Utah Police Violate Church Pt. 2

Rev. Dr. Gregory Lowrey
Healer, Counselor, CEO
In Part 2 of this report, I will try to summarize Part 1 and include a summary history of the efforts of American Fork City to harass Whole Life Ministries since we moved to American Fork, Utah in March 2007.
Since writing part 1, I have been in contact with several private and government agencies regarding this matter and have found support at the County, State and Federal levels of Government while locally; American Fork Government is typically giving me the cold shoulder.
I have been gratified to receive very positive assistance already from members of the community and have been offered assistance from Utah’s Southern Baptist Convention, Utah American Civil Liberties Union, Utah Attorney General and the Utah Department of Public Safety POST (Utah Peace Officer Standards And Training).
The Utah Attorney General’s Office has recommended I file a complaint with the FBI for Civil Rights Violation and the Utah County Attorney, Jeff Buhman spoke at length with me recommending I phone Police Chief Lance Call and demand the return of our improperly seized property.
Mr. Buhman insists that he had no knowledge of the alleged complaint or ensuing raid and that Lt. Falslev was in error (lied) when he told us that our property would be taken to both the County and then the City Attorney's to view expressly to help them decide whether or not to press charges against us.
I phoned Chief Call, but he and Lt. Falslev (head of the Detective Division) who was the officer who led the raid on our studio had both taken Friday off and I was told they would not be back in the station till Monday.
The last time I phoned Chief Call - which was about the misconduct of one of his officers in responding to an assault at our church, he never called back but two weeks later he had the Lt. in charge of the patrol division call me in his stead.
I was quite impressed with Lt. Liddiard during our conversation, but I was also very disturbed by Chief Call's lack of interest or follow up and as with my other experiences with the American Fork Police, the reports Lt. Liddiard promised to send to me in Michigan never arrived.
Anyway, Monday I will try again and will demand our property be returned, and I will continue with my other new errands, making complaints to the FBI and POST and others.
I am so fed up with American Fork City's nasty attempts to intimidate us with threats of prosecution when we have broken no laws and their harassment and snide behavior.
I know that there are "citizens" also who are going out of their way to make life difficult for us and we have had to deal with our patrons being harassed by our neighbor's landlord - who is not even on site, but comes down to threaten everyone - ever since we moved in.
History of Our Ministry
Before I begin this summary, I would like to address a few issues that I am sure will arise in reader’s minds regarding our ministry and our history of offering tattoo and piercing services to the community as a spiritual service.
Whole Life Ministries has evolved over the years since establishing a formal ministry, beginning as People For Peace in Detroit, Michigan in the mid-1980’s.
While serving in the United States Navy (1971-1973) during the Vietnam Conflict for which I was a volunteer, I experienced a religious awakening. This awakening was accompanied by extreme personal trauma as I discovered the lack of substance and moral mission in my life.
I had attended the Mormon church since my mother’s conversion when I was five years old and while I did absorb a lot more than I realized, I had not been formally indoctrinated into religion.
My father was extremely patriotic and though agnostic still had a very strong commitment to Christian service and personal honesty and moral behavior, though he saw himself as a more moral mix of Frank Sinatra and Hugh Hefner. (so I had great music to listen to and everyone's favorite magazine to read)
In spite of his semi-racy outlook, Dad was not a “swinger” and was extremely devoted to his wife and family and his commitment to fidelity.
I don't know if it's his fault that I like the way girls look, but I'm not complaining.
In spite of my “hippie” allegiance during the 60’s, I remained active in the Boy Scouts, being the first boy in 30 years to earn his Eagle Scout Badge in the Mormon Detroit Ward Boy Scout Troop 335, where later as an adult I also served as Scoutmaster and President of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA), Church Librarian and Adult Sunday School Teacher.
As I had no guidance in my sudden quest to discover my purpose in life, it was fairly tumultuous and perhaps a bit strange.
I had experienced the new evangelical “Jesus Freak” movement as a teenager and while I didn’t join in, I did attend many meetings with friends who were temporarily converted to that version of Christianity and was exposed to and even regularly carried and studied a pocket edition of the four Gospels.
My other relatives were Methodists, Southern Baptists and Corner Church attendees and 13 years of holiday arguments over religion (and how my family was going to hell) as all my relatives (on my Mom's side) gathered at her parents for two weeks at a time twice a year, and that, coupled with my meager understanding of Mormonism formed my basic understanding of religion at that time.
As is often the case, when searching for meaning in life, I found myself sunk to the depths of despair, surely exacerbated by waking each day in the Navy with a great hangover.
I went to live in a cabin high in the mountains of British Columbia where I studied “hippie” Buddhism, Nostradamus, Mother Shipton and the Urantia Book while contemplating what locals took to be UFO’s which I could observe as huge round orange lights landing in droves behind the next mountain peak from my cabin.
None of these studies satisfied my quest for guidance and meaning in my life and as I had already given up on the Christianity I was familiar with, I went back to the Navy.
I was assigned to work for the Mormon Chaplain at the recruit training center north of Chicago and while there, he encouraged me to read, for the first time, the Book of Mormon.
I had a very strong spiritual experience on completion of the BoM and made the attribution from that "burning in the bosom" that I had been taught to apply both by my mother and the book’s own “promise” which is that it was a "witness" that the BoM and by extrapolation the "Church" was true.
I became a TBM (True Believing Mormon) and was very surprised when in spite of my past irreligious lifestyle I was “called to serve” as a full time missionary for the LDS/Mormon Church in Las Vegas, Nevada where I was very successful, breaking all mission records for teaching, baptizing and dinner appointments. (sorry about that)
It was during that LDS mission that I first encountered the insincerity and deceitfulness in LDS leaders that would trouble me, as a Mormon, for many years, driving me into a vicious cycle of inactivity and reactivation.
Eventually, I was “led” to live in Utah and found the home I had purchased put me in the same church congregation as many church leaders, including Ezra T. Benson who was then the President of the LDS Church.
I served in the ward Elder’s Presidency and my wife and I attended the Salt Lake City Temple every morning for the 5:30 am temple session where I was a permanent “veil worker” and in two weekly temple “sealing groups”.
I had many experiences of a profoundly spiritual nature as a Mormon including an intimate and unusual experience in the Salt Lake Temple involving every General Authority of the Church and culminating with a short personal visit with President Benson where he chose to give me an impromptu blessing.
I was very surprised when portions of this experience brought me to a certainty that the authority to speak for God did not any longer exist in the LDS church.
Because of the overwhelming nature of my "witness" of the BoM, it had not occurred to me that the Church could be a fraud from the beginning.
I was again brought to the depths of despair as years of study and activity seemed now for nothing and my surety about my spiritual path was compromised.
As I was dealing with the fallout from my new perspective, I was again spiritually “led” to Mormon Fundamentalism where my quest to find the “authority of God on earth” was re-ignited as I spent the next 14 years as an active member in both the LDS Church and the AUB (the polygamous fundamentalist group Apostolic United Brethren).
The AUB taught at the time that the LDS church was still accepted by God by virtue of the "lesser" priesthood (The AUB being the only repository of the "higher" Priesthood) and that members should attend until they were excommunicated. So with my family, I attended both sets of meetings, paid tithing to both groups, was re-baptized, re-ordained and sealed in the AUB “temple” to my wife and six children and and served in the Elder's quorem in the Church and taught the AUB adult Sunday School class where my students included the “prophet” Owen Allred and his “apostles”.
The AUB was also quite overwhelming and disturbing. Still, I felt I had been led there by God and so I tried to seek the spirit of God even though “the group” was a cesspool of evil and political chicanery.
As Utah prepared for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the LDS church attempted to clear their membership of all persons who the media might interview who might cast an undesirable light on the image the church was promoting.
When my LDS bishop inquired as to who I would follow, Jesus or Church President Gordon Hinkley in event of disagreement in teachings between the two, I chose Jesus and was summarily excommunicated for that choice – my wife being excommunicated along with me just for being married to me.
Soon after, I began to see that my AUB “prophet” and his “apostles” were as deceitful and immoral as most of their followers were and I felt my quest to find “authority” had finally been satisfied as I concluded it to be immoral to place any human between oneself and one’s God.
It is very humbling to find after years and years of intensive study and church/spiritual activity that you have been a dupe, but that was my ultimate realization – Joseph Smith and the church he founded were both a grand fraud.
One of the areas where I divided early on with the LDS church was on the concept of service.
The church encourages people to give money to the Bishop and let the church do the charity work, inviting members to participate by formal invitation while discouraging individual charity services.
My studies of Jesus had led me to the conclusion that while I should support this program, I should more importantly take opportunities to serve my neighbors personally and to perform personal acts of charity without having to be directed by man.
As a young man my father taught me to volunteer and not to hesitate to dig in and get dirty when help was needed.
This concept of personal service and the golden rule is what led to the formation of People For Peace in 1984 and Whole Life Ministries which operated as a personal charitable ministry in conjunction with our practice of Mormonism.
At first I was trying to help establish physical peace and while the Government was passing laws demanding peace and placing firepower worldwide to enforce it I found myself of just the opposite posture.
You cannot make a law and say, “Ok – there is peace now – if you don’t practice peace, we will annihilate you!” but that is just what Ronald Reagan and George Shultz were attempting to do.
I prepared a plan to end the cold war, which President Reagan refused twice before I sent it along to then USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev who apparently liked my plan as he executed it just a few months later and the cold war was ended.
I expected that my ministry would take some form of national or international service but found instead that I was mostly a lone and unknown man just being a good neighbor, husband and father and continuing to study the practice of the “golden rule”.
I worked many sales jobs and performed healing services in my off work hours for patients who were referred to me.
During our first time living in Utah at the time that I found all my formal religion to have failed me, I suffered a traumatic emotional breakdown and was unable to work for a long period.
It was then that neighbors convinced my wife, a wonderful artist, to tattoo them and I eventually followed in the study of tattooing.
We couldn’t afford to keep our home and moved to Yuma, Arizona where I figured that no matter how bad our money situation got, our family would not freeze and could find plenty of my favorite foods, oranges and dates, regardless of our lack of income.
When we got to Yuma, we set up a tattoo studio at home but before the week was out my wife was invited to apprentice with acclaimed master tattoo artist Dan Brown, who had been trained by world renowned tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle.
After a few months Dan less formally took me under his wing and after a year invited me to tattoo at his studio, which invitation I declined, preferring to open my own private studio in my home.
While I was learning but not practicing tattooing I worked the “front end” for my wife Kita while she served as the lone tattooist for 30,000 Marines from the Marine Air Station, I had plenty of opportunity to study the history of tattoo from Dan's tattoo library.
At first tattooing seemed a harmless diversion, just as many people first see it today, but as I became more intimate with the history of the art and the clients in the studio I became aware that tattooing and piercing, branding etc. were all very ancient and spiritual practices utilized by every culture in all times from every part of the earth.
I began to see that my own tattoos were of much more a spiritual and self-affirming character than I had previously considered and that all body arts were spiritual in nature whether the wearer had realized it or not.
In 1992 Kita and I opened our own tattoo studio in the Metro Detroit area – Royal Oak Tattoo.
My involvement was supposed to be temporary, but our skills and Kita’s artistry became quickly in great demand and soon my idea of a separate ministry and healing office were forced to change as we found ourselves operating a bustling five artist studio within the first 6 months of opening and I was back to seeing patients both at the studio and at home after work, merging tattoo services with other services of our ministry which continued until 1997 when my AUB “prophet” requested we move back to Utah.
An unembodied voice speaking to me in the celestial room of the Toronto Temple simply said "Move to Lehi." and so in August of 1998 we went off again to Utah, selling our Michigan studio, Royal Oak Tattoo, to our last apprentice there.
The LDS church had not yet come against tattooing or piercing and as I taught priesthood lessons in the Troy, Michigan Ward I often passed around interesting photos from my work which had become a division of our ministry and my monthly trips to serve as veil worker in the Toronto, Canada Temple were not a problem for those who found a tattooed and pierced hand reaching through the veil to test their knowledge of ritual as I represented God in the temple drama.
When we got back to Utah though, while the AUB President defended our tattooing – and he endured quite a lot of harassment over supporting us in that way, the local LDS ward in Lehi, where we lived, seemed to be too bothered by it, so we didn’t tattoo and instead opened a full time healing clinic, Kita running a discount health product supply for my patients and we quickly found our clinic to became a full time charity service.
We kept expecting that our service would guarantee our livelihood, but when money from the sale of our Michigan studio ran out after three years of subsidizing our Utah venture, we felt we had no other option but to engage the talents God had given us and opened Happy Valley Tattoo and Piercing as our ministry office in Orem, Utah.
We found that even though we built out a separate office in the studio for patients, few wanted to receive their charity services in a tattoo studio and gradually, tattoo and piercing services took over as our primary service.
We also began taking in promising young artists who appeared to share our ethical values, or wanted to, training them in the arts of tattoo and piercing and teaching them how to survive in the business world, a skill most artists enjoy little of and which dooms most to a life of poverty working non art jobs and changing jobs often.
In spite of being voted Best Tattoo Studio year after year in the local People’s Choice Awards, we found it necessary to move several times over the ensuing years to find accommodations we could afford which eventually brought us to American Fork last March 1st.
As three of our six children, now ready to have families of their own decided to move back to Metro Detroit, we decided to also take students there and open a ministry office, clinic and studio in Michigan that would allow us to spend regular time with our children and grandchildren as well as to enjoy the higher demand for services that would subsidize and thus ease some of the financial precariousness of our Utah ministry.
Michigan also seemed a much more fertile field for teaching the golden rule and the neighborliness that we feel is so important to redeeming our broken neighborhoods in America.
Traveling back and forth approximately every three months or so from Michigan to Utah this last year and a half has been very difficult and has been compounded by problems we began to experience in American Fork almost immediately after we arrived back in Michigan in the spring of 2007.
To be continued...
Want to call for or against us?
City of American Fork 1-801–763-3000
Police Chief – Lance Call 1-801–763-3020

1 comment:

  1. Doc. It seems that you have lived an amazing life. I have been to your studio but now live in Alaska. I hope that everything works out for you.