[Discussion] Religion and Morality

Discussion on the difference in morality/ethics of different types and subtypes of religion, including agnositic/atheism. This includes both the literal teachings of that religion, and the general culture that persists because of/inspite of those teachings.

Docjoe wrote:

It won't allow me to give this 1K likes so I'm just gonna pop in and say "Amen brother!"

Thank you, kindly! Nice to get a real zinger once in a while. I am still workshopping the wording before I tweet it. After mocking the so-called morality of religion for decades, I should be good at it by now.

We started sending our kids to the papists this Fall (long story). One of the things I really resisted about doing this earlier was my issues with my own (Protestant) upbringing. But, we have doubled-down on educational attainment, even if there could be some cognitive dissonance around religion.

Our daughter (7) now wants to pray at tuck-in and at wake-up. I do this with her as my wife didn't have nearly the religious upbringing I did, so I think I'm a little more comfortable saying prayers. Daughter also wants to go to church (Mass) and I think we'll probably go Sunday.

Question:
- How are those of you who are not believers, or are agnostic, handle this in your homes? In particular, those who were once fervent and now not? (context: although I was raised non-denominational, we were highly devout, including 12years of private religious school and rejected everything about prosperity gospel, TV evangelists, politico-religionists, Christo-nationalists, etc.; think closer to zealous - in every sense of that term - Calvinists, less the predestination stuff).

I very much want our daughter to feel comfortable and supported by both her parents...I also know the downsides of religion (guilt, etc.) and would like to avoid some of those pitfalls.

I should also point out that it has been, in some ways, very nostalgic, for me, to be adjacent to a community (the school) where everyone really is truly on the same page in belief in their mission. I lost this with my career, haven't seen anything close to it since the pandemic started, certainly don't get it from the local community or our last (public) school. Maybe not since a sports team have I been able to walk the halls of a place and feel the camaraderie and sense that everyone is on the same page. I know why that is and I understand the comfort/pull that has for folks of faith. It is, by far, the "safest" place I feel of all the places I go every day.

We waited until my son was in his early teens before having the "you can make your own mind up" discussion. I worry that at a younger age, they won't understand peer pressure. He did go onto try various things, with friends, and made his own decisions.

(Once I myself had grown up and put together everything I saw in the environments where I knew people involved in running places of worship (Methodists, Evangelicals, Lutherans, Catholics (Latin and English masses), Opus Dei, Baptists, Reform and Conservative Jews, and Episcopalians (CoE but American)), I came to certain realizations that sealed my choice. PM me if you're curious.)

Top_Shelf wrote:

Question:
- How are those of you who are not believers, or are agnostic, handle this in your homes? In particular, those who were once fervent and now not? (context: although I was raised non-denominational, we were highly devout, including 12years of private religious school and rejected everything about prosperity gospel, TV evangelists, politico-religionists, Christo-nationalists, etc.; think closer to zealous - in every sense of that term - Calvinists, less the predestination stuff).

I very much want our daughter to feel comfortable and supported by both her parents...I also know the downsides of religion (guilt, etc.) and would like to avoid some of those pitfalls.

I used to be a very religous person; I went to church every Sunday, most Tuesdays, and had plans to go on a mission (I was raised Mormon), but eventually my questioning turned to agnosticism which developed into atheism. My (now ex-) wife was raised Catholic, and was mostly separated from the church when we got married. After a few years, though, she started to rely more heavily on her background in faith, and it drove a pretty major spike between us. We had 2 kids before we split up, but I like to think that we treated the whole religion aspect of it well. She brought them in to get baptized, and I went with them to Mass, but didn't take the sacrement. With the eldest child, it obviously didn't matter, he was barely 1. With the second child, it was a great opportunity to have a conversation with my eldest about respecting people's faith. I told him that it wasn't my place to tell anyone what to believe, but that I support the beliefs of the family, even though I don't share them. Since a baptism is a big deal, I wanted to be there, but I couldn't fully participate in the ceremony because it wasn't for me. Their mom would take them to Mass with her from time to time, but it was mostly only if they didn't object too much to going. When they visited her parents on a Sunday, Mass was not optional; just a 'cost' of being with the grandparents. I joined them for Christmas Mass, or if we were there for Easter, and of course any family funerals/weddings. It felt right.

When my eldest was 9 he asked his grandma why he should go to Mass with them and she told him it was to honor God and he replied "I don't believe in God". She (shockingly to me) accepted his position, but she still made him join her, she just didn't force him to take the sacrement. It took a few weeks before I could convince her that I didn't try to convert him or convince him to lose his faith - I do think he was what stopped his brother (almost 7 years younger) to stop going, though.

On the other side of this, my situation was discussed by robear, but I wanted to add how I perceived it. I have had difficulty with religion because of extended family, but still maintained an interest in it because of my grandparents. I also had a friend who was Muslim, I believe one or two who were Jewish, and of course, a plethora of flavors of Christianity. There may have been others, and I did try to do some reading when able, but that was more college age. I think the big thing that defined my belief was when my great grandparents died, the people who I thought were respectable christians, turned into vultures in regards to inheritance. One conversation I had when my great-grandmother was still around was if I could be a good person without being religious. She affirmed as long as I treated others as I was, and was genuinely kind because I chose to be kind, and tried not to hurt others, that I could believe whatever I wanted. That little affirmation made me realize (from someone I really respected), when I was a bit older, that religion was truly a person by person basis as to whether it's right for a person or not. With hindsight being 20/20, the conversation I had with my great grandmother, and learning different perspectives was quite helpful in forming me into the person I am today. Perhaps see if you have any friends who might want to share their beliefs so you can expose your child to those beliefs, and stress it's ultimately up to them what/if they want to believe and support them regardless of the decision made. I hope this rambling is a little helpful in some way.

My wife and I have been clear that beliefs are a personal thing and never to be forced on others (or on them). And while I no longer believe in the protestant faith I was raised in and my wife is somewhere between agnostic and a distant kind of faith we still felt it was important to share certain stories and traditions that are fairly ubiquitous in America regardless of your faith. We always do our best to provide context and let him know he is free to make up his mind as he learns more. He's only 8 and he's certainly inherited a bunch of my attention deficit traits so he's not exactly going out of his way to learn more and we haven't had to do the religious school thing.