During Episode 3 of Season 5 of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, Whitney Rose had a notary public come over to notarize her letter asking to leave the Mormon Church, which is also called the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) This is Whitney’s third time trying to leave Mormonism. The first time, she left the church because she was cheating on her ex-husband with her current husband, Justin Rose. While Justin, who was also married, was excommunicated, Whitney was put through a “repentance process.” Now, she’s going through the legal process to leave the church forever.
“This is the final piece of ‘goodbye to the f**kin’ man,'” Whitney tells her husband Justin before the notary arrives. “Not you,” she clarifies.
Whitney first tried to sign the letter that cuts her ties with the Mormon church in front of RHOSLC castmate Heather Gay, who has also been vocal about losing her Mormon faith.
Whitney grew up in the church but now feels like the church is all about power and money. If you aren’t officially excommunicated, your name remains on their books forever, and they will continue to try to recruit you back.
She says they still send people to her house to convince her to rejoin and collect money. Whenever she moves, they update their records and always find her. This decision makes the split final and makes sure church members won’t continue to try to contact her.
“They make it so hard to leave because if they can keep you, there’s a chance that they can reactive you, which means you’ll start paying 10% of your income again,” Whitney explains. “I think it’s all about money and power and control. They’re not trying to save the souls of Zion. They want your 10%.”
Whitney used QuitMormon.com, which helps someone through the official process of leaving the church.
Why did Whitney decide to leave?
Whitney has not been a practicing Mormon for some time, so this act is more about the psychological benefits of going through the break. She still felt tethered to the church and wanted to cut that invisible string.
She’s been going through a healing journey to address her childhood trauma, and by doing so, she has realized that the Mormon church is responsible for one of her most significant wounds.
In episode 1 of this season, Whitney explained to Heather Gay, who is publishing a book about being an ex-Mormon(affiliate link,) that she’s making the official step to ask to be excommunicated from the church for her kids, Bobbie and Brooks.
She says she doesn’t want her children to imitate her cycle of “limited beliefs,” thinking she wasn’t good enough and not being heard by others. She feels “tethered” to the mindset she was programmed with as a child.
One major problem she has with this programming is its misogynistic nature.
“Having my name on the record of the Mormon church means that they’re still tracking what I’m doing,” Whitney explains in a producer interview.
Heather pointed out that removing your name from their books makes a statement that you’re choosing “outer darkness” and “no communion with God.” She describes this divide as a “steel door” between the person and the church.
Whitney first left the church after she cheated on her first husband with her boss, Justin. She went to the church and told them that she wanted to get a divorce. They made her tell them every detail about what happened with the affair in front of a council.
After speaking with her ex, the church members told Whitney she could be forgiven if she returned to the temple the next day. This wasn’t very clear to her because she thought she should be excommunicated for her behavior. Because of her ex’s words, she was told she could stay.
Her current husband, Justin, whom she cheated with, was excommunicated immediately. This difference in treatment has to do with the patriarchal nature of the church. Because a man, Whitney’s ex, intervened on her behalf, she was allowed to stay. “The men get to decide what happens to me,” she says, and she didn’t even feel like she had the power to say “no” to the religion.
This made her feel “icky and manipulated.” It was at that moment that she lost her faith. She got a divorce and tried to leave again, but they wouldn’t let her leave the second time because she was still “sealed” to her ex-husband in their eyes.
Whitney now sees parallels between the abuse she says she experienced in the church and the abuse she experienced from a family member. Signing the letter represented to Whitney taking her power back. “I feel like we should be popping a bottle,” she says as she signs the letter.
Has Heather Gay removed her name from the Mormon church?
Although Heather was the first RHOSLC member to come out with a storyline about leaving the Mormon church, she still hasn’t gone through this process. Watching Whitney do it makes her wonder if it is something she also wants to do.
Heather’s mother isn’t speaking to her about her decision to go against the Mormon faith, but she still feels like she wants to be a “good daughter,” and part of that means not removing her name from the books.