Unintentional Truthfulness (Church Signs #6)

22 May, 2008

I presented a program at a college about an hours drive away today.  I stayed off the highway (45mph gives me much better fuel mileage than 65, even with the stops).  Along the way, I passed into a heavily evangelical area (every other radio station plays ‘inspirational music’ (yecccch!) or skips the ‘entertainment’ and just gives sermons) and saw a storefront with this sign:

God and Bible Addiction Center

I think they are telling the truth. Not about helping to end addiction, but either adding another one on, or just transferring the addiction.

I have a little bit of experience with addiction.  In high school, I started smoking cigarettes (I did it so I could take a break with the other smokers while working as a whitewater raft guide (the non-smokers got to help pull people out of the water where we let them float through some rapids, the smokers sat up on a rock and, well, smoked)).  Within a very short period of time (a couple two-t’ree weeks) I was up to a pack a day and was heading for two.  I tried to quit and couldn’t.  So I switched to a pipe (and an occasional cigar) so it would be more difficult to light up and I had to carry more shit with me (luckily, out in Western Maryland, a seventeen-year-old smoking a pipe or cigar was not all that unusual).  I have never fully quit and still smoke about 10 pipes a week (sometimes less).  When at a fire (trying to stay awake and alert for a sixteen hour night shift) I will smoke more.

I’m also addicted to Cherry Cokes.  And pumpkin seeds.  At the same time.  They complement each other.

I think I have an addictive personality.  I recognized this early on and made a conscious decision not to try anything like grass (though the farm-field stuff back then was probably pretty mild compared to today’s shit), cocaine, heroin, etc.  I was afraid I would get addicted.  I also am very careful about alcohol.  My current bottle of scotch has been going for almost a year, now.

I lucked out.  My addictions (nicotine, Cherry Coke, pumpkin seeds) are, though unhealthy, fairly innocuous.  I have seen friends and neighbors fight serious addictions.  I have seen people go through rehab for alcoholism multiple times.

That may be why the sign on this addiction recovery center struck me so hard.  People go in addicted to a chemical.  They come out addicted to a version of Christianity that creates hatred, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, George Bush, Republicans, homophobia, authoritarianism, and mysogyny. 

I think that, for some Christians, being born-again merely substituted one form of addiction for another.  Both produce ‘pleasure chemicals’ in the brain.  Both drain the bank account.  Both cut the addicted off from their friends and family and replace them with fellow addicts.

Is this substitution an improvement? 



  1. You do know that cherry coke and pumpkin seeds together increase your chances of getting cancer by 54.56%?

    Apparently you do need some help. If having that bottle of scotch hanging around is a problem, just send it on up here and I’ll take care of it for you. No, no, don’t thank me. Always glad to help.

  2. I thought you liked Brandee (or does she spell it Brandi?)

  3. Several years ago, the Christian singer (used loosely) Carman had a song called “Addicted to Jesus.” Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:

    People they go crazy
    And don’t know when to stop (not now)
    Spendin all their time exercising
    I’m gonna pump you up

    Smokin in the boys room
    Drink up all the booze
    Drug and crack and heart attack
    And then you lose

    In common sight, crime at night
    Danger ’round the bend
    No way out yo its about
    Being born again

    He paid your price, sacrifice
    The cross of calvery
    It’s done, be one, and you can be free

    Stand tall
    Stand strong
    Say it loud (say it loud)
    Say it long
    Bust the Devil (Yo bust him off)
    Up in pieces (I said bust him off)
    You’re life’s with God
    Addicted to Jesus

    [scary-memory shudder]

  4. Tysdaddy: That’s sick.

  5. Its sad that some addicts do seem to need Jesus to not do drugs/alcohol anymore. Its true it is another addiction, but evangelicals aren’t robbing you to buy another hit of Jesus. They’re just annoying you, which I can deal with. I’m beginning to doubt that most of humanity can get along without having a religion to tell them what to do. My philosophy, if you need Jesus to not beat your wife, rob your neighbors or rape your niece, then I’ll give you a ride to church every Sunday 🙂

  6. Sabrina: Unfortunately, substituting one addiction for another, though it may have the beneficial effect of stopping the damage of the chemical abuse, does not treat the actual problem. The brainwashing methods of many (not all) religiously based ‘treatment’ centers still leaves an addictive personality with poor decision making skills. George W. Bush is a perfect example. He was ‘born again,’ which helped him become a dry drunk, but he has never dealt with the underlying problems. The result has been an uninterrupted series of poor and destructive decisions but, because of his continued addiction (this time to Jesus), he is blind to the consequences of his decisions.

    From a health and crime perpective, these programs may work. From a ‘kicking the addiction’ point of view, they are worthless.

    As for the idea that maybe some people need religion to tell them what to do, that’s possible. But the authority of religion in the realm of criminal behaviour has been legally supplanted in secular governments by the rule of law. In America, the legal authority figure is the state. In Iran, the legal authority figure is the council’s interpretation of the Qu’ran.

    Thanks. Good comment. It helped fill a hole in my post which I had missed.

  7. Sabrina and (((Billy)))…

    Its sad that some addicts do seem to need Jesus to not do drugs/alcohol anymore. Its true it is another addiction, but evangelicals aren’t robbing you to buy another hit of Jesus. They’re just annoying you, which I can deal with.

    I agree with this for the most part, but religion tries to get into our public schools. One can also make the argument that religious belief has an effect on politics and government decisions, but I don’t want to open that can of worms.

    I’m beginning to doubt that most of humanity can get along without having a religion to tell them what to do.

    No that’s just scary… In America, the legal authority figure might officially be the state, but does everyone adhere to that?

  8. Ted: Welcome. That can of worms has been open here for as long as the I’ve been blogging.

  9. ()-

    Okay, okay, you can send Brandee. And her twin, Brandi. We all have our choice of addictions…

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