Strangers in the Church

I’ve never felt more distant from the evangelical church than I do now. The last four years with Donald Trump has been difficult for me but this past year has been much worse. As I write this we have passed 500,000 people who have died of COVID-19. How have many evangelical churches responded to this pandemic? Believing and spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories. My dad was exposed to COVID-19 and caught it because of the willful ignorance of his wife and her family. He is over 75 and has heart disease. Thankfully his symptoms were very mild. I’m struggling with anger and being able to forgive. I feel no connection and find little in common with many Trumpers. I’m grieving a loss,

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It definitely sucks when one political side seems to mostly fit with certain stereotypes of being backwards. It sucks what you are going through. People who disregard what the scientists say are very annoying. Before I even really understood it was fully convinced about the virus I already knew it’d better to listen to scientists while you look into it yourself because of something is false, there will be plenty of scientists to bring it up. Contrary to science fiction horror films, scientists are just people and not part of some global evil society.

I do think in general though they try to keep any political stuff out of the main threads. Not that there are probably too many people in here who supported trump , and if they did are probably not far right conservatives, you never know who views these threads from the outside. In my experience, some posts have to be worded through a filter in order to be productive in here otherwise they quickly go to being made into a private discussion which can seem annoying but it’s not personal. It’s being done for the sake of any potential hope of helping to reach out to people from many walks of life.

With that said, I’m not an kind of authority and so they may decide to keep it.

I am sorry for your loss and I definitely understand how it feels to feel so isolated snd losing out on thst community feeling. I hope that the church can become better or you are able to find a better one.

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You aren’t the only one here who feels that way but politics is off limits here. I guess, since the advice is to avoid discussing religion and politics in polite company, it is probably safer to avoid at least one of them if we want to keep the dialogue polite. But I feel you.

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Hi Kevin,
Thanks for sharing your struggles – I’m sure you will find you’re not alone, but it can indeed feel very alone when you seem to be at odds with your local church or faith community.

I share your feeling of distance – not just the physical distance because of lifestyle changes due to COVID, but also just in seeing how many churches seem to have responded by refusing to even acknowledge any social responsibility for following guidelines for the physical safety of their communities. Oddly enough, it seems like the more “mainline” churches in our area are the ones who are most careful to follow mask mandates, etc., and those tend to be the ones who were losing members even before COVID.

I think “grieving a loss” is a good and honest way to put it – sometimes it’s easy to forget that and feelings like anger and anxiety can cloud what’s really going on. I hope grief can lead to greater clarity, but it doesn’t always seem that way in the midst of it.

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And yes – we avoid discussing politics here, so other participants should focus on the primary points in the OP and not jump on political rabbit trails.

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Agree with Laura regarding the politics, but feel the same way regarding the main points, which are really not political, but rather go to prevailing mood in evangelical churches to hold expertise and reason in disdain. It goes beyond science, as some more fundamentalist congregations and their pastors also hold that seminary training and advanced degrees are not only not needed but are undesirable for pastors. I remember reading a prominent contemporary theologian’s blog where he expressed puzzlement that when relevant questions and problems arose in the church he attended, no one ever asked him for his opinion, even regarding ethical issues that he had written extensively on.
In the current Covid situation, we had several physicians in the congregation as well as the county emergency medical management director, and none were consulted as to their thoughts on the church’s response. It quickly became apparent to me decisions were made based largely on local political and cultural pressures rather than knowledgeable consideration. Of course, the argument is that the cultural/political pressure is no less real and had to be addressed. It does not take away the bitterness that results when people died and suffered and continue to suffer. My response has been to withdraw a bit and distance myself, which is not entirely healthy, but seemed to be the only ethical course.
The question to me now that things are improving and hopefully getting back to normal, is how to best re-engage with a church that honestly has a lot of members I no longer respect. Perhaps I need a extra helping of grace, but wonder how those relationships will fair.

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Kevin, I feel the same way about evangelicals (I historically identify with them). I just visited a church today that some of my (conspiracy theory extended) family attend today. They refused to social distance or wear masks. Thankfully, my son and daughter followed my lead and wore them, in spite of the “cool” looking family, and chose to stick out. They agreed that it was to protect others that we wear masks.
Having had many acquaintances die of Covid, and 1 missionary in his 40s currently supported by our church gravely ill with it, I feel a most un Christ like anger at the pettiness of those who won’t wear a mask. It is like an ulcer in me that I know I need to give to God. I just finished re reading “The Hiding Place,” by Corrie TenBoom. Her account of how true healing only came when she and other victims forgave and prayed for their abusers gripped and convicted me. I would love to hear what you think of it.

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That has been our biggest issue right now too. We’ve pulled out of any “official” responsibilities at our church, and my husband has been doing pulpit supply – basically preaching at any church he’s asked to, no matter how small, as long as they agree to mask up. That has been good for me, to see other congregations, some of which don’t have a lot but are willing to do what it takes to stay together for now. It does make us feel fairly adrift as far as having a “home church.” But it can also give more appreciation for the universal church.

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I’ve been doing a Facebook book club this month on Jemar Tisby’s How to Fight Racism, and these same feelings of disengagement and disillusionment with one’s local congregation are being expressed by hundreds of people in the group. It’s been a rough four years in what has come out of the woodwork and how people once respected as wise and godly have gone off the deep end into conspiracy theories and partisan nonsense, leaving people feeling betrayed by leadership. I don’t have any answers for what to do about it, but know that you are not at all alone in your dismay at the behavior and attitudes of other Christians. The loss of trust and belonging is a real loss and grief is an appropriate response, one that I think many people here have been going through to varying degrees.

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The magnitude of the error in ignoring and opposing basic precautions appears clear here

Whereas a plaque I saw in one house this weekend said, " Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it." Tyranny such as how? It seems an incredible stretch to believe all this is a money making, power grabbing plot.

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Interesting ways to put that number into perspective. Really puts the lie to those who claimed ‘fake’ news was just distorting the natural deaths of old people.

At the same site I thought the article about a pastor who preached that the virus should be ignored and ended up dying from it too was also pretty interesting though sad.

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If I were a believer I would probably imagine God looking down from heaven and saying, “You silly people, I gave you a brain so you could figure out how not to infect one another.”

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It is interesting how the same people who read the Old Testament hygiene laws regarding lepers, mold, and latrines etc. praise them and say how advanced they were, yet somehow miss that spraying sputum in other’s faces during a pandemic is a bad thing.

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Do you have a chapter and verse for that? Somewhere in Leviticus? :sneezing_face:

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That is reminiscent of a YEC once asking me for a proof text after I said ‘Truth comes from reality.’ :grin:

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The latrines are In Deut. 23, the others in Leviticus 13-15. Closest I can get to the spit spraying is Levitcus 15:
8 “‘If the man with the discharge spits on anyone who is clean, they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

The quarantine for Covid is a bit longer.

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To bad that “Sputum” wasn’t a King James (or Hebrew) word. They had their equivalent, I’m sure - but I feel the modern English translations could have gotten extra mileage there!

The thing that stinks is that when you live in certain parts of the country, it’s very hard to find people like us who have felt distant - enough to start a new movement anyway.

We left our church for a few reasons, specifically race and COVID, and if we want to find a place that is concerned with those things we have to leave our community.

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If, as @Laura suggested recently, you are willing to join a larger ideal but far flung church, you can be more choosy of your neighbors and more selective of what sputum may come your way.

That’s unfortunate. The Protestant church I grew up in during the 70’s-90’s was non-partisan, although the vast majority were probably Reagan Republicans. Our rural farm community had a significant Hispanic population, and there was a lot of outreach to that community, even though most were Catholic.

I haven’t attended for the last 25 years, but my parents still do. They seem to be big on social distancing and masks, and all services are broadcast on zoom so people can attend from home. However, some of the stuff my Mom says worries me. She has gone down some of the conspiracy theory rabbit holes, and I have to wonder how much that congregation had a part in it, or at all. I would also feel terrible if some of the families in that congregation felt like they had to leave because some of those families have been in that church since the 1940’s. The old chestnut of a wall of separation between church and state might be a good idea for churches as well.

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