I met an old friend of mine from high school for breakfast the other day. She is one of the most genuinely nice people I have ever met. She was raised catholic, and sent her kids to catholic school, but the one that started high school wanted to go to public school. She LOVES it there. She likes being friends with whomever she chooses, instead of everyone knowing EVERYTHING about EVERYONE ELSE. It seems like the catholic school system is almost incestuous, in the way that all the families have been together forever, everyone knows everyone else, etc. Sorry, got off topic.
Anyway... She asked me if I was an Atheist (from my Facebook posts) and I told her yes. She looked a little shocked, but asked me about it. I told her I could never believe in any 'god' that treated his "children" the way the one she believes in supposedly does. That's about as deep as I went. She thought about it, and said she could see that. She didn't judge me, just asked. I don't think she thought about that one thing before. Then she was talking about her Mother-in-law being prejudice against her because she is Sicilian. I thought that was weird of her MIL! So I said my relatives were/are jewish, and jews have been persecuted for a few thousand years. She didn't know why. I explained even the supposed jesus was jewish. She did know that, but didn't know that christianity came about by people taking the jewish religion, and adding on to it (I didn't go into that the jews took stuff from other religions.)
She said, "Wow! You know a lot more about the bible and religion than I do!" Blind acceptance. I guess because I was never told what to believe, I don't understand it?! How can people not have questions come to mind?
For me, the Santa / God correlation came at an opportune time. It was a week before my 4th birthday, and I had just confirmed my suspicion that Santa wasn't real by snooping through closets and waiting to see what was attributed to Him on Christmas morning. That led me to think that if adults, even my parents, would lie to me about that, they just couldn't be trusted on anything. From there I started wondering about the seemingly crazy way that adults acted in church. I had figured that since they were adults they knew what was real and I didn't. But now that I had the crucial information that adults would lie and pretend, I understood that this was what they were doing in church too. So this God fellow is just like Santa Claus eh? Well, if the one who brings me presents isn't real, then I can reject the silly idea. And if the one who threatens to punish me is likewise unreal, I can reject that silly idea too.
I started resisting going to church with Mom because being around adults acting crazy sort of scared me. She compromised, and asked that I read the Bible every day and be prepared to discuss it with her at any time. And so I did -- starting with "In The Beginning", and going all the way through "Amen". It took two years (that book is a hard read for a little kid) and she & I had several discussions about it. By the time I was 6 I was convinced that it all was, as my Japanese friend said, "A Road of Clap".
Just curious-- what kind of specific craziness did you witness in church? I mean, was there "speaking in tongues" or that kind of thing? That was a great compromise with your mom. Did SHE specifically act crazy in church?
I don't remember ever really believing in Santa or other childhood mythical stuff. But there was a lot of fantasy and imaginative play in my household and I'm pretty sure I just looked at it as a fun game that kids as well as adults could pretend about. We left cookies for Santa forever... never saw a reason to stop.
I also don't remember ever putting religious stuff in the same category with Santa stuff. Just never made the comparison, but I can see why many people would. I do remember as a young teen leaving out the 'born of the Virgin Mary" line in the Apostle's Creed in our Methodist church. I also fell silent during the "resurrection of the body" part. I did get the evil eye from my mom, I remember! Gee. People shouldn't profess to believe things they don't, right, Mom?