Dear friends in Helston Ward,
Being a recent ex-Bishop of the Ward, I want to extend a message of love and hope to you as you celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the chapel in Helston.
I want to reassure you, my Mormon friends, that life can be even more wonderful outside of the belief system.
Having been born in Helston in 1964 and raised a Mormon, I spent all my teenage years growing up amongst you, and have many fond memories of that time. My parents & grandparents were amongst the first converts to the Church in this area, & along with many of you, were very involved in helping to build the Church congregation and construct the chapel. I did my bit as a 10 year old child painting some of the girders in the Chapel.
You know that I served an honourable full-time mission in Manchester at 19 years of age, after attending Helston School. On my return I dedicated myself to serving The Lord & the Church at both Ward & Stake level, ultimately being called as the Bishop in the Helston Ward in March 2004. All this time, for over 40 years of my life, I have never doubted, but served with all my heart, might, mind & strength. I was prepared to sacrifice everything for God as defined by the Mormon faith.
After serving you as your loving & caring Bishop for almost seven years I resigned on the 11th January 2011, much to the shock of everyone at that time, along with great pain to myself. I made the incredibly difficult decision to resign as your Bishop due to my honesty & integrity, after a painful epiphany regarding the origins of the Church, as new information came to my attention causing me to question the factual basis of my faith.
This new information that I had discovered, though it has been readily available for anyone to read for themselves from reliable sources for many years, was completely beyond my imaginations because, like all good Mormons, I avoided any thoughts which caused me to question my faith out of fear of losing my Testimony. I came to realise that this fear is a very powerful disincentive to the discovery of truth.
Shockingly I came to realise that I had been discouraged by Church leaders from reading anything which causes uncomfortable feelings about the Church, and this fear-based self-censorship had kept me from truly being free to think for myself & ask the most important questions about the truth claims of the Church. Like, if the Church wasn’t true would I want to know, & how would I know?
I am so grateful that my brother David cared enough to reach out to me & alert me to the problems in the Church.
After discovering that the most important information about the origins of the Mormon Church had been kept from me, and that I’d even been deliberately lied to by senior Church leaders, I felt I could no longer trust them, nor have faith in something which is based on lies and deception.
Hopefully, you still remember me as someone who was totally committed to truth. It is my dedication to following truth, & my determination to be totally honest that directs my actions. And it is my compassion, love & concern for others which motivates me to reach out to those who are still being held hostage in the Church.
Though I was involved as a witness in the recent fraud case against the Corporation of The President, I still love the wonderful kind people who make up the Church, and wish you only the best in the coming years.
Currently my focus is on exposing the deception by the Church so that others like me can be spared the emotional turmoil of discovering that their lives have been based on a lie. And I try to reach out to others who are currently going through the traumatic epiphany themselves. (http://www.mormonopenletter.com)
I’m inspired by the analogy from Christopher Miller:
“If you saw a thirsty man drinking water from a well you knew to be poisoned, would you let him continue to drink or would you guide him to a safe well?” ~Christopher Miller
Also my brother David summarises why members often find it difficult to consider the truth, & why we should never give up on those who currently cannot conceive that they have been deceived:
“I believe that anyone who is educated with common sense & has the knowledge that water from the ground can often be contaminated, would, through induction, accept your warning not to drink the water without the need for proof. If however, the same person was dying of thirst, the mind would create an intent, and emotion would create justification which would cause them to disregard the truth.
“I believe that above all else, our brain desires happiness. It achieves this by weighing up the potential risks from moment to moment, accepting bogus claims as truth and assimilating happiness, rather than using energy and resources to find out the truth. If the potential risk is deemed too great, only then will the brain be determined to search for confirmation to the claim.
“Information is key to raising awareness of what our brain withholds from our conscious mind. Unfortunately we are hardwired emotion-driven thinkers. It takes effort and training to exercise introspection and mindfulness.” ~ David Bloor
I appreciate it can be a sensitive subject defending a belief system which has become a part of your identity.
I did it for 46 years when I was fully invested in the belief system. I was completely committed, & for me Mormonism was more important than life itself. For me Mormonism gave me my purpose for life. The Church was the vehicle to Eternal Life. I believed everything was temporary except the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was the power of God unto Salvation.
When I resigned as Bishop of Helston Ward one of my counsellors pleaded with me more than once to continue as Bishop, even though I knew the truth claims of the Church were false. He reasoned I was doing a great job, saying I was the best Bishop he’d ever known, and should continue to serve the members.
Though flattered, my honesty & integrity forced me to continue with my plan to resign, even though it caused everyone great pain, most of all myself.
If happiness is the ultimate goal of Church participation then maybe some would argue for its usefulness even if ultimately it’s just a fictitious fantasy. Some would argue that the same can be said for any other religion.
But I would argue that happiness is not always synonymous with wellbeing.
I believe human wellbeing is a more worthy and desirable goal than just happiness.
The objective evidence very clearly shows any neutral observer that belief in Mormonism as a route to Eternal Life is akin to belief in Middle-Earth as the home of Hobbits in JRR Tolkien’s fictional fairytale .
And the Book of Mormon is as historic and as useful as The Lord of The Rings is a true account of real people.
When it comes down to authenticity, I think actual, objective reality is far more useful than any fantastic, fictional stories can ever hope to be.
Though the Book of Mormon may be useful as interesting fictional mythology, unfortunately it is just as historically authentic as stories about Odin or Zeus. Maybe less so, as most of The Book of Mormon is plagiarized! (http://askreality.com/hidden-in-plain-sight/)
I don’t doubt most latter-day Saints are sincere, but even the deluded can be sincere. I think authenticity is much more important than sincerity.
Human flourishing & wellbeing requires more than mere hopes & dreams in an illusionary Eternal Life, but should be based on knowledge of sound objective reality. Though it is a rather extreme example, consider the fact that even the Taliban are sincere and committed to their belief system, but it is very easily & widely acknowledged by neutral outside observers to limit the potential of its adherents. Whether male or female, but especially women and LGBT.
Though to a less severe degree, but still significantly, the Mormon belief system is also acknowledged by neutral observers to limit the potential for human flourishing & wellbeing, especially for women, but also LGBT.
Having learnt that the Church was started by a fraudulent, adulterous, paedophile, charlatan, the vast majority of those who have seen the evidence are convinced the Church is also a Fraud. (http://cesletter.com)
And, as we are told by many of the Church leaders, including a ‘Prophet of God’, that the Church is either all true or it is a Fraud, there are only two choices.
It is a fraud, & as such cannot ever hope to provide an authentic system for human flourishing & wellbeing.
The well is poisoned! All who drink from the well become incapacitated in some way.
There is a great need to love & assist all members of the Mormon Church who yearn for truth, & to help them in their recovery from Mormonism & rebirth into the Real World which promises levels of authenticity in their relationships & life experience which most Mormons can’t even conceive of inside the Mormon Bubble!
I can reassure you, my Mormon friends, that there are many thousands of wonderful ex-Mormons who understand completely the Mormon mindset and how initially painful coming to terms with the truth can be. But also be assured that we are here for you when you need us. We understand the trauma of having one’s life’s foundation crumble under our feet, as well as the crushing realisation that everything we trusted was based on a lie. We know what it means to cry tears of despair at the loss of a fantastical future Eternal Life in the Mormon Heaven, but conversely the feeling of exquisite joy at being reborn into a new world full of rich opportunities for real growth, as well as solid and authentic relationships, never dreamed of before. Life can actually be more real and vivid than ever before once one realises the truth about Mormonism.
I desire all to partake of the blessing of this knowledge and hold out a hand of friendship and encouragement to all who are ready to receive it.
My love and warmest regards,
West Briton newspaper article on my Open Letter:
West Briton Article on Mormon Bishop Writes his old Ward