Another One Leaves the Fold: "Diary of a Beleaver"

This new Blog contains "The post-faith musings of a former Christian College professor and writer for Christianity Today. One of the most interesting Blog posts so far is this one:
Though the catalyst of my atheism was manifest as the result of more recent personal revelations—the casuistry of “Christian” ministries, the inane and incessant behavioral and financial manipulation of the Church, and the absolute irrationality of so-called holy books—as I think back on my life, I realize that my present epiphany began long before I decided that god had nothing to do with any of that.

In 1988, my family moved to Topeka, Kansas, home of the deplorable Fred Phelps and his insipid Westboro Baptist Church. Topeka was a small place (about 110,000 at the time) and multiple times each week I would see Fred and his followers out with their signs, announcing to the world who was a fag, who was a dead fag, who was a fag-enabler and who was simply sinful enough to go to hell with all of the aforementioned fags. They would chant, sing and yell, spreading their hate to all that didn’t believe exactly as they did.

As a child I grew up in Christian home, (my father was a pastor, if you must know) and it always pained me to compare myself (and our church) to the incorrigible Phelps’. We claimed to hold the Bible to be the infallible word of god, they did too. We thought that homosexuality was a sinful abomination, they did too. We believed that those who disagreed with us were headed to eternal torment in hell, they did too. We were certain that all who repented of their egregious offenses against god could be saved and offered eternal life, they did too. Though it seemed that we believed the exact same things, I knew I wasn’t like them, that I couldn’t hate and prejudge as they did; yet when I looked at the doctrine I subscribed to, I was simply less vocal.

Though they may not be as outspoken, all people that believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible as the inspired and inerrant word of god are the Phelps’ of this world. Keeping your mouth shut while believing the same things doesn’t make you better, only a coward unwilling to declare a side in the debate over human decency.

I realized this in my youth, distancing myself from the predominant Evangelical stance on homosexuality, not knowing that, though still in my childhood, I was distancing myself from the oppression of hegemonic Bible-believing Christianity. I knew that I was not like them because deep down, I didn’t believe as they did. I didn’t care enough about an old book to joyfully destroy the lives of those around me, and then congratulate myself for my divinely inspired accomplishment.

People are so much more sacred than my hubris.

At the end of the day, you’re a Phelps or you’re not. You believe the Bible or you don’t. Lack of expression is not an acceptable cloak for tolerance, because you either believe everyone differing from you is destined for hell, or you don’t. You either believe that you are making this world a better place for everyone, or that you are making the next world a better place for your friends. Whether you end up picking the altruists or the elitists is up to you.

All this to say, belief necessitates an extreme; it’s either true or it isn’t. Once one sees the full measure of their belief system expressed, one must fully accept or reject the holistic nature of said system.

God either hates gays or he doesn’t, there is no middle ground.

Such is the lesson I learned as a child, and such is the choice that all persons of faith have to make; for there is no limbo in which to stand.~AB