Guest Post: The Unchurched Believer
by Nikki Now
I love the Lord...it's Christians I hate!
Church in my early years was a place of love, safety, and community. I grew up Black in a small rural North Carolina community during Jim Crow. The Black church of that time was where everyone was equal and in their own majority. We were taught that Jesus loved us just as much as he loved the White people. The overt misogyny of the current fundamentalist strain of Christian was not present in our little church.
Necessarily the church functioned like the extension of Black families of that time. There was a cultural equality. Women AND men worked, parented, and co-equally contributed to the functioning of the family. Women and men held co-equal positions in the church. I remember the teachings and preachings mostly being about love and ENDURANCE for a better day.
Our community was very small and overt activism could equal death, but we still found a way to contribute. We held prayer vigils and raised money for things like sponsoring someone to the March on Washington or to get some Civil Rights "person" out of jail. I share this as a foundation to my journey.
Having that foundation as I grew I continued to connect myself with churches. The final straw was the Prosperity-Personal-Responsibility-Movement. Oh, yea, I was THERE. I would even volunteer yearly at the nearest Joyce Meyer conference. I listened to tapes and was so fully absorbed in "faith" I wasn't much earthly good. I gave "religiously" and all the while noticing that those to whom I was giving were having GREAT lives and I was still struggling.
After a heart attack I left my mentally and verbally abusive husband and I reached out to another one of those "prosperity preachers" whose name fits what he does ($). The response was that "words can't hurt you. Remember your role as wife." MEANWHILE my physician and cardio-therapist were saying I needed to end the stress in my life. I followed my Dr.'s orders.
After that time I have had to come to grips with what did and did not work about my faith and religious practices. I first understand that faith and religion are two different constructs. What I choose to believe has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I do it from a building or manifest the principles in my day to day life. I CHOOSE to live the teachings of Jesus and at this time in my life, don't find it necessary to do it with the organization or permission of anyone else.
Nikki Now can be found online here.