Jeanette's Resignation Letter

MY LIFE AT LAST

August 13, 2005—my "birth" day. The day I was reborn. The day I stopped living in fear and feeling like I don't exist as far as my church was concerned. It was the day the shackles of spoon-fed lies dropped at my feet and lifted me to a happiness I've never felt before.

My eyes were opened by a classmate I haven't seen since 1955, a boy who turned into a warm, caring human being, determined to get the truth out about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It could have ended differently if Jim was a different type of person than he is. He could have rejected my scathing e-mail and tossed it into File Thirteen. I thank God he didn't. In the next 10 days, we renewed an acquaintance that has turned into a warm friendship. It culminated in my being saved on a cold August afternoon as I repeated the prayer Jim led.


It was a routine day. Busy. After lunch, I entered from the rear of the building, leading me past the editorial desks.

The book was like a beacon, calling me to pick it up. Couldn't miss it with its bright pink cover and dripping blood. I knew immediately what it was. Holy Murder: Polygamy's Blood by my former Basin, Wyoming classmate, Jim Spencer.

Teetering atop the myriad piles of notebooks, pictures and other paraphernalia on Chris Weber's desk, I had to rescue it! I stopped short. "Chris, when you're through with this book, may I take it?"

Jim had sent it to all the newspapers around Wyoming to get their take on his novel. Chris looked at me disdainfully and said, "I don't have time to read every book that comes across my desk. Take it." I grabbed it.

A couple of days passed before I worked my way up to read it. The title alone made me mad. I knew it was his view of the Mormons. My church.

I was already mad when I started to read it. Before I finished the first page, I put the book down to look for a red pencil to mark the mistakes! But I didn't mark the pages—I slashed at them. Soon I was making written comments in the margins. I was talking out loud to this insolent classmate who dared to mock The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My hostility continued until the 19th chapter. I know this because I picked up the book 10 days later to see what I had done. By then, I was only correcting what I thought were grammatical and spelling errors. I recognized that I had begun to soften even then!

But even I didn't recognize at that point that I was beginning to see the light! No, I stomped to my computer after midnight and pounded out paragraphs of insults, snide remarks and accusations.

Fortunately, I didn't send it!

I know myself well enough after 63 years that the venom I spew at night abates by morning. I made myself wait. Two days. Then I rewrote my thoughts to Jim. He proved to me that everything I had been "fed" was poisonous.

After Jim and I said the prayer, I decided to take a break from reading and checking and cross checking. I sat at the computer to play a few games of Spider Solitaire. I soon realized that a jingle was going through my mind. Then the words came to mind. It angered me. Then I started chuckling. Then I made up my own words.

"My bologna has a first name, it's O S C A R," etc.

I changed the lyrics:

My bologna has a first name. It's M OR M O N
My bologna has a second name. It's M A D N ING
Oh, I used to go there every week.
If you ask me why, it's because I was weak
'Cause Mormon Madness has a way with B O L O G N A
On August 14, 2005, I forced myself to go to a different church. I could have walked to the corner and gone to the Assembly of God. That didn't feel right. I slowed as I passed the Southern Baptist Church.

No, I'm going to the Zion Church, I told myself with false enthusiasm. The parking spaces were beginning to fill up. I found one beside the church and parked—just as Lorraine Loschen and her family parked on the other side of the street. Jim had given me some names of Worland people who subscribed to his newsletter. Lorraine was one of them.

I pretended to kick a rock, I stalled to let other cars pass, I looked around. They finally got to my side of the street and we greeted each other.

"Are you coming in?" Lorraine asked. "Yes," I replied. "We'll follow you!" she said. "Actually I was going to follow you. May I sit with you?" I asked.

As we entered the foyer and walked toward the chapel, she turned around and said they like to sit in the balcony. Worked for me! I could kinda hide!

No sooner had we agreed on that, a man walked out of the chapel. I poked him in the arm. He turned and said an automatic "Hi" before he realized who it was. Why didn't I have a camera? I almost gave my ex-husband a heart attack.

As I started toward the steps, I spied my coworker Chris sitting in the back row. I gave her a poke, too. She, too, was surprised.

Everyone was so nice. And I know almost everyone who attends that church. It felt like home.

It was a service completely opposite of the Mormon ritual. The hymns were beautiful and I didn't have any problem picking up the melody. The words were bounced onto a screen at the front of the church from a projector.

Pastor Bud Surles was marvelous. I subconsciously thought he might be psychic—he was preaching on the eighth chapter of Romans—the very section Jim and I had talked about only the day before.

Were these signs that God was sending me? Was he reaffirming I had made the right choice? Am I really forgiven of all my sins? Is it really okay to feel so good!

The message went straight to my heart—and then made its way to my tear ducts. I couldn't stop the tears running down my cheeks.

At the end of the service, Pastor Surles stepped off the pulpit, stopped at a pew and took his wife Margaret's arm as they made their way to the exit. I wasn't sure what to expect. I've known him for several years, but I didn't know if he knew who I was. He looked at me and gave me the warmest welcome accompanied by a sincere smile. I leaned in to him and said, "Jim Spencer said it would be okay to come to this church." He laughed and pumped my hand.

No regrets. I don't have any regrets. I know the worst is yet to come—from the "Mormon Morality Bus"—but I'm ready. They don't have a hold on me anymore. I'm out of the cult and ready to spread the news.

I thank God every day that he brought Jim Spencer back into my life.

Jeanette Johnson
August 14, 2005
jeanettej@bresnan.net