Ever had a nasty break-up with someone who's rather controlling? Sooner or later, you know the phone will ring in the middle of the night. Against your better judgement, you'll answer. It'll be your ex, drunk and slobbering, pleading and whining for you to reconcile. And that fervent request will go roughly like this: "Baby, I can't stop thinking about you. You're a lying whore and I hate you, but we can make this work, baby, I just know we can."
I've experienced this call a couple of times in my life. Half denigration and half idolization, this is a special breed among post-breakup conversations. Obviously it's a booty call, but it's a special sort of booty call. The person making the plea doesn't ever seem to grasp that after detailing all of his complaints, that his idolization is going to work to melt my heart. All he knows is he's horny, and better the evil you know than a scary world of new women. The first time I heard an ex talking like this, I was beyond shocked. The second time I actually laughed. After that I'd learned how to spot controllers, so it stopped being an issue.
Religion--and religion-infused right-wing politics--play this same game.
"You're a sinner and a horrible person. You're going to hell in a handbasket and will burn in God's hell forever and ever. But God loves you, and he wants you back. Y'all can make this work. He just knows it. Come back to church, pretty please."
"You're a whore, a freeloader, a thief, and a con artist. Your vagina gives off Slut Cooties and you are a mindless, sex-crazed abortion factory who needs a control-freak of a man to keep you in line and a misogynistic religion to keep you sexually abstinent. But the GOP is willing to overlook these things if you'll just vote for them."
"I always knew you were weird and sinful, even while you were attending church all the time and had given no indication of your true feelings. You're a horrible person and I despise you. But if you reconvert, we'll be besties again."
First comes the blame and shaming; then comes the shamelessly self-serving reconciliation plea. Listen for it. After demonstrating their true feelings, the ex will beg for another chance. And he'll do it completely without even realizing how insane he sounds. I just wonder how many people fall for this tactic.
I suspect that every single one of us ex-Christians has had at least one drunk-dialing call from at least one relative or church member. And make no mistake: whatever the blame and shaming is, that's what this person really thinks of you, and if you were to make the cardinal mistake of reconciling, even after restoring yourself to that person or group's good graces, deep down they'll still think this of you.
(Quick segue: I think I'm the first person to call this one: the GOP is going to be courting women at some point out of necessity, and women will laugh in their faces. "What? Weren't you claiming that the critical need for free contraception was evil last month? Now it's fine? When did you decide that? What happened to us being whores and sluts and freeloaders? Now you need us so suddenly you're willing to overlook our whorish slutty freeloading ways?")
Like so many other fights that ex-Christians must endure in their post-Christian walk, the only real way to win this one is not to fight at all.