SALT LAKE CITY – Hundreds of people gathered at City Creek Park in Salt Lake City Saturday to officially remove their names from the records of the LDS Church in a mass-resignation event. The event comes in the wake of the church’s policies concerning the children of same-sex couples which came to light Nov. 5.
During the event, which took place Saturday afternoon near the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is estimated that 1,500 people requested letters of resignation, attorney Mark Naugle told Fox 13 News.
The resignations come in response to the church’s policies concerning same-sex couples and their children. For those attending the mass-resignation, the camel’s back was finally broken.
“I’ve been a member my whole life, and it’s just kind of the final straw for me,” Connie Walker of Provo told Fox 13 News.
As reported by Fox 13 News, the event was organized by Lauren Elise McNamara who, along with her husband, signed letters asking to have their names removed from church records.
“I had said I’m done, but I wasn’t ready to do the paperwork, and then this hit and I said: ‘It has to happen now, I can’t wait any longer,’” McNamara said.
The church’s policies – which church officials have said are not new, but simply written-out clarifications – were put into effect Nov. 5. Written in the church’s “Handbook 1,” a book of instruction and guidelines for the church’s lay clergy, same-sex couples are declared “apostates” and subject to excommunication.
As for the children of same-sex couples, the policy amendments state the children are rendered ineligible for many church ordinances, such as baptism and receiving priesthood ordination, until after they are 18. However, they remain free to attend church meetings and activities.
Should the child of a gay couple want to join the church at that time, he or she must move out of their parents’ home and disavow the practice of same-sex marriage.
The idea behind the policy is to help avoid potential conflicts for the child between the church and their gay parents, church officials have said.
“Church leaders want to avoid putting little children in a potential tug-of-war between same-sex couples at home and teachings and activities at church,” said Michael Otterson, church public affairs managing director, in a statement released by the church Friday.
The statement was a part the LDS Church’s effort to further clarify the meaning of its amended policy that had left a flurry of questions and confusion in its wake for those inside and outside the church.
Church officials said the policy applies to children whose primary residence is with a same-sex couple. As for the children who have already been baptized or ordained to the priesthood and are active, their privileges in the church will not be rescinded.
Despite the offered clarification, hundreds still gathered at the mass-resignation event where Naugle helped them with forms that expressly stated participants’ desire to have their names removed from the records of the LDS Church.
Naugle gave attendees two forms: one that declares that person is resigning, and another that authorizes the attorney to act as his or her agent, so that the only communication the church can have is through the person’s attorney, said Tracie Parry, who shared her experience at the event with St. George News.
“(That’s) so that way (the church) can’t guilt trip us or tell our families or try to excommunicate us through a ‘court of love,’” she said.
The line for the forms was long and wrapped around two or three sides of the park, she said.
Like others, Parry was there to officially resign from the church, adding she hasn’t been active in the faith for years.
“I think that for a lot people that was the case,” she said. “I haven’t attended for years and years.”
Fox 13 News reported that, according to a poll on the mass-resignation event Facebook page, only about 4 percent of people attending the event claimed to be active members of the LDS faith.
During the event, the mailbox used to deposit the letters was overflowing, Parry said.
“ … which I think is definitely a sign of how many people really support the LGBT population and don’t like what (the church) is doing to families,” she said. “… I really think the church has strayed from what it’s supposed to be.”
There was an outpouring of support for the soon-to-be-ex-Mormons, Parry said. From the street, drivers waved and honked their horns. Various ex-Mormon support groups were also at the park, having set up tables. Others t the event displayed signs protesting the church’s policies.
As reported by Fox 13 News, the LDS Church released the following statement regarding the mass-resignations:
We don’t want to see anyone leave the Church, especially people who have been struggling with any aspect of their life. The Church exists to build people and help them heal, and there isn’t one of us who doesn’t need help at some point in our lives. We hope that today’s guidance from Church leaders and the additional commentary will help provide understanding and context to some who may be considering resigning their membership. It’s extremely important that our members read what leaders have said, and do not rely on other sources or interpretations or what people think they have said.
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