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ROSIE: So this one time? My mum decided we were Mormons.

Rosie: Forced into Mormonism.

By ROSIE WATERLAND

For a very brief moment in my life, I was a Mormon. Also a Catholic. And briefly a Christian. And I think  there was some Wiccan thrown in there too. And I also tagged along to some Hare Krishna meetings because I liked the food.

I wasn’t born into any religion, I know that much. My mum was meant to baptise me Catholic like my grandparents, to stop me ending up in baby-limbo, obviously. But her concern for my eternal soul must have been minimal because she never quite got around to it.

So until I was about five, I wandered the earth with no spiritual protection, like some kind of godless devil child.

Then the Mormons knocked at the door. I’m not exactly sure how it happened but I like to think my mum looked at the eager, sensibly dressed young men holding their bibles, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Yeah. Alright.”

My sister and I were then subjected to weekly sessions at some place called a ‘church’, where we were sent to a room with other kids to colour in cartoon pictures of some OCD dude called Noah who needed everything to be done in pairs. Meanwhile, our mum was next door wearing a floor-length skirt and participating in some kind of intensive chanting group.

After doing that for a while, it was decided that we had proven ourselves adequately interested enough in some guy called Jesus that it was time we married him. At least, that’s what I thought the deal was. Everyone kept talking about our ‘special day’ and my mum took us shopping for white dresses, so to me it was pretty clear what was happening.

When our wedding day arrived, we had to get into a spa with some man who dunked us under water while the chanting people watched and clapped. So it turned out getting married to Jesus just meant wrecking your pretty new dress in a giant Jesus bath. Although apparently, I was no longer a godless devil child, so that was a plus.

My mum, my sister and I on the day of our wedding to Jesus. I look concerned.

Things went fine for a while. We got dressed up every week and and went to the church place. I tried to do what I could for Noah’s OCD and my mum kept chanting with the grown-ups next door.

But something must have gone wrong, because all of a sudden we were allowed to stay home and watch TV on the weekend. I no longer had to get dressed up and have my mother’s conservatively dressed chanting friends pinch my cheeks.

And when two clean cut young dudes with bibles came knocking at the door to see how we were doing, my mum locked it and told them to leave.

That was when I knew my marriage to Jesus was over.

I never quite understood what happened. With the benefit of hindsight, I’d say it probably had something to do with the rules about not drinking alocohol and my mum reallyreally liked wine.

I didn’t have to wait long to have this Jesus dude back in my life though. After a brief stint that saw my mum wearing weird jewellery and our house filled with Wiccan books, she married a Catholic guy and his family said my last marriage to Jesus had been the wrong kind of marriage. Apparently, we would need to have that one annulled so there could be a new wedding.

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Once again, I had to get dressed up and let some random man pour water on my head. Then there was a massive party where everyone gave me presents, so I assumed I had nailed it.

Not long after that, I got a new wedding dress and I had to walk down the aisle with some boy in my class. Jesus and I must have been fighting though, because apparently I was going to be eating him and drinking his blood. I thought that was a bit harsh, but peer pressure kicked in so I followed suit. Jesus tastes like cardboard by the way.

But, once again, it wasn’t to be. When my mum divorced her Catholic husband, I had to divorce Jesus. Again. For a while I went along to some Hare Krishna meetings with the boy across the road because I liked the dancing and everyone ate really tasty food afterwards. But it was nothing serious.

Then on summer camp, all the camp counsellors told us we needed to accept Jesus into our hearts and become something called a ‘Christian’. I tried explaining to them that Jesus and I had already been divorced twice, so I just didn’t think we were meant to be.

That seems about right.

But we must have been in horrifying mortal danger because the counsellors seemed really determined to make sure all of us were ‘saved’. And apparently the only way to save us was to cry and wave their hands in the air while they sang rock songs about Jesus.

But alas, I ruined my chance at redemption when I asked my group leader why Jesus was saving us when there were babies dying of AIDS in Africa.

Salvation revoked. I was once again forced to wander the earth as a godless devil child.

I stayed that way until I was 15, when on the night of the national census, I looked down at the form in front of me and saw a question that I had never actually been asked to answer myself:

What religion are you?

It was the first time in my life I was being given the opportunity to decide. No mother dragging me along to whatever had caught her fancy that week. No adults dunking my head under water and telling me to marry and/or eat Jesus.

Now it was my turn to choose and I was going to make it count. So I thought for a minute, picked up my pen and proudly wrote on the from:

Jedi Knight.

Yeah. I was 15 and I was an idiot. But at least I got to make the decision, right?


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