Ex-Catholic from Franciscan University

Sent in by Michelle R

I was born and raised a Roman Catholic. My parents were pretty devout Catholics and I totally absorbed their faith. During my teen years, I was exposed to charismatic Catholics and burned all my evil rock music records and began listening to Christian rock. I also began realizing that I might be a lesbian and began praying daily that I stop having these evil thoughts and began hating myself that I could not control them.

I attended Franciscan University, a far right charismatic Catholic school in Ohio. I majored in theology, attended daily mass, and explored becoming a nun. Amazingly, all my prayers that I become straight did not work. I even went to a counselor who suggested I wear dresses and put on make up in order to feel more feminine. I only did that for a week or two. Luckily, my younger sister was attending the same school and talked me out of dressing in drag.

Along with the teachings on homosexuality being caused by demons, this school also taught that women should be submissive to men. My parents may have been devout Catholics, but my mother was most definitely not submissive to my father. I had always been raised that women could do whatever they wanted. Luckily, I was never able to internalize the school's teaching (and felt guilty for it).

I went on for my Master of Arts Degree in Theology (such a waste of $$$!). Towards the end of my degree I started seeing through many of the judgmental attitudes of the leaders at the school and began questioning the teachings of the church about homosexuality and feminism.

After I graduated, I moved back to my liberal, northwest town. I sought out the gay and lesbian community and gradually accepted more and more my homosexuality. I stopped going to church and eventually read about and became a Buddhist.

I consider myself an atheistic Buddhist. I am not certain about reincarnation and some of their more esoterical teachings, but I find meditation to be very useful for becoming more self aware and for cultivating compassion.

I have never been happier since I have stopped believing in the Christian worldview. I no longer worry about some invisible person disapproving of every thought and action. I am now responsible for my life and choices. This is the only life I have and I will make the most out of it.

As a p.s: Are there any ex-catholics from Franciscan University out there?


Shelby said...

Yes, yes indeed we were lucky to get out. I've ran into a few others. I feel badly for those who are still trapped in that weird fundamentalist catholic guilty life and especially for the ones who became nuns. I've often wanted to have gatherings of escaped catholics where we could sit around and share our stories.

Nina said...

I, too, and an athiest lesbien. I never felt guilty as I realized very young that the church was teachings were a fallacy. My mom also told me clearly and directly that who we love does not have to do with sin. She told me those who believe that it does are wrong for saying so. I was around 9 yrs old when she made that clear to me. I realized I was gay and not bisexual around 20 years old.
My girlfriend, however, was born in a family where it was not only a sin, but unacceptable to the family as well. She suffered years and years of grief from being gay and I think she still does not feel accepted by catholics. She still believes and it really does not make sense to me. Sometimes I think she may not be enough of a "thinker" for me, but she is young and has time to grow. I hope.

Raul said...

>burned all my evil rock music records and began listening to Christian rock.
Which sure is a stupid thing to do. :)
What music do you listen to now?
>began praying daily that I stop having these evil thoughts and began hating myself that I could not control them.
Another stupid thing to do,because sexual desire is both natural and pleasant. :) Something,that most xtians clearly fail to understand.
>Amazingly, all my prayers that I become straight did not work
Wow,that's really amazing...

Shelby said...

Nina, I wish I had your mother. Mine still has not accepted my sexuality and how I no longer attend Church. I'm struggling with a similar issue around my girlfriend. I can't relate to how she feels like god is punishing her for different things or trying to teach her lessons. I get frustrated trying to talk about those things.

Raul: I now listen to anything but Christian rock. It give me the heebie jeebies. I can't say I miss the albums I burned as it was the 80's at the time. ;) And, yes, I now totally, totally enjoy a guilt free sex life. It's so natural and wonderful.

Nina said...

My biggest issue with my girlfriend is that she thinks God is the one doing all the good stuff and she takes the blame for all the bad. I mean that is really frustrating to listen to. She thinks she was saved doing the Purpose Driven Life. She thinks she had a religious experience and Jesus became her personal savior. As if you have to be religious to realize your mistakes. She thinks she had a huge life change and now she is exactly the way she was before the experience. How can I convince her that even athiests can go through epiphanies when they have an aha moment.
I am so far removed from her crap that I can not even discuss it with her. She is adamant that Jesus came to her and told her to change her life. It had to do with being alone and deciding that she is better off alone than with asshole women. She decided to wait for me at that point. She thinks Jesus made it happen that we got together. Oh Please!
No logic whatsoever.

Shelby said...


Yes, it sounds really frustrating about Jesus talking to her. I don't know if I could handle that. It is the lack of logic and just putting off stuff they don't understand onto god that drives me batty. Do you think it has something to do with lack of curiosity about the world and how it works that makes people stop questioning their beliefs?

Plus, I haven't told her that I've become an atheist, yet, as it's only happened over the past 6 months or so that I've been reading a lot about it. I've been saying they are "science books." I'm really afraid that even though she thinks I'm the best thing that ever happened to her, that atheism will be too much.

Lemmy Caution said...

I was never a Catholic, but raised non-demoninational Christian and attended Franciscan University in Steubenville. It can be a truly scary school. Many of the students seem to have a 'brainwashed' look about them as they wander the campus.

It was those students and the (mostly) fundamentalist faculty there that inadvertantly pushed me to research the whole Christian religion further. I'm now an extremely happy and content Atheist.

I still live extremely close to the school.....and those brainwahed looks are still prevelant in and around town.

Congrats on you story Michelle.

Nina said...

I did keep it to myself for a long time. Years I believe.
Finally I just told her one day and she was very disappointed. She thought that OUR FAITH would guarantee some additional protection for our relationship. I try very hard not to talk about how I actually feel. If she asks me a specific question, I am always honest but say as little as possible. I don't know how I fell for a christian to begin with. I knew about it but she does not attend church or anything so I thought maybe she was not being totally honest. But, low and behold, the woman thinks she had Jesus tell her to change and her entire life changed that day. Why I can not see it, I never discuss with her.
She believes her christian mother over all things. Her mother was apparently "healed" by padre pio's gloves when she had cancer. Nothing and no one can tell my girlfriend that God did not perform a miracle on her mother. She was honestly close to death and wham! the gloves made her sit up and talk and eat for the first time in weeks. I tried to tell her that I completely believe the entire story and that the only part I don't think is true is the divine intervention part. I think it is possible to really think you are healed and therefore the placebo effect.....
Now this is her example, excuse, whatever you call it. She thinks her mom is right about all religion even though I can tell her actual history of catholisism and she thinks I made it up.
Oh come on. Lack of intellect? Maybe....still young and has time to grow. Hopefully.
What a jam I got myself into. We are so happy when we don't mention God. I guess I am living an allusion as well. My own for thinking some day she will see it my way.

Shelby said...

Lemmy - The majority of them are brainwashed. It's really creepy. If you read the student newspaper, it gets even creepier.

Nina: What I am finding interesting in these posts is how many things "I don't talk about." It's been enlightening. If you want to email me - akshelby@gmail.com

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