As far as Will’s post earlier, one of the oddest and frankly frightening things that can happen to a person has recently happened to me; I’ve begun to feel truly abandoned by my own church.

This isn’t necessarily a new feeling; back in college, a similar state of distancing began occurring, beginning mostly with a falling-out with a former girlfriend who was in “vengeful bitch” mode (despite the fact that she dumped me after cheating on me) and who did her level best to use the rather small on-campus church community as a means to attack me, to get others to ostracize me, and eventually causing me to stop going to weekly services largely because I didn’t know who to trust and didn’t really feel like risking any run-ins.

However, that was a social aspect, a result of “even in the house of God, you find those who are not holy.” In the past year or so, my own church’s positions on any number of things have begun to make me question whether either I, or the church, have lost sight of the bible and of certain principles. Probably it’s somewhere in between, but a few things come to mind:

1) My church, unlike pretty much every one else, completely disallows the option for priests to marry and have families. With a recent changeover in church leadership, many people have hoped this would change, but the new church leadership quickly put the kibosh on that, meaning it’s likely at least 2 decades before another possible revisit. This is sad because the church is currently facing a relative lack of priests, some priests serving 4 or 5 churches and driving between them each week to be sure that weekly services happen, and one of the major reasons that people don’t enter the priesthood is that they don’t feel up to being celibate their entire lives.

2) A number of sex scandals involving said unmarried priests were revealed to have been repeatedly covered up. I can’t say anything but that this makes me worried; while nothing ever happened to me, and the priests I knew were all good and holy men, the worry that they might have done something to someone else and simply never been caught? Especially with organizational policy that moved priests away from their congregations every 5 years even if they were well liked and doing a wonderful job? Scary.

3) A major problem and controversy locally is illegal immigration. The church’s position is that immigration policy needs fixing, that it is too restrictive. This I cannot entirely disagree with. The church has outreach programs for the poor, which (for obvious reasons) attract illegal immigrants. These things I have no problem with. However, the church’s newspaper has recently been trumpeting, loudly, how the church is now organizing bus trips for the sole purpose of bringing illegal immigrants into the country, setting them up, and openly defying immigration law, and multiple churches have been giving “sanctuary” to people who’ve been ordered out of the country after violating multiple laws… and this portion of the stance I simply cannot agree with.

4) The church, too, has been relatively week on defending its own values and standing up for what’s right. In the urge to be seen as the “peaceful” church, concessions have been made to certain other (highly expansionist and not at all kind to women) religions that should not have been made. Incidents in which members of my church were killed by these other religions, simply for not converting to the violent one, have been glossed over in the name of “interfaith solidarity.” While yes, my church has a “turn the other cheek” doctrine, to ignore those who are deliberately trying to kill oneself on that scale is suicidal, and to not confront the violent doctrines of this other church is not (in my view) a good policy.

Now, is my particular church in danger of fracture? Highly unlikely. Most of its fracturing was done a few centuries ago, and it’s the fractured-off portions that seem to keep fracturing into branches, or synods, or whatever else they call themselves. However, the trouble for me is this: I grew up in this church. The basic tenets of the church, I still believe in. I can’t see myself attending any other churches, really, though I have done so on special occasions more for respect of other people (weddings, funerals, and the like) who attended those churches. But at the same time, the things above also signal to me that, at least for the time being, I really can’t attend my own either.

I’m a religious, or at least spiritual, person who doesn’t feel truly welcome in any church.


Category: Church

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2 Responses to Abandoned by Church

  1. trumwill says:

    I’d be remiss not to point out that a great deal of what growth exists in the Episcopal Church is from disaffected Catholics, but mostly the liberal sort (there was a minor bump in membership when Benedict became Pope). Some disaffected Catholics of the conservative variety find a home in the Orthodox Church. Rod Dreher is a recent example of note.

    Regarding #1, one loophole I’ve heard is that Episcopalian pastors can convert to Catholicism and remain married. I have no idea why, but I’ve been told such by two different Catholics.

  2. Bob V says:

    I think it is ok for there to tbe a number of issues with an organization and maintain your affiliation with it if the core principles behind its existence are powerful enough. At some point though, you’ve got to leave.

    (Now that I think about it, that is why I’m no longer a Republican.)

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