If you didn’t listen to This American Life over the weekend, you missed a really disturbing opening story.
In essence, it was about David Maxon who, as a child, attended a fundamentalist church camp as a kid. One night, he challenged the Devil to show himself.
That’s when a horrible thunderstorm began. Lightning from that storm struck six kids, two of whom died as a result.
One of the two kids killed was David’s close friend.
For years, David lived with the guilt that he was responsible for his friend’s death.
Of course, adults around him told him it wasn’t his fault. And they were right.
But this wasn’t the reaction he expected. In fact, it seemed to contradict what he had been taught. Whatever happened to the notion that one shouldn’t challenge the Devil? If he was being taught the Truth, wasn’t he, somehow, directly responsible for his friend’s death?
It’s kind of like, after I talked with the priests, I thought, like, “don’t you believe this, dude?” I mean… here you are, a priest, and I’m telling you… this very serious thing happened within the system that you advocate and then you’re just telling me to ignore it. It’s almost like, “Oh, we’ll drop this because it’s convenient now… This stuff is only real as long as it’s not taken really seriously.”
It wasn’t until he broke away from his faith years later that he was able to shake the guilt.
For anyone who questions whether religion can actually brainwash a child, here’s some damning evidence.
The whole story is under 10 minutes and takes place at the very start of the program. You can download the episode here (MP3). If you don’t already subscribe to the podcast of the show, you can do so with this link in iTunes.