Bobby Johnson’s daughter Kelby came out of the closet at age 14. The reaction from their church, he says, was immediate. “The pastor’s response was, ‘you can come here but you can no longer teach, you can no longer hold any position of authority or power within the church because that’s a part of our bylaws,” says Johnson, adding, “since that day … we have not been back.”
It was a defining moment for a man raised in a deeply religious household, and was the beginning of a journey of introspection of his faith.
“As I began to see the hate, the anger, the intolerance that came out in the community with Kelby, that really made me reflect on what I was taught,” he said.“One of the things that is always driven into your head growing up in Christianity is that God, being the personification of love, there is no greater love than God. So now as a parent, I look at my child and I think of my unconditional love for my child … I could never sentence my child to an eternity to what Christianity calls Hell,” said Johnson, adding, “I no longer believe in the concept of Hell as it’s taught in modern Christianity.”…
The treatment from their church was compounded by the reaction to Kelby from their small Oklahoma town, as a whole.
“The gay lifestyle in this area in the country … it’s so frowned upon, and so shunned, and so disliked,” said Johnson, adding, “It’s not an exaggeration to say we lost all of our friends, I mean it’s literal – we have no friends left in the community.”