The Problem with Christianity…Is the Church

Three years ago my second novel (pictured above) was published. It took a deep dive into the problem leading to the decline of Christianity in the US, which is: the institutional church. For those ‘in the know’, this is trite, but true. Of the many things we were never taught in seminary, we were first and foremost never taught that the church itself would be our greatest problem or antagonist. Atheists and agnostics generally ignore organised religion. But it is the church’s own adherents who both give Christianity a bad name and ministers a hard time: particularly IF one entered ministry with the idea that speaking the truth, behaving honestly and addressing society’s ills were essential parts of one’s calling.

However, for those who are happy to turn a blind eye to society’s failings–homelessness, gun worship, sexism, racism, etc–then one can enjoy a fairly good living; or, if one is totally without scruples, one can amass enormous wealth. All one has to do is suck up to the monied people in one’s congregation, glad-hand the others, massage everyone’s frontal lobes with bland sermons and there you have it! All God’s children got shoes.

Let me share a non-exhaustive list of things I have personally encountered within the church over the forty years I served: child abuse in a church’s daycare centre, embezzlement of church funds well into 6 figures, defrauding state social services–all three of these were ignored by those in higher authority. After blowing the whistle on the aforementioned activities, I received death threats and abusive phone calls, and the denominational authorities tried to implicate me in the very things I reported to the police. Our family had to go into hiding. We lost our income, home and health insurance. The institutional church wiped its hands of me and went about its business of not taking Jesus and his teachings too seriously, as it’s too damned inconvenient.

How about personal issues? The Sunday morning after my first child was born, I arrived at the service to announce the birth of my daughter and the name she had been given: Jessica. I was immediately cuffed by a thoughtless individual who told me why she hated the name my wife and I had chosen. So much for one of the happiest days of my life. (The same happened again after our second child was born…at least they were consistent.) When my daughter was two, a parishoner rang late one afternoon and said she needed to see me urgently. I replied that I was preparing a meal for my daughter and that my wife wasn’t home. No joy. She still had to see me right away. I replied I would come, but would have to bring Jessica with me. “Must you?” came the petulant reply. I then had to explain why leaving a two-year-old alone was not a good idea. As my children grew, they had the fun of having people come to the house to complain to me, one of whom used to erupt into a rage of screaming and shouting. (They will know we are Christians by our love…eh?)

Of course, my experiences pale when viewed in the light of the Roman Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals and when compared to America’s love-affair with the gospel of prosperity as propounded by TV evangelists. But, hey, they are my experiences and I have had to learn how to both cope and forget. Attitude really is everything. We really do have choices as to how we respond. And thus, while it might puzzle or surprise some of you, I remain a Christian…of sorts; or perhaps I should say, I remain a Christ-follower. I am not responsible for the ills done to me and my family–thank God. My spirituality has deepened since leaving the institutional church. My wife and I now attend a Christian “fellowship”, we practise contemplative prayer, and we continue to live out our values in our dealings with others–ironically, something I found so hard to do in the instutional church.

3 thoughts on “The Problem with Christianity…Is the Church

  1. Oh Jacko, so true. What we have in Condé is just so special, uou and Chris have helped to make that so. I would love my daughter to read your posts, perhaps you could tell me how to do that.
    I feel closer to Jesus since we found Condé.
    All my love


  2. Jack:
    Thanks for posting – I continue to enjoy your writings. I’ve often felt that the more “organized” an effort becomes, the easier it is for mass corruption to occur (as you describe in this blog post). This applies to business, government, and religion. I look forward to your next blog.
    Mark Mitchell

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Jack: the reality is so unbearable! Do continue to let us know your thoughts as they help us to cope with our little world.
    Le Os de M

    Liked by 1 person

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