MASS EXODUS OF SAINTS

There is much controversy in the church over the last couple of weeks concerning the churches treatments and policy of LGBTQ members and their families. Because of the recent policy change it has been causing many members of the church to feel that they are not accepted within the church. Blocking children from access to church membership because their parents are gay does not sit well with many members.  This has caused many to announce their intentions to leave the church and have their names removed from all church records, or announce that they have done so already. This is not just upsetting LGBTQ members but all those who support, love and care for those who are in this community and their families.

One Utah attorney is currently handling over 1500 request for membership removal from the church records. This is only a small sampling of the people who are leaving the church as it is only cases from Utah and only one lawyer. The vast majority of those who choose to leave do not go through a lawyer and send in their resignation letters. I can’t even begin to image just how many people the church is losing over this policy. I doubt that the church would publish the stats on that so we likely will never know.

It has also become common in recent years for members to go to conference and vote in opposition to church leadership. Given this recent controversy and how upset thousands of members are over this I have no doubt we can expect to see a lot more opposition, perhaps even loud vocal opposition at the next conference. Given it has become common practice for protesters to protest the church conference in Salt Lake City I can only imagine how much worse it may be for next conference. It will certainly be interesting to see how this develops.

This mass exodus of saints saddens me greatly and causes me great concern. I can’t help but wonder how many of those leaving are doing so out of a broken faith. How many have simply lost their faith in God and the Church. How many are leaving with their faith in tact in God’s Gospel and yet willfully and willing cutting themselves off from the church and all it has to offer because of a single policy decision.

To say that this has not been a faith trying experience for many would be a lie of great degree. Even for myself I am struggling with having a testimony of the church and the leadership being called of God and yet seeing such a punitive, hurtful, and discriminatory policy come forth within this church. The very idea of cutting children out of church membership over things which they have no control over is to me reprehensible. All those who are living worthy of the gospel should have every right to be a part of this church.

I am not one of those who will leave the church over this but to say that my faith has not at the very least been rocked a little would be a lie. There are also many who are accepting this as God’s will with complete faith in the church leadership in all things. They talk of church leadership as if they are in-fallible and could not possibly make a mistake because they are led by God. I do not need to start listing every mistake made in church history by leadership to make the point that it has happened before. church leaders are not in-falliable and just like you and me can make mistakes. The only difference is that when they make a mistake relating to the church the consequestion are much further reaching. That does not however make them any less worthy or any less called of God.

At times God has directed decisions to be made that try our faith. These decisions at the time make no sense and go against everything we have been taught to believe. There are numerous scriptural examples of this. Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his son, something that we would never do and would not expect God to ask of us is probably the most famous example of this. Nephi, in the Book of Mormon was commanded to slay Laban. Nephi responded with I can’t do this you have said to never kill and that murder is wrong. Nephi eventually did as he was commanded but even Nephi did not agree with his commanded to kill Laban. Is this one of those times when our faith will be tried to see if we will accept all that God asks of us? No matter how much we may or may not agree with it? I really cannot see Abraham saying to God “no problem, I will do that happily” I have no doubt he had a mighty struggle and strongly disagreed, as did Nephi, however their faith was strong enough to accept that it was God’s will. In saying this I do not mean to imply that this is God’s will only that in scriptural history there have been times when people have been asked to do things and accept things that did not align with what they have been taught. In the example listed neither one of them agreed with the action being requested. In both cases they had strong opposition to what was being asked. While they still followed through, it was not because of complete and harmonious agreement with what had been asked of them. This disagreement with what was asked did not cause them to be less faithful. They were not questioning church authority, as some have implied that I am, because I publicly make my disagreement known.

This change of policy can only be one of 2 things

  1. It is the result of imperfect men making decisions with God allowing them to fall and stumble for reasons that are his own
  2. It is a God inspired policy change as a result of revelation from on high for reasons we do not understand.

Whichever of these 2 possibilities resulted in this decision by church leadership it is, this is not something to leave the church over. This is not a change of doctrine but of policy. There are many thousands who are upset within the church about this. If you are leaving the church over this change of policy I ask you to look within yourself and ask if your testimony was as strong as you may have felt or believed it was.

Don’t leave the church and all its accompanied blessings. Give time for things to cool down. Wait to see how things play out in the long run. Don’t let a single policy change end something that overall is still a wonderful part of your life. I certainly understand your anger, frustration, shock even. I feel that way as well. If I was a bishop, or stake president or any other authority in the church that would have the responsibility of enforcing this policy I would be seriously considering stepping down and resigning from my position because to remain would potentially put me in a position to enforce policies I strongly disagree with. What I would not do however is leave the Church. It simply is not worth it. The Gospel is worth more than a single policy, and my families eternal salvation is worth more to me than a church policy.

And that is the Gospel According to Andrew

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4 comments on “MASS EXODUS OF SAINTS

  1. This “mass exodus” of people leaving the church is a bit misleading. I was reading about a poll taken on a Facebook group of people leaving the church and a very large percentage (up to 80%) of them identified themselves as apostates that had already left the church or inactives. Granted, this is but only a sample, but I’m tempted to believe a goodly number of people were already on the fence or gone already, and just looking for that one event or doctrine to push them over the edge, rather than a “mass exodus” of strong, faithful members. It is sad when even one member leaves, of course, but sometimes our faith is going to be tested and not everyone is going to pass. It was only but a matter of time before the church was going to have to take a stand against worldly doctrines. I’m glad to see that, despite your own personal misgivings, you choose to still follow the church and your testimony, rather than throw it all away over something that you currently have trouble understanding.

    And about that shyster lawyer helping people tender their resignations, people are actually spending money for this? If someone truly wants to resign their membership, there are channels they can go through that make an attorney totally unnecessary, and all completely for free (except maybe for postage). All I see is an evil anti-Mormon agenda cackling with glee as it harvests confused souls away from their beliefs, and ramps up the propaganda against the church to put it in the most negative light possible.

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    • Just to be clear, the lawyer was generously offering his services for free, and refused any compensation. Many people wanted to pay him, but he recommended that if they wanted to, they could donate to one of the institutions like ACLU of Utah, or Equality Utah, etc. Many people resigned on their own, but the church has been known to make this rather difficult (taking months, requiring interviews, calling family, etc. before they would process the paperwork), so using a lawyer gave more assurance that the process would be handled more quickly.

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  2. Yes, there are a lot of people leaving the church. These numbers have been increasing exponentially over the past few years. And I am among them. While the mass resignation events that have happened since the policy was announced have been significant, I think that in most cases, this policy is not the only reason these people are leaving. It is simply the final straw that helped people see they no longer wanted their names associated with an organization they could no longer support. I still see much good in the church, but not enough good that I would want to stay. Leaving the church is not an easy decision, nor one that can be made on a whim. It’s completely life-altering, affecting every aspect of it that the church has touched, most of which cannot be realized until after one has left.

    That said, I don’t think leaving the church needs to be seen as such a negative thing, even by members who believe it. Most people leave the church to pursue lives of greater integrity and authenticity than they felt like they could within the confines of an authoritarian religion. And this is a good thing. There is more than one way to find the divine, and live a fulfilling and joyous life. Rather than asking a church leader or an ancient book what is right, they can now ask their own heart. Morality comes down to not what they’ve been taught by others, but what they know in their hearts is right. And sometimes that goes against the messages we hear from outside of us, including those said to have come from God. Few people today would agree with or allow the murders that were commanded by God in Scripture. Do we really need to make special exception for them in order to justify their behavior? Well, there is no evidence that these stories are historical anyway, but they do a good job at teaching obedience and subordination to authority, rather than thinking rationally, feeling empathy, and following your own heart. This is one of the main reasons I no longer choose to participate in religion, despite the good that does come from it.

    That’s also not to say that everyone in religion is disregarding their integrity or submitting blindly to authority. You are an example of someone more tuned into their innate sense of right and wrong, unwilling to disregard your integrity. But it is hard to not see that church leaders tend to discourage this type of free thinking and free living. Follow the spirit, they say, but only if it agrees with what we say. (And if it doesn’t, then pray again because there’s something wrong with you.) It’s a false sense of autonomy for those who don’t see through it.

    Anyway, this is getting long enough. If you want to learn about the reasons I left the church (which have very little to do with the policy but which was the catalyst for my finally removing my name from church records), please see my letter at http://pearceonearth.com/why-i-left-the-mormon-church

    Wishes of happiness and peace to you, whatever path your life journey may take.

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  3. Brandon, I enjoyed your letter and found it extremely interesting and well-written. You certainly saw things much clearer when you removed your “glasses.” The truth really will set you free. The hard part is figuring out what is the truth. Asking questions in search of truth like you and Andrew have done is something we should all be doing. Best wishes to you both.

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