Empty the Pews: Lyana's Story

What type of church did you attend at the time of your leaving?

Westwood Baptist Church

Did you find a new church to attend?

No

Did you leave organized religion entirely?

Yes

Lyana's Story

I was religiously abused starting as a child. My grandmother, unlike most of my family, left the Catholic Church to become an Evangelical Methodist. From a young age, she tried to indoctrinate me into her church's belief system. She regularly urged me to be the one to keep my parents from divorcing and to convince my parents to stop drinking. She monitored what I watched and read as much as her feeble memory allowed, and she regularly shamed me for consuming or creating media she did not agree with. A few times, she threw away or burnt drawings I made or gifts I received of things she found demonic (like Pokemon or Yugioh cards). She was very controlling. Everything had to be about religion with her. Religion with her was shaming, just constant. I felt like I lived in a cage, a cage of words and her desires. When I didn't agree with something or didn't want to be with her, she would accuse me of not loving her and would say if I didn't love her I wasn't of God and thus implied I deserved Hell. Sometimes she even monitored my friends and would disapprove of them to me.

My religious abuse got real when I went to Westwood Christian School. Again, they indoctrinated me through the guise of education. They refused to let women in religious leadership even unofficially through student-led organizations. They were consistently racist with their majority immigrant children. They taught us things like Creationism, pro-life pseudoscience, and refused to teach us sex education. I was so deprived of sex education that I didn't know what menstruation was and thus panicked when I started "peeing blood" at the age of thirteen. The teachers were nice, sure, but they were so bigoted that they couldn't even tell when they were being disparaging. For example, one teacher said that, south of Bird Road, she felt like she wasn't in America anymore (that's a Cuban and Puerto-Rican neighborhood). The school also had a policy of monitoring your social media, and they had the right to suspend or expel you if they found out you were queer. Thankfully, while I was there, I did not know I was bisexual.

I deconverted through sources on the Internet where I was safe. I also had no social media accounts at the time so they didn't know what I really felt as I was discovering many different viewpoints. This also kept me safe from my technologically inept grandmother. I'm glad that I'm free from this school and my dead grandmother's clutches now.

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