Eight years ago, I left Evangelical Christianity completely. I hit the reset button on everything and secretly began my journey into an unknown world. There were many reasons for my exit, many of which you can read about on this blog. Yet, even though I felt deeply in my heart that I was on the correct path while walking away, I still experienced massive remorse.
Leaving Christianity felt like I spat in the face of my grandfather, who had passed away maybe months before. He was a pastor. Christianity was his life. I also knew that everyone else would think that I was disgracing his life work in some way. The pain of this was unbearable as my grandfather still remains a man in my life I most respect and admire.
Yet, this remorse was the reason I left in secrecy. I managed to keep it to myself for almost four years and I certainly never planned to begin publicly writing about losing my religion, politics, or advocating for #EmptythePews. All of that changed in the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump with the help of 81% of white evangelicals. This sparked outrage and anger within me I didn’t even know I was capable of having. I had witnessed hate shrouded in righteousness throughout my life in fundamentalism. The election of Donald Trump was absolutely a consequence of this observation. The decision to go public wasn’t easy, however, staying silent during these times wasn’t an option.
Feelings of remorse, guilt, shame are very common among people who lose their religion. It can cause major depression, suicide ideation, self-destructive behavior, and addiction. In the blink of an eye, we lost our support system because our church, our families, they cannot support us. Supporting us means betraying their God. It has taken me until now to finally arrive at a place where I have complete confidence in my decision to shake the dust off my feet and walk away.
When I say I walked away, there was no other path I could travel. I was pushed by something much greater than I, a source of unconditional love that propelled me from a system that completely lacked it. No longer could I exist in or support the religion of my youth first and foremost, because of that deficiency. Intellectually I could throw all the evidence your way of the doctrines and dogma that are based on illogical nonsense, yet all of that just confirmed what I always instinctively knew. The God of this religion isn’t a God of unconditional love.
Evangelical Christianity exists for a certain kind of Christian. It doesn’t exist for all humans. It is not for the world, yet it claims to serve a being that died for the world and advocated for people on the margins. Grace has taken the backseat to issues; LGBTQ, abortion, evolution, politics, and climate change. Winning the culture war has become the reason Jesus died, yet the gospel tells us otherwise, and some of us are scratching our heads at the deception.
To be an evangelical Christian, you must vote just like every other evangelical Christian. Yet, grace isn’t the motive behind the vote. Conformity, fear, greed, racism, bigotry, and hate is. If it were based on grace, I could vote their way, however, grace is gone. Evangelical Christianity has created an either or. Choose our God, or choose people.
You can’t have both.
The core of my spirit believes in grace. I believe many people in the pews do too. Jesus taught us about it. My grandfather based his life’s work on it. Evangelical Christianity is subtly stealing grace out of people’s hearts, and they’ve been doing it for about 150 years. Until grace is visible, there is no part of me that feels badly about refusing to be part of their institution.
Neither should you.