After new rules regarding the baptism of children with same-sex parents were confirmed by church leaders, these members decided it was time to make a change.
image via (cc) Flickr user photographingtravis
Nearly 2,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, many of them LGBT, converged on downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday, where they officially—and very publicly—tendered their resignations from the religious organization, reports local CBS affiliate KUTV. The move comes in the wake of a new church policy which applies punitive measures to same-sex couples and their children. The resignation letters, reportedly some 1,500 in all, each stamped with a lawyer’s letterhead to hasten the bureaucratic process of leaving the Mormon church, join a batch of 1,000 similar requests submitted online earlier in the weekend.
While removing themselves from the LDS records will officially sever the connection between the outgoing members and the Mormon governing body, many who attended Saturday’s rally had long removed themselves from regular church participation. Bob Taylor, one of the many submitting a resignation on Saturday, told KUTV, “I haven't been active in 15 years, but it's time to remove my name from church records.” In fact, rally organizers estimated that just 5 percent of those in attendance had been recently involved with the church.
At issue is the Church Handbook of Instructions, an LDS policy guide for community leaders, a recent draft of which was leaked online. In it, same-sex couples are referred to as “apostates,” and children of same-sex couples are barred from Mormon baptism until they are 18 years old and have officially renounced their gay or lesbian parents.
“Thousands of the Mormon faithful standing with the LGBT community sends a powerful message that love will always win. Turning children away, asking them to disavow their parents, and devaluing the lives of same-sex couples and their families is shocking to people of faith committed to welcoming all God's children. We hope that church leaders will reconsider this hurtful and deplorable policy”
In a statement provided to KUTV, church spokesman Eric Hawkins says:
We don't want to see anyone leave the Church, especially people who have been struggling with any aspect of their life. The Church exists to build people and help them heal, and there isn't one of us who doesn't need help at some point in our lives. We hope that today's guidance from Church leaders and the additional commentary will help provide understanding and context to some who may be considering resigning their membership. It's extremely important that our members read what leaders have said, and do not rely on other sources or interpretations or what people think they have said.
That sentiment wasn’t enough to stop the thousands of soon-to-be-ex-Mormons from submitting their letters of resignation on Saturday. Timmy Chou, a representative of PostMos—a group that works with former members of the Mormon church—who helped organize the rally spoke with KUTV, explaining, “Those who have come here today may be feeling anxiety—but they are happy to do this. This is a well-thought-out decision.”