Believer who met at an alumni visit… “Anyone who makes a wrong move” – Trap of new religion solicitation | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Believer who met at an alumni visit… “Anyone who makes a wrong move” – Trap of new religion solicitation

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My job search wasn’t going well… I was having a real mental breakdown, so I thought, ‘Maybe that’s what’s going on.

The film “Yurushi,” based on a second-generation religious leader’s suicide note and dealing with “religious abuse,” will be released in theaters on March 22.

The film is directed by and stars Urara Hirata (22). Hirata, who speaks briskly and cheerfully, is strong-willed and confident, and it is curious that she was taken in by religion.

Why did she become addicted to religion? Following the story of the movie in the first part, in the second part we hear about Mr. Hirata’s own story of joining and leaving a religion.

When I continued to fail in my job search, I felt that I had been totally rejected. It was during this time that I met a believer in a new religion during an alumni visit to a company…” Hirata-san tells us how she came to join the religion (PHOTO: Ayumi Kakami).

I had been looking for a job since I was a sophomore in college, but things didn’t work out. According to the only company that gave me a reason, it was that I was ‘uncooperative. I spent the most important period of my personality development, from 4th to 6th grade in elementary school, in Shanghai, so I became assertive and strong-minded. After returning to Japan, I spent junior high and high school at a young lady’s school called Rikkyo Jogakuin, but I didn’t fit in very well.”

Furthermore, I felt like I was being totally rejected because I kept failing in my job search. It was during this time that she met a believer in a new religion during an alumni visit to one of her companies.

He said, “‘You have a great personality and a wonderful life, and you should be proud of it. If there is a company that doesn’t understand that, you don’t have to be in it,’ and he gave me full affirmation.

Then he told me stories like, ‘Thanks to God, I got accepted at this company,’ or how his injuries were healed by a miracle, but normally no one would believe that. But my mentality was really down, so I thought, ‘Maybe that’s possible.

I went to a Protestant school for six years, and God was close to me, which may have been one of the reasons I believed in him, but when I asked him to pray with me, I happened to get accepted for a job. From there, it just became more and more where I belonged.”

Forced to break up with friends and boyfriends…

However, when she was forced to break up with friends and boyfriends, she began to feel uncomfortable.

They were taken aback when I countered, “I’m not cooperative, so why should I break up with them? That’s when the bullying started. They told me they wouldn’t let me attend any more meetings, ignored me, and wouldn’t even let me sing the chants. What do you think would happen to a person who has always been isolated, if he or she is shunned in a place where he or she is supposed to be?

They become very anxious and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ just like a woman who can’t escape domestic violence, and then they get sick again, and then they start failing at finding a job again. On the other hand, when I have faith, I am confident that I have God’s power, so I am okay, and I get accepted.

Thinking about it now, it’s obvious, but at the time I thought it all happened because I rebelled against God. I was isolated in society, told to disown my friends and boyfriend, I rebelled, but they bullied me, I gave in, and eventually I disowned them, and I had no place to return to, so I went back.”

The dark period began after he decided to leave the association…

But why was Hirata able to leave the association after only 11 months?

She says, “It was because my family is very good people and they supported me all the way. My twin sister is very powerful, and once we went to a meeting together with such vigor that I almost punched her into the meeting place, and we had a tremendous sisterly quarrel there, and people around us kept their distance (laughs). But once I felt that my sister was trying to protect me that much, I felt like I had a place to belong.

Besides, my mother worked in a Catholic kindergarten and I had been in a Protestant school for six years, so she encouraged me to go to a Protestant pastor for his opinion as a kind of second opinion. From my point of view at the time, I thought Catholics and Protestants were more satanic, so I was scared.”

In the end, he was able to leave the church in a short period of 11 months, but he recalls that his dark period actually began after he made the decision to leave the church.

It is my belief, based on my own experience, that people who have been driven to the bottom of their lives once come back after they have learned how to fight…”

I started having OCD-like symptoms…” Leaving religion means doubting God, doesn’t it? Then I thought a telephone pole was going to fall and burn me, I couldn’t look at the sky and walk, and I became afraid of everything.

A Protestant pastor said to me, ‘Isn’t it funny that God is a man of love and you consider non-believers to be Satan?’ He said to me. He said, ‘You learned to love thy neighbor.

My father took me to and from college when I was too scared to ride the train, and my mother listened to me like a counselor, and gradually I got over it and got my life back on track.

However, it must have been difficult just to leave the association as an individual, and you must have been in danger when you decided to make the film.

I never faced any danger throughout the interviews and filming. You can’t knock me. What I say on Twitter (now X) a lot is that I’m not referring to any particular religion, and if you hit me with this, on the contrary, your religion is officially admitting abuse. I get so many DMs, like ‘don’t deny my freedom of religion,’ so I reply to each one. Some of the anti people can’t express their opinions, so they try to harm you directly. So I thought, “I’ll fight them head on, I’ll try to persuade them. I’m doing the right thing.”

If I responded to all of them, the exchange would never end, would it?

I don’t think the exchange would never end. But I tell them that I don’t deny any religion, I don’t deny freedom of religion, and if you want, I’m an active Protestant myself, but I just deny religious abuse. Still, people say things like, ‘Some people misunderstand me,’ so I open my DMs because I think it’s a sincere response to answer each case politely. If we respond politely, the antagonists become fans as well. It makes me a little mentally ill, though (chuckles).”

Did anyone give him any advice on how to fight this bullish battle?

No, I didn’t get advice from anyone. I believe that only I can protect my own life. And I don’t reply to stupidity or death, because I think I have to take responsibility for the hurt I’m causing with my films. If I didn’t build on those things, I wouldn’t be a director at the age of 22.

I am often told that I am a “bitch” (laughs). I have a theory, based on my own experience, that people who have been driven to the bottom of their lives once will come back after learning how to fight. Besides, people who lost something important once or had a mental breakdown know how to heal.

I am outraged as to why this problem is so prevalent in Japan.”

Mr. Hirata was blessed with so-called “parental gacha” and seems to have grown up without any inconvenience. Why did he get into religion?

I am tough by nature, but I have always been told that I am not cooperative, and when I kept failing at job hunting, I became weak. Then, on the contrary, my family became stronger, and thanks to them, I became stronger too. But when I heard the stories of the second-generation people I interviewed, they were so fierce that I wondered if it was okay for me, who is blessed with a good family, to film them.

I think the Nisei have it much harder, because some Nisei are forced to abandon their families when they leave the association. If I had been asked to leave my family, I would never have been able to leave the church. There is no one who is active as a Nisei who has sacrificed nothing. They have lost their lives or their families. This is the reality of the second-generation religious people I have seen.

I am angry and wonder why this problem is so prevalent in Japan. People talk about taxes and pollution and all kinds of things, but no, no, no, wait, first of all it’s a cult.”

I’m angry at why this problem is so prevalent in Japan. People talk about taxes and pollution and all kinds of things, but no, no, no, wait, first of all it’s a cult.

By the way, in addition to Megumi (a first-generation religious person) and Suzu (a second-generation person), the film also impressively depicts their grandparents. When asked why the grandparents were chosen as key characters in the film, the filmmaker expressed his thoughts as follows: “The second-generation religious people have mental illnesses.

When asked why they chose not to commit suicide, many of them say that their grandparents were kind to them.

People who have that kind of redeeming presence in their lives are able to get their lives back on track even though they are suffering. On the other hand, I felt that many people who are still suffering are those who had no one to help them. So I thought that Suzu also needs grandparents. The reason I made the image of peaceful grandparents was to create a family where no child would be born to join a new religion.

Even in a very happy family. I wanted to tell them that even in a very happy family, if they make a mistake, they will join a cult. I wrote that grandma and grandpa based on my parents. That’s why they look just like my parents.

Even if you grow up in a privileged family and have a high sense of self-esteem, religion can enter your life at a moment’s notice.

The film is scheduled to open at UPLINK Kichijoji on March 22, 2011 (Friday). Other sequential screenings throughout Japan.
  • Interview and text by Wakako Takou PHOTO Ayumi Kagami

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