A little over a week ago, I got an email from my former church; the same church my wife and kids still attend. Apparently I am still on their email list. The email was a message from the pastor asking for everyone to attend one consolidated service this past Sunday. Normally they run two services, but apparently god put it on the pastor’s heart to preach some super-important sermon that required everyone to be in the same room at the same time. This, of course, piqued my curiosity.
So this past Sunday morning, after the wife and kids headed out, I started working on prepping for the upcoming semester, but at 10:00, I tuned in to the internet broadcast of the sermon. I wanted to find out what all of the fuss was about.
I had my suspicions about what might be going on. After I left the church, I had a sit-down with the pastor and explained my atheism to him. He said we’d meet again and discuss it some more, but we never did. Shortly after that, my wife mentioned that two of the people in a somewhat leadership position left the church for a more fundamentalist church that ONLY used the King James bible. Then a couple of weeks ago, my wife mentioned that the head of the deacon board (or whatever they call it) left the church for a “simpler” church. I can imagine that with the recent onslaught of political pandering from the pastor regarding CUFI, bringing a republican presidential candidate to speak, trying to get everyone in the church on board with defunding Planned Parenthood, and many other situations, people might be getting turned off. In recent years, the pastor has been ramping up this kind of thing. I think it is causing people to leave the church for other churches.
So watching the online broadcast of the sermon, it became quickly clear that the pastor’s message was all about America going to hell in a hand basket. He said that America was on the down slope, and wouldn’t last much longer. He said everyone in the church had to buckle down and get serious with god or bad things would happen (my paraphrase).
Without any real confirmation, I believe my original assumption about the situation was right. They are feeling the results of people leaving the church and are trying to reinforce their group identity so that more people won’t quit on them.
When we first started going there, it was a great church. It was easy to be involved without feeling overwhelmed. Then over the course of time, it became more and more of a burden. In addition to that, the pastor kept trying to get the church involved in nation movements and political causes. The former deacon that I mentioned earlier had a particular fondness for a concept called “simple church” where the church just does the foundational things that a church is supposed to do. That’s how it was when we started going there. It was easy and enjoyable to go to church. But prior to my leaving, it was a hard thing to go and listen to the BS that was being spouted over the pulpit and attend all kinds of activities early every day of the week.
Now before you go and say I quit going to church over this, let me clarify. If this was why I quit, I would have gone to another church. My story about why I quit is here.
So this post is probably just me criticizing a particular type of church. I think there are churches that fill certain needs in people’s lives without overburdening them with the extra junk of church. From what I can tell about the Unitarian Universalist church, they seem to be this way. It would be interesting to go check them out sometime. But many churches, I think, require too much from people and make it seem like they’ll be doomed forever if they don’t do everything the pastor tells them to. Then when a pastor starts telling the people which candidates to support and what political causes to support, there are those who will be able to think for themselves and disagree. Too much of this and a church will start to fall apart.
This is what seems to be happening at my former church.