|Subject:||Planning on giving this exit letter to bishop on Sunday....I know, it's way too nice....|
|Date:||Oct 10, 2008 20:30|
|October 10, 2008
Dear Bishop and President,
After much study and prayer, I have reached conclusions regarding Joseph Smith and the origins of the church that I feel are incompatible with membership. It is with sadness, yet resolution, that I submit this letter, my formal written resignation from membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I apologize for any shock or concern this may cause you. I realize that you truly believe in the church, and I do not doubt your sincerity or faith for a moment.
Despite all of the goodness, faith and wonderful people in the church today, my conscience leads me to want to distance myself from an institution founded by a man who had intimate relationships with other menís wives in a setting of secrecy and dishonesty. Given your leadership positions and years of membership in the church, I assume you understand what I am talking about. I realize that many members don't know these things, and others have found a way to reconcile them in their mind, but I cannot. For example, I cannot believe that in the case of Zina Huntington an angel with a sword would be sent by God to kill a married man for not marrying another woman who is already married (and also pregnant by her first husband). I also cannot accept the instances of Joseph Smith secretly marrying young women living in his home as foster daughters (such as the Lawrence sisters, for whom he was a legal guardian), or marrying girls as young as 14 (Helen Mar Kimball). Although I have mentioned some of the more bothersome aspects of Joseph Smith's practice of polygamy, I admit that I have a difficult time accepting polygamy in any form. If there was ever a situation where polygamy was justifiable, it would have been in the case of Adam or Noah. It seems beyond reason to believe that Joseph Smith was the first and perhaps only man in the history of the world to have intimate relationships behind his wife's back only because he was obeying the commandments of God. The LDS church's most logical explanations for polygamy give no justification for many of Joseph's plural marriages. If the purpose of polygamy was to "raise seed" and "bear the souls of men", Joseph would not have married women who were already married (which he did at least eleven times). If polygamy was just a test of the woman's faith or her family's faith, I believe God would have stopped the test before the final act, just as He did in the case of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. If the purpose was for Joseph to have these women by his side in eternity, there were many other women sealed to Joseph after his death. Also, some of Joseph's marriages can't be justified by the belief that he held the "sealing keys," since Joseph's polygamy began in 1833 (Fanny Alger), but the restoration of the sealing keys by Elijah was in 1836. As strange as it may sound to faithful members of the church, I believe that I will be with my family in the next life independent of anything related to Joseph Smith. I find it unimaginable that God would separate families in the next life who want to be together. Matthew 7:9-11 says: "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
As the church seems to be in the difficult position of being unable or unwilling to unequivocally state that at least some of Joseph's polygamous relationships were not in harmony with the will of God, I must choose as a matter of conscience to disassociate myself from such an organization. I want to assure you that I have studied pro-LDS explanations from FARMS, FAIR, mormomwiki.com, Brigham Young, John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, Heber C. Kimball, Joseph F. Smith, B. H. Roberts, McConkie, Compton, Bushman, etc. I have even read many of the original source materials for these arguments. I have found all defenses of polygamy, polyandry and "lying for the Lord" to be unsatisfactory and out of harmony with the scriptures and the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
I still believe in God and the Savior Jesus Christ. I admit that I do not know anything for certain, but I have a strong hope that the Savior is the person I read about who lifted children onto his knee and blessed them, not someone who would send an angel with a sword to enforce any intimate relationship, let alone a polygamous relationship. I have nothing personal against any of the current church leaders or members. The church has done much good in my life. I wish I could disregard the dark parts of church history, but I feel this would be hypocritical. I do not want to be someone who believes one thing but gives the appearance of believing something else. There are questions which I am willing to "put up on a shelf" to be answered in the next life, but the question of whether it is right for a man to marry another man's wife does not seem difficult or conditional. I have to agree with President Joseph Fielding Smith who declared: "Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188). I believe that the church is fundamentally a different (better) organization than existed in the time of Joseph Smith. It has evolved to become perhaps the best church in the world, but it has not had the courage or honesty to own up to the immoral and dishonest aspects of its past.
I therefore respectfully request that my name be removed from the records of the Church, as specified in the General Handbook of Instructions. I am aware that these instructions state that you are to be certain that I understand the following: that withdrawing my membership cancels the effects of baptism, withdraws the priesthood from a male member; and suspends temple sealings and blessings. I understand these things, yet still choose to remove my name from the records of the church. Bishop ______, I ask that you please complete the form "Request for Administrative Action", and forward it to President _________. Where required on the form to give ďreason for leaving,Ē please indicate ďat memberís request as he is no longer a believer.Ē I apologize for the formality, but just to be clear, this letter constitutes my formal resignation, and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church policies and discipline. I request that my resignation be processed without any waiting periods. Church records should show that the only reason my name has been removed is that I requested it. The word excommunication should not be used, as this can be interpreted to imply transgression. For the record, I am morally clean and live the law of chastity. There has not been any sin or misdeed in my life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities. I wish to make it clear that my decision is not the result of transgression, hurt feelings, or being offended by another member. This decision was one of the most difficult of my life and is being made after many months of soul-searching, study and prayer. I have full knowledge of what the LDS church teaches about the consequences of making such a decision. I recognize the irony that my decision to resign from the church is based upon values that come in part from the church's own teachings regarding fidelity and family relationships.
I leave it at your discretion to decide how to explain my resignation to axillary leaders and other members as needed. I have confidence in your judgment to handle this situation in the best interest of the ward members. You are welcome to tell others as much or as little as you feel necessary, as I know you will be truthful while exercising discretion. Despite my natural (and perhaps prideful) desire to explain these conclusions to others, I would rather have members of the ward judge me critically than discover the disturbing details about polygamy that I have learned. I have no desire to harm the church or its reputation, as it undoubtedly does much good in the world. I feel love towards the current members of the church and am only saddened that they have so much resting on the claims of a man I believe was dishonest and immoral.
Unlike others who have resigned their membership, I ask for no particular restrictions regarding further contact by the church. Home teachers, visiting teachers and other members will always be welcome in my home. My resignation is a moral decision to disassociate myself from Joseph Smithís teachings, behavior and institutions regarding polygamy, not to distance myself socially from the Latter-day Saints as a people. My wife and children will remain members as long as they choose, as I certainly would never make that decision for them. I thank you wholeheartedly for your kindness and service to my family. I trust that the members will continue to show love and friendship to them. I am uplifted by most of what occurs in LDS meetings, and I plan to continue to attend sacrament meeting occasionally and some of the ward activities, as long as this doesn't cause others to feel uncomfortable. I plan to continue scripture study and prayer to deepen my relationship with the Savior. I will give tithing, but this will be in the form of things such as donations to the poor, tuition for private schools in Africa, or support for organizations helping women escape from modern polygamy.
If I am wrong in my conclusions regarding Joseph and polygamy (and God actually commanded it the way it was practiced), I trust God will be merciful to me in light of my honest beliefs. However, I fear that would also imply God is not the person I believe Him to be. I have tried many times to imagine the relationship between our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and there is too much of a discrepancy in my mind between this relationship and the relationship of Joseph and Emma. I cannot believe that Joseph was attempting to institute the types of family relationships that exist in the celestial kingdom. I feel great love from our Heavenly Father and Savior when I pray. I hold fast to the belief that He would treat his children even better than the best earthly father. Therefore, I must conclude that His teachings and eternal principles would serve to comfort and bless the hearts of His beloved daughters, not break them.
I truly regret any sorrow my decision may cause others. I won't blame anyone for not understanding my decision, as I would not have understood it a short time ago. I hope there will be some comfort in the knowledge that I sincerely believe that resigning my membership is the honest thing to do given my conclusions.
Bishop ________ and President _________, I hope you know that I consider you both in the highest regards. I thank you again for your service.
Note: [Brian talks about turning in his letter at the bottom of this thread]
|Subject:||What a well-thought-out and heartfelt letter!|
|Date:||Oct 10 20:52|
|It sounds like you are conveying exactly what you want
All I wonder about it:
"I leave it at your discretion to decide how to explain my resignation to axillary leaders and other members as needed. I have confidence in your judgment to handle this situation in the best interest of the ward members. You are welcome to tell others as much or as little as you feel necessary, as I know you will be truthful while exercising discretion. Despite my natural (and perhaps prideful) desire to explain these conclusions to others, I would rather have members of the ward judge me critically than discover the disturbing details about polygamy that I have learned. I have no desire to harm the church or its reputation, as it undoubtedly does much good in the world. I feel love towards the current members of the church and am only saddened that they have so much resting on the claims of a man I believe was dishonest and immoral."
My concern is that letting the wolves explain how yet another sheep got *safely* away from the wolves might not be exactly what you want. Plus, there's a risk that legally they could say anything about you, which many exmos have found out means that you could easily and falsely be branded an adulter, porn addict or worse. Former leaders have done that to other exmos... personally, I wouldn't give anyone an opportunity like that, but that's just me.
Otherwise it's great that you are explaining your reasons so that hopefully a seed (or several) can be planted...
|Subject:||I like it. That's a classy|
|Date:||Oct 10 21:06|
|way to exit. I wish more people would exit like that.
Although it is good as is, I would think about adding something to the effect that Although Joseph's polyndry was a very big issue for you, it was only the tip of the iceberg as you discovered many other problems with church history such as the Book of Abraham translation, Book of Mormon historical problems, Kinderhook Plates, etc.
|Subject:||It's a very nice, heart-felt letter and it gets the job done. Congrats and I hope|
|Date:||Oct 10 21:08|
|your family follows you out. Best wishes!
Hate-free since 1979
I support LOVE
|Date:||Oct 10 23:24|
|I would not put any of the doctrinal/historical stuff
in the letter. They tend to think that if they can find some way around any
of it then they can bring you back. They will nit-pick sources, question
My suggestion is to just include the paragraphs about resigning and not give any of the details.
But that's just me.
|Subject:||Re: A suggestion.|
|Date:||Oct 10 23:47|
|I agree. I think a simple letter that says "I resign,
my reasons are my own, are not up for discussion and really are none of your
To me it would be about taking power back by saying "I don't need to explain myself on this issue to you or anyone else. I do not need your understanding or approval".
|Date:||Oct 11 01:00|
|I like the historical details. And yes, they may just
nit- pick the data and dismiss your conclusions but maybe- just maybe it
might plant a little seed.
This is the reason you are resigning not because the church teaches that families can be together forever or that we need to be baptized etc... You are resigning because of the disconcerting history of Joseph Smith. I like the fact that you are letting them know this.
When I write my letter, I intend to include lots of historical details covering the very same points that you mentioned. I know that it is wishful thinking that it will really get read or plant any seeds of doubt but a girl can dream!
|Subject:||I seriously doubt the letter will be read in it's entirety.|
|Date:||Oct 11 00:26|
|If it makes you feel better then send the whole thing but after the first paragraph their armor is in place, the blinders on and they are singing La-La-La. The letter is good but it is more for you than for them. (And yes, it is way nice but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.)|
|Subject:||Very intelligently written...|
|Date:||Oct 11 01:19|
|I liked the letter and it explained your feelings in
great detail. However, I think that you should include the paragraph about
the specifics of your resignation via CHI at the end of the letter so that
it drives the point home that you have resigned and don't need to say
I do think you were too nice. This organization LIED to you and would GRILL you if given the chance! You don't have to be mean spirited but, you can be absolutely firm and bold with your decision.
|Subject:||Thank you for the feedback. It's hard to see the forest for the|
|Date:||Oct 11 02:53|
|trees at this point. I plan to make a few changes to
this letter before I hand it to the bishop on Sunday, so your comments are
This is going to be a wild ride. I plan to bear my testimony about the kindness of God and the atonement on Sunday in sacrament meeting then hand the exit letter to the bishop as I walk off the stand.
Sometimes this whole thing just doesn't seem real. Wow!
I am registered for the ex-mo conference next weekend (with my wife!), and I look forward to the continued resolution and healing.
|Subject:||Re: Thank you for the feedback. It's hard to see the forest for the|
|Date:||Oct 11 03:07|
|wow. i wish i could attend your sacrament meeting and listen to your words. i thought your letter was great. i truly hope to meet you at the conference this weekend. i'm heather. i'll be there with my husband, joshua, look for the tall guy with tattoos!!! :-)|
|Subject:||I would send a copy to everyone in your ward.... others would follow|
|Subject:||Unbelievably nice, friendly but also intelligent and well-informed.|
|Date:||Oct 11 05:44|
|I like it that you stick with just the one issue: that
of Joseph's many wives and the fact that most members do not know about
I see you at the beginning of a process which will yet contain many changes in your perspective.
There is still so much, for example, about Mormonism that you still believe.
I cannot believe how not-angry you are!
|Subject:||I agree. They will not read the whole letter when they see where it is going.|
|Date:||Oct 12 10:26|
|Like others have said, they will plug their ears and sing La-La-La and scan for the bottome line on what you want. It could drag it out thinking you want answers. I don't think the mo's are capable of understanding anything unless it is very short, very direct and leaves them no wiggle room. Best of luck. I do admire your bravery.|
|Subject:||A very well thought out letter ( excellent really ) and very practical and with no anger somehow ?:)|
|Date:||Oct 11 13:35|
|It seems you are planning on announcing your unbelief
earlier than you had originally planned?
Do you find it difficult to attend the lessons where they Joseph Smith is potrayed as a great caring Monogomous perfect Husband.I did! and many other things I knew were jsut simply untrue. I couldn't continue attending even for 'fun' or social reasons.
Even the helping hands days, though the members were sincere, when I look back were just designed by Hinckley for church PR and Marketing.
It will be interesting to hear about how they react.
All the best on keeping faith in Jesus Christ and God.
That part also ebbed away for me with the effects of Mormonism. I just can't get those feelings back now unfortunately.
I commend you for your good conscience and dignity. For some its too hard to let go. I'm lucky having only been associated at arms length somewhat. What its like for a lifelong/long term and/or BIC member I can only try to imagine.
|Subject:||I thought your letter was very well written.|
|Date:||Oct 11 13:42|
|It was a little long, which can be therapeutic for you
but I would recommend trying to cut it down a little. But I also understand
that there's a lot to say on the subject.
The only other thing I have to say is, are you sure you want to welcome home teachers? This could backfire.
Other than that, very well written. Very gracious. Very high road.
|Subject:||great letter, it may help others get out.....nice job...nt|
|Subject:||I like this part of your letter especially about Tithing|
|Date:||Oct 11 14:10|
|"I plan to continue scripture study and prayer to
deepen my relationship with the Savior. I will give tithing, but this will
be in the form of things such as donations to the poor, tuition for private
schools in Africa, or support for organizations helping women escape from
This would certainly be a more honorable use of money than LDS tithing to fund, GA stipends, exhubberant well adorned Temples, large and spacious conference centres,printing fudged and misleading church books/lesson manuals, buying business and investments which in turn are used to fund shopping malls and further property investment and if you don't pay into this this somehow you will burn according to LDS teaching??
and this one too :)) I love it ! Amen !
" As strange as it may sound to faithful members of the church, I believe that I will be with my family in the next life independent of anything related to Joseph Smith. I find it unimaginable that God would separate families in the next life who want to be together. Matthew 7:9-11 says: "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
|Subject:||Re: Planning on giving this exit letter to bishop on Sunday....I know, it's way too nice....|
|Date:||Oct 11 18:20|
|Author:||HH the nevermo|
|Good for you not putting up with it anymore. Are all
resignation letters this put together? I also agree with the sentiment that
you shouldn't give them any leeway when it comes to attending functions or
whatnot with the church. You'll end up with increasing pressure the more you
attend to come back, or you'll be shunned and gossiped/lied/bitched about by
the people you still consider your "friends".
To everyone, please don't take the following the wrong way, this is just me and how I would handle it.
To whom it may concern:
Your church, it's teachings and reluctance to accept the truth are driving me away. I could list a lot of reasons, but suffice it to say, I'm tired, annoyed and frankly don't give a damn about all the BS I've been fed for so long.
My family will still be attending and this decision has nothing to do with them. Leave them out of this. Don't send anyone to my door to try any tactics to get me to "see the light" as I will not communicate with them in any way shape or form.
Go ahead and do whatever it takes to get me off the rolls, as I no longer personally wish to be associated with this church or it's members anymore.
Now, here's the short and (not so) sweet version:
Hey, take your BS ceremonies and shove it, because I'm not gonna be there any more. Y'all can GFY with your plates and stones-in-a-hat, and you can take that ginormous temple, shine it up real nice, make it sparkle, turn it sideways, and shove it up your a$$. "Magic underwear"? Bwahahahaha! By the way, I'm drinking a humongous cup of coffee as I write this, and I'll be going out and getting wasted at a bar later. And don't send anyone after me, at the very least, I'll laugh and slam the door in their faces.
Suck me sideways,
Sorry if this offends anyone. I personally don't see the point of "resigning" from a church. And I probably would use even stronger language than this if it were me.
|Subject:||You're probably on your way to church by now|
|Date:||Oct 12 09:43|
|but I'm just reading this. Bravo to you! I think you
have done this in a way that will hopefully not ostracize your family as
they continue (for now, hopefully) to go forward in their faith. You are at
the very beginning of your journey, there's so much more to come! One note -
you do know, don't you, that the reasons the Bishop will give everyone for
your exit will not be the truth? Of course, I can't speak for your Bishop,
he may be a man of integrity, but typically, they cannot and will not bring
themselves to tell others that you left because you found out the truth.
When the HT's come over, take the opportunity to teach them! I hope you have
a wonderful, free-ing day. You deserve it!
|Subject:||perfect exit strategy|
|Date:||Oct 12 10:27|
|I so wish I could be there to see you testify to the
only truths that really matter. I thought your letter was great. Hopefully
your bishop will be like mine. A member of our ward resigned his membership
a year ago and everyone was asking , "what happened to so and so?" The
bishop and his wife both said, "he does not beleive the teachings of the
church anymore." Of course the responses were, "Oh my gosh, how SAD!!!" He
did not say what he didn't beleive or how he came to his conclusions but at
least the bishop told the truth and didn't insinuate that he was somehow
sinning or offended. Maybe the bishop himself, a convert of only 10 years,
was shocked to hear what truths this member had discovered.
That is why I think it is great to put your "reasons" in your letter. The bishop you hand that letter to likely has no knowledge of the truth about Joseph Smith and Polygamy.
|Subject:||Someone read this and post to youtube w/ permission ...... please|
|Date:||Oct 12 11:02|
|i have friends that need to hear this...|
|Subject:||It's your letter so have it your way, however...|
|Date:||Oct 12 11:13|
|you took 1962 words to say what could be said in 36
I hereby resign from the Church, effective immediately as of your receipt of this letter. The LDS Church is a manmade scam and I do not want to be a member any longer.
|Subject:||This line struck me the most:|
|Date:||Oct 12 11:17|
|"Despite my natural (and perhaps prideful) desire to
explain these conclusions to others, I would rather have members of the ward
judge me critically than discover the disturbing details about polygamy that
I have learned."
That's how I felt when I let go of wanting to proselytize my conclusions to others. Well-stated letter and good luck with everything.
|Subject:||GBH used part of this quote. This is the recognition they know it is a "fraud."|
|Date:||Oct 12 11:45|
"I have to agree with President Joseph Fielding Smith who declared:
"Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground."
(Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188)
No middle ground ! This statement succinctly explains the believers and non-believers!
That's it, in a nut shell.
I agree with this part: "he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen."
He got away with it because he cleverly wrapped his claims around supernatural, metaphysical beliefs that sustain the Bible and other religious sacred books while creating the only American God Myth that is alive today.
|Subject:||Just have to disagree with those who disagree.|
|Date:||Oct 12 12:57|
This is your letter and only you know what you want to say and what is appropriate for you and your situation given your relationships with your Bish and SP. I think your letter is excellent and I wouldn't change a thing.
TSCC and its minions spend a great deal of time and money to convince a convert, through the mish discussions, etc., to join the church. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking however much time and paper you deem necessary to attempt to convince them that it's all hooey.
When my once-TBM wife resigned, she wrote a lengthy letter of explanation. Her bishop obviously received a copy and read it. Of course, per the CHI, he has his little role to play in contacting the member that is resigning to make sure he/she understands the consequences of his/her actions, etc. When the bishop called my wife he said, "I've seen your letter, I don't want to get into your reasons, I'll process the paperwork, you should be receiving a letter in a couple of weeks." That was it. About a 30-second phone call. And they've never contacted her since.
Being nevermo myself, I just can't understand the fear that is behind those who just want to write a short "I quit, but I'm not telling why" type of letter. I just want to scream, "Grow a pair!" Tell them why! Good grief!
Telling them why in such a well-thought-out, non-threating way, as you have, takes their power away. There's nothing they can do except grant your wishes. And maybe, just maybe, someone will be following you out the door in a year or two.
|Subject:||Well, I did it. I still can't believe it, but I did it.|
|Date:||Oct 12 20:06|
|The deed is done. I am still in shock, but itís like
pulling off a band-aidÖthe faster you get it over with the better.
I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting pertaining only to God and Christ. I was nervous before I got up, but was calm once I got to the pulpit. I didnít give the bishop the exit letter as I was walking off of the stand, because I didnít want it to appear that I was handing my tithing envelope to the bishop in front of everybody.
After sacrament meeting, a counselor in the Elders Quorum asked to have a PPI (personal priesthood interview to see how my home teaching families and I are doing), so we did. After some small talk he asked me how I was doing, and I told him I was having a hard time with the way polygamy was practiced in the early church. He gave the usual response about how he just tries to stick to the basics of the gospel. He is a nice guy, and we had an overall pleasant visit. I didnít tell him I was leaving the church. I thought the bishop should be the first to know.
After the meetings I passed the bishop in the hallway. He told me he appreciated my testimony. I thanked him and asked if I could speak to him in his office for a moment. We sat down in his office, and I told him that this was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and then I handed him my resignation letter and told him what it was. He was very cordial and kind. He said he respected my free agency. We expressed our mutual respect for each other, and it was all over in about two minutes.
I still have to face the questions by the ward members, but now at least there is no turning back. I will keep my answers to members short and sweet like, ďI left the church because Joseph Smith secretly married other menís wives and young girls. I have opinions about his behavior that are not in harmony with membership in the church.Ē What can they say, really?
I still have to tell my TMB family, who I am very close to. It makes me mad at Joseph Smith that so many people, including myself (and shortly my dear mother), are still paying a price for his sexual escapades. Darn him! (OK, damn him! I said it.)
Thank you again to everyone for the advice. I will continue to visit this web site frequently for needed reality checks.
I look forward to seeing some of you at the exmo conference. To help you recognize me, I am 40 years old and thin with grey hair, and my wife has long brown hair.
Upward and onward!