Monday, January 13, 2014

"You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave"

I haven't entered the premises of the old "fundigelical" church I was undercover in since The Confrontation. I went in to personally resign my membership, and oh my, was that a mistake....

First, I was told by the church's office director that formal notice would have to be given before Wednesday, to put it on this month's business meeting to be formally accepted. Then, "Pastor Jones" happened to show up as I was leaving, and requested that I meet with him in his office.

I should have known they were going to try to reel me back in. Pastor Jones, instead of trying to be the typical raging fundamentalist pastor, likes to portray himself as the soft spoken southern intellectual (originally from North Carolina, graduated with a PhD in church history).

He wanted to know why I was wanting to resign my membership in the church, and had told me that he didn't like the idea that the church's office director had about me sending in my resignation via e-mail to her. He wanted a signed paper copy mailed in, (so it will be more official, of course). I told him about my theological issues with Christianity, about The Confrontation, and finding peace and acceptance at the Unitarian church.

Undaunted, he kept wanting to ask more questions, kept wanting me to come back to Christianity, and actually had the nerve to pull out the "honor your father and mother line".

Yes, he went there, and said that he wished that I could be reconciled with my family, made excuses, maybe it's because of the holidays, etc. I told him him that she has been like that my entire life, and now my dad is starting to act just like her.

I told him that I have always felt like I've been treated like property, and that she won't change that view, won't ever recognize me as an adult. Undaunted, he kept on, started saying that maybe there's a way to keep them in my life, but keep them at a slight distance. I told him that I can't go back to living my life that way, she will not change, I have given her plenty of chances. He clearly didn't agree with me, but he let it go, and then zeroed in on the theological issues.

He wanted to know what led me to change my mind on Christianity, and he kept pushing for me to meet with him later to discuss it. I had told him that I had spent quite a while going over everything myself, it's been 4 years now, it's not a phase (like many Christians I have come out to have thought).

I even consulted with a few people from the church, who ended up introducing me to John Piper, which just disgusted me even more. He said that he felt like he was more equipped to deal with the hard questions of theology, since he had had so much experience as a pastor, plus advanced seminary degrees, and tried to get me to set up appointments with him to discuss it

 Before I said that I had been talking to a few people from the church, he kept wanting to know who I had been talking to about this, it was very reminiscent of the guest post I had Sunday, "Somebody On That Internet".

I told him that even if, on the remote chance that I could be convinced to come back to Christianity, I couldn't return to that church for my own safety, and I couldn't deal with a church that conservative either.

I couldn't be on that side of the culture wars, I've encountered and have gotten to know people demonized by the Christian Right, like people from the LGBT community and Wiccans, to name a few, and they weren't what I always taught to believe they were.

He tried to backpedal a bit on that, doing his own version of "we don't hate the sinner, he hate the sin", he said that though he has never met a Wiccan (that's surprising), he had known gay people through the years, and they were "good folk", as he put it, but he reminded me of "what the Bible says about that". I told him, I had gotten to the point that I had felt that even if someone could prove to me that the God of Bible existed, and that the Bible was his words, I still couldn't come back to Christianity, the god of Christianity wouldn't be worthy of my worship.

I told him about becoming a part of the Unitarian denomination, and how I have found more peace, acceptance and healing there than anywhere else I have ever been, and that I will keep continuing to go there.

I got nowhere with him, and it just made me want to resign my membership even more, their tactics of trying to discourage me out of leaving. I just printed up my resignation letter, it's going to be mailed sometime today or tomorrow by certified mail:

 To the members and staff of (church):


 I (legal name), the undersigned, request that my name be officially removed from membership at (church), at your earliest convince. I hereby renounce all formal ties to the church and to the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole.


Your prompt response will be  appreciated. 

 What really gets me about this is that in the time I have been gone, the only person to contact me from the church has been "Jason", my former Sunday School teacher, and part of that is because he's also my co-worker, yet at least a dozen people from the church know where I live. Despite that, they act like this when I try to resign the church. Apprently their attitude is that "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave"


 The Eagles: "Hotel California"




  1. I don't understand why you put yourself through this whole thing of resigning and communicating with them in any form. Just walk away, don't take their calls or speak with them at all.

    1. Good question....

      It's because I find the views of the Southern Baptist convention to be deplorable, and I no longer want my name associated with them in any way, shape or form.

      I don't want my name on roster, it implies my support for them.

    2. I was going to ask the same question. Makes a lot more sense now why you want to do it officially.

  2. I won't attempt to quote him because it has been too long since I read this, but Andrew Vachss put this bit about "honoring thy father and thy mother" into a very sensible context when he said that "it justs puts the onus back onto the abused person rather than the abuser." If your mother and father deserve your honor, great. If they don't then you should not feel any guilt about turning away from them or about the negative feelings you have for them.

    1. Colossians 3:21: "Fathers,[a] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." The Golden Rule applies between parents and children, too.

    2. Exactly, but it a power structure that has no accountability for those in power, that's tossed by the wayside.

  3. Good reason. But now that you have resigned officialy, I would advise you to just stay away. It's highly unlikely that they will give up on you. They will be back if you allow it.

    1. I'm going to mail the resignation today by certified mail. I won't agree to any more talks from the pastor,

  4. Maybe I'm also tainted by being a long-term UU. I concur with Drew. Simply resign (I think of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"). It was good manners to notify the church office — email or a call should have been fine. Your buying into their need to ritualize it must have something to do with your earlier church life. You've more than met your obligation, both to that church and as a polite member of society. Carry on, and stick with the Seven Principles.

    1. Hey, a fellow UU. :)

      I really need to learn more about the group, I'm vaguely familiar with the Seven Principles, but I need to look them up again.

  5. I can't believe you showed up like that. There is no way I would do that. A silly name in a book does not show your support anymore than our email address on a blog shows our support of the blog.

    1. I disagree, but I probably shouldn't have showed up there, you're right about that.

  6. I occasionally pop in to your blog but probably haven't commented in close to a year (and I was probably anonymous at that time). I just wanted to say, as hard as this time is for you, congrats on taking the steps toward the life you want for yourself. I admire your courage and wish you the best. I wasn't in nearly the same situation, but I came out as atheist a few months ago, and after the initial drama, it was a relief. NOT that it's all over and done with, but it was a big step. Cheers.

    1. Thanks, Carlie.

      You have been following the blog that long?

  7. I commend you for how you handled both situations---your parents and your church. You could have taken the easy route---but instead of running away from unpleasantness or confrontation---you stood up for yourself. That is something to be proud of and I hope you realize that.

    However, this also means that someday you can make allowances for others to stand up for their beliefs---such as the pastor.....and your parents.

    I also agree with the pastor about reconciliation with your parents---though that may be sometime in the far future. It is natural and right that you should be angry right now at the injustice, the wrong and the oppression you had been subjected to. Anger can be of benefit if it can be used to make you into a better human being---but anger can be harmful if you allow it to turn into hate. People such as Mandela, Gandhi, (..and Prophet Muhammed(pbuh)) also suffered oppression and yet rose above it to attempt reconciliation.......we are "people" too......

    Reconciliation is not something you should worry about now---as it is clearly not the right time for you---but keep it in mind....for now, concentrate on yourself.

    I hope this year will bring you many new experiences and interesting people in
    your "new" will make for a lot of fun reading!


    1. It will be many years before I even begin to consider it, there's so much I need to work out.

  8. This reminds me of a song by Emilie Autumn called Take the Pill. It's technically about her experiences in a mental hospital/her experience of being forced to take various drugs, but it also works as metaphor for these kinds of churches. It one point she just repeats several times, "get back in line, get back in line, get back in line," and then at the end of the songs the nice background of classically-influenced strings and synths goes to industrial hell as she chants in the voice of the doctors, "take the pill, take the pill, take the pill." Its super cathartic and I thought you might like listening to it!

    1. Just read the lyrics, yes, living with my family was much like that (far more than the church was). The church actually felt somewhat welcoming--- until I stopped coming to services.

      Living with my family reminded me a lot of the Johnny Cash song "San Quentin":

      San Quentin, you've been livin' hell to me
      You blistered me since nineteen sixty-three
      I've seen 'em come and go and I've seen 'em die
      And long ago, I stopped asking why

      San Quentin, I hate every inch of you
      You cut me and you scarred me through an' through
      And I'll walk out a wiser weaker man
      Mister Congressman, you can't understand

      San Quentin, what good do you think you do?
      Do you think I'll be different when you're through?
      You bend my heart and mind and you warp my soul
      Your stone walls turn my blood a little cold

      San Quentin, may you rot and burn in hell
      May your walls fall and may I live to tell
      May all the world forget you ever stood
      And may all the world regret you did no good

      San Quentin, I hate every inch of you

  9. Sheldon, I was once a fellow congregant of GBC until November 10th, 2013, but decided to leave after it became obvious that my left-leaning views (formed fully since around 2007/2008, in GC High School) were essentially no longer welcome b/c of my support of getting marriage equality passed in Illinois, sex education, abortion, and liberalism in general.

    I was personally really fed up with the church's lobbying against LGBT equality in Illinois, and was increasingly thinking about leaving the church that I called home for about 13+ years.

    My blogpost on why I left GBC.

    Now, I am happy to be a member of St. John UCC in Granite. At least the UCC denomination is very supportive of good causes, such as marriage equality and social justice issues.


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