.:THE TESTIMONY OF PHILLIP – How God Rescued Me and My Wife from Mormonism
Raised Mormon and born with an inquisitive mind, I had many questions about the inconsistencies I saw between Mormon doctrine and practice. When I questioned the LDS leadership about these problems, I was excommunicated for my “lack of faith,” and disowned by my LDS family. When my new wife, Cheryl, was baptized into Mormonism, I too was reinstated into the Church. Immediately my Mormon family welcomed me back, but this was short lived when doubts and unanswered questions began to resurface in my mind. After five years of research, I knew Mormonism was false, but how would I convince Cheryl?
I was born to parents who had converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was raised as a Mormon in a non-Mormon environment in rural Kansas. This presented many challenges, including the exclusion from most activities that were not comprised of Mormon participants. I was thoroughly rehearsed in the mantra of defending the Church, its doctrines, and its leaders long before my mandatory baptism at age eight. I was never given the opportunity to compare my beliefs with other beliefs or to investigate other viewpoints. I was taught to “know” these things were “true,” because it was the prescribed process of indoctrination, now referred to by neuroscientists and psychological experts as “brainwashing” or “mind control.”
I was blessed with an inquisitive mind and had read all of the Standard Works of the Church (LDS 4 books of Scripture) by the time I was twelve years old. By age thirteen, cracks were beginning to appear regarding the veracity of what I was reading and hearing. I wrote a letter to the Prophet of the Church requesting clarification of the Church’s racial position involving blacks and the priesthood. The reply I received from a staffer of the Prophet ignited a life-long inquisition into the Church’s history and doctrines. This has resulted in my present day position as an apostate from Mormonism and strong advocate of Christianity versus Mormonism. The reply I received from the LDS Church summarized the control that Church leadership has over its members. It read as follows:
“Such are the mysteries of Heaven. You are not to question the Prophet of the Church in such dealings, for he is infallible. You belong to ‘the only true Church on the face of the earth’ and should be thankful enough for that. Such doubts are a result of the lack of faith on your part. Pray for additional strength and knowledge in such matters that you might know assuredly of the truth of all things as you have been instructed.”
What this translates to is: DO NOT QUESTION!
I grew up in Mormonism under the control of my parents who were staunch members of the Church. However, I refused to go on a mission because my questions could never be answered to my satisfaction. I moved to Utah, was married in the Salt Lake City temple, was active in my local Ward and Stake, and held many key positions. I was often counseled by my bishop to pray harder and study more so that I would not have questions, especially the ones he could not answer.
As a young married man my employer transferred me to Las Vegas. I began to investigate the history of the area and its founders. I learned that Mormons discovered the place and that they currently own all or part of the brothels, casinos, and other establishments with gambling devices. Prominent Mormons held positions in the local and state government as well as positions on the gaming commission. Although I was restricted from drinking caffeine drinks, the Church owned all of the COKE distributorships in Nevada and Utah. During my employment, I saw my former Salt Lake City bishop and other prominent Utah Mormons engage in gaming, drinking, and other illicit activities while visiting Las Vegas. They were doing the same activities that they used to preach against when I lived in Salt Lake City.
I went to my new Las Vegas bishop with my concerns. I truly wanted to be a good member of the Church, but I was conflicted with its irreconcilable doctrines and applications. Within a short time, I was served a subpoena from a Clark County Sheriff summoning me to a Church court to evaluate my membership credentials in the Church. I was being charged with blasphemy. I had forgotten lesson number one – DO NOT QUESTION! I was excommunicated at that meeting which I chose not to attend at the advice of my counsel. Per the usual practice of the Church, they notified my family in Utah that I had been excommunicated. Then, my family held a meeting where they disowned me as a member of their family.
Years later, after losing my family, my wife and my business because of the excommunication, I moved back to my roots in Kansas and met Cheryl, who is now my wife. Cheryl was a Lutheran. The only thing she knew about the LDS Church was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir she enjoyed watching on Sunday morning television. She wanted to know my story, so I told her about my life in Utah and Mormonism. Having lived her whole life within a few miles of the place of her birth, she wanted to visit Utah and help soothe tensions with my family who had abandoned me.
Instead of being dismayed, she was intrigued. She thought the people were kind and thoughtful, had high morals, and had an aura about them she could not understand. The cities were clean and there was less drinking and smoking than the environment she was used to, so she wanted to move to Utah.
When anyone moves to Utah, especially to Orem, UT (Family City USA), that person is immediately asked if he is a member of the Church. You do not have to guess which Church they are asking about. If you are not a member, you are encouraged to allow the LDS missionaries to visit your home. Being married to a wonderful woman was important to me at that stage of my life; I was determined not to let religion mess it up again. So I consented.
Cheryl liked the eternal family idea and was hearing things about never having to worry about divorce. She had gone through one herself. We were promised that we would live longer because of our adherence to the Word of Wisdom, etc.
Within a year, we were baptized into the LDS Church. For me, it was the second time. We had to wait a year because the Church had to have the time to investigate the reasons for my excommunication. During the interim, it was painfully necessary to grovel to local Stake, District, and Salt Lake leaders of the Church. Eternal blessings that were forfeited at the time of excommunication had to be restored, and embarrassing and personal interviews had to reflect my total commitment to the Church in order to be reinstated. Once that occurred, it was still necessary to wait another year before we could be sealed in the temple ‘for time and all eternity.’
Walla! My family loved me again! My brother and sisters treated me as if I had never been shunned and all acquaintances were automatically renewed. I have to admit, it was a great feeling to have my family again. I was fully active in the Church, and at one time, Cheryl and I combined held nine positions in our local Ward and Stake.
During my tenure as a Sunday school teacher of 10-year-olds, I attended Sharing Time with my class. During the proceeding, the children were asked to stand and salute with their Scriptures shouting, “Scripture Power.” All of my questions regarding the Church came back to me in a flash. I had an immediate headache and excused myself to go home. When Cheryl arrived, she wanted to know why I left so hurriedly and did not stay for Sacrament meeting. I told her the last time I saw anything like the Scripture salute was with old black and white movies of the Hitler Youth Movement.
I continued to go to Church with her and the kids, but would take a yellow pad with me and draw a line down the middle, writing “Christ” above one half and “Joseph Smith” above the other. I would tally according to what I heard during the meeting. Jesus always lost by about 20-1.
Cheryl and I fought about the Church. I bought her a small mail and copy store to get her out of the house, and I went to work. As a private investigator by profession, I knew how to research. For the next five years, every waking moment was spent researching the Church, its history, its leaders, and its doctrine. The Internet was a fantastic tool of information never before available. I built enough courage and knowledge in five years to confront Cheryl with my findings. One evening before bedtime, I knelt beside the bed, took her by the hand and said:
“Honey, you know I love you more than anything in this world. I have something to tell you.”
She thought I was going to confess to an affair and later said she wished I had. I told her of the research I had been doing and the results I had found. I told her the Church was not as it claimed, and that Joseph Smith was a liar, a pedophile, a polygamist, a bigamist, a murderer, and a member of the occult. He was certainly not a martyr. I further explained that leaders of the Church today had the same information but continued to exploit its members for financial gain.
A year and a half later, after thousands of arguments and late-night discussions, and much prayer, Cheryl finally understood what I was going through. For me to accept Mormonism as a fraud, the “god” I had prayed to for wisdom and strength, for my family, for safety, for healing – that “god” had to die! I had to realize the “god” of Mormonism was a false “god.” This was no easy task. It would be necessary for me to process this trauma by first denying the existence of any “god.” I know many who leave the Church after much study and prayer who have experienced the same feelings. Gradually, common sense took over when I began to realize the Mormon “god” was merely an exalted man who is not the Supreme Uncreated God of the Bible — this false “god” of Mormonism had to cease to exist!
Cheryl realized my emotions and logic were in conflict with what I had been taught my whole life and what I was now learning by studying outside of the Church’s sources of information. I felt the Church had messed with my soul and had polluted my mind! I was not a naïve individual. I was not an unlearned individual. I was not an uneducated individual. How could I have let this happen to me?
I was a high school baseball coach in the area. One of my players was the son of a pastor of a small evangelical Church. Cheryl called him up and asked when his services were. We attended the next Sunday and sat in the back row, dressed like Mormons. It was readily apparent we were new when a couple of hundred filed past us dressed in shorts, halter tops, sandals, and jeans carrying Big Gulps and coffee. We would have never been able to attend a Mormon Church dressed like that!
Then the music started – drums, guitars, electric piano. Wow! Nothing like the dirge music we were used to. Then the words of the song came up on the wall. “God Is an Awesome God.” Tears flooded my eyes. After several other songs, which only intensified what I was feeling, the pastor stood and caught my eye saying: “It is not the religion that counts, but your relationship with Christ.” Cheryl still remembers me elbowing her in the ribs as my eyes said: “I told you so.”
We were lovingly accepted into that small Christian setting. I was soon asked to teach classes on Mormonism versus Christianity. We were able to bring dozens of people out of Mormonism and help families who had lost members to the LDS Church.
When my youngest son was appointed to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, we took the opportunity to move out of what Mormons consider “Gods Country” (that is, Utah). Since that time, we have dedicated our lives to helping Mormons in transition to Christianity, and in educating Christian pastors and congregations, small groups and Sunday school classes on the topic of what goes on “inside Mormonism.” So far, we have spoken to Focus on the Family and other global ministry organizations, and have been well received wherever we go.
I was involved in the Mormon Church as an active temple-going member for 50 years. Cheryl was involved for 15 years. It was easier for her to leave Mormonism because she had been raised Lutheran and knew who Jesus was. She had simply ignored the Mormon “god” who was replaced in her mind by the Jesus she grew up with. She had embraced Mormonism for all the obvious reasons: high morals, family values, clean living, eternal families, peer and social acceptance, etc. The doctrine of the church was secondary.
I, on the other hand, had always tried to live my religion even though I had doubts about it. I remember my continuous prayer from my youth was for wisdom and the ability to decipher good from evil. Establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ has been a life-long journey for me and did not happen in a flash of light or clap of thunder. I believe my efforts to find the truth finally enabled me to see the truth.
I had attended the LDS Church every Sunday my entire youth until one Sunday as a high school senior, I was asked by my girlfriend to attend the Presbyterian Church with her. I remember very distinctly the service that day as the life of Jesus was being preached from the pulpit. It was something different from what I was used to hearing in the LDS Church, and a special feeling came over me that I never forgot for over 30 years. That feeling came back and I recognized it as such when I attended that small Evangelical Free Church for the first time in Utah. That was confirmation to me that I was doing the right thing by leaving the Mormon Church. I recognized the hand of the Savior that day in what was happening to me.
I am now fully committed to helping members of the LDS Church answer questions they have regarding their faith and how they can establish a relationship with Jesus Christ — this relationship has been forbidden by LDS Church authority Bruce R. McConkie in an address to the BYU devotional audience in 1987, but this relationship with Jesus Christ is what Christianity is all about!
Cheryl and I have published a book entitled “HAPPY VALLEY” subtitled ‘Murder, Mafia, Mormons and More’. It is an autobiography of a private investigator living in the states of Utah, Kansas, and Nevada. It depicts a lifelong struggle with family, religion, and the U.S. justice system. Born and raised in the Mormon tradition, facing the real world, and accepting reality over myth, fiction, forgery, and plagiarism. Case histories include: a car bombing in Las Vegas, a skyjacking in Oregon, and a sex ring in Utah. All connected to the Mormon Church in one way or another! (266 pgs) Click HERE to order the paperback version from www.amazon.com.