In anticipation of the American Atheist conference next week, many ex-Mormons marched and sent in resignation letters to the LDS leadership. The timing was key.
David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, said the Mormon church has too much influence on people’s lives, especially Utahns’. Officially leaving the church during General Conference sends a message, he said.
"They’re doing it during the General Conference to make a statement, and that statement is that they feel oppressed here in Salt Lake City, where the Mormon church governs so much of not just the Mormons’ lives but everybody else’s lives," Silverman said. "It’s not fair. It’s a violation of the separation of church and state, but it’s also a violation of religious freedom."
They did it during the General Conference? Risky. It might have gotten completely ignored.
When we lived in Salt Lake City, I remember the General Conferences as the times when a news blackout fell over the state. The local newspapers would all run big front page stories on the most tedious pablum: “SENILE OLD MAN SPEAKS FOR TWO HOURS ON HOW WE SHOULD BE NICE”. The LDS leadership was (is) all these older conservative fellows in the same dark suits who took themselves very seriously, and all the news organizations were expected to report in detail everything that was said…not that they ever said anything of any interest or importance whatsoever. It was the time of the year that felt closest to living in North Korea — although, of course, the LDS church never subscribed to purging undesirables with flamethrowers. No violence, just state-enforced veneration of the blandest boringest bureaucrats of the church.
Most of the time, you could ignore the Mormon leadership, especially if you were living in SLC, which was about half Gentile. Not during the General Conference. Even then, though, what was most striking wasn’t the actual leadership, which was facelessly tedious, but that there were so many devout Mormons who would reverently worship every word dripping from the White Geezers at the top. It was weird; it was the time of year when the pod people would start speaking synchronously.