My name is Karyn, I am 22 years old and my partner and I have 2 absolutely beautiful boys (the youngest is called Darwin) and I am from New Zealand. I was raised in what I thought was just an average Christian, Born-Again Catholic home, and it hasn’t been until now that I have come to see what was really going on; that was I perceived to be normal was really a brainwashing, indoctrinating, power-hungry cult.
When I was 19 I wanted to leave ‘the community’ and to do so I had to apply to the elders (two of whom were my parents) and request to be released from my ‘covenant’. I was denied this 5 times and each time they restricted my freedoms more and more where I was only allowed to leave the house, where all the single women lived, for mass, prayer meetings and for study. My phone was taken from me and someone had to be in the room if I wanted to use the landline, my room was regulary searched and at one point they even forced me to live in the head elders house despite my protests.
Eventually I had to pretend to be sick so I could be left at the house on my own where I then packed a bag and got Jamie, my now partner and the only person I knew outside the community,to pick me up and take me away. And now after having lost my religion and being open about the fact that there is no monotheistic God I have been shunned and excommunicated from my family and everyone I knew as a child. My parents have said that their only two grandchildren ‘don’t count’ because they were ‘born in sin’ and the hurt I experience from being cut off from my roots is very real. When I began to open up to my partner about what would happen in ‘the community’ growing up, he said to me ‘you know that is not normal at all’ and it was like a light had been turned on.
I never really realised that it was cruel and borderline abusive to take a 5yr old and exorcise the demons and spirits out of them by praying, chanting, telling the child to ‘cough (more like choke) the spirits out’ and then throwing holy water on them. and this was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I particularly relate to a woman you interviewed in ‘The root of all evil’ who rehabilitates children who have left religion. You asked her to describe what hell is meant to be like and she had to fight back the tears; ever since I can remember, even younger than 4, I have been told the tales of hell and have lived in a very real fear of this evil place which still plagues me today despite not believing in God. The nightmares from the things I was told still occur and can not be shaken and the pain from having been so brainwashed and lied to for the best part of my life turns my gut.
I never would have realised that all of this was wrong, unhealthy to me as a person and also just plain evil if it was not for the likes of yourself. I would not have been inspired by the wonders of evolution and science, or have even known if I wasn’t put on to your work.I love your writtings and documentries and which to thank you for them. In ‘The root of all evil’ and ‘Faith School menace’ you talk to people who teach the A.C.E system, this is the system I was homeschooled in and when recalling what actually was in those text books, especially the science books which were filled with the fairy tales of the christian bible, I feel like I have been robbed of my protected right to an education and am determined to see to that my boys are raised to ask questions, seek knowledge and that fact and truth isn’t something which and be applied only when it suits.
The works of yourself, Christopher Hitchens and Victor J Stenger have opened my eyes and have given me a thirst for the truth. And although I am still trying to come to terms with my childhood and the pain I experience daily from it, I can now do my part to right it and impart fact and truth to my own children. I would like to encourage converts to share their stories, these stories let others know that fundamentalist christian life is not right and causes much hurt, pain, the spreading of lies and hinders the progression of science. I only wish I had known earlier.
Keep fighting your fight for reason and truth