Just for the record, I am posting the original letter I sent to LDS Member Records as my resignation from the Mormon church back in September 2005. This was something I needed to do and this clarifies the main reasons I left the Mormon Church.
I hold no illusions that it was ever read or considered seriously, but writing it was a step I needed to take. For my part, just leaving silently seemed to imply complicity. If you are considering resigning, the last four paragraphs can be used as a template for a letter of your own.President Gordon B. Hinckley Office of the First Presidency The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 50 E North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84150
Dear Gordon B. Hinckley,
I am a life-long member in good standing. I served an honorable mission. I was married in the temple. I have not been offended and I have not sinned according to church doctrine. Yet, my wife has recently filed for divorce because I no longer believe in the church.
I recently read a statement made by Russell M. Nelson regarding the personal nature of religion. He said,
“How can we have freedom of religion if we are not free to compare honestly, to choose wisely, and to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience? While searching for the truth, we must be free to change our mind—even to change our religion—in response to new information and inspiration. One’s religion is not imposed by others. It is not predetermined. It is a very personal and sacred choice, nestled at the very core of human dignity.” (Freedom to Do and to Be, Russell M. Nelson, International Scientific and Practical Conference “Religious Freedom: Transition and Globalization”, Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, 27 May 2004)
The irony is that I am a member of the very church he represents yet I do not feel like I and my family members are free to “compare honestly.” I do not feel free to worship according to the dictates of MY conscience, to change MY mind, or to change MY religion in response to new information and inspiration.
How am I free to “compare honestly” when leaders in the church counsel against reading literature which contradicts church published versions of events? Honesty is telling both sides of the story yet the church admits it does not do this.
“Balance is telling both sides. This is not the mission of the official church literature or avowedly anti-Mormon literature. Neither has any responsibility to present both sides.” Dallin H. Oaks, August 16, 1985 (Michael Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy; Extensions of Power, in appendix five)
So, where else am I supposed to go to “compare honestly?”
I would have been content my whole life believing that church leaders were providing me with the truth until I found out that there are several historical facts that the church has suppressed. My discovery of these has led me to conclude that the church is NOT a reliable source of truth.
So, where do I go to go to “compare honestly?”
As a lifelong member, for example, I never knew Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and lied about it (compare the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants with the current heading of section 132). I never knew he married women who were already married (polyandry). I never knew that for years the church held up Joseph’s intended translations of the Kinderhook Plates as proof of his translating gift only to be debunked later. I never knew that scholars in and out of the church have admitted that the Book of Abraham facsimiles bear no resemblance to the translation that appears in the Pearl of Great Price. I never hear discussions on the implications that recent DNA evidence holds for the Book of Mormon, or on the dearth of Archaeological, Biological and Linguistic evidence to support the teaching of a Hebrew population in the Americas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
While you and others will likely be able to create a rationale for all of the facts that I’ve mentioned above, that’s beside the point. The point is that I was never able to “compare honestly” and to also follow church counsel at the same time. I might have decided that like you I still believed even given the facts above, but I still think they are pertinent to comparing honestly and gaining a true testimony.
A testimony based on false information is a false testimony. D&C 93:24 states that truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were. Not just things as we wish they were, as they are faith promoting, as approved by the First Presidency, or as it supports our version of things.
How does suppressing facts such as these from church lesson manuals follow your own claim that,
“As a Church, we encourage gospel scholarship and the search to understand all truth. Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint.” (Ensign, Sept. 1985, p.5.)
Why, in the name of “freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression,” can’t I express my doubts in a gospel doctrine class or a temple recommend interview or in my own home? Why do I have no one I can talk to without serious implications – like being probed as to my worthiness or being served divorce papers? Why are CES and BYU employees discouraged, fired and disciplined for discussing the truth?
Imagine my shock as a volunteer early morning seminary, when I sincerely believed I was duty-bound to sacrifice precious time with my family to disseminate the truth, to hear a talk by Elder Boyd K. Packer actually railing against the truth by saying,
“The truth is not uplifting it destroys. . . . Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting”. -Boyd K. Packer (Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History, page 103)
It’s clear that the message church leaders provide the public is very different from the one they offer to members. They seem to be speaking out of both sides of their mouths. Everyone I have talked to only skirts the issues and claims I need to pray more. In Primary I learned to “search, ponder AND pray.” The admonition to “search” is disingenuous when coupled with warnings against “anti-Mormon” material; it’s insincere when I’m served platitudes such as “don’t worry about that” when I encounter difficult issues.
David O McKay once declared that:
“Ours is the responsibility … to proclaim the truth that each individual is a child of God and important in his sight; that he is entitled to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly; that he has the right to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. In this positive declaration, we imply that organizations or churches which deprive the individual of these inherent rights are not in harmony with God’s will nor with his revealed word.” (General Conference, April 1954)
It is my belief that the church is “not in harmony with God’s will.” It is disloyal to its own teachings.
Shouldn’t I be free to make my own “very personal and sacred choice” without losing my family’s respect and love? How else can I maintain my “human dignity,” which Elder Nelson claims I have a right to just like everyone else?
I know the church will never afford me that “very personal and sacred” privilege of which Elder Nelson spoke. My family is taught that I am something to be fixed rather than respected. My wife has already been taught that she has lost her “eternal marriage” and the “blessings of the priesthood” in her home. This is presented as a devastating blow in church lessons and in church culture. I’ve been called evil and under the influence of Satan. This, in spite of the fact that I have remained faithful to her, continued to attend church and remained “worthy” of my priesthood. She believes that no spouse is better than an unbelieving spouse. It is this sort of belief and attitude that the church fosters which make other religions label it as a cult.
As a missionary, I was taught to compel others to follow the truth in spite of comfort, family or social ties. But I’m supposed to stay with the religion of MY birth because of family ties even though “new information and inspiration” leads me elsewhere? It is a hypocritical expectation and one that I’ve had repeated to me over and over again from my wife and other family members in the church. A church that claims the duty of proselyting the truth holds the expectation that its own members will suppress it.
While I was willing to do so for the sake of my family, now that my family is being broken up over the church, I no longer want to remain a part of it. The church has been disloyal to me and I believe it’s more than just a personal decision my wife has made. It is a spiritually flawed decision based on a spiritually flawed religion bearing rotten and untrustworthy fruit. The consequences of the church’s dishonesty reach into my young children’s lives and that is unforgivable. After much prayer and pondering, I no longer want to be affiliated with it.
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 want my name permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church.
I have given this matter considerable thought. I understand what you consider the seriousness and the consequences of my actions. I am aware that the church handbook says that my resignation “cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member and revokes temple blessings.” I also understand that I will be “readmitted to the church by baptism only after a thorough interview.”
My resignation should be processed immediately, without any ‘waiting periods’. I am not going to be dissuaded and I am not going to change my mind. I expect this matter to be handled promptly, with respect, and with full confidentiality. No one in my family or in my circle of friends needs to be informed of this personal matter.
After today, the only contact I want from the church is a single letter of confirmation to let me know that I am no longer listed as a member of the church.