"TOO MANY HAVE DIED, TOO MANY HAVE LIED..."
Andrea Moore Emmett
Andrea Moore Emmett, a writer and journalist, lives in Salt
Lake City with her husband and three children.
July 1, 1993
To whom it may concern:
This letter is a formal request for the names of my children—John
Wallace Roland Emmett, Erin Beth Emmett, David Raymond Emmett—and
myself—Andrea Moore Emmett—to be removed from the records of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the religion of my birth
and Mormon pioneer ancestry.
For most of my forty-one years as a member of the Church, I have been
acutely aware of the Church as a sexist organization. Ultimately the
culmination of my life’s experience and acquired knowledge about the
Church’s oppression of women, by its teachings and practice, reached a
point where I could no longer attend or bring my children. As you may
know, I was involved with the Mormon Women’s Forum for several years,
where I was witness to the pain of thousands of Mormon women from all
over the United States and in Canada. University of Utah’s own
statistics bear out that Utah (Mormon) women seek therapy, take
anti-depressants, and commit suicide all at higher rates than their
counterparts. A recent survey showed that in Utah, Mormons admit to
feelings of hopeless and worthlessness in staggeringly higher numbers
than do non-Mormon Utah women. It was our optimistic hope in the Mormon
Women’s Forum that, if we made the Church leaders aware of the
suffering of women who were crying out, they too would empathize enough
to do something. Anything. Instead they turned a deaf ear and called our
motives into question. We were beating our heads against a brick wall.
In the last year and a half, I have been aware of the Church’s
cover-up of a sex abuse ring involving a General Authority’s family,
while the police detectives (who were also Mormon), dropped the
investigation. Protection of the Church’s image was the end which
justified the means, and the children be damned. This information was
published twice by the former director of the Intermountain Sexual Abuse
Center. The knowledge of this story and many more like it, further
intensified my desire to distance myself and my children from the
The will to maintain even slight association with the Church ended
with a "last straw" incident that hit too close to home in the
recent, early return of [a young man from the ward] from his mission. It
is now revealed that he has been a long-term pedophile who committed
crimes against children in his mother’s daycare center, one of whom I
personally know and love. The Church has only disfellowshiped him and
generously gotten him a job. How dare you minimize what those children
suffered by a mere slap on the hands to the perpetrator? This is another
example of the men in the brotherhood/priesthood siding with one of
their own against the innocent. The Church rides women (and recently
professors) out of the Church and state on a rail for stating public
opinions which might benefit the Church, while it gives aid and support
to pedophiles. It is repeatedly obvious that women and children, who are
considered the extension of women in patriarchy, are expendable chattel
and only matter as a body count for the Church.
I bear witness that what the men of this Church have done to women
they will have to pay for, but they can never atone for what they done
to "the least of these," the children.
My husband Mark wishes to remain on the records for his own reasons.
I respect his wishes, as he respects mine and those of our children, who
feel as I do.
I request a written notification that our names have indeed been
My three children and I signed this letter. We got a letter saying that our
names would be removed in one month and that, if we changed our minds within
that month, we could let the stake president know. We didn’t hear anything
Even though this letter expressed my angry and frustrated feelings that the
Church was morally bankrupt, anger was not my dominant feeling as I resigned.
Instead, I experienced an important sense of liberation and spiritual
confirmation. I described this part of the experience in a letter I sent to
friends and relatives in July 1993 announcing our resignation:
Open up the gates of the church and let me out of here.
Too many people have died in the name of Christ
for anyone to heed the call.
Too many people have lied in the name of Christ
that I can’t believe at all.
—Crosby, Stills, and Nash
Dear Family and Friends,
I want to let you know about my recent exit from the Church and share
with you some of the experiences I have had in doing so. A copy of the
letter I wrote asking for the removal of my name and the names of my
children explains very well what brought me to take this step so I will
not go into all of my reasons here. For any of us who take this step or do
not, our reasons are as different as we are.
The morning that I made the decision that I would write the letter I
heard a "fluttering" noise at my bedroom window. I looked in the
direction of the noise and saw a bird sitting on my window sill looking
back at me. I walked over where it sat perched looking through the screen,
and we continued looking at one another until I said, "Thank
you." It looked at me a while longer and then flew away.
I made three copies of the enclosed letter. One each for the bishop,
the stake president, and the Relief Society president. I took all three to
the Relief Society president, knocked on her door, and handed them to her
daughter. I came home and cried. Not because I was sorry for what I had
just done, but I did feel a loss and that has to be recognized and grieved
That night I dreamed Mark and the kids and I drove out to Antelope
Island. We were looking at rocks and flowers when I noticed my
grandparents’ house. I thought how strange to see it here when
they had lived in that house in Colorado and it had been torn down for
years. I told Mark to stay with the kids while I investigated the house,
and then I went inside. Everything was as if they had just lived there
yesterday and walked away, except that a woman was there in the capacity
of a museum curator. I told her who I was and that I had come to get
keepsakes that were rightfully mine. She made no protest as I began
opening drawers, becoming more and more frantic as drawer after drawer
turned out to be empty. Even though I could see that they were empty, I
groped desperately through them, my palms hitting their bottoms with a
hollow sound. Finally, in one of my grandfather’s drawers, I found four
books. Three of them were irrelevant; one was by my husband, but it was
not what I was looking for. Weeping, I told the curator that my
grandparents had never owned these books and that I had found nothing I
could take with me.
The next day, when I told my dream to my friend, Maxine Hanks, she read
me the following poignant words by Christine Mercie:
There are those also who are sealed by "the old time traditions
of the fathers." The old-time religions that were good enough for
father, grandfather, uncles, aunts, and generations of ancestors are not
good enough for the coming generation of light. Those old-time religions
are as outmoded as the ancient caravan, and as lacking in vitality and
efficiency as the covered wagons of the pioneers as compared with modern
transportation. The old things have filled their places well, but new
things must come. To cling to the old things which were good enough for
our ancestors is to hold ourselves back in their time. ... We would not
only be standing still to pursue such a vain course, we would be going
backward. These ideas of holding to the past, its empty rituals, brings
forth a dead lifeless, unprogressive generation, living in the utter
ruins of past glories, walking only in the hollow, empty footsteps of
the great ‘has been." These are the times that are ours. We must
step forth and live in them. Those who cling to the past and the things
thereof are the ones that time passes by. ...1
One week in July before the sun set and before any stars came out in
the sky, my children were in the backyard playing a rowdy game of soccer
with several friends. Our neighbor had recently had back surgery so I was
worried their noise would keep him from his rest. I went out to ask the
kids to keep it down; and just as I stepped into the backyard, a light
flashed in the still-blue sky as a brilliant yellow meteor streaked in an
arc to the southeast. I’ve never seen a meteor in daylight before; and
like the unusual landing of the bird on my window sill, I felt this was
significant. I went back in the house and looked at my calendar. It was
the 13th of July. Sixteen years ago on that day I was in the temple for
the first time, getting my endowments.
Since working through the initial feeling of loss, I have felt as if I’m
walking off the ground. A lightness has come over me, while a darkness has
lifted off me. There is a happiness I can’t describe. Other dreams and
gifts continue to be given to me, and I am blessed as never before.
I don’t relate any of this to push another to take the same course.
We all have our own path. I only tell you to relate to you where I am. Me.
Someone who was defined by Mormonism for forty-one years but is no more.
Two months after the children and I had our names removed from Church
records, Mark joined us by having his name removed as well.
It has now been nearly five years since ridding ourselves of the Mormon
Church. During that time, I have often felt that something, some part of us, was
given back to us when we left that was taken away when we were baptized at the
age of eight. It’s been wonderful—feeling whole again.
1Christine Mercie, Sons of
God (1954; Marina del Rey, CA: DeVorss & Company, Publishers, 1990),