Tuesday, August 3, 2010


It would be the last sermon we would ever endure as members of the Baptist Taliban.

We hadn’t planned for it to be, even though by that time, we were painfully aware that our leaving was inevitable. It was just a matter of how and when. My husband already had several discussions with The Preacher about the fact. Needless to say, he wasn’t accepting it with grace.

We had already survived years of raging sermons, encroaching regulations, crippling isolation, unreasonable expectations, numerous inter-church conflicts, interference of family decisions, the humiliating, soul-raping shunning of some of our young people including two of my daughters and the demise of the dreams we had for our family. There was not much more that we felt we had left to lose, so what had to follow according to the song….was freedom.

Still, we intended to stay until we knew the time was right.

The air about our two families was thick with tension and the discomfort of that reality was almost more than I could bear. I felt as if we were all anticipating an eminent death, while still having to perform as we always had. We would continue to fulfill those roles, though mechanically, until someone would step up to replace us.

We had not set any specific date for our departure. We did not have detailed plans. We only knew that we would be leaving and that we would be going to help a very small church with a discouraged pastor in a neighboring town. That was all. Every function, every activity, every church service were events to be endured and there was nothing left that could help us want to stay. But we wouldn’t go until the time was right.

That night—we came to know without a doubt—the time would never be more right.

The sermon he preached that night, we would forever remember as, *The Panty Sermon*.

Everyone by then came to church expecting to be yelled at, scolded and scalped. Then there were the special remarks he frequently threw in for shock value as an added feature. This was just a given. But the *Panty Sermon*? It was in a class all by itself—the shock sermon among all shock sermons.

I was sitting with my oldest daughter, and my husband was sitting on the front row as he always did. I don’t remember his text, or what the sermon was actually about since, as was my usual procedure, I found a way to tune him out. Then he started telling a story that caught my attention.

It was a short little story of how one of the ladies came to him and told him that she had overheard a couple of the older girls talking in the bathroom. One said something to the other about how difficult it was to wear skirts and keep the panty-lines from showing through (we leading ladies of the church were continually stressing the immodesty of panty lines). The other girl commented that it wasn’t a problem for her……she just didn’t wear any.

Already, I am wondering if I was hearing him right. Did he really just tell the whole church, combined sexes—children and all—this story of two girls having a private conversation in the girls’ bathroom about their underwear???

After pausing for a moment to delight in the shocked and awed expressions, he went on telling how that someone gave him notes that the young people had been passing during the church services. In the notes there were comments made about a ‘panty club’. (I believe it was referring to a promotion by a department store where one could buy so many panties and get more for free or for a discount). Of course, he would automatically assume there was perversion involved since he had a tendency to always jump to the worst possible conclusion. I don’t think it ever occurred to him to give the benefit of the doubt until all the facts were in. If it looked shady to him, it had to be shady, especially if it involved teens.

He continued his frenzied diatribe against the young people, bawling them out about their ungodly attitudes and rebellious behavior so typical of the sermons he had been preaching for years, but this time adding more heat. With eyes flaming red, face contorted in anger and arms flailing wildly, he marched down from his pulpit putting himself on our level….for added effect.

Once there, on eye level with the congregation, he made the most disturbing accusation he had ever made from the pulpit. “YOU ALL ARE NOTHING BUT A BUNCH OF %#@&$+!!! (WHORES??) Well, you know what you are…….” Then, he rebuked their fathers saying, “I have to do this because YOU WON’T!!!”

The whole place was frozen in silence. He got his desired effect.

Traumatized, I walked straight to the car. At least, I think that is what I did. I don’t really remember much until we arrived at McDonald’s. I am not even sure why we went to McDonald’s of all places, but I suspect that was all that was open since we never got out of church before everything else was closed. It was there that we realized that we could never go back…..and I wept over it for the first time.

The burqa that covered my mind and my heart was coming off—one piece at a time. This was just the first piece. It would take years before I could shed the whole garment.


  1. I would ask if this guy had totally lost his mind but that would assume he ever had it. I have been in the ministry almost 20 years and involved in the Church all my life. In that time I have heard some really good sermons and some really bad ones (probably preached a few that would fit one of those categories or the other) but I have never heard anything like that. Where is the grace? Where is the love? It sounds like the world of banging gongs and clanging cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1). I could go on, but I will not. You have my respect for enduring this as long as you did to try to bring some love into that church. I have known you all my life, we are family and I know our family is far from perfect, but I also know, this is not you. This man and his misguided congregation should be in all our prayers.

    Grace and Peace,

  2. Sooooo glad you are out of there!

  3. You inspire me. I have 7 children whom we have always homeschooled, and I am shedding my burqua....but I am doing it alone. My husband is resisting a lot of my desired changes such as not spanking, egalitarian thinking etc. So it's slower going...but I cannot live that way anymore. We still have young ones too and I want to do it differently with them. Lord, have mercy.

  4. Then you, herewegokids, inspire me.

    I have at least had the openness and support of my husband on this wilderness journey! I can't imagine having to deal with a resistant husband too! Oh my! I am heartsick for you!

    My husband has resisted some of my urgent need for truth and change, but only as a means to insure we are not knee-jerking. He just acknowledged to me tonight that the many changes we have made in our church practices, educational philosophies, child-rearing practices and marriage are because of my influence on him. He is not too proud to admit that. We are even learning that we can be happy together even in disagreeing on some long-held beliefs about certain biblical doctrines and even politics! Boy is THAT ever a paradigm shift!

    One thing, though, is it DOES take time even under the best of marriages. It has taken us 12 years to finally get to the place where I can be honest with him about how I truly believe and feel since all the years in the Baptist Taliban, I just rubber-stamped everything he believed. We both realize now that THAT is not really an honest relationship. We have grown together in growing apart in some ways. So there is hope for you too!

    Egalitarian-that's the truly biblical way!

  5. I am such a poor typist, so I wiped out my comments by accident. So be patient with me, here I go again.

    I applaud what you are doing for your family. I am a survivor of 5 years of Christian school education, and used to be a right wing fundamentalist. I was raised with ACE for four years in Vancouver, BC, (actually I had 11 years of PACEs since I came as a non-English speaker and this school did not have an ESL program). I always have felt that I was in a ghetto and a second class citizen. The education of the first four years at this ACE school was a second class education, full of memorization of the KJV verses and right wing ideology, about the violent end times and the sudden coming of Christ, what a load of crap. I was also totally messed up about not going to a regular college training, and should and only fully devoted to that church and its missionary activity. Luckily, my folks are Jew'ish enough to point out the importance of having a good education and the importance of money. So I went on to a regular college, such as University of Toronto, and then instead of seminary, to Harvard to its dentistry program.

    Currently I am married and with 5 kids. My fundamentalist education taught me blind obedience, so I almost was forced to marry for money, since my folks are very Jew'ish about it. It was in the breaking out and starting to live a life with courage, not under fear and coercion, that I am here today. I no longer subscribed to this type of right wing theology, esp. after reading "Tempting Faith" by David Kuo.

    Your story has a ring of truth in it, that we are born free, but there are so many snares on the way to trap us into slavery. People such as Jim Jones who promised love and acceptance, and ultimately made everyone drink Koolaid and killed everyone. There is no accountability in this preacher of yours. I would also caution you that although Christian school materials are supposedly better in the preservation of faith, but think about it, if your faith cannot survive in a regular main stream culture, or having a rigorous college education, perhaps it is already a thing of the past. It is like prolonging the life of Terri Schivo. Perhaps she is already dead, but this way of trying to keep things alive as it were in the 18th century or like your Muslin analogy, to keep the submission of women, abused and bullied, these ideas are dying, and this type of preaching will not survive beyond the truth and light of the day.

    Good luck and may your Lord help and guide you, I have found a way of of this extremist Protestant Christianity. I continue to be a deist, by default, but I do not belittle those whose faith that I used to be enslaved to, people know truth from falsehood, freedom from abuse/slavery. May you keep up the good walk, listen to your neighbours and those who share their stories, and trust that you still find this country a beauty and worthy of your aspiration.

    (and excuse my typing and grammar,)