Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: When I almost joined a cult

On my way out of the kingdom of God, I did a little trolling for Jesus. My final burst of religiosity occurred around the same time I was fully accepting my homosexuality, and I was determined to not let the latter amputate me from the Body of Christ.

Attending college in Alabama, I developed an addiction to Bibles, accepting one whenever a student group was distributing them, mailing coupons to daily devotional companies and buying every translation I discovered. I always rushed to find Leviticus 18:22, ever hopeful of reading a reinterpretation of His word that didn’t condemn me as abominable.

The scripture’s phrasing varied by edition, but the essence never changed: God hates you, fag. Damned by battered soul syndrome, I attended a speech by Kent Hovind, a creation scientist who toured universities offering $100,000 to anyone who proved the theory of evolution.

Hovind’s lecture was witty and had a certitude my own faith envied. He outlined how a literal interpretation of the Bible aligned with scientific evidence to prove the earth was between 4-6,000 years old, carbon dating was hocus-pocus and the Great Flood created the Grand Canyon.

I ordered from his website a creationist Bible and coloring books that explained how people and dinosaurs co-existed, and finally synced my intellectual snobbery with my spiritual desires. Reading the Bible literally, I even found peace with my homosexuality since I did not lie with womankind as with mankind — gotcha, God!

With this fresh righteousness, I enrolled in an introductory geology course and tortured the teaching assistant, gave a presentation in my religion class about the cult of evolution and started lingering in the audience of the “Concourse Preachers,” Auburn’s sect of the Christians who stand outside Pride festivals casting everyone to hell.

All of this was trolling before that word defined obnoxious online behavior — contrarianism feasting on outrage and attention. One married couple was particularly captivating, the wife petite and demure until she saw a sinner walking by, whom she would scorch with fiery wisdom and wrath.

And every passerby was a sinner. As a fellow disciple of the literal word of God, I empathized with their ministry and defended them when mobs of infidels tried to overwhelm the couple. I shifted from protecting them to offering unsolicited judgment, enlightening strangers about God’s plans for their souls.

It felt good to finally be on the Lord’s team, to be on the holy side of His will and His word. One afternoon, the married couple asked me and a few others to join them for lunch at Pizza Hut, where they de-robed from their Concourse personas and revealed themselves as bigamists, bigots and the type of assholes who don’t cover their portion of a restaurant check.

I had too many natural insufferable qualities to adopt artificial ones or finance others’, so I never interacted with them or any form of religion since, including disengaging from some Buddhist neighbors who I felt were too evangelical. There will always be traces of Christianity and unhinged antagonism inside of me, but I had done enough reading about sodomy and was ready for more lived testimonies.