In Which the Atheist Goes to Church, Probably.
So I’ve been thinking about bringing my daughter to church, and I’m honestly curious to hear what you guys think about it.
I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times here that I’m not religious. I’m not sure what I am– I honestly don’t give it enough thought to be able to give myself a label. I suppose if I had to choose one, I’d say I’m agnostic with a dash of atheism, if that’s possible. I don’t really believe in God, though I wish I did. I would find it comforting, I think, but I need things to make sense to truly believe in them, and I haven’t yet found a religion that does.
But my daughter is another matter. I don’t think that my beliefs, or lack thereof, should have anything to do with how she is raised or what she ultimately grows up to believe. I want her to grow up being who she is, and if she wants to be religious, that’s great– if she doesn’t, that’s great too. (None of this super-fundamentalist stuff, though. She has to believe in dinosaurs and, you know, science. Her dad is a paleontologist. Everything else is up to her.)
Speaking of Tyler, he does pose a problem to my plan, as a hardcore, unwavering atheist who, it always seemed to me, scorned people of any religion for believing. He almost seemed to think it was a weakness… that a belief in a higher power was something people cling to because they are afraid to face reality. He actually once mentioned that he wanted to put it in our parenting plan that neither of us were allowed to raise Caroline as a member of any religion. I may not be religious myself, but I can’t agree with that. His supercilious attitude towards religion always irritated me. I may not believe in God or want to go to church, but I respect those who do, and that includes my daughter if she so chooses.
There’s really no way, though, to allow Caroline to develop her own belief system without bringing her to religious services of some kind. I certainly have no desire to go to church– ever– but she can’t make any kind of informed decision of her own if she is never exposed to religion at all.
So what’s an open-minded agnostic/atheist mom to do? We did just move to a new state, and I’ve been contemplating joining a church just to be able to join a community up here where we know no one. Caroline also does go to church occasionally with my mom and she loves it. I asked her if she wanted to go to church sometime, and she said she did. Is it hypocritical, though, or worse, rude of me to attend services and just ignore it and sit there and think my own thoughts? And how do I choose which church to attend? Ideally I’d like to expose her to a bunch of different religions, but I have a feeling that “church-jumping” is probably kind of frowned-upon…
If you’re not religious but want to expose your children to church, how do you handle it? If you are religious, is it offensive or rude that I’m contemplating doing this for my daughter’s sake alone, when I will continue to sit there every Sunday and not believe?