Excommunications and Loss: The Trial of the French Mission, Part Two
In the longer term, the experience taught those who knew and had admired Elder Tucker that appearances can deceive. All too often, young unprepared elders and sisters had unwillingly adopted beliefs that were convincingly presented, but contrary to the very work they were engaged in.
Church authorities, also unprepared to deal with these unprecedented events and personalities, failed to prevent apostasy, though their efforts pared down the size of it. Yet, more sadly, no winnowing process is error-proof and in the case of Loftin Harvey, the interviewers may not have distinguished between overly scrupulous honesty and genuine apostasy.
Consequently, Harvey exited the formal trial in London only to face the greater trial of living with the verdict. It was not easy for Harvey to return home. He suffered from the ostracism attendant to excommunication at that period. His father, who had survived the heart attack, and his mother told him he was being influenced by an evil spirit. With self-justification and some vengeance in mind he obtained an audience with Presiding Bishop Isaacson whom he had last seen in France. Accompanied by his girlfriend, he confronted the bishop with scriptural problems for which Isaacson could provide no answers. Harvey was satisfied to think he had made him look foolish in his girlfriend's eyes. She was a little comforted, wanting to be loyal to Harvey, but remained confused. His vengeful desire now somewhat sated, he telephoned Apostle Brown. Brown welcomed him with open arms and, true to his promise, listened to Harvey for hours.
Harvey then felt a need to investigate the propositions of the LeBaron movement. Mexico had become the designated gathering place of the excommunicated French missionaries. Harvey was the first of the group to arrive, yet he stayed only a couple of days, then left satisfied that he had not found what he wanted.
Feeling uncomfortable at home, Harvey moved to San Francisco. He went to Pentecostal, Catholic, and Jewish services looking for something which would compel his faith. He also wrote to President McKay. The president responded, encouraging Harvey to do the Lord's will but leaving it up to him to discover what that might be in his case. He received no answer to his fasts and prayers and eventually gave up trying to know. In this frame of mind, he was approached in 1960 by two young men easily recognizable as LDS missionaries. Not knowing his background, they persisted in contacting him until he consented to lessons. After a few lessons, the senior companion, Andrew Laudie, sensing that their contact knew more than he was revealing, stopped the discussion and asked, "Brother Harvey, were you ever a missionary?" Harvey said, "Yes." With tears in his eyes, Elder Laudie rose and hugged his investigator. For Harvey, the embrace was spiritual as well as physical; he felt something he had not felt for years. This was the turning point. He was now headed back.
Rebaptized in October 1961, Harvey requested the priesthood the following summer. Apostle Brown arranged an interview with Joseph Fielding Smith during July 1962. After some conversation, Apostle Smith asked, "Do you know that David O. McKay is a prophet of God?" -- the same question Harvey had confronted under much different circumstances almost four years earlier. Harvey said, "Yes." Apostle Smith arose without further conversation, circled to the back of his chair, laid his hands on Harvey's head and conferred the priesthood.