Editor’s Note: The following was written as a response to the article “Religion and the Broom Closet” by Claire Barnes originally published November 2014.
Thank you for telling us you are Wiccan. We welcome you with open arms, and (I, at least) hope many of you other religious folk, minority or otherwise, write articles to let us know what your religion is all about.
There is one thing I wanted to address however, and that is the topic of Christianity. Yes, here we go – another article by a Christian about Christianity. Or wait, could it be instead a non-Christian bashing Christianity? Neither actually.
I grew up a Christian. In fact, I was a model one. The Christian community was something I lived and breathed, and I never knew anyone outside of it beyond what I read in books.
I was also in hell.
I never told anyone. I was taught no one cared and that I was just acting weird because I wanted attention. I exaggerated and made things up because I wanted to be noticed. If I was not “happy,” I was causing trouble. But nothing became as ingrained as what I started hearing people scoff about others. A mass of chants accumulated in my mind, voices which should not have been there began echoing them as soon as silence fell. I stopped being a human; I just acted like one – a little puppet on stage masquerading around in a lie because at least it made other people happy. I could feel my own mind ripping apart.
Then I changed. Those stories you hear about a light coming down from heaven? It happened to me. It took me out of that hell. But the people I thought would rejoice were the first to turn their backs. They began speaking, almost word for word, the same chants that put me in that hell to begin with. I never even had to tell them what those chants were.
I was so scared. I was so bleeping scared. The way they looked at me. Their necks slightly crooked, their pupils wide and almost on fire with a gaze full of scoffing pity. Their voices. Almost a hiss behind the subtle, quaking sob because part of me wanted to believe that beneath that deaf arrogance and fear, they actually did care about me. I was so bleeping scared.
Am I a Christian? Not anymore. By definition, probably – I still believe a lot of what they believe. But my family made it very clear their god is not mine and I am no longer welcome, no matter how many cards they send indicating their love. I never told them about the hell I experienced before I changed. I never told them about the light. When I think maybe everything would be better if I did, I always end up asking: why should that even make a difference?
I want to apologize to Christians out there if I make them feel the same way. Someday I might be able to talk to one of you normally without cringing. I also apologize to anyone out there who I’ve made feel like they’re unwelcome. I truly try not to. I wholeheartedly know that you believe what you believe as much as I believe what I believe. I apologize for turning a positive article into something that’s so negative.
Finally, I want to say: This is not a bashing of Christianity, nor a bashing of religion.
Neither Christianity nor religion put me in hell. Ignorance did. Neither Christianity nor religion left me there. Apathy did. Neither Christianity nor religion started thrashing when I finally got out. Pride did. Neither Christianity nor religion “saved” me. God did. Even if that god was the hallucination of someone who lost their mind because they had been alone for too long – which I am perfectly happy to accept as an explanation – that light did more for me than anyone else ever would.
A “god” will live through their people, whether you believe in one or not. So what are you saying about yours?