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The following was written by Jenny Spencer for LDS Living. To read the full article, click here.
As Bryan Hall walked up to a group of general conference protesters one cold October morning, he never thought that he would one day become friends with the ringleader, Ruben Israel, a man he had come to hate—a man he had never even met.
For years, this Utah born-and-bred devout Mormon had seen Israel and those like him yelling at members just outside some of the most uplifting Church events: general conference, the Manti Pageant, and the Hill Cumorah Pageant, just to name a few. He thought their antics cruel, irreverent, and ignorant. He simply could not see any good in these people.
But in Ruben Israel, he found his nemesis.
“I found myself watching all sorts of YouTube videos, documenting a number of these ‘anti-Mormons’ who were allegedly persecuting us during sessions of general conference,” says Hall. “I found myself furiously focusing on one particular protester: Ruben Israel.
“Ruben encompassed every negative memory and impression I had of these protesters growing up. He was loud. He was intentionally provocative. He was extremely in-your-face. And he was adamantly ‘anti-Mormon.’”
Hall hated what he saw. He reasoned that many Mormons must also have the same negative feelings toward these people. He hated how disrespectful they were toward things that he and Mormons everywhere hold sacred. But for some reason, Hall channeled all his anger towards the man who appeared to be their leader: Ruben Israel.
“As I dwelt on this,” he says, “the anger inside me swelled to an almost unbearable level. It’s sad to relate just how deep this anger grew within me.” But Hall thought that confronting Israel about his antics would only make things worse. He tried to push the problem away, tried to ignore it. But it was no use.
“The radical thought came to me that maybe I was the one in the wrong,” he says. He remembered a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that says, “He that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord.” Hall recalls, “Suddenly on that day, it was incredibly clear to me that the greater sin lay with me.”
So just before the Saturday morning session of the October 2007 general conference, Hall approached Israel on the street. He may have been resolved to talk to him, but he was not quite prepared for what he saw—or for what happened next.
To read the full article, click here.