This month, dozens of people gathered at a park in Salt Lake City and other places around Utah to resign their membership in the Mormon church.
It was the 8th year a mass resignation like this was held.
Many of those who attended said their reason for leaving was the church’s policies on gay and lesbian people. Since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints updated its policy in 2015 to include designating same-sex couples as apostates and stating that children of gay and lesbian couples aren't allowed to be baptized into the faith until they're 18 and they've denounced their parents, resignations from the church have significantly risen.
Mark Naugle, an attorney from Salt Lake City, operates a website called QuitMormon.com, and said in these two years, his website has helped nearly 25,000 people officially leave the church.
“We’re there for when people have decided that they’ve had enough with the Mormon church and they don’t want to be counted among their numbers anymore,” Naugle told KNPR's State of Nevada.
Why is such a service necessary?
Naugle said that if someone chooses to simply be inactive, church officials will many times decide to call and visit to try and convince a person to not leave the church.
“Unfortunately, the way the Mormon Church works now is if you stop going to church people are going to start showing up at your door,” he said.
Naugle said on one level the people at the local churches are truly concerned about well-being of the people who are leaving, but on another level, the corporate structure of the church is concerned about numbers and attendance, which he said "enables all of this to happen with its detailed record keeping and policies and procedures that require this behavior."
Some people consider the kind of contact that the church and its members do as harassment.
“It really is a serious emotional break that people need and to have someone from the church constantly showing up asking them why they don’t want salvation, why they don’t want to be like the rest of them, we consider it harassment in most cases,” Naugle said.
He acts like a buffer between the person who is leaving and the church. So, if after submitting the paperwork to leave, an official with the church contacts that person again, Naugle will call the church or the official to ask them not to contact him or her again.
Naugle understands what it's like to leave the LDS church. He and his family left when it was 15 years old after his father did some research about the church.
He started helping friends and family resign from the church when he got out of law school, but after the policy change on LGBTQ members and their children in November of 2015, he offered his services on the website Reddit and the numbers skyrocketed.
“I got 2,000 emails in 72 hours," he said.
To help process that many requests and the growing numbers over the years, Naugle created the website, which he says now gets between 35 and 50 requests for help every day.
Mark Naugle, attorney, Salt Lake City