Just after the release of "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire" I had a discussion with a co-worker that was unsettling. She had red hair and three red haired sons. I made the comment that they
were like the Weasley family in the Harry Potter series. I had expected maybe a laugh out of the comment. Instead I was hit with a stern rebuke. She told me that Harry Potter was not something
that she and her family would read or even allow in her house. Her pastor had preached that it promoted witchcraft and that in the latest book there was even the sacrifice of a baby.
Having read the series and the latest book, I was deeply and utterly shocked. I told her so and that there were in fact no babies sacrificed in any of the Harry Potter books. She argued that her
pastor had even given the page number. Had she read it, I asked. She responded that she didn't have to, she trusted her pastor.
I read the page she gave me. It was the graveyard scene where Voldemort is resurrected. Taken out of context, I could see some confusion. What really struck me was her complete blind trust in
what her pastor at a conservative evangelical church had told her. [This church was part of a larger religious network that sent talking points for the pastors to preach.] How could she just blindly
trust whatever this person said?! How could she not investigate it herself? Simply reading the book would have shown her that this claim was blatantly false. What other lies had this organization,
through her pastor, pressed her to believe?
After this encounter I could never trust an evangelical church. If they were willing to tell an easily disprovable lie about a book, what else were they willing to do to control those in their
congregations? I found it to be dangerous and insulting to God to spread these falsehoods. If you are a true Christian you would not have to lie about something to bring others to your belief. If
you are a true Christian you should not have to mold society to follow your belief system in over to avoid temptations. You should be able to work through anything and still hold your beliefs.
Words. I stopped attending church due to all this hypocrisy. But it's not just that, there is this underlying current of misogyny that bothers me - women are lesser, weaker, bringers of sin who need to obey their husbands and church elders (men) in all things. I felt as if they were saying that women must be controlled by a man or she'll make sinful choices/become corrupt. I've been controlled before when I was a child in an abusive home. I never wanted to be in that situation again. So I worship on my own. I also noted an undercurrent of prejudice against anyone not white, not the right type of Christian, or not American. I once heard a pastor preach about a landslide in a Central American country that had killed many people and he lamented about all those lost souls. I sat there thinking about how many of those who died were probably Catholic and wondered how they were lost when they believed in the same God. What is not an undercurrent is anti-intellectual/anti-
science that is prevalent in these churches. These are direct threats to the control of their congregations, to the way they think and believe.
As I reflect back on that encounter with my friend, I see a larger picture emerging. Evangelical Christians are not satisfied with simply controlling those in their churches. They are indignant that
their power is shrinking. There's been a campaign to spread their control nationwide. Like a pyramid scheme, those below see themselves as defending the faith and spreading the Word, while
those higher up know the truth that the end game is to control society on a larger scale. In public office these evangelical Christians put religion above the law of the land, the common good of the
people, ignoring those they are supposed to represent if they don't share their views, and try to change laws to fit their religious beliefs regardless of any other religions that may be represented in
their area or science that disproves their beliefs. If they had their dithers everyone would believe as they believe or they would at least follow the evangelical expected norms without complaint
(hide your differences and be silent). These people would turn back the clock to the 1950's McCarthy era or to the early 1900's. Those who are different/don't follow the "accepted way" of thinking
are ostracized and have fewer opportunities/paths in life.
The seeds of lies planted year after year by conservative evangelical Christians have come to bloom. Today we have a divided nation. We have a group of Republicans and others in leadership
positions who are more than willing to go along with what the Evangelicals want because it solidifies their power (and makes them richer). They are willing to pedal lies to the masses. They are
so proud as their lies and their actions erode the true foundations this democracy was built upon. I fear that the very religion of those who built this country will be its downfall.
Like in the Harry Potter series, due to fear of Voldemort lies are preferred over truth because it maintains a status quo and then because it solidifies the power and control exerted by Voldemort
and his deatheaters when they take control. I can only hope that life does not repeat fiction. I have no answers as to how to fix this erosion that is damaging our country and our freedoms except to
continue to press the truth, to check the truth of things others push, and to not lose my own faith. Like in the Harry Potter series we must fight against the darkness to again gain the light.