The “Mythbuster” series I began recently was not created to offend entire groups of people. Moreover, it’s designed to get us thinking about age-old beliefs that are accepted without question by each generation for no apparent reason. So you can save yourself the trouble of sending me hate mail and allow me my right to free speech under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So much for the obligatory disclaimer and commercial interruption. Now I’ll get to the heart of this subject.
I’ve been a regular church attendee for nearly twenty years: about half of those within the Catholic church system, and the other part with non-denominational types. I participated, in varying degrees, in bible studies, newcomer committees, and programs for RCIA, music, and teens. Also, in administration, fundraisers, hosting home events, and have been an usher and greeter. So I’m not just the typical hit-and-run Christian. Throughout these many Sundays and holidays, I’ve witnessed thousands of the faithful that profess to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. It’s been an interesting experience that I feel I must share. I call it the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The majority of people with whom I interacted over two decades, were kind, generous, and giving individuals. They cared about their family and friends and would be welcome in any household. One would expect that kind of behavior coming from regular church going, God fearing, people. Therefore, it’s rather surprising and disappointing to report that not all of these people fit that description.
I first was disillusioned by the clergy of the Catholic Church. My wife was told she and I wouldn’t be welcomed into the church because we weren’t married in a Catholic church and that her first marriage would have to be annulled, requiring a letter for her ex-husband. That caused anguish, because we had no contact, and intended none, with her ex. Later, we decided to go anyway, despite the negative reception. We discovered the head priest was a nasty, vindictive, person with a strange and unsettling personality.
I also got to know many of the parishioners and learned that this wasn’t exactly Mayberry. Divorce, adultery, and lechery were as common as in the soap operas on television. Several of the women had breast implants and other plastic surgery and flaunted their newly acquired material. Men were cheating on their wives with other church members. There were people that continuously gossiped about other member’s family troubles. Then they bragged about their own finances, large executive homes, world travel, and their overall social status. There were certain ‘cliques’ of members that clung together, not allowing others to join in their little private club. Other members kept to themselves, never volunteering to do anything church-related. They neither gave a penny during the service nor wanted any part of the social events that were conducted monthly. They were the hit-and-run Christians, that couldn’t wait to get home and leave the service behind. I imagine they also quickly forgot the sermon as well.
The pastor wasn’t immune to this scenario, either. I watched the abuse of church funds that included stealing from the teen’s weekly collection, using offerings for personal travel and luxury purchases, and faulty bookkeeping. It gave me insight into where tithes go and why I won’t give to most religious organizations anymore. But that’s my opinion. I’m sure that many religious-based charities do tremendous things for the less-fortunate, including the Salvation Army, which I do donate to. But this is about people and their failures while professing to be walking in Christ’s footsteps.
I’m not a hypocrite. I know I’m not perfect and have a list of faults that good churchgoers might criticize. But that’s the point. They shouldn’t point fingers when they have plenty of their own to consider. So how can they go to church, pledge to follow Jesus, and then act if they had never been to a service? Many do, but because of their actions outside church, shouldn’t be put on any kind of pedestal. Yet the sad truth is that general public probably still assumes anyone attending church is automatically considered to be a good person. Myth busted!
Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master's Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, “Pursuit of the Phoenix. " His latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages" which can be seen at his website, http://www.poweradbook.com . Currently, he is the Marketing Director for thenurseschoice.com, a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.