I'm still new to TA, but really really appreciate the warm welcome I've had.


But I have a little trouble.

My fiancé is extremely Christian, pentacostal at that. And while we can have civilised conversations about most other aspects of religion and how it will effect our future, but there's just one thing that we cannot settle on; children. It's a long way off yet, but he is adamant that they WILL go to church from a young age until they are old enough to make their own decision...although, of course, by that time they'll be...I don't want to say indoctrinated, but that's what it'll be,won't it? I would much rather my future children wait until they are 5 or 6 and then decide what they want to do.


Have any of you had this problem? I don't really know any atheists, or even agnostics that have married someone religious.


Then there's the whole problem of him "marrying someone of a different faith" which of course the Bible doesn't allow. And his pastor father who seems to think I'll "come around" before we get married. But that's a completely different story.


I look forward to any help you can give.



Views: 76

Comment by Justin on July 4, 2011 at 3:32pm

That is going to be a very troublesome situation. If your husband gets his way, by the time your children are in school, they will have been told about your atheism and that you need Jesus and all the typical things.  My wife doesn't strictly fit into any one religious category.  She believes to some degree in a higher power, but we have both decided that our daughter will not be forced into anything.  This upset my mother-in-law, but oh well.  When the time comes, if my daughter wants to know more about Christianity, she can read my Bible.  If she wants to know about my lack of faith, I will tell her.  


My sister-in-law is highly religious, and her children (aged two and three) pray before meals and sing at church.  It really shows me that we have made the right choice with our daughter, because my nieces aren't going to have a drop of free thought in their heads.


Unfortunately, the only advice I can offer is try to compromise in some way regarding children, because you are right.  If they start church at a young age like that, they will become indoctrinated.

Comment by Artor on July 4, 2011 at 3:46pm

Ouch. I feel for you. I know you don't want to hear me tell you "Don't do it!" But that's my first and strongest impulse.

My older sister was always a free-thinking groundbreaker growing up; she's traveled the world, got her Master's in Biology at Wellesly, has been happily bi since her teens, etc. But in her late 30's, after her long-term bi boyfriend wouldn't shape up for a commitment, she moved back home to rural Idaho, married a farmhand she met on the internet, (Nice guy, but has only a high school education, has only ever worked as a farmhand his whole life) and had a kid amongst her pentacostal in-laws. My nephew gets alot of education from his mom, but he goes to church with his grandparents and gets his indoctrination in great heaps. I feel sad for the boy, since I know he could be brilliant with what he gets from his mom. Instead, he will be trained to be another sheeple, and will only grow beyond that through the greatest effort of will & determination. Time will tell, but I'm sad to see his potential crippled like that.

Comment by W. Shawn Refvem on July 4, 2011 at 4:39pm
Hannah, this is a tough call. I too had a fiance that was ultra religious in the earlier part of my life. I started dating her my first year of college. I was 19 or 20 I guess. I was honest about my feelings on religion and she seemed fine with it. After about 3 years of dating talk of marriage started to surface. She really started laying on the heavy Christian beliefs and how she had such a good experience in church as a child. Her family was even more religious than she was and the pressure grew more intense from that aspect as well. We tried to have discussions about how we would want to raise kids but they either ended in an argument or complete silence and no input from one or the other. I believe the second outcome of those discussions is what spawned a resentment on both sides. As the communication became less and less we really started growing apart. The relationship failed and we decided to just be friends. It was one of the hardest things I had to ever face. But to this day I am glad that was the choice that I made. Festering anger that turns to resentment is the biggest marriage killer there is in my opinion. If one person has strong beliefs about a subject they must be equally strong at seeing both sides and able to give respect whether they agree or not. I am glad that I made my choice BEFORE there was any children involved. Because dragging innocent kids into a failing marriage is more damaging to the children then the parents. I agree with Artor "Don't do it" but it really is your choice in the end. But remember if you decide to marry and have kids those are the ones you must be most mindful of. Good luck and be strong. This is one of the crossroads of life that only you can choose which path to travel. Take care, Shawn
Comment by Derek on July 4, 2011 at 7:36pm
They're your kids too. You have as much of a say as him. So for every piece of nonsense he puts into their heads, you will probably have to counter it with reasoned thinking. Think of your kid's minds as like filters; they could get pretty dirty and clogged up with superstitious garbage. It's your job to clean that rubbish out.
Comment by Freethinker and Peace on July 4, 2011 at 8:33pm

Dump him, this battle will never be worth it.  Analogize it to say, if he truly believed that the Easter Bunny existed....and that he could talk in a strance bunny language to him.   If he actually believed in the EB, and he insisted that his kids would learn to believe in the EB too, would you still marry the dude?  If not, then run away like the wind.  Or you can fuck up your kids' worse by telling them that their father is cuh-razy in his beliefs so as to undermine him as an authority figure in their lieves.  I mean, he is a PK, the most fucked up (usually) group of believers everrrr.


The key word is INCOMPATIBILITY.  i have been married for almost 34 years, by the way, and since I became and atheist (about 10 years ago) I had already chosen my mate, who is a believer.  It has been touchy indeed, but their is a quiet mutual respect of sorts.  I would never recommend that you marry a strong believer, especially a PK.





Comment by matt.clerke on July 4, 2011 at 8:45pm

Sounds to me like you both want your children to make their own decision when they are old enough... When I was growing up, religion was just not mentioned unless and until I brought it up, at which point I was told it was my choice what to believe in. You may be able to convince your partner to do something like that... Just leave all religion out of the equation until the child/children actually start to ask about it. At least that way you can be sure there is no indoctrination EITHER way and then when your children are actually ready (i.e. not when anyone else deems them to be ready) you can both discuss your beliefs and assist them with research into any other belief systems they are interested in. Most likely they will end up like me: as I was able to think for myself I decided I had no reason to believe in God and I generally handle myself with dignity when I am around religious people.


On the other hand if your partner does take the kids to church and indoctrinates them, I totally advocate indoctrinating them in free-thinking at the same time....after all, the battle for your childrens souls is literally being waged.


Good luck!

Comment by Guido Edwards on July 4, 2011 at 9:49pm
If their like most kids, they'll eventually revolt, and you'll be standing their with open arms.  Its a roll of the dice, but chances are...you were right all along.
Comment by James on July 4, 2011 at 9:59pm

Yikes! Not an enviable situation to say the least... Of course what I want to say is 'don't do it'! Or at least wait until they are old enough to understand what is going on. But it sounds like he may be more telling than asking. This doesn't sound healthy or thoughtful to me, but if you want to try a compromise I'd try this. You'll let them go to church but he'll allow you equal time to tell them your side of the story, why the service was wrong and where the facts an logic break it down. Chances are that he won't go for it, but you can give it a try. I must also ask if he (like his pastor) also thinks you'll 'come around'? Is he agreeing to marry you under the personal assumption that he will 'save you'? If he is unwilling to bend on the church thing, won't allow you speak to them about rationality or is assuming you are just in a phase, then how much does he really care about you for who you are? I would never suggest ending the relationship because he's a believer. But if he can't respect your beliefs as you presumable respect his, then I fear that your just walking into a world of stress, hurt and drama.


Best of luck!

Comment by Lance Buckley on July 4, 2011 at 10:14pm

Imarried a believer. We have no intention of having kids, so the question is moot. If she'd wanted them I'd probably be single :)

Comment by Todd Wade on July 4, 2011 at 10:29pm
I feel as if the crucial ages for indoctrination are 2 to 6.  If it gets in then, there is a decent chance it will stay.  Fight to keep them out of church til 7, then you have a shot.  Expose them to a lof of myths and myths in religion early on.... but really, my real advice, is get out of this relationship and find yourself a free thinker.  I married one and I can not even imagine life without one. 


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