|Stolen from the original post|
Now, I'm not so daft as to declare it "religion week" just because I have a religious satire book hitting the virtual shelves [hopefully] this week. However, an article was recently suggested to me and (based on a few documentaries I watched) I feel that a response is in order. Please bear with my groping-for-relevance while I wait for my book to actually arrive and be approved for sale.
If you'd like to read up, check out Rachel Held Evans | 15 Reasons I Left Church.
Back? Good, because you just spent a few minutes being misled.
The title of the post implies something that the body, itself, contradicts. Rachel, as well-meaning as she seems to be, chronicled her discomfort with her church (in other words, a church) rather than the church (left of the capital C):
I left the church when I was twenty-seven. I am now thirty, and after trying unsuccessfully to start a house church, my husband and I are struggling to find a faith community in which we feel we belong.She didn't leave the church (faith community), she stopped weekly attendance to a building. Semantics? Maybe.
That being said, I think she makes some valid points. Planning baby showers wouldn't be an effective way to spend one's time in any context in the face of a/the church's main purpose. Unless they're used as an evangelism tool, I suppose, and I doubt even Jesus would attend an event where people guess what the "poo" in a diaper actually is. Then again, maybe he enjoys those games. Who can say.
It's already been established that I have no faith in all things church. So it should be readily apparently why I left church, both in the faith community and building senses. Admittedly, my opinions are going to be biased in this direction, but having been "outside" for a while now, I've realized my biggest reason for discontentment. Rachel's blog post highlights it unintentionally well, actually.
Participation in the Christian church isn't mandatory, but it might as well be. If you don't subscribe to one of the 1500+ denominations of Christianity, or gods forbid you're an unrepentant Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Atheist (but not Agnostic, because they're easy pickins for conversion), you're thought of as having something wrong with you. In the words of the least relevant celebrity, whose recent commentary on gays was less than well received, you're lost.
Of all the reasons I'm anti-church these days, the biggest one is because the presumption is that "church" is "right." The authority is on their side. The goal is to make everyone agree with them, which should be simple because they clearly know the proper way of things. Now, not every individual throws their spiritual weight around, but I've definitely known some who do. Some of them may even see this post on Facebook and wonder why I'm so
Nothing illustrates this better than my favorite of Rachel's reasons, by the way, is #10: I left the church because of my own selfishness and pride. The church is right, so clearly she's wrong for leaving it, and it's all her fault for being such a selfish and prideful person. It's not the church's fault she wasn't enriched, full of zeal, satisfied with her experience and accumulated knowledge and fellowship. Clearly it was just a matter of she wasn't trying hard enough.
Not much gets under my skin quite like this.
You can thank my feelings on the legacy from being brought up LDS, being encouraged to repeat the mantra "I know this church is true" as a child who couldn't have possibly known otherwise, and coming to disagree with every possible thing about said organization. It puts quite a damper on the whole "faith" thing, let me tell you.
My personal baggage aside, I feel that we should live in a secular society. One where you're allowed to be who you are without having people automatically assume there's something broken about you. Christians aren't perfect, nor are Muslims are Atheists, but presuming that any one group is right and that we should all just jump ship with what we're doing and join them before the Armageddon Clock chimes 13 (or we destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons) is one of the most ridiculous unspoken rules living in USAmerica goads you into following.
I used to cut the various churches some slack. They help people, right? They take your money from the collection plate and do good things (literally) with it. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless; those sorts of things that you obviously couldn't do all by yourself. Then I read a study on how a common church spends its money.
Donations account for 87% of a church's income, probably more in other cases.
About 77% of the budget goes to staff, overhead, and supplies.
Only 15-20% of the budget goes to missionary/support work.
Do that math sometime. I have. To say it's disappointing doesn't even begin to cover it. Make no mistake: your tithing pays for a building and people who work in it.
If you want a decent reason to leave church, do it because they care more about preaching than they do about helping. Do it because they build ever-more-enormous facilities in which to preach in lieu of helping. Do it because your money would be better-spent directly helping people, or going to actual charities who at maximum probably rent a single office in a run-down building in a run-down part of town... so they can more effectively use the money they collect to help people.
Now, that's not to say that I disagree with Rachel entirely. #15 is also one of my favorite reasons, but I don't see the point in disassociating yourself with the one part of an organization when the rest of it, probably even those sitting next to you in those pews, do subscribe to such ridiculous and exclusionary notions. It bothers me that people think they can draw such magical distinctions like, "I'm a Christian, but I'm not a Westboro Baptist (of GOD HATES FAGS fame) kind of Christian," or, "I'm a Christian, but not a fundamentalist Christians like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (of blaming natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina on the ACLU, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians fame)." Why on earth would you want to call yourself the same thing those people do?
Because you have to. Something is wrong with you if you don't. Sure, you can disagree with them all you want, but you all still believe in the same god, read from the same book, and perform the same weekly ritual. People like me just don't understand it. Maybe now you'll have a better idea of why that is.
Click here to order your copy of Thomas Redpool Goes To Hell. It should be "live" soon, I promise.
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