Raising a churchless child

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My husband and I were both raised Mormon.  Independently of one another, we both stopped going to church after high school.  Now, as adults, we are happy and comfortable with our personal belief systems and neither of us have any interest in going back to church, any church.  My husband’s belief system leans more toward the scientific and rational, while I still entertain some spiritual beliefs that don’t have a particularly secular explanation… but in the end we’d probably both call ourselves agnostic.  Basically, neither of us believe that we can be sure one way or the other and, at least for me, I’m just not sure it matters.  In the end, shouldn’t we be good people because it’s just the right thing to do, independent of judgment from on high?  And any God who might be out there… wouldn’t he/she/it be rather pleased I’ve lived a good life and been kind to others?  There’s just something about the notion of an all powerful being who will punish me for not believing despite the quality of my life that seems a little… self serving?  Narcissistic?

So we’ve decided to raise our daughter in the way that makes the most sense to us.  As she grows up and begins to question the world around her, we’ll help her understand that people all over the world believe all kinds of different things.   As an intelligent human being, it’s her job to find the belief system that is right for her and makes her feel happy and fulfilled.  If she has a burning desire to become a Catholic or a Wiccan or whatever floats her spiritual boat, I’m behind her.  I did my fair share of exploring various religions, and it helped me to come to where I am today, which is a very comfortable place independent of any organized religion.  If she asks about God, we’ll help her explore her own thoughts and feelings about it.  I have ZERO problem with her choosing a religion whenever she wants to, as long as she chooses something that makes her happy, that’s pretty much all I need from life.

There’s just one little snag…  Her father and I did get something from our church attendance.  We both got a good moral background that helped us not to be drunken partiers or crazy promiscuous as teenagers/college kids, and I like how that has helped informed who we are as adults.  Of course, my friends and family tend to joke that I am secretly Amish, since I have never been a big drinker, never done any drugs (not even marijuana, not even once), and was always sexually responsible.  I want our daughter to grow up with similar values, but the truth is that I think we can instill them without the help of the Almighty.  In fact, our background in the church might have given us a little too much morality…  For years with both had some issues with guilt and self-consciousness when it came to intimacy even though we were happily married, thanks to years of being told how wrong sex was.  So maybe it’s not such a bad thing that our daughter won’t get any religious themes when it comes to morality.  A cleaner, simpler lesson for her will be to just do the right thing.  Do it because it’s right, not because you fear retribution or judgment.

This weekend at a Greek festival we saw one more aspect of church that we feel like is missing from our non-religious lives.  Community.  Everyone knew everyone, and everyone had the support of this vast social and religious network.  Even though we live in a small town, the people here are not quick to make and maintain friendships, and in the end our neighborhood (which has thousands of houses within it’s sprawling borders) feels less like a community and more like a random collection of strangers.  We have friends, but most of them live pretty far away and not many have kids.  So how do we foster the kind of social atmosphere that will help our daughter to understand the worth of friends and loved ones beyond the family?  Play groups?  Clubs?  Classes?

We’re still working on that part…


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As of 5pm EST on June 10, 2010, I am closing comments on this post.  There are over three hundred comments, all of which have contributed to a lively, spirited, and amazing conversation about belief, God, children, and religion.  I appreciate every comment (with the exception of the few threatening comments I did not publish) but reading and responding is practically becoming a full time job.  I sincerely hope you will continue this discussion on your own blogs and link back.  Linkbacks will still appear below.  Thanks for being a part of this discussion, and feel free to email me if you have specific thoughts/questions.

321 Responses to “Raising a churchless child”
  1. Dionne Baldwin says:

    I was raised in a church as well and I stopped going for strong personal reasons. Surprisingly, my reasons did not have anything to do with God but with the people who claimed to follow him in the particular group I was around. There was alot of guilt and manipulation involved. Sadly it seems that this is now the common practice and I would rather do nearly anything else besides become involved with a church or church group. I chose to raise my daughter without any church involvement whatsoever and it is not possible to find a group that least attempts to follow what supposedly is the belief system. Hopefully I can teach her a good moral background on my own and find a sense of community and unity in some other way. I think it definately can be done but I do not want for her the same that I had.

    • Dietke says:

      great thoughts!

    • David J. Snyder says:

      I went through something very similar. After spending almost nine years in a church, I eventually found out that the leaders were talking about me behind my back, saying that I was “not to be trusted” and that I was “not loyal.” It wasnt until I left and started my recovery process that I realized just how manipulated and controled I was.

      While seeking on my own, questioning every single ounce of what I was taught, I eventually came to the same conclusion… these acts were not done by God but people! This realization has brough a ton of healing, as I have been able to pray and seek Father’s heart and begin to find His true heart and definition of what true Church is (“community and unity” among likeminded people that are seeking Him together, not tied down by specific systems other than what is found in scripture).

      • Mish says:

        I totally know what you’re both talking about. I struggle to find xians who not only have faith and an open mind…but an open critical switched on brain. I am learning to take their lives w/ a grain of salt and rather focusing on my own faith development. cause at the end of the day..it’s between me and God and no one else.

  2. I wouldn’t worry about your daugther not going to church to recieve an education in a “good moral background.” It sounds like you and your husband live a good, healthy, abundant life and children learn from the example of their parents. As well, it’s nice to see you being open about your spirtuality. It allows children to explore their own idea of who or what God is? And isn’t that the key to raising a spirited child who has the ability to question the world around her.

    • Tony Hedrick says:

      More Oprah- cultural goo chatter. Just because you don’t know what’s true doesn’t mean there is no truth to be known.

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        Tony – nor did I suggest that there is no truth, but simply that I don’t know it. That is, in fact, the accepted meaning of agnostic.

      • Tony Hedrick says:

        I’m talking to belleofthecarnival.

      • Sorry! No Oprah for me! But if you want to raise your children to believe in God then they should also have the skills and foundation to question their own faith. If you can’t question your faith then it also makes it harder to defend it. You can believe and accept God blindly but isn’t it nice to have a foundation of where that faith came from.

        But I guess being open to dialouge isn’t part of your christian faith if all you can do is refer to peoples thoughts as goo chatter.

      • sonsothunder says:

        Absolutely, more Oprahdoxed Religion.

      • kasuissues says:

        The reason you are concerned enough to talk about faith and your state is really because they matter.They matter to your creator for He is real,they matter to you for you are real as He is real, and they matter in the life after now which real and dreaded by men.

      • Dee says:

        I agree with you, Mr. Hedrick. Sometimes even I don’t know what’s the real truth, but I was (always) being told that we will find out the truth later, in the next life, life after death. Do we know that such life is really exist? Can’t be sure till we experience it by ourselves later 😉 Well… IF that kind of life didn’t exist, and there’s nothing after we die, then I won’t regret coz people might remember me a good person (hopefully). But IF that life is exist, then I won’t regret as well coz I do what my religion, my God told me so.

    • Al Philipson says:

      Your kid IS going to church. Perhaps not the one you’d hope for. She’s going to the church of TV, the church of advertising, the church of public school, and the church of “the world”. Your “church of home” is small potatoes compared to those churches.

      “Mom and Dad don’t know anything. They’re SO old-fashioned.” Remember when you thought that of your parents? Well, your daughter will probably think the same thing of you AND YOUR VALUES. If home is the only place she is taught those values, you might lose this war.

      Heck, not every kid who goes to church (even a good church) can overcome “the world“, especially when the hormones kick in. But the odds are better. Of course, a lot depends upon the church. Some are filled with people who actually “get it” and live their religion while others have an overabundance of hypocrites. So, just flinging her into the first church that comes along is a risky process, especially if mom and dad don’t set the example by attending — and participating — themselves.

      Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

      As a child, I went to church with my parents, then fell away in high school and college and styled myself as an “intellectual agnostic” (sounds soooo good, doesn’t it?). Married and reared children without the benefit of a good church community. Suffered the consequences when the kids managed to run with the wrong crowd, drop out of school, and one ended up in jail for manslaughter (still on probation, but managed to find Jesus while in “the joint”). The other is working a low-end job but has made some other poor life choices that are messing up his life.

      They didn’t learn any of this from our example nor our teaching. They learned it in “the world”. The examples from home just weren’t enough to overcome the strength of the opposition.

      We finally started attending church again; shopped around and found a good one. But now we live with the regret of making bad choices for our kids. We can’t go back an un-do this and it will haunt us the rest of our lives.

      I hope you have better luck with your program. Remember, you only get one shot; you can’t go back for a “re-do”. Unlike golf, rearing children has no “mulligans”.

      • Brandy says:

        Al Philipson—- I absolutely could not have said it better myself. I wanted to post something similiar, but you took the words out of my mouth! Thank you so much, I enjoyed reading your thoughts immensely!

      • oldancestor says:

        Sorry your family went through some hard times, but what makes you believe the cause was a lack of religion? I know grounded and troubled people, some of whom are avid church goers and others who are athiests. I can’t see any correlation one way or the other.

        You come off as a bit condescending toward agnostics. I’ve chosen to be agnostic for many thought-out, intelligent reasons, just like you choose to be religious for thought-out, intelligent reasons. Perhaps you should listen to your bible’s teachings and not be so quick to judge others.

      • Ciara says:

        @ Al: I enjoyed reading your thoughts as well! Very well put.

      • sonsothunder says:

        I was actually saying Amen to what you wrote Al, and not to the rebuttal below. But, some how it showed up on the wrong post. I not only agree to everything you have said, but, can easily corroborate it within the word of God. I see nothing judgmental in giving someone a testimony which could help them to seek a deeper truth. But, then I don’t believe in any form of organized religions that promote anything more than Jesus the Christ’s works for us on the cross. Humanistic beliefs, or choices of Non-belief, are all a part of the same religion in my opinion, and that religion is Relativism. Which, of course, though I do not subscribe to, advocates that everyone is entitled to my opinion. And now you have it, for whatever it’s worth.

      • Linnie says:

        I agree, Al. Children may seek support and a feeling of self worth in destructive places even if they have a strong, loving family. Everyone seeks “outside” approval – look at all these blog writers:-) – it is not enough that your mom and dad think you are the greatest and if that necessary self-affirmation does not come from a “good” sources, it will come from somewhere else. Perhaps the alternatives to religion I supplied to my two youngest children had some apparent success but that was not the case with my oldest son who found value in a way that almost killed him. He told me that when he was using and dealing drugs he felt good about himself in a way he had not since he was little. I wish I had involved all of my children more in religion for that inner strength to love ourselves as God intends and will work to change that in their lives and mine.

      • Christopher Beverly says:

        your personal experience for lack of a better explanation just highlights your lack of paying attention to your kids. It wasn’t enough to provide an example it’s your job as a parent to teach the reasons of your morality to your kids. The world didn’t “get” your kids, their understanding of their world got them and church or no church they would have turned out the same. I was a former child like the majority of us here, we make choices with or without our parents consent. The ones who do stupid and wrong things are the ones who do so without the parents knowledge you should know your kids and then you can know what they are capable off.

    • Raising thumb for the 3 last sentences.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I love this post! My family and I are in the same boat and belive the same as you do, even my husband is more intrigued by science that spirituality. I, on the other hand would like to belive in something bigger than myself even if it’s energy!
    Jus tlike you I miss that community feeling and I hear others talk about it and plan events around dinners or pancake breakfasts etc… I think it’s just a matter of getting out there to meet new people. But I wouldn’t say that you lack anything from not going to a churck-like place. You seem to have that within your own house and your kids will be better for it. It’s a personal choice and I could write a book about why I feel the way I do, but it says enough about the people you and that you do practice one thing… family! Isn’t that the most important?
    I can’t wait to hear more from you!! Can’t believe we are so similar!
    Great job!

  4. nicole says:

    i have found my children to be a wonderful ice breaker. i have met some of the most amazing women because of them. woman that i might not have otherwise met. some of my best friends came into my life because i joined playgroups, or mom’s clubs or sent my child to preschool. you will find that sense of community for your daughter as she grows older and becomes more involved in social and educational forrays.

    however, i do think its important to have a sense of community as an adult too. maybe that comes by making an effort to become friends with someone in your neighborhood, or volunteering for a cause locally that inspires you, taking a class or seminar for fun, or just meeting someone in a local coffee shop.

    we are in the same boat as far as organized religion goes. we did have our children christened. some of that was for our families, some of it was because we ourselves were christened and felt our children should be also and some of it was just for “insurance” as my husband calls it. but i agree, you can teach your children to be good people with or without going to a place or worship once a week.

  5. Great post!!! I have had some similar thoughts lately also : http://sparklingbytheway.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/lead-a-snot-into-temptation-but-deliever-us-from-weasles/

    For me, I wanted to give my kids a sense of belonging and a structured faith. Because then they will feel safe to explore all religions. I have a strong spirituality that started from the religion I was raised in but has grown without any religion at all. We are back in a church enviroment for many reasons, most of which are for the community and “family” but also for the structure which I enjoy and so do my kids (luckily).

    Great Blog!!!!

  6. scobserver says:

    Your dilemma is interesting and I am sure you are not alone as a parent in facing this issue. I am sorry to hear your religious experience resulted in guilt and fear. However, you say that your daughter’s father and yourself ‘did get something from our church attendance’. That is a good place to start. Let her experience going to church. You also say that your daughter ‘won’t get any religious themes when it comes to morality and that you want her ‘just do the right thing. Do it because it’s right, not because you fear retribution or judgment’. The problem I foresee with your reasoning here is: How will she know what is right without a strong moral compass, a sense of right and wrong, the framework that good religious education provides? What are you going to replace it with? Children thrive on a clear cut, consistent belief system—even if it is one they will question or perhaps rebel against as a natural part of growing up. Whatever you decide good luck, and God bless. Your daughter is lucky to have you.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Thank you for the comment. I think strong parental guidance can provide the same moral compass that religion does, but without the religious aspect. I don’t think God is a necessary component in learning to be a good person.

      • I agree with you 100% that God is not a necessary component in teaching good values. However, I also agree with of Al Philipson’s comment. I have raised three children (by myself) with the same plan as yours. I have never been drunk or done any drugs or smoked or cussed or any of that. But it wasn’t enough to keep my children from doing all of that. I think that children need reinforcement from others of their parents’ values to be able to overcome the “church of the world.” You do mention your concern about the lack of community. The solution: start a group of your own. Call it “Raising Churchless Children Club” or something.

      • Witspun says:

        Strictly personal opinion:The transitional period of teenager to adult in everyones life is tough to handle for the most rigorous church goers or the most agnostic.However if in the intial ages(5-8years) the idea that there is someone/thing strong benevolent and strict out there – is instilled in a childs mind, it helps in grounding him/her in a foundation of atleast trying to stay off the wayward path. Finally what happens is not ruled or guided by any one factor- as we all know.

      • samuelkraus says:

        Skinny Sushi and eccentricallysimple,

        What does it mean to be a good person?

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        samuelkraus – the answer depends on who you are and where you live and what you value, just like it would depend on which religion we found to be true if we were religious.

    • Ashley says:

      I agree with scobserver. Organized religion has its pitfalls, but the benefits it provides are hard to come by elsewhere. I grew up in an excellent church with excellent people who actually lived out their faith. As a result, I did not become an adult who despises religion because I observed hypocrisy and hatred. Meanwhile, I had friends with parents like yourself. All of those parents meant well, genuinely loved their kids, and wanted to avoid the problems inherent in churches. Unfortunately, many of my friends are lost– and not just in a spiritual sense. They are well-educated, articulate, socially mobile, and culturally aware, but by their own admission, they are spiritually and morally bankrupt. They want to pursue God, faith, whatever, but they rightfully conclude that they lack the proper foundation for such pursuits.

      I think it’s wonderful that you want your daughter to make her own spiritual choices from the depths of her own heart. I think every religion “requires” that. I also think that by not literally surrounding your daughter with people, other than yourself and your husband, who believe in doing what’s right and actually live that lifestyle, you are taking a risk and may not get the results your good parenting deserves.

      Like scobserver says, good luck and God bless you with the wisdom to make a right decision for your family.

      • samuelkraus says:

        Skinny Sushi- If that is the case, that being a good person is relative, then what is the point of being a good person?

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        samuelkraus – It would depend, I suppose, on what you think of as good. For me, it’s important to be a good person for a lot of reasons. It makes me feel good to be kind and to help other people, I hope that by living a good life others will treat me well, and I believe that as a society we benefit from kindness to and support of one another. Being a good person has it’s own benefits.

      • Tony Hedrick says:

        Sometimes, when I am driving my car and some old, banged up 1994 Thunderbird pulls up next to me at the light, I look over to see a obese, stringing haired lady driving next to an equally skinny guy, home or jail made tatoos down both arms and sucking on a cigarette, I think to myself,”Man what a pile of white trash.”

        If I knew your story, I would tell yours but frankly, I only know my own.

        There was a Pharisee who approached God with an arrogant swagger. He said, “I am glad that I am not like all of these other people. I fast twice a week and give tithes of all I possess. I am glad I am not as other men are.”

        Like most of those reading this blog, he measured his goodness by the wrong measuring stick. I am likely better (educationally, financially, materially, morally) than those two in the old Thunderbird. I might be better or less good than everyone reading this blog. I make no claim to self-goodness (righteousness). I almost never live up to my own ethic. I expect much more from others than I ever expect of myself. When I screw up there is always a good reason why.

        Standing far back from the Pharisee there stood a publican (he may have driven a banged up 1994 Ford Thunderbird). He stood afar off with his head bowed and beat on his chest while crying aloud for mercy. He cried out, “Woe unto me, a sinner.”

        Jesus asked the question, “Of these two men, which returned to his house justified?”

        So what do all of you think?
        How would you answer this question?

        Most people think they’re good in some relative way. They are not axe murderers or child rapers. They think they are pretty good because they fall somewhere between Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa. Goodness is not relative. Authentic goodness is absolute goodness. There is no hint of self deceit.

        We have this in common with all men everywhere, Jesus said, “Why callest thou me good? Only one is good and that is God.”

        It would be intereresting to see how people would change what they say if Jesus entered the room where they are at this very moment. Goodness would take a NEW meaning.

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        Tony – how very arrogant of you to assume based on outward appearance and/or choice of vehicle that you are better than anyone else. How very unChristian of you. And for the record, I can say with utter confidence that were Jesus to walk into my living room RIGHT NOW, I’d say hello. I’d offer him a seat and some ice water, since it’s hot and humid out today. And I’d ask him if he ever gets really, really angry at the people who use his name to justify all sorts of mistreatment of others.

  7. Something occurred to me as you were mentioning that you missed the sense of community that a place of worship might provide. Have you considered a Unitarian Univeralist congregation? I know they tend to be very open minded, and welcoming of people of all faiths (or even those without), and there isn’t the “judgment and damnation” vibe going on with them either. I’m thinking more in terms of a literal and practical solution to the issue you cited with missing the community aspect of church, but without the negative effects you are trying to avoid.


  8. puasaurusrex says:

    Oh my, I literally just wrote a post about religion and my “lack of faith” myself, but I’m debating posting it as to avoid offending my husband’s family and starting an issue. And I completely agree. I don’t think any god there may be would care if I believed, so long as I was a good person and did the right thing.

    • Al Philipson says:


      It all depends upon which “god” you’re talking about. Some (notably the Olympian crowd) don’t really give a rip what you do. They have the morals and manners of spoiled children.

      If you’re talking about the Christian God, there is only one way — and it’s not being a “good person” (but that does help).

      Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 -NIV). That’s a pretty definitive statement. So, for the Christian God, what you believe DOES matter.

      • Exactly. It’s unfortunate and perhaps a reflection on how many people who claim to be Christians approach non-Christians that non-Christians often see us as judgmental and all about being right and doing right.

        The point of Christianity is NOT to be a good person, because nobody ever can be perfect. The point of being a Christian is to surrender your life to Christ because he died to take the punishment for all the things you do wrong (and no matter who you are, you WILL do some things wrong–I know I do).

        Christians believe that certain things are sins, sure, but God doesn’t want us to “judge” people who do those things–too often we find ourselves caught in the same traps. Look at Romans 2:1, 4: “At whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things…you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance.”

        Instead, we are called to love everybody sincerely, to genuinely care about them and their lives. Unfortunately, some churchgoers don’t convey this impression, but that is because they too are fallen human beings. Instead, read the Bible to learn about the God behind Christianity before deciding whether it is a worthy religion to follow.

      • oldsalt1942 says:

        I have always found John 14:6 to be one of the most arrogant statements ever made and is one of my main gripes about “organized” religion.

  9. gumballgirl says:

    You mentioned that you had explored various religions – did you check out Unitarian Universalism? I attend a UU church, and it is full of former somethings (catholic, baptist, morman, jewish, you name it!). Many of us are agnostic, or atheist, or secular humanists, or whatever. I too believe that it should be enough that I live a good life and make responsible choices.

    I stayed away from religion for a long time – but felt something was missing. I have found a wonderful community of like-minded folks in my UU church. My blog has several entries about my spiritual journey and how I view things related to God and religion… http://gumballgirl.wordpress.com/

    Congrats on making “Freshly Pressed”! Best of luck with whatever you decide – Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • Gamermomma says:

      I agree with the Unitarian/Universalist church. Shop around and look….many cater to those faiths ranging from Atheist to all flavors of Christianity and beyond. You can have the open beliefs and still have community.

      As for the moral aspect…I saw this quote somewhere and it sums it up nicely:

      “Morals and values are not restricted to people of faith; they are common morals and values that belong to all of mankind.”

  10. Alex says:

    Hey! Thanks for a nice post!

    I’m an atheist, and so are both my parents. When I was about five or six, I asked mom if God exsists. She didn’t know how to answer, so she brought me to church. I stayed connected to the church community by my own choice until I was about 12, when I felt like I had found an answer to the question of Gods existence. It was the best thing my mother could have done for me, it allowed me to really examine the protestant view of things and reach my own conclusions.

    I think you and your husband are on the right track, leave all doors open and your daughter will find her way.


  11. oldancestor says:

    I was raised Protestant but became agnostic (if you have to put a label on it) as an adult. I’m raising my son without church but also making him aware of religion and encouraging him to explore his beliefs and make the choices that seem right to him.

    Good moral values, as far as we can all agree (be good to others, show compassion, take responsibility), CAN be learned through religious experience, but they can also be learned from responsible parents.

    As far as bulding that sense of community without church, becoming involved in your child’s school is one way. You’ll have a lot in common with the other parents.

    You can also organize a family-friendly community event.

  12. I’m glad to see there are others out there with these thoughts. I, too, have decided to raise my daughter to understand there are many ways to find spiritual fulfillment, and that it is her job to find what works for her. Like you said, I want her to be happy from inside, not to be raised like I was – thinking that others could tell me what I had to do to be happy.

    Funny, I spent a lot of time growing up Mormon too. In my formative years, I like to say that my mother was “searching for her religion.” We kids got carried along on her path, and now I feel fortunate to have been (albeit temporarily) a Mormon, Southern Baptist, First Christian, Christian Scientist, and Mennonite. After I left home, I came back to visit and attended Mom’s churches when she was Catholic and Lutheran too. It was a gift to see all these faiths! My conclusion is that they are all pretty much the same at the core, and that aligning with any particular religion can’t TRULY make a difference to The Deity In Charge.

    My path in the end finally resolved into flat out atheism. I am a good person, and I try always to be more humble and to become a better person. And (again, as you already said), I don’t need an organized religion to tell me how to do it. It is perhaps self-righteous (my mother would call it ‘worldly’) to think that I have it in me to do the right thing and to raise my daughter to do the right thing without believing in a god. I think that’s ok, though.

    Unfortunately, there is one thing my kid doesn’t have that I gained from all that religion: an understanding of many of the traditions woven into American daily life. Common references like “build your house upon the rock,” or Cain vs. Abel, Job’s trials and tribulations, the tower of Babel, Joseph’s coat of many colors, and on and on… are all lost on her. I have to explain the reference when she hears it, and then she forgets immediately because it has no relevance to her.

    When she was about 9, someone asked us about our religious beliefs. She piped up, “Oh, my mom doesn’t believe in God, but I do.” Then I knew my plan had succeeded: she had indeed come up with her own idea and didn’t feel like her faith had to come from someone else. More importantly, she was proud to say it.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      I LOVE that she came up with her own beliefs. So cool, and exactly what I’m hoping for.

      • Tony Hedrick says:

        How rediculous and sophmoric.

        No one comes up with their own beliefs. All of our waking hours we are beseiged by non-stop messages. Pick up “Cosmopolitan”, “People” or any daily newspaper, Step into any university (or for that matter any) classroom. Turn on TV. Go to the movies. Listen to a conversation at the next table at Starbuck’s.

        This is not a valueless society. We do not live in a philosophical Switzerland. Humanism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism abound. Ideas have legs. While pretending to make no judgments, even this blog is making judgments.

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        Tony – please refrain from insults. As much as possible, I’d like this to remain an open discussion where people are free to disagree without spite. I would agree that no one’s belief are independent of society, but you can choose what you take from what you are offered. You DO have control over how you digest the information presented to you.

  13. soulbridge says:

    You are so right about the aspect of community. My husband, daughter and I live in a very small rural community and still struggle to make conections. Church is definitely where that happens for us. Our neighbors are just that, but our church is our family; where we share our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly!
    But just one though about an “Almighty Being” who would allow for many paths – to me that would seem confusing, redundant and repetitive. A plethora of choices often leads to confusion and competition – too many people spend too much time trying to figure out which one to try and never get any where. I think faith is much more than “religion” – it is all about trust. I know that I do not have all the answers to the universe, but I have faith that there is One who does, and He wants me to have a deeply personal relationship with Him. One that is full, rich and without guilt or shame. I too, have investigated many “religions” and have only found peace, hope and satisfaction in one place – the heart of Jesus Christ. Good day!

    • Soul Bridge,

      It seems odd to me that you would discourage critical thinking about which moral path to choose in life and instead go with what is offered up to you because its easier and less ‘confusing’.

      • soulbridge says:

        I would never discourage “critical thinking” and I certainly did not blindly “take what was offered to me”. I spent many years reading Nostradamus, Cayce, and many others, only to end up no better off than before. I tried enlightenment through knowledge and through substances. Even when exploring religion, I tried many denominations and sects. It took me a while to realize that I didn’t want or need religion, I needed to know and be known by my creator and savior. Only then did I find completion, peace, joy and fulfillment, not to mention the answers to so many questions about life, love and eternity. I think that the problem with “thinking” is that lots of people believe there is no room for it in Christianity, and that could not be farther from the truth. So many people that I meet are willing to read books on philosophy, esoteric religions, and science, yet fail to read the Bible. My life was not changed by religion, philosophy or morality – it was changed by the Holy Spirit! I do not put my mind on the shelf in order to have a relationship with Jesus Christ – it involves my heart, my mind and my spirit. I truly believe that those who seek for truth will find it. I now I did!

      • sonsothunder says:

        Very well said soulbridge, internal peace, and eternal life. Only a relationship with our creator offers that. Which, in my opinion, based on much critical thinking, and research of the heart mind and soul, is why it is not about religion at all, but quite the opposite. My personal choice to accept Christ as my redeemer, came after years of calling myself an atheist, which, I was indeed. As far as my conversion goes, it was never based on a flying leap of blind faith, but, of much evidence given to me as I sought answers. Some would say that much of the evidence in which I was given to base my belief in is not tangible, and therefore not reasonable evidence in which to base anything. But,all I can say to that, is much like you pointed out in speaking of the Holy Spirit; When evidences touch someones personal life in the spiritual realm, they become much more tangible evidences than any flesh, blood, or smoking gun could ever build a case against.

    • oldancestor says:

      I don’t feel lost or lacking morals because I’m not religious.

    • abinabraham says:

      Soul Bridge,
      You statement ” I think that the problem with “thinking” is that lots of people believe there is no room for it in Christianity, and that could not be farther from the truth. So many people that I meet are willing to read books on philosophy, esoteric religions, and science, yet fail to read the Bible. My life was not changed by religion, philosophy or morality – it was changed by the Holy Spirit! I do not put my mind on the shelf in order to have a relationship with Jesus Christ – it involves my heart, my mind and my spirit. ” is AWESOME! I absolutely concur that faith is much more than religion. This is was really encouraging to read and I am inspired to pursue a relationship with my God like the one you described! Thanks!!

    • starlight says:

      Amen, soulbridge!
      Faith is so much more than religion.
      Faith is believing:
      God is who He says He is;
      God can do what He says He can do;
      I (God’s child) am who He says I am;
      I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (the Holy Spirit);
      God’s Word (the Bible) is ALIVE and ACTIVE in me.

      Believing God is not easy. But where there is faith, there is peace and hope no matter the circumstances of life.

      I pray that God unveils your eyes and helps your unbelief.

  14. Pirogoeth says:

    It seems like it’s becoming more comon to raise a kid outside of one religion now. My husband is pagan/Wiccan and I’m Catholic, so we’ve had to discuss how we’d raise any future kids. We have friends who are Wiccan and agnostic and are, like you, trying to raise their kids to simply be good people. I can personally agree that having a community, whether religious or not, is a positive help. But I’m sure that you guys will find somewhere that will work for you. I wish you luck in raising her and I’m sure, no matter what, she’s a wonderful human being.

  15. gloriadelia says:

    hmmmm… that’s a tough one. When I was a child, my family went to a cute little Lutheran church. My parents weren’t really believers (my dad would sneak in other world religions when he taught Sunday school, for instance) but just being in that atmosphere of good people and values helped us, gave our family an anchor.

    An anchor we didn’t know we had till it was gone. In high school, when we had moved and stopped attending church, our family sort of fell apart. It created a hole that I’m a little glad existed, because in college I went looking for how to fill it again. I found “it” in a church, again filled with good people, and realized this time that “it” was a “he” and “he” was Christ, not a building or a set of rules… Now, I’m rambling. Sorry.

    Hope you find a good moral compass for your family. Gloris

  16. cannwin says:

    What saddens me is that you were raised to believe that sexuality is wrong. I’m LDS and I have never once told my children sexuality was wrong. In fact it’s the most wonderful thing there is between a man and a woman and that’s why it should be reserved for marriage. If your parents taught you that sex was wrong or bad they did you a great disservice.

    I once had an online conversation with someone about music. They said that they would allow their children to listen to whatever music they wanted to because they wanted their children to learn to make their own decisions.

    ‘Fine,’ I said, ‘that sounds great. We should all allow our children to make their own decisions. So I’m sure that you’re giving your child every opportunity to choose. I’m sure that you must be filling your home with Yo-Yo Ma and Tchaikovsky as well as Jay-Z and Snoop. Because how on earth can a child make an informed decision about music without having listened to all the music?’

    I think the same applies here. If you want your children to make informed decisions about religion and God then you need to be willing to try different avenues of belief and allow them to choose for themselves, otherwise how can they know what to choose from?

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      cannwin – I was taught in my church classes (not by my parents) that sexual thoughts should be ignored or discouraged. My parents taught me to respect myself enough to responsible about the decision. And in the end, I did have sex BEFORE I was married, and nothing bad ever came of it. I still stand by my decision to this day, because I knew going into it that even were I to break up with the man later, I would not regret my choice. In the end, I married him. As to your point about making an informed decision… yes, it IS important to expose my daughter to as much as possible (musically, artistically, spiritually, culturally…) but in the end it is not my job to show her every aspect of every thing there is. It is only my job to teach her that she has the right to make her own decisions, and then to give her the tools (mental, emotional, physical, etc..) to find the information for herself and make the choice that suits her.

  17. Phil says:

    I’m a strict atheist and my son is five, and I plan to raise him in a similar fashion as you do your daughter – do it because it’s the right/polite/honest thing to do and not because there’s a god somewhere looking bad on you if you don’t. My mother is a Catholic and has been quietly pushing religious exposure while my dad is on the fence between agnosticism and atheism and feels the same way I do. It’s my personal belief that since man existed before religion, man invented morality long before religion decided to warp and pervert it to each faith’s particular dogma.

    My son is very curious about, well, everything, just as I was (and still am), and when he asks about things, I give him the hard scientific explanation if I know it off the top of my head. If I don’t, I try to at least let him know about what school of scientific thought the answer lies in. It’s a belief of mine that science and religion do not mix. When kids are leading an even slightly-religious existence, what they’re taught in mass/worship/whatever and what they’re taught in school will conflict with each other and only serve to confuse the child and it makes it hard on any parent to say “Well, religion is right about this but wrong about this” or “Yea this happened for sure but then religion says this affected it”. However, if he decides to explore religion, I am going to let him go off and see about this and that. I may not be a fan of any religion (correction: I love the pagans and that they do not discriminate against any demographic whatsoever. Only religion to truly embrace all people, as far as I’ve researched) but I don’t want to discourage my son’s free will to do what he wants.

    How old is your daughter? For now, play groups are the best idea or maybe even using the playground at a day care (I’d even check your YMCA or YWCA or Boy’s and Girl’s Club for play groups), but when she gets older, extracurriculars are definitely a good way for her to feel that sense of community. You mentioned your local Greek festival, which I have one of here in my city as well. I think community festivals are an awesome way to let her get in touch with others, especially those festivals with specific kiddie environments. If you’re in a city with pro sports teams and you and your hubby are fans, take her to the off-season fairs that teams often throw. My local pro hockey team has a draft party every year and they load up the floor the ice surface usually sits on into a kiddie carnival.

    Hope my thoughts or suggestions help.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Phil – my daughter is only one, so we have a lot of time to figure out the best ways to encourage social groups and friends!

    • gloriadelia says:

      “…do it because it’s the right/polite/honest thing to do and not because there’s a god somewhere looking bad on you if you don’t.”

      Phil, it’s not that God’s looking bad on us, but that he wants what’s best for us, like we do for our own children, ’cause He loves us. I don’t know why, but He does! “God is love” (1 John 4:8)

      “God so loved the world, that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

      Just wanted to clarify. I’ll shut up now. 🙂 Love this topic, Skinny Sushi! Congrats on being “Freshly Pressed”.

  18. flyingtomato says:

    I am in the same boat with my son. We have been invited to various churches (usually with the teaser, “it’s not really about religion there!”), but I have a hard time bringing my son there. Still, the community interaction and engagement is very important.

    We are members of our local arts council, and they often have family-centered events that give us a sense of community. The local coffee shop helped, too, when it wasn’t closed all but three days out of the week. The farmers market helps, too. So does being engaged in local government (not politics per se, but things like the library, candidate forums, and the like).

    It does help to live in a small community and a tight-knit neighborhood, but I think there is also some single mom stuff too–not so much that there’s a stigma, but couples with kids want to hang out with couples with kids.

    Your post identifies a problem I think a lot of parents struggle with–that sense of community and family that is hard to develop on your own. Nice work!


    • Rebecca I think you hit on an important point indirectly. It is harder to garner your own sense of the world and community without it being handed to you by a group with an established belief system and community. However I feel it is a more genuine approach to find what truly works for you rather than jump into something just because its easy and established. Ive seen many people jump into religion who felt lost and lonely for the instant sense of community and circle of friends that it brought. But this to me seems problematic. Friendships and connections SHOULD require time and effort. And would these people still accept you if you publicly decided to leave the church one day or began to hold different beliefs? Sometimes I wonder if my cousin who so recently became ‘saved’ at the age of 38 would find her church friends so kind if she posted she is for gay marriage on her facebook page.

  19. dtrasler says:

    Very interesting and thought-provoking post. I also had a bit of a wobble when you talked about providing a sense of right and wrong, because without some kind of basis for your moral guidelines, you’re just saying “This is right and this is wrong because we feel it to be so.” On one hand, I find that a bit disturbing, but on the other you have folks of a religious persuasion who feel it’s ok to kill, despite the First Commandment, or to condemn others despite the point about it being God’s job to judge, not ours. So, I’m not condemning you because the best part of this is seeing how much you care about your child’s development as a human being, that you don’t abdicate responsibility for how her views and morals are affected by those around (as you might if you said “The church will tell her what’s right and wrong, I just want her to get a good job and not borrow my shoes…”)

    The morals issue is always going to be contentious in this debate, because if you come down on the side of rationality, then killing other human beings can be a justifiable and sometimes laudable thing. It’s only the moral sensibilities we have enshrined in law that have created the general belief that murder is always wrong (and, of course, the fear that it may happen to us or the ones we love.) Am I wrong about that? In a world of increasingly scarce resources and rising population, it would be nice to belief that sanctity of life is a belief held by all humans, regardless of creed, but I’d say the evidence is against it.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      dtrasler – is it impossible to have morals without religion? I think not. I think it is entirely possible to teach a moral right and wrong in the sense of social morality instead of religious. I would also argue that more than a few deaths have been perpetrated in the name of one god or another, so religion is not without it’s “justifiable…and…laudable” killings.

  20. Victoria says:

    I was raised without church or organized religion. Not that you know me, but honestly – I turned out pretty well. I have a belief in a higher power, a respect for the earth and all of the life within in, I know “right from wrong,” am a law-abiding citizen (most of the time), have never once tried drugs despite growing up in large cities and urban areas, and I have a moral code that seems to work well within society. I have never had a problem with people accepting me, and I’m ok with other people and their religions. In fact my sense of spirituality is something I find so fulfilling because there are no questions – I don’t wonder how this or why that. I have satisfying answers. I feel so secure in my spirituality and myself. I have enjoyed exploring the world from childhood without the input of any religion or spiritual practice. If I wanted to go into a church, I did. But much of the time I didn’t. I like to think your child will enjoy having this experience as well.

    The only problem I have is that my mom REALLY gave me no background whatsoever. To this day I’m plagued with not knowing Biblical stories or references. As an English major, you’d be surprised to find how many stories, poems, and other works are based on Biblical stories or people. So with my own kids, I have let them attend a Christian church when they want to, but I’ve also filled their heads with my ideas and beliefs. Good luck to you on your journey. Try not to worry about it. Just do what feels right.

  21. Lisa Jacobs says:

    I agree with much of what you said. I’ve struggled with the same decisions when raising my four. I was recently reading the Edgar Cayce philosophies–which, if you’re not familiar–is a Christian-based sense of spirituality. Anyway, it said that regardless of the religion, a church is a place to serve and build love. In an ideal world, all of these organizations would work together to serve that exact purpose, but of course, they don’t. That one sentence, though: a place to serve and build love . . . It makes me remember to never say never. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  22. Totally agree with what you are saying. Try volunteering to instill good community spirit and connections. Also http://www.meetup.com is a good place to find group activities. Join sports, hang out at the local coffee shop and strike up conversations with the people near by, etc.
    I would be more cautious though about not having ‘any’ problem with your child jumping into a religion. I would question my child following any belief system that asks her to check her brain at the door. Its ok to tell her why you think religion can be damaging. You don’t have to be neutral (as we’ve been taught by religious society) on the subject if you see the harm it can do to society and individuals.
    Ultimately I feel she will be a more empowered young woman if she learns how to make decisions that are right for her rather than following dogma out of guilt and fear.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      mylifestylemakeover – I love the idea of volunteering. Thanks for the suggestion. As for the “any religion” thoughts… I would, of course, want her to justify her belief choice, just like I would want her to have a solid justification for anything she wants to do. In the end though, as long as she is doing herself no harm, I would support her decision. I would NEVER hold back my own opinion about it though. I am far too outspoken to do that!

  23. The Agnostic Pentecostal says:

    Greta post. Thanks for sharing honestly. I’ve also been contemplating how I will raise my children when it comes to religion, morality, and more importantly community. I’m privileged to have found an open, inclusive faith community in which agnostics, atheists, and others, including fundamentalists, all gather to share their “presence” with each other.

    Because I do think it is good to at least have some reference point to go from (as long as it’s not abusive and is healthy) I do like the idea of, at least when they’re young, giving my children a community of other children to participate in, like an open-minded church Sunday school…then when they get older they can branch out in whichever direction they choose. There are many progressive, open-minded churches sprouting up all over the place. Even the older mainline traditions like Episcopal and some Methodists promote “good values” over fundamental beliefs. And there are “emerging/emergent churches” sprouting up, a very broad, loose category into which my faith community sometimes falls.

    Thanks again.

  24. A god who is unknown is no god at all. A mere construct of our synapses, a wisp of imagination. Without a known Cosmic Authority, however, there can be no morals. I find it amusing that so many commentators appeal to their own sense of morality. What happens if my sense of morality is bent on destroying you? What if the child in question chooses to join a religion centered around waiting for Halley’s Comet and she joins in mass suicide so she can join the beings riding through the universe? Would that be ok? How about a religion I am familiar with where my (now adult) children live which tortures children in order to cast demons/spirits from the community. Is that acceptable? Our culture’s felt freedom to choose to believe, or not believe, rests upon a common (but disappearing) understanding of a personal God who gave us firm taboos (like not having sex with children, especially our own), an objective measure of right and wrong (is it true or not?) and a will to choose. Leave a child to drift along a path that seems to suit the child’s own desires and we all better hope that the child is not [fill in the blank]

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Robert – how is personal morality any different than religious? What happens when your religion is bent on destroying you? Religious moralities the world over differ, argue, and fight. And if you really want to suggest that I would ever be alright with my daughter killing herself or being tortured, you don’t know anything about being a parent. Of course I would NEVER wish her physical harm. I’m not sure I agree with or understand your claim that our freedom to believe relies on understanding God. If I understood a personal God, wouldn’t it then follow that I believe in that God? How do you understand a personal (whatever) that you don’t believe in?

      Either way, it is important to distinguish between allowing my daughter to explore the various paths to happiness with loving guidance from her devoted parents and leaving her to “drift along a path” of any sort. I am bothered by the frequent connection made by others between the idea of allowing a child freedom of thought and abandoning them to the four winds. You can allow a child their freedom without giving them free reign.

  25. ivanbissell says:

    Are you all kidding!? God is still God, no matter how much you deny Him and try to justify your lifestyle. He is a just God and you will find this out on judgment! Hell will be forever for you. Doesn’t that scare you? In the end, God’s word is final, eternal and God Almighty will have the last word!

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      ivanbissell – if I don’t believe in God, which I did not say one way or the other, why would I be scared of hell? That would be like asking you, I presume a Christian, if you feared being forever sundered from Zeus. If you don’t put your faith in that belief system, it would not produce fear to think of being punished by it. And this is something I still don’t understand about Christianity. Why would God choose to punish me for living the best life I could live, for making the choices that felt right to me, for giving to charity, raising my child in a loving home, doing everything I believed was right to create the best life?

      • Veronica says:

        @Skinny Sushi – I just wanted to tell you that what you’re saying about making the choices that are right for you, doing everything that you believed was right to create the best life, etc. are all selfish statements. Do not take that as an attack. If you look at what I’m saying objectively, you will see that its accurate.

        God challenges us to join the kingdom (which is bigger than just what I want for my life and the life of those whom I love) and to work for the advancement of the kingdom, not to just do what we think is right. People who make this statement (doing whats right for me) are basically saying that they are God and ultimately the moral authority for everyone, not just yourself. None of us live on an island unto ourselves so our decisions/actions affect everyone around us, this is why cultural/moral relativism will never work, we will always thwart someone else’s autonomy and vice versa.

        I will be the first to admit that ivanbissell is very wrong to use fear to try and change your mind about God but at the same time I think you should re-consider or at the very least keep an open mind. God is not scary, God is not the boogeyman, God does not want to kill you or force you to follow blindly. God challenges us to investigate and to be transformed by what you will find. God deeply loves and cares for all of us and wants all of us to join the kingdom but it is up to you.

        I’m praying for you.

  26. Tony Hedrick says:

    Raising a Churchless Child?
    So what’s new about this?

    Several Sunday mornings ago, I sat in the Ottawa International Airport awaiting my flight to Moncton. Having a Tim Horton’s “double -double coffee in one fist, a boston cream in the other and a maple filled doughnut waiting in the wings, I picked up the latest edition of The Ottawa Citizen, the national capital newspaper I once worked for. I read what I could of the front page and then turned to the section entitled, “Faith and Values.” This is another attempt at political correctness in a multi-cultural world. It is a prime example of political correctness run amuck.

    They, making sure that they are fair to all they wind up producing non-sensical mush. I understand The Ottawa Citizen is not “Christianity Today.” I recognize that they publish their newspaper for one million people, not one million souls. However, in so doing they try to include a wide range of religious viewpoints, so each week they ask a question then allow a Roman Catholic cleric, an evangelical pastor, a liberal pastor, a Buddhist monk, Hindu, Muslim Imam (well whatever comes to mind), speak their piece.

    I did notice that not every religious persuasion gets a kick at the theological can. For instance, someone has decided that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon’s, Satanists, practitioners of voodoo, Scientologists, Zorastrians, Druids and others are not legitimate enough to be included. Why shouldn’t it bother someone that there is a person or group of persons somewhere deciding what is legitimate religion and what is not? Shouldn’t a thoroughly pluralistic society include all comers?

    At any rate they don’t. They pick and choose which religions are not so screwy as to be excluded.

    The question to be considered this week was, “Who is the religious leader most misunderstood?” What do you think happened to a question of this nature? Who did Rabbi Bulka choose? You guessed it. He did not choose Jesus, he choose Moses and for good reason. He dared not think about Jesus. Who do you think a Hindu or a Buddhist might pick? Who did the Roman Catholic and the evangelical protestant select as the most misunderstood religious figure? Jesus, of course.

    This brings me to my point. Some people think that it is a good idea to have no religious opinion. For instance, The Ottawa Citizen and post modern culture in general thinks that it makes good sense to “play fair” with religion. It seems to bother no one that we don’t “play fair” with opinions concerning science and math.

    I once had a prospective accountant that asked me what it was that I did, exactly. When I told him, he said something like, “Well, that’s good. I have personally always admired the Mormon’s. I suppose it doesn’t matter what you believe. All religions are basically good. There must be some truth in all of them.” I said in response, “That strikes me as an unusual opinion coming from an accountant. The truth is, sir, some religions are downright stupid and others downright dangerous. What might you know of the Mormon’s? Do you intend to prepare my taxes with the same philosophy? Does it matter to you or the IRS if the columns add up or will any figure be as good as any other figure?” This left him utterly staggered. I picked up my manila folders and left his office.

    Here is what I am driving at.
    It has become asininely popular to make no decision regarding religious matters. Think about this for a minute. Let’s just be nice and treat all religious notions the same even if they are light years apart. In the interest of fairness, this seems right and the only sensible position to take in a world of faith systems, none of which agree with the other. What does taking this position really communicate? It says that religious matters are immaterial. The Ottawa Citizen appears to elevate religion by giving an entire page to opinions about this religious subject or that, but in the end, this policy only communicates one thing, we’ll just patronize those who have an interest in such ridiculous things by throwing them a bone. Religion is unnecessary (stupid) and not worth the time of day. When every opinion is as good as another, none are more or less meritorious than another, having no opinion is an opinion.

  27. Hi there! I was Catholic for 32 years. I had learn there about reverence toward the Creator. The part that lead me to want more souce in my meal was what religions said about sex. One said said “do not do it” bcoz is ilegal, is innapropiate, is duuuuty. The other said said that I must be careful bcoz all men are just worthelss, marriage is a joke, and a healthy society is a bad dream. Well, then I move to the US for about 4 half years. There I decide to search for this answers, what is cool about this Nation, the US, is that there is inimaginable sort of “believes”, it was easy for me to seek and find what I was looking. My pervious beleives lack of the strengh relationship with God. Who needs that? Who does not? In my case, 3 half years exploring Jesus teachings, to me is not such a word as religion, but relationship. I hate religion in the sence that put you to do things to get “good grade” and believe that that would save you for sharing margaritas with satan. But, honestly, is when I had a simple, easy, and practical relationship with God that I then can do something that has been designed for me to put my feet upon. I do not believe that peace is lacking of turmoil, but to me PEACE is finding comfort in my spirit regardless of what goig on around. Letting your kids deceide for themselves is so right, I like that. After all, every person has different gifts and plans of their own, Last but not least God does not live in buildings, never? Well, no more. He is snicki, He must like your transparency to express your thoughts with such a freedom. Thank God that where you are living right now it is ok to belive in anything, if that makes You happy I believe God is behind. God just want your happiness. After all He won for us, tha last thing He wants is to see us miserable. Is just a matter of time. I love your honesty. And feedback is the braekfast of Champions. We all need ppl around that thinks like us, no robots, but with integrity.
    ~Love this post, great post!
    ~Great Love to you all,
    Mirian from peelingtheorange.

  28. Christy says:

    My mother used to say “Going to church makes you as much of a Christian as standing in a garage makes you a car.” I fully believe that. All you need to know is in the Bible, and I actually believe that some churches like Catholic churches have so much unnecessary stuff going on that it takes away from what is important which is God and praying to God. They seem to rather do things among themselves when they really should just be praying to God. My husband grew up Catholic yet never knew God or was saved until he was in his 30s. I’m really suprised by what you said about sex. I’ve learned from the Bible that sex is a gift from God, and not to refrain from it! The only thing “bad” about it is if you have sex before marriage, but once your married God wants you to come together.. often! Then again, I know next to nothing about what mormons teach.. As far as what you said about being a good person yet not believing.. I’m sure that’s something that really saddens our Father since the Bible lets us know the only way to heaven is through Jesus, and believing he died for our sins. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t know much about mormons. I assume they have their own “bible” if it says sex is wrong all around. I really encourage you to read the Bible. Not a mormon bible not a catholic bible, just THE Bible. You don’t need a church, pastor, or anyone else to have a relashionship with God. I personally recommend “The Message”. As a believer would say to a non-believer.. If I’m wrong, nothing happens, but if you’re wrong. . . .

  29. I am a United Methodist minister married to a practicing Catholic. We have four children. The oldest, who is twelve, just made a profession of his faith. He has been raised in both the Catholic and the United Methodist traditions. He chose to become United Methodist although he still attends and cantors at the Catholic church. I appreciate your willingness to let your daughter decide on her own. However, I think that you could best achieve that by giving her some exposure to religion so that she might then have something to choose from. I personally, thought that my son would remain Roman Catholic, and would have been fine with that decision. He sort of surprised me when he chose to be United Methodist. Yet I know that was his decision and both my wife and I support him in that decision.

  30. Amy Zucker Morgenstern says:

    Hi, Skinny Sushi!

    You sound like Unitarian Universalists. You and or your husband:

    -are “scientific and rational”

    -“still entertain some spiritual beliefs that don’t have a particularly secular explanation”

    -are “agnostic”

    -believe that you should “be good people because it’s just the right thing to do, independent of judgment from on high”

    -believe that “any God who might be out there… would be rather pleased you’ve lived a good life and been kind to others” (and might be an “it” instead of a “he” or “she”)

    -don´t believe in “an all powerful being who will punish me for not believing”

    -want your daughter to “find the belief system that is right for her and makes her feel happy and fulfilled”

    -want her to get the kind of “good moral background” that you got

    -don´t want her church to teach her that sex is bad. (You call this part of your childhood church´s “morality,” but I´m assuming it was tongue in cheek. There´s nothing moral about making people feel that sex is bad or dirty, and nothing immoral about affirming that it is sacred and one of the great pleasures of life.)

    -feel like what is missing from your plans is community.

    UUA.org has a prominent “Find a Congregation Near You” tab–if you´re interested, do check out a few (each community has its own “feel”) and do be aware that oftentimes, our services vary quite a bit week to week, so it might take a few visits at one congregation to get a sense of what to expect. Or browse their website before you go. Full disclosure: I´m a Unitarian Universalist minister, but I don´t get a finder´s fee. 😛 I´m just offering a thought to someone who sounds a lot like me and the people in all the UU churches I´ve belonged to.

    Be well,

  31. Beth says:

    Why not try Quakers? I’m a Quaker – raised as one as a child and then didn’t go to a Quaker meeting untill about a year ago. Quakers are pretty liberal – meetings are in silence and people are encouraged to find their own way to worship. Children’s meetings are pretty good – and encourage children to express their own ideas about spirituality. When a child reaches 16, they then have to decide whether they want to formally choose to be a Quaker or not. I like bringing my child because then I feel he will be able to choose when he is older based on his experience – like me, he may decide to leave it for 20 years or so but like me, he’ll know it from experience himself.

  32. Christy says:

    I want to add that I did have sex before marriage and got pregnant. We got married, so that my son would be born into marriage, but he was conceived outside of marriage. I still have a great relashionship with God. That’s the wonderful thing about him. All we need to do is ask for forgiveness. No hoops to jump through like Catholics make you think. We are all sinners. I try and still sin, but I ask and it washes away. He’s so wonderful. I hope you know him someday. Please ask to know him.

  33. I had one more thought about this post I wanted to share after reading through a lot of the other comments. It seems to me that many are saying you should expose your child to different religions and churches so they can make their own choice. I disagree. I think you should say, when you are 18, if you would like to go to church then you can explore things then. Many churches offer very intense dogma’s that would be hard for a child to think about critically at a young age. If you are 10 years old and you hear someone say that if you do this or that you will burn in hell forever, you run the risk of that child being scared into religion. At the same time religion can have a very seductive language. If you believe in this or that God will shine upon you and give you all the answers you need in life and take care of you and your family. Well what child wouldn’t feel inclined toward that? Perhaps religion is better explored when you are more emotionally and mentally developed as a young adult so you can make your choice for the right reasons.

    • jtmbhouse says:

      mylifestylemakeover.. I TOTALLY agree! Even though I told my boys that if they wanted to go to a Jewish synagogue I would take them so they could learn what it was all about.. I would definitely go with them and encourage them to not believe something just because someone else is saying that it is truth. Everyone has an opinion and view of what is true. I don’t want them to get too caught up in trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong. I will try to teach them to just look for the love in everything. You won’t find it in judgment or condemnation of any kind. If what most religions say is in fact true.. that “God is LOVE”. Then I want them to only try to see the love. Wherever they go. With that perspective I think they will be able to see through many messages that are presented as messages from “God” but… love is no where in it.

  34. Question… not argument, not censure, just a question. You say that the concept of a Deity is narcissistic, perhaps. But where then, does the concept of authority come from? Why would your daughter accept authority from you, or anyone else in her life for that matter (employer, teacher, the law), if this is so? If we can’t obey and love a Creator who loves us, why anyone else?

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      HeadintheClouds – what I meant to say, whether it read that way or not, is that a diety who insists on your belief in them despite you living a good life seems narcissistic. Not simply a diety’s existence. As for authority from me, I suppose that at least in part she accepts it because she has known nothing else, and as she gets older she will accept it because she knows that she is loved. I accepted authority from my parents, teachers, etc because I knew they wanted the best for me.

      • edebock says:

        So how is that any different from accepting authority from a deity who loves you and wants what’s best for you? God does not insist that we believe in him. If he did, we’d be nothing more than puppets.

  35. Great post. I shudder at the thought of bringing my boy into a church, but I do hear you on the community question. I like the idea of volunteering, or Mother’s groups. I have found a lot of camaraderie in my La Leche League ladies, too. I find that we all share a lot of similar ideas on parenting that go beyond just breastfeeding, so that’s been my favorite way to build my “village” so far. (Because I’m really finding that old addage, “It takes a village to raise a child” to be SO, SO true!” But I don’t need a church…

  36. indywriter18 says:

    Thank you for writing this piece. Sometimes, it’s just nice to know that we are not alone out here trying to raise our kids in this big bad world. I still find myself on a spiritual journey trying to figure out where I where I belong. Most Christians would tell me I’m not one because of some of my beliefs, but I feel like there’s a lot to be learned about just being a good person by studying what’s written about Jesus so I hang out where I can feed that part of me. My husband and I have also found there is something to be gained from having that community of which you speak. We don’t have a church home right now, but we find that community by volunteering as a family at local events where we can show up again and again to be a part of something. Hope you find your community soon.

  37. Claudius Nan says:

    Christianity, if false, is of no importance, but if true, is of most importance… the only thing it can’t be is moderately important.

  38. heartns0ul says:

    I enjoyed your blog and, like you and so many others above, I have been hurt by religion, a man-made form of relating to God.

    I have since learned, however, that that is NOT who God is and who He desires to be to us. He desires to know us on a personal level and to commune/talk with us, and that is the most difficult part of all; our nature is to wander away from Him, not toward Him. There is an old hymn that says, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love” and that is each and everyone of us. When we are hurting, really badly, what do we do? We blame God, turn away from Him, reject Him, in any and all manner of ways that not only hurt us, but Him as well.

    So how do we counteract that and still find peace? Like our government, the religions we know are the best we have. They aren’t perfect and the people certainly aren’t perfect. We’ll still get hurt by them, betrayed by them, shocked by them, but we can also find love and support from them. The community you will find in a stable, Bible-believing religion (sorry, ME religions not included) is like no other. Religions are NOT the pancea to knowing God. They are ONLY a beginning. I wish I could say that we can easily leave them out, but church communities hold us and our children accountable and we need that.

    As far as your child is concerned…uh…good luck with that approach. There has been placed in each of us a desire to know God for He put it there. We often confuse that desire and try and satisfy it with other things (This doesn’t have to be drugs or alcohol. It can be any number of things)…and your daughter will too, if she doesn’t really know her Creator. And, no matter how much you train her, you cannot watch her ALL the time. Only God can do that and if you are talking with Him on a daily basis (spending at least an hour with Him everyday), he’ll let you know what you need to know about her or your church community will.

    I can tell you, firsthand, that there is nothing easy about the Christian life. Not only have I had to do my best to understand the God who knew me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and who loves me enough to die for me, but I have had to put aside the damage that my parents and family and friends and church and environment did and continue to do to that relationship and see God for who He REALLY is. It’s a tough life but it is by far the most rewarding life there is. Blessings on you and your family as you travel on this journey together.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      heartnsoul – this is an honest question: if God has “placed in each of us a desire to know” him, then why do I have ZERO desire to have a relationship with God? Why do I feel genuinely happy and content, love my life and family, and have a happy, healthy world without God? If I truly had been endowed with a need for God, wouldn’t I be suffering?

      • heartns0ul says:

        I’ll take a stab at this and am shooting in the dark here, so look out (ha), but the fact that you wrote the blog and asked the questions says to me that there is some discontent there. Let me say, too, that knowing God doesn’t equal happiness, in my opinion. “Happiness” for me has been quite illusive, for trouble and disappointment still come, but there is GREAT contentment and joy in knowing God and knowing that He is on my side and that I can lean on Him like no other.

      • You have no desire to know him because he gave you the ability to choose that! He does not force himself on anyone. You have the freedom to live your life without him and be a “good person.” In our culture you don’t have to attend church or have a beleif in God in order to be accepted, this CERTAINLY would not have been the case a few decades ago. The verse that is being referred to here is Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God has set eternity in the hearts of all people. All of us have made some sort of decision about what we believe that is. Your conclusion is that there is no eternity, and you have come to peace with that. This verse also points out that we can’t fathom God and all that he has done, it is beyond what we are capable of understanding. God loved you enough to give you a choice and give you the freedom to make a decision. Sadly, based on your post you were given the idea that God is in heaven eagerly waiting to punish anyone who does not do what he commands. I don’t beleive that this is the case AT ALL! Every choice that we make in life has a consequence…good or bad. God is clear about the consequences if someone chooses not to beleive in Him. Romans 3:3 says, “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all!” Truth is truth regardless of whether or not we believe it. The sky is blue even if you call it purple! You can live a good life, a happy life, on earth without God but that option is only given to you by the grace of God. It doesn’t change the truth of his sovereignty!

  39. julisali says:

    so random that I ran across your blog – I was raised Mormon and now 29 years old and close to marriage. My boyfriends father is a baptist minister, but neither of us go to church at the time. It’s hard to think of how we’d be different people without our childhood of religion, but looking back I wish I had been at least raised knowing that there were lots of good ways to live and my way wasn’t necessarily the best. I couldn’t be friends with “non-Mormons” or I was always inviting them to church and activities, but I thought that’s what good friends would do. In college I went on four study abroad programs, and my mind exploded by the experiences and conversations I’d have with my roommates – we’d sit and talk about religion and politics for hours – and what caused me to first want to leave the church was realizing that “I’m not happier than them or a better person because I’m Mormon, there isn’t one right way to live my life, these people are wonderful” It’s weird, it’s not like the mormon church ever said that other people were bad, but just by being in a very insular community as a child I tended to exaggerate lessons and see things as more black and white.

    So I’m thinking when I have children that we’ll support our mutual families religions, we’ll go when we’re home visiting or go to special events. I still want to have “family home evenings” like in the mormon religion, but we’ll talk about morals and doing the right thing, and maybe learn about different cultures and religions. I want to have my children travel a lot and have friends around the world (I’ll probably work internationally quite a bit).

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      julisali – I love the idea of regular family nights, which my family continued to have long after we left the church. It supports a strong family, and that is always good.

  40. Great post/topic… touchy none the less, but great.

    I think good parenting and teaching your children to be good people is far more important and difficult than dragging our kids to church each week. Let them decide later in life when they know who they are, which spiritual path they wish to fall into and walk on…

  41. nysoonergirl says:

    I also fall into the agnostic category although my family is religious yet doesn’t attend church. I haven’t regularly attended church since I was under the age of 5, yet I believe I have the same morals you speak of. I’ve never smoked a cigarette, let alone done any type of drug. While I did drink in college, I’ve never blacked out or vomited from it as most have. And people are continually amazed by my ability to not give in to every desire. I think my morals have little to do with those very few years in church before I even knew what was going on and a lot more to do with my parents. Two of my childhood friends who were regular church goers did not fare so well in the drug free lifestyle. Both were far more promiscuous also. It comes down to parents and the child. While church can help in some situations, it is not a cure-all nor a prevent-all.

    • Skinny Sushi,

      Thanks for the thought provoking post. I was basically unchurched growing up. I think for the most part my parents tried to teach me what they thought was moral. The only issue was I can’t really pinpoint what their morality was based on. I made some crazy decisions in my life based on the morality that I learned in my home.

      It seems your great desire for your child is to be a good person, but how is that defined? The challenging thing for me is to understand how I can I lead my child into a standard of goodness that cannot be agreed upon. I think the task is noble and sadly unattainable.

      The Bible teaches that there is a divide between humans and God becuase of sin. Sin basically being rebellion against God. Sin being worshipping our own understanding and feelings instead of Gods. The Bible teaches that rebellion comes at a cost and that cost is our death and that the only way not to pay the cost ourselves is to be saved by a substitute. The Bible teaches that Jesus was that substitute. Jesus himself said, “No one comes to Father except through me.”

      I know the teaching above is familiar to everyone here, but I thought it worth repeating. It’s what I am teaching my kids because I feel like it would be wrong not do so. We do it with love and prayer and studying the Bible together, not heavey handed church mandates and legaslistic restrictions. I do want my children to be good, but more so I want them to be forgiven and reconciled to the One who created them.

      Thanks for sharing.


      blogging at : http://www.kingdombard.com

  42. gweny says:

    I am truly sad for you, God is so amazing. He is love. LOVE is the reason why we live.

  43. I must say I go to an awesome church. Of course we are not perfect, but we love God and love His Word. I experienced life growing up without God in it and am now experiencing life (for the past 21 years – I am 41) with God. My church life is an extension of my relationship with God, so it’s not a place I go to that has to fulfull my needs. Yet without church, I would never experienced the growth and breakthroughs I have. I read your article with interest, and conclude (you may disagree) that you have come to the philosophy that really we are the gods of our own life, we are gods. I just know when I lived that way I made choices that felt right, but did not lead to a good place. So if you are wondering about whether there is a God or not, why not ask Him? Ask Him, “God if you are real, please make yourself known to me, and if You are real I will give my life to you.” Thanks for your article. Tania. NZ.

  44. We are Christians who have attended a variety of Protestant churches, and now find ourselves happily raising our family, strongly attached to God and pursuing a relationship with Him, and NOT attending weekly religious services.

    I was raised Catholic, and what I admire about Catholics is at least they make all their rules and regulations well known. Protestants are not as upfront — they’ve got lots of rules and regulations, but they never call them such. You need to get up at 4 a.m. for “quiet time” (sounds like something pre-schoolers do). Attend “discipleship” classes and Adult Family Fellowship (it’s still Sunday School, and it still involves sitting in a circle, staring at one another’s thighs, and listening to someone drone on about his or her week). Participate in “Small Groups.”

    Do this. Study that. Be there for this. Not an appealing list to draw people into Christianity. (Not what Christianity is, by the way.)

    Very little is said about being there for someone who’s hurting. Shutting your mouth when someone is going through something you don’t understand. Giving and not expecting anything back.

    I always think about the Bible passage when the young man asks Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important?” and He answers “Love your God with all your heart, soul and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

    So I tell people, “When I get a handle on successfully managing those two commandments, I’ll work on the rest of the rules.”

    Just keep raising your daughter with the morals you uphold — doing right to others, not following the crowd, taking the higher road. It would be a kindness to not let her “find out her way all on her own,” — we don’t do this when it comes to crossing a busy street, touching a hot stove element, or talking to strange people. You and your husband obviously have belief systems, albeit separate, and these are valid topics for discussion.

    Another kindness would be to explore, yourselves, what you believe and come to a conclusion about it. An agnostic is a person who is undecided about what he believes, but an honest agnostic is still looking into the matter, not using the term to get inquisitive people to back off. Spirituality is too important of an issue — to you, your husband, and through you, to your children — to ignore.

    • Veronica says:

      I just wanted to tell you middleagedplague that the protestant church that you speak of is not anything like any church that I have attended. I am non-denominational Christian, ie. protestant, and we don’t have any mandates like the ones that you mentioned in the beginning of your comment. Maybe you should try a non-denominational church if there is one in your area. Don’t give up, Christians need church like plants need water. I pray that you find the church that fulfills you and your family and that you will be satisfied with the impact on your family and yourself.

      God Bless you!

  45. healthnutliving says:

    Having morals and beliefs doesn’t have anything to do with church. You have an amazing opportunity of raising a whole new human being and you can teach them basically anything you choose to. Teach them how to “be a good person”. How to care for someone’s feelings, teach them that the law should be obeyed, etc. And not just by telling but by doing. Children are smart, if you act the way you want them to act they will learn. Having friends and being social is important but that is not why anyone should ever go to church. You go to church to worship and to learn and lastly fellowship, but not the kind of socializing you want. I’m sure through school and extracurricular activities, and good upbringing your kids will be fine.

  46. geekgrrrl says:

    Well said. I like the way you think 🙂

  47. Juan Carlos says:

    Skinny Sushi,

    I really recomment you take a look at the Parenting Beyond Belief website by Dale McGowan. http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/

    I am an atheist/secular humanist myself and parent of a 17 month-old boy. The resources on the website have helped me a lot and clarified many questions I have had. His book has also been helpful.

    Things like Community and Religious literacy are just some of the topics covered in the page/blog, I hope you find it useful.

    -Juan Carlos

  48. Seems that if you are simply talking about morality, sure you can teach that to your child. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Teaching character and all that stuff can be done outside of the church I think. It seems where church comes into play is where are you going when you leave this earth? If you have NO clue then it would seem church is the appropriate place to find that out.

  49. I don’t think you have to worry about your daughter becoming involved with heavy drinking and drugs, even without church attendance in her childhood. The reason I got involved in them – and that almost everyone I have ever known who was heavily into drugs did – is because of something majorly traumatic that happened in our childhood. In my case, it was divorce and abuse. But it sounds like you don’t have to worry about that and will do your absolute best to protect her from anything else (like molestation or war).

  50. I would suggest taking her to a Unitarian Universalist church: you get the community and good morals while not making your child have to believe in one thing or another. Unitarian churches take in all spiritualities, even atheists! They are so nice and accepting too!

    I just recently started going and it reminds me A LOT of the old days when I was a kid and went to Christian church but instead of the harsh judgment there is acceptance of all beliefs and orientations. When I have kids I’ll take them there for sure.

    • Audrey says:

      Wish I had seen this. I posted the same suggestion, and I’m not even UU anymore. Anyway, UU is a fabulous option for this sort of thing.

  51. hugsandmisses says:

    That is exactly what I think/believe all in a nutshell. Beautifully written!

  52. melanirae says:

    We raise out daughters as atheists, but allow them to attend church for school functions (in sweden it is pretty normal to have Christmas assembly at a church for ex) or to go with a friend or grandparent who attends. We also live in a very mixed neighborhood with a lot of refugees from Iraq and Somalia and they have made friends with several Muslims (of varying levels of practice). I think exposure is key, as it breeds discussion. But if you live in a typical American suburb, I would say you have to make much more of an effort. Sports teams are always a good bet, as they are quite mixed. As are things like dance. Good Luck!

  53. Caitie says:

    I think there is a great risk with this approach: the risk of seeming hypocritical as you raise your child with two conflicting viewpoints. You want her to do the right thing “because it’s right, not because you fear retribution or judgement.” This implies that there is a right and wrong, one that is true not just for you but also for her and by extension everyone else.

    At the same time, you will teach her that she can choose whatever “belief system that is right for her and makes her feel happy and fulfilled.” This implies that there is NOT a right and wrong that applies to humanity as a whole. She can believe what she wants and therefore do what she wants if it makes her happy and fulfilled, regardless of the consequences for others. It would be nice to separate beliving whatever we want from doing whatever we want, but that’s impossible. Belief systems inform our actions. If our actions can be right or wrong, so can our beliefs.

    Be aware that if you feed your daughter these conflicting worldviews, it will be confusing for her and prevent you from having a leg to stand on should she make a decision or act in a way that to you is “unmoral.”

    My exposure to the LDS religion has taught me that you are not the only former Mormon to want freedom from guilt and shame while still following a code of morality. Many pseudo-Christian religions leave out the crucial aspect of atonement: Jesus Christ died for every sin in the world, past, present and future. We are imperfect (sinful) human beings who are incapable of living “rightly” on our own–no matter how hard we try, no one can honsetly admit that they are perfect. But we are free from guilt and condemnation because the price for our mistakes was paid on our behalf by Jesus’ death on a cross. We receive both forgiveness AND freedom by believing in Christ and accepting that restitution. “It is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves–it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” If you teach your daughter that, she can be equipped to make right choices, and when she messes up, will know that she is forgiven–the source of true happiness and fulfillment.

  54. liveandletlive says:

    I really agree about the community aspect; haven grown up in a church and moved away from it all together in young adulthood, I think that church gave a sense of community that wasn’t always easy to find elsewhere. Perhaps playgroups are an answer and I would certainly love to have my kids involved in other community-oriented activities later on (never had it really growing up). At the same time, I think being in church could a bit limiting and daunting at times — I was never the most orthodox but I always felt like I had to give off the perception that I was … and I”m sure that can’t be the most healthy either …

  55. Jenny says:

    Well written! I couldn’t have put it any better!

  56. Aaron says:

    “A cleaner, simpler lesson for her will be to just do the right thing.”

    If only it were so simple.. Who decides what’s right? What makes it universal (if it is)?

    • kelliejwin says:

      I think innately we all know what is right – kindness, courtesy, putting the needs of others first… There’s something inside of us all that gives us a personal signal that tells us whether or not we can live with the decision we’re about to make. Call it conscience, call it God, call it intuition, call it whatever you want, it’s there. Religion doesn’t have to dictate that.

      • Gloriadelia says:

        But, kelliejwin, if I grew up in a jungle in Papa New Guinea, I would think it a “kind courtesy” to someone I loved to catch, torture, and eat the flesh of someone from another tribe who had wronged them. It was Christians who helped them to see a better way.

        Or, if I grew up in India, I might consider it “right” to force a widow to fling her body on the flames of her dead husband’s burning funeral pyre. It was a Christian who helped the culture to see a better way.

        Or if I grew up in China years ago, I might “be able to live the decision” to bind a young girls feet, break every single bone and force her live with the pain the rest of her life. It was Christians who “unbound” them from these beliefs.

        I’m just saying that our “innate” knowledge of right and wrong is, generally, handed down to us by our culture, and sometimes that culture is wrong.

        Furthermore, the laws that we take for granted in America, which protect our rights to freely express our opinions on blogs like this were formed not by ” men’s consciences”, which change with the culture, but on the Bible.

        And as our culture pulls further and further away from that standard, the Bible, our collective abilities to “know what is right” will suffer.

  57. It took me 40+ years to finally figure out that I believe in God without religion, and that it’s okay. There is no label for me. To me God is the infinite energy that is both within me and outside of me, forever. It’s what I can’t explain.

  58. Audrey says:

    Have you considered raising her in a Unitarian church? I don’t even want to use the word church here, because that’s not really what it is… Unitarianism basically is everything you just described. Freedom of choice, freedom to explore, freedom to believe or not to believe in any God, as it pertains to your life. And freedom to do all of these things in a community setting.

    It sounds like I’m trying to convert you to my religion, but I am a devout Evangelical Christian… I, too, did my stint in the Unitarian church and my husband has been itching to go for the first time, so we might go back there occasionally. It is an amazing setting to really figure out what you believe, or to believe what you already believe and be supported by others (who may or may not believe that what you believe is what’s right for them, but they affirm you as a valid believer anyway).

  59. dephnevictorious says:

    .. every knee will bow down to Christ JESUS and every tongue will confess that HE is LORD… He is indeed the way , truth and life.. No one can go to the Father except through HIM..

    A person without the Spirit(Holy Spirit) does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    For the Word of the cross(the gospel of JESUS CHRIST) seems foolish to those who are on the way to destruction; but to us who are on the way to salvation it is the power of God.

    in these last days the Holy Spirit clearly warned that some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

    • andydbrown says:


      • Tony Hedrick says:

        They won’t like what you have to say, but, dagnabbit, Andy Brown, you didn’t mince words and you have told the truth. All serious, knowledgable Christians agree with Jesus that it is all about a relationship with the one, true and living God, whom God raised from the dead.

    • Tony Hedrick says:

      Exactly, dephenevictorious

      It is impossible for the “natural man” (the man without the Spirit) to know what we know! (This would sound arrogant if it had anything at all to do with human morality or brilliance). “Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.” This is why Jesus said that a person,”Must be born again (born from above… of the Sprirt.). “That which is flesh is flesh.”

      I do not know you but it is obvious that we have encountered the same risen Christ and have be transformed.

      I travel the world and have spoken in churches of nineteen denominations from Presbyterian to Pentecostal and from Roman Catholic to Reform. By now I have been hosted by nearly one thousand churches, colleges, retreat centres, et al. I Have worked with people of over two hundred ethnicities, from China, Japan, Sri Lanka, to Zambia, Kenya, to Uzbekistan, India… Norway, Germany, Romania and more and every regenerate person that I have met regardless of nationality, understands exactly what you have just written.

      This is a God thing. It is all and only by revelation.

      • edebock says:


      • Thank you for being here at this crucial season.
        I was raised in church but never really knew Jesus Christ. So I decided I had enough of this church thing.
        But you will not believe that my arguments were also based on info I had gotten from Books like “Third Eye”.
        I read other books by Bertrand Russel, which made my reasoning skewed. Before I knew what hit me I was already a Free Thinker. But I tell you, God in His infinite mercy met me and drew me to Himself, ALL BY HIMSELF.
        To cut my story short, i was 24 by the time Jesus came to deliver me from spiritual problems THAT I COULD NOT EXPLAIN THEIR SOURCES.
        If you will like to hear that story, I’ll gladly give it.
        For now, I agree that you really cannot meet with Him until you first acknowledge His existence.
        In other words BELIEVING IS SEEING, whilst for majority of Earth Dwellers, the popular slogan is “Seeing is Believing”. This looks like parallel lines.
        That tells us something, we can have a discussion that can continue till Kingdom come.

  60. It is interesting when you post something like this that opens you up and makes you vulnerable to a variety of people you get a variety of responses. You are free to raise your child in any fashion you and your husband desire, so long as the child is not harmed. I would offer that the reality of the agnostic life is one of insecurity and fear. Church offers far more than a moral basis to live life. The concept of the Christian Church was established by the leader of the Christian Church, Jesus. This man lived and breathed in real time, history attests to this. Whether he was God as he claimed is a matter of something entirely different. While faith is not independent of rationality, because Faith works in conjunction with known facts, it is a substance of something different than rational thought. Morality can be taught via ethical theory and through life. Church is irrelevant on this point. The great scandal of the (Christian) church is that God became man in order to reconcile man to himself. A point that one of insecure faith cannot concede. This was a great post and I encourage you to continue to raise your child with that strong ethical and moral background, Lord knows this nation needs more of that among its youth.

  61. Thomas says:

    One thing that you aren’t taking into account in your equation, is that your concept of morals not only comes from religious foundations, but those morals make no sense out of the context of God. If there were no God (especially in the Christian sense), there would be no reason not to live your life exactly how it made you feel the best. If your daughter ended up the type of person who was the most happy living a life filled with drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, and all sorts of other things you consider to be “immoral” then who is to say she is even wrong? Whether or not you realize it, if you delve into the very core of why such things are considered immoral, you arrive at religious doctrine.

    Just for a second say that your daughter wants to murder someone. How do you justify her not committing murder? You can say… “you’ll go to jail and thus be robbed of your freedom and dignity.” You can say, “because it will make you feel bad.” You can say, “because it’s just wrong”… at which point she could easily logically debunk all of those things. What if she happens to never gets caught, and no one ever knows she killed another person therefore eschewing all possible social implications… is it still wrong? Why? If she personally feels gratification and joy from murdering someone, i.e. she feels completely confident and justified in her actions because she happens to lack the type of empathy and social consciousness that produces feelings of guilt… is it still wrong? Why? When you philosophically deconstruct why people consider certain actions “right or wrong” you realize that you can’t just say “because it’s wrong.” In the end, the logic fails because there’s no basis.

    Granted, murder is an extreme example. But I’ve seen people try to raise children with essentially Christian or Mormon based views of right and wrong, without adding religion to the picture… What happens is that the children don’t always grow up believing in their parents’ scope of “right and wrong.” It’s so easy for them to say, “Why is it ‘just’ wrong?” At some point, and with some morals, it’s also very easy for children (especially college-aged kids) to stop swallowing parental reasons when those reasons stop making sense to them. The higher the level of personal gratification, and the more seemingly illusory the consequence: the easier it is for the child to believe the moral is no longer justified and real. So while I think it’s good that you are trying to instill “morals” in your children, I think that it’s philisophically inconsistent to promote religiously-based morals without religion. It can fall apart in your children’s eyes once their sense of self and desire overwhelm what little explanation they had for why something fell into the “wrong” category. “Because it’s wrong” doesn’t hold up in the long run for some people.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Thomas – thank you for your well thought out response, but I must respectfully disagree. I was raised Mormon and, as far as I remember, the church never said it was wrong to drive too fast. I’m not saying they think it’s alright either, but it wasn’t discussed. And yet, thanks to legality, I don’t drive too fast. Because it’s wrong, illegal, and I don’t want to go to jail. You use murder as an example… for one thing, I think it might be difficult for a child to “debunk” the argument that murder is wrong because “you’ll go to jail and thus be robbed of your freedom and dignity.” Furthermore, you can teach basic morals like the sanctity of life without involving God. You don’t hurt people because they all deserve the same care and respect you want. You don’t do drugs because they have been scientifically proven to damage organs and tissues, thus decreasing/impairing the proper and healthy functions of your body. You don’t steal because someone relies on that product for income and you do not have the right to deny them that, and because it is important to earn the things you have instead of just taking them. You work hard, you get some of the things you want. It’s work ethic, not religion.

      • I fully and wholeheartedly agree! I was taken to church with my family as a young child and I chose to leave as soon as I possibly could for numerous reasons. One of the main ones being that none of it really made sense to me (which is why I believe, as some others in this discussion do, that religion/church is something to be explored after full emotional and mental development) and another reason being that I never felt there was much use for it. I am now 20 years old, attending university, earning good grades, working two jobs and living a happy life. I have never used a drug or killed a person, despite not having attended church my whole life. This is why I do not and never will believe that attending church or having a religious background will stop a person from killing or doing drugs or any of the other things considered “going down the wrong path”. If we took a look at all the people out there who have killed someone, I bet many of them would be religious. This is just generally a very weak argument.

        I don’t want to be torn apart for saying this, but it is my personal opinion: religion is too hokey for me. It seems like people way back in the day just decided to put together this grand dramatic story in order to scare people into doing what they believed to be the right thing at the time. People argue so much about how we need religion to give background to what is right and wrong so that we are not just judging things ourselves – but is that not exactly what religion has done as well? There are endless amounts of religions in the world today and some of the more extreme ones believe that killing others by sacrificing yourself is right in the eyes of God. Sound familiar? This is most likely because I hear it on the news so many times a month. I am not here to bash any religion but rather to say that those above who have claimed that morals require religious background to make them legitimate are likely only talking about their own religious background. Therefore, religion does not legitimize or give meaning to morals but is rather used as an excuse for certain ones to be followed. By saying that you need God for morals to have meaning, you really need to be more specific because there are many different Gods out there to many different people just as there are many different cultures from which we base our morals on – it is all the same.

        A lot of the people in this discussion who tend to believe in religious upbringing also tend to make the assumption that things written in the Bible are fact and set in stone. This completely goes against the fact that religion is faith and nothing else – it is simply belief in something that cannot be proven or disproved, but only believed.

        So, for all those who think that someone will go to hell and living in damnation for all eternity simply for not believing in any type of religion (although, this consequence really only applies to some), it really doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in it. You can tell me all you want that I am going to hell for thinking these things but I really could care less because that is not my belief.

        Good work, Skinny Sushi, on a well-written post and well-argued discussion!

    • “If there were no God (especially in the Christian sense), there would be no reason not to live your life exactly how it made you feel the best.”

      really? because i’m pretty sure our entire justice system in the U.S. is supposed to be religion free and based on what’s best for society. using the phrase “because it’s wrong” is lazy parenting. you teach children to be nice to others by showing them the benefits and consequences. it’s my firm belief that never has a child stopped doing something harmful to others until he/she experienced something negative to themselves as a result. i’m not saying you teach by punishment, but you remind the kids about how they felt when someone hurt them. i may have been raised in a church, but i don’t recall my mother EVER bringing out the jesus-trope to teach me right from wrong. it’s just infuriating to me that so many people assume we humans are totally without an internal moral compass and cannot possibly do anything but rape, murder and steal without a guiding hand. what little faith you must have in the human race and our many achievements thus far. believe in god and his/her/its inspiration, but give us a little credit as a race, please.

      also, i know i personally feel like absolute SHIT when i hurt someone, whether i know them or not. this is not because i believe i’m going to be punished by any outside source for it. it’s because i know what it’s like to get hurt, and i don’t want to cause that to happen to anyone – not even people i hate. that’s called being a decent human being, not a christian, buddhist, muslim, or anything else.

  62. Mark says:

    Skinny Sushi, I came across this post today, and I really appreciate your openness, honesty, and heartfelt desire to do what is best for your daughter. My two cents: I agree that you can raise your child to be a good, moral, and productive member of society without a faith-based community around her. I think it’s possible to have what most would consider a happy and fulfilled life without God. I do believe, however, that a person cannot reach his or her full potential as a human being without a relationship with God. Someone once said, “Jesus didn’t come to make everyone a Christian — he came to make us fully human.” I’ve grown a lot more as a person than I thought I could as a result of that relationship.

    Good luck on your search, and again, thank you for your openness!

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Mark – thank you for your kind, respectful comment and your well wishes. I am glad you’ve found happiness in a relationship with God, and I hope each of us finds happiness in life.

  63. maurahirsch says:

    I just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful, brave, wonderfully written post. Thanks for sparking discussion, both on line and in my own home.

  64. rubiescorner says:

    Many people have been given opportunities to change their viewpoints. I was raised in a Christian home, and accepted Christ as a child. Later I sought the Lord in a stronger way. After I realized He was really in my life, I gave my heart to Him all the more. I went to college, married a preacher and we have a small struggling church, but the people who are there are genuine, loving, and they love the Lord. They are not all rich, not all educated, not all wise, but this is a caring place.
    From a minister’s wife standpoint, I see alot of hurting people. I see many who really don’t care. I just know that life is not perfect, people are not perfect, and things have hurt me over and over. I know that when I take my problems to God, He listens. He is the best friend I have ever had. I just accept Christ as a child in my heart, and try to stay in His presence. I am far from perfect, and there was a point in my life where I gave up on God. He didn’t, and wouldn’t answer my prayers. I was heart broken. But I came back to Him, because I needed to be on one side of the fence or the other. It wasn’t from pressure from others. I made my choice and I am not disappointed.
    I can understand those who have spoken of being hurt, and offended by people in the church. I have been also. I can understand those who are not raised in the church, or those who refuse to believe in God. I just know, that for me, I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation to those who believe. It is your choice, and your children’s choice. For me, I have made my choice, and it isn’t, and it hasn’t been easy. I say this not to persuade, but just to say my opinion from my heart.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      rubiescorner – I love your comment. I so deeply respect you for saying that you understand someone else, and that you stand by and take comfort and joy in your beliefs. That is all I want from anyone… solid belief in what is right for them, and being granted the right to choose what is right for me and mine.

  65. i think having faith in something does teach you what you will stand for… it is better that a child learn at least the basics of God from parents…because if not it will be learned elsewhere…where you stand on the issue is important…..but what you don’t say or do speaks volumes….


  66. Great Hot Topic from the amount of responses- Very interesting, the Atheist who missed you saying you are spiritual. Also interesting is the confusion between supposed religious morality and just plain un-healthy.

    (it doesnt take religion to keep one off drugs or anything else detrimental to your health or well being you moron- or to know they may be wrong for you personally- it takes common sense)

    I think youre doing your daughter a great service by freeing her from the mental constraints of religion. Some of the comments were right on when noting that you dont need religion to teach good or bad/evil. You would need it to teach a sense of guilt over being who she wants to be if it contradicts the mental slavery of religion though, and well, some people go for that kind of thing, lol.

    If I may make one suggestion- why not just answer the eventual question- if it ever comes- with “well honey, once upon a time, people needed answers for what they couldnt explain, so someone made up the word ‘God’…” and the rest fo course would be up to you.

    Personally I tried athiesm, and it seems to dead-pan lonely and bitter to me. I have my own theory of what god really is, and although I wont get into it here- lets just say my definition leaves all current theologies where they should be- in the Fiction isle of the bookstore or library.

    Well meaning but misguided and mis-used fiction created to explain things in a time of lore, and then used to control as a result of greed.

    But aaaanyway- my point is to say- great post. Your husband is lucky to have you and visa-versa, you balance each other out it seems by your description (though keep in mind the likely bitter connotation to athiesm and dont let him adopt completely a hopeless theology). Its good to believe in something- to try and make sense of the word around you- without a need of magical stuff- and even for those respectful of others beliefs, who follow a traditional theory- good for you if it gives you comfort. I back you 100%! But the minute people cross the line of disrespecting another’s beliefs or trying to convert people to theirs- thats when in my book, their own god should smite them- to put it mildly.

    Much life, love and health to you and your family.

  67. Joel Duggins says:

    I have two questions.

    First, you say “I have ZERO problem with her choosing a religion whenever she wants to, as long as she chooses something that makes her happy, that’s pretty much all I need from life.” What if she chooses one of the major world religions (Christianity according to the Bible, Roman Catholicism, Islam, etc.) that condemns and tries to convert everyone (including you) that does not hold to that religion?

    Second, you repeatedly talk about a good moral background. Without a Deity or supernatural force that define what is actually wrong, how can you speak about morality? What makes kindness a good thing? What makes murder a bad thing?

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Joel – first, that would be her right, as it would be mine not to accept her belief system. I would still love her, and hopefully she would still love me. My father and I don’t share religious beliefs, but it doesn’t stop us from having a loving parent/child relationship.

      Second, I don’t understand the continued insistence that we can’t know right from wrong without God. Drugs are bad because science has proven they destroy the very tissues that make up our body. Murder is wrong because it is illegal, and because it denies another person’s right to life. Stealing is wrong because it is illegal, and because it assumes that you have a different right to something than other people do simply because you want it. Kindness is a good thing because it helps to support our social makeup, helping all of us to survive and prosper. God does not have to be a part of the equation simply to determine what is or is not good.

  68. crisitunity says:

    I could write you a novel-length comment about all this, but I largely agree with you and adding my own experience would not be worth much. I just wanted to add that I can’t believe you haven’t gotten more “UR going 2 HELL, siner” comments. And, also, you have a great thinking machine. Good post.

  69. aproperfool says:

    I am currently neck deep in the struggle of personal moral findings versus a religious reason for choosing my beliefs. I would like to think that I am open to many avenues of thought, and this post has only reinforced these thoughts.
    However, I have found that in my “personal moral findings,” I cannot seem to find the real reason that I believe that murder is wrong, that lying is wrong, that politeness is respected, that we should be kind to on another, that we should love one another–without referencing some religious backing.
    My family raised me in the midst of their own search for “truth” and because of that, we have visited a number of denominations as far as church goes. Doing so has brought me to understand that we ALL have a few things in commoon–we are all searching for belief in something, we all have doubt, and we all want to believe that we are good and right.
    Even the agnostic/atheist has a belief–they believe that they are right. They hope that in the end, if there is an end, they will have reached their moral quota. But for whom? If there is not a God, why worry about morality at all?
    Just some thoughts I have been having lately.
    I thank you for your post, it has only helped me to see further that I am finding my personal truth; and it is in God. I hope that you can find the same for your daughter, and I fully support your want to raise her to make her own decisions. Just be cognisant of the fact that without guidance by some moral compass, whether you recognize the compass as being religious or not, she may feel lost.

  70. andydbrown says:

    You seem to imply that we can be moral people without knowing God. According to man’s standards, each of us THINKS we are “morally okay” but that is not the testimony of Scripture.
    The Bible says that “the heart is exceedingly wicked” and like most people, you want to convince yourself that “I’m okay, you’re okay”. That is the pride of mankind.
    Not surprised that you were a mormon though as they are very religious but far from Christ as they teach a different Christ.
    Here’s what the Bible says in Romans 3: “The Scriptures tell us, “No one is acceptable to God! 11Not one of them understands or even searches for God. 12They have all turned away and are worthless. There isn’t one person who does right. 13Their words are like an open pit, and their tongues are good only for telling lies. Each word is as deadly as the fangs of a snake, 14and they say nothing but bitter curses. 15These people quickly become violent. 16Wherever they go, they leave ruin and destruction. 17They don’t know how to live in peace. 18They don’t even fear God.” 19We know that everything in the Law was written for those who are under its power. The Law says these things to stop anyone from making excuses and to let God show that the whole world is guilty. 20God doesn’t accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point out our sin.” The point of true religion (Christianity alone) is to lead people to Christ. “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. 23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3)

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      andydbrown – I wonder where you come up with the concept that Mormons teach “a different Christ” since they teach from the same Bible that all Christians use. Mormons believe in Christ, in his teachings, in his ability to lead people to heaven, etc… and I have been to many other Christian denominations and found no difference in their “version” of Christ.

      and yes, I will continue to insist (as I have in previous comments) that morality can exist without God. As another previous commenter pointed out, there is a difference between religious morality and complete moral breakdown. People seem to want me to believe that without God (which I, in fact, am) I would suddenly be totally fine with massive drug use, child abuse, murders, etc… I still have a social conscience and care about other human beings.

      • Tony Hedrick says:

        I am professor of Comparative Religion specializing in “Modern Religious Movements.” I assure you, Mormon’s most assuredly have a different Christ – a different Father as well. In fact, Mormonism almost has nothing in common with Apostolic (New Testament) Christianity except the terminology. Mormonism is a syncretistic faith system having concepts and doctrines in common with Hinduism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, New Age, Free Masonry and Evangelical Christianity (the language and proselytism techniques).

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        Tony – I find it interesting that you propose to know everything about Mormons because you’ve studied them academically. I am curious to know exactly how, in your opinion, Christ is different in Mormonism than in other forms of Christianity. I’ve got ten years of schooling behind me as well, and as such I hardly need assurances about something I’ve directly experienced versus something I’ve studied.

      • Tony Hedrick says:

        When you get a moment look up the Mormon sect, The Hedrickites. My last name is Hedrick. You may find our family name associated with the Temple Lot, Independence, Missouri or under the name Granville Hedrick.

        I teach a number of divisions in my Comparative Religion course entitled, “Modern Religious Movements.” Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism occupy the lions share of the entire semester.

        When it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses the challenge is much more difficult as it requires “internal apologetics.”

        In this respect, Mormonism is much easier to tackle since there are more descrepencies than one can manage to handle in an entire forty-one hour semester. There are not just a few problems with Mormonism. Historically, theologically, philosophically, archaeologically, anthropologically, intellectually Mormonism provides its own crtiique. Over twenty years, I have amassed a power point presentation that has almost 800 slides. In doing this, I have used Mormon sources (there own literature) and not Christian (gentile materials).

        I doubt that I could prove anything to you in a brief blog “Reply.” If you really want to know, there is no shortage of material. You might start with native American DNA or perhaps investigating “The Book of Abraham” in “The Pearl of Great Price.” Anyway, I have no idea why you are defending Mormonism. “Me thinks thou protest too much.”

      • breadandsham says:

        Skinny, your “morality” is worthless. Is there no place to instruct your child why there is death or why there is life? Shouldn’t responsible parenting include explaining the consequence of lawlessness? Life only begins when you’ve reached the end of morality and all it amounts to nothing but worthlessness.

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        breadandsham – there is death because our bodies cease in their abilities to function, wear out like anything else, and there is death because people become ill, commit crimes, or have accidents. There is death because that is the best biological plan. Continued existence without death would create quite a population explosion. There is life because of a complex biological event, easily explained by science, in which cells divide and become life. The consequences of lawlessness are easily explained… it’s called the legal system, and that is its whole purpose. I don’t see why it has anything to do with one or another person’s idea of divinity.

      • breadandsham says:

        It sounds like you haven’t fully thought it all through yet. Your comments are dismissive and pretentious.

        Your worldview (and that of many of your readers) is entirely consistent with your basic presupposition. That basic presupposition is that you are god. You have failed to fully think through the implications of such a worldview. It reduces to irrationalism and a hopeless relativity that is entirely unlivable.

        Everyone defining for themselves what is right is not possible. There must be some standard. This is elementary philosophy.

        Admit that you don’t like the teaching of the Mormon church and move closer to truth, but don’t abolish the very notion of a benevolent Creator God who is revealing himself to mankind who exist only because and for His purpose. He makes Himself known whether you put your hand in front of your eyes or not.

        Don’t let the online banter and the various positions comfort you. Let them make you uncomfortable and unsatisfied. There must be a better way to raise a child than simply, “You are in control. You decided what you believe is right. There are not rules and there is no accountability.” No one actually believes this consistently. You ought to seek answers from non peers lest we all lose our backbone.

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        breadandsham – if I don’t believe in God, I certainly don’t believe I am God. I do, however, believe (and prove with every choice I make) that I am in control of my own life. There are standards independent of individuals – secular law, for instance. There are rules and there is accountability, and both can be true independent of any notion of God.

      • tonyhedrick says:


        Let’s be in touch. We are cut from the same cloth.
        “And when they saw that they could not silence (outwit him) Stephen, they ground their teeth, ran upon him and stoned him to death. They laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man by the name of Saul (The Apostle Paul).”

        Jesus said, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me, it is hard for you to kick against the goads (thistles)?”

        Joyfully IN CHRIST.

  71. mollyatharper1 says:

    Great post. I’ve pondered the lack of community in my churchless life for years. I think a lot of have wondered where and how to create community without. I can’t say I’ve found the solution.

  72. Great post! This has actually inspired me to write a short story. I have a one month year old son and both my girlfriend and I are agnostic. Though it gets confusing for me. I think everything is God, so technically I’m a panthesist. But I want my son to grow up withing a community and be a free thinker. It’s a dilemma!

  73. akbillue says:

    I was not raised in church, and it has never been a problem for me (other then the few church-goers who judged my family as “heatherns” [how hypocritical]). People seem to think you can’t be a good, productive, or compassionate person if you aren’t religious, but no who says moral guidance comes from religion? We learn far more from our parents than church. Good luck with your little one! May they be as thankful for their open upbringing as I am for mine!

  74. I am an atheist and believe church has no place in the lives of my children. My 8 year old son is being brain washed at school. He thinks there is god. As long one is true to herself or himself and righteous I don’t see the need of the church in their upbringing. Not all “church” people have a good moral standing.

    • akbillue says:

      I had the same struggle with school (I’m 22; so all of this was not too long ago) My parents raised me churchless, but I was still indoctrinated into Christianity through school and my friends. In my small Southern hometown of 7,000 people, it is just assumed you are a Christian and you believe in God and Jesus. Blargh, luckily I had enough people around to say “It’s okay to be something different.”

  75. H says:

    I was not raised in a church. I don’t remember getting parented into a lot of values either. But through life, I think (hope) I’ve become a person of character who is kind and respectful. I went to Catholic school for a while, as you know, and learned quickly that a person’s religion has very, very little to do with how they behave or who they are. That said, we are attending a church now that we have Pumpkin. I found one that accepts agnostics. And I can find no other place in life where people get together to talk about what is important in life and to. . . what’s the right way to say it. . . collectively hope for a better world. But I’m not doing it for Pumpkin, nor do I fool myself that I can really control that much of who he becomes. I can only try to do what is right for myself. BTW — I think the alternative to “church” does exist: it’s church. Some churches contains quite a few who question, doubt or think the whole thing is ridiculous. They are going for the other side benefits you mention.

  76. medleymisty says:

    I only went to church as a kid when my daycare forced vacation bible school on me and maybe three times over my life when my mother wanted to hear a gospel group.

    I also have never done drugs or been drunk and I’ve been sexually responsible. I never had anything to rebel against – if it’s not forbidden and you aren’t socialized to have hangups about it it’s not all that interesting. One friend in high school asked me why I didn’t drink or do drugs since I didn’t believe in God. That’s always confused me – I mean, I believe in my liver and brain and lungs and I like them to be healthy and I like being in control of myself. What does it have to do with believing in a god? It’s always been more of a health choice than a moral choice to me really.

    My mother taught me caring about others by example. She never preached at me. She just lived her life and was good and kind to others and I saw that and took it in.

    One thing that had a huge impact on me as a kid – the winter I was nine we read every book in the local library on the Holocaust. I think a lot of my moral philosophy comes from learning the worst that humans can do to each other at a young age.

    My religious education consists of reading the Children’s Bible when I was five and rejecting it because it wasn’t realistic. Especially after we learned about dinosaurs in first grade -I couldn’t reconcile the timeline of evolution with the seven days of Genesis and that was it for me.

    I am happy and healthy with a good marriage and I do my best to show compassion and caring to all other living beings. I fail, because I am human, but hey – at least I’m trying.

    I’ve even been told I’m “Christ-like” at work. 🙂

    So I think your daughter will be fine. 🙂 She has awesome parents, after all.

  77. I was raised an on-again/off-again Methodist. Even as a child, much of what I was told about God and the world just didn’t feel right. For instance, I would bump up against the idea of people believing in other religions. If I would never send someone to eternal torment for simply believing what their parents taught them, how could a supposedly omniscient, all-loving God? That just seems petty and spiteful! So I dropped out of religion for much of my 20s. Then the first little one showed up! I wanted my cake and to eat it too. I wanted a place where we could ask any question we wanted, where no one ever told us what we had to believe, and where people were focused on making this world a better place. I found all that and a loving, accepting community in the Unitarian Universalist church. So far my children have been Hindu, Atheist, Little Redian (a religion of my 5-year old daughter’s invention) and my 12 year old now identifies as Christian. My kids are moral, kind, and inquisitive people, and I expect that is exactly the kind of adults they will grow into.
    While it is vaguely interesting for me to know what someone believes about God, their soul, and living ethically, it is very important for me to understand how this affects the way they choose to live their life. At my UU church, we spend our time strengthening the beliefs we have in common (honesty, democracy, personal growth, environmental sustainability…) instead of harping on each other about unknowable details (what’s God’s name, where do we go when when we die….). I feel grateful to have found such a place, and I hope that you find a community that supports you in the ways your family needs.
    Best Wishes!

  78. kelliejwin says:

    Nice post. We also were church goers in our youth who questioned the traditional teaching of the church. Instead, I’ve spent my adulthood learning from various religions and finding my own spirituality. We teach our children to discover spirituality in their own way, too.

  79. violincellist says:

    You can instill morals in a child without belonging to a religious organization. You don’t need religion to know right from wrong. I do think it’s a good idea to support the child should they decide to seek religion and want to attend a particular church.

  80. My dear friend, I was not raised mormon, but joined the church while in high school. I too became inactive after a few years though. I have always been an honest person, and have lived my life observing and learning.
    I have discovered that REALITY is TRUTH, GOD is REASON, and the only thing that CHANGES is what you HOPE for.
    I have created a couple blogs to explain what i mean. I use no scripture to explain this. Instead, i use what our common knowledge. You will find many links at my blogs. Some are to Wikipedia, these will explain the meaning of words. Other links are to Youtube, and these are there to also help you understand, just watch and listen.
    “The TRUTH has set me FREE” to say what is on my mind. Unfortunately, for those unwilling to understand, “The TRUTH HURTS”.
    Will my blogs set you free, or will they hurt you? I don’t know – you must decide for yourself:


    Best regards to you and all your loved ones,
    With my Everlasting Love,
    Now, and Forever Always,

  81. Stushie says:

    I’d like to see you revisit this in 15 years time. By then you will know how effective your open minded belief system has worked. Sometimes people who grow up with little or no beliefs become spiritual fodder for cults.

    • H says:

      Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. Drug use and abuse and neglect and psychological problems are the greatest risk facts when it comes to cults. Also, those who have already been in strict religious settings are more vulnerable. Look up the 9 risk factors in the Handbook of Adolescent Behavior. Unlike your comment, it’s research based.

  82. Carlos says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it. I think your daughter will be ok. She can learn about making friends and community in community programs, after school programs like sports. It just depends on what’s offered in your town. I think with what you teach her and not having to live with the Devil and Jesus hanging over her head will do wonders for her.

  83. I was born and raised Catholic – still consider myself a non-practicing Catholic – but left the church years ago. I believe in God but don’t always agree with Catholicism. I like to take different things from different religions and make them my own. The name is only a label.

  84. Sonya says:

    One community to check out is the Unitarian Universalists. I was very impressed with the religious education my local congregation has for children. They alternate between Rainbow Years (world religions) and Chalice Years ( focusing on the concepts of UU). I personally cherish having a community to explore spiritual questions without having to commit to somebody else’s doctrine.

  85. jala says:

    I was raised by a Jew and a Christian — neither of which left a significant imprint on my religious identity. Interestingly enough, I spent my 20s trying to define my religious affiliation and then fashionably settled on agnostic. Years later, as a parent, I have found it necessary to give our children a “community” and provide a moral compass that supports our family’s ideals in regard to right/wrong or good/bad. We found a non-denominational christian church that has provided this suppport. We don’t agree with everything, but, at its core, we believe in its sense of community. We take what works and discard what doesn’t. As others have mentioned, there is a lot out there that will test the values you instill in your child — it is up to us as parents to give them as many tools as possible to help them stay the course and know right from wrong each time they are challenged. Religious institutions, youth groups etc that fit your moral criteria are equally important, not marginally important, in promoting those values. It does take a village…


  86. jtmbhouse says:

    BRAVO!!!! Skinny Sushi. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to read your “Raising a churchless child” post. I too was raised in a very religious home. I went to private Christian schools for all of my elementary years. Then one day.. my mother decided that she wasn’t sure about what she believed. So.. we were dragged along with her to many different types of churches. Quite scary actually for young kids. We went from churches where they randomly started speaking in “tongues” to churches where people seemed possessed and all of a sudden healed on stage right before our very eyes. Made me wonder.. “what the heck is the truth!?” Nothing made sense to me any more. Actually.. it never quite did from the beginning. I had so many questions and all I would get for answers was to just believe.. and trust in the “Word” of God. When I went to college I decided to study Theology. I took many courses on the worlds religions. Boy! did they make things even more confusing. But then I realized.. just as you did. All that really matters is that we respect life and each other. And try to have a happy life without treading on anyone else to do it. I have 2 young boys. Their father used to always say that he was Atheist. I always remained “spiritual” as I would call it if anyone ever asked me what my beliefs were. It didn’t bother me that he didn’t believe in anything really. Except when he started to say negative things regarding my beliefs to my kids. But i’ve since worked that out with him.. especially since he has decided that he wants to connect to his “Jewish” heritage without the religious aspects. Just the traditions of doing the Menora and Hanukkah. Well.. as far as lighting the candles and giving gifts (purely to please his new girlfriend who thought he should). But, I embraced it and told them that if they were interested I would take them every week to learn about it if they wanted. They didn’t. But like you.. I am open to them finding their own truths and answers. I’ve always told them that I don’t believe in a “God” necessarily. But I do believe that we have 2 parts of our being. Our physical and non-physical selves. One definitely has a shorter span than the other. And the other.. I believe is what ties us all together. Whatever it is that makes this world turn..the unseen.. the energy, our breath, our thoughts and intuition.. whatever it is.. is what connects us as one. I believe that it is my job as a parent.. as someone who decided to have kids and contribute to the physical beings on this planet.. that I am responsible to guide them to respect life and appreciate where we are.. in it. And to teach them (without guilt or fear of punishment) the qualities that affect our physical world in a positive way: compassion, tolerance, understanding, and unconditional love – that knows no color or race.. doing as you say.. “what is right”. Thanks for sharing!

  87. ofthevalley says:

    I’m so glad your post was put on Freshly Pressed allowing so many people to read it. Your thoughts and feelings about church are the same that a lot of people have gone through, as many of the comments here show.

    While I’m not quite in the same position you are (I don’t plan on having kids) I too grew up in religion. My moral compass is still intact even after deciding that I’m agnostic about ten years ago. Like you, I rarely ever have alcohol, have never taken drugs despite being offered, and refrain from promiscuity.

    Sadly, some of the people I’ve known who lack self-control the most (whether that be through drinking, drugs, unsafe sexual practices, etc.) are people that were raised in religion as well. Yes, I’m sure there are a fair number of people who were raised without religion of any sort that find themselves in trouble later on in life, but one shouldn’t assume that going to church will automatically make people good. In the same way, those who grow up without continual religious exposure won’t necessarily be morally corrupt.

    The care that you have shown for your child is an excellent starting point to ensure your daughter has a good set of morals to lead her through life. Your willingness to let her examine all religions is something I admire. My parents, especially my father, were heavily disappointed when I began to have problems continuing in the faith they raised me in. I also felt a lot of guilt due to the church’s teachings, and still do today. I hope your daughter is able to grow up with a strong sense of right and wrong but without the constant fear of punishment from a higher power. It seems to me that if God did exist and is as good as His followers say then He wouldn’t want those who believe in Him to constantly feel such negative emotions. Doing the right thing because you want to and know it to be right ranks higher to me on the moral scale than doing the right thing because you fear the consequences.

    Thanks again for your thought-provoking post and allowing so many people to express themselves.

    If you happen to be interested in others’ struggles with religion, I wrote a post not long ago about my own falling out with Catholicism:

  88. My fiancee and I are having similar struggles. We both grew up in a protestant church and had strong, positive experiences in our early lives. We both left those churches after some negative experiences (she with homophobia in the church, me with my personal relationship with god), and now consider ourselves to be agnostic. While we feel totally capable of instilling positive morals into our future children, we’ve talked about them missing out on the community aspects, such as the youth groups and such that were such defining parts of our childhoods/youths. here in the south, there aren’t as many non-religious groups of that sort as i’ve heard about in other areas of the country.

    i just wanted to say thanks for putting this out there and reconfirming that we’re not the only ones making these same hard decisions. so many people question how to raise children without a religious backing and it just seems so obvious to me that good people can raise good kids without having to have a specific book or deity to turn to.

  89. Meg says:

    I really enjoyed what you had to write here. I was raised religiously as well, and although it helped me define my morals, I struggled with coming to terms with sex/sexuality as a young adult because of it. I think you have exactly the right apporach when it comes to raising your own daughter, and still instilling values. Nice piece.

  90. Doug says:


    Ironically enough I am an ex-Mormon too. I found Buddhism to work for me as it has a strong ethical/moral backbone, but balances this with compassion and tolerance too, and is a non-theist religion (as opposed to theist/atheist).

    My wife is Japanese too, so we wanted to raise our daughter Buddhist, and we found that there are some good lay-oriented Buddhist groups (try the Buddhist Churches of America for example) which have Sunday School and are pretty family oriented, as opposed to meditation, self-help type centers. Nice folks, not creepy or cultish either. My three year old likes the Sunday School, and we like the community, so it’s good for us.

    Plenty of good, traditional spiritual options out there for people who don’t like vengeful gods, bible-thumping and irrational beliefs, if you know where to look. Good luck. 🙂

  91. hndsmgy says:


    I find that I’m in the same situation as you, but came from a different background. While growing up, I had absolutely no experience with church. We never went as a family, and although you attribute your growing up with moral character to church, I know for certain mine did not. I’m one of the most moral people you’ll find, but that’s because of how my parents raised me. You absolutely do not need a fear of God’s punishments, especially if you’ve got parents that set a good example and set you straight when you step out of line. And church is also not all good. Depending on which church you’d go to, you’d might be teaching your kids that being gay is a sin or that sex is evil.
    I applaud your desire to let your daughter explore different religions. Without growing up a Christian, I did the same thing and feel good about coming to my own conclusions rather than growing up under certain assumptions of Truth.
    My current fiance also feels like it is important to go to church for the feeling of community. The question is, can you really be part of a religious community without believing in the religion? Do believers connect with those who use church only to make friends? And if you’re interested in showing your daughter all of the different beliefs out there, spending time around people and friends with only one frame of mind is not going to help her develop her own ideas. There are many clubs out there that may do things that you’re actually interested in. And as for your daughter, there’s always community sports and other activities or even the girl scouts.


  92. Dr. Sangfroid says:

    My parents raised me like this – no religion, no church, just moral guidance from them. Throughout grade school as I was confronted with different beliefs from the media and my peers, my parents were happy to tell me all about different religions and their beliefs, never saying if it was right or wrong (unless some beliefs within the religion conflicted with good morality, ie oppression, slavery, etc).

    In that way I grew up with logic, morals, and ethics being my “religion” of sorts. I don’t not believe in a higher power, and I don’t believe one cannot exist. I simply accept the rest of the world’s beliefs, and work on making myself a better person instead of conforming to, or working against, any other spirituality.


  93. Cara Bristol says:

    Bravo to you and your husband for finding your way out of the religious morass. I was taught that God exists, and I went to Sunday school. But I was never fully convinced and considered myself to be an agnostic. As an adult, I decided I finally need to know “the truth” and undewent some serious “soul”-searching. I read the Bible from cover to cover, read the New Testatment several times, read scores of Christian books, joined a church and attended “faithfully,” went to Bible study, talked with other Christians about God, Jesus and faith, and prayed. And after all of that, I emerged as an….atheist. I just don’t buy it.

    I think that people believe in God because they were taught to believe in God, much the way children believe in Santa Claus. Take away that education, indoctrination, brainwashing…and faith doesn’t hold up.

  94. jrwhIII says:

    The fact that one currently “cares” about other people does not mean he has a reason to care. One should consider the inherent despair of pointlessness. Any human project originating in man would be absurd in itself; a choice with no criteria for choosing.

    Have a strong conviction today, do drugs and have wild orgies tomorrow. It may be that atheists (professed or practical) do not do these things in any given case, but that they don’t must be accidental (according to their way of thinking) on a fundamental level.

    Besides, if someone is “caring” about me by their own standard, aren’t they taking the position that they can judge what is good for me and decide what to do or not do to me? Isn’t that arrogant? What gives them the right to decide how I should be treated?

  95. laurachinn says:

    My parents did a pretty good job of what you are describing: raising a moral and thoughtful child and leaving her options open to religion and spirituality. Eventually, I found my way to Quaker meeting, but that’s not the point. A couple ideas of what I think they did right:

    — they actively sought opportunities for me to experience religion. They encouraged me to spend Saturday night with Catholic friends and go to church in the morning, etc.

    — they encouraged me to be empathic by asking what I thought motivated other people and emphasizing the interrelated nature of the world

    — they taught me reverence for human life and nature through actions. My mother always speaks in a hushed voice when she sees a bird or takes us in the woods.

  96. I just want to say, as a person who was raised this way, I truly appreciate that my parents let me choose my beliefs for myself while still giving me a strong sense of morals and work ethic. As a middle schooler, I wanted to find a deeper sense of faith in my life – this did not necessarily mean Christian faith. I attended sessions at churches of all types (Quaker, Mormon, Protestant, Non-Denominational, etc.). I also visited a Buddhist Temple, a Wiccan gathering, read Seth Speaks (brilliant book, by the way), and, through all of this, found a set of beliefs and a spirituality that was all my own. I cannot thank my parents enough for believing in me enough to find my own beliefs, and to trust me enough to know that my spirituality would be honest and moral.

    Just thought I’d throw that out there : )

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      hannahfergesen – this is beautiful and just what I want to hear. Thanks for the comment.

    • Tony Hedrick says:

      The TRUTH doesn’t always have to make one feel quivery and good all over (once called the warm fuzzies). Sometimes the TRUTH is difficult to hear and goes against what we prefer to hear. I don’t like New Testament Christianity, that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he was the sinless God-man, that He rose from the dead, that He was God’s sin offering for the world.

      I prefer to hear something like, pick the things you like the most and in a New Age (revived paganism) way cobble it all together to suit oneself – a little of this a little of that. The problem with this notion is that one ultimately becomes their own God. In so doing, they wind up worshiping themselves.

      See if this might sound familiar… Hisssssssssss…”You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” Our first parents made up their own religion… “Hissss, Did God say? Hisssss.” They did what they were instructed not to do and though they did not die that instant, they were INDEED as dead as a doornail and this death has been passed on to all of humanity. All people are separated from the life of God.

      THIS IS SIMPLY THE, “I HAVE A BETTER IDEA” RELIGION OF CAIN… In the world over there are only two ways of attempting to please God, ATTAINMENT(Cain ie: every religious system on the planet: Judaism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox, Bahaism, Hinduism, Janism, Buddhism [though essentially atheistic], as well as much of Protestantism are all works -effort- based religions ) and ATONEMENT (Cain’s brother, Able ie: Jesus, “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.”)

      “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the ways thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12

  97. silkyvelvet says:

    To Skinny Sushi: Thank you for your insightful and excellent post!

    All too many parents think they HAVE to raise their children in an overtly religious, church-going environment in order for their kids to be good and decent. These parents, although well-intentioned, are mistaken. I was brought up in an atheist household – although I myself am a pagan – and I never felt I was deprived of moral bearings; I have a strong sense of integrity and honour.

    And as aside to the poster named Tony Hedrick: perhaps you could tone down the “my way or the highway” dogmatism and be a little more open-minded…

    • Andy says:

      As an aside to “silkyvelvet”,
      Who are you to tell Mr. Hedrick what to believe?! (And based on what? Your “opinion”?! The arrogance! By the way, Tony Hedrick is saying “God’s way or the highway” (based on the Revelation of God) not “his way or the highway”. That is one thing you don’t understand.

      Be careful not to be too “open-minded” or your brain might fall out!!!!

      • tonyhedrick says:

        It may surprise people to learn that Jesus of Nazareth was not patrticularly magnanimous. It was Jesus who said, “If you do not believe that I AM HE, ye shall die in your sins.” He also said, “But you will not come to me that you might have life.” Look here, don’t get angry with the mailman. I am simply delivering the mail.

        The first century Apostle’s made themselves most popular by delivering the mail, “You, by wicked hands have have taken the Holy and Just One and have crucified Him.”

        ” Andy… you’ll like this one, “Open windows are like open minds, we put screens on them to keep the bugs out.”

        The religious gathered togethered and collectively issued this edict to the Lord’s Apostles, “We demand that you speak no more in this name,” and to this they replied, “Well, you decide what you will do with us, but as for us we cannot keep silent about those things that we have both seen and heard! Who then should we obey, men or God?”

      • silkyvelvet says:

        Andy, either you misinterpreted my post, or you didn’t read my post at all. I was NOT telling Tony Hedrick what to believe; I never even implied that I was telling him what he should or shouldn’t believe. He is most certainly entitled to his beliefs and to express them; I never implied or stated otherwise.

        As for “God’s way or the highway”: well, you and Mr. Hedrick definitely have the right to express this, but please do not expect others – including me – to agree. This rigid way of thinking is why I could never get into Christianity.

        As I mentioned in my original post in this thread, I was brought up by atheist parents (who, by the way, never put down religiously-inclined people, teaching me that all people are entitled to their own beliefs and opinions), but as an adult, my spirituality is pagan. I’m an eclectic pagan, embracing a wide variety of neo-pagan cultures, including traditional British witchcraft (I’m of English ethnicity) as well as Greco-Roman and ancient Egyptian paganism. Due to my eclectic beliefs, it would never occur to me to be either rigid in my thinking or intolerant of others.

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        silkyvelvet – I find it interesting that nearly all of the negative/intolerant/threatening comments have been made by Christians. Doesn’t seem very Christlike to me….

    • Tony Hedrick says:

      Why is truth threatening?

      The reason we speak as we do is out of love.

      Assume that your house is on fire and you have been made unconsious by the smoke. I see the house ablaze, I jump out and run to your door. Would you be surprised if I did not politely knock waiting for your permission to enter the house. You would consider me unloving – even a coward – if I did not break the door down and risk my life to save you.

      This is exactly where we find ourselves.
      What if you believed what I believed?
      What if you believed that all people without Christ will perish?
      What if you did believe John 14:6?
      What if you did believe that people are blind?
      What if you believed that this is not a neutral world?
      What if you believed there is an adversary?
      What if you knew that people would falsely accuse you of intolerance, a lack of love?
      What if by experience and biblical warning that you knew this ahead of time?
      What would you do if you beleived that there was only one means of rescue?

      This is not being unloving at all. It takes enormous risk to say these things. By the way, I am getting responses. Some people are listening.

      Love is not fawning and nambypamby. We believe there are only two possible and ultimate outcomes and what men and women have done with Jesus will determine what that outcome will be.

      I have tried a number of ways of saying this and have learned that it does matter if you play wedding or if you play funeral. People do not like the exclusivity of Christ no matter how it comes. I have thrown caution to the wind.

      A high-Calvinist (which I am not) might say, “Some are predestined before the foundation of the world to perish so say what ever you like. God will save those that are predetermined to salvation and all others will remain in darkness.”

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        Tony – I will agree with you that I think most Christians argue their point out of love, in order to “save” the people they believe to be in spiritual danger, and I understand that. Also, although I don’t know if this was directed at me, I will say that when I mentioned “threatening” comments, it was in reference to comments I never published but received via email in which people literally threatened my safety, my family, and no matter how you look at it, that is not alright.

        I wonder, and I ask this with genuine curiosity, why it is that people are phrasing things the way they are. If your point truly is to save us non-believers, would it not be a wiser move to be kind, understanding, and open to discussion than to threaten hell and damnation?

  98. I was raised in a Southern Baptist church. I really started to question things when I went to a panel about writing erotica at the LA Times Festival of Books (clearly my upbringing did not have the extreme effects that it has had on some of my peers regarding sexuality!) and one of the panelists said that, while she cannot take credit for her daughter’s success, she is proud of the fact that she raised her daughter in a world without mortal guilt or sin.

    I liked this a lot. I have been questioning a lot of things since, which is why I am on WordPress in the first place.

    I think that it’s natural for everybody to question at one point or another, no matter what religion you are born into or whether you aren’t born into any religion at all. I know many good people, both religious and non-religious. I plan on raising my children in a non-specific-religion household. I guess I just wanted to say that reading this helped give me courage that this particular decision of mine isn’t wrong or despicable, despite what my parents have said.

  99. Katt says:

    I was raised Lutheran now I’m an agnostic with more pagan beliefs than anything. LOL.
    This will be an interesting adventure.

  100. I’m not sure if one necessarily needs a large social network to understand the importance and worth of those around them. I was always a bit of a loner myself, so perhaps it’s a bit strange that I found myself drawn so deeply to Humanism. Or maybe I’m just an oddity? *Shrugs*

    That aside, I would think that the ideas at the end of your post are great. Also, though I’m not sure how old your daughter is or if anyone suggested this earlier, the only other thing I would suggest is looking to see if perhaps there is some community volunteer work that you could get involved in as a family. It’d be a nice way to both get to know your community a bit better and potentially work to improve it. If she’s still a bit too young for any of the opportunities around you then maybe just keep it in mind for the future.

    Either way, thanks for the read and best of luck!


  101. jollyjam1 says:

    It is interesting that most forms of Christianity encourage us to have an individual relationship with God which by it’s very nature would be unique (as individuals no two relationships would be EXACTLY the same) and yet they want to put us into a cookie cutter formula. On the other hand, the sense of community, organized ministry, and fellowship can often outweigh the negatives. As for the moral upbringing, I’ve seen both sides. Some of the over-Christianized rebelled so far away from their upbringing that they lost their sense of morality. I’ve also seen kids who basically raise themselves develop a strong sense of morality…so being part of a church is no guarantee.

    I would like to point out however, that alcohol is a drug. It may be legal, but it is still a drug. That fact hit home the other day when a friend’s kid justified / compared using pot and drinking beer.

  102. Jordan says:

    Lots of great comments here. Too many to read, so if what I am going to say has been said… sorry.

    But most of the comments seem to leave the matter of whether or not your kids turn out ok as being completely up to you. It’s fine to try to raise them by your standards… but you have no control over who they end up becoming friends with and all the million other ways your children can be influenced. I’d spend some time asking whatever God is deepest in your heart to help where your own influence isn’t enough.

    If I have kids I am inclined to spend a good deal of time on my knees praying to my God (Jesus) to keep an eye on them for me.

  103. Greg says:

    Just wanted to put my two-cents worth in here. Most of what I’m seeing on the comments on this post are from people who have either felt guilt because of their former religious upbringing or simply let the world around them dictate that they shouldn’t be interested in finding God. For those who felt guilt, why did you feel guilt? Because Christianity (not Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormonism or Roman Catholics) is the only faith on Earth that holds one accountable for his/her own actions. Like it or not, given the choice, a person would much rather do something wrong than do something right. I’ve seen it with my own eyes with family and friends. Why? Because it feels good. And…I’m not immune to it, either. I’ve done things that I’m not proud of and would rather go back and not do them. But, being a Christian and having the Holy Spirit there makes all the difference in the world. I’m not perfect, but I know it, and I face my shortcomings and come out on top. The world all the time tells me to be myself, but being myself is a lot harder without faith in God and Jesus Christ. Take it from someone who has had a personal saving experience…nothing and no one can ever replace the love that God shows everyone–even those who do not believe in Him. If you’ve ever felt guilty for something, there was something there about which to be guilty. Christianity pointed it out, and those who left the faith wanted to simply escape from that guilty feeling, at least that’s the way I see it. No doubt about it, being a Christian is difficult, but the journey is worth every step. After all–aren’t the best things in life are the best things in life because you work hard for them?

    • I didn’t leave Christianity because of any sort of guilt. If you want to know, I left Christianity because it felt unfair to me. Unjust even.

      The Christian God is described as a jealous God, and it’s taught that if you don’t worship and pronounce him as the one and only true God, you are doomed to an eternity in Hell. The reason I left is because I saw many outside of my faith who, based on their actions, I felt were as deserving as anyone to go to Heaven and be rewarded in the afterlife. It didn’t seem right to me that these people would be punished for something so petty when they had lived lives that any sane person could be proud of regardless of their faith.

      And not everyone on Earth is as you describe. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and with my family and friends. I left Christianity not because I wanted to escape judgment but because I felt its criteria for salvation were slightly off. It was the inconsistency in message therein, that those who lead good lives could somehow still end up being tortured and punished for eternity, which convinced me that Christianity wasn’t for me.

      I fully acknowledge that God could possibly be real, and that my decision to not follow him could lead to my eternal damnation, but I simply refuse to follow a God who is more jealous and petty than I. Instead, I decided cast in my lot with the unjustly damned and do my best simply to live a good life and make this one chance I have on Earth one devoted to improving it for those around me and spreading love and compassion. If in the end God finds me unworthy simply because I refused to follow him, then so be, I will accept whatever punishment is to come knowing I lived a life I can be proud of.

      That said, I think that religion can be a great thing for people, and I certainly don’t hold your faith against you. I’m simply trying to show that my choice wasn’t one of avoiding shame, or guilt, or wanting to do wrong. It was because it was the only thing that felt right to me.

    • Well said Greg well said! Problem out there is religious Christians who think the deeds are greater than love and faith… Wait doesn’t it say among all these love is greatest. And doesn’t it say that love leads to repentance, and wait love casts out all fear! For some reason what I see in Christianity is a love story, between a Creator and creation!
      This post frustrates me so much and not because Skinny Sushi is wrong or something, but because the Christians she met in her life and the religion she really knows is a NOT the truth!
      Nothing can keep her kids safe and and give them “good” morals but just Jesus God and Holy Spirit. Look at the world you are living in… bad things do happen to good people! That’s because this world is lost… it doesn’t see a way out either.
      First of all Jesus never preached a religion, never preached rules, He told us Truth!
      And finally Jesus goal was to show you a better life not for Him but for YOU because He loves His creation, and He wants more for you…
      Why does the Bible say do this and do that, not to establish a rule book but because God knows the outcome of “bad” things therefor He said, “Hey don’t do that or this..” Wouldn’t you warn your child of a hot fire before your child burned themself…
      Relationship not religion = LOVE!

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        sergei & courtney – I should clarify that I know several wonderful, beautiful people who are devote Christians. They are friends and loved ones, and I love them and their beliefs because what they believe makes them who they are. However, I don’t believe the same things.

      • Greg says:

        Thank you for the kind comments. I’m glad even a few of you get what I mean. I really didn’t address the issue of the blog entry per se (about raising children with religion), but I will have an article in my own blog to address that. I was very concerned, however, about what I saw as most people who commented here were against Christianity in particular (though the comments were well-thought out and not angry). No one seems to think that other religions (Buddism, Wicca, etc.) might be wrong. I’ll send a link when my article is done to see what you all might think.

        God bless to all (and not just to the Christians here).

  104. suziemcc says:

    Great post. My husband have exactly the same story and prior to our marriage discussed in detail our plan for our offspring re: church. I grew up in an evangelical christian cult (basically) and so can’t really deal with organized stuff. He grew up catholic but as a teenager became frustrated with the church’s stance on numerous issues. We both consider ourselves agnostic. Like you and your husband, we have very strong principles that we intend to raise our offspring with but also like you, we struggle with the benefits of organized religion. My upbringing is obviously a deviant case– not great at all for a kid, but something like catholicism does offer an identity and positive values.
    Our bottom line, however, is that we can’t imagine raising our kid according to beliefs that we ourselves don’t hold. We’re still not entirely sure what we’ll do– we have 2-3 years to figure it out (I’m in my PhD and he’s at law school).
    My thoughts as of now are that the community, shared values, etc can be replaced if the parents actively attempt to do so. Religion is nice because it is a one stop shop basically– you get it all in one go and have the ability to be fairly passive– just send the kids to sunday school, youth group, summer camp, etc.
    It is possible, however, to instill a similar sense of community by planning where you’ll raise your kids. We plan, for example, to live in a liberal community where there is a similar respect for human rights by our neighbors and school teachers. By actively forming relationships on our part and exposing our kids to other people with these values, I think there’s an opportunity to duplicate our values.
    As far as sex, drinking, drugs, etc. there are plenty of church kids who still get involved in that. I think that those choices have to do with self-esteem, the presence of future goals, and maintaining a good parent-child relationship.
    These are just some musings of my own on the issue…
    Thanks for posting this– it’s helpful to hear that we’re not alone in our concerns/thoughts/ etc.

  105. williamgoit says:

    We raised our two boys in a spiritual house not a religious one. We certainly laid a moral foundation down. The eldest played around with pot and alcohol in high school, he is now quite straight at 22. The younger one was straight edge vegan and now at 19 likes to indulge in pot a bit, but is seeing through it all. Your kids start to think for them selves whether you like it or not. Acceptance is what we all want. Forcing your views on them is temporary at best. Lack of community is a big problem in modern America; I am sorry to say that church friends are not the same as community. True friendship has need involved. The closer you are to the earth the more you need each other. God or the Geometry of divinity is remote and not people friendly. To know God you need to get beyond human conditioning, this is not a game. Deity is another idea that is cultural and human friendly. Humans have mostly killed and beat each other up around this. We are thoughts first, energy follows thought. Teach your children to know themselves energetically beyond human conditioning. There a myriad of techniques; Chi Kung is my favorite. We need to teach our children how to get along in this temporary world. But this is not our home. We are spirit focused on this matrix of time and space, expressing our self with thoughts, energy, emotions and physicality, in that order. LaPazAcupuncture.com

  106. cunnart says:

    I will simply suggest this. A belief in a higher being is your version of god. What she chooses to believe in WILL ultimately be left up to her, whether you raise her in or out of a church. I believe in A god but is it THE GOD I don’t know. What I do know is there is a lot of stuff that even science cant explain. I will raise my children to believe in something greater as an agnostic would, but with a moral system akin to a christian church. Right and wrong viewed by most of the world is loosely based around that same principle. Me personally I believe God was invented by man to subjugate the fear of death, and the fact that nothing will happen after life. That, as a thinking rationalizing being can be terrifying. Or you can hope it is not that way as I do, teach your children to be good, and faithful, to what you teach them and live your life. Children if surrounded by a good group of people that love them will grow up to be good, there are exceptions but there are always exceptions to everything. I think as long as you can find a good community to help you raise her she will be fine.

  107. kalisisrising says:

    That is ABSOLUTELY the one thing I miss about belonging to an organized religion…community. I understood after moving cross country three times in less than two years what it must mean to be able to walk into a building and know that those are “your people” and that you would be accepted into their folds without hesitation. I didn’t have that and it was really difficult to put down roots and feel connected. It made me understand why so many people say that church is about more than just God. It’s a sort of built in community, wherever one might find themselves.

  108. Shawn says:

    Yes, going to church does instill values and promotes community–two of the many reasons I go to church. Why? Because values originate from the character of God and the community of the church is one of the foundational teachings in the New Testament.

    Incidentally, it is sad that your church taught sex as being a bad thing. In the Bible, sex is taught as a healthy, pleasurable act of intimacy. For example, in the Song of Solomon, the writer describes his sexual passion for his wife in vividly erotic and poetic language.

    • cunnart says:

      The LDS church doesn’t teach that sex is bad, it does teach that it is a intimate thing, but like many Catholics there are indeed issues to over come with such a harsh teaching of abstinence.

      I would also like to point out church’s and individual congregations can be clique and do not feel at all like a community, this will happen no matter what religion you are in. This and people only living a good “christian” life on sundays or christmas is what drove me from organized religion. I will hold church in my mind and my heart. I dont think god cares what church you are in as long as you live a good life.

  109. Nat says:

    A child’s perspective —

    I’m a high school senior. I’ve managed to balance a social life with academics. I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs (like you, “not even marijuana, not even once”… and I live in California!), or have sex. I think it’s important to mention: I’m exposed to all these things, they’re available to me. The opportunity is there, I choose not to take it.

    My parents raised me much as you plan to raise your daughter. I got a good moral background from my parents, not from religion. My values? For me it’s from extensive reading (including of religious texts, but I have to say, they’ve been generally a disappointment…) and distilling my own idea of what’s “good” and “right.” Children absorb the values of the people they respect.

    As for community, a lot of that gap is filled by clubs, community service, and (especially) sports. Most cities have local leagues that are noncompetitive. An interesting side effect of being “stranded” is that my family is very close-knit. If anything, the lack of rigidity has made me a better person and my family a stronger unit.

    As Bertrand Russell said, “Moral rules are broadly of two kinds: there are those which have no basis except in a religious creed; and there are those which have an obvious basis in social utility. … I will not deny that among semi-civilized communities in the past such considerations may have helped to promote socially desirable conduct. But in the present day … the earthly sanctions become more secure and the divine sanctions less so” (from “Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?”). In short, morals come not from religion but from social necessity.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Nat – what a lovely, refreshing comment. Thank you for showing the world that a child can be raised in a house of love, support, and reason and grow up to be an intelligent, well spoken, well researched young woman with morals, beliefs, and no particular urge to become a drug addicted alcoholic who beats puppies simply because they were not raised in a specific belief system. I hope my daughter grows up so well spoken!

  110. shenanitims says:

    You might want to keep your daughter away from any churches. I don’t recall any major religion having too kindly views of women-folk. “Community” can mean anything. Your neighbors, friends, other members of clubs she’ll be involved in. Why not give her the opportunity to grow up with all the guilt/baggage religion left you with?

  111. free2beinamerica says:

    You wrote:

    “In the end, shouldn’t we be good people because it’s just the right thing to do, independent of judgment from on high?”

    My question is this, how do you know what is the right thing to do? Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to convince you to join some church or accept some belief system. But the basic question is this, how do you really know what is right and wrong?

    If you are religious and belong to some church then they tell you what is right and wrong. But if you reject their authority (and “authority” is the most important word here) then how do you know?

    I am not LDS (in this lifetime) but I accept one of their answers. Seeking a “witness” of truth seems to be a good plan. On the other hand I have tried to solve the answer given by the un-religious and un-believing from purely rational grounds and have never found their answer satisfying. I am not just a lump of clay that will die and lose its life force at some time and go off into the dark nothingness and become nothing.

    Anyway, I don’t disagree with your path. Rejecting authority is a good thing. Perhaps if we reject false authorities then through the spirit inherent in all we can find the true authority that can indeed tell us what is right and wrong.

  112. itzexodus says:

    Good stuff in this. I read through a lot of the comments here, a lot of sense, a lot of substance.

  113. Shannon says:

    I can so relate to this. I was raised as a mormon and my husband was raised in a polygamist group. Try merging those 2 disasters together and figure out how not to be guilt ridden and feel like we are going straight to hell, lol.
    We too live in a small community. A very mormon one in Utah. We seem to be the project of every new bishop or missionary. It never ends. Luckily people are still very good to us and we have great friends. Our 3 kids have plenty of social events in school, sports and just the community in general. They even attend some things that the church puts on for kids and that is all good to us but does tend to raise some questions.
    We do answer questions according to our beliefs if something comes up. It does often trust me. I love the way you are raising your daughter that says so much about you both and believing that she can make good choices and is her own person.
    Thanks so much for sharing this.

  114. neurotype says:

    Take her to a temple 😀

    I had a friend whose parents would take her to different kinds of churches over time. The community isn’t as strongly built (unless of course you make friends with whom you spend outside time), but neither are the downsides.

  115. Since you and your husband identify yourselves as agnostics, you might be interested in reading C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” Lewis was once an agnostic. He lays out a very rational, logical explanation of his faith and does not push any particular denomination.

  116. Jess Neiweem says:

    If it helps at all, my parents raised me churchless. I’m now a professional with a M.S. in my mid-twenties. I don’t drink, have never done illegal drugs (not even once 😉 ), am sexually responsible, volunteer, and work in a public service profession. My parents did a stellar job with teaching me responsibility and morality; the lack of a church did not impede them one bit. Have confidence that you can raise caring, ethical children without the framework of religion! 🙂

  117. rebekkaseale says:

    This is SO INTERESTING! I have loved reading this post as well as everyone’s responses.

    As a member of a church myself, I know what you are talking about re: the “community” issue. My church community is so much like a family…when somebody has a baby, people line up to bring them meals. When the flood hit last month (I am in Nashville, TN), our entire congregation spent weeks caked in mud, cleaning and rebuilding what so many of our members lost. I feel so grateful and humbled by the generosity and community of our church family, a family that really does what (in my opinion) Christ called us to do…take care of each other!!!

    Are there any church-like organizations that your family can be a part of? What about a Unitarian church, or similar church that is more open to various belief systems? Just a thought! Thanks for being so open and honest 🙂

  118. H says:

    I was raised in an atheist household. Never went to church. I was never sexually promiscuous or a crazy partier and I’ve never done drugs. My two older siblings turned out the same way. On the other hand, I’ve known many strict church-goers who got drunk every weekend in college and seemed to have sex with anyone they made eye contact with. I consider myself to be a very moral person. I always try put myself in other people’s shoes and never judge. I help others as much as I can. I treat them how I’d want to be treated and look out for my family and friends. I feel the parents teachings of morals hold a lot more weight on a child than a church’s teachings.

    I praise you for your open-mindedness and trust me, you have nothing to worry about! Your daughter’s going to turn out just fine!

  119. onrider says:

    I read the original post and that is all I am responding to.I do respect you letting your child ultimately choose. In this world we live in people have a 30 second attention span. The tragedy of such a predicament is that superficiallity is often the result. Like anything if one wants to understand religion, law, automobiles whatever one should research such issues and based on reasonable study come to a personal conclusion. I am not suggesting that has not been applied here. Contention is not my point. My point is that in most things a good transparent teacher can be found and thus help us come to reasonable conclusions in life. The flip side is agenda oriented teachers and people show us only a narrow view because that is all they want us to see. I am a seminary graduate . Check out my website. The Hour Glass by O.N.Rider http://bc3f86.wordpress.com/

  120. Most of my childhood was about going to Sunday school and Church. Sunday school was fun because of all the activities that we could do. But like school, I found it boring otherwise. My parents would take me to Church every Sunday, but I would never listen or sit still. It came to the point that they needed to bribe me with candy to shut me up lol. To this day, I cannot recall a single word from any of the masses I attended. Going into my high school years, we stopped going because of certain opinions on a certain subject.

    I have not done any drugs. Nor have I gotten piss drunk at some party at a strangers house. Essentially, I’m a good kid 🙂

    Now, I believe in a higher power (don’t know what that is called), could be God or Gods, could be some ball of light. Just that there is an afterlife. I don’t like the thought of there being nothing after we die. When I finally was able to think on my own, inevitably my mind wandered over to religion and spirituality. I got to thinking that I was being forced a belief that I did not want. Eventually, I made up my mind that I want my life to be spiritual instead of religious.

    Sure, religion does promote community. I sure didn’t benefit from it though. I thought that was my parents job lol. It promotes values too. And I didn’t hear a word of it. My parents taught me all of it. Nagging and nagging for my entire life has finally broken through my bubble and is deep set. Sure they may have gotten some of them from Church and the Bible, but thou shalt not murder and respect other just seems really like common sense to me.

    My point is that you shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that “ohh, without religion our kid became a druggie and an alcoholic sadface”. Maybe you should look at the kid. I’m pretty sure that skipping on something that others can teach them isn’t going to be always negative. There will always be bad eggs when it comes to people.

  121. Enjoyed this post IMMENSELY!

    Hubby is a scientist and I’m in education – and we approach things so intellectually.

    I’m on the spiritual exploratory end and hubby is on the “yeah, somebody big is out there, but I’m not going there” end.

    I read various religious artifacts, books, websites, etc…with my oldest (11) because she’s so curious. (Plus all the religious references in books, TV shows and movies have her asking question after question…) But I often question why I’m not in church on Wed and Sundays considering I went to K-8 Lutheran school and spent summers in MS – going to LONG Baptist church services with my paternal and maternal grandparents. Hmmm….

    When our daughter was born (the 1st grandchild on both sides), my mother-in-law kept asking ME over and over and over WHEN we were going to get this baby baptized. My hubby and I hadn’t even THOUGHT about getting the then baby baptized. I was a bit annoyed and felt judged because that was not a priority for US, but she kept asking ME about it. UGH!!!

    Well our 2nd child was born 8 years later – and my mother-in-law moved in with us, and not once did she ask me about getting this 2nd child baptized. GOOD FOR HER!

  122. I think a lot of this discussion has pointed out one extremely prevalent detail that I’ve always found interesting: religion (as it appears to me) is a soft feathery pillow to cushion those who need to assign a reason or explanation to everything. It is the ultimate fall-back excuse for anything and everything that we cannot explain ourselves in this life we live. I personally take comfort in the fact that I do not need to know where I go when I die or what will happen to me if I do not accept a made-up “all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing” figure or deity into my life. I have a strong belief in the power of the human race and I think many religions undermine the sheer brilliance, magic and intelligence of our species. We really don’t give ourselves credit for everything we have created and everything we are capable of. I do not see this as arrogant or conceited of me or anyone else that believes this, too. I find this extremely empowering and heartwarming because I do not need any more explanation outside of the fact that we are human and we all make mistakes and will never reach any sort of perfection. This is because perfection does not exist and I think it is unfortunate to constantly live in the shadow of some magnificent being that we will never attain to. I don’t want to live my life with a constant need to have some relationship with something or someone out of this world that I continuously need to be forgiven by.

    This is just the way I see it. You can agree with me or disagree with me, but like another commentator up there, I truly request to not be replied to with some sort of scripture. I really don’t care what some old guy had to say who knows how many years ago. It is a story to me that got blown out of proportion and that is what it will always be. I am simply stating my opinion on this subject. I know this is kind of off-topic from the original post but the comments everyone has been making have really got my brain thinking!

    Everyone, find beauty in the world around you, no matter who you think created it, whether a gigantic explosion from nothing or a higher being. It is a truly fascinating place out there and it would be a shame to spend life constantly looking for something outside of it.

    Once again, thank you Skinny Sushi for such an interesting and diverse discussion.

  123. Katie says:

    I’d like to add something else you might want to consider.

    A few years ago, I don’t remember how many now, an agnostic couple wrote in to one of those “Ask Annie” kind of columns in the newspaper. They had recently had a baby and were feeling pressured by their families to raise the child in a church. The question was whether or not they ought to, since they don’t believe in it. The answer was yes, not for any moral cause, but simply because a lot of stories that children will be reading in their literature classes in junior high, high school, and college usually make some sort of allusion to something from the Bible. So if you want your child/children to understand what they are reading when they are older, a little Sunday School couldn’t hurt.

    Of course, that is completely and entirely up to you.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Katie – she could easily be taught Bible stories at home, and I have every intention of doing so, just as I would any other piece of major world culture. Whether you believe the Bible to be true or not, it is still an important piece of information that deeply impacts our daily culture, and as such I would want her to be familiar with it.

  124. T-Bar says:

    For those who are Christian, there is no option of “not” going to church without disobeying Scripture. Addtionally, to not tithe 10% of your income is defined as theft in Malachi. People in church aren’t perfect…but, there is a church for you. Plug in.

    • andydbrown says:

      Well said! There are those who claim to be Christian today who will say, “I don’t have to go to church to believe in God.” They have no sense of seeking God’s will which is made quite clear in Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” A verse, by the way, that someone shared with me and convinced me of my need to seek fellowship in a church many years ago. “What’s missing from CH..CH?….UR!!!” 🙂

  125. Kristina says:

    Congratulations on the WordPress homepage promo!

    I grew up Catholic (major CCD classes and Sunday morning masses). Some priests freaked me out, yet some we’re so inspiring. 40 years later, I still believe in something greater than all of us and we are the sum of its/his/her parts; it’s about love, acceptance, and just being a compassionate person. Whether it be an online or offline community, we’re all connected.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  126. loudliving says:

    I believe in God, but tire easily of the overly religious, who see God in the outcomes. I had some outcomes that didn’t fit in with their formula ( child’s addiction) and went from super elder to basic outcast overnight. If God didn’t want us to be human and that implies making mistakes, having sex, etc…he would have made us differently. Just my thoughts.

  127. This is basically going to be an advertisement for the Catholic Church. I’ll be up front with you. Let me start with this. Not to lead a child somewhere is to lead him nowhere. If a child doesn’t get some religious instruction when young, there is little chance he will ever decide to do so when he is older. A child needs the roots. If the roots are left alone for years, at least they will be there should the child decide to water them later and learn about God.

    OK. Here goes. Here is why I believe fully in the Catholic Church. First, it is the one, true faith established by Jesus Himself when He told Peter, “you are Peter [which means rock], and upon this rock, I will build my church.” Peter has had successors all the way down to the present day. We call them popes.

    Second, Jesus told the people they must eat his flesh and drink is blood if they are to have life in them. So, if you don’t do that, you have no life in you. We’re talking about eternal life here. You don’t want death! At the last supper, Jesus instituted holy communion by taking the bread, giving thanks, and telling his apostles, this is my body, take and eat. Afterward, he did likewise with the cup and said, this is my blood, take and drink. So, now we have a church, established by Christ, who said we must eat/drink his flesh/blood (in the form of bread and wine) in order to have life. This is the mass. This is what Catholics are to do on Sunday. A person can also go to daily mass. No other faith, even protestant or evangelical Christians, has this…the real presence of Christ Himself at their services. Only the Catholic Church believes that when Jesus said, this is my body and blood, he meant it. And when we “do this in memory of” Him, we are obeying Him. (People don’t like the idea of obeying these days. Everybody wants to decide for themselves what is right and wrong, much like Adam and Eve, despite the fact that things are laid out on a silver platter for them if they only they take advantage of it.

    Third, there is such a vast amount of knowledge and truth in the Catholic Church. If a Catholic is properly formed, or educated, in the faith, I don’t think he would ever leave the Church. Unfortunately, very few people are really educated in the faith. The average Catholic knows as much about the history of the Church as the average American knows about the history of our country. If I asked my Catholic friend to tell me about St. Augustine (a big figure in the history of the Church), or if I asked him about John Adams, I’d probably get the same answer to both questions, “I don’t really know much about him.” I, myself, a born and raised Catholic, have just a superficial knowledge of the faith, but the last couple of years, I’ve been making an effort to learn more, and it is just amazing!

    People have been complaining about the sex abuse scandal lately, and rightly so. I don’t condone or defend abuse. I can tell you that in the ’60s, though, there was quite a migration of future abusers into the Church, the priesthood, and now the truth about them is being brought to light. Good! As bad as it was, I’m glad it only lasted a few decades. That may sound like a long time, but consider 2 millenia of the Church existence.

    This is getting long. I’ll stop here. My two main points are: 1.) a child NEEDS to be taught about God from their youngest days. They can choose to abandon the faith later. If they are not given religious direction, they will wander aimlessly through life and be lucky to stumble upon faith later in life. 2.) I fully believe the Catholic faith is the only true faith, and you and your children should become Catholic. All other faiths are false. Shocked? If you don’t believe your faith is right and true to the exclusion of all others, then you don’t really have much faith. Do you? Take care, and may the peace of Christ be with you all.

  128. Jala says:

    I’ve kept up with the thread this evening. It’s rare to find people who can articulate their thoughts so clearly and rebuttal so many with such poise. I think most of us as parents pause to consider these spiritual issues, and at the end of the day, you must do what feels right, irrespective of societal/family pressures. Your daughter will learn from the moral example you set and, in time, she will draw her own conclusions about religion — inevitably we all do, don’t we? In the interim, kudos to you and your ability to express yourself as well as you have today. I look forward to reading your future posts. ` jala

  129. I loved your post. I myself was raised without a church and I do not believe in God and have (at least what I consider to be) a very strong sense of morals. I know right from wrong because my parents were masters at teaching me not to judge others, have respect for others, treat my body well and getting me to ask myself what I really thought was good or bad. I think that most mentally stable people can figure out for themselves that it is wrong to steal, hurt others, lie, cheat and all the rest of it without being told that a god thinks that it is wrong.

    I think it’s wonderful that you are letting her make her own choices. As far as community goes, there are tons of things to do. I was always enrolled in baseball, soccer, rugby, cadets or brownies.

  130. angstman says:

    Bravo. While I am decidedly Atheist, I liked what you had to say. Like you, I was never a big party guy, never did or even tried drugs in any form, and was never detrimentally promiscuous. But I have never spent more than enough time in a church to get through a wedding or funeral. I firmly believe that we can teach our children without going to church. Socially, I guess my wife and I are fortunate to have a circle of friends who think pretty much the way we do, so the ideals of friendship, community, and caring for others has not been missing from our lives (nor do we feel like we’re missing out on that by not going to church).

    It’s a wide open field of discussion, but no one has ever been able to adequately explain to me how god and cancer can both exist at the same time. When someone gets cancer, everyone prays. Lo and behold, sometimes cancer is conquered and oh sweet jesus the prayers worked! Everyone came together and through the power of prayer, this person’s life was saved.

    Stop and think about that scenario for a moment. Christians would never pause to think about how ridiculous this scenario is. They would never question it because they prayed and the person lived. Prayer is so powerful. It is mightier than the sword, more universal than any force you can imagine. BUT, if the person dies…well, it was “god’s will”. Part of his plan and those left standing are supposed to be comforted by the idea that Bob was in their lives all too briefly but he touched them all and taught them something, and that was god’s plan for him. But wait a minute. We were just talking about prayer and how it saved someone from cancer’s grip, right? So weren’t these people praying against god’s will? Weren’t they fighting their deity? Does no one else see that? Am I the crazy one? And why oh why would you not pray for every living soul to NOT get cancer in the first place? It may be cancer, or MS, or Down’s, or any number of other debilitating conditions or birth defects that either prove god does not exist or serve to illustrate that he is so perverse that he would afflict an innocent child with any one of those atrocities.

    Sorry — I digress. Like I said…I dug your post.

  131. Lisa says:

    Good post! I still consider myself a Christian, but don’t go to church anymore.

  132. Alex Trice says:


  133. There’s a term for people who believe / raise their kids with multiple religious options. It’s called religious pluralism. I learned about this on a site called religioustolerance(dot)org. Just thought I’d share.

    That’s not my web site. I have no affiliation to it. But I also raise my children to avoid dogma and choose a religion that appeals to them at a spiritual level, so I thought I’d pass on this as a resource which has been most helpful to me in answering my children’s questions about various religions with which I know so little about.

  134. lifeofdi says:

    That has been one of the most frustrating things for me after leaving the Mormon church. I think I have done okay on most fronts, but I really miss the community aspect of it. I am naturally something of a homebody so it’s hard for me to get out and do things, but I did join a dance-type gym that gave me some friends. Sounds like a playgroup would be a good idea for your child. Even just getting outside, to parks or the pool or something, gives your daughter more of a chance to meet people and for you to create relationships with other parents.

    Mormons are great about creating a huge network, but it can be a little lonely separating yourself from that. Good luck.

  135. lexicanna says:

    Thank you for speaking about this. It is hard to explain such feelings and beliefs to those who don’t understand. When I was raising my son more than 20 years ago I wanted to write a book about how to raise a child without the burden of religion. The problem was, there were few places to turn to find acceptance and guidance. Certainly, there were many more like me out there, but there was no community, as you say. But, then, like others have said here, we found community in other ways, particularly in not letting the religious beliefs of others get in the way of friendship and community based on shared interests. Morals are conveyed much more by action and to a lesser degree by exposure to values in literature and theater and other forms of entertainment . (If you pick positive, value-laden entertainment for yourself and them, you provide an example they carry with them through life.) I didn’t take the time to read all 171 comments, but I applaud you for writing and caring about this – and for responding to so many.

  136. Lotus says:

    LOVE this! I was raised in a Christian family and around high school decided I didn’t believe in any of it. Now I’m an agnostic. I wouldn’t worry about your daughter’s childhood lacking in any way. Though I was raised in the church, when I find myself in a moral struggle, I don’t hear the voice of the church telling me right from wrong. I hear the voice of my mother. She taught me more about morality than the church ever did. You can DEFINITELY do the same for your daughter.

    As for the sense of community, I’m not sure what to do about that, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to instill that as well. Just give it time. You never know what opportunity may present itself.

  137. Su Delegado says:

    I am LDS (mormon), and very religious; the Church has a deep meaning for me and I attend every sunday.
    And yet, I agree with those who say that morality can be taught without God.
    I think the point of this life is to be a good person, whether you are religious or not. And it doesn’t matter which religious option (or lack thereof) you choose. If it brings you happiness and pushes you towards progress and self-fulfilment, you’re on the right track.
    So, yes, morality is implicit in most religious systems, but it is not dependant on them.
    Whether they are LDS, Catholic (as most of my friends are, and they are great!), Protestant, Agnostic, etc., etc., etc., is up to them, and that’s great if they truly believe what they claim to believe and are good. And goodness is not exclusive of Theology. I’ve met both amazing people and awful people, ethicallywise speaking, on every single religion I have had contact with.

  138. donna_m says:

    there are so many good comments! it took me most of my life to realize that some of the most God filled people i know are those who question God, rant at God, bargain with God and talk to God like they would to anyone else in their circle… King David in the bible comes to mind – so does a certain irish rock star (i read his book). I grew up in the church, i no longer go to church but one day i will go find a good one and attend again – but as one of the first posters said, i had a good strong moral foundation by attending church with my parents…who then let me as a teenager make my own choices, let me fall away from ‘religion’ all together, and let me find my own way back (if that’s what i wanted). i cant imagine what i would be like now if not for the early foundation to use as a gauge.

  139. bookwriter2 says:

    My friend and I have recently published a story book for children called “Why Don’t We Go to Church” We wrote the book after hearing stories of children of atheist,agnostic parents facing conflicts with religious children about their non-belief. If you are interested you can view our website www. primevalsoupbook.com. We are both family people with children and grandchildren, none of which are churchgoers. All of our famly members are moral,loving people guided by their caring natures. They were raised with the love of life and not the fear of God.

  140. Tiffin says:

    I think a lot of people are missing the point, here. It’s not that surrounding oneself with “church people” or “church structure” or religion in general is some odds-maker for a better future for you or your kids.

    Look, why do you want them to have some sense of morals anyway? It’s because living life unselfishly (or morally, if you prefer) actually leads to an experientially better life! I happen to think that God loves us and wants us to be happy, and that we are happiest when we live our lives for him (and, by extension, others). Honestly, I don’t think it’s a big secret that the greatest happiness in life exhibits itself in loving others so much that you are willing to give your life for them.

    Now, it’s interesting to me that your main memory of morality is doing thing X or Y so you avoid the wrath of the Almighty. If that’s what your church preached as the motivation for doing good, then it rather makes sense that you’re wary of sending your child to church. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone I love being exposed to that sort of teaching either! I’m not sure if that’s a teaching the Mormon church is more prone to or not, but I can’t speak to that. For the sake of being forthright, I was raised as an evangelical Christian, and I’m 24.

    Anyway, I suppose I’m getting a little long-winded, but what I’d really like to say is this: church alone means nothing if you don’t subscribe to the beliefs its people espouse. And I can hardly expect (or in another sense, want) you to send your child to church (and is it even a good idea to “send” kids to church without agreeing with the beliefs they’ll be hearing?) without holding any sort of meaningful faith yourself. I hope that when I have kids of my own, I share my beliefs with them and expose them to the faith I hold on a regular basis. But not to indoctrinate them or shelter them from the real world for the sake of predetermining what conclusions they’ll come to about how the world works — I want to prepare them to ask the right questions. I want them to see firsthand what human nature is capable of, to both extremes, and I want them to be ready to make the big decisions for themselves. Faith in something without trust in its resilience to the toughest questions of life is hardly a faith worth exposing children to.

    Of course, putting one’s faith in something usually requires quite a bit of resilience to begin with.

    My $0.02.

  141. This article caught my interest. Rarely will I read something off the Freshly Press dashboard, but this one caught my attention.

    I am glad that I had a chance to read your words. There is much wisdom in what you have said. My wife and I have slowly been making our way back into the Mormon Faith (She was a convert and I grew up in the Church).

    What really sunk deep into my thoughts on this is the openness that you are willing to allow your own child to explore. Most parents tend to force it onto their kids, and this ends up backfiring on them, while others just don’t really care and it back fires on them.

    From my own personal experience, and now that my wife and I have our own daughter, it is very true that the best classroom is the home. It is the first place where a child learns about the world around them. Children will do what they see their parents do.

    For my wife and I, we had long decided that (after we found out she was pregnant, and it was going to be a girl) our daughter will be taught modesty. We are not going to be “strict” modest parents where she has to don a dress every day of her life, but being able to choose clothes that are modest in appearance.

  142. It seems odd to me that you would dishearten serious thinking about which moral path to choose in life and instead go with what is offered up to you because its easier and less ‘confusing’

  143. natinanorton says:

    Very interesting read. After growing up in the Catholic Church, post-high school I too found myself spiritually driven but no longer subscribed to any organized religion. The conflict between a rational life and the morality and sense of community religion provides can be a struggle. Ultimately, however, I think living a good life, being good to others and being happy is a far better existence to strive for; God or no God.

    The philosophical argument of Pascal’s Wager is quite a compelling read on the subject if you’re interested: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager).

    Keep up the good work!

    My Blog: http://crosswordcharlie.wordpress.com/

  144. itisis says:

    for many of us, nothing is absolute, for some of us, God is absolute. I think learning to respect one another is more important and telling one what is to do and not to do. The writer here is writing from experience, growing up as a child and now a parent. I respect the transparency and boldness here, and also, i sense humbleness. good for you.

  145. Christopher Beverly says:

    I love this post, I lived in Utah for three years, Cedar City, and Payson haha. I saw plenty of ex-mormons who rejected the entire teachings of their religion. I am not a religious person at all because of my own personal views on the subject. I am glad to hear you and your husband are intelligent and normal people. Your child will be better off in the world than most. It sounds like you two will set her up for a good life. Critical thinking and questions will help her teach herself things that others don’t see and morally her parents seem to be pretty sound. Religion is not THE answer, but for some people it can be.

  146. gregw89 says:

    I agree entirely with your views on organized religion. It shouldn’t be required to fear punishment from a higher being to do good, it should be taught as just the right thing to do. I also believe that the community factor of churches are the only positive thing, but it also can build a sense of prejudice for those who don’t believe in the religion or don’t resemble those in the church. In the end, there are alternatives to gaining the advantages of religion and church, such as good moral teaching and sports/neighborhood community groups, but it is up to you the parents to choose what is most advantageous for your daughter. Nice post.

    • Mike says:

      You shouldn’t do good because you fear punishment from God. You do good because you love God. A person wants to serve and to please those they love. If you love your parents, you help them when they need it. If you love your spouse, you serve your spouse. If you love your child, you teach your child to love also. What is the source of love? God.

  147. macroideal says:

    Yea. I am not religious..Several yrs ago we believe in our Mighty Party, but right now, We only believe in Nothing…
    We got real

  148. Anja Marais says:

    About your concerns:
    Your daughter is already born with morality and will mimic yours. It is a fallacy that morality is derived from religion. We are born with it. Check out this TED video about morality and science: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/ted-science-can-answer-moral-questions/

    Sam Harris is also coming out with a book called the “Moral Landscape” in October with an interesting argument that we do not have to go to church to be good people. We are born with the knowledge of right and wrong.

    I do think you are making very healthy rational choices for your child. I wish my parents were this clear headed.

  149. Kat says:

    I am raising my daughter to believe in her. To not put her energy into a 3rd person, a middle man. I researched religions for 23 years and each one is immoral in it’s own way. I had to go to church as a child and I hated it. I never slept around as a teen, but I have certainly done many drugs. This is not because or in spite of church but because of the abuse I suffered. The fact that no-one including God helped me! I think the type of power I would want her to have is personal power, to love herself and never let anyone hurt her.
    I think as parents we have little say over how our kids turn out. I think we play a small part. Take for instance in those teenage years….. it won’t be us as parents that have any persuasion over what they CHOOSE to do.
    I think we are born to be what we are born to be, we bring our own lessons and we must learn them!!
    I wish you well on your journey.

  150. hayleyneal says:

    How do you decide what makes your child happy? Even if she chooses to become a cannibal who murders her food and yet makes her happy… would you be okay if this floated her spiritual boat?

    I find it difficult to know how you can decide what a “good” life looks like objectively, especially when you don’t believe in an objective moral giver…

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      hayleyneal – there is a difference between happiness, true happiness, and the simple fulfillment of desires. That being said, the only thing I can really do is give her the tools to find her own happiness. If she is loved, supported, educated, and trusted, in the end there will come a time when I have to let go and let her become the person she will be.

      Also, as I have said MANY times now, I firmly believe that it is possible to know right and wrong without a God calling the shots. There is such a thing as a social conscience.

      • hayleyneal says:

        Thanks so much for your reply and I think you are right that we all want to see our children equipped with the best tools they can have to navigate through life.

        I just don’t know if social consceince is a tangible tool??

        I do believe there is a social conscience too… we are human after all. Christians, Muslim, Bahai, Agnostic have the ability to think according to the rules of logic and reason (some better than others). We, humans, can weigh and make many scientific discoveries; choices that reflect a deep sense of social conscience (morality). But its then where we place those facts… chance? purpose by a God? just cause? chemical composition?

        I think we would therefore be able to agree that there seems to remains that there is some sense that morality exists outside of humanity itself? Something that enables some sort of measuring stick for our social conscience? Otherwise we are left in a world of subjective relativism where my right is right as long as it is ‘right’ to me and your right is right as long as your ‘right’ is ‘right’ for you. Oh and only when really your ‘right’ corresponds with the ‘right’ of the majority of people around you.

        One persons ‘right’ that Mohammad is god cannot correspond with another persons ‘right’ that Jesus is the way the truth and the life or with the another person who believes everything in creation is god. Just because one god makes me happy and another god makes you happy doesn’t mean it is the right path for either of us. I think claims of truth eventually cancel each other out, or one must admit defeat and be wrong allowing the other to be ‘right’.

        Where do you see the source of your social conscience? And what happens when this social conscience comes into conflict with another social conscience from another community or culture or nation?

        I’d also love to hear your insights to the differences between happiness, true happiness and simple fulfillment of desires?

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        hayleyneal – thanks for keeping the discussion respectful. I’ll try to hit all of your points… I don’t know if any sort of moral compass is a “tangible tool,” religious or otherwise. I would argue that religious ideals and morals are just as diverse, sometimes seemingly arbitrary, and in disagreement with one another as personal morals are. Just as every religion claims the truth and the right and believes all others to be false, most people have disagreements about the details of right and wrong. That being said, I think there are some basic morals common to all people that include a respect for life, a support of family groups (although they are defined differently by different people), and an attempt to make sense of the world around them in terms that take into account their cultural and physical surroundings.

        This is just a thought, and I am sure not a popular one, but I’ve often wondered if one person’s Mohammad (who is not equated with God as I understand it) and another person’s Jesus just might be the same god. I know it makes me radical in terms of religious thought, but I think I’ve already proved most religious people don’t like my thinking…

        I don’t know where social conscience comes from. Innate humanity? Social constructs? Certainly some of it is informed by secular laws and cultural makeup. So long as you’re willing to respect the laws and customs of another place when you’re there, I don’t know if conflict matters. If your moral system is based on a general respect for life and others rights to live, and for the respect of secular laws, I don’t think conflict is anything more than an intellectual issue. I could be wrong.

        Obviously something like happiness is hard to define. What I’ve been trying to say, though, in response to comments that suggest a lack of God will lead to total anarchy and rampant drug use is that there is a difference between the immediate gratification of momentary desires (which, in general, do not lead to extremes of substance abuse, etc, without external pressures), short term happiness (get a degree, buy a car,) and long term (what I think of as “true”) happiness, which for me has more to do with fulfilling goals and dreams, finding love, raising a family, finding contentment, understanding who you are…

  151. Summer says:

    Let your daughter try being a Muslim. You’ll be doing her a great favor.

    • andydbrown says:

      Would that favor include the part in the Quran where her husband can beat her back into obedience if she does something he doesn’t like? OR the part of her witness being only worth 1/2 that of a male? She could go to Saudi Arabia where women are not even allowed to drive or leave the house without a male companion who must be a member of her family (like a dog!). OR perhaps she could go to Afghanistan where she could worry about her school being blown up or having acid thrown in her face as “women shouldn’t be educated” as many there believe.
      Some favor!!!

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        andydbrown – I think it’s rather obvious that no parent would wish harm on their children. And since we don’t live in Saudi Arabia, that is sort of a moot point. None of the things you point out are religious. They are ALL cultural, as many many MANY Muslims live devoted lives in service to God without any of those things being involved in their beliefs or worship. As such, I suggest your comment is both culturally biased and irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

  152. Pastor T says:

    I’m a youth pastor. Here’s my advice – love your kids and get them in a place where they feel loved! I know for myself, I’m all about the young people I work will being encouraged, positive and empowered. Yes, we do talk a lot about Jesus, because for me it’s a real important thing. But, I know in school and places, competition and having to “be the best” can really kill a young persons confidence!

    My advice – find a great, encouraging church for them to hang out – where they’re valued, but not excluded for not being “fully” involved.

    And encourage them to find out what they believe – I’ve seen so many young people who wreck themselves because they have no “purpose”, they see no point to their lives! It’s worth getting them to think about it all! You can believe in science and believe in God!

    Love them, encourage them. Church should be an amazing, grace-full, love-full place for everyone, including young people! Hopefully there’s one near you?

    I hope you find this OK! 🙂

    • paddyK says:

      @Pastor T:

      “You can believe in science and believe in God!”

      With all respect, no, you can’t. You don’t “believe” in Science, you can simply show that it works. If fact you don’t HAVE to believe in science at all, that’s the whole point.

      Belief and proof are not – NOT – the same thing. So stop pretending they are. And go read up on how Science actually works before you drag it into conversations about religion.

  153. There is good and bad in all organizations including religion and churches. But I agree that it takes more than parents to raise and influence a child’s moral development. A church is so much more than just religion. It’s a community of generally good hearted people who care and support their members. It’s a “safe” place for a child to grow and learn. It’s helps to tip the scales of good and evil as your child faces the temptations and peer pressure in this evil world. Children will naturally grow up to become adults capable of questioning their own belief system just like you did. Taking them to church will only give them a basis to begin their questioning.

  154. paddyK says:

    I left the Catholic Church in spirit twenty years ago and officially (by sending in the papers) just last month.

    To be honest, I always get surprised when I discover that there ARE religious people in the world. I assumed everybody got over it, as I did, once I learned how reality actually works. I happily live in a secular country (Sweden) where it is the religious who are seen as being a bit odd. Which, when you look at religions, isn’t in the slightest bit surprising.

    Morals have nothing to do with religion. Nothing. Good people have good kids and I wish you all the best with raising curious, loving children who are encouraged to always make up their own minds. About EVERY question.

  155. eelvelin says:

    I find a lot of comfort in knowing that there are open-minded people like you in the world. 🙂

  156. memoirmadgirl says:

    i’ve seen and heard of quite a few horrible things done in the name of faith and love. Hopefully it is better to act love and goodness than just claim it. You don’t need to prescribe to a religion to act love and goodness.

  157. I completely agree with you! I was raised Catholic and have since become more of a humanist, doing things for the sake of being good and caring about humanity, with a bit of a focus on being educated and intelligent as well. As for community, I’ve always felt a sense of it without church. With family, friends and long standing traditions, I think you can easily raise a child to be a good person with high morals. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  158. We’re doing much the same with our sons, however like you I find myself missing that lack of community.

  159. jimkane says:

    I appreciate your honesty in all of this. Thanks for sharing your story and thoughts.

  160. The concept of God and its use vary a lot in different sections of the world. Spirituality is a virtue of all. I would never go to catholic church again. Im hoping people dont stop believing whatever they believe just because one church and its owner let you down.

  161. oldsalt1942 says:

    My mother was a direct descendant of the Puritans…her family helped settle Watertown, Massachusetts, in the 1630s (my dad’s family, too. Isn’t it odd to think that your mom and dad’s families must have known each other 300+ years earlier?). Like yourselves I’ve had a problem with organized religions from an early age. I believe my mother had a very sensible approach to the whole thing. She used to say if you live your life by the Golden Rule, REALLY live your life treating others as you would want them to treat you, IF, when you die, you must indeed stand in judgment before some higher authority there will be no fault they can find in you. I’ve tried to do that.

    • I’ve tried to do much the same myself, and I think your mother was absolutely right. Unfortunately, I’ve always been told that one is innately at fault and in the wrong if they do not worship God. That a lack of faith is itself enough to doom one to an eternity in Hell.

      I would like to hope that those who preach as much are wrong, as if not there are far too many good people who have been unjustly punished by God’s will in this regard. One’s faith shouldn’t factor in the equation of whether they are worthy enough of salvation, it should be based on exactly what your mother said. If you live a good live, as would be dictated by any sane social standards, in which you are considerate, compassionate, and supportive of the world and those around you, then that should be enough regardless.

  162. Tushar says:

    First and foremost i like the way you write and approached this subject
    I would like to talk to about this sometime i am giving you my email id here if u have time you can reply me anytime.I am reader , read lot of things ,seen few , and still searching for answer’s .I Might be able to learn few things from you also ,
    thanks in advance


  163. Lenci says:

    What’s sad is that there’s no effective communication between non-believers and believers. When judgment is cast (on either side) it debunks the belief of both individuals. The non-believer takes offense while hinting at hypocrisy of the believer who merely voiced their opinion. The believer presumes that their comment is NOT self-righteous and that they’re “offering” redolence (suggestion). I believe that until we can respectfully and considerately comment without the intent to offend, we may gain some understanding of one another. I grew up in church, left for many years, went back just recently and haven’t been in 3 weeks! Yes, I’ve been offended by the ‘people’ in church too, but yet I find myself empty when I do not go.

    I would like to add that if you purposefully raise your little one NOT to attend church, you may instill in them (unknowingly) that doing so is not a necessity for balance/peace/happiness. However, in my mere opinion, I beg to differ. Some exposure to the church environment may afford your child to have had the opportunity to decide if this is or is not what they want to have as a part of their lives. But let me make this clear: I AM NOT CASTING JUDGMENT.

  164. dgamwell says:

    I can appreciate all the comments here. They show thoughtfulness. I’ve gone through the same journey of questioning with regard to the issue of God/No God. I put down some thoughts in a sister blog here that I expect would challenge some, infuriate others and comfort still others. I welcome comments at:


    You’ll find this…

    When I would have a problem
    I’ll tell you what I’d do
    I’d start to get religious
    In hopes of getting through

    But sometimes genie Jesus
    Wouldn’t give me what I wished
    I came to the conclusion
    He probably didn’t exist

  165. rebekah says:

    Here’s my thing- (and i loved your contemplative thought provoking post btw… and I was raised Protestant/Christian, still am). You have said A) that you and your family should be able to be good and kind without going to church or believing in God or a god, to teach right from wrong and be good people because it’s just the right thing to do, and B) that as long as your daughter does not do harm to herself you want her to have the freedom to decide for herself. Freedom is great, letting her choose, great. I’m glad you are open minded, and admit that you just don’t know or aren’t sure what you believe. Having said that, the questions I feel should be asked here though is in both stance A & B, isn’t it in the eye of the beholder? On B, what if she harms others? And what’s more, don’t you think you would feel that you are the one who determines what defines harm as her parent and the person entrusted to raise her? What might be harmful in your eyes might not be to her? So who sets the standard? In the same way, on A, who decides what’s really right and wrong? Who sets the standard for what’ “good enough”? I read the book How Good Is Good Enough by Andy Stanley and it’s the shortest easiest I’ve ever read. It made so much sense to me as far as this is concerned. I highly recommend at least checking it out… On another note, the word religious by definition simply means devotion or worship to a super human or being with controlling powers, God or a god. Morality is the distinction between right and wrong. The problem is the word religious has a negative connotation because much of ORGANIZED religion has given it a bad name, sadly. I don’t believe ALL Christians and churches are that way, but we live in an evil world and are humanly flawed and many are so focused on following all the “rules” instead of caring enough about people to build relationship- this is legalism. You can’t deny that in our society, socialization, community and belonging naturally comes through the involvement in a church. I love that you are seeking this for your family. I know at the end of the day, it comes down to faith for me, I can’t explain by science and I’m no scholar, but I have seen and felt God move in my life. There is also something to be said for people a part of the church and the community (however unperfect people and churches are) that’s felt thru it. I remember times in my life where things reallly sucked and my church community was there in the bad times as well as great times. I also remember how my uncle died 2 years ago and there were TONS of people coming by ALL 2 weeks all day long while he was in the hospital, and there was another family there alone the same time as us and never once did anyone from anywhere come to support, love, care and be available to cry on. There is something to be said about that and it seems sad. Anyway, sorry for the rambling, thanks for the great discussion and post. Continue to seek and research and find ways to raise a great family full of socialization and community and life.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      rebekah – thanks for the comment!

      “On B, what if she harms others? And what’s more, don’t you think you would feel that you are the one who determines what defines harm as her parent and the person entrusted to raise her?” — Harming others would violate not only the secular law, but also the idea of a social conscience and respect for human life, both of which I believe in and will teach her. And I believe that we have a significant but not total effect on the people our children become. I will teach her what I believe to be right, and from there she will have to make her own way.

      • Lisa says:

        My only comment to that post would be that there has to be a foundation of Truth. Otherwise, what you and I believe on our own can be anything. Those moral things you were raised with..came from the Bible…Gods Word. A foundation of Truth has to be in place or anything goes.

  166. Mike says:

    The problem with believing in nothing yourselves and telling your child to go and find her own belief system, is that she will use yours seeing as you are your child’s example. She will grow up believing in nothing. If all religions are on a menu, all being just as valid and true as the next, then no religion is valid and true. Only one can be true. If you want to get to heaven, first you have to believe, then you have to believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light, like He said. You need to learn what is actually taught by a religion, not just “go to church.” As the Catholic Church is the Church established by Jesus (it was called Catholic already by the year 72), I choose to follow Christ in His Church. I urge all people to stop consider religion as some nebulous idea. They teach concrete things. Learn them before you reject them.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Mike – I don’t “believe in nothing,” I just don’t believe in organized religion, and I am still up in the air on whether or not I believe in God. My daughter will be fully aware of my many, diverse opinions about the world, but she will also be raised to understand that not everyone sees the world the same way, and that’s alright. In fact, it’s a part of what makes our world interesting and beautiful.

      If only one religion can be true, why do you get to decide any more than I do which one that is? Just because YOU believe “Jesus is the way,” does not, inherently, make it true. True for you? Sure. True for me? Maybe, but that is up to ME to decide.

      • Mike says:

        Yes, it is true for you. And it IS up to you to decide. But in order to decide, you need to go to a church, talk to a priest, go to the RCIA (religious education classes that explain the faith to those seeking to learn about the Catholic Church), and learn the faith before you reject it. You need to know what you are rejecting before you reject it. And you do have free will to do so. Jesus doesn’t make you believe. It’s up to you. You are correct there.

        I didn’t decide which religion was true. The Son of the Living God came to this earth and told us He is the way. I am not going to tell God Himself that He is full of it. After many centuries, protestant religions rejected the truths of the Church and split. For example, Henry VIII wanted a divorce. Pope said no. Henry then said he’s the leader of the church in England and broke away from Catholicism, just so he could have a divorce! Mohammad was simply a man that sought power. When his new religion cobbled together from Judaism and Christianity was eventually rejected in Mecca, he went to Medina, built an army and went back and conquered Mecca. From there, they moved westward conquering people, making them believe in islam on pain of death. No free will there. Then there is nature worship. You don’t worship the creation, you worship the Creator. And so on…. There is one, true faith. I believe in it, and I do hope that you and yours, after REAL consideration and study, will one day believe in it, too. May the peace of Christ be with you.

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        Mike – I have been to many churches, read the Bible, spoken to many priests/pastors/rabbis, and studied and prayed, and in the end I found peace in NOT embracing religion. You believe your way is the right way, and a thousand other people believe their way is the right way. I love the life I am living. I am happy, content, at peace. I have survived loss and grief, I enjoy hope and happiness, I have a beautiful family who I cherish. I don’t want for anything and, as such, do not spend my time searching for answers in something I have already explored and found wanting.

  167. Wow. Just wow.

    Great post, Sushi – you go!

  168. Yramjin says:

    Having a good moral is not measured on how so active you are in your church…it goes beyond that..but it’s also good to grow up, to be raised having parents and the church (Jesus and His true followers) to guide you..To have a good moral is a matter of how you weigh things and then choose for a better option for a better you BUT, always, with a constant guidance from Jesus…All things, no matter how big or small, regardless if whether or not we can do them ourselves, regardless if whether or not we can do it even without Him, are much easier to deal with if we do it WITH our Almighty God…

  169. Wow Sushi. People REALLY like to have people agree with them. It’s amazing to me how threatening different can seem to some.

    Good Post girl. Excellent writing. I believe Baby Sushi will feel so loved when she reads it. I am glad you are happy, are loving your family, are getting healthy, AND thinking through and making choices. ALL very good things.

  170. Andy says:

    Skinny Sushi,
    YOU may think it’s obvious that no parent would wish harm on their parent, put just check the headlines these days and you can find many cases where this is not necessarily true.

    You say “many many MANY Muslims live devoted lives in service to God”…which God is that? The God of the Bible or the God of the Quran because they are not the same. (but I don’t understand you to know that coming from a Mormon background…)
    Your comments are biased whether you know/accept it or not. We all have a worldview from which our thoughts come from. Your viewpoint seems to be “I’m a pretty decent person all is well with the world philosophy”. In fact if your worldview comes from anything else but from the REVELATION of God, then it is nothing more than a whirled (self-created without support) view.
    YOU may think my comment is “irrelevant to the discussion at hand”-So, says you. I don’t agree. (By the way, the comment wasn’t for you but I guess you just had to jump in there…)

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Andy – No GOOD parent would wish harm on their child, and that should go without saying.

      Muslims live in service to the God they believe in. Which would make sense. And really, can we stop with the Mormon bashing? It wasn’t the right church for me, but like anyone who endeavors to be the best they can be, the church is made up mostly of good people who are doing their best to make the world a better place.

      Of course my comments are biased, as are yours and everyone else. How could they NOT be biased? Yours are biased according to your religious beliefs, mine according to my secular ones.

      Of course I “had to jump in there,” since it’s, you know, MY blog post…

      Honestly, you’re free to disagree. That’s the best part of all of this. Just please try to keep your comments respectful. I don’t want this to be about anyone insulting anyone else.

      • andydbrown says:

        Skinny Sushi,
        (As a side, how did you come up with that name, by the way? Just curious.)
        How can one disagree with a religion (such as the Mormons) without someone else feeling that you are “bashing” it? Truth, by definition, is mutually exclusive from lies/falsehood. If there is a polite way of totally denouncing certain religions, please let me know.

        The point about it being your blog. Point taken. I thought it was a stupid thing for me to write (about you jumping in there, ha!ha!) after clicking “post comment” but the damage had been done. Sorry. You’re right and actually now that I think about it, it was me jumping in there as the person was obviously addressing you and not me. Sorry about that. As my Jewish friends would say, “Anni rack ben Adam”-“I’m only human.”

        I think you should read carefully what Tony wrote in response to why most of the so-called “intolerant” comments seem to be from Christians. The same people who find Christians unbearable (unless they repent and turn to Christ) are the same people who will spend eternity wondering, “Knowing that eternity was at stake, why didn’t those Christians in my life plead/debate/share with me more?!?!?!?!”

        By the way, on a very personal note, I can distinctly remember thinking all the same things you have mentioned before I turned to Jesus (quite late in life). I had an uncle who I felt was very arrogant who kept asking me “Do you know where you’ll go when you die?” and sharing verses from the Bible with me. I thought he was a CRACKPOT and I thank God (and my uncle) so much that he was willing to “appear the madman” in order to reason with me. THAT is love!

        I pray that you will seriously consider the claims of Christ, the only well documented case of a man known to have risen from the dead with prophecies declaring this HUNDREDS of years before His birth.
        I think ones worldview is extremely important in raising children and I pray that God will bless you abundantly as you consider the things of God in seeking what is best for your daughter (and perhaps others if you choose to have more. Children are a blessing!!!)

      • Skinny Sushi says:

        andydbrown – I promise I did NOT choose the face. It’s random, but I’m noticing it chose a lot of mean looking ones, so I think I might see if I can set it to choose from a different set of images…

        I really appreciate this comment. It is kind and calm and shows that you are only seeking to spread what you believe in your heart to be the truth. I hope you will allow me to continue to disagree. I wish you nothing but peace.

      • andydbrown says:

        By the way, I gotta ask…Did you choose that face for me? It’s not a very pleasant one…This angry looking upside down triangle appears next to my comments. 😦

  171. Lisa says:

    Very interesting thoughts. I am a Christian and am intrigued by your thoughts. I am sorry you did not have a good enough experience with Christ’s love to fully understand His love for you. Christianity is not just about morals and rules. I was a Mormon for a time and it is religion full of rules. Christianity is about grace, forgiveness and living a full life.

    • Skinny Sushi says:

      Lisa – I wish many of your fellow Christians (check the comments) agreed with you.

      • Lisa says:

        I agree with you on that one but even though they dont, I am called by Christ to love them. We are all broken human beings that God created to have a full life. He intended for us to care for and love one another….though sometimes loving each other has to be tough love. I think that a lot of people here feel care for you and your family. Being loving isnt always fluffy although I wish it were..hehehe!

        As far as your kid….community is very important and I would encourage you to find a group that you feel good about your kid being around and start to build long lasting relationships with other moms who care.

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