Tags

Share this Episode

Comments 33

  1. Wow! What a story. Thanks so much for taking the time to share all that you’ve been through. I admire your quest to stand for truth! Keep up the good work.

  2. As a former member, missionary in the England East Mission back in the mid 1970s, served in the US Air Force in the UK which enabled me to serve on a stake high council then as a bishop for two years in Louisiana, the church was my only community for most of my life and now everything has changed. I applaud you for sharing your difficult journey with all who will listen and learn. Perhaps, many will hear your story and desire to consider all the facts and not just the churches’ whitewashed narrative. The church is NOT what it claims to be. Here’s to your honesty and integrity. Looking forward to reading your book one day soon.

    1. Hey, Don, I was with you in England, in Wickham Market Ward. I would love to talk with you. Do you have an address or something I could write you at? Thanks! Duck

  3. Nice one! I really want to visit Cornwall someday. One of my favorite shows “Doc Martin” is filmed there.
    Keep on fighting the good fight Steve.

  4. As someone who has been classified as a “bitter ex,” I can relate to Stephen. But I am an ex-2X2, someone who escaped from a cult that has been written about as the Secret Sect, operating outside the law and the awareness of the surrounding community. I have devoted considerable energy to exposing this cult, as have other exes. You can Google it as Friends and Workers, or black stockings, or 2X2 or 2by2 or Secret Sect, etc.
    When I am asked why I bother exposing their deceptions and abuses, why not just enjoy my freedom from its controlling ways, an answer is that I still have loved ones, relatives and dear friends who are entrapped in this cult, their lives restricted, their health harmed, their relationships poisoned, by the leaders. They “disfellowship” members unilaterally, with no more formality than a pair of the workers coming to ones home and announcing the fact of the decision. Other disciplinary measures are likewise unilateral. Disfellowshipping is followed by shunning–loss of meaningful closeness with friends and family still “in.” Also, because of the fact that the 2X2 has no houses of worship but meets in members’ homes, and the clergy (workers) travel in pairs, perpetually (not just two years) and do not own their own homes but stay in the homes of members as honored guests whenever, and however long, they choose, they have unparalleled access to children. Workers must be celibate. There have been more reported cases of sexual abuse by these men, in recent years, but unreported cases going back generations are now being revealed by victims and survivors. So there are excellent reasons for continuing to unmask these abusers and to bring the secret sect’s dark practices to light.
    As for LDS, my years in Friendship, N.Y., made me aware of Sidney Rigdon. As a journalist and also someone tasked with researching that prominent founding father’s part in the community’s history for its sesquicentennial, I visited some court houses, libraries and news and government archives concerning Rigdon and Joseph Smith Jr., and Smith Sr. and Jr.’s careers in using seeing stones and locating treasure, etc.. I had file drawers full of this research, before the days of personal copiers and computers. The brought pairs of suited, older Mormons (not on missions) to my door, as did a question I wrote on a card and placed in the box at the Mormon Pavilion at the New York Worlds Fair. And of course even my address was a red flag with its Rigdon connection– Nancy Rigdon Smith, Sidney’s daughter, is buried in a local cemetery, and her monument is a smaller version of Joseph Smith Jr.’s. Of course Sidney was attacked by mobs right along with Smith, and was running for vice president of the U.S. on a Mormon ticket, with Smith as candidate for president, then Smith was assassinated. He was a member of the LDS presidency at the time.
    That LDS “enforcers” can be scary and aggressive I know better than I could wish! For this comment I will only say they used some elaborate and outside-the-law subterfuges in order to obtain a quantity of my files!
    To his dying day in Friendship, Rigdon feared death at the hands of Mormon “night riders.” The elaborate protections in his mansion were one testament to that. He had left Nauvoo with a quantity of Mormon gold and fled east, but he also had at least in his memory a quantity of Mormon secrets, and be believed his “days were numbered” even as he built a financial and business empire in the Friendship and Allegany County area.

    1. Very interesting, have you published your research and collection of historical records online? I’d like to read it.

  5. Awesome interview! I served a mission in the UK many decades ago and life is so, so great being out of the Mormon Church. It’s great living what I truly believe instead of pretending.

  6. Fantastic! Thoroughly enjoyed learning about Steve’s story. Thank you to John and Steve. I hope there will be a follow up interview in a few years. I had heard about Steve as a barefoot bishop and then about his resignation and blogs as it was all going on. To actually hear his story directly from him via this interview has been very valuable. All the best to you both.

  7. The ever growing PR debacles from high profile ex-communications is going to force an official policy change in the next few years. There is no way the existing procedures for handling disciplinary councils will last much longer. The church simply can’t afford either the PR or legal issues that are arising over these high profile ex-communications.

    The very fact that official procedures for ex-communications exist get them in trouble when they try and circumvent them. Worse, Mr Bloor’s case makes it clear that these procedures are putting the church in serious legal jeopardy internationally.

    Expect to see revisions to disciplinary procedures that pretty much make the entire process completely opaque, with absolutely no notification or communication to the expelled members.

  8. I can’t remember an interview as delightful and full of surprises as this one, John. The story of your counselor running cover for you so you could tell your congregation goodbye at the door touched me deeply, Stephen. I love your passion for compassion and your preference for going barefoot. Your experiences with the corporate practices and attitudes of the LDS church don’t speak well of them as a claimed vehicle for bringing the gospel and salvation to the world.

    While the D&C is in your rear view mirror, I believe God and Jesus live and breathe D&C 121:

    41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

    42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

    Divine power manifests in love. All the best to you and those you love.

  9. You are the bright future. I would say “God speed ” but I’m a secularist so instead I’ll quote Sam Keen: A man must go on a quest to DISCOVER the sacred fire in his OWN belly so that he can light the flame in his heart, ignite the fire in the hearth and rekindle his ardor for the earth. Let the journey begin.

    1. Whoops—Discover the fire in the SANCTUARY of his own belly. From his book “Fire In The Belly”. There was a great men’s movement in the 1970’s.

  10. Stephen,
    Thanks very much for sharing your story. I can truly relate to all the “naughty bits” the church tries to avoid…at all costs.
    May Light and Love surround you and your family.

  11. Stephen, thanks for sharing your story. The highlight for me that brought joy to my heart was at the very end when you commented about being able to reunite with your son.

  12. This was a fascinating podcast and Stephen is a good storyteller. It is obvious that he is a thoughtful man with much compassion for others and for social justice. However, my overwhelming impression is that so much of the pain in his story – and what I assume is equal pain experienced by members on the other side – is from a failure of all involved including Stephen to keep the second great commandment, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself! As I listened to his story it felt so absurd to me. As a women I saw the pride of men all over it. How much better would it have been for Stephen and his family if he had not been treated as a leper and instead was shown compassion, true friendship, and a gentle hand. I also know the pain of making choices that orthodox members do not agree with and I can testify that their reaction makes a big difference in one’s perception of your continued place within your community. In turn, lawsuits (or threats thereof) and attempts to publicly humiliate your former church and brothers and sisters is distasteful. There is nothing wrong with sharing your story as part of your healing process but I think you need to re-evaluate your motives. Trying to involve the UK government in matters of religion by exposing the churches failure to follow PPI and other policies felt excessive. I don’t mean to be too harsh as I did really enjoy your story. It’s just seems too similar to those of excommunications in the early days of the church and it makes me think that God weeps for our failures to learn and grow.

  13. Thanks Stephen and Jon for another great interview, hi from the uk, l’d have loved to meet you, Stephen you gave such a heartfelt interview, l appreciate all of your honesty and integrity and it will be so good to see the church being made to awaken to their real truth claims, Stephen so glad you were able to get close to your son, all the very best for the future, god bless and god speed, best wishes beth

  14. If my freind would have slapped me in church it would have been returned with a blow to his face, just saying.
    Loved the interview..

  15. Fascinating interview. I couldn’t help but be surprised by the seeming obsession with procedure, protocol and authority in the English Church when it serves the churches needs and the total abandonment of such…again when it serves the needs of the church. What does seem to be missing in all of this however is any compassion or care for the needs of an individual member in the middle of a faith crisis, which in this case was Stephen. The church and what best serves the church comes first…to hell with its members.
    The manner in which your story played out could have been such a positive experience for both your ward members and you had the technocrats of protocol not intervened. Protect the church at all costs…members be damned.

  16. Hi Steve,
    Made the time this morning to listen and watch your interview with John. It was good to sense the whole story as it unfolded chronologically, from those initial days when you had a mind which was essentially motivated by compassion and Christ and not necessarily rules. Then your amazing brother David, who appeared to be off the rails, but was suffering not only from Bipolar (I think you said) but the grief and anger of a dying faith. It is interesting that you were unhinged from the faith by ‘compassion.’ Seeing the contrast of what you knew Jesus would NOT DO and what the church WAS doing, to the Gay community. I had that word ‘Suspended’ when you could not think of it and kept telling you… But of course, you could not hear me! My goodness, what a nerve church leaders have in the way they deal with good people.
    As I was listening in my lounge with headphone on – so as not to disturb Maz – who had just come down from her night’s sleep and was sitting next to me… she glanced over a couple of times at your image and said: “He looks nice – he has a very open and honest face” Well, it would seem indeed that HONESTY and a sense of JUSTICE (fairness) is your hallmark, because she saw it in your face.
    As you described a form of ‘grieving depression,’ as you withdrew somewhat, from exmormon activity, I felt such a sympathy. It is odd indeed how much it hurts to be punished and rejected (basically treated badly) by former friends whom we loved and respected. When I was Excommunicated around midnight on April 6th 2006, I already knew the church was false and my severed sealing to Norma was as much a fantasy, as was the sealing! And yet! I felt violently assaulted, mugged and left for dead, by my friends. I cannot describe the sense of utter loneliness and isolation I felt. It does show – like you said, how ‘hooked in’ we were, and still are, to some extent. What a thoroughly beautiful soul you are.

  17. Steve, I was mesmerized by your story, and kind of tickled as you slowly, almost anecdotally, revealed the reasons why The Brethren felt so threatened by your continuing presence on their membership roles. They did indeed offer you a Disciplinary Council, but only on their terms whereby they intended to deprive you of any documentary evidence from LDS HQ. As John mentioned, they had lawyered up.

    I did something very cool while listening to you. I have never been to the UK and was curious about the towns you mentioned. I went on google maps and ended up “driving” around Helston checking the place out and even took a look at your LDS chapel as I listened to your story. I noted that the town and shops look somewhat “normal”, but your roads are a tangled mess. 🙂 Brigham Young would have an attack of apoplexy over the street non-layout.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@50.1030298,-5.2668107,3a,75y,102.7h,80.68t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sDZkk40k9q_dTFhLn5smVMw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. How DARE you actually follow the teachings of Jesus! I was entertained by the reaction of your son when he learned he was “free at last!” Children are tortured by Church membership, which is akin to child abuse.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your story Stephen. I know from experience some of the pain that happens when you walk away from the church. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! You are a fantastic story teller. I couldn’t stop listening. I don’t know you in person, but you strike me as being a very genuine, honest man!

  19. Another great podcast! Boy, I’m addicted. Thank you so much John for helping so many people. I absolutely love the fact that “Truth Will Prevail!” It is so sad how The Church has this power over members and has the ability to hurt people so deeply when members discover the truth. If it is such a loving church, can’t it love its members and help them as they discover disturbing TRUTHS about history, doctrine and current policies that they struggle with? Absolutely not…it’s just so sad. If you question, you’re to be silenced and quietly banished from “corrupting other members”. If you’re not a total conformist, you are a threat. Every other church loves to debate and talk about issues…except this one! I could not believe (well, actually I could ) that Steve was told not to talk to other members. He is not 5 years old, he is an intelligent adult who had served for 7 years as Bishop! Who are they to forbid an adult to talk to other adults? Wow, that is really scary. Well, I’ll be first in line for Steve’s book-can’t wait. Cannot wait to hear more about this story. I hope Steve is able to get this fraud out in the open! The truth will prevail… Life is so much healthier outside of the cult.

  20. I’ve got some good memories of Steve as one of my youth leaders growing up, especially the time he took us to his surgery to learn about chiropody (didn’t show us his feet though!).

    As you can imagine he’s become somewhat infamous in the community he’s left behind so it’s really good to hear things from your side of the fence Steve. Thanks for sharing.

  21. John this was a wonderful interview thank you Steven for being so honest and open
    You really are aware of your internal feelings as well as your intellectual discovery of truth
    You have given up a lot to be authentic
    And yet you have gained so much
    What touched me deeply was when you were surprised at your reaction at excommunication
    I think most of us who have been TBM’s for so many years have such a deep connection with the church Even when we know it is not true anymore Excommunication is still that deep rejection by people who were once friends and often family too
    I’m sure like most of us you would’ve like to be able to still remain friends and be appreciated for the good person you are even if you think differently than they do
    Excommunication is truly saying “we don’t want to associate with you anymore because you are not doing what is right
    (their ideas of right) and therefore you don’t fit in! you are different! and are not accepted ”
    Usually What happens is they completely withdraw from you have no more Association with you and there is no love anymore

    It is devastating to find the truth and honestly recognize the deception and lies of the church
    So you think you had the worst of it until you are excommunicated ……. and then the pain comes back just as deep as ever

    It is exactly like being rejected by your family —-because you are different —you think different and act different ….. therefore you’re not good enough to be part of the ‘family’ and loved anymore

    You can understand how this started with Joseph Smith and how hurtful it was when he excommunicated people for so many different reasons–mostly disagreeing with him and undermining him in someway —like marrying multiple young girls and married women. Those people excommunicated by Joseph Smith felt the pain as deeply as we do and I think it was even harder on them because they lived in such a closed tight community

    Today the same people who were excommunicated for disagreeing with polygamy then—would probably be leaders in the church– because today Joseph Smith chosen leaders would actually be excommunicated if they did practice polygamy
    Excommunication is still the evil practice of rejecting someone because they believe/act differently
    That’s just an example of how Joseph Smith did not forgive or love but reject ed people who didn’t believe or act exactly as he thought they should– mainly supporting what he told them !!
    How is that following the example of Jesus Christ — loving accepting forgiving
    It is not! it is really Joseph Smith’s own ideas of how to create his own little kingdom with faithful followers and him as the king
    Most members don’t know Joseph Smith did have himself crowned king of the world — members today would say he was building up the kingdom of God but he was actually building up the kingdom of Joseph Smith it was nothing like the kingdom Jesus Christ tried to create
    just like any other egotistical power-hungry leader he wanted faithful followers who would do what he told them to and would not undermine him How else could he create his own kingdom — this whole idea of excommunication exactly shows Joseph Smith control — another one of his Un Christlike hurtful teachings
    We have to ask ourselves is this truly a church that represents Christ teachings and personality

    I can understand why you feel so strongly about sharing this truth with members and nonmembers because it is based on lies but more than that it hurts people by The requirements of what it means to be a good and righteous person !!! and the pressure and guilt and fear that comes when you don’t measure up

    When you’re a tbm almost every choice and decision you make you must first reflect on what the church would tell you you should do therefore we usually don’t and can’t listen to our own heart —so many important choices are made this way

  22. The more you study the history of Joseph Smith– what he did and said –it makes sense why the church does what it does today

    There is so much about Joseph Smith that is hidden from the members today! but it is so important to know the roots of all we believe
    Always question why ……….

  23. Steve – wonderful interview. Thank you for sharing and great to hear that you and Liz are doing so well. Will be in touch with you soon.

    Warmest, Karen M

  24. Steve
    Thank you for sharing your awareness change and your ongoing transition Your story certainly has some interesting twists and turns and your delivery is both articulate and sincere. You did not say much about your wife who has also been on this very complex experience in one way or another. I found it curious that when she came to you as her husband and Bishop with questions about what she was reading your counsel was that she was being deceived by Satan. Also that she was to not read further from the sources yet you knew nothing about them. If should be very obvious why Church members seem to show no interest in understanding your motivation for leaving or reaching out to you and asking you questions. It is the same thing! Tremendous fear of displeasing God and falling away. Any of us who have been there can relate how much conditioning the Church has on one’s mind and behavior.
    I wish your family the very best in moving forward in your lives and finding peace and joy in living and serving your friends and neighbors.

  25. Thanks for the story. Throughout the end of the second part, I couldn’t help but think: “OK, you told the Church not to have any contact with you and now you’re upset that they don’t want to have any contact with you.” You want no contact with the LDS Church but you want to be a member? I can only think that it’s primarily because you want anything you write to have “Current Member” as opposed to “Former Member.” You know, right, that Church membership isn’t getting you in heaven or anything like that.

    If I were responsible for a club that promoted, say, snowmobiling, and a club member bashed my club and bashed snowmobiling, I think I’d kick him out of the club. If he told me he didn’t want any contact with me, I’d kick him out of the club and not tell him. No malice. Just seems like the best solution.

    Was sorry to hear of how local leadership treated you. Not good. So sorry that such behavior happens. It shouldn’t.

    1. Just some thoughts: I get your point. I too have gone through similar experiences to Steve and know first hand about the anger, sadness and depression, that follow the loss of faith in an institution that was much loved for decades. Part of that anger comes from a shocking realization we were deliberately fooled and ‘used’ to support an organization that was a fraud all the time. Maybe trying to ‘control’ that perceived abuse, as we enter the loss of faith period – after a life time of the institution ‘controlling’ us, is understandable. Also known very well, is the weight of distorted anxiety and paranoia, felt by still believing family members related to us, who – if we were excommunicated, would feel the weight of that burden upon them. Steve has always stated he wanted to shield his family from that.

  26. Phenomenal story, really moving, but also devastating. What struck me again and again was the utter lack of compassion from the institution of the church, and how protocol and infrastructure turn very good and well-meaning people into hideous heartless robots who will just as easily delete a friend from their life. In your case, the Church behaved in a cultish manner and it says so much about their own insecurities as an institution.

    I attended a ward in England for many years, and felt in some ways that the members were closer and more loving than back home in the States, if only for the fact that to be LDS was much more of an anomaly there. I am sorry for what you went through but glad that you are living a life of truth and authenticity now.

  27. Couldn’t help but come away from this one slightly annoyed. Steve sounds like he was a fantastic Bishop and friend whilst in the church, the type of brother that would assuage many of us to have stayed longer, and soothed betrayed hearts. I’m just annoyed at the style of separation he exhibits while leaving the church. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until the association with Tom Phillips surfaced. Most of us leave the church with the same feelings of betrayal, mistrust, crushed feelings of surety and altered world views of not only Mormonism, but of belief itself. We speak out, write out, and seek each other out for healing and quite frankly, comradeship to help magnify and justify the bold move of leaving the church of one’s childhood. There is a proper way to do this, and there is a way that feeds into the church’s narrative of “leaving but not leaving alone”. Leaving produces genuine feelings of concern and empathy for those that are still in the church, those that are deceived and mislead. It’s like being swindled and wanting to warn your friends not to do business with the swindler. For some it’s as serious to be compared to leaving an abusive parent or spouse, and wanting to rescue fellow siblings still living under the abuse. We do this through gentle persuasion with our narratives of story and experience.

    “Leaving alone” is a separate issue that Steve seems to have trouble with. It’s one thing to “leave” the church and genuinely seek, usually unsuccessfully to edify our friends and family. It’s entirely different to not leave the church alone. When I hear the obstinence and lack of cooperation on Steve’s part to separate himself from an organization that he no longer believes in to me crosses a line and becomes a non productive path. I held with Steve’s push back all throughout the podcast; Being witness for the unnecessary and annoying Tom Phillips law suit, to the lack of empathy for the lay leaders of his ward/stake that were all in shock towards a beloved Bishop that suddenly left their worldview, holding them in the wake of upheaval to impossible levels of integrity and backsighted standards of Christlike behavior. When you finally mentioned calling the police when served with information about a meeting/disciplinary that was it for me. You lost me and the conversation took on a juvenilesque tone, and I am doubting that you were excommunicated without your knowledge.

    John, you heard it too as there were some questions trying to enlighten Steve of the rationality of the reaction towards him. I think Steve wants comfortable. Criticizing and being polar opposite philosophically in the church, yet wanting a gentle landing replete with coffee and cake thereafter, where birds are singing and everyone is happy. Steve, have the courage to walk the hero’s journey. It’s upheaval, blood sweat and tears, and not pleasing all the people all the time. I’ll even quote (Im Atheist) Jesus in saying that your decision comes not with peace but with the sword, and it will separate you not only from friends, but from children and parents, even a spouse. You stood for truth and integrity, you stood for justice and for right. I hate to break it to you, but there’s not going to be a big following, and there’s not going to be smiling faces and glad hearts on your journey. Get over it and move on, and for chrissakes, leave the church alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.