Questioning Belief System

Lacye - posted on 12/07/2011 ( 50 moms have responded )

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I've been seeing a lot of religious posts lately and some things have been bothering me about some of them. What would you say to your child if he/she came up to you and announced that they don't have the same beliefs as you do? Would you criticize them? Or would you encourage them to have their own beliefs? What would you do if your child tried to push their new found beliefs on you? Would you listen to what they had to say or would you tell them to back off?

I know that this is a controversial subject, but I'm just a little curious about this.

Personally, I don't really care about what my daughter will believe in when she gets older. She is her own person and she will have to make up her own mind. I will take her to church with me until she gets old enough to make her own decision so she will have the opportunity to learn about my beliefs. If she wants to go to a place of worship that is different than mine with a friend, I would be fine with that. If she just decided that she didn't believe in any of it, no problem. I would have a problem with her trying to push her own beliefs on myself. I would listen to what she would have to say, but my decision on being a Methodist has already been made up. I've done my soul searching. I've looked at different religions to see if I could possibly believe that those would be one that would make better sense to me. I have talked to atheists and looked at their point of view. For me, Christianity seems to fit better with me.

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Nikki - posted on 12/08/2011

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This is a difficult question to answer without sounding like a bigot. I would be somewhat upset although I would never let on to my child I felt that way.

I am an Atheist, I respect other's rights to have religion and I even admire some aspects of it but it is not for me at all. I believe in science, evolution, things I can see, touch and feel. To me, in my mind the idea of believing in God is as far fetched as believing in the tooth fairy.

I have every intention of teaching my daughter about religion, I want her to make her own informed choices in life but that doesn't mean I will always be 100% happy about them. But I will support her, unless she joins an extreme cult of course.

Barb - posted on 12/12/2011

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I was christian when my son was born. I took him to church as a baby and even had him christened. I stopped taking him to church when he was around 3. Mainly because i started objectively thinking about what i was putting in his head. He was so smart and intuitive i felt very responsible for what he was learning.

I recall being around 7 or 8 years old and learning about "hell" and who goes there. Our church believed that Catholics were the devil and would burn in hell. My mom's mom and dad were Catholics and i recall begging them to please join our church so they wouldn't burn in hell. I had nightmares about being in beautiful heaven watching them writhing in pain and agony on fire. I just knew if i didn't convert them, i would be responsible for their demise. That's a lot of pressure for a kid, and not something i wanted to pass on to my child.

This was reinforced when visiting my sister and their bedtime story was about Saul and how God told him to go and kill everyone in the next town, don't leave anyone or anything alive. But Saul disobeyed God and took the best of the spoils of 'war'. so God decided he wouldn't be King and told Samuel to pick out another, hence came David.

The emphasis of the story was on obedience. But what i heard was genocide. Again, not something i wanted to teach my child.

As he grew older, he became friends with some local Mennonites. He went to their youth group on Wednesdays and another meeting on Sunday i believe. I would take him there and pick him up. We had several talks over the years about different religions and why i believe what i do and that it is alright for him to believe whatever he chooses to.

He is in the USMC now and his dogtags say "undecided" or "none" not sure which really, but i know he doesn't have a religious preference at this time. I want him to have an open mind and i felt that taking him to church would indoctrinate a certain ideology and wouldn't leave him open to other possible ideas.

Rosie - posted on 12/10/2011

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teresa, i stated my beliefs of following organized religion-the act of strictly following the bibles guidelines, or koran or whatever other holy book there is out there. which in my opinion nothing good comes out of. so much violence and bigotry, and just plain silliness, comes out of following and strictly adhering to it's teachings.
of course loving thy neighbor, and honoring you mother and father, and not commiting adultery, are all considered good things that have come out of the bible. but those ideas were around before the bible, and one doesn't need a bible, or believe in god to follow those "rules" of social kindness.

Stifler's - posted on 12/08/2011

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Oh god yes i hope y kids never get sucked into doing crazy shit like beating their babies and believing that being abused by yuor husband is god's plan or something.

[deleted account]

Just as you can't force yourself to believe... you can't force yourself NOT to believe. I have never doubted that God exists. I can't even think of something that could make me doubt His existence...

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Tam - posted on 12/12/2011

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His dogtags likely say No Religious Preference. That's what mine say.

I like your method.

Kelina - posted on 12/11/2011

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No Krista they don't. They simply say that you will not live. But i'm not here for a theological debtae. There are many things I don't know, many things in the bible I have issues with, and many things in life I have issues with. One of my biggest issue with the bible is that it is written by man. How, therefore can it not contain mans mistakes and misinterpretations? Just as I doubt and get confused when someone interprets a bible verse to something that it seems to have no correlation to. People look for hidden meanings and deeper meanings in the scripture, wanting to be closer to God that way and teach others about his ways. Which means everything is subject to doubt and how much you trust the opinions of the person preaching. I trust in God, but I have little faith in man.

Stifler's - posted on 12/11/2011

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I have always been around church and don't think I genuinely believe. I believe in something though because I don't believe there is nothing out there.

Krista - posted on 12/11/2011

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That's exactly right, Teresa. If your heart tells you to believe, then how can you turn that off? You can't.

I have more respect for people who say, "I know it doesn't always make sense, and I can't explain some of the inconsistencies, but nonetheless, I believe. It's just what feels right in my heart," than people who say, "I believe, because it's the absolute truth, and deep down, you believe too -- you just don't WANT to, because you're angry at God."

I'm really a live-and-let-live kind of girl, when it comes down to it. And even though I question and criticize a lot of the tenets of various religions, I would never want anybody to abandon their faith, if their faith makes them genuinely happy.

Case in point: after my grandfather died, my mom was having a crisis of faith. She's not hardcore Bible, but she does believe in the Christian God. She called me up and said, "You know, I think you're right about there being no God." And that saddened the hell out of me. If someone becomes an atheist, I want it to be with a clear head, and because they've thought about it, and because it's the conclusion that makes the most sense to them. I don't want it to be in sadness and hopelessness. So, I let her know that even though I don't believe in God, that doesn't mean there ISN'T one, and advised her to go talk to her parish priest (who is actually really nice, and approachable, and has a great sense of humour.)

So I guess I'd be the same way with my kids. Whatever their spiritual path is, that is cool with me -- as long as that path is being followed with a clear head and a happy heart.

Jenny - posted on 12/11/2011

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I teach my kids critical thinking. They are free to use it to develop their own beliefs. I experienced many different religions growing up and eventually realized I believed none of them. I'm thankful my Mom stayed out of it and let me figure out my own way.

Krista - posted on 12/11/2011

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I have a hard time believing that God could do something like that. and Krista i honestly never thought of it that way. but i guess that's how I would feel about other religions I simply can't believe in them.

Exactly. If you can't believe, you can't. The other religions don't speak to you and don't make sense to you.

And what if some Hindu guy said to you, "Well, it's your choice to believe in the loving, merciful Vishnu or not. But if you don't believe in him, he doesn't like that very much, and he'll make sure you're tormented for all of eternity, as punishment for your disbelief!"

You cannot force yourself to believe in something you don't. So how is it "loving" for a deity to punish you eternally for that?

And as far as believing God would do something like that...well, John 3:18 and John 3:36 seem to feel differently.

[deleted account]

I know this question wasn't directed at me but I'm going to attempt to answer it anyways. why would I want to be somewhere where my child wasn't allowed? that's not really the truth though. Everyone is allowed there it's just that you have to believe to get in. And I would want to be there because I know in my heart that that's the right place for me. It would be a little like my child growing up and choosing a far away city to live in or another country. "
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That's not a correct analogy and it minimizes the theology. A better one is this. Your child is forcibly taken from their home and put in a prison camp where they face horrific torture while you are driving in a limosine to a luxury spa to be pampered for the rest of your life. The only thing your child did was not believe the same thing you do. That's not even a crime, it's just a difference of opinion. So I don't get why any parent would be ok with enjoying the luxury spa massage while their child is having their toenails ripped off with pliers.

Charlie - posted on 12/10/2011

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I wouldn't be upset if they were not a non believer / atheist / humanist like I am but I would be confused as how a child of mine came to the conclusion any religion were anything more than a story but I would love them none the less.

I would be open about all beliefs if and when they ask becuase it is interesting and I think a person should get to choose for themselves.

My parents gave me the freedom to choose and actually reading the entire bible, twice with an open mind and no family bias is what made me an atheist and I thank my parents for allowing me that opportunity.

Kelina - posted on 12/10/2011

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people do horrible things because they feel like it to. Although I do agree with you, people can believe without having to follow everything in the bible or whatever other religious book they have. I believe in God but I'm not so great at reading the bible and even worse at following it. however i;m comfortable in my beliefs. The thing is, i've heard hell described many different ways. who's to say which one is right? who's to say there even is a hell. Perhaps hell is just a different part of heaven where they send people who have done terrible things. Perhaps we're all wrong and there really is nothing after this life. i believe in God and heaven but I really don't know about the hell and damnation that so many people believe in. I know that I could never send someone i love to something so horrible, I have a hard time believing that God could do something like that. and Krista i honestly never thought of it that way. but i guess that's how I would feel about other religions I simply can't believe in them. christianity is the one that feels right to me. i've always had a hard time with the bible too. I remember being like 9 years old talking with my cousin and wondering whether or not a couple guys got really drunk one night and went OMG lets write something and say God told us to! lol

Rosie - posted on 12/10/2011

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and that's exactly why i hate organized religion, lol. it makes people do things to please a god that are horrible. of course not everybody who is religious does these horrible things, but that doesn't change my opinion that if organized religion was never "invented" the world would be a better place.

people can believe in a god without following it's sacred book's teachings perfectly fine. and i have no problem with that..

Krista - posted on 12/10/2011

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Everyone is allowed there it's just that you have to believe to get in.

And what if your child CAN'T believe?

Do you honestly think that it would be fair of your god to say to your kid, "Well, I know you tried, and you were a really good person....BUT, I know you just weren't able to make yourself believe, so off to Hell with you now!"

I mean...damning someone to eternal torment, just for disbelief? That just doesn't sound very loving to me...sorry.

Kelina - posted on 12/10/2011

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I know this question wasn't directed at me but I'm going to attempt to answer it anyways. why would I want to be somewhere where my child wasn't allowed? that's not really the truth though. Everyone is allowed there it's just that you have to believe to get in. And I would want to be there because I know in my heart that that's the right place for me. It would be a little like my child growing up and choosing a far away city to live in or another country. It would hurt my heart, but I would know that I'm still where i belong. it's also better than the alternative. and Dyan, religions re what we make of them. the problem with religious texts is that they can be taken in so many ways. people can twist their words to make what they want of them, much like lawyers. that doesn't mean they're right. and terrible things and good things come out of writings that aren't religious. the religious ones are the ones tha get quoted the most because they figure largely in history. just because terrible things happened and are happening because of how people have interpreted something, that doesn't mean it's right or that all people who follow that religion think and feel that way. look at muslims. For the most part their religion is kind and wonderful. but then you get people who deicde to take things the wrong way and suddenly, muslims are being persecuted for something someone decided to do in their name. And the truth is that seeing what is being made of their religion and done in the name of their religion hurts them too because it's not right.

[deleted account]

"but it would hurt my heart forever thinking that my child would not be in heaven with me "

My question is very serious and I mean it in as such. Why would you want to be in a place where your own child wasn't allowed? At what point do you say something else is more important than your child?

[deleted account]

I've raised my boy without religion but several years ago he wanted to see what church would be like. I found a very pleaseant unitarian universalist church and we went a few times. He was satisfied. I answer his questions from my point of view but he has access to religious books in our house. Unfortunatley he read them and didn't get what the theists would have hoped, having read the OT and found the violence appalling.

Krista - posted on 12/09/2011

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but it would hurt my heart forever thinking that my child would not be in heaven with me



So...you would blame your child for not being able to believe in your god, instead of wondering why you worship a god who would send a good person to Hell simply for not believing in him?



Okey-dokey, then...

[deleted account]

NOTHING good comes out of following the Bible?

That would be discriminating against everyone that believes in the Bible simply because of the crazies out there.... :(

Rosie - posted on 12/09/2011

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i'm not gonna lie, i would be upset if they became religious. i wouldn't be so upset if they just simply believed in god, and didn't follow all of the crap in the bible. i have a huge problem with organized religion and all that it entails-nothing good comes out of following the bible, or koran, or whatever other books there are out there. people die, kill, and discriminate all in the name of god because the bible states that they should. and if my child were to do that...i would not be happy at all.

Rabecca - posted on 12/09/2011

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I personally would be extremly upset and beside my self because I think the main thing is when you believe in God you believe in the afterlife he has promised then you want to see the ok and safe in heaven . it def is a choice and thats the thing you have to choice God and if you dont thats your own personal dession but when it pertains to my family my child I want the best for them and that would mean spending an eternity in heaven if the choice to be a different religion as long as it was based in faith in God and believing in Jesus and what the Bible says is the truth then were good my only concern would be if he choice to have no faith becuase then to me and to those who do believe he is choiceing an afterlife of terrrible consquence it has nothing to do with if your a good person or not happy or productive people that dont believe in God can be great people but it does scare me that these great people are choicing a pth that leads then to an afterlife I wouldnt want for anybody and that especially me and that means evenmore so when talking about my child I just think if you lov your children you want to protect them from harm and if you believe what God has said as the truth then there is a fear of them being hurt and seperated from you forever but it has to be thier choice but it would hurt my heart forever thinking that my child would not be in heaven with me

[deleted account]

Questioning is good. Finding that belief and developing that relationship for themselves is important.

I admit that I would be very upset if my children ever come to a point in their lives where they don't believe in God or turn away from Christianity. The girls do know that there are people that don't believe in God. They think it's sad and they don't understand it. Who knows what will happen when they get older though....

I don't doubt that my son will question a LOT of things. He already comes up w/ a lot of questions about God, death, and heaven that I wonder where his precious little mind comes up w/ these things. ♥

Sherri - posted on 12/09/2011

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Because we are devote in our religion as Catholics and our beliefs so yes my children suddenly deciding after a lifetime of knowing who God and Jesus are to suddenly not believe would be extremely devastating to myself and my children's entire family.

So do I have a problem that you are Atheist Alessia nope. I have no problem with you or your religion in the least, as it pertains to you.

I only have a problem with it if it directly affected my family personally.

[deleted account]

I think she would be devastated because according to Catholics, all atheists are going to burn in hell for eternity.

[deleted account]

I could care less about what someone else chooses to believe. Its their life and religious beliefs are really not that important to me.

Alessia - posted on 12/09/2011

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@Sherri why would you be "devastated and extremely sad". Is there something wrong with atheists? Are we damaged? Do you think we are unable to lead healthy, happy, productive lives without any sort of religion? I'm truly baffled by your comments.

Sherri - posted on 12/09/2011

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@Alessia I would honestly be devastated and extremely sad. They were raised and taught differently and I would hope that those values more than anything else will hold true and steadfast. However, in the end and they are 18 it is 100% their choice and I would love them and support them no matter what.

Alessia - posted on 12/08/2011

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I'm sorry but what's so "Crazy" about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. May you be touched by his noodly appendage. rAmen.

Kelina - posted on 12/08/2011

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I'd like to think I'd be ok with it as long as it's not crazy like the flying spaghetti monster. right now, my son only knows what we've taught him and he's only two so that's not much. I won't push him. when he's old enough if he doesn't want to go to church, he doesn't have to. If he wants to explore different religions, I think i'll be ok with it. It took me a long time to be ok with my own religion, and to explore what that means, I'd like to think I'll be better at accepting who my kids are and the things they choose to do than my parents were. My dad forced religion down my throat, and my mom was not supportive of anything i wanted to do so it was difficult to do anything while living at home. Lol i can remember sitting outside my church for more than an hour one day waiting for my mom to come pick me up, despite the fact that no one else was left in the church and numerous people had offered to drive me home. The reason-she'd fallen asleep after I phoned her. It made trying to find myself during the highschool years difficult and I want to do better by my kids.

Krista - posted on 12/08/2011

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I agree with everything Johnny said. I want my kids to be in control of their own spiritual journey. If that journey leads them to a religion, then that is fine.

My only concerns would be if they a) lost all critical thinking skills in their zeal for their faith, or b) started to proselytize.

But otherwise, if their faith makes them happy and brings them fulfillment, then good for them. I don't get it, but I don't have to -- it's their journey, not mine.

Alessia - posted on 12/08/2011

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@Sherri And what if they didn't want to believe in any religion at all and decided they were atheist/agnostic?



@Johnny You mean the earth is NOT 6000 years old?!? And if evolution was true....why are there still monkeys?!?! o.O (messing with you)

Jennifer - posted on 12/08/2011

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My 16 year old has explored Wicca and a few other things, has tried vegan and I've been helpful, explaining things or helping her find information. She claimed to be agnostic for awhile. I just rode it out. Fighting is not something I plan to do with any of my kids. They know how I feel, and I don't see that ramming them with it is going to help. I'm right, why fight? Questions are part of growing, everyone has to do it.

Sherri - posted on 12/08/2011

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As long as my children believe in some type of religion I would be fine with that even if it differed from my own.

Johnny - posted on 12/08/2011

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My daughter is free to explore on her own, in fact I will encourage it. My parents supported me through all sorts of religious exploration and never told me what to think about anything. They simply encouraged me to ask the questions that I needed answers to. I will do the same with my daughter. It is entirely possible that she will end up believing in God, and I have no problem with that at all. However, if she starts telling me things like that the earth is absolutely only 6000 years old or that did not evolve, I will probably offer her a giant piece of my mind. Faith is one thing. Ignorance is another. I will also probably discourage her from joining an extremist cult. But generally when people are drawn to that sort of thing, it is better to just love them a lot than trying to actively pull them away.

Alessia - posted on 12/08/2011

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As a general rule of thumb, practicing Jews do not write the name God because of the laws delivered by Moses which are found in Deuteronomy 12:3-12:4. In this passage, the Jews are instructed to destroy anything and everything associated with their rival’s gods, and they are not to let this happen to their own God. Writing G-d instead of God is one way to prevent others from destroying the name of God.

[deleted account]

Can someone explain to me why people refer to god as "G-d" on the internet? I'm seeing it everywhere and I don't get it.

[deleted account]

I have been searching for religion for most of the past 11 years, and now that J is here, he is along for the ride with me. I've been very close to death several times in my life due to a couple of medical conditions and I don't want this to be all there is; I want there to be a heaven, or an after-life of some sort, maybe even reincarnation, but I cannot quite convince myself that any of that could possibly be true.

J knows they are all theories. He knows the concept of Faith is belief without proof, and he knows I have no idea how to get it (faith). We practice a religion for about 3 months or so, but we did Catholicism for 6 because that's how long the class was. Then, if I don't have faith, we move on. I am determined to find the right religion before I die. I am assuming that if there is a God, He will tell me when I've got the right one. That said, I'm somewhat frustrated with the fact that he's letting me waste all this time, and worry so much about it when he could could just say "Hey, this is the one...." Which is why I have a hard time believing that there actually is a God, but I really want to believe in one, so J and I are going to keep searching.

So, all that to say basically, I don't care what J feels about religion at this point. Currently, he believes there is a God, but that we don't exactly know how to worship Him, or what his specific rules are except to live morally with others in mind. I think that if he came to me and told me he knew which God was real, I would be very happy for him regardless of who the God was.

Tam - posted on 12/08/2011

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Belief is a personal thing, and something you can't really force onto someone. If my children decide to be religious, then I won't stand in their way. By the very nature of my own lack of belief in a god, it will probably be a bit confusing as to how they arrived at their decision.

I have no problem taking them to a place of worship if they ask me to. I don't even mind sitting through services, though I don't really believe. I'll do what my children feel they need in their lives, within reason.

When it comes to proselytizing, I have a similar stance. I don't mind discussing the beliefs of others, just as I don't mind expressing my own. But as I don't push my beliefs on others, I will expect the same courtesy from my children.

Sylvia - posted on 12/08/2011

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If my DD began espousing bigoted/racist/homophobic beliefs, I'd be very upset. I'd be somewhat weirded out if she started getting really religious (like not touching boys or refusing to wear short sleeves or whatever), and seriously weirded out if she started talking about becoming a Jehovah's Witness or something, but ... well, I might try to talk her out of it, but if it made her happy ...

If she announced she doesn't believe in G-d ... really, no big. Her dad doesn't. I'm not sure I always do either. What most concern me are questions like, Is she kind and compassionate to other people? Is she gentle with babies and small animals? Does she consider other people's feelings? Does she take responsibility for her actions? Will she be a good partner and a good parent? Does she treat other people as she would like to be treated? Those are the things I aim at for myself, though I often fall short. I don't think you need to believe in G-d, or any particular version thereof, in order to be a good person -- though if it helps you, great.

Michelle - posted on 12/08/2011

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My 10yo son has been asking about God and some of the Jehovah Witness beliefs lately. I am an athiest but I went to a Catholic High school and I am also not ignorant to others beliefs.
Whe he found out from his friend (the JW) that they don't celebrate Christmas or birthdays he was put off that religion :-)

I explain the Christian beliefs to him but also explain evolution and the scientific facts as well. My children will be able to choose for themselves when they grow up. I won't tollerate them trying to push thier new found beliefs on me though.

Becky - posted on 12/08/2011

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Once I hit my teen age years, much to my parents dismay, I gave up on religion! It was a huge issue in our house. My parents asked me to hold off making my decision until after I did confirmation classes. I did the classes and participated (lack of religious knowledge was not the issues for me) and then decided I did not want to be confirmed. My mother pushed and was trying to force my confirmation . . . I told the nun who was our class instructor. She spoke to my parents and I never heard another word about it.

My beliefs changed after my daughter was born, and they have continued to evolve over the years.

My daughter is free to believe as she wishes. I believe in God, but I don't believe in religious institutions. Last year my daughter wanted to go to church and attend religion classes . . . I bought her a bible & my sister in law was happy to take her to church! I've had discussions with her about being Christian, and we've also discussed other religions also. She was baptized Lutheran, but she will be welcome to confirm any religion that feels right to her. We have friends that are Jehovah Witness and she enjoys talking to them also and learning how their beliefs are different than her own.

Alessia - posted on 12/08/2011

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I have to echo what Nikki S. said.

We are atheists and don't believe in any god, gods, etc. but I have degrees in art and medieval history so my house is chock full of religious iconography. Seriously, you'd think I was BFF with Jesus if you came over here. As far as our older son is concerned, his grasp of god is "some people believe in it, other people don't". We've told him that it is a grown-up decision that he can make when he understands.

If he were to become a believer, I can't lie, I would be a little confused because I find the notion of "god" (any god) extremely silly and illogical, but I would never let on to it. As long as he respected me and his dad, and his grandparents and didn't try to prosletyze to us, I'd be ok with it.

Right now, though, I have a statue of St. Sebastian (he was pierced with arrows and survived) which Dante calls "pointy Jesus". And yesterday we talked about the song The Little Drummer Boy and he asked me if Jesus asked Santa for Optimus Prime for Christmas. :)

Stifler's - posted on 12/08/2011

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Damian and I don't even have the same beliefs so the kids can believe whatever they want. I refused to get them baptised for this reason. What if they don't WANT to be Lutheran?

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