From Youth Rusher to Ex-Adventist - Pt. 1

S2:E9
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01:04:03
December 9, 2023
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Santiago interviews Andres Pichinte (They/Them), a Gen Z ex-Adventist who went from fundamentalist Adventism and going door to door for Youth Rush (for two summers), to exploring esotericism and now Orthodox Christianity. We talk about growing up Adventist, being surrounded by conspiracy theories, and moments that made them question their Adventist faith.

Resources / Topics Mentioned:
Andres' Website & Bio

The Hairbrush Song - Silly Songs with Larry

His Cheeseburger - Love Songs with Mr. Lunt

Youth Rush Article - Spectrum Magazine

Full Transcripts, resources and more: hell.bio/notes

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Credits: Music: Hall of the Mountain King Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) • Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Episode Transcript

Haystacks & Hell Intro

[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.

Meet Andres

[00:00:17] Santiago: Hey everyone, welcome back to Haystacks and Hell. I'm your host Santiago, and today I'm very excited to speak with Andres Pichinte. Andres is a Gen Z ex-Adventist and uses They/Them pronouns. They grew up in Los Angeles, California, with Adventist roots going back to their grandparents in the Central American country of El Salvador.

[00:00:38] Andres got their bachelor's degree in film production with a concentration in cinematography at the los Angeles Film School, and is currently living and working in the Midwest. They participated in Youth Rush, going door to door selling Adventist books in and around the greater Los Angeles area. After leaving their fundamentalist Adventist faith, Andres explored esotericism and eventually came to Orthodox Christianity, which we'll talk about more.

[00:01:07] Some of their hobbies include playing Dungeons & Dragons, music, reading, writing, and playing instruments, and anything that has to do with art. So with that background, let's jump into our conversation. Andres, welcome, thank you for coming on the show and being willing to share your story.

[00:01:23] Andres: Thank you for having me on the show, I'm very thankful to be here.

[00:01:27] Santiago: What are some of your earliest memories of growing up Adventist?

[00:01:31] Andres: The farthest I can remember going back where Adventism had like an impact on me, well, like being surrounded by it, is with my grandmother. Because, in the Los Angeles area, there's several Spanish-speaking like Adventist churches, and one that was really close by our home where we, where I grew up, there's a Spanish church that we, me and my father would always pick up my grandmother and then like, we would always go to my aunt's and just hang out there.

[00:01:56] And at that time, my father had stopped going to church because of just work and, uh, work related things. But, um, I always, he always had me attend with my grandmother. I was commemorated at that same church too, as soon I was born. My mother was converted to Adventism and they were also married by like a Adventist pastor, too. So it, everything around my family has always been Adventism.

[00:02:19] Santiago: You mentioned that your dad, you know, had to work on Saturdays, it sounds like, and didn't attend regularly, at least for some periods. Did that cause tension in your home at all?

[00:02:29] Andres: No, not really. It was just more, just because he had to work, and so it's like he worked at like Pizza Hut and like pizza places at the time like that too, so it was just more about like work. But he still kind of raised me up trying to be like close to God, you know, like read the Bible here and there, and he did take me to church with my grandmother here and there sometimes, too. So it was more like on and off kind of thing.

[00:02:50] Santiago: Okay, so it sounds like it was just accepted as, "This is a fact of life." "You gotta work, you gotta make money, so it is what it is."

[00:02:58] Andres: Exactly.

[00:02:59] Santiago: Interesting, okay, well, I'm glad to hear that because I know within some Adventist families, it would be a huge, huge issue for, for some couples.

[00:03:07] Andres: It's a, it's a big deal to like everyone that I know.

[00:03:10] Santiago: So in that case, did you ever hear from other people at church talk about that, or was that not really discussed?

[00:03:16] Andres: It wasn't really that discussed, no, not really. I mean, every time, every time we, well, whenever we did go back to that church, they would just see how my dad was doing. And they would still like talk and meet. Eventually my parents ended up going to Evangelio Eterno, which is, uh, Hugo Gambetta's — it's like an off, Spanish offshoot kind of thing. So people from the church that we knew, grew, who I, who I remember growing up in that church, um, they left that church to go straight to that offshoot. My grandmother still listens to it here too, but she's not aligned with like that kind of independent stuff. And so she just thinks it's kind of like all business and stuff like that, pretty much.

[00:03:54] Santiago: By any chance, do you know why they decided to go and start their own church?

[00:03:57] Andres: From what I remember, the founder of, um, that independent, like, offshoot, he was apparently fired from, like, the General Conference, because he was an actual pastor for the General Conference. And there's a rumor, or it's a story that they kind of spread, that he was fired from there because of, like, several theological differences. Saying how, like, the General Conference is in it for money, and, you know, normally, it's a normal, typical offshoot. Like, conspiracies about like the General Conference, pretty much.

[00:04:26] Santiago: Okay. Well, I think there's a lot of ex-Adventists who would characterize the General Conference as a business, and even though I probably don't align with many things with that church, that's probably something we could probably find common ground on.

[00:04:41] Andres: Yeah, that's, that's very, it's very common because they, I've always, I, I also hear too from some people in that independent, um, church where they've always said like, you know, like they're changing. "They're rewriting Ellen White." "They're re-editing her writings," and stuff like that and so like they kept, they keep most of like the original kind of prints.

[00:04:58] Santiago: Mmm, okay.

[00:05:00] Andres: Yeah.

[00:05:01] Santiago: Yeah, I remember both of my parents talking about how later editions of Ellen White books were edited and how they didn't like that.

[00:05:09] Andres: And what's funny too is like, um, like down the line, I would always visit like small bookstores and I would always find, I actually found a very old copy of The Great Controversy, which was published back in like 1940 something.

[00:05:23] Santiago: Hmm.

[00:05:24] Andres: Yeah, and I kind of like compared it and just, you do see some different editings in there. I think they, I think they just kind of touch things here and there. That goes along with like Uriah Smith, who was one of the pioneers, one of the early Adventist pioneers. He wrote this book that was called Daniel and Revelation. And in the modern print that's going out right now, they've actually redacted one part where he actually rejected the Trinity and, like, the Godhead and stuff like that.

[00:05:50] Yeah, so that was, that was just completely off, and, um, I knew someone who actually, well, he's gone off the deep end now, but he's gotten a, he actually has a copy of the original print also in there. So he kind of brought that up, and I noticed that's, like, that, I noticed that's a big controversy within the church.

[00:06:07] Santiago: Some Adventist pastors openly say that they disagree with the investigative judgment, for example. There's definitely a spectrum, even within ordained pastors, of what their theological beliefs are.

[00:06:20] Andres: Yeah, and that does bring up a lot of, like, tension and conflict between, like, almost every pastor from what I know.

[00:06:26] Santiago: Yeah, I can imagine. So, going back to kind of, you know, childhood memories, the first message you ever sent me, uh, was responding to an Instagram story I made about VeggieTales. So, I wanted to take a sidetrack and ask you, what's one of your favorite VeggieTales stories and characters?

[00:06:46] Andres: Not a specific story, um, it was actually my favorite song, is the one with the hairbrush. Where, um, Larry the Cucumber was singing about where his, like, he's looking for his, for his hairbrush. So I forgot who it was, I think it was like an orange that had like this pomp going, and it's, it was funny, I just, I remember growing up watching a lot of VeggieTales, but like the very old versions of VeggieTales.

[00:07:10] And also, Mr Lunt where he's also singing about like, like the cheeseburger one. That one I remember a lot. That one was the best one. I'm not gonna lie, some of the music that they had there is actually pretty good.

[00:07:22] Santiago: Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. I don't remember the hairbrush one too well, but I do remember the cheeseburger one. And yeah, for anyone who doesn't know what we're talking about, VeggieTales, as the name implies, is cartoon vegetables telling Bible stories.

[00:07:38] Andres: I also grew up watching a lot of Bibleman. Yeah, that one I grew up watching a lot because it reminisces a lot of Star Wars to me, so I kind of got hooked on that one.

[00:07:47] Santiago: Okay, I did not know that Bibleman was a thing until I left Adventism and started listening to podcasts of other people who had deconstructed their faith. And so I went back and I watched a Bibleman episode. And I got to say, like, I don't know how it was back then when you watched it, but they relaunched the series and I, oh, man... This one episode in particular, the main antagonist, the "bad guy," was Middle Eastern. He had a stereotypical Middle Eastern name. And they're using, you know, like, technology to, like, track him and spy on him. And, you know, they're throwing Bible verses left and right. And I was like, "Ooh..." This, even if this had been done back in the nineties, this wouldn't have aged well.

[00:08:36] And I'm surprised somebody signed off on this concept for that episode today.

[00:08:41] Andres: Yeah, I've seen, I've seen the modern iterations of Bibleman and I thought that they were just weird. I remember the Prince of Pride. That one was my favorite one growing up, watching a lot, cause, um, it was, I just don't know, I think everything about it, like the action scenes were actually pretty good, like there was a lot, like, when you open, when it opens up, it's like, like, laser shooting everywhere, and like, Bibleman, like, kind of brings out his sword.

[00:09:02] And then, it has to deal with, like, pride, and so he kind of got, like, prideful, and his partner, who was like, like, "Snap out of it," and stuff like that. That's, that's the one that actually reminisces with me a lot, cause that was my actually favorite episode of Bibleman growing up.

[00:09:15] Santiago: Tell me a little bit about the church that you grew up in. So it sounds like you attended Spanish speaking churches. And if you don't mind me asking, was Spanish the main language that you spoke with your family at home?

[00:09:25] Andres: In the household, yeah, Spanish was like the main language we spoke in the household. My parents at the time, still didn't know a lot of English. They weren't fluent yet. 'Cause this was back in late 90s, so it was, it took them a while to get used to speaking in English. My dad was not so fluent, but he's a little bit more fluent now. And I grew up in, in that Spanish church, so I kind of didn't know as much as what they were talking about until I started growing up a little bit more. Eventually, we started going to English speaking churches by the, by like my late teens.

[00:09:57] Santiago: Was there any particular reason for that?

[00:09:59] Andres: Because my sister who was an army vet. At the time when I was around like 14-15, we tried going to a Sunday church. And it was actually the City of Refuge with Bishop Noel Jones. If you don't know who he is, he's actually Grace Jones' brother. She was like a very famous singer back in the 80s. And she also came out in conan the Destroyer with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

[00:10:22] Santiago: Oh, interesting.

[00:10:22] Andres: Yeah, so we went to his church for a while, it was a, it was a prosperity Pentecostal church. And then my sister, um, was convinced, like, "You know what, we have to keep the Sabbath, Saturday, because that's what we grew up learning." And I forgot who it was that introduced her to it again, but we started going from there, and we actually started gathering up at a small Thai congregation in Hollywood, within the Hollywood church itself.

[00:10:45] Santiago: Interesting, okay. I'm curious if you remember kind of noticing differences between the Spanish speaking churches and the English speaking church because I didn't grow up in a Spanish speaking church, but I've visited them here and there. My mom, when she first came to the US, I think she initially started going to Spanish speaking churches.

[00:11:06] From what I've heard other people share, you know, they tend to have programs, like, all day on Sabbath, right? From, like, from the time church starts to, like, the evening, there's something to do, especially for the youth. So, like, was that your experience?

[00:11:19] Andres: From what I remember in my, in the Spanish speaking churches, they have a lot of like things going on for like the youth. They always invited me to go for like the youth program and stuff like that, but I, I was like, I don't want to go because I'm, I was very shy. I grew up very shy, I grew up very introverted, so I kind of like, I didn't want to participate in much of it because I'm like, I don't know what they do. I'm very comfortable just sitting in the pews.

[00:11:41] And I would just nap, to be honest. As a kid, I would like either nap or just like, just stay still. And that was pretty much from like my late, from like the earliest memories that I have of being in a Spanish church. But I remember my sisters were very active in like the youth program. And one of my sisters though, kind of told me too, like, she's never believed in any of it. She just did it because she just had to do it.

[00:12:03] Santiago: Hmm, okay. So I want to ask you a little bit more about your family because I've seen you post about having emotionally unavailable parents and getting disciplined by your mom. So I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about that and how that impacted your childhood.

[00:12:21] Andres: It impacted us a lot.

Brief Content Warning:

[00:12:23] Santiago: Just a quick content warning: there is a brief mention of physical abuse in this next section. So, if you feel the need, you can skip about 30 seconds ahead.

[00:12:34] Andres: Before I was born, from what I remember, what my sisters would tell me, they told me that my mother, that our mother was very physically abusive with them. What I remember too is like when I was at the age of five, I remember my mother getting into an argument with my sister. And I was hiding in the restroom. And once I came out of the restroom, I remember my mother actually grabbed me by the head and kind of like smothered my face in the mattress of the bed.

[00:12:59] That was one memory that I always just remember no matter what. I know our mother was very abusive, very narcissistic too, because she was the one to kind of take advantage of us for like whatever reason. She was like that too with my dad and my dad kind of, well, that was the reason my dad had to leave because of that.

[00:13:19] Yeah, so our mother was very, very narcissistic. I mean, I get it because she's went through a lot. She went through like four different marriages. They all ended up badly. My father was because he was, he actually cheated on her and that kind of like broke like the whole thing for her.

[00:13:39] And she just, from there on, she just became just like unavailable for anything, pretty much. My mother does kind of bring up like how my father almost left us when I was like a few years old, and she kind of still holds it against me like, you know, "I did this for you." "I did this, I did this, I did this." I'm like, I mean, I get it because you're my mother, but, um, she, she would always hold that against you for whatever reason.

[00:14:04] And, and the weird thing is that whenever, like, people would be around, she would always pretend to be, like, either, like, the victim character or kind of, like, be, like, she's the good mother kind of character. But, like, behind closed doors, uh, she's very, she was very abusive.

[00:14:17] My mom was actually raised up Roman Catholic back in El Salvador. And then my sister kind of brought her out of that, like, into non-Evangelical Protestantism. And then when she met my father, that's when he converted her to Seventh-day Adventism. And at first, she wasn't into like, Ellen White, but she was very much into the Bible.

[00:14:37] And I guess the more she started attending to, um, El Evangelio Eterno with Hugo Gambetta, she started reading a lot more Ellen White and kind of became convinced like Ellen White was like the end time prophet. And I remember growing up also with my mother always having like these dreams of like the second coming happen and stuff like that. And she would always tell me like how she cried every morning, because she feared that, oh, if I never followed the Bible, I was going to be lost and stuff like that.

[00:15:03] And she would go just, crazy, like that I should have been a pastor, that I should be this instead of studying this. Like, she kind of went off the deep end, like saying like, "You shouldn't be practicing this." "You shouldn't be listening to this, you shouldn't be pract—" like she was the more, she was the more Adventist one in the home and kind of, like, didn't want me to go out like shows with my friends. Like I went to punk shows. I went, I just tried going out by myself, but she just never allowed me. She kind of just like had me as like, like the servant of the home and stuff like that.

[00:15:36] Santiago: That's interesting to see a transition going from growing up Catholic, then coming into Protestant churches because of your sister, and then coming to Seventh-day Adventism, and then becoming the most hardcore Adventist out of the family.

[00:15:54] Andres: I'm like, this is such a huge 180.

[00:15:57] Santiago: Yeah, that's so interesting. When you mentioned that your Adventist roots go back to your grandparents in El Salvador, is that on your dad's side of the family?

[00:16:05] Andres: That's more on my dad's side, yeah. I asked my father too, like, which side of his family was it that was more Adventist? I believe it was my, my grandfather's side that was always Adventist. And I think he converted my grandmother to Adventism and my, my grandfather used to drink, he used to drink back over there. And my grandmother kind of put him in check about that and stuff like that.

[00:16:28] And from there they raised up, they got married in the Adventist church and they raised up my father to be Adventist. Same with my, same with my aunt and uncle. My uncle doesn't go to church quite often, but he still believes in God and still believes in the Bible. My aunt, uh, they still frequently go to church every Saturday. My aunt comes by and visits sometimes and they always come pick my grandmother up from church or like they drop her off.

[00:16:49] Santiago: Yeah it's interesting because for me, it was both of my parents who converted. And then my grandmother converted because of my mom. So I don't have aunts and uncles that are Adventist. I don't really have any extended family that are Adventist. So when I was leaving, my mom's concern was less about what would our Adventist family think, and more about

[00:17:12] "What would our non-Adventist family think?" "We're supposed to be witnesses to them." "They think, you know, we're this godly family and and now you're, you know, turning your back on this." So that was kind of the argument I got. [Laughing] Well, we can talk a little bit later, uh, about, you know, what leaving was like for you. But I want to keep asking you more questions about kind of early memories.

[00:17:34] And one of those that a lot of people have talked about is this idea of purity culture. You know, whether we knew that term or not, there was this sense, uh, of secrecy and shame for a lot of people around just talking about sexuality. And so I'm curious, you know, what did purity culture look like for you growing up, and how do you think it affected you and the people around you?

[00:17:56] Andres: I remember being raised up to, you know, like not to have sex before getting married. You know, like being pure, like don't, like, don't go out fornicating with people and stuff like that. But I mean, I was raised, I wasn't raised up in like Adventist schools, or I wasn't around like Adventist education that much.

[00:18:12] I remember, like, I remember, like, going on dates with several girls, like, in high school and kissing them, like, not out of the norm, you know, pretty much for, like, normal society. But I remember it was, in my teens, it became more and more, like, heavy purity culture. Like, you know, you shouldn't, it wasn't called, there's no dating in Adventism, from what I remember. It's either just courtship and that's pretty much it. You know, like if you want to marry a woman, you know, kind of like you have to be already established with like wealth, your own business, your own home, and kind of like that.

[00:18:46] That's from what I remember, and then like, it's like if you want to marry someone that you're talking to, then just get married, you know? Because the people I remember in high school, most of the people I knew either just got like married within a few months or from like talking and they just got married. Like, there was like no concept of dating from what I remember in Adventism.

[00:19:05] Santiago: Interesting. I'm sure it depends on the community and the family, but in my case, my parents definitely didn't want me to date until I reached college and preferably, after I finished college. I don't remember ever hearing that I, you know, needed to court somebody as opposed to dating them, but I'm not surprised that that would exist within some Adventist communities.

[00:19:32] I've asked a couple other ex-Adventists who grew up in the 70s and 80s what their sex education looked like. You know, some of them didn't get it at all. Or if they did, it was usually not very informative and was more focused on "Just don't do it." Kind of like you said, you got this message of "Don't have sex before you're married." I'm curious, did you ever have the talk with your parents, or did you ever get sex ed at school?

[00:19:57] Andres: My parents have never talked to me about sex. I'm just gonna be honest, they never talked to me about sex. They never actually told me how babies were born, either. I kinda, I kinda had to be thankful because um, the high school I was going to, it was like, it was just a public high school, very, just, I guess you could say secular, quote unquote.

[00:20:14] I remember there was like health class and it was like, it was a health class actually in like my freshman year and they brought in someone who like discussed about like sex. They did talk about like STDs, all the sexually transmitted diseases. They actually showed like pictures of it too, and various, like, everyone was like kind of shocked, but I mean, it's, it was health, so I, it was like whatever I could take in.

[00:20:34] The speaker came in one time and showed us like how condoms work, and so I was like, I was just thankful like high school actually showed me something about health, than like, I don't know how Adventist education would have taught, you know?

[00:20:47] Santiago: From the conversations I've had, it definitely depends on the school and I think the area that you're in. But I think what you just shared goes to show why sex education in schools is so important. Because even for your generation, for my generation, I think many of our parents were not comfortable speaking about it.

[00:21:08] And in some cases, that could also be because their parents weren't comfortable speaking about it. My parents did have the talk with me, but I remember my mom telling me that my abuela never had the, never had the talk with her. She never told her anything just like how you had it with your parents. So I know it can be uncomfortable. I know you might wonder as a parent, "What is the school going to tell my kids?"

[00:21:32] Andres: Yeah.

[00:21:33] Santiago: But I would argue that some information from an informed and educated adult is better than no information at all, or misinformation from, from the playground.

[00:21:43] Andres: Way better because I remember like the earliest... I was a kid in elementary school, so it was like, I didn't know any better than like, what sex comments and like harassing someone, you know, like sexually harassing someone was, you know? And I remember someone dared me to tell, like they dare me to tell some girl like, like "Do something with my" you know, you know?

[00:22:03] And so I kind of went up to her and I told her that, and then she went to go tell the teacher. I got sent to the principal's office and then my mother got so mad at me. I remember her hitting me about it, for it too. And then she's like, she's like telling my dad like, "Why don't you get him anatomy books?" Or like, teach him what, like, what's this, like what's this about sex or how, how to treat women.

[00:22:23] Because I, my mother raised me to like very be, to be very respectful about like people and stuff like that. I mean, it, it's, it's just common sense to be respectful of people. But at that time, I just never had the proper sex education from my parents. And I was, and was pretty much from school or, I mean, like, from movies too, cause my, I mean, I remember my dad would always watch, like, very action, like, action movies and stuff like that.

[00:22:47] And, I mean, he, he was raised up just watching movies every single time, cause that's his favorite pastime. And so, like, when I was a kid, he would always, like, block my eyes when there was, like, there was a sex scene or something going on in the movie. And he would just, like, cover my eyes. I was like, like, dude, it's just a movie. Like, I'm gonna have, I'm gonna have to do this one, one, one of these days in the future.

[00:23:05] Santiago: Like you said, it's common sense to treat other people with respect, but as kids, we don't have common sense. And so, you know, like you just shared this story of being dared by a friend to go essentially sexually harass one of your classmates, right? I can remember from my Adventist school that I grew up in, "pantsing" people was a thing. I don't know if you ever got "pantsed" or if you ever saw that.

[00:23:32] Andres: Yeah, that was like a thing in the boys' locker room, like for PE and stuff like that.

[00:23:36] Santiago: Yeah, that happened to me. Pretty sure I did it to somebody else. I think we were not taught boundaries, I think in some cases. I remember my mom teaching me and my brother, "Hey, people are not supposed to touch you in your private parts." "Don't let people do that." "If they do, tell me." I believe, you know, every kid should learn about the concept of consent.

[00:23:59] Andres: Yeah, my mother raised me up to do the same thing too, like, you know, like, don't let people, like, don't let strangers touch you and stuff like that. Like if any, if they do like, come tell her straight up and then like, she'll go tell like the police and stuff like that.

[00:24:10] Santiago: That's good, that's good. So you grew up in California, which, you know, has this reputation for being a liberal state. And Adventists in the Midwest or in the South may have this reputation of, you know, "California Adventists." I'm pretty sure I remember hearing somebody say that calling someone a "California Adventist" was basically a slur. Basically saying that they're, you know, super liberal. "Maybe they're not really Adventist."

[00:24:37] Andres: That's actually a good point that you brought up because this year, I remember visiting up a Adventist church with my father because I wanted to see how it was, you know, like, I'm like, it has, it's been a long time since I've been to church. And one of the sisters there actually brought up this thing, like, how can you, like, she actually said like, "You know, Adventists in California..." She said this comment straight up, like, "You know where their alignments are," and stuff like that.

[00:25:03] I guess trying to talk about like how liberal like California Adventists are. And like how, like, like how it's so, spread out and stuff like that over there. Like there's like various, there's like so many Adventist churches you'll come across, especially in LA, like Glendale, Burbank, um, the Silver Lake area. Yeah, the comment actually struck me because it's like, okay, they might be very conservative in this area, then.

[00:25:27] The Thai congregation that I went to the first, uh, the congregation I went to in so long was actually pretty small, too. It was like in the small chapel room of the Hollywood Adventist Church. It was only like maybe 10, 15 people from what I remember. And it was all, they were like a whole like small Thai family.

[00:25:44] Like everyone was related to each other. So they brought like their families over and like, I can't relate to most of this because it's like I'm not blood related to them or I don't know much of like what, what, what they went through and how they all like connect with each other. But it was very small.

[00:25:58] Me and my sisters were like the youngest ones out of everyone there, too. Everyone in the Thai congregation were like elderly people. My sister hung out with like everyone in the Hollywood church, while I got stuck with more elderly ones over there in the Thai congregation.

[00:26:13] And it was funny too, because it was right in the Hollywood, in the Hollywood church that, like, the, well, I guess you could say infamous within the General Conference churches because it was the one with the first, um, transgender elder.

[00:26:26] Santiago: Okay, that's why that name sounds familiar.

[00:26:29] Andres: It was that one, yeah. So we met up in that one and they're such loving people there. That's the only church I will have the most respect for. Because the pastor there is very loving to whoever comes in, you know, whether you're gay, trans, bi, homeless, rich, it doesn't matter. They just, you know, they just accept whoever just comes visit, you know?

[00:26:49] All the other churches I went to growing up, the more, the more fundie Adventist ones were like, "Why are you going to the Hollywood one?" "You know, like they have a transgender elder" and blah blah blah blah blah, you know? And they're like, "It's Hollywood, like you shouldn't, like, like, you know what the Bible says about this." And I'm like, "It doesn't matter." "We're supposed to love one another, you know?"

[00:27:08] And they kind of criticize them too, because it's like when you visit the Hollywood church, it feels more like like those non denominational like Calvary Chapel kind of church, you know? Like a big stage with a band, you know, like drums, bass, guitar and speakers in there. It kind of feels like a more, like more contemporary kind of Christian in there.

[00:27:28] It doesn't feel like like that conservative piano playing Adventist kind of type, you know, it's, there's a very big contrast that I kind of realized there, you know. That's one thing that I kind of, that kind of influenced my deconstruction from Adventism.

[00:27:45] Santiago: Interesting, okay.

[00:27:46] Andres: Because, um, another thing is, um, eventually down the line, after I graduated high school, I started volunteering at this ministry up in Glendale. And they have this, they have, they always have this annual conference up in Camp Cedar Falls. And they have some, I forgot his name. I forgot the guy's name, but he used to like make beats, like make beat music and stuff like that. They talked about like media.

[00:28:13] I'll, I'll always make fun of Little Light Studios for it too, cause that's when I first met Scott Mayer from Little Light Studios. And how they say like, that's when I first discovered like Battlefield Hollywood, the Replacement Gods. All those wacky documentaries that they've made because it's like down the line, I realized like none of that is fact. Where like Satan's gonna "influence you"

[00:28:35] if you go to the movie theaters or like see this movie, or read this, or listen to this. I mean, it's, I guess it's just however you let it influence you, I guess. Because I listen to a lot of like rock and heavy metal music and like I listen to black metal, death metal. I listen to thrash. I listen to industrial music. I listen to so much kind of music and I guess they all just listen to more of what Ellen White says. Because they quoted her like crazy.

[00:29:00] Santiago: I'm so glad you brought up Little Light Studios because I think that is the bane of many, probably many Adventists who are more liberal, but also ex-Adventists. I've seen them get posted about several times on Instagram and on the ex-Adventist subreddit. Oh man, yeah, I watched some of their videos.

[00:29:19] And I remember even before I fully started deconstructing, I think I had already kind of been shifting toward that, but I remember with my brother, my brother and I watching some of this and just going like, "Wait, what?" "What, what are you talking about?"

[00:29:34] There was definitely a time earlier in my life where I would, where I would have eaten that up and I would have been fully bought into what they were saying. But as I got older, I started to shift away from that kind of very, very hard line thinking. And yeah, I remember, I remember different evangelists would come through our church and talk about music and things like this.

[00:29:55] Andres: I remember someone too actually bringing up Berdahl's um, I think it's called the, The Music Dilemma? That was like an Adven — that was an Adventist series that he made, how like, music influences you, and like, that's where the whole drum thing kinda came in too, where like, "The drums are bad." "You shouldn't be listening to drums." 'Cause I remember, that's when, um, when Youth Rush happened, that's when someone showed me that, too.

[00:30:19] Santiago: That issue of music was definitely one thing that I changed my mind on before I fully deconstructed and before I left Adventism. I remember getting books and being spoken to by other people within the church. Generally older people, as you might imagine. Talking about how, you know,

[00:30:39] "Rock music this," "Rock music that." I got a book given to me by somebody. Uh, a physical book, like I was in the church parking lot and I was still the youth leader at this point. And I think this was, I think shortly after one of my kids, one of the youth in my class had brought in a cajon to use during the main church service. You know, it's just a box, it's...

[00:31:03] Andres: A wooden box.

[00:31:04] Santiago: Yeah, it's not a full on drum set and it wasn't overly loud or distracting. I felt like it was respectful and I felt like it fit with the music that we were performing for the congregation that Sabbath morning.

[00:31:20] And I remember one of the moms of other kids in my youth class, this mom was not happy. Like, music was the big thing that she cared about. There were other issues, but I remember that music, that was like where she drew the line. She didn't really care so much about other things that Ellen White had to say, but music, oh man you, you cannot have drums in church.

[00:31:43] Andres: I remember hearing that too, a lot from several, a lot of Adventists that I grew up in, in my teens where they said, you know, like, you shouldn't be having drums because I think it was something that Ellen White says that it brings out like the sensual, the animal, sensual instincts of like people. But it's like when you listen to good, when you listen to beats, it doesn't actually do that.

[00:32:03] It actually helps you feel a little bit more relaxed or actually feels like if you want to like go running, you know, it's actually very, very relaxing and very therapeutic, you know? It's, I mean, even the bible has always quoted, you know like drums being or like rhythm, rhythm instruments being used when like David was dancing when they brought back the ark of the covenant and stuff like that.

[00:32:25] Santiago: Yep, yeah, no, exactly. I remember that verse being talked about and debated, between I think some of the youth in my church. I think a lot of this comes ultimately, from anti-Black racism. And this panic over jazz and, you know, rock comes from jazz and the blues. And so people will say,

[00:32:47] "Oh, that traces back to these, you know, these heathens in Africa." You know, just very racist terminology, which for somebody who's a fundamentalist Adventist, they would say, "What are you talking about?" "How is that racist?" But it's like, uh, you know, and I would have probably, if you had told me that if, when I was growing up, I would have also questioned, "How is that racist?"

[00:33:09] But now that we're older, that we have language to understand to talk about these things, no, you can clearly see that that is xenophobic. It is just incredible bias and prejudice and racism against something that you're uncomfortable with.

[00:33:23] I talk about how some people, some Adventists grew up not eating any spicy food or mustard because Ellen White also talks about how that would "inflame the animal passions" and it would make you want to have sex, apparently.

[00:33:37] Andres: And it was odd to me too, because I mean growing up we always ate, I mean my mom used to eat so much spicy foods. But I mean, my mother wasn't like out with like sleeping people and stuff like that are like having these weird instincts, you know? And I grew up eating so much spicy foods, too. My sisters also, we grew up eating so many spicy foods.

[00:33:56] And hearing that in the church, I was just very like dumbfounded. I was like, "What do you mean?" Like you can't eat spicy foods? I remember taking this medical missionary course too, where they mentioned like how spicy foods will like also mutate your genetics and stuff like that, too. Yeah, and that was one thing that they brought up, too. It was really weird.

[00:34:18] Santiago: Yeah, no, that's something I haven't heard before. So being in a Latino family, growing up eating spicy food and then hearing this. So, so did somebody in a church actually quote Ellen White on that?

[00:34:31] Andres: I think it was someone that I used to volunteer with at this ministry who would say like, you know, you like, "You can't eat that much spicy foods." And that was one thing too, in Youth Rush because they, everything was just bland food. No, there was like no spices allowed in any of the food that was made.

[00:34:47] Santiago: Really?

[00:34:49] Andres: It was just like, either like oatmeal and like, just vegetables.

[00:34:54] Santiago: Interesting.

[00:34:55] Andres: There was like no, there was like no spices at all mixed in there. It was unspiced, unseasoned food and I just could not deal with it.

[00:35:06] Santiago: I don't blame you. Do you remember hearing a big emphasis placed on the end times and Ellen White, or do you remember hearing people emphasizing having a relationship with Jesus?

[00:35:18] Andres: When I was very small, I don't remember how big of an emphasis it was in the Spanish church I grew up in. Because from what I remember, they always talk about, they would always talk about like certain doctrines like the tabernacle, or they would talk about like, doctrines that you won't hear... I guess you won't hear as much anymore because I mean, that, that independent group kind of left because I mean, they were still talking about that.

[00:35:44] They still talk about that to this day. But I guess that pastor kind of like had that influence of like people who still wanted to talk more and more about like the specific like doctrines like the tabernacle, the sanctuary doctrine, the investigative judgment. And when I was in my late teens, I actually don't remember hearing so much of an emphasis being put on the end times or Ellen White when I first went to that Thai congregation.

[00:36:08] Because they would always talk about it's a relationship with God and Jesus that you're supposed to have. I only remember ever hearing one quote in one sermon, and then from there it was mostly, it was mainly just Bible based, like, sermons, you know? When I started getting into the other groups with my sister that we were participating in, that's when I started hearing more of these end time stuff and more of that Ellen White stuff being more emphasized in there.

[00:36:36] Later on when I started participating in the independent offshoot, that's also when they started having a huge, a bigger, bigger influence of Ellen White. They would just quote her left and right. Just like maybe like maybe a few Bible verses, but then like they would have like a whole paragraph or several pages read from her books and just like thinking like, "How am I supposed to believe this woman if it's the only thing that we ever quote?"

[00:37:00] Santiago: Yeah, hmm, okay.

[00:37:02] Andres: And one funny thing is that my mother wasn't a huge believer of Ellen White. But I guess the more that she started hearing these sermons and started seeing like all these other conspiracy theories like being thrown out left and right, that's when she became convinced of Ellen White's writings. And then she just started going like into like various just writings of hers.

[00:37:24] That also played very much into my mom's, the feeding of my mother's conspiracy theories and stuff like that. Because she's always on like Facebook, and I guess like all the Facebook Christians on there just spread so much articles left and right about like end times. I mean her Adventist friends are like spreading these articles of like the pope and like tornadoes happening or like these floods and all this other like just natural disasters, you know, pretty much happening and that just feeds it. That fed more into the conspiracy theories and then I guess my mom became more convinced of that.

[00:37:51] Santiago: Yeah, I'm not too surprised to hear that because I think I've also seen some of that with just people I know growing up within Adventism. I've talked before about how before social media, there were these email chains where people would forward emails to each other containing this stuff.

[00:38:10] And so this is not new. It's just, we just have a new platform, a new way of spreading this misinformation. And unfortunately, the incentives of these social media companies and the way the algorithms are designed, they get their fuel off of inflammatory information, right? Whether it's true or not, negative news is what gets us as humans to click on things.

[00:38:38] Andres: It does, it really does. 2015 came around and that was around the time when we, when I first started going back to church. That was around the same time when every single Adventist church was going complete bonkers over Pope Francis. Like, they were just saying like, "This is the very last pope." "Get ready, it's the end times now." "He's here to spread the Sunday Law." 'Cause my dad is obsessed with that book, and I keep telling him, like, "Dad, there is nothing going on with the Sunday Law." and he just has, he actually, he still carries a Spanish copy in his car with him, and I keep telling him, like, dude, this reads like a schizophrenic's diary.

[00:39:23] Santiago: Is that, uh, is that the book by Jan Marcussen?

[00:39:26] Andres: Yeah, in English it's, I know it's the National Sunday Law, but in, in Spanish it's La Ley Dominical.

[00:39:31] Santiago: Yeah, I've definitely heard my mom use that term. And yeah, my dad has a copy of that book in English.

[00:39:37] Andres: When I first read that book in my late teens, and I'm like, "Maybe it's real?" "Maybe it's not?" So I'm like, maybe I should go visit an Adventist church for myself. I actually fed into all those conspiracy theories too, because I remember eventually, like, buying so many different copies of, like, oh, like, the Illuminati, Freemasons, and this and that, and all those other conspiracy theory, like, garbage. And so it's like I, I started becoming, I became convinced myself of it, but then, I mean, during my deconversion, I mean, like, I actually did a lot of research on my own, actually, for what, for all it is.

[00:40:15] Santiago: Now that you mentioned the Freemasons, I remember my mom telling me a story that, one of the things that, you know, just showed the power of God within Ellen White's life is that she supposedly had spoken to some Freemason. And that she knew some of the handshakes or hand signs, hand signals that they do. What's the highest level, like a 33rd?

[00:40:40] Andres: 33rd degree.

[00:40:42] Santiago: Yeah, so apparently she knew like, you know, signs that only somebody at the highest levels would know. And this Freemason was convinced because apparently, you know, God had supposedly shown her this, this handshake or hand sign. I remember hearing that and being like, "Oh, wow."

[00:40:59] I remember hearing things about the Freemasons growing up. I remember hearing things about the Jesuits, of course. Not so much about the Illuminati, but definitely the Freemasons and the Jesuits. I also remember panic around Pope Francis. And, you know, whenever the pope would come to visit the US.

[00:41:15] Andres: I remember when Pope Francis came, came to be elected as the new pope, the Spanish speaking church that my, well, that independent church that my parents started going to, they started talking about like, oh, "Who are the Jesuits?" "Are they working with the Freemasons and stuff like that?"

[00:41:30] But I mean, the Catholics hated Freemasons. If you look into history itself, they hated the Freemasons. From what I remember, too, is like, they made Freemasons look like they were trying to take over the world and stuff like that. But I mean of my favorite philosophers is Manly P Hall. And he was actually a 33rd degree mason, and more I looked into his writings, the more I was convinced, like, they're not out to do all that stuff that the church is saying that they are.

[00:41:58] Santiago: Hmm.

[00:41:58] Andres: Yeah, I went down reading more about, like, Freemasonry, and I kind of started doing, like, all these other things, like, connecting them with, like, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons. Because I know, I know Mormons have a lot of Masonic influences, too. And I've met several, I met several Masons myself too, um, down the line.

[00:42:18] Like one of my sisters, like I remember this sergeant, um, he had a ring on his finger with the compass and the G. And I talked to him about Freemasonry and they just felt like they just kind of they were just like spiritual people. I mean, there was like, I, I was convinced myself that there's like, no, there's no hidden agenda from them coming up, yeah. And I met this other guy who was part of the Scottish Rite. And he, we just talked about just more enlightenment stuff is, I guess they were more, they were more prevalent in the age of enlightenment.

[00:42:54] Santiago: Hmm.

[00:42:54] Andres: The reason why there's a lot of stigma against Freemasonry was because every single church knows that if people head out to those, to that direction, they're just gonna lose members.

[00:43:04] Santiago: Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised. So, speaking of all this, you know, what did you personally as a kid think, if anything, about the end times or death and the afterlife? You know, were you anxious about this as a kid or as you got older?

[00:43:22] Andres: I terrified, to be honest. I was very scared. Yeah, with the end times and stuff like that being told like we were gonna be killed for keeping the Saturday holy and stuff like that. I was scared as a kid. And, uh, growing up, I mean, I was convinced that it's all just fear. It's all based on fear.

[00:43:39] Yeah, 'cause my mother would be so... My mother would always, like, have these panic attacks, like, "Don't do this because, like, I don't want you to go to hell." Or, like, "If you do this, you're gonna go straight to damnation when Jesus Christ comes again and you're not gonna be in heaven," and stuff like that. Yeah, that, it was, it was very heavy as a kid. Especially as a kid, because that's just fear inducing.

[00:44:01] Santiago: Yeah, no, definitely. That's, that's, that's rough. I'm grateful that I personally didn't get a lot of that at home. And I don't feel like I got too much of that at church either. And it's, yeah, it's heartbreaking to hear that kids were subjected to something like that.

[00:44:21] Andres: It was very, it's very sad too, the more I've read from people who are like on the ex-Adventist Reddit and I hear like how so much fear was like implemented into their like early childhood. Because it's very traumatizing when you, when you're told like, "They're gonna kill you." Especially Sunday keepers. Like other denominations other than just Catholics, you know?

[00:44:42] It's like I asked my too, like what about Baptists? What about the other denominations that keep Sunday? He never gave me like a straightforward answers, but it was I just know it was just like how Catholics are gonna bring them all together to kind of persecute Adventists.

[00:44:56] Santiago: Yeah, I remember hearing that too. I remember hearing, you know, the, the Catholic church being referred to as the Whore of Babylon and how the Protestant churches were her daughters, the daughters of the Whore of Babylon, because all the other Sunday keeping Protestant churches were going to fall in line. So yeah, I absolutely heard that growing up, too.

[00:45:17] Andres: Yeah, and it was just so weird because I, I remember eventually too, discovering like other Sabbatarian groups. Like the Church of God Seventh-day, and then like Worldwide Church of God, which is another group also that my, my dad was into these other Sabbatarian groups, too.

[00:45:32] It was like the Worldwide Church of God, from what I remember, they're Sabbath, they're Sabbath keepers, but they keep the feasts. Like the old, the old Jewish feasts, yeah, from what I remember, yeah, my dad was into them because they kind of had similar doctrines to Adventists. And so I kind of discovered who they were, and that's, I guess that kind of impacted also from my deconversion is like just studying, studying every single denomination that's out there and seeing which is actually true. Because I still had that question in my heart, even as an Adventist, is like, "Which is actually true," you know?

[00:46:05] Santiago: Right, it's confusing.

[00:46:07] Andres: It was very confusing. So, the whole thing with the end times kind of died down on me after knowing like, okay, like, what about these other Sabbath groups, you know?

[00:46:16] Santiago: Gotcha, okay. So, throughout all of this, do you ever remember experiencing moments that felt spiritual or supernatural?

[00:46:26] Andres: Supernatural, and I would say very spiritual. Because, uh, growing up, I just always believed. I still questioned, as a kid, like, who's God, who's Jesus, and stuff like that. I never fully read the Bible until my dad just encouraged me just to read it for myself.

[00:46:41] And that's when I started reading. I first read the Gospels and just knew the message of love immediately from Jesus. You know, I read Matthew. I always read Matthew 5 because it's like, you know, like blessed are the meek and, you know, like respect others. That was the message that I, um, always carried out spiritually, just loving others, respecting others, uh, even though I was like constantly bullied in high school and middle school all the time.

[00:47:05] Then, um, I would say like something very super, supernatural happened when I was like a small kid. Because I remember when I was a kid, I remember it was, I don't remember how long ago this was, but I remember like, me and my sister were watching TV, my mom, me and my mom and my sister were watching TV in the living room one time in our, in our apartment.

[00:47:29] And I remember I just had to go use the restroom, and I just went in there by myself through the room, and like, it's not even like, it's just like right next door to us, and so it was like, I just walked through the room and just something came out, like a voice. Just something came from my, like, it wasn't even from the TV or from the living room, and I looked behind me and there was like no one right behind me.

[00:47:51] And I heard a very deep voice saying, "Are you looking for me?" And I remember shedding tears, like I was crying, like I told my mom, like "Something talked to me in the room." And I remember it was like, the lights were lit and everything, so there was like no, there was like no possible way that was my sister.

[00:48:09] So that was a very big supernatural thing for me to happen and I was convinced of just like being spiritual from there on. You know, like I just as a kid, I guess like I guess I was always agnostic, but I was always very spiritual.

[00:48:22] Santiago: Would you say that that experience that you had, do you feel like that is part of the reason why you still maintain faith today?

[00:48:31] Andres: Yeah, yeah, and also, um life experiences, too. Because I mean, um recently, as of last year, I mean, I should be dead. I'm just going to say that I should be dead. Um, I got into a near fatal car accident and this was the day right before New Year's. And it was, it was out in LA. I was driving and I was convinced, you know, like, you know, like I should be dead because I was sandwiched.

[00:48:59] Um, I was making like a left turn at a light and this car came full speed and just hit me on my right side and just sandwiched me into a Metro bus. And I had like a cut, I had a cut, I don't know if you can see it, it's like right here, somewhere on my head. And the door was just like pushed in right in me and like everything was just broken.

[00:49:21] I'm like thinking like I should be dead, I should be dead. So I mean from there I was just convinced like you know like I believe in something from there on. You know, like I know should be dead.

[00:49:32] Santiago: DId you end up going to the hospital?

[00:49:34] Andres: I did. I did, I stayed in the hospital for, uh, for the entire night. Um, they did like a, they did an MRI, they did an MRI scan on me and they did like a normal scan on me and everything was just fine. And they thought that like one of my, my spinal disc was like dislodged or just like misaligned, but no, everything turned out fine.

[00:49:53] Santiago: I'm so glad it turned out okay for you.

[00:49:56] Andres: Yeah, I remember my head like bobbing like left and right very bad. And then I guess another spiritual, I guess like another spiritual aspect that kind of influenced my life to, um, again with my, with my mother because of like, um, I think I picked up some, I think I picked up that same bipolarism from my mother also. And we would always have constant arguments, constant arguments about anything pretty much.

[00:50:23] And there was one night that my mother kind of like, she would always barge in the room when I was sleeping, and kind of started demanding like rent money out of that and stuff like that I mean because I was the only one staying now and the only one working.

[00:50:35] I just snapped on her and I was in jail for like five days. Growing up Adventist, when I first became Adventist, I became vegetarian. And inside of jail, I mean they look at you as a criminal no matter what. They look at you as like lower and stuff like that. And they still fed me meat, and I was like, "I'm not gonna eat." "I'm gonna hardly eat any of this."

[00:50:57] I only ate like whatever dried rice and eggs they have and I ate hard and I just ate like the fruits like the oranges that they would give you and the water really, the water messed up my stomach. I'm gonna say that too. The water messed up my stomach. And the one thing that kept me going in there was they gave me a little small New Testament because I asked them if I could just get like a small Bible or something like that.

[00:51:16] They gave me like a New Testament, and I reread the Gospels again from there. And I was just, I mean, I was always spiritual. So I always looked at Jesus as like a similar figure to like Buddha, Tao, all the, like all spiritual figures would be, you know? Because they all preach the same thing, you know, like, treat others as you should be treated and love others pretty much.

[00:51:36] Santiago: Wow.

[00:51:37] Andres: Yeah it was, it was heavy for me.

[00:51:40] Santiago: Did you end up going back home after that?

[00:51:42] Andres: Uh, I was kicked out. Yeah, I was kicked out and, and, looking back on it, I was kind of thankful I got kicked out because I didn't want to deal with my mother ever again from there. I knew one day or another I had to experience something drastic in my life because I know, once the waters are still, there has to be some kind of wave or storm coming at you.

[00:52:03] Santiago: It does seem like that way sometimes, huh?

[00:52:05] Andres: That was while I was still in school. It was my very last year. That was actually last year during March. Yeah, that was last year in March when I went, when all that happened and just, a lot of stuff happened last year, so...

[00:52:17] Santiago: Have you spoken to your mom since then?

[00:52:20] Andres: No, not really. I mean, I've tried fixing, I tried like making up with her and I'm like, you know, like trying to talk with her peacefully, but, um, she was still the same old, same old way as she was, so I'm like, you know what, I'm just done. I haven't spoken to her in a while.

[00:52:36] Santiago: I think that's understandable. So let's back up then a little bit. Because I'm guessing Youth Rush was maybe in your teens, before you started school?

[00:52:46] Andres: When I first started Youth Rush, that was in 2016. Yeah, that was when I, when I graduated, that was when I graduated high school. It was right out of high school. I remember too, because the, um, I remember the director of the Southern California Literature Evangelism invited me to participate in Youth Rush.

[00:53:06] Because they talked about it in, um, in the camp, in Camp Cedar Falls with the conference that they have annually over there with that ministry I volunteered with. They asked me if I wanted to participate with Youth Rush and it was the same day when they started, it was the exact same day I graduated high school. Like my graduation ceremony happened and then from there, boom, I was off to Youth Rush.

[00:53:29] Santiago: Interesting, okay. So, for anyone who isn't familiar with Youth Rush, can you describe that?

[00:53:36] Andres: Youth Rush is a literature evangelism program and where youth are doing door to door work. And pretty much they leave up Ellen White's literature for donations. Or, quote unquote I would say "donations," because we technically have to sell them.

[00:53:54] Santiago: Yeah, definitely not, uh, not free. So when you got approached to go do Youth Rush, were you interested in that? Were you excited about it or did you have to be kind of convinced to go?

[00:54:09] Andres: At the time, I was, I was enthusiastic about it. I was very enthusiastic about it because it was several people that I knew, several people that I knew who were doing Youth Rush or who have done Youth Rush for a while, I became friends with them, but I didn't hear about it until I was approached of it. And then from there I was like, "Okay, I'll do it." Just have that, you know, like see what it was because I knew it was missionary work either way.

[00:54:31] Santiago: So what, what were your sleeping arrangements like? Did you stay at churches in the areas you went to?

[00:54:37] Andres: Yeah, we stayed in whatever available room there was to fit in like the amount of people that were in each different teams. Because I knew in Southern California, there was like three different teams of these colporteurs which are literature evangelists, pretty much. But they're called colporteurs because they come from the book that Ellen White wrote called Colporteur Ministry.

[00:54:58] And, in, we, we slept in small rooms and you have to have the very, like, very minimal stuff. Like, casual clothes, you know, like slacks, no jeans, um, women were supposed to wear dresses, no, no spaghetti string tops, they would say. Um, so they had to be fully covered, from chest to, like, legs too, everything had to be covered for them. Men have to have their hair groomed, very well groomed, no long hairs, no facial hair, shave every single time you see like hairs coming out.

[00:55:31] And it was it was just hectic for me. I hated shaving and I hated like having my hair cut. And you have to bring like a sleeping bag. No video games or anything, of course, were allowed other than like maybe your cell phone if you needed a call for emergency or if you're like studying you can have a laptop.

[00:55:48] But no movies, no, no sort of, no, no drums at all. Everything was, everything was like either acoustic music. I remember hearing acapella music and also the music from like, Souls West. Which is the, which is the school where a lot of colporteurs go to like, it's a Bible school pretty much. Adventist Bible school where a lot of them came out from. And also it's like, it's just very minimal stuff. Yeah. You can only have like a small set of clothes with you, yeah.

[00:56:18] Santiago: I've met some people who went through Souls West, and I do remember hearing the music that they listened to and recognizing that it was distinctly either like you said, acapella or just completely acoustic. A very different vibe from, you know, what a lot of Evangelical Christians and maybe more liberal Adventists might listen to on a regular basis.

[00:56:44] Andres: Yeah, it was very strict on the music. They were very strict on the whole music, uh, doctrine in there. Yeah, from what I remember, 'cause I know from there, that's when, that's when more of that whole drum thing started happening a lot more, too. Because I remember when you brought up the, when you brought up the cajon, I remember at one church that we stayed at, there was a, there was one of the guys that did like, um, that would do the music up in every service and they have a cajon in this one church.

[00:57:13] And I remember someone, one of the kids from Youth Rush was just getting so crazy about it because he's like, "You shouldn't be having a cajon." "That's a beat music." And he would co — and he, I remember too, like we were we were they were just practicing this one Friday night. They were just practicing for the service the next day. And he was like covering his ears and like crouched like in the corner of the room. Yeah, no, I was just thinking like, the whole, like when you, when you get doctrines like that really stuck in you, it gets you, it really eats you away.

[00:57:49] Santiago: I think some people definitely take it to an extreme, like this person you just described.

[00:57:54] Andres: Yeah, yeah, I mean, that still brings up to my day and like, like, there is nothing bad about having drums in the music because I remember too, growing up in Youth Rush, they have their own songbook. Those exact same songs that they have in their small songbooks are like the exact same songs that I grew up listening to from contemporary Christian bands.

[00:58:17] Like, it was mainly from the Maranatha praise band because my dad would play them every single time. My dad would play them every single time. He has like a collection, he has like a whole collection of their CDs, so I recognized the majority of the music that we sung in Youth Rush. And I tried talking to them too, and I told them, "You know that we're, that we're listening to contemporary Christian music that do use a lot of drums in their music?" And nobody, everyone kind of ignored it, shrugged it off.

[00:58:42] Santiago: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, I like to bring up the example of organs and how some Protestant Christians, John Calvin and some Calvinists were very, very much against organs because they associated it with the Catholic church. And pretty much any Adventist church, you will find an organ, right?

[00:59:05] And the early Adventists, when they worshipped, they chose not to use instruments for, I think, the first 30 years of the movement. So it just goes to show that with enough time, things that were considered to be "of the devil" are now just suddenly standard in even the most fundamentalist churches.

[00:59:27] Andres: And actually that one, that, that one church I visited weeks ago up here in Kansas, they actually have an organ.

[00:59:34] Santiago: Yeah, I think it's pretty, pretty standard in Adventist churches that are big enough to have one. So yeah, it's, it's, it's interesting to me just how standards change. Some of the hymns that we have in the Adventist hymnal, there's a hymn in there that's originally a Catholic hymn.

[00:59:54] Andres: Mm hmm.

[00:59:55] Santiago: I remember singing in church and never knowing it had Catholic origins. There are hymns in there that were called "devil's music" by other Christians years and years and years ago, because they had more of a rhythm than some of the other hymns during that day. But yet all of these we consider to be traditional hymns, and even the most fundamentalist Christians that I knew within my church who are very strict about music, had no problems with these hymns and didn't see them any differently than the other hymns, at least as far as I could tell. So it's, it's, it's just funny to me how with enough time, things that were once considered "of the devil," are just normal and we don't even think twice.

[01:00:41] Andres: Yeah, it's, and it's so funny because I remember bringing up the hymnals, um, the, I remember older edition, the older edition of the Adventist hymnals was actually revised some time in like the late 80s and they removed them completely. Because I looked at like the history of like the hymnals that we have now currently to the past, and I remember some hymnals have, have changed. They have, and it's, and, and just thinking like, okay, did they do it just to kind of fit in line with Adventist doctrines?

[01:01:12] Santiago: Yeah, yeah, there's, there's definitely been some debate about, you know, which hymns are included in the Adventist hymnal. I wrote a whole essay about this, but it's been a minute. But yeah, one of these days I'm going to do an episode on music and I will do a deep dive on all of those things.

[01:01:30] Andres: Once you really look into so much of the history, it's so much to uncover. There's a lot more that I'm still uncovering, too. One website that I always go to, I forgot the website. It's called Non SDA or Non EGW. And they have so much resources on there to really look into it for yourself. Like the history of the Adventist church.

[01:01:52] That's when I started doing a lot more of the on my own investigation of like, whether it was seizures or epilepsy that Ellen White had. I remember reading a full essay of that and that I mean I could go into a whole deep dive of that too, because there's so many different cases like similar to head traumas pretty much like Harriet Tubman or if you heard of Phineas Gage, or the singer of INXS who was saying, um, "I need you tonight" or "Devil inside."

[01:02:21] Um, he actually had head trauma and there's so much that deals psychologically with head traumas and that's when I first discovered those several like essays and stuff like that. And that's, I discovered reading those also when I was in Youth Rush, too. All of that stuff I discovered when when I was in Youth Rush and that's when I was convinced like Ellen White is not, is no end time prophet for me.

[01:02:47] Santiago: Interesting. So yeah, I want to, I want to bring it back real quick to, to Youth Rush and then I want to, I want to follow up with what you just said.

Check Back for Part 2

[01:03:00] Santiago: And we're going to pause here. Come back for part two, where we talk more about the experiences Andres had while in Youth Rush. You'll get to learn a few Youth Rush terms like "devils rabbit," discover some of their sales tactics, and hear about several unfortunate encounters Andres had with dogs while going door to door.

Haystacks & Hell Outro

[01:03:23] 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 hell.bio — that's H E L L . B I O or leave us a voicemail at 301-750-8648 and we might feature it in a future episode. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you on the next one!

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