The Pros and Cons of being raised religious - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 98 Old 12-04-2007, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was thinking about this recently. All the people I know that were raised practicing a religion have left it. Seriously. Most of them are either agnostic, atheist, unaffiliated generally spiritual but not religious or culturally ID as their childhood religion but aren't practicing.

So I'm starting to wonder if it's more of a hindrance than a benefit to be raised in a religion. Yes I know that it doesn't happen to everyone. It seems really common in the people I know though. And it seems to turn people off of religion in general.

I wasn't raised religious although I was always curious about religion and religious truth and spiritual seeking even as a kid. In a way I think it was a benefit to me in that I don't have many personal negative associations, at least not from family. I was never forced to practice something against my will or something I couldn't understand or just didn't want to. But the drawback is that I wasn't raised with a religious view being part of myself as a personal identity. So it kinda goes both ways.
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#2 of 98 Old 12-04-2007, 11:28 PM
 
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I was raised Catholic.
I'm not a practicing Catholic anymore, but haven't really "come out" with my family yet. I go to the big masses (xmas, easter, etc) with them because otherwise my poor Catholic mama would die of embarassment and worry...lol

I am not going to raise Evan strictly in any one religion.
Ideally, we would like to let him experience as many faiths as he can (when he's old enough to understand the differences and not get too overwhelmed) and he can choose his own path. I think it's best to choose your faith because you BELIEVE and not because you've been forced...ya know?

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#3 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 12:09 AM
 
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I was raised Catholic.
I'm not a practicing Catholic anymore, but haven't really "come out" with my family yet. I go to the big masses (xmas, easter, etc) with them because otherwise my poor Catholic mama would die of embarassment and worry...lol

I am not going to raise Evan strictly in any one religion.
Ideally, we would like to let him experience as many faiths as he can (when he's old enough to understand the differences and not get too overwhelmed) and he can choose his own path. I think it's best to choose your faith because you BELIEVE and not because you've been forced...ya know?
:
You and I sound like we could be cut from the same cloth. I feel strongly about exposing our kids to everything and letting them be guided by God.
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#4 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 12:12 AM
 
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For me it was torture!! I knew for as long as I can remember that what was being shoved down my throat was not for me...I rebelled and it was shoved down even harder.

I am now a nondemoniational pagan. It's all about choice.

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#5 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 12:12 AM
 
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Oh and the most ironic thing?
It was about two weeks before my confirmation that I realized that I didn't believe what I was supposed to say I believed. I think if I'd been allowed more time to learn, and ask questions (our priest is amazing with helping us understand stuff) then I would've felt better. But I was told, "No. You get confirmed, on time. It's just what you do. Ask questions later. Do as you're told".

Uhhh does that not defeat the purpose of being confirmed in the first place? *sigh*

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#6 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 01:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know, which is better. I know that I wasn't raised with anything other than Santa Christmas and Easter Bunny and it kinda sucks to not have been raised as part of a spiritual and religious community. And while I've converted officially once to a religion it is not the same to come to something as an adult as it is to be raised in it. It wasn't ever really part of my identity the way it is for someone raised in it.

And I see in my dp, who was raised in a religion that even though he no longer practices and he sure doesn't believe the tenets and rules expected of his childhood religion it's still a part of him and his identity. If people ask, he still says he is XYZ even though he hasn't attended in years and doesn't believe what they do.
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#7 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 01:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh and just FTR I didn't start this for the purposes of bashing religions, or some sort of moral superiority of letting kids choose. This is a genuine attempt at figuring out the complexities of how and why the religious choices of our parents effect us. Because whether we are raised with something, or not raised with anything it still effects us one way or the other it seems.
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#8 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 03:31 AM
 
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I was raised with no religion. Two or three church buses would come around the neighborhood and take kids to church, and my sisters and I would go most of the time - but that was the extent of it. I had horrifying experiences with some of the theology, and had no one to talk to and reassure me about it at home. I always felt that I needed religion in my life, and the search was all my own. My parents neither encouraged nor discouraged my search.

I was led to Catholicism in my early 20's, joined the church, and raised my two children in the faith. Parochial school from 3years old until 12th grade. Church every week. I provided a willing ear and open conversation about their own spiritual journeys. My daughter does not now and does not intend to practice Catholicism in her immediate future. My son (a high school senior) goes to church with us as a family obligation more than from a desire to worship.

My feeling on it is that I provided them with a jumping off spot. At the bare minimum, they know what they DON'T want. At best, they may be away for a while, but come back renewed. My dh came back after 20+ years. And, Arduinna, you are right. Whether they believe or not, being Catholic is part of my children's identities, and I think that's a good thing.
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#9 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 04:10 AM
 
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I was raised in an independent fundamentalist church and left with no hard feelings in my twenties. The good: I think my faith gave me a lot of strength and comfort during my teens, which were hard. It never really provided me with community, because I never felt I fit, but for a lot of people their religious upbringing does provide them with community. The bad: I never fit, so there was a good deal of soul-searching and tears until I figured out that it was okay to go somewhere else. Actually, it was none other than my pastor who pushed me out of the nest when he told me that fundamentalist theology is based on behaviorist principles and doesn't generally work well with artists and intellectuals. And I was in art school at the time .

Right now I most identify with the Buddhist worldview but yeah I can't shake my christian roots. I'm considering joining the Quaker church because it is a nice mix between the two. I do think it is important for my daughter that we go to some kind of weekly religious meeting, because I think it is valuable to take time every week to focus on spiritual issues and unfortunately I'm not disciplined enough to just do it at home.
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#10 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 11:04 AM
 
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i didn't stay with the tradition i was raised with but I am glad I had a Christian foundation. I don't know many people who have turned away from Christianity who were raised with it. Some have even stayed with the tradition they were raised with. Some moved on to another Christian tradition or became apathetic in their spiritual life without abandoning Christ. I have also seen that while many spent a time of wandering around, trying out different forms of Christianity or ignoring it without rejecting it, many have gone back to to a more devout practice of what they were raised with.

growing up I didn't know a lot of people who weren't being raised Christian by motivated parents. I only know of one or two who have turned away completely to some something else. Most have some sort of Christian faith even if they are not motivated to pray or worship or be a part of a community.

My children may not embrace their faith when they are grown. There is nothing i can do about that. But right now I am giving them a firm foundation. a norm. and a community of believers. I am giving them something to come back to if the leave. I think that is important. This will be their shelter. I am also giving them a community of believers who are helping me raise them and loving them and praying for them and influencing who they will be. and since my church is so culturally flavored I am also giving them an adopted cultural heritage. but thats purely gravy.

So if they do go in a different direction at least they can always come home. home is good.

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#11 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 11:21 AM
 
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I know that I wasn't raised with anything other than Santa Christmas and Easter Bunny and it kinda sucks to not have been raised as part of a spiritual and religious community.
I was raised the same way, but I'm *happy* about it. I didn't think it sucked at all! It really depends on the person, I think. I'm very introverted and not a "joiner", and I've never felt the need for any kind of community. It makes me feel stifled when I'm expected to be somewhere at a specific time/place on a regular basis (other than work, no choice there ), especially when people check up to find out why you weren't there. Even weekly Girl Scouts meeting were too much pressure for me.
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#12 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 11:32 AM
 
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Also raised IFB, but was a "bus kid". My faith also helped me through my childhood. Unfortunately, I lacked the sense of community because my family did not participate. My husband and I have searched things out early in our marriage till we found a place to stand solidly on. We are raising our children in our faith. They have a sense of community because we have encouraged such and we participate as a family...they aren't left on their own. We lived around those that are strongly of various faiths and my children do see and are taught the differences in a respectful manner. We've also made it clear that we know they may not always believe EXACTLY or do EXACTLY as mom and dad do. We do pray they continue in our faith. But our love is not conditional on them agreeing with us.

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#13 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 11:39 AM
 
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Shawn and I were raised without religion, or with only minimal relirious input, although both our mothers are nominally Christian (Fathers both atheists). We are happy about that, because we did not have the pain many people feel in deconverting from a religion. Either way, we are both people who would have ended up atheists because we question evertything and demand evidence, so we wouldn't have beleived in a god without evidence, but it made the process so much easier. I do like the community that some people have in a church, but there are many other communities that we belong to, or could choose to belong to, so we don't feel we missed out on anything.
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#14 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 12:05 PM
 
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I was raised in a very observant Catholic family. We never missed a mass, and I was forced to go to Catholic school. I found it to be a complete turn-off as far as religion goes, and really pretty damaging in many ways. I knew from the time I was seven years old that I would never be Catholic, or part of any other religion that systematically excludes women from the power structure. I have floundered around in different denominations, Quaker, Methodist and now UU. But deep down in my heart I'm agnostic.

I still harbor a great deal of resentment for being raised the way I was. I just don't think you can force a belief system on anyone, but my upbringing was all about obeying the multitude of rules, not about making a spiritual journey to find what you really believe in.

So, we take our kids to a UU congregation, but we won't force it on them when they are teenagers. I hated going to church so very much as a teen that I vowed I will never do that to my kids.

One of the positive things that my UU congregation does is to spend a year where the youth travel around to different local congregations, so that they can gain some familiarity with different faith traditions.
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#15 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 12:19 PM
 
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I found being taught that there is a "higher power" sitting in judgment of me to be very harmful. I'm essentially an atheist now and am not passing religious teachings on to my children.
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#16 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 12:30 PM
 
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IME, it's been mostly (not all) about the joy, *true* faith and whatnot of the family one is raised in.

I know lots of people who were raised in a religion, where they found their parents to be hypocrites, didn't show great love for others, etc. Where everything is about the rules and the LOVE doesn't shine through at all. There is no joy.

I also know people who have been raised in homes where their religion was their source of joy, where they did practice what they preached and did so with love. Most of those people are still of the religion they were raised with.

I was raised in a Catholic home, and while my parents could've done a better job with the joy/charity side of things, I did see our faith as what binds us, and what gets us through the truly horrible times. There is nothing quite like a funeral Mass or Baptism to make me really remember just how important being a part of my faith is to me "culturally".

We are raising our children Catholic and will do our best to show them all that we believe and to learn to live our faith with them. I pray they will stay with the Church throughout their lives, and that It will be a source of strength and community for them.

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#17 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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IME, it's been mostly (not all) about the joy, *true* faith and whatnot of the family one is raised in.

I know lots of people who were raised in a religion, where they found their parents to be hypocrites, didn't show great love for others, etc. Where everything is about the rules and the LOVE doesn't shine through at all. There is no joy.
Oh I think that is a really good point, thanks for sharing that. It does seem that parents tend to define the religious experience of their children, regardless if it's positive or negative.



I think there is also the situation where I feel that being raised without religion has given me more freedom to choose than dh for example, in that I don't feel a special bond or obligation or pressure to be part of a religious community I grew up in. Of course I also don't have a home in the same sense either so it's probably even on the pro con list
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#18 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 12:59 PM
 
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IME, it's been mostly (not all) about the joy, *true* faith and whatnot of the family one is raised in.

I know lots of people who were raised in a religion, where they found their parents to be hypocrites, didn't show great love for others, etc. Where everything is about the rules and the LOVE doesn't shine through at all. There is no joy.

I also know people who have been raised in homes where their religion was their source of joy, where they did practice what they preached and did so with love. Most of those people are still of the religion they were raised with.
Well, if you'd asked my folks, they would also have said that it was all about the joy and the love. And I'm sure they really believed that. And I wouldn't say that they were especially hypocritical.

But for me, there was absolutely no joy in their religion, quite the contrary. It was an affront to me. It did not fit me and it was nothing but a source of hurt and pain for me. That is because of the particulars of their faith and my personality.
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#19 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 01:04 PM
 
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I was raised Catholic - not insanely strict (occasionally missed mass, no catholic school for me, although several of my sisters did, depending on where we lived) and my mom was always very active in the church - alter society, teaching CCD, ect. But we were also allowed to question everything around us and to go to other churches with friends and bible-studies (which was a big no no to most of our Catholic friends - just believe what you are told). We also got to chose whether and when to get confirmed. My dad had felt forced to when he was not ready and did not want that for us. We did have to go to mass and ccd/youth group when we lived at home.

I think this approach really allowed me have an understanding of what else was out there and what I wanted to do with my family. I did not practice at all right out of high school and for the first few years of dd#1's life. I did not get married in the church, and did not marry a catholic man I have since come back to the church and am very active (teaching, ect).

Dh was kinda raised Methodist he went to sunday school and church thru junior high, but it was not really a big part of their lives - his parents are not really religious at all. He is completely agnostic and while he has agreed to let me raise the kids Catholic, it is defiantly not his ideal, and he wants them to know there are other options out there. He does not go to church with us or openly criticize it.

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#20 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 01:06 PM
 
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IME, it's been mostly (not all) about the joy, *true* faith and whatnot of the family one is raised in.
Not for me, my parents weren't highly religious or anything like that. My dad is pretty much an atheist and my mom took us to the Episcopal church. There was no religion forced on me, it was the mere cultural exposure to ideas like sin, judgment, God influencing world events, etc. that was harmful.
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#21 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 01:45 PM
 
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IME, it's been mostly (not all)
NOT ALL!!! I am sorry that some people were hurt by the Church I love, or the religion they were raised with, etc. I *really* am, but- seriously- I could not have been more careful with what I said. Somehow- I still knew people would have to show how they are an exception (even though I made it so clear there are exceptions!). We are all posting about our own experiences/thoughts on this., I posted what is true for *most* of the people *I* know, not all of them and not random people on MDC.
Lots of my friends IRL have spoken to me about the harm they endured with hypocrisy, lack of love/joy in the religion they were raised with, it is the experience for many people and I think it was worth noting.

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#22 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 01:53 PM
 
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NOT ALL!!! I am sorry that some people were hurt by the Church I love, or the religion they were raised with, etc. I *really* am, but- seriously- I could not have been more careful with what I said. Somehow- I still knew people would have to show how they are an exception (even though I made it so clear there are exceptions!). We are all posting about our own experiences/thoughts on this., I posted what is true for *most* of the people *I* know, not all of them and not random people on MDC.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOkay, and I posted my thoughts/experience. I can't see anything in my post that required this kind of response. In my mind my response pretty much just followed the flow of conversation. And calling me a "random person on MDC" is just dismissive and yucky. I feel like I've read many kind of posts of yours I'm really not getting why you dumped this reaction on me.
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#23 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 02:06 PM
 
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For me it was torture!! I knew for as long as I can remember that what was being shoved down my throat was not for me...I rebelled and it was shoved down even harder.
I am so this statement above. I was four years old when I first started questioning; only to be "trounced" by well meaning church mothers and fathers.
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#24 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 02:09 PM
 
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I'm sorry, tone is hard to read online. I really meant it in an exasperated way, noot angry. I also truly mean it that I am sincerely sorry that you were hurt by your experience. I just wanted to be able to offer what I found to be the case for lots of people I know, without hurting others here who have already said how hurt they were. I just don't know how to be more careful and not hurt feelings ykwim? I am sorry my "random person" thing hurt you too, again, I meant it as exasperation that my words hurt you, someone I don't even know.

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#25 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 02:13 PM
 
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I'm still a member of the same denomination I (and dh) were raised in. I feel really lucky because I'm certainly inclined to be Christian, and my specific denomination has a lot of really great traditions and practices - women clergy, lots of very, very rich theology, encouragement to read and study.

I had the good luck of having people who were part of my denomination care for me in ways that were important to me when I was growing up - my high school speech coach also belonged to my congregation; a pastor from a different congregation treated me with great respect and kindness during a difficult time when I was in college; another pastor from my denomination taught a course on feminism and Christianity that was very helpful and influential to me.

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#26 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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UGH I'm sorry I started the thread, this really wasn't what I wanted to happen.
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#27 of 98 Old 12-05-2007, 02:18 PM
 
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UGH I'm sorry I started the thread, this really wasn't what I wanted to happen.
Don't be sorry- I will bow out. I admit it is hard for me to see my Church as a source of pain for others. Hopefully this can carry on peacefully.

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#28 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 01:35 AM
 
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I think religion--any religion--provides an ideal forum for the humans involved to showcase their best and worst qualities.

I was raised Catholic and I am still Catholic. I've had wonderful and not-so-wonderful experiences from growing up Catholic. But I think I've experienced the same ratio of good to bad in all the areas of my life unrelated to being Catholic.

So...I would say for me, having a religious upbringing has been a plus. I know too many wonderful people because of it. I like who I turned out to be and growing up Catholic has been a huge part of that. As for the people involved who have not been wonderful...well, we're all human. These people would have been somewhere in the world even if religion didn't exist. (And let's face it...my mother would still be impossible even if she had raised me in a an atheist home. I would never have been allowed to question that either!)
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#29 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 02:02 AM
 
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Am I the only one part of a religious/spiritual community where the vast majority of kids remain grounded in the faith of their upbringing? And don't see it as a liability?
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#30 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 09:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mom2seven View Post
Am I the only one part of a religious/spiritual community where the vast majority of kids remain grounded in the faith of their upbringing? And don't see it as a liability?
Do you mean that kids raised Catholic stay Catholic, or stay Christian?

I think it's a good thing for a kid to have a religious upbrining. If they decide not to practice their faith as an adult, at least they have a foundation for exploring other denominations. Also, many will stop practicing after HS, but will come back to it when they get married/begin to have kids.

And I think the notion of kids getting to choose when they grow up is a bunch of nonsense. More often than not, they end up nothing. Same goes with "experiencing both faith traditions" in a mixed marriage. You can't really experience a faith unless you're an actual member of it.

Kids don't have a choice in the language they grow up speaking. Why the sudden notion that they should choose their religion?

I was raised Catholic (with Catholic school from 8th grade through HS graduation). This was in the 1970s to mid-1980s. I was a product of post-Vatican II religious ed, which meant there was NO Catholic religious education. My high school religion classes were more concerned about apartheid in South Africa (I graduated in 1987) and other peace and justice issues. Nothing wrong with those, but the problem is that these issues were focused on exclusively. We were taught very, very little about the faith. I loved history and a church history class would have been very cool. There were other things I disagreed with when I did some research after college.

So aside from the droves of people who left after Vatican II due to liturgical changes, there are bunches of us in my age group who are no longer Catholic, some Christian, some not. I'm now an Orthodox Christian. My now-cafeteria Catholic family (dad raised Catholic, my mom converted in the early 60s before she met him) totally embraced the post-Vatican II changes. They would be horrified if they knew how rigorous Orthodoxy is in many things - much more so than even pre-Vatican II Catholicism (during Advent & Lent, for example, we go no meat, no dairy). But then, we're estranged, so I don't have to listen much to my mom go on and on about how I abandoned the pope!:

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