Last night my mother, who will be attending her granddaughter’s first communion, told me she would really like Josh to go with her. I had to explain to her why that isn’t going to happen.
First of all, she interrupted to remind me that I originally wanted him brought up Catholic. Yes, I did. I was insecure in my atheism then, and I wanted the best for my son. The best, in my mind back then, was for him to be brought up just like I was. Am I not allowed to change my mind? In my mind back then, it was also very important for me to smoke methamphetamine every day. Why not equate the two beliefs? My mother (and others) are quick to point out the mistakes I made back then, the awful choices I made… But not this one. This one is perfectly OK because it happens to agree with them.
I, like so many others, used to believe my morals and values were Christian. My mistake was the argument from morality, and I have since changed that belief. And actually, thinking back, my morals were already rock solid by the time I started Sunday School. I already knew right from wrong, not to lie, steal, and so on. They didn’t teach me morals at church. Instead, they taught me a whole lot of confusing nonsense, prayers, and rituals, and also explained why contraception is not OK with their deity.
For he so loved the world that didn’t exist yet, that he created the entire universe, every planet, every star, every animal and every plant, and all manner of things that we cannot know, and then, he explained what I can and cannot do with my penis, and what you can and cannot put in your vagina, and that we can not do these things outside of an arbitrary contract between us that we call marriage. Also, oral sex is right out! And stay away from the anus. Satan lives in that dark hole. Amen.
Anyway, mother dearest agrees with me… my morals did not come from church.
Imagine letting a child grow up without ever hearing about Christianity, and then trying to explain it to him or her in their twenties. God created the whole world, and all of us, but he created us with sin. Then he sent his son down to us, but the son is also the father. Then he sacrificed himself, which somehow saves us from the sins that he created us with. But he came back to life, so there wasn’t really any sacrifice. Ignore that last part. He loves you unconditionally, and if you don’t love him back, he will send you to a bad place where you will suffer for all eternity.
My religious upbringing caused me much confusion. Before my first communion was first confession. I was the only one in my class to bunk that, pretending to be sick to avoid it, then had to go back alone the next week. And I attended my First “Holy” Communion as they called it, with everybody all dressed up. It was a special occasion and a big deal, and of course, it takes place in an environment where everybody believes, and everybody takes it for granted that everybody else there also believes. When you’re a child and haven’t yet learned to think critically, even if you have doubts as I did, it’s hard to hold onto them. You trust your parents and implicitly trust the authorities that they trust. I forgot about my doubts until I was much older, and it took me years to get over my indoctrination.
That’s what this is about: indoctrination. I don’t want my son to suffer any more of the church nonsense. I don’t want him to sit in an environment where everybody believes, and feel that sense of fellowship, of belonging. He already had that for a few years before he was returned to my custody. Enough damage has already been done.
Perhaps this last point can be carried to another post for elaboration, but another thing that annoys me about people like my mother and brother is their double standard… I am not allowed to say there is no god. “How can you say that? You don’t know!” But it is perfectly OK to hammer that there is a god into the unfinished immature mind of a child before he or she can learn to think critically? I don’t see or hear Christians telling their children that they don’t know if god exists. In fact, they teach it as fact that god does exist, but hold us who doubt this to a higher standard.
(Edit: This post was originally intended to be an elaboration of the last paragraph’s point, titled “Christian privilege”, introduced by comparing it to white privilege – because this double standard where Christians assume their belief as the default and impose it on everyone else, is quite similar to white people assuming white as the default for all people, and then treating others as inferior. But it’s a hard sell because too many people are ignorant of white privilege; the intro would end up too long and detract from the point of the post. So I decided to change the approach completely and make it personal and anecdotal instead.)