'Book of Mormon' soundtrack, Hill Cumorah Pageant lead to conversion

Published: Wednesday, July 10 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Casey Reichhart with a group of LDS missionaries in New York.

Provided by Casey Reichhart

Casey Reichhart was listening to the soundtrack of the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” when there was an unexpected knock at her door.

It was the missionaries.

Flustered, she let them in.

“I remember melting against my front door,” Reichhart, then 16 and a native of upstate New York, said. “I had seen videos of Mormon missionaries and now here were two actual ones at my door.”

The missionaries introduced themselves and gave Reichhart a copy of the Book of Mormon.

But she already had one.

Reichhart’s journey started long before the knock on her front door.

In 2010, during her sophomore year of high school, after what Reichhart describes as a series of events, she found herself harboring great feelings of animosity toward organized religion.

“It wasn’t just Christianity,” she said. “It was any church. My mind was so angry that it twisted things, blaming all the problems of the world on religion.”

By the end of her sophomore year, Reichhart had become withdrawn and distant from her friends.

“I didn’t feel happy anymore and my friends didn’t want to be around me,” Reichhart said.

This “pit,” as she described it, left her in a place devoid of joy and laughter.

On June 10, 2011, something struck a chord.

That something was a performance of the song “I Believe” from “The Book of Mormon” during a broadcast of the Tony Awards.

Reichhart said that while the song lists many beliefs held by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the beliefs are presented in a twisted, incorrect way.

“I was laughing my head off because who would believe in something so ridiculous as this?”

That night, Reichhart, who is an avid music fan, bought the whole soundtrack to the often profane and irreverent musical and started listening to it every day.

But one lyric that made reference to Rochester, N.Y., stuck out for Reichhart.

Rochester is about 30 miles southeast of Reichhart’s hometown of Hamlin, N.Y.

Curious, Reichhart asked her mother if she knew anything about the formation of the Mormon religion. Her mother, Laura Heidrich, who was raised in upstate New York, had a small knowledge of the church and knew that it was started in Palmyra.

“Do you want to see what real Mormons believe in?” Heidrich asked her daughter.

Reichhart agreed, and Heidrich suggested a visit to the Hill Cumorah Pageant that summer. She also arranged for the two to visit other church historical sites, including the Sacred Grove.

While visiting Joseph Smith’s frame home historical site, Reichhart and her mother met two sister missionaries and filled out a card for a free copy of the Book of Mormon.

“The sisters told me that representatives would come. I thought that meant members would come drop it off in the mailbox,” Reichhart said.

That night, mother and daughter attended the pageant. And while Reichhart said she enjoyed it, she admitted there were times when she didn’t understand what was going on.

“Is this in the Bible?” Reichhart asked.

“I don’t think so,” her mother responded.

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