When I was in high school I went to Immanuel Mission Church in Hollywood, FL. In my youth group was a boy named Brian Kang. Brian was not popular with the adults; he was usually in trouble, and the kids teased him for his nonconformity. In my leadership position I could see Brian reach out for the love and sanity that Christ supposedly offered, and heard the pastor tell him it wasn't his until he stopped sinning.
I saw Brian deal with his extremely difficult life, made more difficult by the lack of support and constant condemnation he received from the "family" that supposedly cared. Their best solution was to chastise Brian, cast out his demons, and "pray" for him. I never saw anyone share genuine care for him in my time at that church. When I think back I see how obvious it was then what the outcome would be.
I learned just yesterday that Brian killed himself. He was only 18 or 19. As I understand it, that was 18 or 19 years of sadness and inescapable depression. The church talked about love and peace but withdrew its hand when it could have helped him. No one that I knew then, save for two people, have said anything about his death.
No one has memorialized him on their websites (this church has a large web community); no one has mentioned him. The pastor taught that suicides go to hell. The church is so goddamn self-righteous that even in his death they aren't associating with him because now he's in hell.
I am furiously angry over this boy's death. I won't let him be forgotten. His name was Brian Kang; his life mattered. His death matters. There is no heaven waiting for him. I left that church four years ago to go to college and in that time have become an atheist. When a Christian tries to tell me that God is love I think of Brian.
Was God showing Brian a little pain to help in his path of obedience? Was He just testing Brian, only to give him a glorious reward later on? If God is love, he could have helped Brian. If God exists, he could have done something to save his creation. I don't blame God for Brian's death, because "God" is a meaningless abstraction.
I blame the loving Christians who counterfeit-loved Brian to death. Inini, I am sorry for the hurt you experienced at the hands of that whacked-out fundamentalist. Christianity is inherently anti-life, and anyone caught in its destructive path is lucky to escape with their sanity.
Brian will never tell his triumphant tale of his conquest of Christianity. We will all some day die, and it is likely there will be nothing waiting for us afterwards. We can only live on in our survivors' memories; please think of him, and how we have a chance to make our lives better, on our own power, in our own way. Our lives are too full to have any space for God.
(this story was originally posted here as a response to Inini's testimony.)