Background about A Mormon Story
Stephen Stone
President, RenewAmerica
February 5, 2012
I began writing A Mormon Story while lying in a hospital bed back in June and July of 2011.

I'd been thinking for a long time about putting into words the true story of the politically-insensitive persecution our family has endured for years at the hands of Mormon church officials, but I hadn't decided whether to proceed — and even if I wanted to, I didn't have time.

Then an act of God nearly took my life, and I suddenly had some reflective time away from my busy schedule — first, a week on my back in the quiet of a recovery room, then a month at home with nothing to do but recuperate.

I've long since resumed my heavy work load, but one thing is certain: had I not suffered a near-fatal illness, there would be no book A Mormon Story.

Just as important, I believe the Lord Himself wanted me to take the LDS church to task for its ongoing abuse of a selfless, principled family. Of that I'm certain, or I wouldn't have undertaken to write the book. I've never had any interest in publicly humiliating the Mormon church (which is why I was reluctant to publish an account of its harassment of my family). But I was given a wake-up call by my near-death experience, as well as ample time to assess the church's unlawful interference with my family's work, and I felt God's urging to write and then share A Mormon Story.

The "Mormon" view of criticism

Many Mormons, of course, would find my provocative assertion about God's hand in my book "apostate" — having been conditioned by church authorities to consider any serious criticism of the church inherently ill-motivated, and threatening to the church's mission. That's unfortunate, since it deprives them of the opportunity to learn valid things that could help improve their lives and increase their understanding.

After my book came out, a handful of Mormons emailed to criticize me for my criticism. Some suggested I was unfairly "trashing" the church for describing the inexcusable (and fully provable) interference by the church with my family's legally-protected political work.

Since my time is limited, I didn't respond to the comments, nearly all of which appeared to be based on a lack of reading the book itself.

Had I time to respond to each writer, I would want to emphasize that the LDS church has no doctrine in its scriptural canon prohibiting or condemning valid criticism of the church or its leaders. I would also want to note that the LDS canon contains references to the need for public rebuke and censure when the church, its members, or its leaders overstep propriety and lie, steal*, or "offend many" — in ways the Stone family can testify church officials have done repeatedly to the family, and by extension to the American electorate in general. (Read the book, and see if you agree.)

By all appearances, the notion that open criticism of the church is inherently apostate or threatening comes not from Mormon law or doctrine, but from a desire by many leaders to insulate themselves from accountability, I believe. Sad to say, there's really no other rational explanation for the church's unscriptural prohibition against public criticism of the church by its members, for which those guilty of doing nothing but expose verifiable truth can be expelled on the pretext of "open opposition."

No other church on the face of the earth has such a punitive, and chilling, stance toward objective investigation.

Of course, I was thrown out of the church for no definable violation of anything — not even the above prohibition against public criticism. I wrote my book two years after I was excommunicated for refusing to "obey" church authorities in my choice of livelihood (which centered in working for Alan Keyes), and for discreetly protesting such unlawful interference when asked for my opinion on numerous occasions afterward.

That's the sum of it. Any "open criticism" of the church by me comes belatedly — in my new role as a non-Mormon who is beyond church sanction. I want to make that clear.

The church's disregard for our family's political rights

As my book A Mormon Story describes in detail, the church overstepped its lawful rights at the outset by refusing to let me and my family engage in our political work without distracting threats and intimidation from the church, and thereafter obsessively persecuted our family with impunity for a decade.

Never mind that such interference by a tax-exempt organization like the church is "absolutely prohibited" under IRS rules, as well as illegal under state and federal law.

In the very least, it's un-American, and detrimental to our nation's representative political system.

As you read — no matter your religious background — I hope you will bring an open mind to the task, and hear me out. Then I hope you will join me in doing whatever it takes to stop this kind of disrespect for America's electoral process by a powerful religious institution from ever happening again to anyone who loves America as much as my dedicated family and I do.

*To "steal" means to "take something without consent, or without legal authorization to do so." In the case of the LDS church, the church has taken the Stone family's livelihood (virtually destroying it); taken family members' (and their clients') lawful political rights; taken the Stones' peace, health, and well-being, as well as large amounts of their time as they sought to defend themselves from the church's unceasing interference; and taken unfair advantage of IRS rules for tax-exempt organizations — defrauding the IRS of potentially substantial sums by unlawfully harassing the Stones for their political work, interference totally forbidden. Note that the reference to "stealing" cited above in LDS scripture would pertain to all such applications of the word, and more.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31