A Lament for the American Church

Tonight I feel a lament.

It’s like this: everyone I know who is a believer who is currently not active in a church seems to perceive what’s going on, with these sneaky things the government has been doing. My husband and I can’t think of any time in U.S. history when things have been this bad in terms of public/private relationship etc. But every believer I know who is a regular participant in a congregation is under the spell – talking in praise of Bush and the slaughter in Iraq. It’s as if there were some mass contact infection being shared within the church.

My last dealing with a congregation involved a sweet messianic group who began holding to a teaching that women had to refrain from attending worship during their periods… which still blows my mind… and I’m still looking around for someplace I could dare take my husband. But that’s beyond the scope of the moment.

It’s a long-winded way of saying thank you, your website is now serving as a home to us. Even though we are surrounded by churches, I dread pulling into a parking lot jammed full of vehicles with Bush/Cheney stickers on them.

What is going on? Are the times as pernicious as they seem? I keep thinking that if I just stare at the picture long enough it will clear up, but everything I read in Scripture or elsewhere, everything I hear from people directly, and everything I catch on the internet only amplifies my sense of alarm. I wish a “political opinion” were something benign, but I fear emerging from a church talking like the rest of them. Something more deeply destructive is at work, some spiritual work of darkness, and it’s just like my friend said: it’s like they’re all under a spell. Is this the “apostasy?”

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  • I’m grateful to have read these posts, and to the person who started it. I have had to leave three protestant (fundementalist) churches in the last five years, because of the same things happening in each one, as decribed here.
    I have attended at least three others since then, that I considered were at least mainline denominational, but saw they too were changing to the extreme right in their activities.
    As of now, I attend a quiet and caring, very reverent Roman Catholic Church. We take care of each other, do work with the caring for the Unemployed, the elderly and youth.
    I look at the grip of right wing extremism that grips American Churches today, led by the false prophets of T.V. evangelists especially. I see no hope at all for Americas future under their control with the help of Republican extremists and money backed by corporate America.

  • In my church, my children were given some sermons about politics. A 2004 Election Voter Guide was given to them. As a Republican, I found the comments interesting and appealing because I wanted them to be true.

    Gay Marriage
    President Bush is opposed
    John Kerry favors

    Partial-Birth Abortion
    President Bush is opposed
    John Kerry favors

    Restoring voluntary prayer in the public schools
    President Bush Favors
    John Kerry is Opposed

    Assault on Mel Gibson for making film about Christ
    President Bush supports Gibson
    John Kerry participated in Left’s assault on Gibson, suggesting
    possible anti-Semitism even though Kerry had not seen the film.

    Assault on boy Scouts for belief in God and not allowing Homosexual Scout Leaders
    President Bush supports Boy Scouts’ stand
    John Kerry opposes boy Scouts’ stand

    Asking for God’s blessing on America
    President Bush often asks God to bless America in his speeches
    John Kerry attacks Bush for mentioning God so often

    President bush says “We need common-sense judges who believe
    our rights are derived from God.”
    John Kerry insists on judges who support the ACLU’s radical
    anti-Christian, anti-God, anti-family agenda. John Kerry is insistent on blocking President Bush’s federal judge appointments.

    Overall Record
    President Bush does not vote on issues before Congress but, based on his publicly stated positions, would receive an 85% conservative rating from the American Conservative Union if he did.
    John Kerry, according to the highly respected, politically-neutral
    National Journal rates Kerry the most liberal U. S. Senator in 2003 —
    more liberal than Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

    It took me about five minutes on the Internet to learn that these statements were not true. Honestly, just looking at the “voters guide” and I knew that something was fishy but I wanted to believe. I told the church elders about this and talked to the youth pastor on the following sunday. My concern was that the church’s name was on the first page, this voter guide was on the 2nd and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus (the song) was on the 3rd page. The lies were being directly equate with the truth of Jesus.

    At first, I wanted to stay with the church as a mitigating influence but I quickly became the troublemaker. People stopped talking to me and I was ostrisized. I could no longer even go into the sanctuary because it was not a house of God. I was no longer comfortable giving tithe because it was being used to promote a political agenda.

    What really bothered me was that I wanted it to true. Because I allowed politics in my church, this was the result. At one point, I had to object because ushers were wearing Bush/Cheney buttons when greeting people at the door. It was too easy to accept the lie when it matched my beliefs.

    It was/is wrong. Church is not the building you go into. It is a collection of people who share Christ in their hearts. We should not give up on finding a Christian church, we just need to be mindful that the name of the church is sometimes false advertising.

  • Thank you for finally putting into words what I have been feeling all along! I have often wondered if it was just me that saw all the war mongering and hypocrisy in the Bush administration as an evil thing. I wondered if it was a lack in my faith or I was corrupted because I didn’t follow this administration blindly like so many Christians around me.

    I have not been very active in church too, so it was easy to see why I thought the problem was my all my fault. But looking back the reason I became unactive at the church I was at it was because of hypocrisy I saw with some of the prominent members. This was before the Bush administation came into power, and some of those same members I was concerned about later ended up being arrested for fraud. So, my concerns then were not unfounded about a spirit of deception being present in that church. The problem is now that same spirit of deception has enveloped so many churches and believers that it’s hard to see straight at all anymore.

    It also concerns me greatly that people think that 100,000+ Iraqi civilians killed somehow don’t matter to God, that He doesn’t hear their cries because they are Muslims. He most certainly does hear them and is horrified by what is being done in His name. May He forgive this nation for all truly awful things we do to people worldwide.

  • Thank you for your piece on “giving to Caesar what is God’s.” So well put. I keep throwing these times into the history of Nazi Germany – an “if we knew then what we know now” sort of deal – and wanting to ask brethren in Christ: OK, if you were there, and you were facing Hitler, what would you do? Asking myself that, I think I would develop a human railroad OUT. What else could they have done, but remove people from harm as is written by the prophets of the fall of Babylon: “each one of you save his own life…” I wish I could think of a remedy but the more we read, the more pervasive the whole system is. My thoughts are darker than I dare let on in view of the internet. It just seems like the mission of the moment is to save the church from the church. Or where else would the devil most like control, than the seat of God?

  • I guess then it’s pretty good that I know 3 Christian people who see the storm coming, and incidentally voted for Kerry. 1 of them is active in a church, one of them is fed up with the falseness, and the last I’m not sure. But that is a very interesting observation, since I haven’t been to a church in a very long time. That’s mostly neglect by the way, same as my long hair 🙂 But I’m around Bush fans on a near-daily basis at this nonprofit “faith-based intitiative”, so I’m not isolated but neither am I being indoctrinated through sermons.

    Amen to the bumper sticker nightmare.

    I like to think of it like this: I can see the picture because I’m so far away from it. The people really close to the system can only see the parts they’re right on top of, not the big picture. You start to talk about the big picture and they start throwing up walls of silliness, abortion and same-sex issues to keep them safe and well grounded in the Sunday morning program. Having your worldview crushed, while it can be liberating, is painful. It helps me to think of everyone as a victim of someone or something, and try not to be a complete jerk while trying to challenge their “truth”. And yea… it very well may be the same “falling away”, perhaps already accompanied by “strong delusion”.