Posts tagged ‘Church’
But what about this site? Is it a help, or a hindrance to mature growth? Are we ex-Christians sulking about, fooling themselves that we are providing positive reinforcements for other non-believers and soon-to-be non-believers. Or is it what we say it is – a resource for former and skeptical religionists? Perhaps health and instruction is not part of what we do. Perhaps we are merely deconstructers, allowing the faithless to flounder in their own philosophies of non-belief. Is it possible for this sort of community to act as just another crutch, another religious-like entity that cannot think beyond itself?
In reply to the questions, I insisted that sites like this do have a positive affect because they provide a sense of community for a very marginalized group. As an American, I am constantly surrounded by the religious. Religious dialogs are impossible to avoid. They permeate our elections, they happen on the bus, they are handed out as fliers and pamphlets. Even if I wanted to “move beyond” Christianity, it would be an impossible task, because religion is simply unavoidable. Aside from the large Christian culture present in the US, my own family are all deeply religious, so religion will always be a part of my life, and I have to find ways to deal with that. One very helpful way is to communicate with fellow ex-Christians…
In a hard-hitting article in The Guardian, Theo Hobson takes the Church of England to task for its ‘wet clerics’ and their failure to carry through a reformation of the church in relation women. He laments the fact that division and injustice are being perpetuated because of liberal woolly-mindedness.
In 1992, the Anglican church finally agreed to ordain women but allowed those who disagreed and who wished to teach against this to keep their jobs. In 2005, the church agreed that women could, in theory, become bishops and finally break through one glass ceiling so firmly trodden on by men. However, in a recent report, the church is still arguing that the toleration of dissent should still be encouraged. As Hobson argues:
Imagine if Parliament had voted for female suffrage, but also allowed conservatives who disagreed with the development to form a parallel parliament untainted by women’s votes.
Either it is right to remove the cultural abuse of women by denying them an equal voice and opportunities, or it is not. If it is right to do so, why continue to fudge the issue and promote abuse and the teaching of abuse?
I find myself angry about this failure to reform for at least three reasons. First, as a humanist it grieves me that women in the church are clearly being disenfranchised in some way…
As an atheist looking into the world of Christian de-conversion, I expected to see more tales of people de-converting after they realise how hypocritical churches are. In fact I barely expected any other cause, perhaps aside from exposure to science. I thought that Christians who read the bible did so through the lens of the preachers words and were thus immune from realising it’s faults, and that religions would have all the answers to the really simple questions down pat. I mean, surely children have been asking the church “what about dinosaurs” since dinosaurs entered the popular imagination.
But pedophile priests, church leaders blowing money on yachts and a luxurious lifestyle, or the existence of something like the Vatican bank – surely these were the things that would shake people’s faith in large numbers. However, only 8.51% of people in the sample attributed their de-conversion to the hypocrisy of the church.
Personal experience highlighted the hypocrisy of religion to this person:
I began immediately to see hypocrisy in both the organizations and the individuals with whom I associated. I married a man in seminary studying for the ministry but I knew from the outset that his heart was not in what he was doing and he was just there because his minister father had pushed him into it. I am still married to this man after 35 years and I still love him but I noticed a great unhappiness in him…
‘Emerging’ Christian Commentary
Beginning toward the end of college and continuing through grad school into my years as a youth pastor, I went through a radical rethinking of all my conservative evangelical beliefs. I had grown up thoroughly immersed in the evangelical subculture, and as a teenager was an on-fire, committed Christian eager to serve God and share my faith with others. I attended Wheaton College, a conservative evangelical liberal arts school, where ironically, I was introduced to ideas that led me to start questioning key aspects of my conservative faith – from the nature and reality of God, to the inerrancy of scripture, to the existence of “absolute truth” or even “universal morality” free from cultural influence, to the inherent rightness of the Republican party, to the nature of salvation as merely a “get into heaven free” card.
Thanks to postmodern philosophy, as well as friends and professors who led me to look at scripture itself in a different light, by the time I finished undergrad and graduate school at Wheaton I as thoroughly cynical and disillusioned with the faith with which I had been raised. I had learned that doubt and uncertainty were an unavoidable part of the human condition, and that questioning my faith was actually a good thing…
It’s really important to have a “we believe” statement for every church. Not only do many churches have a declaration of faith, they usually use the same book, the Holy Bible, to back their claims. What is interesting to me is that this Bible is interpreted in many different ways. So, how do you know which “we believe” statement is in the “truth” and which is a “lie?” How does one approach this?
I think for some, they would simply compare a statement of faith against the Holy Bible. I mean, that would make perfect sense to me. But, which verses in the Bible do you ignore, and which ones do you accept? How do you interpret the Bible to make it so it goes along with a declaration of faith?
It seems to me that most Christians are first in alignment with a school of theology prior to understanding the Bible, and so then they are forced to cherry-pick the Bible to justify their personal beliefs. Can you read the Bible first, then find your own theology in it? Or do you have to subscribe to a leadership that claims monopoly on theology and truth? What came first in your religious beliefs? How to read the Bible or the Bible itself?…
The focus of my last post, I weep for the children who are victimized by their spiritual leaders, was about various ways that churches manipulate, and sometimes even abuse, children. The second of my two examples, the Nigerian Witch Hunts, was a clearcut case in which thousands of children are being horrifically abused by not only their pastors, but also their parents, who themselves have been browbeaten into believing that their children are witches.
The first example I cited, the one to which I devoted the bulk of that post, was the story of the confirmation service of a seven-year old girl into an evangelical Christian church. As I observed the ceremony, a comment by the officiating pastor made me ponder the moral implications of what the girl may have been taught in preparation for the ceremony, which includes the following “promise”:
Having asked God for forgiveness, I will trust him to keep me good. Because Jesus is my Savior from sin, I will be his loving and obedient child and will try to help others to follow him. I promise not to use intoxicating drink, harmful drugs or tobacco. I promise to pray, to read my Bible and, by His help, to lead a life that is clean in thought, word and deed…
This couple were the “senior” (head) pastor and his wife at the church where we spent 10 years working. She was one of those “super Christians” (at least in her mind). However, the reality of it all is she typified all the things I have learned to loath about religious people. She always had “all the answers,” and anything that deviated from her set theology was wrong. She could tell you how to live, while her own life was crumbling unnoticed around her. She pursued “ministry” based on her desire to have acceptance and really could not wrap her mind around love at all.
Saying all this, I’ve learned to pity this woman. Circumstances have moved this couple far away from our lives, but today we attended a funeral of a mutual family member/friend. It was good to see her and her family, but sadly, nothing has changed for her.
That’s the problem with religion. Things stagnate, because that’s the only way they can be controlled. Theologies become calcified, and they become fodder for liturgies…