The Church as Oppressor

Let’s tap into the wisdom of this online community of which we are all becoming a part. Since I started opening up more about what the Fundamentalists did to my sense of identity/community, specifically through the soul-raping techniques of those who believe in “reparative” therapy, I’ve received dozens of emails and read heart-wrenching stories from others who were also in the same sinking boat that we now call “Christianity.”

That is one conclusion…

Christianity is a sinking ship, full of cargo that represents cancerous lies about grace and hell. A ship without a captain and with a crew that is drunk on “righteousness” and “holiness” as it heads for the inevitable iceberg of Humility where its Titanic “We’re Bigger than God and We are the Only Ship in this Ocean” philosophies will come to a tragic but perhaps necessary end.

Whoa!

Is that where I see Christianity’s story going?

Well, probably not, but after having read and responded to some of your emails, I thought I would call upon the church-goers of our community and ask you explain why you attend church. For those of us who still struggle to engage in the Christian community, inquiring minds want to know…

How has being a part of church set you free?

And this can go for any religion, Christian or otherwise because at this point in my journey, and after drinking Bill Maher’s Kool-Aid by watching “Religulous,” I’m thirsty for some words of freedom from anyone who is going to church.

The floor is yours… tell us…

Is it just us or is “Church” destined to lead to social, emotional, spiritual or even financial oppression?

Note: I will approve all comments on this post so you guys see exactly what I see. Let’s be kind and honest and allow Love and Light to draw us closer. Namaste!

Also, for those writing in, please continue to do so! You are soul food. gail_dickert@yahoo.com.

 

13 thoughts on “The Church as Oppressor

  1. I don’t attend Institutional Church any longer, I haven’t for many, many years now and my relationship with Christ and “God” is closer now than it has ever been. I feel that I know both better now, trust both more now, and understand both more now. I am no longer held in bondage by the *rituals*, dogma and doctrines of an Institutionalized way of life, I am free to have a free-flowing relationship with both my friend, Jesus, and my God.

    As a result of setting myself free of church, I have subscribed to “live and let live” and I don’t find myself judging others, and therefore placing unseen requirements with hidden agendas on them, based on my own experiences from the church I attended who implanted ideas of “how I should live, therefore how others should live”.

    I am now understanding that God truly DOES love ALL no matter their origin, background, presence or future, and that I am obligated to do the same because I am of the same creation, God’s creation.

    In the end it is NOT whether a person attends church that makes the person; it is not the doctrine, the dogma, the rituals that make the person, or church that even gives the person peace. It is the personal relationship a person has with their God, and the manner in which they live their life, hopefully loving others, even the “unlovables” (even if they have to do this from the heart, but at a safe physical distance), knowing this is the most important deed in life. This will ultimately bring them peace in life. No amount of “going to church” can bring this kind of peace or kinship of fellowship to any person.

    Have I perfected this lifestyle? No. I am a work in progress. But realizing this in each of our individual lives is, in my humble opinion, at least half of the battle of living this Earthly physical life.

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  2. I still attend a church. Sometimes I’m a little surprised at that. And I wonder if it’s because I would feel too guilty if I didn’t. While I’m searching that out, I do still recognize that I find strength and comfort in being around people who have similar stories and experiences. Sometimes there is that uncomfortable thing of bumping up against another’s “brokenness” but for the most part I feel at home there and know that I’m loved and accepted just as I am.

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  3. I just read this on another popular blog and wanted to share it here. I felt it was appropriate for today’s blog:

    “A faith is something you die for, a doctrine is something you kill for. There is all the difference in the world.” — Tony Benn

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  4. I went to a fundamentalist charasmatic church for about five years and although I left and am glad I did and no longer subscribe to their theology, I am grateful for their strict schedule and it helped lead me to God and my love of studying the Bible. I grew up in an abusive and somewhat neglectful home, struggled with suicide and depression, anger, and loneliness and the church provided me with someone to lean on. I didn’t always have great experiences there-I was constantly left out because I was not a member of the pastor’s family, who made up a good number of the church, and the other youth had known each other for years. Not to mention that the theology helped make me distrustful of other people which only added fuel to my loneliness but nonetheless, without that experience I wouldn’t have found my love of studying the Bible-although now it’s in the historicla critical way that would make my old church cringe as opposed to the whole, “Bible is the word of God way.”

    However, since leaving that church. I’ve struggled with finding a home. Either the theology would not be welcoming, or it had no theology, or the services would just bore me. After going to a church where the services would last for hours, the songs were really lively and touched people, it’s hard to go to churches where the services last for less than an hour, no commitment is required, and the songs are just…there. Not knocking those who love traditional or contemporary services their just not my thing. Plus in most of the mainline/progressive churches I’ve gone to I’ve been surrounded by older, middle class caucasians. Which I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, and Im not suggesting I want to go back to a mainly hispanic church, I didn’t fit in there either, but idk. I feel like a stranger in the european tradition of worship.

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    • It’s not strange you don’t get the feeling that you can belong there, because hipocraty rules the religious world. There are many openminded believers in every religion, but the ones that are still hangin on in the darkages can make you suspicious and unconfortable and make you move on, until you know this has nothing to do with religion. Religion is often (mis)used by egoïstic thinking people to get their way and by others to stay in easy chair, because the rule came with the parents. You don’t need others to worship with. You need people to interact with and that is a normal human need.
      Hope you find your religious peace, but don’t spil to much time to accommodate the hippocrats of this world, because their minds are to small to comprehand what everything is really about.

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  5. http://www.theworldpeacemaker is written in two languages: Dutch and English.
    The most of my new peace philosophy (stil to publish) will be in English, because the messages are ment for all humananity to better the world so we can save our mother “EARTH”. Forgive so you can live ! ! ! Best wishes and love.
    @rnold

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  6. I am a christian pastor and a co-founder of the Progressive Christian Alliance. And yet, although I am an active member of the clergy; I rarely attend church, unless I am invited to speak.
    All of this being said; I love the church. More precisely I would say that I love the potential of the church.
    I do not often attend anything like what is commonly recognized as “church” because all to often I sense that the establishment is rife with disingenuousness and exclusion. As in “you can belong as long as you are like (or at least pretend to be like) us.
    So, I serve at my ‘day job”, I facilitate studies and conversations, and I remain just outside of “the church” calling for reform. The teachings of Jesus draw me ever inward, but the conduct of the church forces me outside.
    The duty of every person of faith, or person who aspires to faith, is to be true to themselves while striving toward the divine.The duty of the church then is to be a place where the orthodox, the heretic, the straight, the gay, the rich, the poor find community in recognition of a shared journey.
    Perhaps one day we can truly get to that point. That is the future I work for.

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    • Well said.

      “The teachings of Jesus draw me ever inward, but the conduct of the church forces me outside.” And for me it’s the drawing of Jesus inward, towards his “Way of Life” that keeps me on the journey of pressing forward, never giving up hope that one day, the church at large (that which we know as the “body of Christ, not the “Church of the Four Walls’), will come to finally realize we don’t need human-made structures to house our communities of worship and fellowship, we already have those structures contained in each of our hearts, we can gather anywhere and any time we choose to set a date and time. In fact, we are gathering *here*, *now*.

      So I would add, revrogermac, please, please continue your daily facilitation of studies and conversations, they are needed so much more than any Institutional Church blaring out rules, regulations, i.e. doctrines of theology to all of us who hunger and thirst for the *living water*, a real, living relationship with God and all of creation. It is by and through continued searching and asking of questions the true Divine and all Way of Life are continually revealed.Thank you for your steadfast love and passion.

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  7. Part of what makes Religulous what it is, is so many of God’s followers don’t subscribe to Critical Thinking. As long as you’re anywhere that is threatened by that, you’ll feel oppressed.

    Now I’ve learned if I want spiritual growth, I can find it in a good book. If I want worship, I can find that on the “positive alternative” radio station. If I want to “tithe” I can find that in any charity, not just a church collection basket. And if I want “church” and to feel close to God, I can find that better in nature than in a building. Church is 24/7. It was never meant to be reserved only for Sunday mornings. That is the church I find freeing.

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  8. I’ve come to the hard conclusion that leaving the Church is akin to tossing out the baby with the bath water. We MUST work hard to claim our rightful place in God’s Kingdom. To do otherwise is to leave something precious for the infidels who use the name Christian.

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    • What concerns me is that the progressive, open-minded christians that are out there supporting “spirituality” and not “religion” are also the same people who aren’t going to go to church anymore… so basically, as Gayle suggests, we are throwing out the baby with the bath water. Of course, there is the emerging church movement which basically attempts to throw it all out and start over but is that the best option either? Christianity has too many divisions… what will “really” bring people back to the source, the Christ? the one this is supposed to be about? Or, shall I suggest that this one “source” wasn’t actually the Christ and hence that is why this “body of Christ” is as seriously oppressive and flawed as it is? I am suggesting it… if the Christ was so powerful, the one they called Jesus, it appears even dying for sins wasn’t enough to prevent the human condition from destroying community and harmony among people. More food for thought of course… the journey continues…

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      • I understand your concern, Gail. In my humble opinion Christ was no more about making sure people “went to church” than he was about “dying for the sins of all people”.

        Huh? What? Is this complete heresy on my part? How can I possible state two such distinct contradictions that oppose the obvious from the divine Word of God as we know as the Bible, the indisputable and holy of holy God-inspired Truth?

        I am, as many are beginning to claim, admit and otherwise joyfully support, a part of (for lack of a better semantic term) the “emergent, progressive church”. And because of that, because of that “human label”, it allows me the freedom to think and lay my “new” thoughts on the table for open-minded thought and discussion amongst us who are willing to negotiate open-walled boundaries of the emerging church at large.

        With my personal explanation as the the “why I have a right” to make my first statement out of the way, let me explain how I have come to my belief in that statement.

        All through the New Testament Jesus tells us that he came to “show us ‘The Way of Life” and that ‘The Kingdom of Heaven was at hand’, he said all we had to do was to “believe”. In actuality he said very little regarding saving us from our sins, he was more concerned with the condition of our hearts regarding how we lived on a daily basis, other words in the here and now, “as it is in heaven, so shall it be on Earth”. Jesus even told us to “pray this way” when he told us to model our prayers after The Lord’s Prayer, which is clearly a “here and now” kind of prayer.

        Furthermore, we are told that where ever there are two or more gathered in his name there he is in the midst. In other words, we have “church” where ever two or more who know him are gathered. And that can be any place, in a store, in a coffee shop, in the middle of a street right after a car accident, online whether it be a blog or a Facebook Page, in email, on the telephone, or even if two people are simply thinking of one another but are not in the presence of one another, etc, you get my point, there you have “church”, in other words, “fellowship”, which is what Christ wanted us to have with each other.

        Lastly, there is nothing “new” under the sky. The “emergent” or “progressive” church is labeling themselves as such because they/we don’t have a better term to label themselves with, that’s all. What *IS* happening is something that is actually “full circle”. God tells us to return to our “first love”, and that’s what’s happening, finally. All of God’s children are returning to the deep, abiding love seated in their hearts, that place where the Spirit of God rests and calls to each one of us, where the ultimate Truth sits. The scales are falling from our eyes and our ears are finally hearing the Truth as it was meant to be heard. We are parting from the lies of evil, the false doctrine we have been led to believe is truth. We are waking up from a long sleep and realizing that God has been there all along waiting for us to hunger and thirst enough that we would abandon our apathy and reach out for His real Truth even it means being called heretics in our day. Finally. Finally. FINALLY!

        We are NOT throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We are finally realizing the “church” Jesus taught, the act of dying on the cross, was something so significant that the doctrine of theology we *have* been taught in modern day is all wrong. We are children returning home for the real answers and everything old is new again. And with that comes a lot of humility and admitting that we didn’t have the answers and that’s okay. God is STILL waiting, oh so patiently. We are realizing, maybe many of us for the very first time, just how amazing His Grace really is. And that those who are in/with/believe Christ *are free in-deed.*

        How much more can we ask for?

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