The Redemptorists are Catholic priests who are part of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. In Canada, they reside in Quebec, associated with the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré shrine (below):
Alexander Aan, you may recall, is the Indonesian atheist who spent 19 months in jail for promoting atheism online (his original sentence was 30 months). He was hit with a blasphemy charge and put away so he could do no further “damage.”
Note: I have altered a few details of this letter to better conceal the writer’s identity, because safety is of concern. The gist of the situation remains the same.
I come from an incredibly strict Muslim household, I am a teenager and living in the UK, and I am an atheist. My mum believes that our entire family is ‘possessed’ by ‘jinns’ (devils). She has previously sent us all to a Muslim version of a priest who basically performed an exorcism, only with the Quran instead of the Bible, and he pressed “pressure points” which left my sister and mum with large bruises.
It was very disturbing. My mum and siblings believe it all, and so the “devils” supposedly “speak through them,” even though I know that it is probably their minds creating these alternate personas after being put through a physically and emotionally terrible situation.
The sessions were a frequent thing last year. I thought she forgot about it all, but now she’s saying that she will send me to this ‘retreat’ lasting a few days, where they will do what I described above as well as forcing me to do other Islamic rituals. I think that it’s supposed to start very soon, not sure because she only revealed she was going to send me when she was angry and shouting at me. I really don’t want to go. What can I do to make her not send me?
Thanks for your time and help,
More Than Just A Little Scared
My dear young friend,
I’m not exactly Mr. Sunshine, so you might think the curmudgeonly grousing of atheist blogger P.Z. Myers would resonate with me.
It rarely does, and yesterday I was reminded why. In writing about the suicide of comedian Robin Williams, Myers went from prickly to prickish in three seconds flat. Under the telling headline Robin Williams Brings Joy to the Hearts of Journalists and Politicians Once Again, Myers sneered that
[Williams'] sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people.