Whether you consider yourself atheist or whether you chose a non-Christian religion, I'm interested in hearing why, if your parents were/are Christians, you aren't. Are you rebelling, perhaps, against their teachings or lack of teachings, or what? What influence do/did they have on your current state of mind? Do you have respect for them as Christians, or no?
Obviously, no one has to answer this. I'm just wondering.
Well, I'll answere your question, I think it was a good conversation starter! My parents were Christians. I am one as well. I am raising my children Christian. It was not until I was a teenager when my Faith impacted me on a personal level. Before that is was just a religion that my parents beleived in. I think that most children will decide as they become young adults whether they will follow their parents faith or break away. All you can do is pray that you have done what you can, planted a seed and leave the rest to God!
My mom raised 5 kids alone, and we was raised Weslyan Holiness. No TV, women in long dresses and hair always put up. No long hair or short sleeves for men, No shorts, No jewelry, No smoking or alcohol, No going to any place that served alcohol or was considered a "sinful" place. And even more than I care to mention "not allowed's" that I won't bore everyone with. Church on Wednesday night, Saterday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night. Hell, Fire and Brimstone sermons every service. Everyone who didn't believe exactly as we did was going straight to hell. And this is what I was lead to believe from the time I was born until I turned 18 and got out on my own. I was only allowed to read certain books, so I spent the majority of my time reading the KJV Bible and Matthew Henry's Commentary. I became a minister at the age of 14. I knew little to nothing of what was outside the town I grew up in and of what was taught in schools and what I learned in Church. At 18, I started my formal education in religious studies. At 23, I joined the Miltary, (to pay for the continuing of my education(Masters). And this is when, I first started realizing that the religious beliefs that I was taught growing up, didn't exactly add up. So at 23, I started looking for answers to questions and instead of searching for what I wanted to find, I just searched for answers. In the process of completing my masters and working through my doctorate, I found that what I had been taught about christianity my whole life was not only wrong, but that everything about the christianity of modern times, is not inline with what it was based and first taught from. I studied every religion I could get my hands on (both formally and personally). And the one thing that I have found that holds true about almost every one of them. Each and every one has the same type of basis. They all stem from the same purpose. And almost everyone lays claim to being the only correct version.
My mother stills follows the path I was raised in. I have complete respect for her and her beliefs, in fact, I use the benefit of my education in biblical studies to help her find her personal answers to her questions about the bible. I don't attempt to change her beliefs (I don't think I could if I tried), and any time she has questions, I answer them without my personal feelings involved. I only pass on what the scholars teach and the methods they use to best interpret.
I am still in the military, and I am now working on a second masters "world religions" (and maybe a second doctorate "Theology" in the future). I am also the senior minister of my own "little" local church. And I am planning on teaching College Classes after I retire from the Military. And as I am greatly interested in religions and philosophy, I will study in these fields until the day I die.
* Education doesn't need to change your beliefs, But it will expand your view of the world and your reality*
So, you were taught the religion of a specific denomination, but not the simplicity of being a follower of Christ?
Both my parents were/are Christians. My Dad was an alcoholic who "found Jesus" and became a fundamentalist. I don't think rebellion had much to do with why I rejected Christianity, reading the Bible in its entirety was the main reason. I never had the urge to rebel all that much from my parents, sure there were some arguments during the teen years but my intellectual departure from Christianity was separate from any teenage angst. If anything angst and dark emotions during my teen years drove me deeper into religion and towards a concept of God different from the one I'd been told about by my Father.
My mother is a christian. My father is agnostic. If I was to have rebelled it would have been against my father. I just became an atheist because it became obvious that Christianity is a farce.,
I didn't become an atheist, The fact that Christianity is a farce made me one.
do I respect my mothers religion? No. But I respect my mother and she is free to believe what ever she likes, even if it is nonsense.
Of course I don't talk to her about religion and she doesn't bring it up. It's a private thing. Too bad so many Christians don't know that.
I don't know if you can over simplify these things, as every situation is different.
My father was a Catholic, but he was also a deadbeat dad. He spent more on lawyers getting him out of his responsibilities than he did on child support. I was basically raised by my mother and she raised me atheist. Most of my life, however, even as a child, I was fascinated by religion. I studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, 7day Adventism, you name it. However, I have always taken issue with organized religion of any kind. Nowadays I consider myself Gnostic mainly because I believe in a Supreme Being but do not recognize one particular religion over another. My mom is still an atheist so I dont discuss my beliefs with her very much. When she sees books like A Course in Miracles on my shelf she kind of rolls her eyes at them, but that's about the extent of our conversations about religion.
Did you ever study Catholicism or just basic Christianity?
That's a tricky one. Because the Catholic Church is so ritualistic and based so heavily on imagery and hierarchy, I was always very weirded out by how my Catholic friends would describe the sorts of things they were expected to do (i.e. communion, confirmation and such). I grew up in Norwalk, CT, which is very Italian/Irish/Polish and very very Catholic. So Catholicism in a religious sense never interested me too much because the imagery was all over the place in my childhood. But as a history buff I always took interest in their role throughout history with the Roman and Byzantine Empires, Charlemagne and the Hapsburgs and the chronology and succession of popes, especially antipopes which were so prevalent during the dark ages I ended up reading up about alot of that in my teen years being that I went to a Jesuit high school. As for Christianity in general I was always fascinated by the Bible but mostly just in a lierary sense. Much of it rang true and much did not. I had a tendency to look more at specific denominations of Christianity that I found unusual compared to the mainstream Catholic/Lutheran surroundings I found in childhood such as 7day, Pentecostals and much more so the evangelists I found on tv especially as a pre-adolescent. With my beliefs being as they are now, I occasionally attend services at a church near where I grew up and also at the episcopalian services near where I currently live. And I still talk to Mormon Missionaries and JW's when I see them, but it has more to do with a fascination for what they believe and how they came to believe what they do.
And thanks to Ron, kerryg, Titen-Sxull, Slarty, Tom, Double Scorpion, all. And although I'm hugely interested, I think I'll just stop asking more questions of each of you 'cause I'm prone to over-discussing things sometimes. All your posts with the initial answers are really interesting just the way they are.
My parents were Christians and told us that we would go to Heaven if we did what the bible told us to, but would burn in Hell if we didn't. They also told us that Santa Claus would bring us presents if we were good, nothing if we were bad. This type of intimidation worked on me until I was 5, then it seems they ran out of bullets.
It seems to me that adult Christians have simply never outgrown their fearful early years. Reality can be a little tough to face I guess.
My parents are probably best described as agnostics and so am I. My father was raised in a religious (Anglican) family, but he drifted away from the church as a teenager. It was not an act of rebellion on his part - he respected and adored his mother (his father passed away when he was 12) - but more of a personality conflict with religion in general. He has a very logical and pragmatic mind, and the supernatural is simply foreign to him. He has less interest in the question of God's existence (or lack thereof) than anybody I know.
My mom is more of a seeker than my father, but not substantially. Her father was raised Mormon and her mother Lutheran, but my grandfather objected to Mormon teachings and my grandmother's family was never very religious to begin with, so she wasn't raised with much religious influence and as an adult, organized religion just never appealed to her. She has more interest in religion than my father, but her interest tends to focus more on the moral teachings than the theology.
I share my father's general lack of comprehension for supernatural phenomena and my mother's interest in comparative religion and morality, so it was probably inevitable that I'd end up either agnostic or atheist. Both of my siblings lean atheist, but I don't deny the possibility of God, just the probability, so I consider myself agnostic.
My father was an Atheist, my Mother a Christian, Protestant,
My Father was rasied in a Cathoilic family, my Mother in a Protestant.
My father was nominally Christian (Eastern Orthodox) and my mother Roman Catholic. They raised my brother and me with a strong set of values, but with very little Christian flavoring. I was baptized in the Catholic Church and, after being harangued by some evangelical neighbors, we went to their church for a year. That, unsurprisingly, ended badly, as it does to almost all thinking, decent people.
When I stopped calling myself a Christian in my 20s they didn't care. When I converted to Judaism a couple of years ago, they supported me. My brother is not religious whatsoever.
In our family, acting ethically is always been the important thing. I know that in some other families that's not the case.
In our family, acting ethically is always been the important thing.
Yup, exactly. My parents are two of the kindest and most morally upstanding people I know, so even as a kid I thought it was strange when people would tell me you couldn't be a good person if you weren't Christian.
I suspect those people were just brainwashed. Glad you knew different.
But that evangelical church we went to was somewhere along the spectrum of emotionally disturbed and pure evil (not sure exactly the proportions of each). The fact that they thought they were good (and everyone else bad) shows you how differently people can perceive things.
Hi Brenda. Good question.
I am atheist. My mom was raised Roman Catholic by her Italian immigrant parents. She had pretty much given it up before I was born but wasn't particularly anti-religious. I'm sure she was influenced by my father who was atheist and anti-theist. He was also raised Catholic, but rejected it at a pretty early age. About 2/3 of his 13 brothers and sisters are still quite religious.
Seems simple to explain that I followed my parents but here's a twist. I 'hated' my father while I was growing up. He was an abusive, mean, selfish alcoholic who couldn't hold a job and never even tried to dig us out of severe poverty, spending the little money we had on booze and cigarettes. He beat my mother and me and used lots of psychological torture to control the whole family.
I rebelled against him by going to church or Bible school in the summer with my friends. A neighbor lady used to pick me up and take me to Sunday school. It pissed him off and I think I enjoyed that.
I don't think I ever really believed any of it though and was surprised that the adults seemed to believe the stories the preacher told.
When I was about 15, I started reading the bible from the beginning for the first time. I started on this path because I thought it would help me understand why everyone thought it was THE answer. It took about a year but I read the whole thing. In this time, I studied and listened to the explanations of Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Jehovah's Witnesses... I was fascinated and even 'tried' to get the words and explanations to be acceptable. I could not.
A few years later-probably about 5 years, I read the bible again, tooks some classes, went to various synagogues (even studied with a rabbi for a few months) and churches and realized that it just made more sense as history or just stories than an actual directive from any god.
From there, I had to ask myself why any one religion should be believed over any other and realized I had no such belief, thus, I am an atheist.
My mother.was Catholic, my father was Protestant. My mother even considered becoming a nun at one point. She left the church after they refused to let my parents get married in the church while allowing her sister to marry a rich protestant in the same church. Growing up they sent us to church (protestant) and Sunday school but didn't attend themselves. After we moved to Canada we stopped attending church and I eventually stopped believing after reading about all religions and studying Greek mythology, this after a short period as a bit of a "Jesus freak" in my early 20s. Really, as a child i just liked church for the singing and the stories, i never really did believe.
I am not religious, but I do feel there is a spiritual dimension in our lives.
I tend to believe religion is man made doctrine. I also believe it is divisive.
I was raised by Christian parents, but they weren't religious. I went to a Christian church while young, but after a while we stopped attending. I do remember being baptized. My mom was from a German background and I believe they were Lutheran. I was never taught nor believed that God sent people to hell. My parents were very hard working, ethical, kind people. It wasn't until I studied comparative religions that I understood that religion was made for the masses. Every culture has some form of religious belief.
My parents were both raised in Catholic traditions (American and Latin American), with Catholic school, etc. But by the time they grew up they were pretty secular. When I was born they were decidedly nonreligious and made the decision to let me think for myself when it came to religion.
It always seemed natural to me (being able to think and choose for yourself), but I eventually learned that most people don't have that benefit--they are instead taught what to believe by their parents and other adults.
So I have never been religious in my life, and did not receive a religious upbringing in the slightest.
Perhaps my secular upbringing is why I always find talk about "rebellion" from Christians such as yourself very curious indeed. I have never rebelled against anything, I've just spent my life learning, growing, and discovering all the world has to offer.
So interesting, these glimpses into your minds/reasonings. Hard to not comment. But I'm just listening.
My mother was a lapsed Methodist and my father was an atheist. My Grandmother was, and continues to be an ultra conservative Christian.
I was first agnostic, then spent my twenties and early thirties as a wiccan, during that time I did a lot of research on comparative religion, an interest that boiled over into my schooling (I was in the process of completing my BA in English and ended up with enough philosophy, sociology classes, and comparative religion classes to pick up a minor in sociology and 2 credits shy of a philosophy double minor)
After my son died, I desperately needed to learn forgiveness to keep from anger at my ex-husband for his part in my son's death from boiling over and effecting my other children's relationship with their father. I also turned to the word of Christ for guidance on becoming a more loving person (as I was quite angry) and a better wife and mother (As I had quite a few regrets)
I am comfortable in my relationship with God and Christ and generally see Christianity as a place to learn about love.
On the other hand, I have seen the destructive force of holier-than-though you must interpret the bible the same way as I do from my Grandmother. She forced religion down the throat of her children to the point that 3 became atheists from self-preservation. The fourth, my uncle, was so obviously gay that gay men called him flaming. Out of respect for my Grandmother, he never formed a relationship with man. He tried marrying a woman and the result was a two week marriage that was never consummated and subsequently annulled.
At the age of 53, after never being in a loving relationship and suffering from loneliness and alcoholism, he came out of the closet after being sober just over a year. My grandmother told him that he was an abomination to God and that he was going to hell, even though he had never acted on his urges (to our knowledge)and was a wonderful devout follower of Christ.
He began drinking shortly after that wonderful display of love and continued to spiral-alone in his one bedroom apartment-until he drank so much that he died of alcohol poisoning after collapsing in a puddle of his own vomit and feces. He was found a week later. A WEEK (because no one in our family could have open communications with him without incurring my Grandmothers wrath.
My Grandmother shed maybe 10 tears, and that was for his the fate of his poor soul that was surely going to hell. The other members of my rather large family that are LGB are patiently waiting for her to die so that we can come out of our own closets. We love her, but we also love the rest of our family-most of which already know of our orientation-but who would be brow beaten and bible thumped to death if she had the knowledge and they supported us openly.
Was that helpful at all?
One question----Did she really tell him that HE was an abomination, or just that his actions of advocating homosexuality were abominable?
Brenda, and I don't mean this with any sarcasm at all, but do you think it really matters? She actually called him an abomination, but telling him his actions were abominable would have been a matter of semantics. The emotional recoil would have been exactly the same.
He wasn't telling her he was advocating homosexuality. He was telling her that he was lonely and had been lonely for a very long time. He was telling her that his entire life had been miserable because he couldn't love the people that he was supposed to love and wasn't allowed to love the people that he could.
The one who was supposed to support him in his unhappiness, even if she couldn't accept his feelings, used the word of God to spit venom in his open wounds. He tried to change, he accepted horrible crushing loneliness rather than violate the principles that he had been taught. As far as we know, we have every reason to believe that he died without violating "Gods" word.
Why I get so upset when Christians bash gays is because it does boil down to semantics. The emotional impact of "you are an abomination" and "your actions are an abomination" is exactly the same. In their zeal (whatever the source of that zeal, and I even will grudgingly admit that sometimes it is concern over a loved one's soul) it is easy to forget that it is a human being at the other end, not just an idea or an opinion or even a bible verse.
The same goes with just about any other subject that falls under the heading of morals, God's word, and the bible. I believe that God and Christ understood that and that is why there are so many messages that seem conflicting. I honestly believe that when God said to spread his word that he meant to do it softly and for it to be tempered with love. Words like "abomination" can never be received with a feeling of love. Its just not part of the human condition.
Brenda should be sympathetic to your line of reasoning, having gotten a divorce and remarried, but she seems oddly resistant when it comes to the topic of homosexuality. It's been the same for the last 2 years. I guess it's the one sin where she can safely claim to take "the higher ground."
The story of your family fills me with both pathos and optimism. Humanity's struggle to understand the divine has always been about the struggle to attain it (even if not an expectation of doing so). The fact that stories like the emotional torture of your uncle at the hand of your grandmother are becoming all the rarer shows that we are indeed slowly (s-l-o-w-l-y) fulfilling our collective divine mission to become better people.
Well, I'm still very sobered after reading Melissa's story, and my own reasons for my choices aren't nearly as sobering.
My father was a devout Catholic, and my mother was Congregationalist. My mother drifted from her own church because the Catholic Church required children of "mixed marriages" be raised Catholic. My father would take us three kids to church with him on Sunday, and my mother wasn't the type who would attend service at her own church alone. She was the one who helped us memorize the Catechism each week. When we were older she'd eventually tell us how she hadn't been all that thrilled to teach us the Catholic stuff, but she did because she'd agreed to that.
In those days, Catholics were generally called "Christians". These days people don't seem to associate being Catholic with being "Christian". (Kind of odd, eh? )
So anyway, my mother, maternal grandfather (no living grandmother), aunts, uncle, and cousins were all Congregationalist. As a little kid, I saw each and every one of them as "the nicest and most good and kind person in the world" (especially my mother). I saw my father, his father, and his brother in the same way. (I'm incredibly fortunate to have come from a family full of so many kind, good, people.)
Well, when I hit six years old it was time for me to attend the children's Mass, rather than sit upstairs in the church where the "grown-up" Mass was held. This is why I know exactly how old I was when the priest, wearing his green satin "outfit", said something that would make me reject the church and all religions for the rest of my life.
Being six, I was among the front-row "sitters" because they put the youngest kids at the front. So, I had a really good shot at hearing every last thing he said very clearly. At some point he started to talk about how the Catholic Church is the only church, and how it was a sin to ever set foot into another church or any other religious building or service. He then went on to say how anyone who wasn't Catholic would be going to "Hell". (From what I hear, the church has softened a little on this, but it's what they used to tell everyone, including six-year-olds.)
When I heard that I thought, "He can't be right. Mum is Protestant. Pa is Protestant. Ruthie and Doris and Elinor are Protestant. God wouldn't send such good people to Hell. As I thought more about it, I thought about how I'd heard that there were Jewish people in the world. So, I just thought, "God wouldn't send Mum and Pa and Ruthie and everyone, and also all the Jewish people in the world, to Hell. That just doesn't make any sense. God is God for everyone - not just Catholic people." So, after I reasoned out that I didn't need to worry about whether God would send innocent and good people to Hell, I thought to myself, "This guy doesn't know what he's talking about. He's wrong. I'm not going to listen to what he says, and I'm not going to listen to what any other priests say from now on." I didn't say a word about it to my father because I thought he believed whatever priests said. I could never have told my mother what I'd heard because I thought she'd get really angry (and maybe even call the priest).
So, that was it. The Catholic Church lost me. I went to Sunday school every week because my father wanted me to. I just went with the program until I was old enough to be in "CCD" and just stop going.
I asked myself (when I was a little older) if I should think about going to my mother's church, but I figured my parents had decided that I'd be Catholic, and I wasn't going to hurt their feelings, or give them trouble, by rejecting their choice for me. I knew, too, my father would heartbroken. I wasn't all thrilled with religion at all, because by that time I already knew how misguided (and worse) so many religions are. I suppose the Catholic upbringing had some impact on me too (in spite of things), because I knew that in the Protestant churches there was a lot of emphasis on Jesus and "praying to Jesus". The Catholic Church had more emphasized praying to God. Jesus and Mary were in the gospel, but there was more emphasis on God than on Jesus (which to me meant "a few extra points" for the Catholic Church over Protestant churches).
I guess, because as a child I never did without anything, and felt so loved and "wrapped in the warmth" of not just immediate family, but extended family; I felt very "blessed" and "watched out for" and saw God as someone who had been very good to me. Maybe that's why I wasn't able to believe that such a kind God (who had, I thought, given me good health, a good family, etc. etc.) would ever send good and kind people to Hell "just because of going into the wrong kind of building". I didn't even really know, back then, that everybody in the world wasn't so "blessed" as my siblings and I had been. My friends seemed to be, but I kind of felt that I was more than "blessed" than they had been.
So that's my story. I signed off churches and religions when I was six simply because I'd written them off as not knowing what they were talking about, and saying mean things about little girls' and boys' mothers and grandfathers. That wasn't, in my then six-year-old mind, what made any sense, and I "knew" that it couldn't possibly be what God could possibly be about. I chose to eliminate the middle-man (in the form of religions and preachers) and, instead, have my own relationship with God if I wanted such a relationship. So it wasn't rebellion - just being "blessed" enough to be a little girl with a mind of her own and the ability to think out what made sense and what didn't. (Turns out there's something to be said for those once frowned on "mixed marriages" )
That's because the modern cult of evangelicalism has sought to redefine the word and claim it as its own. They don't consider Catholics, Mormons, or Jehovah's Witnesses (among many others) as Christian, even though, ironically, Catholic thinkers have been setting Christian political policy for at least three decades.
Between having been raised Catholic and having decided not to be a part of any religion, I'd pretty much feel like a darned heathen if I hadn't managed to hang onto that sense of sureness I had as a little kid. In all seriousness, I think if I were a parent raising children who are Catholic today, I'd be resentful of how the word, "Christian" has taken on new meaning.
None of my grandparents were church goers. I assumed they were christian, simply because that was the culture of the time and the area. My mom was hard core christian. My Dad supported the church, was a deacon once; but he was like my grandparents. I think they lived the teaching but I never once heard them preach it. They had no use for those types.
I'm not in rebellion or denial. I respect my parent's beliefs. I just don't agree with all of them. But my parents didn't want to raise clones and they respect the fact that I come to my own conclusions.
They wanted to instill their children with what they perceived as good values and not have them tied to an unprovable concept, so that whichever way the wind took us we would have a moral compass to guide us; so they ensured that from the crib to adulthood we didn't think blindly following was acceptable behavior. They made us go to church, because that's what people did, but they made a concerted effort to ensure that the things they abhorred within the christian culture were not allowed to taint their own children.
My parents were victims of the insanely ignorant Pentacostal Holy-rollers.
Neither of my parents even made it to high school, which would seem to explain their rigid belief in this fear-based nonsense.
I, however, refuse to remain stagnant, and continue the childish willful ignorance, as two very ignorant fearful parents did.
The difference is courage! That's all!
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