Dear Christian conservative,
I do not know how to co-exist with you anymore and that breaks my heart. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted, an authentic relationship that thrives with love, grace, laughter, and compassion. Instead the divide has deepened and the separation has grown. I wish I could change things as there has always been an instinct that knows that division is not the way. Unity is the way, however, there is no room at your table for someone with the likes of me. It is your religion that chooses who sits at the table. It isn’t you, and I know that, deep down. You’ve been robbed of relationship. I’ve been robbed too. So when you see me critiquing evangelicalism/fundamentalism, I’m not attacking you but the very system that has broken both of our hearts.
I’m at a total loss. Maybe you don’t know how much effort, prayer, and pain I have undergone trying to keep my worldview and faith the same as yours. I knew the whole time that I was going to lose you, and it isn’t fair. I didn’t try to lose my religion, it wasn’t a choice, but rather something that happened to me, and I’ve been doing my best to deal with it. I know I must look like I’m crazy. I feel like an embarrassment because I know all you ever wanted was for me to grow to be a faithful, church-going Christian conservative, and married to a deacon, or a Christian man with a nice Christian family. I know it hurts you to see what I’ve become. However, it isn’t your heart that tells you that I’m wayward. It’s your religion.
Your religion has taught you to cut yourself off from the world. I am the world now. Evangelicalism has taught you that you must say the sinners prayer or else you’ll go to hell. I now am an agnostic student of Jesus that flirts with atheism. Your religion tells you that LGBTQ is a sin, an abomination, and a choice. My son might be LGBTQ. Some of my best friends are LGBTQ.
So what am I supposed to do? I certainly don’t have any clue. I keep waiting for you to see the light but there is a door as wide as Texas blocking it. I’ve watched this president you support get a pass on the most despicable character traits. I’ve looked at your apathy about the racist civil war monuments. I’ve watched your support of the firing of NFL football players kneeling to raise awareness of police brutality against black Americans. I’ve watched your support of this president’s budget that defunded domestic violence programs, and I am a survivor. Your religious leaders such as Franklin Graham is praising a speech from Donald Trump saying “Kill them all” in reference to North Korea. Your religion is supporting taking healthcare away from 34 million people. Your religion worships guns and will not bend at all in programs aimed at reducing gun violence. Your religion is going along with all of this. It would take me all day to chronicle every deplorable action you’re being complicit in.
Yet, I am the one who is on their way to the flames. I don’t believe that. I love everyone. I just want the best for everyone. I want everyone to be treated equally. I want everyone to be able to get medical care if they need it. I want to help reduce alcoholism, drug use, and suicides among LGBTQ. I want the racial divide to end. I want this religious divide to disappear, as I see the hurt it causes. I have a good heart, a hopeful heart, and it pains me that your religion keeps you from seeing it. It hurt when I heard you say you couldn’t hypothetically vote for me, but yet you voted for such a terrible human being.
What is the solution? I forever feel like I will be part of the “secular world” that your religion tells you to have nothing to do with. To you I am an evil liberal, a “baby killer”. I was primed with this rhetoric, so I know that is what you’re feeling. I feel that instead of just seeing me, in all of my honesty and authenticity, I will always be seen as a huge disappointment and treated like a conversion project. I will always be in the wrong. At this point, if you continue these views and align yourself with this president, you’ll always be in the wrong to me. Your beliefs are hurting others, and you need to see that and own that.
I cannot pretend to not know how you feel. I was taught to feel the same way. My whole life I was taught to basically run away and distance myself from myself, my true self, my future self. It isn’t fair. I’ve done nothing wrong but study, pray, reflect, and try to understand the belief system because I was trying my best to follow Christ. Imagine how painful it was for me to realize how distant my religion was from the words of Christ. I felt lied to. I felt betrayed. Not from you, but from the system.
If you really examine this institution, how is it benefiting you? It’s keeping you from loving others. It’s cutting you off from enriching relationships and experiences. It’s keeping you from being an advocate for the suffering. It’s holding you back and pressing you down in it’s sexist theology. It makes you live in fear and guilt. I see the guilt you feel for simply forgetting to pray before dinner. Why don’t you feel guilty though for being complicit in policies that are hurting others? This system is using you, politically, to fight a culture war, increase wealth for the rich, and that breaks my heart.
There is an entire community, growing by the day, that have no choice but to choose. Do we choose ourselves or do we choose to chase love from people we will never receive it from? Not truly. I can’t chase anymore. I can’t allow myself to feel the pain of being on the outside looking in. I have too much work to do, too many voices to raise.
We have had to completely start over. We’ve lost a lot; our families, our community, and our foundation that fell apart-very easily believe it or not. It was like our religion was a piece of neatly folded origami, and as one piece came undone, the whole structure unfolded leaving us all with a blank sheet of paper to try and fill.
I cannot stop speaking out against this system. It is imperative for others like me to find other kindred spirits. We are all so very alone. We’ve been alone, our whole lives. We were listening the whole time, knowing we never belonged. However, I will cling to hope and believe that one day eyes will be opened to what we are pointing out, and someday, we won’t be enemies by religion’s creation. Until then, I will stay raised up, perhaps on my own, because if I allow myself to be pressed down, then I have no strength left for others who are beneath your foot, including yourself.
An ex-evangelical/former fundamentalist Christian