The following is the beginning of a series on figures who lead or attempt to lead spiritual movements which have theological or historical roots in Mormonism. The intent of the series is to accurately reflect and record the claims and experiences of these separatist figures, most of whom are former Mormons, and to look at these diverse individuals in order to gain an insight into the prophetic identity. As this is an academic blog, the claims and experiences of these figures are treated objectively and are reported here as they were given. Although it hopefully goes without saying, these profiles do not suggest that either Worlds Without End or myself endorse these belief systems.
James ‘Jim’ Johnson has publicly proclaimed himself to be the Son of God, the husband of God, and the “Second Jesus.” God is female, Johnson says, and her true name is “Cae Cae.” In 1995 Johnson remembers waking up and seeing God—who was beautiful and blue-tinted—standing at the foot of his bed. Later the female God told him that it was Johnson—not God—who with Jesus of Nazareth actually appeared to Joseph Smith in Smith’s famous First Vision. Johnson says that in 2011 God instructed him to organize a church, which he subsequently called “The Church of Latter Days.”
Johnson was born in 1959 in Wyoming. He lived briefly in Utah as a child and later moved back to the state in the late 1970s to work in oil fields in the Uintah Basin. Johnson was raised a Lutheran but in 1980 joined a local Baptist congregation. His Protestant roots, Johnson says, led him at that time to believe the LDS Church was “evil” and “a cult,” beliefs he says he later regretted. Later Johnson did become at least a partial believer in Mormonism, and for a time he seems to have attended LDS meetings regularly. Johnson was never a baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he only attributes this to his drinking coffee, chewing tobacco, and smoking.
Visions and Revelations
Johnson says that his first “sign from God” occurred around 1988 while he drove to Vernal, Utah. As he was driving, Johnson noticed a burning bush in a nearby field. Since it was not hot and there was no other fire nearby, Johnson thought this was unusual and pulled over his pick-up truck. He says at the time that he expected God to speak to him, just as he spoke to Moses from a burning bush, but anticlimactically nothing happened.
In 1995 Johnson remembers being visited by an angelic being that years later he concluded was actually God. After waking at his home in Dry Fork, Utah, Johnson says a beautiful female figure was standing at the foot of his bed. “She had a blue tint to her,” Johnson said. “I was so excited that I had to share this with my wife at the time.” About a month later, Johnson says he awoke to see the angelic being touching his arm. This was the last time he physically saw God, Johnson says.
Johnson recollects a visionary experience from 2004 when, while watching television, Johnson says he found himself “physically taken out of my apartment” to an unknown location where a number of people held him above their heads. He couldn’t speak, Johnson says, and he was confused about was happening. A few minutes later he suddenly found himself back in his apartment. Later Johnson concluded that this experience was the “Rapture” that he says was prophesied in the Bible.
Beginning in 2010, Johnson began receiving a number of direct revelations from God. The first occurred on December 6 when Johnson asked God directly about God’s gender. Almost immediately after praying, Johnson said, God responded in an audible voice, “I am female!” Johnson remembers that the voice “was so thunderous and loud that her voice completely filled the room!” The next day (December 7), Johnson decided to ask God, “Am I Jesus?” God’s eventual response was, “Yes, you are my son, Jesus II.” After learning that he was the “second Jesus,” Johnson also began capitalizing the first letter of the personal pronouns “me” and “my” whenever he referred to himself.
Johnson says he also learned from God that “Jesus denied me, and therefore you are born to be my second son.” Johnson also learned that day that it was he and Jesus of Nazareth that actually appeared to Joseph Smith in the Mormon prophet’s famous First Vision, c. 1820; that the LDS Church and “the Jewish faith” were both God’s “chosen religions;” and that Johnson was the prophesied Second Coming of Jesus. Revelations continued for Johnson over the following months where he learned more about the original Jesus, about Satan, about reincarnation, and that God’s name was “Cae Cae,” which he says means “the one great opening.”
On February 6, 2011, Johnson says that he was visited by Satan who asked Johnson to arrange a meeting between Satan and God, as Satan said God was refusing to see him. Johnson obligingly arranged the meeting and as a token of gratitude Satan “agreed to take upon him the sins of the world.” Johnson learned that Jesus had only atoned for the sins of everyone who had lived up until his lifetime, c. 33 A.D.; Satan, then, was able to atone for the sins of all of those who lived since Jesus. But Satan tried to trick Johnson, and when Satan met with God he attempted to convince God to place the world’s sins on Johnson instead. Johnson discovered this and asked God to destroy Satan. God agreed and “destroyed Satan, and threw him back down to the earth, where he died.”
God also eventually revealed to Johnson that the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were inspired and that they were “a model for prudent living.” Johnson subsequently adapted the Twelve Steps into a more divinely-approved version.
While Johnson reports the knowledge gained from his revelations and occasionally quotes the voice of God that he heard, he does not give them in the fully-written, “thus saith the Lord” form that characterized most of Joseph Smith’s revelations. He reports his revelations in the form of anecdotes, often describing the circumstances under which they were received and a brief summary of what he learned from them.
On September 5, 2011, James Johnson and “Cae Cae” were married by the Rev. Sharon Lewis at the “This is the Place” Monument in Salt Lake City. Lewis is an ordained minister from the Sanctuary Spiritual Science Congregation.
In addition to the major revelations described above, Johnson also believes:
- Fasting adds weight to prayer. In addition, prayers should not end in “amen” because “it is demanding God to do something.”
- Females are the dominant gender on earth.
- Jesus is not divine and is actually the “anti-Christ” because he denied God’s true feminine nature.
- Native Americans are God’s chosen people.
- God approves of both same-sex marriage and polygamy. Families are eternal.
- Hell is a fictional place “designed by man, to force people to do good.”
After first seeing God c. 1988, James Johnson excitedly told his wife about the experience. In 2001 he and his wife separated and later divorced. When he began receiving revelations in 2010 Johnson also excitedly told his friends, family, and local Mormons about his experiences. “Nobody seemed to believe me,” he remembers.
In January 2011 Johnson says that he was forced to undergo mental evaluation. The police, he says, took him by handcuffs to a local hospital for blood work. “They supposedly thought I was using illegal drugs,” he says. Later he says that he was “set-up” by people who thought he had “lost his mind.” He was instructed to undergo mandatory counseling, he says, and for several months was put on medication for bi-polar disorder.
Johnson says that on August 7, 2011, God instructed him to organize a church, but he recently wrote, “It is now July, 2012, and we cannot seem to attract believers, and so we are no longer going to have church services.” Johnson then set up a website, http://www.thechurchoflatterdays.org, to spread his message instead.
James Johnson’ beliefs diverge radically from traditional Mormon thought, but elements of Mormonism are preserved in beliefs such as the reality of Joseph Smith’s First Vision (albeit in a modified form), the perceived reality of Johnson’ revelations and visions, God’s early declaration that the LDS Church was her “chosen religion,” and the belief that Native Americans are “God’s chosen people.” However, some of his beliefs also stand in direct opposition to traditional Mormonism. At one point Johnson declares: “The gold plates never did exist, Joseph Smith made up many parts of the writings, with the help of others, and he took parts from the bible also.”
Johnson’s beliefs also seemed to evolve out of a more identifiable Mormon context. While initially he was told in a revelation that the LDS Church was God’s “chosen religion” and that LDS temples were doing “good” around the world, he later came to found his own church and accused the LDS Church of denying God’s true nature (presumable, God’s female nature). His beliefs radicalized further from both traditional Mormonism and from mainstream Christianity to the point that, now, it is difficult to categorize him in either category. But despite how far his beliefs and revelations diverge from their Christian and Mormon roots, their Mormon heritage remains reflected in the familiar terminology included in the name of his new church: “The Church of Latter Days.”