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​An Open Letter to Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians.

Last Word | November 17th, 2022

By Waylon Hedegaard

retiringwithcats@gmail.com

For all those who still decry my departure from the Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian faith, understand that I will never return. I see the examples you set and want no part of them.

For I know you. I used to be you, and I never want to be that again.

I have heard you preach against lies, then lie about others. You fabricate new truths when the old no longer suit. You twist events into unrecognizable shapes, then use them as weapons to isolate, to alienate, and to wound. You speak in the tongues of your Lord, only speak in lies when the words grow intelligible once again. You weave these lies into fortresses in your heart, then deport any who cross you.

After preaching the love of one’s neighbor, your Facebook posts scream to close the Mexican border and disparage immigrants. You reduce a group of human beings desperate for a new life into a pack of criminals intent only on stealing what you consider yours. You mock them with the terms wetbacks or breeders. You read the stories of Jesus washing the feet of lepers, yet decry the desperate folk of our modern world. The words that you use as weapons, bleeding heart, snowflake and feminized, show that care for others has become a vice, and compassion a weakness.

I have seen you. I know you. I used to be you.

I see your wars against gay and trans folk and am so very ashamed of the part I played in my youth. Your hateful words dehumanize kind and loving people, pressing them into animals or pedophiles or whatever shapes you can hate more easily. While demanding freedom for yourself, you sneer at a group of human beings whose only crime is to not accept the rigid shackles of who you demand they be. Slurs fall from your lips about people you never knew and have never given a chance. Your sense of superiority grows with your castigation of others.

I have seen your hatred of women, accepting only those who know their place, pushing down any who may rise. The terms slut, bitch or whore fall from your lips for those having the temerity to not follow the rigid form of abstinence that you demand in others, but which you yourself never followed. I see you gleefully support war and cruelty and greed while preaching against sex, as if it, somehow, is the root of evil.

I have seen you. I know you. I used to be you.

I see your judgements against those with darker skin tones, while professing to never see color. You make excuses for Christian nationalism while condemning Black Lives Matter. I watch in the workplaces and the public squares how you judge any different folk on a scale you would never use for your own. You denounce others for sins that filled your own youth. You shed crocodile tears for democracy while demanding your version of White Jesus be king.

I have seen you rail against the evils of socialism while yearly drawing thousands of dollars of unemployment insurance, or hundreds of thousands in farm subsidies. Or millions in government business loans or grants. Why is socialism only bad when it goes to other people? I see you blame the poor for being poor, unless it’s you who are suffering. For you, there are extenuating circumstances. For others, they are lazy and not working hard enough.

I have seen you. I know you. I used to be you.

You preach on the importance of character in politics, but then support politicians who lack everything but a will to power. You strip the word character of all definitions and demand it only applies to you, all evidence to the contrary. You overlook sins in those you idolize that you’d castigate in your opponents. You happily follow the moral advice of serial philanderers as long as they stand against the people you despise. In your moral pantheon, decency, integrity and honesty have been displaced by the need to win at any cost. Your moral bankruptcy and decay are manifest in your Machiavellian grasping for power.

I am saddened as the kind values of your Christ fall away to be replaced by a lust for power and victory. Your lens has twisted Jesus into a mockery of compassion.

You hate and disparage neighbors and family and former friends, calling them pigs, or bastards or bitches. While demanding the Ten Commandments be in every classroom, you bear false witness against these neighbors and use those untruths to move your pawn ahead. I see you praying on Sundays for the salvation of all mankind, yet spending the rest of the week spreading falsehoods about your enemies. Or your friends. Or your family…

Or your children…

You pray, then you prey.

I have seen you. I know you. I used to be you.

And I have seen how your stance against abortion becomes a shield for cruelty and coldness, a Get out of Jail Free Card to be cast upon the table whenever someone questions your chosen path. At least, you don’t support the murder of children; you proclaim to the world. Yet standing against abortion is the easiest of stances, requiring no personal sacrifice. You chastise desperate young women in front of clinics, demanding they have children they cannot support, only to return home to write letters to the editor demanding lower taxes and an end to welfare.

I have seen how the testimony of your words and actions stands in stark opposition to the number of times you call on Jesus’s name. I see nothing but contempt for those weaker than yourselves, for those different, for those in need of help. It’s sadly ironic how your version of the Prince of Peace hates the same people you do.

I have seen you. I know you. I used to be you.

And I never wish to be that again.

I know that some of you hold a strange fantasy that once saved, one is always saved, that heaven is my destiny no matter what my words are now. I want to put that to rest. I, Waylon Hedegaard, renounce any claim to heaven or any version of an afterlife. I renounce Jesus. I renounce God. I renounce the Holy Spirit. I renounce all that is Evangelical Christian.

To live a moral life, I cast off belief and faith in favor of compassion and decency.

There are far better examples of how to live, some Christian and some not, whose lives have given me lessons so much stronger than your own. They have shown me the strength of empathy. The wonder of helping others. The joy in making a difference in someone’s life.

I abandon your cruelty for their compassion.

And I will be far from the last to do so. The numbers of those leaving your faith are legion, and those will only grow. You are destroying your own faith. For we have seen you. We know you. Many of us used to be you, and we never wish to be you again.

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