Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I Resigned My Membership

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” - Martin Luther King

After walking out of my bishops office two-and-a-half years ago - having just told him that I didn't believe in the Church anymore, and needed to be released from the bishopric - I have had an internal debate about whether I should resign my membership.

I'll start with the cons of resigning my membership:


1. My family (mom, dad, siblings) will find out and they will be hurt. 

Living your life in a way that don't upset other people, is not very genuine or authentic to who you are. We all have to strike out at some point and live our own lives; not the life that our parents envisioned for us. If my family has hurt feelings about my decision, that is their issue - not mine. I love my family, but their love of me should not be conditional on whether I retain my membership in a church I don't even believe in, or identify with, anymore.  With time, I think they'll get over it, because they should love me for who I am, not because of what church I do, or don't, belong to.

2. I will lose status in the church.

This is a slightly embarrassing admission, but it's true. I did my time and hard labor and had begun to climb up the Church's social ladder ; I was a High Priest (are you impressed?), had a pretty good Mormon resume, and was on the Mormon leadership track. If I resigned, I would be stripped of all that.

I suspect that the love of status and authority (maybe recognition from family) is what motivates a lot of men to serve in the Church.  I didn't fully realize this until after I had left myself.  Man's quest for power and status is a universal human trait; Mormons are not exempt from this basic (base?) human drive, even though they claim to be "humble servants" of God. Some are humble in their service; but I suspect that most enjoy the adulation that comes from climbing the church's social ladder.


1.  The Church is not what it claims to be.

The Church makes a lot of claims about who they are. I don't believe these claims anymore because of the history and facts about the Church I discovered on my own. Why belong to an organization that is man made and dishonest? Time to move on. Having my name "blotted out" may be cathartic; helping the process of moving on occur. Simply stated: the Church is not who I am anymore. Why identify with it by keeping my name on the roster?  Nuff said.

2. I have ethical objections to what the Church organization represents.

Let me clear something up first: I like Mormons as people.  My beef is not with Mormons as people; it's with the Church, the hierarchical organization; the bureaucracy; the power-structure; the dogma and the doctrine and the made up history.

This is the analogy that kept coming to mind when I considered Church membership: Imagine you were a member of an exclusive Country Club that had exclusionary policies toward women or blacks or gays (or some other policy that you opposed on ethical grounds). Why would I keep my membership in such an organization? Don't I have a responsibility to resign my membership in protest of such policies? Isn't continuing my membership tacit approval of such policies? I think so.

Some would argue that the best way to effect change in the Church is from within.  I disagree.  If nobody resigned their membership, or spoke out, or protested in some way, then what motivation would there be for the Church to change? Very little, since members would still fill up the pews, pay their tithing, and be counted in the membership stats.  Now consider what would happen if everybody like me spoke out and resigned.  I think that would change things faster than anything else because the Church, and the men who lead it, are interested in one thing more than anything else: growth, strength, and survival of the Church.

Nothing threatens the survival of the Church more than walking away from it.


  1. Your recent string of posts has caused me to re-evaluate my current situation. I told my family I was leaving the church 7 years ago but I have not yet sent a resignation letter to have my name "removed from the record". I mentioned having my name removed once to my wife and mother-in-law (both still active) and they really seemed upset at the suggestion.... which was a little surprising to me considering I have not been a practicing member all this time and they seem to have accepted that. I decided not to make an issue out of it after that experience. Truth is, I'd like to make it official for many of the same reasons you mentioned especially the Country Club Analogy. I get tired of explaining to people that I am NOT a Jack Mormon...I was simply born into a mormon family, raised a mormon and have since left the church. I say I'm similar to a non-practicing Jew... I may be mormon by birth and by culture but not by belief or practice.

    "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." Oscar Wilde

  2. People self-identify with the organizations they belong to, and the beliefs they have. If you reject them, they can take it personal. To them, it may feel like we are rejecting them personally. I think this explains negative family reactions to leaving the Church. However, just because you have your name removed does not mean that you are not a "cultural Mormon" in some ways. I will always remain affected, in deep cultural and social ways, by my membership in the Church. Leaving the Church membership does not mean I reject that (I still root for the Cougs). It means that I reject the institution, the fairy-tale doctrine, the historical lies, and the unethical beliefs it stands for.