Religious Indoctrination 13/20

Young earth creationism had fallen. A literal, inerrant Word of God had fallen. Hell had fallen. Inevitable human depravity had fallen. Suffering as the means to become better was eroding. Hierarchy was eroding. I’d been isolated and put into a metaphorical iron suit of religious propaganda that would contain and restrain my growth as a person. It shaped my beliefs and my choices and my emotions and my awareness and now – now piece by piece it was falling away.

My sister, the one I had shared apartments with in the past, convinced me to join a forum she’d found where adults and teenagers that had been or were being homeschooled could gather. Homeschooling, especially conservative Christian homeschooling, creates very similar experiences. Some people had a better education than I did, and some had worse. Some people had not even been allowed to watch Disney movies or read Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. But most of us had been subjected to religious indoctrination and a sheltered, isolated, authoritarian upbringing, to one degree or another.

There were many that still earnestly believed in Christianity and God, but that questioned the rules and doctrine and theology we’d been taught (I belonged in that category). There were others that still fully accepted what they had been taught and were militant and zealous in their defense of the faith. There were others, though, that had discarded the faith or that were liberal or that were questioning to such a degree that they marked themselves as heretics.

Arguments ensued. Not your average internet arguments, either. If there is one thing homeschool alumni often develop (if they’ve had an even halfway decent education) it is the ability to read, write and debate. I started on the conservative side of the arguments, generally, sometimes moderate, and rarely liberal. As time went on, though, the heretics and liberals and godless heathens started to produce information I’d never had my hands on before. I’ve always had an analytical mind and receiving new data means reanalyzing my opinions and beliefs and view of the world.

I started to notice holes in the conservative arguments. In one memorable instance, a woman trotted out a host of verses from the Bible that showed nudity was forbidden and viewed as a kind of sexual sin. I read through the verses and was stunned to realize she had it all wrong. Nudity was bad in the Old Testament texts because it represented utter poverty, and utter poverty equaled utter shame. Oh, and when I saw the metaphor about God ‘covering’ Israel’s nudity I realized the context was God taking Israel as a wife and consummating the marriage. Giggity.

I also noticed the same pattern emerging among my conservative peers that I’d seen on TB’s blog. Conservative men that were respected in the community would sail into a debate and behave like churlish assholes and be supported by conservative women. Where was the love? Why were the people that were supposedly on the right side of the issue consistently the most obnoxious and least loving people?

By their fruit ye shall know them.

Part 14

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