Tiny Missionaries

I lost my religion in phases. First I gave up on Catholicism, then Christianity, and finally spirituality. I was somewhere between Atheism and questioning spirituality when Pickle was born. Hubby has been Agnostic as long as I have known him, so it was obvious to us that Pickle wouldn’t be baptized. We had a lot of supporters at the time

As time went by, my sister-in-law backed out of support and had her children baptized in a very elaborate fashion. This resulted in my mother-in-law giving me dirty looks when Pickle didn’t sit still, at 2 years old, for a service that lasted over an hour. MIL is always trying to get Pickle to church. I deal with it by avoiding leaving Pickle with my MIL and FIL overnight on Saturday nights and always sending him with just play clothes (nothing nice enough for church). Honestly, I was expecting it all along. My MIL pushed religion hard on her children. She is not happy with her grandson being raised outside the church.

The surprise came two years ago when my best friend began teaching at a Catholic school and joined the Church. She quickly got her younger child into Sunday School and baptised, and when the older child saw how much fun it was to have a party and get gifts for being saved, they signed right up. At first I thought it was just a ploy to increase job security. Catholic schools will fire teachers for just about anything.

Now I will admit that Bestie has not been pushing any kind of belief. She knows I have had enough of that Kool-Aid* and won’t be going back. But she keeps telling me how great the new Pope is, and how her church is full of open-minded progressive Catholics, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Her daughter, on the other hand, has decided that she needs to spread the “good word” to Pickle! Mind you, nothing that he has come home with has been good news. It’s funny how the first thing they want to do is put the fear of God, Satan, and Hell in children.

After a play date, Pickle came home and asked why we don’t go to church, and asked about God. We explained that we don’t go to church because we don’t believe in a god. That there are a lot of people around the world who believe a lot of very different things. We pointed out that some people believe in one or more gods and that some people don’t believe in a god at all. We explained how we came to the conclusions that we did. He sat and listened, and asked questions. I’m happy with that—as long as he keeps asking questions, he is not going to be a sheep that is easily led.


*Sweetie would like to point out that they actually used Flavor Aid

Image via Google Images Creative Commons.


I'm thirty-something and lucky enough have a job doing SCIENCE! I live in Madison, WI with five chickens, three dogs, two partners and one munchkin. Someday I would love to live on a big compound with my whole poly-family and goats.

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  1. I find it so interesting when religious people, especially Catholics, start going on about how progressive their church is, as if nice progressive people somehow changes the fact that there is no god. I am not an Atheist because I don’t like the church (though that is how I started moving away from being Catholic originally). I am Atheist because there is no evidence for god. None. No nicer pope can change that, no nice friendly church services, no LGBT accepting and contraceptive using parishioners. They still believe in stuff that just simply isn’t true, and I’m not interested in buying what they’re selling.

  2. There are some pretty progressive Catholic churches in Madcity – one is owned by a student co-op and others have embraced lay theology allow the (excommunicated?) nuns to be spiritual leaders and pursue all sorts of practices that drive the extremely conservative Bishop crazy. (Or so I hear – I lapsed so long ago that I probably don’t even track on where the rules start to get bendy…) But, Benny’s point holds: no matter how progressive, the founding fiction is still a fiction.

    But conversations with church-curious kids can be quite interesting. I recall having a conversation with one of my nephews (who may have been 7 or 8?) who wondered why I don’t believe in god. I asked “which one should I believe in?” and that led us down an interesting discussion about choosing to believe or not, the many types of gods invented over time, and why people might want gods pitching in. Had a good time reading myths (and talking about how He-Man as myth), too. We may have invented a few gods of our own. I think about that every time I appeal to Linticula, Goddess of Navel-Gazing, or Asphalta, God of Parking Places…

    Short version: Pickle will figure it out through conversations with open minded adults. Even if MIL sneaks him off to church.

    1. I always try to point out other belief systems when it comes up. I certainly do not shy away from calling all religions Mythologies.

      The thing that bothers me the is that I feel undermined by people that I thought at least respected my opinions. Maybe what bothers me the most is the way she needs to constantly signal she’s a good Catholic now. (No one says “We don’t start Christmas until Advent starts,” and I couldn’t care less what you are giving up for lent.)

      1. Ugh. True, that feeling of undermining – the defection of the SIL, and the BFF allowing her kiddo to be a mini-me evangelizer (and pressuring you, too, to join the club). MIL will someday decide to get a set of church clothes for Pickle (“a gift!”) and take him off to church, and you’ll have to explain to him afterward that lots of people enjoy that exceedingly boring stuff and no, they don’t pass out potato chips when people get in line. I suspect that you’ll stay centered, and may revisit your contacts with undermining people.

        Which stinks. Because in my happy universe, people can say “Oh, you choose to practice a faith? Okay. I don’t. We all, however, have some fundamental commonalities about civil behavior and human kindness and so on. No need to demonize each other, because we’re all just trying to make our way…live and let live, you know.”

        I nod politely when my BFF tells me about her latest religious retreat, what she gives up for Lent, and how properly to celebrate the holiday du jour. She nods politely when I go off on what idiots legislators in AZ are. We both get pretty enthusiastic about John Fluevog’s shoes. (It’s about finding common ground…)

  3. “lots of people enjoy that exceedingly boring stuff and no, they don’t pass out potato chips when people get in line” – You had me laughing so hard I had a coughing fit!

  4. “MIL will someday decide to get a set of church clothes for Pickle (“a gift!”) and take him off to church, and you’ll have to explain to him afterward…”

    Oh, yes, this. So much. I’m an atheist married to an agnostic Jew; my family of origin is Xtian. My kid used to love visiting her grandparents, but when she was little they would drag her off to church with them.

    The GOOD news is, this inoculated my kid against religion, which she will forever now identify as “That boring crap which is not anywhere near worth the donuts afterwards.”

  5. Somehow my child has internalized bits and pieces of Christianity to the point where he believes that God is real, but is a menace who is constantly watching him. I’ve never been secretive about my reasons for not believing, but those reasons don’t seem to matter so much to a child. What to do when the monster under the bed is the head of a major world religion that Grandma believes is real? I told him the Doctor will keep him safe. SPOILERS for Season 7: when the literal sun-god threatens to devour a little girl, the girl considers sacrificing herself to the god in the interest of religious duty, but the Doctor gives her his version of Carl Sagan’s “we are star stuff” to affirm her unique worth, and then saves the day by outsmarting the sun-god as only the Doctor can do. Amazingly enough, that helped – the Christian God may be terrifying to a young child, but the Doctor is the savior of all space and time. 😀

    1. Sadly I’m not really surprised that you child came to fear God. Think about the things that they are told! God is like a sick Santa Clause, he watches and knows everything and then instead of withholding toys you are punished by burning in a lake of fire. That is defiantly the stuff of nightmares. Telling some of the bible stories should amount to child abuse.

      The Doctor on the other hand is very trustworthy. Pickle loves Doctor Who, but is still too young for some of it.

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