I’m still trying to find the best voice to use on blog posts here on the Utah Outcasts website, mainly because I’m pretty damn tired of seeing nothing but show posts going up. It’s been a number of months since I made my post about going to an extended family member’s baptism and I figure it’s time to try my hand at blogging instead of using my powers of evil for just show notes.
The topic I figured I would to talk about today is one that many of us kids who grew up in ultra-religious households remember all too well, and that’s the “Satanic Panic”. All of you who were lucky enough to grow up in a household that wasn’t religious or just didn’t care about such things were pretty lucky, especially in the late 80s and into the early 90s because of the amount of culture this nation created in that span.
I remember being told specifically by my super Baptist parents (at that time) that in no manner whatsoever were my brother and I supposed to watch “You Can’t Do That on Television” on Nickelodeon because it apparently showed kids mouthing off to their parents. For those keeping score at home, that’s a commandment broken, both of my parents were really big on the honor thy father and mother commandment in casa X when I was a child. We were also not to listen to certain heavy metal bands because of their demonic music that praised Satan, were trying to summon demons from the pits of hell, or for their completely gnarly album covers. These same album covers that I bet I could drag my mom onto camera one day to show them to her and I guarantee that you’d see her flinch and probably start praying. She’s the real true believer in the family.
I’m gonna stop at music for a moment because TV shows and movies were really easy to bend the rules on. My friends’ houses were open for shows I couldn’t see, and since I was a latchkey kid…I could get away with a lot really as long as dinner was ready when dad got home. Music though, there wasn’t an easy route to get stuff like that. Keep in mind that the late 80s CDs, vinyl, and cassettes were the rage still, there was no streaming. Getting a CD meant that you’d probably have to wait until nobody was in the living room to listen to it and even then, good Christ the prices on them were insane. This simply meant that any music purchases had to come from mom and dad and talks of allowance.
You go ahead and try telling your Satan fearing mom that you want an Iron Maiden album or something from Judas Priest and see what she says back to you.
It didn’t stop at simply music and a few choice TV shows. I wasn’t allowed to play paper and pencil role-playing games as a kid because of Jack Chick’s stupid as shit Chick Tracts and the fear that Dungeons and Dragons would consume me and have me casting spells or befriending demons that ask me to kill my parents. Yes, the fear of these things was absolutely palpable. There were people at my church that were demonstrating backwards masking, drawing conclusions to half-baked ideas of what certain cartoons were trying to show kids that their heroes were more powerful than Jesus…it was an absolute bonkers time to be alive and a kid.
Instead of teaching me about the real world, I was indoctrinated as a child to fear things that, as a parent with my own kids, were not there and as I see it are tantamount to abuse. I feared demons, I thought that Satan was a real thing, and that I was going to spend an eternity in a lake of fire for some of the thoughts I had about sexuality as well as for disobeying my parents and upsetting them. I would pray in bed every night thanking a God for letting me live another day and begging him for forgiveness for all the transgressions of the day and hoping that he’d let me live another.
In an effort to ‘protect’ me from the outside world, my parents made me afraid of myself and of things that I wasn’t being taught about. Want to know a surefire way for a kid to think something’s wrong with his normal bodily functions? Just don’t tell him about things like masturbation or nocturnal emissions, because when it happens to them, he’ll freak the fuck out and think he’s sick or dying. Don’t even get me started on the shame. Just about anyone who has tugged or diddled and grew up religious knows exactly what I’m talking about. The shame that comes from not being able to help yourself from doing something that the rest of the world accepts, yet you as a Christian are evil and going to hell for enjoying it. That’s precisely the game though, religion takes something normal make a boogeyman out of it and then charge you for the cure/repellant.
I am a firm believer that religion fucks you up. I still get the willies sometimes for things that I know aren’t there but always attributed to Satan or one of his minions trying to get me. I’m glad that for the most part I’ve been able to put a lot of this stuff behind me, however I can only wonder how much cool stuff I missed out on because I had to use the “I can’t, I’m Christian” excuse. I guess I should seek some counseling to work out some of these demons from my youth, is anyone’s childhood normal?
The only thing that didn’t get monitored heavily was movies. These are perhaps the one field where my heathen brother and I found ways around the rules. You see, as long as I can recall, we’ve had cable television. Our family would stick to rice and beans for dinner and whatever food we caught or hunted before missing out on the movie channels…and as a kid growing up with Showtime and Cinemax in the evenings, you can just imagine the ‘fun’ that came about from that. There were all sorts of occult movies we were able to sneak when the parents went to bed. By 9, I must have seen most of the horror movies that a kid my age should NOT have watched. I was haunted by movies like The Gate and Hellraiser for a long time, but the one that fucked me up for a long time and I still can’t watch to this day is Poltergeist. That movie is my type of nightmare fuel, it’s a rite of passage for kids who were born in the 80s…so much so they made an episode of The Goldbergs about it.
Anyways, growing up in my family was weird, but it’s made me the person I am today. I don’t know any different than what I’ve experienced so I won’t sit here and pine for the life that MIGHT HAVE BEEN if I wasn’t a religious kid, but we can all at least be happy that I eventually found my way out…right?