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
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.