How a “hippy” church in Kansas changed my outlook on the world.

How a “hippy” church in Kansas changed my outlook on the world.

I have mostly always liked politics – or at least the competitive aspect. I remember having a mock election in the third grade, and I made a poster for George Bush. Someone made one for Michael Dukakis and my friend Katie made one for Jessie Jackson. I was competitive even in the 3rd grade, and I was passionate about my candidate winning the school mock election. My candidate didn’t win the mock election. Dukakis did, and I was furious. I don’t believe I knew anything about politics, but I knew that I didn’t like losing. (Bush won the actual election, so it wasn’t a total loss.)

As I stated in my first blog on being a democrat, I had a very traditional, First Baptist Church, conservative, southern start to life. I didn’t really follow politics in junior high/high school, and I didn’t identify with a party. I don’t think I really had an interest again in politics until I went to college. The summer of my junior year at Mississippi State, I interned in Washington D.C. for Senator Thad Cochran, Republican. Living a mile away from the Capitol of the United States was intoxicating. Socializing with other interns who were all leaders at their colleges back home was new and different and fun! I spent a lot of time getting to know all of the interns from Ole Miss. Most all of them were rich, connected and Republican. One person who I really liked talking to was this guy named Nic Lott. He was the first ever African American student body president at the University of Mississippi – the school where they didn’t let black people go until 1962 when JFK sent in 20,000 troops and people yelled hateful, awful things towards him. Lott and I discussed the confederate flag, the real one not the state flag, which they still had waved at football games then. We talked about several racial issues – he was really a cool guy and he wasn’t lazy or on welfare. This guy was smart, easy to talk to and he was a Republican. At that time, he was likely referred to by some black people in Mississippi as an “Uncle Tom”, a term that means he is subservient to white people, a term used during slavery. Outside of the South, people don’t understand why some black people don’t like black people who hang out with whites. Actually, in the majority of the world black people, white people, Asians – people don’t really care. We are not still in the 60’s, right? I will get to that later.

While I was interning, I was very judgmental of the President at that time – Bill Clinton. His inappropriate “relations” with Monica Lewinsky were fresh on everyone’s mind. How dare he break his marital vows and commit such heinous, sinful acts! Our leader was a sinner, and I didn’t like that. Back then, I didn’t realize that even the President falls short and makes mistakes. At the end of the day, Pres. Clinton was and is still an imperfect person like everyone else.

I campaigned for George W. Bush at Mississippi State my senior year. I liked him, and I still do today. He is a personable, funny guy with lots of interesting vocabulary words. I admire his ability to beat an addiction to alcohol and his commitment to his wife, Laura – a lady who I also admire and respect.

I was a firm supporter of McCain and Palin – and I am willing to admit that the support of Palin was not a choice I am proud of today. I was blinded by her being a woman in politics – an attractive, personable, folksy Alaskan. I liked her books, and I was impressed by her strength – raising a special needs child in addition to many other children, balancing a career while maintaining a marriage. I liked that she was a hunter and wasn’t afraid of a rifle. Guns have always intimidated me. Needless to say, the admiration of Sarah Palin ship has sailed. There are so many clips and things she has done that make the world laugh at the Republican party. People like her encourage people in the middle to vote Democrat – which isn’t a bad thing to me now.

I really never liked going to church growing up. The only thing that was fun was youth group. Going to the First Baptist Church they always talked about how God was calling you to do such and such. God must not have had my phone number. We always had to dress up really nice for church because God said we had to – we do what he says because if we don’t we are going to go to hell where it is always hot and on fire. My parents got a divorce when I was 6, and we moved to West Point. As a young person in West Point, I felt like the majority of people at our church were more worried about the Sunday morning show more than anything else. It felt ice cold, and people really didn’t do anything but dress up real nice on Sunday and then go eat lunch at the very expensive country club that only the rich people went to back then. It all seemed fake, but I was a kid and I just kept it to myself. At our church there were a handful of Democrats who were nice, but people called them eccentric. After marriage, I moved to the Mississippi Delta and began attending church there. Those years were the worst of my life. Church was even worse there than in West Point. The racism in the Delta is astounding. The black people hate the white people, and the white people pretend the black people just don’t exist as they drive their $80,000 suburbans to their million dollar homes after attending church. White people there hate them back – heck, white people in the Delta don’t even like the white people who grew up on the other side of the state because they are considered rednecks. You can’t understand it unless you have lived there. 

In 2006 my husband at the time and myself decided to move to Kansas. I had strong views against private school – especially in the Delta where, at that time, tuition at the K-12 private there was higher than going to Mississippi State. I wanted to live somewhere safe, and I wanted a place where my son could go to public school. I wanted to live where hope for the future existed.

Over the past decade, my views on the world have certainly changed a lot. I feel like I have become a more compassionate, less judgmental, flawed person. I used to want to get people back who had wronged me, and I was unable to forgive. Growing up, money was so important to me. I thought if I had a lot of it, I would be happy. All rich people are. Lord, I was naive.

One of my first tasks in Kansas was to find a church home. I picked what has become super popular in my generation – one of those big evangelical churches where you sing and have a praise band and feel God calling you. Again, God didn’t have my number. I asked our pastor his views on homosexuality, an issue that I do not believe is an abomination. He had a great reply! His best friend in college was one too! It is just the devil trying to get you on his side, and we just need to pray for sinning homosexuals. Ask God to call them back to the Bible. That really bothered me, but I didn’t know anyone at any of the other churches in town. My husband didn’t like church in general and had always felt scare tactics were used to get you to believe. One Sunday, our preacher said that “if you are not on fire for God, he doesn’t want you on his side. “Lukewarm Christians are not Christians.” What was worse, my husband was about done with going to church and that was it for him. I kept trying to go there, but I didn’t feel accepted because I wasn’t a fire and brimstone kind of person. I didn’t feel comfortable.

My views on church changed when I started attending The Church of the Brethren in McPherson, Kansas. I didn’t go there at first because I thought they were strange. People in town said they were a bunch of old democrat hippies who didn’t believe in war. It blew my mind that anyone white could be a Democrat, much less people over the age of 50 and definitely not anyone 70 and older. Some of my friends there would get real deep about not buying products from Monsanto, global warming and other environmental issues like the pipeline and fracking. Most everyone there was incredibly smart – with a Ph.D. or were ministers who attended Bethany Seminary in Chicago, a very expensive and respected among the Brethren community. How could so many compassionate, educated white people believe in God and also be Democrats?

What was even stranger to me was that all the other people in Kansas were really nice people. We read “The Help” in our book club once, and all the ladies at the book club were Conservative Evangelical Christians. However, they were not racist. When I would tell them about my life in Mississippi, how all the white people sent their kids to private schools, they didn’t get it. One time I even shared that one of my older family members made her caretaker use the restroom in her own bathroom because that is how it was supposed to be. I have relatives who are not 100% white. When they visit, they stay with a relative that is very old as in way over 70.  She makes them sleep in her RV outside because they are not really white.

The people in Kansas were not racist. However, they were Republican. The schools in McPherson, Kansas were phenomenal. The average ACT there is around 25. However, the budgets that they had for public education were less than what we had in Mississippi. It made no sense. I decided I would run for School Board there because I was amazed that their system worked, and our system in Mississippi did not.

I figured out what Mississippi had that Kansas didn’t – racism covered up by the fact that they were Christians. Separate, but Equal. Laws that were written with the hope of keeping schools segregated.

For the first time in my life, I am fed religiously because of my faith – a faith that I am proud of because we do things that are meaningful. The core values of the Brethren church are peace, simplicity and living your life like Jesus.

We did some things that religious people in the south would never do – like the feet washing ritual. Every year we have something called “Love Feast” modeled after The Last Supper in the Bible. This helped me to remember that in God’s eyes, all people need love and attention. You wash your neighbor’s feet, they wash yours. This serves as an emblem of God’s cleansing grace. Brethren believe in service – we don’t just do something every now and then so people can think we are good people. We have at least 20 missions we do in our community – one that I especially like is a program called “Circles” because it helps people break free from generational poverty. No one really did anything materialistic in this church. They liked you even if you were poor. These people were really smart, loved God, were generous both financially and through acts of service. I felt like I had finally found a church where I was “fed” religiously.

Around this time, I moved back to West Point to take a job working in our school district. I was now divorced, and I had a very hard choice to make. Leave my church and my child where he is getting an education in one of the best districts in the mid west, or bring him here where we are all pretty much still separated racially both in our schools and in our churches. He stayed in Kansas.

I knew how I felt about church in the south, but I needed to try and find a church home. I went to the Baptist church first because I knew they had programming for divorced women. I really tried to like it, but they wouldn’t even let women be deacons much less be open to homosexuality. I went back to my church that I went to growing up – the people there who greeted me were the people that I knew growing up who were adults. The people my age were cold. And, I knew that there was a family feud going on involving some very judgmental people spreading false information about my family. We just acted like everyone loved Jesus on Sunday. It felt uncomfortable, but I was near family. Then, I discovered family members at this church were talking about my decision to “leave my son in Kansas.” It was at that point I gave up on church in the south. I was going to go to the Episcopal Church, but I knew people were leaving it over homosexuality. I was done. I may still be, I will have to get back to you.

I decided since I wasn’t going to go to church, I would try and work for the Democratic party in the area and in the state. We used to have democrats here in this state who went to church. People don’t really just vote for people based on their color anymore. We were making progress when I left. Ronnie Musgrove was the governor – democrats were not the anti-Christ. I started to support an African American candidate in Columbus because he had a platform that made sense. The other guy had put two people on death row who were innocent and two others were in prison for decades because of errors he had made. I put a sign in my yard, and people started saying that he and Obama were in on it together. This guy was shady and he had ties to terrorism. Someone gave him a large sum of money, and people said that was tied to Obama and all the radicals. I knew all this was not true, but I couldn’t figure out a way to explain it. I also knew that money was a donation from someone who was a firm believer in the Innocence Project. Why is this guy a terrorist? Because he is black! No one in the south trusts black people because they fear terrorism. Why do they fear? Because they believe everything they hear from politicians.

Then, I figured it all made sense. Because Barak Obama is black and sounds like he is Muslim, people here think he is a terrorist which is so ridiculous because smart people know that stereotypes used to scare people. Black people are lazy. They are a menace to society. All those stereotypes – things that I thought we were moving ahead on were back and better than ever!

There was a lot of campaigning for upcoming elections in Mississippi and in every commercial they said that they were good Christian men with family values. People were actually praying in the commercials. They also had all these weird commercials talking about how Obama was a radical. He was what was wrong with this world. Big government equals we just take care of the lazy people. What happened to the good ole days when family mattered? Thanks to Obama, they have shut down Detroit. He is the reason this country is headed down the toilet. He is a socialist. He caused 9/11. School shootings are because of him and the Democrats. Liberals are the anti-Christ. Obama wants to take away our guns! Don’t believe the liberal media!

Obama has been a successful president. There are so many articles that discuss this online and on television.

Then, and this blows my mind, people started supporting Donald Trump! He is the 1%.

Liberals are not the ones against big government. The term liberal means removing barriers. They can’t stand big government.

Anyone with knowledge about politics would know this.The Koch Brothers and their bedfellows all believe in neoliberalism which means the 1% controls the rest of the world. They want everything to be private. They want to get rid of anything public.

So, why do all of these people in Mississippi get connected so fast? Haley Barbour was going to potentially be our next President? Are you kidding? They are getting connected because they are corrupt. Mississippi is the most corrupt state in the nation. Don’t believe me? Fortune magazine does. So, how do they get away with it? Political Action Committees disguised by religion and racism. But, all of those PACs say they are helping keep the bad people away! They are getting paid by the bad people. If you would look at history, it would all make sense.

What scares white people in the south? Black people and terrorism. What better way to get what we want done than to pay off their politicians and get them to blame big government on black people and republicans?

Republicans are really not the bad guys. Neither are democrats. They used to work together and care about the future of all citizens. They believed in the American Dream and wanted to support the middle class.

The Citizens United Supreme Court Decision took away the American Dream because it convinced voters that republicans believed in big government. People in the South don’t understand that big government is the reason the middle class exists. Let me repeat that.

People in the South don’t understand that big government is the reason the middle class exists.

Charter schools don’t serve the middle class. They serve the 1%. The only way to convince the middle class that big government is bad is to use race.

Empower Mississippi says they are Christian people who want to give citizens more choices and opportunity. Thus, Republicans trust them. What is their real mission? They want to promote charter schools and for profit education. They are funded by Americans for Prosperity which is funded by the Devos Family. Americans for Prosperity is a PAC disguised as the American Legislative Exchange Council. The ALEC is funded by the Koch Brothers who want to eliminate the middle class so that the 1% can run everything.

The problem with the south is that people really don’t know what socialism means. They think it means Communist Russia, hate and racism. Big government is liberal. Big government believes that we should not be controlled by the 1%. Being liberal doesn’t mean you hate people, it means you don’t want to be controlled by the government. People in the south fear democrats because they think that democrats want to give all their money away to the black people. Republicans in Mississippi knew that if they could get conservatives to believe that Democrats were racist, they had outsmarted everyone. White people are inherently good people, but conspiracy theories scare them. The word liberal to white people means lazy. They are afraid of things like the radical agenda, Obamacare and the Welfare state. Donald Trump appeals to white people because he is tired of the liberals giving everything away. The middle class still exists. These still are the good ole days. Republicans didn’t fear the liberals until 9/11.

Why then are we all scared that the world is coming to an end because of the liberals? We trust the government. We believe that they want us to all prosper. Mississippi remains #50 on all of the lists about education because we believe everything that comes out of the mouths of Republicans in Mississippi. Republicans are not the enemy. Corruption is. Republicans became the enemy when they realized that no one wins elections in Mississippi without money. Who has the money? The people that take bribes. How do we convince the people in the south that PACs are real? We get the Republicans to turn on each other.

Empower Mississippi PAC gave $360,000 to some republicans in DeSoto County because they were anti-charter and for public education. People don’t believe this is true because they believe everything that Republicans in Mississippi say due to religion. People in Mississippi used to be okay with Democrats – Ronnie Musgrove was one not that long ago. Phil Bryant tried to stop Tate Reeves from being corrupt by saying that SB2161 was not ethical. SB2161 was just Common Core re -branded. That was the end of the republicans telling the truth. Republicans realized that people in Mississippi would believe whatever came out of their mouths as long as they said they were doing it in the name of religion. SB2161 is a bill that gives the legislature control over whether or not we will continue to have public schools in Mississippi. All Initiative 42 does is hold the legislature accountable for the law that they themselves made. Tate Reeves has received more bribes from big government than any politician in the history of the state of Mississippi. Big government bought the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision which was funded by billionaires to make bribery legal.  Big government is Koch. Big government is the 1%. Big government is Tate Reeves. No one is able to prove it because money buys elections.

Mississippians are not racist. They are uninformed. They trust Republicans due to religion, but people can believe in God and be Democrats. I explained this earlier when I said I was a Democrat. People think that everything they see or hear in the news and on TV is the truth due to religion. Anytime someone says something about school shootings or the NRA, who gets mad? Republicans. Why? Because they believe it is their God given right to own guns. There are no guns in the Bible. When people bring up LGBT rights who gets upset? Republicans because God said homosexuality was an abomination. It is in the Bible. God never said that. When someone says that the confederate flag is racist who gets upset? Republicans

PACs started around 9/11 when the world decided that all Muslims were bad. This is when Republicans became God and Democrats became the enemy.

Informed, non-racist people know deep down that it is not possible for all muslims to be bad. However, when people like Tate Reeves who have been bought by big government says that the media is corrupt that scares Republicans from the South. Republicans are not racist. They are uninformed. If you want to scare white people, tell them Obama is a terrorist. So, that is what the media did. And, now Republicans in the south believe anything that Tate Reeves says even though conservatives know he is corrupt. Money buys politicians when you are able to convince them that socialism and big government are liberal ideas.

Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist. He doesn’t take bribes from big government like Hillary Clinton. Democrats aren’t bad people. Republicans aren’t bad people. Corruption is morally wrong, but due to the Bible white people have gone back to the era of Jim Crow. All in the name of religion. Tate Reeves knows no one has time to fact check every single thing he says, so big government stays in charge even though the middle class is doing just fine!

It is all a tangled web. I get going and forget my point. My point is simple. If you believe everything on television, Facebook, newspapers, et. al., you are not doing yourself any favors. I don’t have time to research everything, and I got a lotta time. Please don’t jump on the bandwagon of whatever the topic of the day might be without doing research. I am not LGBT, but I know a lot of great people who are. I am not a racist, but I know a lot of people who are. There are people who are African American and racist towards white people. There are people who are white and racist towards African Americans. There are people who are racist towards Jews. There are people who are racist towards Asians. There is an exception to every rule! Do your research. Quit being offended by everything, and for the love of all things Holy, quit trying to be so polite! If you have a view, share it. Quit worrying about what others might say. If you want to see change, be a part of the solution – not the problem. If you want to know how I feel about something, ask. I am not scared to tell ya! Thank you. Please pray for me if you think I need it. Please delete me from Facebook if you don’t like my views! It will not hurt my feelings! I am a thick woman with thick skin! Okay, in all seriousness, I think what I am trying to say is don’t be afraid to say how you feel about basically anything whether it be religion or politics. And, check your facts. Read books. Continue learning. Welcome debate. Don’t jump on a bandwagon because you like to be difficult – jump on it because you are informed.

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3 thoughts on “How a “hippy” church in Kansas changed my outlook on the world.

  1. Nancy, when we lived in McPherson I felt like I was from another planet. I wish I would have known you better. I only found out there were people who thought like me after we left. Good luck to you and your son and family. You are a strong woman. Cheryl Whalen

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