How far is too far?

too far


by Kenneth Justice

~Do you ever feel like your stuck in the middle and you can’t please anybody on either side of you?

Because I grew up in conservative Evangelical Christian culture there is an organic element in my writing that at times; I am going to write about my frustrations with that brand of Christianity.

Its only natural; we write about the things we know…..right?

Since I experienced many of the negative elements of hardcore fundamentalist Christianity……I of course am going to comment on it

But, I don’t write about it every day. Any regular reader of my blog knows that my subject material includes many different facets of Culture: Religion is one facet….but my blog is clearly not set up to only talk about conservative Christianity

And that is where I find myself in the middle

Conservative Christians come to my blog and they get mad at me because, in their words, “So much of what you do Kenneth is attack organized Religion and specifically Christianity”


That’s ALL I do?

Obviously I don’t think so.

But on the other side of the coin I get comments from ex-evangelicals, ex-Christians, struggling-Christians, etc. who want me to share my frustrations MORE of the time….they don’t think I talk about the problems with conservative Evangelical Christianity enough!

To be honest….I make a concerted effort to NOT talk about Evangelicalism every day. I don’t want to tire out my readers. I don’t want to be a one-trick-pony.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have enough ammunition on the topic though!

Check this out: Would you believe that a friend of my wife who works at a conservative Evangelical company was told by her boss, “You have to back your vehicle in against the wall when you park each morning because we don’t want anyone to see your Barack Obama for President bumper sticker on your car”

Holy cow! When conservative Evangelicals say and do things like that it seems like they are going out of their way to prove how nutty they are!

All this brings me to yesterday……

On a blog I have been reading regularly for years, a blog written by a well-known Evangelical pastor, he wrote last week that people who blog and say things that are pro-feminism or any other anti-conservative principles would be denied the Eucharist (communion) at his church…..and that such people should be denied communion at all Evangelical churches…..


So apparently I am now officially on the outs with my Evangelical roots……..

Apparently…..if I question anything that the Evangelicals do or say: the door of fellowship gets slammed in my face.

And that is my problem with Evangelicalism

–) If you question anything: You are dubbed a rabble-rouser

–) If you want to do more for the poor: You are dubbed a radical liberal leftist

–) If you are concerned about the way the church is spending money: You are dubbed an anarchist

–) If you think the church should do more to help single-mothers: You are dubbed a wishy-washy loon

–) If you think the church should be more concerned with health-care in the U.S.: You are dubbed  ‘not one of us’ and told to shut up

Ultimately……I have a problem with any organization that doesn’t allow individuals the freedom to question; the freedom to question those in authority……

Is that wrong? Am I a nut?

Should we not question those in authority over us?

How far is too far? Is questioning those in authority taking things too far???

While I continue to ponder how much the Evangelicals seem to hate me…..I’m going to sit back and have another cup of coffee.

This morning I’m drinking Sumatra……thank God for that!




Categories: Religion

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31 replies

  1. I grew up in a conservative fundamentalist Pentecostal church. I was a pastor in that same denomination for seven years. I now am very glad I left because it allows me to think outside that narrow worldview. I am still a pastor and a Christian, but I see no harm in asking questions of my faith or practices. That’s how we lose the title – ‘nut job’.

  2. right on.

    and also, i’m going to work “rabble-rouser” into my conversations as much as possible.

    • Kristin,

      lol I love the term ‘rabble-rouser’ I use it in my everyday speech a little too much probably 😉

      the other word I love a ton is “nebbish”

  3. Religions are set up so that you obey, not question. They are run, most of them, and were begun, by white males who want power. It’s all about economics and power. That’s what it’s purpose is…power over others. It’s about control. So if you want to think for yourself, not follow rules or orders (that were made up by someone else), then don’t be religious. Believe what you want and be free to think and be whoever you would like to be with out the judgement of human males (mostly) who make things up and expect people to believe the insane things they say. It’s a choice. It may seem radical to question one’s religion but it’s more radical to see what it is and walk away.

  4. Hey, there is nothing wrong with questioning authority or “attacking” organized religion. This comes from a person who calls herself religious but constantly criticizes many distasteful things about her own faith. Why shouldn’t I? I believe no religion/ideology is too sacred to not be criticized. I am sure you appreciate a lot of things about Christianity and just bringing attention to all the negative. You are actually doing a good service because if people don’t speak out, how are they going to fix the problems?

    • centrist,

      great thoughts.

      When someone get’s mad because they are questioned (religious leaders, ministers, priests, etc) it causes me to wonder…..

      because I don’t get mad if someone questions me. For the most part I’m an open book and I’m laid back, but I’m also not extremely dogmatic about too many things……

  5. Denied communion? OK, that is over the top. I grew up in Catholic background and I thought they were conservative, but that’s out there. The only time someone is not supposed to take communion is if they are in mortal sin….murder, etc. and have not gone to confession. But even then no one steps up to the alter and says “hey you were naughty or spoke your mind on a taboo subject – therefore, you can’t have communion!”

    I think that practicing some sort of spirituality is good for the soul. But, I prefer not to have my soul micromanaged by some out of control bible thumper. 🙂

  6. I agree with you Kenneth,on all counts. The hypocrisy I see in many organized religions and “religious” people amazes and confuses me. If they would simply follow the teachings of Christ, not their own interpretations,everyone would have a greater understanding of what real love and compassion is.

  7. Very good read as always! I tend to simplify things…it tones down my stress. I agree with you on your points. I grew up. if there is such a thing, a liberal Catholic. I believe in God. I also believe that I am not the judge and jury. I do not feel I can judge anyone or say you are this or that. When we meet our maker we do it alone.

  8. I don’t claim to have the answers on different forms of religion, heck I can’t even begin to understand why if people all believe in the SAME God there can be so much differing of opinions and fighting… (This is from someone who was born and bred in Belfast in the heart of the troubles).
    However what I will say is that all organisations need challenge. Everyone in life needs challenge. If you don’t get challenged you are complacent in your thinking and that is when mistakes omnipotent thinking comes in.
    Don’t let them grind you down. You believe what you believe, pay respects how you feel best because at the end of the day, only one person (being and I encompass all religions here) makes the decisions at our passing over.

  9. “How about I back my car up against your butt!?”
    (Okay, that’s bad, and I shouldn’t have said it, but it made me laugh.)

    Seriously though – someone is always going to complain about something.
    I play music, and I have noticed that people complain that certain artists don’t produce anything new.
    Then they complain that those artists play new stuff, and don’t play the old, familiar material.
    Too slow… too fast…

    So I have this little gig I put together at a restaurant where I tend the garden. I play whatever I want, however I want to play it, and my theme song: Garden Party.

    “You know you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

    Thank you and good morning.


  10. authority doesn’t like to be questioned – it empowers the people they won’t want empowered. they lose their footing, but that’s exactly why one should question authority. it provides checks and balances. people don’t do enough questioning. sometimes blind faith is legitimate but sometimes it’s harmful. there’s a time and place for each. right now – the church needs to be questioned; there’s a need to bring back some balance and remember what religion is supposed to be about.

  11. It’s good to question things, and to question those in authority. Even in the Bible, we are told to question things, to question people and see what they’re all about (basically). No, you’re not crazy, lol. Of course, people in authoritative positions don’t like to be questioned, because they’re afraid of losing power, and by losing power, losing control of people beneath them. I think blind faith in God is good, but blind faith in any human being is just stupid. People are fallible, people are susceptible to corruption, and most of our leaders become power-hungry, in one regard or another.

    • Kristina,

      “People are fallible”

      so true. Yet I have heard Christian leaders talk in such a way as though their particular doctrine is infallible….very dangerous. Good comments 🙂

    • Very dangerous indeed. My comments are just compliments to your excellent posts, Kenneth 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and please, keep questioning people and things!

  12. Kenneth,
    I think this may be the farthest out there Christian Porn. Since you are married I thought you could look at it and tell your readers what you think. I can’t look myself because I oppose all pornography. WWJD? (the missionary?) Ellen

    • Ellen,

      I’ve seen similar sites, they are a bit too extreme for me. The one you linked to seems to be more about anarchism than anything and that is just a bit too over the top for my taste. Interesting reading material though 🙂

  13. Oh dear … welcome to my world. In England I was a leftwing hippy … here I am vigilant for villagers storming my house with burning cudgels and accusations of witchery.

    The issue with the Obama-clad car would be funny if it were not so pathetic!

    It’s tough being a free thinking smart guy Kenneth … you suffer for your intellect lol

  14. I have a habit of speaking my mind when it comes to religion and organized religion in particular. My views and opinions are kind of odd this has lead me to not be a part of a christian setting or organization. I beleive what ibbelieve and there is no religion that inhave found to which i would be long.

  15. “Apparently…..if I question anything that the Evangelicals do or say: the door of fellowship gets slammed in my face.”

    Wow does that sound exactly like the cult I was raised in. You bucked the system…POOF you were ex-communicated instantly and you and your family were shamed. Such a Mafia type of thinking.

    That kind of thinking is why I will never be told by any man behind a pulpit or religious organization how to worship the Lord.

  16. I also grew up in a very conservative Evangelical environment. The last 10 years has been a journey of getting to know God on my own apart from all religion, and I feel like I’m just beginning.
    Asking questions should be encouraged, I believe. It’s only when we ask the hard questions that we find understanding–and questions keep authority figures in line. People in authority need the accountability of people prying into their business, in my opinion. I know I need that in my own life, and I’m by no means an authority figure.
    The idea that individuals must have a set of opinions and political views in order to be part of a religious group is ridiculous to me. I don’t care who you voted for or how you feel about feminism. If you love Jesus and love others, we’re cool. However, you may agree with me on everything, but if you’re not actively loving people like Jesus does I can’t and won’t affiliate myself with you. I don’t know how we missed that the biggest thing we’re supposed to focus on is LOVE. Loving Jesus and loving others.

    Aaaand I’m rambling. 😉

  17. My whole blog is addressed to fundamentalists, though not so much directly, so I should be restrained and not say more than I do already. You do good work here and I don’t think you need to care much about the negative reactions. Just be honest and fair, as I think you are being.

  18. There is no such thing in too far when it comes to the human capacity. Prime example is the crucifixion of Christ. So when it comes to do something that you feel called spiritually to do, always remember that the devil and his demons are doing push ups. This means you got to give it 200% to fight it back.

  19. I have the advantage of living in a country where religion is not the manna of politicians, where whether you choose to worship and where you choose to worship are not issues in your everyday life. (Our current national leader is an unmarried woman who lives with her partner and does not go to church.) I often watch the commentary on the evangelical movement in the US and wonder about the domestic violence that must exist in communities where power and control are so omniscient (a word I love but get to use rarely). The sort of dynamics that you and others describe are the same dynamics that apply in relationships of abuse. I love to visit the US, and my family who live there, but am very glad that I am able to raise my children away from those communities.

    In the meantime – keep speaking your mind and speaking the truth. Being in the middle can be uncomfortable because those on the extremes on either side are scared of the truth, but it is the truth that keeps us sane and reasonable.

  20. Kenneth, I really admire your honesty and searching. I just wanted to remind you of how gentle Christ was with Thomas when he doubted. . . . Peace on your journey. . . . namaste. . . .Anne

  21. I am Leo servived Christianity and I am glad that I found your blog Kenneth. Thanks for sharing.

  22. I endured a bible-thumping, violently abusive “mother”, a violently abusive younger “brother” — both of whom have at one point or another tried to kill me, and I am not exaggerating that point — and living in extreme poverty, always on the edge of homelessness and starvation, I’ve reached the stage where I must now consider myself an agnostic. I am not arrogant enough to assume there is no God or gods, because there is no physical evidence supporting or refuting the existence thereof, but neither can I have faith in any deity in a world in which the hungry are left to starve, the cold left to freeze, bombs are dropped continuously on whole populations, people are raped and slaughtered like animals, and wherein the victims are blamed for what is done to them by the powerful.

    I can’t have faith anymore when those who claim to speak for their god(s) preach the exact opposite of what their religion’s founders taught. I can’t believe anymore when there is so much injustice and violence in the world, and no one in any position to do anything about it cares to take action, and instead joins in exploiting injustices for their own personal gain.

    And you know what? This brings me no satisfaction, no peace, no joy. I really want to believe in something greater than myself, something that transcends the pettiness of humanity and stands for something better. But even if such an entity or entities exist, they’re beyond caring about mere mortals, having progressed to a level of detachment that renders them incapable of even seeing our suffering, let alone caring enough to guide in putting any us end to it.

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