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RF: Oh right. What kind of people made up that community? Interviewee

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RF: Oh right. What kind of people made up that community?

Interviewee: There was a couple big families like you know, with like five, six, seven kids and they, a couple of them sort of owned local businesses in the area and then there was kind of older people, sort of some retired people umm and just a lot of mostly young families really, a lot of young families and, and people would come to the church that, I guess they were looking for help and salvation and you know, some kind of new hope or whatever and umm so there was always kind of people coming in and out of the church quite a bit –

RF: You were taking in lost souls?

Interviewee: Yeah, yeah so and we’d had people stay with us or they’d stay with you know someone in the church community and umm some of them had really kind of you know damaged pasts drug addiction you know alcohol, you know.

RF: Was the church able to help them much?

Interviewee: Well huh umm that’s a good question because their idea of sort of helping someone because they were so heavily umm into you know demonology and that the demon or you know Satan has caused this problem in your life you needed to sort of be released from Satan’s hold so there was exorcisms, they did do some exorcisms. And I remember one guy, the exorcism was at our house actually. It was, I was probably like twelve or thirteen or something and I think the thing was, he had umm, he was a pot smoker and he wanted to be released from the demon of [laughing] –

RF: From the demon of cannibas –

Interviewee: From the demon of pot smoking. And so umm he lived in a caravan at our other friend’s house who were also, who were members of the church. So he came to our house, he had this, this exorcism and I was awa- up and about for a while and then I went to bed but I just, I remember him screaming like this, you know dying animal, and you know you would’ve been able to hear it across the whole town. It was just so loud and disturbing and then umm –

RF: Was it releasing strange voices from him in any way?

Interviewee: umm I just remember the, the screaming. It was just this blood curdling scr – scream and you know we had these new neighbours cause our block was like 5 acres and, and the new neighbours had just built a house across the paddock and I thought ohh they’re never going to talk to us again after this. And then he umm he ended up I don’t know if he was you know cured of his demons or whatever because he won lotto and we never saw him again. So you know obviously the lotto helped [both laughing].

RF: Draw what conclusions from that, as you might yeah. Did you ever know much about your father?

Interviewee: Ahh no, no I, I didn’t umm I kind of, I thought my father was my mum’s previous husband for a long time, until I was about 15 and then umm it came out that he was umm someone else yeah.

RF: How did that come out?

Interviewee: My mum had an exorcism and she told me after, after that.

RF: What do you think of that process of exorcism now with the benefit of hindsight and where you are now? What, what actually happens in those, those moments?

Interviewee: Well - ahh well I was kind of angry for a long time that I was stupid enough to sort of believe this, you know it’s such a fairytale, fantasy or something that a demon could take hold of your body and make you feel a certain way or think a certain way. You know now I kind of see those exorcisms, like a couple of my friends had them as well, like girls my age and, and stuff and I just think umm it was a means of sort of umm you know an emotional release, you know, a, a way to get the distress out of your body or something like, like that.

RF: Do you think it umm I don’t know released some trauma from them or, or induced some trauma? Was it traumatising or was it the opposite of that?

Interviewee: It was, well for me it was terrifying the thought that you know a demon could enter your body if you listened to rock music or something [chuckling] like, it’s just and when I was a kid hearing that I –

RF: Oh right so you could get possessed by just not paying enough attention you mean?

Interviewee: Yeah well you know rock music for example it got this voodoo beat in it and somehow that voodoo beat you know it has umm I don’t know how it works but you know somehow it [chuckling] transfers demons –

RF: Satan sneaks in with all that syncopation.

Interviewee: [chuckling] Yeah, yeah that’s right. But you know, it caused me a lot of nightmares and a lot of ahh terror when I was growing up that umm ehh and it’s kind of hard work keeping Sata- you know having that sort of wall up all the time trying to keep Satan and his minions out of your life and out of your thoughts and stuff. Like I was kind of always having feelings that weren’t good Christian feelings [chuckles] you know. I was jealous and resentful and kind of angry a lot of the time and –

RF: What did your Mum want for you being part of the Church?

Interviewee: Well I think her hope was that I’d umm I’d just get married and have kids I think that was the hope for most of the girls in the church. When we kind of got to about 15 they had this sort of this youth group and they would, because there was more umm girls than boys they would sort of like evan – evangelise these umm boys from town who I don’t think were very interested in coming to know Jesus you know, they were probably more interested in meeting young girls and so we’d have these sort of dinners and get togethers where it would – oh and then we’d have sort of beforehand we’d have some sort of bible study on umm what umm a good Christian girl does and what a good Christian boy does and these kind of things and you know I could see, that was the path we were meant to go on and a few of my friends got married really young and have now got 8 or 7 or 5 kids you know.

RF: How was it for you in the situation where you weren’t living in the kind of stereotypical healthy normal Christian family where your mum was a single mum? Did you feel jealous of other kids who had more quote unquote normal families?

Interviewee: I did. I was yeah, I really wanted a Dad and I kind of felt like there was something a bit wrong with us and I kind of, I saw my mum being treated differently to a lot of the sort of wives in the community and especially the men and umm that –

RF: Was she seen as a fallen woman?
Interviewee: Yeah, sort of like she was regarded with a lot of suspicion and you know how did she lose her husband sort of thing, like what did she do to upset her, her husband and she was very secretive about that you know, she never sort of told anyone what happened with her ex-husband and –

RF: Did you ever get to the bottom of that and find out?

Interviewee: Ahh I did, yeah, yeah a long time later but umm I guess like I always had the feeling that like umm because there was a part, you know men served God and women served men sort of thing. This was the thing that was taught in the community and I guess like umm I just thought maybe you know this is how a lot of my doubts started I thought maybe Jesus just doesn’t like women [laughing] that much you know there’s no real role for us here.

RF: So would you go out to evangelise yourself? Were you going out to different places to try and get –

Interviewee: Yeah.

RF: [in background] Other people

Interviewee: That was a big part of what we did because you know the rapture was coming, we were in the end times and my uncle was very focussed on Israel and, and whatever was going on you know the Gulf War or whatever was going on at that time and all of the signs that prophesized that we were in the, in the last days so it was quite stressful you know [starts laughing] you had to sort of tell people the message and save people and get them –

RF: [in background] Call that good news too wouldn’t you

Interviewee: to know Jesus.

RF: You know, have you heard the good news, world’s coming to an end.

Interviewee: [laughing] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It caused me a lot of anxiety because I really was kind of shy and didn’t really like talking to strangers and stuff so we had these little umm comic books they were sort of like wallet size little comic books.

RF: Oh the Jack Chick tracts. They’re not called comi –

Interviewee: Yeah have you seen them?

RF: Oh yeah. God I have a collection of them. [Interviewee laughing in background] They’re amazing to read.

Interviewee: They’re incredible aren’t they. And so usually, you know what happens in them is uhh someone is going about their sinful you know life and then a, a Christian comes along and tells them about Jesus and either, either –

RF: They freak out then yeah –

Interviewee: They freak out and then they go off and you know maybe they’ll get hit by a truck and then they spend the rest of their life in –

RF: Hell.

Interviewee: In the fiery depths of hell yeah. So –

RF: You were handing these out to people?

Interviewee: Yeah so I, I, my worst nightmare was I would hand one to someone and they would go “What. What’s this? Tell me about Jesus” like you know that was the last thing I wanted to, you know, tell them about [RF laughing in background] was Jesus cause I’d just get so nervous even handing them one. I’d just go “Here y’are” and then run but so what I’d, we’d do is we used to sell oranges at the roadhouse and I would put the Jack Chick comic in the bottom of the bag of oranges cause then they would find it later and that would be much more desirable for me [laughing] so I wouldn’t have to go –

RF: So [inaudible] would go “What the hell is this?”

Interviewee: [laughing] Yeah so then it had all, all the stuff in the back they could you know just say and you know Jesus would come into their heart and everything so you know.

RF: Given that those kind of millennial sects are into kind of numerology in a big way what did you think was going to happen on the 8/8/1988.

Interviewee: Oh well that was the day my uncle and a few others, elders in the church, they thought that the world was going to end on that day. There was a lot of times, you know like even not that long ago it was the, the festival of trumpets in Israel and this happened and that happened beforehand. So my uncle you know told, told his neighbour, he’s got a rapture plan, he’s rapture ready so that when the rapture happens he’s told his neighbours what to do. He’s got a key hidden, he’s got envelopes to give to those you know in his top draw for those that are left behind but umm we didn’t go to schoo – , I remember we didn’t go to school that day because we ahh –

RF: It was going to happen, what’s the point? Right.

Interviewee: Yeah uhh I know, what’s the point and –

RF: What happened when the end of the day came and you were all still there on earth and the rapture hadn’t come?

Interviewee: Well it was kind of disappointing you know. Like it was we’re still here, we still have to you know feed the animals and get wood and get, you know, keep going umm sort of like that feeling of kind of being, having to go on with life afterwards you know and we still, we kind of have that feeling now. Like I remember when we turned 30, it was like ohh, you know when we were growing up we kind of thought that we’d never have to worry about the rest of our lives because that, that message was so, given to us so strongly that don’t worry about the future, don’t worry about this or schooling or anything because you know, the rapture’s going to happen any minute now [laughing].

RF: Were you ever worried the rapture might happen and you’d be left behind?

Interviewee: I was, yeah I was really–

RF: Because you’d had sinful thoughts.

Interviewee: terrified of that happening and a lot of it came about from this film we watched because we didn’t wa- you know see shows or go to the movies or anything but we used to have film nights at church and one of the films we watched, and I must of been about 8 years old was called ‘Thief in the Night’ and it’s basically a stor – you know, left behind scenario and umm this girl you know she has to get the mark of the beast because you know, the One World Government’s taken over and umm she ends up getting caught, she goes out and tries to hide but they catch her and they behead her in the end so this was kind of a terrifying scenario to me and yeah and it was a horror movie really it was yeah very scary but umm-

RF: Did it give you nightmares?

Interviewee: Yeah, I had a lot of nightmares and I was particularly worried about my grandmother who wasn’t saved, and wasn’t a, a Christian and I thought oh no, she’s going to get left behind [chuckling]. And you know a lot of the time I would have, you know, had an idea in my head of what I was gonna do. And there was one time I came home, and I’d been out riding my horse and it was kind of dusk but we used to get like amazing sunsets out there. And this one day the sky was like this bright red colour and everything had this sort of orange tone and I thought oh this is, this is really strange. And I got home to the front gate and umm and I called out ‘Mum, Mum come and have a look at the sky’ and she wasn’t, you know she didn’t come out and then I went in the house and umm there was apples stewing on the stove, the car was still there and all the house was open and you know, cause in this movie ‘Thief in the Night’ the girl wakes up and like her husband’s shaver’s going in the bathroom sink and she looks out and there’s a, there’s a lawn mower and it’s going but there’s no – but you know the lawn’s half mowed but nobody’s pushing it and then she goes to the neighbours and there’s a blender going and everything’s on but nobody is there because they’ve all been taken in the rapture.

So I looked at this and I looked out and I looked across the paddock and I couldn’t see anyone and I, I thought oh my God, the rapture has come [laughs] and I’ve been left behind and I thought I’m possibly the only person left out of all my born again Christian friends and family and now I’m gonna have to face you know the 7 years of tribulation. And I really, I can’t describe the, the level of, of fear that I had and this feeling of how lonely I was gonna be and my plan was that rather than be beheaded like which is what happens in the movie. I was gonna starve myself to death so I thought OK, I could eat everything in the pantry because you don’t want to be too hungry [laughing] when your starving yourself. And then I was going to hide under the bed. And then I think I rang and I think I thought ohh you know don’t be an idiot you know, you go to church, you believe Jesus died for your sins, you know, you’re being crazy and then but you know I kind of like thought well you know you do always get really bored at church and you do have inappropriate thoughts about mating the sheep with the pony and [both laughing] those kind of things. And you know, you’re really jealous of your friend [name] [RF laughing] and you’ve never really been a very, you know you haven’t done everything you could and then so I rang one of the, the neighbours and no answer, you know, and I thought oh gosh, you know, it’s just me and the dog you know.

And then I think I started, you know, I ate all the ice-cream in the, in the fridge cause I thought oh you know the rapture’s been and I can do what I like [both laughing] and then you know I think I ate you know some cereal and some mil – Oh and some cooking chocolate, I ate all the cooking chocolate I could find and then I felt a bit sick and then so I went and I like made like a little cubby under the bed. And a lot, this happened you know, with a lot of my friends as well because these movies just had such a terrifying impact on us. And while I was under the bed I remember the movie, you know, kept going through my head and how Unite was One World Government in the movie and I thought Unite, they’re gonna come for me and you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve just gotta stay here and umm –

RF: So you were hiding under the bed awaiting the jack booted fascist policeman of the anti-christ?

Interviewee: Yeah. And they drove these white vans and they had like umm you know a guillotine in the back of their vans and they just you know if you didn’t have the –

RF: Universal price code symbol stamped on your forehead –

Interviewee: Yeah, Yeah Yeah –

RF: they’d cut your head off?

Interviewee: cut your head off basically.

RF: [in background] Right.

Interviewee: And I started to get really – uhh you know when you’re a kid you sort of like get yourself into this state and I was in that, that sort of state of just complete terror and it was, it had started off a little bit and then it had sort of snowballed into this terror and the theme song of the movie was running through my head [sings] ‘You’ve been left behind’ [laughs] and I was just having these visions of you know, this, this girl getting beheaded in the movie and then umm the phone rang and I thought I’m not going to answer it you know. I, I was too scared to even answer the phone and I don’t know I thought it was Unite and then umm I finally kind of got out, out from under the bed and I umm answered the phone and it was the other neighbour from down, sort of down the road and she said ‘Oh hi love, your Mum’s just over here, [laughing] she’s gonna stop for dinner’ and [swears] I yeah I’m not hungry thanks.

RF: [laughing] I’ve eaten all the ice-cream and cooking chocolate.

Interviewee: [laughing] Yeah

RF: Oh [Interviewee] aside from the dagginess of all that, I think there’s something sort of mean spirited behind that whole idea of apocalyptic rapture. You know, you all laugh at us Christians, good Christians now but there will come a day where we will be raised up to the bosom of Christ –

Interviewee: [in background] Yeah.

RF: and you will suffer the awful torments of the, the end times –

Interviewee: [in background] Yeah.

RF: and then you’ll go to hell for the rest of your life and we, you‘ll see you were wrong and we were right. So it’s a kind of a great kind of ner ner ni ner ner moment really in a way.

Interviewee: [in background] Totally, yeah.

RF: There’s something quite mean spirited about that.

Interviewee: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. They want to be right, you know. They want to be umm vindicated in the end. And like I don’t know I was angry and that they believed all of that for such a long time and that my mum was so you know beguiled by it and when I came out of the church and stuff and kind of ashamed that they were so stupid, that anyone would believe this crazy story. But now I kind of think –

RF: Yet you believed it?

Interviewee: And I believed it as well yeah, yeah. And I kind of think they were just really hurt by life a lot of the people that were in that Church and they sort of wanted some reward or some kind of umm –

RF: Lottery ticket win.

Interviewee: Yeah, feeling that they’d done well that they’d served God well that they’d –

RF: They’d been redeemed.

Interviewee: Done a good thing. That yeah.

RF: Despite all this kind of craziness, was this church helpful to your Mum or not helpful to your Mum?

Interviewee: Well, like she suffered from chronic depression and was kind of quite isolated and I kind of think, there was some good things about it yeah like you know, having that community and all carrying that burden together and kind of you know there was this real big feeling of camaraderie and like we were all doing the work of the Lord together you know so and that was kind of a nice feeling and I think like if she, you know, had of been a single mum and we lived out in the suburbs and I don’t know whether she would’ve had the same kind of level of support and feeling of community and stuff. That was kind of a good thing but I mean that’s one of the reasons she moved out to the church and, and wanted to be, and wanted to be so, part of that community. But umm when she got cancer it sort of all turned a bit sour and umm they weren’t the supportive community that she hoped for I guess.

Voice Over: You’re listening to Conversations with Richard Fidler on ABC local radio and the world wide web.

RF: My guest is [Interviewee] who grew up in a closed and isolated religious community just an hour out of Perth where every day she was expecting the end times to fall upon them. [Interviewee] you mentioned there that you were worried during that episode where you thought everyone had been raptured up to heaven and you’d been left behind, the reason why, maybe, you’d been left behind was because you’d begun having doubts. Given that the devil was kind of a very real person in your life in those days did you think that those thoughts, those doubts were being put in your head from someone outside of you, like the devil?

Interviewee: Uhh yeah I sort of vacillated between thinking that yeah I had a demon and I was told you know, about the nightmares, you know ahh my mum talked to my uncle about that and you know, I had the spirit of fear and the spirit of [chuckles] you know and so I, that could be exorcised from me I guess. And yeah this feeling of you weren’t sort of in charge of your own thoughts or feelings or umm thinking you know, so –

RF: So were you feeling like you needed to be vigilant all the time to stop Satan sort of sneaking in to your brain sideways or sneaking in through this door or through that door or climbing in through this window?

Interviewee: Yeah. There was a lot of – sort of you don’t question things, you don’t sort of look at the secular world, or, or read anything that’s not related to the Word and related to the Lord and related to you know the path that –

RF: So this is no TV, no radio, no music –

Interviewee: Yeah –

RF: [in background] Well rock’n’roll music

Interviewee: But I would cheat I would sort of, I was always kind of very rebellious. Like every time my mum would ahh leave me in the car and go into the shops I would [laughing] turn the radio on and I would listen to music and I would umm you know and I’d steal books when we visited my, my grandma in hospital and, and I’d, cause I’d really wanted, I always wanted to know about the outside world and umm yeah, just a big thirst for knowledge. My mum called it a morbid fascination [laughing] with, with anything sort of ungodly. I was always drawn to, to things a little bit and uhh –

RF: That’s an interesting phrase ‘morbid fascination’.

Interviewee: Yeah.

RF: You mentioned that your mum got cancer. What kind of cancer did she get?

Interviewee: Ahh she got breast cancer. She got it twice, once when I was umm 10 and then another time when I was umm 14, 15. The first time was really hard because it was diagnosed really late. She umm sort of sat me down and said she wasn’t sure whether she was going to live through it. You know she sat me down and said if I don’t survive you’re gonna have to live with the [name], this family in Church, and it was a really horrible thing to hear and it was really hard to hear because my mum and I we were so, I mean we had sort of volatile relationship and a very intense relationship but it was just us. It was just me and mum a lot of the time and we were sort of umm we were very close and there was quite a few derogatory things said about my mum because you know she was a single woman and –

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