Response from the Church, part 1

Today I received a response from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church) to my letter of resignation, which I had sent them back over a month ago. Here’s some background…

Last month, I decided to send an official letter of resignation to the LDS Church, requesting that both my name and my wife’s be removed from the records of the Church. As I stated in my essay (read it here in PDF or ePUB format), I no longer wish to be associated with the Church. I had read numerous articles from websites such as MormonResignation.com and ExMormon.org, which have suggestions and templates for writing your own resignation letter. These sites also warned of how the LDS Church has made some go through countless hurdles and obstacles in order to finally get the confirmation of their name removal – some have even been excommunicated after having sent in their resignation!

I was hoping to avoid these obstacles by writing my letter in no uncertain terms, so that there would be no confusion as to my intent or conviction. In my letter, I wrote (in addition to very specific information about both my wife’s and my membership info):

We have given this matter considerable thought and understand what you consider to be the ‘seriousness’ and the ‘consequences’ of our actions. We are aware that the church handbook says that our resignation ‘cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member and revokes temple blessings.’ (quotes from the current Church Handbook of Instructions). Our decision is not based on personality conflicts with other members nor is it a result of immorality. We are not going to be dissuaded and we are not going to change our minds. The Church’s involvement in California’s Prop 8 campaign, as well as it’s history with racism & polygamy, has lead us to remove ourselves from any association with the LDS community.

We expect this matter to be handled promptly, with respect, with full confidentiality and without any ‘waiting periods’. We will NOT participate in church court or disciplinary councils as we have done nothing wrong. We are exercising our freedom of religion and we are requesting the administrative procedure for membership removal.
We do not wish to be contacted by anyone except by mail confirming that our names has been removed from the records. This includes home teachers, visiting teachers, missionaries, and church leadership trying to visit or call by phone…

Though I could have gone on and on about the reasons that I no longer believe, nor support, the Church, I had decided to keep it simple. In hindsight, I think I should have included a mention that I do not believe in the Church, its teachings, or its misrepresented history. Anyway, one month later, I have received their reply. It reads as follows:

Dear Brother and Sister Jenson: [my wife never actually took my last name, as was clear by my letter]

I have been asked to acknowledge your recent letter in which you request that your names be removed from the membership records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I have also been asked to inform you that the Church considers such a request to be an ecclesiastical matter that must be handled by local priesthood leaders before being processed by Church employees. Therefore, your letter and a copy of this reply are being sent to [your Stake President]. He will have [your Bishop] contact you concerning the fulfillment of your request.

In view of the eternal consequences of such an action, the Brethren urge you to reconsider your request and to prayerfully consider the enclosed statement of the First Presidency.

The enclosure was entitled, “An Invitation” that begs for me to reconsider. It tries to show that they care deeply for me as an individual, which must be why they made it into a mass-produced one-size-fits-all glossy pamphlet! It goes on to appeal to my supposed need for the Church’s “embrace” and to “partake of the happiness [I] once knew” – a happiness that was based on false pretenses and the chastising of other groups.

Unfortunately, this was not the response letter I was hoping for (a simple, “okay, you’re out” would suffice), and so I fully expect to have to play along with their ‘follow-up’. I hope this doesn’t drag on too long, but if it does, I’ll have plenty more to write for my blog!

I’ll keep you posted.
-Tom-

——-

UPDATE: Response from the Church, part 2

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Posted on 2011-02-25, in Mormonism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Don’t worry! This is all normal and part of the process! This is exactly what happened to me, too! All you need to do is hang tight.

    Just to show you my own timeline for how long it took everything to happen, I mailed my church resignation letter on Dec. 30, 2008. Then on Jan. 14, 2009 I got that exact same form-letter with glossy pamphlet that you just described! I didn’t do anything after receiving it, and then in February I got a letter from the stake president of the ward-area I live in saying that he was informing me that my request to have my name “removed from the records of the church has been acted upon and is in process.” And finally on Feb. 19, 2009 I got a letter from the Member And Statistical Records Division of the Church saying that “in accordance with your request, you are no longer a member of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.” Daaa-da-da-daaaaaa!

    I think it all depends on how fast your area’s stake president or bishop responds to the request once it’s forwarded to them from headquarters, but it shouldn’t be too long now!

  2. Tom, I just want to say that I think what you are doing is amazing and brave and I applaud and support you for standing by your convictions. Your blog is well spoken and very informative and I will continue to follow your progress through what must feel like a frustrating process. Keep hitting that wall and eventually you will break through!! I’ll always stand behind someone when they stand up for themselves!

    Best of luck, Liz

  3. Tom:

    You are a brave man to stand up for your convictions and to make your process of leaving your former church available for people to read like this. I admire you and I hope your blog gives other people stuck in religions they can’t believe in the courage to depart too.

  4. Julian the Apostate

    I am happy for you. You had the stones to speak out and to refuse association with a corporation (oops, “church”) with whose policies, politics etc. you strongly disagree. I did my exit by email. Got the ecclesiastical letter and the pamphlet a few days ago and am waiting for the all important two sentence letter.

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