Mormons No More!

Andrew and Lauren were both born into Mormon families. They’re married now, and neither is religious. Since they are no longer members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they want their names off the church’s membership records. They also want an official signed letter as confirmation that this happened.

To say that this is proving to be difficult would be an understatement. It’s been four months, and they’ve made little progress

In their original letter to the church, they wrote this:

Please know that the time for you to influence us even by persuasion is past. Our decision was taken only after thorough study. Our decision is final. Any efforts by priesthood home teachers, Relief Society visiting teachers, or any other representatives on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to contact us either by letter (other than that requested herein), by telephone, or in person will be a very unwelcome invasion of our privacy, and will be considered as harassment and an infringement on our free agency.

So Andrew and Lauren made this decision on their own after much consideration and they want the church to respect that.

Of course, that’s not going to happen.

From there we get a long diary of events that lists all the hassle the two are put through:

Mid-April
Call to Lauren
The bishop rang Lauren and asked her if the letter was a hoax. He also asked if it was also her decision to leave. Often people say “Are you just doing it because Andrew is?”, this can be insulting to presume that Lauren cannot make her decisions for herself… Considering the letter was signed by both Lauren and I and having our date of births under the signature to verify the validity of who we are should be clear indicators that this was not a hoax and Lauren and I have both made the choice ourselves.

Tuesday 8th May 2007
Another call to Andrew
The bishop called and asked for the reasons why we left to fill in a form to send away. I said that I didn’t want to prolong the process, and he said that if I complied in answering his questions it would make the process quicker…

Sunday 27th May 2007 Around 6PM
Surprise Visit by a member of the stake presidency and a member stake high council
When friends visit they tend to ring up and politely ask if it’s convenient to come around. This was not the case with these official representatives…

The saga still isn’t over.

Andrew has this to say about it:

We have given them over four months. We have given them over a week since the 30 day period they set themselves in the unsigned letter – probably not worth the paper it’s written on – to see if they would have sent a confirmation in the post. Have they? No.

Since coming out proclaiming my atheism ex-Mormons (over the whole UK, not localised to my area) have told me about their experiences with asking for their names removed. They said that their requests have not been granted because it doesn’t seem to have persisted with contacting the church for official confirmation that it has been done. This needs to stop! We shouldn’t need to pester, one letter signed should be enough.

If anyone can give me advice regarding the situation please comment on this post as it would be a great help to others and myself wanting disassociate themselves from religion.

If you have advice for them, please pass it along.

Isn’t it amazing what some churches will spend their time and energy on…?


[tags]atheist, atheism, Mormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Relief Society, stake officer[/tags]

  • http://atheismisgood.com/about-authors Andrew Chalkley » Atheism is Good

    Thanks for the support!

  • Tao Jones

    Is having your name listed on the register anything other than symbolic?

    I’m an ex-Catholic from Canada. I toyed with the idea of writing the Vatican asking for an official Certificate of Excommunication. For me, that would have been just a joke and I’m not rude enough to actually go through with it. It is enough for me to simply know that I’ve been excommunicated.

    Does the LDS church get money for having their names on the register or anything like that? What’s the larger issue that I’m missing?

  • Richard Wade

    In response to Tao’s question about names on the register:
    I have been told that the LDS inflates its claims of membership by researching the ancestors of living members and then declaring them to be posthumously converted to Mormonism. Hence their famous skills at genealogy. I don’t know if this is true or fair as I have described. Can someone with some expertise comment on this?

  • Richard Wade

    Problems removing their names from the list could be caused by the physical nature of the list.

    If they are written on papyrus or parchment with ink made from pine soot and donkey skin gelatin, there are problems with erasing the names, even with modern ink eradicator. It can cause an unsightly stain and can weaken the papyrus or parchment.

    If they are engraved on golden tablets, then the names have to either be milled out below the surrounding surface or new gold has to be meticulously melded into the inscriptions with delicate hammering called “chasing”.

    These are very tedious, labor-intensive methods and so the LDS church may just not have enough skilled manpower to handle many such requests.

    If the names are written in ectoplasmic ink on spirit scrolls and stored in heaven then first there are access problems and after that an unknown process for erasing the names. Perhaps there’s some kind of afterlife white-out.

    However if the list is on a word processing software, then highlighting the names and pressing “backspace” should do the trick.

    Glad to be of help.

  • txatheist

    I sent this their way and maybe someone here could use it. Found you from friendlyatheist.com One of the greatest resources you will find is people on the bulletin board at http://www.ex-mormon.org

    Bulletin board is near the top in the center.

  • http://atheismisgood.com/about-authors Andrew Chalkley » Atheism is Good

    Hi All,

    Thanks for the comments.

    The LDS church exaggerates current membership numbers by making it particularly difficult to remove your name. Thus there are more Mormons that are actually believing and practicing. Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to be more strict on their numbers.

    The membership records are a real list of members. There is some “spiritual” reason for keeping them. MORONI 6:4

    In the UK the amount of funding a church unit or area receives, as I am aware, is related to the members on the records in that particular area. So locally it’s not good to loose members.

  • Karen

    I’ve read stories of Catholics – I think they were in Italy – having similar problems trying to get off the church roles after deconversion.

    It’s all about pumping up the numbers, and extending their influence, baby!

  • http://skeptigator.com Skeptigator

    Actually Richard Wade is almost correct. While “inflating membership” is certainly a claim that can be made it however implies that Mormons have an ulterior motive beyond their stated purpose.

    The only way to get to Heaven according to Joseph Smith is to be a member of the Mormon Church. However, when confronted with the fact that Mormonism didn’t exist previous to (I think) the 1820s, how do you ensure that your deceased relatives can get to heaven. You research their information (there is certain criteria that must be provided, you can’t just say, “I want all my ancestors to be Mormons”, you know because that would be ridiculous) which is why the LDS is one of the greatest sources for genealogy

  • Bjorn Watland

    Baptism for the dead if fair game to anyone. The LDS church got into some hot water for baptizing Jews who died in the holocaust. They removed their names from their records. All in all, it’s just silly, and shouldn’t matter. Here’s a brief primer on Mormon theology:

    1. We were all spirit children, all created at the same time.
    2. We were all taught the Truth as spirit children.
    3. Our bodies on Earth are temporary vessels for our spirit.
    4. Our time on Earth is a trial, to see if we can obey Heavenly Father’s word.
    5. There are four different places you go when you die:
    a. Outer Darkness – You only go here if you deny the holy spirit. Although, this isn’t easy, and you actually have to believe in Heavenly Father to deny him.
    b. Telestrial Kingdom – You go here if you reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, or commit serious sins, like murder, lying, and loving to make a lie. Spirits here, after the final resurrection will become servants of the Most High, but can not go to where God and Christ hang out.
    c. Terrestrial Kingdom – Let’s say you were, “blinded by the craftiness of men,” or were “not valiant in the testimony of Jesus,” you would end up here. Here you get to hang out with Jesus, but God never goes here.
    d. Celestial Kingdom – You were a super Mormon. You get put into one of three levels of the Celestial Kingdom. If you got sealed in the temple, or married, you can get into the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom. If granted into the VIP level, you inherit “thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers.” You become a God, just like Jesus. See, Jesus is the God of this planet, and if you’re a super good Mormon, get sealed through mysterious sacred ceremonies in the temple, you get to populate your own planet with spirit children. So, if we ever detected signs of life on another planet, Mormons would just say, see, I told you we were right!

  • http://yahmdallah.blogspot.com/ yahmdallah

    I once joined the Mormon church for a pretty silly reason (full story here), and didn’t really suspect what a bunch of goons they were because a good friend of mine was Mormon and seemed OK.

    However, like these folks, it took me forever to scrape them off my shoe. At first, like someone mentioned above, I didn’t bother because I didn’t think it would matter. But year after year they kept showing up at my door, giving me a full rundown of where I’d lived previously, and then asking why I wasn’t going to church.

    Finally, they showed up at the house I live in now and were rude and aggressive to my wife, so I started the excommunication process (full story here, the second section after the dividing bar).

    They are a pretty difficult bunch to get them to leave you alone. I had to threaten police involvement eventually.

    For the record, I’m a protestant (Lutheran or Presbyterian, depending on which church is the best near my house) and a believer. I just feel the Mormon church is based on Joseph Smith’s BS, and not the Bible.

  • Bjorn Watland

    I have some inside information I got from a missionary once. Missionaries, at least the guys, love to try to convert people in college towns, particularly the girls. FTC is what they call it, “Flirt to Convert.” I have no idea how successful that little ruse is.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I am not sure about getting taken off the rolls, but if they continue to harass, I am sure a restraining order would be appropriate.

  • Bjorn Watland

    I read a book called “Leaving the Saints” by Martha Beck. In it, she talks about a rumored covert group of ex-CIA and ex-FBI people who kept tabs on Mormons in Utah, especially anyone who spoke out against the church. One apostate, now atheist Mormon I talked to mentioned growing up Mormon, going to a non-Mormon college, saw what reality looked like, and never went back to the church. Since then, she’ll get calls from Mormons, and get letters letting her know she’s been accepted into BYU.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    As yahmdallah points out, “name removal” is not entirely a symbolic act — the Mormons really do keep contacting people after years of “inactivity” to try to get them to come back to the fold. I’ve never bothered to go through the name removal process because (as I explained in my excommunication post) the Mormons have left me alone and haven’t made any effort to recontact me since I moved to France. Others aren’t so lucky, though. Natalie Collins frequently blogs about the fact that she specifically went through the entire name removal process and still gets contacted and invited to church as if she were still a member.

    Richard Wade’s speculations on the problems of name removal really made me laugh since in theory it should be a trivial procedure, yet it isn’t. From what I’ve heard, it isn’t really name removal since they don’t ever actually delete your record from their grand database, they just add a note that you’re no longer a member.

    To find people who are on the membership list in order to recontact them, I’m not sure they specifically use ex-CIA and ex-FBI agents (although some of the people who do that might be former intelligence agents). But I don’t think they use spy tactics. They mostly just call your relatives and ask them for your current contact info.

  • http://skepticum.com Mana

    I’d want my name removed just so that they won’t have a claim to my future (or my family’s future), so I understand the desire as well as its symbolic significance. However, when it comes to Mormonism, it’s easier to be excommunicated than to get your name removed from the records. There are a few who claim they have proven effective ways of doing this, the most prominent being:
    Mormons in Transition
    Mormons no More

    Good luck!

  • http://steelmansmusings.blogspot.com Steelman

    Richard Wade: “If they are written on papyrus or parchment with ink made from pine soot and donkey skin gelatin, there are problems with erasing the names…”

    This is the reason I will never read this blog again…

    …while taking a sip of coffee.

    I’m still on the rolls myself; baptized at 8yrs of age (the “age of accountability”…yeah, right), and my parents left the LDS church a couple of years after that. I don’t get any more LDS missionaries than I do JW’s at the door, so I haven’t bothered to go through the process of removing my name from the heavenly parchment.

  • http://www.blueshifted.org Andy

    I think Andrew and Lauren should inform the LDS church, in writing, that they consider the church’s claim to their membership to be defamation of character. (It would certainly damage my reputation if people thought I were a Mormon, anyway. People would think I’m nuts!) If the Mormons persist in listing them as members, Andrew and Lauren should sue the frilly magical underpants off those creeps for libel. (This is, of course, assuming that the list is public.)

  • Maria

    this happend to a friend of mine who left Mormonism. as far as I know, he’s still not off the list. he gave up trying, but he moved across town and didn’t leave a forwarding address. they kept coming to his home and bugging him, and he moved to get away from them. it was ridiculous.

  • Richard Wade

    (This is, of course, assuming that the list is public.)

    Hmm. It may not be considered public if the list can only be read through magic spectacles while sticking your face into a hat. Andrew and Lauren might get better results if they could be satisfied with their names being crossed out with a Magic Marker. There’s at least magic in the name. On the other hand the idea of suing the LDS Church for Defamation of Soul or False Salvation sounds good. How about willful infliction of beatitude?

  • Tao Jones

    Ok, sorry. I still don’t fully get it.

    What is the benefit for LDS to have an inflated membership figure? So they have a sexier figure (heh heh) while trying to gain new converts? It’s not like they get tax dollars based on how many members they have, right?

    If they are harassing ex-members, that seems to be a different issue since they could go right on harassing someone if they were determined to do so, regardless of whether or not they were still on the books. If they stopped the harassment but left your name in the register, would that be an acceptable solution?

    So is the issue being on the books or the harassment?

  • http://www.blakeclan.org/jon/greenoasis/ Jonathan Blake

    Tao Jones,

    For the Mormon church, it basically boils down to what you say: a sexier figure. Mormons love to ponder on how fast their church is growing. It’s seen as a sign of divine backing, even though other faiths have grown faster during recent years.

    The church currently claims 12 million members even though some say as few as 4 million attend once during a given month. Of course this could probably also be said of the Roman Catholic church where weekly attendance at mass isn’t really part of the average Catholic’s experience.

    For the Mormon people, a name on the records is also important because it means that they are responsible for the welfare of that person. They believe God will hold them accountable if they didn’t perform their due diligence in helping that person to return to God. Hence the harassment.

    Beyond ending the harassment, getting your name off of a religion’s records has the salutary effect of showing how faithless our society really is. :)

  • http://atheismisgood.com/about-authors Andrew Chalkley » Atheism is Good

    Nicely put Jonathan :)

    Tao,

    Plus they have a lawful obligation too to remove the records if requested to do so. So not doing isn’t acceptable :)

    The issue is both. Considering we asked for no contact and they ignored it initially.

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  • http://wwwhowardreesartist.com howard rees

    I have been an inactive “member” for 35 years. fortunatly I have moved many times and they seem to have lost me. YEA!! A couple missionaries knocked on my door a couple of weeks ago, just out tracking…I bet they wished they had’nt. I am not all that concerned about getting my name off their records,since they really never take it off. Poor insecure bunch! Enjoyed all the comments.

  • Matthew

    Didn’t know Moromons were so bad. I don’t think they are. What they do seems annoying, but they do it out of duty and sometimes love. I always chuckle when I see other Christians talk bad of Mormons. If they could only see outside their own bubble they might see that they are seen in a similar light by many non-religious people. Oh well, have fun with your bigotry. To each their own form I suppose.


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