I grew up in a very conservative Christian home: my family holds hands and prays before every meal, goes to church every Sunday and Wednesday, and never takes the Lord's name in vain. I have deep ties to Christianity, and that being said, I want to share a couple instances in which I felt that Christianity in the South needed a breath of fresh air.
Last Wednesday, I attended church at The Rock Family Worship Center in Huntsville, and I was amazed at how great the worship was, and how passionate and sincere the members of the congregation were in the celebration of their religion. Looking around the room, I saw a mix of races and ages that went against the stereotype of churches in the South. It was awesome! The guest speaker was an African-American woman that was emphatic, knowledgeable, and spoke from her heart- however, one of the things she said was for single women to keep their legs closed. I believe that women are in control of their sexuality and should be able to discern what is good or not good for them. While I understand that the pastor was speaking from personal experience, she never addressed the men in the audience. She never encouraged men to be more respectful to women.
On Mothers' Day, my family and I went to my parents' church to celebrate my mom (when mom tells us to go to church, in my family, you GO), and when I went, I was met with the message from a pastor that told the women "not to worry" about being spiritual leaders and to focus on their responsibilities at home. While I understand that he may be the spiritual leader in his home, he ought to be conscientious about the women in the audience. Women are just as capable of being spiritual leaders in their households as men are. Additionally, the pastor went on to say that he had encountered children with depression, and those children had mental illnesses because their families were not living according to God's will. I have had depression since childhood and my parents are conservative Christians, and besides that, very loving and supportive! Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, not a result of someone being outside of the Christian faith.
For those of you that are listening to preachers every Sunday, I applaud your dedication to something you believe in. I would just ask that you keep an open mind and do your research. Educating yourself is not a sin. To the church leaders, I would say the same. If you're discussing mental illness or other sensitive topics, please research. Talk to someone with mental illness and listen to their perspective. If you want Christianity to survive in this country, listen to different perspectives, and learn why people aren't interested in religion anymore. You might be surprised to hear their answer. Their perspective might be the breath of fresh air that Christianity needs.