My Church/Religion History

My mother’s mother joined the LDS church in the early 1900’s and immigrated to Utah via the “Perpetual Immigration Fund” that the LDS church had set up in those days. Her name was Agnes Anderson.

Agnes didn’t speak any English when she came from Norway.  At Liberty Park (in Salt Lake City, Utah), she met a man whose family had also immigrated from Norway, and that she soon married.  His name was Edward Gustaf Berg.  Edward was bilingual, speaking both English and also Norwegian. His family was also LDS.  With only a few exceptions, the Berg family were and have remained active supporters and members of the LDS church to this day.

My mother initially married Charles Mattingly.  I believe (but am not sure) that the Mattingly family were Methodists at the time my mother married Charles and joined his family.    After having six children, Charles died.  I am NOT one of those six children.  I was born later.

My great-grandfather (on my father’s side) was Orson Pratt.  Orson was one of the original twelve Apostles of the LDS church, and was ordained such in 1835 (almost 200 years ago).  Orson had 10 wives.  Here is a link to his data:

I descend from Mary Ann Merrill, who was Orson’s fourth wife.  One of her sons was Valton Merrill Pratt, who is my grandfather.  His son Stanley Wallace Pratt is my father.

My father was married to someone that divorced him and took their kids with her.  They had six kids together.  Then my mom and dad got together— my dad was a divorcee and my mother was a widower— and together they had three more kids.  I am the last of those children.  My father was born in 1901 and my mother in 1918.  Dad was 17 years my mother’s senior.  And they were both born over 100 years ago.

Most of the above people were active believers in the LDS church.  My father was not, and neither was my mother, but they both had membership in the LDS church for a lot of their respective lives.

I remember as a little boy hearing my mother have heated arguments with some of the Berg family about religion.  One of the things I repeatedly heard my mother say to them is “the LDS church does *not* have a monopoly on God”.  I don’t think they liked hearing that.  The LDS church has taught for years that it is the “one and only true and living church”.

Even though the LDS church at one time actively taught and practiced polygamy, the most recent polygamy I am aware of anywhere among my progenitors is Orson Pratt.  So yes, I am of polygamist descent.  Also if we are to believe the Bible, any one that descends from Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob are also of polygamist descent.  I say this only to emphasize how meaningless this statement really is.  It doesn’t mean anything, and shouldn’t mean anything to any of us.  What matters is how we treat each other, and how we live our own lives.

I didn’t know my father very well.  He died when I was only 5 years old.  But I inherited a lot of his writings and books, and I spoke with my mother frequently about him before she died when I was 18.  I know from these things that what he believed in the most was exactly what I believe in the most.  I am trying to honor my father, and follow in his footsteps.

Dad believed that the most important thing is to help your fellow man.  He believed in cooperation; he believed in being your brother’s keeper.  And I am absolutely *certain* (from his writings) that he intended those philosophies to extend into the protection and benefit of all religions and all people, whoever and whatever they might be.

And just like my mother, he didn’t think that the LDS church held any sort of monopoly on these things.  And that’s the gist of where my mother and father parted ways with their LDS associates.


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