The Mormon church — or The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) — has been under fire for declaring earlier this month that members who enter into same-sex marriages will be deemed apostates and their children barred from baptism. The church tweaked that position late last week, explaining that only children living full time in a same-sex household would be barred from church rites and that those who had already been baptized could still be practicing Mormons. That wasn't, however, enough to stave off hundreds of defections.
This Saturday, according to The New York Times, approximately 1,000 Mormons queued up in Salt Lake City to formally withdraw. Online, participants offered support to each other as they navigated a potential backlash from their friends and families.
In an interview with NPR's Michel Martin on Weekend All Things Considered this Sunday, Mitch Mayne, an openly gay Mormon, explained why leaving the church is not a step to be taken lightly.
"So what people don't understand about Mormonism is this isn't just about an activity we do for an hour, like Christmas and Easter. Mormonism is a very, very rich and deep culture, as well as a religion. So when we're asked to abandon our church in lieu of our orientation, we're asked to give up our entire lives, in some cases, our families, not to mention people that we once called friends."
The church's policy on same-sex households was unfurled in a confidential handbook sent to leaders of the church's congregations. It was leaked to the news media and confirmed by a church spokesman.
In a tweet, Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Latter-day Saints, attempted to dissuade Mormons from leaving the faith.