SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 14 (Gephardt Daily) — One month after worldwide media reported on the LDS Church Mass Resignation at a park near the iconic Temple Square, event organizer Lauren Elise McNamara is ready to share numbers and reflect on what has been accomplished.
“We ended up with 2,500 people at the event, of which 2,000 resigned,” said McNamara, who also turned in her personal paperwork to resign from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Another 2,000 we are aware of resigned remotely in the week leading up to the event.
“Since that day, another 1,000 resignations were submitted (to Mark Naugle, the attorney offering to process resignations for free),” McNamara said. “There may be more. We have no way of knowing how many more resignations were submitted directly to the church.”
McNamara organized the Nov. 14 mass resignation as a reaction to an LDS Church announcement that children living in same-sex couple households would be barred from certain church rites, including being blessed in church as babies and being baptized into membership, at least until they grew up and renounced homosexual behavior.
The LDS Church announcement also reaffirmed that Mormons in same-sex relationships are considered apostates.
McNamara, with co-organizers Brooke Swallow and Kalen Braley and additional supporters, created a Facebook page, LDS Mass Resignation Support Group, Entry Page. Page administrators vet individuals requests, and approve people to join another site, which is private due to the volume of hateful comments outsiders posted on the public version of the page.
The private nature of the page also helps protect the identities of users who who believe their personal lives or businesses will be hurt if people know they are gay.
“One woman in the Salt Lake area is losing business because of regular customers because she owns the business with her wife, and now they have been labeled apostates by the church,” McNamara said. “They aren’t even active members, and haven’t been for years, but they’re getting condemned just the same.”
Many who chose to resign at the November event are facing personal repercussions, McNamara said.
“Since the LDS Church announcement, a lot of people have been rejected by their friends and families. We’re getting a lot of expressions of hurts like these. I’m hoping that we can turn it around. That the love we can offer will at least in part make up for such experiences.”
McNamara said a whole culture exists in Utah to support people who have chosen to leave the LDS Church. Online and in-person support groups are available, as are groups that meet to socialize in the absence of LDS Church group activities.
Informational sites, such as Mormon Spectrum, offer third-party information geared toward groups with questions, with categories of people served including Orthodox Mormons, Unorthodox Mormons, Exploring Mormons, Post and Ex-Mormons, and LGBTQ.
The official LDS website, for those seeking information there, is www.lds.org. The LDS Church claims a membership of 15 million people.
“But most of those 15 million are inactive,” she said. “There have been estimates that say that say only 25 to 40 percent of those 15 million are in any way active or even consider themselves Mormons. If they are going to say they are a church of 15 million, they should say how many of those people are active.”
McNamara said any kind of social or family rejection can have a high emotional cost, and asked that people share suicide hotline links. Those geared specifically for LGBTQ young people include the Trevor Project and It Gets Better.
“As for goals moving forward, we’re going to talk after the holidays and see what people are needing,” McNamara said of event organizers.
Naugle, the Salt Lake City attorney who has offered his services free to those seeking excommunication, said the LDS Church is being cooperative, and is processing resignation requests as he completes the paperwork.
“The only issues have been clerical,” he said. “I haven’t seen any systematic problems at all.”
Naugle said he’s still got at least a foot-tall pile of event or post-event resignation paperwork that needs to be scanned and processed. He suggests resignees who haven’t heard from him yet should call the church membership office, at 800-453-3860, ext. 22053, to learn their current membership status.
His own family left the church when he was 15, Naugle said, and the process was painful. He said he processes resignations for free because he wants to save others from that pain.