I had a unique opportunity growing up to see fundamentalism from two sides. The inside looking out, and the outside looking in. Growing up my mom was a Christian school teacher and my dad was in the Army. Our home church was Franklin Road Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tn. I still have many close friends that attend there and I believed wholeheartedly the preaching of Pastor Norris. Until I was about 14 and started asking questions. Like, why are the Newsboys going to hell? The best answer I ever got was from one of my teachers who told me “you just need to learn to play the game”. Slowly but surely it felt like the bar was being raised higher and higher to a level of being permanently unattainable. So I gave up in utter defeat. I knew I wasn’t going to live up to it and stopped caring. Then something happened, my Dad got stationed in up state New York. Of course we all went, and I felt like I had gotten a new lease on my faith. We were going to a more liberal church and I was going to a public school where I had tons of friends and tons of fun playing much more competitive sports. The kids in my youth group were awesome. As adults many of us still keep in touch and I regularly talk with the Youth Group Leader I had there even though I haven’t been to that church in almost 10 years. Then Dad got a new set of orders. We moved to Fairfax, Virginia and began attending Fairfax Baptist Temple. I want to make it clear that Pastor Troy Calvert to this day is still someone I hold in very high regard. He worked hard to try to reform his church. Unfortunately not everyone was on board with him. Which is a rare thing in fundamentalism. I began attending the Christian Academy there, immediately I was ostracized by the teachers and many of the parents of kids I was friends with. Because “I came there from a public school” I specifically remember making plans with a group of guys to go play soccer at the churches soccer field on a Saturday and one of the boys who was supposed to come was not allowed because I was going to be there. The youth pastor there approached a young lady’s mother who’d shown interest in me and told her she shouldn’t let her daughter hang around me. I was treated like a leper by these people who were supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was confused. I had decided I was going to go to a Christian College no matter how mean and hateful these people became, so I announced that I was going to go to Liberty University. Next thing I know I’m in the principles office with my mom and my dad and the schools upper level administration, because “they’re concerned”. Basically it went over with my dad telling them off, about three weeks later I purposely got myself expelled from the school. Since I left that place I was hung out by the staff as an example of what someone who isn’t a Christian looks like. A friend of mine took a video in a Bible class of the teacher talking about me by name three weeks after I had been expelled. Saying there’s no way I’m a Christian that there’s no way I would go to Liberty and still be faithful to God. These were people who were supposed to help mold me into a young man but because I did not buy into their extremist views I was outcasted. I still love many of my brothers and sisters who held down under the chains of fundamentalism and legalism.  I struggle to this day with my faith even though I go to a reformed church I still feel almost rebellious when I put on jeans to go to church.

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