By Eric Johnson
En Espanol: Aqui
This is an individual decision that every Latter-day Saint needs to consider for him or herself. There are several questions that ought to be contemplated:
- Do you reject the teachings of the Mormon Church?
- Do you no longer consider yourself active in this church?
- Do you want your name to be counted with the 15-million-plus “members” across the world?
Some Latter-day Saints don’t want to hassle with the resignation process. Whether they are new Christians or have no faith at all, they might feel they are free and are not obligated to take their names off the church list. And that is their prerogative, as there is no right or wrong in this situation. Those of us at Mormonism Research Ministry have never had to deal with writing letters of resignation because none of us were ever LDS. (That surprises people, but each one of us has a heart for Latter-day Saint people, as we all have Mormons in our lives, including relatives, friends, and co-workers.) With that said, we generally agree that getting our names off the church rolls would be important to us for two important reasons:
- LDS missionaries love to tell potential converts how “Mormonism is the world’s fastest growing religion” even though it is not. Certainly, if every person who left the LDS Church had their name removed, the numbers would not be as impressive.
- There seems to be a special psychological freedom for many former Mormons when their names are removed. This can lead to a sense of closure.
Although the process may sound difficult, it actually is quite simple. It begins by sending a letter to your bishop. We recommend photocopying this same letter to the stake president and the membership records department of the church. (Using “cc” on the letter will let everyone know you have included the letter to other locations and are taking this very seriously.) The address to the church is:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Membership Records Dept.
50 E. North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
While the letter you write will be the same to all three recipients, be sure that it is not merely a generic form letter. Each copy should be personally signed. Children having their name removed must also sign a written request that is also signed by the parent(s) or legal guardian. Please understand that merely asking that church representatives to not contact you is not enough to have your name removed. Use certified or registered mail for the bishop and stake president to verify they have received the correspondence.
Your bishop should contact you in order to make sure you understand what your decision entails. If he feels that you are sure about your decision, he will file a “Report of Administrative Action” form. Once the local stake presidency has reviewed the form and your request, the bishop should send you a letter that states your name is in the process of being removed. Since normally a member has 30 days to rescind his/her decision, don’t expect your name to be removed right away. If, after 30 days, the stake president does not hear from you, the form and your written request will be forwarded and your name will be removed.
This letter can provide an excellent opportunity to explain why you have come to such a conclusion. You may wish to include the following points:
- I do not believe that God is a glorified human being, or that men can become Gods (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 43:10).
- I cannot belong to a church which denigrates Jesus Christ by claiming He and Lucifer are spirit-brothers.
- I have found Joseph Smith does not meet the biblical requirements of a true prophet according to Deuteronomy 13:1-3 and Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
- I no longer believe the Book of Mormon is the “most correct book on earth.” (You may wish to list some of the inconsistencies between the teachings in the Book of Mormon and Mormon doctrine as it is taught today.)
- I cannot, in good conscience, accept the Doctrine and Covenants as inspired by God in light of the many corrections and errors it contains.
- I also find it impossible to embrace the Book of Abraham as being authentic when credible Egyptologists have agreed that Joseph Smith’s “translation” of his papyri was completely erroneous.
- I cannot belong to a church which claims a priesthood that is not based upon biblical principles.
- Since discovering that salvation is a free gift purchased through Christ’s death on the cross (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5), I have experienced what Jesus called the “peace that passes all understanding.” I now have the assurance that when I die I will inherit eternal life (1 John 5:13).
By all means include a short personal testimony and even a way how your former church leaders can come to know the Jesus of the Bible as you do. Be gracious, extending to the reader the same patience and understanding that was shown to you before you came to see the error of Mormonism.
- You can request that you have an interest (or lack of interest) in having a church hearing. If you want to waive your right to a hearing, explain in the letter how you have done nothing wrong to warrant any type of disciplinary council. You may even state directly that your leaving the church is based on philosophical and religious reasons, not because you were hurt by anyone in the church or any type of immorality on your part. (These two reasons are often assumed by the Latter-day Saints you are leaving behind.)
- Explain you do not want any visits or phone calls from any church representatives. You merely want to end your relationship with the church.
Here are sample letters provided by the Institute for Religion Research:
If you are not contacted within two months, feel free to contact your bishop and ask how much longer the process should take.
While leaving Mormonism may be one of the hardest decisions a person could ever make, there is nothing better than a biblical relationship with the true Jesus Christ. For further reading we suggest two books by Latayne Scott entitled, “Why We Left Mormonism,” and “After Mormonism, What?” These books deal with much of the emotional aspect of leaving the LDS Church as well as tips for the Christian who is in close contact with those who have made this decision. Both books are published by Baker Book House.
If there is anything we at MRM can do for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us: [email protected]
Here are other resources to consider:
- Leaving Mormonism
- MormonNoMore.com – “How to resign from the Mormon Church “
- How To Have Your Name Removed From LDS Church Records (Institute for Religious Research)
- How to Remove Your Name from the LDS Records, by Sandra Tanner
- Exit Stories (Institute for Religious Research) – “Personal accounts by ex-Mormons who share their experiences to help questioning Mormons and other ex-Mormons”
- Testimonies (MormonInfo.org) – Large list of testimonies of those who have left Mormonism