Ex-Mormon Turned Pastor Responds to Letter from the Mormon Church to be Truthful about What Church He Actually Belongs To

I grew up Mormon, and left the church while in college. Many years later I found Jesus (or Jesus found me) and today I pastor a small church my family helped start in SWFL. Recently I received a letter from the Mormon Church instructing me to “be truthful by telling others that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints“.

Well — I want to obviously be truthful. So below is both the letter I received from the Mormon church, and my full and detailed response.

Letter from Mormon Church

Dear Brother Culbertson,

As your new bishop, I want to start by wishing you a happy Christmas season and letting you know that I send the love of the ward to you and your family.

I am writing because it is my understanding that for some years now you have been a pastor at a church you helped found called Refuge Church. I’ve visited your website and can appreciate what you do to help bring people closer to Jesus Christ and your service to the community. On Refuge’s website you say that you “grew up mormon” and then “left all religion behind,” publicly suggesting that you no longer identify as a member of the Restored Church. Unless and until you have your name removed, if friends or neighbors ask you what church you belong to, please be truthful by telling them that you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am attaching a copy of your membership record. In the Restored Church of Jesus Christ what is bound on earth is in heaven (See Matthew 16:19). Please understand that name removal cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member (in your case, the Aaronic priesthood), and revokes the temple blessings of the member. Once your name is removed you can be readmitted to the Church by baptism and confirmation but only after a preparation process including a thorough interview.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, if a member formally joins another church and advocates its teachings, name removal may be necessary if formal membership in the other church is not ended after counseling and encouragement. I know that members of the church have tried to reach out to you many times over the years and that your own brother is the bishop of another ward in our stake. I think at this point it is appropriate for me to invite you to send me a letter letting me know whether you want your name remove from Church records. If I do not hear from you within a few weeks I will assume you wish to remain on church records, in which case I’ll be following a different – and mandatory – procedure for these very circumstances. Please make your decision on name removal and let me know it unequivocally, in writing (a verbal request is invalid, per Church policy). Meanwhile, please let me know if there is anything that I or your ward can do for you.

My Letter in Response

This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs and ‘discipline.’ Please remove my name permanently and completely from your membership rolls.

I walked away from the LDS church in the mid 1990’s due to considerable consideration and study.  I had been taught from birth that the LDS Church was the “one true restored church”.  I had been taught because we had a prophet, in Joseph Smith, and a prophet today, that we would be guided in “these later days”. 

With the advent of the internet, I was able to read church documents and records dating back to Brigham Young and through the modern generation, documenting change after change to this “restored true and perfect church”. 

These documents I read and researched were not propaganda books or documents pushed by “anti-Mormon” groups, they were archived church teachings and writings from the Prophets.  From Polygamy, to views on race in the priesthood, to changes to temple ceremonies and scriptural translations, the church was still evolving its beliefs, even though it had supposedly been perfectly restored by Joseph Smith.  This is what led to my initial walking away from the LDS church.    

As time progressed, jaded now against all religion, thinking of it simply as a coping mechanism for death for naïve people, I didn’t give my personal faith much thought.  Then one day, around 2003, I begrudgingly visited a local church here in SWFL.  My wife and I (and new daughter) were new to town and thought maybe we could at least make some “nice” friends. 

As the pastor spoke, I debated everything he said, using what I’d been taught in Mormonism.  I still knew all the come backs.  All the reasons the Christians were wrong.  I still felt that sense of arrogance.  Of how “cheap” the grace he taught about seemed.  

Over the course of the next year though, I continued to go, listen … and MOST importantly, I finally opened the Bible and began to read it for myself.  As I read through books like the Gospel of John, I found a different Jesus than the one I’d been exposed to through Mormonism.  That Jesus was with God in beginning, and we were not. That there is ONE GOD, in three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  

I discovered that grace didn’t come “after all we could do”, but grace upon grace was available.  That there was nothing we could do to save ourselves.  That there is no ladder we needed to climb to God.  That John teaches about God’s descension to us, not our ascension to him.  

I learned that Jesus destroyed the temple and rebuilt it.  He did not rebuild it as one of those beautiful buildings the LDS uses today and calls Temples, but that when we are born again (as Jesus refers to our being remade process in John 3), we become the residing place of God.  We become His temple.  We no longer needed a prophet.  We no longer needed temples.  

I read through the Epistles, in particular Paul’s letter to the Romans and found a new kind of appreciation for the depth of my (and all of humanities) depravity and our inability to do ANYTHING about it.  Yet I found hope beyond hope, that for those in Christ there is no condemnation.  That Jesus set us free.  Free from striving, and working, and temple recommends, and dress codes.  Free from wearing masks. 

I read Galatians, that made is so clear that what Joseph Smith did was a twisting and perversion of the gospel just like Paul warned about.  That anytime we add works on top of the finished work of Jesus Christ, it is not the Gospel.  That we are made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law, or gotten married in a temple, or received the Melchizedek priesthood.  

I read the Old Testament (which is still hard to read), but I began to see that even those hard, difficult stories pointed us to Jesus.  That the Bible isn’t about me, and what I must do … but about God and what He has done.  

I write to you today, and I bear you my testimony, that I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Mormon church is a perversion of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That the Book of Mormon is a fraud.  That Joseph Smith was never a prophet of God.  

I believe that there is this ONE infinite, Holy, perfect, almighty, creator God in three persons that created ALL things for His glory.  I believe human beings, have all sinned against God, fall far short of his glory. I believe that the wage of that sin is death. 

I believe God, being just and right and Holy, cannot stand for sin.  That we cannot enter His presence in our corrupted state.  Yet He desires to be with us; to reconcile with us. 

I believe He sent Christ in the flesh to pay for our sin, to take the punishment we deserved.  He suffered.  He died.  I believe God raised him to life, and now being rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, makes us alive together with Christ, saving us by grace through faith alone.  

I believe in the admonition of Paul that says  …If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED.  (Rm 10:9)

That’s my testimony.  I can’t imagine the cost of the Gospel. I can’t fathom the cost of our sin.  The cost of God saving me, Brian Culbertson.  It’s so high. That’s why I also can’t fathom an All-Knowing, All-Powerful God, who would pay that cost … and then allow the truth to be removed from the earth for 1700+ years, only to then finally be “restored”.  

As I studied the Bible and came to understand that it wasn’t a book about me, rather a book about the true hero (Jesus), I gave my life to Him in 2005 and became a child of God.

I remember as a kid singing that primary song “I am a child of God, and so my needs are great.  Help me to understand his words, before it grows to late.  Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with him someday.”  

The list of “all that I must do” was pretty long as I remember in the Mormon Church.  But I had missed that all I must do was REST.  Rest in the arms of a Savior; put my life, my hope, my eternity into the hands of the one who already did EVERYTHING.  

Today, I am the full-time lead pastor at Refuge.Church in Fort Myers (www.refuge.church).  I do this for no pay.  I do it out of no obligation.  I do it only because I’ve FINALLY found the one true pearl of great price and I want to share it with anyone who will listen.   

My encouragement to you, and to others (Christian, Mormon, Atheist, etc) read the Bible.  Read it like a child reading it for the first time. Allow God to speak to you.  Remove your filters.  Stop using it as a tool to justify what you already believe. Instead, read it to see what it actually says.  Be honest with yourself.  Be honest with God.  Seek the truth.  Then Jesus says “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you FREE.”  (John 8:32)

I understand what you consider the ‘seriousness’ and the ‘consequences’ of my actions. I am aware that the Church Handbook says that my resignation “cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation…and revokes temple blessings.” 

My resignation should be processed immediately, without any ‘waiting periods.’ I am not going to be dissuaded or change my mind.  I would like a letter of confirmation so that I know that I am no longer listed as a member of your church.  

Lastly, I pray that this letter begins a new search in your heart Daniel.  You will be in my continued prayers.  If you have a free Saturday night, feel free to drop by Refuge for a visit.  You’ll always be welcome and loved.    

Written by Brian Culbertson

Sinner turned Saint because of Jesus.

34 comments

    1. Thank You Brian
      for yr testimony…My daughter Tina excepted Christ as her savior when she was 16 at a Christian youth camp….then two years later she went away to college because of all the drinking and partying at college she wanted to come home, but I told her just to finish the semester out….well in the meantime she met some great Christians friend who went to church and never smoked or drank ..they were mormons ..I didn’t know anything about the Mormon church and she was so Insistent that I consider joining the true church so I met some of them and boy I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends for my Daughter…I even had the missionaries come for 3 lessons before their Bishop forbid them to come anymore..my daughter called me immediately and told me they couldn’t come anymore because I would always talk about Jesus when they were trying to teach me about Joseph smith, So I just came clean with Her and told her that I would never join any religious group..I myself grew up as a catholic and had left the catholic church for very same reasons that I would not join any religious organization..But that I loved her very much and I would support her in anything she decided to do ..which I did .I got down on my knees and I prayed, I cried out to God to turn her heart back to Him, and I heard the voice of God say “just as I sent Moses in a basket down the Nile deep into Egypt and back I will also send yr daughter back to Me.I could actually visualize the basket in my thoughts going down the NIle River ..Years later she is now married to a Mormon man and we no longer speak for other reasons but I did go to her wedding and I was always supportive of her! Your story is very encouraging and I am so Thankful that you can share yr testimony to help others come to the truth….I was hoping you could pray for my daughter Tina even though I know and hang onto the promise God gave me I miss her so much…Thank You In Christ Julie Mckeever

      1. Julie, she has you constant prayer and love, and your faith in God Jesus. She knows you are there. When she needs a place to turn, you are there, when she turns others will see her turn to Jesus, some will follow. In the meantime, peace and joy be with you, rest in God’s love, be filled to overflowing.
        💖

  1. I wrote almost an identical letter to have my records removed from the LDS Church which included Excommunication by my choice. I was reborn into the true Christian Church and have never looked back. My God, My Jesus and my Holy Spirit have shown be the true Gospel of Christ in the Bible. Jesus has done everything for me and His love, forgiveness and guidance is all I need. I Praise God I know exactly where in Heaven I will be when I die, by the side of the One and only true Triune God (3 in 1) for eternity. Amen and with Joy in Jesus, Vickie T.

  2. You’re going to lose the effects of baptism and confirmation, lose the priesthood, and lose the temple blessings of a fraudulent church teaching a fake gospel? That’s a great example of a threat with no teeth!

    1. I thought the same thing as I was reading it..What good is a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul!

  3. Amen pastor! Thank you for standing for the Gospel JESUS CHRIST, no matter the cost!
    .
    What comes to mind for you is Genesis 50:20, what Joseph said to his brothers when they came looking for food in Egypt.
    .
    Joseph spoke directly to his brothers, letting them know without question that the evil they meant against him, GOD turns it for good.
    .
    That’s exactly what the LORD did here with you and this gentleman still trapped in Satan’s deception of Mormonism!
    .
    It’s my prayer that the LORD set free all those shackles within whatever “Egypt” they’re trapped within:
    .
    – (Mormonism Jehovah Witness, Freemasonry Catholicism, charismatic, holiness, Emergent Church, etc).
    .
    For as you so beautifully testified on behalf of Jesus Christ, …”whom the SON sets free is free indeed” – (John 8:36).
    .
    Blessings in the LORD –
    .
    ~ D’vorahJae Corvinus-VHB

    1. Thank you so much pastor, for great work that side, that sounds great and powerful to hear your testimony, God bless you, continue with Gospel our of Lord Jesus Christ, let the Mormonism get saved now, before it’s late for them, thanks from pastor kapule Joseph here in Jinja town Uganda East Africa

  4. This is so good. He gave enough evidence that the so called Restored Church is more than just heretical, but truly false and a device of our enemy to keep people in bondage. But there is so much more to the lie. Like he mentioned, it’s in their own “scripture” and history. But mormons are taught not to question, just obey. Not research, just trust feelings and make them their own testimonies. Please pray for the LDS you know that the Lord in His great mercy and loving kindness will open wide their eyes to this conspiracy for their souls.

  5. After leaving the mormon church and being saved, I was reading my Bible and came across a passage that completely contradicted what I had been taught in mormonism. It upset me and I called my pastor. He confirmed what I had read. It was then that I realized I had a lot of things to unlearn. God bless you and may your testimony not fall on deaf ears.

    1. Stop using the term “deaf ears”. It is derogatory to those of us who ARE deaf -as if we are incapable of understanding.

  6. My grandfather told us we were all bastards because we aren’t mormon. I’d rather be a bastard than burn in the hell where he surely is.

  7. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and I don’t identify with the judgements you have made about our members. I’m sorry your life experiences have made you so critical of us. Let’s just celebrate the love we have for our Savior and his atoning sacrifice and leave the rest to God. All will be made known in the Lord’s time.

    1. What judgments have I made that are incorrect? 20 years in the church. Family still in the church. I feel pretty confident in my understanding of Mormon beliefs. But always open to being corrected in not understanding what you believe.

  8. I grew up in the “cradle of mormonism” – Palmyra NY….across from Hill Cumorah, participating for years in the Hill Cumorah Pageant, attended the temple, and a member from 1969 to 2012. I grew up with the indoctrination that the LDS church was the only true church and all others had “pieces of the truth, but not all”. I too sent “the letter” and received the response of….”did I know the severity of my choice and actions”. I am currently attending Calvary Chapel in Knoxville, TN and love the simplicity that our pastor lays out, verse by verse. It is still hard to this day to shake the ideas impressed in my mind all those years of “worthiness” and “works” even though I know I am save ONLY by and through the Grace of Jesus Christ.

  9. We too have a daughter who converted to Mormonism. The draw for her was the “married for all eternity.” My husband and his first wife divorced and this was extremely difficult for her. She met Mormons and was very impressed by them. We now have a son in-law and 5 grandchildren who are Mormon. There is a divide in our relationship; how could there not be. We love them and it is also a burden we must carry. I’m so thankful to see there is always hope in Jesus.

    1. my parents were Mormon and I was raised Mormon, but my parents got divorced. so being married for all eternity doesn’t apply

  10. When I was 20, the elders would not leave me alone, at the point that is was harassing, I got saved going to church with my husbands family. I had to write Salt Lake and have them remove my records. According to my mom, I’m not even her daughter according to the LDS church.

  11. Isn’t it amazing what Christ did for us? It is wonderful that he, a perfect being, came to Earth to teach us, love us, and save us from our sins. I love how you said that the bible is about God. I believe that too – everything typifies of Christ.
    I’m not here to argue, but I wanted to express my thoughts because I believe in many of the things you said. I believe that Christ has suffered for my sins, as well as everyone else’s. I believe that we can be saved through faith, and I show Him this faith by living as righteously as I can, obeying his commandments, and serving God’s children.
    But I do believe in growth. I mess up every day. With Christ’s guidance and love, I learn to overcome challenges, weaknesses, and faults. I become someone I could never be without divine guidance.
    I believe in hope. The hope that Christ offers to each of us. To me, the gospel is full of light and hope and freedom. That’s why I try to live my life turned towards him, doing the things that He would do such as being baptized and serving men and women with all backgrounds and circumstances. Thats why I read about Him, worship him with my friends and family, and recieve guidance from a living prophet to better live Christ’s beautiful gospel. Because I love Him.
    I understand that some may disagree, and that’s okay. But for me as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I find hope, happiness, growth, and faith by being guided by a church that is completely devoted to Christ.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

    1. I appreciate your comments Charlotte, and understand as a Mormon you’re not quit aware of the chasm between Mormonism and Christianity. It’s a common thing being taught by the church today “we’re basically Christians, with a little bit added to make us better people”. I’ll ask just a simple question to point out the chasm, feel free to answer. What does it take to enter the Celestial Kingdom? And will Christians (non-Mormon) be there?

      1. I’m a TBM, “true believing Mormon.” I’ve known individual Christians who were better Christians that some Mormons I’ve known. I’ve met staunch atheists who (unwittingly) more of the spirit of Christ than some Christians I’ve met. Will non Mormon Christians make it to heaven? Yes, after observing a few formalities, like getting baptized LDS.

  12. Thank you for posting this! More Christians need to lovingly stand boldly for the truth. We need to consider others better than ourselves and unashamedly preach the gospel to those that will not stumble into our meeting houses. Thank you for posting this. Grace, John Nashville

  13. Love your testimony, brother. Thanks for sharing it!

    Mike (a witness of Him from the Scriptures to those who are LDS Mormon)
    Kansas City

  14. I was born and raised in the mormon church. For a young man, a boy really, it was pure hell. The talk about bullying in schools these days is terrible. What happened to me in the church was ten times worse. I left the church at 15 because I couldn’t take it anymore. Luckily it pointed me toward religious studies that have ever since opened my eyes wider and wider.
    When I realized that The Bible was not the main book of mormonism. I balked. When I found that Moroni was actually an “angel” and an extraterrestrial. I just couldn’t stop laughing at the similarity to Scientology. And when My employment seem to hinge on whether I was Mormon or not. I exploded. After much fuming and a lot more studying, I realized that God is what you believe he is per the beliefs you hold. Except In Mormonism, Scientology, and the unification church. Jesus spoke on hillsides and was effective. Mormons speak in buildings costing millions of dollars. This is not what he intended. Worship in your own way. Do it with Love,and do it in Peace. There is nothing more we can ask God to give us, he’s already given it all.
    As a side note, the oldest surviving manuscripts of Revelations, refers not to God, but to Gods. And when the pronoun “I” is used, its original was “we.” Are we the children of God? Or are we the children of Gods?

  15. Brian, I just reread this post for the 4th time since first reading it Monday morning. My reaction(s) on each re-read have been consistent, and I’m feeling compelled to share.
    1) What unbelievable and unmitigated audacity was on display in the Bishop’s letter. And how frightening to think that such “group think” and applied guilt likely works on many, or such tactics wouldn’t be used.
    2) That you were still on the membership roles! You haven’t participated in Mormonism for years, and are the Pastor of an Evangelical Christian Church yet you are required to request in writing to be removed? This reminded me of a “Catholic” church I once visited while on a mission trip in Chiapas, Mexico years ago (2002?) where I saw a self proclaimed Shaman practicing Santeria witchcraft including animal sacrifice. The sense of evil inside the church was oppressive. At that time Vatican City still counted the church and it’s members on their roles. Why?
    3) That so many people, including me in my past and you in yours, believe wholeheartedly in God, but fail to understand the Gospel and struggle not to defile it as you mentioned referring to Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Is it just mankind’s pervasive low self-esteem that we have such a hard time accepting God’s Grace? I recently heard someone say that American’s struggle with this idea more than citizens of other countries because we are so “task = goal” oriented. Maybe?
    4) As I’ve already mentioned to you, that though my separation from Jehovah’s Witnesses was a lot less complicated, my reason’s for leaving (minus a few doctrinal phrases) is identical. I wonder how many other members of closed faiths (AKA Cults), and “One True Religions” would be well served to look at the differences in their original “god breathed” (lower case g intentional) doctrine when “divinely” given to their “prophet” or “faithful and discreet slave”, and their modern day iteration. How can this be lost on so many people? How can a one true religion given divine information from a perfect and unchanging God continuously change it’s doctrine and teachings? Why do so many confuse critical thought with lack of Faith?
    5) I also want to express my gratitude and admiration. Admiration for the graceful, loving way you crafted your response, and gratitude for it’s logic and honesty which we can all benefit from regardless of whether we utilize it as a response to a Bishop, a relative, or to ourselves in a moment of weak faith.
    6) Finally, we both know family and friends still entrapped in these non-Gospels and false teachings. We grew up with them, love them from a distance, know they are children of God and people God truly wants a relationship with. It wasn’t lost on me, and I knew you were not being facetious or sarcastic, that you promised to pray for Bishop Daniel. May we all be humbled and admonished to pray for all practicing a false gospel to be released from the grip of “group think”, and for us to show them Love and Grace, “heaping coals” on the heads of our persecutors.

    Your Brother in Christ,

    Dan Cheek

  16. Thanks for you brilliant testimony,like everyone has their agency to act for themselves not to be acted upon.We believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet called by God, That Jesus Christ is the son of our heavenly Father, that God is the Father of all nations,that the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saint is Christ Jesus church.

  17. How ironic that ‘Christians’ falsely so called, think that they have be born again and received the Holy Spirit and yet there are no prophets and no need for them. This is hilarious. Even in the Old Testament prophets were made when God Gave Them A New Heart. Same gospel folks.

    There are many ‘Christians’ who say that they ARE prophets these days. And the whole sum of what they mutter is nothing. LOL

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