By Emilee Edwards
I was raised in a cult. Well, that was what everyone who left the church called it. I was raised to believe that I was lucky to be apart of the “one true church,” with the sole purpose of becoming some lucky man’s wife and child-bearer.
My family and I left when I was 14. I left with strange ideologies ingrained into my mind. I believed that any wrongdoing would send a man or woman straight to the depths of hell. This hindered any relationship with God and any type of faith I would have had in my young life.
I was raised in in Newfoundland, Canada as well as Virgina, Texas and California in a non-denominational church with no name, rooted in fear and anti-feminist ideals. The church was created by power-hungry men all bent on the idea of controlling the church by spreading false ideology. When we left, I felt rebellious to the ideas of faith, even the things that were good and true.
The mentality of the church often left people in shambles. If a member was seen as sinful in the eyes of the church, they were excommunicated by the church and their families. Women were forced to stay in abusive marriages and in difficult situations because they were taught to submit to their husband no matter what.
When I came to a Baptist university, my mom thought it was because God had a plan for me — a path to becoming a righteous follower of Christ.
I wanted to believe this. I wanted her to see me as a good person. But I was confused about my faith and what I wanted from my life. I scoffed at the words said in Chapel, ignored the hymns I had memorized by heart. I did not think that Christianity was what I wanted or needed.
It seemed like was surrounded by college students who took their faith for granted. I met people who brought me to believe I was surrounded by self-righteous and pious individuals who thought their beliefs were something others should adhere to, but lived their lives differently. For a moment, I hated the culture I chose to immerse myself in.
I created a stereotype in my mind. I made excuses so that I had a reason to resent Christianity because I was not blessed with a “normal” upbringing. Being surrounded by people who believed in God and felt thankful for their Christian childhood just reminded me that I had missed out on the opportunity to understand God’s love as a child. I was given rules to adhere to, while others had been given ways to overcome obstacles through faith — I was envious.
I sat down with my mother and asked her why she believed in a God who could send even decent people who didn’t know how to believe in Him to hell. She had no answer to my question, but talked about how her beliefs had changed since studying the Bible from a different perspective. I did not believe God could do anything good for me, only restrict my choices because teachings and rules from my childhood still haunted me.
I realized that the people around me faithfully serving Jesus were not the ones being judgemental — that person was me. I made snap judgements due to jealousy, and used those conclusions as a basis for resenting Christianity. People stray from their beliefs because they are not perfect, the Christians I was surrounded by struggled with their sin openly, which I saw as hypocritical. I let that hinder my own beliefs and values because it was convenient, an easy cop-out.
Resentment and pent-up anger only cause harm. I let myself become a victim to a religion based on humans and not God, because that it was easier to ignore the fact that the problem was me and my preconceived ideas.