gailymormon

Farewell to the Mormon Church

[Note: Please consider visiting or joining this Facebook group I created for folks to post resignation letters and share their experiences leaving the Mormon church. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ldsnomo/ ]

I sent the following letter to the Member Records Division of the LDS Church today:

_____________________________________________________________

Dear Mormon leaders,

I am writing you this letter to notify you of my resignation from the LDS Church. I want to thank you for the many beautiful things your church has brought into my life, and tell you why I am leaving.

Thank you for fostering an environment in which I felt secure and loved as a child—surrounded by a large family of ward members who spent countless hours with me in church classes, Scout outings, youth activities, temple trips, and more, enclosing me in a protective cocoon of doctrines and teachings and friendship.

Thank you for creating a music-rich environment that caused my parents to enroll me in piano and organ lessons so I could aid in worship. These lessons led in turn to university studies in music and a lifelong passion for the arts.

Thank you for emphasizing scripture study, which exposed me early on to literary beauty: the ecstatic visions of Isaiah, tender lovers in the Song of Solomon, Jesus’ strange and wonderful stories, and images from the Book of Mormon: a lone whale in the depths of the sea, a tree whose fruit was the love of God.

Thank you for inviting me to Paraguay to spend two years as a missionary. I learned three languages, saw jungles and grasslands and immense waterfalls, met thousands of beautiful people, and shared their way of life, their sorrows, and their joys.

Thank you for my years at Brigham Young University, where I studied piano, wrote music and heard it performed, saw art films, taught Spanish at the Missionary Training Center, sang in the Mormon Youth Chorus, learned Latin and Greek, and met lifelong friends.

In spite of all these beautiful gifts, it is time for me to leave your church. Over the years, I have struggled to find a place in it, without success. For me, institutions are not “true” or “false” in an absolute sense, but can be judged by how well they fit with an individual’s values and needs. Certain of my values are simply inconsistent with Mormon church membership:

I value people of all sexual orientations. I am a gay man, and I have not found a comfortable place in Mormon theology or worship. I have come to see for myself that being gay is just as beautiful and sacred as being straight is. I am disappointed that the Mormon church has not done more to prevent many of its young LGBT members from committing suicide.

I value gender equality. As a feminist, I cannot in good conscience call a church home that denies priesthood and leadership roles to women at any level. I believe the Mormon church is impoverished by its failure to fully accept the leadership gifts of women. I am disappointed in the church’s refusal to embrace its own doctrine of a Heavenly Mother.

I value sexuality as part of the richness of life—as a means of self-knowledge and a way of connecting with others. My experience with Mormon sex rules is that they create needless anxiety and shame around a part of being human that is natural and beautiful.

I value scientific inquiry and have come to a place of agnosticism. Given a lack of any objective evidence to prove or disprove the existence of God—and given the presence of other evidence-based theories that plausibly explain life on earth and our place in the universe—I cannot say with any certainty that the divine exists as an external reality.

I value my spiritual autonomy as an individual. While many Mormons take comfort in a top-down structure in which God instructs church leaders and requires obedience of members, I see no reason for any human to intervene in my relationship with whatever divinity may exist. I have come to find spirituality in places that require no intermediary at all: the senses, the beauty of the world, relationships with friends and family, music, art, meditation, and more.

For all of these reasons, I thank you for bringing so much goodness into my life and I must part ways with you now. I do so with affection and with much interest in how the Mormon church will grow and progress in the coming years.

Please take good care of my family members and friends who remain deeply committed to your faith. I will carry them in my heart, as I hope they will continue to carry me in theirs.

With sincere regard,

Edward Jones III

P.S. Please regard the following as part of the body of my letter, above:

My full name is E**********. I was born on **********. My Membership Record Number is ***-****-****.

This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs, and discipline. As I am no longer a member, I request that my name be permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church.

I have given this matter considerable thought. I understand the seriousness and the consequences of my actions. I am aware that my resignation cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws my priesthood ordination, and revokes temple blessings.

I hope to receive confirmation within a reasonably short time that my name has been removed from your records.

ELJ III

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25 comments on “Farewell to the Mormon Church

  1. Gary
    May 12, 2015

    So sad that noone in the Q12 will see this, read it, or respond in a likewise warm and loving manner. A beautifully written letter, poignant and heartfelt, with thoughts that more and more people who used to consider themselves members can identify with, written to a church that does not listen, or seemingly care.

  2. Kevin Rex
    May 12, 2015

    Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts, especially on the good things Mormonism brought into your life. When I left the Mormon church, I had hidden my emotions completely, denied my gay self, and I left in anger. It has taken two years of weekly therapy to come to love myself. Your resignation seems much more at peace than mine has been. However, I am grateful to be free of my emotional pain and the anger is subsiding as I learn to feel human emotions and deal with them.

  3. Cherisa
    May 12, 2015

    While I don’t relate to the sexuality piece, I thought several parts of this letter were spot on. In particular:

    “For me, institutions are not ‘true’ or ‘false’ in an absolute sense, but can be judged by how well they fit with an individual’s values and needs.”

    “I believe the Mormon church is impoverished by its failure to fully accept the leadership gifts of women. I am disappointed in the church’s refusal to embrace its own doctrine of a Heavenly Mother.”

    “I value sexuality as part of the richness of life—as a means of self-knowledge and a way of connecting with others. My experience with Mormon sex rules is that they create needless anxiety and shame around a part of being human that is natural and beautiful.”

    “…I see no reason for any human to intervene in my relationship with whatever divinity may exist. I have come to find spirituality in places that require no intermediary at all…”

  4. Ziff
    May 12, 2015

    I love your thoughts here, Edward. I admire your integrity.

  5. Andrew Brown
    May 12, 2015

    Thank you for posting this beautiful resignation letter. I appreciate many of the points you have made as my experience and worldview are similar. Wishing you well on your life journey!

  6. You will be missed, we need you more than you need us, if there is any chance that as a church we can come to embrace LGBT community it won’t be through abandoning the community, but by remaining in it.

    But God understands… God bless.

    • Dave Murray
      May 17, 2015

      Wow, Mr. MacKay! While I’m sure you meant that comment in an encouraging and supportive manner. But as a gay, former Mormon, raised in “The Church”, I found your comment to be rather naïve. I’m assuming that you are not gay. Because I found your comment to be totally lacking in understanding of what an important and necessary step it is to leave a church that has no place for you. An organization that truthfully despises the person(s) that we are, as created by God. Leaving an organization like the LDS Church is one of the most important steps to living authentically as we are created by God. And to love ourselves, instead of hating the sinful, repugnant person our Church leaders have repeatedly told us that we are. (All of this I know from very painful, personal experience with my LDS Church leaders. And the recent Conference talks have proven that the Church leaders have not moved away from that position). Your last sentence however, did ring true and was appreciated.

  7. Sandra Barnhart
    May 12, 2015

    I understand how you feel about all the nice mormon things you felt given to you. For me they were cancelled out after 40 years TBM, but the lies and humiliating hatred mormonism espouses. But, it truly is a shame no leader will read your letter. Not one.

  8. Izzy
    May 12, 2015

    Beautifully written. I appreciated how positive and loving your letter was. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Alexandra
    May 13, 2015

    This is absolutely beautiful. So much of my history with LD$, Inc. is the same.

    The only additional item I would have included, as a survivor of a good ward member, priesthood holder, and temple recommend holder.. who molested over 300 children, all hidden by the church. How the church treats wife abusers and pedophiles is the biggest reason I left.

  10. Lisa
    May 16, 2015

    Wonderful letter, thanks so much for sharing and for being strong.

  11. Gwendolyn
    May 16, 2015

    There is a beautiful spirit in your soul. God sees it and cherishes it. There is a place for all of us in the eternities in his kingdom. God be with you till we meet again.

  12. an anonymous latter Day saint
    May 16, 2015

    This is an interesting perspective, but honestly the whole letter could have been shortened to this simple statement, “I am leaving the church because I don’t have a testimony.” Nothing he said really had any impact on his decision to leave except for this “I don’t believe institutions are true or false in an absolute sense.” The rest of the letter, no matter how well written, is a waste of time.

    • Kateslittleblog.com
      May 17, 2015

      Really? I mean, are you seriously saying that another human being taking the time write out his thoughts and feelings and reasons behind an obviously monumental life decision is “a waste of time”?

      What kind of heartless person are you, who would even think such a thing, much less publish it on said person’s own blog. Would you say that to the face of someone you cared about? Or might you consider that that would be kind of a jerk thing to say? Do you not realize there is a real, live human… a brother by your own belief system, behind every blog post?

      At any rate, you’re right about one thing. People who leave the churcn don’t have a “testimony” that mormonism is anymore “true” than any other church.

      That’s because we finally woke up and realized that all religions are made up by man as a way of trying to explain or control their world. (Or possibly to get power, money, lots of wives..or all of the above.)

      If you were a young woman in the flds church, about to be married off as the 19th wife of some old dude, “losing your testimony” that Warren Jeffs is a real prophet would be considered a good thing. Ditto if you were caught up in a heavens gate-like cult. Likewise “mainstream” Mormonism.

    • Kateslittleblog.com
      May 17, 2015

      Really? I mean, are you seriously saying that another human being taking the time write out his thoughts and feelings and reasons behind an obviously monumental life decision is “a waste of time”?

      What kind of heartless person are you, who would even think such a thing, much less publish it on said person’s own blog. Would you say that to the face of someone you cared about? Or might you consider that that would be kind of a jerk thing to say? Do you not realize there is a real, live human… a brother by your own belief system, behind every blog post?

      At any rate, you’re right about one thing. People who leave the church don’t have a “testimony” that mormonism is anymore “true” than any other church.

      That’s because we finally woke up and realized that all religions are made up by man as a way of trying to explain or control their world. (Or possibly to get power, money, lots of wives..or all of the above.)

      If you were a young woman in the flds church, about to be married off as the 19th wife of some old dude, “losing your testimony” that Warren Jeffs is a real prophet would be considered a GOOD thing. Ditto if you were caught up in a heavens gate-like cult.

      Likewise “mainstream” Mormonism.

    • Terri Hoover
      May 18, 2015

      He was expressing his feelings of not belonging due to the rules. God says LOVE ONE ANOTHER and JUDGE NOT. I have seen this very thing in our church, people being shunned by those who thought they were holier than Tho. and that teen never came back its been going on for years. she smells like cigarettes, they don’t dress well, his parents drink, You can’t associate with her, she was molested by her uncle. so on and so on.. this gentleman Edward may have a stronger testimony than those who have learned to rehears theirs as a child. please Don’t Judge him. Thats what created him to leave in the first place, being Judged and not welcomed. ANONYMOUS LATTER DAY SAINT. From another Latter Day Saint Terri Hoover

    • Rick
      May 26, 2015

      One trait I’ve come to recognize that seems quite common in active Mormons is they feel authorized, and even compelled, to tell others how they should feel, think, and behave. They often even go so far to say why “we” do what we do — as if they have this God-given gift to know our minds. Of course the process is encouraged by church leaders in repeated statements like “they have sinned and lost the spirit;” or “they leave the church because they were offended, or want to sin…,” so they are parroting the leaders’ words.

      But at the core of Mormonism is a life paradigm that tells each member to seek their well-being from sources outside oneself. “Obey your leaders, pray to a deity that lives in heaven, seek advice on life choices by consulting your bishop,” etc.. They are never told “think about this, and if you conclude differently than the prophets say, you may be correct.” It’s a purely homogenizing culture — repeat rote phrases, prayers, temple ceremonies (over and over again)…all traits of cultish thinking.

      It is so freeing and empowering to transition to a point of internal locus…allowing yourself to believe what is in your head and heart, and not need another to validate your choices. That is a scary place to be when you are beginning this process, as we’ve grown up thinking that if we follow our own passions, it is selfish and wicked. But once there, the self-concept is amazing and powerful…and true, authentic living happens.

  13. E.H.
    May 17, 2015

    To the “anonymous latter day saint”,

    Maybe the truths of Edward’s writings hit a little too close to home for you. Maybe you aren’t the secure Mormon you externally portray. Maybe you’re gay yourself. Maybe you are one of many who simply don’t have the courage to leave a church that you know is flawed. If you know Edward at all, you would know that the rest of his letter most certainly wasn’t a “waste of time.”

  14. Liz
    May 17, 2015

    Thank you for sharing this. My heart goes out to you. I too agree that our fold needs you and your many talents (one of which is clearly being a gifted writer). I wish that you could feel and see the love and empathy that so many of us (many of us in church leadership positions) feel for you. You are loved by so many, including a Savior whom I believe felt all our pain. I am grateful that you have found happiness and peace and appreciate the manner in which you do not criticize those of us who are happy in the church, and that does not mean happy without considering and questioning it’s teachings. I do think our role as leaders today is more about teaching children that they are loved and treasured by a ward family and also by a Saviour and Heavenly parents than anything else. I’m grateful my children at such an impression age are learning that and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share that with those under my care as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and again, sending you the very best.

    • Tom T
      July 9, 2015

      Not “whom” but “who.” Not “it’s” but “its.” Not “impression” but “impressionable.” Those quibbles aside, I like your post very much.

  15. k
    May 18, 2015

    This is perhaps the most eloquent and gracious letter of resignation I have ever read. Truly a model for departing an organization on any level. I am inspired by the honest discussion of your values and your support of equality for all members. I am most thankful for your acknowledgement without shame of the importance of healthy sexuality as normal and beautiful. Thank you for articulating so honorably the problems I have had with Mormon Church practices and seeming hypocrisy for decades without denigrating its’ followers..

  16. Pingback: A Gentle Farewell to the Mormon Church - Rational Faiths | Mormon Blog

  17. Keith
    May 19, 2015

    Thank you for writing a beautiful, loving, respectful, and powerful letter, Edward. You’ve set an example I’d love to follow.

  18. S
    June 15, 2015

    I haven’t left yet, but your example is one of compassion, kindness, and courage. I’m still feeling angry at the deceptive practices of the church and sorrow for raising my children in a church that has done so much harm. I admire your ability to see so much good in the midst of the negative.

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