I was just wondering - did any of ya'll have atheist parents? My dad (who says he's agnostic - trying to get him to join the site - can't pull him away from the bridge sites, though) went to church (methodist) every Sunday just so he could sing really loudly. I remember being forced into Sunday school classes only a couple of times. I was not happy about it only because I had to wear a dress, but the stories I learned there were really much like Dr. Seuss stories in a way (without the entertainment value). When I asked her why we stopped going, my mama said that it was because SHE didn't want to go anymore. There's more to this story, but I'll wait a bit and see if anyone even cares about this topic.

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I was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran. If you're not familiar with that denomination, it's very conservative. For example, there was no "you may kiss the bride" at my wedding. Kissing was considered sacreligious in some mysterious way. At the time, though, I never questioned the belief. I was just too hot to get married to care.

I remember as kids my siblings and I had to sit absolutely still in church. No fidgeting, no whispering, and certainly no climbing on pews. We weren't even allowed to clap after a really stirring performance of the Hallelujah Chorus. If one of us kids made a fuss during the service, my dad would lean over and say, in hushed yet menacing tones, "You're getting a spanking when you get home." After that, the rest of the service was so much fun. The "spanking" usually ended up being nothing but a single pop on the butt accompanied by a stern lecture. It was the waiting for it that was interminable.

My favorite part of going to church was admiring ladies' hats, checking to see if ladies' stocking seams were straight, and making faces at ladies' fox-fur stoles (you know, the kind with the little fox faces biting the little fox tails...ugh!)

Anyway, those are my clearest childhood memories of church with my parents.
If you want to talk about hats in church... The Black women of New Orleans have the entire world beat on that head. No teeth, no tails, just pure glory - and I mean that in the best way. And I used to walk a little more slowly when I'd pass a gospel church on a Sunday morning. The deal is - these same women would entertain me (and I, them) on any given day in a good discussion about god and religion. And we'd STILL end up laughing and passing a good time by the end of a day.
I'm from a conservative Wisconsin family, and nobody in my church (or my life, for that matter) was that flamboyant. I remember little pillbox hats with netting covering the face, really quite dull. I thought they were the height of fashion, though, something Barbie would wear.

It's strange how life turns out. Despite loving those little pillbox hats, I've never actually worn one in my entire life.
Wow, and I thought I was lucky...
Tell me about the terror of a Billy Graham revival. I've never before heard the word "terror" associated with the man. The only experience I have with him is via some pretty weird TV shows that I was forced to watch as a kid.
I hate to admit it, but I have a family member who belongs to a whacked out church like that. It's not Baptist. It's Pentecostal. The first time I went to a service in that church, someone right behind me started shouting like a banshee, babbling nonsense, then twitching and writhing on the seat. It shocked the hell out of me. The most shocking thing, however, was that no one else in the congregation seemed surprised by the spectacle. I had always heard of stuff like that going on, but I had never witnessed it. What a scene! I can't even imagine a whole room full of people doing the same thing at the time. Scary!
I don't think they were atheists - us kids were all baptized, but we really didn't go to church. My mother made us go to church with the very religious neighbors, but she never did, until shortly before she died.
BTW - this is a great topic because those in our age group who left religion really were alone.
It's not that my parents were atheists, it's just that religion didn't matter enough to talk about. There were a lot of things we didn't talk about. We didn't talk about mythology, although they were happy to buy me Grimm's Fairy Tales and (later) books on Sumerian and Akkadian mythology (I turned into an Anthropologist). Once, though, when we lived in a particularly dangerous time and place (I got beat up at school for having a British accent - the kids thought that meant I was a "commie"), my parents agreed that I should go to Sunday school. I think they thought it would make me safer on the playground. I went twice. The pastor/preacher person made us memorize a psalm (it was my introduction to Christian mythology). The next week I went back (I thought the poetry was lovely but didn't know what some of it meant). I asked what it meant. He hit me. I left promptly. That was all I needed to know about contemporary organized religion.

Since I was very young I have judged the value of a belief system based on what its adherents do to other people. It seems to me a sensible way to live amongst others. The act of terrorizing others is not what I think of as ethical behavior. So for all the faults my parents had as people, I deeply thank them for their capacity for reason.
You know, I haven't a clue what Unitarians or Scottish Rite Templites (or is it Templers?) believe. Do they follow some form of Christianity?
My father is an atheist, and my mother I think would be considered a deist, so I was raised completely without religion. I think they were both raised in the Church of England (Protestant?). My father is a biologist, (enough said?) and I think my mother, although she "went down" at a Billy Graham tent revival (whatever that means) when she was about 16, has just slowly realized that god doesn't actually do anything. I don't think that she can quite let go, though.

I did go to catholic camp with a friend of mine a couple of times when I was about 7 or 8, but it was all about camping, swimming, canoing and having fun. The church part didn't mean anything to me. I even took communion - gasp! Jesus tasted *just* like a cracker, and his blood tasted like very watered down wine (they gave it to us in little dixie cups). Actually, I had no idea it was supposed to be Jesus until much more recently. Hmm. This may be a good idea for a blog post :-)
We were Catholics but didn't go to church very often. I did have to be confirmed and go to catechism but once we were older church was definitely an afterthought. We never talked about god or church growing up. We don't talk about it now. My mom still goes to church and believes in the supernatural. My dad does not, I wouldn't be surprised if he was at agnostic or even atheist.
Oh boy! Did you ever jog a memory. It was the "off-key passionate singing" that did it. There was a woman in my church who screeched so loudly that the seats around her remained vacant until the last minute, only being occupied by some sorry-assed latecomer. Her husband always looked so pitiful, too.

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