Dealing with our SDA Families - Part 2

Bonus Episode
March 4, 2023
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Santiago shares a bit more about his experiences after leaving the church and shares a template of the letter he wrote to his parents. Abby, Ami, and Alex talk more about issues with raising your own children when your family wants to proselytize them. They talk about issues with aging parents, and whether people are happier with or without religion, regardless of whether it’s true.

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Credits: Abby and Ami, creators of the Seventh-day Atheist Podcast • Music: Hall of the Mountain King Kevin MacLeod ( • Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Santiago: Welcome to Haystacks and Hell, an ex-Adventist podcast where we tell stories about growing up Seventh-day Adventist, leaving faith behind, and building new, fulfilling lives.

Coming Up: More Stories of Dealing with SDA Families

[00:00:16] Santiago: Hey everyone, welcome back to Haystacks and Hell. I'm your host Santiago, and today we're doing Part 2 of dealing with family as an ex-Adventist. If you haven't already heard Part 1, go back and listen to Episode 7.

[00:00:32] In that episode, I read the letter that I wrote to my parents letting them know I was no longer Adventist and also didn't believe in God anymore. I talked about how things have actually gotten better for me since then, and how I've managed to maintain a good relationship with my parents even after I told them the truth about my views.

[00:00:51] It's still a bit early to say how things will work out in the long run, but so far, my parents and I haven't had a huge conversation where they insist that I must come back, or try to use some emotional manipulation.

[00:01:06] I have had a brief interaction with some members from my old church where they tried to guilt trip me into coming back and volunteer in some capacity, saying that they need young people at church, which like, I know, and sorry, that's not going to happen.

[00:01:27] I know that my parents still pray for me, and my mom specifically told me to "never say never" about coming back because my grandfather on my dad's side, supposedly gave his heart to Jesus on his deathbed.

[00:01:43] Years ago, my parents had our Adventist pastor come to his home and anoint him. And I remember my mom telling me that despite my grandfather's aversion to religion, he accepted Christ. At least, that's the story she told me and my brother.

[00:02:00] His funeral was in an Adventist church, because he grew up Irish Catholic and had zero ties to any Catholic churches in the area. And that's partly why I told my family I don't want a religious funeral service. On the off chance that I die before my parents, I don't want them setting up a memorial service at any church or having some pastor lead the service.

[00:02:26] Anyway, I'm happy to say that I've developed a support system beyond the Adventist community I used to be a part of. And even though it's easier said than done, I really recommend doing everything you can to build that support system around you if you haven't already.

[00:02:43] Again, going back to the last episode, you got to hear Ami, her husband Alex, and Abby talk about their experiences with their SDA parents and family members. And Alex actually heard my letter in the last episode and suggested I turn it into a template for others to use.

[00:03:02] So Alex, if you're listening, thanks for the recommendation. And for anyone interested, there's a link in the show notes to the template. It's a Google doc, which you can download or make a copy for yourself and edit however you'd like.

[00:03:17] Now in this episode, you'll get to hear Abby, Ami, and Alex talk about whether or not to tell your parents and whether it's worth having that open and honest of a relationship with them.

[00:03:29] Last week, I put up a poll on Instagram to see how many people have told at least one person in their family that they're an ex-Adventist. And I was surprised to see that over 70% of people who replied said that at least one person in their family knows. Only 27% said that nobody in their family knows. Granted, this was a small sample size.

[00:03:56] Now, if you're in that smaller camp and you haven't told anybody in your family, I can't tell you what the right decision is for you, nobody can. But I can say that for me personally, it seemed more difficult and emotionally draining to continuously maintain a complicated lie than to just be honest with my parents.

[00:04:21] In the book I've mentioned several times already, Coming Out Atheist by Greta Christina, she talks about how sometimes these things come out during times of heightened emotions and stress, like the death of a loved one.

[00:04:36] If you're asked to give a eulogy or pray in a situation like that, you could do it, and perhaps feel a bit bad or hypocritical in that moment. Or you could be honest in the moment and add additional fuel to the fire of whatever situation is going on. Or best case scenario, you've already had the conversation with your family, you've gotten past the initial uncomfortable moments, and you're not put in an awkward situation during an already difficult moment.

[00:05:10] Again, you know your family best and what the right move is. Like I've mentioned before, my brother and I are incredibly lucky that despite our parents still fully believing, and being involved and being very conservative, their relationship with us has been strong enough and has come before the church. Whereas I know that in some other families, it's the other way around and unfortunately, they put the church before their own family relationships.

[00:05:43] But I want to encourage you that no matter what your situation is, or if you're still kind of trying to make a decision, no matter what you decide, you're not alone in this. So many people before you and after you have grappled and will grapple with this decision.

[00:06:01] If you have any stories you want to get off your chest, whether anonymously or not, I'd love to hear them. If you haven't told your family, but are thinking about it, I'd like to hear how that process has been for you and what's still keeping you from telling them.

[00:06:16] And if you've already told your family, I want to hear what that experience was like for you, and any advice you could give to other listeners who might be in a similar situation. And if you've thought about it, but decided that you're going to keep this secret with you till the grave, I'd also like to hear about why that is and any advice you have for people who want to do the same thing.

[00:06:40] There are some really great stories on the website where listeners like you have shared about growing up Adventist and dealing with SDA family members. These are going to be linked in the show notes, as well as the ex-Adventist subreddit and the social media profiles for Haystacks and Hell.

[00:06:58] So make sure to check those out, and hopefully you'll find something there that resonates with you. With that, I'm going to play Part 2 of Abby, Ami, and Alex's conversation about dealing with their Adventist families.

Part 2 of Abby, Ami, and Alex on Dealing with their SDA Families

[00:07:16] Abby: Hi, this is Abby and you are listening to the Seventh-day Atheist Podcast. You are listening to the second part of a two-part conversation with Ami, Alex, and Abby about dealing with families who are still in the church.

[00:07:29] Alex: I will say I have found that, that with the kid, I get the impression that my parents specifically, and I don't really get this impression from, from your parents, Ami, but from my parents, I get the impression that there is a fear that if they really push, that we won't let them see their grandkid.

[00:07:47] And I think that keeps them in line about certain things, like they don't wanna push too hard because they're afraid that we'll cut them off, which is an absolutely, ridiculously illogical fear, like I would never keep my child from...

[00:08:01] Ami: We did come to a point though, there was a time for a little while where they were really pushing things with her. They would go out of their way to, and my parents did the same thing, they would go out of their way to make sure that if she stayed with them on the weekend, that they went to church and that they read a Bible story before bed and that they...

[00:08:24] Like, they really were seeing every moment that they had with her as an opportunity to give her something she was not getting at home. And it got bad enough that we quit letting her spend Friday night at their houses.

[00:08:39] Alex: Yeah, that's true.

[00:08:40] Ami: I mean, like that was a thing that like, I'm sorry you can't... Early on, my thought was sort of like you're saying about your brother, I want you to be able to make your own choices. I want you to be tolerant and you know, kind about other people's beliefs.

[00:08:55] And because I am an atheist does not necessarily follow that my child will be, you know? So I wanted to let her see what other people did, and that it was okay with me that this was a part of her life with her grandparents, until it became clear that it's not like going and singing songs in Sabbath school and hearing these stories and making what you will of them.

[00:09:21] It is purposeful indoctrination. Not from our parents specifically, although it was sometimes from them as well, but from the, you know, Sabbath school teachers and whatnot. And I don't mind her observing these rituals, I don't mind her making her own decisions about how she wants to feel about them, ultimately, when she is old enough to understand them. But I, I couldn't have my, like five year old kid going and...

[00:09:50] Alex: Feeling guilt about Jesus' crucifixion?

[00:09:53] Ami: Being bullied or being, having... She started coming home and saying things that were so clearly coached.

[00:10:01] Alex: Yeah.

[00:10:02] Ami: You know, saying, you know, 'Well, why don't we go to church?' Because you know, this or that, or, anyway, saying things that were, the language of these questions was not her own. It was obviously somebody told her, 'Ask your mom and dad this.' And at that point, there had to be either a huge blow up fight or we had to change some interactions and so we just started avoiding the possibility of her going to church with them.

[00:10:38] Alex: Mm-hmm, yeah it was the right move.

[00:10:41] Ami: She knows that if you're with someone and they want to pray before a meal, you sit quietly and be respectful.

[00:10:47] Alex: You make fun of them later, not to their face.

[00:10:49] Abby: [Laughing] Not in the moment.

[00:10:51] Ami: She knows that if somebody wants to, you know, do these things, that you be nice about it, but, anyway. There was a balancing act, I guess is what I'm trying to say, between being respectful of their beliefs and demanding a certain amount of respect on our side.

[00:11:09] Abby: See, I am on the other side of that where my nephew is being raised in the church and it's, he's being raised in a very liberal version of the church. But the problem is like, my parents will hear me criticize things the church teaches and say things like, 'How can you say that? We never taught you that. Like, we never taught you that it was a assumed to go to movie theaters.' No, but I heard this stupid line from all kinds of other people I respected in the, you can't, you can't isolate certain things. You're gonna get the whole package, you're just going to you, you...

[00:11:43] Ami: Well, you are part of a community that has a set of values and they're not uniform among all the members of the community. But you're going, I mean, there were some pretty extreme points of view, places that...

[00:11:56] Abby: So like I, I babysit my nephew the other day and, um, at bedtime, we'd been playing Super Mario before that. And he's just big enough to sit in my lap and, uh, and push the fireball button. So I, this is like old style Super Mario, the very first one.

[00:12:11] Alex: How bad did that fuck your game up though?

[00:12:12] Abby: It's pretty bad because...

[00:12:13] Alex: I bet it was infuriating.

[00:12:14] Abby: He would push it randomly, it's making me run really fast off cliffs and stuff. It was hilarious, I will, I will never forget that was, it was so much fun. He's more coordinated now, so he probably wants his own controller now, but he would, he would just control the B button and I would control all the other buttons. And he would his, you know, 'Get fireballs, get fireballs!' Because he wants to shoot the fireballs.

[00:12:34] And he was actually pretty good at managing them. He shot quite a few enemies correctly and accurately. So that's what we were playing. And then it came time to put him to bed and he always, before bed, he reads a story out of the Bible story books, which I'm sure you remember, they had very beautiful illustrations.

[00:12:51] And then any other story of his choice. And so he selects the, um, Elijah and the, you know, the calls down fire. He had fireballs on the brain. Um, so this is the one he selects for me to read. I'm sitting here going, 'Ughhh, like how can I indoctrinate my nephew?' But I, I, you know, I read this story to him and after that we read a story about a talking owl. So I'm like, well, maybe these things can be on the same level in his brain, but...

[00:13:17] Group: [Laughing]

[00:13:18] Abby: But, but I noticed that the bible story book...

[00:13:20] Alex: Bible story books also had talking snakes.

[00:13:22] Abby: It doesn't, it, it conveniently stops right before Elijah has like 400 prophets of Baal, 400 people who don't, who have a different religion, slaughtered, um, at this particular event, it doesn't actually include that.

[00:13:36] Ami: You got the cleaned up for TV version.

[00:13:39] Abby: You get the cleaned, cleaned up... He's two, so he sure certainly doesn't need the whole story. Bloody, bloody Old Testament stories. But anyway, I mean, it made me think about like, how much right do I have to be like, [whispering] 'You know, this isn't real, right, kid?'

[00:13:55] Group: [Laughing]

[00:13:57] Abby: 'This is all made up!'

[00:13:58] Alex: I think you can't really, you can't really take responsibility for someone else's child, especially that's, that's such a minefield. But, but I do think you have a responsibility to honesty.

[00:14:08] Abby: I think I have a right to be honest.

[00:14:09] Alex: I think that, I think, I think an obligation to be honest. For example, if he asked if you believed this, you would be obligated to say, 'No, I do not.'

[00:14:19] Ami: Yeah, I think that you could also, I mean, I have tried to do that with our kid to some degree to say, well you know, she brought some of these questions home from her grandparents and I said, well... One was, she says, 'Is it true that Jesus made the earth?'

[00:14:37] I said, 'Is that what your grandma told you?' And 'Yeah, grandma says Jesus made the whole Earth.' And I said, 'Well, that's what she believes, and that's one story.' And then I told her, you know, six other different creation myths, and then told her, you know, 'Here's what scientists say.'

[00:14:58] Alex: But also here's, here's the one we have evidence for. Like, the evidence indicates that it's this, and here's the myths.

[00:15:04] Ami: Well, what I told her was, 'Here's what we know.' Like, we know we don't... We have an idea that maybe it was this thing we call the Big Bang, but we don't necessarily know a hundred percent what that was exactly.

[00:15:18] Alex: Well, we don't have all the details.

[00:15:19] Ami: We don't have all the details of how this stuff that eventually made us got to be, but here's what we know, we know that things evolve.

[00:15:27] Alex: I mean, I think, I, I think that, someone might bristle at that if you are telling your nephew all of that information, but I think as long as it's been elicited by him, your obligation is to tell him the truth.

[00:15:40] Abby: I certainly have no intent of trying to undermine things his parents are telling him, I don't think that would be fair or right.

[00:15:46] Alex: Well, it's a great way to get alienated from that family.

[00:15:48] Ami: Well, you also don't have to contradict somebody else's point of view to say, 'Well, this is my point of view, make of it what you will.'

[00:15:56] Abby: But I also don't think I can necessarily be forced to read him Bible stories if I don't believe that that's...

[00:16:03] Ami: Well, in the same way that like, when my niece comes over and I'm like, 'It's 11 AM on a Wednesday, we're getting ice cream, kid. Because I'm your aunt, and you can go home afterward when you're buzzing on sugar.'

[00:16:17] In the same way that, you know, maybe you spoil 'em a little bit from time to time 'cause you're the fun aunt and you come into town and you bring presents and whatever... Maybe you can also be like, 'Oh, do you want to read this story, or do you wanna read two chapters of the Hobbit?' You know?

[00:16:32] Alex: I also don't think it's, I don't think it's irresponsible for you to be like, 'That's stupid.' I don't think it, I mean, you're saying 'That's what I think, that's dumb.' That's what, 'The ax head floated in the water? That's stupid. Ax heads can't, it's not gonna float, that's dumb.'

[00:16:46] Ami: [Laughing] What if you said, 'Oh, so you like magical stories? Oh, well then I've got a magical story...'

[00:16:51] Abby: Magical story for you.

[00:16:52] Alex: I think that's perfectly acceptable.

[00:16:54] Ami: That might be a little bit...

[00:16:55] Alex: I suppose we've gotten well off track from the, from the family issue...

[00:16:59] Abby: Well, this is my family. This is going in the other direction, this is going in the younger direction. The other thing I wanted to ask you guys, 'cause I don't, I still don't know the answer to this question.

[00:17:08] Like I, I'm pretty sure that my brother and sister-in-law would be happy if they were, they would be happier in themselves if they were not Adventists. I don't, I don't know that the violent upheaval that would create in their community would be happier for them or not. I'm, after seven years of this experiment, I am confident that this is a cheerful way to live that does not destroy you psychologically.

[00:17:30] What I do not know, and what I still question is whether my parents would be happier. There's some times I really think they would, and I feel like... Because I completely avoid the issue. I'm like, maybe I should have some of those more difficult conversations, but I admit that I avoid it somewhat simply because I am a coward in this area.

[00:17:50] Like, it's so uncomfortable to talk about, that, that... But then sometimes my mother will say something, because my mother particularly absorbed a lot of the misogyny, inherently. I think she was hurt by the Adventist church to a degree that my dad has not been, especially since my dad was not raised strict Adventist, so he didn't get quite as heavily indoctrinated.

[00:18:13] I know that when I was younger I remember having conversations with him where he said things like, 'Well, I know we don't always say it like this, but I kind of think that when Jesus comes, anyone who really wants to go with him is going with him.' He would say things like that to me. Which is lovely and progressive and again, allows everyone to follow their conscience and get along.

[00:18:33] Whereas my mother was, was very much steeped in it and got some of the more misog... Really anti-feminist, very misogynistic elements, internalized. And sometimes I hear things come out of her mouth that I'm just like, 'You would hate yourself less if you were not an Adventist. Like, some of this stuff is so damaging to you and it would all make more sense if you could leave it behind.' But the investment at this point when they're in their sixties, the financial investment, the time investment, everything...

[00:19:06] Ami: They don't have any friends that are not in it.

[00:19:09] Abby: Yeah, to leave that would be... Sometimes I'm like, oh, that would just crush them. Like that would be so devastating, the idea that they had wasted a large portion of their lives, that it would be cruel to take them out of it. And sometimes I'm like, 'No, Abby, you're just being lazy. They would be better off. The last 20 years of their lives would be better if they could get out of this, but you just don't wanna do the hard work to get them there.'

[00:19:30] Ami: Well, again, I don't think that it's your responsibility to make those choices for them or to try to convert them or whatever. But I, from my own experience, I know that I am happier, more mentally healthy, and truly, I believe, a more moral person without my faith. But it took time to get to that place of happiness and peace.

[00:20:04] There was a time of upheaval in the same way that there are, maybe an analogy would be a couple who is in a very negative relationship, but the process of going through breaking up or divorcing or whatever is very traumatic and upsetting, but ultimately, once they get past it, they're both gonna be happier.

[00:20:25] I think that that is probably, that was true for me and I think that it might be true for a lot of people. I can't really conceive of a situation in which my parents abandoned the church without it being extremely traumatic to them. I can't imagine what would make a break from that faith for them that wouldn't be something terrible.

[00:20:49] Like I don't necessarily see them coming to that conclusion just from an intellectual standpoint. I don't see me presenting all of my logical arguments and then them going, 'Yeah, you're right, cool, I'm gonna...'

[00:21:02] Abby: But do you think some of the, the pain of like, things that are not well explained, or I don't know...

[00:21:11] Alex: I think they would absolutely be better off. I believe that 100% that, that I think your parents would be happier without it, I think my parents would be happier without it. I don't think they have any capacity to leave it. At this point, I think they're in till they're dead.

[00:21:27] But if they did leave, I have no doubt in my mind that they would be immensely more content, immensely more content. And I think it's because I mean, there's so much questioning of why stuff happens when you're in that mindset. Like my mom recently, she's in remission now, but she recently had a bout of breast cancer. And you know, I sat and watched her struggle for meaning in it.

[00:21:56] You know, she's trying to find out why God is, is putting her through this. She's, she's, you know, 'I trust, I trust that this is the right thing.' And with that trust comes the question of, 'Okay, I trust that this is supposed to happen, but what is the meaning that I'm supposed to draw from this? What's the lesson that I'm supposed to learn?' And so she has the struggle with this inability to understand why this is happening to her, where...

[00:22:19] Ami: Not just the pain and inconvenience and fear of her illness, but also...

[00:22:24] Alex: And fear of death and all this, but she has to struggle with this meaning. And, and meanwhile, you know, I'm sitting back going, 'I'm at peace with the meaning, because there's no meaning.'

[00:22:33] Abby: Because there's no meaning.

[00:22:35] Alex: And it's fine that there's no meaning. And so, you know, and, and if she didn't have to deal with that struggle of just like the questioning of 'I trust God, but I just don't understand. And I, and I have to figure this out because God's obviously trying to tell me something. I'm obviously supposed to learn a lesson from this, but I don't know what it is.'

[00:22:54] And meanwhile, there's no lesson, there's nothing you're supposed to learn. It would make you so much more at peace if you just didn't believe any of that bullshit.

[00:23:01] Abby: Yeah.

[00:23:02] Alex: And I, and I believe that everyone would be happier without it. And I believe that extremely strongly. Like I, I don't think anybody's better with it than they are without.

[00:23:15] Abby: Well on that bleak note...

[00:23:16] Abby and Ami: [Laughing]

[00:23:17] Abby: Okay, so let's assume there's some members of our audience who have not told their parents that they're not an Adventist anymore and are struggling with whether to tell them, and if so, what to tell them. Do we have anything to offer other than our experiences? I think that it is better to tell them than to just kind of... I think that you, if you tell them, you open up the possibility to have an honest relationship.

[00:23:44] Alex: I've never had an honest relationship with my parents. Like I, it, it's not like I've never been, like I was, I was the teenager who hid shit in my room. They hid shit from me. I've like, so I think it's, it varies from family to family. And I think, and I think the problem is, the problem is there is no one size fits all whether or not you should tell 'em.

[00:24:02] I obviously haven't had that frank conversation that you've had with your parents. And maybe it would be better if I did, but my advice to someone who's doing that or who's contemplating quote unquote to borrow the phrase "coming out" to your family is, you know, you've, you, it, it's gotta be your decision based on your relationship with them. I mean, I, I don't think anybody could really tell you whether or not it's the right thing for you or not.

[00:24:33] Ami: Well, they might surprise you.

[00:24:36] Abby: They do definitely surprise you sometimes, like I expected them to send... We have so many retired pastors as friends, it's not even funny. And I really expected to get a call from like, some person who had been, you know, influential in my life from, you know, when I was, who, who could pull on those childhood strings of like authority. I was just dreading that call, never, never came.

[00:24:59] Alex: That's pretty cool.

[00:25:00] Ami: I think that one thing that I could say is my mom and I had some of those conversations much earlier in my process of figuring out my own beliefs and I was not as confident in my non-belief at that time. I was, I still felt really emotional about it. I still felt really conflicted about some things and I still got, like serious, like butterflies in my stomach when the Jehovah's Witnesses came to the door on Saturday morning and I had to say, 'No thank you, I don't believe in that stuff.'

[00:25:36] I remember the first time I told a Jehovah's Witness, 'I'm an atheist.' And in a like, 'Please move along' kind of a way. And I was like, palm sweating, like, and this was a stranger to me who showed up on my doorstep and I was trying to get rid of them. And saying that out loud was really scary at that time. It's not scary to me now. I feel like I can talk about it very dispassionately now.

[00:25:59] I think I could have those conversations with my parents now, more easily than I could have early on, because I'm not as emotional about it, I'm not as fearful of what it means. I'm also not as fearful of their response because we've kind of lived through it together a little bit longer. So I think that it is likely that someday we will talk about it a little bit more frankly, and I think it will probably be a sad conversation, but I think that it will probably be better.

[00:26:29] Alex: I'm happy for them to die thinking they're gonna see me again in heaven, I don't give a shit.

[00:26:36] Abby and Ami: [Laughing]

[00:26:36] Ami: That's how I feel, like, my grandparents, you can think whatever you want to think. I don't care, we don't have to deal with it. But I would like to have a more honest relationship with my parents and I think that would be necessary.

[00:26:48] Abby: I have this fear that my mother is gonna have some kind of lingering illness and on her deathbed, is gonna make me promise to go back to church.

[00:26:57] Alex: Then just say no, just be like, 'Nope.'

[00:27:00] Abby: Well, would you say yes and then not do it, simply to make her more comfortable at the end of her life?

[00:27:05] Alex: No, I'd be like, 'What a fucking asshole!' You're gonna lay here on your deathbed and you're gonna lay this fucking guilt trip on me when I'm losing my mother? Fuck you, that's bullshit abuse!

[00:27:14] Abby: It is abuse, but I can't, I cannot have that be the last thing I say to my mother. That, that cannot...

[00:27:19] Ami: I, um, I remember when I was, when I was...

[00:27:22] Abby: I would say yes, and then just not, I don't know what I, I certainly hope that she is thoughtful enough not to do such a thing to me. And it's probably just other things that I fear that have not come to pass. But this is like a scenario that runs...

[00:27:35] Alex: I suppose, I suppose if she was, like, if it was like a dementia thing and my mom didn't know what she was saying, I'd be like, 'Yeah, sure, whatever...'

[00:27:42] Abby: [Laughing]

[00:27:42] Alex: 'Yep!' I guess I'd be like that.

[00:27:44] Abby: Convincing tone of voice...

[00:27:45] Alex: But if she was being, it's like with her last breath, she's being a manipulative, manipulative jerk? Fuck you!

[00:27:52] Ami: That's so your relationship with your mom!

[00:27:55] Group: [Laughing]

[00:27:56] Ami: You guys will be like, needling at each other and badgering each other with great affection at the moment of one of your deaths. Like you guys are, you have that kind of, I don't know...

[00:28:08] Alex: Why change on our deathbed, I guess.

[00:28:10] Ami: Uh, I, when I was a kid, like a young teenager, my grandfather, he pulled this twice with me about different things. He sat me down and had this very heartfelt conversation about us meeting at the Tree of Life and how he wanted to promise, me to promise him that I would be there.

[00:28:27] Abby: This is the grandfather that...

[00:28:29] Ami: No, this is my mom's dad. And I was like...

[00:28:33] Abby: 'Nah.'

[00:28:35] Ami: I, I think I said 'Okay' I guess, but it was weird to me and I didn't like the conversation. But he also, on another occasion...

[00:28:42] Abby: I'll be sliding down giraffes' necks, I'm sorry...

[00:28:45] Ami: I'm gonna be too busy to be hanging out under the Tree of Life, I've got crystal castles to build.

[00:28:50] Alex: I'm sorry, my perfect vision of heaven doesn't include you.

[00:28:53] Abby and Ami: [Laughing]

[00:28:55] Ami: Well, he, he gave me this, this thing that it was like a little contract and you were promising...

[00:29:03] Abby: Oh my goodness, I hated those!

[00:29:04] Ami: You were promising that you would never do drugs.

[00:29:08] Abby: My first grade teacher, whom you know, who was a parent of one of our friends, loved, dearly loved to hand out these contracts and have first and second graders sign.

[00:29:16] Ami: Swear that you would never have sex before you got married or swear... Anyway, the one that he specifically gave me was promising that I would never do drugs, and I was probably nine and I was like, 'Well, I can't sign that.'

[00:29:30] And he was like, but it's, 'But you're promising that you won't do, like, isn't doing drugs bad?' And I was like, 'Well, I don't intend to do drugs, but like...'

[00:29:38] Alex: Are you gonna take me to court if you find out that I smoked weed in high school? I don't understand.

[00:29:42] Ami: But I can't, 'I don't know what's going to happen. Like, I don't know if I might do drugs someday, I can't sign this thing that says I will never do drugs when I might, someday, it is conceivable that I might do drugs.' And he was so frustrated that I didn't seem to understand the idea that this was to prevent me from doing drugs because I promised I wouldn't.

[00:30:03] Because I was just like, 'But I don't know if I will do drugs. Like I don't think I will, I don't intend to, but I could. It's a list, it's on the list of possible options in the future, and I'm not sure that I want to cross it off just yet.'

[00:30:18] Abby: 'My dad doesn't look too bad, you know, after he's been smoking weed...'

[00:30:22] Ami: That was, but yeah, I was like, I, anyway, I refused to sign it and he was so upset. He tried to get my mom to force me to do it, and she was just like, 'Do you wanna sign that thing? Like, why don't you wanna sign that thing?' And I was like, 'Well, how can I promise about something that is in the future and I don't know what's gonna happen?' And she was like, 'Alright, fair enough' and that was the end of it.

[00:30:44] Alex: What a weird thing to do!

[00:30:45] Ami: I don't think my mom would pull that on her deathbed, but she might. She could, you could see it.

[00:30:51] Alex: I suppose if my mom was like, 'Promise me you'll think about it some more.' I'd be like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure.'

[00:30:56] Abby: That, that's, even 'Promise me you'll go back to church one time.' I could do that to make her happy.

[00:31:01] Alex: I, I've contemplated going back to church just for any... Every Saturday I wake up, I go, 'Maybe I'll go to church today, eh, probably not.'

[00:31:09] Abby: For the podcast, we should once.

[00:31:12] Alex: Let's do it! I will totally...

[00:31:14] Abby: And then assess, take notes and like...

[00:31:17] Alex: Is it still no shirt, no shoes, no service?

[00:31:19] Ami: [Laughing]

[00:31:19] Abby: Probably, I, I believe that might be a... Oh my goodness. What if we walked there in street clothes? That would be a...

[00:31:26] Ami: Uh, at the church nearby it would be fine. Yeah, they're, they're the easygoing ones.

[00:31:32] Abby: I, I have not...

[00:31:33] Ami: Let's go over there, and then let's go over there to, uh, to the Black church.

[00:31:40] Alex: Wow.

[00:31:41] Ami: That's another...

[00:31:42] Alex: Is that, is that gonna be a podcast topic, we talk about how the church is still segregated?

[00:31:46] Abby: Oh, that should be in the racism one, maybe, although that's enough for two.

[00:31:51] Alex: Yeah.

[00:31:51] Abby: Yeah.

[00:31:52] Ami: Yeah, all these weird things that our parents still want us involved...

[00:31:58] Abby: [Laughing] Okay, I think we might actually make this two episodes. I think it might break neatly into two episodes. Uh, but we will talk to you guys later about some other fascinating and horrible topic.

Haystacks & Hell Outro

[00:32:10] Santiago: Thanks for listening. If you have a story to share about your Adventist or fundamentalist experience, we'd love to hear it. You can submit stories on our website at (that's H E L L dot B I O) or leave us a voicemail at 301-750-8648 and we might feature it in a future episode. Thanks to Abby and Ami for their original podcast audio, and thanks again for listening. We'll see you on the next one!

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