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A year ago, I gave an interview on a now-defunct podcast telling my story. I don’t know how much I covered in 1 1/2 hours, that’s why I feel the need to write out my thoughts. I will break this out into at least 6 parts, because it’s a long story.

I was born into a mixed religion family, to two immigrants from India. My father is a Hindu, and my mother is a Christian, also from a mixed religion household. Even though my nana was a Hindu until the last few years of his life, she was raised a Christian. My nani was a Methodist, and had my mother baptized into the church. That’s the denomination my mother’s family came into when they converted during British colonial rule. My par-nana came from a Muslim land-owning family originally from Delhi. Muslims converting to Christianity is not something that happens that easily. My par-nani came from a very wealthy Hindu landowning family based in Allahabad, now Prayagraj. I am not entirely sure why they converted in the first place, since both families were well off. My mom told me it was because it would make it easier to get a job in the civil services. Yet my great-great grandfather on my father’s side was a judge, and never felt the need to convert. I don’t think I’ll get a satisfactory answer to why my mother’s family felt the need to convert; subconsciously, even as a Christian, I regarded it as a sort of betrayal or deception on the part of the missionaries that converted them. But I digress.

My testimony is as much about my mother’s descent into madness as it is my conversion and deconversion, because she forced me down this path from a young age. From what my mother told me about her childhood, my nani was just a cultural Christian. Took her and my aunt to church, but didn’t really take it seriously. When my mother and aunt were teenagers, they both encountered Jesus freaks who were bumming around in India, like many types of hippies did back in the day. My maasi took it seriously, and considered herself born again after that. My mother took a little longer to get to where she did. She met my dad, they eventually married, and the first town they settled in after marriage was Lynchburg. The land of Jerry Falwell, so evangelical Christianity probably had an influence on her. But she never went to church there.

I was born a year after they settled and 3 years later, my brother was born. We then moved to North Carolina and lived there for a year and a half. She never found a church there. The focus was on living the American dream, which she took advantage of. Was she happy? Not really. She for whatever reason was increasingly unhappy with my dad. She also didn’t care for being a mother, and was abusive towards my brother and I. Though I was young, I have vague memories of her being harsh towards me when I made mistakes as toddlers normally do. I know I’m not imagining them, because concrete memories formed in later childhood years are no different.

After living in North Carolina, we moved back to India, where my dad decided to start an offshoot of his father’s business. My mother was not pleased and the marriage began to crumble. She was increasingly angry and REALLY took it out on my brother and I. She was also unhappy we would be closer to her in-laws, my dada and dadi. My dadi attempted to show us Hindu style of worship but my mother quickly put a stop to that. She didn’t want us to have exposure to idol-worship. Even so, she did not take us to church even though my aunt was a part of one huge one. The most my mother did was give us a children’s bible, which I read. But I was more in survival mode. I was just trying to avoid my mother’s wrath. She would regularly beat my brother and I for whatever reason. Didn’t really need a good one. She also used my brother and I as pawns against my grandparents, and that effectively ruined any relationship I had with them. Finally, after 4 long years in India, my family moved back to North Carolina in an effort to save the marriage. After one year in North Carolina, we moved to California, to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Amazing Facts, headed by one Doug Batchelor. Image credit:

It was there she first started going to a generic megachurch on Sundays, first by herself, then with my brother and I. Later, she came across Amazing Facts, a Seventh Day Adventist ministry that propagates the message that we are in the end times, and that only the true remnant will survive to go to heaven after. They believe the Catholic church is the beast, the anti-Christ that will deceive other Christians and form the one true religion. They will then initiate one world rule and worldwide Sunday laws. Anyone that does not keep sabbath on Sunday will not be able to participate in the world economy, and will be severely persecuted. She started going to sessions on her own. By that time we were looking to move to the Sacramento area, where housing is cheaper. We moved there, and that’s when she got serious about finding a Seventh Day Adventist church.

Continued in Part 2

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