After many years not feeling like I belonged in the Mormon Church, I sent off a letter to the church records department requesting to be taken off the membership roster of the church. I know a lot of people don’t understand the reasoning behind going through the formal process, and I’m not sure how other churches work as far as their membership numbers go, but the Mormon Church is meticulous about it.
When you’re born into the Church, you’ve already been given a church membership number when you’re only a month or so old, when you’re taken up in front of the congregation and “given a name and a blessing” as you will be known in the church. (Ris and I talked a bit about this in Episode 1 of the podcast.) That of course means that even before you’re baptized at age 8, the church has already started their file on you that will follow you for the rest of your life or until you renounce your membership, whichever comes first.
So when asked if I could just stop going and wouldn’t that accomplish the same thing, the answer is no. I’ve stopped going to church for several years now, but after I moved across country, the missionaries showed up on the front porch, asking for me by name, and I hadn’t been in the area for more than a couple months.
So back in December, on the 13th, I got the courage up and sent in a letter to the church asking to be taken off the records, adding a request to not be contacted. I fully expected them to ignore that part and send out the missionaries, home teachers, visiting teachers, maybe even the bishop himself to try to bring me back “into the fold” and convince me that leaving wasn’t the right thing. About a week and a half after I sent the letter I received a reply saying that they consider my request to be an ecclesiastical matter and they were sending my request to the Stake President and Bishop of my assigned ward, and they would be in contact with me.
Friday, I finally received an answer to the letter. It was short, and quite to the point.
I’ll admit, getting the letter in the mail was really anti-climactic and still a very weird feeling that still hasn’t fully sunk in. At the same time, it’s liberating, and I’m happy to count myself among the “nones” in the religion category.