Group exodus from the Mormon church

Via blog reader Tim, I learned that yesterday about 150 Mormons in Salt Lake City publicly declared that they were leaving the church. They committed a mass symbolic act of filling a basket with formal letters asking that their names be removed from church rolls.

Leaving the Mormon church is not easy because apostates can face repercussions and shunning from their families and the church, so making a public act of renunciation as this group did takes some courage.

There were a variety of reasons given for the defections, ranging from concerns about the church’s history of polygamy and racism to its hateful attitude towards the LGBTQ communities to more esoteric doctrinal issues. There are reports that the Mormon church is losing members in droves.

[Mormon Elder Marlin] Jensen, the church’s official historian, would not provide any figures on the rate of defections, but he told Reuters that attrition has accelerated in the last five or 10 years, reflecting greater secularization of society. Many religions have been suffering similarly, he noted, arguing that Mormonism has never been more vibrant.

“I think we are at a time of challenge, but it isn’t apocalyptic,” he said.

The LDS church claims 14 million members worldwide — optimistically including nearly every person baptized. But census data from some foreign countries targeted by clean-cut young missionaries show that the retention rate for their converts is as low as 25 percent. In the U.S., only about half of Mormons are active members of the church, said Washington State University emeritus sociologist Armand Mauss, a leading researcher on Mormons.

Sociologists estimate there are as few as 5 million active members worldwide.

Most disaffected Mormons likely leave quietly, shedding their magic underwear as the main symbolic act of defiance.


  1. GMM says

    That takes a LOT of courage. I have Mormon family members and the church makes sure their whole lives are centered around church activities and responsibilities (not just on Sundays).They’re also required to pay a tithing that’s 10% of their income (if you are behind on payments, they come to your house and hound you. They’re worse than bill collectors). Every neighborhood has it’s own Ward, so leaving the church would probably mean having to move, unless you can handle being socially ostracized by your neighbors.

  2. mythbri says

    This was a courageous thing to do. As an ex-member myself, I can confirm that the typical means of leaving the Church is to slowly phase out your attendance before stopping your participation completely. I only know a few ex-members myself who have taken the step of removing their names from the church records. This group’s action has inspired me to do the same, despite the consequences I’ll face from my family. Right now I’m “just inactive”. Formally removing my name seals the deal.

  3. lorn says

    The LDS doesn’t have a problem with people leaving, as long as they pick up the heavy iron pot full of red-hot coals with their forearms, and place it gently on the mechanism that opens the door. Stumbling out and collapsing in a snowbank is optional.

    Of course, once out all LDS members will be required to arch their backs and hiss loudly when the ex-member enters the room.

  4. Snowden Emmily says

    At BYU, I struggled to attend any of their religious gatherings. Fellow countrymen who did not see eye to eye with my behaviour, cut me off. Today, many of them are turning their back to the religion. It is my prediction that in the next ten to fifiteen years, we will see the beginning of the end of this organisation. Don’t attack then–their ignorance, lies, and deceit will undo them. Just watch out for the Convinient Devine Interventions.

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