As most folks know, the Mormon church (aka the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS) is a very conservative outfit. In terms of dogmatic conservatism the LDS gives both the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention (ironically, rivals within American Protestantism) a run for their money. In places where there are many Mormons, such as Utah, it has tremendous influence as well, making the entire region socially and politically conservative. In those places it’s empowering to be Mormon, because non-Mormons are essentially required to defer to Mormons and Mormon ideas.

Thus, it’s newsworthy when — in the very heart of Mormondom — some 150 Mormons publicly leave their church, as Reuters reports, over LDS hyperconservatism and other problems with that faith (WebCite cached article):

A group of about 150 Mormons quit their church in a mass resignation ceremony in Salt Lake City on Saturday in a rare display of defiance ending decades of disagreement for some over issues ranging from polygamy to gay marriage.

Participants from Utah, Arizona, Idaho and elsewhere gathered in a public park to sign a “Declaration of Independence from Mormonism.” …

Among the reasons cited by those resigning are the church’s political activism against gay marriage and doctrinal teachings that conflict with scientific findings or are perceived as racist or sexist.

Others cite inconsistencies in the Mormons’ explanation of its own history, including the practice of polygamy. The church renounced plural marriage over a century ago as Utah was seeking statehood.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that 150 resignations from the LDS, out of the millions who belong to that church, may not be statistically significant. But I will point out that, for every Mormon who’s willing to publicly leave his/her church, there are likely several who’ll do so without any fanfare. Exactly what that ratio is, I have no idea. But these 150 folks will likely endure quite a lot of harassment because they exited the LDS as they did: Mormons are not exactly what one would call kind to “apostates.”

Photo credit: Reuters / Jeffrey D. Allred (cached).

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