Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On How I Grew Up In A Cult

Yeah.  I was raised in a cultish, fundamental Baptist church.  You guys didn't know that about ol' raunchy Jill, didya?

A childhood picture.  Just kidding.  But only kinda.

That's real.  They told us to make a silly face for the picture, but that dress was completely my decision.

The story would probably have to start with my Grandpa.  He was raised very old-fashioned and religious and taught my mother that way as well, so after my mom went through her rebellious phase and then got knocked up (me!) and decided to turn it around and be all grown up and responsible, she thought logically being a "good Christian" was part of that.  So she started trying to find a church.

When I was very young we went to one of those cookie-cutter Calvary churches--not awesome, but harmless enough.  Kids who grew up going to those still managed to be normal.  But they were too wishy-washy, so we started going to a big Baptist church in Beaverton where I joined Awana and sang in the choir and I was the star in the Christmas play.

By which I mean I was the star.  Not Mary, not Joseph.  Just a stupid star.

My mom met some people there who introduced her to what ended up being the single greatest influence of my childhood.  By which I mean they took my poor little personality, crushed it like a fragile little blueberry, and replaced it with creepy hymns and mind-purification rituals.

I could go into excruciating and horrifying detail, folks, but I don't need to pass on the trauma.  Let me just give you a few of the basics:

-You were born a piece of shit because all humans are pieces of shit.  Pretty much anything that comes from your own mind, heart or soul is sinful and you need to constantly ignore who you are to become more like Jesus.  And not like the cool-dude Jesus who went around helping people, like the up-in-the-sky-now Jesus who is pure and dull.    

Cool Jesus?


-You can be in a "carnal" mindset, which means that your thoughts are sinful or something, and you have to go through a serious of steps in your mind to reframe it so God will want to be close with you again.  This can happen if you think about sex (sexual immorality).  Or if you consider taking the big half of the cookie you're splitting (selfishness).  Or if you think something is unfair and consider speaking up (strife).  Or any of another million bajillion miniature little "temptations" that can happen to you throughout the day.  Now tell a child with crippling obsessive compulsive disorder all of that.  Yeah, I just never stopped going through those steps.

-All sexuality outside of marriage, including masturbating, thinking about sex, and being attracted to people--totally sinful.  Within a marriage, vanilla missionary sex is okay.  Kinda.

Boring sex is holy sex!

-Divorce is only okay if someone is cheating on you.  Abuse is not a good enough excuse.  If you divorce your husband and he hasn't cheated on you with a human woman, you are a witch and should be cast out of the church.

He beat you and fucked a dude?  And a goat?  How dare you divorce him!

-Women are not allowed to speak before the congregation--know why?  Because Eve was easily deceived by the devil, as all women are, and therefore are too weak to lead.  (Seriously, that's in the bible.)

-Abortion, homosexuality, certain forms of contraception (or all of them, depending who you ask), adultery, not abstaining from all appearance of evil, denying your spouse sex, astrology, tattoos, witchcraft, taking god's name in vain (even saying "Oh my God!"), boasting, lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, not spanking a disobedient child, disobeying your parents, dishonoring your parents, doubting God--all of these things and more are horrible sins that will make God not want to be close with you until you confess and ask forgiveness.

I didn't get out until I was 19.  Then I had to start pretty much 100% fresh with my entire personality and belief system.  The Jill you know today is a person who was developed almost entirely in the last 3 years--and so, SO much more to go.  I still struggle sometimes with the obscure idea of right and wrong, panicking at every turn that I'm doing the "wrong" thing.  And I still struggle to speak up for myself, and I'm still afraid sometimes to say anything against an authority.  But you know what?  I'm getting better and happier all the time.

Crudely drawn genitalia helps with the pain.

I'm telling you all this because I know there are others out there.  I'm telling you all this because I know there are people with similar stories who are struggling.  I'm telling you all this because when I believed it all, I shook my head sadly at the people who had left, but the second I started to doubt anything those people became shining examples in my mind of people who could do it.  People who could leave.  It was so validating.

Let me, and my fucking insane story, validate you--whether you're someone like me who has left an oppressive religion, or someone who's still trying to decide.  You are not crazy, and you are not sinful for doubting.  If there is a God out there, I don't believe that he or she would want mindless followers.  I believe if someone created you, they want you to be YOU.  Think about it--if you created a work of art, like a painting, would you then tell that painting to change itself now to be more like you?  No!  You'd want it to be beautiful as it was, just the way you made it to be.  That's my theory.

Hey Jill, I made you a superhero, so now it's time to be different.  Just kidding.  You keep on keepin' on, girlfriend.

And for the record, since you mostly only get shitty pictures of me, I'm hot now.

And so are my friends.  BAM!  For the record, these girls have loved me through every stage of insanity.  Love you guys!


  1. Omg, you totally forgot that when guys have impure thoughts, it's all the woman's fault for dressing that way. And the horrible self-esteem issues that they throw on women.

    I grew up in a southern Baptist private school. While I gained a fantastic education, my self-esteem suffered for a while after.

    1. Totally true!! We went through the same thing. Thank you for sharing!!!

  2. oh my god...ok going to hell now! Seriously tho, well done you keep on rocking! It looks like god is a shepherd and he wants sheeple...sshheeeeeeppppllee....

    1. Hahaha yes exactly! Sheeple! That's an awesome way to put it!

  3. I have been thinking about this for the last couple of days since I readt it. Great work, and a very nice matter-of-fact way to put it. I have been thinking some of these things for over 5 years, and reading this atually helped me focus my thoughts and clarify to me what I could make of them and what they mean. Thanks for the articulation :-) Keep on rockin'! <3

    Alison Moore

    1. I'm SO glad to hear that Alison!!! I've noticed we've gone through a lot of these kinds of changes at the same time. Glad I could be of help!


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