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#1 of 73 Old 12-05-2010, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Dh was raised with faith, while I was not. My mother was not a rabid atheist or anti religious, although her mother, my grandmother sure seemed to be, to me anyway. My family on my fathers side, my paternal grandmother did take me to church as a kid but it was only rarely as she didn't live in the same town us.

 

Dh has a core belief language, rituals and prayers that I've seen him get strength from in times of need even though he doesn't practice the religion he was raised in. It's still a part of him though. Me, I have always been trying to find a spiritual home even as a kid but I struggle with it and I haven't been able to fully integrate it into my identity. I seem to be always on the outside looking in, I get snippets of feeling at home but then it's gone and I don't know how to maintain the feeling.

 

So all this has me wondering:

 

How common is it for someone to get faith if they were raised without it?

 

Or is it easier to change religions if you were raised religious than it is to get faith and become religious if you were raised with none?

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#2 of 73 Old 12-05-2010, 04:38 PM
 
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i was raised catholic, though i never "believed" so to speak. it always just seemed too ridiculous to me, even as a child, i had a hard time thinking that the people that were religious seriously believed these things. i've always been skeptical, i guess.

 

my parents are very much believers, so i don't think that i missed out in that respect, but i've found my own path that does not include a belief in any deity/ deities.

 

you know, i just don't know, i think my experience is the opposite of yours so i'm not sure how much that adds to the discussion!


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#3 of 73 Old 12-05-2010, 05:07 PM
 
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Both my parents were raised as "cultural Christians".  So both of them had some experience with the forms of Christianity, but no personal faith.  Dad's family was a loving, peaceful family and those faith practices were more part of their life (bed time prayers, church at holidays, etc).  Moms family was full of alcoholism, neglect, and abuse.  They'd say they were "Christian" but it had nothing to do with a personal, inner spirituality and very little actual stuff like going to church.

 

In their teens, dad was a laidback intellectual agnostic, who just didn't care much.  Mom was a very bitter, anger agnostic who had reactive feelings against religion, which at the time she viewed as oppressive.

 

It took them *decades* to find peace with faith.  They became Christians in their late twenties, but spent the entirety of my childhood going from church to church, never feeling "settled" or at home.   Community didn't satisfy, outward faith symbols (like headcovering) didn't satisfy, having doctrinal agreement with people didn't satisfy...Along the way, they did meet a lot of people who were having similar troubles, looking and looking for "home" and having difficulty finding it.  Many were raised similar to them, with sort of a mild, cultural form of religion but not a strong faith from childhod.

 

It's definitely been easier for us (their children) to be comfortable with faith.  And my parents were very intentional about raising us with faith very present in our lives and encouraging us to pursue our relationship with God.

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#4 of 73 Old 12-05-2010, 07:46 PM
 
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I was raised in a culturally Christian home but without any formal religious instruction, without a church community, without any conversation about religion at home, never baptized.  I eventually became an Episcopalian in my late 20s and was baptized.  I think I spent the next few years making up for my faithless childhood--I joined a large church in NYC and went to mass 3 or 4 times a week and was quite involved with a 20s/30s group there.  I learned my way around the Book of Common Prayer, I forced myself to talk about faith with other people.  And I met my husband there!

 

But I can really relate to that feeling of being on the outside looking in, feeling an elusive feeling belonging, then watching it evaporate.  I really struggle with integrating faith rituals, prayers, traditions into family life, offering that tradition to my children.  I feel self-conscious praying with my kids, I have a hard time talking about my own religious beliefs with my kids. I also have a hard time knowing how to talk to or relate to  clergy (even though I actually have a fair number of friends who ended up going to seminary), although I think a lot of this is just my own introverted personality, my own need to be in the background and not draw attention to myself. This week, for example, my family is going through a lot (waiting for miscarriage, suspecting I have pre-diabetes and waiting for test results, dh's mother in the hospital), and I think a lot of people would just naturally turn to their priest or whatever, but I never  want to bother anyone, or it just never feels natural to me.

 

I am sad I didn't have any kind of faith community as a child.  But then again, many who do end up abandoning it completely, so who knows.  I just keep trying, and after 12+ years the Church mostly feels like home, the liturgy mostly feels like home, the Christian language of religious experience mostly feels like home. 

 

I think I am becoming more comfortable with my own devotion/faith waxing and waning, but I do sometimes feel like a crazy agnostic lurking in the back pew.  But I figure other people probably feel this way too sometimes, even if they were raised in the Church.


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#5 of 73 Old 12-06-2010, 04:25 AM
 
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I was raised attending Quaker meeting although my parents never applied for membership and appeared, in practice, to be agnostic. They are definitely spiritual but I was not raised within a "faith tradition"--liberal Quakers are much like UU's in that you can BE anything and attend, the meeting had Pagans, Jews, Hindus, Christians, agnostics, spiritual people, etc...My parents were raised Catholic and Episcopalian but abandoned their faith when they found out that to get married in a Catholic church, my parents would have to promise to raise their children Catholic, which was not something they were willing to do.

I converted to Catholicism as a teenager, mostly to get closer to my roots (my grandmother is Catholic) but also because most of my friends were doing confirmation at the same time. I stopped going to Church pretty soon after that, not for any doctrinal reasons just didn't like going to Mass on my own as a teenager and it didn't seem that important to me at the time to keep going, then finally went back once my son was born a few years later. I still struggle with parts of the teachings but for now I'm happy to keep that conversation going. I've spent the past few years growing stronger in my faith and my connection to the Church. I still love the Quakers, what a great community and such strong values, but I find Meeting really boring redface.gif and it doesn't "cut it" for me as far as feeling fulfilled in a faith practice.

Compare that to my sibling, who, like me, was raised to be open minded and accepting and culturally Christian (at least as far as holidays go) and was given the chance the make up hir mind as well, and is completely agnostic, doesn't care at all about religion and thinks church is boring.

As far as my kid goes, I trade off taking hir to mass with me and letting my mom take hir to First Day School at the Quaker meeting. I have a lot of respect for how they run their religious education and I definitely want my kid to be exposed to that community, even if I don't attend myself.

I have noticed that many people who were raised in a strong faith tradition, like LDS or Evangelical or Catholic, end up switching to another denomination and some abandon religious practice altogether. I feel like I've read more conversion stories about people going from denom to denom than just nothing to a denom though...it would be an interesting poll!

eta: I wrote this and then spent ALL DAY researching the Episcopalian church thinking it might be a better fit doctrinally....still mulling over the decision of whether or not I can stay in the Church or not, and having a child who's old enough to ask questions about stuff makes it feel more urgent to figure out.

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#6 of 73 Old 12-06-2010, 07:44 AM
 
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I can really relate to that feeling of being on the outside looking in, feeling an elusive feeling belonging, then watching it evaporate.  I really struggle with integrating faith rituals, prayers, traditions into family life, offering that tradition to my children.  I feel self-conscious praying with my kids, I have a hard time talking about my own religious beliefs with my kids. I also have a hard time knowing how to talk to or relate to  clergy (even though I actually have a fair number of friends who ended up going to seminary)... <snip> I think a lot of people would just naturally turn to their priest or whatever, but I never  want to bother anyone, or it just never feels natural to me.

 


I feel like this as well.  I was raised culturally Christian, as well.  Non-denominational, we didn't pray or talk much about God, but we loosely observed Christian holidays (though mainly from a secular perspective) and we usually went to vacation Bible school (we didn't go to church regularly, but my mom would take us if we asked).  My babysitter was 7th day adventist and very religious, most of my religious exposure was through her.

 

Dh and I converted to Catholicism together in '07, and I definitely feel like I'm missing out on something in comparison to my friends that are "cradle Catholics."  There's a big "cultural Catholic" component that I'll just never really be a part of.

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#7 of 73 Old 12-06-2010, 07:47 AM
 
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Neither DH nor I were raised in any sort of faith/religion.  Both of us went through the process of becoming Catholic within a few days of entering college (different colleges, different years...we didn't even know eachother until later.)


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#8 of 73 Old 12-06-2010, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the posts, you all have given me a lot to think about.

 

Last night I started reading The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller and it's been a very interesting read. Especially his counterpoints to the usual objections to religion made by some. I'm not struggling with belief in God, it's more of a struggle trying to understand Church history and different Churches claims regarding themselves. 

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#9 of 73 Old 12-06-2010, 10:08 AM
 
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i was raised in a strict Catholic household and can tell you, it didn't "take"  :)

 

i spent my time in church daydreaming and wishing i was somewhere else, and like the poster above, couldn't believe that anyone really believed the canon and belived there was some old guy in the sky who controlled everything.  and the whole "it's God's will" in explaination to horrible things always made me think that God was a pretty shitty creator / father to allow the horrible things to happen in the first place, and how could some of the things i witnessed be part of any plan on "His" part. 

 

i plan on raising my son to know all faiths, especially in a historial perspective, and then let him decide which path to follow.


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#10 of 73 Old 12-07-2010, 03:11 PM
 
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I was raised Lutheran and it was tough.  I didn't believe in ANY of it.  In fact, one of the more traumatic memories I have (weird but true) was being confirmed against my wishes.  I literally cried on the altar through the whole thing.  It was pretty awful.  I just couldn't wrap my head around the teachings, but clearly had enough of a belief to feel that what I was doing was very, very wrong.  So I guess it's more accurate to say that I was skeptical of all of it?  I don't know.

 

My parents weren't all that active in the church.  We went to services each week.  I attended Sunday School each week and did the youth group stuff because it's what I was pretty much forced to do.  I didn't have a choice.

 

After I was out of the house my parents definitely got more active.  They volunteered, they attended events etc.  Ultimately my mother went to work for the church (and still does) and my father went to seminary, got ordained and presides over another Lutheran church (which my mother now attends.) 

 

I was still fairly skeptical, but after I exhausted my other options I sheepishly came back.  Still with the same questions, but more able to hear the answers.  Even when I was turning my back on it and not "believing" I did have comfort in the fact that there was something there.  I was behaving more like a petulant child than anything.  When I was ready to embrace it, I was greatly comforted.  I can't imagine not having that foundation.  Even when I hated it, I think it was easier for me to resist something that it would have been to flail aimlessly with no real paradigm.

 

I was also helped by watching my parents grow into it-knowing there was room for that.  That I wasn't a freak for having so many shades of gray.  Religion always felt very black and white to me and I was never truly either. 

 

Anyway....don't know what that helps.  Probably nothing.  I have kids now too and we had no intention of giving them any kind of religious upbringing that was more than just letting them know that things existed.  For the first 6 years that was the case...then things started shifting and they wanted more.  Dh is still pretty agnostic but I've turned back towards the church...in large part because of them.  While I don't look back and remember my experience fondly I do hope I can do better.  I realize now that the biggest issue for me was not having someone to really TALK to.  Not that the pastor wouldn't (he did quite often!) but I don't think I really knew what to ask. 

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#11 of 73 Old 12-08-2010, 05:36 PM
 
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I grew up in a semi-religious Lutheran household, with a bit of Catholicism thrown in for flavour. 

 

My mom was raised in the Lutheran church by active Christian parents - he mom was a very English CofE member before she came to Canada.  My Dad's family was full of nutty Catholic women and agnostic or atheist Protestant men.  I went to church regularly, though often with my grandparents.  I got a good basic understanding of Christianity - I liked church better than Sunday school.

 

As a teen I became an agnostic, and then I became a Christian in university when I unwittingly decided to study classical philosophy. I had looked at a few options in between without embracing them.

 

I think having a Christian background probably did a few things for me, some which probably came from having just any religious experience.  It gave me a concept of the non-material world, and a language to speak about it.  Even when I was at a point when I would not have said that it existed, I could think about the kind of questions that might be answered by it. And it gave me direct experience and observation of activity that was in a kind of regular way meaningful.  What all those people were doing was something that they saw was important.  And especially for me, I could see the music was about something deeply human.  I still get emotional singing "A Mighty Fortress is our God".

 

Most of us don't get a background in speaking about metaphysics in our homes growing up, and religion may be our only exposure to those kinds of ideas.  Religion and literature.

 

My husbands experience was different - he was baptized, but I think only attended church twice as a child.  His parents have no real interest in religion - they don't get it, but aren't hostile to it - at least his mom isn't.  What I find interesting is that I have never heard them talk about the other things I connect with religion as approaching similar themes.  They don't talk about philosophy, or ideas, or politics, or literature. (His dad reads true stories about adventure and his mom plot-driven women's novels.)  After eight years I really haven't much idea what they think about what life is about.

 

My husband became a Christian around the time we got married, and I think in a way he has struggled a lot more than I did.  Not with faith so much as it has taken him a long time to learn about it, and he still gets surprised with new religious concepts - he is lucky he did his minor in university in philosophy, so he at least has some language for approaching things.


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#12 of 73 Old 12-09-2010, 12:01 AM
 
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Not clear to me what "raised with/without faith" means.

 

 I mean, i was brought up in a solidly-Jewish household, even received a Jewish education, did the holidays, all that ... but G!d was never discussed.

 

It was all oh-so-intellectual and cultural and historical and proud, yet G!d was just not part of the equation.  Even though my dad prayed daily and went to shul on Shabbos (Saturday/the Sabbath), I don't think outside of that context, the word "G!d" came up.

 

Even when I was applying to rabbinical school, G!d was just not in my head.  Again, it was intellectual and cultural and historical and proud.  But that was all. 

 

I switched directions (toward G!d) in my 30s.

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#13 of 73 Old 12-09-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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Both DH and I were raised in agnostic homes and are now Christians.  I always longed for more of a relationship with God when I was a child and it made me sad that my parents had such a lack of interest in it all.  I used to ask to go to church, but they were very against any form of organized religion.  

 

DH and I became Christians together shortly after we started dating.  It's been an amazing journey for both of us.

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#14 of 73 Old 01-20-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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I was raised an atheist in a family I would describe as anti-religious, though not "rabid".  I now describe myself as agnostic and I am a member of a Unitarian Universalist church.  This church meets my needs for community and to have a spirtual aspect to my life without requiring me to abandon my intellect and use of reason, or try to force myself to believe things I really don't, or just let slide those elements of religious services that I don't agree with or tell myself it is "symbolic".

 

My husband was raised Catholic but now he is agnostic or atheist.  His theological views are extremely close to my own, but his views of organized religion are more negative than mine and his need to have community and spirituality in his life is pretty much non-existent.  Consequently, he is not a member and does not attend church.

 

Here is a blog with a good visual about changing religious identification.

 

I think what happens to people when they are adults in terms of religion has at least as much to do with personality and need for community as it does with whether an individual was raised with or without religion and which religion.


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#15 of 73 Old 03-06-2011, 07:35 PM
 
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I don't know how much I can add to your questions, but let me try to add something to the discussion.

 

My parents abhored "organized religion" and often spoke somewhat mockingly of anyone who went to church or followed any religious path. Their dislike was rooted mostly, I think, in their experiences growing up in non-religious Catholic families. My personality is very reflective/sensitive, and I have always been interested in issues of meaning. I started learning about "spirituality" at an early age from any available source, sometimes not the best sources. As a young person, I did not have the best judgment in these matters. I think I would have been better off with more guidance from my parents (well, maybe not my parents, since they were not in a position to give me spiritual direction).

 

Also, having converted to a theistic religion, I still struggle with the idea of God--reflexively I tend to feel embarrassed by religion and God, even though I am, on a deeper level and even on a logic level comfortable with being a religious person in some sense. Being a religious person is not part of my persona, basically, and it gets in my way. But at the same time, this struggle is a way to see how I get in my own way, and is part of my religious/spiritual experience.

 

My husband grew up in a liberal religious family but more or less rejected the orthodoxy and theism. Still, I can see in him how the religious values his parents shared with him shaped his non-theistic values and his personality. I note that he appreciates and draws on the mythology and traditions of his family's faith. 

 

So, theoretically, from my perspective, I think it is better to share one's religious faith with one's kids, or more importantly, to be a good example of whatever you are. However, I think it is important to respect the inherent wisdom of the child and their spiritual tendencies. It is important to answer questions in a way that is respectful to their spiritual inquiry. If my daughter didn't want to practice my religion, I wouldn't make her, though I would expect her to participate in family rituals to some degree. I think people born to a religion and forced to practice it do not always benefit and may be harmed. Yet I think being raised without religion (or without an organized, well-thought out ethical system--second best option, to me) is problematic.



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#16 of 73 Old 03-06-2011, 09:44 PM
 
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I was raised without religion at all.  I think being adrift is common with this background.  I have a personal faith but I also have experienced the lack of spiritual home you describe.  I find myself not able to relate to a lot of the religious imagery a lot of people take for granted and that is so much a part of our culture.  Yet some of it I have embraced.  For a few years my faith even took the form of participating in churches, and for a short time I embraced Christianity.  I have drifted a lot but it came out good.  I will try to describe my personal hodge-podge:

 

I feel spiritual sometimes more and sometimes less but a lot of the symbols and imagery make little sense to me.  It am more drawn earth-centered spirituality than Christian because my personal revelations have been very connected with nature.  Yet pagan gods and goddesses don't generally quite hit the spot either--there is something about those symbols that also leaves me feeling an outsider.  

 

Most people seem to believe God is someone (a distinct conscious being) who pays attention to individuals and can intervene to help us, even if they don't practice Christianity.  I have extreme difficulty grasping the conscious God being.  Instead I believe the spirit is everywhere in everything and without favorites.  It is in the underlying order, even the science of it all as well, and the miraculous love we can experience simply by being alive and aware.  The cup can be half full, and even overflowing, what a miraculous world!   But I like a bit of imagery:  I think of Christ as the prince of peace who beautifully influenced the world with his ideas (imperfect as we are).  I think of the Old Gods as my ancestors, our ancients, and hold them as my roots having drawn the pagan from those cultures from which our human ancestors came.  Each and every child is the Christ child and the miracle and hope on earth.  All that is wise and true is the voice of the spirit.  All that is beauty is the reflection of the spirit.  Every love is the gods loving us.  I could go on and on about the spirit embodied and displayed in nature.  I have deep affection for those words and symbols I find to resonate for me, they do offer ways to connect, and yet the unseen world of the spirit ultimately is way beyond words and symbols and they simply fall away when approaching the heart of it all.   I don't believe in intervening gods, but I do believe that when I attune myself to the universe that causes things to turn out true and right by nature and truth.  Somehow my template is what I see and have learned directly via the creation than any stories I was taught.  And science and music and sex and thunderstorms have way more to do with it than stories from the Bible.  Maybe that is the result of not having been taught and figuring it more from scratch and with a more adult mind for discernment.  IDK  I had spiritual feelings and had to find my own names for them.  I also found mythologies.  I read wise words.  I work in the garden and make art.  I try to be nice to people (harder than it sounds).  I let it change over time.

 

We maintain a loose connection to the local Quaker meeting--very loose.  Not interested in unitarian, definitely not agnostic, not Buddhist...  I often wish to go to a local Christian church just because I like the people there but suspect I would feel like an imposter.  I feel less religious over time, and my sense of being spiritual in practice is most similar to Buddhism.  Some of the rougher times I have been through have subdued my personal faith, though it has also grown deeper and clearer in some ways. 

 

Somehow I sense I am not wired (or trained) to get it when it comes to organized religion and the making of distinctions among them.

 

If you meant when you say faith an unquestioning belief that doesn't change, and that some power can step in and fix things for me then I do not and won't acquire that.  If you mean joining a church or having a name for what I believe, that doesn't work for me either.  But I have a faith that can be quite powerful and in fact it makes everything else seem inadequate to me.  I do not know how many people come out of that background as I have.  I think you are right about it being much different from being a non-practicing person with a religion from childhood.  You can't fall back on spiritual teachings as far back and intertwined with who you are as home and family, embedded in what you absorbed before you reached an age of abstract thought.  And for those who were raised that way it predates being conscious of themselves and predates the ability to question and is just really deeply embedded.

 

I believe that people often acquire a faith through their experiences, no matter how they are raised, and that even children from atheist families do grow up to join churches sometimes.  However, it is very different to have been raised in Church and I think it affects many things.  The template for structured belief is part of that.  It acts as a foundation even if abandoned.  Also, many things in our culture that are outside of church reference the Christian religion and its assumptions, and it has left me feeling like I had missed a major subject in school on many occasions since everyone else at least understood those references whether they were believers or not or whether they ever took church seriously or not.  I think this is a fascinating subject and a great question. 


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#17 of 73 Old 03-06-2011, 09:59 PM
 
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My parents abhored "organized religion" and often spoke somewhat mockingly of anyone who went to church or followed any religious path. Their dislike was rooted mostly, I think, in their experiences growing up in non-religious Catholic families. My personality is very reflective/sensitive, and I have always been interested in issues of meaning. I started learning about "spirituality" at an early age from any available source, sometimes not the best sources. As a young person, I did not have the best judgment in these matters. I think I would have been better off with more guidance from my parents (well, maybe not my parents, since they were not in a position to give me spiritual direction).

 

Also, having converted to a theistic religion, I still struggle with the idea of God--reflexively I tend to feel embarrassed by religion and God, even though I am, on a deeper level and even on a logic level comfortable with being a religious person in some sense. Being a religious person is not part of my persona, basically, and it gets in my way. But at the same time, this struggle is a way to see how I get in my own way, and is part of my religious/spiritual experience.

 

Yet I think being raised without religion (or without an organized, well-thought out ethical system--second best option, to me) is problematic.

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#18 of 73 Old 03-07-2011, 10:05 AM
 
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 what was really weird and just wrong to me, was seeing my dad at his mother's Catholic funeral, going up to receive Communion and making the sign of the cross. like... if he BELIEVES enough to do that, what was with all his ranting and raving during our entire childhoods. if he's in Communion with it, why did he deny that to his children, not having us even baptized? and/or if he does not believe it, why in the heck go up and pretend like he does.


I was raised by very observant Catholic parents, who insisted that all their kids comply with Catholic observation  until such time as they were financially independent.  All while growing up, I knew that I did not believe in Catholicism, and counted the days until I could stop pretending.  Like  a pp, I also really never believed in the supernatural at all, from the time I was a very small child.  I tried various denominations as an adult, until I got to the point where I could just admit to being an atheist.

 

ElliesMomma, your father's behavior is completely understandable to me.  Catholicism's rituals tend to have a very strong hold on people raised with them.  Most of my relatives are Catholic, but a few of my siblings and I are not.  At weddings, funerals, etc., while I just sit quietly, some of my decidedly non-Catholic siblings will go along with the rituals, say the prayers, take communion, sing the hymns, etc.  I think for them, part of it is a desire to please some of the older relatives, part a desire to not call attention to themselves by not participating, and part superstition.
 

 

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#19 of 73 Old 03-19-2011, 08:49 PM
 
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I can only speak for myself, but I have a lot of thoughts on this. The first is that I do believe that religious belief is about as innate as personality. I was raised in a typical non-religious American household. My mother is an ex-Southern Baptist, my father an ex-Lutheran, and my entire religious upbringing consisted of "so there's this guy, Jesus, and his dad is God. Jesus was born on Christmas. Good people go to Heaven, bad people go to Hell. On Easter the bunny comes and we hunt for eggs." At least that's how I typically explain it. No concept of sin, forgiveness, the trinity (when I discovered that Jesus and God were supposed to be the same person I was very confused). And yet, by the time I was 8 I was showing interest in polytheism, and at 11 found a name for my quasi-innate religious beliefs-Celtic Paganism. As soon as I found out that such a thing existed (having never met a Pagan) I was home. The rest of my life has been about understanding all of this in greater depth. I'm almost 27 and I'm working on clergy training through my "church" (Ar nDriaocht Fein, if you're curious). I'm a deeply religious person and probably spend most of my free time studying myth or theology, composing prayers, or otherwise doing religious-type stuff.

 

So yeah, I know that it is quite possible to be raised without faith and have a very deep interest in the divine.

 

Now my husband is non-religious, and I'm only raising my daughter in a vaguely Pagan way. As in she'll celebrate the holidays with us (and we do secular American Christmas and Easter on top of the Pagan ones), will have values associated with my religion, and will have a better understanding of myth than most people, but if she doesn't make offerings I don't care. If she chooses another religion when she's of age, I fully support that.

 

As a Pagan a lot of people from a variety of religious backgrounds come through my Grove, and often out of it. While it is pretty common to reject the dogma of their natal religion, few people change their basic mindset. As someone who is fundamentally a polytheist, the way I look at the world is different from my husband, who's non-religious but raised Catholic. Even atheists who question my views on a variety of topics are still approaching everything from a fundamentally monotheistic basis. It takes a lot of unpacking to truly eradicate the faith one was raised in, and few people even attempt it.


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#20 of 73 Old 03-20-2011, 12:26 PM
 
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I was raised in a conservative, fundamentalist, christian family. Church and the Bible were forced until I finally moved out. I was a 'believer' when I was young only in the fact that I wanted to please my parents, but even at a young age, I was skeptical and creeped out by a lot of aspects of christianity (communion, many bible stories, etc). I was also never exposed to other religions as the idea was that they were dangerous and not of God. So I pretty much had no other basis for my spirituality that what was presented to me by my parents and my church, but I knew it wasn't what I wanted for me. After graduating high school and moving out I was able to discover other religions and the fact that 'athiest' wasn't REALLY a dirty word and that athiests weren't devil worshippers and so on and so forth. The more I explored my own feelings on religion, the more I was able to validate my long held feelings that I didn't believe in anything supernatural. I believe in the now. I believe good people are good people and bad people are bad people all on their own. I discovered I can not believe in God and yet still be a good person. Unfortunately, the rest of my family doesn't feel that way and they are sure I am destined for hell. whistling.gif So, that's that.

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#21 of 73 Old 03-20-2011, 12:44 PM
 
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I know I'm coming late to the discussion here, but I've got a couple of thoughts to add.

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Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
Or is it easier to change religions if you were raised religious than it is to get faith and become religious if you were raised with none?


I personally think it's easier to change religions that the "get faith" for all the reasons you and others have described.  It's hard to know where to start when you don't know the theology, the traditions or the community. I was raised liberal Catholic. My parents acknowledged that there were definite flaws to both the teachings and administration of the Catholic church. They didn't  talk much about God, as they more or less turned over our religious education to the organized church (CCD classes, then sent us to a Catholic high school). So, my basic religious education was a bit spotty. (I never learned my cathecism, for example.)

 

But they did talk about philosophical and moral issues. I remember discussions of where my mom felt the church was wrong, about how the Bible shouldn't be literally interpreted in many instances -- the moral sense of the Bible was certainly true, but it's highly unlikely that God actually took a rib from Adam to make Eve (and there are, after all, two creation stories in the Bible). That kind of discussion helped me understand and be comfortable with my faith -- to separate the Church from the beliefs.

 

This made it fairly easy for me to change denominations -- my dh was raised very conservative Lutheran (even though his parents, like mine, disagreed with some of the teachings and practices of their church). There was no way that I was going to join that church, and he was very uncomfortable with the thought of becoming Catholic. So, we compromised on liberal Lutheran. It's got the same flow of the liturgy that the Catholic church does, so it feels comfortable for me. It's got the music that's culturally really important to dh. Theologically, it is much more progressive in terms of theology and accepting people (we have a lesbian pastor, for example). We're now very active in our church, probably more active than my parents ever were. I really really like the sense of community, the fact that my children are growing up with a group of people (from children to adults) who know them and look out for them. (But, I still find some aspects of being Lutheran kind of amusing, such as Reformation Sunday "let's celebrate the scism in the church!")

 

It's the sense of community and of being with a group of good people that keeps me there, even when my faith wavers (which does a lot). I'm definitely a deist, but I waver about the divinity of Jesus (heresy, I know). At the moment, I'm becoming more comfortable with the idea that the basic teachings of Jesus are incredibly powerful, and I am struggling with the whole divinity/trinity issue.

 

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Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post

Thanks for the posts, you all have given me a lot to think about.

 

Last night I started reading The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller and it's been a very interesting read. Especially his counterpoints to the usual objections to religion made by some. I'm not struggling with belief in God, it's more of a struggle trying to understand Church history and different Churches claims regarding themselves. 


Another really good book that has influenced my thinking is Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus. It's fairly radical, but it really helped my understanding of the elements of Christianity that were developed by the church and those that were actually taught by Jesus. Maybe I like it because the thoughts parallel many of my doubts, but the author (a Methodist minister) comes down on the side of "despite the things that are wrong with organized religion, I'm a follower of Jesus."

 

Something else that has helped me is reading about Fowler's stages of faith development (e.g., http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/fowler.htm or http://ashleylinne.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/stages-of-faith-development/). It helps me understand my theological struggles as being fairly normal. It also helped me understand people who I find to be narrow minded or legalistic about their religion and realize that it may be a different stage of faith development or a different way understanding religion.


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#22 of 73 Old 03-20-2011, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Since I started the thread, a few months ago, I thought I'd come back and update. I was already in RCIA when I started the thread, and I'm being baptized and confirmed next month at the Easter Vigil. My comment about understanding Churches claims regarding themselves was in reference to Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism, but I didn't get into here because I've discussed it in other threads. I never struggled over choosing traditional Christianity vs Protestantism. A book on "saving" Jesus from the Church is pretty much the antithesis of what I believe, even when I started this. And really Fowlers "stages of faith" um well I think I'll just keep my opinion to myself in an effort to be charitable. Thanks to those that posted though. 

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#23 of 73 Old 03-23-2011, 09:12 AM
 
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I was raised Protestant (Church of Christ) and my husband was raised Catholic.  We are both spiritual agnostics now.

 

I have seen those raised religious become the most rabid athiests, and those raised non religious become hardcore religious followers.  I think a lot of it has to do with why a person decided to find/leave a faith and what was going on at the time.

 

It has been a long, gradual process that has brought me to where I am now, and I am still evolving.


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#24 of 73 Old 03-23-2011, 03:02 PM
 
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I was raised with fire and brimstone poured down my throat every Sunday when I'd rather just have slept in. My hubby was raised by cultural Jews who only went to temple a couple of times a year. We are both agnostic at this point and have raised our kids with no faith in the "great other". We invented new, secular holidays along the way with a slight nod to the Nature worship of the pagan world.

Good luck on your journey. Each person comes to their own truth in such matters.
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#25 of 73 Old 03-24-2011, 12:01 AM
 
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I was raised in a family who was very anti-religion, (but we did have some of the cultural landmarks of the religions my parents grew up in, jewish food, hannukah, christmas, passover, easter) and I would say that it definitely did contribute to my religious/spiritual path today.

 

I remember being a child and hiding from my parents my belief in G-d, praying quietly so they wouldn't hear me.  I knew/thought I would get in BIG trouble for believing in G-d.  I struggled from a young age to be able to participate in Judaism, (go to hebrew school, study for a bat mitzvah, take classes, go to services), until I reached an age where I could do it myself without parental help, and then even more so when I moved out.  For a period, as a teenager, I explored paganism, but I felt called back to judaism, where I have made a personal commitment to stay.

 

I think as a adult raised in a family without faith, it is really easy to be constantly a seeker. You don't nessicarily know what you are looking for, or how to get involved in a community and a tradition in a way which will go as deep as you want.  Oftentimes, not knowing how to relate to religion (for instance, being shy of religious community, or not knowing how to find spiritual teachers, or not knowing protocol with regards to the priest/rabbi/pastor/priestess. It took me a look time to go talk with the rabbi, because I felt shy and didn't know how open most rabbis are to talking with people.)

 

(My partner on the other hand, was raised in a moderately catholic family, and went to catholic school as a young child, and vehemently rejected religion and theism.)


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#26 of 73 Old 03-28-2011, 01:08 AM
 
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I really think it can go either way. I was raised in a Christian home and had a really hard time admitting to myself that I am an atheist. I wish I had been raised in a home without any religion.


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#27 of 73 Old 03-28-2011, 04:47 AM
 
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I was raised by mainstream atheists - they didn't believe in God or attend church but they bought us easter eggs and christmas presents.

 

My mother was raised Baptist and hated the church for some reason.  She never said why, she would say it was for control and to make people feel guilty, but i think there might have been an underpinning poor experience that made her so angry.  My father regards religion as a crutch for them who need or want it.  Not necessarily in a bad way - in the same way as someone with a bad leg has a crutch, they need it, they have it, that's fine sort-of-thing.

 

I'm atheist, i don't feel lost or adrift, religious faith not being in my life doesn't leave a hole of any sort.  I teach my kids about all kinds of religion and don't mind which path they choose.

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#28 of 73 Old 03-28-2011, 07:24 AM
 
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Quote:
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I really think it can go either way. I was raised in a Christian home and had a really hard time admitting to myself that I am an atheist. I wish I had been raised in a home without any religion.


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#29 of 73 Old 03-28-2011, 08:20 AM
 
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I think could go either way, too.  My dad is agnostic and my mom is very much an atheist.  They didn't go out of their way to expose me to different religions (my grandparents took me to church during the periods in my childhood that I lived with them - early elementary school and later in high school) and they said they wanted me to make my own decision about being religious or not.  Honestly, I would have made my own decision about religion whether they had raised me in one or not.  I don't really understand the line of thinking that bringing up kids without a specific faith somehow makes them more likely to choose for themselves, as if people who continue to be in the same faith in which they were raised did not make the choice to do so, but whatever. 

 

Of course, I really would love to have been brought up in the faith that I have chosen for myself in a pious household.  Would have made a huge difference in my life, I'm sure.

 

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#30 of 73 Old 03-28-2011, 10:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Sage View Post

I think could go either way, too.  My dad is agnostic and my mom is very much an atheist.  They didn't go out of their way to expose me to different religions (my grandparents took me to church during the periods in my childhood that I lived with them - early elementary school and later in high school) and they said they wanted me to make my own decision about being religious or not.  Honestly, I would have made my own decision about religion whether they had raised me in one or not.  I don't really understand the line of thinking that bringing up kids without a specific faith somehow makes them more likely to choose for themselves, as if people who continue to be in the same faith in which they were raised did not make the choice to do so, but whatever. 

 

Of course, I really would love to have been brought up in the faith that I have chosen for myself in a pious household.  Would have made a huge difference in my life, I'm sure.

 


I know this probably wasn't directed at me, but i thought i'd address it.

 

If, like me, you are atheist, you ARE bringing your kids up without a specific faith, simply because that's what you believe.  I'm not, as an atheist, going to raise my kids strictly jewish, because that would be total hypocrisy on my part.  So for many of us it's not that we think raising kids without specific religion means they're more likely to choose their own, it's that we have no religion to raise them with anyway.

 

And wide education DOES make a difference.  I'm pretty sure not many people who've never heard of Buddhism choose it as their life faith, kwim?

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