The Unfundamental Conversion

We Did Not Reject the Church; the Church Rejected Us

March 31st, 2014 | Posted by Lana Hope in Fundamental/Evangelical
After I wrote my last post on leaving Evangelicalism, I thought of something else that it is worth emphasizing.

A lot of people think we just rejected the church. That we are hurt, bitter, frustrated, and angry. I think a lot of us are hurt and angry, and for a good reason. In this sense, some of us may have slowly backed away from the church. Our hearts can only take so much crap.

But something different happened this time. World Vision, an organization who provides relief work overseas, had decided that they would work with both liberal and conservative Christians. In this way, they would hire gays to work for them. They did not come out and say they agreed with gay marriage. They did not say they disagreed with it. They just did the sensible thing. They put politics aside so that liberals and conservatives could work together.

What happened was unbelievable. The evangelical church rejected us. They decided that gay marriage was a life or death issue; that the gospel would not survive if gays had a job with a Christian organization; and that they would rather exclude liberals from helping in relief work and drop their sponsorship of poor children than work together.

You all, the church rejected us. We were not the ones who did the rejecting.
And I am not the only one who has noticed this. Here are two comments I received on my last post.
This one comes from a blogger who does missions work in China.

I thought I could be evangelical and maybe I disagree with others about some things but it’s okay, we’ll peacefully discuss them and accept each other’s differences. Now I see there’s none of that to be had.

And this one comes from Kathryn who also has worked overseas.

I think the thing that hurt the most with this was that I’ve never rejected the evangelical church, but this episode made it clear that the evangelical church has rejected me. It’s like a resounding confirmation that if people had known who I really am, all of me, when I was a missionary, I would have been soundly rejected because none of what I did could ever be good enough. That hurts.

I had hope for the evangelical church, that it could change, that there would be a place for me, but I’m tired of fighting.

Evangelicals need to take ownership of this. We are not a bunch of bitter 20s who left the church because we were burned out. We have agreed to work with the evangelicals; as I wrote in my last post, my missions work has demanded that I work with them. But this time they said they won’t work with us.

They drew a line in the sand so hard that we can no longer cross it.

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  • Of course, we atheists see these lines all around us and when we try to point them out are then vilified. So be it. The lines are really there and it gladdens my heart when more people begin to see them.

  • Preach.

  • Did the evangelicals reject us? Or was it just a group of very vocal evangelicals?

    I was very saddened by the heavy-handed response of some evangelical leaders, but evangelicals are Not All Like That. I read in numerous places that World Vision had about 2000 canceled sponsorships. That seems quite a small percentage of all their sponsors and probably a small percentage of their evangelical sponsors.

    The vocal evangelicals I read about who dissed WV were people I already knew were not accepting of us. I saw no surprises; I was not disappointed in anyone I wasn’t already disappointed with.

    I keep my foot in evangelicalism because there are some there who are trying to create change–and they need my support.

    The evangelical response to WV was hurtful and disheartening, but I don’t think it reflected the views of all evangelicals.

    • Lana Hope

      2000 is small, but their financial base that supports the actual ministry was going to pull their support from what I understand. I think the support for the kids was incidental to the losing your supporters who are millionaries. But I’m not sure what happened, so maybe I should not say.

      I don’t think it reflects the view of all evangelicals in the church, but what about the leadership? I’m not in every denomination, but the big guys of groups like the SBC were speaking up against WV. They were effecting the leadership of all the churches.

      I think that’s why I’m exhausted. The church has not come to the reality that people are born gay, so if 2% or 20% or 80% of church members are fine with gays working in the churh but the leadership is anti-gay, what good does it do to stay in there? Libby Anne wrote this good post today:

      I would go to a Vineyard church. I think that’s the only acception I can think of right now that is sort of evangelical.

    • Lana Hope

      I should add that I don’t think there is anything wrong with not giving up on the evangelicals – if that’s what God has called you to do or if they provide you with meaningful support! However, it’s not for me anymore.

  • sgl

    i agree with you that the evangelicals rejected the moderate voices.

    however, that’s not the story that they are telling. don’t have a link, but somewhere i saw a comment or blog post comparing the evangelical response to the techniques abusers use, ie, that the evangelicals were saying that it was world vision’s fault that they had to cancel their support. similar to the way an abuser says “i had to beat you because you didn’t fix dinner properly, so it’s your fault.” don’t know much about abusive personalities, but it sounded like a legit comparison to me.

  • If they add to the gospel that one had to be straight or that sexuality in whichever case mattered, they put up a different gospel and are no longer part of the church. So it’s not you leaving church, it’s them. You remain orthodox, but they add to the gospel, turning it from a force of liberation to a force of social control and captivity.
    I think it is important to be aware of this and speak likewise. They are the heretics as soon as they do these things, you are the orthodox who stay true to the word of God and to the church. We often lack the self-assurance to do so, but I think we shouldn’t. After all, it’s the gospel, that is at stake. Read Galatians to see how much this could upset Paul, when the gospel is watered down by further demands of “holyness” of whatever kind. He freaked out, and rightly did so.
    So I guess we could speak up a bit, too.
    By the way: It seems the evangelicals are well organised and all and know their strengths and numbers to be self-confident. How about the liberal side? Are those who left evangelicalism organised in any way as to see how mayn there are and how one can give support to the other?

    • Lana Hope

      I do not think the liberal refugees are organized at all. I’m sure denominations like the Disciples of Christ know their numbers, but most of us aren’t in any mainstream denominations. I saw some people on Rachel Held Evan’s blog note that we need to find each other.

      Really good point about Paul. He did get upset when they added to the gospel!

  • caf21

    I am so confused by these articles and comments. Please help me understand.

    Are you are saying you’re surprised that Evangelicals value hating gay people over helping poor people? Because from outside the faith, most of us see Evangelicals as really, really focused on hating gay people. 72% of Evangelicals agree with the statement, “The gay and lesbian community is the most active group trying to remove Christian values from the country.” [source. Their hatred has reached the point where they think that gay people are actively conspiring to change the country. Let me emphasize that point: Evangelicals think that gay people are all working together to make the U.S. hostile to Christianity.

    This is so far beyond intolerance that it is dangerous. When you think that a group of people within your country is conspiring to take control, you feel justified in taking any measure you feel is necessary to stop the threat. Of course that includes halting care for the hungry. Historically, it includes much much much worse things too. I don’t think those types of worse things will happen in the U.S. because Evangelicals aren’t very powerful here and we have strong laws to protect minorities. But I don’t think Evangelicals would hesitate for one moment to pass they same laws here that they managed to get passed in Uganda, if they could.

    So how is it shocking that they are willing to pull support from an organization that doesn’t share their bigotry? How is that not exactly what we would expect from them? I have to admit, I would have been shocked if they hadn’t pulled support. The more mainstream people decide not to hate gay people, the harder Evangelicals hate. Were you expecting compassion? From the people who are still working to criminalize homosexuality internationally? From the people who managed to get the first death sentence laws for homosexuality passed in the modern era? This is what I’m confused about.

    • Your point goes to the heart of an issue long proclaimed by New Atheists to be a significant problem: religious tolerance is not an acceptable excuse for practicing discrimination that creates victims.

      This recent example of World Vision’s loss of funding for not discriminating – and then their capitulation of principle to reestablish a funding practice – goes to show just how difficult it is for people to look at – in this case – evangelical beliefs in action (without a large dose of tolerant bias) and see just how ingrained are the kinds of various discrimination to effect they exercise – obvious to those who see them without any dose of god-soaked tolerance. Religious privilege and respect is so ingrained in so many people that blatant discrimination is often seen to be a charming quirk perfectly acceptable regardless of who is victimized. It takes an extreme case to start to peel back the religious covering on people’s eyes and over their ears to see and hear these very real victims of a very real religious motivation for very real discrimination that causes very real harm… and the all-too-eager willingness to capitulate the principles of equality, fairness, and justice in its name.

    • Maybe we should not be shocked. But what Tim said above, no all evangelicals are anti-gay. Rachel Held Evans and Peter Enns and many others share our spirit and sitll go to the evangelical church. So it was disappointing to say the least.

      • Have you read <a href=""Rachel's response? My take on it is that it’s time to leave and start anew.

        • Yea I saw that. I am with her and you. It’s time to say goodbye to the evangelical church. They aren’t changing their views on gays anytime soon.


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