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My Resignation Letter

I was attending a Cub Scout meeting at the LDS church building when the bishop asked to talk with me. He gave me an ultimatum, resign or be excommunicated. I went home and printed the letter I had written two years before (but never mailed in) and drove it over to his house. Here is the letter and some comments on how I felt:

April 15, 2005

Bishop Jonathan Thomas

Dear Jonathan,

I am by this letter officially requesting that my name be removed from the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As you may know, I have been an active member of the Roman Catholic Church for the past ten years and find myself drawn each year closer to Jesus Christ through what I have found to be the fullness of Christianity. I am currently serving as a Lector, a Minister of Communion, and an Acolyte. On Palm Sunday I was privileged to speak at two Masses on the topic of how Holy Week has changed my life. I have taught the tenets of Catholicism to over 50 adults over the last seven years in preparing them to be baptized and confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church, which is the Body of Christ.

I insist that my record, and the letter notifying me that my name has been removed from the records of the church, show that the only reason that my name has been removed from the church records is that I requested it to be removed. I also insist that the word excommunication not be used in the letter notifying me of this action.

I want to be clear that my decision is the result of much study, prayer and actively exercising my faith, and is final. I understand that my request will result in canceling the effects of LDS baptism, withdrawing from me the priesthood the LDS church believes it alone possesses and suspending supposed temple sealings and blessings.

I can’t adequately express how devastated I am to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and to find out so late in my life that the church he started and that was further promoted by Brigham Young is not what I had been raised to believe by two of the very best parents and most dedicated members of the church.

Sincerely,

Owen D. West, III

I found my experience talking with the LDS bishop upsetting on several counts:

1) I was there at the Ward for my son's Blue and Gold Dinner and this meeting came up most unexpectedly.

2) I feel very alone in my family, being the only Catholic since the Reformation. I don't understand why God has allowed me to see what no one else in my family can or is willing to see.

3) My wife believes our Bishop to be a very intelligent man, a PhD and very knowledgeable about Mormon History and Doctrine. My wife is a woman of simple faith, only reads the Ensign and the BOM. She trusts the Bishop and believes that I must be wrong if an intelligent man like the Bishop can know more about Mormonism than I do and still hold firmly that Mormonism is true.

4) The Bishop attacked my website which I take as a personal attack since these are my questions and my experiences. I have found that people who attack my site never can show where what I have written is false. When the Stake Pres attacked my site years ago I challenged him to respond with all the points of error in my site - he never did.

5) I believe the LDS church left me an orphan, taking my parents from me as a child, not allowing me to sit with my dad in church or priesthood meetings since he was always on the stand or visiting other wards. It was only in his sickness and death that I was able to connect with my parents. In the last two years of his life, I attended sacrament meetings with my parents and held my dad's cold hand. It was very special to me that in sickness my dad and mom where both finally released from the bondage of Mormon church service. The Bishop told me last night that he didn't have time to read or study the lives of the Saints - kind of joked about how busy his church assignments had made his life - I looked into his eyes and warned him that the LDS church would suck all the life he had from his body and ruin his family if he was not more careful than my parents had been. While I was speaking and thinking about my parents I broke down – in this state I told him what an evil church the LDS church was - how it was not family centric - how through it's policies it can tear families apart keeping us from seeing our children married and leaving us in the waiting rooms of temples with more family members then are in the little sealing rooms. I lashed out at earlier morning seminary which has reduced my marriage to talking with my wife on the phone during the day because after dinner she is so tired and has to get up so early for seminary that she often times goes to bed hours before I do and leaves me living a single and lonely life.

6) I was upset because life is so short that people do not take the chance to question those things that should be questioned.

7) Joseph Smith was not a prophet but a mentally ill man and father of a mentally ill son who lived out the last part of his life at Elgin Mental Hospital here in Illinois after Brigham Young convinced him that his father had had over 30 wives, something Emma had has always denied in bringing up her children. Mormonism is false. I am trying to make something of the wreck it has caused in my life. I feel guilty about my part in furthering the deception in Texas and most of all for my part in Brazil. If there is anything I can do to repair the damage I have caused to the Body of Christ I will do what needs to be done – even working with the Franciscans in Brazil for at least two years (the Bishop was amazed that I had such feelings of remorse and guilt for my part as being a missionary and tried to make me feel good about my experience highlighting the fact that I speak Portuguese as a "blessing" from God from my work there in the 70's.

I'm feeling better now – I think they talked to my wife before they talked to me since when I told her that I had resigned and turned in my letter she did not react or appear surprised in the least.

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