Common Questions and their Answers

Who wrote this letter?
This Open Letter was written by a team of eight authors from the United States and Canada beginning with an idea that D. William Johnson proposed.

Melanie Hall, Melisa Hesson, Nathan Hesson, Matthew Hildebrand, Steve Holbrook, D. William Johnson, Alison Udall, and Holly Welker became the primary authors of the letter and created the website. A community of former and current members contributed ideas and feedback for the letter prior to publication.

Do you represent MormonThink, FAIR, Sunstone, the individuals involved with the legal action in the UK, or any other groups?
No

Why did you write this letter?
As current and former Mormons, many of us have been through emotional turmoil as we've struggled with our beliefs. Some of us even made the difficult decision to leave. Our most cherished relationships have been strained or lost. We've experienced pain and distress, sometimes having to keep silent out of fear—all because of a lack of understanding between active members and those who question their faith.

With this Open Letter to President Monson, we hope to open up dialogue, not only with Church leadership, but also between families. The letter asks the Church to commit to more transparency and to help us create an atmosphere with more peace and understanding between us and our loved ones—regardless of our beliefs.

We hope that this will help to alleviate the very real pain felt both by us and our family and friends who are saddened by our questioning, our disaffection, and, when it happens, our leaving the faith.

Why did you choose to publish this letter now?
The recent addition of essays on several difficult topics to the LDS.org website, the increasing number of online and in person discussions about doctrines, policies, and culture within the Church, and the recent legal action being taken in the UK, have led us to a point where we feel the need to speak up, to try to pull people together, and to try to begin to heal damaged relationships.

What do you expect will happen as a result of this letter?
We don't expect the church to immediately change what they are doing. We aren't even sure Thomas S. Monson or the leadership will read the letter. We hope they do and we would love to see them address our concerns. What we really want is to open genuine dialogues and to begin repairing damaged relationships while building new ones.

Why is the letter addressed to Thomas S. Monson?
We decided that addressing the letter to President Monson was appropriate as he is the final authority for the doctrines and policies of the Church. While the letter is addressed solely to him, we are also sending copies of the letter to other individuals within the general and local leadership of the Church.

Have any changes been made to the letter since it was first published?
Yes. Based on a significant amount of feedback, a few minor changes have been made to the letter since it was initially published. In the spirit of openness that we are asking of the church, the original content of the letter can be downloaded from http://www.mormonopenletter.com/MormonOpenLetter-original.pdf, and here is a list of the changes that have been made:
  • Recent events surrounding the Church, including the court case in the UK, have prompted us....
  • When we learn something new that we are excitedwant to share with our families and loved ones....

Has the letter been delivered to President Thomas S. Monson?
Yes. A hard copy was mailed to: President Thomas S. Monson, The Office of the First Presidency, The Quorum of the 12 Apostles, and to Michael Otterson, managing director of Public Affairs for the Church.

How can I get involved?
Start by “liking” our facebook page: www.facebook.com/MormonOpenLetter The more signatures we collect, the louder our voices are for change. The most important thing you can do is to spread the word. We encourage you to share this letter with your family, your friends, and your local church leaders.

Why does it take a while for my name to show up after I sign?
To protect the integrity and privacy of the signatures we have set it up so that each name must be approved by an administrator.

Why is some of my info edited?
In order to both protect personal information and stay on-message with our displayed content, we may choose to edit out some comments left in the optional fields. Messages left in the “Callings” or “address” fields will be removed.

If you’d like to share your story or comments, email us at staff@mormonopenletter.com for possible publication on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MormonOpenLetter. Let us know if you’d like your comments and stories to be anonymous.

What is being done to secure my anonymity and information?
Information is stored using industry standard encryption and only relevant details are passed along from the database to the website. The only data published on the website is the signers first name and their last initial. They may also choose to fill in their location and any current or former callings that they have. This information is optional and is left for their own discretion.

How do you know the names are from real people and how do you prevent people from signing more than once?
We use a few different methods to determine where a signer is coming from. We cross-check these different pieces of information and review them at multiple times. The first pass is done when the signature is approved. The second pass happens at scheduled increments with a more thorough look through the data. The database determines what is likely a match from the same person and what is a unique signature.

Where can I find the new essays on LDS.org referenced in this letter?
Links to LDS.org Gospel Topics Essays