An Open Letter to The Evangelical Churches That Raised Me
I’ve been silent for a very long time.
Silent since you silenced me — since those months in my Sophomore year of college, when you told met that it was my fault that I had been raped.
It’s too hard, you know? Trying to fight back against you all at once. There’s so many of you, and you used to be my family. You saw me — my faith, my desires for faith and love and grace to be furthered in the world. You taught me how to think about my sexuality, my gender, my role in the world — my opinion of what it is that makes up the matter inside of me.
And I loved you.
Until the way I loved you started killing me. I remember the sunday after it happened because it was the day that I stopped taking communion — one in thousands of weeks in which I suddenly knew couldn’t swallow the blood and body of Jesus one more time or I’d drown.
I left because I knew I’d kill myself if I didn’t.
Not one of you asked me that: nobody asked me why I left.
You assumed — you said I wanted to do bad things. To fuck. To drink. To engage in the “ways of the world.”
One of you even wrote me, and told me about your own abortion — and how, now, you knew I’d get one. I read that note, crying, sitting at my friend’s counter the week after I’d gotten an IUD from a woman at Planned Parenthood that was the first person to ever teach me the meaning behind “verbal abuse.”
I left because I had stopped knowing the difference between reverence and fear, respect and abuse, exhortation and the obliteration of my ego so far beyond resistance that I cried myself to sleep.
I left because I found no integrity in your walls — no one left that answered me honestly when I said “I don’t want to be here, but I wish I wanted to be here.” No one who could answer why I had gone so far beyond the realm of love and peace, through pursuing righteousness, that I had been blamed for my own rape. No one who would engage with me when I asked why the Old Testament was full of genocide, or why we never spoke about power dynamics in Sunday school.
Or, why it wasn’t okay for me to sleep with girls, because the Bible said so, but you understood the cultural nuance behind commands like, “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh” seriously (1 Peter 2).
I have not wanted to interact — been afraid of being hurt by you. Been afraid of what you might say, and how it might affect a psyche I’ve been working to free since I left, and you told me that, to return, I’d have to apologize to and love my perpetrators. Since you told me that a woman like me couldn’t do good in Africa, beause that was the “Lord’s work,” and I was secular, now. Since my ex boyfriend, who I’d converted, engaged in a 7 year affair behind closed doors — and then lambasted me for not showing up in church.
Stop saying you’re imperfect.
Stop saying “we’re all in need of grace.”
Stop saying that “humans fail us, but Jesus doesn’t.”
Stop making excuses for not loving well, not championing human rights well, not being compassionate, or kind. It’s time for you to wake up — and to recognize that my secular friends think of you as the least loving Americans that exist. That you’ve produced more terrorists — white men with guns shooting up schools — than your Muslim brothers you love to fear.
Stop forgiving each other for perpetuating racism and violence and a lack of love. Stop focusing on conversions, and recognize that no one can hear you anymore: because you have no love. No love at all.
I still do not want to interact, but you’ve gotten too big. You’ve elected an abusive president — one who upholds the things that held me down when you were raising me. Those of you who did not vote for him are not in the streets with us, fighting for the rights of refugees and widows and orphans: the ones you said you cared about, but never seemed to want to join me in pursuing lasting solutions for.
You are the evangelical conservative church of America, and I am done being silent about how angry I am with you for how deeply you have disappointed me — and everyone that wanted to believe that a God full of love and grace and forgiveness was too good to be true.
Your reign is over. It’s time for the revival you prayed for when I was a little girl, sitting between my brothers in a sanctuary with blue, speckled carpets.
It’s time for revival — and it’s not happening in your sanctuaries. It’s out here in the streets. And I am going to bring it to your doorstep.