An Open Letter to the LDS Church
I was riveted by the fascinating tale of excommunication from the Mormon church, over at Mind on Fire, told with great honesty and feeling, as well as by the reader community response. I have just one question, though, which I suppose should be directed to the Mormon church itself: Where’s my lousy excommunication?
I did my best to protest various and sundry church policies, and eventually left the church in as public a way as was possible, at least for the times. While still at BYU, for example, I once wrote a leaflet criticizing the BYU dress code, using scriptural arguments, and distributed thousands of copies on campus. I wasn’t shy about thisI began distributing on the third floor of the BYU administration building, in the president’s office. When a friendly campus police offer escorted me to the Office of Student Life, explaining to me that I needed to get their approval before distributing flyers on campus, I filled out the official form requesting permission and then promptly distributed the rest of the flyers anyway! What did I get for my rebel ways? The Office of Student Life went ahead and approved the flyer for distribution on campus, ex-post-facto.
Later I was the editor of a short story collection that included, among other things, four gay Mormon stories (two about missionaries!), some stories about other ways of existing either on the fringes of or outside Mormonism. There was even a story about a bunch of people drawing temple recommends out of a bowl to swap partners, just like the key parties of yore. It’s not like I tried to hide this effort under a bushel. Signature Books worked hard to promote this collection, including having some of the authors read from it in public places. This book was for sale at the BYU Bookstore, for crying out loud!
Even though it wasn’t nearly as public a thing, because there weren’t so many public venues back then, I did speak evil of the Lord’s anointed from time to time. The result? Nada. Zip. Not a peep from the church leadership, top to bottom. No home teacher visits, no letters, no court of love or any other emotion. Eventually I gave up and just went ahead and resigned, after the LDS church got heavily involved in the business of state-sponsored homophobia (Prop 22).
Now, however, it seems you can ruffle feathers from the privacy of your own home, with just a few keystrokes and a click of the Publish button. Honestly, I feel cheated. So my question, LDS church officials who read this blog regularly, is this: is there any way of rescinding that resignation? I have lots more to say on a whole bunch of topics–racism and sexism and yes, homophobia. Also, authority worship and…well, don’t get me started. So could I come back, at least temporarily? Because I’d like to go out with a bang and not a whimper.
They love you, qzed, they love you. No doubt about it.
You do get the impression that the church draws its lines in the sand rather haphazzardly. Like, you have to know just the right people to become a GA or to be excommunicated.
qzed, are you aware of anybody who left the church as a directly result of you mighty works? Maybe it’s time to keep score? Maybe you can then win your retroactive ex’ing?
The LDS church excommunicates intellectuals in order to discredit their work in the eyes of the faithful, but the irony is that the excommunication gives you a different type of credibility: If you actually wrote something that the LDS church finds threatening enough to bother to X you for it, that’s impressive!
Whether people left the church or not, it was a pretty ground-breaking work that figured prominently in the bibliography of gay Mormon literature that was presented at the last Sunstone Symposium.
Hellmut: I know it’s true.
M: Yes, agreed, about the haphazardness. Particularly in the lower profile cases. I’m not aware of anybody who has left the church as a direct result of my efforts. If I start keeping a count, do any baptisms I facilitated now count against me? Because I did serve a mission.
Chanson: I was very happy to hear from you, via Sunstone, that my collection is considered a ground-breaking work of gay Mormon literature. For the record, though, I consider it a groundbreaking work of Mormon literature generally. 🙂
That’s what I meant, of course.
The SLTrib review called In Our Lovely Deseret “the finest anthology of Mormon fiction ever assembled.” And I relish each and every opportunity to trot that quote out again. 🙂