Someone took the time to write out a letter for my online pal to send to her bishop. I liked it so much, I had to share it.
If anyone ever has trouble getting their bishop to act on their resignation letter, this little letter might just do the trick. It's fantastic!!
February 13, 2009
Via Certified Mail
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Re: Resignation of [insert name here] from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
[First name of bishop]:
As you know, I sent a letter to the Membership Records Division of the church over three months ago resigning my membership in the church and requesting that my name be removed from its records. In that letter, I made it clear that (i) I understand the consequences of name removal, (ii) I will not be dissuaded from my decision to remove my name from church membership, (iii) I waive the 30-day rescission period provided for in the 2006 Church Handbook of Instructions (“CHI”), and (iv) I requested no contact from the church or any agent or representative thereof other than a letter confirming that my request had been proceed and granted.
Although the letter referenced above is both legally sufficient to resign membership in the church and explicit in its instructions, you came uninvited to my home some three months after the date of my letter for the purpose of harassing me and attempting to hinder my voluntary disaffiliation with the church by making me start the process again with additional requirements. Your visit and the additional requests you made were both unnecessary to this process and contrary to church policy and the law. My original letter satisfied all of the requirements set forth in pages 148-149 of the CHI and waived the 30 day rescission period. The CHI states, “if a member demands immediate name removal . . . the stake president submits the completed Report of Administrative Action form . . . . The person’s name is then removed from membership of the church.” (CHI, p. 149) Why didn't that happen in my case? Also, “requests for name removal should be acted on promptly as outlined above. The Report of Administrative Action form and all supporting documentation should be submitted in a timely manner.” (Id.) Again, why have you not promptly processed my request? If you have questions about this process, I suggest that you contact Greg Dodge in membership records at 801.240.2053 or the Office of General Counsel at 801.240.6301.
In addition to not following church policy, your actions betray a misunderstanding of the legal framework governing our relationship. Once I sent my letter to the church requesting immediate removal of my name from the church’s records, I was, as of that day, no longer a member of the church. As noted by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in Guinn v. Church of Christ of Collinsville, 775 P.2d 776 (OK 1989), “implicit in the right to choose freely one’s own form of worship is the right of unhindered and unimpeded withdrawal from the chosen form of worship” (emphasis added). In other words, under the First Amendment, my membership in the church ceased three months ago and all that remains is for the church to finish its internal paperwork and confirm to me in writing that it has done so. Your visit was both a hindrance and an impediment to that process as is your inexcusable delay in processing my request.
You may not think that the legal pronouncements of the Oklahoma Supreme Court apply in our state, but remember they were interpreting the federal constitution, which applies to all of us. In addition, the church implicitly acknowledged the correctness of the principles underlying the Guinn ruling when it quickly settled out of court with Norman Hancock in 1985 after he sued them for $18 million for treating him as a member over which they had authority after the date of his resignation request. Your presumption of authority over me and your efforts last night repeat the same mistakes. We have had no religious tie or relationship since the date of my original resignation letter. Guinn is illustrative of this point in that it instructs the trial court on remand to apply the law of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress to the “elders” of Guinn’s former church as if they were “any other secular individual.”
During your uninvited, invasive and abusive visit to my home yesterday evening, you added five additional conditions for me to meet before you will process my pending resignation request, namely (i) that I write you personally another letter stating that I know what I’m doing by asking to resign my membership in the church, (ii) I wait for you to pass that letter on to the stake president, (iii) once the stake president has the letter, I wait for another 30 days, (iv) I sign an additional form that you said you would have to bring by for me to sign and (v) that I accept a Book of Mormon from you accompanied by a personal letter in which you promised to state that you hope I live to regret my decision (I shall surely treasure this!). In addition to being an inspiring example of Christian charity, your handling of this situation violates church policy and the law, not to mention the 11th Article of Faith in which you profess believe. I have copied both the Office of General Counsel and the Membership Records Division so they can teach you how to handle resignations in the future without exposing yourself and the church to legal liability.
You will process my prior resignation request immediately as instructed, with no waiting period or further requests. Three months is far more than it should take to process a simple administrative action. I will not be writing you or anyone else any other letter, signing any other document or conversing with you or any other agent of the church for any reason. You are not permitted to come to my home and your presence on my property in the future will be as a trespasser. As I stated in my initial request, the only contact I will accept from the church or anyone acting in a church capacity is a letter confirming that my resignation request has been processed and honored. If that confirmation is not received in the very near future, or if I am subjected to any further harassment, I will have to take further action to enforce my rights.
cc: Membership Records Division
Office of General Counsel