The Shunning

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In light of the backlash that came with my recent post “7 Reasons to Leave a Church”, I would like to take a moment and say thank you to every single person who reached out by liking, commenting, sharing, or sending me a private message in response.

It turns out that something as simple as a Facebook “like”, in this situation, carried the weight of a public statement. And so to the brave souls who dared to stand up with me and endure the bullying and rejection, I salute you. Your courage inspires me.

To those of you who messaged me privately, I want to express my gratitude. Huge thanks to all of you who took the time out of your day to write to me about your own experiences. Your messages have been a source of encouragement and I cannot thank you enough.

Of all the emotions I’ve experienced since the big exit and trying to heal from that mess, nothing has been stranger, but also confirmation that I made the right decision, than the social media shunning that followed.

It’s a peculiar phenomenon directly related to the fact that we live in a world ruled by social media. It reminds me of the concept of excommunication, in which a person is cut off from the larger religious group by being deprived, suspended, or limited in their participation with, or membership in, the group because they did something that was frowned upon by the group. Today, it could be argued that excommunication is a virtual spectacle in which the offending party gets iced out on social media. No more likes. No more comments. Unfollow. Unfriend. Block.

Strangely enough, I’ve watched this happen before and have been a part of doing it to other people when they left. I even anticipated it happening, and so in order to soften the blow, I pre-emptively unfollowed a number of individuals who would likely not share my views. Despite all the mental preparation, however, it still wasn’t easy watching the very people who smiled and said they loved you, turn their backs on you because you chose to speak up. Thankfully, I’ve grown some thick skin over the years and people’s opinions don’t phase me like they used to. So that took all of maybe five minutes to get over.

The more upsetting part of this situation is not that I’ve become the black sheep, but that anyone remotely affiliated with me is also getting the big unfriend and block action that I’ve grown accustomed to. As silly as it sounds, I don’t make light of it, because it can be deeply upsetting and the social rejection can be damaging. When most of your social network, social activities, and weekly agenda revolve around church (because that’s how this particular group is set up and it is expected of you), it’s a painfully difficult and lonely process to heal. I know this because I have been there.

And so I would say to those of you who have stepped away, who are being shunned for being associated with me, and who are in the process of grieving and healing, please know that you are loved, accepted, and covered by our tender loving Heavenly Father who sees your heart and your pain, who wants you to be free and whole in Him, and who loves watching you, His precious child, explore and probe the ever expansive depths of His goodness and kindness towards you.

Lastly, may the strength of His unfailing love hold you steadfast. May you find rest in Him as He tends your wounds. And in the grip of His grace, may you find peace, and the strength to journey on.

Grace and peace.

[Disclaimer: Despite what is being said about me, I did not then, nor will I now, publicly call out or name anyone involved. I have not, nor will I ever, condone violent acts. I have no intention of taking the law or due process into my hands. And I am not responsible for the arrest that was made last weekend with regards to the incidents I alluded to in my post. I wrote that post as a way for me to process, not as any kind of means to a vicious end. I have no personal vendetta against anybody.] 

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7 thoughts on “The Shunning

  1. Erik says:

    Outstanding.

    It’s really, really odd behaviour.

    We observed the identical behaviour directed towards us. Church-wide “likes” and comments on IG when pictures are posted of our family, etc. Then suddenly, literally suddenly, they all stop at once. The only logical explanation (which is ridiculous if true) is that there are little “meetings” where these instructions are rolled out by leadership. What other explanation is there for a unified and polar opposite change in behaviour? Remarkably juvenile.

    Then again, we observed a change in behaviour towards us when we stopped giving extra money too.

    I was under the impression that friendships, authentic ones, are not affected by WHERE you go to church. You’re either in the Body of Christ or you’re not. Sadly, with this church, if you’re not in THEIR body (not capitalized on purpose) of Christ, you don’t count.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julie says:

    It is so sad to hear that NOTHING has changed, our family was there 15 yrs ago and we were told NOT to associate with at least 3 sets of people who left. Then when we left we were shunned for quite a long time -(years ) until they needed to lighten up the control on the parishioners. I really thought and hoped it was different. Reading your 7 reasons to leave a church revealed the identical reasons we left other than the sexual assault charge. . With all this being said we were offered loose apologies for the hurt and shunning in the past but how can there be apologies when it is still happening? This makes any apology worth nothing. When Jesus and Zaccheus tax collector sat down to eat Zaccheus truly repented of his wrong doing and paid back the people he took from four times what he owed them This leadership who says they are sorry have never done this for anyone – either financially or emotionally. The amount of people affected over the years is huge. God bless you on your journey. If at any point you or anyone who has left this place question if you have done the right thing or wonder if you are wrong for how you feel – KNOW that you have made the right decision ! God is not limited to their church or building.

    Liked by 1 person

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