Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]tully_monster)

Before it disappears from the front page of Daily Kos, take a look at this diary. It describes the covert, ongoing 20-year scheme by a cadre of evangelical organizations and wealthy far-right foundations to undermine the Main Line denominations that make up the National Council of Churches.

I was there when this began.

I was baptized and married in the United Methodist Church, and spent my formative years in the United Church of Christ when the Biblical Witness Fellowship, one of these evil groups, was starting to gather steam. A small group of fundamentalists at my church, St. Peter's UCC in Hilltown, PA, forced out our wonderful minister through innuendo and ungrounded accusations and the claim that he didn't "teach from the Bible enough." One reason, I'm sure, is that he brought in a member of an organization called Witness for Peace, which worked in Nicaragua at the time the democratically-elected Sandinista government was being threatened by the covertly U.S.-supported Contras, and he laid out for us a view of the situation there that we were unlikely to get from the nightly news. It's also likely that Rev. Snyder was pro-choice, but he never talked about it.

So they brought in their preferred candidate, who seemed OK, had a nice wife and a young family and all that, gave good sermons and all...and we responded positively to him. Only, we didn't know that, contrary to the laws of congregational polity, the decision to call him had been made before we even had a chance to see him speak from the pulpit; it had been made in the parking lot of a supermarket near his church by this small group of fundamentalists. And we also didn't know that he was rabidly pro-life and would attempt to work the abortion issue into every prayer and sermon he gave. And, finally, we didn't know that he was a disciple of Armand Weller, founder of the Biblical Witness Fellowship. If Weller's name doesn't sound familiar, his wife, Barbara Weller, acted as spokesperson for Terry Schiavo's parents during that fiasco last year. I was jolted to see her name mentioned then, but not surprised at the affiliation.

Anyways, it became clear that this minister had been brought in to steer our church in an entirely different direction. When all the bloodshed was over, half the members--people who had grown up in the church and had been members for sixty or seventy years, in some cases--had left for churches where this was not happening. My extremely active parents had been forced out of the church, and it had been suggested, rather nastily and in an un-Christianlike manner, that my father's pro-choice stance was the result of his having "gotten a girl in trouble" when he was young. The locks were changed behind them. They went back to the United Methodist Church, only to see the same kind of "renewal" (or purge, really) starting to happen there.

The UCC is a great denomination, and if I were still a Christian, I'd still be a member. But I see that period as the beginning of my own disillusionment and loss of faith. My fiance (now husband) was a Unitarian-Universalist and an atheist, and one Sunday I was in church after my mother had happened to mention this fact to the minister's wife...and while delivering his sermon, our minister delivered an attack on Unitarianism while looking straight at me. (I heard later that he also delivered a screed worthy of Pat Robertson about how feminism was related to witchcraft and sacrificial infanticide, but I wasn't there to get up and walk out of the service.)

Needless to say, after my marriage, I joined the UUA and haven't looked back. It's a church in which I can feel safe.

So this movement has been going on for twenty years. We knew it was bad, but we didn't know just how organized it was, and by whom it was funded. Like the coup that took place in our church, it seemed, at first, to come from a groundswell desire for change, but in every church, and in every denomination, it works in covert ways, through smears, outright fabrications, and coercion. Some of these foundations really have nothing to do with religion at all. They have a great deal more to do with ensuring that liberal change that could threaten their dominance doesn't come, as it did in the fifties and sixties during the civil rights and anti-war movements--from the churches.

These are not, as my mother would say, the fruits of the Spirit. And she would know. I think it was partly the stress of being thrown out of the church that had meant so much to my father--the church to which his mother and grandfather had once belonged, the congregation over which he'd once presided as president of the consistory and to which he had given so much time and support--that would unmoor him and cause him to leave my mother for another woman. He was never the same after my family was thrown out.

And I'd love to look the Reverend James T. Fox in the eye and tell him that I am now a secular humanist--one of those hated atheists, in fact--and that it's partly thanks to him, and that I hope to see his efforts and those of his masters fail because they were ill-begotten to begin with. I'd like to tell him that he is doing the work of the devil.

If I believed, of course, in a personal Devil.

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