Rosei Quartz: Pastor's Kid turned Content Creator - Pt. 1

Bonus Episode
June 8, 2024
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Episode Notes

Support the Show • Santiago interviews Rosei Quartz, a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor's kid, content creator, and Twitch streamer. Rosei shares her Adventist upbringing, the pressures of parasocial relationships, and the high expectations placed upon her as a pastor’s kid. We cover her journey out of Adventism and how studying psychology played a big role.

Resources / Topics Mentioned:
Links - Rosei Quartz's Links
Podcast - Rosei Quartz's Podcast
Podcast - Armchair Expert - Cults (Rosei starts at 50:08)
Topic - Complementarianism
Book - #ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing
Topic - LARPing
Topic - Startle Response
Topic - Cry Nights
Topic - Hypervigilance & Hyperawareness
Topic - Terror Management Theory
Topic - Thought-terminating cliché
Podcast - H&H S1:E4 - When Did You Learn About...
Playlist - Debunking Young Earth Creationism

Full Transcripts, resources and more:

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Credits: 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.

Meet Rosei Quartz

[00:00:17] Santiago: Hey everyone, I'm your host Santiago, and welcome back to Haystacks and Hell. Just a quick reminder that this show is self-funded and made possible by listeners like you. You can support Haystacks and Hell by visiting, or the first links in the show notes, where you can give a one-time or monthly donation.

[00:00:37] Today, I'm very excited to share my conversation with Rosei Quartz, originally recorded back in 2023. Rosei is a variety content creator, Twitch streamer, and self-described Side Quest Giver based in Canada. She grew up as an Adventist pastor's kid steeped in purity culture, the pressures of parasocial relationships, and the tension that comes with being in a high demand religion.

[00:01:04] Rosei has spoken a lot about boundaries and consent since leaving Adventism. She has more than a quarter million followers on TikTok and is also active on Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and more. In March 2024, she was featured on the Armchair Expert podcast with actor, comedian, and filmmaker Dax Shepard. You can find that episode linked in the show notes.

[00:01:28] In our conversation, we discussed Rosei's Adventist upbringing, the downsides of the Adventist health message, and how she went on to study psychology at an Adventist university. Rosei eventually decided to leave her Adventist school when she realized what they were teaching goes against best practices and even crossed some ethical boundaries. So with that background, here's our conversation.

[00:01:53] Rosei, welcome, thank you for your work, and thanks for coming on the show!

[00:01:57] Rosei: Oh, thank you so very much for having me. I'm always very happy to speak on this particular subject matter, so I'm very glad that you are offering me the opportunity to speak on your platform.

SDA Family History & Early Memories

[00:02:09] Santiago: The first question I want to ask you is, how far back does the Adventist faith go in your family?

[00:02:16] Rosei: Oh, I am multigenerational. I'm a legacy Adventist, at least on my, my mother's side. They have been in the Adventist church for a few generations now. My father's side of the family, they were brought in through an evangelistic series when my father was about nine, I believe. And that evangelistic series is attributed to bringing the, their family out of crime, essentially, uh, addiction cycles, things like that.

[00:02:47] It was perceived to be the breaking of a generational cycle of pain over there. So they were brought in through the health message on my dad's side, but then like my mom's side they're, like I said, legacy. So it's a very interesting combination where my family came together and so, yeah, it, it runs deep.

[00:03:08] Santiago: Yeah, no, it sounds like it. Definitely not as deep on my end. My mom converted when she was a teenager. My dad converted, I think, when he was a young adult. I think he got baptized after they met. I have to go back and double check on that. But yeah, it's interesting to see how people come to Adventism. Usually it's some sort of evangelistic meeting, some missionary, or somebody found The Great Controversy lying around, which is what happened to my dad.

[00:03:39] Rosei: Oh boy [laughing]. Oh yeah, Adventism kind of hit like a height of recruitment in like 80s, 90s, and they were really going hard for their evangelistic end times stuff. So there were a number of people who kind of got pulled in there around the time that like wellness started hitting a stride with like the increase of media. So that, that does not surprise me at all that like that's how your, your parents got pulled into it.

[00:04:08] Santiago: Yeah, so, I want to ask you what some of your earliest memories are growing up Adventist in Canada.

[00:04:15] Rosei: One of my very first memories is being in the car in the church parking lot, and my father had forgotten to, like, actually put the car in park. And so I'm about, like, three years old. We were at the church for some kind of function, and I remember just, like, completely freaking out, being like, "The car is still moving!"

[00:04:35] And most of my memories in those early years, there is church something in the back of it. It was either at, like, the forefront or it just played some kind of part in the, the structure of my memories because that was our whole life. It was there for just all the big moments of my life. Like I was, it started right from the very beginning. I was dedicated to Christ as an infant. And, uh, right on from there is my, my family invested our entire identity into Adventism. So, it's, it's kind of been like a fundamental aspect of my neurological framework right from, right from infancy onward.

[00:05:22] Santiago: Yeah, no, I can imagine.

Sabbath Mornings

[00:05:24] Santiago: Sometimes, as ex-Adventists, we'll kind of talk about Sabbath mornings, and I did a little poll on Instagram a couple weeks ago. Most people found that Sabbath mornings were pretty stressful and hectic for them. I'm curious, as a pastor's kid, what were Sabbath mornings like for you and your family?

[00:05:46] Rosei: Yeah, I actually, uh, I used to joke with people that we were pastor's kids before we were pastor's kids, because my parent, uh, bought very much into behavior modification. So, uh, he actually became a pastor when I was in my, like, mid teens. And up until that point, we were held to an expectation of maturity, and, uh, my father took a lot of pride in, uh, my younger brother and I just exhibiting these very calm, very "with it," kind of thing.

[00:06:20] Like anytime we got feedback from church members that we were so much more mature and so mature for our age, that was like his little "brrr" [laughing] thing that he just was so happy about.

[00:06:31] But Sabbath mornings, it was one of those things that first made me start really being like "Something, something's off here." Because Sabbath was all about rest and I was like, "If today's about rest, why am I awake at 7 AM, putting on all of this stuff?" "Why am I in the car like bleary eyed like this?" "And then I have to be awake and alive and shaking people's hands?" "I don't feel rested at all."

[00:06:59] I was just not very comfortable with people. Like, I was that kid who couldn't hold eye contact and would, like, hide behind my parents. And it, it stressed me out to be pulled from, like, my little bubble, my little world, to be in this, like, building full of people who are all just, like, they get in your face. They get down, like, in front of you, and they're trying to, like, engage with you. And there's this atmosphere of welcoming, but you're like this kid who's just like being overwhelmed with all this sound and all these people. So Sabbath was my least favorite day of the week. Friday would hit and I'd be like, "Oh no, it's coming!"

[00:07:34] Santiago: [Laughing] Oh man, yeah, no, I can only imagine being kind of the center of attention when you're not wanting to be the center of attention, right? Neither of my parents were pastors. My dad was an elder, still is an elder, and I had a kind of a different experience where to be honest, to some degree, I enjoyed the attention I got when I would perform music and be up on stage or be doing these other things, if I wanted to be there, right?

[00:08:09] There were some times when I didn't want to and then that completely changes your perspective. But when I wanted to, it was something that I, you know, I did enjoy, but I can definitely relate to being expected to do something when you don't, when you don't want that. It's kind of thrust upon you.

Pastor's Kid Pressures

[00:08:26] Santiago: I've listened to the podcast that you have, and I've heard you speak before about this idea of parasocial relationships and the high expectations that came along with being a pastor's kid. So for anyone who's not familiar with the concept of a parasocial relationship, can you talk a little bit about that and what that was like for you?

[00:08:44] Rosei: Essentially, with a parasocial relationship, that's also something that I deal, like, I have to set boundaries around myself, between myself and my audience as a content creator. Because essentially, it is somebody who feels that they have more of a relationship with you than they actually do or is appropriate for that situation.

[00:09:05] And quite often with pastor's kids, they are expected to be role models. They are expected — even to other adults. So, you are more of a product than you are a person. And quite often the church takes pride in how well the pastor's family is modeling the desired behaviors. So if you, as the pastor's kid, are not conforming, you're not performing well enough, quite often the church will take it upon themselves to pressure it out of you. Or they will feel that they are allowed to expect certain things from you.

[00:09:50] So, they'll be, "Oh, you've been voluntold to do scripture reading." "You're doing praise and worship." "You're taking care of the kids." Like, there is an expectation of accessibility to you. So it can be very violating, especially as, like, your brain develops. You may not notice it as you're younger, but as you hit certain stages of cognitive development where your brain is trying to determine a sense of self, it can feel very violating and confusing to be surrounded by your community of people who feel that they are owed access to you and to your time, to your attention, to your labor, essentially.

[00:10:31] So you, you kind of develop this sense of resent — at least I did. I was, uh, developed a sense of resentment, uh, around it. Especially because, like, it's not just from your church, but also, you don't really have boundaries between yourself and your parents. Your parent can just use you as some kind of sermon illustration at any time they want.

[00:10:53] And that's just it, that tends to be the good content. The content that church members want. They want more of your personal life. So quite often, pastors will feed out parts of their family to draw in the congregation. So you are, as a child, often farmed out by your parents. Your life is used as content. So, uh, yeah, for the, the, the parasocial dynamic can be very confusing and damaging to your sense of self as it's developing.

[00:11:25] Santiago: Yeah, no, I can only imagine. Now that you just mentioned that, I just got this image of YouTubers who have families and who will exploit their kids for profit on YouTube.

[00:11:39] Rosei: Yes.

[00:11:40] Santiago: You've mentioned that around the age of 11, you were sitting alone in church and one of your parents was speaking about an experience you had and kind of using you as a sermon illustration, I guess. You described how they talked about you having intense nightmares as a kid, and they even claimed that you were being harassed by demons and that you supposedly levitated off the bed. I'm wondering if you can speak a little bit about that.

[00:12:07] Rosei: Okay, so this is very much like a fundamental core, a core memory, so to speak, for me. My father started doing like lay pastoring or doing sermons as an elder before, long before becoming an actual pastor. And that one day, uh, we were a family unit of four, and my mother and younger brother were not there at the church that day for some reason. But my father had been scheduled to speak.

[00:12:35] And I'm just there, alone in the pew, like our family pew, and just kind of, like, chilling and being, and kind of curious because now I'm starting to be a little bit more aware of things around that time. And I was like, "Oh, this is now my, like, this is my parent on stage, okay." And so I'm just kind of hanging out just there. And then suddenly, he starts talking about his daughter. And I was like "Huh?" "Okay..."

[00:13:06] So, in my father's sermon, he starts describing how I, in, like, my younger years, this is probably between the ages of two to four, was having very intense nightmares. And I was kind of very much wondering to myself, I was having nightmares, because this is something I had just started to consider was normal. And I thought everybody had this, because, this started for as long as I can remember.

[00:13:30] I was just having nightmares about the world ending. Because, I mean, we're being told that the Sunday Keepers are coming for us. And so every night I was dreaming that, like, we were being hunted down, and people were gonna, like, stab my family in front of me, and we're gonna go to jail, and, and stuff.

[00:13:46] So, like, I thought that was normal. And I, I was, I was having this whole moment of not only being like,

[00:13:53] "What do you mean, 'Was?'"

[00:13:54] And also "Um, wait, do you guys also — wait, is this a me problem?" "Is, is this just me?" "Wait..." So, it happened so fast where I'm just learning a lot about myself by proxy from my parent who's on stage. And how I was having these very intense dreams every night and my parents started being like, "What's wrong with our kid?" [Gasp] "She's being harassed." "She's being demonically harassed."

[00:14:22] And so in this sermon, apparently my father goes into the room while I'm sleeping. I'm having a bad dream. And then he does the prayer warrior thing where you like, pray over the person and you tell like Satan, "In the name of Jesus, get out of her." And in this story, I come three feet off the bed. And at that point, the whole church is now looking at me.

[00:14:44] And I'm like, I'm like, just horrified. Like, what? This is all new information to me. Why am I finding this out while you're on stage publicly? And also, I would not have been comfortable with that story being told. Like, if my father had been like, "Hey, I want to do this sermon." "Is it okay for me to tell this story of you?" I would have been like, "No!"

[00:15:05] Santiago: Right.

[00:15:05] Rosei: First of all, "What?!" Second of all, that's really embarrassing to just have this story told about you from the pulpit, uh, about how you've been "demonically harassed." And now looking at that as an adult, I was like, wow, you guys just were really deep in the cosplay, weren't you?

[00:15:22] Both: [Laughing]

[00:15:26] Rosei: Just out here LARPing as a soldier of God over just like, "I banished in Jesus' name," and I was like, no, you're cosplaying is what you're doing.

[00:15:34] Santiago: Honestly, yeah. I don't know if you've seen it, but there was a video, I think on Twitter and maybe some other platforms making the rounds, of a man and a woman standing in between... In between them is standing, I think, like a young adult, young woman, and she's just like laughing. And this woman is like speaking in tongues, supposedly casting a demon out, and she's like, "Spirit of Harry Potter, I command you to leave her!" And I'm like, are we, are we still on the whole Harry Potter is demonic thing? Like, really?

[00:16:10] Rosei: We're still there. And um, I recently came across a term called Ludic LARPing. That's kind of how they're classifying that type of behavior. This type of idea of a spiritual warrior gives people this sense of divine purpose. So almost like you are in real life, a D&D cleric, acting on behalf of your divine purpose. And you essentially see, especially with Fundamentalist Evangelicals, they get so into their LARP. They get really into the whole, um, "I am this Spiritual Warrior and I'm fasting, and I'm on my knees." Like, they're, they're getting meta with it. And, uh, from the outside now, we're like, "Whoa, okay..."

[00:16:56] Santiago: Yeah, yeah, no, it's, it's something else. And it's funny how sometimes these stories can change over time. I don't know if, now as an adult, if you've ever had a conversation about what really happened that day when you supposedly levitated. Because I know that I've had a conversation with my mom where I was pretty young when she first told me this story, but she told me a story of her niece supposedly levitating as a baby out of her crib. And then when I asked her years later, she remembers it differently or tells it differently.

[00:17:31] Whenever I hear stuff like that, that's supernatural, I always take it with a grain of salt just because we know a lot, but we also know so little about the human mind and how we perceive certain things. And it's just like with, you know, visions supposedly of the Virgin Mary, right? As Adventists, we don't believe that Mary is alive and is a saint the way the Catholics see her. And so whenever somebody will talk about seeing Mary, or supposedly when massive groups of people have seen Mary, an Adventist will look at that and say, "No, that's either not real, or that's an evil spirit," or whatever.

[00:18:11] Rosei: Okay, so, when it, when it comes specifically to my air quotes "levitation," my guess is that it's late at night. And, I'm probably about three years old, and then, like, I'm having a nightmare, and then I wake up to some, like, person in my room, like, praying over me. Chances are, I literally just woke up and was like, "Oh my gosh!" "What is going on?" And had a startle response, which was then hyperbolized for the sake of this sermon.

Spiritual Manipulation & Content Creation

[00:18:40] The way that I view spiritual leaders and pastors has been very much altered by my experience as a content creator. Because when I do live streaming, when I'm doing content, a lot of, like, my TikToks, for example, I do multiple drafts. I'm doing some choreography. I'm over emoting, like, my fa — like, there's little tricks that you do.

[00:19:04] Rosei: So, for example, if I really want to over emote, you will slow down the audio so that you can really get those, like expressions down and put into the content. That's not me as a baseline. So, as I became a content creator and I started developing these entertainment skills, things to hold the prefrontal cortex, keep you engaged in the content, because that's everything as a content creator, is your attention.

[00:19:29] So you learn all these different things to keep attention. And so, I kind of cut contact with family, walked away from Adventism, and here I was on TikTok pulling in a massive audience, and I'm learning all these skill sets. And then after a while, I went back and I started re-watching sermons. And that's when I noticed these pastors are using the same techniques that I do.

[00:19:52] And I went from growing up believing these were spiritual men of God being given inspiration to me being like, "I know what that technique is!" "I know what you're doing." "I know exactly what skill you just employed there." "Uh, wow!" And so I've actually started to view the stage, for pastors, as being entertainment based. Because that's what it is. It is holding a congregation's attention. So the way that I view it today is very altered from what I grew up with.

[00:20:25] Santiago: That's fascinating. I'm so glad you shared that because I think that's, I think more and more people are starting to wake up to that fact. But to hear your perspective as a content creator, as someone who spends your professional working life doing this, it's so interesting to me, you know, to hear that you picked up on that and can identify and pick out certain moments.

[00:20:48] There are a bunch of ex-Christians who used to be musicians and lead worship, who are now talking about how they would do specific chord progressions and specific tempos and specific things to get a specific emotion. Even me, as somebody who played music in church, I can remember times when the pastor's doing a call down to the front and being asked to play music. Or you know, seeing other people play music, and absolutely, you are creating a moment there.

[00:21:22] Some people will say, "Well, yeah, we know that's what it is." "But, you know, the Holy Spirit's still involved." And it's, it's interesting to see how, you know, people can have different interpretations of that. But I think it's undeniable that sermons, that music, are absolutely employed in a way to get a certain response.

[00:21:45] Rosei: Yes, uh, what you described there, "Cry Nights," the artificial creation of a spiritual experience really messed me up, especially as a teen. I don't look at pastors as spiritual leaders anymore. I, I view them as like from performer to performer. Because of course, growing up, I went to the Adventist camps and the schools and whatnot, and of course with church, where you do the, the come to the altar moments.

[00:22:11] And I learned later on that those are something called a Cry Night, where you are essentially creating an artificial spiritual experience. And so, as you do the build ups of emotion and you get people into a headspace, you kind of build up a confirmation bias of, "Oh, this is what God feels like." But the problem with that becomes the experience concludes and then you're, you're so inspired and you're like, "Yes, I feel so in it!" "I, I, I'm having my Jesus freak moment." Like, this is it. "I felt God."

[00:22:46] And then you don't feel it again. And you just, you have like this plummet of trying to get it back. So you're there at home like, "I'mma read my Bible, and I'mma be on my knees." And I'm praying, and I'm doing service. And then you're like... "Where is it?" "Where is it?" I felt it, I had the response. I had the brain response. "Where is it?" And then you start going into this spiral of sometimes even right down to self loathing because you're like, "Oh, maybe I'm not good enough for God to notice anymore."

[00:23:15] And so you do the tithing and you do all of like these things and you keep being like, "What is wrong with me?" "What am I not getting right?" And it locks you into this spiral with your sense of self and your self worth. Because you don't know that they made it, that they literally artificially made it in that moment. And you keep trying to get that, that connection back, but you're not there. You're not in that artificially created moment anymore, so you're not going to mentally experience that "spiritual connection."

[00:23:45] Santiago: One hundred percent, I can definitely remember going to an Adventist summer camp, and that would even be talked about. They'd say, "Hey, you've had this experience here, and it's gonna be tough when you go back." They, like, some of them were aware of it, and they would try to prepare you for that, because they know. They've probably experienced it themselves. So yeah, no, I can definitely relate to that.

[00:24:09] You touched a little bit on end time fears, and I want to go back to that in a second, but you've also talked about, you know, going to camps and, and whatnot. One of the objections I hear from current Adventists is that when we talk about Adventism, when we talk about Ellen White, when we talk about certain doctrines or certain fringe movements, they're like, "Oh, that's not Adventism." "That doesn't count, that's not Adventism." And so I'm wondering, how important was Ellen White and some of the more, what I guess, more moderate or liberal Adventists might consider "fringe" Adventist positions. What was your experience with that, if any, compared to the more core gospel message and being told to have a relationship with Jesus?

[00:24:58] Rosei: I would say they need to check the book of Fundamental Beliefs a little closer, because uh, they literally added "Spirit of Prophecy" into, this is the 2018 manual! She is right there. They added her as a fundamental belief, uh, just so that they could use her as canon, pretty much equal to the Bible. This is not fringe stuff. This is written right into the core fundamental beliefs that you, if you get baptized into Adventism, are agreeing that you believe in. That little cognitive dissonance of "This isn't really Adventism," no. She is considered a founding member of the organization. Like, this is built into the foundation, so you cannot just be like, oh, "She's, she's fringe" something or other.

[00:25:48] This has been reinforced for quite some time. Ever, ever since the very beginning. And she's definitely something that you cannot separate from Adventism. She is fundamental to Adventism. And for people to be like, "This stuff is fringe" and whatnot, I'm like, you're not actually paying attention to like, your, the, the book they give you of fundamental beliefs, I'm like, she is literally a tenet of those beliefs. It's like 28 fundamental beliefs. I'm like, she's one of them and that's what you agree that you believe.

[00:26:27] Santiago: It's so interesting to me how I have learned more about Ellen White and Adventist history as an ex-Adventist. Part of it because of this podcast, but I've learned so much more about the church after leaving it than I knew while I was in it. It's kind of funny how that works. I guess, to be honest, like, I, I grew up in a conservative church, but I've talked before about how Ellen White wasn't always quoted extensively from the pulpit. I know some churches, they kind of went overboard with that, and it was a lot of Ellen White. For the church or churches that you grew up in, what was that like? Was, was she a big emphasis?

[00:27:07] Rosei: Definitely, especially for the evangelistic series. My family had all of her books. We, like, in the bookshelves, like, the top two bookshelves were all Ellen White's content. Like, she had a dedicated space in our home. And unfortunately, I had cousins whose, uh, I was told they literally would go hungry. And they would go out into the garden and secretly eat peas and carrots and bury the evidence of them eating food because their parents believed that Ellen White said being overweight is a sin.

Health Message & Ellen White

[00:27:41] Rosei: I'm in Western Canada. Prairie Adventism is its own special type of neurotic. They, they went so, so hard for Ellen White's health message, and I don't think what a lot of people realize about Adventism is that well, for a lot of people, it's all about that saving grace. It's the connection with God, the salvation message.

[00:28:06] What they don't understand is that Adventism is also a multimillion-dollar health food industry. And Ellen White was what they used to sell it. You can't sell it just on the Bible, you have to sell it on the part of Ellen White's visions that pertained to health. And Adventism isn't ready to give up their cash cow.

[00:28:30] That health message aspect of Adventism, that is what pulls people in. That is their, their, their driving thing that — because everyone wants to be healthy. So, not many people actually recognize that the, the, Ellen White is the health message. And the health message is money.

[00:28:52] Santiago: Hmm, it's funny you mention that, because I had a conversation with somebody who went through Youth Rush. And their training as part of Youth Rush was to start out by talking about the health message. And they had cookbooks, and they had all of this other stuff that they would lead with, if they couldn't tell that the person was already religious or interested in religious topics. So yeah, I think even, even with ministries like Youth Rush, the health message absolutely plays into that, and there definitely is a financial component to that.

[00:29:28] Rosei: Definitely.

[00:29:29] Santiago: Growing up, did you ever feel comfortable openly questioning the church's teachings? Because it sounds like you had some things that you were seeing, like the difference between being told that Sabbath is a day of rest and that in reality, it wasn't for you and your family. So did you have some other questions going on in your mind? And did you feel comfortable asking them?

[00:29:52] Rosei: I did not necessarily question to the community at large. I did with my own father, and they told me that they expected me to leave the church at one point. Because somewhere around age 13 or so, I remember just like really digging into some things and being like, "Um, what, what is this?" "What is going on here?"

[00:30:16] And my dad was very good at giving reasons for things that made sense to me. Because of course, I had not developed critical thinking skills, and I did not have post-secondary training in picking things apart. So to a 14-year-old it's pretty easy to make something seem logical and, and sensical. So, uh, we would have long, long conversations where I would like push and push and push certain things.

[00:30:41] And the big one for me literally did come down to consent. And that was the one where like my dad felt that like he had won with the response of, "God doesn't punish you, it is a natural consequence." Whereas as an adult, I'm able to be like, listen, "If the answer to 'No' is a consequence, then your 'Yes' is not consensual." And so, yeah, it's, it's as your brain develops, you kind of have different ways of being able to question or examine. But of course, at 14, you're still just, you don't quite have that neurological framework yet.

"Spiritual Warfare" & Psychology

[00:31:21] Santiago: Yeah, definitely. Throughout all of this, did you feel like you experienced moments that were spiritual or supernatural?

[00:31:33] Rosei: So that has been quite an interesting experience for me because what I ended up doing was kind of riding the pipeline of Evangelical Good Girl to New Age Occult Spiritualist kind of thing. And my family bought into spiritual warfare, hardcore. So we kind of had these things where we'd be like, "I sense a demon is present and we need to cast it out."

[00:31:59] And what I, I noticed, what became very interesting to me as I, I flowed from this type of spiritual warfare, a lot of pagan witchy, uh, practices have their own version of spiritual warfare. So instead of like praying for God to bless and protect your home, you would ward your home with a spell. Uh, kind of like similar mentality of, we gotta protect ourselves.

[00:32:24] So you, you engage in these anxiety reducing rituals, spiritual rituals, either Christian or Pagan, to bring your anxiety back down and feel like you're protected. And I noticed over the past couple years, because I went into like, witchy... But then therapy as well, and what I noticed over time is the nightmares decreased, as well as all of these things that I felt indicated "demons" or spiritual presence, decreased.

[00:32:54] And at one point I stopped and I was like, it's been over a year since I felt like there was some kind of negative spiritual influence around me. And the farther away I get from the "in group," the less my brain looks for things that might feel like a negative spiritual influence. And I started to recognize, at least my own experience with what I thought were negative spiritual influences, tended to be more of a confirmation bias because I was looking for it.

[00:33:24] I was actively in that state of fight, flight, hyperawareness. Like one of the symptoms of PTSD is hypervigilance. And the struggle with my mental health and Adventism is that it held me in a state of constant hypervigilance. And that means your stress levels are up, your cortisol levels are up, and you don't get a chance to let it process out of your body. Because even in my sleep, I was dreaming about the world ending.

[00:33:54] So it was a 24/7 state of hypervigilance for me, of always being on guard and always looking for things that indicated what I was looking for. And since then, what I've noticed is that I've, being able to come out of a state of hypervigilance, I'm not looking for it. And when I'm not looking for it, I've noticed that there's nothing, nothing shows up that would just make me be like [gasp] "There's definitely something." "There's something, right?" Like, there's no pictures flying around the walls or like, possess, possessions, anything like that. It's, what I realized is life turned, life went to a baseline of normalcy.

[00:34:38] Santiago: I'm so glad you mentioned that because if anybody has had a similar experience where they were kind of conditioned to look for it and is wondering what to do about that, I think that's a, that's a very good example of coming out of that when you're not looking for it as much. Obviously, go to therapy and seek out professional resources, but I'm so glad you mentioned that.

[00:35:05] Because for me, I never really experienced things like that. I never really experienced this constant fear that there was maybe some evil spirit around the corner or in my home. I remember hearing stories about that kind of thing. I remember hearing Walter Veith, and I think you've talked about Walter Veith before. But I remember him talking about his child supposedly being possessed, and having a Catholic priest come to perform an exorcism or something like that.

[00:35:35] And so, you know, we grew up hearing this stuff, but my, my family, I don't think they emphasized that nearly as much, except maybe on my mom's side. Because again, she had family members, back in her home country, that she said supposedly practiced witchcraft and black magic. So the only time I ever really heard anything about that was from my mom, who had family members who were supposedly engaging in evil things.

[00:36:02] But from my dad's side of the family, where they were nominal Christians, my grandma was, and my grandpa was pretty secular, I never heard anything like that from that side of the family. So it's interesting to see the difference there.

[00:36:16] Rosei: No, my, my life was saturated in stories like that. Just absolutely saturated with all of this stuff about, like, how, like, witchcraft and things like that. And, uh, it does very much come down to, like, a sense of intuition, right? Like you are trained as a spiritual warrior to wait for those gut feelings.

[00:36:40] And when I started on TikTok in like the more occult side of it, #WitchTok kind of thing, I was starting to interact with people who practiced Hoodoo and Voodoo, things that I've been told to stay very away from. And I started learning about the origins of a lot of this stuff, which actually, a core part of it emanated from, like, in the deep South in the United States as a response to slavery.

[00:37:05] And it became this, these things that you did, because if you do a quiet spell over your family to keep yourself safe, you can't be punished for that if they don't know about it. So, uh, to me, I started recognizing that there were definitely psychological motivations for engaging in things like witchcraft and spellcraft, and a lot of it did come down to self defense and just trying to, to gain a sense of control over your environment. A lot of, a lot of spirituality does come down to trauma responses and trying to regain a sense of control.

[00:37:39] And when it came to spiritual warfare, there was this one lady I came across on TikTok, where she was like listening to sermons prior to attending church. So you know like we were saying, you're looking for it. And in this sermon, they're talking about "the witches among us." And then she's like, "I kid you not, my mom and I go to church, and then I get this feeling." "There is a woman sitting behind us with a man and her child, and she wasn't wearing a wedding ring."

[00:38:06] And then she's like, "This woman was, she, she tried to offer us gum during the church service at some point during a break in the service, but I felt in my core that she was a witch who had been sent there to, like, lead us astray." "And she was trying to, like, use gum as, like, a way of getting an in with us." And I was like, it's just some lady at church who offered you gum! She's like, "No, it was a witch!" "A witch was among us, and so my mom and I got together and we prayed against her." And I was like, it's just some lady who offered you gum.

[00:38:41] Santiago: Yeah, it's interesting how throughout history, I think, especially in the U.S. being a puritanical country, and this history of witch hunts and witch trials, whenever we don't understand something, a very common response is for us to try and demonize it and say that it's dangerous and that we need to get rid of it. And we're seeing that today inside and outside of the Adventist church, with trans people and with a lot of other things that are really misunderstood and immediately cast as bad.

Terror Management Theory

[00:39:20] Rosei: Yes, during my study of psychology while I was in university, what I found is that it gave me the language to describe things that I didn't know. Like, I had that sense of like, this isn't sitting right with me, or I can't put terms to it. I was studying personality theory, and that's when I came across the term Terror Management Strategy. And that's typically something that you see within high-demand religions like Adventism.

[00:39:50] A terror management strategy is essentially where you're trying to manage your existential dread, your death fear, your anxiety, by engaging in these strict actions, where it gives you a sense of control.

[00:40:06] So with Adventism, right, Adventism gives you a list of things to do to live a good, healthy life. And so, that helps, a lot of people find that helpful. Like, it's reducing their anxiety to engage in those behaviors. But then, with a terror management strategy, that control extends beyond them. It triggers anxiety to have it confronted. It triggers anxiety to see people existing in a different way other than your specific rituals that you're doing to keep your brain at a steady place here.

[00:40:39] So it becomes a maladaptive anxiety management system, essentially, because you have to have everyone believing this way, acting the same way, or else your, internally, the anxiety goes up. And you will see that anxiety and how defensive they get over it. They can't hear critique. If you are in the family and you're saying, "Hey, this isn't good for me," you'll notice your family will invalidate you. And they'll, they'll shut it down. They will not look directly at the pain that you're trying to tell them, because they don't have the tools.

[00:41:13] Adventism is their tool for managing the anxiety, and you're threatening their anxiety management tool. They have nothing else. So you'll see them mentally defend this anxiety strategy or project it onto you because they don't have tools outside of that. So, yeah, and like you're saying, the world is very much changing within and without Adventism, and we just saw Ted Wilson announce the Human Sexuality Task Force.

[00:41:43] That is one example of where the terror management strategy gets projected outwards. It stops being your own faith, your walk with God, into a maladaptive anxiety strategy that has to be put onto other people in order for you to feel like you're at, like, an emotionally regulated baseline.

[00:42:03] Santiago: You just dropped some knowledge, and I'm so glad you shared that example, because I haven't heard it put that way before, but it makes a lot of sense, right? It's more than a worldview, it's a coping mechanism in many ways for people to understand the world around them, to make sense of it, to organize it, and then like you said, to deal with the anxiety that they have.

[00:42:25] It's both, I think for many people who are deeply in it, it is both the problem, it is the source of their problems, or many of their problems, but it is also the solution to said problems, right? We were taught to fear the end times. That's a problem that was thrust upon us. But it also provided the "solution" to that problem.

Why Rosei Left Adventism

[00:42:48] Rosei: Yeah, that's very much why I fell out of Adventism, is that the solution wasn't working. They presented this thing that was really driving up my fear and anxiety, but then I was trying to employ the strategies they offered, and it wasn't working. It really made me start questioning things. And then I started noticing that there wasn't anything substantial in regards to emotional intelligence, in regards to soft skills, communication skills.

[00:43:20] A lot of what they were offering was a thought-terminating cliché. So, essentially, it's, it's that nicely packaged little statement. But it doesn't go deeper than that. So I would hit these times in my life where I pushed myself too hard. I offered too much of myself in service to others, or I was emotionally distressed. I was trying to communicate and I would hit those moments of distress. And I would reach for the tools that Adventism had given me and was told in Christ would make it better, only to open up the toolbox and realize it was empty.

[00:43:57] For all the sermons, for all the Sabbath schools, for all of it, I would hit these real-life interpersonal moments of distress, only to realize the box was empty. And that's when I was like, "I need something else." And I started looking into therapy and studying psychology and stuff and started trying to build actual concrete skills to fill my toolbox with, so that when those moments happened, I would actually have real things to, to fall back on and to, and to use.

Harmful Beliefs & Pseudoscience

[00:44:28] Santiago: Yeah, no, I love the term Thought-Terminating Cliché, because that is absolutely what a lot of these platitudes and common phrases within Christianity and within Adventism are. Abby in an earlier episode, I think it was about maybe episode four or five, talking about when did you learn about sex? Did you get sex education as an Adventist?

[00:44:56] She talks about how there were these books that she got from the ABC, trying to figure out how to essentially suppress her normal healthy sex drive as a young woman, because she was taught that was bad. And then when she got the book, it had completely useless advice like, "Don't sleep with your hands under the covers," and "Don't be alone by yourself," and all of this bullshit advice that has absolutely no basis in science whatsoever.

[00:45:28] And the whole history of the church is full of this stuff. Like, in episode four, I've talked about how John Harvey Kellogg promoted female genital mutilation, and same thing with boys, specifically to discourage masturbation. And how Ellen White thought that too many orgasms could lead to your early death or lead to all sorts of disease, and all sorts of other issues. I mentioned in one of my tweets about the Human Sexuality Task Force, I was like, I would love to see the Adventist Church disavow some of the extremely harmful and unscientific beliefs that John Harvey Kellogg and Ellen White put forward.

[00:46:07] And their Associate Director of Communications for the GC, Sam Neves, actually replied to that tweet thread. He's like, "Give me a list and we'll look at it." And I'm like, well, first of all, that shouldn't be our job as current or former members. That should be your job. And second of all, like, you know, what's really gonna come of that? I don't know. But, like, what, are they really gonna disavow the church prophet on things she said?

[00:46:33] I would hope so. I don't think that's impossible because some Adventists, I think, the more education you have as an Adventist, I've heard people talk about how professors and even some pastors have admitted she was flat wrong. And, you know, I don't know if anything's going to come of that. We'll see.

[00:46:49] Rosei: When it comes to, to Adventism and the health message, which includes sexuality and sex, it is not founded on on anything scientific. It is not only decades behind, but you will also notice that if, if you've had the education in psychology and stuff like that, you will notice that they know how to use buzzwords to make it sound like they're on, like, a foundation there. And that's to sell the confirmation bias of "Biblical health," but it's, it's not there. For example, the, the book of Fundamental Beliefs that was published in 2018, it lists being gay as a "behavioral disorder."

[00:47:29] Santiago: Really?

[00:47:31] Rosei: Homosexuality is not in the DSM-5 as any kind of disorder. Adventism has a sense of arrogance to it, in regards to health. And they're not going to let Ellen White go either, because Ellen White is the permission to overstep scientific reasoning and logic and ethical boundaries. Because she's "divinely inspired." And that just, it, it allows Adventism this sense of superiority in regards to health, so when it comes to their Human Sexuality Task Force they're trying to implement here, you're going to see that same level of innate arrogance.

[00:48:08] Because in their minds, it doesn't matter what the ethical boundaries are, it doesn't matter that they haven't tested their theories with the scientific method. It doesn't matter because it's biblically inspired and Ellen White's prophecies confirmed it. So I personally do not perceive Adventism improving in this regard because they'd lose their cash cow. They would lose the thing that really is the foot in the door for recruitment, which is their health message.

[00:48:36] They would have to overhaul their health message. And in order for their health message to adhere to modern ethical standards, they'd have to overhaul it completely. They would lose it. And in order for them to retain their health message, they have to hold it. They have to hold it exactly in the place and time that it has been since Ellen White.

[00:48:59] Santiago: I'm encouraged to see that some people are able and willing to admit, "Hey, Ellen White was wrong on some things, but, you know, she's still right about everything else." So, there's, there's a tiny bit of progress with some people. But I agree, I think as an institution, the Adventist institution itself is gonna have a very hard time, and they're going to go kicking and screaming before they disavow some of the things that she said, like Young Earth Creationism. I'm sure that you were taught Young Earth Creationism as a kid, right?

[00:49:36] Rosei: Yes, I was. My education is in confronting bias. Being able to see a bias and hold it accountable. And with Ellen White, the only thing that she was surrounded with by at the time, especially when she was, she was younger, and like the teens to early twenties, she was only surrounded by evangelical end time series.

[00:49:59] And the whole thing that they sell Spirit of Prophecy on is that her visions align with scripture. Of course they do! What else would she be having hallucinations about? She is, she is having visions about exactly the thing that is in her immediate environment and is being reinforced every, like, every single day.

[00:50:18] So if Ellen White were some kid without any type of brain injury and without any exposure to lead mercury poisoning from her father's occupation, so completely healthy child with no exposure to the Bible, starts having visions, of the end times that align with scripture, then maybe, yeah, you could claim that she's having visions.

[00:50:39] But because she had a brain injury, because she had exposure to mercury poisoning, and because her environment was exactly that interpretation of scripture, it's like, of course her visions aligned with scripture. That was what was saturating her whole environment at the time. So it is a lot of confirmation bias there that her visions equal truth.

[00:51:03] Santiago: Absolutely. I think there's, yeah, there's a lot of that going on. A lot of fundamentalist Christians are clinging to Young Earth Creationism, despite an overwhelming amount of evidence. And I was one of them, right? That was me, too. I'm still catching up.

[00:51:22] Rosei: Oh my gosh, that one, the creation one took a long time to undo. And actually, it's because I, I was in this honors program in one of the Adventist universities, and the main professors of that program started kind of like sliding stuff in. Like they're a little bit of like a rebel within the Adventist system. And they started, they took us on a geological expedition to the Rocky Mountains, where we were talking with scientists and things.

[00:51:51] And that's when it started to be like... "Oh, there is no way the Earth is only like 7,000 years old." It was hearing it from someone in a position of authority within Adventism that made me really like shift and make me go, "All these people in positions of power in my life have been telling me something like it's truth, and like saying it with their whole chest."

[00:52:16] And so that, that kind of like triggered a whole like, that sense of kind of like, "Wait a second." "Wait a second, you're not actually being on the level with me here." Because they are good at it. They are good at selling Young Earth Creationism. They've been perfecting this for a couple decades now, and so they know how to make it seem a certain way. And even from like Doug Batchelor's Amazing Facts and all of that stuff where they had the CGI. Yeah, they do a good job, they really do.

[00:52:50] Santiago: Yeah, I mean, well, as good as you can when you are selling a myth. I think, I think more and more people are waking up to that, but there's still a long way to go. For anyone who's listening who is interested, I have an entire playlist I've started over on the Haystacks and Hell YouTube channel now, called Debunking Young Earth Creationism. It's primarily from two different YouTubers who are science educators and are also very well informed about Young Earth Creationist arguments.

[00:53:24] It can be difficult for somebody maybe who is a scientist but isn't really up to date or informed about what the Young Earth Creationist arguments are. These people have studied it. They have debated people about this, so definitely go check it out. They talk about everything from evolutionary biology to radiometric dating. There's a lot of great content out there that I'm still catching up on, so go check that playlist out if you have any questions or any interest in that.

[00:53:55] Rosei: Yeah, it's good, good to have those tools. Doug Batchelor, right, uses things like "Amazing Facts," so they literally are selling it like it's a scientific fact. And this was something I noticed with my own father is, when I listen to his sermons, I'll hear him drop psychological terms and be like, "Oh, cognitive psychology says this." But because I've had like six years in university studying this stuff, the audience isn't picking up that that's not what cognitive psychology is.

[00:54:26] But I'm there listening in from the outside being like, "That's not — you just condensed an entire field of psychological research, all of the theorists all of the research and condensed it to this?!" That's, that's not what it is. And so when it comes to things like Adventism, you'll notice that they use terminology from health, from psychology, from sociology, and they'll employ it in the wrong way. But they'll employ it in a way that confirms what they're trying to, to convince you of.

[00:54:58] Santiago: Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, they do that with sexuality and with gender identity. It's very interesting how biology is used as a weapon. Basic biological terms are usually misrepresented or misunderstood or the full picture isn't being painted. There's another video I have on the YouTube channel talking about this concept of biological sex. And how growing up with maybe high school biology, we're taught that there's a binary and you know, things are a certain way.

[00:55:34] But when you take biology, beyond basic high school biology, you come to realize that it is so much more complicated with that within humans, within animals, even within plants. So again, there's, there's a lot that the average person doesn't know, and people with very specific agendas are using that to their advantage. And they're weaponizing basic terms and misrepresenting them, or misrepresenting the picture.

Crossing Ethical Boundaries

[00:56:04] Rosei: Yes, very much so. And at least from my perspective, the way that I have been recognizing all of this is, I actually walked away from Adventism specifically based on an ethical contradiction that I hit. Because I was studying to become a therapist. And within those programs and stuff, you are learning how to support very vulnerable people, people with extensive amounts of trauma.

[00:56:34] Now, how I had been socialized as a kid because, like, right from the get, I've, I have been socialized to care for others. And within Adventism, caring for others meant conforming and molding them to the model, right? Like, outside of the Adventist health model, they're "not healthy." "You are inherently unhealthy unless you're here." "And if I can bring you from here into this model, you will be healthy."

[00:57:02] So that is what I believed, like, with, like, with every cell of my being, because this is all I've been raised with, and I wanted that. I wanted genuinely to help other people. So, throughout childhood and into high school, university, and all of my friendships, I was doing my best to encourage and bring the people in my life to this model, if I saw them outside of it.

[00:57:25] Now, in university, that framework started getting very confronted by classes on ethics. Because if you're training to become a therapist, you are being told things like, "You're not the expert in their life." And that brought my whole brain to a screeching halt, because I was like, I thought, as like the health provider, you're identifying these things and they are almost in a form of submission to you.

[00:57:52] As the hurting person, they are coming to you for help, and you are just magnanimously bringing them up. And they're like, "Actually, no." "You're on the ground with them." "You don't know what's going on in their life." "You're not the expert in their experience, whatsoever." "This isn't something you innately know." "They're the expert in their life, you're not, you are there to help them help themselves."

[00:58:16] And it knocked my ego backwards. Like, there was a full tumble there where I had to be like, "Oh my gosh, you're actually quite right." "I don't actually know." That, it was very much a confrontation of inherent arrogance in the way that my help was being offered to other people.

Ethics & Behavior Modification

[00:58:39] Rosei: And so, basically, what I had to come to terms with is that I couldn't be a good therapist if I was Adventist. I could not retain my Adventist theology and be a good therapist. I would be projecting a bias, an inherent bias onto my client. And it would subvert that ethical need to make sure that their autonomy was respected, that their self sovereignty was respected.

[00:59:07] Because even when someone's in a lot of pain, they're the one who knows how much pain they're in. And they're going to be the ones monitoring what is and is not helpful for them internally, and I don't have access to their internal experience, not beyond what they decide to verbally express to me.

[00:59:23] So I had to sit with that for a while and, and understand that I could not help people if I was going to expect their health to conform to this very specific model. And yeah, it was, I ended up having to walk away because I was like, "I can't."

[00:59:44] Santiago: That is so interesting. So this is a realization you came to while you were at an Adventist university studying to be a psychologist.

[00:59:53] Rosei: Yeah.

[00:59:54] Santiago: Wow, that's fascinating.

[00:59:57] Rosei: I actually ended up attending a secular university. And I got to compare intro to psychology... [laughing] to modern secular psychology. And, um, Adventism is stuck in behavior modification. It hasn't moved past that. Like, psychology is now in cognitive psychology, cognitive behavioral psychology, and we're doing like eye movement desensitization techniques, and all of this different stuff, and we have humanist theories.

[01:00:30] Adventism fell in love with behavior modification and worships Pavlov. BF Skinner, they are stuck there in the reinforcement and basically, Adventist leadership believes that you can use positive and negative reinforcement to bring people to that model of health. And we've kind of dropped behavior modification in many ways because it, it, it crosses a lot of ethical boundaries of autonomy and consent for people.

[01:01:02] There, there's not many ways that you can ethically employ behavior modification on people. There's some very specific places where it's still used. But Adventism, at its core, is behavior modification in many different ways. And I was like, "I can't use this on people." Like, not only that, is that behavior modification is not that effective. And you have to keep up the reinforcement.

High Demand Religion & Mental Health

[01:01:30] Rosei: That's why you call it a high demand religion, because it is so much energy being pushed into the reinforcement. You have to keep the reinforcement up or there's a decline. Hence why people are so committed to it. You have to put that much energy into maintaining it.

[01:01:47] Santiago: It's so interesting to hear you talk about this because there is absolutely an element of high demand in there. It is about control. Like you said, it is about behavior modification. Even going way back to John Harvey Kellogg, behavior modification that he tried to introduce. He gave recommendations like, oh, "Make them sleep on a blanket on the floor," or physically hurt them. Physically hurt them and give them physical pain and trauma, and maybe that will change their behavior.

[01:02:21] It's, it's crazy to see, and so I'm so glad that as you were going through these classes, you were able to have this realization. I have, man, we could do a whole podcast just on this one topic. If there's any ex-Adventists listening who have studied psychology and who want to talk more about that, please make content about that if and when you can, because I think that is, that is such an important topic to talk about.

[01:02:49] Rosei: This was very fundamental to my, to my walking away from it all because I was told like, "This is health, this is wellness." And so to walk away from it was a very radical act for me to do. But it was the recognition of like, high demand over self can, it feels like it works for people, right? There's so many Adventists who don't understand because it feels like it's going right.

[01:03:15] And unfortunately, on the other side of it is when behavior modification goes wrong. So there's a lot of people who find that the structure of Adventism makes life feel like it goes right. And for example, like let's say you've got someone with ADHD sensory seeking who jumped into club life, started using hard substances, started having unprotected sex. And they started feeling the consequences of that, and then had a coming to Jesus moment and started living this Adventist lifestyle. It confirms the bias that Jesus is making their life better.

[01:03:51] However, because pastors are not holding their help, the marital advice, the counseling that pastors offer, it's not held to an ethical standard. And they often cause a lot of damage to people in abusive situations, people struggling with mental health, people struggling with gender identity. And they're, they're putting behavior modification on vulnerable people. So for those who feel like Adventism is going right, they do not understand the trauma that occurs when behaviour modification goes wrong.

[01:04:23] Santiago: I think you touched on something really important, which is that, yeah, some people will leave the church, they'll go off the deep end so to speak, and they will develop bad habits. And then, like you said, they'll have a coming to Jesus moment, and they'll come back, and it kind of reinforces all of that.

[01:04:41] There's actually a podcast that just recently started, dedicated to Adventists who left and who came back. And the very first episode is a pastor who's, if I'm not mistaken, based in New York. And he talks about how he left Adventism because he didn't like the rules. He was worshipping a god of 'Noes', as he put it.

[01:05:03] And then he, as a musician, got around a bunch of older people who were doing drugs and alcohol. And he talks about becoming an alcoholic and doing drugs. And then he came back to Jesus because that kind of familiarity that he was raised with drew him back, and then he had a different understanding of god.

[01:05:24] And it sounds like his understanding of god is genuinely healthier than the one he originally had. But I think his story, not to diminish his story, right? It sounds like he's had a growth trajectory, and it sounds like he's in a healthier place than he was. So I don't want to diminish that or sound like I'm mocking, because I'm not at all.

[01:05:46] I respect people who are able to go through those experiences, come out of them better on the other side, and be willing to share about that openly. But what he just described fits within the pattern of what you just mentioned. And I think there's a lot of other people who could probably relate to that.

Personal Growth Outside the Church

[01:06:04] Rosei: I actually got a comment a couple days ago, cause I posted an Instagram Reel talking about how like, if how you live your life would make a youth pastor uncomfortable, you're probably doing good. Like, I believe in your degeneracy, like, give'er! And I had this guy comment about how he believed that and he was like, "Yeah, let's live the sinful lifestyle!" And he was going to clubs and he was doing all, like, the extreme behaviors. And then he was like, "But then it damaged my soul and I had to come back to church."

[01:06:35] And that was basically the testimony. I'd heard so many testimonies like that. Now, if you notice, a lot of high demand religion speaks to people with ADHD, and it speaks to neurodivergency, because it's structure. There are a lot of us who, we heard those testimonies, and at least I felt afraid. I felt that I was going to lose control. The church was the thing keeping me from this secular world that would suck me into all this self destructive behavior. And what actually happened is, no, I'm, I'm here bopping around my house with my guinea pigs, eating cheese. I, like, I'm not out in the club, like, like, snorting crack off a stripper. Like, I...

[01:07:18] Both: [Laughing]

[01:07:23] Rosei: Like, what you actually find out is that for most of us, we're actually, like, pretty chill, if you, if you notice. And so if you were really to sit down and examine in good faith the stories of people who leave and then go off the deep end, so to speak, you have to really ask yourself, how many of those people are somebody with ADHD, or undiagnosed neurodivergence, BPD. Who leave the church, leave the structure, and because they have nothing else in their toolbox, they follow the sensory seeking behavior, they follow the coping mechanism, the numbing that happens.

[01:08:00] Like, let's say, if you drop your coping mechanisms with church and you have nothing else to fall back on, you're going to seek out something else to replace it. And if what you've replaced it with is, like, let's say, substance abuse, yeah, you're going to be like, "I gotta go back!" "I gotta back to church."

[01:08:17] But there's a middle ground. That's what a lot of people miss, is that if you go from church to extreme self destructive behaviors and back to church, there was a middle ground, and that was therapy. That, that was, um, maybe ADHD medication. That was healthy coping mechanisms and hobbies and things like that.

[01:08:39] Like, if somebody has that coming back to Jesus moment, I do think that there is a potential for healthy spirituality, healthy connection to god, things like that. But when I hear these stories of people who went from like one high demand over self to whoop, I'm like, you guys missed, like, where were you going? And like, it's just, you're watching someone go from like here to all the way over here and back, and like, you guys are standing out here, like... "There was a middle ground!" "You didn't have to ping so hard back and forth."

[01:09:11] Like, you can also be healthy, stable, outside of church. And I think that's, the church loves that stuff. They live for that, and I often talk about how my testimony has grown exponentially. I have so much worth. If I were to have a come to Jesus moment and come back to church, they would use my testimony to like, confirm that whole, "I'm empty inside," but the truth is I'm not.

[01:09:37] Like I said, I'm in a long term healthy relationship, I'm in my creative processes. I've enjoyed every moment of my time outside of church and living a life and experiencing. I've met so many amazing people, like my life, my quality of life has grown exponentially outside of church and that's not what they want to hear. They want to hear that I went off the deep end and I'm sad inside and that I'm coping in all these unhealthy ways, and eventually I'll come back. And the truth is no, I'm like, I'm vibing with my guinea pigs and just kind of living life. We're kind of just living what healthy means to us at our level.

[01:10:15] Santiago: I love that for you, and I'm so glad you mentioned that. Because yeah, there is, there is this hope that you will come back at some point, and that you will wake up and realize, "Hey, I was empty inside all along." But you're right, I think especially with the internet, especially with conversations like the one we're having right now, more and more people are realizing that, yeah, you don't have to be in one extreme or the other.

[01:10:42] It's not "be in a very high demand religion" or "lose control over your life and hate yourself and hate your life." It's not one or the other. Life is so much more than either of those extremes. So I'm so glad you mentioned that.

[01:10:57] Rosei: Can you think about going back? Like, dropping meat, going to church every Saturday? Like, the thought of doing that makes me so tired.

[01:11:05] Santiago: No, I, I can't imagine going back. I'm still vegetarian for the most part. So that for me personally isn't that big of a thing, but the beliefs? It's not something I can choose to have anymore, right? This is something I've touched on before. I personally feel strongly that belief is not a choice. Deconstruction, deconversion, is not something I did because I wanted to experience the world.

[01:11:33] You can still be an Adventist. You can still go to church and experience the world and then ask for forgiveness, and everything's fine. Some people might disagree, but, you know, you can still be inside the system. So if you can no longer believe in it, it's not because the system was completely preventing you from quote unquote sinning. You could do that within the system, right?

[01:11:56] So my argument is, if we left, if we say that we don't believe, it's because we can't believe anymore. We got new information that contradicted what we had before, and we had to go and explore and incorporate this new factual information that we got into our worldview and the way we saw everything.

[01:12:15] Rosei: Yes, that to me comes back to like the, the ethics that I said I, I learned. Because if we are each the expert in our own experience, the information that we take in, the new information that confronted our worldview, it does come down to, we at a, a baseline are, are being piloted by like the squishy thing that is doing its best. And it's constantly taking in new information.

[01:12:41] And what I learned during that time is, like, personality is fluid. It's not static. So, what your brain is doing at all times is, like, your personality is essentially a bunch of strategies your brain has learned has typically worked, usually. So, you kind of, like, you fall back on the ways that you speak, your perspectives. Because that is what your brain is perceiving to be most advantageous, to keep you safe, to bring in resources, to build your social network, right?

[01:13:12] However, your brain has to confront certain things and, and keep evaluating. So, for many people, deconstruction was the process of the brain recognizing that something didn't equal wellness for the body that you're in. And for myself, it was depression. I struggled with my mental health for a long time. And the new information that was being brought into me, was that I didn't need to struggle with depression as much as I was.

[01:13:45] Santiago: And we're going to pause here. Come back for part two, where we talk more about Rosei's deconstruction, purity culture, consent, her work as a content creator, and more. See the show notes for more details about the topics we discussed, and remember, this show is self-funded and made possible by listeners like you. Please support Haystacks and Hell with a one-time or monthly donation by visiting or the first links in the show notes.


[01:14:14] 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 . 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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