The Burqa Experiment: Introduction

The Burqa Experiment: Introduction January 17, 2013

by Calulu

(Editors note: This is my newest project and while it’s not strictly Quiverfull I have had some extraordinary experiences so far that I’ll be chronicling here and on the website The Burqa Experiment)

Who am I and why am I doing this?

My name is Suzanne Titkemeyer and I’m not a Muslim. I am the mother of three fabulous grown children, the eldest being a massage therapist, my middle child is studying film studies at George Mason University while my baby also studies Business there as well. I’m 52 years young, was raised and educated in South Louisiana and have been married to the same wonderful man, my best friend, for 26 years now. I live a life I could not have imagined as a child, very blessed and happy.

I’m a Virginia woman that works as the editor and admin for the Patheos website No Longer QuiveringNo Longer Quivering is a website and community dedicated to helping women and men suffering from spiritual abuse at the hands of those in their spiritual lives. Most of the people at No Longer Quivering are coming out of the Quiverfull Patriarchal Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian movement, however we also have members that are from other faiths beside Christianity. Vyckie Garrison is the brave woman that started No Longer Quivering. We are dedicated to helping people heal from spiritual abuse.

Not that long ago, around six years, I came out of a poisonous cult of a church. Actually I was drug out by my husband, he had the sense enough to know that the situation we were in was not right for us. Our old church was such that some there would be heard to refer to  Muslims by highly offensive names such as “Camel Jockeys” and “Sand Niggers”. Even as I was extremely indoctrinated into that particular flavor of Christianity I flinched inside when hearing those derogatory remarks roll off the tongues of one of the church deacons and some of the members. I remember thinking that there should be no place in our church for hatred and intolerance. Once 9/11 took place the race bashing/baiting got worse, with narrow-minded people taking over leadership through several splits. They are still where they were with the same deacon that liked to use those insults still one of the church leaders.

No one should have to tolerate being called names like that because of their race or religion.

As part of my own recovery from spiritual abuse I’d started to explore other faiths and see what they’re all about instead of hearing someone else put their own spin on them. I’m still a Christian but a very different kind than I used to be. One of the big things that has changed for me is that I try not to judge other religions.

In the past six months I’ve felt a great need to pray for the women of Muslim faith. My prayers haven’t been those standard, “I pray for so-and-so to come to know Jesus.” Mostly I’ve felt compelled to pray for blessings, peace, protection, abundance and love over them. As I’ve contemplated my sisters in a different faith I’ve started to feel a connection to them, which has led me to researching about their lives and culture, which leads me to the hijab and the burqa.

During my years in Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches there was a faction at my former church that believed literally that a good Christian woman should cover her head in public. This group wore head scarves not much different than the hijab scarves worn by Muslim women. I confess though I did not believe as those ladies did I did try out head covering a few times very halfheartedly.

There are many Christian groups that believe in veiling or head covering as part of their worship of God.

After my experiences with head covering, racism and judgmentalism occurring around me I started to wonder if perhaps devout innocent Muslim ladies arrayed in everything from the lightest hijab through a full body burqa were being treated differently than the average American woman who wears nothing on their head. I suspect they face treatment that most would not believe is taking place in America, the Land of the Free. I hope I’m wrong.

And that is at the heart of my project. I want to explore what types of treatment Muslim women who do veil receive. Is there a subtle or overt bias against covered women believed to be Muslim? I also seek to honor their commitment to devout modesty and humility. What is it like to stand out as covered in a world of people wearing minimal clothing? What are my own prejudices and preconceptions?

I hope to learn a great deal and confront my own beliefs by veiling or wearing a burqa in public. I will be chronicling what happens here in this blog and over at No Longer Quivering as well.

Comments open below

Read everything by Calulu!

Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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