Converting to the Mormon Church at the youthful age of 18, I was passionate to serve my Lord Jesus Christ and the Father through many various “callings” in the LDS Church. As time passed, so did the culture of Mormonism settling within me. I married a lovely lady in the LDS Church. We went to the Temple to be sealed for time and eternity, and we started a family, which eventually became three boys and three girls. All my time, money, energy and interests were centered around the Church. It seemed to be pretty good, but was it really? I had been having some concerns and questions about the Church’s teachings and policies and by this time, I was also called to be a Bishop at the age of 23. Despite writing them down in a twenty-page letter and directly handing it to my Stake President, no one sat down to seriously address them. The truth is (though I did not know it then), they had no better idea on how to answer my questions than I did.
I joined the Mormon Church in December of 1964 at 18 years of age. Unlike many converts, I was looking for God a year before I contacted the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and asked their Missionaries to come and teach me. I was what they call “a golden contact” because I was already reading the Bible, but now, I was able to read and study the Mormon scriptures (The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants).
I was extremely diligent and earnest in serving the LDS Church. I accepted various “Callings” (unpaid jobs in the Church) and since I attended a Branch of the Church (smaller than a Ward), I had many opportunities to teach and preach. Along with my developing understanding of the Mormon faith — that is, the understanding the Church was willing to permit me and all other members to have, I was also beginning to develop a personal relationship with Christ and God the Father.
When one listens to the Mormon councils, one can see how they inspire LDS Church members to seek Christ and a personal revelation (guidance) from Him, but if you listen to the majority of Mormons, you will find that their centre of interest, love and devotion is not Christ Himself, but the Institution of the Church, or their Calling, or the Temple — anything other than God! This is no coincidence. Lip service is indeed given to Christ and they most certainly do believe in Him, but the fact is that so much emphasis is placed upon the importance of the Prophet, programmes, the Priesthood and the Temple, that Christ tends to get left behind. Perhaps it was my early reading of the Bible and thinking of Christ that helped me not to get so distracted with Mormonism. So, even while I was still LDS, my personal relationship with God was gradually developing in spite of my conviction that Mormonism was the true way to worship God — that is, the True Church.
As time passed, so did the culture of Mormonism settling within me. I married a lovely lady in the LDS Church. We went to the Temple to be sealed for time and eternity, and we started a family, which eventually became three boys and three girls. All my time, money, energy and interests were centred around the Church. It seemed to be pretty good, but was it really? I had been having some concerns and questions about the Church’s teachings and policies and by this time (1971), I was also called to be a Bishop at the age of 23.
I was shocked to be called as Bishop and felt a little inadequate, but I tried to do the best that I could. In many ways, I loved the Church and wanted to help and bless the people. Nevertheless, my questions seemed to have no answers.
Bear in mind that back then, there was no Internet or any way to Google-search such questions. Despite writing them down in a 20-page letter and directly handing it to my Stake President, no one sat down to seriously address them. The truth is (though I did not know it then), they had no better idea on how to answer my questions than I did. This is because the Church fed us all the same spin that it feeds to all of its members. That spin is a well-polished, air-brushed image, calculated by them to leave you feeling contented and reasonably satisfied at the cost of dishonesty about their hidden facts.
What one does not appreciate is that over time, an insidious indoctrination or conditioning has taken place and one is sucked into a culture and way of life that naturally feeds one’s ego, value system, status, domestic, social and spiritual identity. In this position, it is almost impossible to “see” its falsity, or to even want to.
My concerns did not disappear, they just got shoved under the carpet, although my unanswered questions bothered me enough that I requested my release as a Bishop. This took the pressure off and I continued for many years with a sort of reserved conviction. I still accepted other callings in the Church and enjoyed bringing up my family in the Faith.
Things at home were great and my home-life was excellent, but under the surface, thoughts about the Church being false would not go away. They would play on my mind. Over decades, wrestling doubts became so exhausting as thoughts of uncertainty kept going around in my mind. Meanwhile, I continued to talk to God about everything in my life (as I was taught). In addition to this and my normal prayers at home, I also went out into the wilderness to talk with God about once a month. To me, these were very special and beautiful experiences which, in a sense, had nothing to do with the Church, just me and God.
One night after I had finished praying (sitting in my car in a dark and quiet place), I was about to drive home but I could not leave. Something inside me wanted just to stay a while longer with God, just to say to Him, “I love you.” Praise started to possess me, and the love of God enveloped me. Every time I asked Him about whether my Church was what it claimed to be, there were no big answers, but what I was given was a profound sense of being loved and accepted for who I was. Mormonism tends to down-play “grace” and concentrate on “works.” It therefore tells you that acceptability with God must always be earned, yet here I was, feeling something opposite to what my LDS Faith had been teaching me.
Slowly but surely, my experience with God and Christ was giving me greater and greater confidence to confront my leaders, something I had previously lacked. I had always thought they knew better. However, the act of confronting Mormon leaders does not go down well. I was immediately informed that I was arrogant and lacked the humility to follow and trust the Prophet.
Some of my expanded readings took in the writings of C.S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, Richard Wurmbrand, Richard Rohr, Thomas Merton, as well as other great men of God. Increasingly my view of God was diverging from the Mormon view of God and my dear wife began to worry about me. Talking about things only made her upset; she was strong in her Faith and could not understand why I had so much turmoil inside. She had been used to me being strong and positive, so when I spoke negative about the Church, she would start to cry. I loved her too much to see her so distressed, so it became something we avoided talking about.
I started to feel like an onlooker at Church — as if I was watching but not joining others in worship. I do not even think that “worship” is quite the right word anyway. They would object, but Mormons belong to an institution — the Church — not to God. Too few members have the Kingdom of God within them. Sadly, they have little or no sense of praise for His grace and mercy. I sensed this as being a form of spiritual emaciation all around me.
My attendance at Church started to drop off a bit. Other times I would go but skip some of the Sunday block (3 hours of meetings), and sometimes I skipped them all. My wife understood my preferences, or at least, she told me that she loved me regardless. I was lucky as some LDS spouses fall-out big time or even head for a divorce!
In 2002, my wife developed cancer, from which she sadly died in 2005. From that point on, I was alone as all my children had already left home and were happily married, also very strong in the Church.
MY BOOK: THE YOUNGEST BISHOP IN ENGLAND, Beneath the Surface of Mormonism purchase through amazon.com
About this time I entered an extended period of communion with God. I was in grief, alone and for various reasons described in my book, in a dark place. I never really understood before, like I did then, the sheer wonder, mercy and beauty of God. I knew I was living very few of the ‘moral,’ standards, set by Mormonism. Yet, God was all around me like a ranging fire.
I touch on it in my book, yet my goal was to expose Mormonism as a fraud and the more I looked into it, the more I saw the extent of the corruption and madness of what I had been involved in for so long. I was shocked and amazed at how I had got so much wrong. If I had not had this special relationship (experience) with God, I would probably be an atheist by now, and this is often what happens for many Ex-Mormons. As it is, I have lost faith in religion, but not in God.
My book deals with some of the doctrines and teachings of Mormonism that I found disturbing and false. These led me to look more closely at its founder Joseph Smith and the epistemology of the entire Faith. When a spiritual “house of cards” collapses utterly and completely, the death of a faith occurs and it includes deep sadness, depression, guilt, confusion and anger. Oh yes, and loads of anger! Active LDS members simply cannot understand this anger. In fact, they understand very little at all because they remain under the conditioning of this cult.
My book is about my years of struggle — about doubt and questions. It includes my argument against the Church and what led to my excommunication in 2006. It also includes my life after Mormonism. I’m still not sure about many things, but I am sure about Mormonism and why it is bad, corrupt and false. My book is a small voice among a growing number of others who have come of age. These days the Church is on the run and is continually struggling to justify the unjustifiable. It may continue for generations, but my belief is that it will change greatly, as the Internet forces it to confront its history and absurd doctrines.
Before I finish, I’d like to address two last things: When members who are worthy repeatedly enter the temple, it is to do Endowment work for the dead. Other things can be done too, but this is the main reason most will attend. Initially when a person first goes to the temple, they receive their OWN Endowment.
This is ALWAYS a shock, but participants get used to it by going back many times in their lives. The majority find it bewildering, strange and pretty weird, but conclude that it is just them. A big leader once said:
“If you have a problem with the temple, guess who has the problem?”
Such statements were, and still are, calculated to help them remain quiet about their failure to be impressed about the temple. As long as they thought that they, themselves, were the problem, then the Church was exonerated. This is ALWAYS the case in Mormonism – shift any failure onto the members – it’s part of cult control.
Apostles and Prophets as well as more local leaders speak about the temple in soft-toned voices. Exaggerations of its sacredness and Divine approval are nauseatingly sycophantic. After hearing this stuff repeated for decades, one ends up thinking that it is just YOU who is out of harmony. But, why not just come out in the open and say it? Why don’t you express your opinion of how bad it really is? How boring? How ridiculous? How absurd to think that God is so insensitive that He has to invent borrowed Masonic sign language, connected to Blood Oaths of Murder, to check if our hearts are right?
The temple is a pantomime of secret madness and the reason most members keep their opinions to themselves is because they will be seen as weak, lacking faith, blasphemous, and disloyal. This will draw embarrassing attention to themselves. So, they play the game and pay their tithing. Here is a clue that I am right on this.
On the few occasions that I have gathered up enough courage to voice my ‘true feelings’ about the temple in an official private interview with a Stake leader – each time they confided to me that they have had the SAME PROBLEM. I was shocked! No one says their true feelings! Authenticity is murdered in the Church. The Endowment is said to be the most amazing blessing you will ever experience, but it is worse than one could ever imagine! Originally, it was Smith (having just become a Mason) who established the secret combinations to enforce conformity that have connections with Blood Atonement, as well as Polygamy. No wonder it is such an awful experience for most members!
The other thing I wanted say is that apart from suffering the death of their Faith, Ex-Mormons suffer the blow of being thought of as either neglectful or sinful by active members and especially by their family. Even if you keep your mouth shut and follow an impeccable life style, you will be seen as a failure for leaving the Faith. Your closest relations may shun you or even question whether you should be allowed near your own grandchildren. No one really wants to be near your spiritual illness for too long. Like all fundamentalists, too many LDS members will take your departure as a personal insult to God and to the everlasting ties of their sacred family, which you have broken by leaving!
Perhaps the most consoling thing is that EVERY Ex-Mormon I know, feels liberated and authentic. They are not depressed but full of life. Their greatest sadness, is the awareness of those still caught-up in probably the greatest fraud of our generation.
This post is also available in: Spanish