Ever wonder what happens to neglected children in a secular culture driven by materialism and devoid of integrity? David is now 22 years old, born and raised a nominal Christian in the American South.
But as a teenager, he entered the shadowy world of the occult, through a portal in his computer. What David saw there eventually drove him into the arms of the Church, through a good priest and an amazing parish which we cannot name here in order to protect David’s true identity.
What good can a faithful priest and a supportive parish do against a vicious youth subculture? Read this story.
REGINA: How would you describe your home life growing up?
My dad last I checked still works construction. My mother works in a factory. They divorced when I was 15. My father was a bully. I lived in constant fear of him and there was constant fighting between my parents. It was horrible. I had very little religion in my life. My parents never committed to going to church. I did Bible school maybe in the summer but that was about it.
REGINA: And at school?
I was bullied daily. I tried everything to get people to like me but after awhile I kinda gave up. I was poor. I often didn't have the best hygiene. I dressed in cheap clothes and I was socially awkward.
(PHOTO CREDIT: 2008 David S. Hankbone)
REGINA: What did you do for fun?
Video games weren't a huge part for me; I couldn't afford them. Other kids would talk about it often. The internet was my addiction. I sometimes went to class with only a half hour's sleep.
REGINA: Did your parents have any idea of what you were into?
No they didn't.
REGINA: Do you think they would have cared if they did?
Maybe but they had stuff going on of their own. My dad was living with his girlfriend. My mom was trying to rebuild her own life living with my grandmother.
REGINA: What was your first contact with Satanism? Did you know what it was?
Satanism through Wicca was prominent part of the subculture. I didn’t really know what it was. We basically did it because the Christian God was mean and didn't care about us, allegedly.
REGINA: When you got to know people, did you learn that they had been bullied?
Oh yes we were all outcasts. Bullied by classmates, teachers, parents etc. We felt unloved so we kinda banded together in ways. Molestation was also a prevalent issue for a lot of us. Not me per se, but it was common to hear about.
REGINA: How long did it take before you met these people — not online, but in real life?
Until college. I never have been good at making friends.
REGINA: Were drugs a part of this lifestyle?
Yes, people talked about smoking marijuana, doing pills, drinking. I never got into it but I heard about it a lot.
REGINA: You mentioned that “they get exposed to cybersex, porn, gay rights, soon they just shut out everyone these people ‘get’ them” — so it sounds like sex is a powerful motivator for teenagers getting involved in this.
A. Yes they often are shy or feel like nobody gets them at their school or college so they hang out in chatrooms.
REGINA: Did you ever see evidence of people being coerced into having sex?
Yes, blackmail was common. Guys would treat girls like they legitimately cared, then screen shot the sexual activity.
REGINA: Did you witness any of them getting involved with sex for money? With adults?
Sometimes young ladies would get involved in it for phone cards or gift cards or in video sex sites. It became common around age 18 in girls. Sometimes mid-teenage girls would get romantically involved with older men.
REGINA: Do you think that organized prostitution sources sex workers in these websites?
I wouldn't be too surprised.
REGINA: You mentioned that there are people on these websites who convince teens that “they care. They protect these young teens from experiencing Christ because Christianity is the enemy…” — who is ‘they'? Older people?
Yes. Christianity is hated because it stood up to their views on sex, morals and life. Christianity says, “no you don't get to make all the rules. You have a heavenly king who is in charge.” Anything traditional is looked at as trash and somehow mean and out to ruin their lives. A lot of the times it is a twenty-something saying, “Oh no avoid that Jesus stuff. He wants to hold you down and keep you from being yourself.”
REGINA: It seems like this lifestyle somehow makes these people feel better about themselves, and that the dressing up and role-playing is a kind of defiance. What role does anger play in all of this?
Yes they feel it is their culture and home. They want to rebel against their bullies. They want to say, “We aren't backing down from you. We are better than you.”
REGINA: Cults typically lure people in and then make them do something repugnant in order to ‘prove' their loyalty. Did you see this?
Yes, young people would gladly sacrifice any morals they had as long as they could be part of the “club”.
REGINA: Why is ‘Christianity' the enemy? Why not other religions like Judaism, Islam, etc?
Well to put it as bluntly as I can, because Christianity — better yet Catholicism — stands for tradition, honor and truth. These online cults stand for deviant-ness, self-centeredness and lies.
REGINA: Did you see any evidence of political organizing — ie with the ‘LGBT' movement — when you were involved in this life?
Yes, gay marriage, legalize drugs, legalize abortion — all that was super-supported.
REGINA: You have said, “There are websites right now full of people 20-something years old online role playing who started at 13 who had a moderate Christian upbringing.” It sounds like these young people got started on this while their parents were in fact paying for their computers and internet access. How can parents know this is happening?
It’s possible to see, most of the time. If your child is wearing darker clothing or clothing that seems odd such as all black or is gravitating towards things that seem dark as in evil or scary, that is a sign. Attitude changes, too. If they become apathetic towards things they once loved, towards family, they become less social, they start to lose interest in school and the future…things like that are red flags.
REGINA: How should parents react?
Be gentle. Be loving. Talk to them because if you kick too hard at this, they will rebel.
REGINA: What should parents do?
Get them into a home monastery setting. Take their electronics away if you have to, but don't give up on them. Love them to heaven.
REGINA: What made you leave this life?
The Eucharist. For love of my Blessed Mother in my heart and for love of my Father in heaven.
REGINA: How did you find the Catholic Church? What is it that drew you to the Faith?
My grandpa was a fallen away Catholic and I never could quite believe the stuff evangelicals would say like ‘just say a little prayer an you're saved’ or ‘just believe.’ It just wasn't biblical. My Lord said ‘eat my body and drink my blood’ — not eat pot roast and gossip. I watched Mother Angelica a lot as a preteen as well and ‘The Life On The Rock’ so I was a little too spoiled to be evangelical.
REGINA: What were the reactions of your Satanic friends? Your parents?
By the point I came to the Faith, I had lost them all. I had become kinda crazy about Christ and wanting to know the truth so they left. My mom was ok with it. My dad I just don't know how he feels; we don't talk. I love him but I can't force him into my life. Just love him that's all I can do.
REGINA: When did you convert? What kind of religious instruction have you had?
Mentally I made a decision about half a month before Benedict stepped down but officially Easter 2014. I knew the RCIA material well enough. I had studied the Catechism, read good Catholic books and watched solid Catholics on Youtube. So RCIA was kinda skipped in a sense. My baptism was exorcism enough for me. I mean I am not a saint yet but I am on the road. I hope and pray.
REGINA: You are discerning a religious vocation. What sorts of Orders have you looked into?
I love the Jesuits but some have me worried about the way the Order is headed. I really would like to just be a simple diocesan priest and spread restoration of traditional faith and morals. But I am open for anything my Lord wants me to do, even if I don't like it. Even if it is uncomfortable, you can't get to heaven on a feather bed.