Although I was raised without religion, I was also not raised to be against it. My parents let me find my own way based on my interactions with the world and the people I met in it. This said, my dad is very much an atheist. He and I love to watch Richard Dawkins videos together, read science books, and watch documentaries like Friends of God and Jesus Camp and just shake our always questioning heads.

Recently, something interesting has happened within my secular household. My sister just entered middle school this year, and is somewhat of a social butterfly. She got several invitations to a youth group that "everyone" goes to, and finally they created an event exciting enough to catch her. She now goes to youth group for the occasional scavenger hunt or hunger strike or whatever they're doing that is absorbing enough to even entangle a non-Christian child.

My parents still have a hard time letting her go, and I have heard them talk about it in hushed voices in the kitchen. What I find amusing is that I feel like my parents would almost prefer my sister be shooting up heroin than going to youth group. A definite hyperbole, but nonetheless effective in illustrating their level of distress. I just feel very strange living in a house like this. On the other hand, I find youth groups to be very disturbing myself. Almost everyone I know went to one when they were younger, whether they are religious or not. I just get so angry thinking about the brainwashing and subliminal activities that are taking place. The use of fun and games in order to harvest lifetime believers is far from respectable, in my opinion. If I ever have children someday, I hope to raise them in a similar way to how my parents raised me. I don't want to force beliefs, or even a lack of beliefs, down their throat. I just want them to question, and never stop.

Views: 1

Comment by Jay E on January 7, 2009 at 12:24am
Best case scenario: your sister is there strictly for playing group games and socializing. She matures, turns 18 and goes on to greener pastures. Worst case scenario: she joins the church. I have a sister who has been born again for about 25 years. While this is small consolation, her evangelizing stopped after 1 year when she found no takers, but I would like to add she is a great, law-abiding person (so you take the good with the bad). Your parents sound like terrific people and I'm sure your sister will follow their level-headedness.
Comment by Helen on January 7, 2009 at 12:27am
Thank you! I'm not too worried about her turning out to be a person of faith, it's just been sort of an outrage. I will love her no matter what happens, but I can predict many more arguments in the future if she gets sucked in. Which is fine with me, I love arguing. :)
Comment by The Urban Spaceman on January 7, 2009 at 1:13am
If it makes your dad feel any better, most teenagers go to these events to hook-up. They could all care less about religion.
Comment by Aric on January 7, 2009 at 1:40am
Just talk to your sister and tell her to always question things and ask for proof before accepting them as truth. Hopefully she will make the right decision. I went to a youth group a few times because my friends were there, and while I was there I was shocked at the brainwashing that was going on because it was so obvious to me. I couldn't understand why no one else could see it. But anyways, just talk to your sister.
Comment by Frink on January 7, 2009 at 11:29am
I remember these. I went because I was both religious and enjoyed the social atmosphere--but it also had to do with the perception my religious social peers had towards me. There was an element of alienation that I wanted to avoid, and which I had seen happen with others who were subject to an epic guilt trip revolving around the statement,"you're falling away from God, you need to get right with him."

In retrospect, it seems to have been little more than a standard execution of love bombing on a weekly basis. After losing my faith and eventually rejecting religion, none of the friendships forged during those years has sustained my decision. I would encourage your sister to remain skeptical.

Anyway, it's good to have you at the site. Your writing style is clear an eloquent, which made this post quite enjoyable to read.
Comment by Cara Coleen on January 8, 2009 at 11:32pm
Eeek...

Yeah. I grew up trying to convince my friends to come with me to youth group. Even being completely convinced all of it was real, I still thought their methods were manipulative. Honestly, if I were your parents, I'd at least explain to your sister that Christians are sort of like kids who grew up and no one ever told them Santa wasn't real. I mean, I think their most effective tool of subversion is FEAR... the threat of Hell, etc.

Ok... here's a good little piece of information to have on hand should this come up. In Hebrew, the word for Hell is Gehenna. It is a physical place in Jerusalem located in the Valley of Hinnom. It was a town dump and the alleged Jesus was actually using it as a visual reference. So, if you wish to quell her fears of eternal damnation, have her look this up on wikipedia or any other internet site. YAY!
Comment by Helen on January 8, 2009 at 11:39pm
Haha I will definitely look into that, Cara! Thanks to everyone for your advice and perspectives. :)

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