I held my nose and voted for Mitt Romney in the last election. Does that shock you? It should. It freaks the hell out of me. I’m glad he lost. It didn’t really take me long to realize I had made a huge mistake. You may wonder by now what led to my “deconversion” from Conservatism.
Spoiler Alert: It happened LONG before Trump!
I grew up in a very conservative, Southern, Evangelical Christian home. I had the stereotypical white-washed education. I was the first college graduate in my family, on either side. By the time I finished school, I was already moving more middle-of-the-road, but I still tended to lean right. I got married, started working, had a kid. Eventually, circumstances led me to completely turn away from the church. And that is the single most defining moment in my move from right to left.
Once I rejected the Bible as the sole guidance of my morality, and the church as its interpreter, I learned to rely upon myself.
I started reading a lot more and paying attention to the world around me. I thought for myself. I saw the world through my own eyes, without a filter of someone else’s making. Suddenly, there was dissonance where none had existed. For every new issue I found, researched, and addressed, three more would crop up. And looking back on the teachings of my faith, I could not reconcile my judgment and my heart to what I had been taught. Where everything had previously been black and white, suddenly there were shades of gray and curves and dimensions to explore.
If you ever read my writings and wonder how it is so easy for me to poke fun at Fundagelical Christianity, I lived it for the better part of thirty years, and frankly, I find it therapeutic. Living in Mississippi is like living with an abusive parent. She is controlling, bullying, and forever blaming her problems on me. She forces her beliefs and values down my throat. She refuses to allow me to grow up and be my unique self. She punishes me for not falling into line. She belittles me for rejecting her theocratic standards and ideals. Yet she has no qualms about holding out her hand and taking every penny she can from me.
There are good people here, and they are trying to make this a better place, as am I. We are currently outnumbered, but we are a rising force. We are the progressives, the ones who love our neighbors without judgment, who seek better lives for everyone. We want religion to stay in church, education to be a priority, people to come before corporations. We seek justice and reform. We want an end to segregation and discrimination. We want the flag to come down and be replaced with one that does not make anyone feel hated.
The intersection of Conservatism and Fundamentalism is right here. We are battling both. It will take hard work, education, and love to overcome the obstacles we face. Much of that will need to come from external sources, and slowly, like with the Southern Baptist Convention’s condemnation yesterday of the Confederate Flag. And yes, I see the irony in that.
The change will occur one person at a time. Just like it did with me.