Three weeks ago, 2,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a mass resignation in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Attorney Mark Naugle and others aided in filing paperwork which enabled these ex-mormons to officially cut ties with the LDS church. According to this article, Naugle’s website www.QuitMormon.com helped over 6,500 former Mormons file resignation paperwork in its first month of operation, free of charge. There are other online guides available to help people formally resign, including the Ex-mormon Subreddit and Mormon Resignation.
Why do ex-mormons even need mass resignation events, lawyers, and internet guides? It is difficult to leave the LDS church: emotionally, socially, and logistically. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and many other controlling organizations, the LDS church instills phobias in its members about becoming an “apostate.” According to LDS doctrine, people need to be members in good standing in order to be happy, receive “blessings,” live with their families after they die, and become gods who can create their own planets. Since members spend so much time at church with other members, their social support network often includes many people who might shun or pity them if they left the LDS church. Because of this, they risk receiving periodic unwelcome calls, visits, and letters from missionaries and other members.
I formally resigned from the LDS church on November 1, 2012. I wanted to be able to say that I was not part of a bigoted, abusive, and deceptive organization. It was also emotionally cathartic. Others formally resign as an opportunity to voice opinions about the organization, to stop or lessen the chance that the LDS church will try to make contact, and to avoid having their children listed as members when they are born.
When I resigned, I had to write and send a letter with my name, birth date, and current address to LDS church headquarters. After they received it, they tried to get me to agree to a visit from my local bishop, who apparently had to approve my resignation before it could be processed. You don’t have to agree to a meeting. They are legally bound to accept your resignation as soon as they receive your letter, without any visits or phone calls.
I did visit one of my former bishops after I resigned, as I was friends with him and his wife. During our meeting, he predicted that something bad would happen to me that would make me change my mind. He listed a few possibilities: death in my family, severe accident, illness… It is sad that this kind man had been trained to threaten me with these things to scare me back into membership.
While I have been living a healthy, happy, productive, and fulfilled life since 2012, there are those who have lost their jobs or were kicked out of Brigham Young University because of their resignation. Some ex-mormons report that BYU students also risk losing the ability to transfer their credits. It’s important for anyone interested in taking this step to do their due diligence.
Taking a stand against a high-control group like the LDS church can be very therapeutic for those seeking closure. It can also serve as a warning for the public, and hopefully put pressure on LDS leadership to reform the church. It is my hope that they will one day become an organization that does not whitewash their history, keep their practices and finances secret, oppress women and the LGBTQ community, and use fear and guilt to keep their members in line.
~ Abigail Bukas
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