by Alexis Record
I had never been told I belonged to Satan before. Now here I was, serving Satan. Not many people know that I’m evil or lost because it’s not readily apparent, but you can confirm it with any number of loved ones who have known me the longest. The condemnation came crashing down after I was finally open and honest about my de-conversion from my evangelical Christian faith. I had remained in the “atheist closet” for a while because I knew the reaction would not be good. A few of my family members say “secular humanist” with a sneer, so I knew being one was not going to be well received. At least those pious people never spit in my face, but they did take a large step back from me while clutching their Bibles, like someone holding up a cross in front of a vampire in an episode of Buffy.
You see, I am worse than the average infidel, because I have seen and experienced the “Truth” for 30 years and now reject it as baseless.
So why did a simple “actually, I’m not convinced by these religious claims” land me as besties with the Beast? Well, in Luke chapter 11, the Jesus character in the story tells his followers to choose sides:
“Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? […]Whoever is not with me is against me.”
In other words, if you’re not with Jesus’ house you’re with Satan’s house, and vice versa—it doesn’t even matter if you don’t believe in either of them. Sure enough, that took me out of the neutral position I thought I was in, and placed me squarely in the Satan camp. It was like an argument I once had when I was little about if dogs or cats were better. You either were a cat person or a dog person; no one could be ambivalent, and no other animals existed. Also, there was a wrong answer. (Dogs.)
Most people quietly retreated from my life rather than have to confront me or be corrupted by me. The Bible I was raised ingesting says “without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him [our male deity]” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis mine… or at least my church’s). This is why I could do good things but still be seen as bad. This is why my efforts today are compared to “filthy [menstrual] rags” (Isaiah 64:6). That’s also why one person I love called my life-saving charity efforts “sad.”
Donating my kidney to a stranger that started a chain saving seven lives? Filthy rags. Adopting a child out of a foreign orphanage who was being neglected and abused? Filthy rags. Becoming a foster parent and adding a third child with severe disabilities to my family for a year? Filthy rags. Feeding hundreds of homeless people a month? Filthy rags.
I had always volunteered to help people, but in my religion it wasn’t prioritized or valued as much as worshiping God, who mattered more than people. The “right” thing to do if a child was hungry was to pray first then feed them. Many churches require people to pray or hear a sermon before they will meet their basic needs. The “right” thing to do if a child was thirsty was to try to save their eternal soul. In John 4, Jesus does accept water from a woman, but he clearly states that his “living water” (religion) is more important. The “right” thing to do to those who were nonbelievers, those struggling with addiction, or LGBTQIA+ folks was to shun them so their sins would not corrupt us and make God unhappy (1 Cor. 15:33).
In other words, my religion subverted my natural inclination to help others by adding burdens and barriers to loving and serving.
I lost my orphan care ministry which had helped 20 kids with disabilities find families. Why? Because every Christian donor except one withdrew their financial support from the children. I never saw one penny in income for that, so it only hurt the families I was helping. It was clear that good Christians would only give to “God’s work,” and I was with the “other guy.” I even tried to gift the entire ministry to a church, but even though there was a little interest, there were no takers. So no one else was doing this specific work either.
This shouldn’t have shocked me (it did) since around this time over 10,000 children (maybe as high as 19,000) lost their sponsorships from Christians when World Vision tried to go against the evangelical dogma by hiring married gay or lesbian employees. It’s not like I was an isolated case. This is how we fight Satan: using tiny human shields.
Not only did I not have a ministry, I also didn’t have a good reputation in the world due to my unbelief. My self-worth had been dented and slashed by others’ assumptions, words, and Bible verses shared on Facebook directed at me. These “loving” people were engaged in full on tribalism, and I was the “them” and they were the “us,” despite our shared years and community.
This is how Sunday Assembly got me: broken, deflated, and rejected. At first the assembly service was too much like church, and since church had caused so much damage to me and my children, I was tempted to leave. But then I noticed they were doing a backpack drive for school children who came from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. This was perfect, since in my local area I was known as the “backpack lady.” I devoted a chunk of my budget to buying backpacks in bulk for my local homeless neighbors who asked for them. I could actually help here!
I asked who was in charge of the backpack drive and was directed to Aaron. I asked how many he needed and offered him 50 before he could respond. His eyes got wide and he just said, “Um, yeah.” He may not have believed me. I grinned all the way home.
He didn’t know I was a minion of the devil or that I already had 50 backpacks in my garage.
It wasn’t long after that that I asked what else the outreach team needed and was informed they didn’t have someone at the helm. The person heading up the program had suffered a loss and stepped down. I am now the chairperson of outreach. Me! Evil lady! Sunday Assembly didn’t see me through that evil/good binary; they assumed I was a good person because I valued good things. Imagine that! I felt valued again, human again.
Aaron is still involved in outreach, and one of my most valued members who I call upon a lot for different needs. He also comes from a very religious family who probably thinks he works for Satan, too. Well, I have to say– Satan gets it done.
We go out on the streets twice a month and feed hundreds of homeless people, and supply them with toiletries and women’s care products. We’ve also provided our street folk with 200 blankets and thousands of pairs of socks. We feed homeless youth, many of whom are LGBTQIA, at the Stand Up For Kids youth facilities. We have even cleaned, organized, and painted it for the kids to have a place to relax. We pack food boxes once a month at the local food bank. We pick crops with Harvest Crops that supplies food banks all over our county. We clean up our neighborhood. We clean up “our” beach that we adopted. We make a real, lasting difference in our community. If I have a special project (like giving every child in the local Section 8 housing a new toothbrush with their Halloween candy, many of whom tell me it’s the only new toothbrush they got that year) then I can always find assemblers to help! If Satan is behind all that, then he does beautiful work.
A few weeks ago at our international conference we were asked to write down what our local assembly had done for us. I burst into tears. This kind of radical inclusivity and acceptance was just given to me without having to sign a doctrinal statement or prove I was worthy. I cannot describe how deeply healing that is after so much rejection.
Sunday Assembly’s motto is Live Better, Help Often, and Wonder More. And we do.
To learn more about Sunday Assembly and to see if there is one near you check out their website at https://www.sundayassembly.com/