“This feels awesome. I don’t know if I would have had the courage exept in a group.” Those are the words of Alison Lucas from West Jordan, Utah. She was among a group of 150 Mormons who braved the heat in order to declare their independence from the religion. They gathered in a public park in Salt Lake City on Saturday in order to sign a “Declaration of Independence from Mormonism.” The reasons why they walked away was diverse, but included the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage.
The ceremony is rare given that most of the time Mormons are reluctant to make these kinds of public declarations. The group gathered at the park and then walked the half-mile up nearby Ensign Peak where, in 1847, Brigham Young stood in order to lay out what is today Salt Lake City. There, they shouted “Freedom” three times, cheered, clapped and hugged.
Leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not as simple as walking away, as with the Catholic Church. Members have to submit a formal letter seeking to have their names struck from the rolls. Letters of resignation were given to Zilpha Larsen of Lehi, Utah, who organized the event.
Larsen stated that “It’s been a hard journey and this is a symbolic end. I just hope that it boosts people up and helps them feel more comfortable in their decision.”
The LDS Church claims some 14.4 million members in the United States and across the globe. They have been influential in the continuing oppression of LGBT people world wide, including the raising of monies in order to get California’s Prop 8 passed in 2008. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is running for President, and his Mormon faith has also brought the Church into the news these days.
While the LDS Church views itself as the one “true” Christian faith, Evangelicals view it as a dangerous cult. The only reason why many Evangelicals are willing to dial that rhetoric back is because of their rank hatred for Barack Obama and not any true reconciliation with Mormonism. On the sly, Evangelicals still treat Mormonism like they do Catholicism- an ally that they will oppress as soon as they can. Evangelicals have blasted both Mormonism and Catholicism routinely over the last three decades even as they sought their support for their radial social agenda.
Among the reasons cited by those resigning are the church’s political activism against gay marriage and doctrinal teachings that conflict with scientific findings or are perceived as racist or sexist.
Others cite inconsistencies in the Mormons’ explanation of its own history, including the practice of polygamy. The church renounced plural marriage over a century ago as Utah was seeking statehood.
Asked about the resignations, a church spokesman said the church loves and respects each member.
“People make their own decisions about the direction they will follow in life,” spokesman Michael Purdy said in an email. “While there are very few who take this action, it is sad to see someone choose to leave. We wish them well.”
The most recent figures show the Mormon church claims 14.4 million members worldwide. The number of those resigning from the church are not publicly reported.