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Yesterday marked the three year anniversary of my wife and I's departure from the church she grew up in all her life.  As I write this, it is with a profound sadness that a corrupt and evil fraud is posturing as authentic Christianity in this country.  A fraud that denounces women and their roles in the church, that demands allegiance to a specific political agenda, and a fraud that hates instead of loves.  

My wife had attended the same Baptist church all her life.  It's a small town church, almost 200 years old, with lots of seemingly normal people in it.  My wife and I were married in that church, as were her parents, and both of their parents before them, and so on and so forth.  Both my wife and I have been Christians all of our lives.  Our faith was one of the things that brought us together in the first place, and church attendance was a very high priority for both of us.  Over time, however, our views of Jesus' commands to care for the sick, the poor, and the disenfranchised brought us into conflict with the new pastor, who was hell bent on bringing the church back under the authority of scripture, with an emphasis on literal reading and interpretation.  

My wife and I are both public school teachers, so we both took umbrage when the pastor began making horrible remarks about the public school system in our area, including making many remarks that were outright lies.  They included such ludicrous claims as one which proposed that the public schools were trying to force kids to become homosexuals.  Equally preposterous were the claims that by teaching books like the Harry Potter series, teachers were basically teaching kids witchcraft and devil worship.  The pastor and his handpicked deacons began making sweeping reforms in the church as well, such as the removal of women from virtually any position of leadership.  This was reinforced through the Sunday School classes, as a directive from the elders of the church, to teach the proper role of men and women in relation to each other.  I was dismayed to find that their interpretation of Scripture left no room whatsoever for women to have any meaningful role in the decision making of the church.  

I began to notice a change in the membership as well.  Old timers who had been in the church for quite some time began to grumble about some of the changes being made and were one by one taken out of their positions of leadership.  The deacons and the pastor began to introduce measures into the church by-laws that removed much of the democratic process and involvement by the lay people as a whole in decision making.  A wedge was slowly driven between those who supported the pastor and those who did not.  Those who did not were confronted alone and asked to make decisions about their commitment to the church, and if the answer was not what was being looked for, they were asked to leave.  

One of the largest changes was the direct support from the pulpit for the Republican party in general and President Bush in particular.  When I, as a high school Sunday School teacher, asked questions as to whether the administration's policies really lined up with what Jesus asked of His followers, I was brought in for "training."  When I talked about politics with fellow church members they often expressed astonishment that I supported progressive politics.  I was asked directly by the leadership to stop making my political preferences known, as that was causing "conflict within the Body of Christ" and told that church was not the place to air political views, despite the fact that the pastor and the deacons were doing so every Sunday.  

This all came to a head one afternoon when my wife had enough and called the pastor to express her frustration and ask to talk things out.  She had been a member of the church for 25 years and had dedicated much of her life to serving the congregation there.  The pastor's response to my wife's issues?  He told her that he hoped the two of us found a good church home.  I was immediately removed from my position as a Sunday School teacher, through an intermediary, and told that if my wife would not "submit to my authority" and return to church that I was not welcome there any longer.  During this time nobody from the church -- not the pastor, the youth pastor, or any of the deacons, would return my phone calls or e-mails.  Sadly, my wife and I gave up and left.  

It saddens me to think that this is what our country has come to, that a neo-nihilistic fraud of Christianity has hijacked a peaceful faith and turned it into a message of violence, greed, and political ideology.  If you are reading this and recognize some of what I write happening in your place of worship, I have one message to you: FIGHT!

Originally posted to Guy Fawkes on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:31 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A fraud (123+ / 0-)

    You got that right.

    These people are hateful, not loving, cruel, not caring, deceitful, not honest.

    They long ago forgot the true teaching of Jesus.

    "I just had the basic view of the American public -- it can't be that bad out there." Marine Travis Williams after 11 members of his squad were killed.

    by Steven D on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:26:31 PM PDT

    •  Maybe for starters (89+ / 0-)

      but I think, if you're up to it, you ought to get with those older members and see if there's any way you can take your church back. Part of the reason for the rise of fundamentalist thought has been that the more open members of a church have left rather than fought back. Sometimes they don't have any choice--and that may be the case here--but if there's a way the community can retake their church, the community will be better off for it.

      I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

      by incertus on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:46:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fight! -- to the diarist (23+ / 0-)

        Yes, at the end of your diary, you urge us to fight — but you and your wife walked away. I'm not casting stones, but shouldn't you heed your own best advice?

        "Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse." St. Cyprian (200-258)

        by valleycat on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:08:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not a popular view, but (23+ / 0-)

          absolutely right.  That church is YOUR HOME, not some Bushco outpost.

          Get your old friends and fellow church members and take it back!

          "One way or another, this darkness got to give"

          by wozzle on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:13:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There's another way (20+ / 0-)

          Do you really want to take that church back if it is no longer your spiritual home?

          Why not build a new one that truly is your home?  

          Here's some resources I think you'll find interesting:

          http://housechurch.org/

          http://www.homechurch-homepage.org/

          http://homechurch.meetup.com/

          Just Google up "home church" and you'll find even more.  I have been researching this issue myself, now having reconciled myself to being a "recovering Catholic".  The Church will take me, but only if I allow myself and my daughter to be seen as second-class citizens, while looking the other way at an exclusively male hierarchy that has hidden crimes against children and women for years.  There is an African saying: the daughters of lions are lions, too.  We are not merely handmaidens; we have been prophetesses and beloved disciples, too, like Miriam and Deborah and Mary Magdalene.  I could not stay in the Church as it is ethically impossible for me to compromise myself as a woman and a law-abiding citizen in front of my kids.

          A door closes and a window opens; it's up to you to find it.  Sometimes callings are not joyous, light-filled momentous events, but dark and painful experiences that lead us to rethink and rediscover real truth, like St. John's dark night of the soul.  Take this time while between your previous spiritual home and the next one to indulge in spiritual introspection.  There may be others in your community who've also had the same experience and are merely waiting for you to help them with this same task.

          Wish you and your spouse well as you enter this phase of change and eventual spiritual growth.

          •  Are you willing to give up the USA? (19+ / 0-)

            Are you willing to give up the USA because bad people are in power?

            Are you willing to give up your city because the mayor is a fascist?

            Giving up one's church is a parallel to giving up your city or your country.  It's passive and it's negative.  Part of the reason these people are taking over denominations is because of the social justice work done by churches.  

            Three people in relative isolation simply can't do the work of 75 working together with organized passion for justice and mercy.  Those going hungry or without homes suffer because of the self righteous attitude of the three who think religion is strictly personal. Religion is the collective community doing the work God calls us to do. It is not a group of singular people trying to be in communion with the spiritual world.

            We have to fight for our churches in order to do the work we are called to do.  

            •  Thank you! (12+ / 0-)

              We will NOT concede anything to them. Especially, Jesus!

              Reminds me of a sign I saw in the rear window of someone's car after the '04 presidential election, when disappointed liberals threatening to move to Canada:

              I have chosen to stay and fight.

              Let your conscience be your guide.

              by Jiminy Cricket on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:02:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank YOU! (11+ / 0-)

                "We will NOT concede anything to them. Especially, Jesus!"

                Thanks for the fighting words!!! I just added them to my email sig.

                I've been fighting this battle since 1980, when the Republicans started taking over evangelical churches. I'm so tired. But you just inspired me to stand my ground and continue to fight - not at my church thank God (it's evangelical, but it does not preach politics), but in other contexts that I've just wanted to walk out of.

                But we'll shout from the bow "Your days are numbered" / And like Pharaoh's tribe they'll be drownded in the tide / And like Goliath they'll be conquered

                by zerocrossing on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:40:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Would that it were that simple (8+ / 0-)

                  I too have been quite disaffected from a church with which I have very long-standing ties, though my experience has been somewhat less grim.  It is quite disillusioning to learn that people that one regards as friends are simply not there when the chips are down.  It is a profoundly painful experience, and unless you have experienced it, I would advise you to be a bit less free with the advice to get back into the fray.  The emotional currents are powerful and cannot be ignored.

                  My approach was to take a "leave of absence."  I believe that we are called to be peace-makers, but not doormats.  I've resumed attending, but I'm still groping my way towards a stance toward my church and its ministers that has integrity.

                  One of the benefits of my "leave of absence" is that I found another church nearby that is in many respects a more faithful fulfillment of Scripture than the church that I have long attended.  But churches aren't like stores, they're more like families.  Just as you cannot pick your relatives, you cannot pick your fellow church members.

                  I would pursue a house church only as a last resort.    Again, this is not a business, and this is not a problem solved by "market entry."  Christianity is fragmented enough with adding to the fragmentation.

                  •  This ain't supposed to be politics (11+ / 0-)

                    That's what makes it so painful. It is very much like family betrayal, and the options sometimes look and feel like that. Do I try to make it work? Do I confront, or do I just be patient? Do I try to get my voice heard, and if I do, is that being selfish? Or, do I just gradually pull away (and become more hurt when no one stops me)?

                    Some of us are wounded veterans of the Southern Baptist wars of 1979-1990. We tried to understand, then we fought like heaven, then we fought like hell, then we lost. Finally, we left. A denomination that many of us had been part of for generations (my grandfathers were SB pastors) had been taken from us. The "rope of sand" had been dissolved. I still feel the pain, if I take it out of the box.

                    Fighting is good, sometimes. Standing up for what you believe in is good, usually. But please don't equate the diarist's dilemma with normal political wrestling. It's much, much more intimate than that.

                    The only analogy I can think of at the moment would be if DailyKos was sold to a right-winger, who gradually replaced all the normal FPers, then finally banned everyone with UIDs less than his. And that doesn't come close to the pain of being asked to leave a church family that you helped grow.

                    Bruce in Louisville
                    I've stopped making jokes about Bush, because he's not funny anymore -- he's just scary as hell.

                    by bmaples on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:12:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Eloquent, (0+ / 0-)

                    and so true. I've been where you were, and a leave of absence is how I solved the problem as well.

                    "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                    by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 09:22:17 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  That is so good to hear! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  anotherdemocrat

                  In the end, my friend, it is the battles you chose to fight that is what you are judged by, not whether you won - which is hard to remember sometimes. Besides, you will never know what effect you have.

                  I'd like to recommend a book to you. It's called "The Impossible will take a Little While." It is a collection of stories of people who have worked for peace & justice and helped change a small part of the world through their persistance and faith.

                  If you go to the book's website, you can read some of stories from the book. My favorite is on their website to read and it's called Jesus & Alinsky by Walter Wink.

                  Let your conscience be your guide.

                  by Jiminy Cricket on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:22:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I dont see all this goodness... (8+ / 0-)

              I see churches remodelling and adding more and more square footage and fancy architectural deatils and offering singles mixers while a couple of blocks away homeless people and junkies are living in the alleys.

              I dont see any of these places doing any good in the community but just focusing on the needs of their paticular congregation.

              I just have never seen this wonderful christian action network that some of you are describing.  

              •  Then (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                April Follies, tikkun, TexDem, blueoasis

                there are a lot of other threads I'm sure you can spread your good cheer in. I'm not a religious person--I'm an atheist, in fact--but I don't see the need to denigrate the good work that some religious groups do.

                I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

                by incertus on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:40:53 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Easy there (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TexDem, Piano Legs

                  naufragus has a legitimate point; this is one of the issues the diarist should keep in mind, that fighting to save something that is wholly unworthy may not be justified.

                  What would Jesus do, after all?  Even from an atheist's perspective, one must consider whether fighting for a church that would toss out those who dissent is in sync with the political (if not religious) teachings of the man called Jesus Christ:

                  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
                  Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land.
                  Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
                  Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
                  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
                  Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
                  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
                  Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

                  If a church does not live these words in spite of the fact this is tantamount to the Christian church's mission statement, is it worth spending the time to change its direction in contravention to its existing congregation, or is it more important to live as Christ asked?

                  •  My point (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    tikkun, jules too, anotherdemocrat

                    is that Naufragus is painting with a very wide brush.

                    I dont see any of these places doing any good in the community but just focusing on the needs of their paticular congregation.

                    I just have never seen this wonderful christian action network that some of you are describing.  

                    Those statements are crap and they're not limited to the church the diarist is talking about. My suggestion to naufragus was that if he wants to believe that, then fine, but why bugger up this thread?

                    I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

                    by incertus on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:08:58 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Personal Experience = Crap? (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      DaleA, TexDem, CommiePinkoScum, Piano Legs

                      I dont see any of these places doing any good in the community but just focusing on the needs of their paticular congregation.

                      I just have never seen this wonderful christian action network that some of you are describing.  

                      Those statements are crap and they're not limited to the church the diarist is talking about. My suggestion to naufragus was that if he wants to believe that, then fine, but why bugger up this thread?

                      Since when is expressing one's personal experience crap?  It's not naufragus's fault that from his/her perspective and experience that the church congregations he/she's encountered behave in the manner he/she described.  Just because it's disappointing to think that there are church congregations out there that don't care about the community beyond the church's established circle of playmates doesn't mean that such self-centered, community-ignoring churches don't exist like crazy all over the place.  naufragus wasn't relaying belief, but personal experience with churches.  He/she didn't say that there weren't ANY good churches out there, just that he/she hasn't seen any of them.

                      •  Yes, but there's seeing and 'seeing.' (3+ / 0-)

                        Naufragus didn't say if his observations were firsthand or the result of drive-bys and reading the news. If he's formed assumptions without honest inquiry, then it's a facile observation and not necessarily a truthful one.

                        I dont see any of these places doing any good in the community but just focusing on the needs of their paticular congregation.

                        I just have never seen this wonderful christian action network that some of you are describing.

                        A simple Google search for the websites of mainstream denominations will provide plenty of evidence of the altruism naufragus says he doesn't see. Or simply just visiting one of those same churches. But it's easy to form assumptions without getting the big picture.

                        The churches who do journeyman's work on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised don't necessarily see the need to broadcast their good works, because to them that's not the point.

                        That having been said, it is true that some mainline congregations are just a little too clubby and pleased with themselves.

                        I have leveled this charge at my own church. But then again, I'm a member, so I know what I'm talking about, and I don't say it to condemn the congregation out of hand. And that's why these accusers should be more careful, especially if they're not seeing what's "inside the walls" personally.

                        "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                        by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:34:23 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  A Matter of Worlds (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          DaleA

                          It comes down to a matter of worlds.  How far out does one have to go to get to the appropriate "big picture"?  How far to go to excuse the "big picture" good churches of not making a difference in one's direct life, in the world around oneself that one interacts with day-in and day-out.  How far out does one have to go to be able to discard all the bad things churches do as not being the primary action they find coming from churches?  If one cannot see any good coming out of a church's actions in the world around oneself, then the church sitting around saying they're so altruistic on their websites isn't going to matter a damn.  There is a significant difference between words and experience.

                          (Of course we can then go off into the whole debate over the concept of altruism and whether or not true altruism could ever exist.)

                          And faulting someone claiming they're just not looking hard enough to find all the good things hiding in the horror around them can come off as an obnoxious defiance of their personal experiences.  Hell, even the right-wingers claim we don't look at everything right to see all the good we're doing in Iraq.  It's not all that different telling someone to just look at a bigger picture when they find fault with a church for having such grandiose buildings and get-togethers in light of seeing poor, sick, and homeless not far away.

                          •  Most who argue churches don't do good works (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sharoney, Lefty Mama

                            don't see the good works because they are not exactly out working at the local soup kitchen themselves.  Yes, there are homeless and jobless and hopeless blocks away from every church.  However, the groups that can be regularly counted to donate time and money to social justice activities (like the homeless shelter or free daycare or community center for recent immigrants) are almost entirely religious in nature. If they were really doing nothing, most organizations that help the poor and disadvantaged wouldn't be able to operate.  

                          •  Not finding fault. (0+ / 0-)

                            I made no assumptions about what formed Naufragus' experiences with churches. I started the sentence with "if."

                            If he's formed assumptions without honest inquiry, then it's a facile observation and not necessarily a truthful one.

                            In retrospect, I should have used the word "accurate" rather than "truthful."  But I stand behind what I said. When it comes to perceptions, garbage in = garbage out.

                            And to compare the activities of mainline churches with the folly of Iraq as you did, and to imply that believers, like the neocons, are trying to turn an inherent negative into a positive is not only inaccurate, it is offensive on its face. I also find it ironic coming from someone who has stated in an earlier diary that we shouldn't overlook the good things happening in Iraq. There's a certain lack of consistency there.

                            I've observed that most Kossacks who slam the mainline denominations have formed their perceptions from cable TV and newspapers, or say they have had bad experiences with a single congregation -- usually a conservative one --  and then turn around and universalize that into a blanket indictment of all mainliners.

                            I don't know of a single mainline Protestant church that has its own nationally distributed cable show. And I have looked. What that tells me is that if someone wants to find such a show locally, they have to be motivated, and the most virulent critics of Christianity (and just to be clear, I'm not necessarily including Naufragus here) wouldn't take the time - the right-wing megachurch-sponsored programs are the low-hanging fruit they prefer to pick, and have the added advantage of providing fodder for their preconceived notions about ALL churches.

                            Locally, most small newspapers (or even regionals) don't have a full-time reporter covering the religion beat, and if individual parishes get noticed, more often than not it's because of something negative (like a building being knocked down, someone stealing the collection box money or a child molestation case). I've covered my share of those kinds of stories myself. Anything else tends to get shunted to a 3-column inch notice in the "Religion" section on page 19B in the Saturday edition.

                            I say this as a working journalist and parish member who has tried to get our local paper to cover our ongoing activities in depth and who has been met with indifference or silence. If someone who knows how newspapers work has that problem, you can imagine the difficulty encountered by the average church secretary or volunteer committee member. Bad news sells, and gets out there. Good news, the quiet work of dedicated believers that goes on every day, doesn't. That's why I suggested that Naufragus check online, because often it's the only vehicle the mainliners, who lack the attraction of novelty, have at their disposal to get the word out, (or "saying they're so altruistic," as you put it). But someone sincerely seeking that information still has to be motivated, and again, a scoffer isn't likely to make the effort, because it won't fit their framing.

                            The megachurches and larger right-wing parishes have enormous staffs, tremendous resources, and the advantage of pastors who are media savvy (some even own their own publishing houses and public-relations centers) and who spend lots of time before television cameras, either their own or those of the national media, whenever they feel their particular flavor of "faith-based" perspective is needed.  Their clergy sit on the boards of lobbying groups financed by extreme right-wing conservative millionaires and think tanks. They have at their disposal literally millions for the asking with which to lobby Congress and local governments on their pet issues.

                            Most mainline pastors are too busy for that kind of visibility and unconcerned with what the media think of them because they feel that is not what churches should be concerned with; Christ did not tell us to "go make viewers and boosters of all nations." Our national church bodies have advocacy groups that try to lobby Congress on behalf of social and economic justice, although they are funded with donations from members and don't have connections to think-tanks or millionaires -- except, possibly, the occasional wildcard like George Soros. We don't campaign (in defiance of federal law) against or for candidates. We don't leaflet our states with borderline-libelous campaign literature to smear a particular political party or philosophy. So again, the only way most outsiders are going to hear about these denomination's good works is to go to their websites.

                            Yet ironically, the fact that we lobby Congress for any compassionate reason, or even just issue an invitation to critics to come and see what we are doing opens us to charges of "proselytising" and "brainwashing" by those who have already made up their minds about ALL churches, but who still demand that we defend ourselves. It's hard to get past that kind of set-in-stone mindset, no matter what its reason for being. Frankly, I'm sick of critics who know little to nothing about the subject taking pot shots at us whenever the subject of mainline denominations come up.

                            And as for the issue of loaded language, your own is telling:

                            How far to go to excuse the "big picture" good churches of not making a difference in one's direct life, in the world around oneself that one interacts with day-in and day-out.  How far out does one have to go to be able to discard all the bad things churches do as not being the primary action they findcoming from churches?

                            Your assumptions  - that not only do mainline churches not make a difference, but they are all doing "bad things" (you used no qualifier whatsoever) -- are right there in black and white. That's hardly an unbiased and dispassionate viewpoint, but you are correct about one thing -- I guess we all see what we want to see.

                            As to the "grandiose buildings and get-togethers," that's an issue of best use of resources -- part of the larger Christian issue of stewardship -- that is certainly been agonized over by all the committees of my parish and many others. And while the issue is a fair one, large buildings like that of my congregation (which was paid for and is maintained entirely by members' donations, in addition to the $60,000 per annum we give to the national church body for its charity work abroad, among other things) have a purpose and in themselves are a resource for the poor.

                            We house homeless families with children in my building weekly as part of the local Interfaith Hospitality Network, so that small children don't have to sleep in shelters alongside addicts and petty criminals. We open our building free, no strings attached, to local support groups and nonprofits every week. We hold neighborhood rallies to pressure the city council to repair run-down areas of town and provide more for children and the poor in our city. We run a co-op daycare that opens its doors to families both within and outside of the parish. And it goes without saying that we hold large, formal, uplifting worship services to which all are welcome without question or discrimination.

                            All those things wouldn't happen without what you might call our "grandiose building." And yet we still wonder if it would be better to sell off some assets and use the funds for other kinds of work. All "good churches" deal with this quandry, one that is, again, invisible to those outside the walls.

                            "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                            by Sharoney on Wed May 31, 2006 at 10:14:24 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  I see it all the time (9+ / 0-)

                I call on the cloud of witnesses of blessed memory; Dorothea Day, Sojouner Truth, Archbishop Romero, the Brothers Berrigan, Martin Luther King, William Sloan Coffin, Penny Lernoux, Danial Pearl, Louis Brandeis, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Lillian Wald, poor God ridden Lenny Bruce.

                These are the people who give me the courage to fight on against what feel like overwhelming odds.

                And then there are those who fight on today, Sr. Joan Chittister, Sisters of the Holy Name, Lou Vera, all the nameless heroes who fight for the rights of campesinos in Central and South America.  Notice how many of the heroes are Roman Catholic.  I'm not a Roman Catholic but I treasure them, their faith, and their courage.  

                Given their faithfulness, the least I can do is to maintain my own fight to honor their sacrifice.

              •  It's there, but sometimes it's hard to see (6+ / 0-)

                There are some churches that only do good for themselves. There are some that only do good for people they can't see. There are some that do the occasional project, and with good intention. Many churches that I would not want to belong to are nevertheless made up of  good people, with good hearts. These often do some to much good, as their insights and means allow.

                Then, there are the few churches (and they do seem to me to be few in number) that are very intentional in their openness, their outward-looking mission, and their actions. They are not only willing to help when asked; they are actively seeking ways to minister to the least, to the poor, to the forgotten, to the oppressed.

                My wife and I are fortunate and blessed to be a part of such a church. It would be too much like bragging to tell of the church's work, and indeed would put the focus where it does not belong: on the people themselves. But that such a church exists, and that there are other churches like it, I can testify.

                It is hard work. Human nature wants to build a community, and once built wants to keep it "just as it is," and to focus on loving each other. Many churches -- maybe even the diarist's -- do a good job of taking care of their own. Some churches take care of others, and neglect their own. And a few, through the grace of God and years of focus, learn to do both.

                Bruce in Louisville
                I've stopped making jokes about Bush, because he's not funny anymore -- he's just scary as hell.

                by bmaples on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:57:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  One Example (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                anotherdemocrat

                Lots of churches, especially the Dominionist ones, suffer from exactly the problem you are talking about, but not all of them.

                One striking example of "good in the community" by a religious group is Habitat for Humanity.  They've done lots of good, and typically keep their religious nature very low key.

            •  Was never my church (7+ / 0-)

              If the diarist feels he and his wife are up to the task and they feel it is still their church, by all means, fight for it.  But it took me 30+ years to figure it out, that a church expecting me or any other woman, or even my own female child, to refrain from being a full and complete equal participant was never MY church anyhow.  I thought for a time that we were making progress, but the newest bishop removed women from readings and girls from altar attendant roles.  It is a slap in the face; a congregation that refuses to reject this regressive sexism is not my congregation.

              I only have a limited number of hours every day; right now I need to budget that time carefully.  I'm fighting for my country because it most definitely is MY country; I'm taking it back by working to get a woman elected to local office (first time ever for a woman in a staunchly Republican district, and she has a fighting chance with my help), getting several African-American candidates elected to office, getting a Democrat elected to replace a moronic Fundamentalist Republican in a red district.  I'm spending 40+ hours a week on fighting to take my county, my state and my country back.  

              By comparison, I cannot change a monolith like the Catholic Church and frankly, it was never a church for women like me.  Fighting this battle comes at the expense of the other battles I have on my plate.

              Frankly, the dinosaurs died for a reason.  The Catholic Church is one such dinosaur -- if it cannot adapt and rectify its own ways, it will die as all other dinosaurs have.  The diarist will have to ponder the question whether he is free to find God without the burden of others' dinosaurish ideology, or if he wants to force the church to evolve.  Best wishes to him and his spouse no matter the path to which they are called.

              •  I am sorry for your pain. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mary Julia, TexDem

                As a former Catholic, I can relate. You might want to see if a Lutheran church might be more to your taste. We have a good many former Catholics at mine. Our pastor is female, our council president is female, and women and girls serve at the altar every week.

                Just a suggestion, and an invitation.

                "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:37:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks much (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sharoney, Lefty Mama

                  Appreciate the offer.  I've toyed with it, but the Lutheran churches in this area still run far to the right politically, I'd feel as compromised as I do as a Catholic.

                  Also looked into Episcopalian since it is closer still to Catholicism, but the local churches are not particularly liberal and struggle with gay equality.

                  So until the right place fits, we do "home church".  The kids and I read Bible stories and discuss the important concepts, discuss other religions comparatively, talk about the 8 global common values and how they are reflected in each of the major faith traditions.  After all the reading we've done, I think we lean Buddhist, but there's no temple around here.

                  Eventually a solution will become manifest; I suspect as more of us become discontent, there will be a groundswell of people looking for the same thing who'll simply find each other, rather like the "home church" Meetups.

                  •  Sounds like (0+ / 0-)

                    You've come up with the best possible option for your situation.

                    And until that situation shakes itself out, I wish you peace.

                    "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                    by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 09:25:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Also, look for resources. (17+ / 0-)
        The fundies hold training workshops and publish materials on how to do the things that happened to your church. It's all about power and money.

        Email Frederick Clarkson and ask him if there are any resources from our end. Use this as a teachable moment for other disenfranchised members. If  your church is in the Southern Baptist Convention, then abandon all hope. That battle was lost 20 years ago. But if it was American Baptist or other, then there are probably still some independent voices.

        Most of all, do what is best for you and your family in this time of grieving and (hopefully) healing. And to whatever degree you feel able and ready, reach out to others and make something good come from this.

        •  Jimmy Carter left too! (10+ / 0-)

          In his new book, Jimmy Carter describes how the Southern Baptist Covention of which he and Mrs. Carter were members has become so right-wing fundamentalist that they have resigned after being members all their lives!  Sometimes, it's not so easy to stay and fight.  What these evil men have done is to ruthlessly accumulate power, which is what they want.  Power and greed.  That's what it's about. And this Bush administration is filled with these kinds of people in all departments of government and in Congress.  There are stories all over the internet about this kind of religious fundamentalism and how dangerous it is.  It's quite another thing to have experienced it yourself.  These people are traumatized. We all think that churches are filled with love and kindness, but so often that's not the case at all.  "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in groups!"  I saw that on a tee shirt that one of my students was wearing.  I taught college English.  See, there's hope!

      •  Could you picket a church? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        x, ScienceMom

        I think incertus is right.  The community has to come together to make the church a place where everyone is welcome.

        You have to get attention so that people are thinking about what is going on.  So people can talk about it...

        Could you have some sort of alternative services in a public place in front of it, or nearby?

        I think I MAY NEED A BATHroom break?

        by marchmoon on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:27:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A church is its members... (12+ / 0-)

        Seems that if all of the disaffected members could be reorganizd into a new church, that would be the equivalent of retaking the church.

        Paths to God are personal and cannot be dictated by church leaders.  A problem such as this one is really an opportunity to reaffirm a personal path to God by starting anew, rather than something to be solved by reclamation of something old.

        Just my 2 cents.  Best of luck to all involved.

        •  Right- New Wine =><= Old Wineskins. n/t (0+ / 0-)
        •  Thus seperation of church and state (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TexDem

          all makes sense now right? THIS is why the gov't needs not get involved in the church, thanks...Jesus said Himself...My kingdom is NOT of this world...But the Pharisees and Saducees and other leaders were blind and plummeted Jesus into a crucifixion...so Jesus also said, don't be surprised when they persecute you. If they did it to Me, they will do it to you. I'll take the company of Jesus, myself...

          Man Bush has really blown it with the church/state mess we're in. What was the dark ages and the Inquisition but the church seizing state power? Looks like history is doing a repeat...the other way around though, state seizing church power..

      •  But remember... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gmhowell

        ...the true church is in your heart.   Don't confuse that with a building.

  •  I hope you ... (17+ / 0-)

    and your wife find a new progressive church home. You will be welcomed with open arms...and open hearts.

    War leaves a country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.~Proverb

    by Caldonia on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:27:45 PM PDT

  •  Is this your very first comment on dKos? (18+ / 0-)

    ...I would like to hear the rest of the story, how you found an alternative to that church, whether it was changing churches or religion(s) or going on a spiritual journey outside of the mainstream.

  •  What passes for Christianity isn't very Christian (27+ / 0-)

    in a lot of places these days.  Sorry to hear your story.  I'm sure you are not alone.

    -4.63,-3.54 If the people will lead the leaders will follow

    by calebfaux on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:33:15 PM PDT

  •  You tal,king about church ? (7+ / 0-)

    Or, are you talking about democracy in America.  I see may parallels.

    "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention"

    by egarratt on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:35:25 PM PDT

  •  Fight for what? (19+ / 0-)

    Does Christ require you to be a member of a church in order to follow him?

    Follow Christ.

    Screw the church.

    Republicans buy support. Democrats give it away.

    by MNW on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:35:38 PM PDT

  •  I am sorry for your loss Guy... (30+ / 0-)

    The real Christians, like you and your wife, will be/are the first to be persecuted under the thumb of these Theocrats... They fear you most.

    I hope you have found another church where you can follow the true teachings of your faith...

    Brightest Blessings to you and yours....

  •  That is a completely creepy story! (31+ / 0-)

    Really smacks of brainwashing-type techniques and cult behavior.

    Sounds like someone's a little bit power-hungry there.

    So sorry for your experience.  It's hard to watch something that was once so beautiful turn into something so very, very ugly.

    Hope you were able to find a new spiritual home.

  •  Baptism means something different now (25+ / 0-)

    I was raised a Baptist, and these are the principle tenets I was taught:

    The priesthood of the believer -- Lutherian statement of the direct relation of the individual person to the Bible;

    Separation of church and state -- absolute and fundamental.  My church even refused non-profit bulk mailing privileges for the weekly bulletin.

    Once, saved, always saved -- a pillar that may still be in place, as it doesn't seem to directly conflict with the Republican agenda.

    And there was not this constant prattle about the necessity of the subjugation of women.  True, women were not deacons or pastors, but they were church leaders, and they spoke out.

    Oh, how the church has changed.  I used to think it was the denomination that most clearly connected to the principles of American democracy.  No more.  What a tragedy.

    "And some fine place [Washington, D.C.] is. Its social leaders have all the style of Pyongyang combined with the sophistication of Fresno." -- Digby

    by Vico on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:40:22 PM PDT

  •  I'm Also Sorry To Hear Your Story... (15+ / 0-)

    ...but must tell you I am envious that for at least a long period of time, you and your wife had a church you were comfortable with and could feel a part of.

    I have not felt welcomed in any church anywhere I have lived since moving off Long Island (NY) and leaving the Lutheran Church I grew up in.  Which is not to say I haven't tried, but everytime I try I find myself around people who push their fundamentalist conservative (political) views over what I consider to be the proper role of a Christian - respect for others, helping those in need, even <gasp> respecting people who have views and personal lives different than mine.  

    At this point, after constantly dealing with fundamentalist baptists here in the deep south, I've about given up even wanting to claim Christianity as my religion.  

    I think a recent diarist (sorry, can't find the link) had it right in saying the current brand of Christian is self-centered, believing that no matter what they do, no matter how badly they behave, they'll still be forgiven and get into heaven.  Instead of believing that it is their actions here on earth are how they should and will be judged.

    I hope that you and your wife will ultimately find a church you can feel welcomed in again.

    •  Have (7+ / 0-)

      you tried the Episcopal Church? We have less fundamentalists than most in the south and we are big on helping the poor and less fortunate. Fundamentalists are ruining our relgion. Who would want to be a Christian if your only experience has been with radical fundamentalists?

      I'm too disgusted right now to think of a sig.

      by Ga6thDem on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:00:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or the UMC (4+ / 0-)

        The UMC (United Methodist Church) is fairly progressive and even allows women to be ministers (which I know might be too much for some folks).  Plus, there's a real concern and concentration in the UMC on poverty and the related ills.  There's also an active role for laiety.

        •  Also UCC (8+ / 0-)

          http://www.ucc.org

          United Church of Christ (UCC) was the denomination that came out with the supposedly "controversial" commercial that advocated (*GASP!*) accepting all people as Christ's children in church--yes, even those gays n' lesbians. (snark)

          The UCC is progressive, active in civic and community service, and outspoken in its call for social justice. It, along with the UMC and the UU, is one of the denominations that I'm considering currently.

          •  Thank You For Your Thoughts... (5+ / 0-)

            ...and suggestions. Yes, I've tried a local United Methodist church, and felt somewhat comfortable there.  But I still encountered too many people holding strong fundametalist and even borderline racist views.  I suspect this was a "church specific" issue and not the Methodists in general - overall I've found this church the most in tune with the Lutheran Church I grew up in.

            The UCC philosophy is very appealing, but there is no brach I am aware of anywhere near where I presently live.

            •  I know what you're talking about (6+ / 0-)

              the concept of fundamentalism is creeping even into the UMC.  We're doing our best to hold it at bay.  So far (from what I've seen) we've been able to concentrate on the needs of the people of this planet.  We're concentrating on AIDS-research/relief services, outreach, ministering to the poor.

              While there's a slowly building argument over lesbian or gay ministers, the Current Book of Discipline on p 161g states: "God's grace is avaiable to all, and we will seek to live together in Christian community.  We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay mambers and friends.  We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons."

              When preaching or teaching Sunday School, I do my best to leave my political views at home, but try to emphasize that we are called to care for the "least" among us.  Somewhere along the way, it seems like some churches have forgotten that little tidbit.  (Or, I could be wrong   ;)  )

            •  finding a UCC (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              boadicea, boofdah

              Go to the UCC website and hit "find a church." I've heard that the "Bouncer" ads and the controversy led to a lot of Southern congregations applying for UCC membership, so the locations may be expanding as time goes by.

              I do know that the UCC operates Back Bay Mission in Biloxi; a church friend and neighbor has gone to work trips this year.

              •  I Did Use The Website Locator... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sharoney, DaleA, GN1927

                ...but that was more than one year ago, and then the only listing I found was almost 40 miles away.  I should check it again.

                I didn't know they operate the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi.  I do know this mission has been extremely helpful and active in the community since Katrina last year.

                One problem I have noticed, that may be unique to this region (Mississippi Coast) is that the fundies have no compunction against advertising their church when performing community services.  Non-fundi churches, and even libreal-leaning groups, seem afraid to advertise who they are affliated with.  This is something that desperately needs to change.

                •  Absolutely. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  DaleA

                  Non-fundi churches, and even libreal-leaning groups, seem afraid to advertise who they are affliated with.  This is something that desperately needs to change.

                  Amen.

                  "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                  by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:48:38 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The UCC is losing membership. (0+ / 0-)

                  No members=no funding=no means to advertise what they do. The fact is, liberal religions (I know specifically Unitarians, but I would assume the same is true of the UCC) are in a real crisis because no one is joining.  

                  •  I can't speak for all progressive congregations.. (0+ / 0-)

                    ...but mine is thriving.  If you're anywhere near Columbus, check us out.

                    www.fcchurch.com

                    Economic -4.13, Social -3.59. Does this make me a right-winger by Kos standards?

                    by KTinOhio on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:56:42 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So is mine (0+ / 0-)

                      although some of the newcomers are apparently more conservative than others, and the presence of so many newcomers at once who have no growing up acquaintance with Lutheran theology and no inclination to ask the important questions is making for some tension and misundestandings when the rubber meets the road.

                      The answer: talk, communicate, listen. And serve lots of hot dishes, bug juice and cookies.

                      "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                      by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 09:32:47 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Individual congregations may be thriving, (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sharoney, Lefty Mama

                      but the denominations as a whole are not.  I know that the UCC was one of the Christian denominations that was losing membership the fastest. Unitarian churches aren't classed as Christians, so their loss of membership isn't compared, but demographically the average age of a member is either 55 or 60.  This dosen't bode well for growth.  I say this not as a criticism, but as an explaination for the many times we hear "why aren't the liberal religions saying anything?".  Many times they are, but since they are only a tiny percentage of the population, the message often doesn't get heard.

                  •  Not necessarily the case (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Lefty Mama

                    As a lifelong UCC guy, I can tell you that the denomination is in turmoil, mostly because of a resolution that came out of the General Synod about a year ago that was supportive of the concept of same sex marriage (but left the decision to individual churches).

                    There were (and still are) a lot of hard feelings about this, and it is true that a number of churches have disassociated with the UCC over it.  That being said, there have been several notable associations made with the UCC because of the resolution.

                    Watch for the "mainline" Protestant denominations to experience a resurgence in the coming months and years - eventually the higher minded among us will realize that the brand of vitriol spewed by 'churches' like Guy Fawkes' has nothing to do with the Christian faith, and they will dump these chumps.  

              •  Try an Episcopal Church (0+ / 0-)

                UCC is a wonderful organization but poorly represented in small towns. If there is an Episcopal Church in the town they might find a great alternative to their disgusting experience with the wingnut pastor.

                •  I don't know how severe the racial divide is... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sharoney

                  If you want a church free of "people holding strong fundamentalist and even borderline racist views", then good luck because you will not find it unless you join a congregation in which you are in a distinct racial minority.  Even then there may be bigots in the majority, but they'll often keep their own counsel in your presence.  

                  "A church is a hospital for sinners, not a rest home for saints."  Thus you must expect to see sinners in every congregation as frequently as you see one in the mirror.  (If you don't see one in the mirror, then your Lutheran upbringing is wearing off...)

                  •  I Don't Expect a Congregation of Saints... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Catte Nappe

                    ...but I do expect that when people are actually inside a church, for any reason, they at least put on a show of acting like a "Proper Christian."  

                    I don't gain a high opinion of a congregation when someone can use a racial slur inside a church and none of regular congregation will challenge them (as a guest, I think I need to keep my mouth closed).  

                    Down here, most churches I've seen are pretty cleanly divided across racial lines.  It is an interesting experience for me when I occasionally  attend services at a church ("Calling All Christians") that is run by a friend, as I am normally the only Caucasian person there.

                    Same goes for expressing open political views inside church.  I was deeply dissapointed in the Episcopal church back in upstate New York where my Mom is a deacon, two Christmases ago.  After a wonderful Midnight candlelight service, we were having coffee and cookies in the fellowship center.  One man, upon learning (from my mom who was bragging on me) that I am retired military launched into a defense of the Iraqi war, on the grounds that it was a new religious war, and we had to win against the muslims.

                    I couldn't help thinking that here we were, on the eve of the celebration of the birth of Christ, inside a church, and this nutcase was talking up a war on another religion.  No one listening attempted to stop him, scold him, or otherwise disagree with him.

                    I did tell my mom my feelings afterwards about this.  This incident ruined my Christmas eve, and is something I think about every time I now enter this church.  

                •  Depends Where (0+ / 0-)

                  Episcopal churches are rare in Pennsylvania outside cities; UCC churches (not all of them particularly liberal) are in every small town and some crossroads. Then again, before this year, in my husband's native South Carolina, the only UCC church in the state was in Charleston--certainly poorly represented!

                •  VolvoD.L., we are under attack as well (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm currently living in the Belly of the Beast.  The Diocese of Albany has been completely taken over by the AAC which is a tool of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. The Diocese of Pittsburg is as well. The convention in Ohio could end up in schism.  

          •  of course (8+ / 0-)

            "UCC" stands for "Unitarians Considering Christianity".
            :-)

            (I am a "proud" UU, wait, "pride" is one of the 7 deadly sins, and I don't think my religion is necessarily better than any other, so, I should remark that I am an enthusiastic UU...(blah, blah, etc.)

            ;-)

            When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

            by onanyes on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:29:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Add Quakers to the list (16+ / 0-)

            They've always been far ahead on social justice issues, and the idea of community is inherent in the way that meetings are structured.

            I'm close to becoming an attender myself, and I've been out of the Church (Lutheran - Missouri Synod) for decades now, for many of the reasons you've mentioned here.

            Side note: I recently received a T-Shirt that says "Love thy Neighbor" on the front, and on the back: "Thy homeless neighbor, thy Muslim neighbor, thy Black neighbor, thy Gay neighbor" etc. Every day when I've worn it strangers have struck up nice conversations, sometimes explicitly mentioning the shirt, sometimes just small talk. It makes me feel hopeful -- even here, where right-wing, punitive religion gets so much publicity, there are many folks who still think kindness is important.

    •  Even in the South, somePresbyterian congregations (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, texasmom

      also adopt the ease poverty and hunger, work for social justice model of Christianity

    •  have you gone anywhere other than a Baptist (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caldonia

      church?  Try Episcopal or PresbyterianUSA or UCC or many others.

      and remember that each congregation has it's own personality.

      •  One problem... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boofdah

        I personally don't attend a Baptist church (I've found an Alliance church I love dearly) but by conviction I remain a Baptist - Priesthood of believers, seperation of church and state, congrgational polity and autonomy, among others -and so I haven't been able in good conscience change membership. I doubt I'm alone in that regard.

        FYI: I haven't left the Baptist church because of rightward creep... up here in Canada I don't think that's happening so much. It's just here in Ontario they seem to be pretty dull and I landed at the church I'm at instead.

        "Be prepared for anything at any time from anybody, don't take no shit, always stand your ground." - Blaise Bailey Finnegan III

        by Cletus from Canuckistan on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:42:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I attended (0+ / 0-)

      a service years ago at the Episcopal church in Birmingham Alabama.  Downtown.  It was glorious!  I have a cousin who attends with his wife and loves it!  Very diverse congregation and lotw of service to the community.
      That's the direction I would go.  

    •  Try the Unity Church (0+ / 0-)

      A very spiritual "church", though nondenominational.

      -5.0,-5.54 "There are no victimless crimes in politics." Bill Moyers

      by SherriG on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:46:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Haven't gone in years (0+ / 0-)

      But I was raised in the Friends Church, and if I were to go back to a church I can't imagine going to any other.

      "I said, 'wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson -8.13, -4.56

      by NearlyNormal on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:52:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not a christian but (0+ / 0-)

      I have read the bible many times, thats why I'm not. I often wonder if the more christ-like or liberal christian churches don't look at the wacko fundamentalists
      as a part of the "many false prophets" that the bible speaks about. The certainly seem to fit the bill.

      Impeach and Imprison! -6.63/-6.10

      by FireCrow on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:25:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where are you living now? (0+ / 0-)

      There may be some Lutherans among us who can recommend a new church home that will welcome you.

      "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

      by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:46:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How was new pastor brought in? (20+ / 0-)

    Did the church members know his views before they brought him in?  Did the members have any say about who would be their new pastor?  Did most of the members of the Church want this new pastor?

    How did this pastor take over the church?

    •  This is my question as well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nika7k, nhwriter

      who hired this pastor? Was he sent by the region, national board (sorry, don't know the right terms) or did you hire him directly?

      I think this is part of what keeps some denominations closer to their membership - they interview and hire the pastor, rather than have somebody assigned (like the Catholics).

      •  Southern Baptist (4+ / 0-)

        mostly choose their own pastors.  At least they used to.  However, in some smaller towns and congregations, they are so desparate for a minister that they will take about anything that comes along.

        According to my mother, "democratic practices" also seem to be going by the wayside...instead of a whole congregation taking part in such majors decisions, it often is turned over to an appointed committee.

        •  Well I hate to say this but (5+ / 0-)

          if they appoint the committee, and this is who they choose, and they ACCEPT it, either this guy lied through his teeth, or they have only themselves to blame.

          And when they got removed from their positions, why did they take it? Why did they not fight then?

          Why did they not fire his ass?

          What did he bring that made them feel they couldn't do that? Money? Connections? Members with big pockets?

          And are those things worth losing their church?

  •  Not being a member of a church... (19+ / 0-)

    I think I would handle this a different way.  Contact the other members who were asked to leave and see if you can find an agreement and a forum to go public.  You should expose this fight to the current members who are being denied your input because the new pastor deals with dissent behind closed doors.  Don't let them do that, because they are already getting away with it nation wide.

    Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man. - OWH

    by blockbuster on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:45:49 PM PDT

    •  Here, here! (9+ / 0-)

      I don't know Baptist procedures, but in the Presbyterian Church that I essentially grew up in, the choice of Pastor was up to the people of the church, as was (pretty much, anyway) his tenure.

      And while the church could probably kick you out of any positions of power, they probably don't have any right to prevent you from attending services and talking to other churchgoers.  They certainly can't excommunicate you :0

      Of course, if it's already gone too far and too many old time churchgoers have left, leaving supporters in charge of the church, then your best bet is to find out where all the other folks went and follow them...

      Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

      by Phoenix Rising on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:54:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was thinking that too (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, TiaRachel, blockbuster, nhwriter, kurt

      I found it a bit odd that the poster encourages others to fight, yet basically gave up and got pushed out of the church without pushing back.  Either way, the story is sad and moving.

      I don't know about his church, but there ARE grievance procedures to be followed to national counsel levels in most religions of which I am aware, and if this pastor is breaking the law by preaching politics from the pulpit, there is more than one avenue to follow in protest of his actions.  In addition, if many members were pushed out, there is certainly a group of more than a few to consult on proper lodging of a formal complaint or on consensus of what happened behind closed doors to crush dissent.

      I belong to a church that had a pastor removed.  It can be done.  

      It is a sad commentary nonetheless on the reality of the religious right jihad taking over our conntry.

      Closed minds should come with closed mouths.

      by Pennsylvanian on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:00:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  For that matter, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel

      start another congregation. Find a pastor with a more reasonable viewpoint. You might be surprised how quickly it might grow.

      The lone and level sands stretch far away. -Shelly

      by justme on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:30:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Words of wisdom from a Baptist friend (0+ / 0-)

        When we'd talk around the table at school, he said that the optimal size of a congregation is ten, tithing to support a pastor.  Should it reach twenty, they should split.  

        I think his views have changed, considering that at last report he was with a church large enough to spawn prayergroups.  

  •  so sorry (8+ / 0-)

    I hope you did find a good place, but I don't want to suggest that you should have had to look.  That was your family's spiritual home.  You are a spiritual refugee.

    Talk doesn't cook rice.

    by sophiebrown on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:45:53 PM PDT

  •  Which leads me to a favorite Sinclair Lewis quote (39+ / 0-)

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis

    Pick up a copy of "It's Can't Happen Here" and tell me if you see any parallels to what's been happening in our own backyards these past 10 years.

    Keep the faith, friend. The truth is on your side, and so are we.

    "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." ~Noam Chomsky

    by snowho on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:55:12 PM PDT

    •  'It Can't Happen Here' (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keepinon, nhwriter, lookingglass

      is on my list of books to read.  Probably will take me a while to get to it.  Glad to here a positive Kossack review.

      I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky. For I know that the hypnotized never lie. - The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again

      by bherner on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:03:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  my favorite quote (7+ / 0-)

      is "I pray because it changes me".

      Too often, wingnuts try to use prayer as some sort of magic to get their deity to do their bidding.

      When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

      by onanyes on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:31:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Attend a (7+ / 0-)

        Southern Baptist service a few years ago and the topic was essentially the magic of prayer and how to do it get results.  Before anyone goes and pays for the secret, I'll tell you:

        1.  You must start with a formal salutation, the more laborious, the more you get G-d's attention: "Dear Heavenly Father, who gave us your son, etc. etc.
        1.  State your need and why you need it. "I need a new care, late model, so I can get to work..."
        1.  Use the following words at the end:  "I thank you, in Jesus' name, Amen".  No variations allowed.

        That's the magic formula.  Apparently G-d likes prayers to follow a form letter format.  I guess he's real busy, so the format helps him process everyone's prayers in a more timely fashion.

        <YUCK>

        Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. - Lao Tzu

        by FLDemJax on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:26:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You Can Tell I am Comfortable (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gkn

          with this topic.  I count no less than 5 grammatical errors in that post, after I proofed.

          I need an editor.  A human one.

          Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. - Lao Tzu

          by FLDemJax on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:29:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  or (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sharoney, TiaRachel, bherner

            you should have prayed to have your deity magically spell check your post (in current English, of course, since that is the real deity's preferred language).

            But yeah, I attended a Southern Baptist church in the early 1980's, and the minister there was telling the people to "pray for how much money you think that you can pray for" (to give to him, of course).

            After the service, I needed a shower to feel clean again!

            When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

            by onanyes on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:37:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I thought that was a (4+ / 0-)

          Charismatic conceit mostly? I hate seeing this name it and claim it crap infest the church. God is NOT a vending machine.

          "Be prepared for anything at any time from anybody, don't take no shit, always stand your ground." - Blaise Bailey Finnegan III

          by Cletus from Canuckistan on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:47:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I Dunno About (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sharoney, MyName, ohcanada

            Charismatic, but it starts giving me the creeps because it is so close to the way incantations and magic spells are cast.  I don't believe in that shit, so I don't believe in using form letters for prayers either.  You either have a plain, honest conversation with G-d, or don't bother him.  He really is busy, you know.

            Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. - Lao Tzu

            by FLDemJax on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:58:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  That book is so scary. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nhwriter

      I read it recently, at least half of it.

      If I didn't know it was Sinclair Lewis, who is one of my favorite authors, i would think it was a bad satire on Bushco, written recently. (I say bad satire, only because the book is so close to what has been happening here, that if it were just written, it would seem clumsy!)

    •  I read this book in high school (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, nhwriter

      Not assigned but just read stuff I liked.  This was immediately before Reagan and it scared me silly. I've been a little paranoid about owning books and thinking of ways I would escape to Canada (from Louisiana, yeah, right). (Why do you think they REALLY want to secure borders, huh?  Walls work in both directions.)  (Half kidding, here.)

      Alas, I tried re-reading it not so long ago, and it didn't seem to hold up as well as I remember, but it's worth slogging through.  Elmer Gantry is apropos, especially in light of this particular thread.

      •  Yeah, it's kind of dry and slow (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharoney

        Much more interesting reading is any history of Nazi Germany circa 1933. Some of the parallels to the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, the Homeland Security Act, the unitary executive theory and other Bush administration behavior are chilling. (What's even more chilling, in this context, are some of the things that Bush asked for but didn't get.)

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:07:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Take your own advice.... (14+ / 0-)

    ...and show up at the church next Sunday. If you can find any fellow church members who haven't had chips emplated in their heads, then you should have them to your house for a cup of coffee.

    Thank you for this chilling diary. I am so sorry you feel chased from the very church where you were married.

    "I am my brother's keeper. I am a Democrat." -- That's your slogan, Democrats.

    by Bensdad on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:55:51 PM PDT

  •  I have thought about things like this (12+ / 0-)

    as a Buddhist.

    I think that the practice of Bearing Witness (such as here)  is very powerful here.

    Simply to watch them, and to watch one's self watching them can be very empowering; it can help go beyond the us/them mentality that their behavior encourages and invites.

    It's actually kind of difficult to do this, but if done properly it can bring you peace.  If done properly with many of your spiritual fellow-travelers, it can perhaps be the best antidote to counterfeit spirituality.

    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:57:58 PM PDT

  •  Don't call them literalist! (22+ / 0-)

    Do they say that abortion is not murder and not condemned by Scripture?  Do they demand that menstuating women spend a week in separate housing?   Do they say members should give all their property to the poor and follow Christ?  Probably not, and if so, they aren't literalists.  They pick and choose stuff out of the Bible - in the case of abortion and guns, literally "out" of the Bible - and pretend that's all that's there.  They aren't being Christian, never mind literal Christians, and don't let them get away with calling themselves that.

    •  a few questions (0+ / 0-)

      >>Do they demand that menstuating women spend a week in separate housing? <<</p>

      Would this still be literalist as Christ supposedly did away with a lot of the hebrew law with the new covenant?  Technically the prohibition against homosexuality was done away with as part of this but Paul put it back in Romans.

      >> Do they say members should give all their property to the poor and follow Christ?<<</p>

      Was this required or rather a suggestion?

      >>They pick and choose stuff out of the Bible - in the case of abortion and guns, <<</p>

      Are you sure it's guns and not gays?  Because I don't know that I've ever heard a religious leader push guns as an issue (rather, guns are an issue because of culture and quite frankly because a good portion feel that they are useless anyways).

      "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." - Thomas Paine

      by Mister Gloom on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:07:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TiaRachel, Blackstar

        Jesus came to change "not a jot nor a tittle" of pre-existing law.  The new covenant is Paul's idea - and another example of contradictions within the Bible (Jesus vs. Paul here).  Interesting which of the two the crypto-Christians choose to follow.

        It's not clear whether voluntary poverty is a commandment or a recommendation.  But how many churches even recommend it?  It's at least that.

        Antiabortion is clearly not in the Bible, but lots of crypto-Christians don't let it stop them from claiming it's the most important thing relative to current law (!).  I don't hear as much about guns, but that does slip in.  Of course it's for cultural reasons - that's my point - these people  don't care what the Bible actually says, they just say whatever they like is "God's will".  Sometimes it's Biblical, sometime the Bible is ambiguous or self-contradictory, and sometimes it's flat at odds with the Bible.  The point is that while they call themselves "literalists" they preach what they please and don't really care what's in the Bible.

        •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharoney, curtadams

          >>It's not clear whether voluntary poverty is a commandment or a recommendation.  But how many churches even recommend it?  It's at least that.<<</p>

          It's interesting to note that the Catholic church either denied communion to or expelled a Canadian MP who lived in voluntary poverty (i.e. giving away everything he didn't need to survive to the poor) due to gay marriage (I don't recall the MP's name offhand, but he was a New Democrat).

          >>Antiabortion is clearly not in the Bible, but lots of crypto-Christians don't let it stop them from claiming it's the most important thing relative to current law (!).<<</p>

          Actually, Jim Wallis (who, while evangelical, isn't a member of the religious right) quoted the verse that applies to the pro-life Christian position in God's Politics but I humbly ask that you not have me go back through the book to find it (It's a big long book and, while I enjoyed it, I don't want to make it my evening).

          >>Jesus came to change "not a jot nor a tittle" of pre-existing law. <<</p>

          Well, he changed the pre-existing law in reference to divorce (Matthew 19 and I believe Mark 10) and the eye-for-an-eye portion.  

          >>The new covenant is Paul's idea - and another example of contradictions within the Bible (Jesus vs. Paul here). <<</p>

          Looking it over yes.  Though the portion in Galatians were he implied it actually showed better reasoning than a lot of other things.  And Jesus did indirectly lay groundwork for that.  But I think I'm making this discussion too minute for myself.

          >> I don't hear as much about guns, but that does slip in.<<</p>

          I can't say that I've heard of it and I've been in church in some places in Michigan that do have more of a religious right tilt.

          >>Of course it's for cultural reasons - that's my point - these people  don't care what the Bible actually says, they just say whatever they like is "God's will". <<</p>

          No that's not quite what I was getting at.  What I was pointing out was that guns weren't really a portion of the "church centered voting" and were a local, rather than a religious, voting issue.

          >>The point is that while they call themselves "literalists" they preach what they please and don't really care what's in the Bible.<<</p>

          See, it may have been a mistake for me to get too involved with this thread because, as an ELCA Lutheran, I've been mostly immune to having been subjected to this (except when visiting other churchs).

          "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." - Thomas Paine

          by Mister Gloom on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:52:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Jesus really wants you to find a new church. (7+ / 0-)

    Trust me on this.

  •  When you have an organized religion which (5+ / 0-)

    strives to keep half their congregation  subservient, then you know the true teaching of Jesus is not being practiced... as Miriam of Magdala, was the most favored disciple.  

    I was dismayed to find that their interpretation of Scripture left no room whatsoever for women to have any meaningful role in the decision making of the church.

     

    Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. ~Issac Asimov

    by maggiemae on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:00:37 PM PDT

  •  Direct support from the pulpit (34+ / 0-)

    of a political candidate? Time to call the IRS and drop a dime on that pastor....that is a clear violation of the requirements for tax-exempt status. It's one thing to criticise "liberals" in the government (or for liberal christians to criticise Bush the warmonger), but endorsing candidates for office from the pulpit is a definite no-no.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:01:23 PM PDT

    •  Direct support from the pulpit (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tikkun, boofdah, neroden

      is, I bet, absolutely rampant. Especially in smaller towns and smaller churches. I have no doubt that it's vastly vastly underestimated how much it happens. Just a hunch...

      Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

      by chemsmith on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:07:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's support, and then there's support... (8+ / 0-)

        My pastor finds subtle ways to take a stilletto to the right wing in every sermon.  He got his Masters of Theology from a real university, not a mail-order Reverend mill.  He knows exacly where the line is, puts his toes right on it, and reaches over and eviscerates the dittoheads in his flock with a gentle wink.

        On the other hand, the right wing is fairly ham-handed and easy to nail.  The only reason the don't get compltely shut down by the IRS is that the Liar in Chief is one of them.  If a Democrat gets elected President, an IRS crackdown on these bastards should be the first order of business.  They can't bankroll the lie machine if they're broke.

        "Out here in the middle, where the center's on the right, and the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night..."

        by Nineteen Kilo on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:25:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Confiscate (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tikkun

          Can we have the IRS confiscate their churches? I've always thought that was the one brilliant thing that Henry VIII did.

          And for those of you tempted to say something bad about Henry, please respect that from Henry on down, for Anglicans, he is the equivalent of the Pope for Catholics - the temporal head of the Church. So if you say anything nasty about Henry ... well, I'll assume that you're doing unto Anglicans as you wish others to do unto your own faith (unless of course you are an Anglican).

      •  Very Rampant (0+ / 0-)

        Smaller towns, like in North Georgia Mountains...

        During the last prez election, pastors from all the major churches (Baptists, especially) were all-out campaigning for Bush - to the point that they were circulating a 4-page flyer that took to task the differences between Kerry & Bush and why Bush was the best choice to vote for.

        Remember the church members in the Carolinas that got asked to leave/kicked out because they voiced opposition to using the pulpit as a campaign podium?

        "Sorry... I don't *do* Republicans." The new abstinence!

        by Hippichick45 on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:19:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think (9+ / 0-)

      criticizing liberals from the pulpit is the same as campaigning for Republicans. Period.

      It's just time that churches pay taxes. I see no reason why my tax money is supporting churches. Clear violation of the constitution. This is beyond obvious. We've all just decided that this is a crime that doesn't need to be punished.

      Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

      by chemsmith on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:08:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you do this.. (16+ / 0-)

      best to do it through a couple of cutouts.  Gather some documentary evidence, get some sworn affadavits, send in a mole or two to act like they drink the Kool-Aid and debrief them when they get done.  Then assemble a packet and send it to the IRS and the Baptist governing body (with a note in that one telling them a copy has been sent to the IRS).  Then, when that's done, send a copy to the local media and tell them that this pastor and his merry band of right-wing deacons are putting a 200-year-old church in danger and doing something stupid by involving the church in earthly politics instead of saving souls.

      It is difficult to win an argument when your opponent is unencumbered with a knowledge of the facts. Dr. Nordstrom's First Rule of Debate

      by DemInTampa on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:12:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Report ! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tikkun, Xan, TiaRachel

      Using a church as a political soapbox is abhorent for reasons your pastor will never understand.  What they will understand is that using a "church" this way violates IRS rules which grant tax exempt status for churches.

      This church and its "pastor" need to be reported and the tax exemption removed.

      There must be someone familiar with this legality that can help you do this.  It needs to be done, otherwise the rest of us pick up the tax burden so this jackass can embarass God on our dime.

  •  'hell bent' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, Simpletonian, boofdah

    That is, of course, exactly what they are, where they are going, and where they are determined to take America.

    And they would burn your church to the ground before they would let you have it back . . .

    So . . . why didn't you and your fellowship stand up to them early on, before they had this total control?  What was it that led you to believe that they were "good Christians" with "good intention"?  What was it that gave their evil a foot in the door?

  •  In just the same exact way (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, Blackstar, boofdah, tamman2000

    I immediately saw through the evil that was George W. Bush, and knew that I'd never vote for him, I also always knew what churches were really about: control and an evil agenda. They only needed a few national 'leaders' to get them to work together and to assert their power nationally in the same way they have in many communities. This has been one of the brilliant ways the Republican party has dominated America for 3 decades.

    If I simply set foot in a church, which I do once in awhile, I immediately feel out of place. As I watch those around me, I truly feel I'm witnessing a cult, with brain-washing tactics and hatred spewing from the pulpit. I went to my sister's church just after Bush "defeated" Kerry in the last election. (I went to watch my niece dance..my sister's church is scary.) The preacher stood up there and "Halelujah'd" like crazy over Bush's great victory, making the comment that "Had Kerry won, would that have meant that God had forsaken us?" (Answer was no..that it would have only been another one of God's mysterious ways, kinda like letting innocent little kids die of cancer.)

    Anyway..sorry to hear your story. I imagine it's not uncommon though.

    Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

    by chemsmith on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:02:53 PM PDT

  •  Maybe a phone call to the IRS (19+ / 0-)

    to enlighten them on that particular church's foray into politics might be fair repayment on your part.

    They want to give up being a place of spirituality in order to push a political agenda, then they are required to pay taxes....

    These people who seemed to have hijacked contemporary Christianity are more likely to get a kick in the nuts from Jesus than redemption....

  •  Sign up and post this at Street Prophets. (30+ / 0-)

    You will find a lot of like minded people and I would guess quite a few that have similar stories to tell.

    It is a sad state of affairs in the world that religion has been hijacked by zeolotts who refuse to follow the teachings of their respective Gods and prophets. The fact that good people are being driven from their churches and religious institutions should be alarming to all regardless of whether they are beievers or not.

    Street Prophets. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but there are some damn fine people over there.

    "I was Rambo in the disco. I was shootin' to the beat. When they burned me in effigy. My vacation was complete." Neil Young. Mideast Vacation.

    by Mike S on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:04:12 PM PDT

  •  You say... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, nika7k, Simpletonian, nhwriter
    If you are reading this and recognize some of what I write happening in your place of worship, I have one message to you: FIGHT!

    I recognize this in my place of living...America!
    And thats why I am here at DKos and Fighting!

    Perhaps you could go back to church and make a difference?

    Time For A Cool Change: Gore 2008

    by DemiGoddess on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:09:08 PM PDT

  •  Change Of Course (11+ / 0-)

    "Always take the Bible literally; except for those parts about charity, kindness, humility, greed, gluttony, anger, or anything I may find embarassing to me and mine. Oh, and forget that staying Kosher crap.... we aint, um, 'them'."

                  - Rev. R.Winger

    "We are upping our standards ... so up yours." (Pat Paulsen for President, 1988)

    by PBen on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:09:31 PM PDT

  •  Not An Accident (24+ / 0-)

    The right-wing take over of Baptist churches is a project of right-wing political groups as documented here:

    http://shows.airamericaradio.com/...

    What you are experiencing is not limited to your congregation, but is a full-fledged, fully-funded and fully-organized attempt to move conservative Christian congregations to extremist right-wing positions and to neutralize or destroy traditional "mainline" Protestant congregations.

    "Get your hands off our Internet" -- U.S. phone and cable companies, to bloggers and independent Internet content producers

    by bink on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:13:31 PM PDT

  •  Ours was more subtle (11+ / 0-)

    I really didn't like GW from the beginning.  I let folks know my views by the stickers on our van.  When the church started having prayers, dinners,  and such for candiates (never promoting them - oh no) it got harder to stay.  The community groups we belonged to decided to end co-incidently with the election.  There was just WAY to much one-way thinking for us.  The church manages to keep people voting R due to a single issue issue.  You would think that is all Jesus talked about.  Never stewardship, honesty, integrity, helping the poor... nope just vote PRO-LIFE and EVERYTHING else will fall into place.

    We left over 3 years ago and haven't looked back.  My kids ask now and then about church, they are 11 and 8, and we try to be as honest and open with them as possible.  They understand Jesus' teaching was more than ONE subject - they can't understand why people only think one way.

    Best wishes in finding a new church home.  We are looking but the DIVIDER is in office and makes life hard for people who KNOW there is more than one issue in life.

  •  Come on over to our place! (11+ / 0-)

    God welcomes all to His house.  If you are not welcome, it's not God's house.  Try the UCC, ELCA, or Methodists.  I have been warmly welcomed by all three.

    Shrubby give Methodists a bad name, but he's only a Methodist for political packaging purposes.  He's really a CofC'er.

    Raised Lutheran, I gotta' say, nothing bugs me more than being denied Communion.  It's the same as refusing to feed a guest in your own home.  To deny a fellow Christian Communion is to deny your own Christianity.

    Also reminds me of the old Christian cowboy joke.  Short version:

    A cowboy goes the church and after worship is accosted about his informal attire and told to pray to God for sartorial guidance.  God says "I don't know.  I never go in that place."

    "Out here in the middle, where the center's on the right, and the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night..."

    by Nineteen Kilo on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:16:19 PM PDT

    •  Were you raised (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney

      Missouri Synod or Wisconsin Synod, by any chance?

      My family has been Lutheran since about two generations after Luther, and we've been denied communion several times in Missouri Synod churches (we're ELCA) - it's shocking, hypocritical, arrogant, and completely antithetical to the intended purpose of the Eucharist.

      I'm sorry you experienced that in your youth.  FWIW, not all Lutherans are like that!

      "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

      by Mahanoy on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:35:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm Wisconsin (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mahanoy

        since 5yo, and no, can't do communion in a Missouri synod church either.  But, Missouri types CAN in Wisconsin synod, because they turn no one away from G-d's table (except maybe the unrepentent...whoever they are).

        Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. - Lao Tzu

        by FLDemJax on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:39:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That must be a local practice, then (0+ / 0-)

          because I've also been refused communion in a Wisconsin Synod church - and I was told I wasn't "worthy" because I wasn't a "real" Lutheran!  I'm glad to hear it's not like that everywhere.

          "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

          by Mahanoy on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:49:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How do they go about. . . (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mahanoy

            . . .denying you? Do they pull the wafer away? Do they point you to the back pew?

            I'm curious, seriously.

            As a completely lapsed Catholic, I make a point of taking Communion any time I wind up at a Church service (most recently, a relative's wedding). I believe there's something to Communion, while at the same time thinking that confession is hooey, and my "state of grace" is between me and Heaven with nobody else involved. I've never had a priest so much as hesitate. And I truly believe that anybody can just come in off the street and take Communion in a Catholic church.

            If you line up with everyone else, does someone actually challenge you? I'm trying to imagine a church where people would actually "make a scene". . .

            When only the government lacks virtue, there remains a resource in the people's virtue; but when the people itself is corrupted, liberty is already lost.

            by Robespierrette on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:07:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In My Experience (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mahanoy

              if you are apparently a guest, you are directed to fill out a small card in the vestibule, which is examined by someone immediately thereafter.  If you want communion (and they sometimes ask, if that is one of the sundays where communion is given), you have to sit up front and they will escort you to the appropriate section.

              I am relatively certain this is where you are told if you cannot partake.  Like I said, in the church services I attend, no one is turned away.  But, apparently this is not the case everywhere.

              Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. - Lao Tzu

              by FLDemJax on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:20:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  My experiences (4+ / 0-)

              in Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Churches weren't scenes, although I could easily have made one.  I was asked at the door as soon as I walked in what my tradition was.  I replied "Lutheran."  They asked if I was Missouri/Wisconsin.  I said no (I'm ELCA, and I wasn't about to lie to them, even if it meant that I could "sneak" communion).  They said that I was not to take communion.  So rather than cause a scene at that time, I turned around and walked out of the church.

              Catholic churches are another matter.  I would imagine that most priests would never ask, and wouldn't deny me even if they knew I am a Lutheran.  But I respect Catholic theology too much to infringe on the sacrament in that way.  I don't normally go to Mass unless I'm at home (the Catholic church is the only place I can find good liturgy - the local Lutherans are pretty low-church).  The priest there told me right up front that he would refuse me if I came up for the sacrament.  He's very conservative and believes Vatican II was the worst thing that ever happened to Catholicism since Luther.

              I've talked to other priests, and they've mostly said they would welcome me.  I respect that.  And they would certainly be welcome to receive in my Lutheran church.  

              The whole idea of Eucharistic exclusion is so antithetical to the purpose of the Eucharist, and it seriously fails to make visible the unity of the body of Christ.  It's not an accident that the (Protestant) churches that practice closed communion are also the churches that refuse to participate in ecumenical dialogue.

              "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

              by Mahanoy on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:28:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Technically (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mahanoy

                Technically, non-Catholics are not welcome to Roman Catholic communion except in cases of extreme necessity which are rarely, if ever, met in most of the United States.  Catholics may take non-Catholic communion under similar conditions of necessity, rarely met in the lower 48.  In practice, most priests give communion to anybody who asks for it, unless they are arrayed in fashions (like rainbow sashes on certain weeks) disapproved by authority.

            •  Hey, (0+ / 0-)

              I believe there's something to Communion, while at the same time thinking that confession is hooey, and my "state of grace" is between me and Heaven with nobody else involved.

              Are you sure you're not really Lutheran? ; )

              "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

              by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:31:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  In my experience... (0+ / 0-)

              You just get skipped over while kneeling in line.  Apparently Catholic priests can discern if you are Catholic by your subtle behavior in the receiving line.  After I married a "lapsed" Catholic, and she showed me the secret handshake, I have had no trouble.

              The Wisconsin Synod pastors knew we were ELCA from conversations with our local relatives.

              "Out here in the middle, where the center's on the right, and the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night..."

              by Nineteen Kilo on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:24:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ah. (0+ / 0-)

                Most Catholic priests I've run into are so over-extended, they can't possibly keep track of all of their parishioners, let alone "casual visitors" to their church.

                Hence my confusion. :)

                When only the government lacks virtue, there remains a resource in the people's virtue; but when the people itself is corrupted, liberty is already lost.

                by Robespierrette on Wed May 31, 2006 at 09:19:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  A friend of my husband's (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mahanoy, kurt, anotherdemocrat

        who graduated from seminary at Seminex (Seminary-in-Exile) for you non-Lutherans) was not allowed to preach or even serve at his own brother's wedding because his brother was still Missouri Synod.

        Another friend, an elderly gentleman from my church with health problems, was in the hospital after a stroke and was visited by a Lutheran pastor who refused him Communion - in the hospital! - when he found out that my friend belonged to an ELCA church.

        The minister was Missouri Synod, you see. To them, ELCA members are heretics and outside the true Body of Christ. Such is their Christian compassion in action.

        "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

        by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:29:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Missouri Synod and Southern Baptists (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mahanoy, anotherdemocrat

          A couple of years ago, my father's Missouri Synod church went through a wrenching split because a very conservative pastor came into a much more liberal congregation. The story's here. The article doesn't get into the fact, however, that the hierarchy of the Synod supported the pastor, and made sure he remained even though the congregation asked him to be removed. (The Missouri Synod, like the Southern Baptists, has been subject to a calculated takeover by hard conservatives -- including purges at seminaries -- and at each convention for the past several years it's come very close to schism.) Speculation is that the dispute became a test case for the conservative hierarchy to show their power over individual congregations, which is not part of traditional practice.

          Since then, the pastor's congregation has dwindled to almost nothing, and couldn't pay the expenses on the church building without continued financial support from the Synod. Some of that group has now returned to the dissenters, who are thriving in a new building, and in a new district (they're still Missouri Synod, but are under a different, more liberal board).

          •  I was raised ELCA. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mahanoy

            And yeah, the first time I was denied Communion was in a Wisconsin synod church.  It was an eye-opening experience because as a kid I naively believed that God loved everybody.  (Still do.)  Anymore, I won't even set foot in a Wisconsin or Missouri Synod church.  They even denied my father Communion at his mother's funeral.  The Catholics deny Communion, too.  This has become my primary theological bone of contention with fellow Christians.  How can anyone read the story of the Last Passover Supper and not get the message of universal hospitality?

            "Out here in the middle, where the center's on the right, and the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night..."

            by Nineteen Kilo on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:15:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Supports my self-marginalization hypothesis. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mahanoy

            Sooner or later they will get their desired schism, and the mainstream group will probably join the ELCA.

            "Out here in the middle, where the center's on the right, and the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night..."

            by Nineteen Kilo on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:17:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Mo Synod has always been much more conservative. (0+ / 0-)

              And I highly doubt most of the members will just roll their memberships over to the ELCA. I know a woman whose father used to lead one of the (smaller) Mo Synod colleges, and the institutional/congregational distaste of the ELCA was no secret.

              •  Well, maybe. (0+ / 0-)

                But there are probably a lot of normal people not in positions of power that would be OK with the ELCA once they got away from the catapulting propoganda.  e.g. My Republican brother stopped liking Bush within a month of quitting the Boy Scouts.

                Maybe they wouldn't all join en-masse, but they would certainly look elsewhere for spiritual guidance, and in the procces reduce the power of their former church.

                "Out here in the middle, where the center's on the right, and the ghost of William Jennings Bryan preaches every night..."

                by Nineteen Kilo on Wed May 31, 2006 at 12:18:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Forgive me, but... (10+ / 0-)

    ...how the hell could any life-long Christian pretend to be surprised when mysogeny and authoritarianism show up in their church?  

    I'm assuming that, as a life-long Baptist, your wife had read the Bible at one point or another.  Did she manage to find a copy with all the anti-woman material taken out?  

    I'm assuming that, as a Christian yourself, you would have read the Word and learned the history of your faith.  Why, then, would you pretend to be shocked--shocked!--when Christianity and mysogeny find a happy home together?  Why would you pretend it's a surprise to see dictatorial assholes using Christianity as a vehicle for their hate?  

    I can sympathize with the feeling of losing one's place in a community.  I can understand how painful it is to be thrust out of what was once your home and your family of sorts.  But if you want to claim that mysogeny, bigotry, and authoritarianism are only a part of Christianity because of the "right wing," well...I guess that's where we part ways.  My Bible tells me that these concepts have been part of your religion for centuries.

    Frankly, I'm really sick of the No True Scottsman crap being slung around by progressive religious believers.  Claiming that somebody's not a REAL Christian if they disrespect women is bullshit...woman-hating is clearly outlined in the Bible, and has been an integral part of Christianity from day one.  The Bible contains as many justifications for slavery and woman-hating and bigotry as it does for loving each other and helping the poor.  

    Pick an agenda, and you can probably find a Bible passage that supports it.  It's perfectly possible to be a mysogenistic Bush-loving asshole and be a "real Christian," just like it's perfectly possible to be a feminist progressive and a "real Christian."  Don't delude yourself into thinking that being a "true Christian" will innoculate somebody against jackassery.

    •  In the OT yes. In the Epistles YES. (18+ / 0-)

      But int he gospels, JESUS treats women as equals and with great respect. Sadly many of his followers don't.  But  that isn't part of what Jesus taught--but part of what PAUL taught. I alwys find it amazing that so many fundies ignore Jesus in favor of Paul.

      I am a WIccan BTW. Left Catholicism over the role of women,  sexuality, birth control and abortion.  Left Christianity over the OT's general behavior.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:26:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Picking and choosing your sources... (9+ / 0-)

        ...seems pretty cheap to me.  All of Jesus' teachings are second hand at best.  All of what we know of "Jesus" is brought to us through the eyes and pens of others.  When you get right down to it, the Bible really just tells us what various second and third parties felt like sharing about Jesus.  In that regard, I don't see how Paul is any less valid a source than any of the other books of the Bible.

        At any rate, my entire point was that nobody who has ever read the Bible should be remotely surprised that Christianity is patriarchal.  Nobody who has read the Bible should be surprised that a lot of woman-haters find Christianity to be a perfect fit with their personal hangups.  Nobody should be surprised when a huge number of Christians push for dictatorial leadership systems and unquestioning obedience and submission to authority.  

        These ideas have been a part of Christianity for CENTURIES, and it's stupid to give the religious right wing credit for them.  The right wing just exploits what is already there.  Just like progressives can exploit the parts of Christianity that support their ideology.  Christianity is only as constant as the Christian you're talking to at the moment.  

        •  And cheap shots at Christians who DON'T all (13+ / 0-)

          deserve it are pretty cheap too.  they come Ina lto of flavors, and many--the liberal versions--ae pro-women and pro-feminist.

          But the messages of the Gospels are about as unaptriarchal as it gets.  They Do NOT support the status quo of Jesus' time, and they don't treat women with patriarchal put-downs.  

          MY point which you obviously were blind to is that fundies whoa re anti-feminist and anti-woman tend to ignore the places where we are given what is in theory the approximation of Jesus' words in favor of someone (Paul) who apparently never met him, heard him speak, or even approved of him during his life time--because Paul shares their prejudices. They  prefer the OT and Paul over Jesus.  Sad state of affairs.

          In many ways, it's like being Gloria Steinem and being confused with Andrea Dworkin at her most obnoxious and outrageous and over the top.

          You also ignore the fact that we're talkin' a religion that is 2000 year olds (4,000+ if you include Judaism). EVERYONE was patriarchal.  Some versions of christianity nd Judaism have stayed frozen like that. Others have evolved, just as society has. I mean, I am 56, and I can remember being told in grad school that there were no internships at TV stations for women--wouldn't dare pull that shit now. Some denominations have female ministers or priests now.  

          What I am saying is--don't lump all Christians together,a nd don't miss the fact that the supposed father of the religion (like Buddha and Mohammed as well) LIKED and RESPCTED when; the follwoers, hwoever, are a different story.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:27:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Christian Feminism in Antiquity (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sharoney, sidonie

            This is a fascinating discussion. Insofar as zombiedeathkoala's point is that there are less than happy passages in the history of the Christian faith when it comes to power and exploitation, he's right. This is especially so when speaking of the Southern Baptists and their knotted relationship with slavery in the nineteenth century.

            But at the same time, history is complex. In the second and third centuries after Christ, the Church was disproportionately composed of women, and women had disproportionate power in the lay leadership. Moreover, because these women who were converting to Christianity came from pagan families, they had to disobey their families to become Christian. And Christianity was thus seen as disruptive to Roman family structure, a way of turning women, children and slaves against the men who ran society. Thus many of the religious texts (such as saints' lives) from this era celebrate the strength and resolve of women in rebelling against pagan society.

            Religion is complex, sometimes beautiful, sometimes horrible, in both its ideas about the world and the lived history of its practice in the world. The answer is not to characterize religion itself in absolute terms but to shape it so that it expresses the best of us rather than the worst. For when we do we come closest to understanding God. If someone who does this calls her or himself a Southern Baptist or not, that doesn't matter to me.

        •  Paul vs. the Gospels (0+ / 0-)

          Paul, as the chief evangelist of the Catholic Church, was chosen as a Bible source for his "political" role; the Gospels were chosen for their supposed depiction of Jesus' words and deeds, and are backed up by secondary sources not in the Bible.

          Fortunately, the whole thing is just new enough that some research is possible.

          Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

          by Phoenix Rising on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:18:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not a fucking computer program (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            curtadams, lmd71, coolsub

            People evaluate scripture as if it were a program that a robotic monkey could run. It's not. From a programming point of view, it's totally full of bugs. But what scripture - what any literature - can work as is a gateway to inspiration. Go through the gateway with open eyes, and you can see some pretty wonderful truths. It's not finally what's inscribed on the gateway that matters, but what you find having gone through it.

            Now, there's a lot of bad scripture in the Bible - a lot of stuff that if you go through the gateway of that passage you're going into a pretty evil place, inspirationally. It is not well edited, in that sense. God clearly was not the editor. Anyone claiming otherwise doesn't get the good stuff - has never really stepped through those gateways - and so can't discriminate the bad from it.

            The point isn't to believe the Bible, or even Jesus. The point is to know what the truly good things are that some parts of the Bible - especially many of the parts about Jesus - point to.

            •  But (0+ / 0-)

              But doesn't the Bible insist that it is the Word of God, to be obeyed in full?

              To cite Sam Harris' book The End of Faith, it is difficult to take seriously believers who take only select parts of their "sacred" texts seriously.

              "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read my diaries

              by Hudson on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:46:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It is also hard to take seriously (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sharoney, Erin, Lefty Mama

                anyone who doesn't recognize that the bible covers from the iron age through the hellanistic age.  There are stupid ways to read the Bible and intelligent.  It is hardly the place of outsiders to determine who is reading correctly and who isn't

              •  Taking the whole shebang at equal face value... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sharoney, Erin, Lefty Mama

                Taking the whole shebang at equal, face value is a certain path to confusion and (in at least one case) disbelief.  Even the duration of Jesus' Crucifixion is not agreed upon in the Gospels.  One criticism of self-styled fundamentalists is that they cherrypick their Bibles for the pieces they like yet call themselves fundamentalists.  

                From what I can tell, traditional Christianity places the greatest weight on the Gospels, particularly the words placed in Jesus' mouth by the authors and quite possibly by Jesus Himself.  (One rule used is if Jesus says A and Paul says B, then A.)  Then comes the rest of the NT, and after that the OT (which many Christians believe is superseded in part or in full by Jesus' words and/or sacrifice).  This makes Scripture somewhat less self-contradictory.  

            •  my fine fettled fellow Kosnick: (0+ / 0-)
              This is a supuuuurlative post. I tried to write something like it, but it came out all--incomprehensibible!      ;-)

              .

              Is nothing secular?

              by aitchdee on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:49:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  So much of what made the cut (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            anotherdemocrat

            and what didn't was political. Let's dace. Emperor Constantine wanted a church that would produce nice, conforming  citizens who would bow to authority--whether church or imeprial.  They tended to remove the gospels and epistles now called apocrypha because they supported personal salvation and revelation, rather than a nice, neat hierarchy, with clergy at the top and lay people (the simple laity as Ratzy  likes to call 'em) at the bottom doing as they are told.

            What peo0el who scream about the Da Vinci codemiss is that the real issue of the Gospel of Mary isn't whether or not Jeus was married, had sex or had a child--it's whether you need an intercessory cerlgy or whether every man and woman has acces to the same knowledge.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:08:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Rated up. (8+ / 0-)

        Only if you believe that the Bible is infallible do you believe everything in it.  Then you have to weed out all the contradictions in it, and if you were a serious scholar, your brain would explode trying...

        The Bible is a history of the religion, from pre-Jewish times through the foundation of the Catholic Church.  Its contents are distilled through the lens of that Catholic Church and can in no way be considered as a complete and accurate history of the religion by a Biblical scholar.  Having said that, it's still instructive, especially if - as a follower of Jesus - you follow the sections directly about Jesus.

        Paul writes one of his letters to an early, apparently FEMALE, bishop, and it is Paul who penned the famous "Faith, Hope, and Love" homily.  At the same time, he panders to misogynists and other less-tolerable types, and that which was preserved by the Church largely supports their needs to keep a "faithful" congregation.

        The Fundagelicals quote "an eye for an eye", but Jesus refutes that to say "turn the other cheek".  The rest of their litany is the same; selective quoting from the parts of the Bible furthest away from the words of the Christ.

        Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

        by Phoenix Rising on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:43:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Soem theologians theorize (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharoney

          there were two Pauls--and one wrote the misogynist crap.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:28:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There were actually more than 2 (9+ / 0-)

            The others are lumped under the title "Deutero-Paul" ("second Paul") - the only letters the vast majority of biblical scholars believe to be authentically Pauline are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, and 1 Thessalonians.  

            The rest that have Paul's name attached are probably not Paul's letters - including most of the letters containing the "misogynistic crap."  (I can always count on you to pick the perfect phrase, irishwitch!)

            "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

            by Mahanoy on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:38:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah it was rude (4+ / 0-)

              but it sometimes Paul the misogynist seems never to have actually heard any of Jesus' teachings--esp. when it come to women. I just tend to write that off as someone who had issues with women --that or Paul suffered from MPD (wouldn't there have been an exorcism?)

              Thanks, Mahanoy

              The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

              by irishwitch on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:02:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Any pagan (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tikkun, DaleA, Catte Nappe

            who knows this much church history and can talk about it as knowledgably as you has my undying respect.

            Bravo.

            "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

            by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:38:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well before I was a pagan (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sharoney, DaleA, anotherdemocrat

              I had 16 years of Cahtolic education, including a minor int heology from soem of the better theolgians in this coutnry--and one extraordianry nun who taught church history and theology, not religion, in high school.  I didn't leave Cahtolicism beasue I knew too litlle. I left becasue I knew too much.

              The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

              by irishwitch on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:11:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  As did I. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DaleA

                I got thrown out of Sunday School for asking the wrong questions.

                "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:16:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  dshjkdsfdsjk (0+ / 0-)

                ive heard it said, theres only one degree of having faith, but fifty or more degrees of losing faith.  the bible can seem plausible until you apply reason to it, and then it becomes transcendentally clear that it cannot be the inerrant word of god.

                •  Catholcis don't interpret it literally (0+ / 0-)

                  sot hat wasn't the issue. It was the pERSONALITY of YHWH.  Many aprts are beautiful.   But Job and Jephtah's daughter stuck in my craw. Left Cahtolcism over sexuality and women's roels, Christianity over the OT. I odn'tthinkt hey are anymroe wrong than every other religion.  To me, Deity is the cneter of a circle and there are infintie radii that get you top the center.  We all see only bits of the WHole,a nd assuem that is all there is. SO we're all right and wrong. My way if hte Path I am suppsoed to be on. Mym other's was Catholicism. ANd she was neither stupid nor unquestioning.

                  The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                  by irishwitch on Wed May 31, 2006 at 11:51:08 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  first, it is 'misogyny'; second, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, gkn

      there really has been quite a bit more going on in the church for a long time than you appear to be aware of. The Anglican church, for instance, has never been literalistic and a good deal of what you value (trial by jury, freedom of speech and other good things) grew directly out of the values of the Anglican church.

      "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

      by Wee Mama on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:42:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Meh, spelling is for girls :P (4+ / 0-)

        Seriously though, read what I posted.

        YES, there have been progressive themes in Christianity from the beginning!  YES, there are plenty of bits that suggest that hey, women are people too!  YES, there are plenty of "Christian" reasons to be equality-minded and kind and decent!

        But there are just as many "Christian" justifications for woman-hating.  There are plenty of Biblical supports for utterly anti-progressive values.  

        That's my whole point.

        Christianity can suit the "right wing" agenda just as well as the "left wing" agenda.  It is wrong for a progressive to claim that "no true Christian" would hate women, just like it's wrong for a conservative to claim that "no true Christian" would be a homosexual.

        •  Yes and by the same token, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharoney
          the heavy-duty, hardnosed moralizing shoe can clearly fit the "left wing" foot as well as its hyper-pious, virtue-mongering "right wing" counterpart ... whether the owner of said foot is religious or not.

          I'm just sayin'...      :-)

          .

          Is nothing secular?

          by aitchdee on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:18:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Name the church publicly. (11+ / 0-)

    Not to us. Not here. That would be a mistake.

    Name it in your local community and publicize what is happening.  Put flyers up in the grocery stores telling just this story.

    You can't fight the pod people if you don't know where they are.

    RULE OF LAW. That's all the reason you need to oppose Republicans.

    by nightsweat on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:19:13 PM PDT

    •  Wait a minute > This is Richmond, VA - HELLO! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah

      Southeastern Virginia is ground zero for the Fundies. They LOVE IT THERE - repeat - LUV it. He'll get no sympathy from anyone around there. A progressive posting locally would not be anything that one would call a great idea. My Right-Wing sister lives in Ashland (suburban town nearby) and they are in Fundimentalist Christian Heaven there( there own quote). My sister and brother-in-law find "Like-Mind" better than anywhere they have lived. Previous locations for this screwed up couple were suburban > Wichita Kansas and suburban St. Louis, MO All of those locations about as right-wing as you can get. Again Richmond Va - be afraid be very afraid. It is a draw for the most right-wing amongst us.

      Progressives - stay UNDECIDED on 2008 -4.63 -7.54

      by AustinSF on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:19:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, Richmond, VA, breathe it in! (0+ / 0-)

        Richmond, Virginia is where I used to attend church years ago.  I attended the World Wide Church of God congregation that was in Richmond for like 8 years or so because it was the closest congregation of that denomination around.  So, yeah, every single Saturday we got to drive 70-miles one-way for church.

        Thankfully, the distance and time needed to get there and return became too much for my mom to feel like dealing with anymore (especially considering she's been a Christian pretty much her whole life without having to go to church).  Her getting tired of how much time it took to get there every week helped to cover my not wanting to attend church anymore either due to my loss of faith.

        But yeah, VA has a lot of right-wing religious nuts.

      •  I thought about this last night (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaleA

        And I'm convinced that publicizing the church's name is still the right thing to do.

        There may be plenty of fundies in Richmond, but it's not ALL fundies.  I don't know the proportion.  It may be 40% hard core, 50%, 60%, whatever.

        But the people of Richmond who know this church know it as a moderate or even progressive institution in their community.  They deserve to know that its been taken over by the nutbags and that the pronouncements and actions of the church are no longer those of the center but of the extreme.

        It may accelerate the takeover of the church, but it also may wake up some of the parishioners and encourage them to move to a more progressive church so their donations no longer add to the extremists' coffers.

        RULE OF LAW. That's all the reason you need to oppose Republicans.

        by nightsweat on Wed May 31, 2006 at 07:07:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sad story. (7+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry, and I hope you find spiritual peace.  

    I was brought up in the Baptist church, and I will say that it wasn't always as it is now.  I left on reaching adulthood, not for political reasons but rather due to my own spiritual beliefs.

    My parents are still members of this same church.  While it has not become overtly political, there is a change.  What really caught my attention in your diary was your statement about the democratic process within the church breaking down.  My mother complained just this weekend of the same thing happening in her church.  The Baptist tradition was always very democratic...and I think many older members like my parents are feeling shoved out the door.  They have been active members their whole life, but now they rarely ever get the chance to voice their opinion through any kind of process within the church at all.

    •  they need to voice their opinion in (7+ / 0-)

      the only way that counts to those morons.

      MONEY.

      As in, don't give any. At all.

      Get enough of the old timers to do that, and they might pay attention.

      Oh, and have a whole bunch of people go to church on Sunday, and obviously NOT put anything in the collection plate.

      Fill the place with people who don't donate, don't tithe, and ask to be members.

      •  That is a very good idea (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaleA, nika7k

        for members in many congregations.  The problem in my parents church is not one of outside politics, but I realize that in many churches this is a real problem.  In those congregations, members need to take back their churches.  We can't do it for them.  They have to decide they've had enough outside political influence and make that an issue.  Certainly the witholding of tithes would get that point across.

  •  I'm proud to say I don't go to church (8+ / 0-)

    What views i hold regarding spirituality, Christ, and God are between God and Me.  He's tolerant of me ignoring going to church because he knows I try, in my day to day life, to live in a way that contributes to society and abides by the virtues taught in the bible.

    The Bush Years have been An Inconvenient Truth. I want Change. 22 to Open the Doors of Congress

    by kubla000 on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:23:48 PM PDT

  •  I know exactly how you feel (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mumon, DaleA, Brooke In Seattle, boofdah, gkn

    I grew up in a very Catholic family -- eight brothers and sisters who, believe it or not, all still go to church.

    I recently quit going. Why? Because I feel like the Catholic Church has made a pact with the devil (the Christian Right) based solely on opposition to abortion. I feel weird every Sunday morning, but I'm not going back until I see some indication that the church is not in the thrall of the nutballs.

    I know what you are going through. It hurts.

    PS: It should be "my wife's and my."

    •  I, too, am no longer a Catholic (6+ / 0-)

      I went to Catholic school for 13 years and taught in a Catholic school for 4 years, and when those bishops said that if one voted for a candidate who was pro-choice, one had to go to Confession before receiving Communion.

      My friends who still go to Church have all become zealots: against abortion, against immigrants, against gay marriage, against using the faith for doing good. They now tell me that when Jesus said that one had to do good works, it meant that you have to do it individually, not ask those whom you vote for to be involved in policy that helps the poor.  Seriously, this is what their Church in NY is pushing now.

      The Catholic Church has become a one or two note faith: hate abortions and hate gays.  Not for me anymore, but I am still looking for a faith that is.

      My file on RedState.org: Adigal: Another one of them left wing girls way too smart for our own good. Her phones need to be monitored.

      by adigal on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:42:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which is precisely why I left the Catholic Church (5+ / 0-)

        ...but, to be fair, the "good" Catholic churches are out there. One of my friends is gay and actually converted to being a Catholic because he loved his Catholic church (and his relatively tolerant congregation) so much. I believe he goes to a Carmelite church in Seattle that is fairly progressive, as far as Catholic churches go.

        As for me, I simply can't reconcile the Catholic stance of women not being able to become priests. That probably sounds so shallow; but like the gay marriage issue, I don't want to support an institution that endorses inequality of any kind.

      •  One other thing that bewilders me: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharoney, adigal, anotherdemocrat

        My friends who still go to Church have all become zealots: against abortion, against immigrants, against gay marriage, against using the faith for doing good. They now tell me that when Jesus said that one had to do good works, it meant that you have to do it individually, not ask those whom you vote for to be involved in policy that helps the poor.

        So what about having abortions then? When Jesus told women not to have abortions, did He mean that we had to be against abortions in our own lives, but forget about asking those in government to legislate our morality?

        Oh, yeah, I forgot--Jesus DIDN'T say all of this. It's just so mind-numbingly sickening to me that these zealots can pick and choose what feels good to them (hating gays, hating immigrants, hating feminists, hating pro-choicers, etc.). Notice a common theme of hate here? It's all about feeling as if you're better than other people because of your preference for inequality and dominance over others.

        It's much easier to fill oneself with pompous, false sentiments of superiority rather than do the much more difficult, less personally convenient work of supporting public servants who advocate for more equitable and beneficial policies for all.

        •  Yup, you got it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          boofdah

          It is mind-numbing, but in my view, only those who don't think in the first place become zealots, so I guess it is to be expected.

          My file on RedState.org: Adigal: Another one of them left wing girls way too smart for our own good. Her phones need to be monitored.

          by adigal on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:38:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  against immigrants? (0+ / 0-)

        My friends who still go to Church have all become zealots: against abortion, against immigrants, against gay marriage, against using the faith for doing good. They now tell me that when Jesus said that one had to do good works, it meant that you have to do it individually, not ask those whom you vote for to be involved in policy that helps the poor.  Seriously, this is what their Church in NY is pushing now.

        Are you sure they're getting this from the Church? I live in one of the most conservative archdiocese in the country (Phila.) and I've never heard anything anti-immigrant from the Church, or the claim that Jesus meant that good works should be done only individually. I know individual Catholics that have these viewpoints, but they're picking them up from right-wing hate radio, not the Church.

        The Catholic Church has become a one or two note faith: hate abortions and hate gays

        No it hasn't, though it may appear that way in the media. Most homilies I've heard don't mention abortion (though it's true that the Church is very anti-abortion) because there are many other things to talk about in the faith. And I've never in my life heard a homily that attacked gays. Yes, the Church is opposed to gay marriage, but on a day-to-day level, it's not really mentioned to often (in my experience, anyway).

  •  Denominational (5+ / 0-)

    Are you talking about Southern Baptist specifically? The American (more or less "northern") Baptist church nearest us has a woman pastor. Baptist churches in general are (supposed to be) self-governing congregations, and these sorts of takeovers shouldn't happen, but the Southern Baptists may be a lost cause. (Note that the denomination spends a lot on "seeding" and proselytizing, but membership hasn't increased in years. They lose members faster than they recruit.)

    Anyway, the United Church of Christ now has some former Southern Baptist clergy, and my conference minister remarked to me at Easter, when I asked him about this, that he knows of Southern Baptist congregations that have resigned and are applying for UCC standing.

    Anyway, you need a new church home, and I hope you can find one where Jesus would feel at home.

  •  Imagine what Republicans think of Liberal pastors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah

    You can understand why some rightwing Christians are so angry at the left, if their churches have been taken over by lefties.

    Is there any way to resolve this problem?

    •  But they're WRONG and we're RIGHT! I mean, LEFT! (4+ / 0-)

      It's wrong evil bad no-good for the right wing to take over churches, but it's yay happy super good when "our side" takes over!

      Seriously, I can't believe there are so many people who think that it's horrid for the right wing to "take over" Christianity, when they simultaneously are advocating that progressives "take over" (or "take back") Christianity.  

      Sure, I think the religious right is disgusting and pathetic.  Sure, I think we'd all be better off if their notions about sexuality, gender roles, and racism were to vanish from the Earth.  But they have just as much claim to Christianity as any progressives do.  

      •  They have more of a claim! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaleA

        "But they have just as much claim to Christianity as any progressives do."

        Ever since Emperor Constantine bought himself the Church, it has been a weapon against anything and everything progressive. Sure there are sometimes aberrantly progressive churches and ministers, but they are the exception.

        The invariant within Christianity since the Council of Nicea has been to provide a bulwark against science and reason so that the sheep remain ignorant and malleable.

        •  It can seem that way; BUT (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharoney, anotherdemocrat

          Reverend Dr King?

          Bishop Tutu?

          Dietrich Bonhoffer?

          Daniel & Philip Berrigan and the Plowshares Movt?

          Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel?

          I became a Unitarian ... because that way I will be really following my conscience.

          Reason w/o fear! "Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs." -Sir Isaiah Berlin

          by Monique Radevu on Wed May 31, 2006 at 02:49:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As I said, (0+ / 0-)

            these people are the exception.

            Torquemade, anyone?

            How about Martin Luther, who bragged about putting down the Peasants Revolt?

            Falwell and friends?

            Bernard of Clairvaux, the dog, who instigated the Second Crusade and was intrumental, along with Pope Eugene III in the slaughter of the Cathars.

            Jonathan Edwards? Now, there's a doozy for you.

            "Saint" Augustine, who lead the Christian program to suppress pagan learning and science.

            Good people have been known to get mixed up with Chrisitianity, but they would have been good anyway. Chrisitianity provides an excellent excuse for bad people to become truly evil.

      •  No, not if you read the Gospels (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Erin

        There are actual words in the Bible spoken by Jesus. These words are the opposite of right-winger doctrine.

        No, they do not get to put words in the mouth of Christ through their "interpretation."

        All enterprises that are entered into with indiscreet zeal may be pursued with great vigor at first, but are sure to collapse in the end. - Tacitus

        by Southern Son on Wed May 31, 2006 at 02:07:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  i've had liberal ministers my whole life, (12+ / 0-)

      but the only way i've ever known is outside of church in personal conversations with them.  this is the difference between our side and theirs: our people know how to separate their political work from their call to serve god.  the message of jesus has nothing to do with hatred, wealth-gathering, and power-concentrating, all central tenets of the so-called "christian right."  these people don't teach the gospel of jesus; they teach fear, hatred, and submission.  i've never heard of a church being "taken over" by lefties.  we don't work that way.  

      "our politics are our deepest form of expression: they mirror our past experiences and reflect our dreams and aspirations for the future." - paul wellstone

      by liberalsouth on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:03:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  dude... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Erin, Southern Son

      ...I think if you want to get down to it, if a leftie isn't the focus of the church, the church has royally screwed up its job.

      What do I mean?

      This.

      Florida Democrats: Learn how to WIN at the polls! www.victoryfordems.com

      by JR on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:06:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tape it (4+ / 0-)

    Hell,(pun intended) if churches/rethugs and send students in to record history teachers.  Record the sermons and report to the IRS to have them lose their tax exempt status

    When the rest of the world decides to take care of the bully, I hope I'm not in Columbine.

    by georgeNOTw on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:30:15 PM PDT

  •  It is such a shame (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Erin, empathy, esquimaux, anotherdemocrat

    that the word -- the belief system -- "Christian" has been distorted, deformed, warped beyond recognition.

    "Blessed are the Peacemakers..."

    "Consider the lilies of the field..."

    "It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle..."

    "But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you..."

    "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it..."

    "Love thy neighbor as thyself.."

    Does any of this bear any resemblance to the hate-filled, war-mongering, fascist religions that claim the name of "Christian" today?  

    Soldiers are required to do their jobs when politicians fail to do theirs

    by leftvet on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:30:59 PM PDT

    •  don't lose sight of the fact (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney

      that most Christian churches are not hate-filled, war-mongering, or facist (didn't the previous pope call the Iraq invasion a "defeat for humanity"?) The ones that make the most noise and get showcased in the corporate mainstream media, are the hate-filled ones. But they are not a majority.

  •  Did it ever occur to you (8+ / 0-)

    When faced with the likes of this:

    ...we both took umbrage when the pastor began making horrible remarks about the public school system in our area, including making many remarks that were outright lies.  They included such ludicrous claims as one which proposed that the public schools were trying to force kids to become homosexuals.

    ...to stand up and protest your pastor?  I'm tired of stories of people allowing themselves to be steamrolled in this fashion, then sulked off, tail between legs.  I admit I know little about church life--and I understand your priority is to find a more "Christ-like" Christian church-- but how does one NOT stand up to this, or at least go out in a blaze of glory?

    You say you "took umbrage" and urge others facing the same to "FIGHT!"...

    Did you?

    -------------------------------------------------------
    Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

    by SFOrange on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:31:19 PM PDT

  •  SIGNS OF FASCISM: trampling womens'rights (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, boofdah

    Classic sign of creeping fascism is the erosion of women's rights.

    Since our fascists are religious at their core, this makes total sense.

    Plenty of churches out there that actually remember the only two important commandments, according to Jesus, love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

    good luck
    and congrats on getting out

  •  I'd rather switch than fight (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA

    I am not a Christian of any flavor, having long since abandoned the trinitarian doctrines and the emphasis of personal faith over pursuit of justice which permeates much (not all) of Christian history and heritage.  

    It occurs to me, however, that a religion that is so comprehensively susceptible to the immorality described by the diarist is already morally flawed.  It may not be the "hardware" of these flawed, morally weak men but the "software" of Protestant Christianity itself that may be the core issue that led to large injustices, like millions of men and women dying as slaves in the Protestant South, and smaller but real injustices that the diarist notes above.

    Since the diarist has made his religious views central to the diary (and only because of that deliberate choice on his part), it is appropriate to offer here a religious challenge to a religious statement: an invitation explore with new eyes the ethical monotheism of Moses, Abraham and the prophets, but without the baggage of 2000 years of Christianity and 480 years of Protestantism.  Traditional Judaism - the teaching of the people who saw the events at Sinai - holds that the world at large is responsible for observing seven general principles of morality: to forswear murder, theft, sexual predation, excessively cruel consumption of animal flesh, idolatry, blasphemy and to establish courts of justice to prevent anarchy.  A far more eloquent statement may be found here.

    In paraphase of the old cigarette commercial, you say "Fight!" but "Switch!" might yield better results.

  •  This kind of thing give churches a bad name. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Caldonia, boofdah

    This seems more attuned to a power grab than spiritual growth.

    I hope you will be successful in finding a spiritual home that is more attuned to the teachings of Christ.

    Or, if you are willing to organize and count votes, start a campaign to remove the pastor.

    Defend the Fourth Amendment And the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1985 from all barbarians, foreign and domestic...

    by Fasaha on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:43:47 PM PDT

    •  this kind of thing? (0+ / 0-)

      No, I think this is a small, small story of a bigger chapter that gives churches a bad name.

      Just ask the pope how much money is in the Vatican bank.  Its THAT kind of thing that gives churches a bad name.

      •  Huh? Are you saying that churches are (0+ / 0-)

        taking parishioners' money?  Duh... Well, of course they have since the beginning of time. How else would they survive?

        Personally, I think what went on in Guy Fawks church was worse than taking money.  

        Defend the Fourth Amendment And the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1985 from all barbarians, foreign and domestic...

        by Fasaha on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:36:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well... (0+ / 0-)

          im just saying that without knowing (and i dont mean to pick on catholics here...) how much is in the Vatican bank NOW, we, as goodwill investors wont know what kind of a return we are getting on our money...maybe the gov't COULD do it better?

          Or maybe you or me?

          Point being, no one knows how much is in there.
          They won't tell, either.

          Ever wonder what kind of math you have to have going for you in order to pay out millions in catholic-boy-blue cases to make that the better option?

          Same principle applies to Bill Gates not ever letting any tax assesors (sp?) on his property.

          •  Okay. So are you one of the conspiracy theorists? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sharoney

            I tend to be rational, but I think it's time for me to sign off.

            Defend the Fourth Amendment And the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1985 from all barbarians, foreign and domestic...

            by Fasaha on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:45:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  what part of (0+ / 0-)

              unknown value of holdings of the Vatican bank is theory?

              •  No, you brought it up first. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Erin

                The burden of proof is on you. What part of your apparently baseless accusation is fact? How do you know there are these "millions" of which you speak? Have you seen them, or are you just repeating spurious rumors?

                IIRC, most of the Vatican's money is tied up in non-liquid assets, i.e. priceless works of art and historic buildings. Not exactly something you can take with you to a bank teller or draw down with a check.

                Ever wonder what kind of math you have to have going for you in order to pay out millions in catholic-boy-blue cases to make that the better option?

                The kind of math that forces the affected dioceses in question to sell off buildings, cut pensions to elderly priests and nuns - who as church employees are not allowed to collect Social Security - and to close churches, disperse their congregations, and sell off their assets to help pay for the settlements. If you don't believe me, do your homework. That sad story has been in most major newspapers. The Vatican-as-billionares'-playground story is nothing more than a conspiracy theory, as Fasaha said above.

                That doesn't excuse the behavior that led to the payouts, but to imply that the Vatican is sitting on piles of cash and investments is ridiculous if you can't back it up (and then actually brag about that fact.) And I'm saying this as an ex-Catholic.

                "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

                by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:56:50 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  the point (0+ / 0-)

                  of posting my comment was to point out that a church having rethug tendencies is NOT what gives churches a bad name.  I brought it up only to point out that the church has done far worse things than lead its flock to the right.

                  i find it ridiculous that this one small story, as stressing as it might be to the Fawkes clan, can really be held up as an example of the problem with the church.

                  Most of the assets, your 'priceless' works of art are valued on the books as some insignifigant number, like one Euro each, because the church claims they are holding them for all of humanity to enjoy forever...would we let corporations get away with the same kind of creative accounting?

                  And I really have nothing to do with the nuns and priests not drawing social security.  I feel awful for them, really.

  •  shake dust and go as the bible tells you. (6+ / 0-)

    as one who grew up in the southern baptist church I have found that the episcopal church will welcome you even though you may consider them papists (as my grandmother used to say)or perhaps neo papists and you might be surprised that there is a lot of scripture but it is always interpreted through reason and tradition not what some neo fascist has decided. I will warn you however that we have our own hate mongers so make sure that it is not one of the parishes that seems to think that gay marriage is the cause of all the troubles in the known and unknown universe. because the episcopal church had its time as being the established church in North America and had its share of killing for Jesus in england it seems to question people who decide that God has told those people to hate, kill, or harm other people.

    •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah

      Shake the dust off your sandals and leave.
      There will be many churches happy to have a loving and dedicated couple like you in their midst!

      War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

      by Margot on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:38:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  where do people like that Pastor come from? (5+ / 0-)

    how demented do you have to be to think Bush is somehow some agent of Christ?

    And public schools trying to force students to become homo's and teach witchcraft?? I mean seriously, WTF????

    I would really REALLY like to see a full psych exam on a guy like this, you know, in front of the shrink for a few solid hours and see what kind of skeletons he/she comes up with.

    Intense physical and mental abuse as a child? Sexual abuse? Neglect? Mental illness? All of the above??

    These repressive fascists should seriously be forced into therapy.

    My advice to you, Guy Fawkes, is start a church. Seriously. And if the Presbyterian sect appeals to you I know some people who could help you. And then surround yourself with people who teach love and compassion as Jesus once did. And those 25 years at your old church: WATER OFF A DOG'S BACK. Your church got hijacked by a right wing agent of repressive darkness, which ultimately led to its own demise.

    YOUR faith has not changed.

    God Bless.

    "He lives most life whoever breathes most air." Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    "We don't do fours." General Tommy Franks (on Dkos)

    by SeattleChris on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:46:06 PM PDT

  •  I wonder if you would consider (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jules Beaujolais, liberalsouth

    talking about this in the wider community.  I wonder of the members of your church know what happened and if they did would some of them leave in protest?

  •  THIS is the difference-maker (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, boofdah, neroden, liberalsouth

    The Republicans visited these THINGS upon us. Both parties are corrupt or corruptable. Both parties cozy up to corporate interests. Both parties lie.

    But this alliance between the GOP and the REAL "Hell's Angels" was a conscious exploitation and manipulation of dangerous radicals. Sure, they would have had impact on politics anway, but it was and still is exclusively the GOP that has paved the way, made them the vanguard, even carried their banner.

    For this, if nothing else, the Republicans cannot be forgiven until they completely confess and show remorse.

    I believe the evangelical political phenomenon is THE WORST THING to happen to America since the Great Depression. It has brought with it agony, ignorace and injustice. I'm surprised it has not become an openly violent conflict.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)

    by The Crusty Bunker on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:50:56 PM PDT

    •  Just wait ... (3+ / 0-)

      We're in the preliminary stages.  A thoroughly American form of Christianist fascism is  taking shape.  

      The reaction to it's containment may well remain in non-violent political arenas, but the more it gathers steam the more I'm convinced that overt violence will emerge as a tactic on both sides.  This may remain local, or it might become part of widespread dissent. Or at worst it may trigger another civil war.

      Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

      by m00nchild on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:44:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kristofascists (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaleA, boofdah

        May do to the perception of Republicans in this or the coming decade what violent left-wing protests did to the perception of Democrats in the 60s, if you are right, and I'm not about to argue with you.

        Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)

        by The Crusty Bunker on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:46:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  you oughta report them (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, gmhowell, Joelarama

    to the IRS.

  •  my heart goes out to you (4+ / 0-)

    This is an awful story.  

    I agree with many of things said above-- don't go quietly, communicate with other members of the congregation (both the ones who are still there, perhaps innocently, and would be appalled at what happened to you & people, like you, who have left or been forced out.  Isolation--- after being forced out of a community-- hurts.

    Also do go to Street Prophets and post your story there.  I bet the responses will encourage you and ease your mind.

    What an outrageous story!  How many of the people still there do you suppose disagree silently with that bozo who calls himself a spiritual leader.

  •  Maybe you are the outsiders.... (5+ / 0-)

    Other people are staying so they must be in agreement.  Otherwise all these churches would fail.  .

    I still find it strange that some of you are freaked out by this.  This sounds like a normal church in texas and one you could have found 30 years ago....

    The "fundementalism" movement has been growing for decades.  It isnt some new insidous disease.  Just sounds like its growing wider and faster and many of you are findingyourselfs out of the mainstrem.  

    What I wonder as a non christian is why no one ever stands up during these sermons and just says THATS BULLSHIT.  Everyone just sits and listens in disbelief.  

    Is there some plot by the religous left?  This is like the 50th post about this topic in the past few days.  

    •  So? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Erin

      Is there some plot by the religous left?  This is like the 50th post about this topic in the past few days.

      And your point - assuming you have one - is what?

      Guy Fawkes is sharing his pain and you use the opportunity to take pot shots at all Christians. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to post or even read here.

      And for the record, a Christian community is not an airport terminal. The people in Guy Fawkes' congregation were in relationship with each other (a point that escapes you, perhaps because it is outside your personal experience) even if that relationship turned dysfunctional.

      To expect anyone in such a situation to stand up in the middle of a worship service and shout profanities only serves to underline how little you understand the dynamics involved.

      "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

      by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:05:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  brilliant writing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies, liberalsouth

    you are extremely talented.

  •  Guy - Jesus is no longer in that church (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, Joelarama

    but He's in your heart -and will open other doors and lead you to fertile ground where you can continue teaching His precepts.

    It's time to be a Democrat!

    by annefrank on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:06:16 PM PDT

  •  Truly disgusting story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boadicea

    and I agree with other posters that you should stay and fight.  Some parishes need all the help that they can get.

    Back in the early 1990s, I had a friend who was an evangelical Lutheran minister with a small congregation down the road.  He regularly attended a very liberal "bonfire salon" we used to have and drink beer and talk about his flock with us.  His mission was to liberate the farm wives in the pews, and let them know that they were not their husbands' serfs.

    But they resisted, and he got thrown out.  For trying rather subtlely to convince wives that they did not have to submit to their husbands in everything.  What a dangerous radical.

    He said that he couldn't believe the degree of resistance, even on the part of the women.  

  •  Who's Fighting? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bubby

    How did you "fight" the takeover of your church by BushCo? Sounds like you did talk back a little, but didn't fight when they took the church, replaced its less political people, then told you to take a hike. You don't mention going directly to anyone else in the church, especially as members were replaced by the takeover gang.

    Your advice to fight sounds like it's easy for you to tell others, but not something you do yourself. I don't recall Jesus telling anyone to "fight", but I do remember hearing that he and his people pioneered nonviolent resistance much stronger than anything you indulged yourself.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:09:35 PM PDT

  •  Even in the Catholic church... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah

    I've been hearing little sneaky remarks here and there that were pro-Bush. But our Archbishop has big campaign every year to raise funds specifically to feed the poor, clothe the homeless, etc. etc. So in that sense I grin from ear to ear because I know some Bush-loving righties are in the church and they need to be reminded of what Jesus truly fought for: solidarity with all humanity, regardless of race, creed, class, or IQ.

  •  The Age-old Dilemma of Religion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, DaleA

    comes through pretty well in this diary, I think-- how it can just as easily be used to dictate how other people must live as to offer guidance for meaning and purpose in the individual believer's life; how it can be used as a tool of peace, or conversely as a weapon of tyranny, an excuse to pass off one's own darkest wishes as those of God.

    That is unfortunately where America seems perched today-- on the edge of the religious sword, which side of the blade it will fall on not entirely yet known.

     

    "A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy"-- James Madison

    by Bad Cog on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:12:11 PM PDT

  •  The most inspiring thing to do... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m00nchild, McJulie, stormcoming

    ...in this circumstance is to STAND UP and WALK OUT at the very moment that the pastor is stepping over the line. Let your fellow churghgoers know by your very public rejection exactly where you stand.

    You may just find that you're not alone...

    •  I Saw People Do That (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stormcoming, kurt

      40 years ago in a Lutheran church.  In fact, I've seen it a few times.  I ask my parents about it.  They said that it was the preferred way to publically show your displeasure about certain topics.  My parents were not the brightest pennies in the drawer, but when you see the alternatives, what they said makes a lot of sense.

      Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. - Lao Tzu

      by FLDemJax on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:03:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You May Not Be Alone...Find Others (5+ / 0-)

    Your post on being driven out of your church is very well written.  Why not cut it in size, put it on a leaflet and distribute it to other church members at each service, giving them an e-mail address, if not phone number, to contact you.

    There may be many more folks who feel that the pastor's politics don't express christian principles and who would be willing to join you in taking back your church or in forming a new one.

    Good luck to you both.

    Impeach, Convict, Remove.

    by Justina on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:14:16 PM PDT

    •  How to deal with the Pharisees (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tikkun, anotherdemocrat

      Be a citizen of your faith and your community.  Take action and lead.

      Communicate your experiences to your community.  Organize them.  And use this network to educate the larger community.  

      Maybe have a monthly meeting.  Solicit advice.  Make plans.  Fundraise for local ads, events, and actions.  

      Above all, dissent. Dissent loudly and clearly.  How else did Jesus deal with the Pharisees?

      Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

      by m00nchild on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:54:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let's not throw the term Pharisee around (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SisTwo

        using the term pharisee is really antisemetic. I know you didn't mean it that way and Jews rarely comment about the way Christians abuse the term because they are a little sensitive about being accused of being over sensitive.

        Pharisees are the forefathers of rabbinic Judaism.  The use of the term in the NT is a politically anti-semetic tactic.  

        I gave you a 4 because your heart is certainly in the right place.  I usually comment whenever I see the term Pharisee incorrectly used.

        •  i'm actually from a Jewish family (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SisTwo

          i was deliberately invoking the term because of it's metaphorical value in this discussion.  i do, however, appreciate your input in unpacking the actual legacy of the term as one that has been misused.

          Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

          by m00nchild on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:37:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  well. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude
    1.  I guess diaries do not have to be based in fact but the all around lack of any details about town, chruches name, name of the pastor and so on really make me wonder if this isnt what someone thinks would have happened had they spoken up
    1.  If true you should have documented the politics pushing because part of churches being tax exempt (i think) has something to do with them not supporting political parties
    1.  You were quick to question whether Jesus policies would align with the Bush administrations policies without pointing out that Jesus' beliefs would never align with any aspect of financial capitalism and by extension no politician involved in financial capitalism.
    •  I liked this diary. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney, Scarpia, DaleA, aitchdee

      On your three points:

      (1) Why should the diariest be required to identify himself by naming the church?  What kind of documentation do you want?  I've been through a very similar situation in my church, and I've found allies.  The diarist may not have been so lucky.
      (2)  "If true"?  The law is that if a church supports a particular candidate or political party, the church loses its tax-exempt status.  It's a great idea to try to tape it.  But doing it is harder than saying it.  Writing about it is a good alternative.
      (3) If a church has a bank account, or a politician owns shares of stocks, then they cannot act consistent with Jesus' teachings?  And this undermines an argument that Bush's rapacious social views and warlike tendencies are inconsistent with Jesus' teachings?  Relativistic hogwash.

      "How am I not myself?" -- I (Heart) Huckabees

      by Joelarama on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:57:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  it hurts to even read this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boadicea, boofdah, anotherdemocrat

    your church, a place where everyone is supposed to be welcome, was hijacked by power-hungry pharisees of the first degree who are no better than the taliban.  they clearly don't understand that a church does not belong to its leaders, but to god.  my heart goes out to y'all; i hope you find comfort in a good spiritual home and can somehow put what's happened behind you.  god bless you; your family is in our prayers for sure.

    "our politics are our deepest form of expression: they mirror our past experiences and reflect our dreams and aspirations for the future." - paul wellstone

    by liberalsouth on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:17:12 PM PDT

  •  According to my Bible, he's right.... (6+ / 1-)

    Women are not alowed to hold decision making positions, much less even SIT next to men. Women should submit to the husband as the church submits to the Lord, or what ever. I forget which book as I am at work now. I think Jude.?
    If you read Paul's letters you will find similar views.
    The New Testament church is neither democratic nor tolerant.  This is why I don't go to church.  

    There'll never be a perfect world till God declares it that way, but that don't mean there's nothing we can do or say... Bruce Cockburn

    by elbamash on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:22:38 PM PDT

    •  That's a very literalist reading of the NT (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney, perro amarillo, virgomusic

      One that only the most conservative churches still share.  The mainline churches obviously don't read the NT that way - why else would we ordain women, elect women bishops, and call women to be seminary professors?

      This is a gross oversimplification, elbamash, and, ironically enough, it uses the exact same method of reading scripture that is common in fundamentalist churches.

      This isn't a plea for you to reconsider your religious affiliation - just a reminder that the reality of modern Christianity is not as straightforward as you might think.

      "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

      by Mahanoy on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:43:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most evangelical churches read the Bible literaly (1+ / 0-)

        I don't think you can argue that women in the 1st century had many rights. Paul in his letters to the early churches forbade women to sit with men, to cut their hair, and to always have a covering on their hair.  This of course is cultural to the period.
        It's extremely hard to defend liberal interpretations to documents written 2K years ago. This is why it's easy for these churches to tow the conservative line to get their hands on the Bushes cash giveaway to churches doing 'God's' (read:GWB) work.
        Personally, I find churches who regard the Bible as the actual word of God to be heretical.

        There'll never be a perfect world till God declares it that way, but that don't mean there's nothing we can do or say... Bruce Cockburn

        by elbamash on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:07:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  if indeed there be a god (0+ / 0-)

          then he wrote ALL the books.  Not just the bible.

        •  I would agree with you (4+ / 0-)

          that women did not enjoy many of the rights they enjoy now.  But there are also some astonishing statements in support of women in the NT - Jesus' inclusion of women in his group of followers, his willingness to sit and chat with a Samaritan women, not to mention this pasage from Paul:

          I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.  Romans 16:1-7

          Of all these names, only Epaenetus and Andronicus are men.

          And yes, most evangelical churches do read the bible literally.  But most liberal churches do not.  I'm afraid I don't understand how "it's extremely hard to defend liberal interpretations of documents written 2K years ago."  Would it be better to read them literally and attempt to retain their socio-cultural "husk"?  I can't imagine that would be better than interpreting it for our own time in our own context.  Otherwise no churches would have female clergy, all churches would require women to sit silently with covered heads apart from men, and the churches would never have demanded an end to slavery in the 19th century (just to name a few).  

          I'm afraid I just don't understand your point.

          "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

          by Mahanoy on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:19:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's gracious of Paul to want no harm to come to (0+ / 0-)

            Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila. But to the architect of the 1st century church, they could have no control (even though they be in Christ before Paul).  Again, this was in the context of the times.
            No one knows what Jesus would've done in the 1st century church. I have my beliefs in which I already expressed in another post.
            I think you and I agree that Jesus was a liberal thinker.  Hell, he even touched lepers and harlots!
            The pharasees are the curent fundi church leaders and Jesus is the lone voice for the working people.

            There'll never be a perfect world till God declares it that way, but that don't mean there's nothing we can do or say... Bruce Cockburn

            by elbamash on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:33:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  we worship Jesus, not Paul (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Southern Son

      show me where Jesus ever said anything like that.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:54:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dear Guy, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Southern Son

    I'm sorry to learn that someone who did NOT have the best interest of the church members and the community at heart was invited to be your pastor and effectively destroyed what apparently was a close-knit community of worshippers.

    As others here have stated, if there are enough disaffected members, then perhaps you can create your own church, but I would hope most of all that you might be able to take back your own church since it is a part of your wife's family's history.

    My very best to you and yours!

  •  What a sad story (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boadicea, virgomusic, Esjaydee

    It reminds me of an essay I read once titled No Longer a Christian.  It's well worth the read - here is an excerpt:

    Let me tell you about the Christ I know. He was conceived by an unmarried woman. He was not born into a family of privilege. He was a radical. He said, “It was said an eye for and eye and a tooth of a tooth, but now I say love your enemies and bless those who curse you.” He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5: 3-9)

  •  Sounds a bit like my experience, (12+ / 0-)
    although 100 times worse. The church I'd attended for 10+ years got a new pastor, Tom. He was from Pennsylvania and very conservative, a fact I learned through one on ones with him. The beginning of the end came when he told me during one such session that, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being moral turpitude, Republicans as a group were at 3 and Dems were at -5, all because of abortion. Not only that, BILL CLINTON was PERSONALLY responsible for the deaths of X number of babies, because he'd vetoed an anti-abortion bill. I told Tom that, far as I knew, BC had never put a gun to a woman's head and forced her to have the operation, but he wasn't convinced. Nor did he seem to care about the carnage in Iraq; he tsk-tsked at the boys coming home in pieces, but maintained it was for a just and righteous cause.

    Then, a week or so before Election Day, Pastor Tom preached passionately about abortion and said that God would get anybody who didn't vote for the pro-life candidate. "A baby in its mother's womb is at greater risk than a soldier in Iraq," he said, whereupon I walked out. I waited around, nearly choking on my rage, until the service was over, whereupon I informed Tom that his analogy was despicable and that I was leaving the church. I then sent an e-mail to Tom and the elders, outlining my positiion and remarking that I wanted equal time in which to say that God would get anybody who let those evil assholes in power have another 4 years. Tom responded graciously but didn't budge. I then sent the letter to the rest of the congregation. All of 2 people responded, and one of them got into a flame war with me and declared me a pea-brained liberal stooge.

    •  Dude, I admire your courage (0+ / 0-)

      I would never have found the courage to stand up to them. I would just quietly not shown up anymore.

      There'll never be a perfect world till God declares it that way, but that don't mean there's nothing we can do or say... Bruce Cockburn

      by elbamash on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:32:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, but it wasn't courage; it was fury. (0+ / 0-)

        As I said, all of two people responded. The one called me a liberal stooge and the other, who was the wife of one of my closer friends in the congregation, and far from stupid, apparently couldn't understand my objections. Did I resent all authority, she asked, or just the President's? Her moral outrage was awakened by Bill & Monica, but not by Pastor Tom getting wrapped around the axle over fetuses while tsk-tsking over mutilated 19-yr-olds.

  •  Is there no one you can talk to? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, boofdah, tigercat

    If there is a problem with a minister or church's governing body, a person in the PCUSA can go to a regional body to file complaints, etc.  Is there something similar in the Baptist church or would it simply fall on deaf ears?  

  •  I'm so sorry to hear this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, gmhowell

    It's sickening, and it's fucking pissing me off.  I've stopped referring to myself as a Christian altogether with strangers - I just refer to myself as a Lutheran and leave it at that.  If they ask more questions, then I'm happy to talk about it.

    Your message is right on - we have to fight these usurpers, these false prophets, these modern-day Pharisees.

    "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

    by Mahanoy on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:27:50 PM PDT

  •  Sorry to hear this.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ari Mistral, Southern Son

    This type of occurrance is why I am not a big fan of organized religion.  The message is lost in the bigotry and power struggle of those in charge.  I do agree with others up thread who said that it is best for you to fight to reclaim YOUR church rather than run and start another one.  If the Old-timers will side with you, then you have a powerful force to reckon with.  The day will come when we the people, those that follow the teachings of God will rise up against our oppressors and the idol worshipers (that is what they are) and we will strike back hard, driving them back under the rock from whence they came.  God bless you and good luck with the fight!

    Proud to be a Red County, Texas Democrat!

    by Webslinger on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:29:49 PM PDT

  •  Sue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Southern Son

    If you've been pushed out over a political issue then you should be able to sue or do something to get their non-profit status revoked.  Get tape of them spouting their candidates and against Democrats.

    Most people are idiots... But don't tell them. It'll spoil all the fun for those of us who aren't.

    by d3n4l1 on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:31:47 PM PDT

  •  Ask him to cite Bible references (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Southern Son
    for what he proposes. Return with better ones.

    If it is a front for politics, it shouldn't be tax deductible.

    Maybe some big name celebrities could be persuaded to come visit, do music, preach. Attract a bigger and better group.

    Don't let bad guys get away with it.

  •  Mm. Fosterites. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, Ari Mistral, terrypinder

    The Archangel Foster says, "Be happy!"  You grok?

    •  Close, but... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney, StuartZ, terrypinder

      Rev. Scudder's church might be more appropo.  More puritanical.

      My sympathies to the original poster.

      "The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit is to be joyless." - Dorothy L. Sayers

      by JesterDel on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:57:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  recs for both of you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharoney

        for the somewhat obscure Heinlein references.

        Revolt in 2100 is soooo our future if we're not careful.

        Never chase a lie. Let it alone, and it will run itself to death.

        by terrypinder on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:32:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Heinlein in his postscript (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DaleA, terrypinder, anotherdemocrat

          to the paperback edition of Revolt in 2100 said that he found the history of how Nehemiah Scudder, a backwater evangelist who managed to get elected President and then overthrow the US Government and the Constitution, was far too depressing for him to write, even though he had the plots and characters all worked out.

          As for ... the idea that we could lose our freedom by succumbing to a wave of religious hysteria, I am sorry to say that I consider it possible. I hope that it is not probable. But there is a latent deep strain of religious fanaticism in this, our culture; it is rooted in our history and it has broken out many times in the past. It is with us now; there has been a sharp rise in strongly evangelical sects in this country in recent years, some of which hold beliefs theocratic in the extreme, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, and anti-libertarian...

          The country is split up into such a variety of faiths and sects that a degree of uneasy tolerance now exists from expedient compromise; the minorities constitute a majority of opposition against each other.

          Could it be otherwise here? Could any one sect obtain a working majority of the polls and take over the country? Perhaps not -- but a combination of a dynamic evangelist, television, enough money, and modern techniques of advertising might make Billy Sunday's efforts look like a corner store compared to Sears Roebuck. Throw in a depression for good measure, promise a material heaven on earth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Negroism, and a good large dose of anti-"furriners" in general and the result might be something quite frightening -- particularly when one recalls that our voting system is such that a minority distributed as pluralities in enough states can consitute a working majority in Washington.

          Heinlein wrote this in 1954.

          It appears the fundy right has, sofar, followed Heinlein's scenario almost to the letter, allowing for the differences in technology. Let's hope (and pray) that it doesn't play out the way he wrote it.

          "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

          by Sharoney on Tue May 30, 2006 at 10:31:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Why not flight? (6+ / 0-)

    Those of the two built in responses to threats, fight or flight.

    To be perfectly honest, what you have seen in your church sounds typical of what has happened in thousands of churches across the nation.  

    Just as political realignment hit the political parties, with conservatives in the Democratic party leaving en masse for the GOP, and moderate Republicans often departing for the Democratic party, we have been seeing a partisan divide strike the pulpit as well.

    While there have been a few denominations that have seriously and institutionally resisted the trend the Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ) denomination most prominent among them, most have resisted only enough to keep their 501©(3) status.

    Most of the predominantly white Baptist churches have become part of a conservative political machine.  Issues that were once secondary (teaching evolution in schools and the status of gays in the eyes of the church, for example), have now taken center stage and been inflamed and politicized.

    Part of what has made this possible is that old timers uncomfortable with the hardening of the heart of the church have stayed, sometimes with quiet protests, instead of deserting the church.

    A similar phenomena of widespread church takeover (in the other direction) was experienced in New England in the 1800s.  Local churches were owned by town governments and while the general population narrowly leaned Unitarian, the Congregations were largely trintarian in belief and had new pastors imposed upon them.  The result was that congregations, en masse, having the courage of their convictions, deserted their churches and struck off on their own.  The resulting Unitarian Church didn't thrive in raw numbers (even after a 1960s merger with the Universalists the UU is still in the low hundreds of thousands in number of members), while the break away faction, which is the biggest component of what has now become the United Church of Christ, grew to have far more members and greater fiscal health.

    The same thing is happening in much of the Baptist religious scene.  Increasingly, Baptist churches which aren't interested in becoming part of the Southern Baptist Convention borg are rebranding themselves as non-denominational churches closer to the pre-politicial alignment Baptist church (i.e. conservative morally, but not necessarily politically and blindly) than their contemporary denomination.  And, just as often, the non-denominational churches have grown through defections from rigid backward looking small town Baptist churches like the one you have left.

    Churches that lose members fade away.  Staying and fighting, ironically gives churches that have turned bad more resources to stay that way.

    As the Bible reminds Christians, a church is a group of people, not a building.  It also isn't a single religious leader -- the Baptists have always viewed the individual as the basic religious unit.

    Flight isn't always a betrayal.  Sometimes its just a part of a path of spirtual growth, and while applying to Wall Street Rule (leave a corporation that isn't working, don't try to reform it) to matters of faith can seem crass, it can lead to larger big picture developments as well as a better life for you.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:39:18 PM PDT

    •  SB Churches Leaving the Denomination (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boofdah, anotherdemocrat

      I mentioned upstream that some ex-Southern Baptist congregations have applied for United Church of Christ membership.

    •  Flight and those who sit still and tithe (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, Mike Doughney

      Churches that lose members fade away.  Staying and fighting, ironically gives churches that have turned bad more resources to stay that way.

      Exactly.

      Those sitting in pews tsk tsking their pastor's support for politicians and policies they find abhorent who sit still for it AND continue to put money in the collection plate (or bucket) as it passes may consider themselves 'still fighting' but to what real effect?

      Even in posts like this, the actual church name and pastor's name is still protected. That's not fighting, that's complicit silence.

      Church splits and families leaving are nothing new, and focusing on just the most recent spate of reasons/justifications (Bush, Iraq, etc) while important to individuals because they are the reasons that prompted their actions- are not exactly something new and earthshattering.

      Stories like this are an everyday occurrance. For the second time in two days, I'll say again, there's not possible reason something this ordinary should be the #1 recommended diary.

      Like it or not this is the American church in the year 2006. And like it or not, these people you want so badly to be so seperate are just as christian as you consider yourselves- no matter how much you try to preserve (and reserve) that brand name for yourselves.

      The Government and the IRS are not coming to save your churches, and continuing to remain on through nonsense like the Harry Potter mess and their denigration of public schools- particularly your presense and williness to sit silently by through such (I get to mention this 'cause my parents have been teachers as well, and let me tell you, no way in hell my mom would sit by for that one!) sends its own message.

    •  not church of christ..... (0+ / 0-)

      Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ)

      The Disciples of Christ is not referred to as the Church of Christ, it is usually just call the "Chrisitan Church".  I attended "First Christian Church" which was part of The Disciples of Christ.

      The Disciples of Christ have some sort of connection with the United Church of Christ(UCC).

      There is also some other "Church of Christ" that is numerous in Oklahoma, they are very fundy, don't believe in having instrumental music in their service and they aren't connect to the UCC.

      •  I meant to say (0+ / 0-)

        "Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)" which is the way it appears on its website, but screwed it up, the names are pretty tricky and in this case the Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) actually were once one denomination and split off from each other.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

        by ohwilleke on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 06:47:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

      Southern Baptist Convention borg

      SBC = Southern Borg Convention?

      "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

      by Sharoney on Wed May 31, 2006 at 11:40:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know how you feel (0+ / 0-)

    I live in Lincoln, Nebraska and go to a church in the dreaded LCMS. While I am still able to tolerate the church that I go to, I have taken offense by many of the things that our pastors have been saying. Just last week, our pastor slammed post-modernism pretty bad, witout giving the full story. We are also one of the few denominations that refuses to recognize the possibilty of compatibility of religion and science. Thankfully, our new pastor is begining to take advice from some of the more liberal voices in our church (yes, they exist even in the LCMS), and life here is improving. Our senior pastor left, though, so we do not have an experienced pastor.

    I completely agree with virginia cynic. If your church does not accept you, let them go their own way. They'll have a tough time explaining themselves before Christ when their time comes.

  •  Somebody send this to Pandagon (0+ / 0-)

    If the crew at Pandagon think that there's no sense in reaching out to these people then they're up their own ass.

    And yes, I know the difference between SBC and the Evangelicals, but politically they're the same.  
    .

  •  I'm sorry. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, TiaRachel, Catte Nappe

    I know too many people who have suffered through this same process.  This pastor was operating froma a standard playbook that has been used in hundereds of places to take over local churches.  In only rare cases are enough members able to recognize what is going on and summon the will to stop it.  In most cases, people like yourselves have to decide when the game is over and it is time to leave.  This is a painful decision.  My mother is 73 and three years ago she had to leave the church where she was baptized over sixty years ago, where she and both her sisters were married, and where roses were placed on the pulpit the Sunday after my brother and I were born to announce our birth.  Your description of the pastor sounds exactly like the clown who came in and took over her church.  Fortunately, she has found a good alternative church that received her warmly, and is both Christian and Baptist in the best sense of those words.  There are places out there for you too which share your same commitments.  I hope you find one.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:52:21 PM PDT

  •  This is a concerted movement... (7+ / 0-)

    and it is happening in Churches across the country. On May 21st there was a radio broacast on an Air America show, "State of Belief"  that discussed the right wing assault on mainline Protestant churches. One of the guests talked about propaganda materials distributed in UCC churches by the conservative Institute on Religion & Democracy. From the radio show: "This is a coordinated effort to undermine mainline Protestantism -- and render America's largest denominations incapable of standing up to right wing politics."

    Here's a transcript of the radio broadcast.

    Or you can listen to this broadcast here.

  •  I find it absolutely horrifying that churches are (3+ / 0-)

    being turned into fortresses filled with hate and organized political agendas.  First, it's against the law to be a tax exempt religious entity while promoting a particular party in government.  It's the old mixing of church and state at issue.  Second, to turn away what sounds like true Christians in favor of intolerant, bigoted, sexist discrimination is simply, IMHO, the opposite of the teachings of Christ.  

    In fact, using the Prince of Peace to promote war and hatred and bigotry and sexism is absolutely unacceptable and should be pointed out as such.  Who are these "Christians" who believe Bu$hCo is a hero, instead of a blood-spattered liar?  Who are these "Christians" who can dismiss their flock so happily, while embracing those who would denegrate women.  And why do women always have to be "put in their place" in order to overthrow democracy and promote hate and war?  It's so ironic that women are the targets of repression when war-mongers are in charge.

  •  It is sad that this is happening... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m00nchild, TiaRachel

    in your town and from what I hear, several other places too.
    What I find so hard to understand is how the other members who feel the same as you don't speak up.

    I would be calling my local paper's editor and television stations. Make this a special interest story that ALL your town folks know about...not only the churched . The other churches should be aware of what is going on and begin discussing this issue before it arises, maybe at their church next.

    I so hope you and your wife will find a loving and welcoming church family that will embrace your Christian views. In all reality-your old church is just a building now. It isn't filled with christians doing what Jesus taught .

    Blessings to you and your wife.

    Spiritual people inspire me; Religious people frighten me.

    by Esjaydee on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:17:51 PM PDT

    •  Transforming sadness (0+ / 0-)

      Just like the stages of grief, people in this situation are likely to swing through the entire set of emotions:  denial, anger, sadness, acceptance.

      And some people just don't have the coping skills to use grief for what it is:  the opportunity to transform something traumatic into something makes you grow and better despite your loss.

      Don't run.  Don't flee.  Stand your ground.    And let the experience transform you into living your faith more personally than you ever have before.

      Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

      by m00nchild on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:59:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really don't care to fight (6+ / 0-)

    We too are experiencing a pastor who has done more to polarize the congregation than to inspire them. Unlike Pastor Dan, many of the new breed of pastors feel that it is their duty to bring people back in line with a system that many of us felt had been rightfully reformed. Our generation was turned off by the fire and brimstone sermons and the pressure to conform to practices and beliefs that made no sense and did not seem to have any place in Christianity. We felt that the church should have been a place where people were welcome. Instead the church seemed to focus on the issues that divided us. People of other faiths were castigated as unbelievers who needed to be converted if they were to enter heaven. Those who had different ideas were considered outsiders.

    Things changed for the better when church leaders began examining some of the long held teachings looking for ways to bring people together. The church became less rigid and more forgiving. While church leaders had always seen themselves as spritual parents to the congregation, they acted less like parents and mor like taskmasters. That began to change as church leaders began to focus on the meaning of Christianity rather than enforcing rules. Christ had given two commandments, but the church had added thousands more to the list over the years. Although the church began to move away from rigid enforcement of questionable rule, the authoritarians never really disappeared. They quietly bided their time waiting for the reformists to slip up or for events to occur that would allow them to regain control. Control is really what it is all about. Your pastor, my pastor, and the people who surround them are only interested in having power over others. This is not a very Christian ideal.

    Anyway, our church has a group who is fighting the pastor and trying to get him to change. I find that this is generally futile with these kinds of people. You cannot appeal to their sense of decency because they have decided that they are right and you are wrong. Nothing you say or do will change that. I sometimes wonder that even if Jesus Christ appeared and told them they were wrong whether they would accept it or not. We have a President who thinks the same way, which may be why people like your pastor support him.

    Consider yourself fortunate that these people do not accept you because if they did it would probably mean that there was something wrong with you. Had you been a Quaker, you would have been formally "shunned" as were Daniel Boone and his family for accepting his marriage to a non-Quaker. One would think that Christians would have outgrown this petty behavior after almost 2000 years. But somehow, they are still finding ways to make people feel unwelcome, despite all of the examples of Christ welcoming outcasts.

    •  Changing is threatening (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel

      Anyway, our church has a group who is fighting the pastor and trying to get him to change. I find that this is generally futile with these kinds of people. You cannot appeal to their sense of decency because they have decided that they are right and you are wrong. Nothing you say or do will change that. I sometimes wonder that even if Jesus Christ appeared and told them they were wrong whether they would accept it or not.

      To turn from the teaching, the way it is being taught, is like disavowing Jesus Christ.  People are SCARED to death that Jesus is going to disapprove and then they are going to burn in hell forever and ever.

      But lo, there is a movement going on that is teaching that God is much more tolerant.  Some even believe that all people will get the chance to accept God and go to heaven.  Many, however, shudder at the thought of "those people" going to heaven, not realizing that when a person dies, all the "fleshly thoughts" die with the flesh.  

  •  Many Baptist churches are turning away from this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, keepinon, neroden

    And once again, faith and hope and love are being taught.  Rigid fundamentalism is nothing new.  

    I was raised Southern Baptist, attended a Interdenomination (charismatic) Bible School for one year, attended a nondenomination charismatic church for many years, and then changed to Southern Baptist.

    The ignorance of the Bible itself is astouding.  People couldn't answer the question:  Was Abraham a Christian?  

    Faith is taught, but somehow the insidious teaching of "walking a chalk line or God won't hear you" gets in.  I had to leave the church.

    I had difficulty believing that religion for me had started as a personal relationship with a God who loved me to something akin to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz clicking her heels and chanting "there's no place like home.

  •  My wife just walked in and said (7+ / 0-)

    November can't come soon enough for me.  I was thinking the same thing as I was reading this story.  Unfortunately the stupid and ignorant are now in control but if we can stay focused and remove them perhaps we can remove churches such as these from the tax-exempt rolls.

    I was brought up in the evangelical movement but we seemed to realize that there was a lunatic fringe within it.  It sounds like evangelicals are moving away from enlightenment and toward those that are not far removed from the foot washers and snake handlers that I recall.

  •  Submit to authority? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, neroden

    The Republicans have turned the Baptist church, which used to rely extensively on lay preachers, into a clergy dominated denomination--exactly the papism that Baptists in the 18th century were trying to escape.

    Sad. Just sad.

    •  Isn't it more like... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA

      The Baptist Church (Southern Baptist) now dominates the Republican Party?  I think that the church has turned the Republicans into something...

      The SBs have been like this for a very, very long time.

      Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera!

      by angrytoyrobot on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:31:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly backwards (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharoney, DaleA, Catte Nappe, reahti, kurt

        In 1979, a group of conservative ministers aligned with conservatives in the Republican Party and with the "Moral Majority" took over the Southern Baptist Convention in an electoral coup.  The Southern Baptist Convention then purged many of its staff disaffiliated several desegregated congregations, started enforcing ideological and theological conformity at its educational institutions.  Institutions like Wake Forest and Furman University converted to private universities and forsweared Baptist funding in order to preserve academic freedom.

        The irony is that Baptists were among the most vocal in pushing for the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom during the ratification of the US Constitution.

        •  Early Baptists (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharoney, TarheelDem, reahti, Yestermorrow

          were the primary force behind the First Amendment language about religion. In those days, they were the persecuted minority.

          The SBC for years supported the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, which is a watchdog agency in Washington formed to work for separation of church and state, and for religious freedom. The Baptist watchword used to be "a free church in a free state."

          There is no doubt in my mind that John Leland, E.Y. Mullins, and Herschel Hobbs are all turning over in their graves at what the SBC has become since 1979.

          Bruce in Louisville
          I've stopped making jokes about Bush, because he's not funny anymore -- he's just scary as hell.

          by bmaples on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:29:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Velcome to zee new BeerGarten. (0+ / 0-)

    Hiel Jesus!

    [ Anyone who thinks my bark is worse than my bite, has never seen me bite. ] -6.63 | -5.38

    by dj angst on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:26:36 PM PDT

  •  What really bothers me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lrhoke, Southern Son

    Is that there are enough people in that church that apparently accepted this pastor's attitude. It's sickening.

    I'm Catholic. I can't even go to church anymore -- it is entirely too political now. My priest is a wonderful man (I think he even voted for Gore, lol), but the people have changed.

    The Republicans are infesting our churches with a disease of hatred. Its horrible.

    People that do not believe in this kind of Christianity should fight. But I'm afraid there are too many out there that think like that pastor does.

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis

    by Dunbar on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:28:50 PM PDT

  •  Religious Fanaticism is Advanced Mental Illness.. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hudson, keepinon, Jlukes, ohcanada

    regardless of the faith.

    "We do not torture." - George Bush during recent Asian visit

    by Flippant to the Last on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:46:30 PM PDT

    •  Royal We? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flippant to the Last

      We are not amused.  We do not torture.  We do not think that Daily Kos is representative of the mainstream public opinion.  We will be sending the Agents over to visit you forthwith.

      One of these political platforms has a future.  One does not.  It's your choice Mr. Anderson.

      Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera!

      by angrytoyrobot on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:34:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Who chooses your pastors? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, neroden

    I belong to a Massachusetts United Church of Christ/Congregationalist church, so I don't know how the Baptist church works.  We just hired a new associate minister.  A search committee of church members did the hiring, with assistance from the Mass. Council.  Our church is open and affirming and we stated that in the ad, so we knew anyone who had a problem with that would not even apply.

    I'm thinking that either your search committee agrees with this pastor or he was installed by the higher up powers that be.  You could try finding like souls and fight this guy, but it will be an uphill battle.  It must be so sad to see this happen at your home church.  I also grew up in the church I attend and I'd be heartbroken if people turned into right-wing nut jobs.  We have our share, but the overwhelming majority are about as liberal as they come.  One of our ministers even performed the first same sex marriage in town when that became legal.

    My heart goes out to you.  I hope that you find a new church home that more closely aligns with your beliefs.  Truly, I feel really badly for you and your wife.  Progressive Christians need to band together!

    •  For the non-Baptists (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      Baptist churches are autonomous; they do not report to anyone or anybody. Each is (supposedly) a little democracy, where major matters, and sometimes every matter, are voted on by the congregation.

      This has advantages and disadvantages. Pastors doing well (however defined) are not moved by an outside agency. Churches are free to attempt whatever seems good to them. There is a great deal of investment by the membership, since they control their own fate.

      By the same token, like any democracy, the majority isn't always right, smart, moral, or anything other than the majority. A popular pastor can usually do whatever he (rarely she) wants to do. And, there is no outside agency to grab the reins or pull the church back to some sort of middle.

      Thus the frustration for some of us with the "Baptist" stereotype. While it is true that many Baptist churches are similar, it is also true that each one is free to be as loving, evil, healthy, dysfunctional, solid, or crazy as it wants to be. Often at the same time.

      Bruce in Louisville
      I've stopped making jokes about Bush, because he's not funny anymore -- he's just scary as hell.

      by bmaples on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:20:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why didn't you fight? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, TiaRachel, Yestermorrow

    Are you telling us about how you didn't fight this?  Just left quietly?  Let those assholes hijack your church?  YOUR church, the one you have been going to for 25 years?  

    It saddens me to think that this is what our country has come to, that a neo-nihilistic fraud of Christianity has hijacked a peaceful faith and turned it into a message of violence, greed, and political ideology.  If you are reading this and recognize some of what I write happening in your place of worship, I have one message to you: FIGHT!

    What's sad here is that you gave up.  Quietly. Tell us about how they had to call the cops to drag your asses, kicking and screaming, from YOUR church, and all the letters to the editor you wrote, letting your fellow community members know what was going on, or about how goon squads from your church threatened you and your family.

    I'm sorry this sounds harsh.  I don't know if I would have the courage to do the things I blather on about,  but, until this fight gets into the streets, as it were, into the daily dialogue of your neighbors and community members and the letters in your local newspaper, what is visible from out here is that Christians have all gone right-wing crazy. THOSE ASSHOLES are speaking for you, claiming Christ's mantle, pissing on your faith.  

    I've said this before, and I'll say it again, although I tend to get accused of persecuting Christians when I speak up. From out here in the secular world, Christian now equals Republican. That's what it looks like. I don't think you have  even begun to fight. Sounds like you just woke up and realised there's a fight going on, but until you bring that fight into the public focus, bigfucking time, I mean shouting from the rooftops and fighting in the streets, newspaper headlines about riots at the worship service, it's all passing under the radar, and the hijackers are speaking for all you good Christians.

    Christ DROVE the money changers out of the temple; he didn't snivel about it, He just went and did it. When are you going to DRIVE these hijackers out of your church?  Where's your passion, dude?

    -8.0, -7.03 don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:36:45 PM PDT

    •  Have you...... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney, claude

      ever been in a situation like this?

      My minister staged a coup, it was at a moderate church and it didn't have anything to do about right wing vs left wing, the minister was on a power trip and wanted to be a dictator.

      My point is that over half the congregation, comprising of the majority of the young and middle aged adults fought this minister and lost.
      Why? Because we didn't have any backing from the denomination(disciples of Christ).

      I guess we could have stayed, but for me that would have been condoning the actions of the minister which were MOST unchristian.

      I thought some of our leaders, who were ranking officers in the church leadership should have taken a more agressive stand, such as changing the locks on the minister before he could do it, and he did.
      But I guess it was more complicated then that, would have meant taking legal action and I guess they figured it wasn't worth it.

      In the diarist case, unless he could have gotten, a significant number to side with him, he didn't have much of a prayer.  Yeah, maybe he and his wife could have stayed, but why stay in a toxic atmospherre when there is really nothing you can do.

      •  This almost exactly (0+ / 0-)

        Mirrors my personal experience.

        I took a leave of absence. Luckily, the pastor in question was forced to retire not soon after by illness. We're now on the mend more than a decade out, but scars remain.

        "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

        by Sharoney on Wed May 31, 2006 at 11:46:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why fight to belong to what was once (0+ / 0-)
      an inclusive organisation which has become the Nazi party
  •  Happened to me, too. I'm a Southern Baptist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, keepinon

    When I grew up the church wasn't like it is now.  A new pastor arrived after a well-liked pastor with twelve years of service left.  Just like you said, he wanted to restore the scripture.  After about six months of this nonesense I left.  Haven't been back in two years.  

    They support BushCo and the GOP because they see the world full of evil and needing to change.  But, in fact, the "new pastors" are on a power trip.  They are wanting to pull our children out of public schools.

    They are going to disappear just like the GOP.  The average attendance is down about twenty percent, and showing no change of going up.

  •  I'm sorry to hear it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keepinon

    Politics and religion don't mix.  I have a lot of problems with organized religion and what you describe is my biggest problem.  

    A former friend of mine's family went through the same thing.  The scary bit is that this family was actively intolerant at the behest of their church.  All church members spent money to convert "heathens" in other countries to Christianity by force if necessary and they often used racial/sexist epithets.  This friend of mine voluntarily took an archaeology course just to disrupt class often to tell everyone that dinosaur fossils were not real, they were placed in the earth by Satan; I believe she did this because her church expected her to.

    Despite all this, the family didn't think church should be used to promote a certain politician and so were kicked out.

    There's nothing for me to fight.  I'm not Christian and I have no dog in this fight, but I am truly sorry your church hasn't been the source of support and spirituality you expected. Unfortunately, your experience is not a singular one.

    "They know you called the Gay Teen Bondage Chatline for 15 minutes last Tuesday, but what you discussed is anyone's guess." - Jon Stewart

    by CommiePinkoScum on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:09:05 PM PDT

  •  Hi Guy: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, peraspera

    My maternal grandfather was a "Guy" too.  I was raised by my parents in the Baptist Church from the time I was five until I was about fourteen.  My Father had been raised Lutheran, my mother, a southern girl, spent most of her early church-going days at the Methodist church up the road a piece from the family farm.  The depression brought my parents to S.E. Michigan looking for work.

    In time, my sister and I came along, and my parents actively sought a church they felt comfortable at.  It happened to be the Baptist church three city block from my childhood home.

    I went to Sunday School and Church services there for about nine years.  I was Baptised when I was about twelve years old.  I left the church for good at about fourteen.  This was in the fifties, another decade that whas characterised by political intolerance.  (Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare and all)

    By my early teens I had discovered that what the Pastor preached about and the lessons that were taught in Sunday Scool seemed to contrast with the behavior I observed in the church elders.  It seemed to me as though it was some sort of sick competition.  Who was rightous enough?  Who was repentent enough?  (at that age in my mind it quickly became who was hypocritical enough?)

    Like you two, I became a public educator.  Like you two, I never taught witchcraft or promoted a gay/lesbian lifestyle. (Imagine that!)  Although, since I spent a number of years teaching Biology to H.S. students, I must admit I spent some time teaching evolutionary concepts.  Oh my!

    I hope you and your wife find a church that tries to follow the values you hold so dear.  If not, please be aware that there are countless folks who find some "quiet time" every week/day for some spiritual reflection/reading.  That works out a whole lot better for this "guy".  Best wishes to you and your wife.

    Celebrate our differences; define our core values; sell them to the independent voters; retake the Congress.

    by keepinon on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:42:06 PM PDT

  •  Has anybody read this diary? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bmaples, kurt

    Yesterday marked the three year anniversary of my wife and I's departure from the church she grew up in

    All the hopes they will find a more welcoming church home, suggestions about denominations that might suit better, guidance about taping the IRS prohibited campaigning (if any), or joining with other exiles from the congregation...All of these seem to overlook the fact that all of this story took place three years ago.

    I hope that Guy Fawkes may return and follow up with a sequel report on what has happened to his faith and religious practice in those intervening years?

    Practice absurdus interruptus - Support ePluribus Media.

    by Catte Nappe on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:13:31 PM PDT

  •  Jesus was a swarthy, smelly peacnik (5+ / 0-)

    My parents forced me to go to a methodist church until I left for college at 17 years old.  I really gave the pastor a hell of a time, incessantly asking questions like, "how do you explain dinosaur bones if God created everything in 7 days," and "why is there a fossil record of evolution?  Isn't it possible that evolution is God's creation?  Perhaps he created the mechanism and then let it unfold by itself?"  The pastor was incredibly patient with me, and basically said he agreed with me about God creating the universe and the laws of physics and biological processes, setting them in motion and then standing back to watch.  Well he sort of agreed with me, but looking back, it seems clear that he had an open mind and valued open-mindedness in his students.  For all I know he thought I was the spawn of Satan, but he never had anything but kind and generous words for me.

    Of course I don't attend church now, it would be pointless.  While I believe that a great man named Jesus once preached love and tolerance to the world, I view the religion that was subsequently built around his memory as a craven temple of ignorance serving a single purpose:  control.  Opiate of the masses, indeed.  

    The idea of anyone living their lives according to a book that has been copied translated copied copied translated ad infinitum really stretches the bounds of believability.  Humans really are stupid.  We still argue over the true intentions of our nation's founding fathers, and they left detailed accounts on paper by their own hands!  Yet people actually think the Bible represents the teachings of Jesus, when it is not 200 years old but 2000, and none of it written by Jesus himself?  That is powerful stupidity.  People need to get a grip on reality.  

    Ah, but isn't it convienient, how one can hold any opinion imaginable, and then find a Bible quote to support it?  Slavery?  Check.  Wife beating?  Check (detailed instructions included).  Shaving?  Check (right next to where it says homosexuality is an "abomination").  

    Oh and God created Eve out of one of Adam's ribs because he was bored and spent too much time buffing his rod.  And then Eve was wicked (like all women) and tricked Adam into eating from the tree of knowledge ('cause books and learnin' are wicked).

    BULLSHIT!

    The sooner humans get over superstitious, medieval religions like Christianity, the sooner we can learn to love instead of hate, to tolerate instead of judge.  Our own declaration of independence would be a good start, "All humans are created equal..."  And no, it doesn't matter if you fuck using the "wrong" hole, or trim your beard wrong, or even if you aren't afraid of he four horsemen...

    Some Christian nut once told me I'm afraid to go out into the real world and be judged by God.  I told him God had better watch it, or else I'll judge Him!  Well I have, and He's doing a lousy job.  People are hating and killing in His name, and he doesn't even give a fuck.  Time to find a new god!

    "Those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." ~ Benjamin Franklin

    by Subterranean on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:17:52 PM PDT

  •  my wife and my departure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sjersey

    I guess you're not an English teacher.

    You're writing about something important here, it's the only reason I'm correcting your grammar. The rightwing is doing this to other American churches now. Besides these hostile takeover techniques, they also are using federal funding attached to suggestions to preach rightwing garbage. A major target for them now are black churches, they're hoping to brainwash blacks to vote republican using the churches to spread fear and hatred of gays and women.

  •  Holy Crap! (5+ / 0-)

    I'm so sorry to hear this... but really, in your heart you must know that they are wrong.  I pray for you to find a church where what matters to you matters to them...

    I once went to a service where the pastor told an all out lie and I was ready to get up and leave but I decided that the best thing I could do is tell him that he should look up his information before delivering it... his attitude was that lying didn't matter... and I said "no wonder people think Christians are stupid"

    I go to a wonderful, progressive church now that, in my heart, I know is doing the work of Jesus, teaching adults - including undocumented immigrants - to read, helping children of convicted women to see their mothers, stocking a local food bank, working toward healthcare for all, treating homosexuals like the human beings they are - you know, stuff Jesus would do...makes me proud to be a Christian again...

    If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. -James Madison, fourth US president (1751-1836)

    by crkrjx on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:25:25 PM PDT

  •  This was covered last week in Air America (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, lirtydies, Catte Nappe, kurt

    and on kos: see this diary

    You can here an air america interview by a baptist Church pastor who interviewed other Main Line protestant clerics with similar problems here.

    We are in the midst of a cultural war. This is just the begining. They have long range plans, lots of money and lots of patience. Its a creeping tide and it all part of the neocon movement. You can read about that here and here.

    To understand how a small minority can bring about a sweeping cultural revolution from the top down, over patient plotting I recommend you take a gander at Claire Asquith's Book "Shadow Play" here.  In that book she documents how the Protestant Reformation succeeded against widespread popular sentiment to the contrary.

    These are dangerous and dark times we live in. There's a cultural war going on. The other side is very patient, they are very persistant, that have a lot of money, they aren't standing still, they are very well organized and you just got steamed rolled over by it - blinded sided you really, you didn't see it coming. But like all sinister movements that hide beneath the surface, even what you see, is only a testimoney to the past, they've moved on. We all need to start thinking in anticipation of where they are now, where they are headed, and how we can stop them before we are all their underlings. They are advancing nicely because they haven't faced any real organized opposition.  In time, I hope they will, and when they do, it will force their hand, exposing their true nature.

    Dark times indeed.

  •  Fight Back (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA

    Well, you should have.  You can't argue with these people.  You have to fight back.  Put on the masks and the rubber gloves and beat the crap out of him.  That is all they understand.

    OK - that was a bit mean - but we need to start fighting back - and words are aparently not enough anymore.

    George W Bush - Frozen in adolescence

    by FRANKL on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:13:30 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like bush (0+ / 0-)

     Everything they did and are doing is right out of the neo-con / gdub playbook.  It is also very similar to what the Nazis and other dictator/Facist/power mad fuckers do everywhere!

     F them ALL!

     By the way.. Man Coulter's book comes out on 6/6/06

     Something to think about.

    WesPac
    http://securingamerica.com

    by kevin22262 on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:15:32 PM PDT

  •  Yo, Heathen! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    To the diarist, I say I am sorry and you will simply have to find a new "church home."  I know it must be distressing to you, but others have had to do likewise and it does appear to me to be a matter of conscience and principle -- I am uncertain you should even want to continue to be a member of a church that serves the Republican Party.

    Now, ye heathen who have used the thread to trash religion.  Religion, like most things among humans, is partly good, partly bad.  It has its inconsistencies, its demands for the suspension of reason, and so forth.

    Irreligion has its own difficulties, and just as religionists have engaged in slaughter for The Faith, so too has organized atheism, the correct-thinking rationalists, done likewise.

    If I'm a believer in anything with rock-solid assurance, it's original sin -- or at least its secular near-equivalent, a disbelief in the perfection or the perfectibility of humankind -- I believe in.

    So, while I don't begrudge anyone their struggles or discomfort with religious dogma or religious institutions, the problems that they present, albeit in somewhat different flavors, are pretty much like the problems presented by institutions that claim not to believe in God or the supernatural.

    Now, with all respect for the conscience of the unbeliever, our country, and our Party, are made up of both believers and unbelievers.  The convinced and the not-so-very-convinced.  The First Amendment was drawn up by wise men, many of them skeptics or Deists, but also some of them devout Christians, who had a historical memory of Catholics slaughtering Protestants and vice-versa in Europe, and whose ancestors not too long before had, in some cases, come to America precisely to escape that sort of stuff.

    But the idea they had was that while the orthodox would have to put up with the doubters and unbelievers, soo, too, would the irreligious have to abide with the devout.

    So too here, in modern Merka and, perhaps, even at Kos.

    So as a matter of politcal savvy as well as common decency, when a religious person of good will, obviously a decent fellow, reveals to this group his dismay at having in effect been expelled from his church by fascist lackeys of Dear Leader, it is not the time to fart and declare in your atheistic smugness, "well, that's what you get for going to church in the first place, asshat" or "all religion is antifeminist so you should die painfully, motherfucker."  (I exaggerate, slightly, to make my point.)

    You should learn a little humility.  It will help you in life, generally -- and, if you are a Democrat, and wish to one day become a broad-based majority party, you shall have to learn to search for common ground with religionists other than, perhaps, the Unitarians and a handful of "politically tolerable" denominations.

    "At the top of the hole sit the privileged few, making mock of the vermin in the lower zoo, turning beauty into greed and filth." (Sondheim, SWEENEY TODD)

    by Skin Pale Eye Odd on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:22:48 PM PDT

    •  You present a false dichotomy (0+ / 0-)
      You make it sound as if one must either be a true believer, or a "devout" atheist, with no middle ground.  I read most of this thread I don't remember anyone suggesting that only religious nuts commit evil acts, and that atheists are without sin.  Quite the contrary.

      Why not study and follow the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, or whomever?  Why must there be an organized body to control human worship?  

      I'm inclined to follow the example of Thomas Jefferson, in that he edited the Bible to represent only direct accounts of Jesus' teachings.  Of course, even Jefferson was full of paradoxes, since how could one follow Jesus while concomitantly owning slaves?  Or perhaps that isn't such a paradox, since the Bible even goes into detail on when it is permissible to beat one's slaves.

      Anyways, my main point is simply that, by criticizing religion, I am not implicitly arguing that atheists or any other group has all the answers.  The problem I have with religion, Christianity in particular, is that it boasts of having all the answers, of being the ONLY way to salvation, and of being supremely superior.  I find such an attitude arrogant and dangerously stupid.  

      "Those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." ~ Benjamin Franklin

      by Subterranean on Tue May 30, 2006 at 08:59:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Didn't Mean to Suggest That (0+ / 0-)

        I was suggesting, though, that there are not-very-appropriate times and places to ramble against religion, and maybe this thread isn't the best place.

        "While they are saying PEACE and SECURITY then sudden destruction comes upon them . . . " (1 Thess. 5:3)

        by Take Me to Tango on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:50:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Gnosticism. . .Try IT You'll Like It. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, MarchDancer

    I ran into the very same problem the original poster wrote about 25 years ago in Oklahoma.  

    My solution came to me after I read the Gnostic Gospels by Elain Pagels.  

    I surmised that the early church split into two factions very early.  There were sects of Christians that were spiritual and there was a growing sect of Christians that were political and practised spiritual warfare.  

    The latter became the Catholic church.

    I suspect 'true' Christianity was clubbed over the head at the Council of Nicea.  To that extent, I count myself a Gnostic and find God Within and I live his works through those I help every day.

    P.S. - For those of you who might be confused, please don't confuse Gnostic with agnostic.

    Cheers.

  •  Shit! Shit! (0+ / 0-)

    Fuck, fuck, fuck!

    Old timers who had been in the church for quite some time began to grumble about some of the changes being made and were one by one taken out of their positions of leadership.

    Damnit, old timers! Don't grow old and die yet! My generation has apparently gone psychotic! T_T

    The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

    by Shapeshifter on Tue May 30, 2006 at 09:18:07 PM PDT

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies

    All I can say is that you seem alot more Christen than those that "asked you" to leave.  It bothers me that some folks set themselves up as the intermediatories between the congregation and God, it seems very presumptuous.

  •  Church boards... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, Catte Nappe, Southern Son

    ...have a LOT to do with the direction in which the liturgy goes. (Of course, in some denominations, like Catholics, it's the local diocese.) I've been on the boards of two fundamentalist churches and if a major monster tithe-er or "giver" would nod his/her head to one side or the other, the pastor almost always followed. Incidents like that happen in private, but you could tell what was going on by paying attention to who the pastor would talk to when the church would go through a particular operational or faith-oriented trial. But that's also part of our job of being "human" -- we are specifically engineered to be fallible; a "feature," not a "flaw"...
    The second church (in northern Illinois) went the way Guy's now-former church did. I was responded to with a shrug (I never was a major financial contributor) when I told the pastor my reasons for objecting to the church's direction, but more importantly, I always have felt that God wanted me to leave that church and find a new one. I'm still looking, but I also believe God will show me where I can find a "body of Christ" into which I'll be welcomed. MY decisions really suck sometimes; His are always better. I trust Guy also is doing the same thing.

    "...I need a little quiet time to think; I need some rest from irony..." -- Emily Curtis

    by Newton Snookers on Tue May 30, 2006 at 11:22:46 PM PDT

  •  A touching and tragic story (0+ / 0-)

    You should build a new church across the street from them and preach the good news there!

  •  As I read further into this diary (0+ / 0-)

    I soon forgot it wasn't a book on the past.

    It is today. In American.
  •  And sadly this is the type of church doctrine (0+ / 0-)

    That has infected our political system.  Thank you for your courage in writing this diary and for your faith.  I too have felt that extremists have co-opted the faith of my youth.  The church is much greater than a bunch of men dictating to whom ever feels the need of someone to tell them what their opinion is.  At least when Stephen Colbert makes such outrageous statements, we know he is offering comedy.  It is unbeliveably frightening to me that these yo yo's think God is dictating their actions.

  •  YOU fight! (0+ / 0-)

    Return to the church. Every Sunday.

    Will they have you removed by the police?

    If they do, return again.

  •  The American Taliban (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, Monique Radevu

    What a shocking post.

    When are we going to actually admit to the fact that the religious right in America have stepped over the line from being a normal political foe to actually becoming a kind of fascist movement?

    Just electing Dems in '06 and '08 wont change this. It really wont. It'll probably just piss off the Christianists even more. We need a complete cultural change.

    It's probably just me here, but I think we ought to stop telling them that it's okay to believe whatever religious beliefs they like, as long as they're politically moderate. Believing the earth was created in 6 days 10,000 years ago and that any day God's going to come down for Judgement, believe it or not, encourages the kind of loopiness of mind and lack of reason that breeds political extremism.

    A conservative understands the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

    by Mephistopheles on Wed May 31, 2006 at 02:19:33 AM PDT

  •  Talk To Action members work vs. church takeovers! (0+ / 0-)

    Several Talk To Action members work vs. church takeovers.

    Dr. Bruce Prescott, for example, heads "Mainstream Baptist", a nonprofit around since the early '90s which fight takeovers of baptist churches.

  •  The Episcopal Church Welcomes You :) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Monique Radevu

    I'm sorry to hear about your church. It seems like it has become a private club for like minded political conservatives.

    The Episcopal Church doesn't have litmus tests. We'd be happy to have you and your wife worship with us.

    •  here here (0+ / 0-)

      Something weird has happened to the Baptists.  It started with that "Jesus is the only way stuff". Once you buy that, you have the special Koolaid in ya. Anything ignorant can happen.  

      I mean Matthew was a saint. Ol' Bubby would be taking a stick to that preacher.  But it ain't my fight.  The gentle Episcopalians walk the walk.

  •  Have you seen this? (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.crooksandliars.com/...

    Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians.
    -------------------

    I hope its a hoax.

  •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

    Interesting and insightful diary entry.  I'm sorry you had to go through that.  I hope you found a new congregation that is more, shall we say, sane.

    "In the Beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." Douglas Adams

    by ethanthej on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:03:55 AM PDT

  •  If anyone endorses a candidate from the pulpit... (0+ / 0-)

    that incident needs to be documented and reported to the IRS, questioning their nonprofit status.

    In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. -- John Adams

    by artifex on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:32:25 AM PDT

    •  disregard, I posted before reading the comments (0+ / 0-)

      Deaniac83 and Alice in Florida, among others, already made this point fully, before I came along :)

      In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. -- John Adams

      by artifex on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:39:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow (13+ / 0-)

    I was pretty shocked this morning to open up my laptop and see all the comments made.  I never thought my little diary entry would have this type of response.  I'd like to address some of the questions or comments made, however, to try and further explain what our thinking was through the entire process.

    First of all, there were a lot of questions as to why we didn't fight more while it was going on.  There are several reasons for this.  For one, we thought many of the people involved were our friends.  When the pastor first came to our church, he was perceived by me and by many to be a really nice guy.  The process I described went on over a course of almost five years as he put the deacons and elders in place he needed to make the changes I described.  

    Second, and this is my own naievete speaking, I really wanted to believe that these people could be reasoned with, that they were good people who wanted to do the right thing and were just headed in the wrong direction.  

    Finally, my wife and I didn't know what to do to fight.  Part of that was fear and part of it was never having been in the situation before.  By the time my wife and I woke up to the real danger, many of the members who would have helped us were gone.

    After we left, we began searching for a new church home.  This was especially difficult for my wife, who really felt burned by the whole thing.  I had moved around a lot when I was younger, so finding a new church wasn't such a big deal to me, but my wife had lived in Richmond her entire life.  For about two years, we visited several churches.  Some we went back to a few times, some we left after only one visit if it reminded us of what we had just left.  That search is still ongoing, and though there are some churches we have truly enjoyed, none have really struck us as the right fit.  The last few years have been good to us, though, as it got us out of our little box and forced us to see the larger community of Christian faith in our area.  It has been an eye opening experience in many cases to see how other Christians worship on Sunday mornings.  

    I had never thought of encouraging others to fight what was going on in their churches until I was introduced to this site and to Street Prophets.  A few of the diaries reminded me of what had happened to me, and when I read the report about the determined undermining of some mainline churches by OTHER CHRISTIANS, and that for purely political reasons, I was furious.  I felt like I needed to put my story out there and tell people that this is happening and it has to be stopped.  There are evangelicals out there who are not part of the religious right's crusade to force everyone into a 1950's backwater.  There are evangelicals out there who want to clean up the environment, care for the poor and bring health care to the people in this country without it.  There are evangelicals who can respect a person's right to choose their own lifestyle, even if we disagree with it.  

    As for fighting back myself, the way my wife and I have chosen to do it is by linking up with a congregation that shares our values and is working to change the perception that we are all a bunch of right wing nutcases.  It's a tough decision, since going back and fighting in the congragation to get the old church back is appealing.  But to me, that would be like joining the Republican Party to try and remake it from within.  In addition, my wife and I now have our daughter to think of, who will be growing up in whatever church we choose to go to.  We want her to be surrounded by people of faith who will teach her that she too is created in the image of God, and that she has just as much right to participate and be counted in the process as anyone.  I never want my daughter to feel like a second class citizen anywhere, but least of all in her family's house of worship.  I also want a church that teaches and practices tolerance for those who do not believe as we do, and accepts people no matter what they may have done before walking in the door.  

    To those who have responded, I want to say thanks for your comments.  I am truly humbled to have started a discussion like this.

    "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." Milan Kedrun

    by Guy Fawkes on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:51:14 AM PDT

    •  Well, finally (0+ / 0-)

      I, for one, was beginning to wonder if you'd ever come back and check in ;)

      I think almost anyone who has been a church member understands how this stuff creeps up on you (frog in the pot?) and the inhibiters to fighting it. Guess that's why it's working well enough for it to have become a formal and funded strategy.

      Sorry you haven't found a comfortable church yet.

      Practice absurdus interruptus - Support ePluribus Media.

      by Catte Nappe on Wed May 31, 2006 at 08:51:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, thank you, Guy. (0+ / 0-)

      when I read the report about the determined undermining of some mainline churches by OTHER CHRISTIANS, and that for purely political reasons, I was furious.  I felt like I needed to put my story out there and tell people that this is happening and it has to be stopped.  There are evangelicals out there who are not part of the religious right's crusade to force everyone into a 1950's backwater.  There are evangelicals out there who want to clean up the environment, care for the poor and bring health care to the people in this country without it.  There are evangelicals who can respect a person's right to choose their own lifestyle, even if we disagree with it.

      That's what has made this diary so important. Many feel that this type of takeover is an isolated incident. This lets them know they are not alone, as you yourself learned. Knowledge is power.

      Thank you for putting your pain and faith life out here for us to see. Peace.

      "History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.."--Maya Angelou

      by Sharoney on Wed May 31, 2006 at 12:49:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe you should be happy... (0+ / 0-)

    ...to be gone from such a so-called "religious" community as this. We all become attached to things, myself included. It's hard to break away from things of value that we've attached ourselves to. But, sometimes it is necessary. Kudos to you for taking the first necessary step in being aware
    that your attachment was not the most important part of your relationship there. Many people cannot say that. You are courageous for having done the right thing despite the consequences.

  •  Same thing happened at my church (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA

    I say my church, because it was on our land, we built it, and for generations paid the Father's salary. This was a Luthern church, in the vein of our Germanic forefathers. To say it was liberally ran would be an under statement, we use to drink in the parish hall. We also use to hold the serman in German, but when I was about 8 they switched it to English because of all the new transplants showing up around our town.

    Then, when I was about 13, I remember people called the "Missouri Senate Lutherns" showed up at our doors. Being all Christian like, and figuring a Luthern is a Luthern is a Luthern, they quickly filled our pews and started going for the leadership of the church. Now besides the old hens, most of us were more than happy to have these eager beavers doing all administrative work since most of us had real work to be doing to put food on the table and all. But then something happened.

    I remember it like a clear bell ringing on a crisp fall day. They told us we couldn't dance anymore. No more polkas after Mass? Who were they kidding. Then they started lecturing us on drinking. And then they told us to put our women in our place.

    Well now, considering this part of Texas was definitely matriarchial in make up, this did not go over well. I can still see my grandma clawing at the pew as some new deacon told her to wait to be called on by a man before she spoke.

    Not wanting to kick them out, we did however suggest to them a Methodist or Baptist church in the area that was possibly more in line with their views. Our basic view of Christianity was that if you were good dude, and the Lord above knew you were a good dude, it was all good. So these transplants decided to change that.

    Not only did they change the bylaws, they said they were the only ones who could truly intrepurt the Bible and dedicate the views of the church. Now, any good Luthern knows that this was the very reason Martin Luthern started our church. The irony was completely lost on them. My family made and Alamo stand on the basic progressive tenants our faith. Foolish.

    So, we got kicked out of our church! Yes, the church we built over 150 years ago! On our land! With our religious relics from Germany inside! They wouldn't even let my sisters get married there, where 6 generations of my family had kneeled before God and recieved their wedding vows.

    It gets worse, they started calling former members harlets and whores outside the general store. See, since we didn't break, we were the manifest of Satan  themselves. It finally took a posse of old generation young men using their fists on these carpet bagging heretics' faces to shut them up in the public space about calling our sisters, moms, aunts and cousins Jazabells because they wouldn't submit to this new view of "our" church.

    They still have the Church, but the fools forgot to check one thing. Who still technically owns the land it's on. I asked my dad once what was going happen when the lease defaulted back us, he said, "Well, unless God tells them like they say He tells them everything else, I am gonna let it slip and turn the old Church into a musuem of what a Christian use to be."

    I personally couldn't think of a better thing to do.

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