The churches written about in these pages are not fringe organizations. They do not operate on the edge of what’s deemed acceptable in contemporary Western Christianity. The denominations they represent are not widely regarded as cults. On the contrary, these churches are all too often the image of mainstream Christian practice. Abuse, manipulation, and a culture of shame run rampant through them just the same, covered over with language about family values, submission to God, and changing the world. I don’t believe that all Christian denominations and individuals are brainwashed crackpots trying to force a psychologically damaging, socially-regressive theology on the world. And, for the most part, I believe that those who are are trying to do what they genuinely feel is right. But I’m done holding my tongue and looking the other way while they do it.
Most of the churches written about in this blog fall under one of three denominations:
Assemblies of God. I attended an AG church from ages 20-24 because of familial pressure. Assemblies of God churches oppose a uterus-owner’s right to choose, dancing, feminism, gay relationships, non-heteronormativity/acceptance of queer identities, close personal friendships between people of different genders, meditation, “extreme” conservation efforts, non-Christian counselors and therapists, divorcing an abusive partner, “sinful” media and the “unwholesome” behavior of non-Christians partaking in it, face and body piercing, coexisting with other religions, and assisted suicide. They support regular church attendance, dispensationalist end times theology, gender hierarchy in families, exercising caution with regard to Halloween, border control (ironically, this is their only page written in both English and Spanish), speaking on political issues without losing their tax-exempt status, assisting some of the poor (and then only the most impoverished), cheerfully giving 10% of one’s income “to God” (i.e. the Church), and loyalty to the government (when it suits their purposes).
Grace Brethren. I was raised in this denomination and attended a GB church from early childhood until I was 20. Grace Brethren churches oppose a uterus-owner’s right to choose, artificial insemination and other fertility treatments, gay marriage/civil unions, “persecution” of anti-gay people and organizations, prohibitions of hate speech, and education about queer issues in public schools, dancing, feminism, and drinking alcohol. They support the “right” to exercise discrimination with regard to church membership, the “right” to act as unlicensed family and personal counselors without fear of reprisal from those who receive damaging or manipulative counseling, the “right” to impose their personal values on others (even so far as to influence public policy), maintaining exclusive control of religious freedom, gender hierarchy in families and in church leadership, the “right” to operate their churches independently without having to answer to anyone, evangelism techniques that include Westernization of church plants in other cultures.
Southern Baptist Convention. Most of my immediate family currently attend a Southern Baptist church. Southern Baptist churches oppose a uterus-owner’s right to choose, gay relationships, disciplining wayward pastors unless their offense is “affirming, approving, or endorsing homosexuality”, the Westboro Baptist Church’s methods but not their message, They support gender hierarchy in church leadership, studying communism like medical experts study cancer, carefully monitoring Disney to ensure the promotion of traditional family values to ‘Merica’s children, planting conservative Christian teachers in the public school system to counteract any curricula promoting humanism/tolerance/knowledge of queer issues.