This is a continuation of Why I Reject Religion. The other day I saw an article about televangelist Kenneth Copeland who claimed the coronavirus is not that serious and that he can blow it away. Most people probably don’t know who this man is, but unfortunately for me, he was one of the many religious con artists I was forced to watch and listen to when I was a kid. This was during my middle school years, which were detrimental to social development and socializing with my peers, and as far as I knew, none of my friends (even the church ones) were made to watch these shyster programs. It was one of many things that make me reject religion today.
I had only lived in the cult-religious home with my father and stepmother Bianca during my seventh grade year – a year that I would never want to repeat if I time traveled. The restrictions were ludicrous; I wasn’t allowed to listen to the music I liked, dress like a normal kid, and I wasn’t allowed to go to other friend’s homes except the preacher’s daughter. Basically, if it was considered normal or something I enjoyed, I wasn’t allowed to do it. This is an excerpt from my memoir, Unheard:
I have a little radio that I listen to in my room, usually tuned to top 40 music. I like reading teen magazines with all of the latest, greatest posters of pop stars and teen idols, and at the same time I listen to music. I’m not allowed to hang posters in my room because it will ruin the walls, so I keep them in a drawer.
“What are you listening to?” Bianca asks while I am in my room, reading and listening to music. I can see in her face that she doesn’t like it, and something is wrong. I am afraid of what I have done.
“Men At Work,” I answer timidly.
“I’ve never heard of them,” she says.
I show her a poster of the group from one of my magazines.
“See? Here they are. They have good songs.”
“They look gay,” she says, crinkling her face.
“Huh? How can you tell?”
I’m not quite sure I understand what gay is, but I know the kids at schools say it means a man liking another man.
“They’re gay,” she repeats. “You can see it in their eyes. And look at their earrings. It means that they’re gay. It’s disgusting. Turn this music off, it’s making me sick to my stomach.”
I am confused. A lot of guys at school wear earrings, but they’re not gay; they have girlfriends. And how can a song about Australia make someone ill? I am offended and insulted! After all, something that I enjoy that is perfectly harmless is being used against me.
“But they’re not saying anything bad!” I cry.
“I don’t care what it’s about,” Bianca’s face contorts. “They’re homosexuals and it’s satanic! Just turn it off!”
I sulk the rest of the afternoon alone in my room. It’s not fair that I have to turn off something I like just because she thinks someone is gay. Who cares if they are gay if the music is good?
I try to keep my radio as quiet as possible and my bedroom door shut now so the music doesn’t make Bianca sick.
She opens my door.
“What are you doing?” she asks.
I look at her.
“Who is that on the radio?”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to listen to that garbage. The Jacksons are sinners.”
She hands me some tapes.
“Here’s Amy Grant and Sandi Patty for you to listen to. You like them, right?”
I don’t really care for the lame Christian music, but it’s better than listening to some of the other awful boring church stuff she has.
Music was just one of many meaningful things taken away from me due to ridiculous religious beliefs. I had to hide some of my friendships, because Bianca wouldn’t allow those, either. This is another excerpt from Unheard:
Sabrina is allowed to have me over once, with her father there, but Bianca says she must come to our house first to meet her.
“She seems loose,” Bianca says after Sabrina leaves. I don’t know what that means, but I know it doesn’t mean anything nice.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Bianca doesn’t like me questioning her, but I think I have a right to know why she says the things she does about my friends.
“The way she dresses… those pants,” her face scrunches up. “I don’t want you going over there.”
“Parachute pants? That’s what all of the kids in school wear.”
“She looks like a French whore.”
“What does that mean!” I yell and cry. How dare she call my friend such an undeserving name! I do an about face and stomp right into my room.
Bianca doesn’t like any of my new friends; she is just as judgmental and picky about the kids from church. She is starting to get that way about me, too.
Things gradually worsened throughout the school year. My body started developing when I was nine, so by the time I was twelve, I was wearing women’s normal bra sizes. When a child’s body develops faster than her mind, she is still a child inside, even though many adults don’t seem to realize that. (A good analogy would be seeing a 9-month-old puppy looking like a grown dog, but it’s still a puppy.) Bianca wouldn’t even allow me to wear certain items in our own home, and I didn’t understand any of this over-the-top bullshit:
You need to wear your robe,” Bianca announces.
“You mean over this?” I question, tugging at my long shirt.
I am wearing an old, red, thick, oversized t-shirt nightgown she’d given me last year. It hangs on me like a potato sack, right past my knees.
“Yes,” she says. “I can see your nipples.”
“How? You can’t see through it. I can’t see through it. It’s thick like a shirt.”
“I can see the outline of your nipples. Go put a robe on. You can’t be walking around your dad like that.”
It is over 75 degrees, and I’m not allowed to wear a t-shirt?
“But it’s hot,” I whine.
“Susanna!” she snaps. “Put your robe on or go to bed now!”
Dad is in the other room on the computer.
Why doesn’t he defend me at all? I’m not doing anything wrong! This is ridiculous!
I am starting to get sick of Bianca’s weirdness with everything that I do. I decide to go to my room instead of look at her.
Those were just a few of the things that Bianca did to ruin my life as a twelve-year-old. My father never stood up for me, and over time, things progressively became worse. I didn’t realize then what I know now that Bianca was trying to shape me into something I wasn’t, and when she figured out she couldn’t, I was banned from the family. I will explore some of that later…