The Amalgamation of Man and Beast!?

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June 3, 2023
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Santiago does a deep dive on the "amalgamation" quotes. Abby and Ami talk about bigotry in the Seventh-Day Adventist church and particularly in the southern United States culture of the church. The conversation covers racism, homophobia, dating, trans issues, segregated conferences, and "the amalgamation of man and beast."

Sources Mentioned:

2021 Poll: 94% of Americans Approve of Interracial Marriage

"Base Crime" Definition from 1858 Dictionary

Racist book from 1867: The Negro, what is his ethnological status?

Uriah Smith's Defense of Ellen White's Amalgamation Quotes

James White promoting Uriah Smith's Book

Adventist Responses:

Adventist Today - Was Ellen White an Infallible Theologian?

Dr. Benjamin Baker - Ellen White on Amalgamation

Terrie Aamodt (59:00), Benjamin Baker (1:32:30) on Amalgamation

Ellen White Estate - Amalgamation by Francis D. Nichol

Tunkhannock SDA Church on Amalgamation

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Credits: Abby and Ami, creators of the Seventh-day Atheist Podcast • Music: Hall of the Mountain King Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) • Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Episode Transcript

Haystacks & Hell Intro

[00:00:00] Santiago: Welcome to Haystacks and Hell, an ex-Adventist podcast where we tell stories about growing up Seventh-day Adventist, leaving faith behind, and building new, fulfilling lives.

[00:00:16] Abby (Narrating): Since the flood, there has been amalgamation of man and beast as may be seen in the endless varieties of species of animals and in certain races of men.

WTF is the "Amalgamation of man and beast?!"

[00:00:27] Santiago: Hey everyone, welcome back to Haystacks and Hell. I'm your host Santiago, and as you just heard, we're gonna play Abby and Ami's original episode on bigotry within the Adventist church. We're also gonna explore an infamous quote from Ellen White about the amalgamation of man and beast, review a common interpretation of that quote, and see what Adventists have to say about it.

[00:00:52] If you haven't already heard Episode 19 on race, slavery, and racism in the context of Christianity and Adventism, I recommend that you go back and listen to that one first, as it'll give some important context for this episode. To start, let's do a quick recap and cover some background info.

[00:01:11] Like we talked about in the last episode, race is just a social construct and we have data from the Human Genome Project indicating that all humans are 99.9% genetically identical. But many people before, during, and even after Ellen White's time, believed in all sorts of pseudoscientific ideas that justified racism, White supremacy, and slavery.

[00:01:37] To her credit, Ellen White was an abolitionist and even supported reparations for formerly enslaved people. She also wrote that Black and White people are equal and deserve equal respect. But she supported segregation among Adventists to help continue growing the Adventist movement, especially when it came to recruiting White people in the quote higher class.

[00:02:03] She also mentioned that enslaved people who were never taught the gospel were kept by their enslavers in a position lower than quote "brute beasts," and that God could not take them to heaven. With all of that in mind, it's not surprising that she was against interracial marriage. In 1891, Ellen White wrote:

[00:02:25] Santiago (Narrating): We must not carry things to extremes and run into fanaticism on this question. Some would think it right to throw down every partition wall and intermarry with the colored people, but this is not the right thing to teach or to practice.

[00:02:42] Santiago: Five years later in 1896, she wrote that it is quote:

[00:02:47] Santiago (Narrating): The work of the white people to elevate the standard of character among the colored race, to teach them how Christians should live, by exemplifying the spirit of Christ, showing that we are one brotherhood. Let us as Christians who accept the principle that all men, white and black, are free and equal, adhere to this principle, and not be cowards in the face of the world, and in the face of the heavenly intelligences. We should treat the colored man just as respectfully as we would treat the white man. And we can now, by precept and example, win others to this course.

[00:03:30] But there is an objection to the marriage to the white race with the black. All should consider that they have no right to entail upon their offspring that which will place them at a disadvantage; they have no right to give them as a birthright a condition which would subject them to a life of humiliation. The children of these mixed marriages have a feeling of bitterness toward the parents who have given them this lifelong inheritance. For this reason, if there were no other, there should be no intermarriage between the white and the colored race.

[00:04:11] Santiago: End quote. So while Ellen White did write that we should treat Black and White people equally, she repeatedly wrote that interracial marriage was not acceptable. In this case, the excuse she gave was that their biracial children would be subject to a life of humiliation. As a biracial person with a Latina mom and a White dad, it's interesting to read this quote.

[00:04:36] I can't pretend to know what anti-Black racism feels like personally, but I do know what it's like to feel different from my White cousins on my dad's side of the family, and what it's like to be treated differently. Still, this seems like a lame excuse to me. Of course back then, things would've been way more difficult for biracial kids and their parents. But instead of saying that we should change this and not perpetuate this discrimination, Ellen White upheld it. Five years later in 1901, Ellen White wrote a letter to a Black man named Grant Royston, who planned to marry a White woman. Here are a few excerpts from that letter. Quote:

[00:05:19] Santiago (Narrating): My brother, I have received a letter from my son, J W White, in reference to the step you proposed taking, in marrying a white girl. If you take the step, it will create great difficulty for the work in the Southern field and great trouble for the colored people. The Lord has shown me that some, irrespective of consequences, will intermarry with the colored race. God has instructed me to say to such that their lives will always be in danger, should they go to the colored districts.

[00:05:59] The marriage you propose is not ordered by the Lord, and the result of it would be to close up many openings in the Southern field. Young man, remember that souls are involved in the step which you propose to take. You cannot now estimate the evil which would result from this step. And if you will not receive counsel and advice, there is only one thing for the church to do, to set you aside because you will not respect or heed its counsels.

[00:06:31] Santiago: So in 1901, Ellen White threatened to kick a Black man out of the Adventist church if he didn't listen to her and cancel his plans to marry a White woman. And pay close attention to the reasons she gave. In this case, she didn't say it was because any future kids they might have would be discriminated against.

[00:06:53] In this letter, she claims that one, it would hurt Adventist proselytizing in the South, presumably when recruiting White people. Two, that God himself said that this couple's lives would always be in danger in some parts of the country. And three, that this man could not estimate the evil that would come as a result of their marriage. Here's one last example. These excerpts are from a letter Ellen White wrote in 1912.

[00:07:27] Santiago (Narrating): Regarding the advisability of intermarriage between Christian young people of the white and black races, I will say that in my earlier experience this question was brought before me and the light given me of the Lord was that this step should not be taken; for it is sure to create controversy and confusion.

[00:07:51] Let the white sister who contemplates uniting in marriage with the colored brother refuse to take this step, for the Lord is not leading in this direction. Time is too precious to be lost in controversy that will arise over this matter. Let not questions of this kind be permitted to call our ministers from their work. The taking of such a step will create confusion and hindrance. It will not be for the advancement of the work or for the glory of God.

[00:08:27] Santiago: End quote. When Ellen White wrote that time is too precious, she's probably referring to the belief that Jesus would come back at any moment. Remember, Adventists and some evangelical Christians have been expecting this for many decades and even centuries. Even some of the earliest Christians were told and believed that Jesus would come back in their lifetime. So again, it appears Ellen White was more interested in converting as many people to Adventism as possible, and not challenging them on their racist views.

[00:09:05] 55 years after Ellen White wrote that letter, Jesus still hadn't come back, and the United States Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriage. It's really interesting that as time went on, other denominations and even the US Government were way ahead of the Adventist church on issues around racial equality.

[00:09:29] Some people still look down on interracial marriage today, but they're in the minority. Since the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v Virginia, the overwhelming majority of people in the US approve of it. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 94% of Americans approve.

[00:09:50] To me, this shows that Ellen White had no clue that over a century later, Jesus would still not come back, and that interracial marriage wouldn't be a big deal. On top of that, she probably didn't anticipate how some Adventists would use her own words to continue discouraging interracial marriage even after it became socially and legally acceptable.

[00:10:15] Ellen White apologists will say we need to understand the time and context in which she wrote this, which is fair. But even when reading in context, there is a recurring theme in her writings. And it's that she didn't want full racial equality interfering with the growth of the Adventist movement, or upsetting White Adventists.

[00:10:38] With all of that said, let's take a look at the amalgamation quotes in context, and why Ellen White wrote these statements in the first place. Spiritual Gifts Volume 3 was written by Ellen White in 1864. In the preface of that book, she gives her reasons for writing it. Long story short, she says she's convinced that God used her to shed light on the history of the quote "holy men of old," because their good works aren't really mentioned enough in the Bible, while many mistakes and sins are mentioned. She kind of has a point. The Old Testament is full of awful, awful stuff, and even the new Testament, if you know where to look for it.

[00:11:23] In the last episode, we talked briefly about genocide and slavery mentioned in the Bible, in some cases, even specifically commanded or allowed. And I've mentioned in other episodes that Deuteronomy 21:10-14 allows the rape of women captured in war. Ellen White didn't like that people were focusing on all the bad parts of the Old Testament, so she took it upon herself to write what I would call Bible fanfiction.

[00:11:54] Of course, Ellen White would probably curse me for calling it fan fiction, as would many conservative Adventists. Anyway in the preface, she said, quote, "The great facts of faith, connected with the history of holy men of old, have been opened to me in vision." So here, she's claiming that she had visions which led her to write this book. In chapter six, called Crime Before the Flood, she describes what humans supposedly did to deserve a global flood. Here are a few excerpts.

[00:12:31] Santiago (Narrating): The descendants of Seth were called the sons of God — the descendants of Cain, the sons of men. As the sons of God mingled with the sons of men, they became corrupt and by intermarriage with them, lost through the influence of their wives, their peculiar, holy character, and united with the sons of Cain in their idolatry.

[00:12:56] The wickedness of man was so great, and increased to such a fearful extent, that God repented that he had made man upon the earth; for he saw that the wickedness of man was great, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

[00:13:15] Santiago: End quote. On top of getting married to the "wrong people," she goes on to describe more sin like worshiping idols, not acknowledging God as the creator, polygamy, theft, murder, and animal cruelty. Now, here are the infamous quotes.

[00:13:35] Santiago (Narrating): But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere.

[00:13:54] Santiago: End quote. In the next chapter titled The Flood, Ellen White talks about Noah and the global flood myth. Here's where things get even more interesting. Quote:

[00:14:06] Santiago (Narrating): Every species of animal which God had created were preserved in the ark. The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood. Since the flood, there has been amalgamation of man and beast, as maybe seen in the almost endless varieties of species of animals, and in certain races of men.

[00:14:37] Santiago: End quote. So let's review what we know so far. In chapter six, Ellen White listed a bunch of evil deeds that supposedly led to a global flood. These included marrying ungodly people, idolatry, polygamy, murder, and more. And according to her, the one sin that was worse than everything else, was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast. She said that it defaced the image of God, and led to the almost endless varieties of species of animals and certain races of men.

[00:15:18] I don't think anyone can claim with 100% certainty that they know what ellen White really meant when she wrote this. So I'm not going to pretend to know what she meant. Instead, I'll just propose what I think is a reasonable interpretation. I think she could have been referring to bestiality, or humans having sex with animals. And that it led to new species of animals and races of human beings. And it's not just me. A lot of other people have come to that conclusion, even during her time.

[00:15:52] That doesn't automatically mean this interpretation is right. But I think there's enough evidence to justify it as plausible. First, let's address the claim about "certain races of men." She writes that the amalgamation of man and beast defaced the image of God and that the effects may be seen in certain races of men. In chapter two of the same book, she mentions the quote "image of God," saying that God made plans to make man in the image of God. That's referring to a verse in Genesis, where God says, let us make man in our own image.

[00:16:33] Thanks to modern biology and genetics, we know that humans can't reproduce with other species. But if they could, and it resulted in "certain races of men," as Ellen White seems to imply, that could definitely be considered "defacing the image of God."

[00:16:52] Now, let's look at the claim about species of animals. In chapter seven, she writes that the amalgamation of man and beast has happened again after the flood, and that the evidence for her claim can be found in the almost endless varieties of species of animals. In other words, she's saying the crime of amalgamation of man and beast has led to new species of animals that God didn't create.

[00:17:18] From what I've seen, this is the less controversial part of her statement because it's dealing specifically with non-human animals. We know that humans have purposely bred domesticated animals for farm work, and even as pets, but her statement seems to go beyond that.

[00:17:36] Either way, it's important to pay attention to the words that Ellen White used, starting with the word "base." She wrote that amalgamation was a quote "base crime." But what does that actually mean? A dictionary from that time period defines a base crime as heinous and unnatural. Beastiality could definitely be described as heinous and unnatural.

[00:18:03] The word base isn't always used to describe sexual crimes or sins, but Ellen White did use that word when talking about lust and passion. For example, she wrote the book Testimonies to the Church Volume 2, just a few years after the amalgamation quotes. In chapter 24, titled Sensuality in the Young, she wrote:

[00:18:27] Santiago (Narrating): The heart is corrupted through the imagination. The mind takes pleasure in contemplating scenes which awaken the lower and baser passions. These vile images, seen through defiled imagination, corrupt the morals and prepare the deluded, infatuated beings to give loose rein to lustful passions. Then follow sins and crimes which drag beings formed in the image of God, down to a level with the beasts, sinking them at last in perdition.

[00:19:07] Santiago: End quote. So, not only does this passage use the word "base" to describe lustful passions, she also describes it as dragging people who were formed in the image of God, down to a level with the beasts. To me, this language sounds pretty similar to the amalgamation quotes. Later in chapter 59 of the same book, she wrote:

[00:19:31] Santiago (Narrating): Base passions controlled men and women generally, that among the masses, crimes of the darkest dye were continually practiced, and they were reeking in their own corruption. The nominal churches are filled with fornication and adultery, crime and murder, the result of base, lustful passion.

[00:19:56] Santiago: Now let's look at the word amalgamation. One objection from Ellen White apologists is that the word amalgamation wasn't really used to describe bestiality. It was typically used to describe fusing different kinds of metal together.

[00:20:12] However, it was also used by some racists to describe what they considered unnatural sex between humans and animals. One example comes from a racist book written in 1867, just three years after Ellen White's amalgamation quotes were published. The title is "The Negro, What is His Ethnological Status?"

[00:20:38] Here, the author discusses the Curse of Ham, which we talked about briefly in the last episode. They wrote that the Curse of Ham doesn't refer to Black people and instead proposed an even more racist theory, that the quote "Negro" was a beast or animal created by God before Adam. This author also used the word amalgamation to explain the global flood on page 27, saying that God was quote:

[00:21:08] Santiago (Narrating): Determined to destroy them, and with them the world, by a flood, and for the crime of amalgamation or miscegenation of the white race with that of the black — mere beasts of the earth. We can now form an opinion of the awful nature of this crime in the eyes of God, when we know that he destroyed the world by a flood, on account of its perpetration.

[00:21:38] Santiago: Later on page 38, the author talks about the nations which God commanded the Israelites to destroy, saying their destruction was ordered, quote:

[00:21:48] Santiago (Narrating): Simply because they were the progeny of amalgamation or miscegenation between Canaan, a son of Adam and Eve, and the negro, and were neither man nor beast.

[00:22:02] Santiago: End quote. So this incredibly racist, White supremacist author, goes even further than Ellen White and specifically claims that human-animal hybrids existed, and that they were the result of White people having sex with beasts. Now, someone who is a defender of Ellen White, might hear this and say, 'Well, that author wasn't Ellen White, or even an Adventist, so you can't use their book to interpret what she was saying.'

[00:22:33] And I would agree with that. I'm simply quoting from it to provide historical context and to show that other people did use the word amalgamation during Ellen White's time to describe what they considered unnatural sex. Now let's look at what an actual Adventist had to say. The next year in 1868, Adventist pioneer Uriah Smith published a pamphlet called The visions of Mrs E G White, a Manifestation of Spiritual Gifts According to the Scriptures.

[00:23:06] Uriah Smith was part of the Adventist movement from the start. He was a Millerite and experienced the Great Disappointment. And while he became disillusioned for a while, he eventually came back to Adventism and was an author, pastor and theologian. He was close to Ellen and James White, at one point being the editor of what is now the Review and Herald. And while Ellen White did criticize him strongly at times, she also wrote, "I have loved brother Smith next to my own husband and children, because he has had a part in the work for so many years."

[00:23:44] Over the years, many people have criticized Ellen White's writings, including while she was alive and still producing material. So Uriah's 1868 pamphlet was written to defend Ellen's writings, and he specifically addressed the amalgamation quotes. Like we saw in the last book, some people were using terms like amalgamation in arguments that claimed Black people were not actually human. Some Adventists also interpreted Ellen White's writings this way, even though she never specifically said which races of men were the result of amalgamation.

[00:24:22] So Uriah tried to clear things up. He made it clear that the quote "Negro race" is human, and that Ellen White never claimed they weren't. So far so good. But then, he tried to say that her overall claim of amalgamation between man and beast was valid, and tried to back that claim up, pointing to quote:

[00:24:45] Santiago (Narrating): Such cases as the wild Bushmen of Africa, some tribes Hottentots, and perhaps the Digger Indians of our own country, etc. Moreover, naturalists affirm that the line of demarcation between the human and animal races is lost in confusion.

[00:25:07] Santiago: So while trying to defend Ellen White, Uriah affirmed that Black people were indeed human, but that amalgamation of man and beast did happen, and that some other groups of people could be considered evidence of amalgamation. Defenders of Ellen White are quick to say that we can't rely on Uriah Smith's pamphlet, and that we can't be sure that Ellen endorsed what he wrote. But in the August 25, 1868 edition of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, James White, her husband, promoted Uriah Smith's pamphlet, and said that he read it carefully. Quote:

[00:25:47] Santiago (Narrating): While carefully reading the manuscript, I felt very grateful to God that our people could have this able defense of those views which they so much love and prize and which others despise and oppose. This book is designed for a very wide circulation. There will be 2,000 copies upon the camp ground.

[00:26:10] Santiago: So James White reviewed the pamphlet carefully, before it was published and said that it was meant to be circulated widely. It wasn't some small side project that Uriah Smith created by himself. It was thoroughly reviewed by James White. And if that's not enough, Ellen White's own son, Willie White, wrote about the amalgamation quotes in a letter dated May 5, 1918. Quote:

[00:26:41] Santiago (Narrating): In my boyhood, I heard her read the passage you referred to and I heard her and father discuss the matter. As far as I can remember, their discussion included apes, baboons, chimpanzees, and that type of larger, intelligent monkeys. They also discussed the matter of some of the lowest tribes of natives in Africa as being possibly included. I do not remember that mother ever spoke with great definiteness regarding this statement.

[00:27:17] Santiago: Dr Benjamin Baker, the Adventist historian that we talked about in the last episode, actually got this letter from the White Estate, and has even stated that Willie White is a credible primary source on Ellen White.

[00:27:32] Adventists have been grappling with these Ellen White quotes for a very long time and I've linked to all of the sources and Adventist responses I've reviewed in the show notes. Some Adventists claim the issue is just a matter of grammar, and that her statement is clearly talking about animals mating with animals, and humans with humans. That isn't a compelling argument to me, especially since other writers used the word amalgamation in a similar way when referring to bestiality.

[00:28:04] Other Adventists will claim that she was talking about God's people getting married to heathens, but that's not at all obvious from the text. Especially since she already mentioned that kind of marriage earlier in the same chapter and said that amalgamation was worse than that. And when you consider what Uriah Smith and her own son wrote, this interpretation isn't even possible.

[00:28:31] Regardless of what Ellen White originally meant, I think it was incredibly irresponsible to include the amalgamation quotes, especially to write them in such a vague way that has left people confused from the start, and still today over a hundred years later. No matter what she meant, the reality is that we have good data indicating all humans are 99.9% genetically identical.

[00:28:59] But of course, Ellen White had no way of knowing that. Given how many visions she supposedly had, you'd think that an all powerful, all knowing, and all loving God would show this to her. Instead, her visions and writings reflected much of the pseudoscience of her day, and led her to make a wild claim that some modern Adventists have used to support their racist ideologies and discourage interracial marriage.

[00:29:29] Even if Ellen White hadn't written about amalgamation, she was consistently against interracial marriage, like we covered at the start of this episode. She had no clue that over a century later, the second coming still hasn't happened and interracial marriage is now acceptable, thanks to the efforts of the people who actually fought for it.

[00:29:52] Growing up as a millennial on the West Coast, in a multicultural Adventist church, I had never heard her quotes on interracial marriage and amalgamation until after I left the church. But for the people who grew up Adventist in the Southern United States before, and maybe even during the 1990s, chances are they heard these quotes just like Abby and Ami did. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Abby and Ami's original episode.

Abby and Ami on Bigotry within the SDA Church

[00:30:27] Abby: Hello, this is Abby.

[00:30:29] Ami: This is Ami.

[00:30:30] Abby: It is August 5th, 2014, and you are listening to the Seventh Day Atheist Podcast. I want to, uh, read you guys a little quote, a little scripture.

[00:30:42] Ami: [Laughing]

[00:30:43] Abby: A little opening scripture. And then I want you to think about what this means. I'm not going to interpret it. We're just gonna go on and talk about our topic, and I want you to think about, to meditate [laughing] on what these statements mean. They're two separate statements, uh, close together, from Ellen White, the Adventist prophet. And, and this is how they go.

[00:31:08] Abby (Narrating): But if there was one sin above another, which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast, which defaced the image of God and caused confusion everywhere. God purposed to destroy by a flood, that powerful, long lived race that had corrupted their ways before him.

[00:31:26] Abby: That's from Spiritual Gifts. Then there is another similar paragraph a little bit later.

[00:31:32] Abby (Narrating): Every species of animal which God had created was preserved in the ark. The confused species, which God did not create, but which were a result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood. Since the flood, there has been amalgamation of man and beast as may be seen in the endless varieties of species of animals and in certain races of men.

[00:31:56] Abby: I want you to think about how that might sound to a 10 year old, and how adults might interpret that in say, the deep South. And, uh, we're going to, we're gonna talk about, we're gonna talk broadly about bigotry.

[00:32:16] Ami: Oh, this is a big topic and obviously one that we will need to talk about more than once and probably get more people than just you and me involved in the conversation. Um, we both grew up in the South and we both grew up in a fundamentalist religion.

[00:32:41] Abby: And we are two White girls. Just to clarify kind of, we don't, we were a little bit conflicted about doing this show because these things profoundly impacted us, but not in the same way that they would impact people who were Black or even Asian or um, gay or one of the "out groups."

[00:33:06] And we don't mean to, [siren] we don't mean to talk over the ambulance. [Laughing] Ami lives near the fire department, have I mentioned that? Um, we, we don't mean to imply that we know what you went through if you were in one of those groups, but these attitudes had a huge impact on our leaving the church. So we did feel like, I mean, it is definitely part of my experience, is encountering bigotry in the Adventist church and having enormous moral dissonance with the church, uh, because of these things. Anyway, that's kind of our perspective.

[00:33:46] Ami: Yeah, and we do have every intention of talking about these things later with people who experience them from, from a different point of view.

[00:33:56] Abby: Yeah.

[00:33:57] Ami: So, some things to know maybe about the Adventist church that relate to bigotry, uh, are that there is a Black conference and...

[00:34:11] Abby: So embarrassing.

[00:34:12] Ami: That, that's totally embarrassing.

[00:34:14] Abby: Even as a kid, I found it so embarrassing. There are Black churches in most southern towns with an Adventist church, there's also a Black Adventist church.

[00:34:24] Ami: Yeah, and when I was a kid, this was always explained to me, uh, in these sort of "separate but equal" kind of terms, you know, that like, 'Well, they have their own way of worshiping that's different from ours.' And the implication was that, that our way was normal. Their way was weird, and the idea was always that the Black church was more flamboyant and, I don't know.

[00:34:57] Abby: Pentecostal-ish, perhaps. And if that was all there was to it, it might be sort of stupid and harmless. My mother is pretty deep in church leadership. Um, she has told me before that attempts to split the Black conference or to, to, uh, to merge the Black conferences.

[00:35:18] Ami: Integrate.

[00:35:19] Abby: Yes, to integrate, that is the word we want. To integrate the Black conferences into the White conferences, met with a lot of resistance from the Black conferences because they feel, with some justification, that they would be entirely shoved to the side if that happened. That their leadership would not receive equal positions in the conference.

[00:35:38] Ami: It wouldn't be a true blending of the two.

[00:35:41] Abby: Exactly, exactly.

[00:35:43] Ami: But rather, you know, you would just be absorbed into the, you know, larger group.

[00:35:49] Abby: And you would not get any say in anything because you...

[00:35:54] Ami: Well, and like I said, there is, there was definitely an attitude that there was the "normal" church, there was the regular version and then there was the Black version. And so, and if that's the attitude, you can see certainly why people would, would have some justification for that feeling. So it isn't that, so the reason that there are still Black...

[00:36:16] Abby: It's more complicated than just segregation is what I'm saying, but absolutely started, I think, I think we could say without any, um, what am I trying to say? I, I think we can say for certain that it started just during plain old segregation in the entire United States and has not been rectified in all the years since then.

[00:36:37] Ami: Yeah. So with that as sort of, that's a fact in the church.

[00:36:42] Abby: Mm-hmm.

[00:36:44] Ami: And then sort of general racism of growing up in the South and then, you know, other attitudes of, you know, maybe the individuals around us. Racism was pretty pervasive, I guess in my life growing up. I, I feel a little uncomfortable talking about this because, um, a lot of people that I know to be very good and, uh, decent people, I also know to have some very racist attitudes.

[00:37:25] Abby: Mm-hmm.

[00:37:25] Ami: And most of the racism that I encountered in my own family was of the, um, sort of abstract kind, you know? They were not hateful towards individuals. In fact, they were, you know, gracious to, to individuals. But, um, without saying so, kind of gave the impression that the, you know, that their Black friend, so to speak, was the exception.

[00:37:58] Abby: Is the honorary White person.

[00:38:00] Ami: Yeah, because you have the attitude that, that whatever I am is normal and regular, and everything else is an exception to it.

[00:38:07] Abby: Mm-hmm, and is a very common way for people with racist or bigoted attitudes to, um, to function is they actually have, they actually do have Black friends or even gay friends or, you know, but, but they make these people honorary White people, honorary straight people. Honorary Adve — like they, that's...

[00:38:30] Ami: Yeah, their worldly friend is sort of an honorary Adventist.

[00:38:33] Abby: An honorary Adventist. 'He's alright, you know, that one doesn't lie, cheat and steal like all the others.'

[00:38:38] Ami: Yeah.

[00:38:38] Abby: Which allows them to maintain, I mean, it, it allows them to be kind and decent and gentle to, uh, people that they would otherwise be inhuman to, but it also allows them to maintain the bigotry. The bigotry remains untouched, in spite of the fact that they've got an example sitting right in front of them the counteracts what they are supposed to believe.

[00:39:03] Ami: You sort of end up with this attitude that whoever is in my group, if they behave in a shitty way, that's the exception. But somebody in this other group that I've decided is shitty, um, if, if I see an example that shows that this isn't uniformly true, I take that good example to be the exception, you know?

[00:39:25] Abby: And I incorporate them into my group.

[00:39:26] Ami: I incorporate them into my group. So that is, I mean, that's a general...

[00:39:30] Abby: That's human.

[00:39:31] Ami: That's, that's human bigotry and, you know that the "in-group" and "out-group" mentality, which is not unique to Adventism.

[00:39:40] Abby: Certainly. And everyone will do, I mean, even people that are very, uh, liberally — you know, you'll, you'll have a Republican friend who's not a douchebag, and you'll make them an honorary Democrat. [Laughing] Everyone is prone to do this. This is a human trait because most humans need to divide the world into categories in order to function in it and understand it and have some way of approaching it. You know, it's so that the world is not just mush to us. Um, anyway, when you start dividing human beings into these categories and if, and if the category is thought of as subhuman or evil, that gets to be a very big problem.

[00:40:18] Ami: But then you have things like using religion as justification for these bigoted attitudes.

[00:40:26] Abby: Yes.

[00:40:26] Ami: Um, which does happen when it comes to racism. There's the attitude, you know, that gets expressed that we must not be "unequally yoked together," you know? So, marrying someone of a different race is taboo or...

[00:40:44] Abby: So, just so, so some of the listeners may have actually be from other parts of the country or the world. Maybe they've, they've read this verse, uh, in context, which is talking about marrying someone of another religion. You guys may not understand in the South, being unequally yoked together meant marrying a Black person.

[00:41:02] Ami: I mean, it meant marrying anyone who was not the same as you, basically. So you could say, so they would use that verse to indicate, you know, that you should not marry someone of another religion. But they would also use that verse to say, 'This is why you can't date a Black guy, Ami!' Because this was really, this was a real issue in my life. Um, and Abby's as well.

[00:41:27] Abby: Yes, although what I got read was the passages that I just read for you.

[00:41:33] Ami: Yikes.

[00:41:34] Abby: They went straight past unequally yoked, to "amalgamation of man and beast."

[00:41:40] Ami: There was an awful lot of talking around those kinds of things and...

[00:41:47] Abby: Tell them the bird thing, 'cause we both got told that separately.

[00:41:50] Ami: Oh, we both got told this separately. That the reason that you're not supposed to, um, you know, date a Black guy because this was, this was the context in which I was told this, is because 'Bluebirds and red birds don't mate with each other.' 'So, yeah, this is unnatural.'

[00:42:09] Abby: 'They both sing pretty in the same tree,' my mother said.

[00:42:12] Ami: Yeah, exactly.

[00:42:13] Abby: 'But they don't, they don't make nests together,' which implies that people of other nationalities are different species!

[00:42:20] Ami: Which is insane! Um, and ridiculous and not supported by biology. And just so wrong. And also not accurate, an accurate analogy because...

[00:42:37] Abby: It breaks apart very quickly, even in the mind of a 14 year old.

[00:42:40] Ami: Right, well, and I remember this was definitely a thing that I wasn't yet thinking about, leaving religion when I was 14 or 15.

[00:42:52] Abby: Oh no.

[00:42:52] Ami: And having this experience, but I, it was definitely a part of me questioning the status quo. So I remember specifically someone, uh, saying that the reason that it would be wrong, uh, for me to date a Black person was because, if we were to get married and have children, our children would, you know, not fit in anywhere. They would just not be accepted by either race, and it would just be so, so tragic and terrible. And I remember thinking at that moment, well they, why wouldn't they be accepted? Because you won't accept them?

[00:43:37] Abby: [Laughing]

[00:43:38] Ami: You know, it, like, you've decided that, that this is gonna be shitty. You, you've made that choice. It's up to you.

[00:43:46] Abby: Yeah.

[00:43:46] Ami: You know, we could decide not to be assholes about things.

[00:43:49] Abby: Depends on what you teach your children.

[00:43:51] Ami: These children would not suffer in this way. Um, but again, one of those things that just, I was always the kid, I guess, who, someone would, I would say, 'That's not fair,' and they would say, 'Life's not fair.' And I would respond, 'Because you won't let it be fair!'

[00:44:09] And that was really how I felt about that. So that attitude, which is, you know, it's tied up in where we grew up geographically and, you know, the culture of, of the place we lived, not just the religion we were part of, um, was really bad and was a thing that, that, and that I had to push back against a lot.

[00:44:33] Abby: Yeah, I told Ami earlier, I, if not for the church's horrible stone age attitudes towards, uh, racism and gay people, I might still be in it. It is possible. I, I'm not, I can't say that for sure, but it also would be not recognizable as the church of my childhood. So that's kind of a silly "what if."

[00:44:57] Ami: Racism was a thing that I did not equate with the church in the same way that I equated homophobia with the church. Because I was...

[00:45:05] Abby: That's inter — I was the flip flop. I equated, I equated racism directly with the church because of the Ellen White thing. But homophobia, I felt like, see, I felt like when I was younger I was like, oh, this isn't really, and like, there's not real, the but biblical verses are not that convincing. And Ellen White look, she has nothing to say about homophobia. She's way too busy telling straight people to stop having sex. She doesn't say anything about gay people.

[00:45:28] Ami: Well, when I was a child, like a, a little kid. It was, gay people were just invisible in the world I lived in, you know that that was not, I think I said when we were talking about sex in previous episodes, that that just was not an option that was available.

[00:45:47] Abby: Mm-hmm.

[00:45:48] Ami: And I can, for me, because I was straight, it just, it was like it just didn't exist. But I can imagine how horrible and alienating that would feel if you were a kid realizing that you were attracted to people of the same sex and feeling like you were the only one in the world. You know, which I think is what it would have felt like early in my childhood.

[00:46:14] I mean, we're talking pre-internet, we're, you know, and in a small town where there were not a lot of examples of, you know, people living openly. And so I can only imagine what that situation would've been like, you know, if I had been gay. Um, the first mention of homosexuality that I can remember, I was probably eight years old.

[00:46:42] And, um, my grandfather is a pastor, an Adventist pastor, and we were, uh, staying with my grandparents. And there was a member of their congregation that was a gay man, and he was out and he was, and apparently this was causing quite a scandal in the church. And he came over and I remember my mom and my grandma talking to him at the kitchen table.

[00:47:09] And I was sort of hiding in the next room, kind of listening in on the conversation because I knew that what they were talking about was taboo. I knew from the way everyone was talking that there was something up here. But I didn't know what it was. And um, I remember he, this man says to my mom and my grandma, um, he says, you know, 'The way I determine what's right and wrong is I think, would I feel comfortable doing this if God were in the room?'

[00:47:40] And he said, 'That's why I quit smoking. I was smoking a cigarette, and I thought, would you do this in front of Jesus? And I knew that I wouldn't.' And he said, 'I threw the cigarette out the car window and I never smoked again.' And my grandmother says, 'Would you feel comfortable having sex with a man if God were in the room?' And my, you know, like eight year old jaw just hit the floor. Like, this was a concept that I could not have fathomed before that moment.

[00:48:07] Abby: [Laughing] The follow up is, would you feel comfortable having sex with anyone?

[00:48:12] Ami: I, I wouldn't feel comfortable brushing my teeth with God in the room. I don't, there's nothing I would feel comfortable doing if God was in the room, but he responded immediately.

[00:48:23] Abby: Pooping, you should never poop again because everyone knows pooping in front of Jesus is very rude.

[00:48:28] Ami: Uhh, would you fart in front of Jesus? Absolutely not. He responded very promptly, 'Oh yes, of course I would.'

[00:48:37] Abby: Jesus is hot.

[00:48:38] Ami: That, it's a major turn on.

[00:48:41] Abby: My three-way with Jesus is not nearly as awkward as your three-way with Jesus.

[00:48:46] Ami: That was my first encounter with this very, you know, taboo subject. And so it was from the, so it was very much tied in with this religious idea. And that it was sinful. And I realized then that there were other people that I had heard people say, you know, 'He's a little bit off.' Like, there's something a little bit strange about him. And I realized then that that's what they meant.

[00:49:12] You know, was that he was gay. But it was, you know, it was a long time after that before I actually knew anyone who was out and um, but it did get tied up with religion and with the idea of sin to me. And it was hard to, I guess I, it took a long time for me to ever think about it logically.

[00:49:38] Abby: Mm-hmm.

[00:49:39] Ami: To come to my own conclusion. And when I did, I immediately, you know, realized that it was not this horrible thing that I'd been taught that it was. And so it was a place where my own sense of morals and ethics came immediately and directly into conflict with what I was taught was right and wrong according to my religion.

[00:50:06] Abby: Which is why Mary Renault is so appealing.

[00:50:09] Ami: Yeah.

[00:50:10] Abby: As you were saying that, I was trying to remember the first time I knew what being gay was, and I can't remember. I had not a normal experience with this. I, I, I, I doubt it jives with anybody else's experience. I had an uncle who was gay and my parents might have explained that to me when I was fairly young.

[00:50:36] That may be when I found out. Also growing up during the AIDS crisis, yeah, I saw references to homosexuality, relating to aids, like when I was fairly young. Um, I might have known what gay was before I knew what sex was, although I can't say that for sure. Obviously it didn't leave much impression on me cause I can't remember when I was told this.

[00:51:01] Um, but of course I knew, I knew it was wrong and sinful and, um, but my uncle was the nice, my dad had five siblings. He was by far the nicest of them. He was very shy, but he was always a neat person to have around. And so again, he was kind of made an honorary straight while he was in our household.

[00:51:25] But, um, I knew there was nothing to fear from him. And he was the fir — he, I encountered him long before I ever encountered a gay person who was my peer, you know, who was my own age. So, and I, and I say encountered him, obviously I encountered him as a baby, but I knew that he was gay when I was, I think my parents sat me down and told me when I was 10 or 12, 'cause he had a, he's had, he's had two husbands, I would call them, like long partners that he's lived with for many, many years. He's, um, which is about the same rate as my other, aunts and or, or aunts. They're all aunts on that side. Um, you know, so, so they're also right there was demonstrated for me that gay people are not more promiscuous than straight people.

[00:52:12] I knew that too, just because my uncle had, you know, long term partners and um, and didn't seem to turn over a new one any faster than my other, my aunt's on that side. Um, but when I, when I was, uh, probably in my, um, mid-teens, my parents told me, I might have been younger than that.

[00:52:39] 'Cause I know I knew the story by the time I started dating and that was when I was 14. The story went that my uncle, um, when he was like young, like twenties or late teens or something, um, brought home a Black girl. Um, she was, uh, from another country. I can't remember which one, but he married her to get her a green card.

[00:53:01] She was his friend. And, um, she might have been kind of his beard as well. Uh, but he, he married her to get her a green card, but he presented her to his family as you know, 'I've married this person, this is my wife.' And they, uh, rejected him. They totally rejected him. They said they never wanted to see him again.

[00:53:17] You know, get outta the house. And like many families, this was sort of an overreaction that sort of wore away with time. And, but the next time he, uh, came home, he had a man with him. And so this was presented to me almost as though dating Black people is a slippery slope to homosexuality.

[00:53:37] Both: [Laughing]

[00:53:38] Ami: And yet they were so relieved that at least this is a White guy.

[00:53:43] Abby: Yeah, exactly! That's the, uh, I don't know if he just softened them up with a Black girl or whether it truly was more okay that he was with a White guy, but that was the situation.

[00:53:53] Ami: These mental gymnastics that people go through are so funny. I mean, they're horrible, but they're kind of funny as well. We have a friend who is trans and when he was younger and was, you know, living as a woman, was attracted to women.

[00:54:16] Abby: Mm-hmm, he's a straight trans guy, which is always confusing to people.

[00:54:20] Ami: So they, um, so I get, anyway, our friend's family dealt with their daughter being a lesbian and then their daughter becoming their son. Which is kind of, I mean, kind of a lot for a family to absorb, I think, even without, even without believing that these things are wrong, or...

[00:54:42] Abby: Especially a fundamentalist.

[00:54:43] Ami: Being Adventist and everything. When he was transitioning, a pastor in their church said, um, said, well, this is, this is God's plan because she's not a lesbian anymore. This was God's plan all along.

[00:55:04] Abby: [Laughing]

[00:55:06] Ami: So to save your child from the sin of homosexuality, they have now changed genders. I don't know. It was very, um, it was something that like, they couldn't quite, they couldn't just accept that their child was male and that this was, you know, anyway, they just, the, the way that they had to sort of rationalize all of this stuff in their own minds, it is, it's funny.

[00:55:40] Abby: It, it's, it's funny and it's weird and it says more...

[00:55:43] Ami: It's tragicomic.

[00:55:44] Abby: It says more about the people doing it probably than it says about the religion itself, but it does often get couched in very religious terms. So I knew all that stuff about my uncle. I had gay characters turning up in my stories, looking back from, from my earliest stories, I had gay men turning up in my stories. I didn't really know that's what they were, but like, looking back, it's, it's very, very obvious that, that I, I had these kind of characters in my stories. And I was sort of well disposed towards them.

[00:56:12] And so fairly early on I, um, I kind of got the idea that like, well, they didn't know any better. Like in ancient times it was okay, but now they know better. Anyway, so, so like then I get old enough to start dating and I fall in love with one of my Black friends. And powerful adults in my life present me with, with these passages from Ellen White.

[00:56:35] And basically tell me that, um, if I were to marry my Black friend and have sex with him, it would be like having sex with an animal, because Black people are the result of the amalgamation of man and beast. And, and this, this is such a, this is just such an awful idea. And, and it is, I mean, it's contrary to everything. Also just like common sense, like, you know, chromosomes, and DNA, and genetics, doesn't work like that.

[00:57:05] Ami: Quite apart from being hateful, and horrible, and awful, it is just inaccurate.

[00:57:12] Abby: Inaccurate, scientifically impossible. Doesn't work like that. But, um, I knew people growing up that while they would've been very embarrassed to pull out this passage and say, this is why we are bigoted towards Black people, they actually did believe this. And that is incalculably damaging.

[00:57:34] Ami: Yeah.

[00:57:35] Abby: Even the fact that you can't, that it, that people are so, kind of act so taboo about it that you can't pull it out and just talk about it. Because it takes you a while to dig down to it. It takes a while to dig down through the layers of like excuses before you realize that this is what they actually think underneath and that's driving some of their behavior. Because it is so very embarrassing that most people don't want to pull it up and say, 'This is what I think.'

[00:57:59] Ami: I have a lot of family...

[00:58:01] Abby: To have a powerful church prophet have said something like that. It is, is just, it, it it, it was one of those things that, uh, that broke my faith in Adventism. It was, it was one of the, there's several really stark things that I could not excuse, and this was one of them. Because the, the damage, the excuse for hate and cruelty and, and just the wrongness of, of putting something like that out there. Um, I, I, I couldn't excuse it.

[00:58:36] And the Ellen White website turns over backwards to try to say that these statements don't mean like what they sound they mean. They, they don't, she didn't really mean that the way it sounds like she meant that. 'It means something else.' Um, you know, they have like essays on how this means something else and you know, that's a little bit ridiculous. But all of that aside, this is what my family in the South, that fourth generation Adventists thought that these passages meant. And lots of other people I knew thought it too.

[00:59:07] Ami: Thought in the early 1990s. We're not talking about, you know, this isn't the attitude of pre-integration. This is, these are attitudes that carried on for a long, long time. And if you didn't grow up in the South and you didn't grow up in a small town, and you didn't grow up in a religious environment like that, you might not have encountered these attitudes before. Or you might think that they're, you might think that this is something antiquated that real people don't really believe. But it's...

[00:59:43] Abby: So, in my life, the way this played out was my first very innocent dating relationship was a nightmare. It, it was, it was awful. I learned that people in my family that, that I had always looked up to and thought well of, had these, this dark side lurking that I didn't even know about. That had never come out this way before.

[01:00:09] I felt very alone. I felt like the only sane person, uh, in my household. And again, it was a very, very innocent relationship, uh, between peers. Because it went down this way, it made me very hesitant to ever talk to, um, the adults in my family about dating relationships, about romance, about sex, about all kinds of things that I could have used adult guidance at that point, and it destroyed my trust in, in, in their reasoning and their logic and their ability to give valuable feedback and counsel.

[01:00:54] And this, this did me great damage. It is possible that is why I have never married and probably never will marry. It, it, it put a dark cloud across relationships that came after that where I probably could have used some input from my, my family, the adults in my family, but I would not ask because I no longer trusted their, uh, their judgment, their sense of morality when it came to romance or dating.

[01:01:24] I, I, it broke my faith in that sort of thing. And so I'm, I'm just trying to give an example of how this kind of attitude could have far-reaching consequences. Like it certainly affected my relationships with White guys too, because as I said, I no longer trusted the adults in my life to have wise input on, on anything like this. And I don't know, it was a, it, it was probably the most traumatic experience of my teenage years and completely needless, completely unnecessary.

[01:01:59] Ami: I think that that is one of the things that, you know, like I said, the, the issues surrounding, like the issue of homophobia was a thing that, that really broke my faith in some ways. It wasn't the only thing, but it was definitely a thing. Um, because like you say, the needless pain caused by these attitudes. I mean, my brother tells this story, um, when he was in college, he dated a girl whose dad had been an Adventist pastor and had, or missionary.

[01:02:39] I don't remember. And had come out and, um, so in talking to her about this, he's, he said, he was saying, well, you know, I just, I don't know how you deal with that, you know, 'cause it's wrong and sinful and whatever. And she was like, well, but why? And he's like, well, you know, because, it's wrong 'cause it's a sin.

[01:03:03] And you know, you hate the sin but not the sinner. And, and she says, yeah, but, but why? Like, what's the problem with it? And he says, you know, these are his words. He says, 'I thought about it for myself for the first time in my life. I didn't, you know, just repeat the party line. I thought about it. For five seconds.

[01:03:31] Mm-hmm. And went, nevermind, not a problem. No, it's okay. Actually, forget it. It's not, it doesn't hurt anybody. It's not, it's not bad. The Bible doesn't even really have much that's useful to say about it. Um, no, no, it's okay. Forget it. Not a sin.' And I, I had, you know, not that like specific of an experience, but kind of a similar experience where when I really thought about it for myself and I didn't just repeat what I had been told, I went, oh wait, no, that's not, that's, that's okay.

[01:04:09] And so now, but I had this slower process where I was, where I knew people who were gay and I knew that they were, you know, not horrible people and not immoral people. And I knew that their relationships were valid and that, and I could see all of these things, and I could see the way that these attitudes in the church hurt people, but I was supposed to believe that, you know, the church was right.

[01:04:37] Abby: Yes, yes. It puts you into this position of defending, of playing "devil's advocate," I'm using air quotes, like you have to defend something you don't believe.

[01:04:47] Ami: That you know in your heart is wrong.

[01:04:48] Abby: That's such an unpleasant... I remember having an argument about this kind of stuff with Sherry or maybe I should, no, she wouldn't care. Um, and, one of my friends in college. I remember, and of course I was taking the party line, and I remember being frustrated because I remember thinking something along the lines of, but you can have all the logical arguments! It's not fair! I've got nothing to fight with!

[01:05:12] Ami: 'Oh, because you're the one who's right!'

[01:05:15] Abby: [Laughing] That didn't occur to me! It was not about, it wasn't about bigotry. It was about something related. It was about sex. But anyway, I, yeah, look back on it now I'm like, well, duh, maybe.

[01:05:25] Ami: Yeah, but that kind of, and the reason I came to this after your statement is because it, the morality, the gut feeling that the way people, you know, that all of these bigoted attitudes are wrong, um, comes from the very inherent, empathetic, you know, sense of morals and ethics. I don't know, the, the idea that suffering is bad.

[01:05:58] Abby: The golden rule?

[01:05:59] Ami: You know, the golden rule that you know, that causing pain to others is wrong. And you know, so, so this was a place where the most basic concepts of good and evil directly contradicted the doctrine of the church. And so, yeah, definitely a breaking point for me.

[01:06:25] Abby: We were talking on the phone before about how the church really weakens their position here. And I'm not even sure it's particularly well supported by their own materials. They could, I don't know, the homosexual standpoint is particularly not well supported by their own materials. The racism standpoint is a little bit better supported. They would have to work a little bit harder to, um, well, they would have to admit that those passages mean what they say they mean and they, just then just say, no, she was wrong. Just completely wrong about this. Which they, they hate, they don't, they'll never do that.

[01:06:58] Ami: They don't like, they don't like saying that she was wrong.

[01:07:03] Abby: [Laughing] Uh, but like, it, it's amazing how they cling to these things, and you can tell that some part of this is, is simply holdovers from the 1950 — like there's elements in here that are not well supported by either the Bible or their own, uh, prophet that they cling to because...

[01:07:23] Ami: Their old cultural attitudes, that the rest of mainstream, you know, society has moved beyond. But you've clung to it because you have associated it with your religion and with these ideas of right and wrong. Um, and that is a way in which religion makes the world worse because you end up clinging to these attitudes. And it is painful to me to see people that I know and love, and I know them to be better than their religion wants them to be.

[01:07:59] Um, we've talked about, you know, my mom is the kindest, most open and loving person I know. But she will hem and haw around, you know, certain issues because she doesn't want to so directly contradict what, you know, the doctrine is.

[01:08:23] Abby: Mm-hmm.

[01:08:24] Ami: I happen to know that she voted in favor of gay marriage, though.

[01:08:30] Both: [Laughing]

[01:08:31] Abby: Victory! Yeah, and, and my parents, my parents were always much softer on the gay thing than on, um, the racism thing.

[01:08:43] Ami: Well, it's harder to be an asshole to somebody that you know, and so if you had a close family member who was gay, someone that they loved, it's harder to be an asshole about that.

[01:08:52] Abby: That's probably exactly why. If, if he had stayed married to the Black lady, they would've probably been softer on racism.

[01:08:58] Ami: Probably, because they would've, you know, had a family member and...

[01:09:03] Abby: Yeah, and that would've turned out okay.

[01:09:06] Ami: Again, very, very human.

[01:09:07] Abby: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah and, and I, my family members since then who said very unpleasant things to me as, as a teenager, have like, like decades later have said, basically 'We're sorry,' in like a convoluted way. Like that they don't feel that way anymore, or... And my personal response is, 'Wow, decades too late, guys.'

[01:09:32] But, um, I'm, I, people do change, like, um, I think I'm certain that there are fewer people who think that those passages mean what they sound like they mean now, than there was at that time. But it's still there. It's still there for any fundamentalist to pick up and hit someone with.

[01:09:53] Ami: Or for any lunatic who, you know, who believes something horrible, to support their horrible ideas. And that again, that's a problem.

[01:10:06] Abby: So I think this is a common breaking point, um, for a lot of people. I don't think we're the only straight White chicks who looked at this and said, 'Wow, horrible beyond belief. How can I subscribe to this?' It was, I don't know, it was a long time before I could rationally discuss it.

[01:10:26] Ami: Well, you could tell, you could, you can tell that we feel a little uncomfortable with it even now.

[01:10:31] Abby: I do, I so do, uh, I feel embarrassed for Black people that I know to know that I was taught this growing up.

[01:10:42] Ami: I know.

[01:10:44] Abby: If they know my parents, and I feel it pains to say, my parents have told me flat out they don't think this anymore, but the fact that they thought it at one time, is still just terribly embarrassing to me.

[01:10:57] Ami: Well, and I'm sure would be terribly embarrassing to them as well.

[01:11:01] Abby: As it should be!

[01:11:02] Ami: Yeah. But yeah, if you don't wanna be embarrassed by your shitty behavior, don't, don't behave that way.

[01:11:12] Abby: My grandfather, um, just a few years ago, we were at lunch somewhere and... And, and this, I mean, this is why my mother has these ideas, because these things happened to her all the time growing up. But like, we're in a big public place having a meal, and he's like, 'Did you see those little half breeds?'

[01:11:33] Ami: Oh my god.

[01:11:34] Abby: And I thought my mother would crawl under the table. I mean, you know, and, and, um, I thought I would die. Uh, fortunately it was loud enough, I don't think the lady and her children heard the comment, but just — and this is not a deranged person. This person does not have Alzheimer's.

[01:11:53] Ami: Yeah.

[01:11:55] Abby: But yeah, that kind of, and, and you know, if, if someone was just a relentless asshole about everything, then you could just sort of write them off as a human being. But most of the people I know who will come out with this stuff are in other areas of their life, compassionate and generous.

[01:12:13] Ami: Yeah.

[01:12:14] Abby: And it's really, it's difficult. I think, I think for people maybe listening to this who are from parts of the country where these attitudes are less common, maybe you don't know many bigots that are really upfront about their bigotry. You know, it's easy, I think for those people to look at all people who, um, behave this way and just see them with a simplicity that is, that is not possible for me and for Ami.

[01:12:44] Ami: Yeah, well, they're, I don't know. You don't have to be that overt about it to be a bigot, either.

[01:12:52] Abby: Mm-hmm.

[01:12:52] Ami: You know, I have more family members and people I know who they would never be so rude, you know? But part of, part of it is because they would never bring up an "unpleasant subject."

[01:13:07] Abby: Yeah.

[01:13:08] Ami: You know?

[01:13:08] Abby: Yep.

[01:13:10] Ami: So anyway, awful and embarrassing.

[01:13:18] Abby: Uh, if you would like to, uh, comment either as a person who was driven away by these attitudes or a person who experienced them directed at you, feel free to call in and tell us about it.

[01:13:34] Ami: And if everyone says, 'I don't know what the fuck you guys are talking about,' we're gonna feel really bad.

[01:13:39] Abby: [Laughing] Everyone's like, wow, your, your families were really messed up.

[01:13:44] Ami: Well they were, but so was yours.

[01:13:46] Abby: So was yours. All right, we'll see you next week. Goodbye!

Haystacks & Hell Outro

[01:13:51] Santiago: Thanks for listening. If you have a story to share about your Adventist or fundamentalist experience, we'd love to hear it. You can submit stories on our website at hell.bio (that's H E L L dot B I O) or leave us a voicemail at 301-750-8648 and we might feature it in a future episode. Thanks to Abby and Ami for their original podcast audio, and thanks again for listening. We'll see you on the next one!

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