Mom, I'm an Atheist OR Mom, Your Grandchildren are Catholic

What a year I've had!

After having dealt with my wife becoming Catholic (with my blessing) and currently taking part in a community theater production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, my children (ages 8,5, and 11 mo) were baptized into the Roman Catholic Church.

My wife realizes how difficult this is for me. After all, she is one of a handful of people who knows that I am an atheist. Of course, I don't really care that a priest poured water on my child's head. It means less than nothing to me. Nonetheless, it represents a part of my children's lives in which I will not participate.

Part of me wishes my wife had let our children make a conscious conversion later in life. I understand the need to fulfill her commitment to the church, but I also understand that she is a rational individual. She just has a hard time imagining life without some sort of religious "education" for our children. Oh well, at least it's not the Southern Baptist Church, and if I can survive that, surely my children can survive this.

The question is which will be harder for my mother to hear? That her son is an atheist? Or that her formerly Baptist son and formerly Baptist daughter-in-law are now raising Catholic children?

Views: 154

Tags: Atheist, Baptist, Catholicism, children

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Comment by Ben Lopez on August 5, 2011 at 12:42pm
That's a good point. The catholic hierarchy does make it easier to assign blame, and the evangelicals have their own brand of scary shit.

Take solace in the fact that your kids have you as a role model and if (when?) they start questioning they'll have you to turn to. They won't be alone. Good luck!
Comment by Jeremy Raines on August 5, 2011 at 12:28pm

@Ben Lopez, you won't get any argument from me on that one.

 

Of course, when compared to the psychological terrorism perpetrated by evangelicals (especially toward LGBT's), American Catholics dim in comparison. Don't think for a moment that child rape is confined to the Catholic Church, it's just that evangelicals don't have the same type of complicit hierarchy.

Comment by Ben Lopez on August 5, 2011 at 12:16pm
Even if one is a theist, I'll never understand how the theist could think the catholic church has any connection to a moral god. So many of their actions (covering up child rape, lying about condoms in Africa) speak directly against the catholic church as a moral organization.
Comment by Jeremy Raines on August 5, 2011 at 11:51am

Wow! I really meant this post as a tongue-in-cheek condemnation of my mother's beliefs (those of most of my family as well) that Atheism is only a teency bit worse than being Catholic, but holy crap! Let me see if I can elaborate without contradicting myself. **doubtful** :)

 

Of course I'm not going to let my children be irreversibly brainwashed by the Catholic Church. Like @Wanderer implied, they have one thing I never had: A rational, atheist parent. My eldest daughter and I continuously talk about things like logic and evolution (she's got quite a mind for an 8-year-old). Also, my wife is by-and-large a rationalist, she just has more trouble with the idea of living in a world without God (AKA, a religious background) than I do. I was in her shoes once, but ran a little faster to the finish line. Trust me, she'll catch up.

 

@Rob, my religious upbringing, while certainly silly, never left me bitter. I have always been a skeptic, but I only became a "certified," self-termed atheist a few months ago (though I considered myself "agnostic" for about 10 years). What I feel is sad for people, more brutally repressed and damaged than myself, who happily continue to delude themselves that religion offers them anything more than enslavement. Peace be with you.

 

Thanks for the comments, BTW!

 

 

 

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on August 5, 2011 at 8:17am
I'm going to side somewhat with Rob and Loren in that it doesn't seem, Jeremy, as if you are standing up for your convictions as much as you should, or at least as much as we 3 would like. I was raised Jewish myself, and forced into having a Bar-Mitzvah at age 13 to fully indoctrinate me as a Jewish man, even while telling my stupid fucking parents that I was an atheist and didn't want to do it. At that age I didn't really know exactly what was going on, if I did I would have said no, but as it was, I survived the indoctrination and the years of Jewish school. Perhaps your children will too, as you have, but perhaps they will not. It didn't help me out (I think it really did have an overall negative effect) that I was raised Jewish without being given the real guidance I desperately needed and wanted. If there had been even one person in my life to give me support and advice it might have made a huge difference in my life. Your children have you, which is certainly something (I don't know you so I don't know how much that counts for), but I think what we are all concerned about is how confusing it is for children when they are raised with religious indoctrination, because by definition (as Rob points out) it is done forcefully and without their full conscious ability developed to be able to sift through all the bullshit. Once the indoctrination begins, some very insidious ideas indeed may begin to take hold. One can only hope that, if you are as accepting of your wife's beliefs as it seems, and you are willing to allow her to teach your children her ways, that you will devote at least as much energy into teaching them your beliefs as well. If you are giving them the full story, and keep them well-informed and keep them asking questions and thinking for themselves, then they may turn out very well indeed. Just make sure you are not allowing their choices to be made for them, and their beliefs handed to them rather than having to form them on their own. I think this is what we are worried about here. As Loren points out, converting and indoctrinating children is a dangerous thing and should really be avoided entirely, but if that isn't a possibility, you need to be extra strong so you can serve as a stable, reliable influence in their lives.
Comment by Loren Miller on August 5, 2011 at 6:56am

Even back in my apatheist days, I was determined NOT to have my daughter pulled into the same BS I had been as a child.  When my now-ex-wife asked, somewhat tentatively, if we should have her baptized, my response was a very NON-tentative: "NO!"

Since that time, my daughter has explored religion on her own and, to date, has made no commitments to any form of belief, or at least none that I know of.  The fact is that she is now a fully grown adult and can do as she pleases, but any choice she makes at this point are a product of her own very well developed understanding.

An adult conversion is one thing.  A child's conversion (which is really NOT an informed decision on the child's part) is entirely another.  The baptism is one thing, but presuming that formal religious schooling has either not yet started or is only in its beginning stages, I would revisit this issue SOONEST.

Comment by Rob van Senten on August 5, 2011 at 6:27am

I can't help but be an a**hole here and ask why you are so interested in what your mother thinks of all of this. You've just stood by while your kids are taking their first steps into indoctrination and you care about the opinion of your mother?

 

Good luck while your kids are being indoctrinated into a Jewish Space Zombie Cult. I do hope that your children don't turn out to become like me, because I have a difficult time as it is to make amends with my parents in regards to my religious indoctrination as a child. 

 

There is no such thing as Catholic children or Muslim children just as there are no Socialist children or Keynesian children.

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