A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a friend about some local politics.  She's Mormon, but considers herself a feminist and definitely leans liberal.  We were discussing a proposed bill that would criminalize women for having miscarriages if they engaged in 'reckless' behavior, and the conversation soon turned to sex education (or the complete lack thereof) in Utah.

She often complains about how, as a high school health teacher, she has to navigate the murky waters of the Utah education system, specifically regarding sex ed.  She wants to be able to give her students appropriate and accurate information, but is forbidden from doing so.  "The crazies say that teaching about how to have safe sex just encourages kids to have sex," she says.  "The people that argue against it aren't educated on what is actually taught in schools.  They say they want to talk to their kids themselves, but they don't!  They're embarrassed or don't know anything themselves."

From here our conversation progressed to the Mormon church's often twisted views on sex, not only regarding teenagers but also between married couples.  She told me how bothered she was by a friend's husband who "doesn't believe in birth control."

Then she got kind of quiet, contemplative.  She took a breath and asked, "Did you know that Joseph Smith had twenty-nine wives?"

"Yes," I replied.

"And did you know that eight of them were married to other men?" she asked.


"Four were married to men who were in church leadership."

"I know."

"This really upsets me," she confessed.  "The whole principle of polygamy is based on getting to the highest level of heaven.  Those four women could have gotten there without Joseph."

I took a deep breath.  My mind was going about a million miles a minute.  Yes! She's finally waking up! I thought.  She's finally realizing the church has been lying about its own history!  It's only a matter of time before she realizes it's complete bullshit!  I racked my brain for information I could use to help her see the truth.  I mentally organized quotes from church leaders, articles citing DNA evidence, the publication dates of the various accounts of the First Vision.  I had always thought that she was far too logical and analytical to continue swallowing everything the church was feeding her without questioning it.  By the same reasoning, she would not simply accept anything I told her if I didn't have the sources to back it up.

At the same time I was trying to keep myself in check.  I knew that if I were to start barraging her with information that disproved the church's claims she would do what she had been trained to do since Primary - retreat as quickly as she could, and turn to her "testimony" to help quiet any nagging doubts.  I had to let her come to me, to ask me questions, to decide for herself that she was ready for the answers.  So I picked my next words carefully.

"Well," I began, "I guess it all comes down to whether or not you believe that it actually is a principle to get to heaven or if Joseph Smith was just acting on his own desires."

"The more I learn about the early Mormons the more ashamed I am," she blurted out.

I nodded.  I understood exactly what she meant.  "Personally, I find Joseph's sexcapades one of the least troubling things about Mormon history."

"The teaching of blood atonment, and confessing your sins in front of everyone?  That's not okay," she said.  "I was always taught that polygamy was because there were a lot of single women that needed a man.  But that's not true.  There were three times more single men that women in Utah.  I also have a huge problem with the lower status of women.  HUGE."

At this point I couldn't resist anymore.  "What it really came down to for me was that I realized the church was asking its members to approach it completely backwards.  In the real world, it would be 'is the church true?' and then you read the scriptures and study the doctrine and figure it out.  But in Mormondom, the church tells you, 'The Church Is True! And anything that contradicts that or disproves that is the devil.'  Their logic is that because the church is true, only the church's version of history is true. Because the church's version of history supports its truthiness, then that must mean that it's true."

I was so excited to finally be having this conversation with my friend.  She knew that I was no longer attending church, but we both had politely ignored the topic with each other to avoid getting in any kind of argument.  She is not the type of in-your-face Mormon that is difficult to be around, and she never felt threatened by my apostate status.  We both strongly believe in "live and let live."  So I was thrilled that she was examining the church on her own, and that she had felt comfortable enough to discuss it with me.

In my fantasy world, I imagined that my friend and I would continue this conversation over the next few days or weeks, and that I would be able to help her step out of her world of Mormonism and into the light.  Reality, however, did not match up.  I suggested that she take some time to do a little thinking and research, and that I would do the same, and that we get together for dinner the next day, both better prepared for the conversation.  She initially agreed, but ended up cancelling our plans last minute.  We rescheduled, and she cancelled again.  A few times I have tried to subtly bring up Mormonism in conversation so we could segue into it, but she knew what I was doing and refused to take the bait.

Part of me wants to grab her by the neck and shake her, remind her that she was harboring serious doubts only a few weeks ago and that it's not healthy for her to just suppress those without really examining them.  But part of me knows that leaving Mormonism is a personal journey, and one my friend will have to take almost entirely on her own.  I hope that eventually she won't be willing to ignore those first pangs of doubt anymore.  I hope she will be anxious to talk again, and that she knows that I'll be here to listen to her.

But until then I just have to wait.


And not push her.

Even though I really want to.



My Exit Letter

Member Records
50 E North Temple, Room 1372
SLC UT 84150-5310

Dear New Friend / LDS Church Employee,

Congratulations! You are the first one at church headquarters to find out that I'm officially resigning from the Mormon church.

Innit that special? Now, I understand if you feel the need to stop reading right now and gloat to your coworkers. I know the urge to jump up on the desk and do a happy dance is overwhelming. Don't hold back on my account. That guy over there, to your left? The one in the ugly tie? I wouldn't blame you one bit if you were to go rub his face in the fact that YOU were the one that got my resignation letter, and not HIM. Go ahead, do it. Literally rub this letter in his face. He deserves it.

I know what you're thinking. "It's like she's inside my head!" And the fact of the matter is, I bet you are pretty happy to be reading this letter. My assumption is that you are one of the church employees who processes a fair chunk of the resignation letters that come in. I also assume (having read several other people's letters myself) that most of them are either very dry and boring, or very angry. But aren't you the lucky one, because my letter is neither dry, nor boring, nor angry!

Slightly sarcastic, maybe.

But only just.

You see, when I first drafted my resignation letter from the Mormon church, I did it much the same way as many of my friends and acquaintances had done. I received advice from several sources that the church was able to process resignations more quickly and efficiently if the letter was formal, straightforward, and professional. So in my first draft I was very formal, straightforward, and professional. "To Whom It May Concern," it began. "I am writing to notify you of my resignation of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," it said. "I request that I not be contacted in any way, except as confirmation that my request has been fulfilled," it ended. After all, the LDS church is essentially a business, and so a business letter would be appropriate.

But then I got to thinking.

For 25 years, the Mormon church tried to get me to be a sheep. They weren't even subtle about it. They actually used the word “sheep.” I was told in countless lessons from Primary through Relief Society that I was a sheep, and that I had to follow the shepherd just like everyone else. "Conform!" they said. "Bah!" I replied. "Do everything we say, even when it's morally reprehensible!" they commanded. "Ba-wait, what?" I replied. "DO IT! OBEY! OBEY OR GO TO HELL!" they shouted. "Beh," I half-heartedly muttered.

Now that I'm rid of LDSism, why should I continue to do things the way the church expects me to? Writing this letter is my final act as a 'member' of your church - why not go out with a "bang!" instead of a "bah"? Why not write a letter that is uniquely and unquestionably me?

I know some people who, even though they have left the church themselves and despise its commandments to conform, would frown upon this. This is because some of them, after sending a letter announcing their own resignation, received notice from the church that they were subject to one of your "love courts" (which sounds like a great name for an 80s prime-time sitcom, if you ask me) or even excommunication. A church to which they didn't even belong was threatening them with disciplinary action. To which I say, what the fuck?

What? The? Fuck?

Now, look. I thought we were friends. You wouldn't try to pull something like that on me, now would you? Because after all, you and I both know that simply by your receipt of this letter I am no longer a member of your church. I know the church hates to relinquish power more than anything. But don't be absurd. I don't have to answer to any of your priesthood leaders for my actions. The church has absolutely no jurisdiction over me. So don't try to Bogart my decision. It makes you sound like a kid in junior high who just got dumped. "No, dude, she didn't break up with me. I broke up with her, right after she told me she wanted to break up!"


I totally broke up with you, and we both know it.

And I know the church well enough to know that even if it is willing to admit that, it will still try to place blame for our falling-out on me. "Yeah, she resigned her membership, but it's because she (select answer from list below)...
  • is too proud.
  • is too stubborn.
  • just really loves sinning.
  • was influenced by Satan.
  • was too easily offended by something somebody in Relief Society said about her.
  • thinks she's some kind of intellectual.
  • all of the above."

 The church would never, EVER find fault with itself. After all, the church is perfect. The church is true. The church is unchanging and unrelenting. Isn't that what you keep telling yourself, every time something happens that the church's doctrine/PR team can't explain? "Well, I don't understand the meaning behind this, but the church is true so it must be for my own good."

Do you not see the fallacy behind that line of reasoning? Now, seriously. Don't get your garments in a twist. I'm asking you as a friend.

We are friends, aren't we?


Now, friend, let me ask you something. Let's pretend that you're that kid in junior high again, only this time you're really really good at science class. You're a science nerd. Which is probably why I dumped you. Anywho, you're sitting in science class and the teacher asks if anyone can tell her the steps of the scientific method. Your nerdy little hand shoots up in the air and you recite, "Ask a question. Research the question. Form a hypothesis. Test your hypothesis. Analyse the results. If the hypothesis doesn't answer the question, start over." Well done! The teacher then gives you a silver star (it would have been gold if you had waited for her to call on you before blurting out your answer).

Now let's compare that with what the LDS church tells people to do.

In the logical world, the first step is the ask a question. In the Mormon world, the first step is to give you the answer. That is what we like to call "backward." Here, I've made a little chart for you to help you understand. I thought that as a science nerd, you'd like a good chart.

Admit it, you liked my chart.

You're thinking about cutting it out and taping it to your wall.

"See this?" you'll say to passersby, pointing to the chart. "This is why all those ex-mormons are wrong. They all think they're scientists!" The passersby will laugh as you take a sip of your caffeine-free Diet Coke, reveling in the attention. "Don't they know the difference between science and faith? God is the greatest scientist of all! Guffaw!"

See, bud, you're missing the point. Yes, it's called the "scientific method." But that doesn't mean that this is a science vs faith debate. I have no problem with faith. What I have a problem with is the LDS church's utter refusal to let its members figure out for themselves whether or not that faith is worth having. What I have a problem with is the church's emotional abuse of members who have the audacity to question anything they're told, and not just blindly accept the teachings of church leaders. What I have a problem with is the church saying that anyone who doesn't have a firm testimony in all of its bullshit must be doing something wrong.

So look, it's been fun and all. We had a good run. I'll never forget all the times the church bought me hot chocolate and donuts at Mutual activities. That was awesome. But the fact of the matter is, I've moved on. I've outgrown the church. I'm a lot happier without it, and I suspect that it's breathing a sigh of relief that I'm finally gone.

Best of luck to you, new friend / LDS church employee. I wish you nothing but happiness.

Now wasn’t this the best resignation letter you’ve ever read? Please feel free to share it with anyone who you think would enjoy it as much as you did. Just keep an out eye for that guy with the ugly tie. He's coveting your chart.

Also your wife.



p.s. Just to be sure we're clear, I am officially resigning my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints effective immediately. I request no contact from this point forward, except to acknowledge that my request has been processed and my name removed from church records. I expect this acknowledgement within 30 days of receipt of this letter. Cheers!