More than a hundred people gathered in Salt Lake City over the weekend to formally resign from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is the fifth such mass resignation of Mormons in as many years.
At the gathering, demonstrators met with leaders of an ex-Mormon support community, to fill out official "departure" paperwork and hear testimonials about like after leaving the Church.
For many, the decision to leave was prompted by the Church's continued mistreatment of LGBT people in the LDS faith.
The church has historically condemned homosexuality, and was active in the push for Prop 8, a measure that banned marriage equality in the state of California. Last November, church leaders passed a measure preventing the children of same-sex parents from being baptized into the faith unless they publicly denounced the "behavior" of their parents and moved out of the house when they turn 18.
“I don’t want to be attached to the church any more, and I don’t want them to count me,” said Lila Steffensen, a 26-year-old, who left the faith over the weekend.
“I don’t want to be part of something that is a big con that mentally abuses thousands of people," she added. "I want to be able to say, ‘No, I’m not a Mormon.'”
Steffensen's thoughts were echoed by gay student Patrick Ramsay, who shared a poem detailing the depression he's grappled with since his family's abandonment after he came out. (Studies indicate a recent rise in LGBT youth suicides within the LDS church.)
“I’m doing this," he emphasized, "because solutions require problems—and the way I love is not a problem."
Katy Kelly, who was excommunicated after urging the Church to ordain women, stood in front of a mock tombstone honoring the LGBT Mormons lost to suicide.
“The only thing that is not a moral choice is to sit silently in the pews."
For Steve Hollbrook, leader of the Utah Valley Post-Mormons support group, the mass resignations are important rituals in communities where Mormonism is so closely intertwined with daily life.
“For me, it’s fulfilling just to be there,” he remarked. “There is an instant camaraderie between people who have gone through leaving the church. We all instantly recognize how tough it is and having others who get that is very fulfilling.”
“It’s an identity thing," he continued. "And the more you have invested your identity in the church the harder it is finding yourself outside of it. Because then you are saying, 'I don’t know who I am.' In those shifts it is good to have people around that understand you."
h/t: City Weekly