healthcare, politicians, politics, religion, Trump

Putting my money where my mouth is…

Last night, I did something I’ve never done before. I donated $500 to NARAL Pro-Choice America. Just now, I donated $200 to Planned Parenthood. I decided to make my donations to these two organizations last night after reading insulting, misogynistic, mansplaining comments from men all day. It started with a guy on Twitter who mansplained the effects of pregnancy to a woman and compared it to a hysterectomy. It ended with disgusting comments from a bearded man who wrote several gleeful comments about forcing “loose women” to give birth. By the time I was ready to go to bed, I was seething, and found myself reaching for my credit card.

When I commented on a Washington Post article about abortion rights that I had donated to NARAL, more men came out of the woodwork to deride, lecture, mansplain, and again, ask me if I wasn’t glad my mom didn’t abort me. I blocked every single one of those fuckheads, as well as the women who were complicit in pushing this view that women shouldn’t be allowed to make private healthcare choices for themselves. All of them can go straight to Hell, as far as I’m concerned. This farcical Supreme Court ruling must not stand. People will die.

On Twitter, when I made this comment to the man who had “mansplained” pregnancy and hysterectomies to a woman, I got many likes. I also got a very nasty, angry, misogynistic response from a man who didn’t want me to have a voice. I blocked that fuckhead, too, as well as the ones who decided to use that discussion to make fun of trans people by asking “what is a woman?”. I don’t have time for those people; I don’t want to hear from them; and I don’t want to waste any time responding to their stupidity. They can go to Hell, too.

From yesterday…
To the guy’s credit, he did come back later with a reasonable response… but many more people than the ones reflected in this screenshot liked my post. A couple wrote that they were about to comment the same thing.

Truthfully, I’ve been wanting to donate to pro-choice organizations for a long time. I firmly believe that overturning Roe v. Wade will make American women less safe, and I feel like I have to do my part to help protect women’s rights to healthcare privacy. Women must have competent medical attention exactly when they need it, not when a lawyer says the doctor won’t be sued or jailed. I know that money is powerful. For once, Bill and I have it, and we can use it for something that might make a difference in the world.

When I posted about my donation, I noticed the immediate reactions I got from men who are happy about the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Some of them “laugh reacted”. Some responded offensively. Some tried to “reason” with me. I know that their reactions cover up their real feelings that more people might do what I did. They’re counting on those of us who are for choice to be complacent, and politically inactive. Historically, I have never cared much about politics. I’ve never voted in any primaries, and I’m not a member of any particular political party. I have never donated money to any political action. I only follow a few politicians. But last night, something in me woke up. I’ve been reading so much craziness over the past few days, some of which is coming from politicians who literally want to change the United States into a theocracy.

Republican Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado went as far as to tell a church congregation she’s “tired of this separation of church and state junk.” That woman actually wants to allow CHURCHES to dictate US law! She actually said that the church is supposed to direct the government. I wonder which church she means. She delivered this speech at Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt, Colorado. It’s a non-denominational church. They hosted Lauren Boebert, who is a well-known gun rights activist and MAGA asshat, and allowed her to spew her political bullshit in their church. That’s a misuse of their non-profit 501 [c] tax exempt status. I think churches that allow these kinds of political statements ought to be heavily taxed. It’s not for churches to tell people how to vote. It’s funny, too, because I just typed “IRS report” into Google, and the first recommendation was “IRS report church”.

As an American, I sure as HELL don’t want Lauren Boebert and her ilk leading my country. Moreover, she’s just plain wrong about what the Founding Fathers were aiming for when they drew up our Constitution. Not that I’m all that impressed with the “slave owners who wanted to be free” that the Founding Fathers were (George Carlin). What Boebert proposes is a Christian version of the Taliban. It’s like we’re seeing Serena Joy Waterford forming right in front of us.

From Father Nathan Monk’s Facebook page… his astute comment regarding Christianity was immortalized by an artist named panhandle_slim_

Even though I am beyond pregnancy myself, and I know that I will never be in a situation in which I will want or need to have an abortion, I think it’s important to preserve reproductive rights for younger people. My husband has a granddaughter who will be turning 3 in a few days. There’s every chance that she might need an abortion at some point in her life. Her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother have all had difficult pregnancies, to include miscarriages, and in her grandmother’s case, dissociating from reality during labor. She should be able to privately access that procedure without interference from an uninvolved person. And as a soon to be member of the LDS church, she shouldn’t be forced to live under laws that are dreamed up by evangelicals and Catholics. We have religious freedom in the United States, and that’s how is should be… that means freedom to practice any religion, and freedom NOT to practice. And no one’s healthcare choices should be determined by laws that are influenced by a specific religion.

So yeah, I’m really pissed off… pissed off enough that I spent $700 to do something about this fucking mess created by Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of that merry band of misogynists. And you know what? It felt really good. We won’t miss the money, and it will go to what I know is a very good cause– that of preventing power mad Republican MALES and clueless women from interfering in and invading the private healthcare decisions of women who want or need abortion care… or any other type of healthcare. Especially since we all know that the message in the below screenshot is so true…

You can count on that and take it straight to the bank. I think Panhandle_slim_ is also responsible for the above sign, which was photographed on the side of a busy street in Savannah, Georgia.
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condescending twatbags, politics, religion, stupid people, wingnuts

The strange case of the scary, satanic, plastic spoon from Sonic…

It’s Sunday morning, so I think I’ll write a post about wacky social media posts by Christians that go viral. Why is it that Jesus loving, God fearing, Christian types are so often white males who want to declare everything fun and fantastic as evil and satanic?

Yesterday morning, as I was cracking open my bloodshot blue eyes for the first time of the day, I opened Facebook and noticed that a college friend had commented on a viral post. My friend had written her reaction to a picture of a plastic toy that was put in a “Sonic Wacky Pack” for a Mississippi man’s daughter. The Mississippian father, name of James Charles Phillips, had written a lengthy post about how his daughter felt that the toy “felt evil”. Because her father has obviously indoctrinated her with right wing religious bullshit, the child was afraid of the fluorescent green spoon, modeled after the scepter carried by Masters of the Universe character, Skeletor. She threw it out of her dad’s truck… evidently opting to litter and befouling God’s beautiful creation, Planet Earth. How very Christian.

I decided to share the post with the comment, “This is fucking stupid.” At this point, a number of my friends are laughing with me about this guy’s wackaloon post about the evil spoon from Sonic. Some have agreed with me that this man’s post is also kind of skeevy, since it’s a dad praising his good little daughter for recognizing a piece of plastic as “evil”. One friend pictured the guy wearing a MAGA hat. Another said she got “Jim Bob” vibes, as if the daughter is his property.

My first thought, upon looking at the “scary and satanic” spoon, was that the top of it reminded me of a woman’s reproductive system. Maybe dad was skeeved out because the horns on the scepter look like fallopian tubes. They live in Mississippi, and that’s a place where a woman’s reproductive rights are likely to be stripped away any day now.

Yikes! It really does look like a woman’s reproductive innards. Maybe dad thinks that’s satanic, too. This photo came from Wikipedia and is in the public domain.

I was curious about this guy, so I went to the original post. I noticed that, at this writing, he has well over 16,000 followers on his Facebook page. Who in the hell is he to have so many followers? Especially since he doesn’t write particularly well and lives in Mississippi? So I did a Google search, and discovered Revival in Courage, a Web site that is connected to him. Weirdly enough, the site appears to be based in North Carolina, but when I read the description of the self-described “Constitutional Cowboy”, and look at the person in the pictures, I’m pretty sure it’s the same dude. A link to his very public Facebook page confirms it.

Mr. Phillips appears to be a political activist, who does “motivational speaking and teaching”. He served in the United States Marines, and raises Longhorn cattle and “nine little patriots” with his “bride” on their farm. I looked around the site and wasn’t surprised to find that it’s basically advertising right wing political beliefs, with dire warnings about the United States’s inexorable slide into communism. Once again, I can only shake my head at the lunacy. I don’t think this dude even knows what communism is.

From what I can see on their home page, members of the Revival in Courage group believe that public health mandates are left wing strategies to take away our liberties as Americans. They deny that COVID-19 is a public health emergency, and that ivermectin really does effectively treat the virus. They are vehemently against wearing face masks, and they’re especially against children being required to wear masks.

They are against vaccines for children, even going so far as connecting them to abortion and declaring them “genocidal”. Naturally, they’re against abortion, and want it completely abolished.

This group believes that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” and the results were fraudulent.

This group is against gay pride, and gay rights. They are for forcing children in school to pray and read the Bible, even though not everyone is Christian. They think the schools are full of “filth”… I guess things like the satanic Skeletor spoon from Sonic are “filthy”, as is any discussion of sex education, any books that might actually give children liberal ideas or help them think critically.

I see that this group deems itself “patriotic”, and refers to members as “patriots” and “minutemen”. And, looking under the speakers tab, I see there’s a list of people– James Charles Phillips among them– who are promoting the idea that they can “save” America from liberals who want to “take away their rights”. One of the speakers is Dr. Jeffrey Barke, who wrote a book titled Covid-19: A Physician’s Take on the Exaggerated Fear of the Coronavirus. The book actually gets pretty good ratings on Amazon, probably because it caters to the many people in the United States who are frighteningly wedded to the extremely conservative “Trumpian” mindset. However, there are only five reviews posted, so my guess is that the ratings are inflated.

I’m sitting here amazed, since a viral Facebook post written by some religious wingnut with extremely right wing ideas, has caused me to fall down yet another rabbit hole, when I could be reading Jennifer Grey’s life story. Still, I was amused by the many posts on the guy’s Facebook page. A lot of people were telling him, in no uncertain profane terms, how fucking stupid this is… and how he shouldn’t be teaching his children to be so terrified of plastic spoons that look like women’s reproductive organs and glow in the dark. In fact, many people have rightly called what this dad is doing as emotional abuse. Isn’t life scary enough without kids being afraid of satanic influences at Sonic? I guess it’s only Chick-Fil-A for this guy’s family from now on, since he’s so afraid of his kids being desensitized and influenced by evil demons at Sonic. If you have some spare time and need a laugh, I recommend reading some of the comments. They’re hilarious. Many people are pointing out that it’s just a plastic spoon!

Mr. Phillips has even posted a video in which he calmly tries to explain himself… I’m not sure he quite makes the mark with what he said in the video. I’m not going to post it here, but it’s on his Facebook page, and at this writing, is still public. He doesn’t sound like Marguerite Perrin of Trading Spouses, at least… but like her, he probably thinks tarot cards and gargoyles are “dark sided” and satanic. What a bunch of nonsense.

Get the hell out of my house in Jesus’ name I pray!

On a more serious note, though… I am a bit scared of these crazy right wing nutters who think they need to “save America” from communism. These people have the unfortunate combination of inherent stupidity, hyper-religiosity, no critical thinking skills, and no experience beyond what they’ve known their whole lives. Add in their love of weapons, and you have people who really could make America a dystopia akin to Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale. Now, to me, that is scarier than Satan ever could be…

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politics, religion

Some churches are silly… and some are just so sick!

This morning, as I was looking at my Facebook memories, I remembered that six years ago, Jan Crouch, wife of the late televangelist Paul Crouch, died. Paul and Jan Crouch, you might recall, founded Trinity Broadcasting Network, a religious channel that appears on a lot of cable networks around the world. Back when Bill and I first got married, we were pretty broke, and I used to watch TBN for fun. There was some really crazy stuff on that network. That was also where I first encountered Paula White, who later became famous for being Donald Trump’s “spiritual advisor”, and current wife of Journey songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Jonathan Cain. Paula White is pretty extra, but so were the Crouches, who often made me laugh.

Stir it up right now… in the name of JESUS.
Jesus is COMING.
God is BIG.

In the above two videos, beneath Paula White’s “queen bee dance”, Jan Crouch is dancing and whacking the tambourine with the late Roger McDuff, who always reminded me of a Q-Tip. But even if I find Christian faux country numbers creepy, I have to admit that at least his songs made me laugh. And so did Paul Crouch, as he spoke of “doctrinal doo doo” and “shooting people” who get in God’s way.

Paul Crouch talks about doctrinal doo doo and then tells everyone that he IS a little God.

A lot of people say and do a bad things in the name of religion. Whether it’s doing a ridiculous queen bee dance, singing a song about Jesus “coming”, or claiming to be a “little God”, these folks who appeared on TBN and preached to shut ins and bored housewives like me were spreading some stuff that really stunk to high heaven. However, as messed up as this stuff is, it doesn’t compare to the Preacher Boys podcast I watched yesterday, in which the host, Eric Skwarczynski, talked about a preacher at a church who got up and confessed to committing “adultery”.

Pastor John Lowe says he committed adultery… but actually, he committed rape.

The pastor’s victim, now a woman approaching middle age, bravely got up (at 9:33) and confronted the pastor. She reminded him that he “took her virginity”, and did abusive things to her. But here he was, “confessing to adultery”, minutes after the “flock” applauded when he introduced himself. And instead of comforting the victim, the people in the congregation are quick to “forgive” Pastor John Lowe. The woman who was his victim left the church with only one or two people comforting her. What gives? These people are Christians? Why don’t they care about the woman who was this man’s victim, when she was just a teenager? Why are they falling for the “pastor’s” line about how he’s a “victim”? In his mind, the teenager was a temptress, and it’s her fault he raped her… but he doesn’t admit to rape. He calls it an “affair”.

As the woman is trying to confront the pastor, people are telling her to sit down and be quiet. And other men are yelling that they need to hear from their pastor. Then we hear a woman yell about how the woman was sixteen, and was complicit. Amazingly, they then yell, “We love you, pastor,” as the woman walks out, almost alone, while people gather around the pastor and “forgive” him.

This is coming in the wake of Josh Duggar’s sentencing. There are still people who claim Josh was “framed”, even though there is overwhelming evidence that he’s a sick predator. Why are religious people in certain evangelical sects so quick to forgive the sins of the pervy men in their midsts?

This morning, as I was eating breakfast with Bill, I ran across a Twitter feed posted by a guy named Nathan Ryan, who related the story of going to an evangelical church camp during the summer of 2002. That was just after 9/11, right around the time when Al Qaeda and ISIS were ramping up in the United States. This dude tweeted about how, as an object lesson, he and fellow campers did an activity in which they were accosted by men in ski masks, holding fake guns, and forcing them to choose between loving Jesus Christ and dying, or denouncing Christ and “living”.

The first of a shocking series of tweets by Nathan Ryan about his experience at a evangelical church camp… click the link to read the whole thing.

This is insane.

So here, we have a belief system where children are taught that they will either be violently killed for their religious beliefs, or they will eventually go to Hell. And we have a faith system where men who rape teenagers are given a pass, while their victims are told that they must forgive, be silent, and cover themselves up, so that their brothers in Christ don’t “fall” to temptation.

Of course, it’s not just evangelicals who do this stuff. I’ve written a lot about things in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I don’t like. One woman on Twitter, responding to Nathan Ryan’s tweets, posted this about the Mormons and her experience being raised LDS…

All of this stuff is mind blowing to me. I grew up in the mainstream Presbyterian USA Church. The worst things that happened to me at church was being bullied by some of my mean spirited classmates from school, and being bored as hell during church services. No one ever tried to scare me with stories about being blown up by Muslims, nor was I ever asked any questions about my sexual habits. I was never shamed about the way I dressed or told that I was “tempting” members of the opposite sex. And, although the creepy neighbor who used to show me men’s magazines did attend our church, that abusive habit had nothing to do with religion. Religion wasn’t used to abuse me, unless you count my being forced to attend church.

But now, we have evangelicals in bed with our government leaders. And they have managed to indoctrinate a lot of people into thinking that submitting to these abusive churches is the only way to “save” America. Have a look at the tweet that followed these stories…

Seriously?

Here’s another tweet from someone who was abused during church camp in the 1990s.

Wow.

I actually worked at a Presbyterian church camp during the summers of 1993 and 1994. None of this weird shit went on where I worked. Kids played games like “Capture the Flag” and “Barnyard”; they went on hikes, bike trips, and canoe trips; they sang songs and attended devotions and vespers; and they made S’mores or homemade ice cream. It was a lot of wholesome fun in a truly beautiful setting. I’m still good friends with a number of people who worked with me during that time. I feel fortunate that I never had the toxic and abusive experiences some of these folks on Twitter have had.

I don’t have any need for church anymore. It doesn’t mean I’m an atheist. I do believe in God. But I don’t believe in going to churches, because there are too many that have turned abusive and sick. What I mostly took away from church is basic understanding of the Bible and exposure to a lot of church music, mainly because my mom was an organist, and my dad was in the choir. I think if I had a child and they experienced church the way some of these people have, it would absolutely mortify me. That goes double if I ever exposed an innocent child to the likes of Greg Locke, who is an absolutely vile person and a totally fake representation of a “pastor”.

You CANNOT BE A DEMOCRAT AND A CHRISTIAN!”, according to dipshit “pastor” Greg Locke. He needs to be arrested.

This is what we have in America now. This is what some people regard as “religion”. A lot of it is really sick and perverted. Greg Locke hates Democrats and calls them “baby butchers”. But he doesn’t have a thing to say about the gun toting conservatives who scream about their Second Amendment rights, as more kids die in their classrooms. These folks care about money and controlling women, people of color, and the poor. And one way to do that is to force women to give birth, which keeps them occupied and impoverished. Greg Locke is the same man who cheated on his ex wife with her former best friend, then cried about it on Facebook.

I think that if being a Christian means that I have to associate with people like Greg Locke, I’d rather not be a Christian. But, for the record, the Christ I learned of in my church going days, embraced the poor, the sick, and the disenfranchised, and operated for peace, compassion, and love. More and more often, these days, we’re seeing some churches turn very toxic and abusive, which leads people down a path away from Jesus Christ. What a shame that is.

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book reviews, LDS, religion

Repost: A review of Jessica Bradshaw’s You’re Not Alone: Exit Journeys of Former Mormons…

Here’s a reposted book review from my original blog. It was written in June 2017, and appears here as/is. Some things have changed since I wrote this. Bill’s younger daughter came around, and now talks to him.

As many regular blog readers know, I frequently hang out on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard, although I have never myself been a Mormon.  I started hanging out on that site because my husband, Bill, used to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He and his ex wife were converts at the end of their disastrous marriage. 

Bill was once a fairly enthusiastic Mormon; when I met him, he still claimed to believe.  I think he had high hopes that the church would help him save his first marriage.  But over time, it became clear that the church would not save his family and, in fact, made his situation much worse than it might have been.  Unfortunately, Bill’s two daughters became devout members of the LDS church and he pretty much lost them when he divorced their mother and later decided to resign from the church. 

It is certainly no secret that I despise my husband’s ex wife for many reasons– many of which have nothing to do with the LDS church. The truth is, what happened to Bill would have happened whether or not they had been Mormon converts. My husband’s ex wife delivered the same despicable treatment to her first ex husband. She effectively influenced her eldest son to reject his father. She did the same to Bill’s daughters. She will likely engage the same method if and when she leaves her third husband, with whom she has another son and daughter. That is simply what she does because she’s an abusive person, who thinks her children are extensions of herself, and uses them as weapons.

However, although I don’t believe the church was the main cause of my husband’s split from his now adult daughters, it’s been my observation that the LDS church is an excellent parental alienation tool. The importance of the church and its ridiculous lifestyle tenets– its insistence on being privy to the most private aspects of a person’s life and focus on perfect families– made it much easier for my husband’s young, impressionable daughters to reject their perfectly good dad as “unsuitable” and “undeserving” of them. To be honest, I agree that Bill doesn’t deserve his daughters. In my opinion, they aren’t good enough for HIM. Fortunately for them, Bill is a lot more forgiving about his daughters’ decision to reject him than I am. He once had a very close relationship with them. He is their father, and will always love them, while I have only met them in person once. I have no connection to them, and I think their behavior is unreasonable and just plain stupid.

Perhaps my brief rundown of my personal experiences with the church will offer some insight as to why I read so much about Mormonism– particularly about those who choose to abandon it.  Since I’ve been with Bill, I have come to know a number of impressive ex-Mormons.  It takes a lot of strength of character to go against the grain and reject one’s family religion, especially when it’s a very demanding belief system like Mormonism.  I have found that many ex-Mormons are very intelligent, sensitive, and open-minded.  I truly like them as a group of people.  For that, as well as for her decision to divorce Bill, I will always be grateful to Bill’s ex wife.  Her decision to go LDS and Bill’s decision to leave the church indirectly influenced my life in many positive ways.  Of course, had she not divorced Bill, I might not have gotten to be his wife.

It’s indirectly because of my husband’s ex wife that I “met” Jessica Bradshaw, who just published You’re Not Alone: Exit Journeys of Former Mormons. I read her first book, I’m (No Longer) a Mormon: A Confessional, which she wrote under the pseudonym Regina Samuelson. I enjoyed the book and reviewed it, and Bradshaw and I became Facebook friends. I was delighted when Bradshaw announced her second book, which would be published under her real name. She also solicited stories from her ex-Mormon friends and acquaintances. I wanted to get Bill to submit his story, but he never got around to writing it.

Over the past almost fifteen years of marriage, I have seen firsthand what can happen when a person decides to leave a high commitment religion like Mormonism.  Some Mormon families truly believe in “free agency” and are okay with family members deciding for themselves what to believe.  There are many more families that can make leaving the church extremely difficult.  Some ex-Mormons wind up getting divorced, being shunned by family members and friends, and even losing their jobs or getting kicked out of college over deciding that Mormonism doesn’t work for them.  Deciding to leave Mormonism was a huge decision for many past members; it can be overwhelming and terrifying.  Many ex members feel that they are alone as they make this monumental decision for their own lives. 

Bradshaw’s latest book is a compilation of stories by former church members who left.  Each story is very well edited and offers valuable insight into what makes a person decide to leave Mormonism.  I was amazed as I read about how each person’s eyes were opened to the world beyond the church.  It was gratifying to read how many of these ex church members began to develop insight, empathy, and an expanded perspective of the world around them, even as many of them found themselves ostracized from their families and friends.

One contributor wrote about how, as a Mormon missionary in Japan, he experienced extreme cognitive dissonance.  He observed how happy, moral, and loyal the Japanese people were to their families and employers.  They were able to be this way even without the direction and interference of a church’s oppressive lifestyle restrictions or strict “moral” code.  As the years passed, the contributor experienced a series of life events that led him from being an “acting Bishop” of a huge ward in Salt Lake City to a convicted felon who temporarily lost his license to practice optometry.  This was a decent person– a good guy who was having a crisis of faith and could not talk to his wife, other family members, or friends about his feelings.  He started playing racquetball, took his new passion too far, eventually got seriously hurt, and was put on opium based painkillers.  He developed an addiction to the painkillers, started calling in his own prescriptions, and soon lost everything. 

Many church members would look at that story and determine that it was the man’s decision to abandon the church that led him to such disastrous consequences.  Indeed, when church members resign, a lot of active members think it’s because they want to sin, are too lazy or weak to live by the church’s rules, or were somehow offended.  Active members tend to avoid those with weak testimonies because they fear they will lose their own testimonies.  It occurs to me that active members who fear those who are losing their testimonies must also have weak testimonies, because if their testimonies were strong, someone else’s doubts would not be a threat. 

A person leaving the church often feels very much alone and may turn to habits that can turn out to be destructive.  In the case of the contributor I just wrote about, he turned to racquetball.  Racquetball is not a destructive habit in and of itself, but if one plays to the point of becoming seriously injured and needs pain pills, that can lead to a serious disruption of one’s life.  Perhaps if the man could have talked honestly to his wife or church leaders about his doubts, he might not have experienced such a calamity.  Maybe he would have eased up on the racquetball and not gotten seriously hurt.  Or maybe the positive feelings he got from the drugs would not have been as seductive, since he might have been able to get a sense of normalcy and calm without needing medication.

Unfortunately, for many people, the church does not lend itself to open discussion or honesty.  Married couples must cope with less intimacy because the church is a not so silent partner in their relationships.  Important decisions about things like religious beliefs are not left up to the married couple.  The church must be involved.  And the church’s involvement means there will be less privacy, pressure, and the potential for punishment and humiliation.  Many people who have doubts about the church don’t speak about them openly.  Instead, they simply fake it.  They lead lifestyles that are not authentic.  They miss out on a lot of wonderful life experiences and freedom due to fear of disaster and abandonment.  Being “fake” is also psychologically unhealthy and can ultimately lead to unhappiness.

I have only described one story in You’re Not Alone, but rest assured that the book is full of enlightenment about why people leave the LDS church and encouragement that there is life after Mormonism.  While the immediate consequences of leaving the church can be heartbreaking and devastating, most people are able to pick up the pieces and live better, more authentic lifestyles.  They make their own decisions and can accept their successes and failures as their own. 

I’ve seen firsthand how liberating leaving the LDS church can be as I’ve watched Bill.  When I met him, he was living on $600 a month and thought his life was ruined.  He thought God hated him.  What a blessing it’s been to have watched him blossom into a self-confident man who loves freely and enjoys his life.  He has plenty of money (not paying 10% gross to the church is a great thing), gets to travel, wears whatever underwear he prefers, and drinks whatever he pleases.  He is not afraid of being exposed to other people’s experiences and no longer has a testimony that must be protected at all costs.  And although he was abandoned by his daughters, Bill has found out that his life is still very much worth living and he is free to do it on his own terms.  I’m pretty sure that is what Jessica Bradshaw’s contributors have also discovered. 

Naturally, I recommend You’re Not Alone, especially to anyone who has been thinking about leaving the LDS church, but also to those who are in any belief system that has them in metaphorical chains.  I also think You’re Not Alone is a great read even if you aren’t LDS, although it probably does help to know something about the church before you read it.  I also recommend Jessica’s first book, I’m (No Longer) a Mormon.  Five stars from me.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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education, religion, true crime

Louisiana Christian school leader gets arrested for “cruelty to juveniles”…

It always amazes me when I read or hear about certain “Christians” and their brand of Christianity. Some of them are capable of astonishing cruelty, particularly toward children. I have mentioned before that I was raised Christian myself, and the version of Jesus Christ I was taught about was a kind, compassionate, forgiving, wise, and loving leader. And yet, in today’s world, so many “Christians”, particularly among men, turn out to be mean-spirited, unforgiving, hateful, and cruel.

This seems to be an inappropriate reaction.

This morning, I read the story of 60 year old John Raymond, who worked at the headmaster of Lakeside Christian Academy in Slidell, Louisiana. On March 18, 2022, Mr. Raymond reportedly decided to use packing tape to tape the mouths of three 13 year old male students who were sent to him for discipline due to their alleged “excessive talking” in class.

According to a police report, Mr. Raymond wrapped the packing tape around the children’s heads, then sent them back to class for about 45 minutes. Another administrator, apparently uncomfortable with Raymond’s unorthodox punishment method, decided to remove the tape. Because the tape was wrapped around the children’s heads, scissors were required to remove it properly. The students stated that they had trouble breathing and the removal process was painful. I’m sure that getting the tape out of their hair hurt, because as we all know, adhesive sticks to things. If this happened the way it’s been reported, the kids probably lost some hair during the process.

What’s he got to smile about?

Mr. Raymond smiled for his mug shot, which can be seen on the Facebook post I linked. He’s also posted a lengthy “personal statement” with “facts” on the school’s Web site. According to his statement, the incident actually happened on March 17th, and involved five students. Raymond writes that the teacher was in tears, and threatened to terminate her employment, due to the students’ “disruptive” behavior. The students’ behavior had been problematic on many occasions in the past, and Mr. Raymond writes that he has had to “address” the class many times. Raymond writes that he gave the students the option of either calling their parents and suspending them from school, or wearing the tape on their mouths to “learn” how to be quiet in class.

Raymond explains that he didn’t wrap the tape around the children’s heads, nor was their breathing affected in any way. He claims that he asked them if they could breathe properly, and if they were in any pain. According to Raymond, the students did not indicate that they were in any distress; in fact, he claims they could have simply pulled off the strip of tape by themselves. Also, according to the headmaster, the tape was on their mouths for no longer than ten minutes, rather than the 45 minutes claimed in the students’ version of the story. Two weeks later, Mr. Raymond was arrested, when three of the students’ parents called to report the punishment to the police. The other two students have been attending school as usual.

Now… I don’t know exactly where the truth lies. It probably rests somewhere in the middle of this wild tale. It does seem crazy to me, however, that Mr. Raymond felt that taping the children’s mouths was a good idea in this day and age. Public humiliation of children is never a good look, nor would I say that it’s a particularly “Christlike” thing to do. It seems to me that the best course of action would have been to simply call the children’s parents, because obviously, they were going to get involved, anyway. Did Mr. Raymond really think that all of the parents of these kids were going to think his brand of punishment was appropriate? Now he’s being held criminally liable. I would not be surprised if there’s a lawsuit, too.

Honestly, shouldn’t the parents be notified if their children are causing so much disruption that a teacher is threatening to quit her job? This is a private school, yes? So why tolerate repeated disruptions in the first place? Disruptive kids don’t have to go to a private school. It’s supposed to be a privilege. I don’t condone allowing students to bully their teachers, but I do think that if students are so lacking in discipline that they make their teachers cry, their parents should be involved. And if the parents can’t effectively address the problem, then maybe they should find an alternative solution to educating their children. It isn’t fair to the other students to allow disruptive students to interrupt class. But in no case do I think it should be up to a principal, headmaster, or teacher to use physical punishments on students. It’s not their place.

I know a lot of people might not think this kind of punishment is a big deal. Personally, I am against teachers publicly humiliating kids or using “physical” means to discipline them. Back in 1980s era Virginia, I had a teacher who publicly paddled children in front of their peers. It happened to me once, and although I don’t remember the “paddling” to be painful, I do remember how very upsetting and traumatizing it was. In fact, when I think about that incident 40 years later, it still really pisses me off. I wish my parents had cared more that a man took it upon himself to paddle their nine year old daughter in front of other nine year olds. It certainly didn’t teach me “discipline”.

I don’t know what the laws are in Louisiana that pertain to how kids can be disciplined in school. It wouldn’t surprise me if corporal punishment is still okay down there (ETA: actually, this issue just came up in Louisiana and yes, corporal punishment is still allowed). However, from what I’ve read, most places where corporal punishment is allowed require parental consent. Moreover, psychological studies show that corporal punishment isn’t helpful or effective in getting children to change their behaviors. It does, however, teach them that might beats right, and authority figures are to be feared, rather than respected. There is a big difference between fear and respect.

Another fun fact about Mr. Raymond is that he was once a contestant on the reality show, Survivor. There are many telling Facebook comments by people who live in the community Lakeside Christian Academy serves. He appears to be a rather controversial figure who has a lot of local power. Many people seem to think he’s a real jerk. In any case, it always amazes me when I hear a so-called Christian say they “love” someone, but then they use pain, humiliation, and fear to teach them right from wrong. That’s not the way Jesus Christ would have handled a situation like this. Or, at least, the version of Christ that I learned about in my mainstream Presbyterian church when I was growing up, would not have handled a disciplinary situation in this way.

Isn’t it insane that an assistant principal in Mississippi gets fired for reading an awesome children’s book about butts to kids in school, but this “headmaster” in Louisiana is allowed to tape children’s mouths? I don’t envy the parents of today. Our schools are truly a mess.

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