In order to explain my journey out, I must also explain my journey into Mormonism just over 40 years ago. This is unavoidably long, so I will split it up into four parts:
Part 1: In the beginning…
I might easily commence my account by writing “I, Christopher, having been born of goodly parents…”!!!! My mother was loving, caring, and thoroughly organised in the home, making much of the few worldly goods available to us in austere post-war Britain. My father, who is still alive, (aged 88), was always interested in whatever I did, and spent much of his spare time sharing in my hobbies. Like many others in that neighbourhood, we were nominally Anglican, but not churchgoers. My mother had strong inner religious convictions throughout her life, and shared them with me. My father was reluctantly a self-confessed “agnostic”, simply because he could not quite believe in the face of contemporary scientific evidence, although he wanted to. He kept an open mind, hoping he might someday find reason for belief in something bigger.
At 17 I was lined up to go to university to study horticulture, but a deep inner urge to find God overtook me , and increasingly preoccupied me, causing me to rethink my plan. I knew that without God I was always going to be empty, and so I searched and searched, walking alone night after night on a Somerset hilltop which has become a special place for me. In time God met me there, and gave me heartfelt assurances. I was of course very raw, and without any theology, just a desire to know God.
Soon after that I encountered some evangelists, whose message about Jesus failed to impress me, not so much because of the message itself, but because of the very challenging, almost accusatory way in which it was presented. I rejected them out of hand, and their Christ.
My friends were going off to university at about this time, and I stayed home, without a plan, without a job, and of course without friends of my own age around me to deflect me from more serious reflection. (There was no email, no internet, no mobile phones in those days, and communication was maintained by occasional letter). So I was left to myself in terms of developing the assurances I felt I had been given by God.
At this juncture, two LDS missionary elders knocked our door. I answered and agreed to read the book they gave me, (The Book of Mormon), and some of their pamphlets, and arranged to meet them the following evening. At the resulting appointment they introduced me to the story of the boy-prophet Joseph Smith’s ‘First Vision’, and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; they also showed me photographs of ‘modern-day apostles’, who more closely resembled elderly businessmen in my view than disciples of Jesus. I was frankly unimpressed, and said so. I proposed that in any case Jesus was merely ‘a great teacher’, and not the Son of God. Accordingly, they challenged me to enquire prayerfully then and there about his divine status, which I agreed to do, for to have refused, I felt, would have amounted to conceding the argument. So I found myself praying vocally before two strangers, asking this question, to which I felt I already knew the answer.
To my astonishment however, almost immediately I began to pray, I had an electrifying experience which I think paralleled that of Saul of Tarsus. Although I was not struck blind, like stepping out of the darkness into daylight, I instantly understood that my previous assumption had been in error, and that the person history called Jesus of Nazareth was much more than just‘a great teacher’. The question “Why continue to deny me?” seemed to flood through me, and there was no justifiable reason I could offer.
This left me speechless and in tears. I walked out into the night-time, and when I had eventually regained my composure after a couple of hours, I returned home a different person, knowing that Jesus was the light I must thereafter try to follow.
Having received such a dramatic answer, seemingly at the LDS missionaries’ behest, I did what seemed entirely logical to me, and the next day submitted myself to their teachings. It became a formality for them to lead me through their beliefs without further protest, and sixteen days later I was baptised.
Many years later I learned from one of them that he had never before or since witnessed such a conversion. It is now clear to me that on that autumn evening in 1971, I experienced the ‘born again’ experience familiar to Christians throughout time, but not a regular component of typical Mormon conversions. I have learnt during my years in the LDS church that only a small minority of the members have ever experienced such a witness as I received that night.
I will pass over many of the less important details in order to keep this manageably brief. In 1980 my wife Diana and I were married, and ‘sealed for eternity’ in the London Temple. We both found the temple rites emotionally challenging, but accepted verbal assurances given to us by others with more experience, that we would one day understand them, and that this was one of God’s mysteries. Looking back on my own experiences in the temple, I always had a difficulty in equating the God as portrayed there, to the God who had met me on the hilltop, and the Saviour who had witnessed to me in answer to my prayer. I learned to put those concerns to one side however, until I could develop sufficient spirituality to see that connection… but I never did.
In the LDS church, almost imperceptibly ‘faith’ grows to mean faith in the institution, rather than faith in God. Indeed, for many, the institution and God become completely blurred in their thinking, and the church organisation becomes a great Golden Calf to be revered and worshipped. That is the reason, I suspect, that so many who eventually learn the truth about LDS origins, and leave the church, are left either agnostic or atheistic in their beliefs, because their God has been overthrown.
Diana and I subsequently raised five children in the LDS gospel. In 1987 we were instrumental in converting my parents, whom I personally baptised and confirmed, and later we supported our oldest son financially while he served a successful two-year proselyting mission in the north of England. In other words, we did what was expected of us, followed our leaders, and generally played the part of ‘good soldiers’; for thirty-five years we happily volunteered our time, effort and means in church service, and were considered faithful, knowledgeable and capable members. I served at various times on bishoprics, as ward mission leader, elders’ quorum president, high priest group leader, and on the stake high council, among other callings. Diana served as Primary President and YW President, and RS teacher and as Stake Family History Consultant.
Part 2: The unravelling
In 2000 a trusted priesthood leader in another ward defrauded us and others out of a significant sum of money. When we caught him out in his deception he was initially very apologetic for his “mistake”, and was prepared to address the matter with the help of priesthood leaders. At the time we did not know that he had done this sort of thing before, and intended telling the leaders another story which made him look like he was our victim. The undiscerning LDS leaders, (including members of the Area Presidency), believed his story when he falsely represented that the losses had been due to failed business transactions, and refused to support us in our attempts to work out a fair outcome.
It was a very unpleasant episode which dragged on for 4 years, but with the help of the fraud squad the man was eventually brought to trial, found guilty of crimes of theft and deception and was jailed for 3 years. Meanwhile local priesthood leaders, all the time being manipulated by the perpetrator, advised us to conduct ourselves in such a way as would have stopped the case proceeding. A complaint was made to the police about this unwelcome interference in the judicial process, and at one point all three members of the Bristol Stake Presidency were warned to butt out, leave witnesses alone, or face a police enquiry themselves. It was the sad and dangerous fallibility of such men which caused me and others to start questioning how they could be acting for God when they used their position to give such worthless advice; advice which could well have resulted in several of us losing our homes in paying off the defamation lawsuits which we knew would follow if the case collapsed. One member of the stake presidency was unrepentant and suggested at a later date that it would have been better for us to have followed the inspired advice which had been given, and lose our homes if necessary, rather than to report our priesthood leaders to the police for witness interference!
Such warped thinking led a friend of ours, who was a fellow victim of these crimes, to question whether such arrogance and ineptitude was endemic at higher levels within the Mormon hierarchy. He soon began to discover a great deal of information about the church and its history, which he had never been taught in Sunday School. Believing that I had a thorough doctrinal grounding, he confided in me his innermost concerns about certain historical issues. Thereafter I spent many late nights attempting to find answers for him in Mormon apologist literature, but the answers frankly fell far short of credibility. It proved deeply unsettling, and during three years of intensifying cognitive dissonance my identity steadily metamorphosed from ‘true believing Mormon’ to ‘would-be Mormon apologist’ to ‘post-Mormon realist’. My last defence was breached when I scrutinized evidence concerning the Book of Abraham, and found that there were no honest defences available. That book was demonstrably a fabrication, the product of Joseph Smith’s imagination. If that was the case, then how could anything else he revealed be trusted? It was only then that I finally conceded that one whole side of that old tub “SS Mormonism”, in which I had been sailing since 1971, was completely missing, blasted entirely away by reason, and I had only a thimble to bail out the water which was relentlessly pouring in. By the middle of 2009, I was able to say with a clear conscience and without flinching for the first time in over 37 years, that I knew Joseph Smith had not been a true prophet.
It afterwards became challenging to hear LDS friends ignorantly perpetuating what I knew to be historical untruths. At church I faced a painful choice: counter the many false statements and risk causing general upset, or maintain dishonest silence. My bishop refused point-blank to discuss any of my concerns, told me I was on the brink of apostasy, and urged me to take the latter of these courses, and become, as he put it, ‘a wise old bird’; one who presumably would just sit on his perch in silent suffering; then he warned me not to speak outside of my family about these matters, upon pain of facing church discipline.
I quietly withdrew from all participation shortly thereafter, as it had become intolerable. Truth by this time had become much more important to me than supporting discredited dogma.
I felt both saddened and grateful to be able to see through the façade. There was a feeling somewhat akin to bereavement, having lost the faith community which had become the ever-present backdrop to my life, but at the same time it had been instructive to confront the realities of my espoused religion. My spiritual understanding had been steadily refined by this process. Despite all the shock and disappointment of “losing my religion” in terms of outward performances, I knew absolutely that my original conversion experience to the Saviour had been real. That was the rock I was holding onto, and I continued to trust in his teachings, which offered all real hope.
Part 3: Our family.
Our resolve to follow a life of faith outside of Mormonism, was tested in September 2010, with the unexpected death of our son, Emmanuel, aged 28. Amazingly from that traumatic experience we have learned a great deal about ourselves, Emmanuel, our faith, and God’s tender love for us, and feel we have been blessed with some special personal insights, which we know we would not otherwise have had.
Our other children, except for our oldest, Edwin, have also seen through the delusion of Mormonism. Edwin is an outstandingly good person, and we wish that he could understand that it is faith which has brought us to the point where we presently are, and not a lack of it.
Our children are as follows:
 Edwin, our TBM son, now almost 31, who is married, with three children aged 1, 3 and 5. He suffers enormously over our withdrawl from the church, as he grew up always knowing we were actively involved. If you want to help us, pray for him that he may have his heart opened to understand that we are only doing what God has led us to do.
 Emmanuel, (or Manny for short, it means “God with us”). He is now with God, having died accidentally in 2010 aged 28, just four days after announcing his forthcoming marriage. He was both very special and very challenging at times, and his death has left an aching in our hearts, for part of us has died with him. We sense he is never far from us though. He turned away from the church a few years ago, because of hypocrisy he encountered in it.
 Martha, 27, who has shared our journey out of Mormonism, along with her husband. They have three small children aged 3, 4, and nearly 6. She has been invited into this group.
 Sophia, single aged 22, just embarking on a PhD in Criminology. She has also shared our journey, and has been invited into this group.
 Joseph, aged 11. He is our miracle boy, a blessing out of season. He has brought great love and stability to our family, and greatly enriches our lives.
We have always been a close family, and were featured in the official church magazine, “The New Era”, 1999. This is found online at the following link: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=024644f8f206c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=d13c19b3fe4fb010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1
After Manny’s death, we uploaded to YouTube footage of him, Sophia, Joseph, Diana and my father. It is found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBP7M0cA4wQ
Part 4: Some conclusions to date.
Since Manny’s death we have realised that the truth about the life to come is much richer than any doctrine taught by the LDS church. Following his loss of faith in Mormonism, Manny turned to Eastern religions for spiritual answers, and was enquiring into religion in general in his quest to fill a void. He and I talked about a year before he died about being born again, and he said he wished he could have a personal witness of Christ such as the one I had received. Meanwhile he spent much of his time helping others.
He appeared through LDS eyes to be something of a rebel, but we were amazed to learn later from people in his social circles of all the good he had done. So many people spoke about him sharing his food, or his money with them, and they talked about voluntary work he had done visiting prisoners, or raising awareness about drug abuse. That part of his life was often not visible to us. He wanted to believe in Christ, and even wrote me a letter to that effect in 2009, thanking us for giving him the upbringing he had within a family in the church setting, because it had made him aware of spiritual dimensions, which otherwise he would never have known.
When we pondered it Manny had done what the Lord requires of anyone to qualify for eternal life, as outlined in Matthew 25. At his funeral I was able to describe him as “a sheep in goat’s clothing”. We have since had several remarkable assurances that all is well, and he has his wish. We now understand that families, (and friendships), indeed do have the potential to be eternal, not according to the LDS formula, (i.e. because two people once upon a time knelt at an altar in a stone building and had an incantation spoken to them), but because love itself is eternal, and binds us to one another. That is a message found woven throughout the fabric of the true gospel of the New Testament. Failure to understand that this kind of eternal reward is freely available to all followers of Christ, enslaves many LDS who fear they will lose their families by turning away from their temple covenants. The LDS temple is used effectively by the Mormon hierarchy to control the minds and behaviours of those indoctrinated in Mormon fables. When I think of that distorted LDS version of the gospel, and see how people are constantly left fearful and guilt-ridden, over-busy and stressed out in their futile efforts to accomplish perfection through a never ending list of works, I come close to anger. The LDS gospel does not produce the eternal families advertised on its packaging, but often leads instead to family division and disintegration.
I have not requested that my name be removed from the LDS records, although I am definitely post-Mormon now, and could never return, because of what I know. I intend to publish an explanation of our position at some point, and this will undoubtedly lead to a formal charge of apostasy, and a disciplinary hearing being called for me. It is my intention to use that opportunity to bear witness to the truths I have learned, and challenge the leadership to excommunicate me for nothing more than telling what can be shown to be the truth about LDS history. It is also my intention to make them publicly accountable for their actions, by inviting the media to report upon the outcome of that hearing. It may be the best opportunity I have of raising the awareness of my TBM friends and family.