Times have changed, but has Henry County?

I love living in Toledo, Ohio. It’s very different from where I grew up even though my childhood home is only about forty-five minutes away in Henry County. 

I grew up in the country. My family wasn’t very religious but still, indoctrination was all around me. There were things that happened when I was little that was seemingly innocent at the time that I now see as very wrong as an adult.

For example, like every good country kid, I was in 4-H. We would have a camp every June and I remember praying before every meal at camp. We would sing our prayers and to this very day, those little songs pop into my head. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think 4-H is actually a Christian organization. I think I was around nine or ten years old and I didn’t question it. My family didn’t pray before meals but it still didn’t seem out of the ordinary. 

But it gets worse. I went to public school and I remember teachers discussing god and Jesus. My kindergarten teacher sat us all down on the rug and told us the “true meaning of Christmas”. Unlike the songs at 4-H camp, that felt awkward to me, but not enough for me to bring it up at home. 

In high school, prayer was everywhere – at many events and games. I was in the marching band and we had a chaplain. He would lead prayers at our banquets. 

My math teacher has religious posters on the walls of his classroom. I failed Algebra 2 so I was in that classroom twice. 

My proudest moment in high school is when my best friend and I walked out during the last prayer at a Friday night football game. We were in the marching band together. We got a detention for it the following week.

Times have changed, but has Henry County?

I can’t help but wonder if things are different now back home. All of these things that I’m describing happened twenty or thirty years ago. 

When I was in high school, many of us had internet service at home for the first time. It made that crazy dial-up sound and was slow and unreliable, but would it become a game changer?

I’ve heard the internet service still isn’t the greatest out there, but I’m sure it’s better than what we had in the 90s. 

What happens when you open up Henry County to the world? Does anything change? With Covid, we now can work and go to school from anywhere so hopefully, that gave a lot of people back home more opportunities. 

What does this do to the conservative religious views that so many people back home shared? Are they still cramming religion down kids’ throats? 

I’m curious but I don’t have the answers to these questions. I have a bad feeling though.

Country Girl, Atheist Woman

How did I escape my country home? I got in my car and I left. Higher education was calling. I left after high school and I’ve only been back a handful of times. When I got to college my friends called me “fresh off the farm” because sometimes I have a tiny twang.

I left country life and religion far behind me. I decided several years back that I will only live places within twenty minutes of a Target store.


Any other country kids out there? How has it changed over the years? Or has it?


  1. Katydid says

    Speaking of dialup internet; I was an adult with small children when it became A Thing. Like everyone else in America, I used the free trial CD of AOL. I made some good friends there that I still talk to, and together we banded together in the chat rooms.

    Religion was very much on the minds of Americans back then. The Harry Potter books were huge 20-some years ago (my kids loved them and loved the movies), and in the Harry Potter chatroom, we’d get scads of hysterical people weaving stories of our children being tortured in hell and screaming, “Why? Mommy? WHY did you let me watch that Satanic movie?” (speaking of the first Harry Potter movie. There were people out there convinced the “spells” in really bad Latin were LIKE, TOTES REAL, y’all!, and children were performing magic right and left. It sounds like i made it up, but day after day after day, the same usernames would pop up screaming about how anti-Christian the books were.

    I was astounded that anyone could be so downright stupid.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    I grew up in a small town (pop. 4200, IIRC) in southern Arizona. The town had a lot of churches, but only one school system. Racially, it was about 3/4 white, 1/4 Hispanic. Only two or three Black students at any one time, and they tended to move away after a few years. I hope that was strictly an economic decision, and not one due to racism. Like many small towns, if your parents didn’t own a farm or a business, the employment opportunities were few and often depended on whether the macro economy was rising or falling.
    My family attended the largest Protestant church in town, and a lot of my teachers went there too, but I can’t recall any instance where religion was injected into the school day. We did perform the Pledge of Allegiance daily in elementary school, but we did not in middle school (grades 5 through 8) or high school. It’s possible this was due to LBJ’s Great Society programs. My school received funds from several government programs to try to improve rural education, and it seemed like my class was often the one chosen to be the guinea pigs for the new program. In elementary school, in the mid 1960s, we had a video tape recorder and TVs on rolling carts that were used to record many of the Gemini rocket launches and play them back in class. In high school, in the mid 1970s, we had a full-fledged TV station that broadcast on the local cable TV system, which I was part of the crew of.
    I’m getting OT here, but my point is that as far as I can recall, we had little to no injection of religion into our public school system, in spite of the fact that nearly everyone I knew went to church pretty much every Sunday. It boggles my mind to read about teachers (especially science teachers) bringing their personal religious beliefs into a public classroom.

  3. Katydid says

    Military brat here; I grew up all over the world, often going to the local school. I can’t remember any religiosity injected until high school biology, when the biology teacher made sure to tell us fifty times a class that SOME people believed in evolution but it was perfectly okay if we didn’t. The general response was “yeah, you’re a nut”.

    HOWEVER, 20 years later when my kids attended elementary school in a town of approximately 50,000, the school made a big huge production of announcing they were not going to have the traditional Halloween parade and class party because IT WAS EVIL…but Christmas celebrations and learning started after Thanksgiving and ended in February, with St. Valentine’s Day parties. They also had The Good News Club (fundagelical child recruitment) openly meeting during class time and posters up for the local mega-church.

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