I am 37 years old, happily married for 18 years with three teenage daughters. I was bought up as an atheist by my parents. My grandfather was an orthodox Jew who quit to preach atheism in London. Fourteen years ago we had some new neighbors move in next door. They were a nice family who went to a local church every Sunday. We got to know them and they invited us over to watch a video about families being together forever. I was not too interested but we stayed friends. We were invited to socials and we got to know quite a few of the local members. They were all very friendly and so helpful, just what I had come to expect from Christians. We kept being introduced to new missionaries but they all seemed homogenous and had “Made in Utah” stamped on them. Then five years ago we met some missionaries who were different and my wife, Gail, made a connection with one of them. We agreed to have the lessons and Gail and our two eldest daughters were baptized in April 1996, followed by our youngest daughter who was baptized on her 8th birthday in February 1997. Gail was a sporadic attendee; I went along to support her.
We would attend regularly for a few months then not go for a few weeks and so it carried on. That is until February 1998. I was at the dump disposing of household rubbish, when I accidentally injured a spider (I have always liked spiders, never intentionally killing them). I felt bad and apologized to the spider but as he only had 1 leg and would surely starve so I put him out of his misery. I then found myself apologizing to God! (A bit of a radical departure for an atheist.) So I bought a Bible and started to read it, but was heavily influenced by Mormon teaching. I prayed, and got a warm feeling about the Book of Mormon so decided to get baptized. This was in April 1998.
I was warmly welcomed into the membership and very soon I was called to be a stake missionary. Gail was called as a young women’s counselor. This caused some problems because Gail wanted to make the lessons fun and teach them useful things like computer skills etc. The leadership just wanted to teach them how to cook and sew and become good little wives. We started having temple preparation classes and learned a lot about Adam and Eve. We asked questions about the Temple but were told that we would find out when we got there. We could not talk about it as it was sacred, not a secret but sacred.
It was at this time that Gail had to teach the young women that they could only be sealed to one man. It didn’t matter if they were divorced, separated or widowed they were sealed (married for time and eternity) to one man, but men could be sealed to any number of women. This struck us both as being unfair and our eldest daughters thought we were joking. When she asked about this Gail was told to pray and that it would all become clear once we had been to the (sacred, not secret) temple. She decided to have a couple of weeks off from church so that she didn’t have to teach something so clearly unfair.
I wanted to encourage Gail to go back to church so I prayed for help and read the March or April 1999 issue of Ensign. It was the usual boring stuff, until I got to the back page and there was a small article, more of a column, written by the “presidency” that said, “Unwed parents should be counseled to get married.” We had no problem with that. It went on to say, “Unwed parents who will not get married should be counseled to have their babies adopted . . . as generally they cannot provide the stable and nurturing environment babies need.” This I had a problem with. We had been foster careers for about three years and knew from personal experience that being married did not make someone a good parent and equally not being married didn’t make someone a bad parent. For one awful minute I contemplated not telling Gail because I knew it wouldn’t help her get back to church. I talked to my home teacher and my bishop who tried to say that the prophet meant single mothers (still a big lie). When I said that if the prophet is wrong about this he could be wrong about many things my home teacher related the story of chicken licken.
The story goes like this: “An acorn fell on chicken lickens head and he went around telling everyone that the sky was falling in.” I guess I was the idiot chicken in this analogy. It didn’t help me understand at all. What with this and the plural marriage nonsense and still no straight answers about the temple we decided to look on the web for some answers. When we started we were both frightened that we would be struck down for trying to find out.
Fortunately we found the CARM site that started with “Mormons are lovely people and I would love one for a neighbor but . . .” After we read most of the site we were left with more answers than we had questions. When we read the temple ceremony we laughed out loud. We could not believe that our so-serious friends had actually done this. We phoned and asked if it was true. The reply we got was “if some of it, all of it or none of it is true what scares you?” It scared me that they couldn’t give me a straight answer. We finally got confirmation from the missionaries (ironic really). I started to raise other points with our friends. I was by this time angry and confused. Our friends shunned us and within two weeks we were excommunicated.
We went through a year of hell, especially Gail who lost her best friend of 14 years. When, about 10 months after leaving, we bumped into some “friends” whilst shopping, we asked why they had shunned us. They replied that they were scared. It was like a loved one standing on a cliff edge beckoning them over to see. They were scared that we would pull them over with us.
Gail found Jesus in April 2000 and when I asked what that bright light in her eyes was she explained and I found Him 15th May 2000. We still have baggage but it gets easier every day with Jesus. We have joined an organization called Reachout Trust that reaches out to cult members in the UK. We have now been banned from any Mormon chapel. Praise the Lord.
A final note, Gail finally got to talk to her best friend of 14 years after about 18 months. She asked Gail why she had tried to tell everyone the things found out on the Internet. Gail replied with an analogy. “If I had heard that there was ground glass in jars of baby food being sold in our local supermarket wouldn’t you want me to tell you so you could find out for yourself?” Her friend’s reply was that she would rather NOT know! Ignorance is bliss apparently.
Forever in Christ,
Paul Charles 🙂