This essay was originally posted on the GailyMormon Blog
Edward Jones III
* ***** *** **** *****
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
May 11, 2015
Member Records Division, LDS Church
50 E. North Temple, Room 1372
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-5310
Dear Mormon leaders,
I am writing you this letter to notify you of my resignation from the LDS Church. I want to thank you for the many beautiful things your church has brought into my life, and tell you why I am leaving.
Thank you for fostering an environment in which I felt secure and loved as a child—surrounded by a large family of ward members who spent countless hours with me in church classes, Scout outings, youth activities, temple trips, and more, enclosing me in a protective cocoon of doctrines and teachings and friendship.
Thank you for creating a music-rich environment that caused my parents to enroll me in piano and organ lessons so I could aid in worship. These lessons led in turn to university studies in music and a lifelong passion for the arts.
Thank you for emphasizing scripture study, which exposed me early on to literary beauty: the ecstatic visions of Isaiah, tender lovers in the Song of Solomon, Jesus’ strange and wonderful stories, and images from the Book of Mormon: a lone whale in the depths of the sea, a tree whose fruit was the love of God.
Thank you for inviting me to Paraguay to spend two years as a missionary. I learned three languages, saw jungles and grasslands and immense waterfalls, met thousands of beautiful people, and shared their way of life, their sorrows, and their joys.
Thank you for my years at Brigham Young University, where I studied piano, wrote music and heard it performed, saw art films, taught Spanish at the Missionary Training Center, sang in the Mormon Youth Chorus, learned Latin and Greek, and met lifelong friends.
In spite of all these beautiful gifts, it is time for me to leave your church. Over the years, I have struggled to find a place in it, without success. For me, institutions are not “true” or “false” in an absolute sense, but can be judged by how well they fit with an individual’s values and needs. Certain of my values are simply inconsistent with Mormon church membership:
I value people of all sexual orientations. I am a gay man, and I have not found a comfortable place in Mormon theology or worship. I have come to see for myself that being gay is just as beautiful and sacred as being straight is. I am disappointed that the Mormon church has not done more to prevent many of its young LGBT members from committing suicide.
I value gender equality. As a feminist, I cannot in good conscience call a church home that denies priesthood and leadership roles to women at any level. I believe the Mormon church is impoverished by its failure to fully accept the leadership gifts of women. I am disappointed in the church’s refusal to embrace its own doctrine of a Heavenly Mother.
I value sexuality as part of the richness of life—as a means of self-knowledge and a way of connecting with others. My experience with Mormon sex rules is that they create needless anxiety and shame around a part of being human that is natural and beautiful.
I value scientific inquiry and have come to a place of agnosticism. Given a lack of any objective evidence to prove or disprove the existence of God—and given the presence of other evidence-based theories that plausibly explain life on earth and our place in the universe—I cannot say with any certainty that the divine exists as an external reality.
I value my spiritual autonomy as an individual. While many Mormons take comfort in a top-down structure in which God instructs church leaders and requires obedience of members, I see no reason for any human to intervene in my relationship with whatever divinity may exist. I have come to find spirituality in places that require no intermediary at all: the senses, the beauty of the world, relationships with friends and family, music, art, meditation, and more.
For all of these reasons, I thank you for bringing so much goodness into my life and I must part ways with you now. I do so with affection and with much interest in how the Mormon church will grow and progress in the coming years.
Please take good care of my family members and friends who remain deeply committed to your faith. I will carry them in my heart, as I hope they will continue to carry me in theirs.
With sincere regard,
Edward Jones III
P.S. Please regard the following as part of the body of my letter, above:
My full name is E********. I was born on *********. My Membership Record Number is ***-****-****.
This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs, and discipline. As I am no longer a member, I request that my name be permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church.
I have given this matter considerable thought. I understand the seriousness and the consequences of my actions. I am aware that my resignation cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws my priesthood ordination, and revokes temple blessings.
I hope to receive confirmation within a reasonably short time that my name has been removed from your records.
Dear Edward, thank you for your letter. We are shocked to hear that you do not find the prospect of a lifetime of celibacy and loneliness to be an attractive option. As church leaders, we have struggled to figure out how the whole plan of salvation thing would work for you people, but we’re sure it will all be straightened out in the hereafter. Just trust us!
Alternatively, have you tried pretending to be straight and marrying a woman? We all like it a lot, and would encourage you to give it a shot. Once you are married to a woman and not pursuing the evil gay lifestyle any more we’re confident that you will find our churches to be welcoming and comfortable.
So please, give us another chance. We need people like you to plan the road shows. Sincerely, The Quorum of the Twelve.
Other than the remark about the roadshows, that was not cool. Edward is reconciling his faith with his sexuality as he chooses, just like Church leaders are reconciling others’ sexuality with their faith. Everyone has to do this on all questions of morality/belief, and then should live according to how each one feels. Does yours determine an authority to mock others when their stated beliefs are different than yours?
This is my opinion. You have freedom to mock as you please. But I would hope that you would consider their positions respectfully as you respectfully defend Edward’s decision.
Thank you for writing a beautiful, loving, respectful, and powerful letter, Edward. You’ve set an example I’d love to follow.
Ammon – it’s not really mocking if it’s true.
Church “leaders” have nothing to reconcile, it’s not their church if you believe Jesus leads it. So get over yourself, the church and its leaders (if you know how to separate them).
And quit the drama – no one but you and over-sensitive people worry about “authority to mock.” And I’m LDS!!!!
A beautiful letter.
Boundaries of propriety are the antithesis of humor, as is critical analysis such as this. Mockery is a key element in much that is humorous.
Thank you for this Edward. Sans the homosexual orientation, it is the letter I hope to write, and the way I need to view my 38 years in the church. Inspirational to read.
I’m glad Edward was able to move on. His beliefs have obviously changed. In so doing he is right to move on and search for that”something” out there that more fully fits his new beliefs. I hope others can learn from him that one should move forward and create and develop a standard of life that matches his or hers instead of trying to get an entire organization to radically change for him.
You are an idiot why would you mock the twelfth like theyes should sue you!!
Along the way of your new choice may I just say. I have come to know in patience of time that God has His Heart set upon us. Upon you and I. His Love is passionate for His children. For you.
It’s actually true that their is a Peace that surpasses understanding. One can not not only know that God lives but also actually know God. Considering our own inadequacy and nothingness this is astonishing!
But when that begins to happen what else is even interesting.
And so I guess to you Edward, I would just say learn what you need to learn but don’t be gone away from the church for too long 🙂
Sadly his name will forever remain on their records. It’s all about numbers and money. I’ve lived amongst this cult my whole life. Names are never erased even if you’re excummumicated.
Sounds like you enjoyed being part of the faith only as long as it was easy and convenient for you. This life is supposed to contain trials and challenges, without them we could not progress. Unfortu lately it is not all art beauty and music. I hope you do not abandon god at the time in your life when you need him most.
Awesome! Great reply.
However, I have not experienced the same greatness that you have within the church. I left because 80% are hypocrites. It’s amazing how almost every Moorman family preaches hate instead of love. That’s just my own experiences. I was raised into the church back in the 70’s.
After my time in the church, it turns out they are just normal people who group together to harm others and only help their own. Not extremely bad people, and not good either. It’s too bad the church likes to shun others and preaches not to… Just turn a blind eye and pretend to be happy or they will all turn on you too.
Did I read that right? Did you write as if for the Twelve? This is terribly presumptuous.
As for a gay man marrying a woman, this would not be fair to her, as it almost never works out.
Jeez, we’ll thanks to the Mormon church for creating their own trials and challenges just for me. Imagine, without those, where would I be? Well, without the hate around me, maybe in the same place, or perhaps in a better place if it was positive love for everyone.
Hey Luci. Great point! It takes an idiot to know an idiot. You were both Mormon. Luci try to quit being a Mormon Moron and learn to think for yourself and ask yourself though questions instead of living blind.
Sorry, Mance–I’m not buying your rationalization. Mockery is defined as “teasing and contemptuous language or behavior directed at a particular person or thing.” Truth or perceived truth has nothing to do with it. Edward’s letter was respectful, not mocking. Porter’s comment mocked. He may have a point, but don’t pretend it wasn’t mockery.
Edward, as a straight man struggling with some of your same issues, I applaud you. I also agree with the individual that stated your name will never be removed, because it’s all about numbers anyway, and to the gentleman mocking the quorum of the twelve, ROTFLMAO that was funny!!!! Well done! To those of you self righteous, pompous, holier than thou, thinking Edward and those of us that share in his beliefs at least in part, GO HIDE IN YOUR SECRET MEETINGS, PRETEND TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AND PRAY FOR OUR SOULS, because it’ll make you feel better about yourselves, and we really don’t care.
I believe you are well intentioned, but you are also being very condescending when you assume the departure is an unwillingness to make moral choices because they are too hard. It may be hard for a TBM to understand, but some of us reach the conclusion that the church isn’t “true” for reasons other than laziness or spiritual death. [It remains a sad irony that many ex-Mormons know more about the church than the average faithful member.]
And the irony continues as ex Mormons, specifically those who believe they’ve been deceived, can’t with certainty know if they’re being deceived with the information used to convince them the church isn’t true. There are volumes more of printed falsehoods about the early church and its people. There are countless numbers of people who don’t know as much as they think because of the lacking discernment of truth vs lies.
Sad but true.
Sadly a lot of what is printed about the early church, it’s leaders, and members is true. It’s just not very flattering, and so we jump to defend or rationalize things because mormon culture has become very important to many of us, and I dare say we love it so we defend the things we love, even if our defense isn’t based in rationality.
I will agree with your statement that there are countless numbers of people who don’t know as much as they think, but will say that goes both ways. Often when I hear the words “I know” from a TBM, they should honestly be replaced with “I believe.”
Beautiful letter. It's a good thing there is a place for you and room at the rainbow table.
Thanks so much, Goran!
Someone who has lived a life such as the authors will have had several opportunities for the spirit to bear witness of the truthfulness of the gospel. I truly believe that the author, at least at some point, knew the church was true. However, he made the decision to forget or disregard this affirmation of truth because the church teaches that the lifestyle he wants is wrong… and those are hard words to hear. These other reasons that you speak of then serve to excuse his decision and make him feel better about his choice.
The act of posting such an article is clearly a plea for attention and for reassurance from his peers, which supports the idea that he knows deep down he is wrong.
Actually, with research I think you would find that most anti-mormon literature is deceptive exaggerated or flat out wrong. However, one very important thing many people seem to miss about christianity is that we believe no human, with the exception of Christ, is perfect. So does that mean early church leaders made some mistakes? YES! This is why Christ’s atonement is so important. You will not find a single member of the church who has not made mistakes, but that does not make the gospel false.
Done quite a bit of research into these things. Anti-mormon literature can be and often is exaggerated. However, a lot of historical literature or dissenting information about the church inaccurately gets labeled as “anti-mormon” by mormons, and apologists so we can dismiss it easier, and rationalize it away even though it brings up good points and backs up its claims.
Yes it sounds like someone else is judgmental. Certainly not you.
This is a very positive thing. As an active member, I don’t want anyone within the Church that doesn’t want to be there. If a person finds that their values have shifted and no longer want to be a member, it’s good for them to leave. They should be able to express themselves the way they want and stand up for the things they believe in most. And the Church should, too. People hate hearing this, but it’s a two way street. The Church also shouldn’t compromise the things they believe in most just because that’s the way the winds are blowing.