feature Art: Ash Astaroth by Mirter Christina, Mr_Christinax on Instagram
I hate Easter. It reminds me of cheap suits and asphyxiating neck ties, fiery extra long sermons and people eager to show public penance in exchange for popularity and approval. Easter is a bunch of grown-ass adults playing dress up and making a spectacle of themselves in churches while reaffirming their fears of the Others out there. Easter is polyester navy blue and stern looks from red faced preachers with bulging veins in their angry xenophobic foreheads. Easter is adults bawling about some mythological sacrifice and how it enriched and empowered them personally while the whole world burns down around them. On Monday they’ll return to their lives with gasoline and matches.
I became an atheist around 14. There were a lot of factors that informed my awakening, my sexuality, my love of reading, my enthusiasm for science, and the increasingly damaging superstition of my fringe Christian mother. I remember a time when I was very young when my mother displayed contempt for televangelists and did not attend church or talk about Jesus. By the time I left the house it was because she told me that demon possession made me Gay. I’m pretty sure she saw that on her favorite show; The 700 club. She was not well, and her increasing fanaticism was indicative of that. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realised how traumatic my family and religious life had been, and the imprint it left upon me.
My mother insisted on making me go to our baptist church every week. She frequently let me call off of school. I made sure I missed the maximum amount of days I could for school without having to get a doctors note or take summer classes. However, my church attendance was non-negotiable. I kept losing the arguments regarding the futility of making a blue haired, black nailed, pierced punk atheist attend church. In church I got to listen to sermons about evil demonic powers rising up towards Armageddon in our nation, homosexuals and feminists, atheists, Democrats. Week after week folks glanced expectantly at me during the end of service when the pastor called congregants to come up and pray at the altar with him. They called it “dedication”. That was when folks who wanted a little extra attention and validation came up and “rededicated” themselves to Jesus through tears and personal testimony. It was a sideshow of self-involvement. “No thanks folks, I don’t need any more Jesus in my life this week.”
I had tinkered in the occult before acknowledging my atheism. The occult and sexuality were more forbidden in my household than violence. Our school library in small town Ohio was surprisingly well stocked on occult topics in the 90s. Aleister Crowley, Feral house, and Disinformation publications warped and reshaped me. When I was 17 I read a blurb in a magazine (again in my school library) about The Church of Satan. I ordered The Satanic Bible and picked it up at my local bookstore. Everything I did or said became increasingly suspicious to my mother as demonic activity. She threatened to have me declared unruly and sent to a group troubled teens home.
I stopped coming home. I barely lived there. I officially moved out after the second time I came out to my mother, having been forced into it because of her eavesdropping on my phone calls and gossiping with friends moms about me hanging out at gay bars. She tricked me into coming home to help paint over the literal writing on the walls in my bedroom. It was a ruse to have a youth minister, who was also a local policeman who had busted me before, come talk to me about Jesus and the bible. “You can read out of that book till your face turns blue, but like I’ve told you several times now, I don’t believe in those fairy tales and repeating them won’t change that.” That was in spring.
I hate Easter Sunday. Even as an all holiday enthusiast I can’t get down with what Easter is to me. I delight in memes of Lich Jesus, bunnies laying bloody easter eggs… And I’ll make it a personal project to reclaim Easter for the heathens, just as we’ve been working at with Christmas. I expect fertility celebrations to take a sharp and decidedly Satanic uptick in the years ahead. Don’t thank or curse me, thank/curse Fellowship Baptist Church. Christianity itself creates many of its own best adversaries.