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Living a lie

By Rachel ~

Religion was really something decided for me as a child. My grandmother had been a preacher so religion had been thoroughly ingrained in my father. My parents had met at a church camp as counselors. See where this is going? By all means I should have ended up as one of the herd. I wore the church clothes, sung the songs, read the stories, but something never felt right. I'd ask questions and never get straight answers, but even though that might have led me on this path, it's not what made me quit being a Christian.

As a child I was rather hyper. More hyper than your average kid. Eventually I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, which I didn't receive proper meds for until about third grade. By then the abuse had become a normal way of life. I couldn't sit still in church, so to my father I was a bad child. I'm sure you know what happens to bad children when they are the child of a fundamentalist pentecostal. I was beaten and abused after church just about every Sunday. I would try so very hard to behave and not fall asleep or be loud, but I couldn't. I started to think about how I couldn't be the perfect Christian my father wanted. I would wonder how a kind and loving god would want children abused and would make me this way. My father's scare tactics about religion might have worked if he himself had never acted hypocritical.

My father began drinking sometime around when I was six or seven. He was considered by many to be a respectable and faithful man at the church. There was not a single person that didn't like him there. He was always well liked, but yet the abuse was escalating at home. Every time I went to church it was like I was living my father's lie. Everything felt fake. The speaking in tongues, the dancing, the music. Everybody there seemed to smile all the time, but I couldn't escape the feeling that they were all suffering in silence along with me. Sure this was their life, but I saw the problems all the time. I watched screaming children carried out of church for beatings, and heard the way the so called faithful people spoke about each other when no one was watching. I had to submit to my father's wrath because it was god's will that I be punished and I believed I was a horrible person.

When I was 13 my family got their first computer and it opened a window of opportunity. I learned I wasn't alone and there were other things out there. There were so many suffering in silence like me. During that time we also weren't attending church as frequently. For awhile I had peace on sundays, but then my father decided it was time we go back. This time I fought back and tried to escape when he wanted to force me to go. I no longer believed him a man of faith or those people to be anything but hypocrites. Still I remember the day I tried to run and my father pulled the truck onto the sidewalk in front of me, blocking my path. My spirits sank and this brought on a ton of research for the truth. If I couldn't trust a church to tell me the truth, I couldn't trust any of the people I knew to determine my own morality. I spent all my time in the library those days and more and more I became curious about the occult. It was something that had interested me before, but that I had turned away from, believing it would send me to hell.

So a year later I was Wiccan. I told no one and that same year my depression and other problems caught up with me. I ended up in state custody because I finally had the courage to rat out my father for the abuse I'd endured over the years and was now considering suicide because of it. I spent a year in a mental hospital. The people were overtly religious there even though they tried to tone it down. I was not accepted because of it and was told I was not in my right mind for picking paganism. Some how they believed it was more twisted to believe in a goddess than to believe in a man that walked on water and turned water into wine. Group after group I attended had so many religious over tones that I was sick of Christianity by the time I got out of there. I was placed in a series of therapeutic foster homes and kicked out of two just for not being the right religion. I wasn't a bad kid. I'd never been arrested. I didn't do drugs and I certainly wasn't shoving my religion down anyone's throat. I kept to myself. However, because they felt I didn't fit their ideal, they tossed me out. Some people have no idea how much christians discriminate against other people that are different. I didn't hurt anybody, and yet I was cast aside at the time I needed someone the most. Just because I wasn't the right religion.

By the time I was in college I'd cast off paganism, finding it too time consuming. Religion is a commitment and I wasn't about to commit to something when I couldn't. There were monthly rituals, and you needed to buy incense and candles. I didn't have time or money for that. So I knew it was kind of disrespectful to do religion half-assed. In the end I said enough was enough. By graduation I wanted nothing to do with organized religion anymore. It did more harm than good.

These days I'm much happier as an agnostic. I don't have to shun people or judge them for doing something considered religiously immoral. My morality is pretty decent thank you. So there you have it. I've lost my religion and I'm not a criminal or more of a failure than religious people. If anything religion has been the cause of most my problems in 24 years of life. My father has since dropped his religion last I heard, cheated on my mother multiple times before obtaining a divorce, and married another woman a year after. So much for the faithful.

The moral of the story is that christianity is a breeding ground for lies and abuse because it expects impossible behavior that no one can live up to. It can hide horrendous crimes in the guise of purity. It's followers are friendly until they find out you are different, and religion won't miss you when you're gone.