My younger son asked me that question just a bit ago. If you don’t know, he’s 17, but is on the Autism Spectrum, bipolar, and a few other things that cause him to be less mature than his age, overly tender-hearted and generally anxious as fuck.
I asked why on earth he thought he was a bad person?
“Because I don’t like Christians. All the ones I’ve known have been the ones that tried to shove it down my throat and were mean about it.”
Unfortunately, He’s Not Wrong
My sons question came just after I told him about the amazing results of the referendum in Ireland to abolish the 8th amendment.
It was the highest turnout in Irish history, and a landslide victory. I told my son about all the campaigning and posters we’d seen on the trip there, and what some of the ramifications of the law were.
In so doing I inadvertently triggered a past trauma for him.
The School That Was Supposed To Be Designed For Him
When it became obvious that he couldn’t function in a traditional classroom, a therapist recommended a small private school run by a local Baptist church. It, she said, was specifically designed for kids on the Spectrum and/or with ADHD.
And in the beginning things were fantastic. He was finally accepted by the other kids, made friends and felt comfortable.
But after the first year, a strange fundamentalism began creeping into the staff and administration. It was subtle enough at first that we wound up keeping him there until significant damage had been done.
His teacher would play hours of videos debating evolution vs creationism. The science was so wrong even my then-13-year-old recognized it. The teacher would tell the class that, “anyone who still believes in evolution is just stupid.”
“How can they expect me to believe them when their argument is based on lies?” My son would ask me.
His principal – also a teacher – began to make pronouncements like most of the kids were faking their diagnoses, and were just so lazy they would wind up living under a bridge. She railed against anyone who dared doubt their now very fundamentalist ideology, saying you may think you’re cute now but you won’t think it’s cute in Hell.
I wish I knew what had caused this woman, and this school, to change so drastically. Because it was exactly the opposite our first year there.
My son’s anxiety as well as some documented memory issues made me take entirely too long to grasp that the stories he was coming home with were literal truth. I really thought he was taking things out of context and working them up in his mind into something new.
The final straw came when I got hold of his IEP – this is an Individual Education Plan that is to outline each child’s disabilities and the accommodations to be made for him. It’s supposed to be a professional, legally binding document. His was full of vitriol, accusing him of a lack of discipline, “getting over” on his parents and an ultimate recommendation that he just needed to “grow up.”
In case you’re wondering, Autism and Bipolar disorder are not cured by discipline.
My Son Isn’t A Bad Person, Nor Is He Alone
After spending time calming and reassuring my son that he isn’t bad and isn’t alone, I’m emotionally spent. It breaks my heart that those bastards still have this effect 2 years after taking him out of the school.
And I think of all the signs I saw in Ireland. The lies that 1 in 5 babies are aborted in England, that a 9 week fetus looks like a fully formed baby. The No campaigners I ran into myself and how they turned backs on me in scorn when I refused their pamphlets.
I remember one of the very first posts I wrote on this blog: “How Christians Turned Me Against Christianity.”
No, my son. You are not bad. You are a wonderful human being. Anyone that makes you feel otherwise are the ones that are bad.
And they may not know it yet, but they’re losing. Day by day their influence is fading. Ireland proved it today.
Maybe America can prove it this fall.
” Autism Spectrum, bipolar, and a few other things that cause him to be less mature than his age, overly tender-hearted and generally anxious as fuck.” Sounds like me, I remember being raised in a Christian culture that emphasized being social as essential to a Christian walk, as a man with Asperger’s this was difficult because I tend to be a loner and and and not just like introverted like I really don’t like to be around people unless it’s my friends. he’s so I always felt like there was something wrong with me or that I needed to die to myself and be born again. Essentially I wanted Jesus to burn away my autism and make me normal. Being crucified with Christ. now of course the church never taught me that there is something wrong with being me being autistic (I didn’t even realize I was autistic until more recently and I’m 24)
What the church did was teach me that I’m inherently flawed as a human being and I need Jesus to come change my heart, that I need to be a different person, so of course when he came to autistic traits that I had that weren’t acceptable in society I would pray to God to make me normal. Maybe that was never the intention of the church but it caused me so much damage. thank you so much for making these posts in this blog I’d literally just found you and it’s is helping me so much
I wish my mom’s got it like you. I wish my mom saw the world as you did. I love my mom and and I have nothing against her but she has been so blinded by religious fundamentalism. It truly breaks my heart
Hi Xander, I’m so glad this story has been helpful. I was the blind fundamentalist for much of my son’s life, so hopefully your mom will wake up at some point. At least you know now that there is nothing wrong with YOU, and intentional or not it was wrong for anyone to make you feel that way. Sending you all the love right now ❤