Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reliiiiiiiigion (duck and cover!)

Just joking, nothing scary going on. Just some observations I made the other week when we got chatting at play group (Steiner/Waldorf) about religious celebrations. I was raised in a household with christian grandparents, great grandparents and mother - and an agnostic father, but he never discussed his beliefs or lack thereof with us kids. I never believed what we were being taught in Sunday School and after calling myself Pagan for a few years I am now just...nothing. Not quite atheist I suppose, more spiritualist. Or agnostic maybe? Whatever, it doesn't really matter. I believe what I believe and you believe what you believe and la-di-da-di-da we'll all live happily ever after.

Except it isn't that simple because we live in a world with other people, who celebrate in different ways and I have children who may one day decide that a particular religion is for them. Anyway, back to the original thought of this post - we were talking about the celebrations that are incorporated into Steiner education and the fact that most people don't have any issue with their children being taught about the celebrations of religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, even Islam and Judaism, yet when it comes to Christian myths and festivals there is an obvious discomfort, a tendency to be repulsed by the idea. My theory is that it is because most people in our society have been raised in a Christian society, if not household and therefore are very aware of all it's negatives and thus want to protect our children from it. We have grown up in many cases having this religion forced on us by parents and grandparents, family friends and even peers who seem to delight in telling us the myriad ways we will suffer for our numerous sins. We have seen that dark side of this religion first hand and thus want to protect our children.

But as an agnostic, is it fair for me to raise my children to be atheists? How is it more fair to indoctrinate them with non-religion that it would be to raise them as strict catholics? Either way, I am forcing MY belief system on to them. Therefore I think it is my responsibility to make sure that they are exposed to a variety of religions and faiths and are given the opportunity to decide for themselves what will help them lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.



Alison said...

I don't do religion. My mother was a Christian and my father wasn't. He didn't have 'an anything' it just wasn't. I remember my mother was a bit of a renegade as a Protestant. She didn't see why we had to wear gloves (altho hats she could cope with) nor why men had to be in suits and ties in the middle of summer. And when they got a new minister I remember her chuckling about the collective intake of breath in the congregation when the new minister said 'And when you get to heaven you may even find there are some catholics and other religions there as well! Such heresy! For myself I believe you do things because they are the right thing to do; I particularly dislike having someone tell me I and my children should be doing something'not because it's the right thing to do - but because 'a being' tells you to. I object on several levels, one being that we all seem to spend our time training our kids to think for themselves, be responsible, think ahead, and don't just follow the crowd - do what's right - except for religion where you must do the opposite!

The basic problem for me tho is that I believe in Live and Let Live. Whereas religions seem to operate on some level of live like I tell you or you'll suffer, now or later.

I find that if you get people on their own they have some beautiful views on life, and afterlife. Get a couple of people of any religion together and their personal views go out the door.
My kids went to Montessor preschool. I think almost every faith was represented ditto countries of origin. So I had to learn a lot about a lot of religions to answer their questions. The bottom line for them? One girl didn't get any presents for birthdays etc, not allowed in her religion. So the boys wanted to give her a beautiful box. Nothing in it, because she's not allowed presents, but a beautiful box because she's missing out on the getting, not the having.

Em said...

Ugh, I have always hated that whole thing of "I am <insert religion here< therefore I am a good person."!!! I will never forget a group of people we used to holiday with who were all Catholic and the way they would go out drinking, smoking and playing pokies on Saturday night, then go confess on Sunday only to do it all over again the next week! Talk about hypocritical!

It's funny but I actually have found (through working in the National body of the Uniting Church) that the people who have actually STUDIED their religion (ie ordained ministers) are far more accepting of other's practices. I think it comes from having a deeper understanding of their religion and the bible, and what I call true faith, as opposed to just 'religion'. They also realise that a lot of what is spewed out by the religious masses is not actually the teachings of Jesus, but of some homophobic misogynist from the 13th century ;)

That is really sweet that your boys wanted to do something special for the girl. Do you recall what religion she was? I hadn't heard of that before.