I hesitate to write this because I don’t want it to be seen as a church bashing post, it is not (it’s a “bashing the bad actors post”). But, it is my opinion and my experience, and that’s what I’m sharing on this blog.
Religion has been woven into my life…. all my life. I will write a lot about it. Some will like me for it. Some will despise me for it. I’m okay with both.
More and more lately, I’ve noticed just how abusive organized religion can be and often is. I don’t mean to overgeneralize here. Like all things, there are some really good people and some really good churches. And, then, there are some really, really bad ones. The messages being transmitted, by some, to the congregation and the community are… well… hmmm... suspect.
I remember the Jimmy Swaggart fallout like it was yesterday. I also clearly remember the words spoken by my Mom’s friend in response to my disdain for this pathetic human; “He is human. He makes mistakes.” My response to her was simply; “I didn’t put him on that pedestal, he did.”
He was rich. He was powerful. He had thousands of followers. People hung on to his every word. The money poured in. Some willing to give him their very last dime. They believed in him. He was larger than life.
Of course, we are all human. Of course, we all make mistakes. Of course, we all would like to give and receive grace for our mistakes. The fact is, I didn’t (and still don’t) view this situation as a man who made a mistake. I view this situation as a man who made decision after decision after decision… with intent. His intent was clearly to deceive. His sexual indiscretions, frankly, don’t bother me (Such is life. Monogamy is a lofty idea. That’s a whole different post). But, his intent to deceive the public as a whole does. His apology I found hollow. Another intent to deceive. This man was not apologetic for his actions, but for potentially losing the empire he commanded. His apology (and he knew it) was expected and clearly designed to put him back into the good graces of his supporters (Cha Ching!). Frankly, it was bullshit and therein lies the problem.
The disdain I felt (and still do) is from the application of two sets of rules. The smug arrogance and the mockery of humankind that accompanies such a mindset makes my blood boil. He had but one job… to protect the public’s trust. Not through lies and not via cover-ups. These were not mere errors of judgment. The entire system of wealth and power was built on the intent to deceive. And, sadly, this still goes on much too often in our churches today.
But, wait, Carol, you’re not allowed to judge. Oh snap! The circular arguments strike again. No beginning and no end. Used to justify the giving, and ironically, to prevent, accountability. Hello! The entire system is a set of values. Values which must be judged in order to discern good from bad. Least not forget, I stand outside the circle. You’ve labeled me as bad. How is it that you have come to that conclusion without the use and application of judgment? Agreeably, what I do not have is the right to impose the punishment (another type of judgment). So, just to be clear…
If you are taking the last few dollars from a widow, a poor servant, in order to better support your lifestyle, you can bet your sweet cheeks I’m judging the shit out of you. It’s your job to care, clothe and feed them, not the other way around. If they hang on to your every word, show them some damn respect.
If you use your pulpit to “beat the goats” into submission in order to feel powerful and mighty, while hiding behind your own lies, you can bet your sweet cheeks I’m judging the shit out of you. We are but one. You and I the same.
If you have two faces, one for private and one for public, you can bet your sweet cheeks I’m judging the shit out of you. Some travel far and long so they can just be themselves. Just be you. Honest and transparent with the good, the bad, and the ugly. No lies. No cover-ups. No deceit.
If you demand something of me that you, yourself, are not willing or capable of doing or giving, you can bet your sweet cheeks I’m judging the shit out of you. You’ll never gain my respect, or I’d guess anyone else’s, implying two sets of standards.
If you have the Youth or Associate Pastor do the baptisms because you don’t want to get wet, you can bet your sweet cheeks I’m judging the shit out of you. Baptizing another is an honor and a privilege. If you have forgotten the privilege, I know all I need to know about you and your entity. I don’t care how many Bible verses you can quote or how eloquently you speak.
If you use words like “them” to describe “the world” to better your self image as good, you can bet your sweet cheeks I’m judging the shit out of you. You’ll hear me say this a thousand times over; “You can’t reach a world you refuse to touch.” You are creating separation not inclusion. Please stop pretending.
If you tell me God wants you to buy a jet or some other ridiculous materialistic object, you can bet your sweet cheeks I’m judging the shit out of you. Please don’t justify the church as a business entity or your materialistic desires as a mission. No one is buying that bullshit. Good grief!
If you use words like “chosen” to describe yourself, you can bet your sweet cheeks I’m judging the shit out of you. This goes without saying. Mercy! E-G-O!
Personally, I’ve found that in order to better grasp the character of an individual, I should not look to their words or even to their actions, but in the distance that is created between the two. How wide is the gap?