What Can This Ex-Mormon Do? February 1, 2011

What Can This Ex-Mormon Do?

Reader Laura and her husband have not attended a Mormon church for years now. After doing quite a bit of research, they finally got around to sending an official “letter of resignation” to the church on behalf of themselves and their son.

Dear Sir or Madam,

This letter is to inform you that as of January 1, 2011, I and my family have terminated our membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Please remove the following names from the records of the LDS Church immediately — as dictated in the General Handbook of Instructions.

Over the years, I have had strong objections to the doctrine and teachings of the LDS church, as has my husband. Both of us have been inactive since 2003, and in recent years, our distaste for their doctrinal teachings and history has combined with our disgust for the bigotry, sexism, and homophobia displayed by the LDS church to create a situation where it is untenable for us to remain associated with this cult pretending to be a religion.

My husband and I both understand the following statements and have come to this decision with clear eyes and a steady mind:

  • We are aware that the withdrawal of our names cancels the effects of baptism.
  • We are aware [the husband] will no longer have the priesthood.
  • We are aware this action suspends/ annuls any temple sealings or blessings we may have.

We do understand these things, and make this formal, written request that our names be removed from the records of the church immediately. We ask that you promptly complete the form, “Request for Administrative Action,” and forward it to the Office of the First Presidency.

  • Neither of us will participate in church court or disciplinary councils, as we have done nothing wrong. We are exercising our freedom of religion and from religion, and we are requesting the administrative procedure for membership removal.
  • We do not wish to be contacted by anyone from the LDS church, except by mail confirming that our names have been removed from the records. This includes home teachers, visiting teachers and church leadership trying to visit or call by phone. This also includes the postcards sent from the local relief society and primary.
  • We formally object to the LDS church sending invitations to our minor son and want you to stop.
  • Our decision is not based on personality conflicts with other members, nor is it a result of immorality or other action deemed fit for church courts. We disagree with the teachings, social and political agenda, and history of the LDS church, and we no longer want to be affiliated with this organization. The use of your organization as a PAC (political action council) is disgusting and is a blatant violation of the law of the land.

We have given this matter considerable thought. We understand you believe our actions to have serious consequences, and we are honestly okay with that. We also understand that we will be “re-admitted to the church by baptism only after a thorough interview,” as per the Church Handbook. Since we do not plan on applying to be members of the LDS church ever again, that is also not an issue for us.

Our resignations should be processed immediately, with no waiting periods or other delaying tactics. We are not going to be dissuaded, nor will we change our minds. We expect this matter to be handled promptly, with respect and full confidentiality. Full confidentiality means our privacy will be respected and the church will not force a family confrontation at this time by notifying our parents/siblings/in-laws or other relations of our decision to go from being inactive to no longer recorded members.

Please notify us in writing that our membership has been cancelled within 15 business days of receipt of this certified letter. Thank you for your time.

Believe it or not, they got a letter back! (Addressed solely to the husband, of course, because why would the woman be in charge of all this?)

Dear Brother and Sister _______:

I have been asked to acknowledge your recent letter in which you request that your names be removed from the membership records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I have also been asked to inform you that the Church considers such a request to be an ecclesiastical matter that must be handled by local priesthood leaders before being processed by Church employees. Therefore, your letter and a copy of this reply are being sent to President Norman E. Hansen of the Centralia Washington Stake. He will have Bishop Bruce L. Hansen of the Centralia Ward contact you concerning the fulfillment of your request.

In view of the eternal consequences of such an action, the Brethren urge you to reconsider your request and to prayerfully consider the enclosed statement of the First Presidency.


Gregory W. Dodge
Manager, Member and Statistical Records”

So instead of dealing with the issue themselves, they’re handing the responsibility off to the local church — one Laura’s family has never even visited.

It’s particularly frustrating because Laura expressed in the letter that they no longer wanted contact with the church (other than a written notice they’d been removed from their records).

Laura would like to know if there’s anything else she can do to speed up this process. The church is already sending her “never-active, never-baptized son… ‘fun’ invitations [for] Primary.” She wants to take action now.

Got any advice for her?

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  • I’m afraid that your only recourse may be to “discover” some new tablets, don some special glasses, compose them in the “Book of Laura”, and offer this as the fourth installment in biblical scripture.

    1. Old Testament (Hebrew bible)
    2. New Testament
    3. Book of Mormon
    4. Book of Laura

    The Mormon officials might then consider you an apostate and voluntarily remove you from the membership list.

    Seriously, I don’t understand why they won’t drop you from the list. They can always add you back on later on after you die.

  • Thadd Evans

    I went through something similar a few years ago. It ended rather simply. I sent a letter to the head of the local LDS church stating my wish to have my membership in the church removed. A couple weeks later, I received a letter telling me that after some consideration, that they had decided to “grant my request” and that my name would be stricken from their records.
    I haven’t heard a word from them since.

  • The reply refers to “an ecclesiastical matter”, which immediately brought on a Father Ted flashback. 8) But seriously: the LDS has a “General Handbook of Instructions”? I have to ask how such an entity can be based in the USA.

  • Just wait it out is my advice. They got a response and while it was a pass-the-buck response, they did at least say it was going to whomever it will go to for the “fulfillment” of *their* request.. sure they were told to reconsider in the mean time but churches are like governments and typically there are only certain people who can do certain things and there is a lot of red tape.

    All in all if it were *me* I’d just turn my back and never look back. It wouldn’t matter much to me if my name was on a list somewhere, so if getting the name removed from the church is a stressful process, I’d probably just not bother. I would know what I was and everyone around me would know what I was.. I wouldn’t much care what a random church thought.

    But I understand wanting to remove themselves officially from the LDS records.. but the only advice surrounding that to be given is “wait and see” when it comes to whomever the case has been turned over to.

  • maybe they should re-send the letter, with a copy of the response and a brief note reiterating their objections, especially the contacts trying to recruit their son. they should CC it to any known official they can think of. Also return any mail from the church. Good for you Laura!!

  • June

    Contact an attorney to see what legal avenues are available in Laura’s state. She may be able to stop the harassment of her son by a simple cease and desist letter from an attorney. The next step would be a protective order against the church (especially since her son is a minor). As a paralegal Atheist I would LOVE to see this come to court… but I’m confident just the threat of legal action against the Mormon church will have them quickly fulfilling the wishes of Laura’s family. A quick letter from an attorney should bring the matter to a close.

    On another note… if she really wants to make waves she should look into getting a female attorney.

  • Cortex

    I have no experience in this area, but I expect that it’d be more efficient to be kicked out than to ask to leave. Do the LDS have any excommunicable offenses?

  • Jackie

    This really concerns me. We sent a letter over 10 years ago asking to be removed for (most of) the same reasons. Never heard back so I assumed we had been removed. I will definitely be checking to make sure we are no longer registered! No wonder the church has so many “members” It’s all a numbers game. This cult is one of the worse. I wish more people would learn about this “church” and it’s history. They would be leaving in droves!
    Sickening 🙁

  • I’m going to agree with having a cease and desist sent over contacting your son. He is a minor which means they are crossing a line by contacting him against your will.

    Not sure what else can be done unless you are contacted by the local church. At that point you may have more options.

  • I have no advice for how to handle this, but I will ask if I can use this as the base of a similar letter I wish to sent to the catholic church. I have previously filled out a generic form (original purpose of requesting information, I believe) with the Diocese of Buffalo to remove my name from their records, but have heard nothing from them.

    I like the specifics noted in this letter noting the parochial implications.

  • Anonymous

    Some further guidance may possibly be found here:
    (More resource pages at right side-bar)

    and specifically, here:

  • eszett

    Don’t you have any anti-spam legislation in the US? Just treat all their mails as spam and sue them if they keep sending unsolicited mail, especially after you requested to be removed from their “mailing list”

  • JimG

    Meh. I wouldn’t get hot about it – yet. So far it doesn’t sound like active resistance, just the grinding of any bureaucracy. Even the letters to their son may just keep coming because instructions haven’t worked their way back to whoever’s in charge of the Mormon Autospam Department.

    I’d give it a couple of months. If no action is forthcoming by then, however, I agree that the next step should be a letter copied to the original recipient, the local church they handed it off to, and the original recipient’s boss. If that produces no results, a little local publicity might spur them along.

  • demetriusofpharos

    Actually, that response is part of the procedure. Several friends recently did it (sent the letter) and I have a few friends who are former missionaries and know the procedure (and a bunch of secret handshakes and rituals) by heart. As I recall, the next step is to send the letter to your local bishop (even if you haven’t gone to that church, don’t ask me why).

    @Brian – yes, there is an official set of instructions. No, I haven’t seen it, I’m taking the word of my friends on this one.

    @Erin – according to my ex-missionary friends, it won’t help to resend it to the same leaders.

    @Cortex – I had the same thought and made the joke for a while in my atheist group that my goal was to be excommunicated, then frame the letter and any other documents. According to a couple returned missionaries, the only things that can actually get you ex-communicated anymore are sexual assault against a minor and stealing money from the church (accounting fraud). I’m not about to do either of those things, but I really want to test their limits and see what they will tolerate.

    @Jackie – you probably weren’t removed. Don’t take their word for it either, check the records office yourself (as I recall, the public does have access, but it may be a “member in good standing” thing).

    Here are a few websites:
    You can use the last one to get in touch with someone from the group I’m in who would remember the specifics of getting your name removed better than I do. If you are in the Salt Lake area, there are a couple atheist groups to hang out with as well.

  • Joan

    “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Wow. Laura, I’m sorry about your frustrations with this organization. Sounds like a nightmare. I’m glad I never had any opportunity to get involved with this religion. While I have no experience, I tend to agree with June that a letter from an attorney might get them to change their tune and comply with your request.

    Good luck!

  • @Cortex: “Do the LDS have any excommunicable offenses?”

    There may be something to that… There are a few offenses that seem pretty easy to carry out that would qualify. Just start a blog and have each member of the family “openly criticizing LDS leaders” and teach a few false doctrines while your at it. Apostasy is also listed as an excommunicatable offense, so if you add that to the list they should want to get rid of you as quickly as possible. One of the things you can’t do if you are excommunicated is pay tithes…just so you know, in case you wanted to still do that for some reason.

    I’m not usually in favor of picketing churches, but if they won’t let you leave and won’t stop sending stuff to your son… what about getting a group of people to stand just off church property as people are leaving and handing out your own ex-Mormon literature and holding signs saying “Let my family GO!” As long as you are off their property they can’t do a whole lot.

  • Andrew

    I agree with June the Paralegal. More often than not a letter with a lawyer’s letterhead will cure what ails you. I would find a lawyer who will draft a simple letter explaining that the church has no choice in this matter and if they don’t remove your names immediately and stop contacting your minor, you and your lawyer will being looking into legal options, which you hope will not be necessary.

    Law Schools often have law clinics that can draft the letter for you for free.

  • Tom

    I’ve been through this with my wife, and the form letter the Church records department sends back is standard fare. Nothing to worry about and certainly nothing you need a lawyer about.

    It’s been a few years for me, but they’ll forward the request on to the local bishop for follow up with you. I think they use this as a last ditch effort for them to contact you, but you DO NOT have to meet with him for a sit-down visit. They will need to contact you somehow (to confirm you REALLY want to do this), so putting a phone number or something for them to easily contact you without having to show up at your door can make the process go smoother.

    I have also heard of local leaders not bothering to contact people and just rubber-stamping things, but I think that’s pretty uncommon.

    Sometimes you will run into a grumpy local bishop or stake president who will drag their feet. Be courteous, but firm in your stance.

    You don’t have to explain yourself in the slightest, just tell them that you want your names removed from the record of the church. Read the exmormon.org website for the proper terms, as they may have changed in the last decade since I last went.

    The bishop we had was prompt, but I’d also been close to him when I left the church and was amiable but firm that I was never coming back. He rubber stamped it and the stake president held onto it for a few days until we called and told them to get moving on it.

    After that you’ll have to wait a while for the final letter to come back from headquarters, but once you get that it will be final. None of our kids were baptized so it was just my wife and I we had to put on there. Anyone over 8 and baptized will have to be included on the letter if I remember correctly.

    Good Luck!

  • Anonymous

    holding signs saying “Let my family GO!”

    Oh, that would be delicious!

  • @eszett: “Don’t you have any anti-spam legislation in the US?”

    Religious proselytizing is protected speech, and not commercial speech. They can come knock on your door even if you have a big flashing neon non-soliciting sign out front. Cities can make people selling stuff door to door register, but they can’t impose any restrictions on religious groups going door to door.

  • David H

    Forgive my ignorance here, but what’s the need for official recognition and removal from the rolls? Couldn’t they just send a registered letter, and then have proof they gave them notice, and be done?

    It just seems like they are giving they “church” too much power by requiring the official recognition of their removal from the rolls. So what if they LDS still thinks they are members? They’re wrong about so many other things, they can be wrong about that too.

  • pentium4borg

    If Laura is getting ads from the church (addressed to any of herself, her husband, or her kid), she should fill out a USPS Form 1500 (google for it). Mail that to the New York address in the form (include one of the ads you got), and the USPS will issue a Prohibitory Order. 30 days after that’s issued, it’s a crime (similar to violating a court order) for the church to send you any more mail.

  • Anon

    @ Cat’s Staff: A “no soliciting” sign might not be able to stop them, but a “no trespassing” sign should do the trick, especially if you file a police complaint to enforce it. Your property, your choice as to who can darken your door.

    Or, just answer the door with a gun strapped on your hip when the prostletyzers come by. As long as you aren’t out in public and on your own property, carrying shouldn’t be a problem. It worked for me, they never came back!

  • That’s how the LDS church handles these requests: by the ward (basically, an individual congregation) in which you currently live.

    When I resigned from the LDS Church, I actually found this a bit of a relief: I didn’t have to deal with people who might be personally hurt that I was leaving.

    I sent a copy of a similar letter to that above to the local ward, and CC’ed a copy to “Member Records” at the church’s HQ.

    A few weeks later, I got the ward newsletter — for a ward at which I had NEVER attended church. So I sent a follow-up much-less-polite letter (to both locations) stating that further refusal to comply with my my request that no further contact is allowed save for confirmation of name removal may be met with legal action (which is within your rights).

    A few weeks later, I received the confirmation.

    Some of you are asking if this is really necessary. It is. The LDS church is notorious for hanging on to every member as tightly as they can. Even if you don’t show up to church, they want to keep you “on the books” to inflate their numbers.

    It’s not at all unknown for them to “never receive the request” or have some clerical minutiae that allows them to ignore it. And it give us exmormons peace of mind to know that we’re not counted among the flock.

  • I’m currently in the middle of reading “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer. Between this, seeing and reading about the increasing “woo-ification” of America (in particular) and the western world (in general), the blatent anti-intellectualism and anti-progressive stances of so many politicians and other people…

    It makes my stomach churn. Ugh.

  • Contact Deborah Laake. Her book, “Secret Ceremonies” got her and anyone near her kicked out for all eternity. I think she may have also been banned from Utah. 🙂

    David H, you can’t stop the mor(m)on harassment if you continue to be on their rolls.

  • Jennifer K.

    About 10 years ago, my husband left the Mormon church, and he sent almost the same letter (he got the template off a website, it could be the same letter) to Members records, I believe. He didn’t have to contact the local ward.

    He got confirmation shortly thereafter, and his family was never notified (which he got confirmation of a few years later when he finally mentioned it and his dad went ballistic…)

    Possibly things have changed? I hope Laura is able to get this resolved.

  • Not Brother Dodge

    Ahh, the mysterious Gregory W. Dodge. Can I call you Brother Dodge? It is good to hear from you again. I missed you since you last wrote. Well, not really.

    For those of you who don’t know, Brother Dodge has been replying to these letters for decades now. He is almost definitely as real as the Angel Moroni. Perhaps one day they will put a statue of Brother Dodge on top of Ex-Mormon Temples to represent him leading Mormons out of The Church and into the light.

    In the Name of Brother Dodge, Amen.

  • P. Coyle

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Mormon, so all that I know about resigning from the church is what I have read on the web. There is a site, http://www.exmormon.org, that has a good page devoted to resignations. It indicates that the treatment that Laura and her husband have received is standard operating procedure for the church:

    FIRST: If you mailed your letter to Member Records in Salt Lake, and if you mailed it Priority Mail with delivery confirmation, they will probably send you a form letter telling you that ‘this is a local ecclesiastical matter that needs to be handled by local priesthood leaders’. They will tell you they have forwarded your resignation letter to the local Stake President or Bishop or Branch President. With their letter to you, Member Records will probably include a one-page pamphlet called ‘An Invitation’ – which is a form letter from the ‘First Presidency’. Sometimes that ‘Invitation’ is upsetting to people, sometimes people just laugh it off as ridiculous. The letter is an attempt to get you to change your mind about leaving the church. SAVE the letter from Member Records. It is evidence that they received your resignation. You can keep the ‘Invitation’ or you can throw it away.

    The site goes on to advise,

    Keep copies of both of the items they sent you. You can make photocopies of them and send the copies back to Member Records, if you want. Send them back to member records with a note restating your resignation. As an example:

    “As you know, I stopped being a member of your church on the day you received my letter. It is clear that someone in your office thinks I don’t know what my rights are.

    I do NOT have to contact anyone else regarding my resignation. As a non-member I am no longer subject to your rules and regulations or policies. I DO have a right to get a letter of confirmation from you that states that my name has been removed from the membership rosters of the church.

    Please stop wasting time and effort and handle my resignation appropriately. If you don’t handle this appropriately, I may involve a lawyer or the press.”

    But perhaps even if you do,

    SECOND: The local bishop or branch president will probably contact you within a few weeks. In most cases nowadays this is just a letter that tells you he has received your letter of resignation, that he has filled out the proper forms and that he is sending it all to the Stake President. In the letter he will probably tell you that you now have 30 days to change your mind.

    POSSIBLE, BUT NOT TOO LIKELY: The bishop or branch president might call you or drop by your house unannounced, even if your letter states clearly that you don’t want any visits or phone calls. They might say they have to ‘meet’ with you or ‘interview’ you. They might have someone else drop by, maybe the ‘visiting teachers’ or the ‘home teachers’. This doesn’t happen often nowadays, but sometimes it does happen. You should prepare yourself for any such visits or calls and be prepared to respond to them the way YOU want. You don’t have to invite them in, you definitely don’t have to go to any ‘interviews’ or ‘meetings’ and you don’t even have to be polite. The bishop or branch president has a copy of your letter, he has supposedly read it, so he knows you’ve asked for no contact.

    NEXT: The Stake President will probably sit on your letter for 30 days, then he will send all of the paperwork in to Member Records. Two to three weeks later you will get a letter of confirmation (it’s another form letter; two short sentences) from Member Records. Member Records is apparently quite busy with all the resignations they are receiving, so try to be patient and just go on with your life. If too much time seems to have passed, at any point in this process, give them a call or send them a fax. Call or fax them as often as you like. The phone number for Member Records is 1-800-453-3860 ext 22053.

  • Karl

    My solution was to do nothing. I quit the Mormon church — as far as I’m concerned anyway — nearly 20 years ago. I just quit attending. Officially, and as far as they’re concerned, I’m what they call “inactive”. They still think that I’m a member. But I’ve always thought that having to go through the process of having my name removed from their records would be playing by their rules, submitting to their authority — and why should I have to do that?

    It bothers me just a bit that I am still one of the claimed XX million members, and they always did care more about numbers than in people (a big reason I left), but I don’t care enough to want to play their game.

    I get the occasional newsletter from the local ward/congregation, and a welcome visit every time I move to a new address (they’re very good at tracking you down), but I just politely tell them to go away.

    If I had minor children I would definitely follow June’s “cease and desist” suggestion.

    As to excommunication-worthy offenses, why bother? They would still be going after your kid because he, after all, can still be saved.

    I know how the procedure works; I used to have the “calling” as membership clerk in my ward. As yes, there is indeed a General Handbook of Instructions, but only bishops (lay head of the local congregation) and higher can see it.

    As to excommunication, the sins include such things as murder or adultery, and less noxious things such as joining another church or “speaking evil of the Lord’s Annointed” i.e. public criticism of church leaders — they’re pretty thin-skinned.

  • I’ve been through this. I received the same letter from the church after I asked to be taken off the records.
    I sent my first letter in January of 2010, received their letter in February.
    In April 2010 I wrote another letter, reminding them that the moment they received my letter, I was no longer a member and that I know my rights. In May of 2010 I received a letter releasing me from the church.
    No one ever came by my house, no one ever called, no one has mailed anything… It took them long enough, but I finally had closure.
    Good luck! I hope no one visits, and if they do, I hope you have a shotgun. 😉

  • Margy

    Judith Bandsma said:

    Contact Deborah Laake. Her book, “Secret Ceremonies” got her and anyone near her kicked out for all eternity. I think she may have also been banned from Utah.

    Unfortunately, Deborah Laake died in 2000. However, her book is still available on Amazon.

  • Cunningham!

    I sent in my resignation letter in October and I got that exact same letter, except the names of course. The Sunday after I got it the local bishop came to my door, I told him I wasn’t going to change my mind, he said “Ok, we won’t bother you anymore” and they haven’t. My brother had the same experience . Let the guy come to your door. It’ll be fine.

  • Demonhype

    @Karl and David H:

    The reason people want to be officially removed from the rolls is that the church uses these inflated and inaccurate rolls as a political bludgeon to get politicians to do as they are told. If they still have your name on the rolls, they can use those names to pad their numbers and convince politicians that they are more influential than they are, and they will get their way in a lot of important issues, many of which involve important civil rights. The Catholic church does this too, and they are really trying to dig in their feet to avoid losing that “proof” of their purportedly enormous voting bloc. This practice has been incredibly useful to the whole promotion of political religious privilege, and they are loathe to lose it.

    In short, it’s not “you playing by their rules”. It’s about not letting them continue to use your name to further their religious agendas against this country and all it stands for. It’s about depriving these dishonest and evil people of a rather influential tool they’ve been known to use to curtail democracy and strip the civil liberties from those of whom God does not approve, in their eyes.

  • NewEnglandBob

    advice? sure. Ignore the church. They are irrelevant and toothless. If they contact you, read them the riot act. Tell them they are full of nonsense, bullshit and evil. Tell them to no longer contact you or you will press charges and sue.

  • Nicoline

    I’m not familiar with Mormon administrative procedures, so I can’t speak to that. However, some years ago, my son attended a few youth group meetings at a local baptist church with a girl he was interested in. It took us a threat of filing harassment charges to get them to stop sending him postcard and letters and the like.

  • Jon

    This is perfectly standard for the LDS church. I suspect that this is just their way of verifying that the resigning member is actually the one who sent in the removal request.

    When I resigned a few years ago, it got passed to my local bishop in exactly this manner, and he essentially just stopped by to confirm that I really did send it in. I said that I did, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and then he left and that was that. Never another contact.

    Otherwise, it would be way too easy to just send in letters on behalf of my friends, family, and neighbors demanding to be resigned. (Which is tempting, now that I think about it… )

  • Mastema

    I officially left the church 8 years ago (hadn’t attended any meetings for 6 years leading up to sending in the letter). The same thing happened to me. They sent the letter to the local stake president, who I never met as I moved out of Utah a month after I turned 18. He sat on the letter for a month or two, then he processed my removal and sent me a letter to let me know. No attempt was made to contact me in person. Also, since leaving the LDS church, I have never been visited by Mormon missionaries, even though I frequently see them in the neighborhood.

    Laura shouldn’t have anything to worry about, but pay attention to the information P. Coyle posted above just in case. Know your rights. If they refuse to process your removal or try to bring you in, sue them.

    I am still friends with one person I knew growing up (the only one who also realized that the church is full of shit), and he wants to leave the church. However, he still lives in Utah and is surrounded by family members who are all members of the church, and he feels that he can’t because he would not want someone to contact his grandparents. He plans on sending in a letter after they die.

  • shen

    I found that after the first letter, walking into the local church holding the response and saying something along the lines of “Someone find me the fucking bishop i want my god damned name off your books right the hell now you lying bastards!” worked fairly effectively. YMMV.

  • Dan

    Wait, why write the letter at all?

    Can’t they just leave? Don’t millions walk out of their jobs without writing a resignation letter?

    Just leave! Walk out! Who cares what the Church has to do after you’re gone. Unless I’m missing something…

    EDIT: I read above that you need to have your name removed from the rolls officially so the Church doesn’t have as much power. But what stops the Church from leaving your name on regardless of a written resignation or not? If the family leaves the Church, they’ll never know if their names are still on the rolls or not.

  • JSug

    @Dan: I was thinking the same thing. It’s not like there’s some regulatory body telling them who they can and can not claim as members. How are you going to know if they actually take you off the list? This seems like more of a peace of mind gesture.

  • maddogdelta

    I smell lawsuit!

  • mang_o

    Here’s a link to a good (short) series of blog posts by someone who went through the same thing, got the same letter, but eventually it went through.


  • I say pre-emptive strike. Do not wait to be contacted by “Bishop Bruce L. Hansen of the Centralia Ward.” Contact Mr. Hansen directly. Send him copies of both the initial letter and the reply. Inform him that neither he, nor any other member of the LDS church is welcome in your home, and insist that he process the removal papers immediately.

  • I wonder if these resignation letters ought to include a stipulation that they are not to re-baptize you into the church after you’re dead…

  • ff42

    Of course ex-mormons are going to be drawn to this topic, but it sure seems like the most religious to atheist deconversions come from the LDS sect.

  • Bob Carlson

    They can always add you back on later on after you die.

    In fact, the adding of dead people to the church extends to the ancestors of Church members. That is the basis of the Mormon interest in the field of genealogy, and were in not for this silly practice of baptizing dead ancestors into the Mormon Church, I have to wonder whether commercial genealogical companies like Ancestry.com would even exist.

  • Shae

    I resigned from the mormon church in May of 2006. The letter I sent was that same form letter (but changed a little bit to fit me). I had it notarized and sent it as certified mail. I didn’t receive a reply for 4 months, but it was the standard “You are no longer a member” letter. I was very afraid that they would contact extended family (everyone on one side of my family is HEAVILY involved in the church and two of my uncles were bishops at the time), but they never did. They also never sent missionaries or letters from local wards.

    I think sending a notarized letter for each person would make it more official and more stern, and you can basically say that no, you do not agree with their terms. You asked to be removed and you would like the removal to take place ASAP or you will be looking into other legal avenues.

  • Neruda

    This has been very entertaining and instructive. I had no idea people felt so strongly about this. As a raised/baptised/confirmed Catholic-now-atheist, I couldn’t care less that they still consider me among their number. I still get requests for money from my Catholic high school, and the garbage can is between the mailbox and my door. Granted, they are not trying to contact my kids, but those materials would end up in the same place. The most energy I have expended on the church in a decade has been typing this note.

    Apparently the mormons are a little more uppity about it?

    As far as using inflated numbers for political gain, I guess I understand that argument… but I put it in the same category as crowd estimates at a march, or anything on Fox “News”… all so much hoohah. Do people really give it credence?

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to send a letter off to the north pole, asking for removal of my name from the called the “naughty list.”

  • Chameleon

    I’m a personal friend of John & Laura’s and I applaud them for this action and hope they get the closure they desire.

    I’m also a Christian and I firmly agree that we all have the God-given right to choose to believe whatever we want, including Atheism.

    The wording I used may irk some of you and I’m sorry if it does, but I do support you all in your right to believe or not believe whatever you desire. Please also grant me and those like me the same respect.

  • Erik T

    A very nice letter they sent, although the phrase “cult pretending to be a religion” is a bit redundant.

  • mike

    Respond in kind.

    They send you spam. Send them spam. Write a newsletter of your favourite recent “sins” especially those worthy of excommunication and how much you enjoy them. Send it to as many of them as you can, have some fun with it. Not everyone can do this but if you could, why not.

  • Trailtwister

    Excellent letter and fascinating topic.

    I’d love to hear from Laura, but it sounds like she and her family are ‘voting with their feet’.

    Religion’s interference in government, science, equality, education and morality is America’s gravest threat.

    Official resignation, with clearly stated points of disagreement, is possibly the most visible and vocal protest to policy-makers that an individual can make.

  • Alice

    If you’re worried about your son falling for the religion you just got out of, you should talk to him about it instead of trying to hide him from it. They should not be sending him advertisements in the first place but they are, don’t help them by setting the church up as forbidden fruit.

  • anon

    @ eszett: Forward spam to spam@uce.gov. It goes to the FTC. Don’t know if they can (or will) do anything, but it’s worth a shot.

  • Gwenny

    They could always commit some act so egregious that the Church excommunicates them. I got pregnant out of wedlock. Not intentionally. The father was a high priest in the Church and we were engaged to be married and he canceled the wedding the night before. He didn’t get excommunicated because, I swear this is true, he wasn’t pregnant and no one would know he had sinned. He would later kidnap the resulting child and I would not see her again until, hopefully, next week–almost 20 years. I later found out that local church members conspired with him to kidnap her.

    There are plenty of less drama filled things they can do.

  • Gandalfe

    As I recall from when I was looking into this for my wife a few years ago, this is actually their typical response. When the Bishop contacts you, simply (and politely) inform him you’re not interested in discussing it and ask to be notified when your name has been removed.

  • Ms. Crazy Pants

    I’d probably just talk to an attorney and have that attorney send them a letter saying further contact will be considered harassment, and charges will be filed accordingly.

  • Peter Mahoney

    VERY interesting topic.

    Reading the posts and thinking more about this makes me thing that I should do something similar to remove my affiliation with the Catholic church.

    I understand the posts that basically say “why bother?”…

    BUT… I think that for MANY former church members (from MANY different religions), there can be something VERY psychologically beneficial with formally severing ties with an organization that you find to be delusional, sexist, homophobic, anti-science, and in other ways detrimental to humanity.

  • Denis Robert

    I’d ask to see the contract under which they can maintain their membership without their consent. I would give them 1 week to produce it, after that I would refer the matter to a lawyer with a view to sue.

  • I wrote a letter and never sent it. This was back some 10 years ago when I was going through my divorce. One of my main reasons for wanting to get my name removed was to nullify my temple marriage to my ex-wife.

    Since then, I’ve not pursued it. Maybe one of these days I will. My mom would have been one of two people that would have freaked out if she found out, but since her passing in 2006, it’s just my sister that would do the said freaking now. I have told my entire family that I’ve left the church, and for years, my sister spent a lot of time harping on me about it. But since my wife and I got married (on a beach in Lake Tahoe, not in a church), she and I have been more civil and less church-related conversations (read: hardly ever and not directed at me).

    So for Laura, I would say take the advice of the many others who have been there and professionally nag those to hurry up the process.

  • JSug


    I’m floored by your story. Was there no criminal investigation? I mean, kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap… those are serious crimes.

  • JSug


    I understand the posts that basically say “why bother?”…

    BUT… I think that for MANY former church members (from MANY different religions), there can be something VERY psychologically beneficial with formally severing ties

    Oh, absolutely. Let me clarify my position: For reasons of peace-of-mind, and possibly even protest, I think it’s a great idea for people to formally let the church know they’ve slammed the door. I just don’t think there is any guarantee that they will actually stop counting you among their members for political purposes. So holding out for that formal response may be wasted effort.

  • Demonhype

    Like JSug says–how the HELL do they get away with that?

  • Freemage

    Given the number of ex-Mormons saying, “This is SOP, give it time,” I’d say that Laura has little to worry about, just yet.

    Of course, if they refuse or drag their heels unreasonably, you should start emailing them links to your new Joseph Smith/Lamanite slashfic site. Remember, Smith should always be the bottom.

  • CJ Klok

    If,after the official severing of ties, there are concerns that your names may be retained on the rosters for fraudulent political and other nefarious ends, you could always, after a reasonable ‘cooling off’ period – say about 9 to 12 months – enquire whether you and your family members are registered as members. If not, be happy. If so, go ahead with very sternly worded letters and armed with a vicious lawyer and sue the hell out of them.

  • Grimalkin

    My cat has an excellent strategy for dealing with us when we don’t comply with her wishes. She poos on the bed.

    While I don’t generally condone vandalism, it may become reasonable, should they refuse to comply with your wishes, to start regularly passing bowl movements outside of Mormon houses of worship.

    All joking aside, that was an excellent letter!

  • LS

    I always figured, with the Catholic church, that holding a the Eucharist hostage would be a good way of getting their attention. They get completely bent out of shape if that thing isn’t consumed immediately by a godfearing catholic, but it’s not exactly difficult to get your hands on one. One of these days I’ll do a “Desecration-a-Day” on YouTube until they remove me from their big list of names.

    Don’t know if LDS has anything which a similar tactic might be used with.

  • My brother said that in order to get yourself removed from the LDS roles, you have to hire an attorney. Most people don’t take that step, which is why the LDS roles are hyper-inflated with the names of people who left. Whether that’s true, I have no idea. But if it is true, it’s interesting.

  • Nik

    From http://www.mormonresignation.com/resign_completed.html

    Realize that even though your name has been “removed”, you will still be counted among the membership of the LDS Corporation. They will not release any resignation numbers. As for the local Wards, your information will be packaged up and sent to the COB and will no longer exist at a ward level. If you move, no records will be sent to the LDS Ward boundaries that you live in. Realize however that your records will still exist. Anything confessed to a Bishop or Stake President will still be recorded in your files. If for some reason you do decide to go back, you will never be considered as a Bishop or higher.


    Well, isn’t that special. Even if you resign from the church, and your resignation is acknowledged, they STILL won’t remove you from their roles.

  • mjschmidt

    I’m from Ontario, Canada, and I’ve been an atheist pretty much all my life. Since religion in this part of Canada is no where near the sort of religion the US seems to be infested with, I[‘m afraid there is something about this story I don’t quite understand…

    Why do they care?

    Seriously. If they haven’t been involved or attending since 2003, and if they don’t BELIEVE anything about the religion to be true, why do they need to have their names expunged from the records?

    If baptism is not really a magical things, then “de-baptism” is an equally “un-magical”, and thus unnecessary.

    I was baptized protestant by my parents when I was born. Didn’t have a say in that, but since I’m an atheist, and being baptized is actually meaningless, I feel no burning desire to have the church remove my name from their records (if they have any).

    So, I’m sorry, I don’t get it. Maybe someone can explain it to me. If they haven’t been attending since 2003 without incident, what’s different now? If it’s not real, then there is nothing from which one needs to be “released”.

  • Craig

    The only help you’ll get from the Post Office in controlling junk mail is for explicit stuff. Fill out USPS forms 1500 if you wish this type of mail to stop. You define what you find to be explicit — if that’s an automobile parts catalog the post office won’t disagree with you.

  • Barb

    I sent a similar letter back in 1986, simply asking for my name to be removed from their records as a member of their church. At least back then, this was the process recommended by the ex-mormon community. And it worked –but it did take a little time to work through the Mormon bureaucracy. I received a letter within a month or two “granting my request.” They also said that they had notified one of my sisters, who lived in the area, which actually simplified things for me, as she let the fam know. So give it a little time. There is no way to make them change their protocol and no sense in fighting their system. It’s part of why you’re leaving, right? Ultimately, they’ll do as you ask.

  • Kayla

    Write “return to sender” on the letters to her minor son. I am sure the Mormon church would get the message after all the letters are returned to them.

    I think she’s made it pretty clear that she wants to leave the church and cannot imagine that church leaders would want her after she’s expressed such distate for it.

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