Please understand that my tone is not angry. But, I am resolute. It’s a not a time to bunker down. It’s a time to start talking, so I want to be precisely clear when I express what I am disturbed by. To be perfectly clear, I see most of the issues that trouble our world originating inside of organized religion. It’s time for change. The 500 year garage sale is already underway. These are my thoughts.
To the white, evangelical church and especially my heritage (the SBC):
If you want me to recognize your validity:
1. Take a strong stand against racism and publicly admit your past mistakes. Systemic Racism is the issue, if you don’t understand it, don’t comment. There are several books you could read or perhaps have a long conversation with a black person or person of color. Be prepared, they are getting tired of explaining it to you!
2. Accept and understand the rights of women to speak and lead at all levels, stop demoting and abusing women and calling it Biblical. A pithy few statements in Scripture and a misogynistic tradition doesn’t validate this tragedy that needs to end. We have missed the voices that could have saved us and it’s past time to embrace equality.
3. Make a strong statement about public inclusiveness of LGBTQ people. Who a person loves as an adult is literally none of your business. Spending an unusually high amount of energy as a group persecuting people you don’t agree with is what Jesus talked about a lot while he was here. Simply accept people as they are! Period!
4. Give up your idols of religion and bibliolatry. Organized religion is probably on it’s way out, if it’s not already dead. We can do the things we hoped religion would do for a fraction of the money and make it 10 times more effective outside the walls of the institution. But, we have to give up the idea that we are right and that people have to come to our place to get the right answers. The Bible very simply is a collection of man’s thoughts about God from a specific timeframe. It may “useful,” like Paul said, but to make it into something it’s not (like we have done) only creates more trauma and confusion.
5. Address the sexual misconduct fiercely of all your leaders, youth pastors and congregants. We waged a war with the purity culture and now are experiencing the fallout of telling the men they can’t control themselves and it’s all the women’s fault. At the same time, we told women their bodies were not their own and heaped shame on all those involved because we needed to control. All the while religious leaders routinely were abusing, molesting and traumatizing men, women and children. Stop sweeping it under the rug and really address it.
6. Stop supporting any hate-based leaders like Donald Trump. Don’t lash out at me about this, really contemplate it, you have to see it! People like this have no fruit of the spirit and are not anything like Christ. Why would you follow them blindly just because they help your 401K and support the anti-abortion movements. The needle hasn’t moved on abortion in 40 years and it’s not the only issue. I don’t care which party you vote for, but you can’t vote for a party just so “our guy” can win. I know we like bullies if they’re on our team, but I think Jesus did the opposite of that. He stood up for the marginalized, he didn’t egg on the bullies.
7. If you can’t address the systemic brokenness of organized religion, don’t invite me to church or try to save me. I am not lost, I’m only wondering and wandering. I am finding deep truths and lasting peace and even healing from my religious trauma. Don’t single me out as the exception. Every day, more people are joining me here. I’d rather be alone as an introvert, but it’s encouraging to see people finding something real. We didn’t slide down a slippery slope or plunge into evil. We watched with horror as the capitol was sieged by mostly church people — we weren’t there. We didn’t listen to the lies and the hate speech. Stop looking outside your organization for the “demons,” they are within.
Again, PLEASE understand my tone is not angry, but it is resolute. We are indeed in a post-Christian world. But, the white, evangelical world has no one to blame but themselves. Don’t get mad at the “dones” and “nones” for following their heart and pursuing greater truth. If you are unwilling to change and still believe you have ultimate truth, then please turn off the lights when you finally leave. I’ll say “hi” to Beth Moore for you here in the desert.
Be where you are, be who you are,