Where to start? There is SO MUCH in my life that happened to bring me to this moment of flouncing from a Mennonite Church I had been attending for the better part of the past 16 years. When my husband and I renewed our vows, we had our church wedding here. We dedicated our kids to God shortly after our son was born. The former pastor’s wife I still consider one of my good friends. She’s truly a good soul and knows what living love looks like. There are several other good Christian people with wonderful souls who are good friends and I know they try to live out a form of self love and love for others that Jesus tried to get others to see for themselves when he was alive all those years ago.
But institutionally, Christianity is an abusive father. Institutionally, church is not emotionally, mentally, sexually safe. Yes, institutionally. I’ve experienced for myself and listened to far too many stories to believe there are just a bunch of isolated incidents and Christianity as a whole embodies goodness. Back in 2009, some one posted a timeline of events in Europe that summarizes how Christianity took over in Europe. My pagan ancestors literally converted for fear of death. http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/03/how-europe-was-overrun-by-christians/
I have a couple of books I’m reading about Germanic and Celtic history before the monstrosity known as Christianity took over Europe.
This isn’t a good start. Taking over by the sword and not by Love. It doesn’t get any better once Europeans spread to the Americas, but that’s not the point of this particular blog post, so I’m not going there. But there are plenty of resources to learn about that if you wish.
Eventually, I came to realize the damage in my own life wasn’t isolated incidents, but part of the institutionalized evil of Christianity.
A few years ago, I wrote a letter to the pastor of the cult church I spent my teenage years in. His wife treated me like I was the spawn of Satan come to corrupt her children. I confronted him for that after learning that Jack Schaap of First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN coerced a 16 year old girl and transported her across state lines TWICE to have sex with her. He is currently serving a 12 year sentence for his crimes. I was angry that I was treated like the spawn of Satan in his church while Jack Schaap was abusing his power and doing actual harm beyond the Patriarchy this cult religion preached. Jack Schaap and the previous womanizer and father in law pastor, Jack Hyles were the leaders of this particular faction of cult Baptist churches.
Last night, I stuck the following letter into the church mailboxes of the members of the Mennonite Church I had been attending. A slight background: they went through a “discernment” process to determine if and at what capacity, LGBTQ people would be allowed to be members and/or serve in the church. The church was pretty split on what we felt. Some people wanted total inclusion while others dug in their regressive heels, using the Bible as their weapon of hate against this “lifestyle choice” despite the real life testimonies of current and former attendees who proved it wasn’t a “lifestyle choice” at all. The discernment process was exhausting and rage inducing. In the end, they decided nothing, but have chosen to stay in limbo. I guess some people are just hoping the whole “issue” would just go away. Since that discernment process, my daughter discovered during puberty that she’s gay. Suddenly, I had much more to fight for than just being a strong advocate for my LGBTQ friends.
Then recently, I read how Vice President of Eastern Mennonite University, Luke Hartman, abused his power, coerced a young woman into a relationship and then mentally abused her, stalked her and even threatened her life when she tried to leave. It wasn’t just this alone that got to me, but how their local Mennonite Church and even the leadership of MCUSA (the broader denomination organization) tried to cover, lie, hide and victim blame. That was it for me, guys. How could ANY church argue against LGBTQ people being invited to Jesus’ table, serving God, and being church members when trusted men in power are sexually and mentally harming people and the church once again, caring more about their reputation than about bringing a criminal to justice?!
So here is the letter I wrote. No more silence, First Mennonite Church of Canton, OH. No more hoping this shit will just “go away”. Deal with yourselves, or become irrelevant.
Dear First Mennonite Church, April 22nd, 2016
Yes, our family hasn’t been there for a while and we probably won’t be. Maybe we’ll show up to eat some of your food at potlucks, but that’s it. It’ll be nice to check in with friends we don’t see often. But, I’m done with church and I’m done with Christianity.
I was emotionally abused as a teenager by my dad and by a church (not Mennonite) I was in. My daughter is gay. And during the entire “discernment” process, I was disgusted at many points during the process. At some point in my life also, I joined an Independent Baptist Survivors group on Facebook and learned about many sexual abuses committed by church leaders in the Baptist church and how the sexual abuse was covered up and the victims blamed for what was done with them.
And now Lauren Shifflett of Lindale Mennonite Church told her account of how she was sexually abused by Mennonite teenage boys as a teenager, raped at some point, and then sexually coerced, emotionally abused and stalked by Luke Hartman, Vice President of EMU who was recently busted in a prostitution sting. To this day, EMU and some church leadership of Lindale is trying to protect Luke, discredit Lauren and retraumatize her. If you’re interested, here is Lauren’s sister’s account of how the church and EMU has responded to the situation and to Lauren. http://www.ourstoriesuntold.com/good-intentions-arent-enough/
Here is where my anger has just exploded about First Mennonite, the Ohio Conference and MCUSA in general. First Mennonite, the conference and MCUSA has had this decades long debate about LGBTQs. I heard church members utter ridiculous fears about gay people. I mean, gay people might teach young Sunday School kids that its ok to be gay, right? Ridiculous times where Bible verses were used as weapons to justify LGBTQ exclusion from church membership and participation. At the same time, sexual predators and abusers are protected and word salad performed by Mennonite leadership that brings no real justice to sexual abuse victims.
I just can’t deal with a church half full of complete hypocrites when it comes to sex. My daughter can’t feel safe being around people who might possibly confront her about her “sin” while those same people probably judge Lauren for being a victim of a sick abusive man. Patriarchy is a hell of a drug, isn’t it? And how dare any women or LGBTQ people who don’t live by its rules disturb men’s power, right? So you weaponize religion and the Bible. No different than other Christians I’ve experienced. Your doctrine of pacifism is a lie as the violence of emotional and sexual abuse in the Mennonite Church is allowed and covered up while people whine and cry about gay people forcing the Church to accept their “lifestyle”.
Well, I’m done. Some of you may feel sad or even angry I feel this way.
Well perhaps you should have thought of that before emotionally abusing people in your own congregation. You won’t get the chance to do to my beautiful daughter what you’ve done to others.
So ends my 36 year relationship with Christianity. I’m completely done trying to make a relationship with an abusive Patriarchy religion work.
Once, I was a huge fan of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. And in some ways, I still am. I have both autobiographies (Living History and My Life). I even took my copy of My Life to a house rep re-election rally in my state where Bill Clinton spoke and he signed my book. I will treasure it forever. Not everyone has a book signed by a President of the United States. I think its pretty awesome. I even enjoyed reading it. He writes similarly to how I talk in conversations. Talk about something, touch on something he and I could easily go off on a little trail and then bring it back to the original point or how that side thing related to the main idea (but sometimes, maybe not). It was amusing as I read it.
And Hillary …what an inspiration as a woman! To not just be a lawyer and not to settle for just being First Lady, but to actually be a Senator and a Secretary of State and now run a second time for President herself! How many women have that type of resume? Hillary has made history with her list of personal accomplishments, even if being President is something she doesn’t get to attain.
But something has happened along the way. I don’t know what it is. No, Bernie supporters, its not that she was a young Republican. I grew up Republican too, and I’m nowhere near where I was. To not allow someone to grow and change throughout their life as if they’re less of a person to have not always held your perfect purest progressive ideology is just you being an asshole.
No, I think its that she’s currently trying to play the game within the realm of Patriarchy…a game she can’t win. A game she shouldn’t want to win. A game that leaves someone looking disingenuous. For example, her tough foreign policy talk. She’s obviously catering to the center. After all, she has to seem tough and willing to make strong calls as Commander in Chief, right? Because women are weak and aren’t willing to go to war. But isn’t that what we want? Someone who is less willing to go to war and take a hard look at our current foreign policy and see how it perpetuates violence in the world as is and needs to change? I thought maybe a woman with our natural strengths would be more willing to do that. But she wants to play the man’s game instead and sound and be tough on foreign policy.
Like she wanted to be tough on crime. To not seem like a pansy.
And then there’s the answer she gave to some Black Lives Matters protesters when she met with them. When they confronted her husband’s mass incarceration problem (which she lobbied for), she didn’t apologize. She didn’t say “We didn’t realize at the time what the effects would be, and it was wrong and I want to fix it and make it right.” No, she placed the burden on those whom the policy hurts the most to come up with a solution. That didn’t sit well with me. She’s trying to play the Patriarchy game and I just don’t like it. I had a corporate boss who played the Patriarchy game in her corporate politics. SHE was probably the worst boss I EVER had. She was fucking ruthless. I just don’t like to see fellow women try to get ahead using that game and claiming they’re going to bat for the rest of us. I don’t think so. Does she plan on dismantling that system when she gets to the top? Or is she going to leave it intact because it gave her the power she has?
Now, we do have to realize how politicians have this game they need to play. How they need to use words and I suppose using logical fallacies are par for the course (like her straw man attacks on Bernie’s health care plan). And we have to give politicians a certain amount of grace because otherwise they end up not getting attention and their chances are lost. I mean, that’s how the political game is played and most of us fall for it hook line and sinker.
Which brings me to Bernie. I like him as a candidate better than Hillary. Though my own life story mirrors Hillary’s in changing my own worldview as I’ve grown, I do appreciate Bernie’s long standing voice. I know some critics may believe he’s just pandering because they’re just now hearing his particular rhetoric recently. But, recently his camp posted C-Span clips from the 90’s in which he was already mentioning in Congress how several policies were disproportionately affecting black people negatively in our society. He really was talking the talk before it was popular to do so among white people who think its trendy to be an “ally” right now. So yes, I do plan on voting for Bernie in my state’s primary. There are many other reasons and examples, but to me they all do seem to point to a man who wants to make some serious positive changes and I think we are long overdue for those changes.
But then his supporters. God, I avoid a lot of social media right now because the nasty Bernie supporters with their racist bullshit towards black people as if Bernie is the “obvious” choice and they’re “stupid” for voting for Hillary. Oh, those racist microaggressions. Progressive liberals…. You have a lot of fucking soul searching to do. Remember how I called you an asshole earlier for thinking you’re all high and mighty with your Purest Progressive Ideology? Yeah. That shit makes you look ugly. And the sexism? Christ man. “I’m going to be a sexist asshole to prove to you I’m more of a feminist than anyone!”
That’s literally how fucking dumb you sound.
The point is, neither Hillary nor Bernie are going to be perfect. In fact, neither one can be our savior. We don’t need a SAVIOR. We need to save ourselves. In fact, there is no other way to create a better country for everyone who lives here. And while voting for the right President is definitely a step in the right direction, this fighting and mud slinging in the Democratic party and the games we see politicians willing to play only reveals that every single one of us have a fuckload of looking in the mirror and savings of ourselves we really need to be doing.
While at work, with my heart in my throat, my chest feeling hot and heavy, and my mouth feeling extremely dry no matter how much water I drank, I listened to the 2 ½ hours of Ohio Senate debate over the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
I’m here to give you my analysis of the good guys and bad guys of the debate. If you hadn’t heard, Planned Parenthood was voted to be defunded by the Ohio Senate with a vote of 23 – 10. I imagine since the House is run by Republicans, it will pass and John Kasich will likely sign the bill, as he is the jackass who has been stacking the Ohio Medical Board with pro-life non physicians including Ohio’s Right To Life president.
Just as a warning, I’m going to Ad Hominem the shit out of some of these fuckers. Why? Its simple. The people who rightfully opposed the bill who debated, did so with factual evidence, realities of what women go through to obtain services, and benefits that PP brings to Ohio. There was even the debunking myths brought up by those who wanted to defund PP. And yet, with all the compelling arguments those who opposed defunding PP brought to the table, it was painfully clear 23 people already had their minds made up on how they were going to vote before the debating even started. So, I know that when I write my emails to these assholes, I’m not going to suddenly change their minds and cause angels to come down from the heavens blowing heavenly horns with a word of God smacking them in their heads and waking them up. So, I’ve chosen the road of quickly dismantling their bullshit arguments and then calling them what they are: Fucking Moronic Assholes. It will be glorious (for me).
I will talk about the good guys first. Because they deserve praise for some of the excellent truth telling they brought to the Ohio Senate floor.
First, I would like to thank Kenny Yuko. Although some of his comments were off base when it comes to how society views troubled girls, he did take the time to note the videos of PP selling “baby parts” were heavily edited and mentioned 11 other state investigations (Ohio’s was not finished) saw NO wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.
Thank you, Edna Brown who noted she was the only woman on the committee that approved this bill to a full Senate vote and not balanced with gender or party affiliation.
Thank you, Tom Sawyer.
Thank you, Sandra Williams.
Thank you, Cecil Thomas – who admitted he heard terms like IUD, and other medical terms and didn’t know what they all meant. And he knew from his lack of knowledge of women’s health, that men should not be making their decisions for them.
Thank you, Joe Schiavoni – who asked President of the Senate and the one who introduced the bill, Keith Faber (we’ll get to him in a moment) why there was a rush to put the bill to a vote before certain information from an Ohio agency had come that was requested. Mr Faber told Joe it was a highly inappropriate question and he refused to answer it.
Thank you, Michael Skindell for debunking Dave Burke’s non point about PP not paying their property taxes at the Berea location.
Thank you, Charleta Taveres for EVERYTHING you said. The testimony of the medical professional who worked with at-risk low income teens who didn’t know much about their own bodies, but knew they could go to Planned Parenthood for help. Thank you, for your impassioned knowledge of all that Planned Parenthood does to serve people in the State of Ohio. You are a wonderful Senator. Please continue to be a voice in the chambers for as long as your constituents will have you.
Thank you Capri Cafaro, for taking the time to educate your fellow senators on the REALITY of how difficult it is for women to receive the health care they need through literally every other provider out there in our state. You taught me there was only one mammovan (a van where women can get mammograms) serving 2 whole counties and part of Stark County, and the only place in that area out of 6 facilities besides PP where women could get one. You taught me how hard it is to get appointments at other locations. You taught us how women literally have to wait months to be seen. You taught me about one such place having a sliding scale payment system for low income people, but that it only applies for 6 months. You reminded us these places require a drivers license and 2 months of pay stubs to qualify for the sliding scale payments, and that many young at-risk women don’t have pay stubs and many don’t even have IDs. You taught me that many of the other places require a good faith payment before getting services. And you affirmed that PP makes getting the necessary healthcare access easy and quick for women. PP doesn’t place undue burden on at-risk women to get the care they need. (And as a note from the blogger, I know this from personal experience using PP as my primary women’s healthcare provider for the past few years). Capri – you are a wonderful Senator. Please continue to be a voice for the people in the Youngstown area.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for.
Bill Coley – you’re an asshole. You repeated the same bullshit about the hundreds of other providers in Ohio that are “life affirming” that can give care to women. Except you completely ignored Capri’s testimony when she tried exactly that in the Youngstown area and found access for care much more restricted and didn’t offer even close to the same array of services PP does for women. That’s not “life affirming” at all. And that’s not even touching the fact that “life affirming” blowhole places emotionally manipulate the fuck out of women to coerce them into carrying the pregnancy to term. You’re a fucking moronic asswipe.
Dear Bill Seitz – if the defunding of Planned Parenthood is SO LITTLE money for the budget of Ohio, then why in the ever living fuck do you care so fucking much about taking such a puny little amount away from PP? Your entire reason for speaking was invalid by your own fucking logic. Sir, you have the intelligence of a boil on a wild boar’s ass. Sit the fuck down, dickbag.
Mr. Dave Burke – You repeated scarce resources as if Ohio were in a terrible financial crisis. Well, if giving away such “scarce” resources is such a huge concern of yours, why are you giving so much money to businesses to help grow Ohio? Can these businesses not do it themselves? Also, you attempted to claim the Berea PP was a terrible organization for not paying their property taxes. What happens when you purposely deceive with not all the information? One of your colleagues gives you the ultimate smack down with the rest of the information – that PP doesn’t fucking OWE any property taxes because they are EXEMPT. Please, have a row of fucking seats you lying underwear shit stain.
And what’s a good Republican run chamber without the token white woman? Shannon Jones. No wonder you voted to defund Planned Parenthood, because you’re a fucking dumbass. Your testimony about wanting to get pregnant means jack shit, because you are obviously privileged with ample access to the medical care you need. You thought you were being so smart with the argument “Well, Ohio is ranked #47 in infant mortality rate. And insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. So why are we continuing to fund organizations that obviously aren’t working to solve that issue?” I have a little news flash for you, Shannon. Planned Parenthood is all over the motherfucking country. And each state that has PP is not ranked #47 in the country for infant mortality. So OBVIOUSLY, PP isn’t part of the reason it’s a problem for Ohio. Also, your colleague, the dishonorable dickbag Bill Seitz, reminded us Ohio has taken money away from PP before. So maybe it’s the continued defunding of the services PP provides that contributes to this horrible statistic you lamented so fucking much? You’re an embarrassment to women. Have a movie theater full of seats, you dumb fuck.
And finally, Keith Faber. You spoke of the fake videos as if they were gospel truth. And then you used as much emotionally charged manipulative language as you could to demonize Planned Parenthood for something they don’t even do. You sent the bill to a committee that you KNEW would approve it to go to a vote with 11 men and 1 woman. 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats. You RUSHED the bill before even having information as to what the impact would be on Ohio if you were to defund PP. You told Joe Schiavoni his question was inappropriate when it is MORE than appropriate and MORE than valid. You obviously don’t give a flying fuck what happens to women in Ohio who don’t look like Shannon Jones. You don’t deserve that seat you sit on in the Senate Chambers.
Keith, please have a stadium of seats. And while you’re sitting there all by yourself in that stadium, I hope you take the time to go fuck yourself. You are a useless lump of human waste. I will imagine your face on every piece of shit I flush down the toilet each day I live in this beautiful state that you insist on ruining with each breath you take.
It was the 2004 election season. I had attended two John Kerry rallies. I protested George Bush twice at his two local rallies. Stark County, Ohio was dubbed that year as the “bell-weather County” in a bell-weather state. Just mere months before Election Day, Kerry was leading the polls enough that it looked like he was going to win the election.
Then, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Remember them? They claimed John Kerry didn’t actually deserve any of the medals he received during his military service and served as a giant photo-op for no other purpose than to boost his political career. The media was seemingly consumed by this development. Suddenly, John Kerry’s poll numbers dipped and George Bush was re-elected to his second term.
8 months after W was re-elected, I distinctly remember the news reporting his approval numbers dipping. This happened even before Hurricane Katrina and the disastrous government response following the devastation. You’ll even notice in this gallup poll graph how things went down for him: http://www.gallup.com/poll/116500/Presidential-Approval-Ratings-George-Bush.aspx
2004 & 2005 taught me an important lesson I never realized before: The media plays an integral role in who gets elected not by reporting information and facts and simply broadcasting debating of the issues, but by influencing the uninformed with attention grabbing controversy and subsequent pundit commentary.
The reason for me bringing up this not so distant history is to remind everyone not to underestimate the influence of the media on this current election cycle. Many have noticed the near zero coverage Bernie Sanders is getting on the news as if he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning despite drawing thousands of people at every campaign event he has. Conversely, the media is lavishing all kinds of attention on Donald Trump. This isn’t just because he’s entertaining. Most of the commentary I’ve seen from my Democrat friends is rightful disgust. But they still hold the belief that he’s making a joke of the political process and also that there’s no way possible that he could win the election.
If there is anything I learned from the 2004 election, its that it’s a clear mistake to assume someone like Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win the election even with all the media coverage he’s getting. And the media coverage is paying off, with tens of thousands of people showing up to hear his racist xenophobic “Let’s make America great again” campaign rhetoric. I even listened to half of his interview with Sarah Palin and he’s even stolen some fake care for the middle class now. According to a Gallup poll in 2013, 55% of people still get their news primarily from TV.
Never underestimate the power of the media on the uninformed.
Some Electoral education
If you’ve seen the Lincoln movie, maybe you’re still walking around with this bit of cognitive dissonance: In 1864, the Democrats are the party of slavery and the Republicans the party of emancipation and racial justice. What’s up with that? How did we get from there to here?
A good place to start is the presidential election of 1860, which brings Lincoln to power and convinces Southern whites (the only people who can vote in the South in 1860) that secession is their best chance to maintain slavery*.
Lincoln gets only 40% of the vote, but in a four-way race (the Democratic Convention split over whether the platform should endorse the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision) that’s enough to win. In terms of the popular vote, his…
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This blog describes my husband and I. ❤
My partner and I have a great relationship. I am going to go ahead and take 46% of the credit for that. I’d say she gets about 48% and the rest is luck and timing. Not infrequently people comment on how good we are together, how much fun we seem to have, how much in love we appear to be, etc. So obviously I am totally an expert on how to have a great relationship and ought to share the secret to our success with the entire Internet.
Here’s my advice:
1) You have to really LIKE each other. Liking each other is different from loving each other. Love is loyalty, commitment, being there even if you don’t really feel like it. Love is verb, it’s action, it’s something you do because it needs to be done. It’s important but it’s secondary to liking each other. Liking each other means…
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She KNEW people like me were getting bored of reading these survey questions, so the appropriate insertion of hokey pokey verses is nothing short of AWESOME. MCUSA is going to die. I just know it.
With all due respect to the probably good-hearted and most certainly earnest people who have created the various and sundry surveys that have gone out into various portions of the Mennonite Church USA world–ahhhrrrgggghhh! Yet another survey is out today–this one for those who will serve as delegates in Kansas City this summer. It is so carefully worded you can hardly tell what it’s asking. And, as always, people who are not necessarily straight and cisgendered are put forth as an issue to be discussed and resolved–rather than as an important and life-giving part of the church to be embraced.
I do not want to belittle what are, I believe, faithful efforts to discern the future of the church. But I’m going to anyway. Because, frankly, I’ve reached that point where if I don’t laugh I’m going to start crying. So I present to you a revised version of the…
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If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that.
Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.
If you enjoy this collection of maps, the Sifter highly recommends the r/MapPorn sub reddit. You should also check out ChartsBin.com. There were also fantastic posts on Business Insider and Bored Panda earlier this year that are worth checking out. Enjoy!
1. Where Google Street View is Available
2. Countries That Do Not Use the Metric System
3. The Only 22…
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