Note: After reading this letter, you may want to read what it's author emailed to another Mormons who is trying to find his way out!
I thought that I would write to you to tell you some of my story. I'm not exactly sure at which stage am currently, but I tend to think that there are still some very rocky roads to travel. I think however one thing is so clear, and that is just how difficult it is to disentangle oneself from Mormonism.
I was born by the sea in England and we would often experience oil spills from tankers discharging their waste at sea, or perhaps running aground. This would cause terrible damage to the coast and to the seabirds. As a boy I would often watch as workers attempted to clean off the crude oil from seagulls with cotton buds. I saw half dead birds with no energy left to drag themselves out of the oil, to be sucked back and die. Even those birds who were cleaned, if they were released too soon, would go back into the sea and sink, because the waterproofing had been washed from their feathers by the cleaning detergents.
I think that the analogy is quite apt with the "escape from Mormonism". It is a thick black crude oil, from which you need help to escape, and you need support after you escape. But I suppose, like many of the seagulls on the beaches, many will just get shoveled up with the sand and the oil and dumped into trash cans to be disposed of. And, yes, it is as dramatic and as final as that.
Why is a religion--an apparent Christian religion--so difficult to leave? LDS would probably say because it is true and it is the Spirit that is making it difficult as He holds onto the wavering member. And yet, throughout all this struggle I have experienced a sense of desire to be free, a longing for what was ahead, and a fear of what was behind me. I believe that I am a rational person, level headed, and I hold a responsible position in the company that I work for. And yet, I sense panic and fear that "they will get me." By they I mean the LDS Church. I do not wish to demonize them, but there is great fear in leaving. I almost see myself as an undercover resistance fighter in Scandinavia or France during the Second World War, and the next knock on the door will be the "SS" or the "Gestapo." This is dramatic, but it best describes how I feel.
It all started in 2001 when my wife told me about her "friend". We were temple-sealed members, me of 15 years membership and she of 20. I was devastated. I remember once looking at a multi-story car park and wondering if someone jumped whether they would actually kill themselves, or whether it needed to be higher. At the very lowest point in my life, when all was despair, I saw a picture in my mind of a crowd of people surrounding me. These were my friends and my family, church leaders. And one by one they all left, none of them able to bear the pain that I was going through. Eventually, they were all gone--all but one person. I remember the experience as clearly today as I did then, and it brings tears to my eyes today as it did those many months ago. I turned around and looked straight into the face of the only person who I felt could understand my pain, the Savior Jesus Christ. My life today is a witness to me of the love and the power of God. For the first time in my membership of the LDS Church I truly knew that Jesus Christ loved me. I remained firm in the LDS Church, but did not realize at the time that this event had changed my entire perspective on God and my relationship to Him.
I remained firm in the LDS faith. I was, after all, a temple recommend holder, a High Priest, a former Young Men's President, Ward Clerk, High Counselor, Bishop's Counselor and for almost 4 years, a Bishop. I am in the Mormon sense "a worthy temple recommend holder." I have no grudge against anyone. I haven't been offended, I'm not under Church disciplinary action, I haven't committed gross sin that requires Church action. There is no reason for me to leave the LDS Church other than one all-compelling, fundamental fact: Mormonism is false; it is not what it claims to be--"The only true Church upon the face of this earth." And for as much as it seems harsh to say, it is not a Christian church, because I do not know the Christ that it preaches. I cannot relate to this pantheon of Gods and this struggle of members to become Gods, to become equal to Him, to become greater than Him. Why do we learn this in the LDS Church? So that we can honor the works that He has created? No, but so that we can usurp that which He has done. And, of course, the great irony is that this is exactly what LDS are taught Satan wanted to do, and what Jesus stopped. Are we so blind in the LDS Church that we do not see the ironies in this and in so many other things that we believed to be true. Is not Galatians 1:8 warning enough:
I can now even given that angel a name: Moroni.
As a Christian, I can pick up a book from a favorite Christian writer, modern or one of the classics and agree with much and disagree with others. I could even sit down with the author and we could amicable agree that he or she might be wrong. But, the LDS Church, with its concept of "prophets," tells us that LDS doctrine is infallible. Some LDS "intellectuals" will tell us that the "prophets" are just men, prone to fault as much as we. They argue that "a prophet is only a prophet when he is speaking prophetically." But argument is as absurd as it is circular. What part of Joseph Smith's ramblings do we accept? All of it? None of it? Should Joseph Smith's "first vision" when he "saw" the Father and the Son to be believed any more than Joseph's statement that 6-foot-tall people lived on the Moon, dressed like Quakers and live for 1000 years? Brigham Young is a "prophet" until he the "Adam-God" theory becomes embarrassing and then all those sermons in which he preached these things as prophecy become simply the private musings of Brigham the man.
For me the Book of Abrahamā controversy stands at the pinnacle. The Church claims this book is scripture. Joseph Smith even translates some of the Egyptian characters. But modern scholars--to the very last man--have proven that the Book of Abraham is nothing more than an Egyptian funeral text. Does the Lord God of Heaven, who came in physical form through His Son Jesus Christ expect us to discard logic and the evidences that He has placed before us in order to accept Joseph as His "prophet of the restoration?" No, of course He does not! If, as the Church maintains, that God waited almost 2 millennia to restore His gospel, would He do so through such a flawed set of doctrines as He has given us? Of course not. His word as contained in the Bible is Truth, and has been for centuries. And it is here for a reason, to combat such heresy as Joseph Smith gave us.
I remember as a missionary that I taught that the LDS gospel was like an inverted pyramid. It all stood on a single point, the apex of the pyramid. This point was the "testimony" of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormonā. If this book were the keystone of the religion, it stood or fell upon this "feeling." But the Truth of God is not built on a feeling, but on evidences--eveidences solid and foundational. His ways are</> revealed in the Bible. They are not revealed in the early history of the LDS Church or in the Book of Mormon.
W are taught, and we teach others in the LDS Church, that the "feeling" we had when we were taught by the missionaries, is the clear proof that everything else taught by the LDS Church is true. As a missionary I was taught that whenever an "investigator felt something, an emotion, anything unusual during the discussions, that we were to immediately explain to them that this was in fact the Spirit testifying of the truthfulness of the message. But, no matter how much President Gordon B. Hinckley attempts to drag the LDS Church towards the mainstream, and no matter how many times the temple ceremonies are changed (we now we no longer promise that we may be disemboweled if we reveal the "secrets" of the temple)--nothing changes the fact that the Church is all founded upon a lie.
Jim, you may well believe that this Mormon Bishop is now saved. And indeed when it comes to knowing my Savior, then I am. But I am not yet saved from Mormonism. The oil is still thick over me and I cannot as yet fly. And of course I know the danger. Many of the birds on the beaches were cleaned of the oil. But by the time they had been, it had worked into its skin and the bird died of poisoning and fright. I know the need to do as others have done--to be brave people because they are genuine heroes. I need to leave Mormondom officially.
I cannot say--since it would be untrue--that the Lord does not want me to leave Mormonism now. He does. He wants me to do it immediately. I know the LDS Church cannot be true. I wince when I sit in sacrament meeting and listen to the doctrine taught. I am physically nauseous when I hear Joseph Smith praised more often and more greatly than the Savior. But, remember I spoke of my earlier divorce? Remember how it almost ended me? Well, after that divorce, I was blessed to meet a wonderful woman to whom I am now married. She has taught me what it means to be loved and to be able to trust again in marriage. and in any relationship. Of course you know the punch line--my wife is LDS and a staunch believer.
We have discussed a number of points of doctrine but I'm afraid I have hit a brick wall so far. The best example of this was during a recent conversation about the temple ceremony. We discussed Lucifer giving commands to the members attending the ceremony and them following what he has said (putting on our aprons). The reply was that she had no problem with following a command from Satan since it was in the official temple ceremony!
Jim, the Lord does require sacrifice, but I do not want it to be my wife, whom I so dearly love. I do have confidence that the Lord will provide a way. Perhaps I am to be the means of bringing her out. I desperately hope so. Until then my talks in sacrament meeting are refreshing they speak of Christ and only of Christ. My comments in Sunday School and Priesthood are historically accurate, but new to even the old High Priests and hopefully thought provoking. I'm a "fifth columnist" in their midst. But I long for the day when I can be open, and yes, finally free.
Sharon Taylor and I have been exchanging e-mails, and indeed it was she that put me into contact with you. I have read two of your books with gratitude. I suppose I am writing to you to tell you my story to say thank you for your part in my conversion, to commend Sharon for her example that has played another important role, and to offer my words perhaps as a means of assisting others. Whilst I have posted on an LDS bulletin board under the name of Prince Hal, and they now know of my conversion to Christ, my e-mail to you is another step to declaring that which I believe. And of course, to ask for your experience and your prayers that may assist.
God bless you, Jim, for the work that you do. God bless those who pray for people like me. Thank you, Jesus, for all that you have done and now do for me.