Rachael Heffner, Converts, #(2018)

Jan 14, 2015

I was born and raised as a devout, Roman Catholic Christian, even attending Catholic school up until 9th grade. I caught the movie Stigmata on TV one day when I was about 14 or 15, and the text at the end of the movie stating that the Catholic church refused to acknowledge a particular chapter from the bible startled me. I’d never once thought to even question the church, because I’d grown up believing they were the utmost authority on everything life-related, but the idea that they actually cut out a piece of the bible that we were supposed to be following word-for-word was abhorrent. I’d been partially lied to, and the seed had been planted. I eventually discovered that not only did the omission of an entire chapter upset me, but so did the church’s stance that gay people are living in sin, that women deserve an inferior role to men, that guilt should be the driving factor in all of my decisions, etc. I soon found myself becoming upset while in church after hearing things I didn’t agree with and had apparently never paid attention to before. It’s amazing how one crack in your belief system can highlight a larger underlying issue, and the attention you give it only exasperates what you didn’t even realize was a problem in the first place. Then you start to wonder “where the hell have I been all this time?” before the anger of having wasted all of those years in intellectual darkness starts to kick in. I could’ve been having fun without guilt all this time! I could’ve been having SEX! I would’ve lived my life so differently had I not felt like every single decision I ever made was being counted on a “Naughty/Nice” board, calculating my qualifications to get into heaven someday. Not to mention I’d always lived as if I were being watched, and I was never true to myself because of it.

At the age of 21, I finally dropped the church. I still believed in a god, but that would change at the age of 25 when I dated an atheist. We were watching TV one day, and he kept directing comments at the television about how much he hated god and how people allow him/her/it to control their lives without taking any personal responsibility. He was so matter-of-fact in his tone that you couldn’t deny his logic and reason. And it, unfortunately, made all the sense in the world to me. I abruptly cut the conversation off and decided to go home after feeling an intense wave of nausea, but it was done. That night, I lay in my bed contemplating life, death and religion before silence took over my thoughts. Everything stopped. I did not believe in god anymore, and it was heartbreaking. The best friend I’d always pictured sitting on my shoulder guiding me through life was now dead, and I’ve never cried such deep, painful tears in my life. I was just opening my eyes for the first time, and it was like being placed in kindergarten all over again; I had everything to learn and no foundation to stand on.

I proceeded to fall into a crippling depression lasting approximately 2 years, when I would either be at work or in bed. The only things I would leave the apartment for (and therefore bed) were groceries and gas, and in an effort to keep this somewhat short, I’ll spare the details of that time. Suffice it to say I’m now writing a book on my experience in the hopes that someday, somewhere, someone will benefit from my pain and struggle to survive.

Today, I’m a certified hypnotist, and the things I’ve learned about how your childhood affects who you become as an adult have explained a LOT to me about my personal experiences. It’s no wonder I was so crushed by the blow of moving from faith to reason. It’s no wonder I will always feel a little anger towards the church for having mislead me for so long. It’s no wonder my parents are still victims…

I look forward to the day when the world as a whole can finally say “NO MORE RELIGION”. I will be on the front lines that day, celebrating how far we’ve come, and mourning the loss of not just lives but so much more throughout history at the hands of religion.

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