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Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

 Proverbs 22:15 (ESV)
Warning: This contains mentions of sexual abuse, rape and religion. Proceed with caution.

Because I want to look at this every week.

I was not raised in a particularly religious household. At least not up until my mother met my stepfather, then suddenly we were going to a Byzantine church. The few times my mother did take me to church as a child it was a Methodist church, so relatively mild. I don’t remember ever believing in God so it didn’t really impress me. I am not a believer in the indoctrination of children. I’m not telling anyone what to do, but that is merely my opinion. Two things really helped me in my realization that I don’t believe in God: 1 – Religion 2 – Church. Even before the abusive Byzantine lifestyle I was forced into, I didn’t believe in God and this is as a young child. I distinctly remember thinking “What are they even talking about?” and I thought Jesus was just some historical figure (which is all he really is as far as I know). I loved (still do) Jesus Christ Superstar as a child. That was as close to love the “Lord” as I got. He had a great set of pipes on him. He could’ve led a half decent career in a metal band.
My stepfather and his mother were ridiculously religious. His mother was religious in that “Carrie’s mom” kinda way. She forced me to say the Lord’s Prayer and do these Hail Marys and told me constantly that I was a sinner. She reminded me that I had no father and that she thought my mother didn’t discipline me. (My mother did not hit me.) My stepfather, of course, agreed with her treatment. He hid behind religion because in that church, the men are what matter. Women simply have kids and cater to men. So because my mother was divorced and I was the child of divorced parents, that church saw us as “unclean”. We couldn’t participate in certain things or sit in certain parts of the church. Often if I didn’t cross myself or sing or speak during the English portions of the service, my stepfather or his mother would pinch me.
This church was scary. So incredibly ritualistic and as far as I could tell, not much different than witchcraft, which they seem to think is so bad. One god, yeah…but saints galore. Saints and angels and heaven and hell and constant repentance and being punished and being told you are this horrible person. I mean during Easter they put an effigy of Jesus in the tomb at the front of the altar and you have to crawl up to it and kiss it. I cried. It scared the fuck out of me. Most of the service was in Czech so I never knew what they were on about. Then the sermon was in English. Most of the service was sung. The Apostle’s Creed was done in both Czech and English and sung.
No one shoved religion down my throat. No one force fed me bible verses and made me prove my love of God to them in any way until my stepfather came around (and his mother) Suddenly everything was about religion, sinning, God, obeying, praying, worshipping, pretending to be human and not being responsible for your own shit.
I equate religion with fear, evil, abuse, torture, horror, terror, nightmares, pain, lies, twisted fucked up imagery and ideas. I have yet to see religion do anything good and only good. I associate church with being punished. I mean you were supposed to go there and tell someone, “Hey, so I had sex this week.” and that person was supposed to tell you, “Ooooh you are a sinner. Go say these prayers.” You get to pray as punishment. Honestly, how can anyone believe in a religion that uses religion to punish you? To me that would be like my mother getting mad at me and forcing me to read Dr. Seuss books.
My stepfather hid behind his religion and his religion allowed it by constantly reminding me that he saved my mother and me because we were unclean because my mother was divorced and I was without a father. He was saving me because I needed a father figure. He is a child rapist. For over 30 years he raped children, including myself and I was supposed to idolize him for being a “good man” and “saving” us. His mother didn’t help. He abused her verbally constantly and she just took it because he was male and he got to do that. It was okay. But she was just as evil. She always hated me so she would find ways to accuse me of things. One time she told my mother I stole jewelry from her jewelry box. I didn’t steal anything but she saw me coming out of a bedroom and decided that was what I was doing. Stealing jewelry because when I was 8 I had so many street hook ups to go hawk jewelry for drug money. You know how bad ass I was at 8. Fucking bad…ass. Her jewelry was worthless anyway, street value about -40 dollars. I’d probably have to give them 40 dollars to take it. She also called me all kinds of names. I got this cute pair of heels when I was bout 12. They weren’t high heels, just a square heel that lifted a little bit. Sandals. She said I looked like a slut. If my skirt was too short according to her, I was a slut. She used to force me to go pray because I was such a slut.
If these are the kinds of people religion turns out, I’ll have none of that. People can’t handle religion. They invent it to make themselves feel better, then bend all of it to suit their needs. Need to kill someone? Here is a religious reason why it’s okay. Need to abuse someone? Well here is what we should say to make that okay. There is an answer for everything if you want there to be. That is how it works. Because it is an invention by humans to explain things to them they cannot understand. To justify things that honestly, when looked at logically should not be justified. War, hate, murder, rape, torture, etc. Any religion that justifies these things in anyway or similar things…is pure evil. I assume Evil is exactly why religion was created. It justifies evil. Before that, we just had weird bad stuff that happened and we didn’t know what to call it. Bring religion around and now we can call it ‘evil’. But what happens when good things happen? We’ll call that “God”. From then on it just got worse and worse.
So just to clarify, if someone is religious that is their business. I don’t care. I have friends who go to church. If someone finds it comforting to have an explanation for the things they can’t understand, if they find comfort in their beliefs, that is just lovely. Just don’t shove it down anyone else’s throat. Don’t spew it at people and name call…and kill people because you think they are wrong and you are right. Don’t expect children to tolerate abuse because “God”. Don’t force children into believing something they might not believe. That will only cause them to not believe.
Just like all abuse, and I know this from experience, if you tell someone something long enough and beat it into them (or whatever your way of enforcing it might be) they will believe it. I see religion as abuse. It was used as a tool in my abuse. It was used to try to justify my abuse. They don’t make stories like Carrie for nothing. People like that woman exist. I’ve seen them. I’ve met them.
My birthday is the same day as Mother Theresa’s birthday. We’re both Virgos and according to astrology.com :
Virgo is the sixth sign of the zodiac, to be exact, and that’s the way Virgos like it: exacting. Those born under this sign are forever the butt of jokes for being so picky and critical (and they can be), but their ‘attention to detail’ is for a reason: to help others. Virgos, more than any other sign, were born to serve, and it gives them great joy. They are also tailor-made for the job, since they are industrious, methodical and efficient. The sense of duty borne by these folks is considerable, and it ensures that they will always work for the greater good.
I’m no saint and I’m definitely not perfect. And neither was Mother Theresa. You might want to look into her background a little more deeply. She wasn’t doing anything she was doing to help the poor. She was doing it for Christ and the church. (She said that, not me) She believed that suffering was a gift from God. She believed the sick must suffer like Christ on the cross. Her clinics took in millions and millions of dollars yet those clinics barely had what they needed to really take care of people.
I don’t know…I’m still waiting on someone to show me a religion that only does good (which is subjective as far as I can tell).
*Title from Bon Iver’s GOD
— Bible verses from the Bible (!)
— Virgo description from astrology.com
— Mother Theresa info from The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hutchins and also various articles I found around the Web.
— Everything else came from my life experience, deal with it.