Friday, February 24, 2017
I Hate The Religious Right
So many if you tell a person, I am a Christian, many have a view of what that is.
This doesn't mean I read Sojourners either.
But I hate the religious right and have for years. It was despicable to me as a young atheist reading Freedom from Religion Foundation newsletters in the 80s about scandal ridden TV evangelists as today watching Trump do his phony religious pray-a-thons with false preachers. This is a roomful of snakes in the grass:
I don't think so much of the left either which abandoned the working class long ago and is now stumping for more immigration ignoring endless unemployed Americans, but the religious right is scary too. I attended IFB churches for years, and have recently left just a year ago. IFB means independent fundamentalist baptist. Today as you all know I remain a Christian but am church-less. There has been some personal fall-out from leaving fundamentalist churches behind, I am still working through. Read my experience with Mrs. Curses if you have not. It is hard to explain to people, how I am a Christian but I do not see the world the same way Jerry Falwell did.
Religiously as a new believer in Jesus Christ and in scripture, I wanted to find like-minded people and I remember in my first IFB, while I hated the politics, my church then was more rural and working class and it was a world I was very interested in. I grew up in high achieving suburban/urban households, the idea of a simple "frugal" idealized country life appealed to me. However as the years passed by while my fellow church members in that church were friendly and open to us, unlike the second IFB church I left last year, I realized my life was just not like their own. They owned homes, had extensive family networks, at least several of the families within my church then were long time family farmers. Some were college educated and well-read but many worked in trades and had family businesses. They had never lived in big cities. Most had secure employment and the men made enough money to support wives they were adamant about not having work. Many families home-schooled. In some ways, going from the Unitarian Universalists to the IFB was a giant leap. That one shocked more then a few people. I guess it was like a hard core atheist going to join the Amish.
Even in those circles during the years my husband had his newspaper jobs, we were down at least a few notches from others economically. Later the economic chasm would grow. I noticed older people in that church were far more established, and this is something I have noted in all the conservative evangelical churches I have visited, people my age were extremely rare. I am now almost a senior myself and this never changed.
One thing I want to note here, is my husband, while he went to church with me, did not share the same religious beliefs. My church's politics drove him nuts. I remember he would shake his head. Hey I was shaking my head too but more on that later.
Sure there were still young people living at home who would come to church with their parents, but there was no one of my generation around. Even in my 30s, I was spending most of my time with adults 30 years older then me beyond the younger pastor and his wife. Everyone was my mother's age and above. This remain true of the churches I attended and visited here including one conservative evangelical church, and the cold IFB, everyone there was older too. No one our age existed in the last IFB church outside a few 30 somethings who were the children of the pastor. One ignored matter is you will see articles on every now and then is how "younger" people are leaving churches. Here is an article for millennials. This one covers Generation X. It is true. The growing economic divide between young and old is showing itself in churches and in politics too. There are poor Baby Boomers too and they probably have dropped out of the whole system as well. Have you noticed our politicians are getting older? I remember when it was a big deal how old Reagan was, and now Trump is even older and its no big deal. Hmm that slogan sure looks familiar.... What's new is old again and all that...
I got the feeling that older people who all voted for Reagan back in the 1980s and prospered, now had voted for Trump. Was this why religious right politics that stressed low taxes and "self-reliance" appealed to them all? In both my IFB churches, Reagan was openly praised, and this was years and years after Reagan had been president. They loved Reagan, was it because they saw the 1980s as their hey day? I was in high school. Reagan didn't do any favors for me. Why was Reagan being shoved down my throat in 2015? The Reagan Revolution was for the generation before me not my own.
I noticed my life did not resemble any of my church members. I had some heartbreak watching their comfortable lives and yes I had less then Christian "envy". Things seemed idealized for them. Their lives were not lonely. They hadn't been forced to try and follow jobs to stay off the streets. Their aunts, uncles, and cousins lived around them. I did notice that for many of them their own adult children were not doing so well. Many were living at home at advanced ages or they simply were not around. Some had gotten on drugs or got pregnant out of wedlock. Many 20 somethings unable to afford college joined the military out of my last IFB. Some were fortunate and able to share in family businesses and trades. I remember hearing a lot talk about "failed" adult children who couldn't seem to "keep" or "get" a job.
That was a big theme among the babbling bible study locally I had to walk out of, the over 60s there sitting around the table, all talked about how Jessica and Johnny just couldn't seem to "hold jobs" and why couldn't they get themselves "together",. There were some poorer older members too and especially the among the extremely elderly, I noticed they were less political. People in their 70s and 80s when I was in my 30s would just shake their heads and tell me most politicians were crooks. For some reason younger Aspie me seemed to form extremely strong friendships with people in the Silent Generation. It would be remarked on how young me loved far older people. The religious right took over in the 1980s. People don't realize while it had it's Billy Sunday roots in American history back to the 1920s, it's true heyday was the time of the Moral Majority. This is when politics and religion got married in America.
It always bothered me while in my old IFB, how they preached against taking welfare, and spoke of how bad it was to rely on the government. Many seemed to believe in this idealized world of farmers and others able to feed themselves without outside interference. Of course the ideas of freedom appealed but I always had a lot of cognitive dissonance being on disability, while preachers from the pulpit railed against government "moochers". I had one pastor who even preached about how things went wrong with Roosevelt, he was younger then me so probably picked that up from bible college. At least Roosevelt did something for Americans. For some reason legions of rich Republican politicians who wanted endless tax breaks for their billionaire buddies were seen as "good men".
At the time I became a Christian, politically I was fed up, that hasn't stopped. Both left and right upset me, and I think the main flag is the Green one [money running the show]. I had burned out and tired of extreme leftist politics while in the Unitarian Universalist Association, I starved in Chicago and never got one dime of help from my UU church of 5 years there, nor the one before while they talked about recycling and saving the oppressed in Bali, and collecting money for Lithuanian immigrants, someone like me was definitely off their virtue-signaling radar.
I became a born again Christian in the early years of the Bush era. Problem was I hated Bush. I don't know what someone could describe me as back then or even now. A disaffected populist? I hated Ayn Rand but believed the libertarians were right on civil liberties. I thought Social Security and Medicare were great programs, they had saved my life. Well you get the picture. Anyhow, when I went to church, while theologically I loved scripture and was learning so much, everytime they got on politics I wanted to barf. It was full support for Bush full sway. Sure my country church, had a few Alex Jones listeners readers before Alex Jones was outed as a shill who became a Republican for Trump, and they talked about how both parties worked behind the scenes together but those folks were rare. One guy who loved listening to Art Bell, and I would have endless conversations about politics. The pastors didn't like those conversations, we learned to have them out of his ear shot.
There were times I had some trouble in my first IFB church because of my differing political stance.
The pastor praised Bush from the pulpit. This was on the eve of Bush II's reelection. I was upset. That was a cringe-worthy one for my Democratic husband. I didn't support the Democrat either then, but I got so upset I wrote the pastor a letter and told him that it was wrong he supported Bush. I've always been an outspoken person. By then Bush had already gotten us into multiple wars in the Middle East, I mentioned those and how I believed the Patriot Act destroyed the Constitution. He responded and we made peace, in a kind of agreeing to disagree way.
The church was not happy about my war protesting. I got rebuked by one church member, the pastor probably stayed out of it given my above letter, for hanging out with "hippies" and "pagans" to war protest. One guy was adamant that I was standing against God's soldiers for the "war on freedom" and was majorly sinning. I told him the "new crusades" were not Gods will. We protested the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. By then I attended a local anti-war group. This was a small town so everyone knew of our activities and would drive by seeing me and my friends with our signs in front of the court house. Things died down and I continued with my anti-war activities, almost to the day I moved away.
I would get lectures on how it was bad to be on "disability" The ex project friend who told me I was a "slave" to disability was not the first time I heard those things. Church members didn't push this one too hard on me, because I was visibly disabled and housebound even in the early 2000s from my lungs but I heard it about others enough. This went along with the things said about people on welfare, how people were "lazy" and "didn't want to work". I would defend people, remember by then I had my years of poverty in Chicago but they were all very adamant. I would hear about people with food stamps buying lobster, and steaks, all things I never could afford when poor. When the issue came up once about us moving back to my old conservative rural town after my husband lost his job, I wanted to go back, he didn't, we actually discussed what would be the social repercussions in a very evangelical conservative town for people who were once "working class" who slipped down a few notches. Let's just say the social and other climate for people who were very poor wasn't very good. Only two churches had food pantries open to the public and the closest homeless shelter was an hour north in a larger city.
Other issues came up too like the time I was told to read the book, "Me, Obey Him?" which sold an extreme patriarchial vision to women--I think they read that one in the FLDS, and I laughed and said, "Are you crazy?" I got myself in trouble a few times with that topic at women's bible studies. I remember one lady in one of my IFB churches saying that I and my husband were too "egalitarian" between ourselves and that my husband needed to "take charge of me". There was the feeling too culturally as a childless woman, I was less then. Motherhood was the full sum of a woman. That seems to be in a lot of kind of churches. I made a rule to stay home on Mother's Day from any churches even new ones after awhile.
So I had a life of being in religious "right" churches while hating the political "religious right". I know that may seem strange to people. Some may ask why didn't you just leave? I did end up leaving. I have no regrets of walking out of that war supporting church. I left the second IFB church and wrote about mean "Christians" who want the poor to die in the gutter. The me of today can not handle being in a church that teaches any of these political things. While I may be in agreement on some theological issues, the world view and reactions to the world or even denial of the realities of my own existence, just are too extreme. I have a far less authoritarian view of the world. I am not a believer in the police state. Jesus was crucified by both the state and religious bodies of His time.
I loved scripture, I wanted to study it intensely and that was provided to me. I was trying to learn about life as a newly saved Christian. I did enjoy much of my time in the first IFB church and they were kind people overall, and I remained friends and in touch on Facebook. The politics though definitely were a ball and chain around their feet, and something that always bothered me. It has put a giant blind spot before many Christians as they have been instructed to "fight the liberals".
All my old church friends I kept contact with voted for Trump. They weren't happy when I came out against him and said, he's not going to make life easier for the disabled and he scapegoats minorities. Trump definitely has formed a sad dividing line between me and old church members. It's worse then it was for Bush. They have bought into all his rhetoric, and the church helped with this. He's bringing in Goldman Sachs as much as Hillary. I support less immigration but think a 20 billion dollar wall is absurd and leaving people stranded. If one reads the Bible there is a constant exhortation to help the poor, there is also warnings about those who oppress the poor, and too many in the churches especially evangelical ones go running to support the latest Republican politician who wants to cut taxes for the ultra-wealthy and push for more wars. I don't get it and never will. I know this world is not perfect and one can't find Utopia here, but I can't get on board with being part of any of it and the cartoon above illustrates completely what I am thinking.
The Poor and Disabled in Churches