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I promise my next two posts will be more inspiring, but I have something disturbing to talk about. As I promote writing as a healing tool in my work, I feel absolutely compelled to write about a really horrible experience I had at the receiving end of a Christian minister’s vitriol the other day. I mean, I’ve experienced religious hatred many times through my life, but this was my first time receiving an assault that was meant for me personally.
First, before the background, I will clarify that I am a bonifide heathen/atheist/agnostic (depending on the day). I have explored many religions on a surface level, and have been frightened away early on usually because of one or more of the following a) sexism, b) hatred of outside groups, c) social conservatism, d) manipulation and social pressure, or e) impossible-to-adopt practices. I choose to espouse the idea that you are free to believe whatever the heck you want, as long as you keep it in your home or place of worship and out of public affairs, and as long as you don’t harass, condemn or hurt others with your beliefs. Further, I generally don’t celebrate Christmas as I am neither religious nor a materialist – if I do engage in celebration at the time of year that is Christmas, it is only as a symbol of friendly togetherness and sharing of time, food, and laughs.
As some may know, my background is in psychology and health policy and research. I’ve recently been taking a course in coaching, with the aim to work with clients dealing with grief (particularly in relation to issues of identity and non-death-related loss). I was supposed to be finished with my course in October – my major projects are complete and submitted, but I’ve been held up by the partner work – work in which we take turns coaching and acting as client for one another. Sadly, my wonderful partner became ill in the summer, and I was unable to be re-partnered until November. My instructor paired me up with an American Christian minister. I figured that would be a new and interesting experience for me.
The first get-to-know-you discussion was iffy for me. The guy was a fast talker and was grandiose in his sense of self-importance. He also had been in the course for far longer than I had, but not only hadn’t done any of the projects, but didn’t have a clue what he had to do to get the credential…(wut ?) But what the heck, I wanted to get my course done. He was happy for me to do the leg work in scheduling and arranging. Fine. But then the trouble began. There was a missed appointment. There was a last minute rescheduling. He seldom answered my emails or phone messages, especially when I needed him to send me some information. He took phone calls in the middle of our sessions. In isolation, these things are not such a huge deal, but they were piling up. And then there was the most recent session with him. As coach and client, we do share personal information. It is a relationship of trust and focus and support. Towards the end of my session as client, it became clear he wasn’t listening to me. I realized he was taking and answering text messages on his cell phone. All of a sudden, he told me to call him back in 2 minutes. I did. Nothing. Three more phone calls and two emails. Nothing. Then three hours later, I got an email, but no apology. I asked him to send me information so that I could finish my report. Nothing. I had already issued one complaint to the instructor, but I decided that this was probably not a situation that was working for me.
I made a pact with myself on my 40th birthday this year that I would not act as a doormat for anyone else again, and that I would allow myself to express my feelings to people. So I wrote the fellow an email telling him that he should not be taking personal calls during a professional session, and that not responding to my phone calls and emails was unacceptable and disrespectful. He wrote back a horrible, abusive email. He blamed me for not being religious, implying that he was better than me because he was religious. Despite previously saying he couldn’t do the course without me, he now said that I hadn’t helped him at all as he had GOD. He did a full character assassination of me and threw a lot of the information I had shared with him in my face. The weirdest part was that he had been fully supportive of the goals I had been working on and the materials I had developed for my business, and in this email, he trashed everything I did. And he told me I had serious problems and needed help. Wow. The hate that poured off the email took me aback. Needless to say, I didn’t respond to it, and I have informed the instructor.
Is it normal for Christians to hate and lie and take others for granted and fail to take responsibility for their actions? Should I be wary or warier?
Let’s just say, if I am forced to take on yet another partner for my course, I am going to specifically request that s/he is not a Christian minister. They just can’t handle us heathens, and I’d like to keep my other cheek intact…