I have a faith, DH does not- what does this mean for our DCs?

(79 Posts)
ByeBabyBatshit Tue 19-Feb-13 20:57:17

Does anybody have a faith which is not shared by their DH?

I was brought up by strictly Christian family. Pulled away from it in my teens, came bqck to it in late twenties, really wrangled with it following suicide of a friend seven years ago. I'm not a regular churchgoer, which is down to laziness mostly, but my faith is an integral part of me.

DH is a scientist and remains an atheist until he sees scientific proof of the existence of God! We talked about this a lot before we were married, and I said all I ask is he continues to ask questions and revisit his views. He is supportive of my beliefs (Christian wedding, attending services to hear our banns read, etc).

However, we now have baby twin DCs, and we're clashing about how our views on faith will affect them. I want them to grow up as part of a church community, which means I have to start going to church again! DH views this as indoctrination, and wants them to be brought up with no faith, so they can make their own decisions. I think that's bollocks.

Has anybody else been in this position? How did you resolve it?

EllieArroway Tue 19-Feb-13 21:20:24

DH views this as indoctrination, and wants them to be brought up with no faith, so they can make their own decisions. I think that's bollocks

You think it's bollocks that your children be allowed to make up their own minds?

You have CHOSEN to be a Christian. Have the decency to allow your children the same freedom to make their own choices. You might personally have a faith, but that does not mean that your children will do by default.

It's fine to talk to them about what YOU believe, and even take them to church with you from time to time, but to assume the right to decide for them whether or not they have a "faith" is presumptuous in the extreme.

Oh, and your sentence..."DH is a scientist and remains an atheist until he sees scientific proof of the existence of God!" with the silly exclamation point at the end says much about your respect for your husbands views which is that of an intelligent person.

niminypiminy Tue 19-Feb-13 22:05:32

Ellie, the OP said she wants them to grow up as part of a church community, not to decide for them whether they have a faith.

I don't think it is unreasonable for you to want your children to have an experience of church, to learn about Christianity and to experiment for themselves with prayer and worship. They will make up their minds what they want to believe.

But you, as a parent, have the responsibility to teach your children about the values that you hold and that you live by, the truths that are central to your being. What kind of parent would you be if you did not do this, if you deliberately witheld from your children the values that you held, and refused to tell them about things that are integral to your view of the world? Would it even be possible to do this?

What you need to negotiate is some way to acknowledge both your Christian beliefs, and your experience of being part of a church, and your husband's atheist beliefs. My DH is an atheist -- although (even though he is a scientist) he rejects the scientistic prejudice against religion. We are quite clear with our children that I believe and am a Christian, and DH does not. The children come to church with me sometimes, and stay at home with DH sometimes. Whether they have a faith as adults or not, they will grow up knowing something about it -- which is more than can be said for many -- and it will always be true that knowledge and experience, wisely used, are never wasted.

ByeBabyBatshit Tue 19-Feb-13 22:32:08

Niminypiminy- I'd like the sort of balance you describe. Of course my babies will make their own choices about faith one day, but I want them to know what it is to be a churchgoing Christian, and they can negotiate their own position in that knowledge.

Ellie- I respect my husband, but I kind of feel sad for him that he doesn't know what he's missing. He was baptised and confirmed, and went to a Catholic school, so he feels he knows enough, but he's never been part of a church community, so he's never seen how it can uplift you spiritually amd support you practically. To me, saying you want your kids to grow up with no faith is a bit like saying you don't want them to meet their wider family, because they can decide whether to get to know them later. In the meantime they've missed out on lots of love, fun, and a sense of their place in the world.

Of course the irony is I'm not a churchgoer now, but having babies has led me to reassess this.

EllieArroway Tue 19-Feb-13 22:36:56

Er, niminy that's not actually all she said.

DH views this as indoctrination, and wants them to be brought up with no faith, so they can make their own decisions. I think that's bollocks

She thinks it's bollocks that they should be left to make up their own mind.

She said it, not me.

Oh, and there's no "scientistic (no such word) prejudice" against religion. There's just no evidence that any of your "truths" actually happen to be true. Would have thought your scientist husband would have understood the distinction.

EllieArroway Tue 19-Feb-13 22:41:50

Bye Your attitude is horrendously patronising. Doesn't know what he's missing?

Words fail me.

Do you know what the definition of "faith" actually is? It's believing without evidence. You'd bring up your children to accept what they're told without question and not seek verification? That is what you want, and that apalls me.

Take them to church. Tell them stories. If they are as intelligent as their father, they'll reject all of it for the arrant nonsense it clearly is. I did. (And yeah, I had a religious upbringing too).

hiddenhome Tue 19-Feb-13 22:45:00

What she means EllieArroway is that somebody can't make up their mind about something if they've never been introduced to it in the first place. By introducing and including dcs in a church community, she would be providing them with an experience that they can either continue with, or reject when they get older.

I wish people wouldn't be so hostile towards church communities. There is very little indoctrination going on these days and children might actually benefit from these experiences.

Raising children to be rejecting and dismissive towards a life of faith is just as damaging as shoving religion down their necks sad

niminypiminy Tue 19-Feb-13 22:47:04

Ellie, this thread is not the place for that discussion.

But, for the record, the Oxford English Dictionary defines scientistic as ' Of or pertaining to scientism', and scientism as 'A term applied (freq. in a derogatory manner) to a belief in the omnipotence of scientific knowledge and techniques; also to the view that the methods of study appropriate to physical science can replace those used in other fields such as philosophy and, esp., human behaviour and the social sciences.'

Since my husband has a first degree in natural sciences and a phd in philosophy of science I think he is able to decide for himself whether there is a scientistic prejudice against religion. Which he thinks there is.

hiddenhome Tue 19-Feb-13 22:52:38

'arrant nonsense' 'imaginary friend' yadda, yadda......it's as predictable as it is depressing hmm

Funny how the militant atheists are amongst the most miserable and begrudging buggers around grin

austenozzy Tue 19-Feb-13 22:56:23

"I don't think it is unreasonable for you to want your children to have an experience of church, to learn about Christianity and to experiment for themselves with prayer and worship. They will make up their minds what they want to believe. "

Have you got friends of other faiths? Your twins can go along with them to experience jewish, muslim, sikh, etc ways of believing. At least they will have a chance to look at other faiths (or none at all, like your silly dh) before being indoctrinated by your church.

memberofthestowmassiv Tue 19-Feb-13 23:00:03

DH was raised Catholic. He doesn't go to church, but he still has a faith and believes that there is something bigger out there than us. He also believes that religion provides a moral framework.

I was baptised CofE but have never been to church and am now an athiest. I find religion interesting, fascinating in fact, and think it has it's place, but it's not for me.

DH's faith is more important to him than my atheism is to me. So our DC's have been baptised and will be taught about the Catholic religion. I'm comfortable with this, though have made it clear that I will never lie to my children. So when they begin to ask me questions, I will tell them what my beliefs are.

When they are older, they can then decide which way thy want to go.

hiddenhome Tue 19-Feb-13 23:01:25

We all hand down our beliefs to our children. Don't atheist parents pass on their own values and beliefs to their kids? Politics, culture, how to speak, what to wear, personal values, treatment of others, attitudes, folklore?

Or are you really all just robots? wink

Shakey1500 Tue 19-Feb-13 23:05:15

You lost me at "that's all bollocks" quite frankly.

That comes blazing across as you having zero respect for your DH's view but expect him and your children to utterly respect yours.

I would possibly wildy assume you asking him to revisit his views was you expecting that you would change them in due course.

Startail Tue 19-Feb-13 23:06:50

In this house it's the other way round, DH believes in God, I think it's a load of rubbish.

Weirdly we are both scientists and agree on evolution the Big Bang etc. it's just DH manages to slot in God and life after death. Even after 25 years this still puzzles me.

As for the DDs, they went to Cof E primary and that got us involved a bit in church things, DD1 sings in the choir so that gets us involved in more church things.

Both DDs (12 and15) are devout atheists [resists grin]

LadyWidmerpool Tue 19-Feb-13 23:06:59

How is the DH silly? He is standing up for his principles. When atheists criticise believers for doing the same they are called every name under the sun.

Viviennemary Tue 19-Feb-13 23:12:22

It is going to be very difficult to agree on a compromise when you both have such opposing views. Did you not discuss this before you had children. I do know couples that have different beliefs but they had made a decision beforehand as to how the children are brought up. That is brought up in a particular faith or brought up to make their own decisions. Or a bit of both.

niminypiminy Tue 19-Feb-13 23:21:12

Viviennemary, that's a classic example of a false dichotomy: 'brought up in a particular faith or brought up to make their own decisions'. The two are not mutually exclusive!

People can change their minds -- and often do, about all sorts of things. It is common for people to find the very profound experiences of bearing and bringing up children draw them closer to a faith they might have been distant from before, and leads them to explore the big questions of life in a way that leads them to faith.

Compromises are possible. One operates in my family, as described above.

SwedishEdith Tue 19-Feb-13 23:29:53

I said all I ask is he continues to ask questions and revisit his views. Did he ask you to do the same?

ByeBabyBatshit Wed 20-Feb-13 00:34:34

The reason I said being brought up with no faith and making a decision later was "bollocks" was
a) how can you make a decision when you don't know what you're missing; and
b) the implication that I'm indoctrinated, which I take to mean unquestioningly adhering to church teachings learned in childhood. I've actually been a Hokey Cokey Christian- in, out, in, out and now in again, but with an understanding that it's ok to have questions and doubts- God doesn't expect us to check our brains in at the door. I continue to doubt, question and revisit my position constantly.

I don't expect to convert DH either- I watched a Christian friend's desperation to convert her dying stepmother, and saw her anguish when the stepmother died without a deathbed conversion. My friend felt for years that she'd failed her stepmother and failed as a Christian. That taught me that each person's spiritual journey is their own and I just have to live mine.

SwedishEdith Wed 20-Feb-13 01:31:23

Why don't you go to a mosque or a synagogue then? Or a satanist church? I presume you've missed out on those as well.

I would have thought that having been brought up as a Catholic he is well aware of what he's "missing out" on.

And as a scientist he would constantly be "revisiting his views" anyway - just not necessarily about the existence of god. If something doesn't exist to you, you don't generally spend much time mulling over it; it's simply not there.

Greensleeves Wed 20-Feb-13 01:43:30

Wow, your dh must have a LOT of patience.

Be prepared for his beliefs and commitment to his values to "deepen" once you become parents as well. You may have a struggle on your hands.

And FWIW I would be disgusted if a Christian friend felt sad for me. How utterly ignorant and disrespectful that is.

Gingerdodger Wed 20-Feb-13 07:06:38

It must be difficult for you when you both have essentially opposing views and I suppose raising your children either in a Christian way or with no exposure to this at all is going to be difficult for the other.

However, if your DH truly wants your children to make up their own mind they are going to need some exposure to your faith in order to consider their own views on it. There has to be some compromise in there somehow.

For what it's worth I believe that everybody does, in fact, make up their own mind at some stage, as nobody can make another person have a faith they don't have. (In fact I am not even sure that faith is a choice, it's an underlying conviction that, for me is just there, whether I like it or not! You do, however, have the choice to act on it or not).

I think it would be helpful for you both to discuss how, when your twins are old enough, you will both share this aspect of your life openly with them. This could mean attending church with you. I don't believe this indoctrinates children, but it does teach them about the Christian faith and introduces them to a wider community.

Your DH could consider how he can facilitate discussion of his own views also.

Even if you both decide against taking them to church if your children see that you openly have a faith, which informs how you behave and your view on the world they are going to want to know about this at some stage, just as they will want to know about your DH's views.

Perhaps then the most important thing is that you and your DH both agree that you openly practise and talk about your respective viewpoints and open the channels of commiunication for your children for when they are ready to discuss with you.

Good luck with it, it's a difficult one. I will be thinking of you.

Snorbs Wed 20-Feb-13 08:01:33

You are happy for your children to make their own minds up provided they're doing it from having a childhood filled with regular Christian worship.

That's like saying "I want my children to experience having hobbies so they can choose how to occupy their free time" and then only allowing them to build model aeroplanes but nothing else.

You may like to portray your church as an "extended family" but it isn't. It's a more-or-less exclusive club for people who hold broadly the same point of view.

I'm no expert but I don't recall Jesus saying anything about regular church attendance. Quite the opposite in fact.

How does your DH feel about you taking the twins to church with you? I am a Christian and DH is not although was raised as a regular church attender.

Having moved away from faith himself he is confident that our DCs will be able to make up their minds as he did and not feel indoctrinated. At the moment I take the DCs to church with me. DH sometimes comes along but I am the one who considers it important so I take responsibility for it.

Could you discuss with your DH which aspects of church life he enjoyed (if any). It could be that you have both had very different experiences of church. If I had found my early church life restrictive and dictatorial, which many people do, I wouldn't want my kids anywhere near it.

Please keep talking and working towards a solution that will suit you both. You sound v frustrated with him for not sharing your views. I know it can be challenging but I think ultimately you are both pushing for what you regard as the 'best' start for your DCs which is a positive bit of shared ground.

Do you have someone you could pray with about this or would your DH not feel comfortable with that?

Startail Wed 20-Feb-13 08:29:34

I think you and your DH have to talk and decide on a comprise, say attending church once a month when it's children's service or something similar.

You are right children need to be exposed to the church family. They also need to meet people, other than their parents, for whom faith is important.

I'm slightly less anti religion than I was as a child, because I have people in my life, I love dearly, for whom faith is part of who they are.

For my DDs exposure to these people happens because they are family and friends. They go to church sometimes both because of school and DD1 singing and also to meet friends who go to messy church.

They can't help, but also see the atheist perspective they are my DDs and my families grand daughters/nieces.

For DCs of mixed faith families, where one isn't prepared to let the DCs be brought up fully in just one, it will always be an imperfect situation.

For DH and I the choice was made for us, to change our views would be unthinkably disloyal to our families and the beautiful childhoods they gave us. There is a certain peace in simply having or not having faith, it's just one less thing to worry about.

In my post above I was a bit flippant about my point of view prevailing with my DDs. The truth is I think my less secure, more pessimistic DD2 might, as her very similar father does, find something for her in faith.

Maybe one day she'll look, but at present preteen I know everything prevails.

To clarify, I'm not expected your DH to want to pray about this! But would he feel comfortable with you discussing the issue with a Christian friend or would he feel annoyed/upset (insert appropriate emotion here) by that?

I started going back to church when my children were born. My husband didn't. He did not have a faith and it was was find. I took them to the midweek toddler service so we had family time together on a Sunday. It was a compromise that worked for us. When I did start taking the children to the Sunday service we didn't go every week and if they didn't fancy going then they could stay home with DH.

It sounds as if the OP and her DH are at different stages of faith. It will take patience and understanding from sides to work this through. The OP's DH wants to engage with this rather than dismissing it then he might like to look at some of the work of John Polkinghorne. His is a physicist at Cambridge University and also a man of faith so he comes at questions of faith from that perspective. I found it really hard to explain my faith to my husband when he got to the questioning stage as he is an engineer and I'm a people person. Luckily my husband never questioned my intelligence or integrity as as a woman of faith; we just had to find a way to have the conversation.

headinhands Wed 20-Feb-13 09:44:33

I don't think your husband is being silly. Surely the way to ensure it's purely their own decision and not indoctrination is to either regularly expose them to all religions in equal measure or none at all (which is impossible in out culture) otherwise any declaration of faith will be down to the amount of exposure to that one religion? I think you're trying to dress your willingness for church attendance as a desire to give your children a fair choice but it won't be for the reasons above and that's why DH has something to say about it.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 10:47:58

Ellie, this thread is not the place for that discussion

Kindly do not tell me what I may and may not discuss on a public forum. Who do you think you are?

hiddenhome When you have to resort to personal insults, you prove all by yourself that you're not worth listening to. Grow up.

And, btw, I most certainly do not pass on my own values and beliefs to my son. I tell him how I feel about things - but I respect the fact that he has a mind of his own to make up. Telling a child that God is real and they are a Christian/Muslim just because you are is disgusting.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 10:52:21

The number of Christians on this thread thinking that the OPs husband just needs to pray or talk to other Christians is quite staggering.

He doesn't believe in your God. That's it. I think you'll find that most thinking people don't.

I was brought up in a family with a Catholic mum and an atheist dad. I was forced to go to church, make Holy communion etc. I'm an atheist. However much you get this stuff forced upon you, it won't really change your beliefs.

I agree with your DH that it is indoctrination, but if your children see a balance of beliefs from both parents that should help them to make up their own minds.

MadHairDay Wed 20-Feb-13 11:22:16

I don't know what it's like to be in this situation OP, but have friends who are, and they resolve it through communication and compromise. I have a friend who is an atheist and her dh is a Christian, he'd like to take them to church every week, but she feels uncomfortable with this, and therefore they made a decision together whereby he takes them once a month to a family service, and they go to some church social stuff together - picnics, quiz nights etc, and it seems to work ok.

I think this is the best way - to listen to his concerns, to communicate what you would like to happen. Maybe look at some church websites together, talk about what a church community could mean, and listen to some of his more difficult experiences from his childhood. Show him that you are as concerned about him and his feelings as you are about the possibility of joining into a church community.

Hope you can find a way which is healthy and good for your relationship and all of your family. smile

littlemrssleepy Wed 20-Feb-13 11:35:04

DH views this as indoctrination, and wants them to be brought up with no faith, so they can make their own decisions. I think that's bollocks.

This sentence seems to have caused a bit of grief but I think op has been misunderstood as to what she was trying to say. To give you a scenario: I have a friend who is a church goer and a vegetarian. Her DH is the opposite. He feels DC should not be taken to church as it is important they are given the opportunity to make up their own mind about religion. However he feels they should be given meat to eat - so they can make up their mind as to whether they want to it.

It would be ridiculous to suggest children should be able to make up their own mind about meat eating by never giving them the opportunity to taste it. I personally don't have strong views but want my children to be exposed to l

littlemrssleepy Wed 20-Feb-13 11:35:47


Exposed to lots of different religions and the atheist argument.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 11:58:52

Sorry, but most vegetarians talk to their children about the issues & let them make up their minds from there. What meat "tastes" like is the least of it.

The OP clearly has absolutely no respect at all for the view of her DH. She thinks his insistence on evidence is silly (evidenced by the !) and expects him to question his lack of belief regularly.

Why? Does she question her lack of belief in fairies regularly? How about Zeus? Allah? Lord Vishnu? I doubt it. But she demands that he question his lack of belief in Yahweh - just because she happens to believe in that particular god.

Lots and lots of Christian parents go out of their way to allow their children freedom of thought and belief. But they tend to have more respect for the beliefs of others than the OP appears to.

Silly old critical thinking daddy, eh? Never mind, children, if he just thinks and questions a little bit more then he'll get there in the end.


13Iggis Wed 20-Feb-13 12:09:40

To return to the OP's actual dilemma - I think the DH is presenting his way forward as if it is neutral, and hers is encouraging a particular set of beliefs. But what he wants is not neutral, he wants the children to adopt his set of beliefs. Not sure what the way forward is to be honest - surely it is possible though for children to learn "mummy believes this, but daddy believes that, and they both still love and respect each other" (or something similarly mushy).

We are a veggie family incidentally and while the children can start to eat meat when they are older if they choose to, we have not started off letting them have meat and "make their own minds up about it" as we believe meat is unhealthy (and immoral, yadda yadda) and we want the best for our (very young) dcs.

specialsubject Wed 20-Feb-13 12:23:26

take them to the occasional church service by all means, but it won't mean anything to them.

just please, please don't waste days of their childhood stuck indoors listening to ritual. Get outside and appreciate what is there, regardless of why it is there. Get them moving and looking after their health, regardless of who or what gave them that health.

teach your children to know that people believe in certain things, but if you start saying 'there IS a god' as opposed to 'I believe that there is a god' then you are indoctrinating them.

your last sentence makes you appear very intolerant.

littlemrssleepy Wed 20-Feb-13 12:30:46

131 - yes, sorry didn`t mean to get into a conversation about vegetarianism - was just using it as a comparison. I think its perfectly expected that your children follow your lifestyle hence if both parents are vege it would probably be expected that the child would not eat meat. I just think its an odd argument from my friends DH when only one parent has faith / eats meat. I agree completely that being atheist is not a neutral point of view, although most people seem to think it is. Probably like a lot of meat eaters think eating meat is the neutral point of view!

Ellie - as a meat eater I hadn't appreciated that the taste of meat is the least important thing. Perhaps a church goer would argue that going to a church is the least important thing about having faith - the op states she doesn`t really go to church anymore but obviously has quite strong beliefs.

13Iggis Wed 20-Feb-13 12:33:27

littlemrssleepy - it must be very tricky when two people don't share the same beliefs (more or less) when raising children. I don't think it gets in the way much till children arrive though. To be perfectly honest, I looked for a man who was a vegetarian as I knew it would be a problem for me if he wasnt'.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 12:36:08

But what he wants is not neutral, he wants the children to adopt his set of beliefs

Nope. Not believing in something for which there is no evidence does not mount up to "a set of beliefs".

Is not believing that the world is held up by a giant, levitating turtle a "set of beliefs"?

It is about a way of thinking - about not accepting what you're told just because you're told it. It's about asking, reasoning & questioning. A healthy way forward for any developing mind.

That's what her DH wants. OP wants them to be brought up to have "faith" - in other words, to accept her point of view and believe what she believes without reason or evidence.

Why do so many of you think this is OK? It really isn't.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 12:39:54

I don't really think that vegetarianism and faith are comparable.

Avoiding meat as a family is not harmful and is not teaching a child that "X is true. You believe X because I do".

13Iggis Wed 20-Feb-13 12:44:21

Ellie you just aren't right about this. Many religious people are as questioning as any atheist. It is like you are setting up fundamentalist Christians against free-thinking scientists - it's just not that straightforward. The DH has a worldview that does not include a creator, and the OP has a worldview that does. She may well feel she has evidence for her faith (not proof, obviously, but evidence is not incompatible with faith).
Why can't they bring the children up with good critical thinking skills, and an understanding of the different conclusions about life which the two parents have come to?
(By the way we do basically tell older dc that it is wrong to kill animals to eat them, and that is why we are vegetarian - not sure how different that is from expecting them to follow a religion).

littlemrssleepy Wed 20-Feb-13 12:52:13

Ellie - agreed, but I don`t think taking the children to a church is telling them that they must believe it either. Something like 90% of adults today who went to church as a child no longer have a faith. They have not 'accepted what they have been told' but have 'asked, reasoned and questioned' to come to their own conclusion having been exposed to a number of different views and belief systems.

I know religion can be harmful, but I don't believe going to church is in itself harmful, unless you feel the person doesn't and never will have the capacity to challenge its assumptions.

CalamityKate Wed 20-Feb-13 12:53:57

Agree with Ellie Arroway.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 13:01:23

Not right about what?

Many religious people are as questioning as any atheist No, they're not. If they were, they wouldn't be Christians.

The DH has a worldview that does not include a creator, and the OP has a worldview that does Wrong. The DH does not have a worldview that there is no creator - he acknowledges that there's no evidence for any such thing, and the rational viewpoint must therefore be not to actively believe that there is. The OP believes that there is one in spite of the spectacular lack of evidence for such a position. The two viewpoints are not equal.

And atheism is not a worldview. Please try to learn that much at least.

Why can't they bring the children up with good critical thinking skills, and an understanding of the different conclusions about life which the two parents have come to? They can, and many parents in the same situation do. But to suggest there's an equality between the two positions is plain wrog.

Critical thinking = evaluating & paying heed to evidence.
Faith = believing in spite of there being no evidence.

I cannot think of two more diametrically opposed viewpoints if I tried. They are not compatible, no matter how many times I am told that they are.

She may well feel she has evidence for her faith Yes, I keep hearing about this evidence people have for their faith. Aside from the fact that, if you had evidence you wouldn't need "faith" (which, again, specifically means belief without evidence) - none of this evidence is ever forthcoming. Funny that.

By the way we do basically tell older dc that it is wrong to kill animals to eat them Then you have no business doing so and I think that's disgraceful. Good luck explaining the biology of the omnivorous human then if you insist that eating animals "is wrong". Wrong FOR YOU is not wrong.

<applauds Ellie>

<reads thread and rolls eyes at usual religious bollocks>


EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 13:05:34

I agree, Little. And I must stress - that all of the Christian parents I personally know do try to give their children a balanced view. They take them to church with them, but are willing to discuss the fact that other people hold different views.

I'm taking issue with the OP specifically because by the tone of her post this does not appear to be her goal.

GooseyLoosey Wed 20-Feb-13 13:11:50

Both dh and I are atheists so the issue does not really arise in a personal sense. However, I have no problem in MIL taking the dcs to mass with her and explaining to them what it is all about.

OP, what you want to do though is something different. You want to bring them up as part of a church community. That is very different to exposing them to your beliefs. That is immersing them in them. I would not have a problem with the former, but would be vehemently opposed to the latter. It would depend a little on what you mean but I assume that it goes beyond attending church on Sundays and could affect the way you live your life. If this is the case, I too would be cautious about exposing my children to it. There is however many compromise positions a long way short of this.

AgathaF Wed 20-Feb-13 13:16:59

I agree with what Goosey said. I would also add that this lifestyle you want to immerse your children in, didn't actually have any appeal for you until very recently, so why the sudden rush to embrace this group of churchy friendships?

I would think your DH must be a little pissed off that the wife he thought he had, with a faith but who didn't go all out to wrap herself in churchiness, has suddenly turned into a full-on church going wife.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 13:23:31

They are not compatible, no matter how many times I am told they are. That is evidence of you having a closed mind, not of their incompatibility. Faith is not believing without regard to evidence. Most people of faith have evidence for what they believe -- you don't accept it, but that doesn't mean that they don't have evidence. The idea that critical thinking and faith are incompatible is yet another example of a false dichotomy.

The idea that faith is belief without evidence is a shibboleth of atheism. It is ultimately traceable to the C19th philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who thought that although there are good reasons to believe in God ultimately faith is lived out not in argument but in inner conviction. Kierkegaard's phrase the 'leap of faith' has been much misunderstood and misused by advocates of scientistic atheism (see my post above) to suggest that belief in God is without evidential or rational foundation.

13Iggis Wed 20-Feb-13 13:25:14

Oh I do love a nice post dissecting everything one person has said! So then I do the same back to you, and you do it to my response, and on and on until someone has to do some work/feed baby or whatever.
I'm not going to bite. I do simply want to say that I maintain that faith does not refer to evidence, but to proof. I said the DH had a worldview, I was not confining that to a definition of what atheism is. He does have a worldview, we all do.
Do parents seriously not pass on their moral views to their kids? I will say to mine that sharing is nice, capitalists are wrong, living without killing animals is good, homophobia is abhorrent etc etc. If I were talking to someone else's children I would of course say "I believe this but others think differently". Actually I don't really tell my dcs any of those things, my opinions will be apparent from how I live my life, things I do and don't do etc. It's funny how telling children it is right to eat animals is always fine, but the reverse never is.

13Iggis Wed 20-Feb-13 13:26:33

Byebabybatshit I do think it is hard for your dh to accept that church is suddenly intended to be a part of your lives, when he has not been used to you having an interest in it before.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 13:52:40

That is evidence of you having a closed mind, not of their incompatibility

Oh good point. Basing beliefs on evidence is indeed the very essence of "closed mindedness". Whereas believing utterly in something for absolutely no good reason is what healthy scepticism is all about, eh? Do me a favour.

And actually, "faith = believing without evidence" is the dictionary definition. Quoting long dead philosophers who thought something else does not support your case. It just highlights, yet again, your inability to think & speak for yourself.

It's OK, 13 I understand how impossible I am to refute, so I don't blame you for not even trying. I get that a lot on these threads wink

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 13:57:17

It's funny how telling children it is right to eat animals is always fine, but the reverse never is

Who does that? It's OK to eat meat, er, lots of people do is equal to "It is WRONG to eat meat because that's what I think"?

No, the opposite position to yours would be "It is RIGHT to eat meat, therefore you MUST".

It is not wrong to eat meat. You are lying to your children. It is wrong for YOU to eat meat because you do't want to.

And atheism is not a worldview, any more than afairyism is.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 14:33:52

Ellie this is the second time you have been wrong about the dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of faith is 'Confidence, reliance trust (in the ability, goodness of a person; in the efficacy or worth of a thing; or in the truth or worth of a statement or doctrine'. It does not define faith as 'belief without evidence': that is an opinion about what faith is -- and not a very well informed one.

msrisotto Wed 20-Feb-13 14:35:31

According to Dictionary.com:

faith [feyth]
1.confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2.belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3.belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4.belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5.a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 14:39:35

Erm, niminy. Are you familiar with the term "quote mining"? Look it up.

That is ONE of the definitions. The first one (as you well know) is:

1. strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence

And yes - it's also confidence & trust in something - WITHOUT evidence.

You know perfectly well what "faith" means. The Bible tells you. Try reading it.

But you keep quoting obscure philosophers who existed before the enlightenment & modern science and thinking it makes you sound clever & knowledgeable.

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 14:40:30

I'm always amused by people who want to let their children "make up their own minds" by exposing them to just one faith, and think that this offers a valid choice. It's typical of the "for us or against us" dichotomy one finds among many religious believers.

There isn't just your faith - there are thousands. There isn't just one god - there are thousands. I happen to think they are all equally fictional as there is an equally unconvincing case for all of them.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 14:41:44

Re the definition quoted by Mrsrsisotto - there's an important distinction between proof and evidence. Evidence for something does not constitute proof of it. There may be evidence of the non-existence of God, but there is no proof of it. There may be evidence of the existence of God, but there is no proof of it. And the online dictionary does not define faith as belief without evidence.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 14:44:15

1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2.* Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence*. See Synonyms at belief, trust.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
4. often Faith Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6. A set of principles or beliefs.


1. strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence
2. a specific system of religious beliefs the Jewish faith
3. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) Christianity trust in God and in his actions and promises
4. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) a conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, esp when this is not based on reason
5. complete confidence or trust in a person, remedy, etc.
6. any set of firmly held principles or beliefs
7. allegiance or loyalty, as to a person or cause (esp in the phrases keep faith, break faith)
bad faith insincerity or dishonesty
good faith honesty or sincerity, as of intention in business (esp in the phrase in good faith)


[mass noun]
1complete trust or confidence in someone or something:
this restores one’s faith in politicians
2strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof
bereaved people who have shown supreme faith
[count noun] a particular religion:
the Christian faith
[count noun] a strongly held belief:
men with strong political faiths

Everyone knows what "faith" means. That's why you're also always trying to play the "But God cannot be found with science" card.

Hiddenbiscuits Wed 20-Feb-13 14:44:33

OP in our house we have agreed to disagree, i take DD to church on a sunday morning and he is grateful for a lie in! At the moment she enjoys going and has made friends but if she were to question in the future why daddy doesn't come we will explain some people believe in god and some don't and let her decide what she wants to do smile

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 14:46:28

Evidence is the building blocks that we use to reach proof.

There is no evidence for God. None. Therefore there is no reason to believe it's true. Therefore belief in it is unreasonable.

DadOnIce Wed 20-Feb-13 14:47:47

You can't prove anything doesn't exist - gods, fairies, leprechauns, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

So what all sensible people do is to weigh the evidence - see how much there is for, how much against. For example, there is some evidence for Nessie, but it's mostly just anecdotal, and a few shaky camera shots and blurred photos. Against that has to be set the counter-evidence of the massive multi-sonar probe sweep of the Loch done as part of a BBC project about 10 years ago. Which found nothing.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 14:47:56

But really, niminy if all you can manage to do here is quibble over the definition of "faith" I feel that I've made my case quite soundly. As usual.

SparkyDudess Wed 20-Feb-13 14:49:22

I'm on the other side of this particular set of circumstances - I'm atheist, CH is Catholic and has a true faith which is an integral part of who he is.

DH and I see 'faith' and 'religion' as two separate things - he goes to church, bit he also questions the 'rules' that the Catholic church imposes and does not blindly follow all their dictates. His faith is a wholly positive thing, and he gets a great deal of peace and comfort from it which I do envy.

Before DS was born, we agreed that DS would be raised Catholic as long as it was the same positive experience for him as it is for DH - at the first sight of any Catholic guilt/hellfire and brimstone/judgement of others, I was very clear that things would have to change.

DS is 14, and so far so good. He goes to a Catholic boy's school, and is encouraged by both us and the school to challenge things that he's taught, and not to blindly follow.

I don't know whether he'll continue to attend church as he gets older, but for now it means enough to him that he got confirmed, and wants to continue to be part of the church community.

I don't believe what DH believes, but it doesn't hurt anyone around him, and so we just agree to differ. He sees the wrongs in the way the Vatican run things, but that's entirely separate to his actual faith.

We do have some absolutely cracking 'debates' about things like abortion - DS is learning that he has to be able to explain his views, not just regurgitate those of his teachers!

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 14:53:54

OK Ellie Oxford English Dictionary:

1I. Belief, trust, confidence.

a. Confidence, reliance, trust (in the ability, goodness, etc., of a person; in the efficacy or worth of a thing; or in the truth of a statement or doctrine). Const. in, †of. In early use, only with reference to religious objects; this is still the prevalent application, and often colours the wider use.
b. Belief proceeding from reliance on testimony or authority.
2. Phrases. to give faith : to yield belief to. to pin one's faith to or upon : to believe implicitly.
3. Theol. in various specific applications.

a. Belief in the truths of religion; belief in the authenticity of divine revelation (whether viewed as contained in Holy Scripture or in the teaching of the Church), and acceptance of the revealed doctrines.
b. That kind of faith (distinctively called saving faith or justifying faith) by which, in the teaching of the N.T., a sinner is justified in the sight of God. This is very variously defined by theologians (see quots.), but there is general agreement in regarding it as a conviction practically operative on the character and will, and thus opposed to the mere intellectual assent to religious truth (sometimes called speculative faith).
c. The spiritual apprehension of divine truths, or of realities beyond the reach of sensible experience or logical proof. By Christian writers often identified with the preceding; but not exclusively confined to Christian use. Often viewed as the exercise of a special faculty in the soul of man, or as the result of supernatural illumination.

There are several more pages of definitions. None of them mentions belief without evidence. The closest is 1b, 'belief proceeding from reliance on testimony or authority', which is not the same as 'belief without evidence'. The OED is definitive -- there is no dictionary is more authoritative.

Kierkegaard was a nineteenth century philosopher, roughly contemporary with Charles Darwin. That's why I mentioned him.

niminypiminy Wed 20-Feb-13 14:55:08

Elllie, as usual you have exposed yourself as rude, ignorant and prejudiced.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 15:02:04

Is that a religious dictionary, niminy? Because the 2nd definition I have given is, in fact, the Oxford English Dictionary.

Faith, in the religious sense of the word, means belief in the absence of evidence. Just does - and you know it.

I think I've told you before that I couldn't care less what you think of me. Tell Jesus.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 15:04:57


Have no idea what fundie book you got your definition out of, but this is actually the OED.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 15:05:07
Hullygully Wed 20-Feb-13 15:07:15

What I find fascinating is that if one IS a believer, of course you want to share and impart that to your children, how could you not? How could you not want them to share your (presumable) joy in your faith and the support it gives you, and also you would feel fraudulent and disloyal to the God you believe in if you deny it by keeping quiet about it.

I have no idea how a believer and an atheist could be together, let alone raise kids together.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 20-Feb-13 15:26:24

Byebabybatshit, I think that you need to formulate your arguments for church going and then put them to your DH. Then you need to listen to his arguments against church going for the DCs.

I don't think his indoctrination argument holds much water, as all of the atheists I know were taken to church (many went to faith schools) as children. In the end your children will make up their own minds anyway.

The most important thing for your DCs is that they grow up with parents who love and respect oneanother. If you have this, they will be fine, if not, all four of you are in for a rocky ride.

How do these conversations go in your house? What is the tone?

MadHairDay Wed 20-Feb-13 15:32:32

I agree with Dione. If you can model respect towards each other, and show your dc that even when vehemently disagreeing on something you can communicate and show thoughtfulness toward one another it will have a positive effect.

I think it must be very difficult, as Hully has said. But it can be done - niminy has shown this works in her house. It's a case of listening and respect. You may not respect his views even, and he may not respect yours, but you respect each other and love each other, and therefore find a way to compromise.

However, I can understand how you must feel pulled in two directions. As a Christian, I cannot imagine not bringing up my dc as part of a church community. This does not mean that I indoctrinate them. We teach them to think and reason, and do not teach them that 'they are Christians'. This is their decision.

SparkyDudess Wed 20-Feb-13 15:41:59

Hully - a believer and an atheist can live very happily together, we've done it for 20+ years. It's about respect I think - he doesn't understand how I can get up in the morning without faith, I don't understand how he can believe so absolutely in something he can't see or touch but it matters not a bit because neither of us tries to brainwash the other into accepting the alternative opinion.

The difference of opinion in our house generates debate, certainly, but not friction.

Your point about DH wanting to share his joy in his faith is very valid, why would I stop him doing that when it's not causing anything negative for DS?

I think trying to force someone that you're right and they're wrong will never end well - we just agree to differ, and present both POV to DS. He'll decide for himself eventually smile

Hullygully Wed 20-Feb-13 16:43:37

Sparky - I wouldn't be able to, I would not be able to stop saying "But you CAN'T think that..." etc!

Daddelion Wed 20-Feb-13 16:49:07

I think it'd be good for children to have parents with different views, they can hear different sides and get to make their own mind up instead of being indoctrinated to be atheist, agnostic or religious.

And let's face it, atheists could be wrong and and theists could be wrong.
You may think you're right, but you don't know for definite.

I also think children can grow up to have their own views regardless of their parents ideology.

flossfour Wed 20-Feb-13 16:50:08

I have been in the same situation, except husband was committed Christian and I was the atheist. As I was the main carer, I brought up my children to look into every religion before making an informed decision and told them I would support them whatever they decided. However, my then husband had an affair and consequently ran off with my so called best friend (some Christian!!!!) and since then he has tried desperately to force religion down their throats. The end result: all four (now grown up) children are confirmed atheists!

SparkyDudess Wed 20-Feb-13 17:05:17

Hully, like I said, we definitely debate, and I've got one of those faces that is very expressive - my moments of 'wtf are you on??' show up loud and clear!

It's hard to explain really - he's not into quoting from teh bible, doesn't see it as a reflection of actual events, it's more about the way he lives his life iyswim. It's also about iinterpretation for him - the whole 'no contraception' he understands as 'have as many children as you can provide for physically and emotionally' so there was never any issue with that, he chose to read it that way.

It works for us, and DS definitely gets a very different set of views from each of us. I think though that DH and I share the same values which are not faith based but are broadly perceived as 'good, christian values'. These are just rules for life (be nice, be kind, etc) and I think that's why it's never caused a more major clash iyswim?

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 20-Feb-13 20:11:07

Hully, as long as the couple have shared values such as respect and tolerance it isn't a problem. It only becomes a problem when one person believes themselves superior to the other, or tries to use the other's belief or lack thereof as a weapon.

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