I had started out my adult life as a conservative evangelical Christian that voted Republican if I voted at all. I’d registered as an independent but realistically I wouldn’t be voting for a liberal. Liberal equaled hedonist sinner that supported killing babies. I was against feminism. I believed it was wrong to be gay, and that being gay was a choice. Marriage and motherhood were a woman’s highest calling. Women should submit to their husband as long as their husband wasn’t asking them to sin. I thought reverse racism was real. Basically, your standard conservative white Christian.
By the end of the 12 or so years in which my faith unraveled I had become a feminist, a progressive, and agnostic. I was working on unraveling the misogyny and the homophobia and the racism I’d been raised with. I knew that underneath the beliefs that had been forced on me that I was someone that wanted equality and equity and kindness. Since I was a young child I had reacted angrily when I noticed injustice and saw someone being treated unfairly, and now I knew that most of my religious beliefs had been grossly unjust and contributed to many people being treated unfairly and maliciously.
Despite fearing the worst, I tend to believe the best. I thought since I had changed when given new data that showed I was wrong that other people would do the same. The other conservative evangelical Christians, including family like my mother, just needed the information I had and they could undergo the same transformative experience.
2016 showed me just how naive I was. I realized most conservative evangelical Christians like my mom already had the information I had found. They had just rejected it. They preferred to rationalize it away as the lies of liberal hedonist baby killers. Their ignorance wasn’t the result of being isolated and force-fed lies. They were willfully ignorant. And I – I was their enemy, now. If they were put in a position where they would have to choose between me or their toxic world view – they’d choose their toxic world view. The communities I’d grown up with were the same kind of communities that enabled the Holocaust.
Conservative evangelical Christians wanted racism and sexism and homophobia and various other bigotries and they wanted hierarchy, because they were at the top of that hierarchy. That was how they felt secure and they hated that the rising tide of social justice was threatening their security.
My family had been my anchor my whole life. They were my friends when I had no friends. I trusted them. I believed they were truly good and benevolent people that wanted to do right. The realization that they truly believed their political opponents were terrible people that deserved to suffer deprivation and violence and imprisonment left me reeling. Oh, they still loved me, but they thought I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
I realized that my family could no longer be my support system. By mid-2016 I was plunged back into depression, a depression that would last until mid-2018 while I grieved the loss of what I had once valued most in the world.