It’s hard to fathom, sometimes, the depth of hate in the hearts of people who claim to be so loving.
And then you realize that really their faith is centered not on the love of God, but the hatred of God. It’s like the religion of Fred Phelps. Except they dress it up with hip hoodies and jeans, some sweet pop worship music, and lovely graphic design. They hide their unaffirming policies deep deep down in their websites (if they list them at all).
Until you get them pissed. Then they come out swinging. They pull verses about God’s wrath out of all sorts of places. They tell you to repent. They call you a heretic and a blasphemer and say Satan has a hold on you.
Then they get even darker: They say they hope God kills you faster so that you get to Hell sooner. They tell you you are dangling by a thread over a fiery Hell and it’s only the love of God that keeps that same God from just tossing you in, but if you don’t get your act together God’s gonna drop you. They tell you that God hates sin and can’t even look at you. They tell you Jesus died for your sins but you clearly don’t believe because if you did you wouldn’t be gay and since you don’t believe God is sending you to Hell. They look at the verse that says nothing will separate us from the love of God and say that verse is only for Christians, and you’re not a Christian.
They will rage and rage and rage and find new and creative ways to tell you that you are damned for all eternity.
Which, fine, if that’s what their theology teaches it makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense? The absolute glee with which they say all of these things.
You can read it in every line, they are thrilled that God is sending you to Hell. They are thrilled to be the ones telling you. It doesn’t grieve them. They aren’t revealing an unfortunate truth to you. They are gloating that you are fucked forever and they aren’t.
And it’s no surprise that the people who believe like this are also the people who vote the way they do. Vote to kick out immigrants and not have health care for all. Vote for queer folks to not be able to get married and women not to have any control over their bodies. They vote for less help for the most in need.
Because the bottom line for them isn’t really about love, it’s about who’s out and who’s in. And they are in and you are out. And that knowledge gives them not only a sense of safety but also a sense of superiority. They like the fact that you are out and they are in. They like the fact that they are safe and can coast.
Except, as someone who grew up in that world, that safety feels really razor thin. You are always worried that you’re going to lose it and be condemned. And so I wonder if some of the vitriol comes from people who feel like they can only stay safe if everyone else is condemned. They constantly pump themselves up by telling others how close they are to hell. They are in the clear because at least they are not like those people usually meaning the sluts and the gays).
So this kind of toxic theology agrees with misogyny, white supremacy, cis supremacy, and all bad things. Some are in, others are out, and we just need to do our best to make sure that we are the ones who are in. But what if the real message of the Gospel is that everyone is in? No matter what, everyone is in. And we have to figure out a way to make that work? That, to me, seems much more beautiful (and also difficult) than anything the evangelicals are currently preaching.
How do we make a world where everyone has what they need? Where there are no outsiders? Where our own self worth doesn’t derive from condemning people not like us to an eternal hell? How do we create rituals and worships experiences and religious meaning that doesn’t depend on outsiders and insiders? How do we cultivate compassion and empathy? And most of all how do we banish thoughts of scarcity and instead focus on abundance, knowing that that’s the way forward?