August 2001

Recently I Lost a Friend to God

Recently, I lost a friend to God. This phrase probably strikes you as strange but let me elaborate. A very good friend of mine who I care for deeply is lost to me because of fundamentalist Christianity. I don't normally single out a group for criticism because being queer, I'm constantly being singled out and criticized but in this case, I was driven to comment.

My friend lives in a depressing, poverty ridden small town; he's only 15 years old. Last year, he came out fully to his entire town and while the majority of those close to him accepted him, many others ostracized and harassed him. A group of older boys from his school badly beat and terrified him regularly for about six months until he broke down and told me. I brought him here, to a much bigger city and he stayed with a friend of mine while we attempted to resolve the situation. Unfortunately, he was forced to go home. It was after he went back home that his "conversion" occurred. In a vulnerable and lonely state, the local fundamentalist Christian church took him in and "love bombed" him.

They convinced him that their faith, an absolute strict reading of the Bible as God's word, would save him. But in order to experience God's love, he was told that he had to forsake his sin of homosexuality. Since that point, I don't recognize him. He's changed in terrifying ways.

His old personality has been erased and a new one created. He preaches the doctrine of his church at every opportunity and no matter how I try to reason with him, he's deaf to my words and my concerns. I know that he's attempting to escape the suffering and pain he's experienced but I'm furious with this church he's become involved in. They have filled his mind with their intolerance and dogma forced him into a complete denial of his sexuality. I'm sickened and saddened by the hatred borne by a religion founded on love and compassion.

His church doesn't tolerate his sexuality and therefore they use guilt and peer pressure to push him into conformity. In his desire to erase the suffering of his past, he's fallen headlong into a trap of lies and denial. It brings tears of loss and pain to my eyes when I think of that vibrant energy he used to have. Now he's an empty shell of himself, a husk drained of color and light. His whole life is the church, nothing else matters to him but doing as his pastor tells him.

I can remember when he would hold hands with his boyfriend in public and show his pride to the world. Now he's trapped in a maze of false love and indoctrination where he gets driven deeper into self-deception at every turn. I want him to come back so badly that my heart aches but I can't reach him, his ears are closed to my calls and the chains of his church are too strong for me to break apart. Christianity was about tolerance, love, compassion and acceptance but fundamentalism has turned it away from the original values into a religion of exclusion and intolerance. In consequence, a wonderful angel of a boy has been taken away from his friends and driven into a dank prison of denial. Yes, recently, I lost a friend to God.



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