Growing Up In Christian Fascist Heartland America

A Letter to Chairman Avakian

Revolutionary Worker #1274, April 10, 2005, posted at

The following letter was sent to Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, USA from a youth in a rural area in the American "heartland," who relates to the RCYB. The letter was edited by the RW at the request of the author to protect him and his family from the Christian fascists in his area.

Mr. Avakian,

I am nearly finished with your book,1 and I must say I am very impressed. I have been a supporter of the RCP for about a year now, and up until now I have never been able to see you as so much a human being before. To me you seemed somehow "superhuman" when all I knew of you was the few small anecdotes you leave for us in your talks.

Let me introduce myself. I am 17. I live in a small rural town, and every chance I get I head up to [the city] to do political work for the RCYB. I am inspired by your writings and your message.

The reason I have written to you is not just to praise you on your book, but to tell you something that you desperately need to hear.

A few months ago I attended a discussion of the RCYB and we discussed Christian fascism. It was at this meeting that I realized most of the RCYB are not as experienced with dealing with Christian fascists as I am. You see, Mr. Avakian, I live in a small town and here Christian fascism runs rampant. But my town is not nearly as bad as another town just a few miles away, which my family moved out of due to the extreme grip the religious fundamentalists had on the community. It was horrible.

I am going to tell you the story of this here.

The town we left is a small town of about 4,000 people. The high school graduating class is usually just over 100.

Anyhow, I attended elementary school there from kindergarten to fourth grade. At this school religion was openly promoted and established on a daily basis. Starting in the fourth grade, students were taken out of school to a local church and given "religious education." Of course, the class wasn't required. But there were only three kids in the entire fourth grade who didn't attend. Many of the students who attended weren't fundamentalists but feared social exclusion, which was the consequence for those who did not attend. Yes, when my parents pulled me out of the class because they felt it was too extreme, rumors began to go around the community that my family were Satanists. Before the class started, my mother had called the teacher of this course, an active Christian fascist from the community, and simply asked what would be taught in the course. Apparently, this question seemed threatening to this woman and the religious establishment of the town, so this woman did an extensive investigation of our family. She found out my mother's maiden name and harassed several of our family members, trying to get information about us. During that time I walked home from school, and frequently kids would ask me, "Why aren't you going to religious ed?"

It was horrible.

Suddenly I became a target of teachers, because I watched and enjoyed the Star Wars movies, which the fundamentalists deemed to be a Satanic trilogy of films.

I remember my parents even tried to lie about why I wasn't attending the class in order to keep me safe. They said, "We go to church in our house. We think he needs to spend that time of the day focusing on academics." This sounded good, but while the rest of the class went to be religiously indoctrinated, me and the two other kids (both of which were Jehovah's Witnesses) did absolutely nothing but fool around on the computers. My teacher, a man, even interrogated me about why I wasn't going, and then in a conference with my parents blurted out that I needed to go to the class.

All this horrible shit came down on me simply because I refused to participate in forced religious indoctrination.

They claimed this was okay because the classes "weren't required" by the school, and that we didn't have the classes actually in the school—we walked across the parking lot to the church. Teachers even led us there. I remember one day the church was in use so they just used the classroom.

Mr. Avakian, this isn't just happening in that town. This is happening all across the country. Stuff like this has even been upheld by the Supreme Court. They claim that as long as things aren't "required," the churches can do whatever the fuck they want with the schools. This is where the religious right is getting their support. It's from systematically going into the schools and getting all those who aren't already with them.

Another thing I thought I would point out was that the most "hard-core" of the fundamentalists are always the poorest. The really heavy fundamentalists I know all live in extreme poverty.

By "heavy fundamentalists" I mean those who are so fundamentalist it is beyond my comprehension.

There is one girl at my school who is fairly intelligent, but she is a heavy fundamentalist. One day she asked me to read her paper she wrote for English class, so I read it. The paper described in detail why her sect of Christianity had not branched off of Catholicism at anytime (which of course all branches of Christianity have). Then it accused the members of the Catholic Church of killing the disciples for upholding their faith. The scary thing about this girl—and the reason she was so delusional about this—is because since she was a small child she had gone to religious camps. You know, like summer camps, where they take you up into the woods and you live there. Well, at these camps they worked on heavy indoctrination of her. One day a friend of mine had a shirt with a peace sign on it, and this girl ran up to her and told her that the peace sign had been invented by Satan.


It is pretty well known at my high school that I am a communist.

So one day this girl comes up to me and says, "I know who you're going to vote for in 2008."

I said, "Who?"

She says, "Hillary Clinton."

"Why's that?"

"Because she's a communist!"

"No she's not."

"Of course she is! I can't believe you didn't know that, you're always reading these big fat books on communism and stuff, yet you don't even know who the top communist in America is."

Then she walks off.

Another scary thing about this girl is that at her church they thanked God for AIDS —claiming that AIDS was God's way of punishing homosexuals for their sin, comparing AIDS to the destruction of Sodom.

I also believe this girl was abused as a child, but I won't get into that.

What the religious right does is it goes into communities and it sends its agents out to "out-holy" everyone else. And they're good at this too.

It's like you said in your talk, they are good at criticizing all the other religions for practicing Buffet Christianity, and it's hard to argue against that kind of thinking if you aren't already an atheist.

But one good thing about fundamentalists is that their "values" aren't really behind the free-market fantasies of Capitalism-Imperialism. Almost every fundamentalist I have met agrees with me that healthcare and education are basic human rights. I think the majority of people on earth would agree to that. The religious right is a tool of the ruling class to twist people's true values into this phony values they have created which are based on fear.

So, Mr. Avakian, that is my message to you, and I hope it will help you to understand the religious right more deeply, I would very much like to help others to understand this the way I do, and your talks on Christian society and such have been very helpful. If you wish to print this letter in the RW feel free. I would be honored if you were to do so. I just ask that you remove names and places, I think you'll understand why.

I would be very honored if you would write back to me. I have enclosed an SASE in case you wish to do so. I very much support you and the RCP, and in less than a year when I do leave home, I plan on taking on a more active role in the RCYB. Thank you for your time.

In Solidarity and Revolutionary Struggle, A Youth from the Heartland


1 From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a Memoir by Bob Avakian (Chicago: Insight Press, 2005). Available from Insight Press, 4064 N. Lincoln Ave., #264, Chicago, IL 60618.

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