Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Kids Are Going To Hell

Though my kids may be devilish at times, I am pretty convinced they are not actually destined for hell. However, the daily church advertisements in my mailbox are doing their best to convince me otherwise. I have never lived in a place where religion is so prevalent, where everyone I meet is a church goer. It's slightly unnerving how much a part of the fabric of daily life it is here.

Unnerving for me because we are not religious. At least that is the whitewash answer I give to people when they ask what church we attend. The starker, real answer is that I am an atheist, my husband is an atheist leaning agnostic, and we are raising our kids without religion.

We, the parents i know both in real life and online, talk a lot about not losing themselves in parenthood and I agree. And that is why I can't be anything than who I am with religion. It is not a choice for me not to believe; it just is who I am. And while I will not lead the girls down my own path I can not send them down one I am not on. I can not lie to them about something as important as this.

My husband and I have discussed at length (raise them Catholic? Attend the Unitarian church? Wait and see?) but we keep coming back to not having it be a part of their lives, at least for the foreseeable future. It is the right choice for us but a small part of me worries that it will negatively impact them, make them the ultimate outsider. Out of all of the alternative parenting choices we make, this is definitely the most unusual.

But then what can we be sure about as parents? We try everyday to create the lives we want for them, better than our own, but we in the end we can not control what will happen to them. They have to and will make their own choices about where to go, about who they will become.

What they chose will be theirs. It's not that I don't want them to ever be religious. I had a positive upbringing in it (raised Catolic) and being an atheist can be a lonely path, no church and its community. No prayer to turn to. So I will support whatever they chose. And I will know that it is an authentic choice because it was theirs to make.


  1. My cousins never ever went to church growing up and they are the ones who had their kids baptised about 32 minutes after they were born. We both grew up going to church and haven't gotten our shit together to find a church to get the boys baptised in. Well, that's not entirely true, we just can't be bothered to ATTEND church. And I don't want to be the parents who show up to get baptised and then never show up here we sit. We're pretty lazy about religion in general at our house- I like the nice liberal message of an ELCE church and all the "stuff" you get from the Catholic church (so we vote Episcopal) I just don't want to hear about Jesus all day long. For an hour or so on Sunday maybe, but let's keep it there...ok?

  2. I think that we just need to raise our kids in the way that feels right to us. For some people that means a weekly trip to church and Sunday school. To others it means teaching our kids spirituality without the confines of organized religion (my choice) and to others it means no religion at all. As long as we teach our children to be good people with a strong sense of right and wrong, then we have done our job

  3. Ah, I hear this. I am atheist in a family of active Catholics. I don't have kids to pass a tradition on to, but I think if I did have kids it would be hard to make that decision.

    As I was growing up I do remember enjoying the sense of community associated with the Catholic church, if not the hypocrisy.

  4. I pretty much grew up a Christmas and Easter church goer who happened to go to Catholic High School (with a non-practicing Methodist mother and non-practicing Baptist father). We don't go to church. One of our kids is baptized, one is not. I don't know what I believe, the thought of praying feels phony. The thought of sitting in church with a bunch of people who believe when I am so unsure feels uncomfortable. My hubby was never baptized, but his parents are Catholic. He is a scientist, and does not believe in church, but in the power of nature. Yet I would like my kids to be educated in different religions so they can form their own educated opinions and choices, hard to do when you're raised without religion like I was. So for now, we do nothing. Except our daughter is going to Catholic kindergarten. Is it no surprise that on her reportcard she received an "I" for independent on everything but religion, which she received a "P" for progressing. Guess that's a good thing. I don't think you are as alone as you might think.

  5. oh, and my brother-in-law and his wife chose to be Buddhist.

  6. As an atheist who was force-fed the born again christian shit nearly the entirety of my youth, I thank you for not forcing religion on your children, especially one you don't believe in and can't support. Here I am 32 years old and I still have the emotional scars of being told I was going to hell, that I was a bad person and that no one would love me if I didn't give my life to Jesus (or whatever nonsense was being spouted at any particular day).