I grew up in an American Baptist Church, which was presided over by deacons who infused the church with John Bircherism. Even though John Birch Society is political and not a religion, the church culture was infused with the racist, antisemetic, and obsessively homophobic doctrines. To make matters worse, someone left tracts from the Worldwide Church of God lying around, and I came to think that was both part of the church and the most correct way to worship god. Even though I didn't join the cult, I spent a number of years thinking I should.
This is all odd, because my Dad was raised Lutheran and was a Mason, and I don't know how serious he was about religion. I later wondered if we went to the Baptist church to save gas money - it was a one block walk from our house, while the Lutheran Church was a few miles away. My mom grew up in a one-church town, and later said they were whatever religion they could find a preacher to preach.
I still have a major phobia for Baptists. Based on the limited # that I knew, but the immersion that I had in that experience, the word "Baptist" still raises my blood pressure. Here were people who were against smoking, drinking, and fornicating, but came to church hung over, stood in front of the church smoking between sunday school and services, and whose daughters seemed to always have premature first babies 3 months after marriage. When one young woman in this all-white church married a Black man, the church had a special election to see if she could stay - they said that she could come to church, but not her husband or any children.
I feel you Daniel. A lot of people don't really grasp the full reality of the craziness of hardcore theist's. People need to realize that crazies like you just described are NOT a minority. Go to any smaller town in the country and you will find these nuts all over. And they vote.
Then there was "First Baptist Church", about 2 miles away. The folks at "Immanuel Baptist" thought the folks at "First Baptist" were snobbish (maybe they were, until that scandel with the boys scout troop there.... ) and considered the folks at "Calvary Baptist", 2 miles in the other direction, as upstarts and not "true Baptists". Then again, at least they weren't Methodists - 2 blocks away - no one really know what they were doing, but it had to be something bad.
Being at an age where I must consider my blood pressure too, I will make an effort not to use the B-word around you. Glad to see you were able to overcome the programming.
I was not involved, but toward the end of her life, my mother was involved with a black B-word church in our hometown. She said she felt more at home there than any church she'd ever attended. This church had been a force for good in her local community, lobbying for civil rights and economic development for poor people.
Father was born into a long line of Irish Catholics. I don't know how religious he was, as he died when I was five.
Mother was born into a long line of Protestants, as far as I know. Nazarene on her father's side, and who knows on her mother's side. Grandma last attended a Methodist church before she died, but I know her father was extremely strict, having thrown playing cards into the woodstove when my grandfather was courting her, and trying to teach her some card games.
Mom converted before she married my father, as was mandated. In the late 50s, their marriage was considered the closest thing to a "mixed" marriage my hometown had seen. At her funeral, I found out how ignorant my grandmother's relatives by her second and last marriage were... they were STILL going on about the novelty of their first and last time in a Catholic church.
Thankfully, mom stopped going to Mass not long after she married my thankfully now former evil stepfather. Even so, I felt obligated to participate up through about 9th grade, when the nuns and priests weren't answering questions to my satisfaction.
Evidently people from my father's side of the family felt she should be a window the rest of her life. I certainly respected her right to remarry, but in retrospect, not her second and last husband. Nasty man.
My step-father was nominally Lutheran, and took every opportunity to mock my brother and I for being Catholic. He always treated us as second class... another man's children, of course.
I learned to despise the people (all supposed good Christians) who shunned my mother and tried to make her feel guilty for things she shouldn't have... right up until she died.
By the time I arrived on the scene, neither of my parents were religious. My mother was the daughter of a Methodist minister (in Texas), and although active in the Methodist student movement in the 1950s, had abandoned the church for humanism in her thirties. My father, nominally Church of England growing up, was a self-described agnostic.
My maternal grandmother had predicted dire consequences for me because my mother was not going to have me baptized ... not sure if her predictions came true, although the fact that I turned out to be an a-theist probably would have met her definition!
Both of my parents are Orthodox Jews. Although they were brought up in slightly less religious households, they both became more religiously observant in their teens, and more so when they married. They hold typical Orthodx views eg literal belief in the Torah. We are Jewish as far back as anyone knows. But most of my extended family is significantly less religious than my parents and siblings, though we are not close with them.