My Struggle With Christianity
One of the last occasions I visited a church was in this photo, a little over a year ago. It was not entirely a religious function but a wedding - a Message wedding. The preacher who once snapped scissors and swung his crutches at me conducted the ceremony. His complexion was zealously flushed, contrasting his collar and even whiter locks of hair. I don't mention names for the sake of peace. His inheritance is worth millions, and in no time my inbox might overflow with threatening legal letters. I’ll choose my battles, though I can promise you every word I say stems from a trauma memory.
The newlyweds were young and beautiful. The fresh-faced bride, my spouse’s relative, had natural hair let down in styled curls. How did Message woman manage to look so effortlessly gorgeous?! Was she loved, confident? How bittersweet. I'd longed to marry in this church, my father walking me down the aisle. My first escape plan involved the fantasy of marriage. But here now with a devilish slit, holding the hand of my common-law spouse, batting fake eyelashes, I cringed at the preacher’s every word. I’m certain my eyes rolled as I stared into his, unafraid this time.
How dare you shame me, intimidate me, and send me back to live with my violent family, I thought. My family were not in sight. They had long disapproved of this Church for its wordly drums. Seeing that it lay at the heart of a sex scandal, most faces were new converts and the pews, half-empty.
My acquaintance with Christianity never ended in that vast building. As a teen, I searched better variations of Jesus, none that felt satisfying. I’d rather live my present life to the fullest than worry about an afterlife, something I couldn’t prove. Can’t you be a good person without all the restricting, contradictory rules? Why are people condemned for not believing an unseen God in a world where our five senses determine our reality? Is that fair?
Right before I attempted suicide, I had been dating a Christian man. I concluded that a lack of morals and values in men had been the demise of all my past love attempts. He boasted of preaching on the street corners, and how God cured him of meth addiction. Yet in our free time, the baggies of cocaine spilling from his pocket into mine were endless. His hypocrisy turned me away, again.
I ran from my hovering spirituality for years. Whether some occurrences were real or if others had a scientific explanation, I can never verify. Since mental illness runs in my family, it concerned me and I spoke about it twice to a psychiatrist. Her one argument was that most delusional people don’t seek out medical professional's advice. Secondly, it’s common in trauma patients with high anxiety to hallucinate shadow people, sometimes taking the form of whatever religious or cultural influences they have been instilled with. But thirdly, she affirmed I did not have psychosis or schizophrenia. The paranormal is a matter of interest far beyond my personal discoveries. I may be right, I may be wrong. I just feel that they far exceed normal coincidence.
Another speculation I’ve had is that if the spirit world indeed exists, perhaps Branham carried a spiritual gift and abused it. His background was part Cherokee and we know that Indigenous people have what seems an inherited clairvoyance. I suspect he instrumented his natural abilities and with them, fed his narcissistic nature. There’s no surprise that despite his humble facade, lengthy African hunting tours and numerous trophies denoted the wealth he gained from his practise.
I’m Jewish. I didn’t learn this ‘til well into my 30’s. A great Aunt came forward. Both grandparents on my mother’s side hid their identities during the War, right up to their passing.
The unique Polish last name I’d grown fond of and even considered adopting (I wanted no proof of relation to my father) wasn’t the original name on my Grandpa’s birth certificate. He was born in Warsaw and my grandmother, somewhere in Norway. They were both Polish and Norwegian Jews. The Ancestry.com results popped in the mail, crediting my aunt’s story. A rabbi in Israel invited one of my cousins to join the synagogue there, as he believes we’re descendants of the tribe of Levi. Does that story hold merit? I’m not sure. I still have yet to do the ancestry test myself but I believe it’s true - that I am Jewish. My mother suspected it throughout my childhood and speculated on how many times they changed their names. So it wasn’t a complete shock, but startling all the same.
I’d always loved Jewish memoirs. Anything to do with the Holocaust inspired bravery and courage, however sad the details. Judaism revokes Jesus; that didn’t stop my budding curiosity on all things Isreal. I researched the city of Bethlehem with newfound interest
Nervously, I entered a local Church in late February of this year. They don’t have synagogues around where I live. My son in tow, I walked through a maze of halls. The sanctuary was dark, and Communion had no foot washing. Crowds of people chewed their bread and escaped through heavy wooden doors seconds after the Service was over. I've loathed formalities myself, baptism being one of them. This was so different. The church site listed female preachers. It made me think again on how many variations of Christianity operate today.
I can’t say I’ll return to religion. Out of frustration I once tore The Good Book to shreds and that's a Hell-bound sin, isn't it? Still, there’s no longer strong discontent so long as the teachers do not promote abuse, sexism or racism. I see the Bible differently. Some of its verses provide comfort either out of familiarity or concept. If Jesus was about love, why can’t we leave it at that? I’m Agnostic. I pray to God and do not feel condemned at all. People do that. Times are progressive and I don’t want to lay stagnant in outdated ideals. Please, let’s evolve, kindness at the center.
Here are four interviews I wrote recently, with the notable, educated Scott Jacobsen. He is a Human Rights activist, media source, and blog host. His interest and outreach have also encouraged other ex-members of William Branham’s cult and brought attention to complex issues. Thank you, Scott.
Thank you for reading.