Let’s Kill the Church!*
(((I am going to try to write this without ranting. I am likely going to fail.)))
Several years ago, I got mixed up with the “wrong people.” People who were on the fringe of my old denomination, who questioned the standard Sunday School answers, who read things from writers who are suspect… Who (mostly) thought like I did. Who felt alone like I did.
These glorious misfits became my tribe. When I fell into the group, we had less than a hundred people. Now, we are well past six hundred, and growing every day. They are the ones I turn to for prayer, the ones I pray for first, and who have been the Scotch tape and bubble gum that has held me together in dark times. We talk about everything from LGBTQ+ inclusion to pacifism to Australian immigration issues to fonts, food, and sports.
And we seem to be the thing the denomination fears more than anything.
They are afraid because they were sure we didn’t exist. Most of us were afraid to speak out because dissent or questions are frowned upon, so we didn’t know that others felt the same way. Now that we know and know of each other, we are less afraid. And when people lose fear, they gain power.
Leadership fears us because power is shifting. It’s a sickeningly patriarchal system, with immense power at the top of the structure, but that was much easier when the people at the bottom on the pyramid were less able to converse. It’s unfolding much like the power shifts during unionization efforts:
– The people at the bottom start talking.
– The people at the bottom want change.
– The people at the top don’t like that the people are talking.
– The people at the top are afraid of losing power, so intimidation and blame begins.
Right now, we are being blamed for driving people away from the church. Because four people have claimed that encounters with our group have influenced their decision to worship elsewhere, we are being blamed for harming the “Bride of Christ.” This is despite the admission from the accusers that those who left were quite possibly scapegoating. This is also despite the scores of people who have chosen to stay, return, or positively reconsider The Salvation Army because of our group. Leadership is “not interested” in discussing the overall impact of the group. They just want it to shut up and go away.
Well, Commissioners Seiler, Colonels Smith, and Colonels Bukiewicz: if we all walk, you are screwed. Off the top of my head, I can think of fifty units of US Central officers who are either members of the group or who agree but stay out because of manipulation and intimidation from insecure superiors. That is a whole division worth of officers. And do you want to even think about the number of employees and soldiers you would lose? That is at least another division worth of people. You would be screwed without us.
The group of people you wish would just shut up and lay down are people who work, sweat, and breathe the mission of loving God and loving others. We are the ones who dig The Salvation Army out of a lot of public relations holes, when we try to convince donors, clients, colleagues, and friends that The Salvation Army isn’t the bigoted mess that people see.
We have been accused of harming the church. While I am only speaking for myself here, I want to be exceedingly, abundantly clear: my mission is not to harm their “church;” my mission is to kill their church.
*I want to kill the church that is tyrannical in its response to diversity.
I want to kill the church that is abusive to its clergy and lay people.
I want to kill the church that is unwelcoming to the oppressed.
I want to kill the church that raises money in the name of social services and spends it on itself.
I want to kill the church that has taken over what can be a great organization only to replace it with a Republican regurgitation machine.
I don’t want to kill The Salvation Army. I still believe that many people within it are wonderful people, and its mission is respectable. However, I don’t hesitate to say that I am quite serious about killing the false church that has poisoned it.
Perhaps then a church that is not characterized by exclusion, monotony, secrecy, and intimidation will take its place, and the US Central Territory will actually look like the kingdom of God. A church focused on listening to and loving people won’t have to spend innumerable resources trying to sustain itself.
Until that day comes, I will continue to do my best to kill the church* by loving those it has pushed and kicked out of its doors. After all, that seems like a Jesus-y thing to do.