Hundreds rally against new Mormon policy; many file forms to quit the faith

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Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their supporters gather to resign their membership to the church in Salt Lake City, Utah November 14, 2015. Hundreds of Mormons are expected to mail letters resigning from the faith after gathering in Salt Lake City on Saturday to protest a new church policy that calls married same-sex couples apostates and bars their children from baptism. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Urquhart.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their supporters gather to resign their membership to the church in Salt Lake City, Utah November 14, 2015. Hundreds of Mormons are expected to mail letters resigning from the faith after gathering in Salt Lake City on Saturday to protest a new church policy that calls married same-sex couples apostates and bars their children from baptism. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Urquhart.

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 1,000 inactive and active Mormons — along with their backers — rallied in City Creek Park on Saturday to protest the LDS church’s recent policy decisions involving same-sex couples and their children.

Many who attended the Salt Lake City event brought rainbow flags in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. They also hoisted signs with slogans such as “LDS: Love Doesn’t Separate.”

At one of several tables, attorney Mark Naugle helped Mormons expedite their paperwork to resign their memberships in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their forms were then dropped into a file box, which was rapidly filling 90 minutes after the event began, for mailing to nearby LDS church headquarters to have those members’ names removed from the faith’s rolls.


READ: Mormon leaders soften policy on same-sex families, but controversy continues


“We’ve talked to at least 800 people,” Naugle said. “It’s absolutely more than I expected.”

At its peak, the line to drop off resignation papers snaked through the park along State Street, turned east along 2nd Avenue, then curved slightly north along Canyon Road.

Organizers were overwhelmed by the turnout.

Lauren McNamara created the event’s Facebook page, which is where many attendees found out about the rally. She initially expected a crowd of about 700 and was “amazed” by the larger-than-expected count.


READ: A “mass exodus” of Mormons? Maybe. But here’s why I’m not among them


“The energy has been really positive and supportive,” McNamara said. “We may have even reached 2,000.”

McNamara said she converted to Mormonism five years ago in Chicago and moved to Utah partly to learn more about the faith. She stopped being a practicing member eight months ago.

“I’ve read a lot of history on the church since I got here, and there isn’t much I’ve been impressed with,” McNamara said. “I decided to resign a few weeks ago, but wasn’t ready to submit paperwork. Then, when this last announcement dropped, that was it.”

Top LDS authorities have a new policy in place that states Mormons in same-sex marriages or similar relationships must face disciplinary councils — and possible excommunication — and that their children generally must wait until they turn 18 to be baptized into the faith.

After hearing a round of speeches, Saturday’s ralliers loosely marched down State Street past Brigham Young Historic Park to a mailbox on the corner of South Temple and deposited their resignation letters. The box quickly filled.

“The church’s decision about families was the final straw for me,” said Connie Walker, who carried a bright pink sign that read “I’m Resigning Today Because Jesus Says Love Everyone.”

Walker said she stopped participating in the faith about a decade ago “after living outside Utah and realizing that people are good regardless of where they are on Sunday and what they believe.”

An informal poll of people who had joined the event’s Facebook page revealed that the vast majority who were resigning Saturday or planned to mail in their letters later either marked “I haven’t believed [in church theology] for years” or were “Inactive.” Few were active Mormons.

“Resigning is a really big step for people, because the church has filled so much of their life,” said Steve Holbrook of Post-Mormons and Friends. “This is not a statement necessarily against the church. We just disagree with some of the directions the church has been going in.”

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said Friday that the faith doesn’t like to “see anyone leave the church, especially people who have been struggling with any aspect of their life.”

Aaron Linford, who was a practicing Mormon until a year ago, was one of many to drop off resignation documents.

(Rich Kane writes for the Salt Lake Tribune.)

LM/JS END KANE

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  • Dale

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the greatest thing to ever happen to my family. It has brought us peace,happiness and prosperity. I am so grateful for Joseph Smith. He was a true prophet of God and has blessed the lives of millions of people.

  • Who made him a prophet? Why is he not
    included in the Bible. Only those prophets
    listed in the Bible are the true Prophets.

  • Doc Anthony

    Dale, it sounds like you would probably disagree with all these “I-am-done-with-LDS” folks (or more accurately, these “I-was-done-with-LDS-anyway-but-needed-a-trendy-progay-excuse-to-fill-out-my-resignation-papers” folks) that this article called such colorful attention to.

    So what is YOUR opinion or assessment of this protest event? Looking down the road, does it bode good or ill for the LDS?

  • Bernardo

    When the Sunday tithe collection starts to decrease then the “prophit” and his twelve, male, all white, money mongers will start to pay attention. A quick calculation, 2500 each making ~$50,000/yr. X .10 (10% tithe tax) = $12,500,000/yr. Hmm, maybe they will pay attention.

  • DougSlug

    Why is it necessary to file papers to quit the church? If you disagree strongly enough, just walk away. In other words, the act of “filling out the forms” is clearly a cry for attention–to send a message to someone who doesn’t give a damn.

    I received some advice at work a few years back that really stuck with me: “Stop complaining; no one’s listening”. This can be taken in one of two ways: (1) don’t just complain, but be constructive and try to make changes if you’re unhappy; or (2) it’s not a democracy, so voicing your opinion is futile. Since religion is not a democracy, I think the latter interpretation applies here, and the quitters will be happier if they walk away without a fuss. When their narcissistic pleas are unanswered by the church, they will be left feeling ignored, unfulfilled and spiritually weaker.

  • Larry

    Because unlike most churches, they take the financial responsibility of tithing seriously. Legal forms indicating one is no longer a member are helpful for keeping the grubby mitts of the church out of ex-member’s income.

    In a few months the church will pretend everything has blown over and will issue some kind of nonsense dishonest tract about how the LDS welcomes gays and their families and respects them as human beings.

  • GTO

    I joined the Church at age 16 in 1962. My parents were totally inactive Jews, and the religion practiced in my home was science. The Church would not allow me to be baptized unless I had the willing permission of both my parents. They were not in favor of my baptism, but they relented, 1) because the moral code of the Church and the health laws were probably helpful to a teen and not harmful, and 2) because I liked a boy at church, and they figured I’d hop religions when I changed boyfriends. #1 proved to be true, and #2, not. Deep study of these changes to Handbook 1 (a guidebook for local lay leadership) shows this same pattern for gay parents (as it had been for ALL parents of believing kids all along. There are gay parents who were dedicated to the Church and continue to love it, who would support their kids any way they could, should their children choose to be baptized. In this situation, with supportive gay parents, children may receive a baby blessing, baptism, etc.

  • Voice of Reason

    in my opinion, the self selecting pruning which you see here is the tares separating themselves from the wheat.

  • DougSlug

    Church + Financial responsibility for tithing = BIG RED FLAG

    How naive these folks are to think that lots of money is required for practicing a faith.

  • Doug

    Joseph Smith was a known con artist and scammer.

    The whole Mormon doctrine is just another of his scams. All that is surprising is that people are still falling for it, but then again, “there’s a sucker born every minute…”.