“What Church do you belong to?” This is the most common thing I hear any time I meet a new neighbor or mom friend after the initial pleasantries. I’ve come to expect it, we live in a suburban area outside of Charleston with well over twenty churches in a ten-mile radius of our house. I usually politely tell them we don’t belong to any church. Some will assume we just haven’t found the right one yet and will continue to ask about my family’s religion. Others are flabbergasted that our family doesn’t go anywhere to worship on the weekends, I’ve even had some moms straight up walk away from me and shake their heads.
It’s not that I’ve never had any religion in my life. In fact, up until a couple of years ago I still considered myself a believer even though I did not attend any religious gatherings and my husband had abandoned his faith over a decade before. I think religion is a great tool for people who enjoy it and get something out of it. The last time I attended a church service was about a year after my husband and I were married. We were visiting our family in Michigan and his family wanted us to come to church with them.
While I was sitting there listening to the sermon I just realized, this wasn’t it for me.
And since then I haven’t looked back. I realized my ethics and values of humanity were not set by a religious affiliation, but by how my parents raised me, and my experiences throughout my life.
I grew up in a church environment with no bad experiences at all. In fact, I loved going to church as a child, the community and love I felt there were wonderful. My husband had a similar experience, making friends and going to lots of church events even as a teenager. But somewhere along the way, we both decided it personally wasn’t for us. And when the question came up of what religious views we would raise our children with we came to a joint decision that we would not be going back to church just so our kids could learn about something that neither of their parents had any faith in at all.
This is something that can cause a rift with other adults. They wonder how I can teach my children morality or empathy without involving religion in some way. I’m here to tell you, at eight and four years old, my children are fine without someone telling them every Sunday what they think is right and wrong. When our child does something wrong, we tell them, and let them know their actions can hurt other people. Their empathy is intact and thriving. They say please and thank you, and they know when to help someone out without being asked.
Our values as a family, and as human beings do not have to interact with faith.
Living in the Bible Belt, religion is still a topic of conversation in our home from time to time, and I’ve let my kids know that if they want to visit any places of worship I am willing to take them so they can check it out. My children have asked about religion, and the great thing about living during the time of technology is that if it’s something I don’t have an answer for I can look it up! You want to know why some people don’t celebrate Christmas, let’s talk about it! Do you want to know why others take time throughout the day to pray? Cool, let’s Google it. It’s worked out well for my kids, and even though I’m sure as they get older they will have a lot more questions about the religious aspects of others, I have no problem helping them find the answers and letting them make their own conclusions.