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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended July 23, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 20Jul00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormons won't let gay quit church without fight
San Francisco Examiner 17Jul00 N1
By Carol Ness: Examiner Staff

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- An article in Monday's San Francisco Examiner describes the complaints some disaffected LDS Church members have when they try to remove their names from the LD Church's records. The Examiner says, "Joining the Mormon Church is easy. Getting out can be hell."

The article gives the example of Owen Edwards, 28, who sent a letter to the LDS Church 4 1/2 months ago asking that his name be removed from the Church's records. In the letter, Edwards said that he is gay, has a partner and objected to the LDS Church's stand on California's Knight Initiative.

Now Edwards is upset because he faces a Church disciplinary hearing and may be excommunicated. "I just feel like this is very hurtful to me - that I can't just walk away. I have to fight tooth and nail. I personally believe the Mormon Church is a vindictive bunch of cult members." Edwards, who was born an LDS Church member but hasn't attended the LDS Church since age 15, hadn't left the Church before because he didn't want to tell his mother, who is an active member of the LDS Church. The article says that Edwards may even file a lawsuit against the LDS Church over the issue.

Edwards isn't the only one in this situation, according to the article. Before a court case in the 1980s, the LDS Church didn't let anyone leave the Church without being excommunicated. Now, the Examiner reports, Church policy still requires Bishops and Stake Presidents to investigate to be sure that the member isn't being pressured to leave the Church and to make sure the member understands the consequences of having his or her name removed. But if the leader discovers evidence of a transgression requiring a disciplinary council, the member could instead be excommunicated.

The LDS Church's recent support of California's Knight Initiative has drawn more attention to the issue. A Utah ex-mormon activist, Kathy Worthington, says that at least 300 disaffected members have contacted her to get help in having their names removed from the Church's records. The issue also precipitated the LDS Church's lawsuit against Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Utah Lighthouse Ministry last fall because the Tanners posted to their website the section of the LDS Church's General Handbook of Instructions that covers removing names from the Church's records. The Church successfully forced them to remove the section because posting it violated the copyright law.

According to the Examiner, Worthington has been trying to start a class action lawsuit against the Church over how it handles disaffected members' attempts to leave, but, she says, he laws in Utah don't support the case. She wants Edwards to sue in California, where explicit privacy guarantees in the law may support the case.


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