My mother tells me I’m “not allowed to change my mind” when it comes to raising my son with religion.

In case the title is ambiguous, my view several years ago was that I should raise any children I have with Catholicism, as I was raised. I don’t remember exactly when I changed it.

Last night I was chatting to my mother about religion, and my view that sometimes, indoctrination of a child amounts to child abuse. The context was that Josh once asked me if I thought he was a good or bad person, because he “doesn’t want to go to a bad place” after he dies. That wasn’t the moment when I decided to keep him away from church, rather it was the moment when my choice to do so was confirmed to be correct. It was also the moment when I stopped telling him simply that I don’t believe in god, but also that god, the Christian, Islam and Jewish ones and all other ever invented by man, is not real. No more beating about the bush – I made god a joke because I was appalled that he had been taught to fear eternity in Hell.

My view used to be different. Although I stopped believing in gods in my late teens, I still believed that my Roman Catholic upbringing had benefitted me. Like most people, I confused morality with religious values, thinking that somehow my morality came from my lessons at Sunday School. It didn’t. I learned my moral values from my parents and my peers, just like everybody else. Most people may not realize it, but morality certainly does not come from religion. If it did, morals would be unchanged for thousands of years, and right now, Christians (for example) in different parts of the world would share identical morals and values. Of course it doesn’t work like that and there is no such thing as objective morality.

What distressed me was that she tried to convince me I am not allowed to change my mind. (WTF?) My brother once said something similar. In that case, it was when I complained about Josh’s indoctrination… he pointed out that I was fine with him being baptised after I initially conceded that I could not raise my son for a time, and my son was in my brother’s care. Here’s the thing: Every other choice I made back then was written off as stupid and bad, the product of my drug-addled brain, but this poor choice, that I didn’t make but rather went along with their way because I had no choice at the time, was somehow taken as my final say on the matter??? How awfully fucking convenient…

Anyway, here’s how it actually works: I change my mind all the time, based on new knowledge and evidence. When I find out that I am wrong, and have been wrong about something – anything… I change my mind. But my views on religion and religious indoctrination have been as they are for some time now. They’re unlikely to change by much. When it comes to religion and my son, I have to be firm and not let these people proselytize to him any more. Religion seems to affect Josh in a different way to it’s effects on me as a child. I was never afraid of Hell, but always disbelieved in some parts of the nonsense I was taught. Josh is impressionable, easily swayed to their points of view, and has been brainwashed for several years when he wasn’t in my care. I’ve only had him back for a year and a bit and he is still quite confused about his own beliefs, and I’ll be damned if I’m to let them brainwash him any longer. (Pun intended. Hail Satan.)

4 thoughts on “My mother tells me I’m “not allowed to change my mind” when it comes to raising my son with religion.

  1. One of the variants of Christianity seems to consist of a rule-governed universe. Epistemology in this sense is actually a variant of obedience. One doesn’t first figure out what’s true, then choose to obey God. Rather, the very act of figuring out he exists is essentially a decision to accept his command. Sounds like the reactions you describe follow this logic. Not much to say. One can’t refute the schema really. We can only reject it.

    …and as the Christians would say, ‘shake the dust from our feet.’

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You deserve quite a bit of credit to speaking to your religious mother about this – there must boatloads of atheists who do not want to risk the drama, the ex-communication, the disapproval that could accompany letting the delusional authority figure in on the inner secret. Not being allowed to change your mind is a desperate edict, but it’s your mother, not anyone else’s.
    Children will benefit from your approach, allowed to reach some kind of understanding without parental proselytizing. If you let him know the truth of the non-existence of this alleged divine being, even better.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I just finished reading Sam Harris’ book, Lying. He posits that we should try to be honest as much as possible. He makes a good argument for it, although lying can sometimes be easier.

    I think what you are doing is being honest with your son which is great. You are parenting him with the best facts available to you at the time which is why sometimes you change your mind as new facts become available. Nothing wrong with that.

    Liked by 2 people

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