#ChurchHurt hurts more than just the person who is hurting. No one just decides to leave The Church on a whim. It’s not a 5-second decision. In many respects, you are walking away from your cherished life rituals and potentially even your family and friends.
Whether your family and friends are die-hard members or only-on-special-occasion parishioners doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’ll be separated by practice, routine, and potentially even by the interpersonal conflict your withdrawal may cause.
In one corner, you have the “The Church is never wrong, you are the problem” sect. They need to hang on to their belief that everything is good and right as it is. In the opposite corner, you’ll find the #ChurchHurt crowd pointing fingers and crying out their pain. While in the third – and arguably the middle corner – you’ll find those who “don’t want to take sides”.
Ironically, by not standing up for either camp, the third corner folks are automatically believed to be in the opposing party. #CantWinForLosing
Who was hurt in this instance?
#ChurchHurt vs Scientology’s Suppressive Person
Scientology may be chided and derided for disconnection, most often related to anyone labeled a Suppressive Person but is being #ChurchHurt any different?
The Wikipedia definition for Suppressive Person reads as follows:
One of the reasons Scientology doctrines portray Suppressive Persons as such a danger is that they are supposed to make people around them become Potential Trouble Sources (abbreviated PTS). Scientology defines a PTS as “a person who is in some way connected to and being adversely affected by a suppressive person. Such a person is called a potential trouble source because he can be a lot of trouble to himself and to others.”Wikipedia
In the Catholic Church, we can argue that anyone who reports or even simply seeks counseling for wrongdoing or hurtful actions by clergy, administration, or well-positioned parishioners could be viewed as suppressive.
- You are 23, pregnant, and broke up with your fiance. You want to keep your baby but you are scared and alone so you seek guidance from your Priest. He repeatedly tells you to place your unborn child up for adoption because his friends have been struggling to conceive or adopt. He angrily refers you to Catholic Social Services for counseling because you won’t just give up your baby and “go back to school and have fun”.
- Your pastor refuses to open the church’s moral and spiritual support to you during your time of spiritual struggle. You’ve reported a local child predator but his legal and community connections have made you the bad guy. The child predator is within the geographical area of the church.
- Your community’s wealthy members are honored for donating with their names on buildings, in religious books, and even clothing (like head coverings, shawls, or alter coverings). Meanwhile, there is an anonymous but faithful and much less well-to-do congregant who busts her knuckles day in and day out to help keep the building clean. Is a throwaway donation from the multi-millionaire worth more than the physical sacrifices of the less fortunate?
[We won’t even touch on the ridiculous bribe math of donation-minus-the-cost-of-honoring.]
My #ChurchHurt Story
After leaving the Church for a few years, I decided to go back. Time had passed. I had grown more as a person and I wanted a community for my children. In a private conversation, my new deacon asked me why I’d left the Church. I stated the above.
The Deacon’s face went from passive to apoplectic before I’d even finished my story. His light-skinned face turned so red it bordered on purple. The veins on his nose resembled that of an alcoholic who’d just gone on a ragey bender (aka “bad drunk”). His voice gave Voldemort a run for his money.
Nowhere in my tale was an insult hurled. At no point did I raise my voice. Time had passed, I was now able to speak unemotionally about what had hurt me so badly before. I didn’t even speak my truth until after I was asked – in a private, one-on-one meeting – why I had left and why I sought to return.
In other words, I hadn’t talked to anyone at my new congregation about it. Until this Deacon asked.
#ChurchHurt Broke Me
The hardest part of all those experiences isn’t the initial pain. It’s the lingering effect. The continual search for meaning in what happened and continued to happen.
- Would a good, loving God really side with those who defend and protect child predators just because you admitted you were struggling with your faith?
- Would a good, loving God condemn you for not doing something the way you should even though you were trying to figure out what that way is?
- Would a good, loving God really bless those who abused their power and punish those who were ‘other’ even though they did good?
On top of all the previous indignities, ‘faithful’ and ‘respectable’ MARRIED and divorced men in my spiritual circles lashed out when I wouldn’t give in to them.
“You placed your ex-husband on a pedestal.”
“Call me when you want to talk about adult things that don’t involve your kids.”
Those are some of the nicer comments.
My divorce was pretty fresh and my kids are most of my life. They knew this. Some friends, huh?
Meanwhile, some of the greatest allies, friends, and co-workers I’ve had fall square into the gay or Pagan communities.
Which side should get The Stick of GOD, GOD, God?
(You know that had to echo.)
From #ChurchHurt To Spiritual Humanism
Although I was raised in the Catholic Church, my spiritual path has led me to explore other, more potentially welcoming religions. My son – the one I was being pressured to give away – was baptized Baptist in a Baptist church. Then came an exploration of paths like Scientology (great personal development tools at first), Buddism, Wicca, Druidism, and Curanderismo-lite.
By contrast, Brujeria is considered the darker spiritual practice wherein you use magick to impose your will upon others. “Dark magick.”
Then came Judaism.
Originally, I set out to be more like Jesus. Jesus was a Jew. Therefore the logical thing to do was to research Judaism. Except I still believed in Jesus. Messianic Judaism seemed like it was perfect. In most things, it was just like the Christianity I’d grown up with. Except it was always being attacked.
What was the ‘right’ Jewish path then?
It turns out, there is no one right path. The more popular versions include Messianic, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Ultra-Orthodox. A Rabbi’s outburst about being “Rabbinic Jews not Biblical Jews” led me to discover Karaite Judaism. A back-to-basics sect dedicated to following the literal interpretation of the Bible/Tanakh. (Loved that but my Hebrew isn’t good enough to follow along well.)
Not only was my Hebrew lacking, so was a Jewish community. It’s not easy being a convert. Even IF you can find the right entity to process your conversion.
Queue the sad music and ugly cry emoji because it was breakdown time.
For several years now, I – like so many others – have claimed to be spiritual but not religious. I wasn’t sure quite how to word it and I certainly didn’t know it was an actual thing.
Hello, Spiritual Humanity.
Spiritual Humanity is a path that honors you and your religious past while emphasizing the need for personal growth. It’s not about perfection within the dictates of dogma or tradition. It’s not about what specific culture, nationality, or skin color your ancestors blessed you with. It’s about our individual and collective perfectly imperfect humanity. The Golden Rule. Live and let live. Don’t deliberately hurt, embarrass, or steal from others.
Less communal judgment, more cooperative development. Something our hurting societies need so badly right now.
Wishing you much peace, happiness, and success,
Pearl 'Penny' Lane-Soliz
P.S. If you have any questions about any of my programs or services, or if you feel that I can ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.