Sordid Stories From A Former Life

With this whole Kim Davis (the county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses despite a supreme court order) situation being in full swing, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to enlighten the viewing public on her version of christianity.  I, myself, was raised in her particular version of christianity, oneness pentecostalism.  When I was old enough to leave home and do things for myself, I became a member at a church which belongs to the same denomination that Kim Davis currently belongs to.  I think I have an understanding of her and her church’s mindset, since I was raised in it and fully bought in to it until my mid thirties.

The following are true occurrences from the United Pentecostal Church (UPC) that I attended, and still have a few contacts with, mostly through my wife, who has occasional friends who still attend there.

The pastor of the church has two daughters, daughter 1 and Carla.  Daughter 1 is married to son in law 1, who is the brother of Patrick.  Patrick used to be married to Carla.  They were married when Carla was still in high school by the pastor’s mother, who was the former pastor of the church.  Her words, upon the announcement of this marriage were, “It’s better to marry than to burn.”

After giving birth to a son and enjoying a few years of wedded bliss, Patrick and Carla divorced and Patrick left the church for a little while to regain his composure, or whatever.  Eventually he returned and got involved once again in the church.  A while later, Patrick married Wendy, who is the daughter of Judy.  Judy is the second cousin or some close relation of the pastor’s mother, so there is a family connection there.  So Patrick and Wendy get married and Wendy gets pregnant.  Shortly after Wendy gets pregnant, she finds out that Patrick was having an affair with a coworker, who ends up pregnant as well.  They get divorced.  So now Patrick has three sons from three different mothers, and two of the sons are within a month or so of each other.

All while this is happening, the pastor’s personal assistant and the official church decorator, Donna, decides to divorce her husband, who is also a faithful member of the church.  I’m not sure of the details, but the rumors are that they hadn’t been happy for years and were waiting for both of their kids to grow up and leave home before they split.

I have no real evidence of this, but it’s my opinion that the pastor and Donna might have been/currently are having an affair.  One night (several years ago) at a youth function in the gym, I was showing a guy from another church around the facility.  He asked to see the sanctuary of the church, so I took him through the back door to the platform.  The pastor was sitting at the piano, playing softly, while Donna was sitting on the piano bench by his side with her stocking feet up on the bench and her arms curled around her legs.  The lights in the sanctuary were low.  As soon as I walked in, I felt like I had invaded a special moment.  I let the guy look around and quickly ushered him out.

Donna was still married to Mark at the time.  It wasn’t until after I left the church that they divorced.  I don’t know the current situation with Donna, except that she is still a very central figure to the happenings at the church.  However, I do know about her husband, Mark.

After the divorce, Mark married Kerri.  Kerri had previously been married to Brian, who has been the bass guitar player for the church since before I was going there.  Brian apparently had some alcoholic issues so he and Kerri divorced, then remarried, then divorced again.  And now Kerri is married to Mark.

Brian, meanwhile married Alisha, who is the brother of one of the former ministers in the church, Chris.  Chris, who had been married to his wife since they were young and in love, recently divorced his wife and went off and married some “tattooed, pierced floozie”, as one of my wife’s friends called her.

Back to Patrick and son in law 1-  Their dad, or step dad, or whatever he is, several years ago indecently exposed himself to some kids and was sent to prison for several years and is now a registered sex offender.  I recently went to a party held at Judy’s house in honor of Wendy’s son.  Patrick and son in law’s dad was there and everyone just treated him like he was part of the family; no worries about the kids or anything whatsoever.

The weirdest part of this whole situation is that ALL of them refuse to find another church.  They all insist on continuing to go faithfully every Sunday and Wednesday to sit near their former spouses, etc. and hear “the word of god” as preached by a pastor who claims that none of the other churches in town have “the truth”.  I recall once in a sermon he said something to the effect of: “If you want to hear preaching that makes you feel good about your sin, go to the church down the street.  But if you want the truth, and to make it to heaven, you have to stay in the boat.”  And by boat, he meant his church.

If this is not the definition of a cult, I don’t know what is!

That is my experience with the kind of church Kim Davis attends.  Now you know what she means when she says that she’s an “apostolic” christian.  I’m not saying this goes on in every UPC/ apostolic church, but if the one I attended is any indication, there’s a good chance that it does.  No wonder Kim Davis has been divorced three times, yet still, in defiance of the supreme court, refuses to issue marriage licenses to those who she disagrees with because her pastor taught her to disagree with them.

Such a strange situation all around.

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Marriage Equality and School Desegregation

My Facebook feed is still full of negative responses to Friday’s SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality.  Two members of my close family seem to be clicking “like” or commenting on every article and meme that pop up in their newsfeed that portrays marriage equality as a bad thing.  Just a few examples of this are the picture of a supreme court justice on his knees, weeping with the words, “By their fruit ye shall know them” above the picture; and the picture of two wedding rings saying something about 1 man + 1 woman…  It seems that those supporting marriage equality have stopped, for the most part, posting and “liking” about this victory and have moved on to pictures of their kids, vacations, and posts about their lives, while those against it have continued to revel in their dissatisfaction at the court ruling that didn’t go their way.  Three days later, that’s all they seem to be Facebooking about.

One interesting response from the “powers that be” on the right are those saying that christians needn’t abide by this decision. One such promoter of this view is Mike Huckabee who urged christians to “resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”  Ted Cruz also seems to think it’s OK to reject the court ruling in favor of your religious beliefs to the point that he said court officials do not have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

I find it interesting that the christian right’s response to marriage equality is similar to their response to desegregation in the sixties and seventies.  I looked around the internet and found an article by Sarah Ellem (this link is a PDF download) in which Senator James O. Eastland from Mississippi is quoted as saying “You are not required to obey any court which passes out such a ruling.  In fact you are obligated to defy it.”  A senator from Virginia, Harry Flood Byrd, called for massive resistance to the desegregation of schools by saying, “If we can organize the southern states for massive resistance to this order, I think that in time the rest of the country will realize that racial integration is not going to be accepted in the south.”

The current response from the christian right is certainly in line with their past response to court rulings they don’t like.  But time has a way of sorting out those who lose gracefully from those who accept defeat and move on.  I remember right after my wife and I were married, we went to visit a friend of hers from college.  This happened in 1994, so it was a good 30 years after desegregation was ordered by SCOTUS.  When we got to this friend’s house it turned out that her grandparents were visiting.  The grandfather and I started talking in the parking lot of the apartment complex and after a few moments, something caught his eye on the other side of the parking lot.  I looked over and saw several kids playing.  The grandfather shook his head and said, “Would you look at that… Them n—-r kids playing with them white kids like there’s nothing wrong with it.”  I was in total shock that he would say something so callous, but the more I thought about it, the more I was in shock that that kind of attitude was still around in the nineties.  I guess hatred has a tight grip.

My personal opinion is that marriage equality and LGBT rights will follow a similar path in the American sentiment.  In thirty years, some kid will be standing in a parking lot somewhere in a state of shock that some old guy made a callous remark about the couple next door because they are gay and married.  And this kid will be offended at the remark because it will not be socially acceptable to say such things.  He might say something like, “I didn’t know bigots like you were still around,” or “I thought all of your kind were dead.”

That’s how I see it playing out, because as we all know, history repeats itself.  So in the mean time, I’ll just have to put up with the Facebook likes and posts that are in complete disagreement with human rights and human decency in an attempt to keep from alienating my family.  You might be wondering why I wouldn’t try to set them straight: I find that arguing with an idiot over obviously wrong opinion gives legitimacy to those opinions.  So I just keep my mouth shut and every once in a while, I bring up a point using socratic reasoning.  That seems to make them think a bit and hopefully will change their minds in the long run.