My name is Sarah, I am a friend of Gail. I would like to tell you about my experiences in the church, I too had the discussions with the missionaries, and after several months I was baptised into the church in 1990. I was very impressed with the example that the missionaries set. They were kind, friendly, respectful young men who displayed great dedication and commitment to their Church. At the time I came into contact with the missionaries, I was seeking answers, they seemed to have all the answers worked out and I was impressed with the way in which they presented to me the "plan of Salvation".
They introduced me to Joseph Smith, a young man, who like me was looking for answers. They told me how true Christianity had gone from the world in the great apostasy, the Bible had been corrupted and valuable truths lost. They went on to explain to me that Joseph Smith was the person through whom God chose to restore the true Gospel to the earth. They presented me with a book of Mormon and asked me to read a few verses, along with some bible verses that they told me prophesied the coming forth of the book of Mormon.
I had very little if any knowledge of the Bible, or Christian theology, and what they told me sounded good. They brought with them a picture of Christ and they both gave me an emotional testimony that they knew Jesus Christ was the Saviour, and that He had died for them. The Book of Mormon sounded Christian, it had the same biblical sounding language, and it talked about Christ. The missionaries made me feel special. They were always asking if they could do anything for me or my family. I enjoyed their company and looked forward to our discussions.
It was not long before they were asking me to pray about the Book of Mormon to know it was true and making arrangements for me to be baptised. I had never attended the church, but I was already being asked about dates to be baptised. I prayed about the book of Mormon and I got a warm feeling about it, which I was told was a sign I was expected to get that it was true. And from then on I followed everything in the Church. When I joined I thought that they were the same as any other Christian Church, but they had the book of Mormon as Scripture as well as the bible so I thought I was just blessed to have more than other Christians and to be in the true Church.
I found the church members so welcoming and friendly, I had an instant set of new friends. Most of my social time was spent in their company. Over time I was introduced to more teachings that were peculiar to the Mormon Church and not shared by Christians in mainstream churches. I took them all on one by one, in my determination to be a faithful church member. I did not question them. As time went on more and more was demanded of me in my membership of the Church. I accepted numerous church callings which occupied most of my spare time in preparation, and I spent my own money on materials I needed. I paid 10% tithe every month on all my earnings, with other offerings on top. I attended church meetings every Sunday. I was obedient to the church, I kept the word of wisdom: no tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol. I read the book of Mormon and studied in the church's study programmes.
Over time the church became a huge wedge between me and my husband and family. They were concerned for me but I would not listen to them. I tried hard to convert my husband to the church and the church members encouraged my husband to attend social events in an effort to pull him in. After 5 years as a faithful member I was being asked by the Mormon Bishop to consider going to the temple. This was a mysterious place for me. I had been told that discussion on what happens in the temple was too sacred. And that I would have to prove my worthiness before being allowed to go there. I had to ask my husband’s permission to go to the Temple. I was told by my bishop that if I was a faithful member my husband would one day go there too. As our marriage was so difficult I thought that going to the temple would help me to be closer to Christ, and be a better wife and Mormon. But instead I was introduced to a world of secret rituals, passwords, signs, secret handshakes, and oaths of secrecy with penalties and warnings for the consequences of divulging the secrets of the temple. I was so confused when I left there but I was told to continue going and I would be blessed.
I was put under even more pressure to be a faithful Mormon, and even more was piled on me to do, new responsibilities and I was expected to accept them without question. In the temple I was also introduced to a special garment that I had to wear for the rest of my life, special underwear, marked with symbols, (which I later learnt were Masonic symbols). I was told they would give me physical and spiritual protection. My husband hated it, but I wore them all the time, apart for bathing. There was one ordinance that I was lacking in order to be able to receive eternal life with God, I was told that I had to be married in the temple. I knew that my husband wasn't going to agree to that, and it bothered me that God would withhold blessings from me because of the decisions of my husband. There was nothing I could do. I spoke to my bishop about this and he told me that if I remained faithful, and I died, if I did not have a worthy husband, who was a priesthood holder, I would be given to another man. Polygamy was no longer practiced in the church now, but that did not mean it would not be the case in heaven. This bothered me, because I could find nothing in the scriptures of the church to back up what the bishop had said to me.
It was at this time that a Mormon couple who were friends of mine were getting ready to go to the temple to receive their temple marriage. They were concerned at the lack of information. They wanted to know what they were getting into before they got there, but it was not allowed. So they went to the Internet, even though we were forbidden to look at any books that were not sanctioned by the church. I was scared to read anything deemed to be "anti-mormon" by the church. But when my friends told me they had found out stacks of evidence showing the Mormon church was not what it claimed, I wanted to reassure them and bring them back to the fold. But what I discovered shocked me. I found evidence to show that the temple rituals were not from God, but straight out of freemasonry, of the rite that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (the second president of the church) were enrolled in before they introduced the temple ceremonies! I had no Idea, until I did my own research into freemasonry and found out from the historical records that had been kept concerning earlier versions of the Temple ceremonies that they used to include the penalty of slitting one’s throat, and having your tongue pulled out by the roots, if you revealed the secrets of the ceremony to outsiders. Identical to the penalties found in freemasonry.
I then learnt of the racist past of the church, the belief that Negroes were cursed with black skin, and were not worthy to receive the priesthood. And the belief that black skin was a sign of a curse from God for sin. (The church used to teach and believe that the American Indians would turn white when they became members of the Mormon Church.) How the book of Mormon had been changed over 2000 times. Verses changed in meaning. I learnt the book of Mormon had no archaeological evidence to back it up, but plenty to disprove it. How chariots and horses were mentioned in the book of Mormon, when the native Americans had not invented the wheel, and there were no horses until they were brought over much later. I learnt that the church believed that God used to be a man, and progressed to become a god, that he was married and that we as their spirit children and could also progress to become a God too. That is what exaltation means, to be a God, with your own planet and your own children who will worship you. I thought that I worshipped the same God as Christians, but I discovered that the Mormon god was created, used to be a man, and that he was only the god of this world. There were millions of other gods, all being worshipped by the inhabitants of their planets!
I learnt that the Mormon god lives near a planet called Kolob! There is even a hymn in the green song book at the Mormon chapel that says "if I could hie to Kolob”! I found so many changes and contradictions to doctrine during the history of the church. Huge chunks of the Book of Mormon have been shown to have been directly taken from the King James 1611 version of the Bible that Joseph Smith had in his possession, and this included the translation errors! This from a book supposedly translated from gold plates inscribed with a ancient language! I can not list everything because there is so much which clearly shows the deception and falseness of Joseph Smith and the Mormon church's claim to be a restoration of true Christianity. I was so shocked and heart broken because the church and the Mormon religion were my life. Every day I had heard "The church is true ... Joseph Smith is prophet ... the book of Mormon is true." I had said it to myself over and over.
The missionaries will not want you to look too deeply into the teachings of the church, they will give you minimal information and present it in a Christian sounding way. They do not want to frighten you off with the controversial teachings. The biggest appeal I think that the church has are the members and the organisation, the way that they all support each other; the social life, the fellowship, and the way they make new people feel part of a family. The Mormon church does have some teachings that are appealing and comforting to those who have lost loved ones; the possibility of salvation after death is taught and is often used to attract potential converts who have been bereaved.
I cannot criticise the love and support that was shown to me by members. Whenever I was in need, or my family were in need, help was always a phone call away. Meals cooked and sent round, children cared for, housework done if I was sick. And many Christian churches would do well to learn from their example. What is so sad is that the church is not teaching biblical Christianity, or the biblical Gospel. I would urge you to look into the church from several different angles, not just from what they tell you, and then you will be better equipped to make your decision. I do not believe it is right for a person to be expected to join a religion without having been given the full facts about what the religion really teaches. God never says in the Bible to pray to know if something is true, and to expect a burning in the bosom. I made that mistake and for ten years; I ignored all the evidence and trusted in my feeling that it was true.
I am now a Christian and I use the Bible as my guide as to what is true. When I need to make a decision I find help and guidance in what the Bible says. When something goes against the Bible I have a good indication that it is not something correct for me to follow as a Christian.
As a Mormon, the thinking had been done for me, I wasn't expected to question or to have my own opinion, but to be obedient to my leaders and the church. I was so scared to leave. I was put under a great deal of pressure and psychological torment.
I left for a short time then went back, out of fear and loneliness. I tried to believe again, blocking out all the negative information, but when they wanted me to go back to the temple, I knew I could not remain a Mormon anymore. It took 2 years before they would take my name off the church’s records, and they wanted me to feel fearful of the consequences of leaving. I found it a painful experience leaving the many good friends and people I loved dearly, behind me in the Mormon Church. None of them has stayed in contact with me, as they are discouraged from doing so.
This religion took 10 years off my life and added a lot of unnecessary pressure in my family and marriage. I am very happy now it is behind me.