To start with, I really don’t know how many of these I will do.  But these are the some of the reasons, in detail, why I left the church.

I think part of this is was helped along by the fact that I have a very severe learning disorder. That I mostly didn’t get a hold on until well into my 30’s. I was ranked really high in some of the worst cases of ADD that the Doctor had seen at the time.  This diagnoses came to me in first grade, although I didn’t fully understand the statement. At least not until I pulled my medical records when I got cancer. I wasn’t just an audio learner, or even a visual one, I learn best by doing.  Ideally, I need all three. And being an 8 year old in the church who at the time was child number 3 of 5 in the house with a learning disability didn’t help matters. My mom tells me that she was at her wits end, she had 4 children under the age of 5 she almost lost it. I remember when both of my youngest two sisters were born.  I Remember being very angry that Pauline was a girl. I didn’t want another sister, I wanted a brother. because at least then maybe I’d have someone to play with. I already felt excluded in a house full of girls. When my youngest sibling was born, and was also a girl. I just kind of rolled my eyes. Figured I was cursed.

I knew I was different from my classmates, I was excluded from school events with my peers in first grade. no one wanted to sit next to me, I was bullied in subtext by being told that I Wasn’t cool enough to hang out with others. My mom said that I was “One cool dude”. But because I was being told by everyone else that I was a terrible person, I knew that I couldn’t’ believe her. I just figured it was the little lies that parents tell their kids to help make them feel better, like Santa Clause. This was how I was treated at school, you’d think an 8 year old would be treated better at church. Nope I wasn’t, because it was the same kids who were doing it. We lived across the street from a family full of boys who were bullies. They’d chase me and throw rocks at me. One of them shot me in the back with an overpowered BB Gun. He put a BB in my back that stayed there for a week before I told my mom, because I didn’t want to get blamed.  Because beyond my ability to understand how, but somehow, it would be my fault. Everything bad at school that happened was my fault, everything bad that happened  to other people at church was my fault. I knew this because I was told this, when I said I didn’t have anything to do with it, I was told that I was stupid for trying to hide it. and they’d concoct some kind of lie that no matter how many times I would say that I didn’t do it. I got yelled at for it. It went so far as to be a game to the people I went to school with. There was one night when I was high school I had jumped ship to get out of my house and got on some weekend evening. I got on my bike and just rode, I didn’t care where I went,  I did it to just leave, to just get out. Some kid, who was a bully to me in school saw me and started chasing me.  We will call this kid Jarrod. When he got close enough that he could kick me. he did. but he didn’t just kick me, he kicked me while I was riding, then turned around and ran over my arm. Told me that I had been talking shit about him to someone else.  The person in question I was afraid of, terrified actually. I wouldn’t talk to him.  Jarrod then punched me in the face and told me next time he’d hurt me. To which I said nothing. I learned quickly that fighting back made things worse.  This event was one of many that ended up with me telling my mom. My mom went into the school and talked to the school about it. This act, while it she was trying to make things better for me, had the exact reverse effect. This made things worse, much much worse, they were just better at hiding it so they couldn’t get caught. This was the first time when I realized that people were picking on me, because I was different, I was their punching bag of an easy target. But come Sunday mornings, I’d hear theses kids who tortured me, be praised about how much god has blessed them.  I couldn’t believe my ears, God blessed them. They were great children, both at home and at school and they were talked about as if they were the noblest of the most noble.  No, they were abusers, they were assholes, and I loathed all of them.

When I was 8 years old I went into for my baptism interview.  I remember being talked up how important it was, and that I was going to be quizzed by the bishop about what I believed. Quizzed? I didn’t know what that meant, nor did I understand what I was supposed to do. but for once I wanted to feel like I had done something right by someone. I remember sitting in this man’s very cold Cinder block painted pink office. He seemed really old to me,  I thought that he must have been a man of god because how was he still alive? he must have been over a hundred years old. I remember very clearly behind scared out of my mind. I remember being asked questions and thinking that I didn’t understand what he was asking, nor did I understand what it meant. But I knew, knew from years of being told how much of an honor it was to be one of gods chosen, that I had to pass this. Because it would mean that I was doing something right, and maybe for once I could do something right. So I did exactly what I thought he wanted to hear. Because that sounds like the right thing, like the right set of answers. I remember leaving his office and having him tell my mom that I did very well and I’d “passed”. My mom was beaming, it was a huge relief to me.  The only thing I got out of the experience is that, I would be perfect and all of my past sins would be washed away.  I remember the day that it happened.  My grandparents  stopped by and we had dinner outside.  And for some reason the power went out, I thought that part was awesome. that was a best part. I remember thinking that I could go to church the next day and get my confirmation and I would be treated fairly and stop being blamed.  Boy, was I wrong.  I remember the next day one boy hit me, and called me a name that was created for me from school last year.  I told him that I had just been baptized and he couldn’t do that anymore because all of that was gone. He reasoned with me that was school this was church it wasn’t the same thing, and so he could still do it. From that point forward, things got worse.  I remember being told that God didn’t make mistakes but people do. So I had to wonder, and began to think that Perhaps god forgot about me.  But then it occurred to me. That as far as I understood it, I was doing everything god wanted me to do, I didn’t question I just did.  But all of these kids who were terrible people to me were blessed by god. As their parents were so fond of telling each other. So I reasoned that I was being punished, I must had done something bad in heaven, and I was being punished. Which is why all of these children who were gods chosen, kept hurting me. At that point in my life, I believed that I deserved it

In 1997 I moved out of that town (for the second time) and to Salt Lake City, Utah. The only friend I made in high school that didn’t at some point, treat me like shit, helped me move. I was so grateful for him. One person in this world who accepted me for who I was. As it turned out, he was also gay.  I was told at the time by the church, that being gay was wrong. That gay people work for Satan, and that they were all inherently bad people. That they were all child molesters.  I remember when he came out of the closet. We were in the middle of no where in the woods, It was he and I, and my Girlfriend at the time. I remember she shrugged at him and said “okay, whatever makes you happy.” and carried on like it was no big deal. At this point in my life, I had met several other gay people. I was starting to shed this idea that all gay people were bad. I started to see that there wasn’t one thing about any of them, that made them good or bad. just like some people were just good people, while others just weren’t; and that regard they weren’t any different from anyone who was straight. I remember not saying anything for a long time while I reasoned this out in my head, I mentally fought against the ideals that I was raised with. He looked at me somewhat concerned, and asked if I was alright. My Girlfriend said that I looked shocked and I was.  I knew there was something different about him but I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I had decided years previous to this, that I didn’t care what was so different about him. I finally reasoned in my head that, here was this man. Who I respected, and as far as I was concerned he was my brother. He was more family to me, than my own family, and he was Gay. despite being raised with this notion that gay people are evil, and wrong, and should be persecuted, clearly they were missing something — they had to be wrong. I accepted that fact that he was gay, and that didn’t make him a bad person. I respected his courage, and to this day, I still respect him, and view him as my brother and my best friend.

In 1999 I  had my first child a little girl. I lived in western Wisconsin, I was married to a different woman. it was the week after the spring general conference sessions. I had my daughter who was only a few months old at the time was asleep in my arms, and I was sitting in gospel Doctrine  class. In the room was the bishop, the steak president, and the teacher of the class was the wife of one of the counselors of the bishopric. The week before the prophet had gotten up and talked about how The gays were destroying gods plan, and they they were an abomination to god. I found this very unsettling. She got up and started to continue to preach this. she spoke of them like they were less than people. I was quiet upset by this. I verbalized that she needed to back up because that was wrong. She was clearly aghast at the idea, I reminded her that everyone was considered one of gods children, and even if she didn’t like their lifestyle she needed to afford them that much respect. After finishing that sentence the Steak President who was sitting behind me, grabbed me by the ear like I was  6 years old, and dragged me out of the classroom into the hallway. I almost dropped by daughter on the ground due only to the sheer force that he used on my ear.   He yelled at me, told me that My blasphemous words had no place in the church, and I should be ashamed of myself. And he was considering excommunicating me for it. I told him to do it. I told him that I was upholding one of the tenants of the church that is taught to everyone starting in primary. And if my opinion on the matter, gets me excommunicated then fine, I didn’t care. He stumbled over his words and  then stumbled back into the classroom. I stayed in the hall nursing my ear which was bleeding. Within about a minute The Bishop came out. He told me that he respected my opinion, but then followed it up by saying that my opinion had no place in the church. I very clearly remember saying “So Church Doctrine, has no place in the church?” he told me that I was twisting his words, and this is the work of Satan, and he was instructed by the steak president to take my temple recommend. (which was fine, because I didn’t have one at the time.) I just walked off at that point, I was so angry and confused.  After the hour block was over, I was approached by the woman who was leading the class.  She said that she understands my opinion. Her brother is gay. So I asked her, is he a bad person? Does he hurt people?  She defended him.  I don’t remember if I responded to her at that point, I just remember being really confused. She loves her brother, and states clearly that he’s a good person, but then condemns him because of his choice of lifestyle. I told this story to my wife when she got out of her church calling, and I didn’t feel like she took me seriously. To the best of my recollection, her response was something a long the lines of “How else did you really expect them to respond?”

Up to this point in my life all of the stones that I’d thrown into the pond were pebbles, and the ripples were only felt by me, everyone else was on the fringes. This was a boulder, tossed by a crane into a puddle, and the mud splattered everywhere. I got scolded and talked to by at least a half dozen people from that classroom for my words. But just as many approached me stated that what I said made sense, and that the reaction of the people in that room was uncalled for.

Some people contribute, life events, or spouses, and children and luck, to God. Because clearly he made it happen, That’s fine, they have the right to believe that, that’s their fail safe. And if these people want to believe their silly ideas about how gay people cause natural disasters or are all child molesters, they have the right. But, they shouldn’t be allowed to use a public position to spread their hate. What the church did in 99 was hate and fear mongering. Pure and simple, hate discrimination.

No one should sit idle in a classroom and tolerate this kind of hate. it’s not okay. If you do not speak up when people are preaching hate and fear mongering, you are fostering the environment that’s allowing it to continue.