Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
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29-01-2013, 10:00 AM
Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
Good Morning - This will be a little lengthy
This is my first post. Short background. I have been a skeptic for many years, since about the age of 13 I believe. In recent years I have become an atheist due to my obsessive compulsive nature, meaning as my wife has been drawn closer to her faith, I have responded by pulling away even more. I've been doing a lot of reading, listening to Atheist podcasts, etc, etc to affirm my beliefs and to help find out where I truly stand on things. My wife's side of the family are Christian fundamentalists. She is aware of my beliefs but I have decided to keep the peace and support her with hers though poking and prodding a bit when I have the opportunity. I believe she is a Christian because she was raised that way and she truly wants to believe. I do not try to present her with to much information that I have found that will really get her mind going as I think she would resent me for making her question her faith.

So my issue is this: We have two kids, currently enrolled in a Baptist private school because I want them to have a good education and my wife wants them to have a healthy dose of The Lord (angels singing in the background)

They are force-fed this stuff at school and bring home "jesus is the boss" type of comments. Part of me says, it's OK, they're still young and it's not going to hurt them now, but another part of me reminds them that, No, I'm the boss, and I've never talked to Jesus!

Sunday, my wife decided to go to Church and gave me a pass to stay home as I she knew I had some things to do. She did however want the boys to go with her. They moaned and complained. My oldest complained that he goes at school on Wednesdays....and I agree and I have expressed to my wife that they're getting the influence you want at their school, don't push it or you're going to turn them away from it. She argues it's important for them to get involved at a young age while they are impressionable. I hate this idea of brainwashing them. My wife lost her marbles, and left for church alone. She feels very disconnected as I don't believe and the kids don't want to go. It's putting a strain on our marriage as I don't know how to best deal with it.

Part of me says this isn't working and she should find someone that better suits her spiritually. The other part of me says that's ridiculous because our marriage is great and shouldn't be affected my something that isn't real in the first place. Part of me thinks that maybe I would be happier with someone who is more of a critical thinker and doesn't give in to such nonsense.

What I really want is to come to the middle somehow. I'd like to both agree that yeah, there may be a god that created everything, but that god has not part in our daily lives and to think so is counterproductive. That the bible wasn't intended to be fiction, but time and science have proven it to be so, that evolution is the most logical way we have come to be, that Jesus may have or may have not ever existed, and if he did, sure maybe he was a great guy, but he wasn't god, nor was he born from a virgin, etc etc etc. That's where I would like us to be, and I am comfortable teaching my kids the same........

Well, I'm done rambling - any thoughts are very much appreciated.
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29-01-2013, 04:45 PM (This post was last modified: 29-01-2013 05:08 PM by PoolBoyG.)
Star RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
Summary as I understand it: Children being fed false views of reality by community, and by authority figure(s). What can be done?

Children's minds are malleable, and can be taught to be or believe in anything. TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE. Don't let others "get them while they're young".

1. Train the children to question authority. That it's not okay to accept something without verifying it. And that people can and are often wrong, and do terrible things despite the "best of intentions".

Even though certain loved ones or segments of society are terribly wrong, it doesn't mean they don't love you or are bad people. You can still love them without bending to their sickness.

If they reject you for standing up for reality, then they never loved you and are undeserving of your love.

2. Present the children with the other myths around the world. The greek gods, the native american gods, the norse gods, the hindu gods, the aztec gods, etc. Show them that Christianity is nothing special.

3. Present the contradictory and genocidal parts of the bible. Show that even if the bible was taken as pure allegory or philosophy, its still monstrous and out dated.

4. Present them with comic books or other myths. Even though New York exists, it doesn't mean Spiderman exists just because it was written about, and widely read.

5. Get the children hooked on astronomy, dinosaurs, etc. It'll show them that the world isn't as small and confined as religions teach. It'll open their eyes and spark curiosity of how large and old the universe is. And how small and feeble religions are.

I don't have children, and probably won't for many many years. These are just suggestions of how I think I might handle the situation.

As for the partner in the marriage, these can work on them too. Don't expect overnight results. Just get them sceptical, and confident enough so they won't fall into the trap of religion. Like cigarette smokers, they can't stop cold turkey. They need to be eased off it, and replace it with something else. If the partner likes being part of a community, find another community. If the partner wants a routine, give them another routine. If the partner wants to be part of something, give them something else to be a part of. Something based in reality, or good harmless fun.
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29-01-2013, 05:45 PM (This post was last modified: 29-01-2013 05:54 PM by Peterkin.)
RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
Rock. Jason. Hard place.

I don't know how strongly you and your wife feel about each other, but a major divergence in belief will strain even the closest union. Probably break one that isn't strong. Believers tend not to come willingly, even a little way toward unbelief; tend to expect the unbeliever to come all the way over to their point of view. (You can understand that: someone they love is in danger of eternal death, if not actual hellfire!) Unless she already has secret doubts, or something happens to shake her faith, her position won't change. Yours probably won't, either, except perhaps to harden (It's rare for anyone to recover lost faith.)

So, either you split up, in which case the kids are stuck in the middle, pulled this way and that, going to church with mother and the museum of natural science with father, trying to figure out their loyalties and convictions. Could be worse, actually: sometimes having a clear choice is less stressful than pretending everyone is on the same page when they're not. (Don't know whether, and how, grandparents fit in, so that may be another complication.)

Or, you or stay together and this elephant remains dormant in the middle of your house, waking occasionally, to stampede over the conjugal bed. You may both agree - tacitly or overtly - to ignore the problem, except when some particular conflict arises. Those conflicts are most likely to be ignited by something one of the kids says, or a discipline problem at school, and these problems will come more frequently as the kids grow older - and because you encourage them to question their teachers, you will often be blamed for the problems. This, too, will force them to decide, each on his own position.

(Of course, they should be going to a secular school in the first place - switching over, even now, might prevent some of the future conflicts, and it would then be okay for them to attend church on Sunday. PS I second encouraging them to read the bible, but not directing what parts they read. Just set 'em loose in there - it cured me of religion by age 12.)

Which alternative is better for you depends entirely on how much it would hurt to destroy your marriage.

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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29-01-2013, 06:27 PM
RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
If you do want to come to a conclusion, then you are just going to have to talk about it. I guess it's that simple.

You will have to take whatever the results are, of the conversation between you and your wife, but otherwise, you would just be sweeping it under the rug, trying to act like something you see as a problem, isn't one, which could make it worse, and harder to deal with, as time goes on.

Looking at the last part, it seems as if you kind of have an idea about how you want the discussion to go, and what you want, as a goal, out of a conversation; so at this point, I doubt the TTA provides couples therapy sessions, i.e., you are just going to have to talk it out with your wife.

Also, I do think your compromise of living in a secular household, regardless of individual faith, is a pretty legitimate one. It would be kind of unreasonable for that not to be able to happen.

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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30-01-2013, 10:20 AM
RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
Thank you very much for your replies. You're right, we've got a great relationship, and a great family life, but this is one thing that wears on us. She says it all of the time, that we aren't on the same page about the "most important" thing. To which I say, you should get your priorities straight if that is your most important thing. I think her beliefs are rooted deep enough to cause further strain. She does fear for me in the afterlife, and has said she wants me to be there with her. She has also been reading a book titled When He Doesn't Believe which is about working a spouse back into the faith.

Peterkin wondered how the grandparents fit in. Well, they are bible belt, bible thumping, christian fundamentalist GOP backers. They think Jesus is coming back in their lifetime, which will be within the next 15yrs or so. I ask, why do you keep preaching life insurance policies and savings accounts if he'll be here in a few years? In the past week alone, she has sent me two emails, one about the End Times and how the US giving Egypt 20 F16's is part of the prophecy because we are arming an enemy of Israel. The other was titled Why God Allowed Obama to Win.......

See what I'm up against? It's a lonely place being the only one with some sense. Over the past few years I have become more of a critical thinker, I've been reading more and wanting to learn more. I really wish my wife desired to learn more and know more as well. There is so much out there at your fingertips to learn & be aware of, yet everyone is more interested in Facebook and what reality TV show is on tonight.

I think, the real issue is my obsessive compulsive disorder. It creates a need/desire to be completely focused on something and recently it has been my desire to distance myself further and further from religion and be ready to debate it at the drop of a hat. I need to focus my energy elsewhere possibly for a while and cool off. My kids won't be harmed by the teachings at their school as all they are going to teach are the good parts of the bible, not the twisted parts. In several years, I will be able to tell them exactly what I think. Along the way I can simply push them to thinking more, questioning things, etc. I think the fact that I don't mention God or Jesus at all will serve as a form of guidance that I don't personally find it important. My marriage is important and I don't want to allow my OCD become a wedge between my wife and I. If she wants to allow religion to become that wedge, I want it to be her doing, not mine.
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30-01-2013, 10:56 AM
RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
You yourself said it - your wife wants the kids to go to church while they're still "impressionable" and you don't want them "brainwashed". Those were your words. This tells me that both of you know what's at stake here - she's indoctrinating impressionable children so they will forever share her beliefs because she knows that now is the time to do it, while they're young and impressionable while you recognize that they're being brainwashed and will fall into believing the "nonsense" for the rest of their lives.

So, what do you want for them?

Maintaining the current situation may be the least stressful (for everyone but you), but it will definitely lead to indoctrinated nonsense-believing children. How determined are you to save them from that future?

Divorce may not be the best answer. She will almost certainly get custodial joint custody which means she'll take them to church most of the time and you won't be around to help them with critical thinking. Which means you'd get them occasionally, and then you could try to undermine their indoctrination without risk (your only risk now is losing your marriage but that risk is gone after a divorce). It could work, but it's really hard on the kids.

I suggest you really figure out what's best for your kids and draw that line in the sand. If that means taking the risk, trying to talk sense into your nonsensical wife, then so be it; it's probably the only real chance your kids have to escape the indoctrination. If you approach her on subject from a perspective of trying to save the family and do what's right for the kids, and definitely not from the perspective of trying to teach her critical thinking to get her to dump what you call "nonsense" and what she calls "the most important thing", then you might have a chance.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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30-01-2013, 12:08 PM
RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
Yes, you're correct. I believe what my wife really means is that they're young and impressionable and it's a good time for them to be around good people, and learn some of the good things the bible teaches about being kind to one another, etc etc. I certainly hope she doesn't want them to grow up thinking Jesus is the answer to everything. I proposed we meet with a counselor to help us find some common ground. She agreed and told me yesterday she had found a counselor. I asked her who, she said the Christian Family Counseling Center! Ha! I told her I will find us a counselor.

I keep thinking I will be able to keep the kids grounded a bit, but I'm not sure. I'm scared we seek counseling only to find out there is not common ground. Both of us aren't willing to budge.

On the other hand, you're right, divorce will mean she will most likely get custody, but I would think she would know that once the I'm free of the reigns I'd be more open to setting them straight. Of course I wouldn't completely undermine her because I know she has good intentions. I really don't want divorce.
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04-02-2013, 10:03 AM
RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
Honestly, I'm glad your trying to find a middle ground, but when it comes to your children you need to make a stand for what you believe in. She has to understand that there are two parents, not one. If she's demanding that they be taught the lords word, then you need to demand that they need to be taught what you think as well. Marriage in NOT one sided, a thing it looks like she lost sight of.

At the end of the day, they are your children as well. Stay strong, do what you believe, and if your relationship is as strong as you say, she should understand your point of view and accept you for who you are.

Shock And Awe Tactics-- The "application of massive or overwhelming force" to "disarm, incapacitate, or render the enemy impotent with as few casualties to ourselves and to noncombatants as possible"
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07-02-2013, 11:06 AM
RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
You are correct. Luckily we do laugh a bit about our differences. I told her I will support her choice to pursue the faith, but regarding the kids, I want them to be open minded and I demand they learn science based facts.....before I finished my sentence she said " don't tell me about that Darwin stuff"! I said darling, first of all, there are more accurate theories since Darwin, and yes that's what I am talking about. She rolled her eyes. I called her close minded an explained there is a wealth of knowledge out there to be had if you just open your eyes and look for it....Guess we agree to disagree at this point.

Back to your point though, I agree. She needs to accept me for who I am and what I believe as I do the same for her. I have just as much say so as to what I believe is important regarding our kids.
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10-02-2013, 10:36 PM
RE: Seeking Some Advice - Religion In the Home
Yeah, if she's already ridiculing you before you even get the sentence out, thats a pretty firm indicator that it's not going to change unless something drastic is done. What about your earlier post referring to counseling? did ya'll ever go do that?

Shock And Awe Tactics-- The "application of massive or overwhelming force" to "disarm, incapacitate, or render the enemy impotent with as few casualties to ourselves and to noncombatants as possible"
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