I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the intersection of Fundamentalist Christianity and the weird political mess we seem to be in these days. A large amount of Trump supporters identify as Christian and most of them are Evangelical or Fundamentalists, from what I can see.
A little bit about me and how I was raised. My stepmother was a First Baptist Church girl, which is a more liberal arm of the Baptist Church. My dad was Fundamentalists (as was his most of his family). The Assembly of God church was the church he and his family chose. This meant that most of the time I’d go to the Baptist Church and once and awhile I’d go to Assembly of God with my grandparents or an aunt or uncle. I remember an old-fashioned tent revival with Grandma Pearcey that was pretty scary for me when I was maybe 10. People yelling for Jesus, praying aloud and crying was not how they did it at the First Baptist Church. I even got to see Oral Roberts heal the sick when I was maybe 11, although he tried to heal my two cousins, it didn’t work. My dad didn’t go to church much until I was in my teens, although he read the Bible very frequently. Finally, he and my stepmom came to agreement about church and started going to the local Southern Baptist Church, which I hated because the pastors sons were bullies at my high school.
I bounced back and forth in being a Christian and rejecting the church. I think the first time I questioned it was when I was 11. I had a cousin who was a missionary like his mom and dad and I asked him these questions. “If God is my father and he loves me like my father loves me, then why would he condemn me to everlasting punishment in hell for not believing in one thing, Jesus.” I then asked him ” If a good Muslim and a good Christian both did everything their religion told them to why would God send the Muslim to Hell if he was a good person?”(I was pretty precocious and well read at 11) My cousin looked at me pretty confused and then said. “You have to have faith that God will talk to everyone sooner or later and that you will then be given a chance to choose to believe in Christ and God” Guess what? God hasn’t said a word to me yet.
Also, about that same time, all the kids at my First Baptist Sunday School were getting baptized. My dad set me down for a talk about this. In the Fundamentalist Churches you don’t get baptized until you accept Jesus as your savior and that could be at any age. It’s not automatic like in some churches. This is one of the best things my dad did for me. He asked me if I believed that Jesus died for my sins. I told him I didn’t know and he said that until I believed that I shouldn’t get baptized. While it was hard being the only kid not baptized at my church, I’m very thankful I was not ever baptized by water.
Which brings me to another part of my religious past. At 16 I got super religious. Carried my Bible to school and went to the Four Square Church every Wednesday for revival meetings (I still didn’t like the Southern Baptist Church so I tried to avoid it when I could.) One of the coolest things at the Four Square Church was the speaking in tongues part. WOW! People were singing and speaking in some weird language and I so wanted to do that. I mentioned it to the pastor and one Wednesday 10 people laid hands on my and prayed for me to speak in tongues (It’s called being baptized by the blood). And guess what? I spoke in tongues or at least I mumbled some weird words and everyone cried and praised Jesus. It was pretty bizarre, actually and it didn’t keep me in the church because within six months I was exploring sex and drugs and rock and roll (like you did in the late 60’s) and by the time I was 18 I was living in a commune and reading palms (not Psalms). I look back at that experience and I realized that with that many people pushing energy into me something had to give, hence what seemed like tongues (I do believe on energy work, I just don’t believe a deity has anything to do with it).
Over the next almost 20 years I bounced back and forth between believing in God, kind of, and rejecting God. What kept me coming back to God was the fear of hell, to be completely honest. Then, in the mid 80’s when I was with Fred (who gave me my awesome stepson, Tony) we found this little Baptist church in Des Moines that we loved. The pastor, Mel was amazing and non-judgmental. There were even bikers in full colors who attended the church. I was so happy and started thinking that maybe there was a God. We got married by Mel, went to church every Sunday and even after Fred’s and my divorce, I still loved Mel and the church. Then a few years later I was working in a bar, where I met a cocktail server named Donna. In our chats, I found out the Donna had gone to that church and she told me that when she was 14, Mel had made a very big pass at her. I was heartbroken, the first minister I’d ever admired was a fraud.
And that’s when it finally struck me. Even if there was a God, I wanted no part of it. Why would I want to love and obey something that discounted who I was (bisexual), who could give a shit about me and my family, who condemned his children to ever lasting punishment and created a place called Heaven that was full of people I wanted nothing to do with. That was the start of my agnosticism, which has eventually become atheism.
I call myself a non-deist pagan/Buddhist. LOL. I don’t believe in deities, I love pagan ritual and some of the belief systems and I practice Buddhist ways of being.
Which brings me to the present (I skipped some stuff, but nothing important)
How could people who truly believe in the teachings of Christ have voted for and supported someone like Donald Trump? A man who embodies everything Jesus was allegedly against. One of my wonderful cousins, who is a college educated therapist and a minister voted for Trump and told me that he did so, even though he didn’t like the man, and that many who voted for him felt that way AND YET they voted for him because it’s what good Christians do, vote Republican. I simply do not understand.
I see posts all the time from people who identify as Christian, castigating and demonizing people who are on the left or who have another religion or who get an abortion or . . . . And Christianity is the religion of Jesus’s love?
And don’t get me started on those who are biblical literalists. Are they going to stone their children when they curse at them? Are they going to stone me for saying God Damn? Are they going to stone women who were raped (only if in the city)?
do they wear polyester?
I know some of you are Christians from the more liberal and open denominations. Ones that accept our LGBT community and ones who work to make our world better. I love you for who you are. Hell, I love my family for who they are, even though I think they are misguided. And I ask you two questions. How can you believe in this myth? What makes it resonate for you? I’m truly curious.
I’ll leave you with this great quote by author Phillip Pullman: “I think it’s perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don’t know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away. Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it’s because he’s ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they’re responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I’d want nothing to do with them.”