Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. (Acts 4:19)
These are the words of Peter and John given as their humble but firm defense of their faith when brought before the high council on charges of apostasy. It seems that there are many people in the church today who are being called in to see the stake high councils of the church. It is telling and concerning that many of them are also giving the same defense. For example my friend Alan Rock Waterman who writes the Pure Mormonism blog has been called to one of these councils on charges of apostasy and this seems to be for his writings which all seem to ask the question: Is it right to obey and reverence the general authorities more than God? The answer he gives is No. It is Jesus Christ in whom we are to place our faith, not the arm of flesh, even if it is the arm of flesh covered in expensive suits in general conference.
This has led to a real crisis for faithful members of the church who desire nothing more than to keep their covenants and maintain their testimonies, when they are faced with lies and changes to doctrines and ordinances by church leaders. Some resign their membership others bear testimony in High council meetings and are excommunicated for it. No matter the outcome when such stalwart saints are cut off from the church the church itself suffers their loss, and those responsible bear the awful consequences, and will suffer the judgements of God.
One such member has requested that I publish his resignation letter here. He has also given permission for anyone who is facing church discipline to use any or all of the text for their own resignation letter. It is full of the spirit, and shows a sad state of affairs in the church today. I hope by reading it you will gain a stronger testimony of the Gospel, and a more firm desire to remain faithful to the principles of the restoration, even in the face of inappropriate church discipline. Names have been redacted for privacy.
THE ___________ STAKE Tuesday, October 2, 2012
SENT BY CERTIFIED MAIL; RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
Re: Resignation from membership of:
Confirmation date: __________
To Whom It May Concern:
With this letter I officially notify you of my resignation from membership, or affiliation with the corporations identified by their trademark: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints™ and all offices and callings in those entities, effective immediately. With my resignation I voluntarily sever my formal affiliation with the specified corporation(s) 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 any internal disciplinary procedures. As such I want my name, contact information, and all other notes, annotations, archives, or other records of any kind containing my name, permanently and completely removed from the records of the church.
I therefore also request you to immediately make the necessary changes in the membership records to indicate that I am not a member. I am familiar with the procedures as outlined in the “Church Handbook of Instructions Vol. 1,” and I request that you fill out and forward the necessary administrative form as soon as possible. The necessary form is the “Report of Administrative Action” form. This form can be found in MLS under “Confidential Reports”, in the bottom left corner on the main screen. You can fill in the form and then print it for signature and mailing. I am also including a copy of the relevant sections of policy as outlined in the handbook.
I assure you that I do not take this step lightly. I have devoted years of careful thought, prayer, and study to this matter, and I am firm in my decision to end my membership.
I am aware that current church policy directs bishops and other leaders to threaten me that by resigning my affiliation with the corporate entity which currently controls the church that I cancel all blessings, ordinances including baptism, ordinations, promises, covenants, and my hope of exaltation. I have made my decision with that consideration well in mind, and I have prayerfully studied the scriptures and the teachings of Latter-Day prophets to find out for myself if this teaching is correct. I further understand that church leaders are required to advise me in writing that this policy position is doctrinal, and that by resigning my membership I am bringing about eternal consequences.
I hereby solemnly enter my utmost protest to this idea and renounce this false doctrine. I warn that advocating this unscriptural teaching puts your priesthood and your very souls in danger. I warn you to speedily repent of such threats and compulsion on the souls of men, lest the judgments of God come upon you. (D&C 121) No man can take my priesthood from me. How can the church take away my covenants when I did not receive these covenants from the church? I made my covenants with God, and I intend to keep all my covenants. I understand that once I have resigned my membership in the church, the church will expect me to stop wearing the sacred temple garments of the holy priesthood, cease to bless my children, and in general cease to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my fellow man. I solemnly proclaim that: I will not violate the covenants I made with God in order to obey the commandments of men. As Peter declared to the president of the ancient Church in his day: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” (Acts 4:19)
By resigning my affiliation with the corporate Church I am NOT resigning from the priesthood, any office of the priesthood, or any of the keys, laws, rights, ordinances or responsibilities that I have taken before God. I am not amenable to any mortal man, or corporation, for the discharge of these sacred responsibilities. I made these covenants before God and as God lives I will keep that covenant!
I realize that the corporation of the church will require the local leaders of the church to deny me the proper exercise of my priesthood in church meetings, and will deny that I remain worthy to exercise these sacred obligations. I cannot be accountable for this apostate and false doctrine, and do not intend to honor or sustain any church leader if they choose to engage in such action. Instead I will kindly refrain from any action in the church that would cause a bishop or other church officer to be subject to disciplinary action, not because I am in any way unworthy to exercise my priesthood, but to protect my friends from the despotic policies of the apostate church.
For these and other reasons I request that no one representing the church contact me in their official capacity as representatives of the church for any reason other than to confirm that my request has successfully been processed. In particular I will refuse to speak with anyone from the church who attempts to compel me to silence by further threats of spiritual or social retribution against me or my family. In realizing that my family would be shunned as pariahs and my good name defamed in the local wards if I allowed you to continue, I have decided that the best course is a voluntary and private withdrawal of my formal affiliation. Further, in recognition that the Lord will hold us all accountable for the light and knowledge which we have received, and that where much is given much is required, I have submitted this resignation in an attempt to follow the example of the Savior in forgiving even those who accused him. (Luke 23:34) If I were to wait for you to excommunicate me for my testimony of the prophets and the revelations of God, then you would not be sinning against me but against the light. (D&C 82:3) I believe nothing more and nothing less than all the words of all the holy prophets since the world began. The church has in the past few decades decided to deny many of the scriptures and words of the prophets. Some of these false doctrines are now mandated by the Church Handbook of Instructions (2010 edition). If I were to remain a member my friends who are in positions of authority in this stake would be placed in the untenable position of either improperly disciplining me, thus putting their own priesthood in jeopardy, (D&C 121) or standing true to the doctrines as revealed by the prophets and thus risk suffering improper discipline from the church as well. By withdrawing my membership I relieve you of the terrible consequences of sinning against God and his word, or being publicly humiliated yourselves. I freely forgive you all that you have done, and pray only that you will seek the Holy Spirit to guide you into greater and greater truths until the perfect day. I earnestly hope to one day sit down with each of you, along with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of our Father.
If you desire, after the process of resignation and subsequent removal of all my records, I will be willing to meet with any of you, your families, or the whole high counsel assembled, and share my testimony of the fullness of the Gospel with you. I will be happy to proclaim the words of life to every living soul, and share with you the glorious truths of the gospel. God is preparing to build Zion in our day and His work will go forward regardless of apostasy within, and without, the church. There is much that I could share with you about the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fire of the covenant burns within my soul brighter today than at any time previous in my life. I will stand as a witness of His gospel in all things and at all times and in all places. If you are prepared to accept and live the fullness of the gospel, not the partial gospel made of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture currently taught by the church, but the complete and glorious truths of the restoration, then I am anxious to share these things with all who are prepared to hear. I warn that to whom much is given much is required, and that if I share these things with you, you will be accountable before God for your acceptance or rejection of it.
It is my understanding that you are required to indicate on your form my “reason for leaving.” Please state the reason as “At member’s request” or “Doctrinal reasons,” because these are the actual reasons. I insist that you do not put there any reason which could be derogatory to me. I insist that you honor this request by not using any personal or doctrinal disagreement you may have had with me as an excuse to put any form of the word “apostasy” on any form, record, or communication. If we indeed have any disagreements about doctrine you may only place “Doctrinal reasons” on the “Report of Administrative Action” form. I wish to assure you that I am not leaving the church because of any personal slight or insult or because of any sin or transgression violative of any commandment or any church policy. By revelation I have simply come to the knowledge that the church is no longer what it claims to be, that it has changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant, and that I cannot continue to support these evils. (Isa 24:5)
According to prophecy and scripture we are in a time of apostasy; the spirit of God is withdrawing from the church, and I have covenanted to follow where He leads. This apostasy of the church is clearly prophesied in the scriptures, and there are falsehoods in the church today that were renounced and predicted by every prophet since the world began. As was prophesied in our day by Joseph Fielding Smith “It has become unpopular to preach the unadulterated gospel in the stakes of Zion.” (Life of Joseph Fielding Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith & John J. Stewart, Deseret Book 1972, page 211.) He also stated: “It is a very apparent fact that we have traveled far and wide [from the truths of the Gospel] in the past 20 years [since his father’s death]. What the future will bring I do not know. But if we drift as far afield from fundamental things in the next 20 years, what will be left of the foundation laid by the Prophet Joseph Smith? It is easy for one who observes to see how the apostasy came about in the Primitive Church of Jesus Christ. Are we not traveling the same road?” (Joseph Fielding Smith, personal journal, Dec 28, 1938 and quoted in Life of Joseph Fielding Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith & John J. Stewart, Deseret Book 1972, page 212.) Moroni also prophesied of the institutional apostasy of the church in our day in Mormon 8:34-41. This prophecy was specifically applied to the church, and our day, by President Ezra Taft Benson. (A Witness and a Warning, p.20) Such scriptures are plentiful, and the quotes from prophets and apostles to that effect too numerous to mention. (D&C 84:53-58)
I request that my name removal request be forwarded without delay to the Stake President in accordance with the rules in the “Church Handbook of Instructions” Vol. 1 p. 71. I have sent a copy of this letter for this purpose to him as well.
I hereby waive the thirty-day waiting period during which the stake president may hold the request in order to give me the opportunity to recant. Rather, I request him to process it without delay. I will not recant my testimony of the revelations of the latter-day prophets, to which he has taken exception, lest I rebel against God. I would rather suffer that my right hand be cut off before I would sustain such a rebellion against God’s word; I would rather have my tongue torn from my mouth than deny my testimony of the words of God revealed by the Lord’s prophets. As such I cannot in good conscience do what he has asked. Please ask the stake president to notify me when he has forwarded my request to church headquarters. If I do not hear from him, I will contact him to make sure that my request is being honored without delay.
I will consider any unnecessary delay to be a violation of my rights of free association and freedom of religion as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and by both state and federal common law. Further, any attempt to hold a church court after the receipt of this letter could be a violation of law, and church policy, which could subject you and the applicable church corporations to legal liabilities both personally, individually, and collectively. Such action could also subject you to church discipline. The relevant legal rules were enumerated in cases both involving the Church and other churches that persisted in disciplinary action, or that failed to honor resignation requests, after receiving a letter of resignation. See: Hancock v. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Ariz. Sup. Ct. (1985) unpublished, settled. Guinn v. Church of Christ, 775 P 2d 766 (1989), Hadnot v. Shaw, 826 P 2d 978 (1992), and Serbian East Orthodox Church v. Milivojevich 426 US 696, 96 SCt 2372 (1976). A resignation must be honored upon receipt, and any current or potential church discipline must cease immediately. The law could also require confidentiality with members of the church. Any announcement of discipline, excommunication, or matters of clerical confidential privilege such as this resignation, after the receipt of this letter could become a cause of legal action for defamation, libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other possible causes of action.
I consider this matter to be confidential, and I insist that no church representative discuss my resignation with any person other than those church officers who are responsible for processing my request. The “Church Handbook of Instructions” Vol. 1, also states that an announcement of name removal may or may not be necessary. (p.72) I assure you that an announcement will not be necessary and ask that you honor my request by refraining from needlessly embarrassing my family by making any announcement, in ward meetings or even in private councils such as high counsel meetings, executive committee meetings, quorum meetings or any other forum. If any church official speaks of this matter outside of official channels, I will consider it a violation of confidence, a violation of church regulations (CHI p. 65), and seek legal redress. I have already experienced a violation of confidentiality, constituting a betrayal of clerical privilege by a member of the stake presidency, and I warn that I am prepared to bring suit if such practices continue. This confidentiality extends to family members, ward members, stake officers, and all persons who do not have a duty to perform in connection with my request. All officers of the church are bound by a legal duty of confidentiality in such matters.
I expect this matter to be handled promptly, with respect, and with full confidentiality. Thank you for your courtesy in honoring my request without delay.
Earnestly your Friend and Brother in Christ,