The relationship that I have with religion is a complex one. (You can read more about it in this post from 2010 that was part of a never-finished exercise to get me to post more). If you don’t feel like reading a long, incredibly difficult to write post, here’s the Reader’s Digest version.
To wit, I don’t identify with any religious group and the best way to sum up my beliefs is to say that I am, at least in terms of deities, agnostic bordering on being an out-and-out atheist but I still hope that there’s some kind of life-after-death and that as long as you’re not being a dick about it I’m all for you believing whatever you want, so long as it makes you happy or gives your life purpose. I, of my own accord, was baptized LDS at eleven, started finding inconsistencies in what I was taught and how people were acting at 14, and quit actively attending church at 17 thanks to several major events, culminating in a bishop trying to publicly shame me because I couldn’t/wouldn’t try to convince the rest of my family to join me at church.
I used to have no problem identifying as a former Mormon. I didn’t believe what the Church taught, but knew that it helped a bunch of people and does a lot of charity work, so it can’t be THAT bad, can it? I had LDS friends, they knew I wasn’t active and didn’t try to get me back, and we all shared that inexplicable bond of growing up as a Church member. Yeah, hypocrisy runs rampant, but where DOESN’T it? I wasn’t a fan of some of the exclusionary practices that the Church was involved in, but I turned a blind eye. I thought that the good outweighed the bad.
Then 2008 rolled around and so did Prop 8 in California (for those of you who don’t remember, Prop 8 circumvented an earlier court ruling and amended California’s constitution to state that marriage = one man and one woman). Word came out that the LDS Church spent a LOT of money trying to see Prop 8 enacted. Like a whole lot. And I wasn’t OK with that. I’m fine with religion trying to restrict people from doing stuff like, you know, murder. Or screwin’ around on your S/O, or stealing from your neighbor. Not from trying to restrict people from being equal. Especially not when so many of my lessons from said church talked about how we’re all Children of God and that we’re all loved by Jesus, no matter what. You can’t have it both ways. (And yes, I know that plenty of other churches do the same thing… but I don’t have a close personal attachment to them.). Further opposition to marriage rights stoked the fires of discontent. When people found out that I grew up in the 801, I stopped answering the inevitable “are you a Mormon?” question with “Used to be, not anymore” and started a flat “no”. The good/harm balance was shifting.
Which leads to today. A group of LDS women have, within the past year or two, have committed the sin of… wanting to be on an equal footing with LDS men… specifically, wishing to gain the priesthood. The simple act of quietly and non-violently attempting to gain standby access to a men’s-only conference program (for those of you who aren’t LDS, the Church has biannual conferences featuring speeches from the presiding members of the Church, known as the General Authorities… the priesthood session is limited to men only). The leader of the main group for this movement (called Ordain Women) is a human rights lawyer named Kate Kelly. The members of this movement have simply stated their wishes, posted their beliefs to a website, met as a group, and… that’s it. No loud protests. No violence. A simple statement of beliefs with a logical argument behind them.
The Church brass wouldn’t have it, and put out several dismissive press releases and statements explaining on one hand that women and men are equal because women get to be mothers, and men get to be priests. Except that men ALSO get to be fathers, and that if you have any questions about it, feel free to discuss it with… a priesthood holder. (I admit, I’m paraphrasing here. And yes, in the interest of full disclosure, there is an entire women’s organization within the Church, however, they don’t really hold much authority). Within the past few weeks, Ms. Kelly’s local church leadership told her that there would be a disciplinary hearing. Basically, her case would be heard before Church Court. (Oh, yes. The LDS have church courts.) Her crime was apostasy, spreading dissension, and contradicting the status quo as laid down by God, Joseph Smith, and the subsequent church leadership. Her punishment, should it go that far, is excommunication from the church.
Excommunication is the worst possible thing for a devout Mormon. You are no longer counted as a member. You can’t speak in church, partake of the Sacrament, go to the Temple, perform Baptisms for the Dead. All church ordinances are null and void. You are persona non grata. Your ticket to the Afterlife no longer includes a visa to the highest kingdom of glory.
Needless to say, this did not sit well with her supporters (and many other people within and without the Church). Petitions were signed, and statements were made saying that the only sin committed here was stating that people should be treated equally. A sizable number of people made their voices heard, and the voices pleaded that she not be excommunicated.
KLynne shot me an IM with text copied straight from the newswire around 4:00 today.
PROMINENT MORMON ACTIVIST KATE KELLY HAS BEEN EXCOMMUNICATED BY THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
And that did it for me. That is (like the title of this post states) the last straw for me. I’ve been considering this for a while knowing the pain that the Church has caused to my friends, the undue influence they have making policy back home, but this tipped the scales.
I have decided that I am going to tender my formal resignation from the church. I want all record of my name to be completely stripped from the membership rolls. I want no contact from missionaries, ward members, local leadership, or anyone else about the Church. I will consider any further attempts at communication after I have verified that my letter of resignation has been received to be attempts to provoke me, and will react negatively to those attempts.
This is not a decision that I have made lightly. The LDS church is no Scientology, but I won’t be shocked if, magically, my still-LDS extended family members will hear about this… and, in turn, they’ll try to talk to Mom and Dad about it (not like Mom or Dad will care). The biggest thing is that I know that seeing me make this decision would have broken Grandma and Grandpa H.’s hearts. Even thinking about this is making my eyes well up and flooding my head with memories… but I can’t, in good conscience, have anything to do with the church anymore. The only reason why I’m keeping my Bible and Book of Mormon is because those are two of the three gifts that I still have from those grandparents.