Ladies and gentlemen, how about a hot-button topic? How would you feel about your kids’ Sunday School teacher asking them what they think of abortion? I know if I had kids, I would not want a Sunday School teacher, or any teacher for that matter foisting their opinions about this, or any other political/social/personal issue on my kids–I don’t care what side of the political spectrum we’re talking about. But, this is exactly what happened to me around about the age of 11 or 12 when Mr. M asked me what I thought of abortion.
For the record, I am pro-choice, always have been, always will be. This is one of the earliest moral or political opinions I ever formed, and it stems from a deeply held belief on my part that nobody has the right to interfere in my or anyone else’s personal lives. I feel that personal freedom of conscience is a bedrock right that should never be impinged upon, and that the wall between church and state should be thick, high, and impenetrable.
So, what was my response to Mr. M’s question? I told him that I was pro-choice. He did not like that response, and I knew well that he wouldn’t before I answered. Mr. M’s opinions on the abortion issue were well known in our little church. Wednesday evening testimony meetings were regularly his personal political/moral soapbox. I had heard many of his thunderous proclamations on the evils of abortion on Wednesday evenings. My parents would usually roll their eyes in disgust as soon as he rose to speak, and the vacuous, weak-minded church ladies who were his faction of devoted followers would always listen with rapt attention, hanging on every word their guru said and fawning over him like groupies after a Kiss concert.
I remember Mr. M’s face turning red, and the vein running across the middle of his forehead beginning to pulse as he declared in his thunderous, rage-filled, slightly British-accented voice for not only myself and my other suffering classmate to hear, but the entire Sunday School and probably the folks upstairs in church to hear also–that abortion is MURDER, and that I was sanctioning MURDER. “How could you sanction MURDER?” he asked, as he tried to lay the guilt on as thick as possible and grind me down to size for daring to express a contrary opinion. I simply told him that I would never have wanted to be brought into this world knowing that my mother did not want me or hated me. I would rather that I not exist at all if that was the case. As I recall, he did not have much of a comeback for that one, and the topic of discussion quickly shifted elsewhere. Yes, a child shut him down. It was a proud moment for me, although it would be a long time before I realized that. Mr. M had scared me into quiet submission of sorts–he did not change my opinion on abortion, but a lasting effect of this incident was a reluctance on my part to offer a contrary opinion especially in the presence of one who is strong in their opinions. Only more recently have I become willing to openly disagree with someone who offers a strong opinion on something. I still choose my battles carefully.
Partially as a result of that experience and others in that particular class, I eventually took my first, albeit brief leave from Christian Science in my later teen years. More about my experiences in Mr. M’s class and my tumultuous departure from it in future entries. He was truly a sick, manipulative man, and mentally abusive.