Terrible school experiences happen to almost all of us. Mostly because kids are terrible people (I mean, that's kind of the whole point of growing up, right? Learning how to people? Kids just aren't there yet.) but sometimes because the school itself is a crap-tastical environment.
Schools are dramatic enough even in the best, most bureaucracy-free situations. But when you add the rules and expectations of a religious organization, that "complicates" things a bit, doesn't it?
So what do you get when you put a bunch of not-great-at-peopleing-yet kids together in a "complicated" environment?
Religious schools - and the horror stories that come along with them.
Reddit user Kantalope1 asked:
There is talk of abuse and neglect here, but there is also a fair bit of humor - so it's not as terrible as you might think. Having said that, it does start with a story about killing roaches with your bare hands, so ... ya know... read with caution.
Let me begin by saying I came up really poor and went to inner-city public schools; however, I went to a catholic school for seventh grade. I'm not exactly sure why, but some rich, older guy paid my tuition and bought my school uniforms. He knew my parents somehow. He was around occasionally and was pleasant. I really don't know much beyond that. It was a long time ago. Both of my parents were heavy on booze and drugs. They can barely even form sentences at this point so I guess I'll never know.
Anyway, this school was definitely a huge culture shock for me. These kids talked about playing video games and talked about going to the beach, amusement parks, arcades, and having their own bedrooms. Things I could only dream of.
One of my biggest fears while I attended this school was anyone finding out just how poor I was and knowing that I didn't belong there. I liked this school and learned a great deal there compared to the schools I attended previously. I was very self conscious and was afraid if anyone found out that I wouldn't be able to go to school there any more. One precaution I took every day was empty my backpack out and shake everything out to make sure I wouldn't bring roaches to school as my house was infested.
We had desks in our home rooms that we kept our school supplies and books in. We went to other classrooms for different subjects, but ended up in our home rooms a few times a day. As an example, my home room teacher was also my history and math teacher.
One day I was in religion (class) and it happened. The teacher said to pull out our binders for an assignment. I pulled mine out and laid it on the desk, which I knew belonged to a girl named Rachel. I opened it up and a few small roaches were inside and started moving around frantically as the light hit them. I was absolutely terrified. I tried to subtly crush them with my fingers and wipe their remains on my pants. My actions were not subtle apparently. Everyone turned in my direction and the teacher moved in my direction and saw the horror I was facing.
The teacher stood me up and moved me away from the desk. She said out loud to the class that Rachel must have left candy in her desk and that the roaches must have found it throughout the night.
She saved me and I'll never forget her.
My parents love to tell a story about what a difficult student I was. The story, as they tell it, is that I once accused my math teacher of being a Nazi because I don't like math.
What actually happened was that my math teacher spent an entire period fantasizing out loud about the day when god would ordain good Christians rounding up and killing all the gays. I called him a Nazi because he was standing there daydreaming about committing genocide to a class full of 16 year olds.
An Employee Horror Story
I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, then went back and taught in both a Catholic elementary school and high school, and let me tell you that rules and punishments are far more rigid and ridiculous for employees than they are for students. You sign a contract stating that not only will you conduct yourself by the rules and standards of the Church when at work, but also outside of the workplace. It was when a fellow teacher had become pregnant out of wedlock, and was thus terminated - losing her income and insurance, when she needed it most - that I decided to quit.
I learned later that my officious and ultra-conservative principal was addicted to quaaludes. The hypocrisy in those places never ceases to astound me.
Taste Testing JesusGiphy
I once stole a blessing in an effort to taste-test Jesus.
I went to Catholic school when I was a kid, and every Thursday, I'd walk with the rest of my class to a nearby church to attend a students-only mass. Unlike the rest of my friends, though, I hadn't been baptized, which meant that I was expressly forbidden from participating in the "snack time" portion of the service. Everyone else would stand up, shuffle between the pews, and get their little cracker, while I was forced to sit and watch, envious and hungry.
Mass usually took place immediately before lunchtime, which may have been part of the issue.
Anyway, one day, the local priest came to my class to discuss something or other, and he brought a supply of unblessed communion wafers with him. Since they hadn't yet been subjected to the ritualistic prayer-reciting process, I was finally allowed to consume one... but before I had the chance, one of my classmates made an observation:
"These taste different!" she said.
Our teacher – a former nun – nodded knowingly. "Yes, they always taste different when they haven't been blessed."
This seemed peculiar to me, and it prompted me to ask a question of my own: "When you bless them," I asked the priest, "do all of the... these... in the church get blessed?"
"Yes, that's why we keep them in the tabernacle," he replied.
The conversation continued after that, but I wasn't listening anymore; I was busy hatching a plan. With as much dexterity as my nine-year-old fingers could manage, I broke my wafer down the middle, sampling the smaller of the two halves and then keeping the larger piece in my desk. When the next Thursday rolled around, I brought the bit that I'd saved along with me, waited for the blessing to occur, then ate the now-blessed wafer.
It tasted the same to me.
I got 2 weeks detention for bringing a kid's book on evolution to school and asking if evolution made it possible for all the animals to fit on the ark.
My thinking was that back in Noah's day there was only one species of elephant/horse/lion/etc, so there wouldn't be the problem of fitting multiple species of one family into the ark. Then, after the ark, evolution kicked in and we got different species after they repopulated the world. To my mind, this was a perfectly fine way to resolve the Young Earth = evolution bad + science is cool conflict I was having.
Nope. Apparently I was thinking too much and needed to be punished for not believing what the Bible said.
Nothing Actually Christian
My best friend growing up went to one for a year. He was in public school with me till he had a health problem, his parents were scared the kids would make fun of him, so they transferred him. The next year he showed back up at the school and told us, "there was nothing actually Christian about Christian school" which seemed really poignant coming from a 12-year-old. His stories showed those kids were much crueler than any I ever encountered at school.
Blamed For Everything
My parents, in their infinite wisdom, put me (a Jew) in catholic school.... I got blamed for everything that ever happened in that school.
"Hey father crankypants, the toilets on the third floor of the administration building are clogged."
"I bet the Jewish kid did it!"
"No Sir, he's in another building and has no access."
"Detention for the Jewish kid!"
"Sister Knucklecracker, a bird hath lain shite upon thy car."
"I bet the Jewish kid put them up to it"
"Sister the bird was in flight, I was just letting you know..."
"Detention for the Jewish kid!!"
Parents forced me to enroll in a private Pentecostal college before I turned 18.
Semester 1: 18 years old and a stricter curfew than I had growing up. Campus would lock down at 1:30. If you showed up late you had to check in with security and be escorted back into the dorm. After 3 strikes you got fined for every tardy. Or... The other option was to not have anywhere to go. I guess it's better that you don't have a place to sleep than if you're allowed to be a dumbass 18/19 year old.
I eventually figured out that if I shimmied down the freight elevator to the basement, I could unlock the old storm door that led outside. Never saw a fine again.
Mandatory Chapel. 5 days a week. Let me rephrase that.... Mandatory Evangelical chapel. If you missed 6 or more in a semester, you got fined for each one. A lot of the good Christian kids going to be pastors would scan their card and just go back to the dorm for Halo or nap time. I never liked lying, so I felt worse for scanning and leaving than just not wanting to go. So I got more fines.
A kid got asbestos poisoning from the wall. It's not like it happened because of us, but we probably made it worse. There was a super shoddy patch job for a piece of sheetrock they installed. No mudding or taping around the patch, just 4 easily accessible screws in the corners. So naturally we unscrewed it... To find out that the inside of the was was big enough to get inside and climb up the studs/braces in the wall. Made it to the 5th floor, the top floor, and found all this old medical device equipment and x-rays, roof access etc... The kid that slept on the "bunk" - literally the floor - next to where we removed the sheetrock patch went home a year later with $3m settlement and asbestos poisoning.
Instead of updating the building and fixing the problems, the "University" spent millions of dollars on a new chapel building.
Finally - one more... A handful of the gays banded together to demand a real conversation, respect, better treatment, and acceptance. A kid I grew up seeing in Bible camps was part of it. I was super happy he just finally came out and accepted himself. That was the last day I saw him. The school kicked all the gays out, and I never heard from him again. Super nice dude, and he had it so hard growing up in the shit state we lived in. He finally escaped and made it to the city, only to have these zealous pieces of shit throw him out on the street.
The only good thing about this experience was that it started me on a real journey to find god. That led me to atheism. Life is much better these days.
Total fines for 1.5 years of church college: $6,000. My card apparently scanned, but didn't record all the chapel visits. I worked overnight security on the weekends. Instead of giving me an exclusion like they said they would, they fined me. Also, I failed English 101 because I said $5m on a new chapel wouldn't make it a "better place to worship" and that if that was true, god must not give a sh!t about an African believer praying on a dirt floor. So that was another wasted $2800
Shooting At Jesus
I was a good kid and student. I never disobeyed, and I always did my work on time. I was THAT kid. We had Mass in the gym every Friday. One of those Fridays I sat with my friend and we got bored, as 6/7 year old children being forced to go to Mass do. We made things interesting and played TV show.
This comprised us making cameras with our hands (like a view finder/square shape) and "filming" everything we saw. We got hauled out of Mass and to the office for "shooting guns at the Crucifix." I cried hysterically when they didn't believe me. Then my mom showed up. I think they believed her as I was sent back to class. I think the teacher must have told everyone about it because my whole class was like "WHY DID YOU SHOOT AT JESUS?!"
I was homeschooled after that until college. I now go to a public community college and I'm generally happy there.
Goth Girl's PrayerGiphy
We had chapel (like a weekly assembly, except with gospel songs and a small sermon/ exercise.) That week we passed around a mic for people to have the school pray with them. Most people asked to pray for a sick relative, winning a sports game for the school, people struggling around the world, etc.
Then we got to the weird goth girl.
She got the mic and instantly started talking about REALLY personal stuff. Things about feeling like she's used for sex (she banged some dudes and was definitely getting used for sex but that is NOT something you want to announce to your christian high school, no judgement on my end though), her parents getting divorced, how therapy isn't helping, how she tried to kill herself. Like seriously sobbing uncontrollably, breaking down.
This went on for like 5 minutes. At one point someone tried to take the mic and she held onto it and screamed "NO! I'M NOT GONNA BE QUIET EVERYONE TELLS ME TO BE QUIET" like a serious full-on emotional breakdown. I have never ever seen a room full of 500 people be THAT quiet and uncomfortable.
Cue our bible teacher/ director/ whatever being absolutely stunned, jaw to the floor. When it was finally seeming like it was over he said "We will pray for you." He said this in the same generic fashion he said to everyone else. I don't really blame him, because what the hell do you do in that situation? So we bow our heads in silence to pray for her and this room of 500 people is sitting silently while this girl cries uncontrollably into the mic. Eventually they cut her mic and announced chapel was over like 20 minutes early. Chapel never ends early and usually goes late.
I went to two Catholic schools in an affluent area of NY. My family was poor and my parents were divorced. We moved halfway through the school year, two hours from home, and went there after attending public school our whole lives.
They proceeded to be continually awful to us.
First, my sister's second grade teacher told her, in front of the whole class in our first week or so, that our parents were going to Hell for being divorced. So you know. Kid who barely had any religious point of reference, ripped from her friends, new town, parents breaking up... just HAD to hear that.
My fifth grade teacher singled me out often and was nasty to me in general, off the bat. She also tried to fight the teachers committee that put together the middle school-wide play about letting me participate because she decided I was too new for a part or to understand how important the play was, and they had actually thought to give me a decent one.
My teachers after that were okay, mostly, but they hated when I asked questions. (By then I hated everything about where I was and became the kid asking things like, if we're to interpret the Bible literally and if so, did Adam and Eve's children commit incest?🤣)
Anyway. We also had a horrible principal who scared the living daylights out of kids and parents alike. She was mean and intimidating and took pleasure in making kids (and probably parents) cry. My brother soon entered preschool. He was the kid who colored on and stained up and cut up his clothes. Like, they caught him doing this in school during art time with paint and scissors (and back then it wasn't washable). They knew. And though my mother was neglectful and abusive in other ways, she did try to get his uniforms clean and mended but he needed new ones almost every month. He was always bathed but his clothes looked terrible.
When she could afford them, she bought him more. But the principal decided he wasn't being bathed and his clothes weren't being washed, so she called CPS on my mom. I wish I could say she didn't deserve to have them called at all because there were plenty of other reasons she should have been investigated, but that one was purely superficial and retaliatory because she had stood up to dear old Sister L. Granted, my mother's way of standing up to people includes a lot of insults and foul language, but either way.
After that, they found pretty much any way to single us out and give us a hard time about just about everything. Mom was late with tuition? Couldn't go to the assembly. Etc. Made veiled references to my mother being a whore, stuff like that. The church is was attached to was also incredibly hypocritical so I pretty much decided it wasn't for me. I did go to the best area Catholic high school on a full scholarship but after a year, I was done.
They were a whole other can of worms - from arguing with my doctor about not working in the library anymore because the inches of dust were causing severe allergies and asthma, to not letting us wear leggings or pants or even shorts under our skirts when we had to wait for buses at 5:45 in the morning on frigid winter days, or when the heat went out in the school buildings. I was so tired of the nonsense and lack of compassion or basic human decency.
My moral theology teacher was our priest. He once talked about how some women get aroused while riding a horse. And he would also tell us about his dirty dreams. We were all 17 year old girls... Rightfully, I avoided being alone with him any chance I got.
Anatomy And Physiology
In one of my Bible classes, we studied the anatomy and physiology of a crucifixion. We learned the details of how Romans soldiers would prolong the torture and death process down to the smallest of details. Example: When Jesus was getting whipped they would use rope with glass embedded to cut/tear and stones embedded to crush/bruise. They then mocked him by putting robes on him which would stick to the coagulating blood. Once forcibly removed it would tear off the scabs with it and re-initiate the bleeding process. After going through each part of the crucifixion in detail for several weeks, we all gathered in a dark room to watch a movie depicting the torture and crucifixion.
I was 12 years old.
At 26, I am not very religious anymore.
The Best Way
I went to a christian primary school (age 4-11) that was run like a cult. I'm talking praying before each lesson, before break and lunch etc. They gathered us onto the playground to blast sermons through the loudspeakers, had a prayer corner in each room, etc. The church was literally attached to the school so you get the picture. Bullying was relentless and horrific, even by teachers.
They singled out kids for being possessed, satanic, evil or whatever else. They dealt with peer bullying by shutting the bullied child indoors alone during break and lunch or putting the bullies and the victim on the same table so they could learn to get along. If you spoke against the school (or worse, against religion) then ooh boy you were in trouble...
The best way to make a kid not religious is to send them to a school like that.
We had to go to a Bob Dole rally.
We had to watch those end of the world Mark IV 1970s movies, watched a video called "America Under Siege " which discussed the government getting ready to put us in train stations, the evil Clinton's and black helicopters, and 30 minutes of video footage of surgical abortions being performed.
We had to go to services in charismatic churches while people screamed and spoke in tongues, and go to those "hellfire plays" if we wanted extra credit.
I'm now an atheist.