Baby’s Funeral. And why religion doesn’t comfort.

comments 3
the godless side / the post-God side

Yesterday, hundreds of people attended the funeral for our dear friend’s baby girl.  My eyes teared, my heart broke, and my mind spun throughout the entirety of the overly religious, hours-long service.  Three poignant observations I’ll share with you over the next 3 days:

1. Contrary to its claim, Religion excludes community; it doesn’t create it:

As I’ve mentioned, the baby’s father has been my husband’s best friend for years and years.  Let’s call him Gavin.  They grew up together, shared their teen years together, questioned theology and pondered philosophical ideas together. They were friends for life, and widely regarded as the future leaders of the church.  I can’t overemphasize the depth of their friendship.  But now that Silver no longer believes the way they do, the relationship has been severed.  And not just with Gavin, but with everyone in his community.   Most (almost all) of these relationships have been severed intentionally.  Silver is poison and must be ostracized for everyone’s own good.  But with his best friend?  Gavin has never abandoned Silver on purpose.  But the chasm between them remains.  Why?

Silver comes from a very rare community of Mormon fundamentalists. This group has a number of significant differences from the LDS church, most notably of which is the practice of plural marriage, or polygamy. As Gavin spoke at the pulpit during the funeral service, shaking with the passion of a father who lost his only daughter.  “Why do we do what we do??” He begged the congregation, referring to their unconventional way of life.  He had mentioned a moment earlier that he and his wife had 51 siblings between them. Polygamy makes for very large families and even larger extended families.   He then asked “How many of you are my family?”  A sea of hands arose.  Mine was the only hand who remained down within my visual field.  Silver raised his hand of course, he and Gavin are second cousins once removed, but that’s not what makes them family. Years of shared experiences and intimacy made them as close as brothers once. But the feeling is no longer mutual, because when the family and dear friends arose to pray over the casket, Silver was not asked to join them.

He is no longer considered the family that matters.  He will not be joining them in the Celestial Kingdom, the highest of heavens, upon death.  Gavin didn’t do this — his beliefs did.

Churches of various denominations advertise to the public for guests to join them in order to be a part of a loving community, a new family.  But what they don’t say is that one must convert in order to be a part of that family.  Not because the people of that religion are selfish — in fact, some of the individuals try their best to be as open-armed and open-hearted to “outsiders” as possible.  But religion forces boundaries on who is and who isn’t part of an eternal family.  There is no willpower that brings someone into the fold that religion says isn’t.

Silver will never be asked to join his dearest friends and family for their most sacred moments in times of tragedy or in times of celebration.  Only, only because religion has told them he is not worthy to do so.

Eff religion and the pain it creates by dividing peoples, by separating loved ones, and for not allowing my husband to participate in the mourning of his best friend’s baby girl alongside him.

religion forces sharp boundaries between people

religion forces sharp boundaries between people

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The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

3 Comments

  1. I feel like the more fundamentalist the sect, the more EXclusive it is. Whether it be polygamous Mormons, small baptist churches that are made up of only family members, or ISIS. They exist to be “other” (and all that it entails).

    They are not like “the world” out there and consider themselves the new chosen ones of their chosen deity. They exclude to keep the group pure and “holy.”

    I think to not be in one of those groups would mean I am heading in the right direction 🙂 Exclusivity always has a point. Psychologically, it makes it easier to place blame on the “heathen” or “sinner” or “unsaved” or “infidel” because of suppression and repression and then projection onto that which they perceive to be “other.”

    I’m sorry that your grieving is tinged with having to deal with “shunning.” That makes it twice as hard. You and Silver are in my thoughts.

    All the Best,
    Andy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Andy. I completely agree with your perspective about fundamentalism and exclusivity. And also the mentality of being pure and chosen, placing blame on the other, etc. It feels terrible being on the receiving side of that, and watching Silver go through that, but I would much rather be shunned than do the shunning. And I agree with your position that we are all headed in the right direction as evidence of not being a part of these groups.

      Like

  2. ktrinh4213 says

    Teal, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone disagreeing with you. And this is what makes me torn between simply “atheist” and “anti-theist”. On the one hand, religion offers comfort, and who am I to deny a fellow human being that. But on the other hand, is a delusion that much better than the truth? Truth offers closure; religion offers false hope.

    And it’s the “fundies” that make me angry, especially when they suddenly sever all ties, whether they be family or friendships, because they’re basically afraid their god has bad aim and will strike THEM down along with you. I’ve faced similar shunnings, and I really do feel you. I can’t imagine not being allowed to grieve with family, and I’m sorry that you have to face that. Hopefully one day, you can find a better community and get the support you need.

    Lots of love,
    K.

    Liked by 1 person

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