The girls and I were sitting in worship today, enjoying the message, thus far, and the spirit-filled, sweet moment of praise – “Because of who you are” – still ringing in our spirits…when my head could not register the shock that happened next.
We have been attending the same church since we moved here, primarily for the ordered services, the multi-generational, multi-cultural, and multi-economic congregation. The church has separate churches for the babies, children, middle school, high school, and adult audiences. The pastor calls us “Christ-followers” and for years kept the message focused on simply loving the Lord.
Then slowly, once President Obama was elected, there seemed to be more and more partisan messages creeping in, subtle at first, I almost missed it…until today.
He has been teaching a series on the Beatitudes, a simple and applicable message of Christ – you know, those words in red in Matthew 5 – when in the pause of his message today, he put up some PowerPoints about persecuted Christians around the world. He talked about the slain ambassador…then dropped the bomb – figuratively – that Christians were being persecuted here in the United States. He proceeded to cite so-called “proof” of this – all from material sourced from a known neo-con, far-right, religious right organization. He started in about when we vote for those judges to think about all this, how the “government” is persecuting us.
I got up, told my girls to gather their things and we walked out.
Politeness would have kept me in my seat, but in the face of such a blatantly misleading message, my spirit would not sit still and listen to this. I walked completely out of the complex and would have driven away had my husband not been doing his monthly service in the special needs children’s class. I texted him and let him know we walked out and were in the van waiting.
I believe I will never darken the door of that church again – Grace Church on McKelvey Road in Bridgeton, MO – because they went over the line with this one. It was far beyond what he said four years ago when he admonished everyone to vote but reminded everyone that we are Christ-followers, to be peaceloving, and to respect each other. Today, that went out the window with his anecdote that is straight out of the Romney-Ryan, Palin, Limbaugh, Akin, Murdouck playbook – a playbook that is against civil rights, against women, against blacks, against the very latinos that this church has a second service for in Spanish!
My stomach turns, me, the preacher’s daughter, every time one of these churches or pastors misappropriates the pulpit for their political agenda. I was so disappointed because one of the things that made this church grow, why there was everything from a biker to a same-sex lesbian couple was that his message was one of following in the path of Christ. Jesus was a liberal; he fed the hungry and had nothing to do with the moneychangers and Pharisees!
I walked out, took my girls with me, and told them why. This is only the third time in my 48 years of living that I walked out of a religious service. This was beyond the scope of the peacemaker message he started out with today.
Christian seniors are not being told they cannot pray over their food in nursing homes; Christian kids are not being persecuted in the public schools; Christians are not being killed in America for exercising their faith – if anything, these so-called Christians, religious right, neo-cons are trying to make the United States a theocracy, not the democracy it was founded upon – a nation without a state religion, a nation where everyone is FREE to exercise their faith and beliefs, a nation where respect for liberty was what drew so many to these shores. We were not founded as a Christian nation – there was a reason the founding fathers put in a separation of church and state – they need to stop spreading that false doctrine and divisive message. I could not believe that Pastor Ron would go there today.
Enough is enough! The real believers need to stand up and walk out, enough of sitting in the pews listening to messages that are anything but peaceful and completely opposite of Jesus. I, like my friends of the Christian Left and so many other groups, are taking back our faith and not accepting these messages.