I’m not one to sensationalise or focus in on one particular newsworthy event to base an essay on, but if you would give me the time to read for a wee bit, I chose this article, out of the hundreds of examples similar out there to try and make a point, just because it popped up on Facebook really. Recently Leehah Alcorn killed herself - here’s the article here to explain why:
When you are raised as a xtian there is a point at which, if you choose a ‘sinful’ lifestyle (ie just not being a xtian), it’s a case of ‘oh well it’s your loss’ and ‘on your head be it’. It takes a while to get here but the process might go as follows;
- You do something a bit out of line - you are encouraged into coming back into line. Love and acceptance are shown. You will probably try, for your leaders who seem to love you, after all you’ve grown up being taught to, and trying to, please them. Points mean prizes and all that.
- You show a general decline in religiosity and attitude towards conforming and submitting - you will be talked to one on one and encouraged to make some life changes. A leader a wee bit down the pyramid might also be asked to keep an eye on you. It’ll very much be ‘let’s go for coffee’ but the idea is that if you hang out with the spiritually strong you’ll be inspired to follow xtian footsteps. Read more bible.
- You start to question the system around you and not in a repentant, ‘doubting thomas' way-it’s pragmatic, critical and maybe even scientific, and that poses a real problem - You will be talked to one on one, sorry, at least two on one (you are the one) and it becomes much more ‘bad cop’. ‘You need to start taking responsibility for your spiritual life’ and ‘you’re going to ruin your family’ and ‘you need counselling’ (although be surprised if any is offered, and if it is, it’s really really unqualified and pretty much consists of long praying sessions and admitting things to people you can ‘trust’).
- You make a decision based on something other than God - This is a huge threat and you will be put in your place right away. Responsibilities in the church will be axed and leaders all informed of your personal situation/information. You might retain some friends but expect leaders to be stern. Confidentiality is void within the upper echelons yet you can’t discuss your feelings with others or the rep of the church would be tainted, or worse still others might follow you or feel you need advice further afield than that of the church leaders.
- You will be diagnosed as broken and set on some sort of impromptu ‘course’- It will involve a lot of prayer (in english and in tongues) crying, repenting and tailored eduction of what you should be involving yourself in, and not. Social media of course must stop. Spending time with non xtians is an absolute no no. Xtian music must increase by a few album repeats. At this stage you’re beyond ‘read your bible, pray everyday’. It’s about the mind, and your lifestyle. Take out all influences that might be making you how you are. Focus on your relationship with god, nothing else. Go to as much church as you can. Eliminate any out of church social interactions. Take time off work if you want. Attend to your gender role (yes seriously), and apply yourself to wholesome things. ‘Fake it til you make it’ in all aspects of your lifestyle that don’t line up.
- Not being repentant, you continue to live a life away from God - This results in friends culling you from their lives. After all, you’re a negative influence now. In short, they are taught that if you hang around this type of ‘negativity’ they will get your cooties and maybe turn into you-and that would be the worst right? You’re given the final ‘you are going to waste your life’ style attempt at scaring you to come back. Apparently it often works. Remember these leaders have been working on their authoritative position in your life for years. It takes a lot for the church to give someone the option of leaving, afterall, you pay 10% of your income to the church. Unemployed people are out at like strike 1, if you are a more valuable member, they will bend over backwards to keep you.
- Woe betide you are open about your experiences of church. The first thing that will happen is people won’t actually be defensive because every Xtian believes there are terrible xtians out there, and terrible churches, but that it’s not them, so it’s cool. They’re the non judgemental one, they’re the cool ones, they’re the ones with non-xtian mates, they’re the ones who swear a tiny bit for comic effect and have a glass of bucks fizz at weddings because they’re ‘not bound by religion’. They’re the ones saying ‘well, what do I know’ yet still seem to have a lot of restrictions to put on themselves because the one thing they all seem to really know is what types of things they are not allowed to do for the good of their soul. And your life-well they wouldn’t do it like that.
- You are WARNED about your lifestyle. You won’t be blessed. You will run into trouble and sickness. You won’t be happy. Like, you might think you’re happy but deep down, you’re crying inside because you don’t have god.
- The ultimate insult is deciding you’re not needy, you’re not agnostic, you’re not looking for answers to ‘life’s big questions’. And this results in the ‘Well at the end of the day, it’s your loss’ situation. They have no reason to love you because they love so they can help (they’ll still say they love you but that’s because xtians have to love everyone. Anyone in their right mind would know that’s rationally impossible). They’ve no reason to contact you because well, what the hell will you talk about. You don’t want to contact them because what the hell do you talk about. They’ve no reason to keep you on facebook-I mean you and your mates are just sweary and offensively left wing and pastor encourages to ‘get rid of the filth in your life’ type sentiment.
- Now you are TOLD about your lifestyle. You ARE NOT blessed. You ARE in sickness and trouble. There is no way you’re happy, no matter what you think.
- If you are willing to ignore the offensiveness of all these judgements (and they are judgements), you will be tolerated civilly. If you choose to have a ‘bad attitude’ and be offended, that’s your choice, and you’re loss. And it’s not their loss because they don’t want to hang around someone tainting their spirituality or rep. Their faith is what makes them comfortable. It’s everything to them They learn that because it makes them comfortable, it must be fulfilling and they must be good at it. And the cycle goes on. If you mention something anti-xtian they will cut you off without a care. They have their xtian mates who trump you every single time regardless of their credibility or morals.
And don’t get me started on xtianity and it’s monopoly on morals. That’s a whole other book.
What’s worrying about the case of Leehah Alcorn is that people calling for her parents to be prosecuted WILL result in xtians saying stuff like ‘see this is how christians are so persecuted’ and ‘poor us. this is what happens when parents stand up for their faith’ and it will be mentioned how satan has taken the life of this poor young deluded and deceived individual. She, sorry HE, because in xtianity there’s no changing from the gender god gave you, was selfish and at best just totally under attack from the devil. ‘Militant gays’ (which by the way transgender isn’t being gay) will get blamed for the recruitment propaganda the nebulous ‘they’ imposed on him to make him this way. I sincerely hope her parents find solace in their faith after her death because that’s the only place they deserve sympathy from; a fictional unseen entity. In their church the parents will be receiving love, attention and sympathy at THEIR loss, but guess what, fuck them, it’s Leehah’s loss. It was her loss when she realised her parents would never accept her as she was. It was her loss when they tried to make her ‘better’. It was absolutely her loss. The only thing that’s a slight comfort for her is that hell doesn’t exist anyway. I want her parents to appreciate her loss was equivalent to what theirs is now.
I don’t think it’s ok to prosecute every parent of a kid who commits suicide, but we also have to think about this without the massive chunk of salt xtians get thrown just for having the most established and privileged religious sway in the western world. Something I like to use in my artwork often, is the alternation of God to Satan (both equally invented by christianity-so in fact all within the bounds of my christian and biblical knowledge) Imagine a kid killed themselves because the parents sent them to Satanic conversion therapy? They felt distinctively non-satanic but Mom was like ‘you need to attend Satanic church more. Why are you not praying to Satan anymore? You know, I don’t believe you are non Satanic-this is just a phase’ How would we treat those parents? What about parents who would only allow their kids to listen to music about Satan, written by only Satanists? How about stopping them speaking to non-satanists? How about reading to them from the Satanic bible every night before bed? What would the media do with those parents when their kid committed suicide because of that? How is it better to be xtian and send your kid to conversion therapy? I’ll tell you why-we’re used to xtianity. We have grown up with it’s values riddled through our society. We have learnt how not to blame it for anything. We have been blinded to the corruption, abuse and general ridiculousness of it’s structure. I hope Leehah’s parents realise how wrong they were to use the church as a tool for changing their child’s life, in leu of learning something new. What a wasted opportunity to experience life and love and put our small minded arrogance aside. They don't deserve protection from questions when they still have the same belief's after their child's suicide. To be fair to the masses caught up in the church system, it’s partly the church that’s to blame. It provides ‘answers’ like how to make a kid straight, or correct their gender issues. They train people to come to the god for everything, and that the place to really find god, is in church.
I’m going to take the understanding and empathetic stance on church goers here and ask you to bear in mind that these people are emotionally and financially invested in churches. They have either been born into it, or found it in a time of great vulnerability and crisis. The people at the top are corrupt and power hungry, or at least power comfortable. They are super manipulators of psychotherapeutic techniques they understand toxic little about. They create an attractively supposedly accepting and welcoming environment. The pressure a parent feels having a ‘broken’ child in a church full of who pose as mainly middle class, goody-goody normos is heavy. It takes a LOT to break out of the box of performed xtianity. It’s very good at what it does. As a parent you’d be looked down on for having a gay kid or what not - you must be doing something wrong if you can’t even keep your kid in line. I have a small portion of sympathy. Small. That’s why gender roles are so strictly encouraged in modern xtianity. It’s the most passive way to deal with being gay because they don’t like to admit they do ‘conversion therapy’ (but they do). People aren’t stupid - they know where the culture isn’t geared towards them and keep within safe honesty perameters. The attractive cakes and cuddles a church fellowship offers also makes it hard for people to leave; it seems like real family so you can feel torn. Unfortunately it's not really that.
I’ve lost friends, and family over being open minded. It’s a threat to xtianity, an insult to it. It’s offensive to them to say something honest and negative about church or xtianity. It has had pride of place, privilege and protection outwith it’s deserving. It’s amazingly ok to be insulting to gay or trans people though, or other religions etc. The death of Leehah Alcorn is a red flag raised high enough not to ignore, amongst an ocean of red flags wafting about in front of unfortunately blind eyes. Questions like ‘should her parents be prosecuted’ are the little ones we are only just ready to skirt when questions such as ‘should we be allowed to raise kids into a religion’ or ‘should religion be an opt-in deal, rather than an opt-out deal’ are just a couple of the real questions that need to be asked so desperately. We can’t though because without breeding kids into religion, it would fall flat. That should be a massive red flag right? Our legal systems are entrenched in xtianity and if you don’t believe it, bloody ask me how. The suppression of women is encompassed and perfected within religion. It’s a system we’ve built our progress on. I’d go as far to say, it’s a shame it’s fucking up our world.
As Richard Dawkins would speculate ‘We are all atheists about most of the Gods humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one God further.’
Before someone pipes up with the bullshit that atheism is ‘just as religious as religion’ let me define it as simply, not being a theist. That is all, the lifestyle part is up to you. And the same goes with Feminism; believing that men and women deserve equality. If you think our genders have equality already (amazing I heard ‘you have your equality, what more do you want’ a couple of times this year) you’re an actual absolute fucking idiot. Leehah Alcorn wouldn’t be dead for a start. Gender is a big thing for xtianity because the roles define the male lead. You can’t fuck with it or you fuck the boat right over.
My dream, along with many other rationalists is that one day we won’t need terms like ‘feminism’ or ‘atheism’ because it will be so widely applied and accepted as standard. We don’t need a ‘the earth is round’ campaign anymore. It was a plausible idea at the time based on what we knew that the world was flat, but the more we learnt, the less probable it became until really, it would be ridiculous to believe in it, and accepted that we don't now and no more was said other than a 'remember that time when___'
My new years resolution is to be open about our need for atheism, like feminism. We simply need to amplify the voice for women, the anti-inequality (not anti-men), the anti-religious (not just non-religious) and for rational human living. There is no reason to treat xtianity as an endangered species that needs protecting. There is absolutely no way the benefits of xtianity outweigh the damage it’s done, and is doing. I have only good reason to discuss why I think this so strongly.