My parents and siblings (seven girls, two boys) converted from Anglicanism to Mormonism in 1970 in Sydney. My parents were committed Anglicans and our family were taught the discussions for nine months before being baptised. My father was soon called into senior leadership positions (bishop, stake presidency). All nine children married in the temple and my brother and I and most of our brothers in law have served in bishoprics and/or stake presidencies. My sisters have all served in senior auxiliary leadership. Mormonism was woven into the fabric of our family. A steady stream of marriages, births, baptisms, missions, ordinations, senior callings etc bound our family life with the church.

I was 10 years old when our family joined the church. I didn’t particularly enjoy attending the Anglican church, and since I enjoyed being around the missionaries and my (assigned) LDS friends, I was very happy to be baptised. I enjoyed the youth program, went on to serve a mission in Melbourne in 1981-3 and married Jane about a year after my return. We have five grown up children. Jane and I both studied at the University of Sydney. Jane completed a teaching degree before we married and now teaches English at a Canberra high school. I completed a PhD in plant science in 1989, when we had three children, and worked for most of my career in the field of forestry molecular genetics at CSIRO, Australia’s national research organisation. 

What parts of the Mormon experience were most important or useful to you?

Mormonism was a huge part of my life as I grew up. I was a very active member. I attended all church meetings and was heavily involved in weekly youth activities, early morning seminary, dances, conventions, sports, scouting etc. All of my immediate family were fully active and married in the temple. The church was the focal point of our lives.

What doctrinal or theological parts of Mormonism did you believe that were most important to you?

I had a firm testimony that the Mormon Church was the only true church. This belief was based on my unshakeable belief in latter-day scripture and living prophets. My belief in all other uniquely LDS doctrines and ordinances (eternal marriage, priesthood, baptism, etc) were built on my foundational belief in the truth of LDS scripture. 

What spiritual experiences did you have as a Mormon that sealed your orthodox commitment to the church?

By nature, I have always been a fairly emotional person and, due to church teachings, I was convinced the strong feelings I experienced at church were the Spirit. Consequently, I believed I regularly felt the Spirit when people spoke at church, my leaders bore their testimony, when the prophet spoke and while I read the scriptures.  

How did you lose your faith in Mormonism?

My faith crisis occurred in August 1998 after experiencing a brief, but intense, period of cognitive dissonance. I was a bishop at the time. Until I went to sleep on the 2nd August I had a firm testimony. When I woke the next day I knew, with absolute certainty, the church wasn’t true. This unconscious epiphany occurred after a couple of weeks of study and serious reflection. 

A few weeks earlier I read an article in the Ensign on the Flood and the Tower of Babel, written by a professor of Hebrew at BYU named Donald Parry. Parry claimed that Mormons who doubted the reality of the global Flood, misunderstood the relevant science. It turns out Parry had not studied science beyond high school. 

I was extremely uncomfortable with the Church’s leading magazine pushing what is essentially Young Earth Creationism. I knew from my own research that plants and animals have evolved over millions of years. Evolutionary theory is the central binding principle of modern biology. It is simply impossible the genetic diversity we see on the planet today derives from plants and animals rescued on a boat 4,500 years ago. Today, virtually all of the geologists and biologists at Brigham Young University believe the earth is 4.6 billion years old, life has evolved over the last 4 billion years, and that there has never been a global flood.

Consider the Flood from an Australian perspective. Our flora and fauna has evolved in isolation for many millions of years. The 800 species of eucalyptus trees in Australia evolved over the last 40 million years. Almost all eucalypt species do not survive prolonged flooding. Koalas cannot survive more than a few days in the absence of fresh eucalypt leaves. These are the tip of an ark-load of problems that prove to any rational adult there was never a global flood. 

My frustration at this article led me to search the internet for LDS scholarship on the nature of the Flood. During this research I stumbled on a Smithsonian statement on the Book of Mormon. As a seminary student I had been told the Smithsonian used the Book of Mormon in some of its research. The Smithsonian statement, which was routinely mailed to inquiring Mormons, completely rejected any connection between the Book of Mormon and American prehistory. 

Alarmed by the content of the Smithsonian statement I began looking for research that supported the belief that Native Americans have Jewish ancestry. During a period of about two weeks I retrieved about 30 research papers on the DNA of Native Americans. I was deeply shocked by what I discovered. This research showed conclusively that essentially all Native American DNA is most closely related to the DNA of Asians and that they lack any Middle Eastern DNA. Today the data is far more overwhelming and it supports the same conclusion.

Returning to the evening of 2nd August 1998. We gathered our children for family prayer and sang Book of Mormon Stories with them. I became deeply upset as we sang. Deep within me I knew we could never sing this song again because of what I knew. I knew the Book of Mormon wasn’t true history. I went to bed a believing, but very confused Mormon bishop. When I woke up my entire worldview had changed completely. The cognitive dissonance that I was being tormented by had vanished.

What parts of Mormonism were harmful to you?

I think the most harmful aspect of Mormonism is that it cuts you off from the real world. Growing up in the church we were constantly told the world was evil and getting worse, and that our generation of Latter-day Saint youth was the most special to come to earth. As young priesthood holders we were also taught we had more authority to act for God than the Pope. This us vs them messaging, which is reinforced in every General Conference, affected the way I looked at non-Mormons and the rest of the world.

Australians tend to view Mormonism as a weird cult, so I felt further  alienated from many of my non-Mormon friends. I was relatively shy so I kept my beliefs to myself when around non-Mormon friends in order to avoid being teased. While the social aspects of the LDS Church were incredibly important in my life, there is no doubt my relationships with non-Mormon friends during my youth and at university were significantly impacted by my membership in the Mormon church. Being a fully active Mormon with a dim view of the world made developing meaningful relationships with people outside of the church very difficult.

How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon?

I had many “spiritual” experiences as a Mormon and was often moved to tears when listening to my ward and stake leaders or the prophet speak. But even when I was a fully believing member I had come to recognise that the feelings I felt at church and the feelings I felt in settings outside of church were indistinguishable. To this day there are many things that deeply move me and even bring me to tears.

Human beings are emotional creatures. These emotions are critically important for forming and maintaining tight family bonds, close relationships with friends and for our survival in social groups. Millions of people in most religions experience these same feelings and many are convinced they come from God and confirm their church is right. 

It has been liberating to shed the false belief that the Holy Ghost speaks eternal truth directly to a person via their emotions.

What was transitioning out of Mormonism (or Orthodox Mormonism) like for you? What was most painful about it? What was most healing or joyful about the transition?

The most painful part was losing the respect of virtually all of my church friends and family. The LDS Church provides a safe environment for its members, but this comes at the expense of shutting out people who make them feel uncomfortable. It’s extremely difficult for Mormons and former Mormons to talk to each other about the church without feelings being hurt. 

The most joyful part of leaving the church has been discovering that the world is not as evil as the church makes out. According to many important metrics, it is actually getting better. There are plenty of genuinely good and honest people who have no faith at all. Because our lives are no longer completely absorbed with Mormonism we have had time to develop numerous friendships with non-Mormons. These friendships are simpler to maintain because they are built on mutual respect. We have also formed very close friendships with many other former members of the church in Australia and around the world.  

In what ways did church leaders or members make your transition more difficult?

The worst thing they did was to direct me to LDS apologists for answers to my questions. These men do more damage to the church than anyone else. Several weeks after I resigned as bishop, my stake president put me in touch with Warren Aston, an LDS apologist who lives in Brisbane. He believed Aston could help me find answers to my DNA questions. Aston alerted LDS apologists at BYU to the existence of an Australian bishop who had lost his faith in the Book of Mormon because of DNA. From just weeks after resigning as a bishop, I have been treated as an enemy of the church.

Were there church leaders or members who were helpful to you? If so, how?

I can’t remember any.

What resources were most helpful in your transition out of Mormonism?

We left the church in Australia in 1998. Apart from a small amount of information on the Internet, there were few resources to help with our transition.

Soon after leaving the church I became concerned about the way LDS apologists (scholars who defend church beliefs) and church leaders were misrepresenting or playing down the significance of the DNA research. The destructive personal attacks of Mormon apologists and their strained reinterpretations of the Book of Mormon to accommodate the science, prompted me to post a personal story of my encounter with the DNA science in 2000 and to eventually write Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church, which was published by Signature Books in 2004. In my recently published book, The Sacred Curse, I review the latest DNA evidence, and how the Book of Mormon has been used to erase the true history of Native Americans and Polynesians. In the last decade scientists have scoured the genomes of thousands of Indigenous Americans and Pacific Islanders for their ancestral origins. Not a trace of pre-Columbian Middle Eastern or Jewish DNA has been identified.

What significant mistakes did you make in your transition?

The biggest mistake I made was to assume that because I believed I had compelling reasons to doubt the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon, that my extended family would be interested in knowing about it. Virtually all family and friends, who up until then had respected me, showed little to no interest in understanding why I resigned. It appears the only evidence they needed that I was wrong was the fact that I had resigned. Not surprisingly, given the absence of honest communication, false rumours about why I resigned soon spread around the family and the church locally.

The biggest mistake I could have made, but didn’t, would have been to stay in the church as a non-believing member. I would have been treated like a leper and gospel doctrine would have been the definition of hell.

How has your leaving Mormonism affected your family relationships, friendships, job, neighbor relationships, social life, etc.?

Within months of leaving the church I was offered a research position at CSIRO and we moved to Canberra. After several years of part time work Jane became a full time teacher. We have both enjoyed slotting back into the real world after years of feeling alienated from within Mormonism. We have plenty of good friends who like us just the way we are. We have also formed many close friendships with other former members, several of whom we knew when we were active in the church. These friends include several former bishops and stake presidency members and some members of our extended families. 

It is difficult to maintain close relationships with most believing family members who clearly don’t respect our decision to leave the church and who know with absolute certainty they are right. True friendships are built on mutual respect and open communication. As a result, my relationship with several family members is now largely superficial. This is not helped by the fact that we live quite far from most of our family.

Two of the greatest gifts we have received from leaving the church have been the opportunity to help two gay daughters navigate their way into adulthood free of Mormon homophobia and ignorance regarding same-sex attraction. This transition is very challenging, even in a civilised society, but it has been a positive experience in our lives that has drawn us all closer together. I cannot imagine how we could have safely navigated this process within the Mormon Church. 

How have you navigated communication and relationships with believing family and friends? Any tips to keeping those people in your life?

I don’t have any amazing insight into how to protect family relationships. All families are so different. In my case, relationships with believers benefit from not discussing Mormonism and other potentially contentious issues such as climate change, vaccines, politics, gay marriage and religion in general. But at least we have the weather to talk about. :)

Which (if any) of your former Mormon beliefs/behaviors have you retained after your faith crisis?

I have retained no beliefs/behaviors unique to Mormonism.

In what ways have your beliefs/behaviors changed after your faith crisis?

I have no religious beliefs, and my family and I are perfectly content being irreligious. I thoroughly enjoy two day weekends. In contrast to the US, where about 40% of the population attends church weekly, in Australia its less than 7%. 

I realise many Americans consider atheists to be about on par with pedophiles, but that’s because many Americans hold on to the delusion they are God’s chosen country. A high proportion of the populations of the most developed countries in Europe and Asia, including Australia and New Zealand, have no religious beliefs at all, yet these countries are far kinder socially than the US. Fortunately, a rapidly growing number of Americans (about 30% and climbing) are leaving religion behind and are discovering non-believers can be good, honest and happy people too.

What are your thoughts/beliefs now about God and Jesus?

I believe Jesus Christ was probably a real person and a lot of what he taught is of value. But that is the extent of it.

All Abrahamic religion is based on the writings of very intelligent Semitic men, sitting in their tents with lots of time on their hands, trying to work out the meaning of life. These ancient Jews discovered they were God’s chosen race. Isn’t that a remarkable coincidence? If you have any doubt about their intelligence, consider this fact. Jews make up about 20% of Nobel Prize winners, yet they only represent 0.3% of the world’s population.  

How do you now make sense of death and the afterlife?

Death happens to us all and it is a sad reality of life. That is why we should make the most of the life we have now.

Without the church telling you what is “right” and “wrong,” how do you establish your own sense of morality/right/wrong?

If you need religion to tell you what is right and what is wrong, then you haven’t learnt to think for yourself.

One of the most powerful myths religions impose on their followers is the idea that religion is the source of all moral values. The LDS Church has followed, rather than led, major advances in social values in the US (and world) during the last century (racism, women’s rights, homosexuality, gay marriage, etc). It would help if the church was right a bit more often and hadn’t lied about its history for many decades.

If you are in any doubt about the complete disconnect between religion and moral values, take a look at the top 20 most secular countries in the world; countries where weekly church attendance is typically less than 10%. They include countries like the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia and Estonia. All of these countries have strong social support networks for the most vulnerable members of their societies. They all have universal health care because they care for the poor and needy. You don’t need religion to be good.

Do you still value “spirituality” in your life (spirituality defined as “connection to something bigger than yourself”), and if so, what are your main sources of spiritual fulfillment?

I never cease to be amazed by the beauty and wonder of the world. That’s why I have always enjoyed the outdoors and visiting areas of natural beauty. I also enjoy going for long cycle rides with my friends. Fortunately, because we live the “bush capitol” of Canberra, this allows me to cycle regularly past sheep paddocks and beautiful natural forests. This keeps me healthy and happy.

The US and Canada are also blessed with amazing natural scenery, and I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting numerous national parks with Jane, exmormon friends and work colleagues.    

To what extent have you found healthy and meaningful community to replace the role of the ward/stake in your life?

I have filled my church time with more time with family and socialising with non-Mormon friends from work and my cycling community. My forestry workmates share my love of the outdoors and passion for science. Increasing numbers of my closest friends these days are people who have left the church. Without exception, these people were once seriously committed members. These friendships are particularly deep because we have all experienced the trauma and joy of going through a faith transition.

What meaning and purpose does life have to you now that you no longer believe in Mormonism?

My life is far more meaningful because I am in control of it. I am far more connected to the world I live in. Our children are all adults now and I enjoy our family relationships free of the judgment that is so common in LDS families. They are all growing up to be positive contributors to society.

I take pride in the work I have done to expose the true origin of the Book of Mormon. This has involved thousands of hours of careful research. For almost 30 years I ignored the truth scientific research has revealed about the true ancestry of American Indians and Polynesians. For 200 years Mormons have viewed these indigenous people through a racist 19th century lens. This racism has caused enormous harm to indigenous members as they have had to endure the erasing of their cultures by the church. This still goes on. 

Indigenous members throughout the Americas and the Pacific are still being taught they are descended from Book of Mormon people. This robs them of their connection to their true culture. God did not curse their ancestors with a dark skin nor is a dark skin a sign of a curse! This racism needs to end.     

If you are a parent, how has losing your faith in Mormonism affected how you parent?

To be honest, it hasn’t really had that much impact, other than giving me more time with my family. To find out if that is a good thing you would need to ask my kids. :)

If you are married or have a significant other, how has leaving Mormonism affected this relationship?

Leaving the church almost always places strain on relationships. This is frequently because those relationships were formed while under the influence of the church.

Jane and I made the journey out of the “Mormon mindset” at very different speeds. I’m far more willing to try new things than Jane. I had my first cup of coffee and tried my first drink after a few days; Jane took about five years. This somewhat trivial difference in behaviour, to some extent, reflected our different way of dealing with the absence of the church in our lives. After five years we separated for about a year, but we have been happily reunited for the last 15 years. We now both enjoy sharing our morning coffee and the occasional glass of wine with dinner.

How has leaving Mormonism affected your mental health?

Cognitive dissonance is a mental health disorder. I suffered some degree of cognitive dissonance my entire life in the church. Even as a youth I was not oblivious to the fact that there were other explanations for many of the things I learned at church, but I chose blind faith. All of these conflicts were resolved the moment I knew the Book of Mormon wasn’t true history.  

How has leaving Mormonism affected your sexual health?

Jane and I never allowed the church to stick its nose that far into our relationship, so leaving the church has had no impact.

A wise bishop once shared with me his advice to members asking whether this or that sexual activity was “appropriate”. He would tell them he didn’t care what they got up to in the privacy of their own bedrooms but to use common sense. “If you don’t feel comfortable doing something then stop it!”

This bishop and his wife (Terry and Brenda), and the entire families of their four sons, all left the church about 10 years after us. We are now close friends for life.   

What aspects of your life are better after Mormonism?

Apart from strained family relationships everything is better. All of our family has absolutely no regrets about leaving.  

What is your life still missing? In what ways could your life still be improved without Mormonism?

My life could be improved by the leaders of the church telling the truth about why people are leaving the church. They consistently reinforce the view that people leave the church because they are weak and gave into temptation. This is a lie. People are leaving because the leaders have consistently been dishonest.

What final advice would you give folks who are transitioning?

Take things slowly. If you have a partner still in the church take things even more slowly. Don’t try to force your views on others. Just because you have made the most important discovery/decision of your life, do not assume other believers will want to know all about it. It’s best to assume that most of the Mormons you know will not want to know about why you are leaving the church.

When I first left the church marriage breakdowns were far more common. The membership is very slowly becoming aware of the fact that very good people are leaving and they have valid concerns. I also believe the work that John Dehlin and others have done over the years has played a major role in helping people to navigate their way more safely out of the church. I believe this is saving many more marriages these days.  

Be assured, your choice to leave the church is the right one. The Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are the scriptural foundation of the LDS Church. There is clear evidence both are fraudulent.     

Book of Mormon:- Over a century of comprehensive archaeological, anthropological and genetic research has found no trace of Middle Eastern migrations to the Americas prior to Columbus. The Lamanites don’t exist.

Book of Abraham:- Smith’s translation of Facsimile 1, which is instantly recognisable to any Egyptologist, is completely wrong, as is the rest of the “translation”. 

Nothing else comes close to undermining the truth claims of the LDS Church than the obvious fact that its defining scriptures are not what they claim to be.

If you have remained active or semi-active in the church as a non-believer or semi-believer, why do you remain active? What have been the hardest parts about remaining active? How have you made it work? What have you enjoyed about remaining active?

I rapidly lost interest in being an active member after learning the church wasn’t true. Spending time with my family in national parks and at the beach was far more appealing.


Note: This post is part of the THRIVING Beyond Orthodox Mormonism project.  See here to browse other profiles.  To submit your own THRIVE profile, click this link.


  1. VFanRJ May 5, 2020 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    The amount of information disproving the flood fills entire libraries spanning a number of disciplines. Not only was it a shelf item, but it’s an assertion that no TBM has challenged me on. After researching the BoM DNA issue for several years, I reached out to Simon in 2001 for his perspective. In that having a truth crisis is incredibly traumatic, I was both grateful and surprised that Simon replied to me. It served as a point of support at a very difficult time in my life.

    Thanks Simon for filling out John’s form. I found it quite interesting. Wish you all the best.

    • simon southerton May 6, 2020 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for stopping to comment. I’m really pleased if something I’ve done has helped you.

      I posted my exit story in 2000 and for months afterwards received a flood of emails from struggling members. I didn’t have John Dehlin’s broad shoulders nor skills. Due to work commitments I eventually had to ask people seeking support to post on the exmormon blogs where there is, and always has been, a plentiful supply of wise and compassionate folk.

  2. GaryC May 5, 2020 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    Hey Simon!

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your Thrive story … filling in a few details I had not heard previously.

    Your review of how the Religion “pandemic” (my word) in the USA makes us more socially/cultural dysfunctional than other less-brainwashed countries was illuminating. It’s a recurring theme for atheists to come across as more “Christian” than many Christians (and typical Mormons) … who learn what at Church? How to judge others? How to feel superior?

    My homeland allegedly founded for “religious freedom” seems condemned to blindly conflate Religion with Goodness and Righteousness. In reality, Religion aka Churches have largely devolved into a loophole business model jackpot with the spectacularly unfair advantage of tax-exempt status.

    “Religious freedom” greased the skids for Joseph Smith and eventually for our “living prophets” to laugh hysterically on their way to the bank. Thanks for the heads-up that the USA is far behind other “first world” countries when it comes to Religious Dysfunction.

    I also appreciated your “admission” (for a macho mate) to the emotional aspect of your psyche … and how your emotionality made you particularly susceptible to “spiritual” experiences as a youth. You have likely seen this excellent video thoroughly debunking “burning in the bosom” as a truth detector. This video should be bookmarked for easy access/sharing by exmos when teaching opportunities arise.

    Your other detailed disclosures of how your post-Mo life is far superior following your stint in Spirit Prison was a pleasure to read. Thank you again for taking time to respond to John’s lengthy interrogation. (It made me feel tired just reading his questions. ;-)

    All the Best 2U, Simon!

  3. Brenda Brown May 6, 2020 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Thank you so much Simon. I have no regrets discovering the church was not true. I’m glad you were there for us and I’m glad Terry chose wisdom and common sense when he was a bishop, rather than blind faith and following the handbook. xxx Brenda

    • simon southerton May 7, 2020 at 12:03 am - Reply

      Thank you Brenda (and Terry). Your friendship before and after your awakening has meant a great deal to us. Love Simon

  4. Peter May 6, 2020 at 6:20 am - Reply

    On ya Simon, I sure appreciate hearing your responses. Interesting to hear there are a growing number of Aussies who are leaving and are friends ‘in the after life’. I saw a bit of that while I was there. I’m a 50 y.o. Aussie who has been living in Utah the last 6 years but only in the last year have made a number of ‘discoveries’.
    The cycling around Canberra is super! No potholes or pollution, and plenty of hills to get strong on!

    • simon southerton May 7, 2020 at 12:11 am - Reply

      Hi Peter,
      Look me up when your back in Canberra. I’ve got a spare road and mountain bike. If you are not riding for the hills are you really riding?

      We started an Australian Mormon Stories Support Group (probably infringing copyright) about 5 or 6 years ago with a handful of folk. We are getting close to 300 members now and typically around 50 or so are active each week.

      • Peter May 7, 2020 at 11:10 am - Reply

        Thanks Simon.

        Good to hear about the support group in Oz.

        I got to know Terry Vinson (currently on presidency of the 70) in Sydney (Dural area), they came from Sutherland/Hurstville. Did you know him way back then?

        Thanks for the bikes offer, unfortunately I live in Utah. )-: Ha ha, yes, if you’re not riding hills are you riding?!

  5. Vickie Duncan May 6, 2020 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Love this. Ir is this mindset that I still wish to attain. I need to know the freedom of what “worthy” is in this journey and to be rid of the harmful teachings that bring unneeded shame and remorse. To learn to love myself better. Thank you for this..someday I will thrive and with help from people here…I know that I can do this. That I can love and be with my deceased daughter (recently) without secret signs, names and passwords. It has taken a long time for me tor realize that science matters and is meaningful in truth. Thank so much for this Simon. I hope that we can be friends someday.

    Vickie Duncan

    Oh…………………….and thank you John!! I look forward to readings like this because I am deaf and sometimes have a hard time with live podcasts.. Keep thiese coming!!

    • simon southerton May 7, 2020 at 12:22 am - Reply

      Dear Vickie,

      I’m very sorry to hear about your daughter’s passing. That must have been extremely hard to cope with at the same time as going through a faith crisis. Stick with John. He’s been an amazing help in many people’s lives.

      You might be interested to know we had a deaf group in Enoggera Ward when I was bishop (1997-8). They were mostly new converts and they were great fun. It introduced me to the challenges of communication over the phone via TTY. Sometimes you didn’t know who was on the other end and it was difficult to read emotions. Challenges you would know all too well.

      Keep safe.

    • simon southerton May 7, 2020 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Dear Vickie,

      I’m very sorry to hear about your daughter’s passing. That must have been extremely hard to cope with at the same time as going through a faith crisis. Stick with John. He’s been an amazing help in many people’s lives.

      You might be interested to know we had a deaf group in Enoggera Ward when I was bishop (1997-8). They were mostly new converts and they were great fun. It introduced me to the challenges of communication over the phone via TTY. Sometimes you didn’t know who was on the other end and it was difficult to read emotions. Challenges you would know all too well.

      Keep safe.

  6. Jana Halverstadt May 7, 2020 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and insights, Simon :) I’m glad you’re well. Thank you for you.

  7. Tim May 10, 2020 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    G’day Simon

    Thanks for posting, I’d listened to an interview of yours a few years back so it’s been good to revisit your story.
    We share a few things in common, I was raised and baptised Anglican, lived in Melbourne in the 1980’s most importantly, I enjoy a cycle in and around Canberra.

    I am not a Mormon or an ex-Mormon but my father’s career path saw us move in the late 80’s from Melbourne to South East Idaho where the population was fairly evenly split Mormon/non-Mormon. It was a complete shock to the system to go from an environment where I had never met a Mormon to full immersion. As a non-believer I have found the emergence of information via the internet and pursuit of truth nothing short of fascinating.

    I understand where you are coming from when you mention the differences between general attitudes between USA and Australia, Mormonism is the quintessential American religion. I have been back in Australia for 11 years now but still have the periodic reminder of where I once lived. I can’t help but feel sorry for the missionaries I see working the Civic bus interchange from time-to-time, it would be a tough gig. There is no coincidence they seem to be talking exclusively to international students. On occasion, I enjoy a nice cold beer on a Sunday and enjoy the view from the patio of Tilley’s Devine.

    Thanks again for posting this.


  8. callis ferguson June 16, 2020 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    I have enjoyed reading your remarks. It sounds like you enjoyed your previous years growing up in the Mormon Church and the values it put in practice of treating others, respecting others, traveling with the kind of people your parents wanted you to associate with. I am 72 was raised a Mormon as my father and my Doctor Grandfather a Baptist Preacher born right after the Civil War. The family came to America around 1777 . Fighting in the Rev. War. then becoming Baptist Preacher. Very good people and up to this day most are still Baptist, Doc. lived in the Back Woods and a knock on the Door. brought forth a couple Mormon Missionaries. His wife was home and took a Book of Mormon from them.. When Grandpa came home he said he was going to read that book and teach those young boys about religion. That he did but when he prayed a honest prayer about the book, he turned around and told his wife that Book is true. I can honestly tell you one thing a 19 yr of kid doesn’t have the salesmanship, intellect, history, to convert anyone to the Mormon Church. I too am educated and find the LDS Churc,h has more educated people in it than other churches. I am concerned about your outlook on religion. Mormons never get up in the pulpit and bad mouth other religions nor do they write untruth stories or anti beliefs about any church. They never teach by word or example against their fellow man (The Second GReat Commandment) Growing up in the Back Woods I went through lots of disrespect from my friends and their Parents about being a Mormon. I was taught to say something good about others or Keep your mouth shut. But I was forced into many fights because I was a Mormon. When I became 15 I decided it was time to find the truth. So I read everthing I could get my hand on. I prayed and to this day I will tell you it was a sincere prayer asking for guidance as James said. Seems like they all take a major dig into Mormons. That doesn’t surprise me , The people at the time of Christ totally took a poor outlook on him and as the Bible says, that happens to most. Was Joseph Smith perfect, Was Moses, he didn’t even make the promise land, One prophet was told by the Lord to go and preach to a group of people he didn’t do it. After a ride in the ocean he changed his mind. He had good reason for not wanting to go. I understand about some of the things you mentioned. About Joseph Smith and others wives. He didn’t last long after that started. He was without a doubt a very smart man.
    I want you to read a few things. I constantly look at the Church through other peoples eyes. Here is what I know.
    In Act 3 vs? 20 Says that the Christ Church would be restored in the following manner. Everything ever would be restored. That means all the officers Eph 4 :11+ Apostles Prophets, etc. that we no more be tossed about by every wind and doctrine. Everything my friend. has to include Baptism for the Dead, Teaching of Christ to those in the Spirit Prison. Another thing I have noticed almost all the Christian ministers are teaching we will be a eternal family when they preach funerals. Why because the Testimony of the Lord is strong for families at the time of death of a loved one. If families were not meant to be together ( all the hospice nurses will back this up research it on the internet and see what those nurses have to say. Of Varying faiths.
    Next you can’t forget when Christ came to earth he didn’t teach the Law of Moses so the ministers of the day convinced their followers not to be interested in this man. teahe Lord would send back angels to be with those dying, who others can’t see ( a relative who they say in their parting words that a family member is there to be with them.) Then to tear that family apart after death.
    The Lord would send back angels to be with those who are dying that most others can’t see ( a relative who they say in their parting words that a family member is there to be with them.) Then to tear that family apart afterward would be a cruel.
    Concerning your daughters the Bible treated same sex relations must worse then than the LDS Church does. and most other churches.
    Now hear is the big thing about DNA and the Native Americans you had better get the updated info. which no one is going to tell the X factor for Hebrew .
    Less look at History.
    America before Columbus according to Nat. Geo. (You Tube) 9+ minutes in said that there was over 100 million people living in America before Columbus stepped foot here. I can’t see you looking at God and saying I don’t think they should have had a opportunity to hear of Jesus. LIDAR now knows that 100 million is a low number.
    You can’t deny the fact that Cortez was taken to be the great white God returning, if they had never heard of the great white god from their forefathers 3 Nephi starting ch 9 read it and see how you can relate to it.
    Now the testimonies of the old Indian Chiefs through out all America L. Taylor Hansen. A young girl who was raised in a fort making a old Native Chief her friend, he told her the story of his tribe being visited by Jesus long ago. He told her of others he had heard of. She was born in the 1800’s she studied archology and visited any tribes for the next 25+ years that was near her work interviewing the person responsible for teaching their history by word of mouth to the young. Watch the short 18 short videos on youtube. The book she wrote was “He Walked the Americas” a non mormon tells the story in video on youtube. “He walked the Americas” Read the Cherokee nation story. Who say they brought the first 5 books of the bible with them and then Google the village they lived in how modern it was and beautiful. The Native Americans were the most advanced in the entire world as you know. through history.
    Now for this one you nor no man can deny. The Lords chosen people was the Hebrew Jew . Since the death of Christ we never heard from God. No man related such a story as the one that the American Gov. didn’t teach in history. Here is why. The gov. men wanted the land, gold, silver, precious stones all for free. Since the Church and Gov. combined forces during the time of Constantine they were able to get a Papal Bull document that would satisfy the Christians and governing men. The Papal Bull encouraged Christians to destroy any one that wasn’t a Christian. This would give the Pilgrims the land they wanted that belonged to the Native Americans . The Gov. was able to take the Bible out of the Christians hands and put it in their back pocket. Turning their back on their neighbor (denying the 2 commandment and also denying the Bible by killing , raping by the thousands and sending infected blankets with every kind of disease that killed by the thousands. These people had welcomed them into America, helping them through the first winter, teaching them to grow corn, beans, squash, pumpkin, pick berries, nuts, hunt , fish and use the hides.

    No place but America could his church be restored because of the tie of church and State throughout the world and the Papal Bull had the people under control for 100’s of years.
    He inspired Martin Luther and Others to set the atmosphere for wanting religious freedom. He put Roger Williams in the hands of the best lawyer in London to date, to learn how to set up the gov. that would be needed in America. Freedom of any religion and the English allowing him to divorce the gov. and the church in the Providence he established were all these things he was able to get English to allow it.
    Here is something you need to read up on.
    The first to write a book about Native Americans being Hebrew was a Rabbi Ben Israel
    William Penn invited the Native Americans over to his religious meeting when they were in town. The State of Pa. was named after this Quaker (Religious) Leader He said the Native America believed in the same God the Creator and their religion was Parallel to his own religion. If you research the invasion of the Americas and the Native American stories you will find that the Prophets of the Native Americans ( that didn’t make the Book of Mormon) said that they (Mayans, Incas, Florida Indians )were told in detail about the evil men that would come to the Americas and their armor would be like a turtle shell and all the things they would do. Read the story of Doctor James Adair. It would hold up in any court of law claiming the Natives to be Hebrew

    Now for the big one. Where we got the United Nations and the US Constitution. When the church would be restored the Lord did much to prepare things. This one no man can deny. The Lord sent the Peacemaker to Chief Hiawatha with the most important information except for the gospel. that has ever been brought to earth and became accepted by most all people in the world. A first that would save man from killing each other and bring about needed peace. Not all would adapt. But the Peacemaker told Hiawatha that the creator wanted him to present this information to all the 6 tribes in the New York area to bring about peace. He could have presented it to the white ministers of America but no he selected the chosen people (the Hebrew) to give the United Nations and US Constitution to. The Peacemaker went with Hiawatha to all the nations and one was very much against hearing anything of it. The Peacemaker knew exactly what to do with this evil warrior and soon the program was put into effect and it still is their confederation gov. today. In 1988 the United State finally gave credit to the Iroquois Nation for our Gov. being patterned after the Confederation.
    The reason the Mormons were driven from New York to Ohio, Miss, and Ill. was because Joseph Smith introduce a religious book that was working on the Settlers starting to show empathy on the Native Americans. The gov. saw the church was growing fast and got word to the ministers of the time to turn it around. They had to get the mormons out of the United States with the church growing so fast it was about to spoil all their stealing the land, gold, silver, etc.
    The gov. had put out a extermination law against the Native Americans and Missouri put out a Extermination law against Mormons, killing men, boys, and raping the women. Yes the Christians of the day had put their Bibles in their back Pocket. I think you need to read “Taking it back” by a professor Angela Brandell that describes in detail what was foretold in the Book of Mormon with the Native Americans. and you can pray about these things. The best of luck, times are getting bad and you have to admit you were raised in a good manner compared to most people. LDS is a hard religion to live by, many prophets made mistakes, The Lord loved David to no end but look at what happened to him. We all make mistakes I sure have made my share of them. Pray about is a good statement. That is all the missionaries ask, read and pray. Many are called and few are chosen. We all have decisions to make. and stand by that when we meet God. I sincerely have been through all the things you mentioned and questions arose which I didn’t make up my logical mind I ask the Lord. The best to you and yours be safe my friend. The Lord loves us all. I am to sleepy to proof read this. Phi Kappa Phi

  9. callis ferguson June 17, 2020 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    I reached the point of questions when I read about Joseph Smith and Patty Sessions. Patty attended the temple in 1845 with her first husband but was never sealed to him. She was sealed to Joseph in 1842 . She knew, he/ husband/ knew and didn’t care. Family had it all reversed about 20 yrs ago.

    That made me doubt. question and wonder. Smith didn’t last long afterwards. Moses made mistakes, didn’t make promised land. One Prophet got swallowed up by a fish. Prophets have never been perfect. None are perfect, even Prophets.
    I couldn’t for get the priesthood blessings I had performed and saw people healed. One died right in the chapel and P. Med. declared him dead. Bishop gave him a blessing and he came out of it and went to the Hospital. I was in the seat striaght in front of him in Jan. 1969. My Dad was a patriarch, when he gave a blessing it wasn’t him, he didn’t have all the words he used in the blessing in his uneducated head. I was in my mid 20’s and knew him well. I was in my 3 yr. at UK and couldn’t deny what I saw. The things he told people shock them up. They were from several states away and he nailed many of their life experiences they would ask how he knew this or that.

    My brother broke his arm on a mission in 1962 and was sent straight home. I broke my leg a week before I was to appear in Salt Lake. After 6 weeks they didn’t take my cast off so I called Salt Lake, they got back in touch telling me to come out now. I did and when I arrived in Calif. the Mission Pres. sent me to a bone specialist (Member) The bone was 3/8 of a inch apart. I didn’t know that, no records were sent to anyone. They should have pinned it but it wasn’t being done in 1968 in South Eastern US . The cast stayed on several more months, I was put on calcium pills. Stayed on a crutch for months. When the cast was removed I was taught to do a sports wrap and still used a cane or crutch and was told to never track during my mission. I never did but the Lord directed me where and when to go. I didn’t have a golden throat but simply ask people to read and pray just like they do today. It worked. I really thought about dropping out but when I remembered all the things I had seen I knew I couldn’t do it. For the first time in over 50 yrs I spoke to My doctor last year if the cast had been removed any sooner I would have ended up a cripple he said. He isn’t LDS nor did I say anything about LDS, I never knew until last year that the Lord was taken care of me. I just couldn’t go against the things I had seen. Did Jo. Smith do wrong? IN my opinion. You need to hear the testimony of the Native American tribes throughout North and South America about Jesus walking to all. Watch He walked the Americas on Youtube. Read the Cherokee nation testimony about one lord, one faith, and one god. The Peacemaker was sent to Chief Hiawatha with a governing message the creator sent to the Nations (Iroquois gov. Confederation ) which they still use today. Washington and Franklin attended the Iroquois council meeting and adopted much of their gov. that we use today US Constitution and the United Nations. USA in 1988 gave the credit to the Iroquois gov. for introducing what we have has the UN and US Constitution. If you people don’t print this its history on the record books now then you all are afraid of hearing the truth. The Lord sent the Peacemaker to his chosen people and it wasn’t the white man. Just as he visited all the tribes in the Americas. No its not recorded in the Book of Mormon. Print this if you want to bad mouth Mormons then you should print these historical facts. DNA HAS NOW BEEN UPDATED a X factor in the dna showing 120 tribes of Hebrew. John Wesley Powell over the Smithsonian in the 1800’s sent out Archology teams to 22 states digging into 2000 graves and pulling out 40000 relics they didn’t want anyone like you to find. Print the historical truth or nothing if you want to bad mouth my beliefs. You can’t be afraid of the truth.

    • Malcolm Cartlidge November 20, 2021 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Callis, nice to hear your stories and research, nice also to see them actually make it to print in this forum! As a convert RM (and one who knew Bob and Simon) I always wonder how lapsed members explain away all the ‘little’ (or large) miracles, and inspirations they got as missionaries and leaders of the church. No way they were all coincidences or blind luck. One way I’ve always felt the church was of right is because of the way it is vilified by everyone, especially the people who walk away but can’t leave it alone even decades after leaving.
      Thanks for taking time out to write, your feedback is very much appreciated.

  10. Gary Bowen October 9, 2021 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Dr. Simon G. Southerton,
    I sent you an earlier email on my book, “Christianity in The Americas Before Columbus: Unfamiliar Origins and Insights,” I just read your book “Losing a Lost Tribe.”
    1. Page 158: The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is historically from the writings of the early Catholic missionaries the narrow neck of land. Your map is incorrect Tehuantepec is south on the Pacific, not north where you have placed it.
    2. Page 21. You reference José de Acosta, “Natural and Moral History of the Indies.” I have the Spanish edition published by the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The author’s name in Spanish is Joseph de Acosta not José. I seen writings of early Catholic missionaries when translated and published in English willfully omitting evidences of Religion. Joseph de Acosta in Spanish writes of the “Religious and Civil life of the Indians.” Chapter 27, 1st paragraph Begins, “Other innumerable ceremonies and rites that the Indians had, and many of them are similar to those of the ancient Law of Moses . . .” Later Acosta specifically lists the practice of circumcision. Bishop Bartolomé de las Casa also references circumcision, Both found the practice on the Yucatan Peninsula, the only place in the Americas where it was found. Does you English translation reference this. The misspelling of “Joseph” is evidence of errors in the book you have as a source..
    3. Read the writing of the early Catholic missionaries. They frequently reference the common practice of Christianity in the Americas. The common belief was that the Gospel had been brought to the Americas by the Apostle Saint Thomas. Study Saint Thomas! He was an aggressive missionary after the death of Jesus Christ. St. Thomas took the Gospel east to Persia and Indian. St. Thomas died and is buried in India. One of only three of the original 12 Apostles, whose burial sight is Known. Columbus thought he had landed in India, that is why native peoples were and still are called Indians. Catholic scholars where aware of St. Thomas’s missionary labors in India. Fray Servando Teresa de Mier writes of the mis-spelling and mis-pronouncement of the early Christian missionary not as “Tomas,” Spanish for Thomas, but as “Tome,” Spanish for Talmai, which I speculate is the origin of a mis-translation to Alma. The brief description I’ve found in the writings of Tome matches the written profile of Alma in The B of M.
    4. The native people of Mexico were the only people in the Americas who had a written language. The common description of the writings was, hieroglyphics. There writings were on paper scrolls. In 1519 Hernan Cortez and 1526 Bishop Juan Zumárraga gathered and burned almost all of the written scrolls. The anthropologist Baron Alexander de Humboldt spent a year in Mexico City 1803-1804 to document the veracity of these ancient written hieroglyphical writings. He found some surviving examples in museums and Catholic archives in Europe after he returned to Europe. About 1810-1813, he wrote a book on his findings. I have a Spanish translation of his book. I believe it has never been translated to English. “Aportaciones a la Antropología Mexicana” translated to English is “Contribution to Mexican Anthropology”
    5. Fray Servando Teresa de Mier writes in a Letter included in my book that Mexico is a Hebrew origin word, Maishiah, translated to English, Messiah, or Greek Christ. The meaning of Mexico is “Where Christ is worshipped,” and to call someone a Mexican is the word for Christian. His letter was written about 8 years before the B of M was published.
    5. Go do a DNA study in Mexico City, I believe 80-90% of the population would be of Jewish ancestry. We did an Ancestry DNA study 2018. I’m 21% Jewish. I have a Jewish Grandfather, born in Lithuania, who married a Mormon Girl. My wife who is a native of Mexico came as 2% Jewish, We’re married 56 years she never knew that. Most Spanish people have Jewish ancestry. If you accept my speculation is that 80-90% Jewish heritage from Lehi or Spanish heritage.?

    Brother Southerton, I love you and your work. The error that the Authorities of the Church have made and that you and FARMS scholars at BYU have made is to believe that there is not written history. The subtitle of my book is: “Unfamiliar Origins and Insights.” Those origins and insights are the writings of the early Catholic missionaries, some of whom learned the native languages and wrote what they learned in the early 1500’s. They are common reads in Mexico, seldom translated to English, and any connection to history or culture found in the B of M is knowing and willfully deleted when such works are translated to English. After 55 years of study, I’ve learned that the works I’ve studied are almost unanimously studied by the Catholic Clergy of Mexico, and that some of them even read the Book of Mormon, Really! The early Catholic missionaries writings on the history, culture and geography is a mirror image of the B of M. May the Lord Bless you and Keep You Strong,
    Brother Gary Bowen

    • VFanRJ October 10, 2021 at 8:58 am - Reply

      “Go do a DNA study in Mexico City. I believe 80-90% of the population would be of Jewish ancestry.” let’s be clear. The question isn’t how many Mexicans have Jewish descent, but rather how many indigenous Americans do. Any scholarly research or data to back up your claim would be quite helpful. I’ve never seen one yet that does, at least in a time frame that matters.

  11. Duncan Crane June 30, 2022 at 11:00 am - Reply


    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I read your first book back in 2004. At the time I was a very active member of the church. Married, father of six and Branch President. Your book really opened my eyes. I then read “By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus” by Charles M. Larsen and learned that the Book of Abraham, like the Book of Mormon, was a work of fiction.

    You and I exchanged a couple of emails back then and I remember something you told me: “The Saints will always choose warm fuzzies over cold facts.” How true.

    I left the church in 2006 after two years of careful thought and prayer. Nothing changed since I first read your book. It was just so clear that the Book of Mormon was not true. But I gave it first one year then a second year before acting on that knowledge. It would mean everything to our family and friends so I wanted to be sure. But truth is truth.

    I have been out of the church for 16 years now and have never regretted that decision. So many things you say in your comments above are true for me as well. It has been a pleasure to join the rest of the world. We have so much to learn about who we are and why we are here and it is so fun to be sharing this adventure with everyone else instead of being locked up in a self righteous bubble!

    I do not regret my 36 years in the church. I learned so much about myself, others, how to be a good person, how to serve others, how to love others. But there is so much more to life!



    10 Deerfield Ave, #3
    Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

  12. Michael Black June 30, 2022 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    I just read this and loved it. It’s been years since I’ve even thought about the reasons for leaving the Mormon church, and diving into some websites, interviews, podcasts have brought up all sorts of memories and emotions. Thank you for helping others make their journey just that little bit easier.

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