as a kid, i spent three years in a church best described as southern baptist fundamentalist. this seemed normal at the time. it's all very waco in retrospect.
i first heard of abortion in church. from the pulpit, abortion and the election of bill clinton were hailed as the twin proofs that the beast slouching toward bethlehem had already arrived. poverty and hunger excited few to advocacy but, upon the announcement of impending pro-choice legislation, an army of god's people arose, eager to march.
the youth ministers organized a "young people's rally." the phrase "non-violent" was repeated often. videos of protests taking place outside abortion clinics were shown. in the footage, a man spat in a woman's face.
i was eleven. i'd not gotten my period. i could not yet bear a child. i didn't know what the word "abortion" meant, but i was sitting on the floor of a trailer beside a church outside atlanta, scrawling admonishments to would-be aborters on placards in mr. sketch scented watercolor pens.
by then i was watching geraldo rivera live every morning before school and, accordingly, had a highly developed sense of right and wrong. geraldo had just done a special on the ku klux klan and- sitting in that trailer, seeing that video, watching that man spit in that woman's face- i recalled that episode and every fiber of my being knew that what we were doing was wrong.
i knew i was complicit in an act of violence that i did not understand.
more and more, i realize most all my distrust of christians and church stems from that moment, in that trailer, where i scrawled admonishments to would-be aborters on placards in mr. sketch scented watercolor pens.
before that, i'd never seen real cruelty. i had not known that there are people who, in their eagerness to dole out god's wrath and judgment, ignore the command to love.