Over 1,000 Mormons march together and quit church en-masse
Over 1,000 Mormons marched on a Utah church to hand in official resignation letters.
A reported 1,000 members of the Church of Latter Day Saints marched on the Salt Lake City chapel to officially resign from the faith after a controversial change in church policy.
Leaders of the Church last week approved a new policy which added same-sex marriage to acts 'considered to be a renunciation of the faith'. This effectively means that those engaging in same-sex marriage would be 'subject to church discipline', which could include ex-communication.
The policy also bans children 'whose primary residence is with a same-sex couple' from being baptised until they legally leave the care of their parents at age eighteen. They must leave home or 'disavow' same-sex marriage at this point in order to receive the sacrament.
Lines of protesters handed their letters to attorney Mark Nagle, who ensured the letters made their legal requirements before they were posted.
Some of the letters were left with Nagle to post but many of the protesters formed a procession to a mailbox downtown where they themselves posted the letters.
The Church President Thomas S. Monson tweeted "I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come".
One of the protesters, Paul Pratt, explained why he had decided to resign from the faith after seventeen years.
"It's time to seperate. I don't need a bunch of church leaders telling me what to do".
To resign from the church, Mormons must submit a formal letter asking their names be removed from church rolls, a church instructional handbook for lay leaders published on the internet in 2010 shows.
The Mormon church boasts 15 million believers and 85,000 missionaries worldwide.
A previous mass resignation ceremony was held in 2012 when 150 mormons came together to resign over a number of issues including the church's political activism against gay marriage and doctrinal teachings that conflict with scientific findings or are perceived as racist or sexist.
Others cited inconsistencies in the Mormons' explanation of its own history, including the practice of polygamy.
Read: Mormons quit church in mass resignation ceremony (2012)