I live in what is known as “the buckle of the bible belt” in the USA. I stopped believing about 4 years ago. There were always questions in my mind about God and the bible that just didn’t add up. And whenever I addressed my concerns to youth leaders at church, they always told me that man can’t have all the answers and I just needed to pray and have faith.
I am now a married mother of one son who is five. My family is full of devout “non denominational Christians” who believe in laying your hands on the sick and praying for them in front of the congregation and speaking in tongues. I was never okay with that. I always felt embarrassed whenever I was sent up on stage because I could not speak in tongues, or as they put it, was not filled with the holy spirit.
At my youth group, I ended up being sexually harassed by older boys then mocked when I tried to make them back off. My parents knew this yet they blamed me. They also blamed me and made me continue to attend this youth group even though the adult (18 years old when I was merely 14) who raped me went to church there. They basically told me that if I would not go to the police, then I wanted what happened to me, therefore I was constantly grounded. It must have been 6 months before I was able to have a friend over after that. I was always “living in sin” and my heart was always wicked.
My parents used to beat me and my middle brother (but not my youngest brother) with dowel rods and other things they could find that would hurt “in the name of Jesus” to supposedly drive out the folly in our hearts. My middle brother now lives in a half way house after being released from prison on drug related charges. My youngest brother is on the same path.
I think considering everything I have been through, I have turned out well. I have my high school diploma and have an amazing new family. I also recently applied to go to a university with my husband and we will move our family this summer to another state 2,000 miles away.
My concerns are whenever my mother sees my child, even though I am right there, she tells him that his mommy and daddy are wrong for their beliefs and will burn in hell. This is a recent thing and it really scares my child. I have banned them from seeing us at all, but I am getting a lot of pressure from everyone else in the family, including my father, to make up with her and move past it. I just don’t see how that could even be possible. Yes, I have a lot of anger towards Christianity and religion as well as my parents. But am I justified in keeping them out of my son’s life? They also have a lot of money and they spend thousands on clothes, toys, etc. for him (they don’t support him financially, they just give him all these extra things because he is their only grandchild) and I feel like I could be cheating him out of everything life has to offer him.
I am so tired of people trying to force convert us to Christianity as well. That’s all there is where I am at. I live in a small town and people around here don’t know and don’t want to know any different. I’m also getting a lot of pressure to turn down our university opportunities in favor of staying in the bible belt. They don’t want us to take my son away from extended family. But I feel like I am suffocating here. I hate it so much. I hate that I have to protect my child from every single person we encounter.
Also, how do I move past the abuse that I went through? It is not even so much what I went through as it is witnessing what my brother went through. I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress because of everything and have been in therapy since I became an adult. But I still cannot seem to get past the things I have witnessed, all because of abusive Christians.