I was never very involved with the Primitive Baptist Church that my parents attended, but out of respect for them I accompanied them to church on my rare visits home. A very painful incident finalized my decision to never again have anything to do with my father’s church.
My brother-in-law, a pedophile, had raped my preteen daughter when he was visiting me. I confronted him, and a few minutes later a call came from my aged father, who had been informed by the culprit of my accusation and threat to put him in prison.
“You have a very wayward daughter,” my father said.
“But you are turning the victim into the criminal!” I said.
“I never want to see your face again,” he said and hung up.
Off and on I had been traveling the thousand miles from my university to help my father and ailing mother. A few months after the rape, I was there again. My parents were both very insistent that I go to church with them on Sunday morning and sit in the very first row.
All through the sermon, the preacher raved on about bearing false witness, all the while pointing his finger directly at me. What hurt the worst was that my mother was in collusion in this execrable business. I had thought she had better sense. My father’s part in this did not surprise me, for he had made several sexual approaches to underage girls in the close family. He had also informed me that I and my university professors were going to hell.
Both my parents were buried in this church’s graveyard. At each funeral, the preachers were very supportive of the rest of my family, but they totally ignored me or gave me dark looks as if I were the devil. This church was as near to hell as I would ever get.
Murielle Lange lives in New Jersey. She is now a distinguished professor emerita.