I've discovered many “Christians” here on Xanga who actively promote a doctrine of hate. Of course they don’t come out and use that word. They dress up their hate in words like “reason” and “civility” and “natural order,” but it’s hate nonetheless, and it’s poisonous.
Obviously these people are not restricted to Xanga. Hate in the name of religion has plagued mankind for all of recorded history, but I didn’t really understand it until I entered the ministry full-time in 1980.
(cue wavy “going back in time” special effect.)
I was 22 and had graduated from college that spring with a degree in Church Music. A month later I was called as the “Minister of Music and Youth” at the largest church in a very tiny town. I should have guessed that something was up at this church when the pastor refused to call me by my name and instead spent my entire tenure there referring to me as “college boy.” I discovered later that he had dropped out of school in Jr. High. I certainly didn’t care, but it was clear that he did. Proud of my newly acquired moniker, I jumped into my responsibilities like the zealot that I was.
The rule among protestant churches in the south at the time was that Youth Ministers were to host an event after every home high school football game and that event was to be called a “Fifth Quarter.” I did not make up this rule, but I followed it religiously (rim shot). For homecoming week I decided to combine the Fifth Quarter with an equally revered institution called a “Lock-In." For the uninitiated, a lock-in is an all night party in which the teenagers are locked inside the church building in much the same way the clinically insane are locked inside an asylum.
I was determined that my first lock-in would be the greatest lock-in in all of recorded Youth Minister history and I began planning accordingly. I rented the high school cafeteria to hold the event in. I hired a Christian Rock-Band and a Christian Magician (In case you’re wondering, a Christian magician still pulls rabbits out of a hat, but the rabbits have been baptized.) I had arranged for movies and tons of food and I put out the word and hoped kids would show up, and show up they did.
Perhaps it’s only because there was nothing else going on in this one stoplight town but pretty much the entire high school showed up. We had 176 teenagers spend the night in the high school cafeteria. That may not sound like a large number for many churches but that was significantly more than the average Sunday morning attendance at the church.
The town had a large African-American population. I had been told when I was hired that there was some racial tension but I had not seen any real indication of it. The mix that night was about 50/50 between black and white students. The event ended the next morning with me thinking I was a cross between Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. I had not only planned and hosted the highest attended event in our churches history, but I had single handedly healed any racial divide in our community.
The kids left at 7:00 a.m. and after cleaning up, I stumbled home and into bed about 9:30 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. I was awakened by a phone call from the chairman of the youth committee. He said the committee had called an emergency meeting and that I was to be there at 11:00 a.m. I went to the meeting thinking that they were going to give me a medal for being the greatest Youth Minister in the history of the congregation, but that’s not exactly what happened.
I walked into the living room of the chairman’s house and sat down in the only vacant chair in a pre-arranged circle. After an awkward silence the chairman finally spoke: “We’ve asked you here because we’ve decided that we can’t allow you to have any more activities like the one you had last night.” I was dumbfounded. “Why?” I asked. “We just don’t think it’s the direction our youth ministry needs to be heading.” “Why?” I asked. “Well, it’s just not what we think is in the best interest of our church.” “Why? I asked. (Even at 22, I knew when I was listening to bull shit and I thought if I asked the same question enough times I might finally get a real answer.) Finally a woman in the group, who also happened to be the church secretary, spoke up: “We don’t want them black kids thinking they can come to our church.” Finally, the truth had been spoken. (In reality, her English was probably better than that but I like to attribute bad grammar to her because it helps me continue to vilify her in my memory.)
My soul died a little that day, and that was probably the beginning of my bizarre love/hate relationship with the ministry and organized religion in general.
32 years have gone by but every time I read a comment or a post from a Christian here on Xanga that is nothing but hate wrapped in dogma I feel like I’m sitting back in that living room listening to bigots trying to justify their bigotry.
You know who you are and you should be ashamed, but I know you're not, and I know you never will be.