So for awhile now, I have been considering making a clean definitive break from the SBC by sending a formal letter to the organization rejecting and "rebuking" them. I have also considered making this letter an open letter, to be published online for the entire world to see as a declaration of independence in defiance of their oppressive control on freedom of thought, and justice and equality for all.
My reasoning for this is that at the start of my associate pastorship (now coming up on two years ago starting in March) I was asked to sign in my contract of employment with them their declaration of faith - a declaration devoid of any compassion, and bogged down in theological legalities that these same people claim to be otherwise. At the time, the idea of signing such a document threw up red flags because I knew that as I grew in my understanding of life, theology, and the world around me so too would my worldview and theological outlook. In other words, I knew that the process of life was a journey of learning, unlearning, and re-learning, yet there was something about their statement that said otherwise. Even so, I rationalized their demand to sign the document against my own judgment and now I feel as though I need to redeem myself and reclaim my so-called "sovereignty" and dignity as a human being.
Is this all necessary? Am I over the top on this - being silly? What do you think about it? Obviously, the wounds are still healing from my experience at the SBC church that my family and I were a part of, so there is still a lot to be said about that - even though a great deal of healing has already occurred.
I would first do a draft letter and give the wording plenty of consideration for a week or so. Reedit as necessary. It is important to get across you points with enough emphasis to let them see that you are being very serious. You should not make it too emotional by letting any anger be so obvious as to be taken by them as being offensive even when it is not. That is the reason for drafting it first.
Explain you points to them with passion to show your concern but with respect to show your sincerity. List them on separate paragraphs. Refrain from any ad hominem and they will have no comeback other than to address your points. I would be as direct as possible and word it so that they cannot misrepresent what you are saying. I would ask for a reply in writing within 2 weeks.
If the reply is not forthcoming or does not adequately address your points then I would consider going online with it. Post the link here and we help it go viral for you.
Barry, you weren't meant to be put in a box.
The best revenge is success.
Why don't you start your own church?
I joined a local Lutherian church recently, mostly because I like the self abuse, and my gal friend sort of expected it. I thought that I really needed to try and find away to 'fit', because learning to live together in peace shoud be a prerequesite to civility.
They are good people, and generally accepting, but I try not to make tsunamis of theological conflict. My attempts at contribution to the church intellectual climate has meet with some toleration, and I have had some quiet freethinkers and young exploring/budding intellectuals take me aside to discuss their misgivings and non-church interests, IE Science/Philosophy.
One young man came up to me today to discuse my 'Pale Blue Dot' presentation from a few weeks ago and details of how to approach his coming post-HS graduation world exploration. I gave him some pointers, small warnings about cult exposure, and to keep an open, but cautious mind.
Sadly my attempt at 'fit', might be fraying at the edges, mostly in my own mind. 'Double think' seems to have slitely intruded, and my ability to both stay true to myself, and be respectful of other's is taxed.
Tomarrow I turn 59, and will spend most of the day as a volunteer at the church food bank. The need here is so very high, with this one bank having served atleast 1300 people this month so far. I see myself as a good man, with a good mind, and a deep soul, but I can not enter the land of 'true belief' without betrayal of my self honesty and hard won understanding.
I so wish the good of others and all to be my banner, but standing before that deep pit of 'ideological aggreement' might preclude inclusion into 'doing good'. So I stand before that abyse, that could cause my deeper marginalization, and know that I am walking a fine line between honesty and rejection.
Sometimes all I have left is my courage, I am near this at present...
James, that last sentence gave me goosebumps. It says so much in just a few words. I wish the people in your church could read your whole post.
I give snipets of who I am, but the whole package is likely hard to take. I find myself looking at religion through a very large lense of experience and disapointment. So much of the symbolic and metaphorical trappings seem to be very juvenal and unenlightened. I in some way have fallen into the trap of humoring them, while at the same time recognizing the humanity that remains hidden below the seeming pretence. It feels as if they confuse their contrived religion with their humanity, as if their humanity actually 'needs' the trappings and pretense to be real.
Several years ago I wrote a satirical paper about the 'Physics of Angels', as an attempt to decribe 'angels' as if they existed as virtual particles. At the end of the paper I suggested that the simple equation "(-a) + (+a)= EI + R" might offer an insight. An evil angel (-a) interacting with a good angel (+a) releases the Energy of Imagination (EI) and the Heavy particle of responsibility (R).
I'm sorry to hear this James. It's no secret, I've said lots of times before, my "atheist morality project" was inspired by an evangelical Christian lady. I'm a dedicated anarchist. If I was a family man (i.e. if I was employable) and not already married to someone in my heart, I would have pursued her to the ends of the earth to marry me and have kids.
We share our core moral values. Honour, courage, integrity, compassion, humility. This is what gave me a way in to being able to accept religion. Before that, I hated religion like Richard Dawkins. This lady was an interrogator in the US army, although she never saw service. If you were in trouble, she'd fight to the death to save you. She'd take off her little glasses and pick up a length of lead pipe. What's not to love? We're great friends to this day.
I remember readings I found by Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire concerning their positions on religion. They seemed to both think that church offerings were a good idea in that, while churches are not the highest example of moral rectitude, they are atleast a human attempt at moral example. They seemed to not offer any more details...
I just see a lot of similarities between radical politics and fundamentalist Christianity.
That is all the SBC really is: a radical political organization. There is really nothing more to them than that. Sure, they use Jesus Christ as their banner, but their intention is to be a sociopolitical force with the only intention of creating a theocratic society in the guise of democracy.
So I just realized that the title and some words in my opening remarks were misspelled. Guess that's what you get when you write this up late at night after a long day.
Anyway, I am not interested in throwing emotional stones at them. I've gone through that whole process by (as Strega knows) writing unsent letters to the individuals (supposed stalwarts of SBC doctrine and faith) who hurt me and my family. The process was very therapeutic, and in the end, necessary for me to sort through all the pain, resentment, fear, anger, and disgust. So I am done with that. However, as I mention, the wounding is still there, and the passion that I hold towards truth, towards healing, and towards helping those who have also been harmed by their ignorance seems to be the drive compelling me to this endeavor. That's why I've been wanting to do it, and the fact that my signature exists on a document that I do not agree with makes me ruinously churn inside. I guess, all I want to do is set the record straight - to right what I consider wrong, which is of my own action, and to stand correctly where my heart has always been.
As for addressing the question of starting my own church, no, it's not for me. I'd rather spend time with like minded individuals teaching Wing Chun on a Sunday than preside over a so-called worship service.