It is said that a healthy group bonds together for something, while an unhealthy group bonds against something.
Habits are also hard to break.
I am so used to connecting with people by establishing an us-them mentality. As a so-called “non-denominational” church, we constantly talked about the sins of “the denominations”. This was not apparent to me until I brought some friends to church. What I had not even heard all of a sudden became painfully obvious. We were establishing a connection by defining an out-group. My friends saw it, and I was able to see it through them.
While there were healthy aspects to my religious groups which I still appreciate, there was often an element of coming together against the evil or ignorant outside. We bonded by defining someone else as enemy.
(By ‘we’, I in no way mean that everyone in my church did this, but there was a culture of us vs them in regards to several different groups. While individuals in the church were not so prejudiced, it was not uncommon to hear derogatory things said against: Democrats, Liberals, socialists, homosexuals, mainline Christians, secular society, Planned Parenthood and so on.)
Its still a pattern. Since I’ve gotten to know people from the very groups I used to define, I realize my definitions were wrong. Homosexuals, bisexuals, or polyamorous people are not the lost, sinning desecrators of morality I imagined them to be. I see them as humans who often have a highly developed sense of morality.
I am afraid of doing to my fundamentalist Christian friends what we used to do to others. I have to remind myself that there are Republicans and Conservatives who are also concerned with the way things are going in their parties and churches. They can’t all be deluded or psychopathic 🙂