I saw a post on Twitter recently that got me thinking.
The post was a question directed toward exvangelicals—“What was the straw that broke it for you?” My curiosity was piqued so I followed the thread and saw the responses contained a wide array of reasons people walked away from the church.
I wondered if I could put my finger on just one thing that caused me to flee this expression of Christianity. I know why I left specific congregations, but why did I turn away from a belief system I held for over 30 years?
There are a lot of things I have unlearned in the last three years. End times eschatology, dispensationalism, biblical inerrancy, and substitutional penal atonement are just a few. But, was there one specific thing I could put me finger on that ended it for me?
I think the thing that caused by feet to move was the way evangelical churches I have been part of have brought abuse and suffering to their own people.
Before anyone gets up in arms over that last statement keep in mind this is my experience in the churches I’ve attended. You may have a lovely church full of caring, giving individuals but every time I think I’ve found one I learn that appearances can be deceiving.
I’ve seen so much damage, so many people kicked out or cast off that I just can’t do it anymore. I’ve seen too much—nasty church splits; abusive doctrine; a board deciding to pursue legal charges on a former congregant which ended up separating a mother from two small children for years; families, individuals and dear friends kicked out of a congregations in order to protect a pastor’s fragile ego; a “homeless ministry” leader demanding security in an apartment complex because homeless people might sleep in a carport, church closings; infidelity among leadership; a pastor telling his denomination he would not speak to someone who was “not kicked out” of his church; and the list goes on.
What it finally came down to is that I am not OK with being part of a group where treating others badly is part of their DNA. Be it subtle (or not so subtle) racism, LGBTQ exclusion, “church discipline,” or turning a blind eye to those in need my motivation for leaving is the way people are treated by the organism called church.
The place where acceptance and love, reconciliation and forgiveness are preached every Sunday has become for me a place where these things are not found.
I think I’d prefer to hang out with the homeless guy in the carport.