THE PAIN of DISENFRANCHISEMENT
BY: BARBARA SYMONS
Those transitioning out from religious fundamentalism most often experience one painful thing in common – the loss of friendships formed within the system. As it turns out I was somewhat naive when I began my transition out as I thought I could maintain my friendships even though I now held differing beliefs. I put my excited and evolving heart out there repeatedly, and watched in dismay as many friends dismissed themselves from me.
The first 20 years of my life I was raised within evangelical fundamentalism. Then from age 20-30 I was unchurched while I married and had my children. Not until I re-engaged churchianity in our move to the South did schism and division within religion become more evident. Moving to Birmingham, Alabama the first question we were asked is, What church do you belong to? We were sized up immediately and saw that because we were non-church goers (initially) we were not embraced. Only after we joined two different churches did we receive invitations to socialize. Oddly enough we were sized up by both churches – one church was liberal and the other conservative. Our beliefs and voting practices were scrutinized.
Moving to Texas offered much of the same. Relationships formed within our charismatic church seemed strong. For almost a decade we cultivated many friendships and we held leadership positions within our church. Then I began to experience many supernatural episodes outside the normal order of things that were largely frowned upon within fundamentalism. It was then that I began to wonder about the fear and dogma that characterized fundamentalism – I had embraced fear-based theology throughout my life and even taught it during my tenure in leadership. Because of these supernatural events I was spiritually expanding however I was chastised by leadership and people began to talk badly about me to the point of being untruthful.
My foundation shifted rapidly as I experienced disenfranchisement. I could see that as I questioned basic tenets of fundamentalism – heaven, hell, satan etc. that many friendships became unstable. For some, when I questioned fundamentalist dogma it was as if I was personally threatening their own eternal security.
I came to realize that the foundation of my evangelical faith formed within a lifetime of religion was failing. I was no longer subject to the continual threat of hell and separation especially when the relationships that supported those tenets ultimately failed. Fear-based theology was no longer a continuum in my consciousness. I wasn’t afraid of the Jehovic tyrant of the Old Testament anymore but began to embrace the Father that Jesus talked about so lovingly.
I write about these things now in hope that the pain I have suffered over the past 13 years abates. I hope that those within fundamentalism will take a look at their intolerant, divisive behavior and begin to emulate the non judgmental nature of the Savior that they hold in such high esteem. The age of identifying with Old Testament consciousness (fear) is passing.
My editors wrote this of my upcoming book: “These messages are not only timely at this stage of human evolution, but also necessary to help the millions out there who struggle to incorporate outdated and ineffective interpretations of religion in a society that no longer wishes to support fear and judgment within their spiritual practices.”
Jesus offered to us a different way of thinking and behaving. This way is largely ignored by those that claim to follow him; instead, they favor Old Testament practices that reflect the age of fear and law. The time has come to see and understand what it was that Jesus brought to the Earth. It is freedom from duality – knowing and eating from the “tree” (a type of consciousness) that judges between good and evil.
The behavior that has characterized the consciousness of the planet for the last several thousand years has been well suited for this passing age but such practices will not support the age to come. Hence, the need for a “Savior.” Jesus came to loose the bonds that enslave the mind and hearts of the human being to religions; religions that seek to restrict this burgeoning consciousness that bares the nature of the Christ. He said [of the religious systems when they sought to silence and to kill him], “If they do this to me do you not think they will do it to you?”
We are so slammed by doctrines of original sin and that we are sinners that we ignore the edict from Jesus that says, “Be perfect, even as my Father is perfect.” And this perfection does not come from consciousness that self flagellates. It comes from death to the old self, death to the ego that is fear-based and continually judges according to the law. The ego must bear the old nature, much like the donkey bore Jesus – to death. Ah, but resurrection is just around the corner as the ego descends into the ground as master of the physical body but resurrects a servant to the Emanuel, the Christ that is – the being that bears the image of both God and man.
PAIN of DISFRANCISEMENT, THE [Barbara Symons] 1