“It was horrifying. As a little kid, you’re absolutely vulnerable to what these powerful preachers and other adults are telling you. They control your life, and as far as you know, the world. You don’t understand that it’s a little group of mostly uneducated people huddling in a little church that people on the outside ignore. To you, it’s the whole world. This mortal threat is coming from your dad, or a visiting minister who’s a friend of your dad and who comes to your house for dinner. It gets reinforced at home, in prayers at every meal, in Bible readings after every evening meal, in prayers before bedtime. So these sermons scare the shit out of you. Then you see adults coming forward, kneeling right in front of you, weeping for their sins. The pressure builds up inside you—I can still remember the heavy dread in my chest. As a little kid who was especially shy, my fear of going to hell would battle with my terror of exposing myself by standing up in front of the church.”
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