An Open Letter to My “Fellow” Christians…

Flickr Creative Commons via Sam Rich

Dear fellow Christian brothers and sisters,

I didn’t want to open this Pandora’s box because I know how sensitive Christians can get. But it’s time.

I know because I am used to be one of those “sensitive Christians.” So before you get all huffy and puffy, hear me out. YOU are the reason I do not attend church anymore, choose to have mostly “nonbelieving” friends and will probably not step foot in a church regularly ever again.

(A little disclaimer: This is not toward ALL Christians. I don’t make broad generalizations like that because it’s untrue and is not beneficial. There are probably less than ten people in this world that I know and call themselves Christ followers that the following rant doesn’t apply to. The rest of you, this rant is for you).

A Little Background

I grew up in a home where my parents respected what I chose to believe in. My Dad is a Buddhist, and my mom dabbles in the stuff you’d deem, “New Age.” Buddhists support all religions that make people a better person, so when a pastor of a Southern Baptist church and his wife invited me to go to church, my parents allowed it. I became a Christian at eight years old, scared into it by the pictures of burning fire and threats of eternal torment in the depths of hell. And became increasingly involved in church for the next twenty years. I was involved in youth groups – both as an attendee and a leader. I sang in choirs, on the worship team, I majored in religious studies and I went to, led and started Bible studies.

In all that time, I was preached at to love people around us, yet I watched and lived the examples of judgment Monday through Saturday. I had a Christian friend that told me that he didn’t have Christian friends because, with non-Christian friends, you expect the knife in the back. At the time, I pitied him for having such a jaded view, and it saddened me. After years of pulling knives out of my back by so called “Christian” friends, I have the same belief and thus, few of my close friends are Christians these days.

Betrayed By Christians

I know it’s not fair to say the whole bunch is rotten for one bad apple, but what happens when it’s a few good apples in a barrel of rotten ones? Over and over and over again, I’ve been brutally betrayed by people I trusted, those closest to me. I’ve been judged mercilessly by those that were supposed to be my support, those that I shared my deepest fears and hurt with. Instead of love, I saw judgment. Instead of peace, I get gossip and back biting.

Three other people had their hand in breaking up my marriage – not including my ex and myself. All of us church-going Christians – involved in Bible study, shared meals over and sat next to at church on Sunday. These people still go to church. I want no part in that or of them. And no, I don’t need to hear Bible verses on forgiveness – I know them all by heart.

Just the other evening, I chatted with a former Christian, who said she was basically ostracized by her family because she started questioning the beliefs she was raised upon. They think she’s “crazy” and won’t talk to her. But hey, they pray for her. And that’s just sad.

Countless times, and I was first in the guilty line, stood with my fingers pointing, whispering behind my hands about someone because of this or that. I judged them by the way they raised their children, by the things they did, by the fact that they drank wine, or things they said, or any other thing that I may not have agreed with. I was a b*tch, simply because I thought I was better than them. In reality, I was just a narrow-minded person, spreading hate, not the love that is supposed to be the cornerstone of my faith.

I’ve laughingly been “chastised in love” when basically what was happening was someone judged me for something I did and veiled it under the umbrella of “I really care about you, so I wanted you to know what you’re doing…” This person spoke to me maybe twice a year. Lots of care going on there.

“I’m So Offended”

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I am not easily offended. Question my integrity or disparage my family, and my feathers will get ruffled, but mock my faith, not really. You see, I am not shaken in my faith. I know what I believe. I know why I believe it, and if you don’t believe the same thing I do, I’m not going to argue you to my side. I respect your beliefs, I will never tell you that you are wrong. Yet, why do many feel like they need to argue someone into heaven?

The whole recent Creation/Evolution debate – the Bill Nye one. Yeah, I didn’t watch it. I didn’t care. And I still don’t. It turns out like they all do, much mocking and “bad” publicity toward Christians. We’ve become the LAUGHINGSTOCK of religion for our sensitivity and judgment. Wake up already!

You don’t think it’s offensive to everyone else when we tell everyone that they are wrong and stupid because their beliefs don’t match ours? You don’t think it’s offensive for us to say that people who love each other are sinful and should be shunned because they are the same sex. Regardless of what you believe about what people should and shouldn’t be doing, you telling them they are wrong does nothing but breed hostility and hatred. Not even close to the love we are to be showing EVERYONE.

I once edited an article that didn’t mock Christianity outright, but it was clear that the author wasn’t a believer. And the comments from “Christians” that followed, did nothing but solidify his already low view of Christians.

Many atheists are surprised when I tell them I am a Christian. They tell me that I am not like “any other Christian they’ve met.” I take that as a huge compliment because they basically are telling me that I am more open-minded and loving than other believers they’ve come in contact with…and you know what, somehow, they trust and respect me enough to start asking questions about God.

I Know What You’re Thinking

“Poor Hanssie. She’s backslidden, and we’d better pray for her.” I know exactly what you’re thinking. And if that’s the case, please save your prayers. I still believe. I even have a tattoo with that statement. Your prayers aren’t going to get me to go back to willingly surround myself with people that preach love to my face and judge me behind my back. Sorry, I’m not interested.

At 29 years old, my world was turned upside down, every belief I had been taught since I was 8 years old tested to the core. I got a loud and painful wake-up call and a good hard look at the hypocrisy that was my life and that I had surrounded myself with. Then again a few years later.

For those of you who are freaking out at me…I believe in the Bible and its teachings. I believe in God. I believe in total depravity, limited atonement, irresistible grace and the like…I don’t believe in the organization of the church, at least, not the way that it is today.

Bottom line is that God is way bigger than the box we’re trying to put him in. He calls us to love Him and love others. Stop wasting your time in judgment, stop wasting your time preaching how wrong I am or how sinful I am being, stop whispering behind your hands about who’s doing what and for crying out loud, stop getting offended if someone breathes wrong (or rather differently than you).

The Christians of the world that are making an impact are the ones that are doing. And in doing, they are loving on people. It’s simple, love God, love others. And get over yourself.


Still a Christian

P.S. Feel free to leave your comments. But anyone looking to start a religious debate, I’m not interested.

15 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My “Fellow” Christians…

  1. First, I agree. Second, you should know that I’m actually learning from you – I appreciate you! Now back to the comments…

    I agree with what you stated and understand “where” it’s coming from. Not that your “feeling” or writing(s) need validation, but allow my meager attempt.

    Outside of our PHOTOGRAPHY WORLD, I’m Pastor Rod. Preacher, Teacher, Professor, Church Planter, Executive Pastor and really nice dresser! I’ve Preached in the U.S. from coast to coast and from border to border. Multiple cultures, Native Americans, Africans, Mexicans with as many as 3 translators [one time!]. I’ve spoken to as few as 2 people to several thousand at one time [easy]. I decided to leave a TOXIC, abusive relationship for my health, sanity and my kids. Once, after 23 years of effort, I made the decision and left a toxic, abusive relationship, every communication device I owned STOP! Decades long friendships ended without question. Literally, not one person called to what’s up, you alright or I “heard”. Just “CRICKETS”. Needless to say, I’m good and like you my relationship with God is tight!

    Now to “Christian”…
    I saw something, a photograph that actually made me cry. It conveyed what I KNOW Christianity to be. I found the write-up/story:

  2. Hanssie, you sound so angry and unhappy. I am so sorry that you have been treated so badly by “Christians.” This is so wrong and I am so sorry. Could I ask you to just start reading the Bible through. Don’t just read a verse here and there, read it entirely and let God lead comfort and you.

    From a fellow Christian.

  3. As an agnostic driven away from the church with what could have been a carbon copy of your experiences including the break up, I have sympathy for you but I also applaud you for standing up for what you know to be right in your heart. Stick with what YOU believe in, not what others think you should believe. – “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

  4. I am in the same boat you are! Brett & I stopped going to the church we both grew up in when all they were doing was asking for money for this and that ( $1,000,000.00 facade improvement?!), when they were able to buy the newest iPad for Christmas! THEN… THEN… they introduced the newest form of tithing…. the ATM machine, where you can make a debit deposit, just in case you didn’t have cash or check!! We were absolutely appalled, and have never been back since. Don’t worry, the “facade improvements” have yet to begin and it’s been several years.

    I have a few gay friends from working in the hospitality business. I love them and their souls, but I hate that “Christians” condemn them for their “choices”, BUT Christians can get divorced for “irreconcilable differences” … Who’s the sinner now?! They made an oath to God and each other, for better or worse, BUT the gays are not allowed to? (That’s a whole other can of worms!) What I’m getting at is who are they to judge? Anyone for that matter?!

    So, like you, we still believe and have our own beliefs, but from our own experiences choose to keep our love of the Lord to ourselves to avoid this BS and drama.

    I love your rants, and I love that I’m not the only one that feels this way!

  5. I totally understand you. But isn’t sad when you blame people for interfering with your beliefs ? I feel so much anger in your heart when you say :

    “YOU are the reason I am not attending church”. I am not Christian, but how could you put people above your God ? I do understand your pain that people caused you, but don’t understand the connection with Christianity.

    Maybe the title shouldn’t been: to my “fellow” friends who hurt me…
    And by putting the word Christian and involving religions seems like it’s a cry for attention. Hopefully everything will be alright with you ! Best Wishes !

    1. Ah Sam,

      I thank you for reading and commenting, but I feel that you have missed my point. I don’t blame them for interfering in my beliefs. In fact, I think I state that IN SPITE of them, I still believe.

      I just choose not to associate with organized religion.

      I’m not looking for attention, I am calling out those that proclaim to love Christ, but can’t seem to love others. If they were true friends, I would’ve called them out to their face. I’m calling out Christians, not only the ones I know, but the ones that get easily offended when people disagree with them or mention Christianity in a negative light or wish to argue religion instead of getting their hands dirty to do something. The connection with Christianity, it that the people that I know that do this are Christians. I’m speaking to all the people that not only have hurt me, but the countless people that no longer attend church because of the people in it. It’s time they opened their eyes and took a good hard look at the damage they are doing and compare it to the amount of help they are providing.

      My God is much bigger than the box we’ve put him in and He needs no defense.

  6. Hey Hanssie,
    Honestly I don’t know you that well, we’ve met at max a total of maybe 5 times at different smugmug events, out of anything I want to say is sorry on behalf of everyone that has betrayed you, broken your trust, hurt you in the name of Christ, although I work at a church as a youth pastor I see this happen again and again, people hurt by the people attending the church and no one calls, part of me wishes that days could be 48 hours long so I could make all those calls. so although I work at a church there is no part of me that will ever blame you, Really all you need is the Lord and I can honestly say all though my heart breaks for the pain you must have had to endure, my heart at the same time is overjoyed by the testament of faith that you’re still believing in God! So both my heart breaks for you and you’re at the same time very inspirational in your story! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Hi Hassie

    I really didn’t even read the whole post, but I will later.

    I love the vibe of the post and “christians” do need to stop and start being.

    You are on a great path, no worries. I wish I could go to churches and speak a message, “What is Church”? I have thought about this a lot since I left the last church I will ever attend. I have known Christ for 25 years and know now that you find Him where the hurting and broken hearted are.

    Peace Rick

  8. Just to let you know, I am what even I would say is a ‘militant atheist’…. I was brought up, or more correctly, indoctrinated as a christian. Although as I say “I stopped believing in the tooth fairy and father christmas at about the age of 6”.

    However the message I wanted to get across was that I found your blog/message quite inspirational and admirable. I hope and am confident with the little that I know about your attitude that you will be fine.

    All the very best,

  9. Good for you!! I feel the same and have often thought about Buddhism. I was raised Christian/Catholic. I am unable to be a Catholic today as I can not believe in many of their “sins”. To not go to church on Sunday an eternal sin?? Even if I live as a good person all week?? But the cheating/lying person sitting in the pew on Sunday is going to heaven because he/she is in church?? I can’t understand that one. So I don’t attend a formal church setting, but live my life to be the best person I can every day. And yes that is according to the Bible.

  10. Thank you Ms. Hanssie for this article. As a christian, I will make sure that I always allow Christ’s love to dwell in my heart and shine in rays of blessings to those around me.

  11. If we want the Christian world to be more loving, we as part of that universal body of Christ should begin where we have access to being agents for the kind of change we desire. Our own hearts. As individuals, we need to love as Christ has loved us and we need to stop asking others to love us. Why? Because Jesus said so. ‘Love your enemies’. Anybody can love those that love them back. That is and always will be the path to growing in Christ I think. God bless you Hanssie. Jesus loves His church and you are a part of it no? Take care

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