Saturday, November 27, 2010

Memories: Assembly of God

The following describes one of three major events that led to my rejection of organized religion the minute I hit high school. Other factors were involved, but this--yeah.

I was in junior high, seventh or eighth grade, and sitting in the chapel of my father's Assembly of God church for youth group. Other kids surrounded me, kids I neither knew nor liked and who neither knew nor cared for me. But I was there because it was the week I was staying with my dad and, for some reason, I had agreed to this shit.

My youth group pastor was a young, energetic man, probably in his mid-twenties. His wife was super nice, a woman with big hair, a lot of makeup, and a Louisiana accent I adored. He stood at the front of the chapel and asked us all a question.

"If God offered to tell you where you'd end up after death--Heaven or Hell--would you want to know? Raise your hand."

Of course we all raised our hands.

"If God told you you were going to Hell, would you try your best to go to Heaven instead?"

Uhm, yeah I would. Apparently--and not surprisingly--everyone else felt the same way.

"You can't do that!" he said. "God told you you're going to hell, you're going to hell. There is nothing you can do. Now, who would still try to get into heaven anyways?"

What the fuck is this?! I wondered.

Yet my peers and I insisted, all raising our hands.

Again, he told us we were stupid for even trying because God said it wouldn't happen. Who are we to challenge God?!

So again he asked. And again we all raised our hands except for one kid. He was done with this shit. If he was going to hell, he was going to hell. Fuck it. I couldn't help but admire him for this and also couldn't help but think that it would make life a bit nicer if I could just enjoy it without worrying about the dangling, annoying carrot that was heaven.

Alas, he continued.

"What if God told you you were going to heaven?"



  1. The manmade god. Isn't he about fucking with our heads? Not to mention our lives? Fuck him and all his little self-righteous minions, including but not limited to Tommy Monson, et al. They know nothing more than we do, probably less. And they know it, too.

    I cannot forgive them for standing up and pretending otherwise, with all their tears and sing-songy voices, digging in their soft knives, heedless of the innocent hearts they pierce, even if they have persuaded themselves to believe their own fucking lies.

    But when they are honest with themselves they know they don't know. To me, lying to oneself is the worst evil of all -- because it wreaks so much havoc on the lives of others. But I'm sure the yearly 6-figure stipend they skim off of their tithing revenues eases their guilt substantially.

    I hate them. Given the opportunity, I will tell them so in person.

    Rant over. For now.

  2. What the Dissenter said.

    I went to an Assembly of God meeting with a friend once when I was pretty small, maybe 7 years old. In hindsight I can't believe my mother let me, but anyway--it was a memorable occasion, because they were putting on a play which featured the Devil heavily and was fairly terrifying. I mean, the guy who was playing the Devil leaped around in the congregation, getting in people's faces and threatening them with hellfire. The guy playing Jesus pretty much did the same thing, as I recall.

  3. I just might share my AoG experiences here in a series of sorts, because Diana--that's pretty much what it's like on a fairly regular basis. Thankfully the pastors leading the church while I attended were mild, though I hear now it's become more zealous. I missed out on the speaking in tongues--the stories my sister tells me of her recent experiences are maddening. Absolutely maddening.

  4. That would be very interesting to read, Lisa. I don't know much about AoG, but what you've described here and my thoughts now on what I observed at my friend's church are that there seems to effectively be no real differentiation between the messages and actions of God and Satan. The Devil seems to be God's photographic negative. Satan tries to drag you down to Hell; God will damn you to Hell if he feels like it. The whole thing sounds like a gospel of fear. Well, I guess most of Christianity is a gospel of fear.

  5. Now that I think of it a bit more (my first thought about writing this was "why would they bother teaching this if there's no hope?") but I think it may have been a lesson in works vs. faith. Perhaps I give my pastor too much credit, though, because it seems more a lesson on "you can't outwit god." That was my take-away, at least.

    That said, it is interesting coming from a religion that insists on the doctrine of grace over works. Insulting as well--it assumes I hadn't yet been saved, another common thread in my experiences with this particular church. And, as I recall, I was "saved" multiple times before I stopped attending all together. There's every chance I was "saved" before this particular experience.

    Also, as my mom told me while I was in junior high following a comment from an atheist friend, "God doesn't damn you to hell. You damn yourself."

    Whatever. Either way it's rather fucked up.

  6. Isn't AoG Sarah Palin's church? She may be going to heaven, but if there's a god, she'll never be president and who is she to challenge him, right? Sounds like she missed that church lesson. :)

  7. and nobody thought to say, "this is an asinine question. Can't you just teach us about love and charity or something?"

  8. FD: Is it? I believe it's something of this caliber, but if they're praying the devil out it's a much more holy-roller church than the one I attended (thank god)

    And yes, who is she indeed ;)

    Carla: Why we never think to ask that question I have no idea. But I'd sure like to remember that the next time someone preaches this sort of bullshit.

    Even that couldn't guarantee much as these people believe they *are* preaching love. It's so ass-backwards.