Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Confessions . . .

Many people have asked me about my urgency about my atheism. I have often labeled myself a militant atheist. There are many, many reasons for this. However, there is I have not shared but I think it is time to do so now.

As many of my readers know, I grew up in a very conservative Christian community. My family belonged to the church and my father was deacon and an elder in that church. I also went to a Christian school from grades K-12. I was a Christian and I believed firmly in my conservative world views.

In high school, there was a young man who was gay. It was obvious to us by the way he acted, by the fact that he was interested in boys, and other observable behaviors. In our community, homosexuality was clearly a sin. Not only was it a sin, it was a blow to the Christian machismo which dominated our churches and the school.

As soon as we realized what this kid’s sexual preferences were, we were there ready to “deliver” him from this affliction. He caught merciless teasing from the guys at school. Adults did very little to stop or even slow these assaults. He was also attacked by the pastors, the teachers, and the parents who desperately wanted to save his soul from this hell bound state. I was a leader in the school. I was captain of the football team, a leader in our church youth groups, class president, etc. I participated in the abuse of this young man. This conflict went on for at least two years – maybe more.

A few years out of high school, this young man committed suicide. His last words expressed the pain of not being able to reconcile his homosexuality and his faith.

By the time of his suicide, I had already began my journey out of the faith and was no longer part of that community. However, the Christian community that had brow beaten this young man to suicide began to cover their tracks and act as if he was always a “troubled” boy.


We (myself included) pounded into that man the idea that you could never be gay and a good Christian. We harassed him into believing that he could not be who he was. We built this conflict in his heart with no remorse, no mercy, and no respect. He did not need to die. He did not need to face this pain that we caused. That kid’s blood stains my hands and the hands of everyone else who knew him and treated him that way.

I will never live long enough to repay my debt to that young man. I will never be able to take back the words I said and the abuse that I, as a leader, did nothing to stop. I get to live with this for the rest of my life.

What I can do and what I will do, however, is step up and fight against this kind of pain and enmity that Christians have toward those who they consider different. I will speak out again and again in support of the rights of those oppressed by ignorance. I will do what it is I need to so that these things stop happening. I owe at least that much to that young man.


-Tom said...

I had a similar experience -- not as powerful as yours, but a similar situation. When you have to reconcile what you know to be evil with the teachings of the "goody goody" church you must realize that they do not reconcile. I feel bad for you that this was the way that you realized you were being lied to -- but consider the fact that he woke you up: don't you think that's what he wanted on some level -- to show you once and for all? Showing you the errors of your ways, and here you are doing justice to that hope. It was his choice to kill himself, and it was your choice to take up his cause. Indirectly you may have contributed, but directly, probably more than anyone else in that group, you are trying your damnest to fix it. I'll be right there with you. Christians are hypocrites, every single one.
-Thomas Lawrence

PCSPYDER said...

Wow, excellent article.. and hats off to you for recognizing, alot of them never do, never care to and never will. And I am there with you~

Jeannie said...

Rock on, Brother. You should read anything by Neale Donald Walsch. He has an entire series call Conversations with God, but I suggest A New Revelation. There are passages in that book that absolutely reflect exactly what you speak of. We are automatically evolving, as a people, OUT of these old ways of thinking. They 'may' have worked for us for a while, but they are NOT working for us anymore. I promise you will find A New Revelation an enlightening read. When you're finished with that one, read Happier than God. I'm not kidding. If you're not a reader, order the audiobook from Amazon. :-) Your 'religious beliefs' or lack thereof will be no matter once you're done reading. I'm glad your eyes are open and you're searching. Peace!

Anonymous said...

I am a follower of Jesus. I do not call myself a christain because I have a bad taste in my mouth from it. I grew up in a CRC church and also when to Christain school. I do not believe most of what the church says about many things, and have been extremely outspoken of the christian church hipocracy. I have many friends who are gay and wonderful! And many of them would love to read your entry. I am sorry that you had to go through what you did, but I am also sorry you turned totally from God. Even though I do not believe in the church I do believe in God and I live as He would instead of how "they" think I should. As you know growing up in it, there is not a more judgment group on earth. Jesus loved to to hang out with prostitues and tax collecters. It's amazing how even the church will try to deny it, when it's in the Bible!! Sorry I was ranting, thank you for your blog, and your time, it's good to know I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Jennifer Rycenga said...

Thank you for your candor about this behavior from your past. It means a lot to me to have this be the first post of yours I read outside of the dialogue in which we are both engaged in the CreationEvolution group. Remember, too, that you were being victimized by the mind-control like your unfortunate classmate was, too. But what makes you ethical is that you recognize that you had the advantage within that sick system. Glad you were able to see the structural nature of it all and escape to tell others.