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Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:22 AM

Why My 7-Year-Old Is An Atheist (And Why I’m Okay With That)

I was raised Catholic, and like most people my age who were raised Catholic I no longer attend church on Sundays. We’re “recovering Catholics.” That’s what so many of us call ourselves. We’re still disgusted with the Church for the way it covered up the sex abuse perpetrated against my generation and roll our eyes at the Church’s stance on things like abortion, gay marriage and women’s rights. And yet, like so many of my generation, my Catholic upbringing formed so much of who I am and was such a huge part of my young life, I find it difficult to entirely eschew that part of my identity.

When asked if we’re religious, we say, automatically, “I was raised Catholic.” Everybody knows what that means: I no longer believe the way that I once did, but being raised Catholic is like having been in ‘nam. It’s something that never leaves you, no matter how hard you try. Those memories of old men blowing incense in your face while wearing gold dresses and touching little boys on the side are hard to shake. The stained glass windows, the sound of the organ, sitting in the wooden pews, standing, kneeling. It never really goes away. It’s inside you somewhere. The sacred heart of Jesus, the Christmas play, Mary. The Eucharist. It’s all there, inside you. But not the crucifix. Because Jesus that thing is gross.

And yet – in spite of the way I feel about Vatican doctrine and the ridiculousness of single, out-of-touch old men trying to tell young women what to do with their bodies and how to make marriage work, I don’t begrudge having been raised Catholic. I learned a lot about being a Good Person from the things I heard in church, even though the priest espousing the Gospel to us was later defrocked (disrobed? stripped of his position?) for improper touch. I wanted to be a Good Person, not just because only Good People go to Heaven. I just liked the idea. The meek shall inherit the Earth. It sounded right. Somehow all this shit I’m swallowing now, it’s gonna pay off later.

--snip--

My daughter, on the other hand, at the ripe old age of 7, is convinced that there is no God. Not even a god. Yup, my kid’s an atheist. And she pretty much has been since she was 5. It’s not for lack of exposure to God or god or even gods and spirituality, because she has attended Church and church and a UU “church” and it has made no impact. We’ve prayed together. I talk about God sometimes, in a good way. When I asked her recently why she doesn’t believe in God she told me, succinctly, “Because I know too much about science!”

And there you have it – an evangelical’s worst nightmare. Science trumps God. My daughter is like a mini-Darwin who had a spiritual awakening before she was old enough to stop having potty accidents. And she was able to do so not because she was indoctrinated by the Church of the Holy Dissected Frog, but because she wasn’t fully indoctrinated by the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Because the idea that a man lives in the sky who can see everything you do hasn’t been pounded into her head since birth, she thinks the whole concept is just silly.

http://www.babble.com/mom/why-my-7-year-old-is-an-atheist-and-why-im-okay-with-that/

30 replies, 2103 views

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Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why My 7-Year-Old Is An Atheist (And Why I’m Okay With That) (Original post)
cleanhippie Jan 2013 OP
Mrs. Overall Jan 2013 #1
Jenoch Jan 2013 #2
Mrs. Overall Jan 2013 #4
Brainstormy Jan 2013 #7
MADem Jan 2013 #28
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #3
Mrs. Overall Jan 2013 #5
humblebum Jan 2013 #11
Goblinmonger Jan 2013 #13
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #14
humblebum Jan 2013 #19
eomer Jan 2013 #22
humblebum Jan 2013 #23
eomer Jan 2013 #25
tavalon Jan 2013 #8
Brainstormy Jan 2013 #6
tavalon Jan 2013 #9
cer7711 Jan 2013 #10
Phillip McCleod Jan 2013 #20
ButterflyBlood Jan 2013 #12
cleanhippie Jan 2013 #15
ButterflyBlood Jan 2013 #17
Goblinmonger Jan 2013 #18
Goblinmonger Jan 2013 #16
ButterflyBlood Jan 2013 #21
Democracyinkind Jan 2013 #27
ButterflyBlood Jan 2013 #29
EvilAL Jan 2013 #24
Kolesar Jan 2013 #26
AAO Jan 2013 #30

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:35 AM

1. Wow! This article completely hits home for me. I'm an ex-Catholic and the mother

of a child who has been an atheist since pre-school. I didn't give him any religious instruction as a young child, but talked rather about the beauty and wonder of the natural world and its cycles (in a pagan sense). He had his mind made up at a very early age that there just wasn't any "God" out there nor was there a "Satan". He is pragmatic and very brilliant in math and science.

Sometimes I feel bad that he doesn't seem to have a mystical bone in his body, but I am in awe of his innate secular humanism and the fact that he does "good deeds" for the sake of the "good deed"--nothing attached to reward or punishment.

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Response to Mrs. Overall (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:41 AM

2. If a child is not given religious

instruction, it would be surprising if the child DID believe in God and not the other way around.

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Response to Jenoch (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:51 AM

4. I guess I'm just surprised that he was so adamant about it--

I guess I didn't express that in my original post. He firmly denied that there was a God with such conviction at a very early age. My other child doesn't feel strongly either way, but this child is such a strong non-believer.

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Response to Jenoch (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 01:59 AM

7. And they all said

AMEN!

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Response to Jenoch (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 07:32 AM

28. Well, the child was certainly exposed to a variety of religious thought at that UU church.

Those places are welcoming to all types of faiths and none at all. The parent did say they prayed with the kid and talked about God, but the kid didn't buy it.

Of course, this is the internet. People write stuff on the net all the time, some of it is not true.

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Response to Mrs. Overall (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:47 AM

3. I think that minus the religious indoctrination most children recieve, most would turn out like your

daughter. I am raising mine the same way. We have a 3 year old who is learning about stars, planets, galaxies, atoms and biology, not religious myths, hell, vengeful gods, and evil. We are doing our best to preserve her default, or atheistic (meaning nothing more than simple lack of belief of a deity) position until such time that SHE decides she may want to look into religious inquiry.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:54 AM

5. Your daughter is lucky

that you have such an open and yet scientific approach.

I'm just a bit surprised that my son is so adamantly atheist. Any mention of religion causes him to roll his eyes. Sometimes I think it almost borders on a disrespect, so I'm trying to reign that in without compromising his viewpoint.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 05:10 PM

11. Will you also teach her to mock religious people? nt

 

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Response to humblebum (Reply #11)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 08:48 AM

13. Would you teach her that when 2 or more atheists gather

there is the threat of genocide around the corner?

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #13)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 10:04 AM

14. SNAP!

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #13)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 03:05 PM

19. I wouldn't, but that would be your department anyway. nt

 

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Response to humblebum (Reply #11)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 08:23 AM

22. She apparently already got that on her own - by your definitions.

Last edited Tue Jan 15, 2013, 09:03 AM - Edit history (1)

She thinks the idea of a man in the sky is "silly". Saying that, or the equivalent of that, is what you mean by "mocking", isn't it?

Edit to add: not paying close attention to the sequence so I need to clarify that it's the daughter in the OP that thinks man in the sky is silly, not the same daughter that you were referring to. The larger point still obtains.

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Response to eomer (Reply #22)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 01:44 PM

23. I actually agree with her parents right to let their daughter find her own way through life

 

believing in a supernatural existence or not. She also has a right to think of religious belief as silly.

Mocking someone else for their beliefs is an entirely different matter.

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Response to humblebum (Reply #23)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 06:27 AM

25. But the question I was trying to get at is: what is "mocking"?

For her to think that religious belief is silly is not mocking, if I understand your opinion correctly. I assume you would also think that for her to say the same publicly is not mocking.

So where does mocking begin? To me the words "absurd", "ridiculous", and "foolish" all carry the same substantive meaning as "silly". Do you agree that using these words is not mocking?

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Response to Mrs. Overall (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:05 AM

8. Very nice. You have raised a good kid.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 01:57 AM

6. My deepest regret

is that I raised my children in the blind faith of my forefathers. (In my own case it was my fore mothers, but it's the same idea.) I was reared in a very fundamentalist environment and I was very young when I had my children. It took a good many years before I could accrue enough education, and courage, to begin thinking for myself and questioning that inheritance. In the meantime, while I was going through my metamorphosis, I took my kids to church and Sunday School and allowed them to be indoctrinated into the established mythology. I simply delivered--and I feel very strongly that that's what I did--my children to the conveyor belt of the established church. Today I am an atheist. My children are "establishment" Christians, who home school their own children, pray at family gatherings, are terrifyingly anti-science and anti-good sense, and, I assume, suffer a good deal over the fact that Mom is going to hell. I feel that I did them a horrible injustice. I'd give anything if I could do it over and raise them as happy, free-thinking pagans. Heathens. Pastafarians. Anything.

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Response to Brainstormy (Reply #6)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:10 AM

9. That is the unfortunate thing, that so many take their parents religion without thought

I don't think a religion is truly one's own until you've looked it up one side and down the other and kicked the tires. I was raised a Southern Baptist but began to question it in my late teens to early twenties. By thirty, I was solidly a pagan and spent many happy years in a coven. And paganism is truly mine, as I did all of the above. I don't find it to be more valid than Christianity, just more valid for me.

Edited to add: I never had an atheist bone in my body. I've had too many mystical experiences in my life to be able to decline the diety thing. But I'm totally okay with all of us having our own path, including atheism.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:15 AM

10. Bingo! What Is It the Jesuits Say?

Last edited Sat Jan 12, 2013, 11:13 AM - Edit history (1)

"Give me the child for his first seven years and I'll give you the man."

Here's the test, good Christians all, as to whether or not you've been effectively brainwashed. Ready?

Clear your mind of all preconceived religious notions—or attempt to. Done that?

Excellent. Now:

"GOD!"

What image first leaped into your mind at the word? Be honest. Was it a kindly—or scowling—white-bearded old man on a throne?

Understandable. After all, you weren't introduced to a mystic-mallet wielding god of thunder, a multi-armed dancing deity or a jackal-snouted judge of the dead when your parents and guardians imprinted their socially-sanctioned concept of "God" upon your tender, malleable, unformed mind. But had you been raised in another culture, in a different time and place . . .

Food for thought.

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Response to cer7711 (Reply #10)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 08:59 PM

20. the monte python god beard and crown etcetera. definitely.

 

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 01:33 AM

12. I thought the second paragraph was absurd

I was raised Catholic. No it didn't stick with me. It was a silly thing in my youth I put no value on anymore, and had virtually nothing to do with how I developed or grew up. My current religious identity is "non-denominational Christian". I am in no way a Catholic. I am not a "lapsed Catholic" or "non-practicing Catholic". I am not a Catholic. I'd actually be more inclined to identify as a cultural Lutheran, because that was the church on my father's side of the family and though I wasn't exactly raised in it, it probably had more effect on my growing up than the church I only scoffed about and laughed at and never took seriously at any point.

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Response to ButterflyBlood (Reply #12)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:04 AM

15. So because YOUR experience was different, it is absurd?

The author is simply informing the reader of his POV. What is more absurd, IMO, are the beliefs and practices of Catholicism.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #15)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 02:17 PM

17. That I agree with

Once I started refusing to take communion because of the Catholic view on it my mom realized she had made a mistake in raising me in a church with a lot of issues that even she didn't agree with just because she had been raised that way and it wasn't providing any benefit to me. Probably part of why we started going to the nearby Lutheran one more when I was in high school and why she kept telling me things like "You know you can quit being Catholic but you don't have to stop being a Christian". But I found her attitude with supposed universalism of this amongst anyone raised Catholic to be ridiculous.

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Response to ButterflyBlood (Reply #17)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 02:46 PM

18. OK, that makes sense as to why you don't see what the OP is writing.

my mom realized she had made a mistake in raising me in a church with a lot of issues that even she didn't agree with


Those of use raised in it by the true believers have an experience similar to that of the OP.

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Response to ButterflyBlood (Reply #12)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 11:32 AM

16. It stuck with me.

Of course I was raised by a very conservative Catholic mother and went to a Catholic seminary high school, so I was likely more in it than you were. But I have been an atheist for nearly 30 years and my Catholic upbringing is still sitting there in the back of my head even though I don't buy it at all and it rears its ugly head to very odd times.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 03:49 AM

21. In what way does it rear? Guilt of some type?

Really doing things that I know the Catholic Church doesn't approve of made them all the more fun for me (No matter how minor, in high school and early college the only way in which I would observe Lent would be to specifically eat non-fish meat every Friday.) Eventually though I realized that caring about this in any way was hypocritical and contradictory to my decidedly non-Catholic identity and I'd have to actually ignore the rules, not make a point of breaking them.

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Response to ButterflyBlood (Reply #21)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 06:45 AM

27. Young minds are impressionable.


I was raised fairly liberal, but parents who didn't really care or believe in god, but nonetheless thought that it was the bourgeois thing to do to provide their kids with the full catholic program offered by the church, communion and all.

It's hard to say how that fucked me up. I'm an adult now, and don't consider these things allot. Yet, there's this tendency to be hung up about guilt and consider myself the root of all evil around me that I suspect is, (among other things) connected to the morality that was shoved down my throat by the good priests. It's hard to disentangle the different factors. But I can tell you for a fact that it is psychologically unhealthy to feel guilty about masturbating because you can't knock of the suspicion that some obscure sky being was watching you all along...

It's really hard to put the finger on. Yet I am convinced that in my case, some damage lingers on. Of course, this is no guarantee that I wouldn't suffer from the same issues without ever having come into contact with religion. It's just that they certainly upped the odds for it, which I find bad enough in itself.

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Response to Democracyinkind (Reply #27)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 11:11 PM

29. I don't know if I'm odd in shedding all that rather easily

Do you have to go to a Catholic school or something for all this to effect longer? At about age 13 I decided that I didn't know if I believed in God but if God existed the Catholic Church was sure as fuck not doing His will and just full of shit. I quit taking anything about them seriously. My mom realized this too, and that it was a complete non-starter, and then started going to the nearby Lutheran church more often (my dad is Lutheran but hardly ever goes to church) and when I was at college orientation pointed out all the Protestant student groups and churches that existed but completely ignored the Catholic Newman Center. (Not that at the time I was interested in any of them, but it had become pretty obvious how much of a non-starter Catholicism was with me and it wasn't worth fighting.) Oddly even my mom is basically Lutheran now.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 02:31 PM

24. I was listening to Skeleton Christ

by Slayer on the way home today and the chorus has a line that says "because you'll never see the second coming". My 10 year old son asks what they mean by the "second coming" and I told him that a lot of people believe that Jesus is coming back. I figured he knew that, even though I never sent him to church I figured he'd pick some shit up along the way, but nope.. so far so good..

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 06:44 AM

26. Well, I *do* begrudge having been raised Catholic.

You were born a sinner. You are a disappointment to your parents and everybody you are accountable to. You are probably going to hell.

And then there is that banner over the altar of the RC church that says: "Love".

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 04:34 PM

30. Cherish such a smart discerning daughter! I wouldn't try to change a thing.



ON EDIT:: Not your daughter, but the feeling is the same!

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