I can't say that any one large issue made me decide to leave my church. Mostly it was the little things, building up over time until I couldn't possibly count them all. But this one time...
I was a teenager and I needed a new car. I had a wonderful, reliable car for two years before my eldest brother borrowed it and then snapped part of the frame by locking the brakes over a curb in winter. He was (and still is, I think) a lousy driver. So I purchased another.
It wasn't exactly new. It was a used model, about 7 years older than myself at the time but with only 70,000 miles on it. The reason it was in pretty good shape was that it had been a church vehicle; owned by a monastery and driven by priests to reach their Sunday masses in rural counties. Well, my uncle happened to be one of those priests and managed to arrange to sell one of the autos to me for a very reasonable price.
I had just driven it home for the first time with my dad and my uncle the priest came along to visit with my parents a little longer. Somehow the conversation came around to blessing the car. This is a real thing, the Catholic Church does bless objects. Sometimes big ships, sometimes strings of beads. I recalled some years earlier that my parents didn't seem to think it strange, so I didn't think it strange... at first. "That's fine," I said. "How do we get my car blessed?" My parents chuckled and said "Well that's easy, your uncle can walk outside with you and do the blessing right now." So he did.
It started feeling weird, then. Like, I knew he hadn't brought any holy water or, like, anointing oil (would you need motor oil for a car blessing? Does synthetic count?), but I held my tongue and went along with it, partly curious, partly afraid to offend my uncle with questions.
So there we were, standing at the curb next to my car. He raised his hands over the hood and said a little more than 'bless this vehicle', but not much more. It wasn't the ritualized prayer I was expecting, certainly. And then it was done and he looked mighty pleased with himself so I thanked him. But that day began to bug the hell out of me.
I could have waved my hands over the car and said a prayer; it didn't make it blessed. Why did he think he had that power? Or was he expecting me to believe that he did? It was like asking me to believe in magic without even the effort of a proper incantation. I was acutely disappointed, and felt like my family expected me to be a grateful fool.
The car wasn't any different, wasn't any safer than it had been. It turned out to be less reliable than I would have liked and I gave it to my dad a year later. I was definitely grateful to have a car to drive at that time. But I would have passed on the blessing.
Please, share any stories of 'blessed' objects in the comments. Thank you.