Epilogue

Let me be very clear, this is not a manifesto against organized religion, church, Christianity, its various denominations, etc. This is about a singular event, the repercussions it has had on me and my family, and the fact that bullying can come from just about anywhere.

If you are unfamiliar with this blog or need a refresher, I encourage you to go back and read this post, My Son Is Gay.

So here we go. These are the facts that lead up to this rant:

  1. My son Boo goes to a church preschool, and the class goes to chapel 3 days a week. We adore his school, teachers, and director. This school is amazing, loving, and supportive.
  2. My family belongs to this church, but we are not Sunday morning attendees. My kids go to vacation bible school there, and I help when needed. We participate in various events that the church holds and/or sponsors
  3. I am the head of a mothers’ group at the church and am the only member of the congregation that belongs to it. We do a lot of community service in the name of the church.
  4. In the post that went viral, I did not name the mothers, the school, the pastor, the church, or even the denomination. I don’t plan to. That is not the point of these posts.
  5. I have told the truth, though no one at the church has asked me to recount the events.

Here’s the timeline of events involving the church:

10/29/10 Halloween party at preschool
11/02/10 Published blog post.
11/04/10 Blog picked up by national and international print, broadcast, and digital outlets. Goes viral
11/05/10 Call from Pastor at church
11/06/10 Pastor met with Elders from church to discuss my “spiritual care” and decided I had broken 8th Commandment by bearing false witness
11/08/10 Text from Pastor while we were in NYC for Today Show
11/09/10 Call from Pastor to schedule a meeting
11/10/10 Meeting in Pastor’s office, Squirt, my youngest, was present
2.5-month window with little to no contact
01/26/11 2nd and final meeting in Pastor’s office

My blog post was calling out the actions of a few people that said some unkind things in front of my son. I asked for love and tolerance. Was I angry? Yes.  I feel I had a right to be. Did I bear false witness? No. I spoke out against bullying. Now I am getting bullied from church.

The first time Pastor contacted me was a few days after the Halloween post. He wanted to discuss my “spiritual care.” It was immediately clear that I was being viewed as having done something very wrong. Our initial conversation was me being called  “defensive,”  “vindictive,”  “disrespectful,” “prideful,” and told that I “crossed a line.” I was told I needed to do penance. I was not asked about how Boo was doing.

The second discussion was a face-to-face meeting during which Squirt was present. I was handed a printout of the church’s response. There had been a meeting with some Elders, and they decided I’d broken the 8th Commandment and not followed Matthew 18. I was told that some members were worried that I was “promoting gayness.” I don’t even know what that means. The words I had written were not promoting anything other than unconditional love and tolerance. My post was about bullying and how my son was treated. My post was about a 5-year-old child. Pastor said he “tried to be mad at me, but couldn’t.” I didn’t and don’t understand why he would want to be mad at me. Again, Boo’s well-being was not mentioned.

More than 2 months later, I was called in for another meeting. Upon arriving, he started talking about my need to apologize to the women I had slandered. He read aloud to me from a brochure on Peacemaking, underscoring the fact that I needed to apologize. I disagreed. I reminded him that the only mention of ABC I have made since that Halloween post was saying that I didn’t harbor ill will towards them and that moment should not define their lives.

For an hour and a half he spoke to me as if this was my fault, that I had misconstrued what was said that morning in front of my son, that I “had taken offense where none was intended.” I told him that the comments those mothers made that morning were judgmental and offensive. He continued to accuse me of libel and slander, told me I didn’t have a “free ride to talk about others,” and that I needed to apologize and reconcile.

I was offered 4 steps to restore my relationships with Moms ABC:

  1. Write Moms ABC an apology with an example of how to word it.
  2. Take down the Halloween post.
  3. No longer write or speak of these women regarding my “accusations.”
  4. Consider taking the entire blog down.

 

When I asked what happens if I couldn’t do those things I was handed a final page that had already been prepared regarding my unwillingness to repent and what the ramifications of that would be. My punishment was to be disallowed from receiving Communion, and if I were to continue to not seek forgiveness, I may be removed from the congregation and not be able to transfer to another church in our denomination in good standing (which feels like the harshest punishment a modern-day pastor can dole out.). It felt like an ultimatum. I pointed out the hypocrisy of the entire conversation, mentioned that Boo had been forgotten in all of this, said the meeting was over, and walked out.

I did call someone higher up in the church a couple of days later to ask what the process is if you have an issue with your pastor. A few hours after that call, I received an email from Pastor saying he reconsidered the withholding of Communion and that the final handout was not meant as an ultimatum. The man I’d spoken to on the phone was carbon copied.

I responded on Monday 01/31/11. Much of this post came from that letter. I haven’t heard from them since.

I cannot tell you the betrayal I feel.  The church, or at the very least Pastor is trying to bully me into shutting up, and I find that so disheartening. I am floored by the fact that they’ve gone to so much trouble regarding a post that discusses love and tolerance that was posted 3 months ago.  I am shocked that they do not see the hypocrisy of what they are saying to me. I am in complete disbelief that this has been handled in the way it has. I have never felt less welcome in a church.

This is not the church that I grew up in. This is not the God that I know.

And again I say to you that bullying is not okay, even if you wrap it in a bow and call it ‘spiritual care.’

About Sarah

Follow me on twitter for more @NerdyApple

1,277 Responses to Epilogue

  1. Jesse February 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    And what is all of this teaching the children of that church?

    Sending you strength, not that I think you need it, but just in case.

  2. Cliff Tyllick February 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    On the charges of libel and slander: Can they find one person — even one! — who knows these women and thinks less of them for what you have said?

    If not, then you have not committed libel or slander. (And I doubt seriously that they can.)

    The pastor knows as little about civil law as he does about his denomination’s laws. I pray for him to gain knowledge, wisdom, and strength — strength to stand up to the elders when they are wrong.

    As for the elders, it seems they have transgressed one of Christ’s own commandments: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I pray for them to heal and for their true faith to be restored.

    Your family is very lucky to have you. Your kids are learning volumes from your strength and grace. Bless you!

  3. Marti Fenton White Deer Song February 3, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    I’m sorry to say that this is the Church that I grew up in. I began to realize at an early age that sometimes the Church walls are intended to keep God out. The good part is that I also learned that the Church doesn’t have an exclusive contract with God. That is the good news. There are many roads to God despite what the Christian Church believes. I no longer resent them but I’ve taken a different path.

  4. Terri February 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    That is not the God I know, either. I’m so sorry to read what all has happened after you published the blog post about your son. It saddens me so much to see churches and representatives of churches bullying. That’s why people have such bad opinions of organized religion. Please know that you have a lot of people that support you and your family!

  5. Carolyn February 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    I think it is time to name the so-called “church” that would treat you and your family this way. And it is time to find another.

  6. Eryn February 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    This makes my shake.

    Could you print this out & nail it to the church door?

    I’m kidding. Mostly.

  7. Mich February 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    OMG!!!! I don’t even know what to say. I think you are SO brave for your previous post. And I think you’re even BRAVER for this post.
    It’s funny, because I just wrote a post not too long ago about why I don’t go to church and how I think people view me because of it. But honestly, I’m with you. The God *I* know, doesn’t do those things. He doesn’t ridicule, and mock and BULLY. That’s not the GOD I know. Did they NOT even read the first post? Really? He did EXACTLY the same thing, if not worse, than ABC did. The only difference is he’s supposed to be held to a higher standard.
    I’m sorry, but if I were you, I’d never step foot into that church again. I’d never give my time or money to them. I’d never give them anything. I’d find a place where I feel welcome, and do all of the same things you were doing before, but with a different group of people. At a different church. Or maybe not even a church. There are children’s homes, and nursing homes, and so many other places that would welcome your generosity. And would love you for YOU.
    And I’m not so sure I wouldn’t make sure EVERYONE knows what church I’m talking about. But I guess that’s one of the reasons you’re a better person than me! ;)
    I HOPE my kids never have to go through those things. But if they do, I sure hope I’m strong enough to stand up for them, and for me, the way you have. You are an inspiration, in church or out!
    Mich

  8. Jessica February 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    I’m in shock over here and no idea what to say. This is appalling. I am so sorry.

  9. Michelle Llorens February 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    You have to always watch out for the “Christians”!!

  10. CT February 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Unbelievable! I am at a loss for words at the hypocrisy of this situation. And, good for you for standing your ground.

  11. Carolyn February 3, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    I find it telling that NOT once did your “pastor” or anyone from your “church”, ask how Boo was doing.

  12. Corifid February 3, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    i agree we the previous post. Shame on that pastor!
    Torn between wanting you to put the spotlight on them ( name names) and just encouraging you to find more acceptimg people nd let the others stew in thier own ignorance.

  13. Belenda Kemp February 3, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Absolutely horrifying, but even as I write this I am not surprised. I have honestly believed for a long, long time that God is not to be found within a church., that is not to say that good people will not be found within a churh but often politics get in the way of true truth and communion. God lives within the human heart and cannot be confined by four walls. I am sorry for what you have encountered and ashamed for my fellow humans who instilled this vile attitude upon you and your family. There is love and compassion out there in the world just don’t expect to find it where you think you should.

    • Marti Fenton White Deer Song February 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

      I agree with you completely. Sometimes being disappointed by organized religion is the first step toward a personal experience of God.

  14. Carolyn February 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Sweetie,

    It seems to me that this is the time to find a new church. Obviously this church does not like your true words and is scared of the effect that your words have had. Your church is recoiling from the microscope that they have been put under. Sadly, this is all too common in organized religion, if ANYONE goes against the grain of what said church believes to be true, they cast you out. Not very Christian, is it? Instead of calling you in for meetings and interviews (or shall I say interrogations), they should be embracing you and your family, offering support, and applauding your tolerance and love for your son. Instead, they want to “bring you around” to their intolerant way of believing. THIS is why your blog is so important. Give me the TV and radio contacts that brought Boo’s story to the forefront months ago, and I will contact them with the newest travestry that you and and your family are suffering through. I doubt your “church” would like this attention. How dare they judge you????? I am beyond disgusted.

  15. Karissa February 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    That’s not my God, and I wouldn’t attend a church where they handled anything in this fashion. You were not wrong, Boo should always be your first priority. and IF women ABC act like/talk that way about, too, in front of a child They should be the ones called in to the principals opps I mean Pastors office!!! I would be hurt and in such disbelief. But please dont let that deter you from getting involved in another church.

  16. Tamasin fay February 3, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    God is the only authority. Tell that man made church to shove it. You are not on your own. I hope your son grows up to be the next president x

  17. willowmoonshadow February 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    That is disgusting! For an institution that preaches tolerance and compassion, for you to have been treated this way is totally appalling. And then the Church wonders why people are no longer attending church.

    My thoughts are to you and your family. I hope that you continue to stand up for what you believe in and don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad for that.

  18. Teresa February 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    I read this entire post and all I can say is wow! I know how much respect a parent holds for the church who teaches your child. My daughter went to preschool and kindergarten that was held at a church. I want you to know that I feel as if you have done absolutely nothing wrong in sharing your story. You have handled this so very well. I am quite curious if Moms ABC were called into the office for the treatment towards you and to your child. I am sure you wouldn’t even consider it, but please do not take the post down. It truly is a blessing to others in so many ways.

    I will continue to pray for you and your family and for your pastor and for Moms ABC that they can come to a better understanding of the love and compassion that they should be showing you and your son.

  19. frostedflake February 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    That makes me so sad.
    I can understand the “peacemaking” attitude from the perspective of a Pastor, and I can understand that (assuming moms AB & C knew they were the ones being talked about) moms AB&C may have said something to the pastor about it but it seems quite harsh and extreme for such ramifications.
    To put it plainly, we all sin. No sin is greater than any other sin. It does not appear than you broke the 8th commandment and since there are no witnesses to verify from either side (based on the information I have), one can only make the rational judgment that you did not.
    To not repent, as I understand it, is a sin in some church. I get that. I am making an assumption on your denomination (well, I’ve narrowed it down) and will say that because it is a large denomination, many of the individual churches have had to be run politically. As we know, political organizations are about making sure the squeaky wheel stops squeaking… not necessarily about what is just and right in the grand scheme of things. I say this because my father has worked in churches my entire life… the politics are somewhat insane.
    I know you are disheartened but please know that even if this pastor is ordained by God, he is still fallible. He is still human. It doesn’t mean that what he has done or suggested is sinful, simply that he’s a human. We all make mistakes.
    I hope this will pass and you will feel comfortable in your church again. I know all too well how important that is.
    I’m sorry to ramble – I have been in a situation where I felt unwelcomed at church and it was quite unpleasant. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  20. knitmanyarn February 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    I am appalled but not surprised. Bigots DO bully and they ARE bullying you. You don’t need them. The way they are treating is showing how they sare not how you are. people treat us according to how THEY are NOT how we are. I am sorry you are learning this painful lesson and have discovered that much Xian love is conditional upon YOU doing as you told. Your Pastor is a disgraceful man, a mean spirited bully who does NOT deserve his Pastorship. Shame on hiim for trying to manipulate you and even more so for disregarding Jesus, whom he professes to follow because the Jesus as written would be on your side no doubt and condemn this Pharisee. I have shared it on my FB

  21. kirk c February 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Just like family, friends and neighbors, if this church is hateful and mean, don’t put up with it. There are plenty of other spiritual communities that will welcome you with love and understanding. You know that what is really under all of the “spiritual care” is their antipathy to gay people. You do not need them. Your family does not need them. God loves you, regardless of what these folks say or do.

  22. Melissa February 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    What a “bully pulpit”! Stand your ground Boo’s Mom! Love your blog, and your determination to raise your kids with tolerance and love.

  23. Amy February 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    With all due respect, find a new church that has it’s values straight. A church that will try and protect mean-nasty-bullying adult women but disregard and DISCRIMINATE against a child is no church at all.

    Shame on the church and your pastor.

  24. tschnei3 February 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Your spirit needs no more care than you have given it, for it is one of the most pure. Stay strong. You are not alone

  25. Kristen February 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    That’s why I am not a member of organized religion. Its such a hypocrisy. I hope Boo is doing great and hats off to you for being such an awesome mom!

  26. Brooke February 6, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    I was a catholic until the age of reason. It was then that I realized that the pageantry of church was to distract from the ugliness of the people that ran them. I started to believe that a man without religion was like a fish without a bicycle.

    Your situation reminds me of something a very deal friend pointed out.

    Its not God I have a problem with, its his fan club I can’t stand.

  27. booballs February 10, 2011 at 2:48 am #

    Elders in my church use to tell a story to get the children to behave. They would gather them round the campfire and tell stories of boo and mama boo. If you didn’t behave the mom would follow you around screaming and crying. I can still here them saying. Better behave or boos gonna get you up the butt.

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