Even the most hardcore atheist still hold a faint sense of guilt, the product of centuries of religious indoctrination. Mary Bleeds’ expose that toxic mixture of brainwashing and patriarchalism in their self-titled debut album. Topics that becomes even more poignant if the band comes from Ireland. We spoke to Guilherme, who is actually Brazilian but extremely conscious of the power religion still holds in some countries.
Guilherme: I have been living in Ireland for eight years, so I am just an observer, but I believe Irish people broke the chains. Abortion is now legal, and so is gay marriage. Most of the people I know are non-religious. However, many suffered from traumas due to religious brainwash, as I did in my childhood days. We also heard stories about The Magdalene Laundries and how women were degraded and abused for not playing by the rules. It was a sort of an Asylum for “fallen women”. Joni Mitchell wrote a beautiful song about this subject where she sings: “Branded as a Jezebel, I knew I was not bound for Heaven”. I love the words she uses because those “laundries” were actually prisons where women were treated as slaves and subjected to moral and mental torture. Whatever they were preaching at the time was as primitive as medieval teachings.
These days Ireland is Europe’s new frontier. Do you think there will be a return to religious identities?
Guilherme: I think people are slowly breaking the chains. Children born today are more likely to have a non-religious education even though their parents may still be connected to the church by habit. I know many people who claim they believe in God but have no interest in the Bible’s teachings yet would go to church on Sundays. But there’s always something to prove us wrong. During the Repeal campaign in Ireland (which aimed to make access to abortion legal), I saw a boy in the street holding a sign with the words: “Murders! Preserve life as God says” or something similar. An old man was passing by and nodding in approval.
On a personal level, how is your relationship with religion today? Is it just bad memories, or is it an ongoing fight?
Guilherme: I identify religion with a social institution called the church. It no longer plays a role in my life and doesn’t hurt me anymore. But I can imagine how a child who happens to be gay feels when told that a person who lies with another of the same sex is committing a deadly sin? I grew up in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. I vividly remember when our teacher in the Sabbath School class asked: “And what’s the wage of sin?” so the kids in unison, myself included, cried: “Death”. From that moment on, I began to question: If God is benevolent and loves me as a father loves his child, why would he want me dead for being the way he created me? I already knew what different meant at that time. It took me a long time to accept who I really was. I understand those who have faith in something. I came across a few people who were not judgemental. But these are a handful of people. Doctrines are poisonous. And that’s it, no Jesus, no Holy Marys. My Mary isn’t a virgin, she bleeds.
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