Losing our son to religion
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22-07-2013, 09:32 PM
Losing our son to religion
Hello everyone. I posted this as a part of my introduction thread, but it seems like more people read this section of the forum, so I'm going to re-post a portion of it:

I am married to a woman who has a son from a previous marriage. Neither of us are religious, and we both considered ourselves to be agnostic (at the time). Her son was just entering his teen years when we go together, and he sort of held the same beliefs that we did: not religious, definitely not Christian, but he did believe in god. His reason then was because he didn't believe in evolution as it was taught to him by a teacher who did not believe in evolution. (a teacher!!!!!)

Sometime earlier this year, he got involved with a girl who was an evangelical Christian. She agreed to date him, but wanted him to go with her to her youth group. The youth group in question is Young Life, a cultish group of evangelicals that preys on high school kids, promising fun times and lots of love, but indoctrinates them into a lifestyle of condemning their family and friends who do not subscribe to the evangelical lifestyle.

We weren't concerned because he assured us that he was only going for social time and did not buy into what they were preaching.

Here we are now... he went to the Young Life summer camp and came back a "born again Christian." He constantly talks about his "relationship with god" and how great Jesus is, and that he thinks we will go to heaven despite being in a same-sex relationship and not believing in his god (no matter how many times we tell him that we don't believe in heaven or hell). He now viciously denies evolution, despite continuously mounting evidence, and dismisses the big bang theory because it "doesn't make sense." I've asked him why he believes in the bible, and he says "because it makes sense." Really? God made man from dust, then made woman from man's rib, then impregnated a 14 year old girl so she could give birth to him, so he could sacrifice himself to appease himself, and THAT makes more sense than evolution, which is STILL observable?

I can't talk to him about it any more without the risk of pushing him away, which is exactly what these Young Life freaks want. They seem to get their rocks off by taking kids away from their families (there are even support groups for parents who have "lost" their kids to this group).

Oh, and I guess I should add the bit about this girl breaking up with him as soon as he was indoctrinated. Missionary dating, anyone?

Sorry about all of that rambling . . . seeing our son getting sucked into this nonsense has made me realize that I really am an atheist (not agnostic as I previously believed). The blind belief in a god without evidence or reason beyond "I don't know, therefore god" is ludicrous. He is so smart, so I can't understand how he's buying into it. They even have him convinced that he should "stop learning," because education only turns people away from god.

He used to be so proud of us. He would wear rainbow rubber bracelets and had a pride ribbon on his backpack so he could tell people how much he loved his moms. We never asked him to wear any of it, he did it on his own because he was proud to be our son. He was proud of his family. Now he is ashamed. He doesn't talk about his family to anyone anymore, and his rainbow accessories have been replaced with crosses (one around his neck and one on his wrist).

It is breaking my heart.
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22-07-2013, 09:36 PM (This post was last modified: 22-07-2013 09:46 PM by Momsurroundedbyboys.)
RE: Losing our son to religion
Hug

I hope he comes around. Don't push it -- but I would encourage him to respectful of your lack of belief.

Sometimes teens just want to fit in and go against the grain.

I think eventually he'll learn who really cares and who doesn't.


God is a concept by which we measure our pain -- John Lennon

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22-07-2013, 11:17 PM
RE: Losing our son to religion
I'll hazard a guess at what's on his mind.

Sex.

The missionary dating thing is probably spot on. Now he thinks that if only he can prove he's a good enough Christian he'll maybe get back together with the girl.

He's at a crappy stage of life - being a teen is no fun whatsoever if I recall correctly. Therefore he's vulnerable to manipulation, therefore assholes like this church move in.

I don't know what you can do about it to be honest. If it were my son (he says wisely, having no kids and being... somewhat young ) I'd just let him do his thing. Tell him that it's his life so he must live it how he wants and you won't interfere... but that equally that extends to you guys, and if you don't dictate his private beliefs then he mustn't cause shit with you over yours.

There is probably also an element of rebellion in there. When I was a teen it was my mission in life to inform my parents that they'd fucked it all up. It was their mission to be uncool and embarrassing and do stuff like hugging me in public...
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22-07-2013, 11:31 PM (This post was last modified: 23-07-2013 08:10 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Losing our son to religion
"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree".
Have some confidence in what you planted.
It's a phase. Many kids go through it.

(Oh, and you can tell him that "what makes sense" is not the way the universe works. Relativity, Uncertainty, Quantum Mechanics don't "make sense". If all we took seriously was what "makes sense", we would get nowhere.)

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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23-07-2013, 12:29 AM
RE: Losing our son to religion
Don't push him, but ask critical thinking questions. Have a family movie night with religulous. Always be there and be patient.
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23-07-2013, 12:38 AM
RE: Losing our son to religion
(23-07-2013 12:29 AM)LadyJane Wrote:  Have a family movie night with religulous.

I'd be careful with this. When I was a Christian I would have perceived it as extremely mocking and insulting - because that was what I was programmed to do whenever someone tried to make me think...
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23-07-2013, 12:46 AM
RE: Losing our son to religion
You raised him agnostically. He was open to getting information from all sides. This was very courageous of you.
Unfortunatly, this also the option of misinformation.
The fact that his only rebuttals are ''it doesn't make any sense'' tells me that it's a matter of time. It's superficial. It might indeed, as said above, been his balls taking over. Give it time. Perhaps you can set him up with a really nice/hot agnostic girl to set him straight!

On a side note: Wow, I guess this is kind of backwards.
If you switch around christian and agnostic in the OP, I would think that story was posted many times in christian forums.

Aspiring optimist
Eternal Pragmatist.
With the uncanny ability to see all sides in every argument.
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23-07-2013, 12:51 AM (This post was last modified: 23-07-2013 01:12 AM by Filox.)
RE: Losing our son to religion
What I think you should do is take him away and never let him go near that church again. In reality, that would be a disaster. This is a tough one. As Bucky said, it could be a phase, a teenage rebellion, girl catching... The problem is that he has already started his indoctrination, he is young and these new ideas are sticking like glue. If you just let it go, thinking it will just blow away, until you realize something bad is going on, it could very well be too late.

You should get yourself a bunch of scientific documentaries, about evolution and universe. Then casually play them while you are doing something around the house, or eating dinner, lunch stuff like that. This way he will be able to hear some stuff and he will feel the need to comment, so you can then comment with him. This gives you the needed arguments and provides you with a base to start a conversation, but you are not the one that started it, you do not push your "beliefs" this way. Also, get some books and leave them around the house. He might be interested enough to open them and peek inside while no one is watching.

Let's get back to something you mentioned... His teacher is teaching him biology and does not believe in biology? And you and the rest of the parents have not sued him and the school yet? Why? That teacher can teach all the religious classes he likes, but he CAN NOT teach biology, if he think like he thinks. This is a very serious problem for you as a parent and for the school. Completely unacceptable and I am sure a lot of parents would agree. Get him fired and do not feel bad about it, a teacher is suppose to teach, not preach. Imagine if I were to teach people about religion... "Fuck religion, there is no God or god! That concludes our lecture for this year." - Filox. Smile

Be careful. Don't argue. Be calm. Use logic. Use books and documentaries. Prove to him that science is the world around us, not devil.

Good luck.

P.S.

You can always send him here, we might be able to explain all sorts of things to a new-born-Christian... In fact, we live to do so.

Big Grin

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I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
-Hunter S. Thompson
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23-07-2013, 02:14 AM
Losing our son to religion
Thank you everyone for your input and words of support. I did casually leave Dan Barker's Godless out in the open, as well as the newspaper I get from FFRF. I have had a little bit of luck with him coming in to talk to me as I was reading an article about scientific breakthroughs on io9, which prompted a discussion because I was sincerely in awe of what I was reading and wanted to share it with him. I saw a glimpse of his former curiosity when speaking about the universe and why space exploration is important. It segued nicely into a discussion about how awesome science is, which he surprisingly agreed with, despite having said before that he didn't believe in science.

Regarding the teacher... This is a very small town full of religious folk who make the rules. The high school is part of a school district that only includes that one high school, so a complaint to the school would fall on deaf ears, and a complaint to the district wouldn't go anywhere, either. Taking it to a higher level would tread into the territory of potentially pushing him away because his "youth leader" has already convinced him that we are trying to take him away from Jesus.

I don't think it is teenage rebellion because he went through that phase already his freshman year when he fell into smoking pot all the time. He grew out of it, but now it seems as though he simply swapped one crutch for another. He still loves us, but now it's only in private.

Last year he told us that he wanted us both to walk him up to get his diploma (he is about to start his senior year). I will have to ask him if that's still the case, or if he is too worried about what his Christian leaders might think.

There might be a glimmer of hope on the horizon. We want out of this town and we were going to wait until he'd graduated, but as things get worse here, our patience has been running out. I approached him about it and he said that he wants to move with us and he doesn't care if it is in the middle of his school year. It's a wait and see situation though, because his youth leader is on his honeymoon so he hasn't had a chance to influence our son's thoughts on the matter yet. I'm expecting him to say that we are being manipulated by satan, and it's the devil's plan to get him away from god, blah blah blah...

I will continue to keep you all posted. Thank you again for taking the time to read and respond to this, it is greatly appreciated and so nice to be surrounded by so many like-minded people. It's not anything I'm used to, so.... thanks. Smile
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23-07-2013, 02:40 AM
RE: Losing our son to religion
He smoked pot? Well, why didn't you say that before. Just give him a joint and a Big Book of Science... Problem solved.

Smile

Just kidding. But it could work. I smoke and now I'm about to go enroll in my second college. I got these crazy ideas that I can finish Electronics while I was all stoned, so now something nice and smart is happening because of my crazy ideas...

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I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.
-Hunter S. Thompson
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