From Mr Chris
Sir, - I call myself a
survivor of an abusive Evangelicalism. Although I am still far from
returning to any form of formal faith, I do live in hope. As I read
my Bible, I am attracted by the Jesus I read of; yet I am afraid of
succumbing again to the sort of almost fascistic, abusing power
system that I have managed to throw off.
A heady mixture of powerful
rhetoric, emotionally charged gatherings of the faithful, and
extreme use of peer pressure held me for about 25 years, from the
late 1960s, in this system. One book about abusive Christianity,
Ungodly Fear by Stephen Parsons (Lion, 2000),
helped me to understand what had happened to me. It also allowed me
to have a new critical perspective on the teachings that I had
absorbed while still a member of the Church.
This year, I found myself
unexpectedly at Spring Harvest with my wife, who is still a
practising Christian. To say that it was a shock to the system
would be an understatement. The first thing I noticed was the
thundering music that seemed to dominate every session of worship.
An entire industry has grown up adapting the pop music of previous
decades and adding Christian lyrics. I would describe this music as
possessing an addictive quality. I wondered whether worship would
even take place, if the electricity failed and the guitars were
silenced. I found no understanding of stillness, silence, and a
chance to encounter any kind of peace. Is this kind of music really
the only way to engage the young of today?
The second thing that I
noticed was the constant emphasis, in what was being taught, on
joy, triumph, and victory. From my perspective as a survivor of
abusive Christianity, there was very little to engage me. A
constant failure even to speak of the poverty, pain, and suffering
in which many people live is a massive turn-off.
All that people who live,
day by day, in deprived situations can take away from such
triumphalist events is an extra burden of guilt and failure. They
have not had their situation heard, let alone addressed, and so
they leave with an increased awareness of their exclusion. Such
Christian events can be extremely damaging to people like me.
I thought that I would use
the time at Spring Harvest to ask people about my concerns. Imagine
my surprise when I could not find anyone who was even vaguely
familiar with such questions. It seems that many involved with this
type of activity still refuse to respond to logical argument.
I would welcome comment from
anyone who is concerned about these issues. They are welcome to
contact me at email@example.com.
102 Turner Road
Colchester CO4 5JT