing in NearKolobite!

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