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February 08, 2007


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Great post.

The great thing about my parents was that as Christians they were willing to talk about WHY they believed and could handle most questions I asked with integrity and compassion. Also, they chose to raise us in the inner city and really lived what they believed. You certainly know if your parents are hypocrites and mine were/are some of my heroes instead.

I went to a VERY 'secular' college in New England. 'Coming out' as a Christian felt the same as (I would imagine) coming out as a lesbian in the midwest. The great thing was that I wrestled hard with what and why I believed. My faith became my own and I learned to answer others questions with compassion and integrity. I think many people just learn to regurgitate rather than think, and therefore are threatened by others questions. Too often they reflect the secret wrestlings in their own mind.

All that being said, much of modern American Christianity drives me crazy. One neat book to check out is Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. He's a pastor in Michigan and articulates a worldview that is full of life and vibrancy. Not Happy Christianity, Dogma Land, or Do As I Say Faith. The design of the book is frustrating if you are a designer (lots of one line sentences)! But it's worth reading anyway.

ray lee

My entire family are Buddhists. Growing up, I learned a lot about Buddhist prayers and traditions/rituals. I hated it. I thought it was a big waste of time to go to the temple every 15 or so days. I stopped going eventually. When I was 14-15, my life was in the shithole. I was a HS drop out, my parents hated me, I wasn't smoking enough cigerettes because I was grounded all the time... you know, the whole 9 yards. I was invited to church by one of my older cousins. Her and her fiance were two of the nicest people I knew and I figured I'd give it a try. The exposure was enlightening to me. The more I learned about the religion, the more I distanced myself from it's teachings. In my mind, what I was learning didn't make any sense to me. So instead, I did what any imaginative teenager would do at a time like that--make up your own beliefs. I made up my own beliefs... of who God was, who is Jesus, how to get into Heaven, why one shouldn't read the Bible...etc. And till this day, I follow those beliefs. I really believe that whatever I made up, makes perfect sense to me.

My point is this. You shouldn't feel the need to expose your daughter to religion. She won't understand it and what you are doing now could either be brainwashing her or making her hate it. Instead, wait till she is older and then talk to her about different religions and the possibilities of a higher (or many higher) powers(s). When she is old enough to think on her own, then she can choose what to believe in. That's how I would want my kids to be raised. Of course, unless their mother wants them to be conservative Christians. Then I might have to figure out a plan B.


-ray leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

lisa k

I've been thinking a lot about this, too. A few weeks ago, my six-year-old and his best friend were discussing who they were going to be during their role-playing games. His friend said she was going to be God. My son said that she couldn't be God. She said that it didn't matter because there's no God anyway, she'd read it in a book. Another friend piped in that Allah was real, and my son, nearly in tears, turned to me, asking me, "God's real, right, Mommy? God made me!" I had no idea what to tell him in front of all his friends, who were either Atheist, Hindu or Muslim! My in-laws are hardcore Born Agains, my mom's Catholic and I consider myself Catholic. I want to raise my children with spirituality, tradition and a sense of God, but am too damn lazy to take them to church. But I don't want them to go to my in-laws church, either!


Oh my God gods goddess, my brain hurts.

My husband and I are both in the lapsed Catholic camp, and the difference between us comes down to me wanting to join the local Universal Unitarian church and him prefering to not attend church but still self-identify as a Catholic.

We're doing our best to cobble some sense of spiritual belief together, but we're not there yet. It's embarrassing to say that we don't want to give up our quiet Sunday mornings, but if you knew my husband's work schedule, you'd understand. In the meantime, our 6 year old has announced her intention to worship Shiva, which should go over great with her straight-off-the-farm-in-Ireland grandmother.

L.A. Daddy

I made a promise to LA Mommy that every time she would take our daughter to a Catholic church on Sunday morning that I would let her go to another church the following Sunday... the Church of St. Mattress.

I had way too much church growing up and it didn't do shit for my moral compass.


Maybe what you're feeling is mortality? Seeing that the other side of watching peanut blossom is watching yourself age?

Or maybe that's just me.

Having kids sure did make me understand the whole 'circle of life' concept in a new and frightening way, and religion is a solace against life and death seeming so amorally brutal.

Personally, I'm trying to find a way to be spiritual, without giving in to the intellectual laziness of the Organized Religions. Its tough and I'm nowhere near an answer. I hope I get to one before its my turn.


MD-I like this discussion you've started.

I didn't grow up with organized religion (not really) and I always hungered for it. JP is Catholic, a thoughtful, measured Catholic, and I knew I wanted our children to have the structure I always wanted to my faith. Not to mention the deepness it has added to our relationship, this sharing of souls and God.

I want my daughter to always feel blessed.

Jolie is too young to tolerate church now and it's an exercise in futility to go these days, but we look forward to going together again as a family. I think it can only make your family love grow stronger.

christmas gomoe

I grew up in a very strict korean christian family. In other words, I had to do as told or I'd have shit to pay in twofolds, from my parents and from God. It's a heavy load to carry. As an adult living on my own I continued to go to church because it was what I did. I'd been doing it all my life and that was the norm. But as my husband is Catholic, it was difficult to settle on a place until we found Redeemer. I'm not trying to preach to you but Tim Keller is a fantastic minister and you'll appreciate his vast knowledge. He delivers his sermons in a very non-preachy way and is very applicable to new yorkers. The crowd is a diverse group and you can easily walk in and walk out without worrying about socializing unless you want to. They also have childcare in the east side morning services which I recommend for Peanut. Anyway, although I don't force christianity and the Godly way to my children, I admit there is a very strong christian foundation to my way of thinking and living my life. It's kept me out of trouble these past 30some years and hope it would guide them in some aspects as well.


It's a tough call. After being raised Catholic and teaching Sunday school for about three years, I hit a turning point when I was about 19 and realized that the church didn't represent anything I believe in... so, I stopped attending mass, dabbled in a number of other religions and never really found one that fit. My husband is an atheist.
We've decided that the best policy is to teach our daughter to be a good, respectful, charitable person. Along with that, we'll let her know that many different people believe many different things and that if she ever wants to attend any religious services of any religious leaning, I'm happy to take her. We'll see how it goes...

Mrs. Q.

Howard. Ha. It's a family name. Explains Jesus H. Christ.

My husband and I are both catholics, although we were non-practicing ones for many years. I started gaining interest again when I was pregnant with our son almost two years ago. My father was terminally ill, and I could see in his face his fear about the afterlife. He had grown up in a strict catholic household and strayed FAR from the church as an adult. As he grew more sick, he had regrets and seemed to regain faith in God and that something exisits beyond this world of fear and pain. Although we're not in agreement with many of the church's teachings (anti-gay, pro-life, scandals, etc.), I haven't found something that made me feel more at home. Maybe it's just the nostalgia? My girlfriend had a good point-- when asked how she could be a Catholic when she had many problems with its politics, she said, "If we all leave the church, nothing will ever change." I hope that's the case and that we can shift the focus back to the basic theology and fundamentals of being good people, and not be consumed with the politics of organized religions. Under the skin, they are the same.



WOW, you really started some shit up 'n here.

I, like many of your fans, was not baptized as a child. My mother was raised with seven other children by a Southern Baptist minister. They ate, slept and drank church. They all decided that when they had children, they would allow them to decide which religion to follow. As a result, many of my cousins are not baptized either.

Not wanting my children to suffer the same fate, I made sure that my children had religion.

My wife was raised Catholic and that's the faith we chose to raise our children in. That and the occasional trip to a black Baptist church with my mother. The kids liked the Catholic faith better 'cause they didn't have to be in chuch (yes, black folk call it chuch) all Sunday afternoon.

My advice to you is to start taking her to church, so that she grasps the basic idea. But, if you want the Peanut to believe, you and the BL gotta believe, too!!

She'll get to a certain age and make the decision for herself.

BTW, only YOU could ask these kind of questions and get away with it.


Oh yea, the "Howard, be thy name, is an absolute killer...that's right up there with this...I know someone who thought that Jesus was born in Bethlehem...PA!


We're contemplating the same thing RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT IN TIME!!! Many discussions — many, many, many.

The basics:
-We know many people who have looked at sooooo many organized religions and haven't found a good fit for one reason or another.
-These searching people are all really moral, down-to-earth, compassionate people.
-I feel we're all looking for an ideal, spiritual, non-judgmental and accepting religious community, but it's hard to find in this day and age.

So, this is what we're going with for the moment:
- We will not go to church or teach our Pumpkin religious things out of fear of eternal damnation or relatives' disapproval. What example would that set?
- We will stress compassion and understanding and empathy as important values for humans relating to each other.
- We're going to look the hypocrisy of many organized religions straight-on and call it where we see it.
- We're going to keep looking.

Life is a journey full of searches...you can just include the Peanut in your quest for now! Maybe you'll find a great fit somewhere along the road.


MD, just a thought: Time for another baby!! :-)



MD, just a thought: perhaps it's time to have another child!



Be a San Francisco Catholic. Our school has three (count `em! THREE!) gay families.

As John Waters said, being raised Catholic is great because you grow up with a sense of the theatrical and sex is better because it`s dirty.


Oh, and right up there with "Howard be thy name" is "Hail Mary, full of GRAPES."


I grew up in the "Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up" era. If you are out of the loop on that one, it's Catholic. My Mom was a Jew who witnessed her parents burned in the holocaust and my father was Catholic. I am currently a lapsed Catholic. I did however raise my kids as Catholics. I have 3. My daughters do go to Mass and my son has chosen the Sunday Football religion. They are people who do have compassion. I think as long as you raise your little Peanut as a caring little one, she'll find her own way. It sounds like she has awesome caring parents.
Good Luck with that one.

Michelle W.

I love that you introduced such an interesting discussion with so many disparate viewpoints yet has been so amazingly free of judgement and rancor. I'm a new reader but I'd say that this is quite a tribute to your readers. I'm very impressed.


Man, do I feel like I'm in the minority here. I was raised as a modern Orthodox Jew, and have always practiced my Judiasm. It's so much a part of my life that I can't imagine it not being there. Although I question many things and I am not blinded by halacha, I love my religion and I'm very happy to be a part of the Jewish people.

When my kids were infants, I started taking them to synagogue. By the age of 2 they were comfortable enough in the shul to attend Tot Shabbat services and sing along to their very abbreviated service. At 5 they moved up to Mini Minyan and helped to lead a longer service. Both of my children attended a jewish preschool, day care, and elementary school. They read Hebrew better than they read English. They are both bilingual in Hebrew/English.

When we moved back to MA after years in CA, we went back to our former shul, but things weren't comfortable there. It is a long story, but suffice it to say the Rabbi was unwelcoming, the congregation had changed, my kids had grown older and a lot more cynical, and we dropped out after a couple of years. I then worked at a more liberal shul for a year, and by the end of the year had totally and completely overdosed on congregational religion. We no longer belong to, or attend a synagogue.

But, we practice our religion, we keep a Kosher home, we observe the holidays, and we live a totally Jewish life. Ok, that's my backstory.

I think that it's important to introduce your child to religion, but it doesn't have to be the religion you practiced as a kid. If you aren't comfy in your old church, try something new. It doesn't even have to be organized religion, it can be a humanist organization that holds weekly services. The point of religion is the community, what keeps people together as a group, and the moral values that ensue. Make your family have it's own celebrations, encourage free thinking, but identify with the golden rule and peaceful meditation. It can be a major PITA for a young child to attend a service, but if you want Peanut to be comfortable in a religious environment, do it now, and do it often. Let her find friends and a comfort in the weekly practice, regardless of what it is. It's the community that will make the biggest impression upon her.

And good on your for thinking about it!


We'd actually had a similar idea about Little-E and religion, in that we wanted her choices about faith to be hers, and not something spoon-fed by her parents.

But we've mostly taken the opposite approach -- not taking her to any religion, period. That being said, I occasionally feel like she might one day want to find spirituality within a group...

Maybe we owe the local Unitarian church a visit...


I was raised LDS in a predominately LDS area. I was fine growing up in the faith and the community, though I never formed that deep of an attachment to the religion. Not long after I left home to go to college my best friend came out to me, and I realized I had many problems with the policies and politics of the church I was raised in. For many years I spurned most all religions. Feeling the hole that not having a faith had left I began looking at other religions. On advice from a friend I recently found our local Unitarian Universalist branch. They are the most accepting, wonderful, community minded bunch of people I have ever met.
This is quoted from our local UUCP (Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse) site. "We are a caring community dedicated to the free and open search for spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth. We value the natural environment and respect the interdependence of all life. We aspire to provide a welcoming home to all who join us in pursuing justice, tolerance, and compassion, with respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person." Something I love about this church is that this is not lip service; and as my friend has said, 'There are times I really envy the children that get to grow up Unitarian Universalist.' Ok, I'll get off my soapbox about how great I think UUism is. I did enjoy seeing in the comments that there are others that have found UUism.
Whatever you choose I would say start early in teaching her values in general and go from there.


Hi MD:
I Love that you already are aware of the possibility that introducing Peanut to a spiritual life might impact yours, too.

I have a real hienz 57 spiritual background and my son's father was a real spiritual seeker - raised Jewish, was really a Sufi and studied Gurdjief, among others. After my son's father died suddenly (when our son was not quite 4) I decided to find a spiritual home for us that would honor his father, and be comfortable for both me and my mother (Grandma). This was not a simple task because i am ultimately most comfortable in Judism and my mother is really Methodist/Protestant. What is a girl to do to find a place for all of us to share? Although the usual default is to become a Unitarian - I had spent time there and it is too much "head" oriented for me. We decided to go to a local Unity church - with the thought we would try out all the local unity churches and other churches until we found someplace we were comfortable. We never left that first Unity church. Unity, although nominally Christian, is really based on prayer and inner listening. It honors all traditions and actively invites all traditions to share their wisdom. I have found it to be very much based on "heart" - which I believe is the core of most religious traditions. So, in Unity, my son is learning to develop a realationship with his own vision of God, and is learning to have respect for all the paths that people utilze to be in realtionship with God. It works for us.


MD -- Since you asked, check out something I wrote about religion a few days ago:


We were raised Buddhists, my Dad has been a volunteered Treasurer for a local Buddhist temple for over 10 years now, but I can count maybe 30 times in those 10 years that I've attended any services (when there were a big celebrations really).

My Korean hubbie is Catholic (in name really). We are both not very "religious" in the attending masses/services per se. But we both believe that there are higher spiritual things at work in the universe. Do we need to be inside a church/temple to believe? I don't think so. I've seen people who are church goers/temple goers who are just plain cruel and mean.

And I abhor anybody who pushes their religion on me, and I've been the receiver of that many times before, including the in-laws.

So, we have not discussed what religion(s) our 3.5 children will follow. The way I look at it is this...if they live their lives honestly, and being charitable which we will hopefully teach them then that's good enough religion to me!


This is an internal debate I can totally sink my teeth into. My husband and I are agnostic and have similar disdain for organized religion. Our wee one attends a Jewish daycare/preschool three days a week and one of the primary schools were are considering is Catholic. So, yes, I do drive myself crazy figuring out how we're going to explain it all to our little one when she starts asking the tough questions. I've considered the Unitarian Universalist church since it is ostensibly accepting of all beliefs and is based on on a set of Principles and Purposes rather than on a prophet or creed. Thankfully, since she's only 2, I've still got some time to ponder this.



To the consternation of my VERY Catholic parents, I completely dropped out of the church when I was in college. I won't go into all the details but when I left, I was sure that my break was complete. Flash forward to now (15 years later): my wife and I are raising twin 5-year-old girls and they're starting to ask the "what is God" question.

I'm struggling because I'm adamant about not returning to organized religion. Yes, I have been telling the girls stories from the bible and explaining what religion means. However, I'm starting to think that in order to fully appreciate God and religion, they need to see the inside of a church...which of course leaves me in a bit of a pickle.

I guess what I'm saying is...anyone want to take my kids to church? I'll be at home in front of the TV.


I was raised Roman Catholic Pinoy, had a period during high school where I was searching and trying to sort out the cognitive dissonance that was happening between my religious education and my secular political education, was a non-practicing self identified Catholic when I met my wife in the Peace Corps, and now we go to a Catholic church as a family together every Sunday. What's funny is that my wife is really the catalyst that got us going back to church, which is interesting because she's considers herself non-denominational Christian and was never baptized. Her dad was baptized Catholic, was away from the church when my wife's parents had her, and it was her, as a child, who asked her Mom to take her to church, which my MIL promptly did. I don't know, if you're searching, I think its a good idea to look around and see what's out there for your fam. The church we go to now is the same one where my son was baptized, where my wife and I were married, and has East African priests (Mostly Kenyan and Ugandan) who are doing graduate studies at one of the local colleges as visiting scholars. We've been lucky enough to have priests who really break down and do some serious analysis of theology and there have been days where I leave with a headache because its like I'm back in a lecture for grad school. These guys aren't dialing in the homily, that's for sure. Not a bad thing, especially when they break it down and grapple with things on how you apply the teachings to your life in ways we haven't thought about previously. I agree with you about the option to "opt out" and generalize it to other things, like cultural elements of being Filipino American, or Asian American. Not that I weight them the same, but I guess I would rather hear my kid say, "Man, I hated that you sent me to *insert church/language/cultural school here* but I learned something." than, "Why didn't you give me the opportunity to learn about *God/spirituality/tinikling/Tagalog/Kali-Arnis/rolling lumpia/piano/etc*? I feel like I missed out." I would feel like a complete loser for being accused of "mentally malnourishing" my kid's spirit. Going to church and practicing religion formally works for our family. I have to agree with the commenter who said that it has to be something that you and the Boss Lady have to be invested in, you know as well as I do that kids (ours is 14 months) can smell a scam like someone in Manhattan can smell a trash fire in New Jersey (my son won't eat powdered vitamins hidden in food no matter how many times I say "Yum! Yum! Tasty!"). Good post, btw.

True story:

In South Africa while my wife (pre-wife days) and I were serving in Peace Corps, a missionary attempting to evangelize her came up to our Lao-American colleague who is an evangelical Christian and said, "Do you have a moment, I want to tell you about cheezus..." Her response was, "What are you talking about, I don't even LIKE cheese."


Ah, shit...paragraphs.


I'm a lapsed Jew and my husband is a lapsed Christian, and we fought over this for a long time when our Muffin was younger. What we did agree upon was that even though we're kind of agnostic secularists, we feel that we got something out of the religion our respective families drummed into us -- if not spirituality, then a certain cultural literacy. We did not want our daughter to grow up with NOTHING. We just couldn't agree on WHAT.

Eventually, "my side" won out -- mainly because I cared about it a little bit more than he did. We found a nice, liberal reform synagogue that was inclusive of families like ours (i.e., mixed) and discovered that WE were getting as much or even more out of the association than our daughter... in a big city like Los Angeles, it's hard to find community, and for the first time in nearly 50 years of living here, I feel like I'm part of something. We're still not spiritually evolved -- but we have definitely gained from the experience of being part of a congregation.


I was raised Catholic and slowly stopped attending. I just wasn't "feeling it" anymore. When I had my daughter, I started thinking like you, that I should introduce her to religion and give her some foundation so she could make a choice when she gets older. My husband and I recently started attending mass again and we had our daughter baptized on New Year's Eve. Hopefully we can find our way again, just like you said.



It's great that you're just as hysterical with such a potentially hot-bed topic, MD :)

In our case, we have no kids yet, but I'm what I call a lazy!Christian (Protestant), in that I haven't been to church in months but I still believe in the principles/values etc. The hubby is atheist, but has always been fascinated with the culture of Judaism. When we have kids, I'll take them to church with me (this is hoping I'll get my lazy ass back in gear). And for further exposure and to acknowledge the hubby's interest, we'll send them to community/after school programs at the Jewish Community Center. The one here is awesome; it's an amazing place.

The religious discrepancy between us used to be a sore spot in my case but with time and open communication, I've loosened up greatly to the point where we can laughingly say we'll tell the kids that Daddy doesn't go to church because he's a "filthy heathen" (his phrase). In other words, we're comfortable and I look forward to raising kids who are comfortable with other religions as well.


It's posts like this that confirm why you're the best daddy blog out there, MD. Your combination of deep thinking and exuberant humor are truly rare. I never know what I'm going to get when I click over here. Keep up the great work!

As for the religion discussion, I'm staying out of that one. Religion has done more damage to my family than anything else on this planet.


Hubby was raised Roman Catholic, I was raised Maronite Catholic, Ex-husband wasn't raised with religion. I was very involved in my church youth group growing up and felt a true sense of community & faith. However, once in college (a Catholic one, I might add) I really fell away from it and because I saw family members suffering from illness really blamed God. However, I really made a point of learning about other religions and seeing they all have the same basic teachings. I realized that religion & faith are not the same thing. "Church" means "community". The building is the "temple", the place for the church to gather communally. Fast forward to marriage (in the Catholic church) and having a kid. I exposed her to it now and again, baptized her in it, but wasn't active...until she was about 8. A gay friend, actually, helped bring me back to the church and a relationship with God. And then I started taking my daughter more regularly. Then I was divorced. I realized even more that my faith was helping me through it all, giving me a sense of peace. So when I met my (now) husband and he had such a strong faith, it only helped. My daughter is now 13 and protests going to church every Sunday. She goes right now because we want her to have that understanding of community, as well as realizing there is more to care about than just herself. We want her to have a basis in religion & faith. We are hardly "bible thumpers" or "uber-religious" but to be honest, a little Catholic guilt can go a long way sometime with a teenager! We are expecting a son in about a week...he will be exposed to Church from the beginning.


Christianity has a lot to say about parenting. You may be turned off by the shouty, intolerant, patriarchal churches that seem to value "dressing nice" over "actually being a caring person", but Christianity is the place that gave us the story of The Prodigal Son: this kid asks for his inheritance *before* his dad is yet dead, runs off, sleeps around, parties and drinks the cash, ends up destitute, finally comes home completely broken and his aged father literally drops what he is doing and runs out across the fields to sweep him up in his arms (and patriarchs never run!). God *knows* parenting. Churches? Meh, not so much.

Linda B

Donuts? Surely you mean dduk.

Anyways, we are "practicing" Christians, and when I say practicing, I mean we attend church every (Uh, most) Sunday, pray for thanks as well as for help in time of need and just try to live a good life. Sometimes I hesitate to tell people this because they assume that being Christian means I am homophobic, Republican and narrow minded - anyone who knows me will know this is not true.

Before I forget, some very close friends of ours moved to the East Coast recently. The husband took a job as the senior pastor of a Korean American church (currently located in Queens but eventually will relocate to Manhattan). He's a great guy, a theological genius. One of the reasons I would recommend visiting his church is that he is not your typical bible beater Pastor. He's a regular guy who enjoys sports and pop culture. I didn't get to read everyone's comments but if you are looking to at least visit somewhere, let me know.

Shannon Best

I, like most of your readers, grew up in a household that went to church every Sunday. I was raised in the Catholic church. Then after my father "defected" from the household, (I was 13) my mother and I switched to the Lutheran church. Thank God. I loved my new church. People actually talked to one another and formed cool after school groups. I felt as though the church was again a place I could go worship but also make friends. (See, there's this whole weird thing that went on with our family in the Catholic Church. Since my mother was a married woman once before my dad and wayyy before I came along, I as the only one who took Communion. So there I was all alone in line Sunday morning. I never really knew till I started studying why). Anyhow, I still attend the Lutheran church and my husband was and is Lutheran and that was a common bond between us. We're no holy rollers either. We party (or did before the twins) like the rest of you out there. We've shacked up before marriage and have put in many a late hours in downtown Austin just to see our favorite bands. We attend church regularly. I miss it when I skip it. I feel that I need it after a long week and plus its a time when my husband and I, together with the kids, take a break from the world to say thank you God for giving us what we have. Plus the Manischewitz is so darn good! I believe in raising my kids in the church to show them that we are here only for a short while and that the many gifts we receive come from above.


Hi MD,
I generally grew up Mahayana Buddhist but for the first four years that I lived in the United States (ages 4 to 8), I went to church and Sunday school. I didn't understand a dang thing that they were trying to teach me there except that if I was a kind, honest, thoughtful person, good things would happen for me. (I also learned that if I was quiet and didn't say anything I could have some free cookies at the end of class, but that's besides the point.) I spent another four years (ages 13 to 17) at Sunday Vietnamese school at our local Buddhist temple and there, I don't think I learned much except that if I was a kind, honest, thoughtful person, good things would happen for me. Do we see a pattern here?

I honestly believe that religions in general try to teach you to be a good person, to help others, be a part of our communities, that you are not alone in the world, and that you will be rewarded if not emotionally and materially in this life then the next. That said, I too have been thinking about my children's souls a lot. While I don't think organized religion is the way for us we are not adverse to teaching our kids about religion. I want to show them rather than tell them that they should be good. We've given to charity, donated our time, tried to be polite and kind to others. I think this has far more impact on their little souls than strangers on a pulpit every could.

I'm glad you bring up this topic, I think most parents think about this stuff at one point or the other. Good luck with the churchgoing, if anything, hopefully it will give you a sense of community and bring more friends into your circle.


P.S. All the books on the major religious leaders (eg Buddha, Mohammad, Jesus) by Demi are awesome. I have a few for my kids and they love looking at the pictures and hearing the stories. I highly recommend them.

Grant Miller, Esq.

I used to hate going to church as a kid. Every week, my mom forced me to go. Now, I love going to church because it means either someone died or someone's getting married and a big party will surely follow.


My hubby and I would belong to the same church as you! Seriously, you captured our "religion" or lack thereof perfectly. We occasionally stressed about religion (as parents of 4) but ultimately decided not to worry too much. Our oldest is now 10 and recently became a devoted, Bible-toting Christian. She only attends church with her friends or my grandmother, which is to say not frequently. I have to say that her (personally invented) brand of Christianity is the most tolerant and open-minded I've ever seen, and that if all traditional Christians were like her, I probably would be one too. So don't stress. You may get a Bible-toter all your own whether you work for it or not. And now, if our daughter decides to step away from her faith, we can feel confident that it's definitely her choice.


Hey MD- just posted about this as my comment was too long for a comment. Thanks for raising such a relevant issue for your readers. Good luck in your decision.

Nomadic One

"Howard be thy name"? LOL! Really!? You were (and still are) awesome! Love your post and I'm looking forward to reading the comments.

Re: religion... Raised Catholic. Stopped believing in God when my dad died (I was 6)...God, as I knew Him, would never take a little girl's dad away. Kept going to Sunday school because a)my mom made me and b)the nuns gave Reese's cups for acing their religious quizzes! Mmmm...peanut butter cups! Kept going in high school as it gave me a place to play my guitar and sing (other than school) and hang out w/other teenagers. Stopped going the minute I left home for college and have never gone back.

My current beliefs are some freakish combination of Atheism/Agnosticism, Humanism, non-theism, Budhism, Wiccan/Paganism, and Native American ideas. In a nutshell: be good to others, be kind to all living things, respect yourself and everyone else, theory of evolution, souls continue on after death, blahblahblah. I sort of pick-and-choose what I like from each one. I pray--but to Mother Earth and the Great Spirit.

Now, as mom to a 4yo girl, I am missing the community of a church and I also want to find a way to educate my Munchkin in various religions. I want her to learn about the ones she is most interested in and choose one (or not choose any!) when she's an adult. Therefore, I have been stalking the Unitarian Universalist church's website (for about 2 yrs!)...daring myself to walk in to an actual church. From my minimal knowledge of UU it seems that they accept all beliefs. Really. Pretty much any belief one can imagine seems represented within. That sounds good to me...that Munchkin could feel the community of a church and be exposed to myriad religions--all the while forming her own beliefs like she forms snakes out of Play-doh (her latest fetish).

And, even though I no longer "believe" (though I do still believe in Santa, The Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny)...I certainly don't want her to be the only kid in town who has never heard of God or Jesus, whether or not they were mythical characters in a best-seller. Someone needs to inform her! ;)

(Sorry this was so long.)


I was struggling with them same questions you are, and really felt like something was missing from our lives. But, I didn't want to go to a church that was intolerant of others or had a "Our way is the only way" outlook. Last year I read an article in our local paper about the gay rights parade and it mentioned that the Unitarian Universalist Church was involved, standing as "Silent Witnesses" along the parade route, making sure none of the marchers were assaulted in any way. I looked up the church, attended a service, and found exactly what I had been looking for. The UU Church is committed to celebrating diversity, protecting the environment, fighting racism, and protected a woman's right to choose. I recommend you look into it. I have an amazing husband, an awesome 15 year old daughter, and an incredible 2.5 year old...and with find this church, I feel that life is truly complete.


After witnessing the considerable amount of bribing of children in the churches that I attended growing up ("free cookies and Bible if you accept Jesus into your heart" said the flier for Sunday School-not joking) I have decided from a very young age to study various world religions and make the choice for myself. IF I were to accept Christ, the Christian Church, or any religion for that matter, I will have made the conscious decision and my chosen faith will be firm and unwavering (yet accepting of other religions). My boyfriend's mom asked me in her polite Southern voice, "Do you believe in Jesus?" I told her my beliefs and she just looked at me is disbelief.
However, the simple fact that someone told me to believe in something 'just because' doesn't make sense to me.
Our daughter was baptized in the Episcopalian church because her father, while Atheist, was Episcopalian.
I guess this gives her somewhere to start. But we will encourage her to ask questions and learn about other religions so that she may make the choice for herself.


This is kind of ramble-y. Sorry.

I was raised by a church-going Christian mother, and a Jewish shul-not-going dad, so mom and I went to church and dad stayed home. I did spend most of my free time at church with my mother (10+ hours a week), and I didn't feel much of a sense of community with the other children. You might hit it off with other adults there (my mom sure did) but Peanut might feel like an observer.

Eventually, the night before I was supposed to become a member, I had a major freak-out, and haven't really been back since.

I think, as some posters said above, it does require bringing some religion into your home as well, though. Dad always said a non-denominational grace before meals, and both parents strenously avoided "taking the name of the lord in vain" during times of stress.

I also went to Catholic school in high school, and found it a great place to learn about religion. We had a religion class, but it was different religions, not just Catholicism, and everyone was encouraged to think critically. Mass was offered once a week, but only 1/2 the students went, and no one I knew ever felt any pressure. The nuns I had as teachers were fantastic, funny women, and great teachers as well. You could just feel the dedication emanating from my 70-something biology teacher, who taught standard evolutionary biology 99% of the time, and devoted one day to a debate about creationism, intelligent design, and evolution in a totally respecful way.

Sometimes the most important thing you can contribute to a child's religious development is finding them a good model of the values you want them to model -- even if it's not you. When I think about religion, I don't recall all those years at church and sunday school and sermons, but instead the Catholic H.S. I attended.


I think....people will make their own choices, exposure is what matters.

The cynical part of me wants to say the keeping her away from a Korean church will keep away from the bad elements.

I chose to go back to church as a 25 year old. It was a choice I wanted to make. Have I found peace in it? Absolutely.

At the very least, if you expose Peanut to Christianity, find a church that address Jesus for who He really is. A joyous, socialist revolutionary who commanded His followers to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. To be environmentalists and embrace God's commandment to Man to be stewards of His creation. That those who are most reviled, rebuked and outcast by out society are the ones who deserve the most compassion, tolerance and understanding. That the ones who claim to be the most holy and the most religious are the ones who are the most suspect.

I dunno. Just keep her the Hell away from Pat Roberston, that man is the Devil.


I was baptised an Episcopalian, confirmed a Catholic and married by a rabbi. As an adult/teenager I haven't been into the whole organized religion thing but when the kids came along and it started nearing the whole Sunday school time we decided to go with a reformed temple (Jewish, like the husband) I have to say I love our temple and although I will probably never convert, I've never felt so comfortable in a religious place. They welcome interfaith couples and gays and one of our rabbis is a woman. They teach my children tolerance, giving of time and money, and morals. They show these beliefs through their actions.

On the other hand, if I hadn't found this place of worship I think I would be "homeschooling" the whole God thing to the boys.


One more teeny little voice in a pool of so many...

I am also grappling with what role religion may or may not have in T's life. Nate is to religion-averse to make the decision and so it's up to me.

We maintain Jewish traditions and ideals but not so much the temple-going thing. Like you, I'll have to figure out whether to introduce her to it so that the choice of rejection is her own. That seems like the reasonable thing to do.


semi-longtime lurker, first time poster...i too have a peanut (she's 7 months old) but up until reading your post i hadn't thought much about religion...but you're right, and thanks so much for putting it into perspective for me, i don't want her to believe that agnosticism is the natural order of things when i myself was raised buddhist..there is something to be said about establishing a foundation for her so that she can choose for herself when she gets older


I recommend the Riverside Church in NYC, or if you don't want to go the Christian route, the Ethical Culture Society. Both emphasize values and ethics, and not judgment. I was raised by a Buddhist and a holy roller, so I was somewhat confused for most of my life. I wrote about my coming to terms with my own faith with the help of my mentor William Sloan Coffin on my blog and I'll send you the link; it's too long to summarize here.

My Buddhist mom joined a Korean church recently, not for the religion, but for the socializing and the food. Evidently one of her Bible study group makes some kind of kimchi crack that she is now addicted to and has not been able to replicate. Good kimchi, not religion, is the true opiate of the people.

I also made a resolution to check out various churches this year, because I would like my son exposed to the values and comfort of religion. I still refuse to believe that dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't fit on the ark and Noah had to leave them behind. Cuz that's just stupid.

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