Finally Cutting Ties With My Former Churchmates 4

So I haven’t darkened the door of my local UPC in over two years. There’s no way I’ll ever go back. Yet for some reason, at least half of the people on my Facebook friends list were church people. They’ve been dropping off steadily over the past few months, especially since the SCOTUS ruling legalizing gay marriage and my subsequent celebrations.

But last weekend was the final nail in the coffin.

I’ve written previously about a close friend from Junior High that I reconnected with after getting away from the influence of the UPC. Well, he got married last weekend, and I not only made the cake for his wedding but was a “groomsmaid.” I was supposed to walk him down the aisle and give him away.

So I decided to make this an object lesson. When I arrived at the hotel in which I was going to make the cake, I started posting updates about said cake. Every step was posted, with a picture, and some variation of “I still have not participated in a wedding yet.” I started getting texts and private messages from people saying, what’s the non participation about? People started wondering when I was actually going to participate in this wedding. It was a lot of fun.

I got the cake done, got it to the venue and set it up. I posted the pic, and informed everyone that at this point I was free to leave without ever having contact with either of the grooms. This is in NO WAY participating in a wedding. It’s making a damn cake. Fundamentalist Christian bakers take note: Just make the damn cake, set it up and leave. Do your job and go. It’s pretty simple.

Then I posted pics of me in the wedding party, and signing the marriage certificate as a witness. THIS I informed everyone, IS participation. See the difference?

Surprise! This Didn’t Go Over Well

Needless to say this concept didn’t play well with the fundamentalist corner of my friends list. The very next morning before I’d had coffee (I really should ban myself from any type of human interaction when not properly caffeinated, virtual contact included) a former church mate that I’ve had several enjoyable, rational, civil disagreements with was posting crap about how Christian Bakers are being persecuted by the bullies in the “Gaystapo.” I couldn’t stop myself. I was literally compelled by forces outside my body (ok my own emotions) to post a calm, rational reply. But one that was still pretty hard hitting.

I said if you’re trying to be a “Christian” what do you think Jesus would do in this situation? I personally think not only would he bake the cake, he’d insist on being there to serve it and probably wash a few feet in the process. That was kinda how he rolled. But oh. Never do that to them. They handle that even less well than the idea that gay people should have rights.

They take it really, really badly.

My formerly rational church mate went ballistic. She posted that her status updates were for her FRIENDS (AKA people still drinking the Kool-Aide) and that she didn’t post her opinions all over my page. That if this is how I really felt I should un friend her and block her updates from my news feed. Well!

This bothered me more than it should, although I’d like to think that’s just because I was exhausted from the weekend. I’ve wanted to keep people from all over the spectrum on my friends list. Partially to mine some of their craziness for this blog, I’ll admit. But also because I don’t ever want to be in the situation I was in as a member of the UPC. The situation my former friend wants to keep herself in. Where all of your information comes from people who think just like you. So that your ideas and beliefs are never challenged. So that it never occurs to you that you’re living in a bubble of crazy.

These people watch only Fox News (if they watch news at all). They read only the bible or other Christian materials. They hang out only with other Christians, or if they do work around “non believers” they keep enough of a distance to ensure that if there is any influencing going on it’s decidedly one way. Three times a week they go listen to sermons and participate in rituals designed to reinforce their indoctrination. They tell themselves (or the pastor tells them) that this is to keep their mind pure, “stayed on Jesus.” But really, it’s how you become brainwashed.

This is how you wake up 20 years down the road and realize you’ve been living in a cult. IF you’re lucky enough to wake up at all.

Freeing Myself From The Crazy

But I realized that the negativity I was exposing myself to – the constant drumbeat of “we’re being persecuted! A Christian holocaust is coming! Those bully gays won’t stop until Christianity is outlawed!” – was bad for my energy. I have enough stress now that my job has picked back up and I’m working more than full time again. I don’t need this.

What just boggles my witchy little brain, however, is the fact that these people do not see how they are the ones doing the bullying. They do not see that they are causing the rest of the sane world to dislike them by their histrionics. That by trying to shove their rules down everyone else’s throats and by acting so hatefully, they’re pushing people away in droves. 

They’re being the exact opposite of what they claim to be, what they think they’re being.

Well, now they’re doing it without me for an audience. Because I completely cleaned out my friends list this week, and there’s nobody on it whom I don’t actually have something in common with. And already my little world feels like a brighter place.

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4 thoughts on “Finally Cutting Ties With My Former Churchmates

  • V

    I’m 15, and have been raised in the UPC. I am so fucking done with it. Its so full of hate. I’m trying to slowly distance myself from people in my church (not very hard since I’m really only close with about 3 ish people in a church of 200), but I don’t think I’ll really be able to do anything about really leaving the church until I’m 18.

    I’m pretty sure I’ll go insane if I have to wait that long, I hate it here so much. How do I cope with this, without getting into too much trouble?

    • admin Post author

      Hi V… I am so sorry to hear what you’re going through. I can definitely relate. It sounds like your parents are still all in. When I was still in it would have been the worst thing imaginable to think of my kids “backsliding.” Which makes it hard for them to have any objectivity whatsoever when it comes to your spiritual choices. The thing is, there is a space inside you that no one can invade. When you’re sitting in service, you can go to that space. Just block them out. You have to learn to get in touch with the core of light inside you, where your strength is. Their hate can only affect you if you let it.

      Today was the winter solstice sunrise. Last night was the longest night of the year. And the worst of winter is still ahead – the cold, the snow. But the light is coming back a little more every day, starting today. Tonight won’t be quite as long as last night. You have 3 more years of sitting through church services that you don’t believe in. Some of the darkest times may be in front of you. (At 15 it’s a fairly sure thing that both your darkest and brightest days are still ahead.) But you have a light inside of you. A light of strength and purpose. Nurture that light. Believe in it. Watch it grow. It can and will eclipse the hate around you.

      And when the time comes that you can break free, you will be stronger for your time in the darkness. I promise.

      • V

        Thank you so much. It really means a lot.

        Um okay I know you like, just gave me advice, but something just came up. Tonight (new year’s eve) I was at church for communion and my youth leader approached me about joining a mentorship program. Its something we’ve never had really in our church, let alone our youth group; but based on what he said it’s a more focused youth group with people who he’s seen grow spiritually over 2015. He picked a small amount of people and it’s apparently really low key. Before I go on, I should probably tell you that a few months ago I was still really conflicted with this whole rebellion thing, and during a district event, the speaker was talking about callings. And I don’t know if I was talking to myself, or if it really was God but I felt like I really was led towards the “mission field”. I told someone in our youth department about it, as well as my youth pastor. So I guess that’s what led him to include me in the mentor ship thing. Another thing I was involved from 2014-2015 was Bible quizzing. And because I live in Canada, this is the first time in like 10 or 15 years our district has had a team. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I thought it might be a good idea since I’ve been at the same church for 15 years and haven’t really had any friends. I can say I mostly did Bible quizzing to try and make friends, and maybe at the time to “learn God’s word”. I hated it so much. I guess because I wasn’t truly interested in it, there was no real motivation to actually practice. I was super behind and was really stressed out. I hated it so much. I hated the stress and the pressure and at the end I didn’t even get close to anyone my age. I couldn’t tell you their favourite colour, food, or anything really about them. I guess I’m a natural outsider or something. I ended up quitting towards the end of the season because I was just so worn down. But because we were the only team in the district, we were going to nationals by default (which was in Oklahoma). We drove like 2 days down south. I was honestly just so miserable. The heat was horrid (20 degrees hotter than what I’m used to) and as an introvert I had no time for myself to just recharge. Because of that I was constantly tired and sick of everyone. And of course I was socially isolated. So it was pretty shit. All this pretty much led me to wanting to leave the church. Other than the fact that most of the policies that the church has directly contradicts feminism and the rights of the LGBTQ community (my church was like 80% Filipino so I can’t say it’s racist, but what their political views are motivated by is pretty fucked up).

        So back to the whole mentorship thing, it’s supposed to be a binding contract. I don’t know if I should just not do it, or do it and bull shit my way through it. Apparently it just entails weekly meetings, our youth pastor sends us scriptures, and we occasionally go places to hang out. What should I do? You’re literally the only person I can talk to who can understand.

        • admin Post author

          I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner. I’ll be writing an article about this soon, but my Grandma passed away this week, and I’ve been spending a lot of time in the hospital/ nursing home with her. I hope it’s not too late for you to make your decision.

          I would say that I wouldn’t try to BS my way through anything. If you feel like the group will help you make friends, or that your youth pastor will actually be encouraging and give you objective mentoring, maybe go for it. But you know it’s mostly going to be about helping you to be more of an apostolic christian. Do you want to deal with that pressure?

          As far as “binding contract” tho.. stuff like that really bothers me. You’re not getting married or buying a house. It’s not a contract that’s in any way legally enforceable, just a way for them to pressure you if you get into this and decide you’re no longer comfortable with it. So when you either stop participating, or go in and say “this isn’t working for me and I’m going to drop out” and they pull it out and say, you made a commitment, you’re breaking your word, better to not make God a promise than to make one and break it yada yada.

          It’s one thing that you can’t stop going to this church while you’re in your parent’s house, that’s unavoidable. But saying that you’re actively seeking to dive deeper into it when you feel the opposite is only going to make you more miserable. My advice would be only join this if it’s something you really WANT – if the objective of you being closer to god by their definition of it is something you WANT. If you’re going to have to pretend you’re something you’re not in order to participate, you’re just going to be miserable.

          Be true to what YOU really WANT. Then if you have to take crap for it, at least it’s honest crap. You know?