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Should I Raise My Child With Religion, Or Let Him Choose?

Posted: 05/06/2013 11:14 am


Though we were both raised Catholic, my husband and I made a conscious decision to eschew religion when raising our son. At the risk of facing the ire of in-laws, we decided not to christen him or to subject him to regular mass or sacraments. He is attending a public school.

Like many parents, we do not want to force a particular faith onto our child. Rather, we want him to make an informed decision about his own spirituality when he is old and mature enough to do so. Until then, we try to impart our Christian values in a loose, fairy tale way. While it may be naive of me to think you can cherry pick parts of a given religion and discard those that leave a bad aftertaste, so be it. Yet part of me wonders if agnosticism is truly the right move.

Click here to learn why this mom has been losing her religion.

I wonder whether he is missing out on a distinct sense of community and tradition. When you don't belong to a religion, you are adrift. You have friends and family, sure, but no spiritual raft. Are we doing our son a disservice by leaving him fledgling out at sea with no oar?

For those who staunchly believe, faith creates order out of chaos, meaning out of meaninglessness. But at heart I'm a Lennonist (not to be confused with Leninist!). As in John Lennon, of Beatles "All you need is love," fame.

I'm a big believer in love over rites and rituals. Given the choice, I'll choose human kindness and acceptance over doctrine and dogma any day of the week. Jesus loved sinners. However, I've come to the sad conclusion that the Church does not. But who knows what will happen with a fresh new pope in situ.

Click here to learn how these parents are raising their children in an interfaith home.

Though I wouldn't liken a religious upbringing with child abuse, as some atheists famously do, I question whether it is selfish to blackball my son's spiritual education. If we don't teach him, how will he know what he's missing? Will he resent us for not versing him in the ways of the Bible or introducing him to God, Allah, and Buddha?

Or in leaving the slate blank, are we giving our son the greatest spiritual gift of all -- that of choice?

Image credit: Flickr/ Tobyotter

Written By: Julie M Green, Yummy Mummy Club

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  • In this Sept. 9, 2010 photo, a billboard erected by atheists in Oklahoma City reads " Don't believe in God? Join the club". Nick Singer, the coordinator of a local atheists' group called "Coalition of Reason," recently received $5,250 from its national counterpart to erect the billboard along Interstate 44 near the Oklahoma State Fair. Oklahoma ranks eighth in the nation for percentage of residents who self-identify as Christians (85 percent), according to an analysis of the 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life. (Sue Ogrocki, AP)

  • Atheist billboard on Capital Blvd. in Raleigh, North Carolina, can be seen March 29, 2011. (Chris Seward, Raleigh News & Observer / MCT)

  • A billboard sponsored by an atheist group is displayed near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in North Bergen, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. Now, the Catholic League has countered by putting up its own billboard near one of the tunnel's New York City entrances. (Seth Wenig, AP)

  • An atheistic billboard in Chicago. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericingrum/4038228725/" target="_hplink">Eric Ingrum</a>, Flickr)

  • A billboard sponsored by a Catholic group is displayed near an exit of the Lincoln Tunnel in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. Similarly, a billboard sponsored by an atheist group is displayed near the tunnel's New Jersey entrance. (Seth Wenig, AP)

  • <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/atheist-slavery-billboard-pennsylvania-raises-tempers_n_1342268.html">From RNS' Diana Fishlock</a>: A billboard erected in one of the Harrisburg, Pa.'s most racially diverse neighborhoods featured an African slave with the biblical quote, "Slaves, obey your masters." It lasted less than a day before someone tore it down.

  • An atheist group <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/american-atheists-myth-billboard-brooklyn-jewish-rejected_n_1327527.html">was blocked</a> from erecting a billboard in a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.


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