Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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A Letter To My Pastor

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]thedemonprist)

Some background first: I live in a rural (but growing) area of the Midwest. In early 2001 I joined a small local church (English Congregational United Church of Christ is what sort of denomination they call themselves, I believe; it's an old church, been around for at least a hundred years, if not more, in this area, much of which is farming community. Much of the congregation's makeup is elderly, although there are plenty of younger families too - if I had to estimate the approximate membership population, I would guess that it is in the small- to mid-hundreds) to see what it was like. I found that I liked it well enough, but being somewhat unused to organized religion in general (I was raised with basic Christian principles but until joining that church had no formal religious 'education'; my parents pretty much let us kids figure things out for ourselves in our own way), or perhaps it was just me, got kind of bored with it and haven't attended services in at least a year, partly because of some personal unresolved issues and partly because until recently I haven't had the means to.

From my (admittedly, limited) experiences with this church, I feel that they're one of the 'good guys' - the sermons I remember have all been about exemplifying Christ-like behavior (concern for the welfare of others and personal responsibility, for example), and I don't recall there ever being anything about any 'hellfire and damnation' crap. Although I don't know the pastor very well, he strikes me as possibly an open-minded sort, or at least willing to listen to people, which is why I had the idea of writing him a letter in the hope of encouraging a likewise response (as I suck at articulating my thoughts in general, but I'm better at it through letters than I am with speaking on the spot) - grassroots and all that.

Anyway, here's the letter:


Dear [name of pastor],

I'm writing to you because something has been really bothering me lately, and I want to hear your views on it.

As you may have noticed in recent months, there has been a good deal of controversy surrounding several topics - for example, the Terri Schiavo case. It seems to me that several powerful figures in government are attempting to play God in such instances when they shouldn't be, and have no clear authority to do so. They appear to be pandering to extremist manipulations, rather than representing their constituents' views, as elected officials are supposed to do.

During the last year, I've had to sort of 'step back' from organized religion in general, both because of some unresolved personal issues of my own, and because the un-Christ-like behavior exhibited by those aforementioned people who claim to be champions of the so-called Christian Right (though they act like anything but) has completely turned me off. I believe that Jesus had some rather harsh things to say about those who publicly paraded their self-professed faith around as if it was a shiny status symbol but who did not practice the actual tenets of that faith (except in cases where it suited them to do so as they stood to benefit in some way from the attention).

Needless to say, I'm disgusted and enraged by the hypocrisy, ignorance, and downright cruelty of those in positions of power who behave as if they have an open mandate to do as they please, without regard for an individual's personal circumstances or for the word of God - which mandates that we are to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated. Christ Himself laid down the law as "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart" and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself". How do we show love and respect towards God? Not just through private worship, but through our actions towards our fellow human beings, because we are all children of God, all creations of His.

I grew up with a basic understanding of Jesus Christ's principles, though I did not have any formal religious teaching until I joined your church in early 2001. I did so because at the time I was going through a hard depression that caused me to think deeply about some things, and because I was curious to see what church would be like - suffice to say that prior to joining I had had no idea of what to expect, and unfortunately carried at the time a minor stereotype of how a church service would be (in a word, boring). I am pleased to say that in the short time I have been a member, I have felt that this church is a good place. I believe that the biggest reason - aside from God - people go to church is to share in the company of their fellow human beings. We were created to be social creatures; God knows this and that is why there is such a saying as "strength in numbers."

Unfortunately there are also many malignant groups who know the value of this saying as well, and they are diligently eating away at our foundation of humanity. I am a member of several Internet groups whose purpose is to promote discussion of religious values, and I have done much reading of online texts. What I have read has chilled me, and in my estimation would chill other Americans if they were more aware of the menace - a virulent form of religion claiming as its core tenet an aggressive "dominionism" mindset which must be instilled on this earth, preferably by forced coercion - that is trying to pass itself off as legitimate Christianity. Not only that, but as someone who wishes to live life in accordance with the values taught by Jesus, I am deeply offended that such hatefulness dares to call itself righteousness and is attempting to dictate through stealth manipulation of American legal systems what people may and may not do with their personal lives. Anyone who openly stands up to these bigots is painted as "unpatriotic," "liberal," "anti-family," or worse.

God said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged" and "Vengeance is mine." The religious extremists that I speak of use Scripture selectively, and don't seem to care for the parts of Jesus's message that said "treat others as you would want to be treated" and "love God/your neighbor as yourself." Take the case of Randall Terry, founder of the violence-endorsing/advocating anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who proudly travels the nation preaching nuggets like this:

"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

"When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we'll execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed."

The latter quote is in reference to homosexual people, and it is also interesting to note that Randall Terry has a son who is gay, and that they are (for obvious reasons) estranged. How sad and sick is it that people both preach this kind of hatefulness and believe in it, even encourage it? Regardless of how one personally feels about homosexuality, I think we as followers of Christ can at least agree that people who are gay deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, no less than we would a heterosexual person, and that final judgement is best left to God, who knows all about a person's true heart.

When Jesus was brought the adulterous woman, he pronounced the judgement "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Yet the extremists who have bought their way into government (and did not Christ say that it is harder for a rich person to enter His kingdom than it is for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle?) seem only too happy to lob accusations at others and cry discrimination when they are called on their hypocritical tactics. For them to claim that they exclusively know what God's will is (which is really their own view on how God should act), and to attempt to force that narrow view on everyone else, is arrogant and blasphemous.

This, I believe, is what is meant as "taking the Lord's name in vain." Somehow I don't think that God would be too pleased with people profiting off His name at the expense of others and using Him to bully and intimidate other people. Faith is not something that can be forced; neither can love coexist with fear. And it's worth noting that about the only time I can ever remember Jesus flying into a true fit of justified rage was when He saw His Father's holy 'home' (the temple) being desecrated by those who loved wealth more than they loved God and their fellow humankind - a sin which Christ expounded upon in many a sermon, much more than He ever lectured on the so-called 'evils' of feminism and liberalism.

For instance, another hot topic is reproductive rights. I think that most if not all rational people can agree on two things: first, that contraception is a necessity for which we can be thankful that God has granted us the intelligence to invent, and second, that abortion is something to be avoided as much as possible (exceptions being cases of rape/incest and when the woman's life is endangered by carrying a pregnancy to full term). The "theocrats" are trying to trick people into equating birth control with abortion (birth control does *not* cause abortions, any legitimate doctor will tell you that), and trying to interfere with the patient/doctor private relationship by joining pharmacies for the very purpose of denying legitimate birth control prescriptions. To bring you an idea of how close to home this is hitting, right here in Illinois there was a recent case in Chicago where a customer was denied a legitimate prescription, spurring our governor to sign into effect emergency legislation stating that all Illinois pharmacies *must* either fill the prescriptions they are presented with, or find someone else on duty who will fulfill the requirements of their job.

The hypocrisy is galling. These people say that they want to stop abortion - yet they want to deny women the very thing that would prevent most abortions in the first place. Also, many women take birth control not just for contraceptive purposes, but for other medically sound health reasons such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or to regulate menstrual cycles. Where is their outrage over all the children already here who are abused (often by the very people who are supposed to protect them - their parents)? Why do they spend so much time and energy trying to find ways to 'crucify' women who are sexually active, instead of trying to help people make informed decisions about sexual matters (which would increase the chances that 1) more people will decide to wait on having sex rather than rush prematurely into it, and 2) that those who do choose to be sexually active will take steps to prevent disease transmission and unwanted pregnancy)?

This should be alarming to anyone because birth control is not the issue: the right to decide who receives medical treatment and who does not is what's really at stake. Consider: how long will it be before someone is denied their necessary medications - legitimately prescribed by a doctor - for a mental illness such as depression, or attention deficit disorder? How long will it be before someone is denied their medications for diabetes, or cancer, or AIDS? "I will not dispense that medication because it's against my personal beliefs" or "I don't dispense that medication because I think it's God's will that you're supposed to suffer" are not acceptable excuses for refusing to serve someone when you work in a public healthcare facility. Already in the state of Michigan, there is a law that allows medical personnel to refuse treatment to anyone they believe is homosexual. That is *not* Christ-like behavior (seeing as how Jesus laid His hands on a leper and cleansed him) as far as I'm concerned.

Moreover, we are called to be good stewards (i.e., caretakers) of what God has given us, including the earth and its resources. Nowhere in the Bible do I remember reading that it is OK to recklessly pollute the very environment that we all as human beings depend upon for survival. The dominionism that I speak of holds as one of its beliefs that destroying the environment is a good thing, because only then can Christ return to rule the earth. But their real secret behind their professed wishing for God's return is this: they don't care about sharing in God's loving presence, they don't care about sharing in the love of humanity, they *want* the world to be destroyed simply for the selfish and unholy glee they would like to take in seeing everybody they hate - 'foreigners,' homosexuals, women, non-Christians, conservatives, liberals, etc. (basically anyone who does not share their dominionist views) - be condemned to eternal suffering, both in this world and the next.

This is not only dangerous for us all in the long run but blasphemous as well. Saying that God "cannot" return is in essence saying that God is dependent upon human beings for existence, which means that such people doubt the power and sovereignty of God. Such people are truly the Pharisees of our time, whom Jesus warned of - people more concerned with laws and appearances rather than how we treat our fellow humans.

These modern-day Pharisees have hijacked both God and the government and are using both as tools with which to dominate (hence the word "dominionism") and control the public as they see fit. I, for one, am sick of this evil, and yet I know not how to combat it except to go about my life as I usually do and try to treat others as Christ would. The reason they have gotten so far is because theirs is a decades-old brewing, which has cunningly operated "under the radar" so as to avoid attracting too much attention to their true goals of installing in this wonderful country a ruinous dictatorship-theocracy that shows none of the common sense and compassion of true Christianity as exemplified by Jesus, but plenty of hostility and ignorance that is anathema to the fostering of a healthy, loving relationship with God and life.

I could go on, but there is so much more out there that it would take forever to describe. So I am interested in hearing your opinion on this, how you perceive the situation, and what we can do not only to stop this tide of darkness, but to fill its void with something good that gives worthwhile purpose and meaning to our lives as people of God. God does indeed help those who help themselves. It's up to us to 'serve and protect' each other from vocal but minor groups that would divide and conquer based on superficialities and outdated prejudices. I believe that nothing less than our collective future depends on our affirmation and actions as faithful stewards of God, those who not only oppose evil but who encourage the sharing of Christ's eternal love. "Blessed are the peacemakers," indeed.

Sincerely, [my name]


Comments, suggestions, etc. are welcome. Should I include links to websites like Theocracy Watch? I had thought about doing so but wasn't sure. (they do have internet access; the church has an email address)

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