Right, Wrong, and Religion

My religious indoctrination was somewhat eclectic, to say the least. But I learned a great deal from my experiences, some of which I would like to share with you. My intent is not to offend, but merely present experiences and memories as they occur to me.



As well as I can remember my mother never set foot in a church once she married  my father at the ripe old age of fifteen and left her Southern Baptist home. That didn’t stop her from sending my brother and I trotting off with Grandma and Grandpa Bean to the First Baptist Church in Olivehurst every Sunday morning to listen to reverend Cecil Gates preach about hell and damnation. I guess religion never took hold with mom, and she thought she’d give it a second chance with her two older kids—just in case. Maybe that is why we had to say those prayers every night at bedtime:

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”

I didn’t mind that part. In fact I got to feeling kind of superstitious about it. Like, if I didn’t say my prayers at night something bad might happen and it would be my fault. It was that next line that chilled me though”

“If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take.”

Now, what little kid wants to think about dying before they wake? Maybe that is why I am such an insomniac. That is pretty damn scary.

Back to church, nine and seven years old respectively, me being the big sister, we would be sent to Sunday school where we learned that Jesus loved little children who colored within the lines and were obedient and quiet. The coloring subjects were quite dramatic at times. This fellow Jonah was swallowed by a whale because he didn’t do what God said. Miraculously he was saved after three days and also given a second chance to redeem himself. Then there was the story of Moses and the burning bush that didn’t really burn. But, the voice of God boomed down and told Moses he needed to go to Egypt and lead his people back to their land, his people being the Jews I am guessing. There were many more fantastic stories that would puzzle the questioning mind of a nine year old, but I won’t go into them now. Those darn songs we sang still stick in my head, although the metaphors and analogies escaped me at the time.  I’m talking about “The Wise Man Built His House upon the Rock”, “O Be Careful Little Eyes What You See”, and who could forget, “I Will Make You Fishers of Men”.


After being inducted into the Lord’s Army we children were sent out to join the adults in the nave of the church for the finale of the Sunday happening. This is where events became very uncomfortable for me, and Preacher Cecil really got excited. It was time for everyone to leave their seats, head for the pulpit and accept Jesus as their personal savior. If you did you were promised salvation and eternal life, and if you resisted you were damned and would be condemned to join the devil and burn forever in a fiery hell.  Everyone watched to see where folks would end up. My little brother, Denny, and I looked at each other wide-eyed. I could tell he was scared, but when he started to stand up I jerked on his arm and pulled him back down. The piano droned on while the parishioners bleated—“Tenderly, earnestly Jesus is calling. Calling all sinners come home.” I shook my head at Denny. “They’re not talking about us. We’re not sinners.”

bible school


I wish that could have been the end of it, but summer bible school crept onto the scene, promising more coloring, more bible songs, and the memorization of bible verses and all the books of the new testament, in order: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Acts, the Apostles, and the Romans… After two years of my continued resolute resistance to be saved, mom abandoned her plan to turn us into good little Christian children and we were allowed to live in peace as heathens. The irony of that religious training was that we were never taught in church to treat others as equals, to practice kindness, to be humble and generous. I learned the true lessons of right and wrong at home from my mother and the way she lived her life. The truth is, my Grandpa Bean, and I loved him dearly, was an ornery son of a gun who wouldn’t hesitate to shoot a Mexican while cow-poking in his early days in Texas, and if rumors are true, he once belonged to the Klu Klux Klan, all the while reading his bible every night. So much for the scriptures.

Published by

Sandra Bolton

Sandra Bolton is the author of two novels: A Cipher in the Sand and Key Witness, A Southwest Mystery. She lives in Raton, New Mexico with her big black dog, Sam and fat cat, Fidel. Writing is her passion, along with hiking, gardening, cooking, eating and laughing whenever possible. Her goal in life is to do no harm to any living thing or to our beautiful earth.

36 thoughts on “Right, Wrong, and Religion”

  1. That was also my mom’s attitude; she herself had not liked church because the “fire and brimstone” preachers scared her to death (into nightmares and peeing the bed). Plus, her church, the Baptists seem to be the most “gung-ho,” shall we say? After my father died (when I was 12), the pastor from his funeral invited me to his church; thereafter mom let me take the church bus for about a year. I wanted to be “into it,” so read the entire King James, front to back, was baptized, was sincere. Many of the parishioners were kind, but many more were snobby and pretentious, which trickled down to their children. Because of these people being what I deemed hypocritical, and for other reasons I’d thought over, I abandoned the whole schmear, and began reading about alternative/world religions. At the end, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool agnostic/leaning heavily towards atheism. Loved when you pulled Denny down, telling him “They’re not talking about us.” And you weren’t ‘sinners,’ not at all. Also identified/loved: “Like, if I didn’t say my prayers at night something bad might happen and it would be my fault. ” I think, for me, that superstitious thinking caused some OCD symptoms later (mainly around electricity/fire), which I overcame. Both my sisters and all my close friends know I am most-emphatically not-a-believer (in case they have to cremate me or something, ha, so there should be no mention, at all, of heaven, etc. ) But, I totally understand that some people need and want to believe in this, that it helps them in some way, and I do truly respect that. Hey, U.S. of A., right? Plus my eldest sister really does seem to have a heart like the one I’d envisioned, open and giving. An odd moment occurred after my mom was cremated; my “second” sister said mom called her, asking “Well, if everyone is called up (from their graves), will I be able to go if I’m cremated?” Mom and I had agreed years ago for cremation after reading an English essay about funeral home prep, toothpicks, etc., but she must have had that “something bad might happen” moment. I never asked my sister what she answered. Hope I didn’t go on too long, but it’s rare to find another who had a somewhat not-affiliated beginning and end. Thanks for your wonderful blog, Sandra.

    1. Thanks for sharing your views and recollections with me. I am glad you can relate so well and that you understand where I am coming from. I am sure I may lose a few followers, but that is what happens when one is upfront and honest. Sandra

  2. After looking at a number of the blog posts on your
    web page, I seriously like your technique
    of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark website list and will be checking
    back in the near future. Please check out my web site as well and tell me what you

  3. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?
    My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would certainly benefit from some of
    the information you provide here. Please let me know if
    this ok with you. Thank you!

  4. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to
    this excellent blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS
    feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

  5. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day.
    It will always be useful to read through articles from other writers and use
    something from other websites.

  6. Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it
    has pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

  7. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone
    and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  8. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a great article… but
    what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

  9. Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  10. Hi there, You have done a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and
    personally recommend to my friends. I am sure they’ll be
    benefited from this site.

  11. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my site thus i came to “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its ok to use a few
    of your ideas!!

  12. Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be
    on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of.

    I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that
    they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without
    having side effect , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *