Archive for the 'Letters - Sign for Something' Category

Sep 29 2010

John H. Gagon, Chantilly VA - Resigning over ridiculous political involement and gay issues

I’m resigning because of the horrific experience I had to go through growing up closeted in church and the church’s pursuit of my misery politically even after I quietly became inactive.

1. God does not make junk
2. God does not want me to lie to his daughters
3. God does not think it’s good for me to alone. PERIOD.

As a church that has engaged in a polygamous buffet, it’s hypocritical and a poor example to expect a lifetime of absolute celibacy and chastity belts from normal same sex oriented men and a double standard as an example.

You preach that church members should show love but they will never show love towards someone with “SSA” at church.  So many of your old farts think it’s hogwash and that isn’t going away soon.  Yah, keep up the great PR.

No more to say to you,

John

No responses yet

Sep 28 2010

Dynette Reynolds, Rock Cliff 4th Ward, Ogden, UT - Letter resigning my membership

[This is the exact text of the letter I sent to my bishop in September 2009, after ward members began confronting me at church and calling me a socialist/terrorist/communist because my husband ran for state office as a Democrat in the 08 election.]

Dear Bishop:

This letter is to request that you remove my name from the membership records of the church. I am also enclosing my temple recommend.

As you are aware, I stopped attending church meetings back in March, despite the fact that I have been an active, faithful, temple recommend-carrying, returned missionary, former primary president, and devoted member for my entire life (51 years now). I outlined my reasons to you in an email at that time. I originally hoped that this would be a temporary situation, but I see now that it is going to be permanent. On the occasions when I did return to church, I became physically ill and had to leave in the middle of a meeting.

I have been thinking about doing this for months. I kept putting it off in the hopes that my anger would eventually dissipate. Instead I find that—six months later—I am angrier than before. I would never be able to sit through a temple session with anybody from our ward ever again. I cannot imagine just sitting through a church meeting with them. I am even having a hard time speaking to them on the street and in our neighborhood. Just last week, one member of our ward—who knows perfectly well that I stopped attending due to political hostility expressed toward me—actually told [my husband] that Democrats are not allowed inside his home. And yet, this member continues to expect me to drive his daughter to school every morning. I cannot tolerate that kind of attitude any longer.

As for the church itself, I am equally angry with its recent policies and doctrine. I cannot support the anti-gay-marriage policy. I never did. For a while after the Prop 8 event, I tried to defend the church from accusations made by outsiders. I attempted to explain the church’s reasoning to people who were blaming me personally for what church leaders had done. But after a while, all those explanations sounded hollow. I will no longer defend the church for what I consider an indefensible stance.

Once I stopped defending church leaders on that issue, I found I could no longer defend them for much of anything. I don’t understand why the church chooses to exercise its political muscle to prevent gay people from marrying, but not to promote social programs that would help the poor, who are falling farther and farther behind in the United States and in the world, as corporations continue to push workers everywhere into poverty. The recent furor over health insurance is a good example. To me, that is a far more important moral issue than gay marriage, and one that would be appropriate for the church to jump into, particularly given the rising unemployment rate and growing poverty in our nation. Of course, they will not do so. Instead, we have supposedly faithful Mormons like Glenn Beck on national television calling for the assassination of our “socialist” president. I am embarrassed to be a Mormon now because the church is not even attempting to distance itself from seditious rightwing traitors like Beck.

My feelings are such that I am having a difficult time allowing my children to attend church. I even told [my son] that I don’t want him going on a mission. If you try to talk him into doing that, I will consider it a blatant violation of my wishes as his parent. [My husband], of course, is allowed to do what he wants, since he is a grown adult, but his continued participation at church is affecting my feelings for him. I nearly asked for a divorce this summer. However, I continue to hope that at least my marriage might be salvageable. I may or may not try to prevent [my daughter] from attending Young Women’s. I am very worried that she is being unduly influenced by anti-Christian, anti-American, anti-female viewpoints. I’m not sure I can tolerate that anymore. If it starts to look like her loyalty to the church is affecting my relationship with her, I will stop her from going.

I regret very much having to write this letter. I do not blame you in any way, since I know you tried your best to change the poisonous atmosphere at church. This is not your fault and there is nothing else you could have done. Please believe me when I say that I have agonized over this decision and that my heart is breaking even as I type these words.

Thank you for respecting my wishes in this matter.

Sincerely,
Dynette Reynolds

No responses yet

Jun 29 2009

Sadie Iovino & Paul Keats, Washington - Equal Rights

We support equal marriage rights and value our gay friends.

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Jun 09 2009

Alan Bahr, Lafayette, CA - The LDS Faith–More Judeo Than Christian

I curtailed church attendance some months ago. While I love the people of my ward and would gladly take a bullet for many of them, I can’t imagine rejoining them any day soon. In that regard I know what people are thinking. I’m sure that when my name comes up in conversation, some sigh and say I’ve given up a heavenly reward to feed a petty objection. They have, no doubt, assumed that anger and pride are what’s keeping me from God’s good grace and that the church’s support of Proposition 8 was at the root of my small-mindedness.

While I certainly opposed Prop 8, I was never angry with the church’s position. Rather, from the mix of emotions I’d felt at the time—shock and embarrassment among them—the one feeling that emerged most dominant was an overwhelming sorrow. As someone who has suffered long episodes of depression, I had to put distance between myself and the church, if for no other reason than to protect my health. My reckoning was this: If God really wants gay men and woman to miss out on the most growth-promoting and love-inspiring of human relationships, I will accept the consequences of not worshiping Him.

That being said, nothing Christ ever taught gives me reason to fear.

I, like many young LDS men and women, fulfilled a proselytizing mission for the church. In my case, however, there was no burning conviction that I was doing God’s work. I could have easily declined the call, since my parents didn’t share my devotion and were alarmed, even upset, by my decision. But I went eagerly, hoping and believing that by my efforts the truth would be revealed to me—that everything I’d been taught would piece together like a finished puzzle and express itself as logical, beautiful and perfect. Yet by the end of my mission, that hadn’t happened. Neither has it happened since.

Instead, it became clear to me that the truth is far more complicated than I, or any mortal, can comprehend, which is why God said, “Let there be light,” instead of, “Let the universe be filled homogeneously and isotropically with a high energy density.” In this way, I liken the words of the prophets to first grade readers that point us in the right direction but leave for us a world of learning ahead. With respect to the teachings of the LDS church, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t accept two primary claims supporting it as God’s only “true” religion: namely that the church was led by a prophet and it possessed additional scriptures that revealed more of the mind of God. Nevertheless, the church seemed to offer a helpful—if not imperfect—rule of thumb as to how people should live and I supported it on that basis. Now, I no longer feel that way, but Prop 8 was only one of many reasons leading me there.

To me, Christianity should conform to Jesus’s teachings and not some lesser throwback to Judaism. In this failing, the LDS Church is not alone, but that doesn’t make it right. Its belief in blood atonement, for instance, harkens more to Old Testament justice and animal sacrifice than Christ’s admonition to forgive. The many Mormon scriptural references that describe God’s nature as vengeful and jealous smacks less of John than Leviticus. As a person of color, I’m offended that God cursed his wayward Book of Mormon children with a dark skin and called them loathsome, just like He’d done in Genesis. The numerous oaths Mormons take (and they know what I’m taking about) is consistent with Israelite practice, but is counter to Christ’s directive to “swear not at all.” The prohibition against gay marriage is an extension of the Mosaic Law’s demand to stone homosexuals—not to mention the LDS Church’s early restrictions against miscegenation—but it’s inconsistent with Christ’s ideal of love unfeigned. On this point I could go on and on, but to summarize: Jesus wants us to be better than the Ten Commandments, yet we remain more Judeo than Christian. And while the points I’ve raised may seem minor, they sum to an intolerant worldview that causes its followers to be motivated by fear and a loathing for the very human attributes God imbues in us.

If the church would grant me a wish, I would ask it to eliminate the phrase Mormons everywhere teach their children to repeat like a poor affirmation: I know the church is true. The sentiment not only leads to self-deception, but it runs counter to the intersection of two of the church’s most important beliefs, that: 1) we came to earth, in part, to develop faith and 2) faith is not a perfect knowledge. If we took these two beliefs to heart—embracing uncertainty as a necessary human condition that demands humility and eschews judgment—we would see our dogmatism for what it is: a silly kind of boastful swagger unbecoming of Christ’s disciples. If we were to do that, we might learn to love unconditionally and be the better angels inside of us.

And here’s a final note. If we did practice that kind of humble and non-judgmental faith, we would pray fervently that God, in His infinite wisdom, would make us instruments in His hands to help His gay sons and daughters find solace and a place of welcome somewhere. We would pray that they find joy, not to mention alternatives to what seems like an epidemic of suicide. Unfortunately, they won’t find that in the Mormon Church—not today—where prayers are never uttered in their behalf, but where that adage, “We love the sinner, but hate the sin,” rings as often as it is hollow and hackneyed.

(For more, see www.newchristianethics.blogspot.com)

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May 23 2009

Leslie Switzer, Toronto, Canada - I must follow my own sense of integrity

Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of man kind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own … The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional ‘do-gooder,’ who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others—with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.”(The Proper Role of Government, Ezra T. Benson)

I spent 30 years in a church which taught me that nothing was more sacred than my agency - my right to choose how I would live my life. I was taught that it was Satan’s plan to force people to live a righteous life.

The LDS Church also promised me that it would never get involved in political matters, and we were always only encouraged to get out and vote according to our own conscience. They lied.

They can certainly lead by example, and teach their own members how they should live. But the law states that there should be a separation between Church and State. It is wrong for any religion to impose their views on the rest of society.

The 11th Article of Faith reads:

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

They certainly have no problems claiming the first part of this Article of Faith, but they seem to have a major problem with believing in the second part of it. Do they truly allow all men that same privilege? It doesn’t look like it to me.

The degree to which the LDS Church became involved in this political campaign both shocked and appalled me. My integrity and my conscience will no longer allow me to support this organization, so I have sent in my formal resignation.

I have since learned just how involved the Church was in fighting the civil rights of women, blacks, and even mixed-race marriages in the past. And now they fight the rights of gays and lesbians as well.

I will no longer be associated with this bigoted organization. Jesus sought out and loved those who were rejected by society. The LDS Church shuns them. It simply cannot be God’s true church, and I will not accept it, or the Mormon god as such.

It feels wonderful to be free of the box that I once lived in. I didn’t even realize that I was in a box, until I left. I am finally at peace.

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May 19 2009

Kathy Stickel, South Royalton, VT - Seminary teacher chooses Christianity over Mormonism

I want my name removed from the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints immediately. I can no longer stand to be associated with this organization and its anti-gay paranoia and lies. Those in the local congregation in Vermont have been wonderful, but the leadership in Salt Lake has politicized the church as an organization in such drastic and hateful ways that I can no longer be guilty of the hypocrisy that would be required to keep me a member.

While churches should take stands on moral issues, the extremist measures taken to advance Proposition 8 in California by church leaders, and the mindless following of church members, has moved the church from proclaiming its views to persecuting people for their marriage practices. I have watched some of the best people I know turn into hateful, venom-spewing bigots because they feel that that is what God is ordering them to do through the prophet.

All summer long, meetings in the wards I attended in California were co-opted by this hateful campaign of fear and lies, and it was disgusting to hear so many formerly honest people working on ways to break the spirit of the tax laws but keep to the letter of them, and disseminating information that was deceitful – like the “Six Consequences if Prop. 8 Fails.” It makes me sick to know that the church, through its tax exemption, is being subsidized by the people and families that it has set out to destroy, and that those people not only have to find ways to survive emotionally in the climate of fear you push, but that they have no choice but to pay the church’s share of the national tax burden or be hauled into court by the IRS.

The church broadcast on October 8th was disgusting, with Elder Ballard and Elder Clayton speaking of love and spreading hate, especially to the youth of the church. Salt Lake certainly has enough lawyers to know that the issues as presented there were deceptive at best and out-right lies at worst. It proved that the leadership of the Church will do anything to win its political aims, no matter how much hatred they stir up against innocent people, how many lies they have to push on people who don’t know better, and how much fear they send out into the world to get their cruel agenda funded. Utah has the highest teen suicide rate in the country mainly because the church’s pathological obsession with persecuting gays tells those kids that their parents would rather see them safely dead than to be what they are as the Lord made them and find love and companionship.

Mormons speak of their healthful lifestyle and yes, you have healthy lungs and healthy livers and longer lifespans than other American groups, but Utah leads the nation not only in teen suicides, but also in bankruptcy filings almost every year, it has the highest rate of anti-depressant prescriptions, and the highest per capita subscription to online pornography in the country. Your society has enough sickness in it that it has no business calling on others to change their ways, and taking choices away from people because you think their choices are bad for them. When the day has come that I have to choose between being a Christian and being a Mormon, I’m going to be a Christian.

Catholics and evangelicals have long despised Mormons and proselytized against them, but were gleeful at accepting your money and time to take marriage away from loving families. You celebrate your new acceptance among the other Christian denominations, but the truth is that the friends you’ve lost aren’t coming back, and your new friends won’t stand by you. Everyone I know who has left over this has been a returned missionary and a teacher in the church, and some were my companions on the 1997 pioneer re-enactment that generated so much positive publicity for you. We’re the ones who can’t stomach supporting an institution that takes a gospel of love and twists it to feed the bigotry of socially insulated, elderly leaders who don’t know any gay people because gay Mormons kill themselves or leave or live closeted lives of self-loathing.

This topic that you obsess over is unmentioned by Christ in his earthly ministry, and I’ve never seen anything Joseph Smith said about it, either, yet it is so important to you that it is the only subject on which you’ve sent your members campaigning in the streets for and emptying their wallets for within my adult lifetime. What Joseph Smith did say, emphatically, was that it is wrong and dangerous to allow religious groups to write their preferences into the laws, but that is exactly what you have done by pushing Prop. 22 a few years ago and Prop. 8 this year, and next year with the votes across the country against children being placed in foster care or adopted by families headed by gay parents.

My family was among those who were driven out of America into the Western Territories by other so-called Christians who felt that they not only had a right, but a religious duty to persecute them, so Mormons are the last group in this country who should be doing the same to others. Nobody knows better how far that kind of hatred can go, and nobody has less excuse for the vicious, patently un-Christian persecution the church is engaging in. I am through with that institution.

Kathy Stickel

No responses yet

Apr 09 2009

Donna Nagel, Boise, Idaho - Love Casteth Out Fear

A few years ago, I resigned my membership in the LDS Church. The reasons are many, however I was not offended nor did I have a desire to live a life void of values and spirituality.

As I grew and changed, I came to understand that I needed to live a more authentic life, with my beliefs grounded in honesty. No person or organization is perfect, but a testimony must be based on all the facts, and one must be allowed to doubt and question, so that truth is indeed part of the foundation of one’s hope.

I could no longer answer the temple recommend questions honestly that ours was the one true church on the face of the earth. This was my revelation: that to use our agency and make decisions out of love and not fear brings us closer to our Heavenly Father. My faith is strengthened knowing I can listen to and trust My own Voice. I do not believe that Christ’s Church would exclude any person. No exceptions. I feel the Church has lost sight of what is really important by putting their political ambitions above members of their own Faith. There are thousands of Gay members in and sadly, now, out of the church who have devoted their lives, love, money and time to the Church. I say, proudly now, without shame, that I am one of them.

Religious organizations should be less concerned about losing their freedoms and more concerned about losing their own members. I have lost respect for the Leaders of the Church. From the pulpit, they preach fear and bigotry in sweet tones. There is no Gay Agenda. Marriage and Family will not be destroyed by other people who are trying to live and love and be together as families. Love builds and can create. Satan wants to destroy the family? Really? Who gives him that much power? Only those, who are afraid and can’t follow their own truth and light.

Donna J. Nagel

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Feb 20 2009

Melanie Foster, Newport News, Virginia - Scattered Dreams

I was always the broken one. The one they wanted to fix or make better. I never understood why. I was born to a very disfunctional mom and that made me the project of the family. Past from one reletive to another. Till finally my uncles family took me in after ” praying for an answer” I went to live with them two years after my dear grandfather and the only one that every understood me had past away.
I was raised in a church i never understood and was forced fed a set of rules I couldn’t grasp. I was always trying to fit some mold and look at as the black sheep of the family. Not only uncomfortable in my own skin but i felt like a liar every time i sat in the church bench..arms folded neatly.
always compared to my other siblings, a;ways the one that needed to pray more, do more. so I left home when I was 18 and met a nice missionary. He went home and called me when he was done. A week before marrying him he admitted to not being in love with me but felt like we had no other choice. We were married 10 years and had two amazing children. Five years into the relation ship we both realized that we were living a lie and i began sleeping on the couch… Five years after that we couldnt live the lie any more. I went to the bishop many times and was told repent, pray..repeat. After my divorce i moved home and thought I could handle being near my parents. The ones that “save” me fell back inti that pattern. I had to wak up and realize I was never broken just hiding. I am now in an amazing relationship with a woman who treats me and my children like gold. Their father, before he passed away told me he always knew and was happy i finally saw who i was. My parents choose not to speak to me but i know that they love me, no matter how broken thay think i am. And me? I am happy with the little cracks.. thats where I like it most. I am perfectly unperfect.

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Feb 06 2009

Gail Floyd Bartholomew, Corvallis 1st Ward Corvallis Oregon Stake - Post prop. 8

Dear Brethren,

I am writing another letter after the passing of prop. 8. I am struggling to understand why it is taking so long for you to tell the full story about your involvement in the campaign. I also struggle to understand your lack of movement on the Common Ground Campaign. Looking at your statements in “The Divine Institution of Marriage” your lack of involvement looks like this statement was never meant “The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights,”.

I go back to the huge amount of prejudice that undeniably exist in the church. I see hateful comments said in every ward I have ever attended. I know personally Mormon homosexuals that have never acted on their feelings and yet they are encouraged to be secretive about who they are. They painfully attend church afraid that their fellow ward members will reject them if they find out. If the church’s position is truly there is not sin in the feelings of homosexuality why than do we put up with this kind of bigotry. Also, if the church truly “does not condone any kind of hostility towards homosexual men and women”, why do you not act to stop the hostility these members face every time they come to church. We have seen your ability to mobilize millions of dollars, if your words are true why do you sit and let these members experience hostility and why to you let so many members believe they should fight the Common Ground bills in Utah when they so clearly support what you said in the “Divine Institution of Marriage”.

Thank you,
Gail F. Bartholomew

No responses yet

Feb 01 2009

Dan O’Leary, Aliso Viejo, CA - Yes on 8’s Lies Unraveling

In their attempt to exempt themselves from California’s campaign finance laws, Yes on 8 took their case to Federal Court and lost. It’s a good thing for us they did.
Yesterday, the LDS Church finally released their accounting of their donations to Yes on 8. It totaled over $180,000. It’s a far cry from their previously reported $2000. Even the new amount could be arguably low if one were to consider the market value of the media the Church produced. It is very likely they only counted the hourly rate of the employees that created the material.
But even so, weren’t we told when Yes on 8 went to court that all donations $1000 or more had been reported?
In fact, even in their press release regarding the case poses this Q&A.
“Isn’t this an attempt to shield large donors to Prop 8 from the public?
No. All donors of $1,000 or above have already been disclosed, as have all donors of $100 or more as of October 18, 2008. Only disclosure of those donors of $100 to $999 who contributed since October 18, 2008 are impacted.”
We knew the Church had more disclosures to file. When Fred Karger filed a complaint with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission regarding the Church’s seemingly modest filing, a spokesperson for the LDS Church said they had until Jan 31 to file. Surely the Yes on 8 Campaign, in their constant collusion with the LDS Church knew this was coming.
So that begs the question, exactly who was Yes on 8 seeking to protect by filing for an exemption of disclosure? Was it really about the little donors of $100 or was it to protect the LDS Church from even more bad PR?

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