i am not hurt
In reading many, many things that have been written about people who have left or are leaving church, one thing seems to be consistent.
They have been hurt.
This makes sense, for a lot of reasons. It’s common for institutions to plow over and through people. Authority structures (which I will be getting to) have an inherent tendency to warp and destroy those within them. And often, the religious beliefs of a group are simply downright harmful in and of themselves. Given that, it’s often assumed that the masses of people leaving organized religion are simply doing so because of a bad experience.
A friend of mine recently wrote from this viewpoint, arguing that those leaving the church were really just dissatisfied with themselves…or were unwilling to deal with the pressures and tensions of living in community.
He has a point; often we project our own problems onto others. And living in relationship and in community is difficult.
But then again, sometimes it’s not psychology. Sometimes you’re just wrong.
I believe that there is something inherently wrong with the entire idea of organized religion. I believe that organized religion grows from a root that Jesus was attempting to pull out. And I didn’t come to this conclusion because I was hurt.
Truthfully, I had a pretty idyllic childhood, with lots of space in which to develop my own thoughts, to question the things I was told, and to study things privately. And while I’m sure there were some harmful things about the churches I grew up in, I didn’t really experience them that way. The time period in which I got to travel to youth rallies is still one of the highlights of my life, continuing to shape my aesthetic sensibility, and my sense of what humans might be.
The wheat and the tares always grow together. The good is always growing within the bad.
I wasn’t bruised by organized religion. And I’m not interested in a hospital for the survivors of abusive churches. Or rather, I’m not interested in stopping there.
To me, the message of non-religious Christianity has nothing to do with hurt, and everything to do with something better that is waiting.