Religion and/or faith of some kind, how big a part does it play in your family life?

Lissa - posted on 06/25/2011 ( 11 moms have responded )

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I'm interested in all our ladies opinions on their faith or lack of. What do you teach your children.

Personally I was brought up a Catholic, I left the church for a very simple reason. I had sex outwith marraige and had a baby. Now apparently I can repent for the sin of the sex and all is well. Not to me it's not I think it's hypocritical to be sorry for sex which resulted in the child I wasn't sorry for.
Anyway now I certainly have faith, I believe their is a higher power, I pray (in my own way). I live a good life( I think) and believe that anyone who lives well and doesn't hurt each other is fine with me. I think faith in something is a great thing, I think organised religion can be a bad thing, how many wars have been fought over it. I believe in heaven and honestly hell, I will never be rid of the good old catholic hell fire and brimstone. I think the bible is a book of stories designed to help people live a good life at that time. I believe Jesus existed and he was simply a good, inspiring man. Looking at ideas across religion who is to say that the idea of purgatory is not the same as reincarnation, just a different setting.
So what do I tell my children... When they ask questions I give them my beliefs and then tell them beliefs from other religions. I explain people all over the world have different ideas and that they don't have to share mine. I also tell them that some people believe nothing of the sort exists. I want them to find their own way in life and choose for themselves.
So I have one athiest, one who believes in God and Jesus as the son of God and one who just likes the stories at the moment. Along with that one of my children asks to make Jesus a birthday cake every year.
Just the other day when my daughter was reading the witches she said she didn't believe in witches, well apart from proper witches (wiccans) they exist.
I just believe they should have knowledge of everything even though I am loathe to tell them that some people are homophobic for instance because their religion states it. I remember being about 10 and my Dad telling me that he thought homosexuals were basically possessed by a demon guiding them the wrong way, I told him that was bloody ridiculous.

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Carrie - posted on 04/04/2012

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It is the core of our family. I am a third generation Baha'i, my husband came from a Catholic family and became a Baha'i. Some would call Baha'i an "Eastern" religion, although the center of our Faith is situated in Haifa, Israel. We believe in progressive revelation. The Most Great Being, who is referred to as "God" in English, Alah in Jesus' Armaic, Allah in Persian & Arabic, YHWH in Hebrew, and so forth, never left humankind alone. Every 600-1000 years the Most Great Being has sent a manifestation of the Divine to guide us. We don't know the names of those who came before the Adamic cycle. They may have included Quetzalcohuātl, or he may have been a prophet but not a divine manifestation. We acknowledge the fact that divine guidance was given to all the indigenous people around the world. We do acknowledge Adam, Abraham, Moses, Zoraster, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, as divine manifestations of The Most Great Being in the Adamic cycle. We accept Muhammad as the seal of the Adamic Cycle. We believe The Bab was the Herald and Gate of Baha'u'llah for His new dispensation, a time leading to "heaven on earth", The Most Great Peace, when the lion will lie down with the lamb. We believe that the time of one person interpreting sacred scripture for the multitudes is over, the clergy have no power nor special connection with The Most Great Being over any other person. Anyone can read the sacred word and interpret and apply it to their spiritual growth as they see fit.



We do have a book of Laws, the Katab-i-Aqdas. We are organized. We have an administration, which is voted for by the members of the Faith.



We are raised to believe that children are one of the most sacred gifts from The Most Great Being, God if you well. We believe that in English there is not a neutered word so we use He but that in no ways is to be confused with a male essence. The divine knows no gender.



God teaches us that family is a divine institution. That the children are in the care of the parents, they are not possessions of the parents, and the parent stands before God if they abuse the child in action or word, be it physical, mental or spiritual. Neglect is one of the worse abuses (ie, refusal to educate, refusal to discipline, refusal to guide, refusal to nurture, etc...). That there is a difference between punishment and discipline. Discipline means to teach, punishment means to penalize. We are taught to discipline and encouraged to discipline. Punishment is reserved to deter behaviors that will seriously harm the child and only after every attempt to discipline has been exhausted.



Many of us come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds where the "spare the rod, spoil the child" mentality ruled the roost for eons. Many Baha'is fall back on that way. We stumble, fall, pray and move forward, however, as a community we continue to move forward.



Over one hundred and fifty years ago Baha'u'llah wrote His book of Laws that forbade racism, sexism, ageism. He demanded that people of all races sit together at one table, all consider each other of one race, the human race. He demanded that woman be given a seat at the council tables, world-wide, and said that, like two wings of one bird, humanity would not soar until both wings were strengthened, equally.



Our children were raised to respect all, to seriously take council with all, to take education seriously, and that no part of the world could be considered strong and good as long as another part of the world was suffering. And they were taught that it was through The Most Great Being's divine plan that what is happening now is for the betterment of humankind as a whole.



Why does God "allow" bad things (ie, rape, murder, greed, etc...) to happen? God doesn't "allow" it, He created us to help one another, to protect one another, to figure out why such things happen and to cause them to cease. We are not puppets. We have free will. We have a choice to do as God asks or not. We will "suffer" by watching, and being a part of, the natural consequences of our lack to respond.



I honestly do not know how one could raise a family, in this day and age, without Faith. Without a sure knowledge that this is merely the first world, His world of creation. That we are not human beings with souls, but rather souls experiencing a human life.



I love the fact that my Faith teaches science and religion MUST agree. If they don't, there is something wrong with the equation. Science without religion is mere materialism and religion without science is mere superstition.



The worlds of The Most Great Being are endless and when we are done here, we go on and on and on. Discovering more, gaining more knowledge, knowing more about our own soul, discovering where God is, somewhere, a piece, within each of us. The knowledge that I was purposefully created, solely because He loved me, not humanity as a whole (while He does) but specifically each and every soul was created by Him, fills me with awe. I cringe at the knowledge that I forgot He was there when I angrily struck out at my child. I weep at those times I left Him alone in the crib because I was taught to left the child "self soothe". I wasted much time in frivolously looking for myself "out there" when all the time I was "in here"! LOL!



I know, rather long. But, since no other Baha'i responded, and many of you may have heard of the horrendous times that are happening for Baha'is in places like Iran, I thought I might share, from a Baha'i who is American, a bit of who we are. We love Jesus Christ with all of our hearts, and weep for His sacrifice on the cross, during the barbarous Roman times. We despair over the insults Mohammad had to bear, His life always in peril as He united the barbarian tribes.



How can anyone look at history and not wonder "why"? Not look for an answer, bring that answer to their family, and make it the core of their existence? For what other reason are we alive?

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Jenny - posted on 04/09/2012

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Thank you for sharing, that was lovely and informative to hear :)



Kelly: "I'm always interested in hearing how people who have faith in a religion got it, since it seems to be eluding me."



In my experience with faith, a little of what you need is to take a leap of faith. The religion may not be entirely logical, but you may feel it is right in your soul, you may feel joy and peace and happiness while practicing the religion and this is enough to make you have faith.



If you want to believe, you must be able to trust a little in the unknown. You can't have every question answered, that will take a lifetime of searching. If you truly want to believe, just let yourself jump off the hill and fly.



Some people can do this, others like me, have become too cynical to be able to believe in any religion. I'm too much of a realist now, I like to know the facts, I like to see if the theology is sound and logical, I like to know how history has influenced the religion. With this analytical approach, I think it will be difficult to ever find a religion that will fill a spiritual void. I don't even bother.



I live my life for the sake of living. I live for my family, for experiencing a life with a life partner - my husband, enjoying the challenge of raising my kids, learning how to better our lives, and how the way we live our life impacts others. I live for creating a enjoyable and meaningful life based on reality. I believe in love and in kindness and compassion, I believe in action over speculation, although I make time for both. I find that I can still get equal (if not more) fulfilment, joy and peace in my life without religion as I did with religion.



This is what I hope to teach my kids. To do good onto others because we are responsible for the quality of our lives and of those around us. I want them to believe that they are in charge of their own destiny. I want them to make the most of being alive while they are alive :)



I don't think I will purposely teach them about religion. If it comes up then I will address it (and I'm sure it will come up, being as we are surrounded by religious family!). If their heart gets into it and they really start questioning whether there is a God, I will encourage them to search deep within themselves to understand what they are looking for, to go where their soul leads them, to look to history for meaning and understanding, to chase answers for the questions they are seeking and to follow their hearts. I believe their hearts won't lead them astray.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/28/2011

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I'm a Christian (Mennonite) and am still learning and growing closer to God. I'm much more motivated to stop coasting through life without thinking about important things, especially now that I have a child. Right now he's too little to really teach anything abstract. He goes to church with us and I pray for him at night, especially when he has nightmares. I intend to teach him about God the same way I teach him about other things, like gravity, baking, recycling, how to treat people, etc. Just as it comes up, as we go about living, use those teachable moments. It plays a pretty big role in my husband and my lives. I mean, if it doesn't affect your life, why bother saying you're a Christian at all?

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I'm so glad to hear your back is feeling better, Lissa!

My research began when I discovered that I was somewhat "jealous" of my friends who had a strong faith. They had some sort of confidence and comfort that I'd never felt, and I wanted it, so I set about finding it in the only way I know how: research.

It is not time consuming at all really. The initial research was a bit daunting, but I had a friend who teaches Religion help me. Of course, he's an atheist, so he was rather cynical about the whole project, but I love him anyway.

All that is left now is the "field research" so to speak. We set aside 2 hours each Sunday, which is about what most people spend on the process of going to church, worshiping, and gossiping, to study at home, or to visit a place of worship in our current area of study, then discuss it. I can't really spare more than 2 hours a week for it, but it has proven to be plenty of time for what we are doing.

Some days, I feel confident I'll find a faith that we believe in, others I'm pretty sure we won't, but at least we will learn. I find the reasons for wanting/having faith to be very interesting. Which is why I was hoping this conversation would pick up. I'm always interested in hearing how people who have faith in a religion got it, since it seems to be eluding me.

Lissa - posted on 06/28/2011

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lol Kelly I meant to post, my answer was going to be something along the lines of WOW and I thought I was rather thorough but then my back got better so I went out instead :)

I am incredibly impressed at your research into religions, as you say, even if you can't find things you like, you are learning all the time, as they say knowledge is power. I think it's fantastic exposing yourself to all sorts of religions and cultures. I was planning to do religious studies at college but at the end of the day it would have been a more for ME thing rather than a way to improve our situation, so I've decided much much later when I can afford and have time to do it for me I will. I think your approach is simply quite amazing but must be very time consuming, how do you do it?

So with, I'm completely impressed , I shall sign off :)

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wow....I killed this one didn't I :P No one else conducting a systematic search for religion?

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I don't know, really. I was not necessarily "raised" in church, but my mother did and still does believe in a Christian God. Being homeless for 9 years, we spent a good deal of time in Churches of different denominations, but most all of them were some form of Christianity. They gave us food, clothing, shelter, etc., but while we were there, we also got a good dose of teaching. I learned a lot about most Christian religions that way, but I never truly believed there was a God. Sometimes, I was glad I didn't believe it--it's much easier on the conscience when nothing is a "sin". Other times, I wanted to believe in God so much it literally hurt. To know that someone was watching over me, and that everything that was happening was happening for the better of all things, even if it was bad at the moment.

As an adult, I spent much of my 20's studying religions outside the Christian realm, still nothing I can believe in. Over the last 3 years, I've begun to revisit some of the Christian denominations to see if I can experience them differently as an adult, and as someone who does not depend on their charity. Still nothing, but the possibilities are endless.

I've compiled a list of over 350 religions. Obviously, I cannot explore all of them deeply enough to find belief, so I've broken the list down into Christianity, Eastern Spiritual, Native American, and Equilibrium categories. From there, I will learn along side my son (who is now 6 and able to comprehend what we are looking for). After composing the core research for each group to give us a basic understanding of the origins and reasons for their practices, we focused on eliminating those with practices/beliefs that were not in agreement with our own morals, and grouping those that are overly similar into single religious groups--so we don't spend twice the time on two religions that are so similar they might as well be the same thing.

Sunday is our day of religious study--not all day, I don't have time for that, but an hour or two. We spend 1-2 months exploring each religion--the first Sunday is spent establishing practices for worship (remember basic research established the ideals, beliefs, and origins, so that part is done) and, if possible, exploring local places of worship to visit and congregate. The remaining 4-10 weeks, we live according to that religion.

Thus far, we have learned a great deal about symbolism, faith, history, and have opened our minds to many different interpretations of different situations and solutions. While we have yet to come across a religion I can honestly say I believe is true, the experience has been, and I'm sure will continue to be, very enlightening--not only religiously speaking, but in several aspects of life. All religions may turn out to be made up, but they do still have a lot to offer, even if they are just stories.

Lissa - posted on 06/26/2011

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I can say with my children we have covered all sorts, including some norse and greek mythology for instance. I tend to cover Christian, Jewish, Muslim,Buddhist, Athiesm when talking about a particular belief but also talk about lots of other things in conversation. Like the Wiccan thing came up when reading the witches, Greek Gods when we were talking about the origin of a word that was Greek. Norse Gods when her uncle got a tattoo of Freya.
I realise that these are often not the kind of conversations you have with the average four, five, six year olds but one of my children is far from the average so we do end up in these talks.
The hardest question I have ever been asked is why do people make bombs when they only thing they can do is hurt?

Jaime - posted on 06/26/2011

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I'm an atheist and I can honestly say that I'm not sure at this point what the right balance is when it comes to talking to Gray about God and religion. The Christian God is just one God, but there are plenty of other Gods in various cultures throughout the world and I don't know that it's necessary for him to know about them individually or if talking to him about simply 'religion vs. non-religion is more producitive'.

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I will encourage Roxanne to learn about ALL religions because it's an important part of culture and history, but I don't believe in God, the Bible or organized religion. I have faith in myself. I believe that there *might* be some form of a higher power, but I can't say for certain what it is, and I certainly won't rely on it to bring me comfort.

Jenni - posted on 06/26/2011

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I love that you're so open with you children about different faiths or having no religion.

I'm an athiest but was raised in the church. If my children are interested I will teach them about different faiths even though I don't believe in a higher power. My husband is agnostic and his parents are athiest. He's only been to church once with his sister for mass. But I have no problem with my children choosing their own path.

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