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What was your religious background? - everbecoming2007 - 02-06-2020

What was your religious background?

I was raised nominally Oneness Pentecostal.  My great grandparents, both of whom had been ministers, developed my early childhood faith and relationship to Christ. 

Eventually I was unable to reconcile some Pentecostal views to the scriptures I was reading, which are complex and sometimes difficult to understand.  I still love reading the scriptures. 

Eventually, since my Oneness baptism was invalid in its formula, I was baptized in a traditional Episcopal parish adhering respectively to Rite One as well as the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.  I was catechized one on one by the minister, and taught an Anglo-Catholic perspective. 

I was taught and adhered to the Daily Office.  But when I sought guidance and turned to the sources of distinctively Anglican tradition, such as the 1662 prayer book or Articles, I discovered a Protestant faith rather than the Anglo-Catholic one, or at least an ambiguous theological stance on many important issues. 

By the time I converted to Catholicism, I had only to accept the extraordinary magisterium and communion with the Pope.  Otherwise I was theologically a traditional Catholic.  For the most part, I carry on and pray as a Catholic exactly as I did as an Anglican except my schedule makes it difficult to recite the Office regularly. 

I had positive experiences in my Episcopal parish and terrible experiences coming into Roman Catholicism, but now that I have access to a traditional Roman rite, I am flourishing as a Catholic and I feel liberated to follow my true convictions and conscience.

It is a responsibility and a privilege to cast myself on the mercy of the Lord, beseeching his help through prayer and sacrament.

RE: What was your religious background? - Augustinian - 02-06-2020

I've had a couple of years to sort my path out, and this is the most coherent narrative I can muster:

I was raised moderately generic Christian until my mom dragged my sister and I to a Methodist church for a couple of years when we were kids. We were never baptized, my mom believing this was our own choice (and, as I would later come to realize, was a blessing in itself). I didn't hate it, Sunday School was fun. After that, we moved away and with that reduced our church-going to once a year (if that) at Christmas time.

I soon fell into satanism and atheism in my teenage years, mostly influenced by the music I listened to. I soon morphed away from the satanism into a "new atheist." So I was an obnoxious snob with no real philosophical grounds for my opposition to Christianity and the wide spectrum of religions. I knew next to nothing about Catholicism outside of my mother dubbing it the "church of guilt" and my father being a lapsed Catholic who never once spoke about it. So my bias was firmly rooted in Protestant stereotypes.

Once I was in college (2010-2014) I fluctuated between a sort of vain Luciferianism and atheism, and by the end of my 4 years I simply had to interest in religion whatsoever. I didn't mock it or anything, it just was not a focus of mine.

Fast-forward to 2016, when we had my daughter, our firstborn, and that was when I really began questioning my atheism. I couldn't accept that this child was the result of a series of indifferent random accidents. So I found an interest in perennialism and traditionalism, namely along the lines of Huxley, Evola and Guenon. I identified an underlying commonality across all religions, which I came to know as the "divinity." I wanted to practice some sort of faith, so I first sought out Asatru, but after a few months really couldn't push myself to honestly believe in Thor or Odin as more than archetypes. Due to my interest in Evola, the whole concept of the "man against time" drove me towards Ancient Rome. So at first I attached myself to their gods, Jove and Apollo in particular, and that was where the aforementioned commonalities really came to light. I also became more and more interested in the Catholic Church while reading Gibbon's anti-Catholic Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The position the Church had in the Empire as well as how the wider communion of saints seemed to perfect the sporadic pantheon of lesser deities in the Roman religion struck a cord with me. I strangely found myself fixated on a particular statue of St. Longinus, which I thought was badass, as well as St. Michael. I wanted to practice some sort of santeria and worship them as gods, but was soon directed to Our Lady and really became fixated on her too.

By October 2017, right at the 100-year anniversary of Fatima, I was off work on a stay-cation with my daughter and I came across the reasoning JRR Tolkien used to convert CS Lewis, namely, his argument for Christianity as the only true "myth." For whatever reason, this put the pieces together for me and I understood just what those commonalities between religions were, and how they culminated in the Roman Catholic Church. I soon sought out RCIA and was brought into the Church Easter 2018. Since then I have found a reasonably close SSPX chapel and exclusively attend Latin Mass.

RE: What was your religious background? - formerbuddhist - 02-06-2020

My family was of the "Christmas" Catholic variety on my mom's side aside from my grandparents and on on my dad's side my grandpa wasn't very religious while my grandma was a devout Catholic till death. My mother was a lapsed Catholic who kept the guilt and some of the mythos with none of the doctrine.  She ended up really into fairies, ghosts and other supernatural neo pagan/ neo hippie sort of things spiritually, but she never pushed me in any direction.  My father who never lived with me was a former Catholic school graduate and altar boy turned vehement anti Catholic and even anti Christian.  I truly think he was probably molested but to this day, due to our somewhat lukewarm relationship I would never discuss the subject.  He'll take it to his grave as far as I'm concerned.  He was the one who insisted that none of us get baptized until adulthood when we could make our own decisions about matters of religion. 

  I was always VERY sensitive and into spiritual things, and deeply impressed by various religious and spiritual ideals. I used to go to Church with the grandparents on my mom's side and was taught basics by my grandmother.  I still recall the giant bas relief St. Michael the Archangel outside the entry to their working class Michigan factory town parish, and it left a huge impression on my young mind.  Never at that age did dogma play a role, it was just me trying to make sense of life and feel things out in terms of the God I always believed in but didn't really understand.  

In middle school my friends brother was crushed to death under a truck outside a local lakeside grocery store, and me being the sensitive kid I was felt devastated by it, trying to make sense of it.  I would read everything I could about religion and spirituality from the library and my mom's musty old books from her college years.  This was in the early 90's so pre internet.  I remember getting that CD "Chant" when it first came out and being completely entranced by it, thinking,  "this music is from God", and despite going down very different paths a bit later on that feeling never left me. 

Fast forward a few years and I was angry inside, dealing with home issues and a bully at school.  I turned inward even more, chasing some way of escape.  Ironically I had a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and still had bully issues, but I guess I was thinking if I hurt someone bad I'd end up getting beat down by this kids friends or something.  The fear from those years lives with me to this day, and even now I generally don't jive well with other men and do not generally let my guard down around people.  What does this have to do with religion?  It eventually brought me to bridge the gap between all the fantasy RPGs and books I was reading (LOTR, Dragonlance,Lone Wolf etc.) with mythology and my desire to escape my frightened life with Wicca, Ceremonial Magick and even black/death metal and satanic imagery.  I found a group of friends who engaged in rituals in my basement with me, complete with calling on elements, visualizing sigils and in general acting as if we were badass magicians with the power to bring some sort of order out of the chaos of our lives.  I fell heavy into marijuana smoking, magic mushrooms and heavy opiate use.  Despite all this something felt off about all the magickal posturing and once I left high school I fell away from that into Buddhism.  I won't bore you all with the details of that part of the journey but eventually while on my mail route I had this strange yet powerful experience of Christ, and Matthew 11:29 took hold of me.  It was as if Christ were REALLY there, speaking to me, not with words but with His presence.  At that moment I was convinced He was real but not sure where to start really learning about Him. I ended up reading Seraphim Rose's "Nihilism" and getting into Orthodoxy, along with reading stuff like the Rule of St. Benedict and the Flowers of St. Francis. I ended up in RCIA. (I started that process back in '00 but drug use and my Buddhist ways ruined it). Somehow, despite myself and how antisocial I sort of am, and despite despising the New Mass with every fiber of my being, I managed to get through and get baptized. In that period I read literally everything I could, from the Bible to the Church Fathers, contemporary theology, polemics, history-- you name it.  Orthodoxy was still pulling me.  I had found Christ but if I was brutally honest with myself I was Orthodox in doctrine and just flat out didn't believe in the claims of the RCC. Today I am happily Orthodox and have no desire to leave.  I never lost my faith in Christ, the Christ who came to me that day on my mail route.  

In conclusion, my religious background was all over the place, but ultimately Christ was somehow present and leading me all throughout to where I am today.  

I've left out many details and wrote this in a half assed way on my phone so forgive whatever sounds poor or rambling.  It's been one hell of a journey for sure.  What a great idea for a thread!  Can't wait to read a bit of others stories.

RE: What was your religious background? - newenglandsun - 02-07-2020

When I was younger, I always thought a Catholic Mass would be very lovely with the candle-light and the old-style architecture. But I grew up non-denominational. It was a mixture of Pietist and Evangelical doctrine. I struggled a lot with faith growing up. They never gave a direct answer as to how to save and I would read Scriptures that suggested one thing and then they would insist because of my intellectual profession (which wasn't strong to begin with), I would be saved. Even still, in my senior year in high school I developed strong anti-Catholic and fundamentalist sentiment. That's because I discovered a lot of commentaries to the book of Revelation which weren't very nice toward the Church.

In university, I took a religions of the world class my first semester. That class led me to question my views on the Trinity. I explored modalism, Arianism, and Socinianism.

My dad had been heavily involved at my non-denominational church but that one was going through some massive changes. He and my mom also had some sort of house church thing set up which eventually fell apart as well as some of our friends who began developing more fundamentalist beliefs stopped going. I ended up in an Evangelical Covenant Church but never believed a single one of its doctrines! Soon, I began exploring the occult with the influence of a lot of death metal and black metal I'd been listening to.

But somehow, I felt a pull to try and understand the theology. One of the pastors at the Evangelical Covenant Church introduced me to an interest in theology. I began exploring different doctrines in the Protestant world and theological opinions. I wanted to understand more and began reading about church history and ended up on a forum where I had heard about Eastern Rite Catholicism. I'd never heard about that before. I assumed it was just the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.

Any way, one day, I ended up in a Byzantine Catholic Cathedral in Phoenix, AZ. It was the Sunday before Halloween in 2013 and I heard the archpriest give an homily about the Gadarene Demoniac. Keep in mind, I arrived there after a heavy exploration in the occult. I didn't have a license then and my mom was my chauffer so she searched out a closer parish. I ended up in that Byzantine Catholic parish the next Saturday and I said to the priest that I had been called to the faith. I'd been going regularly, and attending Eastern Christian Formation classes but in January of 2014, a huge wave of depression took over me. I struggled to attend church on Sundays, barely made it to the Vesper Divine Liturgies the parish had, and eventually ended up missing church all together. Faith became hard.

The priest wasn't a very effective preacher either. I recall the archpriest's homily on a regular basis though. The priest at the other parish had come from a fundamentalist background, he was very anti-Protestant, and not as Gospel-centered. Of course, becoming Catholic means accepting the tenets of the Catholic faith but I still felt the rigorous anti-Protestantism was beginning to get in the way of learning the Catholic faith. I got into an argument with the priest one day. I remember calling the archpriest and telling him about my argument, the archpriest telling me if I have any problems to call him and let him know, and to keep attending the Eastern Christian Formation classes. That understanding wasn't necessary. So I went back and ended up developing a relationship with the deacon there.

One day, he presented me with an icon of the Archangel Michael and said that he had spoken to Father and that if I was absolutely certain about entering into the faith, I could be received into it in just a few weeks, that a chrismation could be arranged and be done in private. (He did not know I was not baptized at that point though he did the next Sunday.) I wasn't certain then at that point. I felt a pull toward the West again. I ended up in a Continuing Anglican Mission in the Anglican Church in America. I had been attending for a month and the rector asked me one day why I didn't take communion. I told him I wasn't baptized. He told me he'd fix that. The next month, I was baptized in the Anglican Church in America--October 26, 2014.

I still met with the Ruthenian Catholic deacon regularly at his university office. I would attend his parish on occasion too. Even though I had this Western pull, I also felt pulled toward the East. I began to feel that even the Anglo-Catholic faith I was in was becoming deficient. But I continued with it until my family moved across the country. I explored several different parishes. Two Anglo-Catholic parishes--a Diocese of the Holy Cross parish, and a parish in the Anglican Catholic Church. The Diocese of the Holy Cross parish is still the most Traditionalist Catholic-looking parish I've ever been to. I went to a Western Rite Orthodox parish too. I visited a Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish and a Melkite Greek Catholic parish.

I told the Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest I wanted to convert in his parish. I had been going there for about a year and a half. I attended the Melkite Catholic parish whenever they had holy days and for Vespers. I developed strong relationships with the people there. The Ukrainian Catholic parish had no full-time priest, they only met on Sundays and for certain holy days such as Christmas, Holy Thursday, and Great Friday. But I attended the Melkite parish to witness many other holy days.

When the priest at the Melkite parish passed in November, I met the man who would be appointed the interim pastor by the bishop. There was something about this man. I felt as if he'd be instrumental in my salvation but I didn't see it then and I tried to bury it and insist it couldn't be.

Even with the paperwork submitted fully and my Ukrainian Catholic catechist testifying I was ready for chrismation, the priest insisted I still go through more classes. I was becoming frustrated, tempted extraordinarily by Satan to despair and despondency. I was cutting myself in the narthex of the Melkite parish one day. A lady saw me and my godmother's (another lady who had just recently been declaring me to be her godson) husband came out to my aid. That eventually led to a discussion with the deacon about my exasperation, I felt the Church had rejected me, and the deacon asked if I had considered being chrismated at the Melkite parish. I decided to surrender at that point. The deacon and I talked with the priest afterward and he said, "How about I chrismate you right now?" That lady who had been calling me her godson and her husband had left to pick up their oldest from work. I asked the priest if he could have those two serve as witness. So he held off for that moment.

I told my catechist and the Ukrainian Catholic priest I would be completing my religious instruction at the Melkite parish. The next week I was chrismated. The deacon and my godparents and my priest all knew I would be at the Ukrainian Catholic parish the next day so I didn't receive Eucharist immediately. The Ukrainian Catholic priest became angry and hardened of heart when I showed him my certificate of chrismation. He demanded to know why I was there and why I wasn't with the Melkites. His demands intimidated me. I wanted him to bless the icon that my godparents had given me the previous night. It was only when I kept pestering him and mentioning their names (they attended another parish of his previously), that he finally resigned to doing that.

I didn't receive the Eucharist that day. Afterward, I asked the priest if I could receive Eucharist in his parish and he told me "technically yes, but I want to question you further" and he claimed that my coming in through the Melkites was "tricky" and that I should be with them. I was despairing and nearly despondent all week but God had put the right people in my life. The next Sunday, I attended the Melkite parish. I asked my godmother if I could go up and receive it with her and she said to me that she couldn't carry me (she has a five-year old and a three-year old). I said, I don't want to be carried. I followed her in line, it was crowded, I kept my hand on her shoulder to let her know I was behind her. Just before it was her turn, she took my forearm and sent in front of her and I communed then.

So now I am a Melkite Catholic and maybe when tensions between the Ukrainian priest and I heal, I'll go back there. As it turns out, I sent a complaint to his bishop's office about the situation from that Sunday and heard back on Wednesday from the Dean of the Ukrainian Catholic Protopresbyterate of Washington informing me that the Ukrainian priest is aware I belong to the Melkite Catholic Church and am eligible to receive Holy Mysteries at his parish. So perhaps I will go again some day in the near future but for now, I'll be attending my home parish on Sundays with more regularity.

And that's my story.

RE: What was your religious background? - josh987654321 - 02-07-2020

I was 'raised' Catholic, aka not too much except for my Father, who himself was able to do so because he converted himself from Protestantism and with Dr Scott Hahn's conversion story.

Even then I always believed in God, but I never took it too seriously, or perhaps that's not quite accurate, seriously but I only knew bits about Our Lord and nothing at all of private revelation from the saints, as I had never read the Gospels and only got bits and pieces from Mass that I would forget.

There were just many moments in my life that pushed me closer and closer and I guess still do, major one instigating it was when at the Catholic School I went to we watch the Mel Gibson film 'The Passion of the Christ' (probably one of the very few actual Catholic things that occurred, if it were up to the School alone I wouldn't be Catholic) which had a considerable impact on me and than at the end of my High School years I was given a New Testament and Psalms book which I read multiple times (protestant version, nevertheless it got the job done). Then reading saints and their private revelations etc etc.

I guess that's the best I can sort of sum it up so far in my life.

God Bless You

RE: What was your religious background? - Melkite - 02-07-2020

I was raised nominally Episcopalian.  I never went to church as a child.  In middle and high school, I became interested in the occult.  A friend of mine in high school was raised Methodist, but wanted to become Catholic.  His mother had been Catholic but left the Church because she couldn't get an annulment.  We would talk about religion and, because I was into the occult, would ask him different questions about demons apparently.  I don't really remember asking him questions exclusively about demons, but I remember him one day getting frustrated with me (he never had before) and asked, "Why do you always ask questions about Satan?  Why don't you ever ask questions about Christ?"  I remember thinking to myself that was a good question, so I made a point of starting to ask questions about Christ and Christianity.  So I ended up becoming interested in Catholicism and joined RCIA the next year.  He never became Catholic, became atheist for a long period of time, and the last I talked to him, he was into Norse paganism.  Like ships passing in the night.

In college, I became very angry with God and stopped going to church.  After a few months, I started to be drawn back, but had become very interested in Eastern Orthodoxy (I was even interested in it while I was in RCIA, though superficially so, and that is where I first learned of the Eastern Catholic churches).  So I started going with a friend to an Orthodox parish, and began attending every week.  It is an Antiochian parish that is made up mostly of Protestant converts.  The next year, I studied in Russia, and after I got my bearings there, I thought, "Oh, I was going to become Orthodox, what's holding me back now?"  So I started to attend an Orthodox parish in Moscow and became a catechumen.  At first, I attended a regular Russian Orthodox church, but the priest there thought I would do better if I went to the OCA metochion parish (A metochion is sort of an embassy church to the various autocephalous churches).  The priest was an American, so I would talk with him after liturgy each Sunday for my catechumenate.  They had a small library with English books, so I read a few of them.  One of them that interested me was the Orthodox position on the papacy.  I read it and felt very unconvinced.  I thought if this was the strongest argument the Orthodox have against the papacy, then it's not a convincing one (at least, it wasn't to me at the time).  So about a month before I was supposed to be received into the Orthodox church, I told the priest that I was not going to become Orthodox.  I started attending a Latin parish there on Saturday evenings for the few remaining months that I was in Moscow.  It is mostly an emigree church.  It had something like 20 masses every Sunday, several in each of traditional Catholic languages - French, English, Spanish, Polish, Lithuanian, Vietnamese, and one Russian mass with very low attendance.

When I returned to the US, I started going to a Ruthenian parish.  After attending for about a year, I requested to be transferred.  I wanted to become Melkite, as that was the counterpart of the Antiochian church, and I had intended to resume attendance at the Antiochian parish when I was a catechumen.  But the closest Melkite parish was too far for me to attend.  I believe providentially, I never heard anything back from the Ruthenian bishop.  I would ask the pastor each week if he had heard anything. "Nope, nothing this week.  Give it time, sometimes these things can take a while.  Eventually I gave up, and then moved closer to the Melkite parish I attend now.  I started attending, asked if I could transfer after attending a few weeks.  Even with having spent so much time in Orthodoxy and having tried to transfer to the Byzantine Catholic Church, the priest wanted me to attend for a year before transferring.  So I attended regularly, and asked the priest again a few months shy of a year so we could get the ball rolling.  Got the approval back from the Melkite bishop a month or two later, and I've been Melkite ever since.

I've gone back to the Antiochian parish a few times to visit.  Mostly just for liturgy, as I'm kind of shy and didn't really get to know many people there.  Every time I go there, or any other Orthodox parish, I always feel an inexplicable emptiness.  I attribute it to their not being in communion with Rome, but I don't know for sure.  I just know that it always feels like something is subtly, but profoundly, missing.  It's kind of sad for me to feel that emptiness in a parish that I loved for a portion of my life, felt like home and was (and still is) so full of life.  But that feeling of emptiness has never gone away.  Eventually I stopped visiting Orthodox parishes because everything I felt like Orthodoxy had that Catholicism didn't, I have in full at my Melkite parish.  I still feel drawn to Orthodoxy from time to time, and I would still visit an Orthodox parish if the opportunity arose.  But the draw is weaker each time.  Instead of thinking of it as trying to make time to go visit an Orthodox parish, now it's like "Maybe I'll go to an Orthodox parish if I can't go to my Melkite parish for some reason."  It's definitely something I see in my head as a back up, rather than to go to for something I'm not getting at home.  I don't know if I feel the draw to Orthodoxy anymore, when I do, because there is something I'm still missing that I haven't put my finger on, or if it's to reassure me that I'm right where I'm supposed to be and not missing a thing.

And that's my story.

RE: What was your religious background? - Eric F - 02-07-2020

Nominal Catholic, poorly catechised. Stopped all mass attendance before I was 16. Dad had serious health problems and turned towards various types of Protestant churches. I went with him a few times, but turned hardcore agnostic by age 20. 1989, I ceased being agnostic and began attending a number of Protestant denominations. Everything from a Bible church, to Pentacostal, to Wesleyan, to Christian Reformed to Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The last two I stayed with the longest. Was in WELS for 5 years, and held extreme anti-Catholic opinions during that time. Then I got into historical photography and started taking alot of pictures in Chicago and going back to old Catholic churches. In order to obtain access, I started going on Good Friday. From there it just began pulling me back. Lutheran services began feeling emptier and emptier. I started reading materials from TAN books, and then I met Father Phillips at St John Cantius. First time I ever heard him was at a 5pm Saturday mass, and I came away thinking to myself "I have to talk to this guy, because he actually believes this stuff". 1997 I came back.

RE: What was your religious background? - jack89 - 02-07-2020

- Baptized Catholic as a toddler and some exposure to Catholicism early on, to include Catholic School in 1st grade.
- Parents divorced and raised by non-religious mother and step-father.
- Sent to Catholic School for 6th grade where I embrace the Church. First confession and communion.
- Went backed to public school, stopped going to Mass on a regular basis. Only went to a few Masses and Protestant services until early 30s.
- Questioned religious belief and became an atheist in my early 30s. Dabbled in paganism but really never committed.
- Retired at 50, went on a 6 month backpacking trip and had an epiphany shortly thereafter.
- Returned to the Catholic Church and confirmed at Easter Vigil 2016.

RE: What was your religious background? - dahveed - 02-07-2020

My dad's father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers. My dad converted in the mid-fifties, once telling me that it was an intellectual decision. My mom's parent divorced when she was quite young, and her mother would attend a variety of churches. Her eldest sister converted, married, and was perhaps an influence (more for her to tell than me). My mom converted in the fifties, too. I was born in time to be verging on seven when an across-the-country move brought us from the TLM to the fledgling NO. I and my siblings were raised Catholic in the heady days of felt banners and poor catechism. I never left the Faith, but was more ignorant than words allow me to express. Fast forward to my very early forties, when I was a member of the small cadre of junior defenders of the Faith at free republic. One of the older regulars kept quoting from FE and John Salza's Scripture Catholic. I'm an avid reader and history buff, and I began to mine all the goodness that Vox placed in FE. That coincided with the earliest of Michael Voris' The One True Faith. I learned a lot that I didn't hear much of in Catholic schools in the 70s and early 80s. I don't get to TLMs nearly often enough. On the other hand, I study the Faith most of the time, pray the Rosary daily, try to pray daily, especially for the Poor Souls, and do my best to catechize my children. In your charity, please pray for me, and mine.

RE: What was your religious background? - Teresa Agrorum - 02-07-2020

What beautiful stories, and so encouraging.

I am a cradle Catholic--these days, no guarentee of faith. How my devout parents hung on, I have no idea; they did what they could, in the only way they knew how. We were raised in the N.O., attended Catholic schools where possible, and the proof of this is that of five children, I am the sole remaining Catholic.

I would have fallen away too, and indeed was heading out the door, when I became involved with a Freemasonic family. Naturally at first I didn't know this--they had presented themselves as Lutherans, and the daughter, a lovely girl in so many ways, was my best friend. Her father was a 33rd degree; her mother was also a higher-up. Both were sweet and kind until I married her younger brother; then it became plain that my Catholicism stood in the way of family harmony. To my horror, I was hated for my faith, my husband had married me only to please his mother, and when she changed her mind and decided I would not do after all, he abandoned every pretext of love.

But a funny thing happened: the more they pushed, the more Catholic I became. I won't recite the litany of persecutions that served as catalyst; others have seen worse, I'm sure. Not knowing any better, I stayed in this sham marriage for eight years, until a priest tipped me off that I was a classic case for annulment. I was shocked; by then I had four daughters.

Nowadays I really am married, and while the girls are grown and all stubborn atheists, I am convinced that the Lord and His Blessed Mother will sort it out. Please pray for Masons of every stripe; they are enslaved in the most ugly manner imaginable and even think nothing of killing those who get in their way.