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to wish my mum would accept I'm an atheist?

(81 Posts)
WidowWadman Sun 08-Dec-13 20:39:12

I'm not rubbing it in her face or anything, but she's not happy my kids aren't christened, I only had a registry wedding, etc. She seems to believe (or at least makes comments suggesting) that I'm just going along with my husband's wishes.
I find this insulting to both me and him - as if I was just following someone else's lead (I'm not) and as if he orders me about (he doesn't).

I've no problem with my parents' faith, and don't ever attack or criticise them. Our decision not to christen our children is not a criticism on them having christened me. They did what they believed was right, and that's cool. Doesn't mean that I have to believe that that's the right course of action for my parenting.

Our kids learn about Christianity just like about any other religion. We even asked for a kid's bible as a first christmas present for our eldest - knowing the stories which influenced our culture so much, is important.

I don't want to discuss religion with them, as I accept that they believe and don't feel the need to upset them, so why raise it with me? Again and again and again?

nooka Tue 10-Dec-13 18:39:50

I'm an atheist from a fairly religious family (two of my siblings are non believers, the other one is a vicar!). My mother is obviously very sad about my decision not to believe but never really complained about us not christening our children. She does proselytise a bit which I find incredibly annoying, but I think she's generally more in the lead them to the water kind of mind frame. So far neither child has been actively resistant, but I suspect the time will come when ds asks her to stop, and she will be very upset. I tend to be generally noncommital and move the conversation on (she likes to recommend things for me to read etc to 'overcome my doubts')

I just don't talk about religion at all with my sister. Our view points are too different and our friendship too precious to risk I think.

On the hell side, I have been to many churches (mostly Catholic occasional CoE), and only recall one priest who did the whole hellfire and brimstone stuff (he was quite fun to listen to!). Mostly I think priests focus more on the heaven is about being with god and hell is about being separate from god. This is still of course upsetting for the true believer, especially I think when you see your child actively reject something that is fundamentally important to you.

Snowbility Tue 10-Dec-13 18:32:17

My DM is ashamed that I'm an atheist. My refusal to pretend to be religious is something she finds deeply embarrassing. She made me go to church every week till I was 18, even though she knew I thought the whole thing was a joke, at 18 I said no more...and I bloody meant it, I'd had enough! She mutters about the lack of God in the house, especially since my dad came out as an atheist too.

firesidechat Tue 10-Dec-13 18:08:47

I'm sure this has already been said, but here goes anyway - lots and lots of Christians don't have their children baptised. If it's ok for them then I'm sure it ok for you OP and perhaps your mum needs a chat with a friendly vicar. Being baptised does not make you a Christian, faith does.

I don't personally know of any churches that believe a child is going to hell if they aren't baptised, but I'm not too sure about Catholics. Do they still believe this?

SatinSandals Tue 10-Dec-13 17:35:04

As Christians I really don't see why you would expect your children and grandchildren to be 'heading for hell'. Perhaps they ought to go and talk to their vicar or priest who could explain that places are not doled out according to how often you go to church and whether your children are christened! Unless they are one of the 'bible bashing, hell fire' churches they are not going to believe in it anyway.

Ephiny Tue 10-Dec-13 13:36:28

I think you just have to keep on persistently 'not engaging', politely changing the subject or saying you'd prefer not to discuss it. Yes it's wearing, but if they won't stop, and you want to maintain contact with them, there's not much else you can do.

My parents are the same, my mum especially. It's a difficult thing, because I can see it is genuinely distressing for her, given the strength of her beliefs. But I can't pretend I believe something I don't. It's really prevented us from having any kind of relationship with each other as adults.

AngelaDaviesHair Tue 10-Dec-13 13:19:48

I'm not sure Quakers believe in Hell, do they?

volestair Tue 10-Dec-13 13:01:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Weegiemum Tue 10-Dec-13 08:11:39

I'm in the bizarre situation that my agnostic parents had me christened, I'm a Christian (independent decision at around 16) and parents went on at me to have our dc christened but we haven't - we go to a baptist church and our dc can make up their own minds about being baptised when they are older.

FriedSprout Tue 10-Dec-13 08:05:39

Maybe your parents don't want to see their daughter in 'eternal hell' anymore than their grandchildren and prefer to lay the blame for your joint decisions on your husband.

As Christians, and loving parents and grandparents, it must be very difficult to see your loved ones 'heading to hell'

Think you need to cut them some slack, and view it as an manifestation of their love for you all.

As others have said, change the subject, perhaps after sitting down once and finally and telling them how it is upsetting you.

It will tail off after a while.

Tubemole1 Tue 10-Dec-13 07:51:57

I think you should talk to her.

Like a poster said up thread, I respect your beliefs, respect mine.

Atheists can celebrate Christmas, just the best bits, those directed by tradition not religion ie the food, the crackers, the presents. Atheism is the rejection of theism, or belief in an unproven deity. We can leave that out and use Christmas as an excuse to catch up with loved ones, show how much we appreciate them, and spoil each other.

49â„… of British people are now "nonreligious".

My nice and nephew go to their local CofE school in the village they live in, but there is no selection on the basis of their (lack of) belief. Its the school all the village kids go to.

LimitedEditionLady Tue 10-Dec-13 07:09:43

My mil took the kitchen sink to a higher level and said she would take him to church and have him christened behind my back.So yeah i dont believe in the ceremony but the gesture was too big there for me.We could make a movie about the race to the font.Heavenly grandma rushes in time to bless grandchild whilst evil mummy and daddy try to stop his ticket to all things heaven.12,in cinemas now!

LittleBabyPigsus Tue 10-Dec-13 06:36:33

volestair I'm confused - I have read what you've written and agree that most British Christians are nice and tolerant. I can't see where I've said that I disagree. Plenty of churches (individual churches as opposed to entire denominations - possibly the source of the confusion) don't tell their members that non-Christians are going to Hell though. Please tell me what I've said that makes you think I don't agree with you, because I do!

I've unfortunately encountered a lot of intolerant and unkind atheists but then that's probably due to the circles I move in (academia and politics). Religion doesn't come up that much in casual conversation even if you do believe in it, I don't talk about it with non-religious friends apart from casually mentioning going to church etc. Surely you can see that people saying that they don't understand how nice normal people can be religious, that's a bit hurtful. I get that the reverse would be equally hurtful, I have just never encountered it before (though I'm a religious person from an atheist family which is perhaps why). Obviously plenty of liberal and kind atheists exist, I just find that a lot of atheists don't really believe that their unkindness towards religious people is really unkindness, because their view is just common sense. I guess some religious people are also like that though re proselytising.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 10-Dec-13 00:22:52

My DS(6) recently baptized DN(3mo) in the bath. He poured water over head, said "in the name of the father, son and holy spirit I name you Sara Jane Smith" (not real name) and whispered "you're my sister now". I pointed out that her name was Jones. He said that it was too late and she was a Smith now.

The next day, we returned her to her parents and told them about the baptism, her new name and how she now had a big brother.

Now when my mother asks when DN will be christened, DB points out that she's already been baptized so there's no need.

volestair Mon 09-Dec-13 22:39:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fatlazymummy Mon 09-Dec-13 22:25:34

I think my Mum may have done the 'christening in the kitchen sink ' thing to one or more of my kids. She did threaten it once. If she did it wouldn't have bothered me. To me (an atheist) all religious rituals are just meaningless words and actions.
I made it clear to her that I wasn't into discussing religion at all, and she accepted that. I think the problem with some religious people is that it's all so real and important to them that they can't really grasp that it's of no consequence to other people.

PointyChristmasFairyWand Mon 09-Dec-13 22:12:27

I think all of us need to be less judgey about our faith choices. Other than that, I think this means we are all going to hell.

So we might as well do what the hell we feel is right while we're alive.

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 09-Dec-13 22:09:26

volestair I think it is just that moderate churches speak out less, or rather that the media aren't really interested in anything but weird churches. 'You're all going to Hell' gets more headlines than 'nobody goes to Hell'! And like somewherewest says, it cuts both ways and atheists going on about how weird/stupid/deluded religious people are (to our faces even) is really hurtful for people who have a faith but don't harm anyone with it.

SatinSandals Mon 09-Dec-13 21:01:12

You just ignore it, don't get drawn in, and change the subject.

somewherewest Mon 09-Dec-13 20:06:39

It cuts both ways. I've got atheist friends who won't get off my case for being a Christian. People who passionately believe in X and think everyone else should believe in it too tend to be like that, to varying degrees. It doesn't really matter if X is Christianity or atheism or feminism or saving the planet or attachment parenting or thinking Princes Diana was bumped off by MI5.

No idea what you do about it grin.

drudgetrudy Mon 09-Dec-13 19:55:38

Some Christians sincerely believe that if you don't accept Christ you will not be saved and are heading for hell, do your parents fall into this category? If so they are likely to keep trying with both you and their GC. All you can do is say that its nothing to do with your DH its your own opinion and discussing it won't change your mind. On the other hand they may just be angry that you aren't falling in with their way of doing things in which case a more robust approach might be indicated.

LimitedEditionLady Mon 09-Dec-13 19:48:50

Haaaa chiggers,your child is a star fgrin

Chiggers Mon 09-Dec-13 18:47:27

My friend is a Christian, I'm and atheist, we get on just fine. Saying that, every now and then she'll ask me if I'll consider becoming a Christian so I can be saved and serve the almighty lord himself. In walks DD saying that if God was so powerful and almighty, why does he need servants? I have to admit that DD had a point. Not only that but my friend was stumped?

volestair Mon 09-Dec-13 18:22:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 09-Dec-13 18:18:07

volestair members of X church can disagree with things X church teaches - in most churches at least, the priest/minister/pastor can't make you do anything, it's between you and God. Even for those who go to confession (Catholics and a few Anglicans), it's obviously down to you what you confess, the priest can't read your mind! I'm an Anglican and there's a range of beliefs on Hell. The stereotype of Christians believing that atheists/gay people/people who enjoy sex/other religions go to Hell is just not true for most of us.

Going by what 'most religions state' is a bit of a red herring tbh, in most religions that's written by the clergy or the equivalent and not the ordinary believers. Religious people still have individual human agency to believe or not believe individual tenets of their faith. Most Catholics use birth control, for instance.

ElenorRigby Mon 09-Dec-13 18:03:55

My mum and dad are catholic.

I stopped going to church at 16.

My poor old dad asked for years when DD would christened. He's given up now!

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