Thousands of Mormons Are Leaving the Church Over New Gay “Apostate” Policy

The historic Mormon Salt Lake Temple sits on Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

As my colleague June Thomas reported last week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints recently made a hard stop in its seeming progress toward LGBTQ tolerance by announcing that going forward, members in same-sex relationships would be considered “apostates” and their children would be barred from religious life. This exclusion includes baptism, which in the Mormon faith is required for salvation—in other words, the church, at least under its own theology, is forcibly keeping kids from God as punishment for their parents’ love. To be accepted fully back into the faith, including being granted to opportunity to go on a mission, children must reach legal age and formally disavow their parents’ relationship.

This decision would seem at odds with the church’s softening stance on gay issues following the widespread backlash it received for supporting California’s Proposition 8. But it is certainly not dissonant with the core Mormon doctrine, which has never wavered in condemning “practicing homosexuals,” even as actual discipline was only infrequently meted out. Now, the new hardline approach has forced a reckoning in the minds of believers—many of whom, apparently, can no longer keep the faith.

As David Badash reports over in The New Civil Rights Movement, thousands of souls are set to leave the church on Saturday as part of a mass resignation in Salt Lake City. Because leaving the LDS requires certain legal proceedings, Utah attorney Mark Naugle has volunteered to help with the paperwork; notary publics will also be in attendance. In an interview with local outlet KIVI-TV, Naugle said he has 1,400 resignations already in the works, and the Facebook event for Saturday has almost 1,000 confirmed attendees. In addition to submitting letters of resignation to the church, participants are scheduled to march around Temple Square to protest the policy.

Religious groups are, of course, well within their rights to make harsh exclusionary statements of this sort. But as understanding and support of same-sex couples and families continues to grow, those groups will not be immune to consequences—the membership records at LDS headquarters are about to bear clear evidence of that.