There have been rumblings lately that the church is streamlining the resignation process. For those unfamiliar this resignation process is the procedure one goes through to have their name removed from the church, resigning their membership, ultimately making them no longer a Mormon.
The process is one that has apparently changed a lot over the years. The most recent procedure basically involved sending a letter to your bishop telling him you did not want to be a member anymore. (There several things that it is recommended that you put in the letter. Google it if you are really interested.) The bishop fills out some paperwork and sends it off to the Church Office Building (COB). The process was overwhelmingly controlled by local leaders and with it being controlled largely by local leaders follow through on the process differed greatly. Some people have a really hard time resigning while others have their resignation processed immediately all because local leaders did or did not follow procedure.
Recently there have been reports that you can now email in your resignation and someone else reported faxing theirs in. These two new methods of turning in the resignation allows one to skip local leaders and contact the COB directly. Where the previous procedure was basically one where the bishop told the COB who was leaving now the COB informs the bishop.
It is an interesting change in procedure. Why would they streamline the leaving process?
I can do nothing but guess as to why such changes have taken place. The church’s desire to be consistent and “correlated” in all of its practices probably plays a part. Local leaders, though given procedures for how to handle resignations, were not following the process through correctly inevitably leading to people calling the COB directly anyway. Expect by the time someone has already sent in their letter and waited around while the bishop dinked around they are probably frustrated or mad. I am sure some of those phone calls to the COB have not been pleasant.
If this change is actually a change in procedure and not just a rumor it really simplifies the leaving process. It’s a good move in some ways. It ensures that things are handled correctly though it does take more power away from local leaders.
Power being taken away from local leaders is nothing new. The church has been working to centralize power and correlate things for a long time now. Alan’s post over on PureMormonism hits on many related ideas. Streamlining the resignation process is not all that surprising if you look at it in terms of correlation and the corporate side of the church.
Why do I as an already resigned member of the church care about the current resignation process at all? To be honest I am not sure that I really do. I think the change is interesting. I think the change should have been predictable.
Many think that the church more or less ignores what goes on in internet forums, on blogs and other media. However, I think they pay a lot of attention to what the “apostates” do and say about the church. These forms of media make it too easy for us all to compare notes about church practices. In some ways it is just good business practice to listen to what your former members says. Your most informed critics are always going to be those who were previously on the inside. I think the church would be stupid to not pay attention to us. When I see changes like this change in the resignation process I can’t help but think they are listening…