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#466032 - 05/30/14 08:47 PM Anyone worked through religious prejudice
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 752
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Warnings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Warnings

I do not and am not inviting a religious discussion of any kind. I only am inviting people who have been seriously damaged by connection to a religion, and sharing how they have overcome the natural fear and terror that get's projected on that entire religion.

Warnings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Warnings

I knew I was gay from probably 11 or 12, grew up in the rural southern U. S in the 50's (born 1949) and absorbed the hatred of gays from the Southern Baptist Church I was raised in. Everything was sinful: watching movies and dancing for example. I became agnostic and attended no church as soon as I left home for school at 18.

I began to remember sexual abuse and physical abuse from my father, a retired U.S. Marine and Southern Baptist Preacher, at age 53. I began to remember sexual abuse, physical abuse, and torture from my mother at age 63.

I live on a very small island in the Caribbean, and my choices of attending a church is very small. There are only two gay friendly churches on island. Five years ago I began attending a small Unitarian Universalist Church which prizes intellect above all else, and it was not at all Survivor friendly. Intellect was prized at the expense of emotional range. I wound up leaving that church because the level of sensitivity I need was just not there. I have attended a Dutch Reform Church a few times over this 5 year period, and have felt such warm feelings there. The church is openly supportive of gays and openly supports gay marriage. During the ending prayer after choir practice, with everyone holding hands, I always experienced the warmest feeling of fellowship and peacefulness.

I am really closer to Pagan than anything else, maybe kind of neo-pagan but not remotely interested in labels or pigeon holes. I can't ever see myself participating in whatever the Dutch Reform's version of "The Lord's Supper" is. And, there is a somewhat eclectic group of people there, that don't seem overly religious, and the minister delivers a very kind and gentle version of God that's fine with me. I really feel they have no problem with me being there for spiritual community.

I do not have an honest prejudice against Christianity. My beliefs are that everyone's way of experiencing or not experiencing what is beyond the physical is right for them.

BUT, I have a terror of Christianity because of my family of origin and the Church I grew up in, and my father's ministry and church when he began preaching when I was 15-16.

Does anyone understand what I'm talking about, and have you had any success working through this.

Thanks,

Don
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#466033 - 05/30/14 09:20 PM Re: Anyone worked through religious prejudice [Re: don64]
kcinohio Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/06/12
Posts: 342
Loc: Ohio
For me, fear related to earlier religious upbringing was challenging. I think your choice of the word terror is telling, because terror, to me, by its nature isn't anything to directly work through. Response is primal, visceral and irresponsive to intellect and logic.

In my limited experience, best way to overcome such terror is by focusing on what is workable in the arena in question, in this case spirituality, build supportive experience in that over time, and over that time, terror of the other dissipates into some manageable level of fear response that is then something that can be worked through.

But, terror itself, to me, is impenetrable with a headlong assault - simply absorbs that and feeds off it and grows bigger.

Don't know if that is in any way helpful, just sharing my experience regarding it. I by no means intend to imply its typical, but I've found that approach more sustainable for any practical progress.

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#466042 - 05/31/14 02:18 AM Re: Anyone worked through religious prejudice [Re: don64]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 752
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Thanks kcinohio. I have felt for a while that I need to set up a time with the minister and discuss all this. I will know by how I feel if it seems like I want to move forward with this church. It's a challenging issue, because I feel the need for support that is not in my life at this time, and in order to ask for the support I have to take a risk.

I don't know if the time is exactly right, but you have given me some things to consider. I'm feeling that it is time to begin showing my vulnerability. I am a special needs person. I also have a lot to share. It has been difficult for me to admit to myself my own vulnerabilities. I shared some of my vulnerabilities with the UU church, but was generally met with indifference and short responses.

This is all tied in to major life lessons about vulnerability, trusting myself, and transcending judgmentalness. Your post has helped me see that I'm the one that has to do the work in the physical realm, and you're most likely the angel that showed up to point me in the right direction. I will never be able to transcend the terror directly. That will require the sensitivity and love of others, and having a real-time experience of love and acceptance in spiritual community.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Don


Edited by don64 (05/31/14 02:22 AM)
Edit Reason: spelling
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#466047 - 05/31/14 08:49 AM Re: Anyone worked through religious prejudice [Re: don64]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3461
Loc: somewhere in Africa
hey, Don!

i also grew up in a very conservative fundamentalist church that did a lot of damage - what i call spiritual abuse. it was hyper-emotional and manipulative and preyed upon insecurities and fears and guilt and gave me nightmares. fortunately, i was able to leave it behind when our family moved when i was 13 and there was no church of that denomination in our new location. we went to a much more sane and humane church until i went away to college and could choose for myself.

amazingly, even a a child, i could see through the sham of the scary mask the church attempted to force upon God and tried to establish my own connection with my concept of God rather than subscribe to theirs. tragically, i think that many people reject God because of someone else's distorted image rather than the reality.

throughout my life, i have repeatedly sought for a community of like-minded believers who would be mutually supportive, positive, uplifting, loving, and stimulate one another to spiritual growth and practical good works in the wider society. that search has rarely been wholly successful, though at times, i have come close to glimpsing the ideal. we are all flawed, broken, and hurting, even those who appear to have it all together - in short, human.

so i have learned to be more tolerant and merciful and accepting toward others - as i would have them act toward me. i avoid the toxic situations - yes, even in churches - and try to nurture the potential for growth and seek out small groups within the larger congregation where there is more possibility of real and beneficial relationships. i know some who reject corporate religious experiences altogether. but i believe that we gain something from interacting with others.

may you find what you seek,
LEE
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#466071 - 05/31/14 11:01 PM Re: Anyone worked through religious prejudice [Re: don64]
victor-victim Offline


Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 3365
Loc: O Kanada
i totally understand your terror.
i hated christianity, and humanity, for a long time.
that was based on my experiences with people who identified themselves as "christians" and looked like "humans".
sometimes i wonder if they were either.

i overcame my fear of religion through study and research.

most spiritual belief systems seem to be based on positive principles.
the problem is people, power and prejudice.

i love the bible, especially the stuff about jesus, love and forgiveness.
i try to be a good christian, but i am only human wink

i am trying to find fellowship, but it is difficult.
let's face it, i have a hard enough time just trusting one person.
so, i definitely do not trust churches, or any organized group of people.
i despise labels, unless clearly defined for purposes of discussion.
anything supernatural defies description,
so sharing our ideas, our imagination, our fantasies,
can often be futile and frustrating.

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak
For the good that I would I do not:
but the evil which I would not, that I do.

still struggling with my self, my soul, my spirit,
resisting and wrestling with ego, esteem, identity.

i also believe that "the enemy" works overtime extra hard to FK things up wherever and whenever we are trying to do good deeds, such as churches and charities and children's hearts.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
_________________________
Victor|Victim

War
Love
Poetry

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#466095 - 06/01/14 07:29 PM Re: Anyone worked through religious prejudice [Re: don64]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 752
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi Traveler and Victor,

That you have responded to me is providing me with such hope. Just to know others have feelings similar to mine helps take me out of the isolated position in myself. It also reminds me that my own creativity and feelings are valid, and my spiritual life, which I value, am enriched by, and truly am satisfied with need not be threatened by those who see things differently than me. This part of the puzzle is straight out of my abuse experiences, that I am in serious or lethal danger if I engage in any passionate personal expression.

And, Traveler, your experiences have really opened up, at least for this real-time moment, an awareness that there very likely are members of this church I'm considering attending that will possess the sensitivity I need, and will provide the sense of community I hunger for. I'm still feeling really afraid, but I feel myself opening up to possibilities instead of painting myself in a corner of my own making.

Thanks for taking the time to respond to me. It makes me feel cared about.

Don



Edited by don64 (06/01/14 07:31 PM)
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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#466133 - 06/02/14 08:50 PM Re: Anyone worked through religious prejudice [Re: don64]
Rustam Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 471
Loc: UK
I don't know that I have much to offer you Don, but I do understand projecting my own fear and terror on the religion I grew up in.

I grew up at the end of the sixties in catholic Ireland which at the time was almost a theocratic state, the religion was threaded through everything in our lives. The Catholic icons were in schools, hospitals, at home and the bells for prayers came on the radio and TV.

My sexual abuse started very early I don't know when, by the time I had my first confession at six/seven I understood that I could not tell my real sins (the abuse) to the priest, so I made some up. On my first communion day I dared not think of what I was doing taking the body of Jesus into a filthy sinful uncleaned soul, its a big celebration day for us, I felt sick all day knowing I had committed the worst sin imaginable, I wasn't thinking about how bad I had been but I knew what a rotten thing I was, I could feel it in my stomach. Another thing that freaked me out as a small boy was the way the eyes of Jesus in the icon in our home, the one that has a permanent light would seem to follow me around the room, the inescapable eyes like a permanent accusation. Don't know if it is particular to our Irish brand of Catholicism but it knows how to pile on guilt and shame with the ever present terror of hell.

It wasn't religious abuse as such but the religion compounded my sense of shame, hopelessness and despair, it added an extra layer of terror and damage on top of the abuse. My parents god was as punitive and harsh as themselves, one to be feared more than loved and my mother would fling the fourth commandment at us constantly, my child's sense of fairness wondered why there was no commandment telling them not to be so cruel. My grandmother saw the devil at work in me as she abused me.

I became very 'spiritual' in my late teens, I see that phase as a sort of psychological escape from the bad person I felt I was and I had a vision of a loving god that could save me. In my twenties I left religion behind, it sort of fell away bit by bit and my attempts to revive it didn't work, I am glad about that now but wasn't at the time.

I had hardly been in a church in the last twenty years until almost a year ago, I have an elderly friend who is too frail to go to mass on his own and I usually go with him on Sundays. At first it felt very uncomfortable, the old familiar words and ritual brought back lots of the fear and sadness I had as a small child, but as I sit there now I find they don't trigger me so much. Going to church with an adult distance has been useful for me, in that I get to rewrite the false beliefs I internalised as a child.

That was more about me than you but I think I understand some of what you are expressing. Hope you find a path that works for you.

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#466142 - 06/03/14 05:02 AM Re: Anyone worked through religious prejudice [Re: don64]
don64 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 752
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi Rustam,

Thank you so much for responding. What I want is to hear the stories from others. I live with myself 24/7 and am needing to not feel so alone with this. As perverse as it sounds, knowing others have had similar experiences makes me feel less alone and gives me a kind of group strength to carry on. And, God, what you went through is for me an unimaginable cultural horror. All in the name of something which is supposed to be about love. This is all giving me some perspective. I'm not ready to engage in anything new right now, but feel at some point something inspirational will show up and I'll know when it's time to make a move.

Don
_________________________
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

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