Once upon a time, when Allergywoman was in high school, she got mail from a socialist magazine and the idiots at the Christian Coalition at the same time. The funny thing was that her politics were more aligned with the socialist magazine, but her theology was more in line with the Christian Coalition.
Now, you may not believe this is possible. Well, those of you who are on the Left and have never been involved with the Evangelicals in this country might not...other than Bill Moyers. (I can only dream he'd read my blog!) Those of you I keep getting warned about as being programmed by the Right to do its bidding might understand, or might just yell at me. I don't know. I've never understood the political Right in this country.
I was raised by two '60s era liberal feminists, first off. We always talked politics in my family, and we still talk about it, though in a sadder tone these days. In fact, I and my mom still remember back to the dark, dark days before the 1980 election, when I was seven, and my family was discussing the upcoming vote. I remember chiming in, "I'm going to vote for John B. Anderson." (The "B" was very important for some reason. Maybe because he was the "B" side?) My mother said something about me not being able to vote, and I said, "But Mom, women can vote now."
(Note to any seven year olds reading this blog with your parents: Sorry, this one doesn't work.)
So anyway, I largely grew up with political disappointment, getting sicker as conservative Republican after Republican was voted into office.
As for my religious upbringing? Um, well, I remember a little before I was five years old being very bored by church services. I also remember being really startled by a friend of mine telling me that after we die, we live again, because I thought dead meant dead and I didn't see how she could be right. From about age five to age eleven, I'd say I was a de facto agnostic. I mean, we sang Christmas carols at home, but I didn't understand the theology any more than I understood the silliness in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe about Aslan "having" to die. We started attending a Unitarian Universalist church when I was eleven, and I largely became an atheist because I was being abused at school by so-called Christians.
But of course (see the title of this blog?) that didn't last. I got into the habit of just dismissing and making fun of anything Christians believed without really considering or reading it. Of course, one day when I read a tract intending to make fun of it, instead it made a lot of sense and I became a theologically conservative Christian.
Now, I saw no reason to change my political or social beliefs. In fact, I'd imagine that a lot of you on here agree. After all, despite its shortcomings (oh yes, we'll get to those), the Bible in general (and the New Testament writings attributed to Jesus in particular) has a great emphasis on giving to anc caring for the poor. And of course, as we all know, the Republicans now and then, back in the dark ages of 1986 when I converted, believe in giving to the rich "and swindling the poor."* As I hadn't been indoctrinated into believing that working to make abortion illegal was somehow giving to the poor, I didn't change political ideologies.
I have talked to some conservative Christians about this, too. Try reading their indoctrination materials...er, I mean tracts. None of them mention the need to vote for Republican idiots. All they say is that you need to believe that God is great, humanity screws up, Jesus clears the way to God once you realize this, and you need to accept him. They blather about it being part of "living out your faith," of course, but there is nothing to show that anyone needs to betray Jesus by voting for the party of, by, and for the rich in their evangelism. So they shouldn't be surprised when we don't.
In fact, even though I read a lot of conservative Christian propaganda, I did think it was wrong when it came to politics. I knew, for example, that I carried my Bible to school and that it wasn't illegal. I knew I could pray any time during the school day and that the school shouldn't force prayers on me, and I was grateful for that First Amendment protection. And (sorry, Hal Lindsey) I knew that the world hadn't ended in 1980, even though some people really, really wanted it to.
Boy, did I get an eye-opener when I went to college, though. Not only did the Young Democrats think I was in the wrong place (honest, they did), but I got a lot of subtle messages from my friends in the conservative Christian community that yes, it was a conservative community. Now, I'd been doing this largely on my own in high school. I did go to the closest church to me, the ELCA Lutherans about a block and a half away, on Sundays sometimes. I did date s conservative Christian for a little, and he took me to his church a few times. But really, it was just me, God, and the books I read.
I didn't know before I went to college that some people in the Evangelical commnity really only wanted to interact with other Christians, "because what's the point of being friends with someone you won't see in Heaven?" I didn't know the conspiracy theories that ran rampant, from "The Illuminati run everything!" to "You can't accept evolutionary science" to "Pray in babbles that aren't languages!"
Oh, and don't question your leaders. But if you do, and they ask you for a meeting, bring friends and leave when they attack you. They will.
Oh, and push your religious beliefs onto other people, whether they want to hear it or not. I always thought that was kind of rude, and as an introverted and shy person anyway, I hated having that kind of stuff pushed on me. But some Evangelical Christians really believe they have to, and they believe something's wrong with you if you don't.
The long and the short of it is, after four years of interacting with Christian groups at college, I'd had it. I didn't like their assumptions politically, I didn't like the way they treated those who occasionally screw up (aka everyone), and I didn't like the assumption that the leaders of their community were not to be questioned. So I returned to my more solitary practice of my Christianity, and that probably saved a few years before my eventual deconversion.
The problem was, though, that I'd also made non-Christian friends. Many
of those friends were good people. They also had hard questions about the Bible and Christian theology. So my beliefs began changing, even though I would have told you at the time that they hadn't. I believed, for example, that the Old Testament in particular often reflected "the best that God could get" out of the backward barbarians who believed forcing a woman to marry her rapist was a good idea.
I also began to believe, contrary to the usual Evangelical presumption, that non-Christians were not intentionally rejecting God and his truth, but they honestly believed other things were true. I didn't reject the idea of hell, not yet, but I couldn't believe, either, that the God I knew from those past years would reject someone for honestly believing that something else was true.
But the straw that broke the back of my Evangelical belief was, simply this: I couldn't believe that God would let Adam and Eve fall. Remember, I believed this was literally how sin entered the world, and without sin, there was no need for Jesus. I also believed that God loved his creation. So if God really loved his creation, he would have protected them from evil spirits tempting them to fall. And I believed he did.
The funny thing was that even with this, I didn't want to give up being a Christian. I'd spent thirteen years now, maybe a little more, invested in having my identity be a Christian one (and no, not in the racist sense either). I was afraid I'd lose who I was if I deconverted. But being at least somewhat intellectually honest, I couldn't let myself remain a Christian just because I liked the Christmas story and enjoyed wearing the jewelry I'd built up. So I forced myself out of Christianity.
Unlike most ex-Evangelicals I've met on-line, I didn't give up God, though. I still believed in and felt God in my life. I just looked for a different and better way to live out my belief, and ended up in the more modern version of Paganism.
And that's how you can be a socialist Evangelical, or at least on the political left wing. If you want to read another person's experience with being on the Left and an Evangelical, I recommend Tony Campolo's Is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat? Thanks for watching; we'll see you next time.
*Scrooge McDuck, Mickey's Christmas Carol.