So that’s where the edge is

4 01 2012
So, yeah.  That congregational meeting?  An overwhelming decision (over 90%) to separate from the current denomination (Presbyterian Church-USA) and affiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.  Where we’ll have none of those Scary Gay People, thankyouverymuch, and likely won’t have any of them uppity wimmin on the boards, either.   I suspect that some of the people who voted for this move are going to be quite surprised at how this plays out.  For now lots of people seem to be singing the “Nothing is going to change REALLY” chorus, which seems disingenuous at best. 
 
Can’t say that I’m surprised or undone by all of this.  There was a painful air of finality to all of it, and after the meeting countless tearful hugs from people I’ve been in church with for years.  I told every one of them that I couldn’t stay in this church.  More telling, the people who haven’t talked to me.  Intellectually – yeah, there might be some bitterness.  But in my heart, when I’ve known people since high school, this is how they’re willing to end things?  By not speaking? Ever?  How is that Christian? 
 
I despair sometimes.    People who think that stereotypes are reality, who truly do not care about anyone who doesn’t look like them… actually, they don’t care about much of anyone outside of their own immediate circle.  So willing to quickly judge, and just as quickly toss aside, entire groups of people as “less than.”  And unfortunately, a whole bunch of that comes from inside right-wing evangelical circles.  I can’t tell you how many of those conversations I short-circuited inside of my own (former) church.  I’d hear a “those people” conversation start up, and I’d do my very best to monkey-wrench it – and usually in the most shameless fashion possible, by serving up a scriptural reference.  If you are really a Christian, if you really follow the example of Jesus’ life, there is NO excuse for treating people as if they are disposable.  NONE. 
 
I’ve spent so much time trying to make peace between what I read in the Bible and how the right wing expresses their own version of Christianity.  I’ve made excuses, I’ve said that I’m not going to play the more-Christian-than-thou game.  I’ve done everything in my power to avoid calling the right wing out as hypocrites and liars.  And now?  I’m done with that.  I’m calling out the crap where I see it.  I am no longer interested in trying to make peace with those who are willing to wage war on entire swathes of society.  Their so-called gospel is comfortable feel-good garbage, designed to make them feel like their unearned privilege is their God-given right. 
 
I used to make excuses.  I’m done.  I thought they maybe just didn’t know any better.  They damned well DO know better. 
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6 responses

20 05 2013
Katherine

Venting is one of the reasons I come here to write. The pain that I felt – that you feel – is nearly impossible to explain to those who really don’t do church. Their response (and it’s a reasonable one) is “Walk away!” Which is certainly what I did with my former church. But a year and a half after doing it, I still hurt over it, and I grieve for what I thought I had there. It’s really, really hard to give up the comforting illusions, even when you find out how false they are.

20 05 2013
ForFemme

Thanks for letting me vent.

20 05 2013
ForFemme

The first convo she talked mostly about her life. In the second convo she started making racist comments. She was smart enough not to mouth off about my group but not smart enough to figure out that if she was mouthing off about other groups that I knew she would do the same about me in my absence. And I don’t mean maybe. These were repeated, offensive comments. She also began with very intense interrogation of my life. All manner of personal, rude, questions that were none of her business. I knew then for sure that something was up but she was so focused in her questioning that I didn’t have time to ask the question that was burning in my mind. By the third convo and trip when she started in with another racist anecdote, I just pretended I didn’t understand the punch line. Kept asking her what the point was to the story. This made her angry.

The next time we spoke she made a big point of telling me she wasn’t racist. I knew better than to engage. She also told me she wouldn’t be going to church so much anymore and she would probably go to another service time (just as the church personnel had tried to force me to do re the van). Yesterday when we spoke she repeated again that she wouldn’t be going to church for the next few weeks. And more grilling. Especially about how I spend my days. What do I do with my time? Naps? Internet? These conversations are always rife with white supremacist declarations of how hard-working she has been all her life. How she pays her bills always. No welfare for her, uh except that one time (nor for me btw). These conversations are specifically designed to humiliate and make me feel less than. They never hit their mark. But I always feel like crap when they are done.

This is organized. Its racist. It is not OK and probably actionable. This is my place of worship where I go to get relief from the storm and this is what they do. This man has sicked multiple agents on me to extract private info to use for his racist purposes.

19 05 2013
ForFemme

Today I’m in deep despair. I just came to the realization that I am being stalked by my new church. I have been there a year plus and really wanted to make a home. I joined a group and was making progress at first. But then I realized the group leader was publicly hostile to me. Inexplicably so. I can’t get too specific because I may need to seek remedy for what was done. I hope this isn’t too off topic but here goes.

I came at my wit’s end to seek help to pay a bill. I never expected for anyone to help me but they did. I was so impressed I thought maybe this can be my new home. I was very cautious. I had already been hurt and it was a very white evangelical church with all the ear markings. But still the multicultural marketing was good and the diversity was somewhat existent so I thought I’d be alright. This person, we’ll call them Gomer, knew that I was at the end of my rope. Yet he would still make public demands on my time and resources which he knew was impossible for me to fulfill. I learned I was expected to be ashamed of my need and to atone for it. I did not comply in either regard. This made Gomer furious. Not directly of course. But he would make chiding public comments aimed at me in group. Gossip, etc.

People in the group whom I had never spoken to about private things started offering me job search advice and inquiring how it was going, and not in a good way. In a very aggressive, condescending manner. Even after I told more than one person, not to mention that subject again they still did. Against my protestations. Then after the better part of a year attending the group I realized sitting there, that these people were never going to look at me and see a human being. Never. So I stopped going. It was an extremely abusive environment.

Shortly after I stopped going, the woman I trusted most called me to see how I was doing or so I thought. I was moved. Under the guise of concern she managed to get me to let my guard down and talk about how hard things were. I realized by the end of that convo that she, a handmaiden of Gomer, had made that call on his behalf.

Most recently I had car issues and I didn’t have a way to church. I had attempted to get on the van but they refused to let me ride so I had to start taking the bus which increased my expenses. Then one day a few weeks ago I met a woman who approached me out the blue and started a convo. She questioned me about why I was at church so early and I told her the bus. She said she lived in my area and she would give me a ride since I am right on her way. We swapped info and I called her the next week.

Oh, boy. This is probably too long, sorry.

19 05 2013
ForFemme

I’m sorry you had to experience this. I know how painful that is because I did it too. And I still miss my home church deeply, at least the good stuff.

2 04 2013
Easter | Woman in the Balance

[…] written before about the crisis that finally forced me out of that church, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it […]

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