My father believes I should pretend to be a Christian?

I am in the UK and was raised by atheist parents. Despite this I became a Christian due to RE lessons at school and was then terrified that my parents would go to Hell. I spent my childhood being fearful. Now I have a child of my own and she has the same worries about Christianity taught in schools - they told her about god flooding the whole world and turning rivers to blood and killing the first born sons - she was only 6.

I am now very active in the British Humanist Association trying to get Christian worship out of schools. I supported the 'If you're not religious, for God's sake say so' campaign to stop atheists ticking church of england on the census form out of habit because this will lend support to getting christianity out of schools - the schools have to reflect the religious beliefs of the community - largely atheist.

I have come up against my atheist father on this - he says that I have a duty to tick Church of England because its traditional and part of our culture and otherwise the main religion of our country is Islam. This may well be true but there are less Muslims and Christians than atheists and I feel it is important that this is known. My father fails to realise how damaging this Christian worship can be to children just because it did not worry him and he has rose tinted spectacles about nativity plays and harvest festivals.

Does anyone understand this attitude or see his point of view? I don't know how to get through to him and I really want to because my childhood was so fearful and he calls that 'Helen's religious phase' and believes I should inflict it on my daughter who has already been seriously worried and upset at the notion of this god?

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Your responsibility is to teach your child the truth, to the degree that you understand it. If you don't believe in a god, why would you want anyone to teach your child about something which you don't believe exists? It's bad enough that British schools fill children's head with that type of nonsense and that you have to work to offset the indoctrination process. Just as we here in the U.S. must fight such insidious indoctrination becoming part of the public school lexicon, it is important that you use the means provided to push such teaching out of the classrooms there.

At this point you don't have a responsibility to justify your actions to your father. He abdicated his responsibility to you, and any input in your daughter's education or upbringing, by endorsing the C. of E. all these years, in other words, by being a hypocrite. Teach your children well; teach them to act as they believe.

Thanks Ralph - I really don't understand his logic at all. I think it boils down to racism but I am not going to be influenced by him - Christianity is still harmful nonsense which should not be presented to children as fact in a place of education.

I am not sure about his reasoning.  I can see that he sees cultural value in religion.   The archaeologists of the future are getting future headaches about our constant removal of signs of the influence of religion in aspects of everyday life in decades past. That church is a huge part of your culture and history, but as my wife commented to me when seeing this thread, if you have a strong moral objection to it and I'll add if it isn't necessary, then you ought not be obligated by a free society to support it.

Islam can be considered a threat...  But decreasing the religiosity of a population will cause people to have the tendency to convert less to Islam as well.  You don't need to wage war against religion.  But you don't need to support it either.  Immigration is what will cause Islam to grow stronger in England.  A strong atheist presence, (especially with the right material) will be able to hold the line against that. 

Agreed - Islam is not the danger in Britain - non-muslims already see Islam as leading to fear, superstition and oppression. The majority of people do not see Christianity in the same light - as you say they see cultural value in it without really believing it - all this nostalgia about harvest festivals and cute nativity plays with chubby 5 year old with tea towels round their heads forgetting their lines. In speaking to other mothers at the school I have met two whose children were as deeply upset and anxious about the violence in these bible stories presented positively and as fact. These stories are not appropriate for children.

'But decreasing the religiosity of a population will cause people to have the tendency to convert less to Islam as well.'

I believe you are right. :)


I'm not sure why your father feels that if there is no Christianity in schools then there will be Islam in schools. All governments and government organizations, including schools, should remain secular. This is beneficial for all. Secular governments and schools represent everyone in the population because no one is forced to observe a religion that they don't want to be apart of. That is a characteristic of a fascist society.

Getting rid of Christianity in schools is a step towards a secular government, not an Islamic one, but this can only be done if everyone who wants one speaks up. By being silent, your father is only contributing to a fascist society and not allowing your country to grow and advance. He may be right about Christianity being a part of the culture, but so was Norse, Greek and Roman mythology even before that. Should children be taught to believe those as fact? Why is only Christianity considered "cultural" in the UK? Especially when it originated in the middle east and was based off another culture's God? 

Excellent points and I could not agree more. There is nothing inherently British in Christianity at all and most people here don't believe or even know much about it!

Thanks very much everyone! It is funny how a highly opinionated and politically active 37 year old woman can suddenly begin doubting herself in the face of parental disapproval! I'm over it now!

The strange thing is that the reason my father was raised atheist is because his father was raised in a Catholic home for illegitimate Children in the 1920s and was severely abused by nuns. My grandfather was violently anti-Christianity and anti-theist for his entire life because of this and would have no truck with my father's misplaced sentimentalism at all.


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