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to think going to a church service when atheist is not that big a deal?

(189 Posts)
parentsvsPIL Sun 16-Apr-17 09:26:48

My atheist parents take their religion-bashing quite seriously. They make Richard Dawkins look nuanced.

DH and I sing in the local church choir, since it's a good choir, there aren't any other good choirs locally, and we are generally fine with the broad principles being espoused by the church, though we are not believers. It is made fairly explicit that church musicians are not required to be anything more than tolerant of religion.

My family is currently visiting. It being Easter, there's lots of nice music happening at the church, done by our choir. My family loves music and would typically go to anything on offer.

Family have refused outright to allow my niece to go to any of it as they don't want people forcing religion on her. My parents have also refused to go to any of it. My siblings have gone to one service and made lots of comments about being "forced to pray" (we're talking Anglican evensong here, not Billy Graham... they weren't forced to do anything!)

Is this really that big a deal? Well, it clearly is for them, but we just don't get what harm they think it's going to do... confused

specialsubject Sun 16-Apr-17 09:31:33

I don't attend religious services unless part of a wedding or funeral, I've had enough for a lifetime. Freedom of worship also means freedom not to worship, especially when it involves being stuck indoors at a precious weekend.

If you enjoy your singing, fine. But recognise other freedoms.

That said, if I enjoyed music that much I would go, and I also wouldn't go and then complain about it.

Runningissimple Sun 16-Apr-17 09:32:59

My ex was like this. It was ridiculous. I'm an atheist. I don't really understand how anyone can believe in a deity. But they do and having been raised in the Anglican Church, I quite like some of the aesthetic and music. YANBU

Pinkandwhiteblossoms Sun 16-Apr-17 09:33:35

I bloody love a good hymn!

SomethingBorrowed Sun 16-Apr-17 09:35:02

Atheist DH sometimes comes to church with me and the DC. I wouldn't force him to but I can't ser the issue either

Pigface1 Sun 16-Apr-17 09:35:36

I don't think you're being unreasonable but it's one of those things that brings out the dogma in people.

I'm an atheist but my PiL are extremely religious and DH is a little bit religious. Like you he really enjoys church music.

I go to church with them when asked to (which isn't often). It does me no harm whatsoever - in fact at Christmas and Easter it can be really fun - and I think my DH in particular really appreciates it. Over the years he has done lots of things for me that he hasn't really wanted to do.

But some people see taking a strong stance on things as a opportunity to establish their views and their identity, and I can understand that too.

Emphasise Sun 16-Apr-17 09:36:27

I think it's fine for you to go and enjoy being part of the community whether you believe or not. I suppose it's also fine for them to choose not t, although I'm not sure what they think they're at risk from as they're so certain they're right.

Personally I can't take the message completely literally but I'm interested in the views of those who do. Refusing to have anything to do with it is just as "bad" as those with over zealous beliefs imo.

shesnotme Sun 16-Apr-17 09:36:48

Atheist here but can appreciate the beauty if some churches especially the stain glass.

parentsvsPIL Sun 16-Apr-17 09:37:47

I should've made clearer that of course they are welcome to their views — they just seem to take it all as a life or death thing that is going to actively harm them/ my niece. I'd have thought the fear of harm would be a bigger problem than getting to observe some people doing some slightly odd stuff with a bit of nice music.

Also - it's the first time in 10 years that family have visited us. So it's not like we try to take them to church every week or something...

I guess I was looking for tgeir musical approval but this is one area where they will never give approval. Sigh.

CantChoose Sun 16-Apr-17 09:38:59

I think it's fine to attend services if you're not religious.
But also fine not to and you shouldn't push them into going. A simple 'no, thank you' should suffice on both sides - unreasonable of you not to accept a simple decline of your invite, unreasonable of them to bang on about it if they don't want to rather than just say no.

Emphasise Sun 16-Apr-17 09:39:12

I can't think of any circumstance where I'd refuse to go and see my child (adult or not) perform

TathitiPete Sun 16-Apr-17 09:39:39

Yanbu I don't think it's a big deal either. Of course it's up to other parents whether or not they wish their child to attend a religious event though. But no, some people do seem to think that they might 'catch Catholic' if they set foot inside a church grin

I should probably point out however that I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic. If that changes anything.

KERALA1 Sun 16-Apr-17 09:41:18

I'm an atheist and quite enjoy going to church. They sound rather extreme op and fixed in their views. Watching you sing in a church occasionally is hardly full on indoctrination of a minor.

MrsJayy Sun 16-Apr-17 09:41:43

You enjoy it they don't it is one of those things your family will never agree on, there is nothing wrong with going to a church and enjoying the experience for them though it really goes against everything they believe or not in.

GoldenWondering Sun 16-Apr-17 09:43:43

Do they not harass you when they find out you don't believe? They will be ringing you up, turning up on your doorstep, trying to get you to go to retreats, singling you out from the pulpit. Going to church is ruining my life and it is a big deal.

MrsJayy Sun 16-Apr-17 09:43:57

I think not exposing children to some part of religion really narrows their view of the world

FairytalesAreBullshit Sun 16-Apr-17 09:44:20

I think they need to get over this crazy notion that by attending a service you'll be brainwashed into believing it all.

They're atheist when they walk in and unless something spectacular happens, they'll be atheist when they leave.

DC are off to PIL today, so I made a point of saying do you know what Easter Sunday is? They answered. That's just my preference that religious events don't become solely about what you receive.

As I can't get out and a religious person visits, they're not forced to take part, but opt into it. If when they're older they decide it's really not for us, I won't be inconsolable, given that I'm the only religious person in my family.

I think it's a shame they're missing out on it as it's something you've put time and effort into. If it was a wedding or funeral, I doubt they'd give it a second thought.

chantico Sun 16-Apr-17 09:44:54

I think that equating visiting a place once as a welcome guest (to listen to a service in which relatives perform) isn't 'forcing' religion on someone, and is rather intolerant. She'd be going to listen, not to participate in worship.

In a diverse society, the understanding of the principal religions is IMO increasingly important. The odd visit to something of any religion, as a guest, would tend to further that.

parentsvsPIL Sun 16-Apr-17 09:45:12

Also - when they hear the same music in concerts they love it. My father's favourite bit of music was being done at one of the services, with DH singing the solo part. Parents refused point-blank to go... sad

Nonibaloni Sun 16-Apr-17 09:46:03

I'm a atheist and while I understand the not wanting to be seen to support something you disagree with I do think it's strange that the science lovers think they are going to catch religion.

Religions as a whole often do positive community work. There's no argument there.

Also in terms of your niece, making it a thing to avoided at all costs isn't a healthy message. Why not let her go enjoy the music and then discuss what was said and whether she agrees. Easter is a great time for this as coming back from the dead is a belief rather than scientific grey area.

I love a hymn by he way.

EdwardElric Sun 16-Apr-17 09:46:04

I wouldn't go to church or send my children either. I wouldn't make a fuss about it but would also think it quite strange to be invited by someone who knew I was an atheist.

SparklyLeprechaun Sun 16-Apr-17 09:47:17

They are proper hard-line atheists, aren't they? How do they cope with nativity plays? Not much you can do about it, just leave them to it. Incidentally, I'm an atheist and I've got no problem going to church.

MrsJayy Sun 16-Apr-17 09:47:41

That is such a shame they didn't go they put their beliefs above you.

millifiori Sun 16-Apr-17 09:48:54

YANBU. Not at all. So tiresome. Church serves many functions - it's social and cultural and marks the turning of the seasons in our society as well as being a gatheirng point for people of faith to worship. Anyone can attend whenever they want for whatever reason they want and participate as much or as little as they choose.
I wasn't Christian until late in life but loved the music so much and would often sneak in to listen to evensong or go to carol concerts and Easter masses before I ever believed.

millifiori Sun 16-Apr-17 09:49:18

So tiresome of your family I meant - not your question!

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