Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Adieu, Lexus

Some of you might remember Lexus from my kickass Bible study group.

She decided to leave the church because "politics doesn't belong in the church, and some here only preach love, tolerance, and acceptance to people who vote the way they think is right. Just because I don't share your environmental and social beliefs - I drive an SUV - " etc. etc. She left with an inflammatory email to the minister, clerk of session, and bible study leader, in which she admitted that no one "from the pulpit" or from our study group made any comments to her, but "others" did.

It's ironic, because at several points last year, I was considering leaving the bible study group because of her. I thought very seriously about asking the group leader to have a talk with her about keeping politics out of the group. Her opinions about poor people and abused women (they brought it on themselves) were more than I could bear silently.

In the end, I never said anything to the group leader (though I did speak up for the poor and abused women). And she left anyway, for a church where they wouldn't tell her how she should vote and what she should believe. Yes, she joined a local Roman Catholic congregation. So, I guess what she wanted wasn't a place where they wouldn't tell her how to vote, but rather a place that told her that she had to vote the way she already wanted to.

I have mixed feelings about her leaving. I'm glad she's gone because I think she was a bit of a toxic presence. But she was also a very active member of the church, who contributed a lot of good, and I'm sorry that she's gone too. I'm sorry that she never knew how she herself was contributing to the "political" atmosphere she decried, but glad that I never had an angry confrontation with her. A few days later, my strongest concern is that we'll bend over backwards over-compensating.

One conservative says that we're too liberal and judgmental, and no matter how far that might be from the truth in this particular case, we'll all try so hard to pretend that we're not - gasp! - liberal that, well, we just won't be. And that's too bad.

Because my liberal beliefs and my Christian beliefs are inextricably entwined. They are one and the same to me. And I couldn't belong to a church that didn't share my liberal beliefs. You know the ones:

The beliefs that really do preach acceptance of everyone. The ones that tell us not to be so quick to judge, to encourage compassion and empathy in our hearts and minds. The ones that tell us that our world is a gift to be treasured, not plundered and destroyed.

I try to be a liberal. And in this case I might succeed. Lexus, I hope you really do find what you're looking for.


Sarahlynn said...

I just want to clarify that my church takes no official or unofficial position for or against a candidate in an election. I've never heard a minister so much has *hint* who she or he thought I should vote for, from the pulpit or in any other professional capacity. (My father, some uncles, and a few friends are ministers, so of course I know their personal politics.)

For example, "If you vote for a pro-choice politician, you'll go to hell," is something you'd never hear at my church. Or the opposite injunction.

Lexus had a run-in with some environmentalists at church. I can guess who. Apparently they hurt her, and that's unfortunate. Wrong, even. The election last fall was a hard one. Emotions ran so high, many of us said things that we shouldn't have. It's unfortunate that such an exchange led to someone leaving the church.

All this is not to say that the church has no political involvement. But rather than suggesting to members how to vote on hot-button issues, the PCUSA is far more likely to, say, organize a (successful!) boycott of a company with problematic business practices.

PPB said...

Ya know, there are a bunch of lexus's out there. They create a fuss, leave one church, move to another, rinse, lather, repeat.

It's an attention getting device.

Instead of worrying about your politics, I'd just feel sorry for her and pray for her. She really, really wants attention, and has found one way to get it.