That statement became the basis for a book called Them Damned Church Folk, about Beard’s experiences with hurtful attitudes of people in church.
“I was seeing how people were getting hurt in the church. It pushed me away from the church after a while, how people were being treated,” she said.
Them Damned Church Folk is a collection of Beard’s experiences and the experiences of others who grew similarly disillusioned with church people.
“The mission of the book is to provoke people to get back to how Jesus had taught us to be. Whenever Jesus went and sat in any place, his message was love,” she said.
As a child, wearing her pretty dresses and ruffled socks, Beard said church people hugged and kissed her and told her how pretty she looked. As she grew, she saw those same people form cliques and become judgmental toward others.
It also seemed many church folk were more interested in raising money than in helping others, she said.
Worse, Beard said, one day she realized she had become one of them. She found herself rolling her eyes and turning up her nose at a pregnant teenager.
The turning point came when she found herself at the mercy of that attitude.
“When I left and went off to college, I had a bad experience. I wrote a bad check just to stay in school,” she said. “The check bounced. I ended up being put in jail for a short time. I got out. I went back (to church). I needed somebody to hug me and say, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ I didn’t get that. I got ‘You’re being lazy. You don’t want to do nothing with yourself.’ ”
Beard met another woman who had become a stripper and addicted to drugs and was trying to reform her life. Now clean for three years, the woman told Beard she felt judged and trhat feeling kept her out of the church for years. Beard said the woman is back in church, but it took a long time to get past the hurt that was caused by people who should have loved her and accepted her the way she was.
“We walk around like we’re perfect and we’ve got it together, and we don’t,” she said.
Them Damned Church Folk is published by Tate Publishing and is available through tatepublishing.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or by calling (706) 951-9768.