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.