Family Ties

One thing religious people cannot stress enough is that they’re all about family.  Their organizations even have names like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association (branded a hate group out of MS).  For the most part I find this to be true so long as everyone’s keeping the faith and maintaining the status quo.  I can say from my upbringing (aside from corporal punishment and having no say in church attendance) that our Christian family was very tight-knit and we spent a lot of quality time together.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than a lot of other families I’ve seen.  Now, to clarify, some of these not-so-happy families I’ve seen are religious as well so it’s not as though they have a corner on the market.  I’m just speaking to the Christian view that family is important.

As I said, religious families are close-knit and happy so long as everyone’s keeping the faith.  They don’t say, “The family that prays together stays together” for no reason.  It’s literally true.  I found this out myself when I started to upset the status quo of my family and I was made to feel like an outcast.  My family’s treatment of me was mild compared to what some people endure at the hands of their religious parents, grandparents, and siblings.

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You Don’t “Have” to Go to Church

As soon as I was old enough to figure out how much fun weekends were and how much shorter they seemed when you have to spend more than half of Sunday sitting in church I began to ask my parents if we really had to go to church. The conversations usually went something like this:

Jon: Do we have to go to church today?
Parent: No, you don’t have to go to church today. You get to go to church today.
Jon: But I don’t want to go to church.
Parent: You ought to be happy we have such a nice church to go to. Besides, you’re not staying home alone. Now get a move on!

This was exasperating every single time. I’m sure it was frustrating for my parents as well. They wanted to raise their children in the church with good, Christian values and their children seemed to want to be little unwashed heathens. What irritated me the most about this exchange was the unreasonable nature of the argument. I, as an autonomous human being, didn’t have the desire to spend most of my day cooped up in a building listening to people talk when I could be running around the woods with a toy gun, saving the world. My parents, as dictatorial heads of the family, didn’t acknowledge my autonomy. How unfair.

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Small Soldiers

Now that I was saved (theological debate surrounding the sincerity of the act notwithstanding) from Hell, it was important to those charged with my education to ensure that I became the best possible Christian.  In order for this to happen, I had to become familiar with the doctrine of Christianity — namely, that god created me and loves me and that Satan is trying with all of his might to destroy god’s creation and claim the souls of believers for himself.  This means war!

 

Sparta
War? This is Sparta!
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Oh, You Silly Catholics!

So I just saw a TIME article on a priest in Geneva involved in two things:

  1. Making rules for how the Catholic Church will handle sexual abuse cases, and
  2. Sexually abusing young boys.


“Ooh yeah, just like that baby!”

What…the…fuck?! Who knows if it’s true but if it is it has to be the most horrifying and disgusting case of abuse by the Catholic Church ever. I mean, it’s horrible and disgusting when someone in a position of power abuses that power and preys on children anyway, but isn’t there some kind of amplification of horribleness when the abuser is one of the people on the committee for deciding how to stop sexual abuse and punish offenders? Come on!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This type of thing is common fodder. I just can’t help but think that if this is true then there’s absolutely no hope for the Catholic Church at all and the people sucked into its moral black hole are all doomed. Why are people still Catholic??


Why Catholic? I don’t know!!

Oh, and I have a headache. Have a nice day!

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Repeat After Me

Getting saved through Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit sounds like it would be a really big deal.  I mean, the sheer mechanics of opening up one’s heart and having the Holy Spirit move in like a college kid moving into the dorms is difficult to wrap your head around.  Oddly enough, Christians seem to think it requires nothing more than the ability to repeat phrases told to you by another person.  This applies mainly to children who are too young to formulate a sentence based on the premise that a person died for you thousands of years ago so you won’t go to Hell when you die.  It goes something like this:

Heavenly Father, I know that I have sinned against you.  I want to be a better person.  I believe you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, that you raised him from the dead, and that he hears my prayers.  Please forgive me and let Jesus come into my heart and life.  I give my life to you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

Organ Donor
Give your heart to Jesus!
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Inferiority Complex

When you grow up in Christianity, one thing is made very clear to you over and over: you are a horrible sinner and deserve to burn in Hell forever.  This sentiment rears its head pretty early on, as soon as you’re able to understand and repeat the name “Jesus.”  The adults begin to prime you for the doctrine of salvation through grace.  In order to do this, you must first accept that you are undeserving of anything but the worst punishment imaginable.  Just to clarify, this punishment can be presented in a number of ways.  My family subscribed to the “lake of unquenchable fire, eternal torment and darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth” doctrine.  Other sects of Christianity view Hell as simply the complete lack of the presence of god.  Still others view Hell as obliteration (which, Heaven aside, aligns quite nicely with the atheistic view that once you die you simply cease to exist).

Hell
"Please, just a single drop of water!"
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Explicit Lyrics

Soo there I was: a kid spending every Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday night and every major (and some minor) holiday in church.  At this point church was still fun because I was doing arts and crafts, seeing flannelgraph stories and singing those great children’s songs that virtually everybody knows.  Oh, the songs!  They’re catchy, they’re cute, and they’re memorable.  Regardless of how I may feel now about religion I can still sing all of those songs on demand.

Song is arguably one of the most effective ways to drill ideas into a kid’s head.  There’s a reason you teach a kid the alphabet in song before they can read.  When you want to remember something it helps to put it to music.  For instance (and I can still sing this one too), children are taught to memorize the books of the Bible with this little number:

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The Things They Don’t Tell You

The stories you hear in church as a child make the Bible seem so sensible and happy.  You’ve got a man and a woman created perfectly just for each other, talking animals, big boats full of kangaroos and penguins, babies in baskets, guys rough-housing with god, trumpeters blowing down walls, Jesus the meek and gentle shepherd who loves you so very very much, and a wonderful gift that you can keep forever and ever. Isn’t it all so wonderful?

 

Noah's Ark
It's so cute I could die!

 

You know what they don’t tell you when you’re a kid?  Incest, murder, unfair punishment, intentional ignorance, violations of free will, genocide, slaughtering of the innocents, more incest, more genocide, slavery, oppression of women, more slaughtering of the innocent, more slavery, more oppression of women!  When does it end?  It’s enough to make you vomit!  And the people preaching this book are the same ones who get indignant when a television show portrays two men kissing.

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Spare the Rod

As I said before, I don’t remember much about my childhood. My earliest memory was my acceptance of Jesus into my heart and then nothing until about 10 years old. It’s been suggested by more than one therapist that I’ve repressed those years because of abuse but I have no real reason to believe that’s the case. Although, corporal punishment in my family was applied (pardon the pun) religiously.

 

Spanking
This will hurt me more than it will hurt you.

I and my siblings were spanked with hands, belts, rulers and wooden spoons. I had a wooden spoon broken over my tush — an occurrence over which my mom had voiced much lasting remorse. As long as I can remember, spanking was nearly the first line of correction and it wasn’t until later in life that punishments like grounding were implemented. My dad always told me, “You’re never too old for a spanking.”

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