More than 1,000 Mormons lined up in Salt Lake City to turn in official letters of resignation Saturday, some standing in line for an hour and a half to deliver notice of their split with the church. They were protesting new guidelines put in place last week that label same-sex couples as “apostates” and bar children of same-sex relationships from baptism and church memberships.
Church spokesman Eric Hawkins described the policy in a statement: “While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.” (Earlier this year, the church threatened to excommunicate popular Mormon podcaster John Dehlin, who advocated for same-sex marriage.)
The new policy also requires that if children of same-sex couples want to be part of the church, they must first disavow “the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage,” CNN reports. That provision struck some Mormons as unduly harsh: “The fact that it affects children really upsets people,” Mark Naugle, an attorney helping people resign from the church, told CNN. “Most people are disaffected from the church already, and this was the final straw.”
The church clarified that the policy wouldn’t affect children already baptized into the church and pleaded with people to stay. “We don’t want to see anyone leave the church,” a spokesperson said. “We hope that today’s guidance from church leaders and the additional commentary will help provide understanding and context to some who may be considering resigning their membership.”