Faith Gone Bad – by Mrs. Blue

Hi, there. A conversation with Mrs. Eager has once again brought my thoughts here to my husband’s blog, combined with an incident on Sunday in which a guy shot up a Unitarian-Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two people and injuring seven last I heard.

First, Mrs. Eager. We’re talking on the phone and I’m even more convinced that we have virtually nothing in common except both being born again. And she reveals to me that her and Mr. Eager are, well…eager…to move them and their two girls out of the Northeastern U.S and into the Bible Belt. They have their eyes in particular on Tennessee (yeah, you can connect my mental dots already, I’m sure) because they want to be in a place where “traditional values” are held more dearly.

Mrs. Eager expressed her concern that things are too “liberal” out here in many of the churches. Now, there are many liberally minded churches in our part of the world. I agree. But having done some church-hopping with darling hubby as we tried to find a church home, I have been to a great many places where not only was the doctrine quite conservative but people looked at my black ass quite strangely. Many a church out here has been nixed for our family based on people not receiving our mixed race family warmly and, in some cases, with a distinct “why are you here and could you please leave” mentality.

So, I don’t really get why you would pick up and move hundreds and hundreds of miles simply for religious reasons, with the end goal being to be around a lot of other people just like you. There is no job or better career options waiting out in the Bible Belt. Mr. Eager is a plumber, and pretty much anywhere in this country, that’s a job that will keep you busy and money coming in at a comfortable level. They have family out here. Yet they are seriously considering moving simply so that it will be easier for them to find plenty of conservative Christian churches to choose from.

That scares me a little. It seems like the decision of someone who’s caught up in religion, but not very caught up in being Christ-like.

And when you add the Tennessee shooting to spice this up, I think: A man went and tried to murder a bunch of people in a U.U. church because he hated the liberal movement in general (especially inclusiveness of gays) and, I suppose, hating even more so those pesky liberal Christians or liberal semi-Christians (since U.U. churches seem more like spiritual social clubs to me than actual churches, since they are religiously inclusive as well, trying to be one-stop spiritual shopping it seems). So, doesn’t that show that the Bible Belt also produces very unsavory people, despite all those traditional values?

I know this is just one person. I know that Mrs. Eager and Mr. Eager are not seeking to hook up with people who kill other people over liberal vs. conservative views.

But why do they want to surround themselves with people they assume will be like-thinking? Jesus didn’t do that. So many churches, particularly those with a more conservative slant, want to go out all over the world and convert people; lead them to Christ. Yet how many of them put that same effort closer to home? Instead, people hole up in churches where everyone is like them and they hear what makes them feel comfortable. They socialize with those people. They avoid those who would say things they don’t want to hear.

Yet Jesus socialized with the active sinners. He hung out with—and preached to—gamblers, prostitutes, thieves, adulterers and more. He went where people needed to hear the good news of God’s grace and coming kingdom on Earth.

If Mrs. Eager and her family head out to the Bible Belt, I wonder: Will they be reaching anyone? Will they be effective Christians? I doubt it. They will be comfortably ensconced in a warm cocoon of “Churchianity.”

If things are too liberal here—if people are getting away from the Word of God because they are trying to make it fit the world or edit it to be more palatable—doesn’t it make more sense to stay and let people see the light of Christ shining through you when you hold to the Word?

She would say, I am sure, that this is a move for the children’s sakes. But we cannot protect our children from the world; we can only teach them how to overcome it. And leaving for the Bible Belt? Well, that feels to me like they are just running away.

(If you want to read any of Mrs. Blue’s other infrequent posts around these parts, go here)


5 Responses to “Faith Gone Bad – by Mrs. Blue”

  1. 1 WNG
    July 29, 2008 at 9:44 am

    After September 11, 2001 I started going to the UU Church that was right down the street from my apartment in Chucktown, SC. I was raised in the AME and Catholic Churches, but I went to the UU Church not because it was closer, but because I knew that there would be all kinds of people there. It was the closest I could get to being home on the streets of NY, which is where I really wanted to be.
    That night it seemed like most of our neighborhood was there, including my landlord and his family, who were Iranian Sihks and were scared to stay in their convenience store below the apartments. It turns out that they were right. The place was broken into and vandalized repeatedly over the next few months. The UU Church was there each time with volunteers and supplies.
    That experience solidified a place for the Unitarian Universalist Church in my heart. It seems to me that basic human kindness should be automatic. I didn’t stay in the Church, but I have always looked for that kind of openness and acceptance in every Church I have visited and attended since then, because I think that they’ve gotten a lot of things right – the doors are always open and anyone is always welcome without judgement.
    We live in a world where people shoot others in Church. Where a man’s prayer is stolen from a holy place and printed in a newspaper. I think that what we need is more respect for each other, more love for each other and more strength in our faith.
    Mrs. Eager makes me sad, that gunman makes me feel sick, but you, Mrs.Blue help restore some sense of hope and love to the balance, so thank you.

    and sorry this was so long…

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    July 29, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I’ve always been on the fence about the role of the UU church, myself. On the one hand, I like that it brings diverse groups together. On the other hand, I kind of wince at calling it a church, since many of them are so broad-based in the preaching that it make me think of the “I’m spiritual but not religious” crowd and how I’m not so sure about many of them in terms of being all that spiritual.

    That said, Mrs. Blue has some loose affiliations with a local UU church and we’ve been there for various events. Just don’t see the purpose of making a Sunday visit anytime soon.

    That shooting at the Tennessee UU Church is just sick and depressing. I don’t get people who use violence in the name of God and Jesus, nor even those who reject God and Jesus and would stoop to slaying a bunch of people in church. Then again, the bombing in Oklahoma City some years back that took out the nursery/daycare on the first floor of a government building seemed overwhemlingly and incomprehensively low to me too.

  3. July 29, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Jesus didn’t kill anybody who rejected him. Ever.

    Nowhere in the Bible does God say that it’s our role to go out and kill unbelievers. I don’t know how folks get there.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    July 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    All I have to say to that, Big Man:


  5. July 30, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I hear ya, mrs. blue! A friend and I recently discussed the way religious extremists fight one another – but represent opposite sides of the same coin.

    While some allege that uber-liberal churches give a “pass” for sinful behavior, it is obvious that some of the most frightening xenophobes attend uber-conservative churches like those peppered along the Bible Belt.

    I would be concerned if somebody I knew was ready to uproot a family and run to an uber-conservative church. Only knowing what you were able to share with us, it *sounds* more like a flight of fear than one led by God. As I’ve heard it said, too many Christians use church as a hiding place – using the sanctuary to avoid life as opposed to living out loud per God’s plan.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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