leaving the LDS church

This is going to be a pain, I can tell. So John and I sent our notarized and certified letter to the church records division, as per the instructions we found online from other former mormons. Since we have never attended our local ward and do not know the bishop here, we saw no reason to send them the letter — we have not been active since 2003, well before we moved here.

Well, we rec’d a response today. First off, I’d like to register my annoyance at the pervasive sexism. Although the letter we sent them had both of us in the address line, was clearly written by me (referring to my husband), and was signed by both of us, the response came addressed to my husband only. In the salutation, they do address both of us, but it’s subtle and irritating form of sexism to address this letter only to the “patriarch” of the home. I can’t help but wonder what their response would have been had I applied to leave on my own, without John’s awareness. Anyway, the response:

“Dear Brother and Sister D*****:

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. H***** of the C******** W********* Stake. He will have Bishop Bruce L. H***** of the C******** 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.

Sincerely,

Gregory W. Dodge
Manager, Member and Statistical Records”

I left Mr. Dodge’s name on there because of this article I found online called Why Leaving the Mormon Church is Not an Easy Process, where he’s mentioned by name as the guy who sends the final letter okay’ing the removal of our name.

First off, there’s absolutely no reason for this response. We don’t know “our” bishop, we’ve never been to “our” ward, and there’s no logical reason (other than a not-very-subtle delaying tactic) to make us talk to him. Furthermore, we specifically requested no further contact from the church other than a written notification that we have been removed from the records. We made this request for two reasons:

One, we get regular visits from the missionaries and a monthly postcard with the visiting teaching message. This is annoying, and I’ve repeatedly sent it back as “Return to Sender, do not contact again.” I’ve also kindly, politely and firmly told the missionaries that I’m no longer a member and do not want to be visited, thank you very much.

Two, and significantly worse in my eyes, my son (who has not been to church since he was 2) has begun receiving materials from the church. They send invitations to primary and postcards about primary activities. It seriously irritates me, and I specifically mentioned in my letter that they need to stop attempting to contact my minor son.

If they’re so willing to ignore the request not to contact us, I can’t see by what logic they’d be willing to forgo the more subtle and manipulative tactics of attempting to convert my son.

It’s frustrating. We’ve been completely inactive since 2003. We’ve been planning on writing the records division since about 2004, but we were concerned about how my family would react so we held off. But I think my family relationship is strong enough to weather this, and I can no longer in good conscience affiliate myself — even as an inactive member — with a religion that perpetuates the kind of discrimination I stand up against in every other aspect of my life.

This is seriously irritating me. I’ve read this process can take a while and may even require a lawyer, but I was really hoping it would be quick and easy. There’s no logic to retaining members who aren’t active and tithe paying — not to mention the fact that we aren’t content being jack-mormons, and went to the effort of researching how to leave and actually acting on that research. What can they possibly gain by these delaying tactics?

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