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No! Not Church!

  1. Apr 1, 2010 #1
    I'm having a bit of a problem. I live with a semi-religious family who think we have to go to church on Sunday. They obviously want me to go with them, I don't want to (I'm agnostic), I think the whole thing is really stupid yet I haven't REALLY told my parents what I think of their religion.

    I really don't feel like having to argue with them over this, it'll get ugly really fast. I can defend my position fine, I might even be able to convince them even (or maybe not) that it's truly a silly thing to believe in. They are somewhat intelligent people who just have never had a particular interest in science, which leads them to believe in a religion.

    Any suggestions on what I should do? I'm 16 by the way in case it makes a difference.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2010 #2


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    Try telling them that you understand their desire to go to church, but that you no longer believe in it and would rather not go.

    Avoid discussions of who is right and who is wrong. Don't belittle their beliefs or feelings. This is about your beliefs only. Hopefully they will respect your decision.

    I told my mom (a devout Catholic) that I couldn't go anymore when I was 11. She was absolutely fine.

    Good luck to you.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2010
  4. Apr 1, 2010 #3
    Don't say that your parents are wrong in believing. That is bollocks and you should get slapped for that. If you don't want to go to church, then your parents should understand. As long as you are nice about it. As soon as you get angry with them, they will make your life hell.
  5. Apr 1, 2010 #4


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    A walkman and a very discrete headphone in the ear facing away from them ?
  6. Apr 1, 2010 #5
    That's disrespectful to the others in the church.

    If you are forced to go, listen to the homily at least. There are always great lessons to be learned from them. You don't have to get the religious aspect from it, but they still make sense for every day life.
  7. Apr 1, 2010 #6
    Agnosticism is whether we can know, not whether you believe. I have very catholic friends and grandparents. I go a few times a year with them and it makes all the difference. Most services are only an hour and sometimes they have some good lessons. You certainly shouldn't go every week if you don't want to, but go a few times, sometimes it's not all about you.
  8. Apr 1, 2010 #7


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    When I went to church with my parents when I was a kid, I thought about Star Wars. How awesome would it be to own an Imperial Speeder Bike and navigate the woods behind my house at blazing speeds? If I saw any stormtroo.... Sorry.:blushing:

    On a more serious note; I think politely telling them that you do not share their affection for religion is the way to go. If your feelings are well delivered, they should understand. I can attest to the (relational) difficulty regarding this situation. However, it won't be as bad as you think. It will feel good to tell them - much better than sitting through services, about which you have little to no interest, taxing your imagination in an effort to conjure a new Star Wars/Star Trek scene to play out in your head. :smile:
  9. Apr 1, 2010 #8


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    I suggest you quit assuming reasons behind their belief and deal with YOUR problem! You sure have the choice of who you wanna be, but try to think/ read/ listen/ whatever, at least that would work your mind on your spare time... Oh by the way, I do physics, and I’m a believer from head to toe, in case it makes a difference :biggrin:
  10. Apr 1, 2010 #9


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    I struggled with this for many years as a child. My parents were in a mixed marriage, in which my father had to sign a contract to agree that I would be raised Catholic. He was loathe to go back on that, but when I raised enough of a ruckus about hating the church, he backed me. I stopped going to church, and we spent our Sunday mornings driving around talking and sight-seeing, and in season, fly-fishing remote ponds and bogs.
  11. Apr 1, 2010 #10


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    Don't tell your parents that you think their beliefs are stupid. Simply state that you would prefer not to go to church. You might consider an exception for certain holidays.

    If one wants one's parents to respect one's beliefs, then reciprocate. I suspect one's parents might enjoy the community and friendships, as well as the spirituality, of the church.

    At 16 I simply told my parents that I would not be attending church. Prior to that, my brother and I would go to church with my mom, grab a cup of coffee and a donut, and then walk out the door on the other side of the building, return to the car, and spend an hour listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. It was pretty decent during the early 70's. Then we found a better rock station.
  12. Apr 1, 2010 #11


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    You might have wanted to bring this up with them at a time other than a major holiday celebration. It just makes the potential for hurt feelings and drama substantially greater than if it was an issue brought up over a regular Sunday mass.

    I was a bit younger than you when I told my mother I was not going to go to church anymore and preferred to just sleep in. Unfortunately, there was no being spared the drama. I had told her before the Sunday she was planning to go to church, but she still insisted on waking me up Sunday morning to go to church. Arguments with sleepy teenagers never go well, but when I simply refused to get out of bed and get dressed for church, she only had two choices left, go without me or not go either. She finally went without me.

    What really made no sense to me is that my mom was going to masses being held in memory of my father, but my father never went to church either. He agreed to be dragged along for Christmas and Easter, and there was always at least an hour of grumbling before or after mass about the greedy church just wanting to make money and not really caring about people.

    But, still, a holiday when you're probably going to be expected to be around your family all day is probably not the day to have this fight. It won't kill you to just sit there and not pay any attention. If it drives you too crazy, just excuse yourself to the bathroom and take a long walk around outside instead. Or, do what I do the few times I'm obliged to accompany relatives to mass for some occasion...arrive as late as possible so it's standing room only, and as other latecomers arrive, especially people with children, be graceful about letting them squeeze in in front of you until you've gotten yourself squeezed right out the door. :biggrin:
  13. Apr 1, 2010 #12


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    I'd recommend one sit down and have heart to heart talk with one's parents, as all children and parents should do over the years, especially after children pass puberty.

    Most importantly, listen - with an open mind, and open heart.

    And also importantly, one should express one's thoughts and beliefs, not to defend them, but to explain oneself. Reciprocally, one should allow one's parents to express their thoughts and beliefs, and not dismiss or disparage their beliefs. If one has not talked about this subject in detail, then perhaps one has misconceptions about what one's parents believe.
  14. Apr 1, 2010 #13
    I had a feeling this thread would get quite a few posts. I'll respond soon, I just don't have the time right now to read them all.
  15. Apr 1, 2010 #14


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    I agree with your first piece of advice.

    The OP is basically saying it is more trouble than it is worth to try to argue about it, and so already knows what to do: Suck it up and deal with it for the next year or two or 5 until you no longer live with them on a consistent basis (ie, when you go to college).
  16. Apr 1, 2010 #15
    It's terrible that parents would do that to their kids, though. If they're good parents, they'll agree to respect his religion, or lack thereof.

    My parents tried making me to go CCD (some kind of Catholic kids thing) when I was in 2nd grade. It was torture... I raised enough of a fuss that they quit making me go. If they wanted to indoctrinate me, they should have started sooner than 2nd grade.
  17. Apr 1, 2010 #16
    It's better not to argue. I tried but after few years started learning that it is best to avoid. But certainly don't hide what you think.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2010
  18. Apr 1, 2010 #17


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    No it isn't, no they won't. Kids are kids. By definition, they are not entitled to opinions about such things. Until you turn 18, your parents' job is to mold you into the person they think you should be.

    Now a good parent will slowly loosten the leash as a kid approaches that magic number, but how much and on what topics is up to the discretion of the parents. If an 11:00 curfew is important to them for enforcing morality, so be it. If forcing church attendance is important to them for teaching morality, that's fine too.
    Definitely, I'd start earlier, but the two issues there are connected: they weren't strong/tough enough to start you early and they were way too weak in letting a 2nd grader bully them. And you've internalized that attitude and are feeding it back to the OP!
    ...unless you have weak parents like Jack and can bully them! But I don't want to be either the screaming/whining kid in the grocery store nor the parent who can't properly control him. My perception is that this issue is a big and growing issue in society today.
  19. Apr 1, 2010 #18
    I started rebelling around 16-17 little by little. I understood my dependency on them so couldn't really have a strong independent opinions. But as I became more and more independent, I limited their abilities to influence my decisions or opinions which came at the cost of distancing myself from them a bit.

    (I haven't discovered yet to pay them back for raising me. It was not perfect but they did their best. I guess time will come.. sooner or later when I will be able to return back some)
  20. Apr 1, 2010 #19
    Children, by definition, do not want to sit still for an hour and listen to an old man talk. I had a hard time attending church when I was a youngin' so my parents brought matchbox cars for me to play with and keep quiet. Now it is me who is having a tough time dragging them to church!
  21. Apr 1, 2010 #20
    There is a difference between
    • finding it boring or
    • questing/challenging what the old man is talking about.
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