All About Name Removal

A good friend just told me about a bishop’s training meeting at which they were instructed, based on counsel given by a Seventy, that they are not to ask or suggest to “do not contact” members that they write a letter of resignation to remove their names. They were further taught to “check up” on these members about once a year. This raised for me a whole host of questions on the subject of do not contact lists and name removal. The purpose of this post is to solicit your opinions and experiences (especially given that these types of things often vary geographically). I’ll try to outline the issues I’m interested in below, but really anything related to the topic of name removal is on-topic for this thread.

– The bureaucratic name removal process is of relatively recent vintage; it used to be that the only path off the rolls was excommunication. I have a vague memory that part of the reason the Church instituted the name removal procedure had to do with threatened litigation from members who objected to the implication they had done something morally wrong reflected in being “excommunicated.” Does that ring a bell with anyone? Can anyone give us more specific information on the origins of the name removal procedure?

– Most longtime, hard core DNCs don’t know about the new procedure. If we don’t tell them about it, how are they supposed to know it is available?

– When I’ve asked DNCs whether they want their names removed (explaining that that is the only sure way to assure no further contact), almost invariably they decline. This might be laziness, or suspicion, or trying to avoid offending their parents, or hedging their bets. Is that your experience as well? I find it quite odd, as if I didn’t want any contact I wouldn’t hesitate to write such a letter.

– Speaking of hedging, does it work? Let’s say person A gets baptized in the hoary past, lives a life having nothing to do with the Church, and dies. Person B gets baptized in the hoary past, lives the same life, but has his name removed. Is it our doctrine that the mere fact of a lack of name removal puts person A in a substantially better position in the eternities than person B? Do we really believe that a mere lack of name removal puts person A in a stonger position? ( found this recent post at Mormon Matters on the hedging issue.)

– It’s also hardly a secret that this little bureacratic maneuver doesn’t really work. There are so many bottlenecks in the system, between the DNC him or herself, the person conducting the visit, the clerk, the bishop and the stake president. (The only time anyone ever actually wrote such a letter for me to deliver up the line, it got to the SP who knew the guy, said “Let’s give him one more chance,” and refused to process the letter. So I’ve never even seen one sent to SLC.) And once such a letter gets sent to SLC, it doesn’t seem to work anyway. A lot of people who have gone through this process have their names continue to pop up on membership lists (which explains why websites have arisen with instructions walking people through the process with form letters and such. Should we make it so hard that DAMU sites feel the need to do this?)

– Do we make the process so cumbersome because we’re so intent on propping up our membership numbers? Should we be so intent on this? Is it wise to tie rapid growth statistics to the truth claims of the Church? If the membership numbers decline, is that evidence that the Church isn’t what it claims to be?

– When people request DNC status, shouldn’t we honor that request by, you know, not contacting them? Should there be a way to really insure lack of contact going forward short of name removal? Shouldn’t there be a way to mark this on membership records?

Comments

  1. Perhaps a person who is DNC, yet doesn’t want to go so far as name removal might be motivated by a desire not to upset his or her family. Or perhaps they do value some things about the church but find the members problematic. Or maybe they want to wait to see if their feelings change. It doesn’t surprise me at all.

    I do think that people who have requested DNC status should not be contacted. Period.

  2. I’m actually a Do Not Contact, and have been for about a year now. I had struggled with my testimony for about a year. I did all of the things that I was supposed to do and still did not feel ok with participating in the LDS church. I lost most of my friends and family over it.

    Leaving the church is very difficult because so many areas of your life are tied into it. Removing your name is the final step to say you want nothing to do with it.

    I am just plain not ready to remove my name. I have no problem with my bishop e-mailing me once a year and asking me where things stand. He is very low pressre, and just wants to see if I am interested in contact. Partly I fear in removing my name that it will severe all ties with my family that I am already struggling with. I already have one sibling calling the others saying that I shouldn’t be around their children because I am not a member (I still don’t drink, smoke, and have the same moral standards). That is why I have no had my name removed.

    Just sharing my experience.

  3. The experience here is quite different. Because Finnish citizens register their religion officially with the magistrate, name removal is a legal procedure, so ignoring the request would be quite serious. It happens fairly often, and may explain why the activity levels here are higher than other parts of Europe.

    We send annual letters to the few DNCs we have, mostly to see if they’ve moved. I HT a half dozen people who haven’t been inside a Mormon church in a decade, but have various responses to church contact, from ‘DNC’ to ‘See you next Christmas’ to ‘Come on in, want a cider?’

  4. Kevin, when I was clerk here in SA, I removed several names. It’s false that “this little bureacratic maneuver doesn’t really work”.

    I think there is a difference between telling someone who is not active what their options are (letter for name removal) and telling them they should leave the church. One is open and honest and the other is antagonistic. I can only imagine the 70 meant the latter.

    In my ward I was asked by my bishop to draft a letter of name removal which was taken to homes of people who have said they want nothing to do with the church. This is because people who want their name removed often do not want to go to the hassle of taking the letter to the bishop, or go to the effort of getting the address of where to mail it to (their local bishop). So we try to help them with the process.

    And we have to contact DNCs, because they are on our roles, to ask if they still want no contact, etc. We are in our legal rights to do such. Part of the reason people who are DNC get contacted is there is no formal record mark for DNC in MLS (the church’s database) (I always put it in the other name field). Technically only the bishop should be contacting the DNCs, but sometimes others do also. DNCs are contacted once a year tosee if they still want to be DNC, or if they want contact. 10% of the time, they want contact, 10% they have their name removed, and 80% they have no change.

    That’s my expereince, anyway.

  5. From the perspective of one with clerk experience (and sick on a Sunday) –

    – I’ve never, ever, seen a case where we wanted to hang onto numbers.

    – I think part of the process of name removal is to determine if Church discipline is more appropriate. I.e., you can’t escape excommunication with name removal.

    – Our experience has been that most DNCs don’t mind if the bishop contacts them once a year – they just don’t other contacts. I don’t see why that’s inappropriate. If someone doesn’t even want bishop contact, the bishop usually discusses name removal (“Do you really want no contact, and if you don’t want me to contact you, then do you really want to remain a record?”)

    – I think some of the effectiveness of the process is tied to the bishops and SPs who have to execute it.

  6. Julie M. Smith says:

    I think you’d have a hard time making a scripturally-based case for the practice of DNC.

    I can appreciate that someone might want to take a period of time without attending church to sort out their feelings about the church, but if you can’t tolerate a VT at your door once per month or a HT once in a blue moon, you need to remove your name from the rolls. I’ve never understood the angst and sense of violation people feel from the occasional phone call and/or visit: tell them to go away in your best French Peas accent or have your name removed and be done with it.

  7. Peter LLC says:

    I’m in an international ward in Europe that is kind of a catch-all for all those who speak English better than the local language. As a result, we get a colorful array of members with ripples of baptisms that kind of follow geopolitics–West African asylum seekers, Iranian Christians awaiting their visa to the US (it can take years), Pakistani students and so on. Many are baptized when times are tough and they are looking for answers, moral and financial support, etc. and many go inactive when their circumstances improve.

    As a result we have a dense thicket of a ward directory that defies casual attempts to work through it. Even though the bishopric has gone to great lengths to whittle it down to a core of members that 1) still live here and 2) don’t call the police when we come knocking, I still end up going through the list with the missionaries every few months explaining who shouldn’t be contacted, and there are plenty of them.

    The bishop has tried in the past to get the DNCs to request removal by informing them of the option but I’m not aware of any responses.

    I definitely agree that their wishes not to be visited should be respected, but as far as I know, it is not easy to add custom information to the MLS program and notes about who not to visit are written in the margins by hand (and apparently lost in the shuffle when new elders arrive).

  8. Peter LLC, in MLS, the best thing to do is to take then “ALIAS” field and put DNC on then end of it.

    I wanted to add that anecdotally, I’ve heard that name removal is buerocratic in part because one solution to innactives some well intending church leaders tried was to remove everyone’s names.

  9. Peter LLC says:

    Matt W., thanks for the tip. That’s a good idea.

  10. I’m trying to remember were I read the write-up, but can’t. I believe that the Church’s position on always excommunication changed after successful litigation against a similar protestant practice in a small Church in Kansas or something. I’ll have to do some digging.

    Tanya Sue, sorry to hear that things haven’t gone very well for you.

    I have heard rumors about Stake Presidents not forwarding letters on to SLC, but I have never seen it. In my experience (which is of relatively recent vintage) it seems that letters are processed. I think it is unethical for them not to be.

  11. …I also know of some people, that similar to Matt’s anecdote, were removed when they were DNCs and didn’t want to be removed. This, I believe, is tragic.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    Matt W., I submit that you don’t really know whether the forms you sent into SLC really worked or not. Does the Church really lower its membership stats by 1 when these forms go through? Is the membership really deleted? Because there are a lot of anecdotal stories about the forms going to SLC but the name not really being removed, which is why the DAMU sites have step by step instructions with letters seeking written confirmation from SLC bureaucrats that the process actually “took.”

    I personally have no confidence whatsoever that sending the forms to SLC in and of itself constitutes an effective name removal.

  13. I know this may be a radical and unpopular view here, but I have always felt that asking your name to be removed was tantamount to rejecting your baptismal covenant, which seems to me a very, very bad idea in the eternal scheme of things.

    I suppose this goes to hedging. Rather than applying the cynical motivation of propping up numbers, I tend to believe priesthood leaders who don’t suggest removing names from the rolls might just be acting out of genuine concern for the souls of the people involved.

  14. Queno (#5),

    It is currently illegal in the U.S. to excommunicate someone after they have requested name removal. That is what the Norman Hancock case was all about.

    Of course if someone wants to be rebaptized later, his or her previous activities might have some bearing on the matter. But the very idea of excommunicating someone who has resigned his or her membership strikes me as ridiculous.

  15. If the membership numbers decline, is that evidence that the Church isn’t what it claims to be?

    Actually, the membership numbers don’t decline if you have your named removed. (The membership stats presented at General Conference are not adjusted for excommunications or name removals.) I have heard that an estimated 100,000 people per year request name removal.

  16. I definitely agree that their wishes not to be visited should be respected, but as far as I know, it is not easy to add custom information to the MLS program and notes about who not to visit are written in the margins by hand (and apparently lost in the shuffle when new elders arrive).

    Here’s how our ward handles DNCs – we go into the lds.org Ward webpage and manually remove those entries. And then we NO LONGER print out a directory from MLS. And then we point everyone to lds.org.

  17. It is currently illegal in the U.S. to excommunicate someone after they have requested name removal. That is what the Norman Hancock case was all about.

    Never followed it. I thought I’d seen something in the big instruction book.

  18. But the very idea of excommunicating someone who has resigned his or her membership strikes me as ridiculous.

    In other words, they’re quitting to avoid being fired?

  19. If Church membership statistics are not adjusted for name removals or excommunications they are not membership statistics at all. If a business did something similar, it would be sued into oblivion.

  20. I have heard that an estimated 100,000 people per year request name removal.

    The trouble with this statement is that there’s no way to quantify it, I don’t believe.

  21. MoHoHawaii, I’d like to know your source that resigned and excommunicated are retained in the membership statistics. This is a widely disseminated speculation in the DAMU, but the methodology of church statistics isn’t generally available, so all anybody has have been guesses, assumptions and speculation.

  22. Resigning or not is often a complex decision based on family relationships and overall attitude toward the church.

    I know a lot of people who have done it, and it seems to be an important step in the “moving on” process. And for those who think former Mormons never “move on,” well, that’s because once they DO move on they really DO leave it alone. You’d never know they were once Mormons because they’d often like to forget about it themselves, so they certainly aren’t going to bring it up (or hang out on the Mormon / Ex-Mormon internet).

    It is widely asserted in the DAMU that Do Not Contact requests don’t work (at least over the long haul) and if you REALLY want to be left alone, you need to resign.

  23. We just had a member request removal of her name and it was processed and she is no longer on our records.

  24. We have processed a number of requests for name removal and it is a very slick, efficient system. Works just as advertised.

    The old system did in fact require a disciplinary council to convene and they were excommunicated at their request. Oscar McConkie negotiated the settlement in the Arizona case that ended up producing the new system.

    We certainly don’t bring it up unless members make it very clear they want out. Then we tell them how it is done.

    I have dealt with this issue quite a bit because we contact every family in our ward every month to collect fast offerings. If we get no answer at the door, we leave a ward newsletter that among other things has a short article explaining what fast offerings is and stating that if they would like to donate they can call the deacons quorum president to arrange for us to pick it up. For those that live in security buildings that prevent us from reaching their door to at least leave a newsletter we mail a copy of the newsletter to them. This is how we fulfill our obligation to give every household an opportunity to contribute fast offerings each month as directed in the handbook.

    As you can imagine we have had our share of people who don’t like to be contacted. Some people take great offense to find a newsletter left on their door or to receive it in the mail. If they are extremely vitriolic we will tell them how to get their name removed. On one occasion a member of the stake presidency, who is a ward member, was collecting fast offerings with his son. After listening to an unhappy member go on and on, he told them about the possibility of writing the letter. He even went so far as to say, “Why don’t you write it on the back of this very newsletter and I will hand deliver it to the bishop for you.”

    Interestingly, when I called him to confirm that he understood the significance of his request, he had already changed his mind. This is quite common.

    Sometimes it works the other way. We had a family that was quite antagonistic when we first started knocking on their door each month, over 3 years ago. However after a while they started being nice to the cute little deacon, and started donating. We knew we had really made progress when they went to the door one fast Sunday, and they had taped an envelope to their door with a note explaining that they were gone for the day but their donation was inside the envelope. The husband and wife both hold callings currently.

    Now as to keeping a DNC list. It shouldn’t be done. There is a reason the MLS doesn’t allow it. People make covenants when they join the Church. We fulfill those covenants by contacting each other. If they really can’t be bothered by somebody knocking on the door, or calling on the phone, or mailing a newsletter, than they can take the action necessary to stop it.

    When you put them on a DNC list you are “cutting them off from among the people” without due process. They are entitled to their membership and the privileges that come with it, such as being contacted regularly, and should not be deprived of these benefits just because they were grouchy once when somebody knocked on the door. I have seen people put on the DNC list based on second hand reports of having said such and such, which reports have been verified to be false.

    In our ward we do NOT keep a DNC list.

    Many people refuse to have their name removed because in the back of their mind, they intend on coming back at some point. Well the minimum price they have to pay to be a member of the Church is a monthly contact.

  25. Left Field says:

    I agree with Ann #22. I’ve read the web pages that purport to show that resigned members are still counted, and they all have to make certain invalid assumptions in order to reach that conclusion.

    As far as I can tell, the alleged numbers of annual resigned members come from an anonymous internet source who has an anonymous super-secret informant at 50 East North Temple. Yeah, a similar source tells me that Obama is a secret Muslum born in Kenya who falsified his birth certificate to show he was born in Hawaii just in case he ever wanted to run for president someday.

    The alleged numbers of resigned members don’t even match the alleged discrepancies claimed by the web pages that claim that the alleged discrepancies can be accounted for by the alleged numbers of resigned members who allegedly are still counted.

  26. We have a family that went DNC a few years ago when the then-cuurent Branch Pres refused to help them anymore because they were not helping themselves. The Sister was contacted two or three times (whenever the RS Pres changed)and each time very angrily rejected the overtures. About a month ago she and a couple of her younger children started showing up for Sacrament meeting. Don’t know what motivated her, but I am glad they didn’t have their names removed.

  27. Jim Donaldson says:

    I live in a largely single urban ward. We processed one name removal request every other month (on the average) for the more than 5 years I was the bishop. It was very straightforward. I made an attempt to contact after receiving the request but usually stopped if the person requesting didn’t return 3 phone calls or wasn’t home or wouldn’t answer the door when I knocked, which was frequent. The SP signed every one and forwarded the records. The names were removed (whatever that means).

    After I was the bishop, my home teaching list was the DNC list (which I loved actually, the best HT assignment ever). I used to try to contact each person every six months. I developed relationships with many, and had this conversation unnumbered times:

    Me: Hello, this is JD from the Mormon Church.

    Them: Didn’t I tell you last time that I didn’t want any contact?

    Me: Yes you did. And didn’t I tell you that so long as you remain a member, with your name on our records, you’d be contacted by me or somebody like me, every six months or so?

    Them: Well, yeah, you did…

    Me: [Long pause] So… how’s it going?

    Them: But I really don’t want any contact with you…

    Me: I understand, but the only way that is going to happen is if you move where we can’t find you or have your name removed from the records. That’s really the cost of your church membership. If you can’t abide this silly phone call every six months, then either call the movers or get out your pencil.

    Them: What’s that address again?

    And so on… with frequently the same conversation the next time.

    I also used to carry around empty tithing envelopes when I made cold home visits (no phone or no phone number we knew of), pretty much repeat the same conversation in the doorway and give them the empty tithing envelope with the bishop’s address on it, and said, “Just stick your letter in here and mail it.” “No problem, I’ll do it right away.”

    Never once did the ward get one of those tithing envelopes back.

    At some point in the above conversation, after it had been repeated a few times with the same person, I’d ask “You really don’t want your name removed from the church records, do you?” And sometimes they’d say, “Yes, I really do” and we would resume the usual conversation at whatever point we went off track. Sometimes they’d admit that they really didn’t, and I’d cheerfully respond that I thought that was great and that I’m happy we won’t be having that conversation anymore, but I’ll still call every month to make sure you still live here and are alive. And so we did.

    Over the years, we have had a handful of people return to activity from that list. It’s worth it.

  28. Re: #25

    Many people refuse to have their name removed because in the back of their mind, they intend on coming back at some point. Well the minimum price they have to pay to be a member of the Church is a monthly contact.

    Gee, CW, and people wonder why members who might be struggling with certain issues in the church and want some time ALONE to work through it (but still know that the gospel true)get PO’d. Members with your attitude are the reason. Way to drive people away once and for all.

  29. Re:#28- See my comments above in answer to #25.

    Me: I understand, but the only way that is going to happen is if you move where we can’t find you or have your name removed from the records. That’s really the cost of your church membership. If you can’t abide this silly phone call every six months, then either call the movers or get out your pencil.

    Sorry, Jim, but that’s just rude. What’s so hard about just leaving people alone?

  30. Tony #29, if you show up at the door naked, or drop a couple of f-bombs on the deacon, I bet the minimal price drops to an annual letter.

    Membership in the church is like the membership to the fitness club after the initial contract runs out. You can tell them verbally, “I quit,” about 100 times, but they’ll still keep dinging your checking account until you put it in writing.

    Or like the national Do Not Call registry. Tell the telemarketers until you’re blue in the face, “Stop calling me,” but until you enter your information on the registry, they won’t care.

    It’s like being married! You can separate, and tell the other person you don’t want anything to do with them, and to leave you alone, and get a restraining order if you’re threatened, but to be not married any more you actually have to divorce.

    OK, I’ll stop with the analogies.

    (Left Field #26, while it’s ALWAYS a good idea for you to agree with me, we can’t assume that MoHoHawaii is making assumptions. Perhaps he has real data.)

  31. StillConfused says:

    I am enjoying this post. I have not been attending my ward for some months now. No real drama there; just found that attending the meetings was not a positive experience for me. I had a woman assigned as my visiting teacher and was very nice to her when she came and invited her to come back regularly. I also reiterated my request that I be assigned home teachers so that my son can have some male influence. She never came back and no home teachers ever came. I received a call from the RS prez who said “Don’t worry this is NOT about relief society, I need you to help me with my mother’s estate planning.” So apparently I have been DNC-ed without my own knowledge. Actually, I would like to have some genuine contact so that things don’t seem so fake. But instead, apparently I have been shunned.

  32. Left Field says:

    Does shepherding the flock have to mean that every member has to get a regular visit despite their wishes? Maybe some sheep can best be served by just giving them some space. I don’t see where the prodigal son had his riotous living interrupted by home teachers every month. When the Lord moved him, he came back.

  33. Tony #29, if you think people get PO’d over a newsletter once a month left on their porch or received in the mail you don’t understand displacement. Receiving a monthly newsletter doesn’t detract from their ALONE time. Rather it gives them a monthly reminder about the Gospel and that they belong to a ward that cares about them. They don’t have to respond, or answer questions. I have had 2 letters asking for name removal in 3.5 years of monthly newsletters to each household. One was written on the back of the newsletter itself and hand delivered to me by the guy delivering the newsletter. The other came in the mail. Both reneged when I called to confirm.

    So thank you for YOUR attitude and assumption about driving members away. It never fails that when an interesting topic is brought up, somebody will begin to be judgmental and point the finger of condemnation.

  34. Mark Brown says:

    I’d like to disagree quite strenuously with the assertions that there is no valid reason for maintaining a DNC list, and that people who request no contact ought to just request name removal instead.

    For instance, there are people who value their membership, but whose spouse objects to visitors from the church knocking at the door. They are doing their best to keep peace in the family, and I’ve seen instances where the spouse’s attitude does change. Given that there a lots of people who DO want HTs and VTs but who don’t see them for months or years at a stretch, shouldn’t we focus our visiting efforts there?

  35. I was going to say the same thing… that is rude Jim… not to mention that sounds like harrassment. If someone wants to be left alone, then leave them alone. I think if someone is on the DNC list, then DO NOT CONTACT THEM! Plain and simple. I think that would only serve to drive them away more by not respecting their wishes.
    Geez… what kind of religion is this where the VT and HT program has become more of a “check up on you and spy program!” Personally I am not liking ANY of the reasons that I am hearing right now and none of them sound very Christlike at all.

  36. #32, that is precisely my point. Some statement you made was misinterpreted and you have essentially been deprived of your Church membership without due process. Contact your bishop immediately and tell him you want regular contact.

  37. I think different wards have different policies.

    As I said on the mormonmatters thread, I believe we should honor the wishes of the family or individual. I personally believe people are more important that programs, and if a person has stated he or she does not wish to be visited or contacted (but does not wish to resign), meeting that person’s request is more important than satisfying the home teaching or fast offering program requirement.

    I am fascinated that there are wards that have the priesthood manpower to visit all families each month, including disaffected families who prefer not to be visited or contacted.

    Regarding excommunication proceedings if a person resigns first, the handbook has been revised to state that the resignation stops the disciplinary proceedings, although if the person later wishes to rejoin the Church, the matter must be resolved at that time before he or she may be rebaptized (and eventually have his or her blessings restored if he or she has been endowed).

  38. Mark Brown, #35, you bring up a good point. Keeping peace in the family is important. Surely in a case like that a monthly phone call or a newsletter in the mail could be arranged so that we can fulfill our responsibility, yet still honor the boundaries they need for family peace.

  39. Re:#34- CW, there is a big difference between quietly leaving a newsletter at someone’s door and calling them or knocking at their door monthly. To me, the former is acceptable, the latter borders on harassment. You didn’t specify how you define “monthly contact”.

  40. This is a fantastic discussion. I had a situation a while back where I was assigned to visit a guy who had not been to Church in a long time, and as I approached his house, he walked outside and confronted me with a lot of hostility. He was really offended that someone had sent me to see him when he and his family are making it a point to stay away from Church.
    I responded by saying that I wanted to respect his wishes in terms of his affiliation with the Church, and I mentioned that there is a process for having his name removed if he desires to break all ties with the Church. With that, he instantly softened up as he realized I was not there to sell him something he doesn’t want. The rest of our conversation was really pleasant; he said he wanted to keep his name on the records of the Church, but be placed on the DNC list.
    I am of the belief we should spell out all of the options for people and allow them to exercise their agency. To give them an incomplete list of options is to limit their ability to exercise agency, and I don’t see how anyone benefits from that.

  41. Re: #33- For the win!

  42. In other words, they’re quitting to avoid being fired?

    Pretty much. My point is that the purpose of excommunication is two fold: (1) to protect the reputation, good name, and integrity of the Church and (2) to protect members from someone trading on his membership status despite serious and unrepentant wrongdoing.

    If someone leaves voluntarily, holding disciplinary proceedings is like prosecuting a dead person. Or a non-member.

  43. In my 41 years of church membership, I’ve served in two bishoprics (though never as bishop [knock wood]), I’ve been an EQ president or counselor a few times, I’ve been ward mission leader five times, and I’ve served several times as ward clerk or membership clerk. Here are a few of my observations:

    — The “100,000 per year requested removals” doesn’t pass the math test. That would work out to roughly 4-5 per ward/branch per year worldwide as an average. I’ve never seen anything approaching that rate in any of the wards where I would have been in a position to observe it; it’s more like maybe one or two per year. That would mean that a corresponding number of wards/branches would have to be hitting 8+ removals/year to match them.

    — And, of course, the 100,000/year number contradicts the other meme, namely that local and general LDS Church leaders are avoiding, slowing down, or blocking such name removals for whatever reason.

    — Every ward where I’ve served in the PEC or ward council (which has been most of them since returning from my mission 34 years ago) has kept a DNC list of some sort; the advent a few decades ago of computerized membership records make it just that much easier. (My current ward uses one of the alternate phone number fields, and there are plenty of other fields that can be used.) I think it’s a great idea.

    — Almost all of these wards had some procedure for contacting these people at least once/year, primarily to see (a) if they were still at that address and (b) to see if they still wanted to be DNC.

    Just today, instead of holding priesthood meeting, the bishop sent us out in pairs to contact families and individuals on the ward list whom nobody knew anything about (beyond the fact that they’re on our membership records). We took each family/individual a small bag of cookies, and we were asked to do the following:

    — verify that the address exists;
    — verify that the individual/family lives at that address;
    — find out of they are willing to have monthly contact;
    — if they request name removal (on their own, not to be suggested by us), give that information back to the bishop, who will follow up with a personal contact of his own.

    The individual that my companion and I visited sort of winced when he saw us, but was actually very gracious and friendly and seemed to appreciate both the cookies and our visit. However, he’s just on the verge of moving out of state; I gave him my card and invited him to give me his new address so that we can forward his records. I doubt that he’ll do so — but at least this contact with the Church was relatively pleasant (and brief). ..bruce..

  44. #41
    Giving people all options is a good idea, but I’d argue that it is the responsibility of the individual making the decision to make the effort to understand all the options. Remember we rely upon a group of volunteers to carry out the program of the church. The HT/VT may not know all of the options. Remember 70% of the membership of the church is 1st generation LDS.

  45. Tanya Sue says:

    Tony-You described my situation perfectly. I kept getting letters/lessons on something that really stung about the gospel (for me). I was actually trying to decide if I could handle attending for one last shot and got one, and it made me realize I could not sit through church.

    J. Stapely-Thanks. I totally that was my family being lame vs. what the church teaches people to do.

  46. kevin barney, I am fairly certain when someone has their name removed, the church does keep a record of it in their database, if that is what you mean. they’d have to to avoid members returning and being rebaptized under false pretenses.

  47. Sorry if this seems flippant but here is my observation.

    First how often are we really contacted? I have only twice in my membership had HTs that visited on a more than a couple of times period.

    VTs seems slightly more dedicated.

    When I was inactive I never really was contacted by anybody other than in the first few months.

    Honestly, I have found moving as a complete cure. Or a ward that seems to be just going through the motions. Dunno I have not been a Bishop but my Branch President and I were HT companions and we visited our normal group all the time and then every once in a while visited those who were not active. Not one of those times were heavy pressure, more like a brief introduction, how are you doing visit.

    I cannot remember any time where they got hostile.

    As a missionary that was a different story and maybe Elders might need a DNC list more than others.

  48. Ward leadership has been advised by our Bishop that:

    1. If people ask not to be contacted, they should be advised that at some time in the future they will be contacted again because of changes in the ward administration.

    2. We can offer them the name removal option.

    3. We can not encourage them to have their names removed from the Church records. In fact, we are supposed to encourage them to not take that option and there by leave the door open for their possible return to activity.

    4. If they want there names removed they need to write a letter to the Bishop making the request. If they don’t want to write a letter then they can make the request verbally with two Church elders as witnesses.

    5. After they have made the request they will be contacted again by the Stake by letter or in person to make sure this is what they really want to do. After that the request goes to Salt Lake City. From there I’m not sure what happens.

    We have had maybe ten people go through this process in the last 3 years. Most inactive members opt for the keep me on the records but leave me alone choice.

    Some people like my wife and I do come back into activity. It only took us 25 years after being asked if I wanted our name removed. My first response was I don’t care, let me talk to my wife about it. Even though we had already been inactive for 12 years we decide to keep our options open. There was, to our surprise, a spark of a testimony in our hearts. When we were asked it was by the ward clerk who said we were messing up the attendance percentages. My final response to him was, “You want to chance sending our souls to outer darkness just to make your bookkeeping easier?” He said no and never called again. We mostly allowed home teachers or visiting teachers to come in when they showed up.

  49. CJ Douglass says:

    #32 StillConfused

    But instead, apparently I have been shunned.

    This might be the case SC, but I pretty much get the same treatment and I attend every week and hold a calling. Members in my ward are just busy (including myself) and HT/VT isn’t a high priority. They’re not bad people, just have a lot going on – I don’t take it personal.

    Which makes me astounded at some of the stories I’m hearing on this thread. Who has time to be persistent with people who don’t even want contact?

  50. CW:

    When you put them on a DNC list you are “cutting them off from among the people” without due process.

    That’s not how I see it, not in my ward anyway. I call it “clutching at straws to keep your head above water.” With the inactive members outnumbering the active priesthood holders by about 30 to 1, you’ve got to start somewhere. Our bishop would no doubt think he died and went to the City of Enoch if he had the manpower to do the great work you are doing in your ward.

    bfwebster:

    Just today, instead of holding priesthood meeting, the bishop sent us out in pairs to contact families and individuals on the ward list whom nobody knew anything about

    We’ve done that instead of Ward Council a few times and I thought it was a good idea.

    Who has time to be persistent with people who don’t even want contact?

    That’s kind of what I was thinking.

  51. I think the source of the 100,000 people a year may be from a Mormon Stories pod cast interview with Grant H. Plamer. In that interview he says he has a friend in the Chruch Office building that handles such things and Plamer says he told him that figure. Even in the pod cast it as the flavor of a just a wild, from the air, figure. But it is quoted all over the place as if it were carefully derived from something. I think it’s just made up too. I hate bad data. Especially widely quoted bad data.

  52. For what it’s worth, we were just given the opposite counsel (compared to that in the OP) here in my stake (midwest USA).

  53. Gerald Smith says:

    15 years ago, in Montgomery Alabama, we had a folder in the bishop’s desk for letters requesting removal from membership. It had been sitting there filling up with new letters for over a decade and several bishops. We finally got in a bishop, whose first priority as bishop, was to empty that file. He contacted each of those people and asked if they still wanted their names removed from the rolls. The majority said yes, and were amazed that someone was actually going to do something about it. Many were annoyed that their letters were not respected previously.

    Some of the former bishops told me that they didn’t do it, because the person could change his/her mind. My view is, if they change their mind, they can always be rebaptized.

    What good is baptism and membership, if the individual rejects it completely?

    As for DNCs, I personally believe there are reasons for keeping some on the rolls. We have a few LDS women, whose husbands will not allow contact. To remove those women from the rolls would be additional punishment they do not deserve.

    And I have seen some people on DNC lists, who later changed their mind and began receiving visiting/home teachers, etc. You never know.

  54. Left Field says:

    SteveP, I think numbers up to 100,000 have been bouncing around for quite a few years now, and predate Mormon Stories. I suspect that Palmer is just repeating the accepted figure which is always claimed to be from some mysterious source in the Church Office Building.

    Neither Mormons nor exMormons have a monopoly on uncritically spreading faith pro(de)moting rumors which support their views. Once certain “facts” get accepted as true, they tend not to be questioned, and in some cases even improved upon. Another common example is the claim that the Brigham Young manual was edited to remove all mention of polygamy without any editorial indication of the revisions, and that the manual claims that Brigham Young was a monogamist.

    It is true that quotations mentioning polygamy were edited, and that Brigham’s plural wives are not mentioned. However, no claim is made about Brigham being a monogamist, and all revisions are marked with ellipses or brackets according to standard editorial practice. None of the revisions change the meaning of the quotations so as to imply monogamy. In most cases, they simply omit polygamy references incidental to the subject of the quotation.

    However, the embellished claims about the book are repeated so often that they are accepted in some circles without question.

  55. We have a DNC list in my ward. The people on it do not have their Ph #’s on the ward directory and the Bishop calls them like every year.

    In a previous ward I was assigned to “Clean out the DNC list” So I went to work. All the DNC people were sent a letter, called and as part of our approach we gave them the option of resigning membership. Nobody every took advantage of this offer. In fact it was almost impossible to get most of these people to even talk to me.

    One of MY HT families is a DNC. You ask yourself how does a DNC get a HT? Well they live across the street from us and like us. So they get HT. I have told them many many times about membership resignation. They always laugh and say whatever we are not breaking our covenants cause we know eventually we will repent and come back.

    I also have a customer in NY who is a 50-55 year old gay RM with a pioneer last name specifically tied to Cache Valley who is inactive and attends what he describes as a wishy washy liberal church. I asked him about name removal one day and he told me he will never request name removal cause he has always had a testimony and wants the option of repenting and coming back one day

    I think based on experience there are 2 types of people in DNC lists.

    1. Inactives who do not care and have moved on and will not summon the energy to request name removal. My first example above fits into this category

    2. People who still consider themselves Mormon and will never request name removal.

  56. A couple thoughts:

    1. This LDS Newsroom Commentary from January 2008 is very germane to the subject. It addresses the question of why the church counts inactives in its membership statistics. It concludes by saying

    . . . the Church remains as inclusive as possible in its membership rolls so as not to preclude any potential return or change of heart of a member who has become inactive. Taking such individuals off the records does no one any good. No particular statistical methodology should serve as a means for the spiritual write-off and disfellowship of any member. Statistics do not operate in that realm, nor do they aim to.

    2. The 1999 handbook instructed bishops and stake presidents not to process a name removal request if there was evidence of a transgression that warrants a disciplinary council. This policy seems designed to keep a member from using name removal as a way to avoid being disciplined.

    3. I have heard anecdotally about all kinds of different policies on whether to offer/suggest resignation to DNCs. I accompanied my Elders quorum president on some visits last year, and I was surprised how casually he suggested name removal to the inactives that we saw.

    A co-worker of mine many years back claimed that her ward had hounded her for months to try and force her to resign her membership, because she had been baptized Catholic right before marriage. (Incidentally, she didn’t resign because she saw no reason to do so.)

    The 1999 handbook said that total inactivity, or holding membership in another church, does not constitute apostasy (an excommunicable offense). But I recall hearing some report about a year ago that the church had a new policy of removing names of people who had been baptized into other churches. Does this sound familiar to anyone? I’ll have to look around for some kind of documentation.

  57. I was in one ward where we did the experiment of taking tithing envelopes with the bishop’s address to the DNC list and offer them that option. As a rule, they were more angry that we were suggesting they have their names removed than that we had contacted them.

    In another ward, I helped a close friend in the process of having her name removed. It took a while to convince everybody in the chain to process the letter, but once it finally made it to Salt Lake, we got word that her name had been removed in only about a week or two.

  58. Two groups of people confound me.

    1: Church leadership who are quick to accept people into the church and slow to release them from their membership.

    If someone wants their name removed, we should be as willing to release them as we were to accept them in the first place.

    2: Members of the church who “Don’t want contact”, yet remain members. Membership implies fellowship!

    Very confusing… I think on both accounts, there are external forces at work confusing the issues.

  59. #7:

    “but if you can’t tolerate a VT at your door once per month or a HT once in a blue moon, you need to remove your name from the rolls”

    This made me laugh because I fit this description right now yet am active, hold a “leadership calling” attend the temple, etc etc. I just don’t have time for VT and HT at this point in my life! I can easily understand a DNC feeling annoyed at contact.

    And you know what, every DNC communication I have heard in the church is hearsay. It is undocumented. I know very well how oral communication from member to member can lead to vast miscommunications and misunderstandings as I have been a victim of such (as has, I would guess most people in the Church).

  60. NorthboundZax says:

    FWIW, the widely reported figure of 100,000 resignations per year goes back to John L. Smith’s 2003 newsletter (some sort of anti-Mormon ministry) and subsequently posted around the internet with the connected claim. From his source:

    1995:………. 35,420
    1996:………. 50,177
    1997:………. 55,200
    1998:………. 78,750
    1999:………. 81,200
    2000:………. 87,500
    2001:………101,454
    2002:………105,763

    I suspect that the numbers aren’t so much wrong as interpreted incorrectly. They look a lot more like a running total than actual yearly resignations to me.

    As far as Kevin’s OP is concerned, I think he asks excellent questions. I have been in PECs that were much more interested in following up on DNCs than other inactives. My inclination is to always to take them at their word and don’t contact them until they ask for it. Doesn’t always go over very well, though.

  61. Kevin,

    Very good post. This an important issue, and one that bishops and priesthood quorums certainly spend a lot of time on.

    Maybe it’s a personal failing, but I have a hard time getting very excited to push inactives to become actives, or DNCs to become Cs, or to stand in the way of anyone who wants to take their name of the rolls of the church. Honestly, I think it ought to be as simple as getting on a “do not call” list. I think it would be a great use of the church website to have a simple form that can be filled out and submitted.

    I’m open to anyone who wants to tell me that I’m completely wrong on this issue, but I think in this day, anyone who really wants to return to church can do so without too much difficulty. I have no problem with respecting their decision to live the life the way they choose and focusing our efforts on those interested in church activity, or those interested in learning about the church.

  62. Regarding the number of name removals, it’s clear to me that — like all other issues of membership size — nobody outside the Church Office Building has the true information. It continues to be profoundly puzzling to me that our church is basically as secretive as Vice President Cheney’s office regarding membership statistics. On the issue of membership numbers, however, it is clear that official name removals are a tiny side issue. The real trouble lies in the vast murky realm of “inactive” Mormons. Some large but unknown percentage of inactives are people who don’t even consider themselves to be Mormons; many have attended church only a handful of times in their entire lives. Yet these people stay on the membership lists. So the meaning of any Mormon membership number is murky, at best. Where these invisible inactives surely number in the millions, explicit cases of name removals cannot be nearly as common. The procedure is largely unknown — if indeed available — outside the U.S., where most of the invisible inactives are almost certainly located.

  63. Kevin,

    As I recall from a Mormon Alliance report from the early 90s, a man named Hancock in Arizona sued the Church for defamation of character in the 1980s, based on the allegations of immorality which attended excommunications, the Church backed off, and created the disaffiliation option, or name removal option we have today.

    Lavina Anderson would probably have all the details.

  64. Re: 62

    I don’t think you are completely wrong. In fact, your comments have me thinking that maybe we need to re-think our definition of what consititutes “Contact”.

    I firmly believe that if you are a member of the church, you agree to be contacted. However, I don’t feel that contact is necessarily a free-for-all. I can understand someone not wanting to be bothered by home or visiting teachers, or the deacon collecting fast offerings.

    But perhaps instead of a DNC list, it should be a BCL (Bishops Contact List) much like what #28 did. Then that presiding authority can detemine the nature and the frequency of contact.

  65. StillConfused says:

    I often wonder what it is about Mormons that makes us so busy that we can’t be neighborly. My ward is all walking distance from me. Yet the only neighbor that I have regular contact with is my Catholic neighbor. She and I visit, share tools, etc. I will admit that I am not the best neighbor in the world either, as a single mom and business owner, sometimes things get a little crazy. But I am always there to help a neighbor that I see in need, whether they specifically ask for it or not. My Mormon neighbors don’t seem to have time for that. It makes it hard for me personally to go to church with these folks. I like to worship with people who I feel are kind, neighborly and loving. I don’t care at all if they have big callings or go to the temple weekly or whatever. I am more concerned with how they are treating their fellow man.

  66. CJ Douglass says:

    SC,

    Good point. I guess different wards have different challenges (some are more friendly than others).

    Most of the members of my ward don’t have cars and even with public transportation, the distance between member homes can be significant. I would guess we are all fairly neighborly but that often doesn’t include anyone else in the ward.

  67. I like JNS’ point in #63. The number of formal requests for name removal would be interesting, but the bigger issue is the many lapsed members who don’t ever have their names removed, for whatever reason.

    I can’t argue with the rationale from the LDS Newsroom Commentary that I cited in #57 — there is really no reason to purge lapsed members from the roles just for the sake of statistical purity. But if our membership numbers are not designed to reflect the actual number of people who identify themselves as Mormons, then I wish we wouldn’t tout our statistics that way.

  68. The Hancock case in Mesa, AZ. I believe I have the information. Hancock had requested his name be removed from the roles. A court was convened and he was excommunicated because that was the only way to leave the church. At the time all excommunications were announced at least to the priesthood and maybe to the membership. (Which I believe has stopped, now.)

    He sued because he was a businessman in the community and excommunication had a taint to it. He just wanted to leave. I believe he won a judgment.

  69. CE-If I remember correctly, baptism into another church was grounds for excommunication, not a for sure thing. I think it is one of those “all things considered” things left for the local leaders to decide.

  70. I wish somebody would solve this problem. It is not big for the Church, but I can see it bothering some people who don’t want to be reminded but don’t want to totally forget, either.

    I have never had a problem with people who don’t want HT’s to come by. I just politely ask them how they want to do it. I try to explain that at some point someone else will be assigned and handle it differently.

    Usually being polite and non-confrontational is all it takes.

  71. @47 – yes the church must have some sort of record of people requesting their names to be removed.

    Recently our elders found a man who said he was a member of the church and came back to church once or twice. As the ward clerk, I dutifully got his info and requested his records.

    MLS sent a note saying that the bishop had to call some special 1-800 number. Turned out that the man had asked to have his name removed (or maybe been excommunicated – I can’t remember but I think just a name removal).

    Bishop talked to him and apparently “offended” him in the way he asked about it so the guy never came back :-)

  72. Just yesterday, we had in HPG, mention of a list of a good many people who no one knew anything about. The leaders are supposed to go out and find them. I laughed and said good luck. Most dont care they are on the rolls. I have heard, some 65% of the church is inactive in some form or another. I have seen lists of Elders,HP. They just exist on paper, with no proof they have ever attended church even once. That list is growing all the time too.

    I have been told, unofficially, that if you do resign, your membership number remains on the rolls somehow. Like I am member 123456 and I do go inactive or resign. Number 123456 is still on the rolls, only without any name or other info to go with it. But that number is still associated with the particular member someplace.

  73. Maybe I’m confused but Do Not Contact = Do Not Contact?

    I’ve had my name removed for a year and I’ve already been contacted. I asked specifically not to be contacted which means I don’t want to be contacted. It’s as simple as that.

  74. It would be logical to assume that the church maintains a list of members who have had their names removed or been excommunicated, if for no other reason than to track them if they seek readmission. It’s no longer available in the local MLS database, but as bishop I would generally get a list of excommunicated members believed to be living in our ward boundaries for me to verify every other year or so. Usually they were known to us, and sometimes the address was incorrect. We tried to be discreet about inquiring, obviously.

  75. The 1999 handbook instructed bishops and stake presidents not to process a name removal request if there was evidence of a transgression that warrants a disciplinary council. This policy seems designed to keep a member from using name removal as a way to avoid being disciplined.

    This is the type of thing the Church will get sued over – and lose (assuming the policy hasn’t been rescinded by now).

    We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; … They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship. (D&C 134:10, emphasis added)

    The law goes further. An organization cannot pretend that someone is a member after he/she has resigned his or her membership. It is a First Amendment right called freedom of association.

  76. #74,

    My experience is that the 3 most likely explanations of you continuing to be contacted is the following.

    1. Relative of yours calling the local bishop and asking him to send somebody around. This is quite common for YSA’s

    2. Your request for name removal not being processed all the way. In other words its on a Bishop, SP’s or Church office building persons desk

    3. Records at the local area are not always updated. Ward lists sit around in people’s homes forever.

  77. The Mormon Alliance has documented Norman Hancock’s law suit that forced the Church to permit resignation.

    I am not a lawyer but it appears to me that the Church’s refusal to let people resign was a violation of the freedom to assembly.

    Then again, the Bill of Rights does not apply to private entities. I would be grateful if someone more qualified would identify the legal issue.

  78. Another reason might be that the United States is a Protestant culture. Protestants do not usually resign membership in a sect but switch congregations.

    Besides, the Nicean churches recognize each other priesthood credentials.

    Having been baptized Lutheran, I would not have to get baptized to become a Catholic, for example.

  79. Edward T. says:

    In the Book of Mormon, Alma reforms the church by cutting off those who have become disaffected. “And it also came to pass that whosoever did belong to the church that did not repent of their wickedness and humble themselves before God—I mean those who were lifted up in the pride of their hearts—the same were rejected, and their names were blotted out, that their names were not numbered among those of the righteous.” As a result, the church gains vitality and attracts many new converts.

    It is no accident that the Seventh-day Adventists and the Jehovah Witnesses, two of the fastest growing religious bodies in the world, also agressively remove disaffected members from their rolls.

    Inactive members are a very real burden. They sap the the time, energy and morale of active members. The same amount of time and effort would be much better spent proclaiming the gospel to those who have not heard it.

    I hope that someday we will raise the bar for church membership, as we have for full-time missionaries.

    I would suggest that anyone who has not attended Sacrament Meeting at least once during the course of an entire year has apostatized and should be removed from the records.

  80. The bishop that I worked with attempted to interrogate me about transgressions, but I refused to answer his questions and he processed my resignation anyway. If someone wants to resign, legally it doesn’t matter if they’ve committed a transgression. The church has no authority to force a person to face a church court, and they also cannot force an excommunication against a person’s will. The court cases that Hellmut references established this precedent.

  81. Way to show that dumb bishop, LQ.

  82. I can’t agree with #80 because I was someone who didn’t attend for a very long time. We accepted baptism because we really liked the elders who taught us and didn’t want to disappoint them. We attended church maybe once before baptism and a half dozen times afterwards, then dropped out for a long time. It took me 12 years to begin attending regularly and my husband 22 years. We need to find a different way to source new members. That would significantly help to solve the inactive, DNC problem IMHO. Meanwhile, those who truly do not want contact should be have their wishes respected.

  83. Any church can excommunicate anyone it wants. At least two clauses of the First Amendment compel that result.

  84. #80 is just plain wrong. Whether you understand or not, there are many reasons why people don’t go to church, even for very long times, without in the remotest sense apostatizing. Nora isn’t the only one who would have been cut off by some overzealous clerk’s valuing tidy records above all else — I would have been cut off, and I dare say there are other commenters who are currently active who have been through periods of inactivity. We’re supposed to tend the flock, not herd the difficult ones to the slaughter house.

  85. #80 “Inactive members are a very real burden. They sap the the time, energy and morale of active members. The same amount of time and effort would be much better spent proclaiming the gospel to those who have not heard it.”

    Sorry I am such a burden on you. sheesh.

  86. You tell it, Ardis. #80 is indeed just plain wrong.

  87. Left Field says:

    I agree with Ardis. Removing the records of anybody who hasn’t attended in a year will remove a ton of people who identify as Mormons, have testimonies, and love the church. Some are aged or infirm or have various other reasons for not attending. Many are faithful and devout and have given a lifetime of service to the church. Others are slackers and backsliders, but are Mormon to the core. Edward’s suggestion would probably have canceled the membership of a few apostles and Church presidents before they died.

  88. and now what I originally came here to say:

    In November 1993 I bought my first car at the Chevy dealership in my hometown. The salesperson Jack sent me a Christmas card. Then I got a card on my birthday in July 1994. I had moved from Massachusetts to California in January, but the address he was using was my Mother’s house.

    As of July 2008, I am STILL receiving 2 cards a year from Jack, reminding me to keep him in mind when I am in the market for my next car! My mother has standing instructions to simply throw the card away when it comes in the mail. I was home visiting in July when the card came in my Mother’s mail so I could see it for myself.

    The point is I am on a database somewhere, and the only ramification of that is getting a card twice a year.

    That is how I feel about my inactivity. I am on some computer record in Salt Lake, but aside from that I am left alone. And for that I am grateful. I feel no need to remove my name from that database. Even when I go back to the Catholic church of my youth, I guess I will still be on that database.

    One thing that is interesting is that I don’t need to rejoin the Catholic church, one you are there you are in for life…even if you do a “latae sententiae” excommuication if you join another denomination.

  89. Any church can excommunicate anyone it wants. At least two clauses of the First Amendment compel that result.

    The Supreme Court of Oklahoma disagrees, holding that at the First Amendment requires the opposite conclusion(Guinn v. Church of Christ of Collinsville, 1989).

    The court held:

    The right to withdraw one’s implied consent to submit to the disciplinary decisions of a church is constitutionally unqualified; its relinquishment requires a knowing and intelligent waiver.

    When parishioner withdrew her membership from the Church of Christ and thereby withdrew her consent to participate in a spiritual relationship in which she had implicitly agreed to submit to ecclesiastical supervision, those disciplinary actions thereafter taken by the elders against parishioner, which actively involved her in the church’s will and command, were outside the purview of the First Amendment [775 p.2d 778] protection and were the proper subject of state regulation.

  90. The facts of that case can be distinguished from the Mormon flavor of excommunication in which 12 dudes sit in a room, with or without you there, and then send you a letter saying that you’re excommunicated. Does anyone believe that that’s not protected conduct?

  91. I would say there are two primary functions of excommunication – (1) to withdraw fellowship (2) to discipline for serious transgression.

    If someone resigns, (1) is irrelevant, giving the appearance the sole purpose of an excommunication proceeding is (2). But a former member cannot rationally be disciplined in any way, making any post-resignation disciplinary proceeding look more or less like a vendetta.

    So it seems to me whether it is protected or not probably depends on the diligence a church undertakes to prevent the existence of such a questionable proceeding from becoming public knowledge.

    A much better course of action would be to add the person to a private roster indicating necessary review should he or she apply for re-baptism. No post-resignation judical theater required.

  92. gst (91):

    I think the question is not whether it is protected under the Constitution, but whether it constitutes tortious conduct. If 15 men sit around a table and discuss a person in a private meeting, make no slanderous or outrageous statements, and simply send a letter to the person that they have been excommunicated, it probably doesn’t give rise to a cause of action. If they get up in church and announce that the person has sinned and is excommunicated without the person’s express or implied consent, that may be actionable depending on the circumstances. The damage to reputation and the outrageousness of the conduct are the key factors.

  93. Another key factor is whether it’s true.

  94. Assuming we’re talking about defamation, that is.

  95. It is no accident that the Seventh-day Adventists and the Jehovah Witnesses, two of the fastest growing religious bodies in the world, also agressively remove disaffected members from their rolls.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses are not growing any longer but suffer from similar stagnation as we do. You might want to read the CUNY Religious Identification Survey or the more recent Pew study on religion.

    Seventh-day Adventists are apparently growing but only after shedding as much as forty percent of their members when there was fall out from reality based theological reforms. In return, Seventh-day Adventists appear to have recaptured the vitality of their local congregations, most of which reportedly are now growing at a brisk pace.

  96. I’ve never understood the angst and sense of violation people feel from the occasional phone call and/or visit: tell them to go away in your best French Peas accent or have your name removed and be done with it.

    I appreciate your frustration, Julie, but if we don’t get it, may be, that is an indication that we are not in a position to judge them.

  97. The real trouble lies in the vast murky realm of “inactive” Mormons. Some large but unknown percentage of inactives are people who don’t even consider themselves to be Mormons; many have attended church only a handful of times in their entire lives. Yet these people stay on the membership lists.

    Well, the Church doesn’t track “activity” beyond tithing status declaration. On what basis would you have the Church purge its records, and why? ..bruce..

  98. Luke 15

    4: What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
    5: And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
    6: And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
    7: I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance

    It seems like #80 would not go find the one and would leave it for the wolves. I hope I’m wrong.

    At our last stake leadership meeting the group was told that the Brethren in SLC want use to include the inactive in our missionary efforts along with possible new members. In fact we were given suggestions on how to re-engage the inactive member. It looks like the Leadership is interested in stopping converts from going through the front door and out the back door. And for those of us who were born into the covenant maybe the door shouldn’t be slammed in our face so we can come back in no matter how long it takes.

  99. Bruce #98, I think you’ve misread me in light of other commenters with very different agendas. I have no interest whatsoever in having the church purge its records. My point is simply that the membership numbers the church publishes are of nearly no value. An alternative and much more meaningful set of numbers, which the church does collect and could publish, would be Sacrament Meeting attendance on an average week during each year.

  100. the mirror says:

    How about this:

    We are told that HT means providing what the member wants and needs, even if that means visiting differently than the once a month norm. I also have lived in wards where some active members opted out of receiving monthly visits so that the available time could be focused on those who were getting limited attention compared to the weekly attention that these members and their families got in church and through contacts during the week.

    So, if someone requests no contact – 1) Is honoring that request an expression of the ideal to provide what is wanted and needed? 2) Is it any different in practice than an active member making a DNHT request?

    Summary: If someone requests no contact, and if the HT provides no contact as requested, does that mean that the HT has followed the spirit of the program and done his HT for that member?

  101. gst (91): There seems to be some confusion here. I agree that the First Amendment free exercise and free association rights mean that a church can excommunicate any member it wants to. My dispute is with the proposition that a church can legitimately excommunicate former members.

    A member can leave at any time for any reason by the same free association rights that allow a church to excommunicate him or her in the first place. The Oklahoma court held that once a member has resigned, free exercise rights no longer apply to any disciplinary action a church might undertake with respect to its former congregant.

    That ruling was apparently compelling enough for the Church to settle out of court with Norman Hancock, which settlement reportedly required the church to reverse his post-resignation excommunication.

  102. Mark D.: Doesn’t the church also have free speech rights? The way we do excommunication, isn’t that speech, and only speech?

    Let’s do a thought experiment. I start a church, and you join it. I decide that I want to excommunicate you from my church, and I send you a letter saying that I’m going to give you a hearing next week on a charge of apostasy. You immediately send a letter back that says, “Don’t bother with your hearing; I quit your stupid church, effective immediately.” I respond, “Whether or not you come to the hearing is up to you. I’m holding a hearing next week. If you don’t appear, I’m going to excommunicate you. As you know, excommunication means that you will no longer welcome in gst’s Church of the Very Bright Light.”

    Incensed, you run to a judge and file a complaint and petition for a preliminary injunction. Can the judge order me to not hold the hearing? If I do hold the hearing without your consent, on what theories am I liable (besides violating the (unlawful prior restraint) preliminary injunction)?

  103. So what I’m saying is, this isn’t just a freedom of association or free exercise case; it’s also a pure speech case.

  104. 100: One problem with using average Sacrament Meeting attendance to guage meaningful membership is exactly because it counts only attendance, not membership. If Sister A’s health allows her to attend only half the time, and Bro. B is on duty at the fire station some Sundays and Sgt. C’s National Guard commitment takes him out of town part of the time and Sister D’s flight schedule puts her on the Paris run regularly, together they might add up to a single regular Sacrament Meeting attendant — yet that single “point” represents four faithful, committed tithe-paying, temple recommend-holding church members who are as active as circumstances permit and who should be counted as members by anybody’s measure.

  105. Well, actually, if you follow the big cases, the ones that have gone up the chain, church and state separation means that a church can call removing a member whatever it wants. Do some Westlaw research on it.

    I know this may be a radical and unpopular view here, but I have always felt that asking your name to be removed was tantamount to rejecting your baptismal covenant, which seems to me a very, very bad idea in the eternal scheme of things.

    I suppose this goes to hedging. Rather than applying the cynical motivation of propping up numbers, I tend to believe priesthood leaders who don’t suggest removing names from the rolls might just be acting out of genuine concern for the souls of the people involved.

    Indeed. Who wants a name stricken from the Lamb’s Book of Life?

    This might be the case SC, but I pretty much get the same treatment and I attend every week and hold a calling. Members in my ward are just busy (including myself) and HT/VT isn’t a high priority. They’re not bad people, just have a lot going on – I don’t take it personal.

    Which makes me astounded at some of the stories I’m hearing on this thread. Who has time to be persistent with people who don’t even want contact?

    My experience as well.

    Mark D

    In an action for damages from invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, brought by a former parishioner against the congregation and its leadership, judgment was rendered on a jury verdict for the plaintiff. On appeal by the defendants,

    JUDGMENT IS REVERSED AND CAUSE REMANDED.

    In . . . [cases involving disputes within hierarchical churches]18 we think the [775 P.2d 772] rule of action which should govern the civil courts, founded in a broad and sound view of the relations of church and state under our system of laws, and supported by a preponderating weight of judicial authority is, that, whenever the questions of discipline or of faith, or ecclesiastical rule, custom or law have been decided by the highest of these church judicatories to which the matter has been carried, the legal tribunals must accept such decisions as final, and as binding on them, in their application to the case before them

    Do a keycite of 426 U.S. 696, 713, 96 S.Ct. 2372, 2382, 49 L.Ed.2d 151 [1976].

    Further

    ¶36 A federal appellate court has held that the Jehovah’s Witness Church’s practice of “shunning,” whether directed at current or former transgressing members, is protected First Amendment activity which does not “constitute a sufficient threat to the peace, safety, or morality of the community as to warrant state intervention.”53 In Paul a Jehovah’s Witness believer became disillusioned with the church, withdrew her membership and subsequently moved to another state. When she visited her old neighborhood a few years later, her Jehovah’s Witness friends would not speak to her; the church had instructed them to shun all “withdrawn” members.

    ¶37 Ms. Paul sued the Church, claiming that by shunning her, it had defamed her, caused her severe emotional distress and invaded her privacy. Stating that while a court could, in theory, “examine the question whether the shunning of a former member of a church is, in itself, tortious,” the court instead “follow[ed] the practice of Washington courts which safeguard the free exercise of religion through recognition of substantive defenses to torts, rather than by negating the plaintiff’s cause of action itself.”54 The court reasoned that “[c]hurches are afforded great latitude when they impose discipline on members or former members.”55 It found that “shunning” is a form of religious expression which the Free Exercise Clause protects. The Witnesses’ practice of shunning is privileged religious conduct, entitled to absolute First Amendment protection from governmental interference. The court held that because the protected practice of shunning did not present a threat to the peace, safety, or morality of the community,56 state intervention in the form of tort liability was not justified.

    The real point is that everything is constitutionally protected, other than the publication of private facts — something that was changed long before the withdrawal procedure.

    Bottom line: a church can, from the pulpit, announce that someone is no longer a member, instruct every member to shun them and do a number of other things, including announcing anathema, as long as that church does not publish private information (in some states, in other states the act of publishing private information in accordance with biblical injunctions is also privileged as long as it is true).

    Further, in an hierarchical church, one must exhaust the internal remedies first.

    Which does not address the real issue, which is how to treat people. Something thatfew people give the Church credit for trying to find a way to do in a kindly fashion.

    Speaking in my private capacity, not as a lawyer for an insurance company that also insures churches (though not the Church).

  106. Let me add

    While the United States Supreme Court has addressed civil court inquiry into ecclesiastical decisions made by hierarchical churches, it has not dealt with this issue in the context of a church which is congregational in form. Nevertheless, we are of the opinion that a church’s disciplinary decisions are protected from judicial scrutiny whether the church is “congregational” or “hierarchical.” Accord: First Baptist Church of Glen Este v. State of Ohio, 591 F. Supp. 676 [S.D.Ohio 1983] and Nunn v. Black, 506 F. Supp. 444 [W.D.Va. 1981].

    The issue most people miss who read the cases is that the hierarchical churches have won all the cases, the courts are split on the congregational churches.

    That is a quote from the dissent, would didn’t feel the difference merited a different treatment.

    I would also note that as the U.S. becomes post Christian, I expect the law to eventually change.

  107. Ardis, your point is well-taken. In an ideal world, the church would collect and publish multiple data points, including average meeting attendance, a count based on full list of members-of-record including inactives who don’t even remember having been Mormon and inactive people who are dead but not yet removed from the list, and a third number based on a census of members who have been baptized and subjectively consider themselves to be Mormon. That third measure would avoid the problem you’re worried about regarding the conceptual mismatch between attendance and belonging, but it would also avoid the major conceptual mismatch between the second category — with its millions of non-belongers included in the count — and the desired concept. The problem is that, at present, the church only publishes the least useful of these three numbers and only collects the data necessary to publish the first two alternatives. Of these two, attendance is clearly a much better proxy for the true membership count than a complete list of everyone on the books. But a real census of identity among people on the books would win the game, to be sure.

  108. Thanks for the additional information, Stephen M. I concede the point.

    As a secondary matter, however, our Church does not practice “shunning”. Excommunication status is generally kept private. So after a person withdraws, even if they have committed relatively serious transgressions, what it the point of holding a church court? Isn’t excommunication essentially forced withdrawal?

  109. #57 “2. The 1999 handbook instructed bishops and stake presidents not to process a name removal request if there was evidence of a transgression that warrants a disciplinary council. This policy seems designed to keep a member from using name removal as a way to avoid being disciplined.”

    My understanding was that once the request for name removal reaches the Bishop/Branch President then legally the person is no longer a member (even if it takes the organization weeks or months to process the confirmation.

    If this is true then all the evidence in the world would not (legally) allow for a disciplinary council.

  110. malkie,
    Although I could be wrong, at least in the U.S., I doubt there is any legal significance to belonging to a church. I would also be shocked to discover that there were any laws on the books regarding when a person is subject to church discipline. That is, I would tend to assume that the church can (ecclesiastically) discipline anybody it wants. (In fact, I don’t know why ecclesiastical discipline would have to be limited to members of a church–I don’t see any legal reason why the Baptists couldn’t excommunicate me, even though I am not and never have been a Baptist.)

    But, like I said, I could be wrong.

  111. I hereby excommunicate, ban, and shun all Baptists from my “Cool People” club.

    There. I’m now a test case.

  112. Excommunication status is generally kept private.

    What world do you live in? Seriously, I want to move there. There must no gossip in your world.

  113. If this is true then all the evidence in the world would not (legally) allow for a disciplinary council.

    Actually, the “Bell, Book and Candle” routine and anathamas are quite legal.

    Had not thought about it until just now Sam B. and J. Nelson-Seawright.

    Otherwise all sorts of interesting things would happen when the Catholic Church refuses to accept another denominations baptism.

    Anyway, I think more grace and good manners, less anger and rigidity is the way to love others some times.

  114. JNS, if church membership is based on attendence at church services, how many Catholics are there?

  115. E, not a particularly solid comparison. What’s relevant here is the structure of underlying relationships between participation and identification. We know from a lot of data that a very large percentage of Catholics who don’t attend mass nonetheless regard themselves as thoroughly Catholic. The best available evidence for Mormons, by contrast, suggests that only a minority of non-attenders consider themselves Mormon. In the U.S., it’s a large minority, whereas in other countries, it seems to be a vanishingly small minority. So there is reason to believe that attendance figures are a better proxy for self-identification among Mormons than among Catholics.

  116. To reemphasize some points from above:

    It’s fine that the church keeps records of every member. I see no reason to cut someone off the list just because they don’t show up at church.

    But it seems disingenuous to use these numbers to compare our size or growth rates to other denominations who measure membership differently. And it seems unrealistic to celebrate milestones using these numbers. As one example, a few years ago we publicly announced that there are now a million members on record in Mexico. But the 2000 Mexican census showed only 205,000 people who identified themselves as Mormon. Census methods might not correctly reflect all of the self-identified Mormons, but it seems clear that there are far less than 1 million.

    I see no reason to make our statistics out to be more than they really are. Membership numbers don’t make the church true or false.

  117. If anyone is interested, the issue of how to count and report membership isn’t an issue only for us. There is a segment of the Southern Baptist Convention that is trying to get that denomination to have stats for those who attend regularly – and even “excommunicate” those who don’t show up regularly on Sunday. They appear to have no better attendance and activity than we do, even with our higher time demands.

    I wrote a post on Mormon Matters about that in July:

    Something the Southern Baptist Convention Can Learn from the Mormons

  118. Ray,

    That was a great post on Mormon Matters. I get the general sense from a general feel from all the data across US Christendom that most Denominations are shrinking. We are still growing but the growth has slowed down in North America due to lower conversion and birthrates.

  119. I will soon be submitting my resignation (by my late November birthday as a gift to myself), even if at this time I am not a DNC. One of the very problems I have with the church is that of manipulation of stats as demonstrated and/or alluded to above. Even worse is the church’s inability to live with its own past and its own origins, and the terrible manipulations that go on year to year with church so-called “history” (“faith-promoting” lessons and stories disguised as history, and the occasional, complete revision).

    My path out has been one of study of available church records and history (some not so easily available, due to the nature of the beast), and contact with so many who have been injured. I would have to say that the overwhelming bulk of us who leave are greatly disturbed and offended by these sorts of manipulations of facts and figures, which indicate that the church has some fundamental problems confronting and promulgating the truth.

    Oh, and hi, Peter LLC. You used to be my bishop. One of the best, as I recall! Wish I were there now!

  120. #119 – That’s correct, bbell. The growth rate domestically (North America) is about -1%, while the international growth rate is about 5%. The overall growth rate is about 4% world-wide.

    Of relevance to this thread is that the overall retention rate of new members has increased as the baptism/growth rate has dropped over the last few years. The rates dropped most significantly after the bar was raised for missionary service and the overall number of missionaries dropped significantly. Those rates have been climbing slowly but steadily since then, but we have not hit statistical stability in North America quite yet.

    Honestly, I am wearied a bit by charges that the Church is dishonest and manipulative in its presentation of membership. I understand the concerns about “lies, damned lies and statistics”, but the overall membership totals have never been presented as anything but what they are – total people baptized. The Church has never stated or even implied that we have 13 million active members – only that, to the best of their knowledge, there are 13 million members of record. It is very easy to get regular attendance estimates (generally around 40% world-side), and those stats are not kept locked in a vault. Compared to most other major religions, this information actually is more accessible and openly discussed – as pointed out (conceptually) in the articles linked in my Mormon Matters post.

    Membership record keeping and activity retention are world-wide issues, and the Church actually does a much better than average job addressing them. Of course, there are issues where it could do better, most criticisms lack the big picture view that would make them valid.

  121. Ray,

    My understanding is similar.

    My sources in the church office building HEHE tell me that the big concern in North America is Birthrate. Historically much of the retained growth has always been COrecord. Those numbers are down more then 50% now since the 1970’s.

  122. #122 – Yup.

  123. Good luck reversing the birthrate trend — demographers call it the “demographic transition,” and it seems pretty universal.

    Ray, the problem isn’t that there’s deception going on, but rather that the only numbers the church formally publishes on a regular basis are meaningless. This has in the past led to goofy and irrelevant hype about growth rates by some members, and even about claims that the church must be true because it is growing like Daniel’s stone cut from the mountain without hands. So there are some pop-theological reasons to want to get better numbers. More generally, for sociology-of-religion purposes, better statistics would be invaluable, since the current statistics simply don’t measure anything of meaning.

    My understanding is that virtually all of the worldwide real growth in the church at present is located in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

  124. #124 – JNS, I agree completely with the second paragraph.

  125. Guys, Its the bloggernaccle quit agreeing with each other.

  126. “It is very easy to get regular attendance estimates (generally around 40% worldwide)and these stats are not kept locked in a vault.”

    Ray, I could not find on your SBC post a link to LDS attendance estimates. As I understand it, the Church does not generally release attendance information. There are anecdotal hints here and there dribbled out (e.g., at the Worlds of Joseph Smith conference in 2005, Elder Oaks stated that about 100,000 of the over 500,000 members of record in the Phillipines attend Church at least once a month). David Stewart’s estimates on the cumorah website are based on such hints.

    In addition, I just returned from attending sessions sponsored by the Mormon Social Science Association at the annual conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and my understanding from those scholars is that the Church continues to keep a tight hold on information about attendance and activity. Brad Kramer and David Knowlton, two of the bcc permabloggers, were at the conference as well (and gave great presentations, and in David’s case, several of them), and perhaps they have other insights into this question.

  127. JNS, to me using meeting attendance seems at least as problematic as numbers baptized. I don’t know the situation outside the US, but it’s hard for me to believe that a large majority of US non-attenders don’t consider themselves mormon. I certainly have not encountered many

    Mike, I agree with Ray that the numbers are just the numbers. I don’t understand why you would think that publishing numbers of baptized members is any sort of “manipulation of facts and figures” just because they are not all active.

  128. Did anyone here bother to think that maybe the rest of the world sees through the garbage and realizes that the cult of mormonism has nothing on them and can do nothing for or against their souls and just doesn’t care to be bothered by your people? Wow! What a concept.

    I for one gladly and with joy had my name removed. It gave me a chance to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ to your people and had to be read by your “bishop” Stake Pres, and the guy at the records office.

    My release letter is like a diploma of graduation. I have moved from the elementary things of mormonism and it’s heresies to a saved position with God.

    I should frame it.

  129. When I receive a request from a member to have their name removed, I explain to them that by so doing, they are voluntarily excommunicating themselves from the church, that they are no longer members of the LDS church, and that they must be rebaptized in order to become a member.

    How is having one’s name removed any different than excommunication? In my opinion, it is the exact same thing.

    For a legal case to conclude that it is illegal to excommunicate someone who has requested that their name be removed is rediculous to me because name removal is excommunication. Their name is removed from the book of life (the earthly version anyway).

  130. palerobber says:

    mike:

    how is it different from excommunication?

    gee, i wonder. that’s a real toughie.

    btw, for what reasons apart from being found guilty of grave transgressions are members excommunicated?

  131. Apostasy, palerobber, or anything else that takes someone out (ex) of the oneness (communion) of the church. Duh.

  132. “For a legal case to conclude that it is illegal to excommunicate someone who has requested that their name be removed is ridiculous to me because name removal is excommunication”

    It is certainly equally ridiculous to hold a church court to consider whether to excommunicate a former member, when indeed they have excommunicated themselves and cannot legally be treated as a member over their own objection.

  133. In answer to Phouchg’s comment on #80’s comment…

    “#80 “Inactive members are a very real burden. They sap the the time, energy and morale of active members. The same amount of time and effort would be much better spent proclaiming the gospel to those who have not heard it.”

    Sorry I am such a burden on you. sheesh.”
    ================================================
    Speaking from “in the trenches” experience–I have been a clerk, during the past 38 years, for a total of about 25 years–Yes Phouchg you are a burden. But, that is primarily because someone in ward leadership always has an anecdote about a member coming back into activity after 40 years of inactivity, or the “ninety and nine” parable.

    There is no counting of the cost (in time and stress) to the active members of continuing to (attempt) to contact those that do not want contact–often against the stated desires of the DNCs!

    In our ward we have 25 families that have specifically (and usually with hostility) said they don’t want to be members/want nothing to do with the church, etc. We have another 28 families that have declared they don’t want HT or VT. With our current Bishop, we have no contact (other than from him) with the first 25 and send quarterly letters to the 28. This is a sensible middle ground, in terms of effort, and in terms of bothering people that don’t want to be bothered.

    However, it has not always been so. And, with every new, Ward Mission Leader and his fresh zealotry, there is an interest in mining that field (and bothering those people) again.

    That, Phouchg, is an unwarranted burden–based on the (statistically) very slim hope of changing your mind. You are an agent unto yourself. To the extent that my efforts at trying to “get you back into the fold” aids me and my righteousness, my efforts are justified. Just going along with a traditional, and largely mythological, hope.

  134. Steve Evans says:

    Great attitude Phil!

  135. With love,working to get inactives “back in to the fold” does improve one’s personal righteousness. If it is done under duress, not so much.

  136. Velikiye Kniaz says:

    Ardis, how did you miss that indictment of historians and Church history in #120? I would have expected you to come out with guns blazing. Evidently, the brother isn’t fully aware that anti-LDS (Mormon) books, videos, etc. is a multi-million dollar business and that given any point in history and enough varied information on that incident, it can be ‘spun’ any number of ways. Personally, I have made it a habit that if I want to assess a man’s character I do not seek out the opinion of his enemies. The same holds true for institutions. But he also impugned Church sources and Church historians as being disingenuous. Have your associates fallen to this? Do you hold weekly ‘disinformation’ meetings in the CHO? Tell us all, Ardis! Confession is good for the soul!

  137. Velikye, it’s becoming harder and harder to read comments like #120 with a straight face, what with Elder Jensen all but going out on the street and dragging people into the archives and begging them to use the vast collections for whatever point of view they want to promote.

    This deserves better exposure than comment 138 of a dead thread, so I’ll probably repeat this as a post at Keepapitchinin: A few weeks ago, Simon & Schuster released David Roberts’s Devil’s Gate: The Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy. This is a book very much in the interpretive strain of Will Bagley and David L. Bigler, and most BCC readers will probably protest some of the author’s conclusions and the sarcastic zingers that pepper the text. Yet even this author could write in his acknowledgements:

    I had anticipated a diffident or even suspicious reception when I started work in the LDS Archives in 2005. To my great surprise, the archivists, librarians, and historians in the Church History Library could not have been more welcoming and helpful. In 1964, Wallace Stegner had complained that the LDS library and archives were “open to scholars only reluctantly and with limitations.” Nothing could be further from the truth today. To my mind, the Archives now set a shining example of disinterested service to writers and researchers who will inevitably quarrel with and criticize “orthodox” Mormon history.

    Who is in a better position to evaluate the church’s efforts to make its history available? David Roberts (whom everybody at the library knew was a close friend and colleague of Jon Krakauer, within minutes of his walking in the door)? Or the anonymous Mike?

    That is my explanation for skipping over comment #120 when I first saw it. Mike wasn’t asking, wasn’t interested in learning. He was telling, and his telling was so obviously uninformed, that it wasn’t worth the effort of responding.

  138. If I ever get elected to public office, I want Ardis to be my spokesperson to the media.

  139. John Mansfield says:

    I would love to see Ardis working as a spokesperson to the media. Let’s get queuno elected.

  140. Researcher says:

    I second the motion. I’ll even go collect signatures.

  141. Steve Evans says:

    Queuno, what is your policy on the bowl system?