Gay marriage and inconsistent explanations of historical issues such as polygamy has led a defiant group of about 150 Mormons to quit the church.
Reuters reported that the group broke away from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a mass resignation ceremony in Salt Lake City on Saturday. The participants who came to a public park to sign a Declaration of Independence from Mormonism came from Utah, Arizona and Idaho, among other states.
It was an unusual demonstration of defiance among a group that is known for its strict obedience to its teachings. The church gave up plural marriage more than a century ago.
This feels awesome, one of the defectors, Alison Lucas of West Jordan, Utah, told the news agency. I don't know if I would have had the courage except in a group.
The church's official website boasts that it has more than 14.4 million members worldwide. However, it doesn't reveal the number of members who resign from the church. (Learn more about the resignation process.)
In order to resign from the church, Mormons need to submit a formal letter requesting the removal of their names from the rolls.
Some of those who have left fear being stigmatized especially if they have social or business connections to the church.
Robin Hansen, who told Reuters she quit over a culture of abuse she believes was brought on by the teachings of obedience, left the church without her husband. He works in a church-related business and could likely lose his job if he gives up his membership.
It's hard, so we have to be very careful, Hansen said.