Monterey Peninsula church of Christ in Monterey, CA

We were out running errands in the mid-1970s when my mother spotted something by the side of the road that caused her to sigh with affection. “You just can’t help but love them.” When I looked up to see what she had noticed, I was surprised to see she was talking about the two young men riding their bicycles in their white dress shirts and dress pants and wearing their backpacks. They may have even recognized who she was when we passed them. Most of the Mormons in our town did, as well as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and anyone else who knocked on our door with an interest in opening up the scriptures. Sometimes we’d walk into a restaurant and I’d see other patrons whispering in one another’s ears and turning around to see who just walked in, and if they didn’t approach her first, she would wander their direction with smiles to renew their acquaintance. Like Paul who upon visiting Athens, opened his conversation with “I see that you are very religious in all respects” (Acts 17:22), my mother loved these souls and admired their commitment and sacrifices, though they are as sadly misinformed as the idolatrous, first-century Athenians were (Acts 17:25).

I would sit in on some of her studies and witness firsthand the warm, congenial yet direct undertones. Her technique was always to allow the discussion to be, as exclusively as possible, between them and God by putting under their eyes God’s reply in writing to every departure from His word that their denominations taught, while they erroneously claimed their teachings to be congruent with the Bible. She refrained from giving her opinions and “think so’s”  because, as she put it, she wanted them to be taught “of God, by God”(John 6:45 NAB). If they lifted their head after reading a scripture saying “I disagree”, she would kindly remind them that she hadn’t yet said a thing, but had only opened the word and pointed to the text, and thus their disagreement was obviously with God Himself, and that she was most certainly there for them if they wanted her to help them draw near to Him in the ways He alone says we draw near to Him. Often after one such study, more skilled members of any given denomination would be sent her way in place of the ones that had once sat at our dining room table, until they, too, would reach a point where they’d been pinned by the scriptures in one too many full nelson holds, and would quickly stand up and head for the door. As she’d open the front door for them to quickly walk to their vehicles, her love-filled heart would sometimes call out in compassion to them something that if I were them, I think I would remember to this day, “You’re running from the truth! You’re running from the truth!” 

I’m not sure why my mother was so laid back when I started dating a Mormon named John, who was always trying to get me to go dance in the dark at the dances held in the Mormon church building — an evangelism approach they used to recruit the teenagers from our high school, that was most certainly customized to appeal to adolescent hormones. Even as a 15-year-old girl, I could see through this marketing (Galatians 5:16-17), so I instead took John up on visiting one of his worship services, if he would visit one of mine.  I took notes during that Mormon worship service to list my observations alongside what I knew God’s word to say, including the moment the communion elements of water and fluffy, white-leavened bread passed under my curious and then astounded eyes. “Even that?”, I thought, remembering Matthew 26. “Why on earth?!” This disregard was shocking, and, ironically, quite apropos as I later learned from passages like 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Matthew 16:6-12 considering what leavening often represents in the scriptures.

I’ll never forget the Saturday I spent with John and his family when his mother was driving us from Mormon stake house to Mormon stake house (not to be confused with a steakhouse, unfortunately) so that John could perform organ concerts for them. Along the drive, I was curious and inquired of his mother what she made of the verses in the scriptures where Jesus and the inspired writers spoke of hell, given that Mormons reject Christ’s teachings on the topic.  Her unforgettable response was that there would certainly be nothing akin to fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8).  When I asked about the gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28; Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13), she explained that the gnashing of teeth will be along the lines of “shucks”, she casually snapped her fingers, “I could have had an afterlife so much better than this.” “Shucks” ?!, “Shucks” ?! Discarding what God says about the reality of hell was marketing just as cunning as dancing in the dark, but could not be more contrary to what God says.

When we arrived at my home from the concerts, John and his mother came inside to chat a bit with my mother and share our events of the day. It was not long into the friendly exchange, that my mother assessed a special moment to be the perfect time to pull something out from behind her chair that I did not see coming. It was a white, poster-sized chart she had created using a thick, red marker. There was a line down the middle with ”What God Says” on the side with the list of scripture quotes and the other side of the chart was labeled “What the Mormon Church Says” followed by quotes on the same topics from The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price that were unmistakably in direct contradiction of the corresponding Bible quote. One by one, my mother gently and confidently walked through each and every false teaching, inviting John’s mother to give whatever input the stunned woman might want to address. I’m not sure who breathed the biggest sigh of relief the day I broke up with John, but needless to say, there were at least three of us, if not four. 

I married just two years after I broke up with John and in the first year of my marriage among my stack of books was one written by Wayne L. Cowdrey entitled Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? The author exposes within its pages the shyster, swindler, and scallywag character and reputation of diviner, and money-digger Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon movement. A quick Google search will show that he was arrested dozens of times throughout his life for everything from banking fraud to perjury, polygamy, adultery, and more, and was also involved in a number of financial civil lawsuits. What’s more, the author also presents a well-documented argument about the timing of Joseph Smith’s fraudulent claims to have been moved by God to write the Book of Mormon, when much of the story duplicates a fantasy novel written by one Solomon Spalding, whose work Smith clearly copied and spruced up by extensively adding to it what he also copied out of the King James Version of the book of Isaiah. With all this scandal in the infancy of this denomination it should surprise no one that during the writing of the book you are now reading, the Mormon church has been fined by the Feds for a scheme to illicitly hide $32 billion over the past two decades. Truly, as my grandmother used to say, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree”. 

If a church’s success was estimated by its dollar value, then substituting the outdated, Old Testament requirement given only to Israel to tithe ten percent of their earnings (Deuteronomy 14:22), in place of the New Testament-authorized pattern of from-the-heart, freewill offerings of its members (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) has worked very well for this beast of an organization presently estimated to have a $100B portfolio, as has pressuring families to have as many children as possible. It’s not the only thing this shrewd organization has figured out. They often hire one another, and every time they do, they’ve kept those tithes “all in the family”. By very strongly encouraging every young man to dedicate two years as a missionary for the church, they show an awareness of human nature, that is, there’s a bonding element that forms around the things one has sacrificed for during one’s formative youth, that often culminates into a long-term commitment. 

They’ve also figured out how to make it hard to leave this false religion. You’ll likely have a vast number of siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and childhood friends who will put up a well-orchestrated, united fight to keep you.  If you walk away before college, you’ll be sacrificing that special day when you could have let the prettiest Mormon girl at BYU know that “it has been revealed to you” that she has been divinely appointed to be your wife, so the two of you can live the dream to be “like God” (Genesis 3:5) in the next life by being gods yourselves as our God once was (say what?) to eventually populate your very own planet. []. This blasphemous teaching is heady enough stuff that many Mormons find it hard to walk away from such a self-aggrandizing power trip, though I know several people who have. My friend, Matt Taylor, whom I used to group ride motorcycles and quads within the Tillamook Forest of Oregon made it out and now serves as an elder of the congregation in Beaverton, Oregon, having raised alongside his wife Michelle, two faithful children in the Lord. A lovely sister named Julie Posey, whom I met the Wednesday evening we visited the friendly congregation in beautiful Monterey, California, has also studied her way out of this man made religion and says she now “stands in such absolute awe of how God works out everything to those who faithfully love Him”, and is happy to share her story here as an outreach to encourage other Mormons who may be seeking truth. 

Born into a devout Mormon family, Julie was the seventh of nine children. In her loving and caring family, she learned to value of hard work, to help even before asked, to treat everyone with fairness, and was given enough religious teaching that her desire began to grow for a deeper faith more rooted in the Word of truth. As she reached her adulthood, she found herself less and less able to defend the erroneous teachings of Mormonism and found what she needed to make a clean break from the sect when a ward clerk for the church began to send letters to her that moved from benign to ladened with sexual innuendo. When she asked the church’s presiding bishop to intervene to keep her safe, she was shocked to instead be invited to sing for an event honoring the man she had just reported. Feeling unsupported and betrayed, she left the church and floundered morally in life for a while throwing herself into so much work and school that she was lucky to get half of a night’s sleep. Running headlong away from faith of any kind, she found it increasingly hard to juggle everything and pretend she was doing well. Eventually, she bumped into a former coworker named Chuck. When Julie became pregnant with Chuck’s child, they married, and when she was in her sixth month of pregnancy with their second child, she woke up one morning with a renewed realization that her children needed God in their lives, and began to attend the only church she knew, the Mormon church. When Chuck saw by her consistency that she was serious about seeking God, he knew the right thing to do. He humbled himself and placed membership at the local body of Christ near where they lived and asked if Julie would come too, and they began to read through the early church history in the book of Acts with the preacher there. Julie says that as she delved into the scriptures, she felt as if she was sitting at the feet of Christ Himself, relearning what true faith looks like for the faithful child of God. She was thrilled to discover for the first time the beautiful simplicity of the New Testament church. When her mother questioned her about having anti-mormon literature in her house, she promised her mother that she would study only the Bible and nothing else. Her true turning point was a Saturday evening during a Bible study when she said the scriptures became alive in her heart as she read “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of people, but God knows your hearts; because that which is highly esteemed among people is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). Julie thought about how the leaders of the Mormon church appeared to be devout and spiritually justified among men, but because they did not purge the sin that existed in the church during her time there, they did not follow the truth of the God-breathed scriptures and were, therefore, an abomination in the sight of God. Her heart was changed that very moment and she was baptized into Christ the next day. She had discovered from the Bible alone that its teachings were in complete opposition to Mormonism, and was able to have a faith rooted only in the scriptures without breaking her promise to her mother. [Side note: In the course of studying and teaching a ladies’ Bible class on the doctrines of various denominations, I have written a ten-page document that lists many Mormon false teachings and the corresponding scriptures that bring clarity to each, which I will happily email upon request to readers who would find it useful to help anyone looking to get out of this false religion.]

Julie and Chuck have been married now for over three decades and have been blessed with five children and five grandchildren. They’ve weathered a lot of storms alongside their church family at the Church of Christ in Monterey, from a flooded church building to the worldly culture around them to the pandemic, and more. Through it all, they’ve learned that their faithfulness fuels one another, and when they allow God to guard and guide their steps, they are empowered to shine a bright light in this dark world and find quiet rest in Him. I’d certainly encourage you to visit this warm and welcoming congregation if you are ever blessed enough to be in one of the most beautiful regions of America. 

To tie a surprise bow on this entry, I’d like to share in closing this curious little turn of events that happened in June of 2020 during our garage sale to liquidate most everything we owned before heading out on our vanlife. As is my habit, I was multitasking between customers, finally tackling a big 4x3 box heaped to the gills with all my mother’s papers we’d hauled home after her death when we’d cleaned out my childhood home to sell it. There were hundreds of pieces of paper from every corner of her life that I had to decide whether to toss or to keep. This had been going on for hours, but in the split second I pulled from the box a large, folded piece of cardboard and unfolded it to see my mother’s aforementioned handwritten chart with the red marker she had pulled out from behind her chair over forty years previously, it was in that moment that I heard the voice of a neighbor’s greeting — a Mormon neighbor I’d known for decades, but since all our kids had grown and gone, I’d only speak with perhaps once each year. “Jane!”, I greeted her, smiling. After a few pleasantries, I shared with her a couple of short stories of some amazing moments of Providence’s uncanny timing we’d recently experienced, and she responded with genuine amazement. “Speaking of amazing timing, I think God wants you to have this.” “Ya”, I added, staring at it, “I think this belongs to you”. She was curious as I handed her my mother’s chart and shared with her those events of 1977 described in this entry. She took it home, invited some Mormon girlfriends over, and returned later in the afternoon with her friends to essentially have an informal Bible study in the garage. I can’t recall every topic we covered that afternoon, but I can say that if you, too, find yourself face to face one day with these souls that are so easy to love, you might ask in your own gentle (2 Timothy 2:24-25) way, “I’m curious how is it you believe God wants you to call yourself an elder when to be an elder, God says in 1 Timothy 3:2 that one must be the husband of one wife?" or “With all due respect, may I ask why are you entrusting your eternal salvation on believing the testimony of a man who even before claiming to have received a new revelation, had a record of fraud and a reputation for being dishonest?" or “I really want you to be okay, but given the dozens of clear contradictions between Mormon teachings and the Word of God, how can you not be accursed according to God's specifications in Galatians 1:8-9 "...if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Before we parted ways, I shared with her where she could listen to our podcasts, read our one hundred churches stories, and gifted her a copy of Your Fresh Start

Please pray that Jane one day finds what Julie Posey found. I have hope because Garrett did. He’s the neighbor on the opposite side of our home, and in the course of his pursuit of God, he became not only my brother-in-Christ but like a son to me in the Lord and was eventually instrumental in saving the soul of his amazing wife, Annie, who is now raising alongside him their two adorable little boys toward honorable manhood.

Monterey Peninsula church of Christ
546 Hartnell Street Suite G
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 372-3411