Sep 28 2010
[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.]
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.