Recently, I had occasion to go back and attend a service at the old building where I used to attend church.  Pre-divorce, pre-leaving the church; and seriously, it was like entering into a pit of vipers.

The event that brought me back there was a funeral.  I was close enough with the family, the wife and daughter of the deceased anyway, so I was there to show my love and support for them at this time.  So really, everybody else who had a disdainful reaction is really unimportant to me.  The building was packed.  I was seated at the back in the first row of the little area between the chapel and the cultural hall.  So you know, everybody could see me when they walked in and you should have seen their reactions.  Most got a bitter, "What the hell are you doing here" look on their face.  Others quite obviously went out of their way to avoid any eye contact at all.  Still others, who were informed of my presence, 'nonchalantly' stood up and turned around pretending to look for someone else.  And all these, my former 'friends'.  I loved the christlike attitude and non-judgemental members.  blech.

Now, there were exceptions to this as well.  There were some who actually went out of there way to come and greet me.  Friendly nods etc.  But these were few in comparison to the evil eyes and disdainful looks.

We survived through the ceremony and it was actually a good service.  One of the siblings of the deceased is a lesbian.  She was raised LDS and in fact taught my new spouse in young womens.  She was asked to give the closing prayer.  When she approached the pulpit, before she started the prayer, she read a poem that she had written.  It was amazing.  It was about judgement (or rather not judging) and acceptance of people.  It truly was fantastic.  I'm going to see if I can get a copy of it and then I'll post it here.  At any rate, she went on, said the benediction and we went on to the graveside ceremony.

The graveside ceremony was a totally different atmosphere.  The wife of the deceased came over, hugged me, thanked me for coming.  So did her daughter who I taught in seminary only a couple years ago.  And that's why I was there.  For them.  Not for anybody else.  But once people saw that reaction and that interaction, it was like a light was switched.  People came over, shook my hand, said hello.  Now, this is in part due to the fact that a good portion of the 'faithful members' at the chapel were there because of a social obligation and for no other reason.  This obligation did not extend to attending the graveside service and therefore most of the 'vipers' weren't even there.

I don't know that I have a summary or anything I learned from this experience.  None of this is really new to me.  I just thought I'd share.

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Interesting experience. The true judgmental attitude of some members sure comes out after leaving the church. At least the vipers make themselves known, even if not obvious to themselves. Easier to avoid them :-)
I had a very similar experience at a friend's father's funeral last year. Apart from my friend, the couple who drove me back from the funeral and 1 other new member, nobody took the time to stop and say hello to me...very friendly indeed..

I was supposed to attend another funeral there last month, but couldn't bring myself to attend at the last minute, partly because of my experience the last time. Very sad.
This is the mantra I repeat to myself when I attend such functions: Be who you are and say what you want because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind. Dismissing and ignoring bigoted comments as coming from mostly unconscious people helps to reduce any offense you might otherwise have taken from their remarks.
Very true Mike x


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