Mormons upset over their church’s positions on issues like gay marriage left the church in a mass resignation ceremony Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Participants from across the country gathered in a public park to sign a “Declaration of Independence from Mormonism,” bucking the church that has been known for its culture of obedience. Reuters reported that the group of 150 church members came together in a rare act of defiance from church members, protesting issues ranging from polygamy to gay marriage.
“This feels awesome,” Alison Lucas, a Mormon from Utah, told Reuters. “I don’t know if I would have had the courage except in a group.”
The participants carried U.S. flags and signs reading “Finally ExMormon” and “Transcend Mormonism,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The group met at Ensign Peak, where Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founder Brigham Young went in 1847 to plot out the city where Mormons would live.
Those leaving the LDS church had a variety of reasons. Michelle Hobbs, a 40-year-old Salt Lake City resident, told Reuters that after questioning family members and reading the timeline of events in the Book of Mormon, the story and the basis for the church no longer made sense.
“It’s just all man-made,” she said. “It’s very disappointing.”
Alicia Pierson, a 27-year-old from Salt Lake City, said that after coming out as gay seven years ago she could no longer live in the church’s strict atmosphere. The LDS Church says gays and lesbians can still be church members, but cannot act upon their “inclinations,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“Why would I want to be part of an organization that suppresses who I truly want to be?” Pierson said.
Others cited the Mormon church‘s political activism against gay and doctrinal teachings seen as racist or sexist, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.