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Unshackling the mental chains

By  Candace ~

My journey of unshackling the mental chains of christianity was long and emotional. As an African American female my perspective is different when it comes to Christianity. I grew up in an ultra conservative mostly white Pentecostal Church. Listening to non Christian music or dancing was forbidden! It was very burdensome considering that music and dancing plays a central role in black culture. This was robbed from me in the church! My parents (my mother and step father) didn't allow me to go to school dances very much. The only dances I went to was the ROTC ball and Prom. The music in the church was HORRIBLE! The music was monotonous, emotionless,dry, and lacked rhythm. If I was going to be in church I would have felt a little better if the music sounded good at least! At times I felt like I was going to die listening to the music. We had to sing from hymn books and the people in the choir didn't sing that well. Being an ex christian I once thought, if you are on fire for Jesus, would you really need a hymn book to sing or would it come from your soul?

The ChainImage by ...-Wink-... via Flickr
Every year as a child and teenager I had to attend church youth camp. The boys were separated from the girls. In the camp girls had to wear cool lots and when swimming in the pool girls had to put on a t-shirt and shorts over their swim suits. As a teenager I felt I was being robbed of my femininity. I couldn't wear femenine clothes that showed my shape too much, I couldn't talk to the opposite sex, my mother NEVER talked to me about sex. Sex was considered taboo and only legal if two people were married. While other girls in high school wore stylish clothes to school, I was left wearing ugly outdated clothes.

I eventually graduated high school and decided to join the Air Force. My mother of course was not supportive of my decision. I believe that it was the best decision I made because it gave me the opportunity to leave out of state and be around people with different outlooks on life and of course I traveled too. As time passed on I started shedding the beliefs I once had about life. Before I left home, I was very cold to strangers, didn't help other people, and looked down at people who were experiencing difficult times in life. Going through a painful divorce humbled me and made me more empathetic towards other people. Being away from home taught me how to communicate with people, how to help other people, how to adjust to difficult sitations, how to take care of myself, the value of friendships and how to be a woman. Being away from home I was more comfortable with my sexuality and femininity. I started to find out what things I liked in men. I started to dress more feminine and took pride in my appearance, which I never had the opportunity to do at home. I became more comfortable talking to the opposite sex. I also started finding out what music I liked to listen to (e.g. hip-hop, reggae, R&B, some rock, latin music, etc.). I discovered that I was a natural dancer. I especially love to dance to Latin and reggae music. At home the other girls in high school would laugh at me because I didn't dance with them. To their ignorance, I wasn't allowed to dance. Growing up at home I always hated the belief that dancing was a sin and I discovered that it is a very therapeutic form of expression. Whenever I danced, I felt the mental shackles come off me, I felt free, and I felt energized. If I hear music with a catchy beat to it I find myself dancing moving my head to the beat or humming to the beat. My family of course back at home would look at me as if I'm crazy if they seen me.

As more and more shackes fell I started to question life, history, culture, politics, religion, and other elements. I did my own research on Christianity. I found out that Christianity was used to justify the enslavement of African people, the slaughter of Native Americans, the oppression of women, genocide, and other horrific activities. I learned how Christianity was the ultimate weapon used by the European colonists to rob the natives (Aborigines, Native Americans, Africans, etc.) of their land and cultural identity. It was indeed an effective weapon. Many Christians like to deny that Christianity as its roots in Paganism and that the Lords' Supper is similar to a Satanistic vampire ritual (the drinking of Jesus' blood). It is also tied to the worship of the sun.

I traveled outside the U.S. and discovered that these Christian missionaries loved to impose their beliefs on people that were impoverished. They never traveled outside the U.S. simply to help other people regardless of their religious beliefs, but to convert the people. The act of 'helping' people was done in vain considering that they always had a hidden agenda to convert the people. Why couldn't they help people simply because the people were in desperate need of help? The missionaries believed that impoverished people were in that situation due to their unbelief and not due to racial inequality, economic inequality, capitalism,genocide, and the 'elite'. Instead of teaching these people how to go against the system, empower themselves, and gain economic power, they were teaching them HOPE. I started questioning the church's role in impoverished communities in America also. There's churches on every single corner in the midst of CHAOS (violence, oppression,poverty, dependency, etc.). Looking at these people standing around with idle minds (DOING NOTHING PRODUCTIVE)and a defeated spirit one has to question the church's role. It was like being in the twilight zone full of the living dead where people gave up on life. If church was the solution, there wouldn't be so much CHAOS in impoverished communities.

After my travels I decided to become an ex-Christian after seeing the hypocrisies in it. Christians love to denounce other people's religion as if Christianity is flawless when it isn't. The more I denounced Christianity the more empowered I felt. Whenever Christians would come up to me and try to 'convert' me, I would hit them with the hard core truth. I knew I could have been gentler, but it is time to end the madness the foolishness. It's time for people to wake up and deal with their realities. There's so many times I want to just walk in these churches and tell people to stop praying and start uniting, planning, and truly living. For so long poor people have relied on Jesus to solve their daily problems oblivious to the root causes of their problems. I am tired of being fed lies. I personally believe that people are entitled to practice their own religion and believe what they want to believe. In history religion was the cause of genocide, murders, oppression, and other things that harm humanity.

Growing up in the Pentecostal church I never had a chance to get to know myself, my inner being. I felt that I was living a life that was forced upon me and not my own. I was forced to be someone who I really wasn't. It wasn't until I left home when I truly started knowing myself. Today I am truly happy and free from the religious shackles I was once under. My advice for anyone considering being a part of a religious institution is to do research before converting.