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Monday, July 15, 2024

Cunningham: Why I’m religious but can’t stand the church 

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Growing up, I remember going to church faithfully every Sunday. No matter if it rained, hailed or snowed I could expect my mother to burst in my room on Sunday mornings and say, “get up, it’s time for church,” while the sound of Marvin Sapp’s “Thirsty “album played from inside her bedroom. 

Going to church was not my favorite thing to do. Now don’t get me wrong, my love for God has and will always be in my heart, but what I could not stand about church was how the “people of God” treated those who attended the building.  

All my life I would hear pastors teach about the importance of accepting people as they are and turning away from gossiping and judging. However, church was the place I could count on hearing people make fun of someone’s attire or talk about what others did not have; I could not stand it. 

God said in Matthews 7:1-6 “do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” 

Despite what the word of God says, judgement and hatred within churches continue to take place and it needs to stop. Why is no one correcting this behavior? Where is the love? Where is the understanding and compassion? Have we forgotten the purpose of having a church to begin with? 

I can remember as a teenager the pressure of choosing what to wear every Sunday. I knew if I chose to wear the same outfit I wore on a previous Sunday or, perish the thought, I wore jeans, even though that was all I could afford to wear at the time, I would be the topic of someone’s after-church parking lot conversation.  

Why does the brand of clothing I wear matter more than my soul’s salvation?   

What I never understood was if “people of God” saw someone in the church who clearly was in need, their first thought would be to talk about them instead of getting together with other members to bless that person. I know the God that I serve is not hateful or judgmental. In fact, He wants people to come as they are to Him, and we should be able to do that at church.  

How can a place that is supposed to be a safe haven turn into a place I no longer want to associate myself with? Then I realized it isn’t the place that is causing church to be unbearable. It’s the people.  

God created us all equal and those who consider themselves followers of God need to remember the purpose of church and treat one another with compassion.  

You never know what the next person is going through, and church could be their only escape from everything. “People of God” — let’s do better.  

Contact staff writer Timoria Cuningham at 317-762-7854 or timoriac@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @_timoriac. For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here. You can also check out the Indiana Minority Business Magazine by clicking here.

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