The Next Generation of Lutherans?

Happy anniversary to meee!!!

Before I start with my post, I want to say how excited I am that it is The Closet Atheist’s one year anniversary! Or birthday, since it’s the first time I made an online profile under this name? Anyways, I really do love this blog more than anything in the world, and the impact that writing and interacting with you on this site means everything to me. Being a closet atheist was really terrible and causing a lot of anxiety and even panic attacks for me before I had an outlet like this, and I telling my story has allowed me to feel so much better about myself. This is the first blog I’ve ever had, and I’m really glad that one day, out of nowhere, I decided to start one and that I’ve kept going once a week, every week, for an entire year!

Anyways, there were a few different ways I was contemplating celebrating on here, but I decided that I love my blog the way it is and that I would rather write my usual posts than do anything glamorous or out of the ordinary. So anyways, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that my oldest sister – the pastor’s wife – has a young baby. He is about a year old now, and I always knew that the Christian/Lutheran upbringing would be extremely transparent, but I feel as though in reality it manifests itself in really extreme ways. Before I go any further, I want to make clear that the goal of this post isn’t to bash my sister’s and brother-in-law’s parenting style or even to speak negatively of them at all. What I do find interesting is how my nephew’s upbringing might mirror my own.

As for most, if not all, people, I can’t really remember much of my first year of life. I’m sure that my mother didn’t think twice before hammering the Truth of Jesus into my brain, and it must have been a lot like how my sister does it with her own kid. It makes me realize how much each individual parent is not to blame for the indoctrination of their child: if you’re raised this way, I can see how impossible it would be to even think of believing or raising your child any other way. Their lifestyle is one where religion is never questioned, and if you are a Christian who surrounds yourself with enough other Christians, then you never really have a need to question it in the first place. And in case you were wondering, that is exactly the type of environment where you secretly become an atheist behind the scenes, you don’t tell anyone. You would immediately be shut down for an attempt to question the obvious truth that everyone else knows just to accept.

Anyways, just over this Thanksgiving weekend that I’ve spent with my family, there are so many peculiar and fundamentally Christian things that go on between my baby nephew and his parents (and, of course, his grandma). Here are a few that I find especially unnerving:

  • To calm him down, his mom sings him a little tune about going to church
  • He has a creepy stuffed animal bunny that sings “Jesus Loves You” out of tune if you squeeze its belly
  • He has a Noah’s Ark toy which his mom uses to teach him all about Noah and his family
  • He has an entire bookshelf of books about Jesus’ and God’s love for babies
  • His mom sings prayers to him to get him to sleep
  • He will soon have a daily prayer time with his parents
  • He was baptized at his church six days after he was born
  • His dad’s a pastor, he has been to church every week since he has been alive and probably will have to continue to go until he moves out whether he wants to go or not

There are plenty more examples, but I really don’t want to sound like I’m criticizing my sister, and frankly I can’t remember them all right now. With so much religious teaching for literally your entire childhood, though, I can imagine the confusion that a child would experience once they’re first exposed to a conflicting worldview or other information. I see it as a miracle if he would one day be able to break free after an upbringing like this until I remember that, well, I did.

A lot of atheists who I’ve met online that were raised religious continued to believe even through college or well into adulthood. I feel lucky that even with this indoctrination, I never truly believed or got attached to the doctrine, and I didn’t have a hard time shedding my “faith” at all. All it took for me was one normal science lesson in my public school about what the big bang and evolution actually were and how they worked, and the truth that they’re not elaborate, evil lies made up by those rotten atheists. So I truly do hope that if I was able to come free from a similar indoctrination and break my family’s long, long chain of Lutherans, that he will be able to do that, too.

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18 Replies to “The Next Generation of Lutherans?”

  1. Nice blog.

    I was just thinking that if these Christians are so confident in their beliefs, why do they feel the need to shelter their children away from critical thinking. If it is the truth give them what evidence you think is correct and let them decide. Truth should be apparent, not hidden.


  2. I appreciate your honesty and can see the love for your family in spite of your differences. Like some of the glaring inconsistencies you tell of within the Church, I would humbly offer this challenge to your trust in science. Is it possible that it too could have inconsistencies?
    Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History, which houses the world’s largest fossil collection (60 million specimens) confessed; “If I knew of any (evolutionary transitions) fossil or living, I would have certainly included them (in my book “Evolution”.
    I agree with you also on this; any dogma without humility can be a life-sucking trap.


  3. As a Christian, I can say that the notion of indoctrination is rejected by any orthodox reading of the scriptures. We are called to bear witness to the truth and allow people to make their own conclusions. Following Christianity MUST be a free choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have a Christian friend who I catch up with every now and then at his house for dinner. He’s got a 4 year old kid who really gets indoctrinated. Each night, the parents coax him into singing various hymns and read him illustrated Bible stories, asking him questions about it. Oh and they also read him stories about persecuted Christians in Syria, for some reason… I wonder how that kid is going to turn out? Sometimes the kids who are controlled the most end up becoming very liberal in their later years (and not always in a good way).

    Anyways, congratulations on the one year! You deserve all the followers you made.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I tend to agree with a few other commenters that your sister’s singing to her one year old son isn’t so bad, and I thought the bookcase with the books, albeit Christian lit, is at least a repository of BOOKS. If your nephew comes to love books, per se, then that’s a plus, for sure.

    My biggest concern was the toy ark and the story telling. I am stunned when I see or hear of adults who still hold to the Ark myth as a reality. It’s not a long leap to see that a rudderless boat that has no sail, nor any means of holding a steady course, would, of course, sink fairly quickly in an apocalyptic storm. Does she mention the fact that Noah eventually turned to alcohol?

    I don’t know, but I think that fifteen or so years from now, you may well be the most important person in your nephew’s life. If that happens, then at least he will be in good hands.

    As always, an amazing post.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Continued amazing reportage – I guess “family” has a such a low bar in the US that folks here seem to think the kid’s going to make it up and out despite the intensity of the anti-humanism being forced upon the little one.
    Congratulations on your one-year anniversary, well-earned. Most social media forays end up making the generator feeling more anxious, more envious, more depressed, so it’s good to see someone get deserved satisfaction out of this kind of courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Training them to be codependent and conflicted the moment they are on their own. I know many snap out of religion when they see the real of the world, but so much time is wasted on indoctrination that could be spent learning something of value.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Having recently read the Bible for the first time, I can say it’s horrible and absurd that any adult would believe any big chunks of it are remotely true. I can think of only ONE way that adults believe the Bible (or any parts of it) are true: they were told it when they were very young.

    Indoctrination apparently works differently for different people; some shake it off entirely, others embrace it whole hog, and most (I assume) are somewhere in the middle. But without indoctrination from the earliest years, there would not be a significant “next generation” of any religion.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What you find unnerving doesn’t, by itself, seem that bad to me.

    Young children like being told stories. They like having regular habits in their life. So maybe this child hears stories of Jesus, while another child might hear “Little Red Riding Hood”.

    The problem comes later on. The child who hears “Little Red Riding Hood” probably also hears “Goldilocks and the three bears” and several other stories. So there’s a diversity. There’s a problem if there is a lack of diversity. But you can’t really tell from the first year.

    If parents expose their growing children to a wide diversity of experiences, then they will do fine. If they are limited to a narrower range, that will limit them. And that’s where home-schooling can go wrong — not providing the diversity that a child needs.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. People home-school for a variety of reasons. Some folk (particularly religious fundamentalists) do it to “protect” their children from acquiring forbidden knowledge. And that’s an example of a lack of diversity.

        Others home-school for different reasons. Maybe they hire a tutor, and want to give their child an enriched experience. That would be way out of my budget. That kind of home experience would provide plenty of diversity.

        Liked by 3 people

  10. oh this is hard, isnt it. And as you so wisely understand, their baby, their lifestyle
    Seen from your new perspective, this is creepy as hell, I agree. But any religion does this–as a Catholic child I had a teeny white missal with all the images of the priest at Mass, and how it progressed. We had a Hurlburt’s Book of Bible Stories that I read endlessly, not for the religious aspect but for the cool (read: awful) lithographed images. Many religions, including Cahtolicism, have baptism as soon as they can get the kid to the church. Why linger.

    Having said all that, it really doesn’t sound as dreadful as you see it, it’s what any believing family would do. The hard part is learning to ignore all that, and let them do it their way, or you lose your sister. If it helps, most baby sleep songs ARE vaguely religious in tone and aspect. Even “Now I Lay me Down To Sleep”.
    Your sister doesn’t think in Dire Straits or Rolling Stones, she thinks in Hymns. =)

    Liked by 3 people

  11. It is called indoctrination. it is done with love, but nonetheless, it is indoctrination. Christianity is a mechanism of control of the masses. But accepting it, you accept control over your life by others and others ideas.Christianity is not alone in that but the purpose is for the masses to support the elites and the amazing thing is that the elites barely lift a finger because we do all the work for us. They establish a fear strong enough to make us “protect” our children by indoctrinating them, so the entire propaganda campaign is self-propagating and self-maintaining. The repercussions from opting out are so severe that you had better stay into the closet until you can make a clean break and get away. All of this without the elites really needing to do much of anything.

    The big control is the afterlife. The idea is silly but alluring. That after you die there is a new life. The same concept shows up in Celtic lore, the concept of reincarnation in Eastern religions, etc. so it represents a real desire of humans. But the idea is silly and it has huge control implications. In the afterlife, you get rewarded and your enemies get punished, which is just fine for the elites, who generally do not believe in an afterlife, they just want you to be content and not rebel in this life. Vengeance is the Lord’s, not yours so sit down, shut up, and do what you are told.

    The whole western religious tradition is one of authoritarianism. The priest and ministers take a parental role, forcing us into one of being children needing to be guided. We are taught to bow our heads as if the church leaders are royalty. The highest leaders have thrones, for Pete’s sake. We are referred to as the flock because they are the shepherds, we are the sheep.

    Indoctrination starts early (because of the fear that a child might die, so there is no waiting for an age of consent for a child to choose their religion, it is chosen for them. The church uses the parent-child authority axis to train the children, then puts all of the trained adults into a child position relative to the church’s parent position for the rest of their lives. The church has made up the threat and made up the solution, a common form of scam (consider a Mafia protection racket–“you gotta nice store here; it would be a shame if anything would happen to it; we can protect you”). Have the non-Abrahamic religions invented such a threat? If they have, I haven’t noticed it.

    I do hope you can get out with your sanity intact because guilt is wielded like a sword in such quarters. The love of the “God is Love” people doesn’t show itself very often.

    Good luck.

    Liked by 3 people

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