As I sit down to write this, tears are streaming down my face. It’s a feeling of sadness, frustration, and anger that I can’t seem to shake. My problem is with people who are overly religious, and it’s a problem that hits close to home.
You see, my mother is one of those people. She is deeply religious, and while I respect her beliefs, she has a tendency to be extremely judgmental and push her beliefs onto others. She has always been this way, but things came to a head recently when she overstepped my personal boundaries in a major way.
It all started when I came home for a visit in 2021. As I was checking out my belongings, I noticed that a lot of my personal items were missing. At first, I assumed I had just misplaced them, but as I looked more closely, I realized that they were nowhere to be found.
As I searched through every box I could find in the house for my things, what I feared happened. My mother had something to do with it. She told me that she had gone through my things and thrown out anything that’s related to “witchcraft, fanaticism, and idolatry.”
I was shocked and hurt. My mother had always been strict, but she had never invaded my personal space like this before. With no remorse, she confirmed that she threw all of my collection, including my entire Harry Potter books, Britney Spears CDs, and posters, among other items.
She told me that these things were “of the devil” and that I needed to get rid of them if I wanted to be a good Christian. I was devastated. These were items that I had collected over the years, and they held a lot of personal meaning for me.
But my mother was not done. She told me that she had also gotten rid of all the DVDs and all of my PlayStation One CDs my father gave me, which are rare nowadays. She said that these things were “tools of the devil” and that I needed to stop dabbling in “materials that will make Satan happy.”
I was livid. I was upset that she threw away my personal belongings and disrespected the gifts my father had given me. There was nothing more important to me than remembering him through those gifts. I tried to explain to her that these things brought me joy and comfort, but she wouldn’t listen.
Instead, she lectured me about the dangers of “false idols” and how I needed to put my faith in Jehovah. She told me that if I didn’t change my ways, I would be doomed to eternal damnation. It even got so bad that she painted herself as the victim and cried, because, to her, I chose Britney Spears over Almighty Jehovah’s words.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could my own mother, someone who was supposed to love and respect me, be so cruel and judgmental?
At that moment, I realized that my mother and I would never see eye to eye on this issue. Our beliefs were just too different, and I knew that I needed to distance myself from her narrow-mindedness and intolerance.
Though it was impossible to cut ties with my mother, I made the decision never to return home frequently. I practically had no more treasured belongings in that house. It was a painful decision, but it was one that I needed to make for my own mental and emotional well-being.
It has been more than a year since my mother did the “purging”. She refuses to admit her mistake and is unapologetic about it. Are over-religious people really blind and too proud to discard things that go against their beliefs at the expense of their children’s respect and boundaries?
To all the overly religious people out there who disrespect others’ personal boundaries and try to force their beliefs onto others, I say this: Your actions are hurtful and unnecessary. It is not your place to dictate what others believe or how they choose to express their spirituality. Instead of trying to control and manipulate, try to understand and accept. We are all on our own unique journey, and everyone has the right to find what brings them peace and fulfillment.
It’s a sad but true fact that overly religious people sometimes make mistakes and go against the very beliefs that they claim to hold dear. In their fervor to spread their message and “save” others, they can become judgmental and close-minded, forgetting the core values of love, acceptance, and understanding that are at the heart of most religions.
This isn’t to say that all religious people are guilty of this, of course. There are many people of faith who are kind, compassionate, and open-minded, and who strive to live their lives in accordance with the values of their religion.
But it’s important to recognize that no one is perfect and that even the most devout among us can fall victim to the pitfalls of extremism and fundamentalism. When this happens, it’s important to remember that we are all human and that we all make mistakes.
It’s also important to remember that religion is a personal, individual experience and that no one has the right to dictate how others should practice their faith. We should respect and appreciate the diversity of beliefs that exists in the world, and strive to live in harmony with one another despite our differences.
In the end, the most important thing is to be true to ourselves and to follow the path that brings us joy, fulfillment, and a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves. Whether that path is religious or secular, it is up to each of us to find and follow it with an open heart and an open mind.