hey! This is my first actual post apart fro introducing myself, so I wanted to share with y'all an old letter I wrote.
Not three or four months ago I was a strong fundamentalist christian who was infuriated by the condescending and disgustingly pious, and often bigoted attitude of a few leaders (both adult and teen). One car trip home I had become so emotionally engaged talking about I decided to write it out. I stayed up until two in the morning typing, and then having it edited by my friend (I had spent the night at his home, he's freaking brilliant, more than I'll ever be). I posted it on facebook, and made sure I had tagged everyone I felt needed to know how I was feeling.
Although the next day I was at a boy scout conference, I had recieved four messages privately either attacking me or offended church members asking me to take down the note. While I was away, a youth leader had appaerently pulled up in front of my house wanting to "light me up and down" terrifying my mother and spending a good hour and half venting at my brother.
I also recieved a huge amount of support, and learned that many families felt the same way, and were happy to have someone finally speak up. Another friend called me the day after to tell me how proud of me she was.
I'm a proud atheist, and I'd like to share with you my feelings towards my "community" church:
The last time I attended a Friday service at Fire Escape felt like the first time. I felt intimidated, nervous, foreign even scared. It was depressing because I was around people I barely knew, and yet had known f two years of worship. I had my arms raised to the Lord, my eyes closed, my heart open, but there wasn't anything there anymore. I felt embarrassed to be there, I felt embarrassed to be a Christian, I was even embarrassed for the people there who called themselves Christian (although that's not for me to judge, and it won't be). It really was like that first day, only this time, when I put my heart out, it still felt like no one had taken it.
The FE program was a Godsend in every sense of the word for myself and my brother. Since going to our Methodist church eight days (and spaghetti dinner nights) a week growing up in North Carolina, moving here meant having to find another outlet for my spirituality. When a friend of mine introduced us. I'm proud to say it's the first time I have ever truly outwardly expressed my spirituality there, and I learned a lot from the sermons and made friends. It made me, a lazy spoiled punk from the suburbs, pick up a bible and learn humility. Those years were a blessing. Still, I gave this place a very generous benefit of doubt for months. When I finally left it wasn't because of any single event, it was a conclusion I had reached after trying to find a way to look past a Churches faults and retain the philosophies that made me support the place in the first place. Many of the youth leaders, people who were my friends, have become spiteful, evangelical stubborn and prideful hypocrites, who would rather intimidate a congregation than lead it. The same social bigotry and worldly expectations that I took refuge from in the walls of this church are now things that dominate the sermons themselves.
Let's start with the daulists. There's a funny story behind them, by the way. I don't know how long this cliques been around, but not long ago, this summer I had run into one of the youth leaders walking home from the park one night. I still had some problems at the church back then (primarily with coldness that seemed to have taken over the place), and he brought up a few things.
For the first part, it seems that coldness comes from a very candid approach to their interpretation of Christianity, and that is something everyone should know before they consider joining. They believe that if you don't do some things, you're condemned, period. That's all well and good, but it's a belief that goes against a good enough chunk Christian sects that calling the place a community church seems a little like false advertising, especially when some other issues came up (more on that in a bit).
The second thing he brought up, to me, really cemented my views on what the church is now about. He told me that he and the other youth leaders were getting tired of how cliques had taken over the place. I felt a wave respect for this guy come in. Finally, I thought of him as someone who is working to make the church a more humble, welcoming place. I really don't know what happened there, considering that same youth leader is calling himself a dualist, a clique of disgusting, egotistical zealots. They tote so much from their bibles and yet seem blinded by the true reasons to follow Christ. From the way they seem to act, they're in it for the power, the pride. They've justified the hours of work they put in to make the church their own personal playground as an excuse to assert themselves at the head of the table, and make any newcomers curious to the whole Christianity thing sit on the floor.
My next problem with the church isn't with anybody in particular. I'll give you a hint, it's round, and silver, and I think, at one point long ago, was used to hold coffee. If you guessed, "an old coffee can", you're pretty close. If you guessed the old coffee cans they pass around as a collection to the church then oh my goodness give yourself a gold star. Seriously go do that, my writing will still be here, and while your at it, you should put a canadian coin in a charity box, because even when the Santa in front of wal-mart passes you the stink eye, you'll still have given more back to your community than Fire Escape has in the past to years I've been there. I can't speak for the church has a whole, and God bless what food drives and charity work that is done there, but I've never seen that passed out among, let alon offered to anyone at fire escape. Instead of toting weekend to feed homeless, talk to needy and spread around the vast amounts of love permeating through our songs and hearts, I see money, money mind you, that you and I are taking out of our wallets and handing over, with good faith, to the church and having it go towards material goods, televisions, trips, x boxes. I'm not Sherlock Holmes, but in their are four HDTVs, in a row, in a hallway. Yes, a hallway. It seems like a little much, you know? Now it's not any of our business to say where the line is drawn with material goods, they're awesome.But it is up to you to decide whether or not that's the kind of church you want to go to.
Finally, there was an issue with a good, friend of mine. If there was a final straw, it was just an absolutely appalling thing to do, especially after reading so much into acceptance. My friend was told by an adult leader. not a youth leader mind you, an adult leader, that he would not be allowed to attend church anymore because of his sexuality. The majority opinion there seems to be that sexual sin is the most harmful of all sins (and this isn't a debate on that point, on any side). Beyond the discrimination, if it's such a bad sin, how does kicking someone out of a Holy place keep them from sinning? Especially a holy place, whose holy book tells us that good faith comes before good deeds. And I couldn't care less about the sins of anyone else there in particular, as long as they had that one place of worship, no matter how flawed. When certain people no longer became welcome, it was as if some transformation had come full circle.
So, yeah, I have a problem with Fire Escape, because it's no longer a haven for Christians, but a discriminating clique of sinners who, instead of seeing Christianity as a path, a philosophical and enlightening way of life in humble servitude to Jesus Christ our lord and savior, instead turned their religion into an ego booster, a stubborn, seemingly bulletproof way of being better than others. I feel this place to change, humbly, because I'm gonna make sure my opinion gets heard, and I'm gonna make sure some changes are made, because at the very least, I don't want these daulists picking on anyone anymore.
So if there is anyone out here who disagrees, I'm writing this to get a reaction. I want to see what happens, I want to see who responds, I want to see how they respond, and why they respond, I want to know if this is truly a problem. And if anyone can, without fallacy or insult, present me an argument that FE is fine the way it is, then I will respond in kind, change my views were noted, and humbly, and joyfully return. But what I see is a place that needs to change, because it's leading a lot of my friends blindly down a path they aren't ready for, as shown by their attitudes, and to me, that means things need fixing.