A rant by one of my coworkers, AC, about a Christian who had tried to convert her after seven years of not speaking with her got me thinking about the religious people in my life. I’m an atheist; always have been. Most of my family and friends are okay with that as they are either also atheists, or are just not really all that involved in their religion. There is, however, one girl whose life is ruled by religion.
I met Nat when she moved to Illinois in ninth grade. We hit it off right away and became very close friends. She and her family were fairly religious, but nothing that seemed too extreme, and we got past that issue by never talking about it. That all changed after high school.
Nat was really intelligent–bookwise, anyway, common sense is another matter entirely–and she could have gone to almost any college she wanted to, finances permitting. However, she decided that she didn’t want to go to college right away. She wanted to enter RMC: a bible-fixated “school” in northern Illinois. I use the term school loosely, as they didn’t actually learn anything useful to them in the real world. None of the classes they took would transfer to real colleges or even help get them to get an internship/job. They were basically paying close to $8000 a year for bible study. True, they had some media and music classes on the side, but the content all revolved around religion.
I didn’t understand her motivation to go there, you know, seeing as how I think religion is a scam, but it was her parent’s money and her life, so I shrugged and let it go (not without a bit of difficulty). But when we met up during Christmas break, the change in her was astounding. She was the most devout, brainwashed person I had ever met. She was completely unaware of what was going on in the world because the only internet access at RMC was at the church (not in the dorms) and they were encouraged to only use it for “school-work” and not bother with silly things like current events….
I didn’t hang out with her much that break because when I did, I had to follow the rules which the RMC had laid out for her:
1) You could only listen to music if it was played by a Christian band and had significant Christian overtones in the lyrics. (I’d rather have my eardrums burst than listen to that crap).
2) You could only read books written by Christian authors and with clear references to Christianity.
3) No shopping in Victoria’s Secret or other such stores. Those are for sinners.
4) You had to attend church on Wednesday and Sunday, and youth group for whatever part of Sunday was left after the service. No exceptions. And no staying out late any other night of the week. You should be home praying.
5) No dating. Dating is wrong and only sinners do it. You should only “date” one person: the person you marry.
6) You are not to socialize with homosexual people unless you’re trying to convince them that they’re living in sin and need to be “treated.”
There were many other rules which I can’t recall off the top of my head, but they were just as insane as the rest of this list. Nat and I have drifted apart a bit since she started going there and I feel somewhat sad about that, but what else can you do when your friend is willingly part of a cult? Luckily she was rejected for a third and final year at that place, as they said they had “helped her as much as they could.” With a little time and perspective, here’s hoping she’ll join the rest of us in reality.