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35 Years of Prayer Couldn't Get Rid of My Homosexuality, Says Ex-Mormon Turned Atheist

35 Years of Prayer Couldn't Get Rid of My Homosexuality, Says Ex-Mormon Turned Atheist

ex-mormon"I was a member of the Mormon church until I was 38 years old," says Steve, an ex-Mormon.  "During that time, I spent 12 years of my life in a conversion therapy called 'Evergreen.'  Evergreen is a Mormon church reparative therapy program where they convert you to being straight when you're gay."

Truth Wins Out reports that Evergreen is not officially a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (otherwise known as Mormons), but the church sends it referrals.

Steve says that while attending the Evergreen group in Denver,  one third of the 15 men there committed suicide.  He says that the success statistics posted on the Evergreen website are based on how many people are still going to the meetings.

According to Evergreen,

 Society is being bombarded by information that supports the “gay rights” position that individuals are born homosexual. (This misinformation may even come from some individuals within the Church.) This is Satan’s propaganda to discourage strugglers from seeking help to overcome these feelings and behaviors. Contrary to information in the popular press or what you may have been told, there have been NO legitimate scientific that prove that there is a “gay” gene.

As to participating in Evergreen, Steve says "You're only doing it because you're Mormon. You're only doing it because this is supposed to be how you're living your life. You just keep going and keep going and feel more negative and more negative until many times, you just kill yourself because you can't take another freaking day of it."

As to suicide, the Evergreen site says that only God can judge about the situation surrounding the act, but at the same time, quotes strong warnings by Mormon presidents:

President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency made a clear statement about the seriousness of suicide when he said:

Man did not create himself. He did not furnish his spirit with a human dwelling place. It is God who created man, both body and spirit. Man has no right, therefore, to destroy that which he had no agency in creating. They who do so are guilty of murder, self-murder it is true; but they are no more justified in killing themselves than they are in killing others. What difference of punishment there is for the two crimes, I do not know; but it is clear that no one can destroy so precious a gift as that of life without incurring a severe penalty.” (Gospel Truth, 2 vols., Salt Lake City: Zion’s Book Store, 1957, 1:30; italics added.)

President Spencer W. Kimball made an equally strong statement in 1976:

It is a terrible criminal act for a person to go out and shorten his life by suicide. (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 187.)

Steve says the church needs to learn to empathize, explaining that the emotions that opposite sex couples feel toward one another are the same as those experienced by same sex couples.

"This is the core. This is myself. I can't change this," he explains. "You can't play act. You have to grow up at some point and be honest about who you are."

Steve spent a lot of time looking at the doctrines of the church and, in his words, "everything started to fall apart."

"The more you read about Joseph Smith's life," he said, "the weirder it gets."

In his last prayer, Steve asked God for just one day of not feeling gay. He said he'd been praying for 35 years and he'd never do to his kids as God was doing to His gay children.

You need to love me as I love my kids. I would never do what you're doing to my kids. Never. I love them too much to let them wander through their lives aimlessly, praying for something that you're never going to help them with. It's crap.

Steve remained on his knees for an hour.

God did not answer.

Steve left the church, laughing and realizing that there is no God.


{video link}

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • http://www.dpsbanners.com/product-detail/vinylbanners/vinyl-banners-custom-printed-in-full-color/ Jonathan

    We recently received an email from a Mormon elder. In it, he said, “I read in your site about the Mormons, and I have a question. Is the Book of Mormon true? I couldn't find anything on your site to prove the Book of Mormon false. And if you can't prove false the Book of Mormon, how can you prove that Joseph Smith is a false prophet?” This elder’s question really goes to the heart of the matter with Mormon apologetics. If the Book of Mormon is false, then Joseph Smith was obviously a false prophet. If Joseph Smith was a false prophet, then millions of decent people have been deceived away from the truth.

  • Anynonmous

    It saddens my heart to see a Brother turn from his Faith in Heavenly Father and not endure to the end. It is a sad occurrence but one that Heavenly Father gave each of us to choose. I myself have struggled with and still do struggle with sexual immorality at times, in the form of pronography. There is not difference though whether it be immoral sexual behavior is immoral sexual behavior, it is the strongest deception of Lucifer and one that many fall victim too.

    In the end it takes much willpower and determination to endure to the end in faith. It saddens me to hear of the brethren that decided to take there own lives over this, it is a tragic loss butnthe Lord will show his mercy to all his children according to the Truth and Justice of the gospel.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, just know Brother that you can always repent and return to the fold. Heavenly Father is there and he allows us to face trails so we can grow and become more like him.

    • http://thejoyfulmystic.blogspot.com Sheri Lawson

      Being asked to endure to the end even though it may make someone miserable and unhappy is so contrary to our spiritual evolution. We are put on this earth to find joy and fulfillment and if what we are doing is making us miserable, then it is not the path of or to God. I left the Mormon church over their oppressive doctrines and I have never been happier or closer to my creator and source. I am very happy Steve was able to find a way to make sense out of the life he was born with and I wish him all the blessings of a joy-filled life with the companion of his choosing.
      Sheri

  • Theophile

    It seems Steve made the common deadly mistake of thinking any organized corporate religion represents the true God. For example God said not to make graven images of anything He created, does oxen statues, or angel statues, or Mary statues qualify?

  • http://peculiarlight.blogspot.com Joshua

    I realize that some people have had a negative experience with Evergreen, but they should realize that their experience is not everyone's experience. I love Evergreen. I go to the conferences because it makes me feel good. Both me and my wife agree my life is better because of it.

    • Karl

      I will say that I'm happy for you for being happy. I will also say that the "they should realize that their experience is not everyone's experience" Argument works both ways, this sort of thing is only observable on a case by case basis

  • a.fr33think3r

    It is hard to imagine that one person at Evergreen has considered how happy they are for making the choice to be heterosexual. Moreover, it is hard to imagine any straight person has had that thought. That is because people don't choose their sexual orientation. Everyone that believes in an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing deity that has personal interest in everyone ought to find the idea of Satan laughable.
    One should also see the dishonestly behind the gay gene qualifier. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Believers, Mormons included, use this argument against atheists when atheist say there is no evidence of a god. But, in this case the absence of a gay gene is evidence that being homosexual cannot be part of a person’s nature. Moreover, there may not be a gene that switches sexual orientation therefore, the whole argument hot air.
    Also, let us conceive of the amount of torment we must experience for us to consider suicide. Most of us cannot. The Mormon Church and others says that we should consider that god would punish the eternal soul of the person who succeeds in their suicide attempt. Should we believe in a god that would commit such atrocities?
    Steve appears to have made an honest attempt to change. Twelve years of therapy. Why can’t we accept him?

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      One should also see the dishonestly behind the gay gene qualifier. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      Great point. We published today a story from Queen Mary/University of London that suggested that there is some genetic tie. Research is ongoing.

      I agree that aside from the genetics issue, there is something wrong with a system that torments someone to suicide.

      We had a guest call in our talk show the other night who made a profound point. She was talking about abuse in the name of religion — Scientology in her case — and said that just because there is good does not discount the bad. Her example, if I remember right, was a man who bought flowers for his wife, gave her three children, provided great financial support — but beat her regularly and finally killed her with the abuse. Yes, the flowers, kids and finances were nice — but not good enough to somehow make the abuse go away.

      Deborah

  • http://fairlds.org grinunbarrett

    A self inflicted death to oneself is not brought on by anyone other than the person who takes their life. Isn't that proof that Satan, an unseen, unclean spirit, exists. It is a failure on anyones part to blame an organization for the actions of an individual. There are numerous people who take their own life who have never been a member of or associated with an organized religion. I wonder what the actual number of suicides are compared to the 7 billion inhabits of the earth. Each whether they are homosexual or heterosexual exercise their agency when they take that step just as those who take the life of another exercise their agency when they murder, whatever they have imagined in their own mind. In todays society it seems that any actions on the part of others must be the fault of someone beside the person who has performed the act.

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      I would say it is the responsibility of the person to get out of the negative organization if he or she is in the mental/emotional state to do so. Fortunately, there are groups such as Dr. Marlene Wenell's (http://www.journeyfree.org) that can help with Religious Trauma Syndrome. That said, however, what about young people who can't leave? Are you saying that they should continue to participate in this type of environment if it is making them suicidal? Do the parents have any responsibility?

      There should be accountability in a situation like Steve's where a third of the people attending commit suicide. If that's not indicative of something wrong, I'm not sure what is. That's why professional medical and psychological associations all warn about these therapy groups.

      I tend to look at a high incidence of suicide in a group professing to be therapeutic as one that is indicative of professional and/or ethical irresponsibility. If they are purporting to "help" people, then they clearly are not delivering if those they are allegedly helping choose to kill themselves.

      It may have been that particular group and not the entire Evergreen organization where this was happening, and the leaders of the organization should have investigated (maybe they did – Steve's video does not say). I think it's more productive and compassionate to look at what was driving the people to suicide, not blaming demons and unseen spirits.

      Deborah

  • Jay

    I am one of many gay Mormons. William Bradshaw of BYU-has written some good articles regarding how being gay is biological. David Baker has a profile up on Mormon profiles and he is openly gay. Attitudes towards gay people are changing and I believe that gays will have a better place in the church in the future. I have mostly lived in large cities in the west and most members have shown considerable kindness and love towards me at church regardless of the fact that I am gay.

  • Steve Lawson

    Regarding the comments that defend Evergreen, it is for these people and all others blinded by religious dogma that the Universe will continue for at least another 15 billion years. It may take that long for them to wake up and see the truth (this is, also, the reason [and need] for reincarnation ;)

  • Ethan

    Christian religion today appears to be lacking in surrender to power of the word and surrendering daily. Many wrongly assume that the converted become instant saints and immune to temptations. To the contrary, Christianity is a walk on a difficult path while being moved by God's grace. This is NOT a "leap" of blind faith in fear of some punishment or desire for reward. Christianity is about surrender as symbolized by "carrying the cross". Unfortunately most people only wear it as an emblem and use it as a crutch. Good grief..

    We are all born bent toward the "cognitive distortions" of iniquity (the carnal mind is bent against the law of God). The solution is to "crucify" our distorted desires and consider ourselves to have "died" from our old ways of living, then be "reborn" as a new creation. However, that doesn't mean we are immune to temptation. To the contrary, it means we become more aware of iniquity and we begin to struggle against it. That's the first step to spiritual illumination.

    Only the born again struggle with temptation because the unregenerate don't fight temptation, they simply give in without question. When converted, the "old self" should be kept dead and the "new self" kept alive. The converted will be tempted to dig back up their old desires as long as the devil exists, that's why we need to guard ourselves constantly and remain vigilant, but to do so we need to constantly walk with God by faith, keeping hold of His righteousness. The second step to spiritual enlightenment is to have the righteousness of His character, as revealed in Jesus (the Word made flesh) to be reproduced in us.

    Another problem with Christian religion today is that they separate the spirituality from their religion and daily life. Many Christians walk in the world as if they were of this world, thus they get cozy and conform. They have forgotten that they are supposed to consider themselves pilgrims here and that they are citizens of heaven.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    If the LDS would produce the tablets with the cyphered messages were supposedly written and allow them to be examined by neutral experts for authenticity, they could sweep away all other religions on the planet.

    Of course, if it is all a scam and a lie, they will evade the question and give silly excuses for not doing it.

  • http://www.jvmhost.com Jonathan Elano

    Religion is not the key for such change he wanted. It is your right as in RIGHT relationship to GOD.

  • owlafaye

    Good for you. Be happy with your gayness and remember all the help available in the LGBT community. Gay is normal, you are OK, the sun rises tomorrow.

  • ELBSeattle

    This story is very much like mine, except I was enmeshed in a fundamentalist Xtian congregation. I prayed daily for years that God would take away my gayness. Many years later and still as gay as ever I finally realized I was praying the wrong thing. Rather than have God 'fix' something that wasn't broken I needed to pray to accept myself as I was. It took a long time but I finally got the message. I do not believe in God the way I used to. I believe there is order to the universe, and laws of conduct, and ways of being that are good vs ways of being that are bad. But I do not for a second believe any longer that some big scary old bearded man in the sky gives a flying rat's ass what happens between two consenting adults.

  • Pingback: Two for Tuesday – The Mormons | She Dreams In Digital

  • Bo Treat

    probably cause you're gay dude…

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