A couple weeks ago, I wondered why the LDS Church was so eager to deny equal rights to gays and lesbians. Then Prop 8 passed, due in no small part to the Church's efforts.
Though I am no longer an active member of the Church, and have little influence over anything it does on any level, I am still technically a member.
That will change after the Church receives the letter I am sending out tomorrow, reprinted below:
November 10, 2008The letter is a modified version of a letter I got from this website. This website gives instructions on how to request that the IRS revoke the Church's tax exempt status. I don't know enough about tax law to know whether that effort is just pie in the sky.
Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 E North Temple Rm 1372
SLC UT 84150-5310
To Whom It May Concern:
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". (quotes from the current Church Handbook of Instructions)
I have not been active in the Church for more than 11 years now. I have moved several times and never contacted any local Church leaders or members to update my records. Until now, I was content with the current situation. Only once or twice was I visited by members or missionaries—the Church seemed to respect my wishes and by and large left me alone. If it had not done so, I might have resigned long ago.
One reason I had not previously resigned was because it didn’t matter much to me whether or not I was still listed as a member, and it didn’t seem to impact my daily life one way or the other. I felt the trouble it would take to resign was not worth the sorrow it might cause members of my family.
With respect and love to my family, I no longer feel that I can leave things as they are. My decision on this matter has changed with the Church’s public and very effective support of Proposition 8 in California in the recent election. I cannot allow my name to be associated, however symbolically, with this shameful attack on the basic civil rights of a historically oppressed group. The Church’s official position is doubly troubling given the history of persecution members of the Church—my ancestors—endured in the name of their faith.
Knowing that the outcome in California on November 4 was a direct result of the Church’s efforts was a deeply shameful realization for me, and may irreparably change my relationship with the Church. I can only hope that, sooner rather than later, the Church leadership comes to understand the harmful consequences of this misguided policy and reverses it, as it reversed the policy of refusing blacks the priesthood after President Kimball’s historic 1978 revelation.
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.
After today, I request that the only contact I receive 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.
David Colin Bennion
The LDS Church didn't pass Prop 8 on its own. I'm not too happy about the Catholic Church's role in the passage of Prop 8 and in fighting against LGBT rights more generally. I was employed by the Catholic Church for two years, and I have a lot of respect for Catholic Social Teachings on poverty and migration, among other things.
But the Catholic Church's backwards, hateful institutional posture on LGBT rights is the principal reason I did not seriously consider taking another position at a Catholic organization when I moved here to Philly from Brooklyn.
It gives me no pleasure to send this letter. I think there is a lot of room for collaboration on social issues between seculars like me and people of faith. I can only hope that as more members of the churches speak out against these policies, that the leadership will listen. (That is why I am publicizing here what should be essentially a private matter.) I am afraid, though, that the day of change will be a long time coming.