Storm and I were children when television evangelists were at their peak in the late 70's and early 80's. When we turned 12, at our church, we were able to join the youth group. We did many fun things with them outside of church, but our activities were often God-centered. One such combination of God and fun was when our youth group traveled on a bus all the way to North Carolina to visit the PTL television set and campgrounds. Our youth pastor removed all the seats in the bus and placed many mattresses from front to back so that we could sleep and travel at the same time. All of our luggage went into the space underneath the mattresses.
Yes, we actually saw Jim and Tammy Faye Baker in person. We had a special tour of their mansion, which had a pool in it. We weren't allowed to swim in the pool because our church leaders would not let us participate in "mixed bathing." As teenagers, we spontaneously found a way around this. As we were touring around the pool, one kid pushed another fully clothed kid into the water and it snowballed from there. I took my shoes off, climbed onto the diving board and dove in jeans and all. It was hilarious. We actually have it on film.....old fashioned film on a reel. All the adult chaperones got thrown in as well. That and the air conditioned arcade was the best part of the trip. Sitting in the audience watching Jim and Tammy Faye Baker was the worst. I mean, it was interesting to see them in person, but television evangelists always made me feel something was way off. I didn't know what it was at the time because I was just a child, but kids pick up on things that adults miss sometimes. (or they pick up on it, but don't think we kids did?) This was just a few years before the big PTL scandal. It was a major blow to our church. So many of our parents had sent money to PTL and ordered special bible reading materials from there in support for their "ministry." That has become a trigger word for me.
One of the major root causes of my religious trauma is the clashing of the good with the bad. I don't simply mean the ups and the downs. I mean innocence and allegiance rewarded with betrayal. There are many other trigger words in the story above --- church leaders, evangelists, mixed bathing. All the good we thought PTL was doing and it was just a major rip off ...... we trusted our parents to bring good people into our lives and we were taught to revere people like Jimmy Swaggart (who later had his own scandal) and the Bakers ........ thankfully Billy Graham didn't mess up, but boy his son sure is a real peach in the evangelical circles these days. Yeesh. And the evangelicals mostly love him. If you're reading this and it offends you, just stop reading because I'm not sorry. He's a jerk and he does NOT represent his father's views like he claims.
What I learned from the above situation is that I was right that something wasn't settling smoothly in my gut when it came to these evangelists. We had some visit our church, too, and preach to us. Most of them were loud and flashy and obnoxious -- in the name of God. It was super emotional with adults and teens crying at the alter and standing in long lines to be anointed with oil and prayed over. Some of these things clashed like loud thunder to me with what I thought God would want us to behave like instead ....... kind of quiet and humble with a soft reverence for Him and strong love for others. There were people that presented themselves this way like my future husband, but there were enough that didn't......... sometimes the biggest offenders were the ones in the pulpit and on the tv screen.
This is one reason why our 45th president makes me feel like something is really wrong in my gut. My people put this man up on a pedestal, often in the name of God that 45 doesn't even pray to. (Fact.) He is just using Evangelicals to get votes. (My opinion.) The fact that they're being fooled by him is one thing. The fact that they "voted for him enthusiastically" as one person put it explains a lot. I don't care that someone has different ideas on how to run our country and spend our money. Those things should be debatable and deals and compromises have to be made. I understand that most Evangelicals feel they have to vote against legal abortion. I disagree, but we can debate that kind of thing all day. What I cannot tolerate is that they vote for the most disgusting man in order to do so and they're tying him in with Christianity where he absolutely does not claim to belong. It doesn't matter all the lies he tells or the sexually offensive things he has said on live tv as well as making fun of a disabled person at a rally........ this man is a charlatan and they're supporting him, loving him, and empowering him to be even more of an ass than he already is. In the name of God. Much like Jim Baker and others. I won't be part of it.
They look at me and say you're wrong, Windy. You are not seeing what you're seeing. We can't see anything that he does wrong. You're wrong. Your gut is wrong. You're not a good enough Christian because you don't vote for him....... Good thing I know not to believe them, but it is still soul shaking when it happens.
That's a little bit about how religious leaders can be dangerous and how that ties into politics in the evangelical world for me. All of this swirls around my brain nearly every day trying to make sense of it all and I absolutely cannot. Thankfully, supporting the people of Ukraine has been something that most evangelicals in my life feel the same way as Storm and I do. THANK GOD. It is nice to finally agree on something again. When you have that your whole life and then it suddenly goes missing in 2016 because of all the above and more, it's stressful. Of course, now there is the Hillsong Documentary .....big Mega Church Scandal. Storm and I are in the middle of watching it. Yikes!
It was interesting to read more about the religious trauma you have previously mentioned and the trip. I wasn't brought up with religion so I don't feel 'qualified' to comment further.
Hi, Roz! I hope you don't ever feel that if you haven't experienced something that you can't share your opinion about it here. It's fine if you don't though. We all know you are compassionate and have common sense..... many people have lost that along the way somehow. Thanks for reading. Hugs, WindyDelete
Religion is always such a touchy subject isn't it?? I know I was brought up in the church with very strict rules to live by - I can remember no games on Sunday and no TV - my grandmother was a Baptist.. then Salvation Army. We were united church - kinda like Lutherans if I remember correctly.
I raised my girls in the church..... but a whole lot more modified church.... but then I started struggling with the politics of religion...... and the final straw was when my mom was dying of cancer and the only time her church contacted her was to scold her for falling behind in her weekly givings........ It was all very messy.
Now I have a quiet faith in my heart - one I don't talk about .... unlike you I don't have any family left to debate religion with...........
I just want to say - I like how you fill in the blanks of who you are and what you are and what your beliefs are..... makes you more than a 2 dimensional blogger :)
Hey, MorningStar! Good afternoon!Delete
Religion is a touchy subject, yes, but generally was not for the first 45 years of my life as I didn't cause a fuss and by that I mean ask questions and challenge. It shouldn't be a touchy subject within the same church! But, then where there are people, there are mistakes and mistreatment even among the good and thus your story of your om leaving the church is not surprising...the lack of outreach to your mom yet the asking for money.
I like the philosophy of quiet faith. That's what I think a lot of it should be about if one is humble about things, ya know?
I was raised strict too, no movie theater, roller skating, and other dumb stuff like that. My mom snuck us in to see Rated G stuff though despite what anybody else thought at the time including my father. lol
I have never pushed what I belief on anyone. I normally only bring stuff up if someone asks me a question in person and even then I am very carefully. A blog is a bit different. If I don't write about it, nobody knows what or who I am ...... kind of pointless if I don't expound sometimes. Thanks for the support here, MorningStar. I appreciate you. Hugs, Windy
Power is a corrosive force. My own experience with "religious power" was different than yours, but definitely ugly.ReplyDelete
Last year I read the book One More Sunday (published 1984), one of John D MacDonald's last books published, which is about a murder that takes place on a televangelist's campus. The author's cynicism comes through -- how could it not? -- but reading it was in some ways cathartic. There are so many "types" represented - and I recognized them ALL - and in a weird way, it's kind of a question that was answered for me. So while I can't say it was EASY to read and would not exactly advise reading it... I'm just putting it out there that *I* did.
I don't engage in politics. I hear what you're saying though, and again: power corrupts.
Hello, Feve! I'm just getting started. This is not the summation of my religious trauma by far. lmaoDelete
You are wise not to engage in politics.
I believe power corrupts in every institution that has ever existed. It exists in all political parties in the U.S. I don't normally engage either and in fact have set strict boundaries that I have to keep up with both arms and some help from Storm in order to get some of my family to leave me alone regarding ALL OF IT. I don't care what somebody identifies as politically. I was something different less than 10 years ago myself. TFG just triggers me and so that is why I pointed him out....it is very common for Evangelicals to fall for charismatic leaders inside the church...I can't believe it is happening outside of it ....and as a whole, they bring it all together so that religion and politics cannot be identified separately. I cannot imagine supporting the current president or past like Obama in a worshiping way. That is just WEIRD.
The book you mentioned sounds interesting. That might be something that Storm and I can listen to together....since he was raised the same as I was in the same exact church and does not have the trauma that I do, However, he is a dude and I am a chick and that makes a huge difference with the whole patriarchy thing.
Thanks for your thoughts here. I will let you know if we end up listening to the book. Have you seen the Netflix series called The Family? I want to watch it again....lots to chew on and the Evangelical charisma thing still creeps me out. Hugs, Windy
I have not seen The Family. I do have kind of a vague awareness of the Hillsong debacle though. And of course, I live in the part of the country where Mars Hill was founded...Delete
Religion is one of my least favorite things.
I don't even understand half of The Family, but what I did get is so corrupt. I knew about when Ben from twitter posted about preachersnsneakers.....but I didn't know that Brian just resigned a few days ago from Hillsong and why. Overall cultish feel to the documentary and child sex abuse ..... awful.Delete
Didn't know about Mars Hill.....looked it up. Figures. Weirdos.
Power corrupts, you're right.
I agree with everything you've said here. I was raised in a totally different religion from you. It was soft and gentle and loving and I still go to that church most Sundays. We now have a female minister who is great. She feels the 45 er's have stolen the name of Christianity and made it into something horrible and hateful. She won't even use the words, instead she simply says she's a Christ follower. I wish everyone who wants this religion in their lives could find a church like this.ReplyDelete
Hi, PK! Yes, you were raised "Christian Light" according to comedian Fortune Feamster. Big difference between Pentecostal and Methodist in many regards, but big time with the misogyny thing. Women pastors were not a thing for us EVER and still are not. I shouldn't say us because it's not my religion anymore...so them. lolDelete
Christ follower works for me! I do still have my faith .....glad I didn't lose it. It's just been adjusted and I sincerely hope it's for the better. Hugs, Windy
Hi Windy, I can relate to a lot of this, though the evangelical support of Trump is baffling from this side of the pond.I never quite got why Christians are so concerned with the life of unborn children, but don't seem to care quite so much after they are born! Also, the tendency to come down hard on what they would call sexual sin among young people, but refuse to believe it when an older respectable leader is accused of sexual abuse.ReplyDelete
My parents are long gone, but I'm always nervous when I meet up with my siblings and their families, they don't realise how far I've moved from their beliefs, and family events are not the time to rant unless they say something really awful. Occasionally I am tempted to tell them what I really think! PK's church sounds lovely!
I grew up in a church that emphasised female submission, which made it very confusing when I was fighting that on one level, but attracted to it on another! I've made my peace with it by recognising that choosing it and being told that's the way it should be are 2 very different things, but it's taken me a long time. I'm still creeped out by so called Christian discipline blogs, because saying it's God's will, rather takes away consent.I'm wondering if you grew up with the female submission stuff?
Hi, Alice! Sorry it took a long time for me to answer. I saw it late and then I threw my back out and have been in too much pain to think critically. LOLDelete
I grew up EV and i'm confused as to why they support Trump, too!!!! It's been extremely stressful because both sides of the family support him even though he is disgusting. He is nearly everything that we were taught Christians were NOT.
The documentary The Family on Netflix has a theory as to why/how the Evangelicals got started with the whole "pro-life" thing. (I agree with your statement.) It gives them something to call evil, to hate......weird. Billy Graham was pro-choice! This documentary helped me understand the whole "leaders are chosen and must be supported no matter what" mentality in Washington D.C. where Evangelicals reside, hang out, etc... it's creepy. From my own personal experience, men don't like to be wrong in the church. Mostly they can do no wrong. Things get covered up because no one wants to call someone else out on sexual abuse, for example. Even men who never would do anything weird themselves can't bring themselves to confront another man in the church with that kind of sin. They're just used to women putting up with it, I guess, all these years. Gross.
I think there are more churches like PK's than I knew for a long time. They tend to not be as charismatic and in your face as pentecostal and some baptist churches are.
Believe it or not, Storm and I don't rant to our family .....most of them don't rant to us, but one big one does. LOL That's hard to put up with, but I'm learning to stand my ground. As much as the ranting bothers me, their silence on all the crap 45 did actually stunned me and sickened me.
Your church and the female submission... interesting. At ours, it wasn't outwardly discussed....it's just something we somehow knew. Probably because mostly the men were in charge of things (but not everything.) The man is the head of the house was preached and many women accepted that while some families were obviously run by the mom. The man works and the woman is a homemaker was big in our church. The pastor's wife was always in the supporting role of her husband. Same with the youth pastor and his wife.
It makes sense that the submission thing was confusing to you. We did not have that in our wedding vows. lol I refused to say obey or submit! Of course, I knew nothing of ttwd back then, but even today, I don't think I'd say it publicly unless I added "in bed" after I said it. LMAO Storm didn't care if I said it or not, so it wasn't an issue. Whew. But, yes, later my submissive feelings came along, but we never practiced Christian DD either and never found it appealing. Actually, there are a couple that I have suspected are a bit Christian DD and it is just so corny to me, I can't read there. lol
Thanks for the great conversation, Alice! Sorry my response was late. I hope you see this. Hugs, Windy
Thanks Windy. Sorry to hear about the back,very painful.Delete
Ah, I assumed the submission would be a bigger thing in the States. It was absolute in my church, women could only teach children, even women's weekends had men there to do the teaching! Imagine never hearing the bible read from a feminine perspective! Yes, I'm a bit envious of PK's experience of church.
Hey, Alice! There are MANY churches like you just described here in the States. I'm sorry to give you the impression from my "home church" that there isn't. So let me go outside of that.... there is a HUGE church that has been around forever here. I would be surprised if I named it, if you hadn't heard of it. It is EXACTLY the way you described. Women could not teach men....separate buses for the girls and boys at the college.... no dating, no women on the alter except to sing.....women were only allowed to teach children. Storm and I had neighbors that went there and we visited a few times to find out what it was like. NO, THANK YOU! I had observed all of the above having grown up near this huge church, school, college place and seeing those buses everywhere, but never visited before that.Delete
No, I cannot imagine never hearing a bible verse from a woman. That is AWFUL. The submission is big here within those kinds of churches and the one I described. It was there in mine, too, but on a lesser scale overall.
I'm glad you got out of there. It sounds like you might enjoy a normal Christian church... "Christian Light" .... heard that recently and I love it. Sounds lovely!