My approach anyone??

Issues relating to promoting a secular state education and raising children in a non-religious home
Scatha
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by Scatha » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:52 pm

It's not too late to turn this around You're situation is very similar to mine. Both my partner and I are atheists. We have a daughter of 4 years who was baptized and have a son who is 4mths. It was only when I became a parent that I felt forced to confront my non belief in a god. At the time of my daughters birth I still did not feel ready to make my break from the RC church public. Yes I did lie during the baptism and felt incredibly guilty about the whole situation. I suppose my reasons at the time were about confronting my family and not feeling confident about doing this.
My family had always been aware that I did not attend mass or have any real interest in anything religious. My mum commented once that she hoped that I would 'come back' to the church one day. Living in a very catholic community in the north its more of a huge cultural norm and standing apart from this seemed very daunting. Yet luckily we have have some close friends & even some family members who are committed atheists who have stated that there will be no baptisms for any of their children. {no children at present). Four years down the line things are different. We made the decision that our second child will not be receiving a baptism. Instead we have chosen a baby naming ceremony as a way of welcoming our son into our family. With regards to our daughter she will not be receiving any more sacraments. ( It will be my responsibility to explain why I baptized her when she's older)

To be honest I couldn’t see how I could keep up a charade for then next 10+ years without my children realising that mummy & daddy have been pretending all along. As my own parents raised me to be catholic I would be pretty shocked if I found out that they didn’t believe in a god after all. Wouldn’t any one!

All I can say is that of course it is going to be a struggle and in a way parenting always is and probably should be if you want to get a good result. Even now I explain to my daughter that I am just raising her to be a good person, the best person that she can be. And yes family members may be shocked but they'll get over it. They're not the ones raising your children. They may even appreciate your honesty as we have explained that we wish our children to choose for themselves when they can make their own informed choice. In fact since your brother is also an atheist you have at least some family support already. Seek out like minded people and you and your wife will grow in confidence that standing apart from the group is liberating in itself.

I wish you all the best!
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by Beebub » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:13 pm

Feardorcha wrote:
Not because we believe in it. But so they simply FIT IN.
If you lie to your children, your family and your community and teach your children to lie in order to fit in with the crowd, what do you suggest parents should do with children who are disabled, gay, red-haired, left-handed, black? What should they do to 'fit in'?
The most important lesson in growing up is to realise that everyone is different and has a right to be different. I hope you make it one day.
funkyderek wrote:
RichardDawkinsFan wrote:Yes I am a hypocrite. Yes I am confusing the issue. Yes there are better ways. But you know what? This is the way that makes my life easiest.
Anything for an easy life, eh? No doubt, when true equality is achieved and it's easier for you to live a life without hypocrisy, you'll be grateful to those who took a stand for what is right. In the meantime, just try not to get in our way, OK?
Lads, that's very harsh. Fear, I know from this site that you didn't go through with the religious charade and officially ‘opted out’ of religion with your kids and you and your kids are to be commended on this. Remind me, did you do this officially in their junior school as well? However, each person is different and when it comes to raising kids, I think it’s very unfair to judge people when you’re not in their shoes.

I can appreciate the OP’s situation. When you read about other people’s experience of speaking out, it would take a brave person to speak out on their own behalf given the possible consequences. To speak out on behalf of your kids given the possible consequences for them is an entirely different matter and is one I have struggled with.

For my part, as it happens I don’t think what the OP is doing is helping others in his situation nor possibly his kids in the long run, but I don’t know his individual circumstances and for that reason wouldn’t be quite so quick to rush to judgment.

Derek, do you have children?

I have a 6 year old in senior infants in a state run primary (catholic) school. He hasn’t been baptized and he won’t be making his communion. I’ll deal with the fallout from it when it arises. I wish more atheist parents would do the same, because if there was a significant amount of children in 2nd class not making their communion and less ‘going with the flow’ the school would be forced to come up with a real alternative/ proper solution than just having the non-participatory kids just sitting through it all.

However, I have not formally requested for my child to ‘opt out’ of religion because it’s an utter waste of time. Again, I agree that if more people like me formally asked for their child to be officially excluded it would help those coming behind me. If it was just me and my decision and was just going to affect my life, I’d do it in a flash. However, I have my child’s well being and happiness to consider and unfortunately, due largely to the evolutionary instinct I have to protect and cherish my children I haven’t done it because it would be 100% symbolic with nothing but a negative impact on my child.

As it stands, after a year and a half of primary education, he has absolutely no concept of god, jesus or religion. I know because I ask him every now an again and it has so far gone completely over his head. Last year and this year, at the parent teacher meeting I raised the issue with his teacher, telling them that we’re not religious and would like them to bear this in mind. Both teachers were very sympathetic and said they would bear it in mind.

Is it selfish of me not to officially ask fro them to be ‘opted out’ even though it would make not on iota of difference to the indoctrination they currently get? Yes. But I have my child’s best interest at heart.

It will be slow, but if more parents start by not having their kids communed, we’ll get to the stage where a real alternative will be on offer and a proper ‘opt out’ facility might become available.
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by funkyderek » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:08 pm

Beebub wrote:Lads, that's very harsh.
I don't think so. Imagine. if you will, that this was an environmentalist forum, and the original post was someone declaring their green credentials, but saying that due to their desired position in society, they were unwilling to give up or downgrade either of their two petrol-guzzling cars, to waste less food, to buy organic, or indeed to do anything eco-friendly that was at all inconvenient. I think they would deservedly get a similar reaction to the OP here, and for the same reasons.

In general I've no great issue with the apathetic approach. I understand that people have to choose their battles, but posting on a forum to the effect: "I agree with everything you stand for, but I'm going to behave exactly like someone who holds a contrary opinion, because it's easier for me" is going to attract the criticism of people who are passionate about righting a wrong in society.
Derek, do you have children?
Yes, I have one son. He's almost two. I wasn't raised Catholic so I don't have to deal with any flack regarding not having him christened. If he doesn't get into a non-discriminatory school I will have to face the issues of attempted indoctrination and religious rituals. I understand that pretending to my son and everyone else that we're Catholic would make things easier in this one area, and would spare him being marked in any way as different, but I think the costs vastly outweigh the perceived benefits. Also, beyond a simple cost-benefit analysis, it is flat-out wrong to pretend I am something I am not. I can't say for sure that I wouldn't renounce my beliefs under the threat of torture or death, but the threat of a few raised eyebrows, and ignorant remarks? What sort of man would I be - what sort of father would I be - to fold that easily?
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

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Beebub
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by Beebub » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:45 pm

funkyderek wrote: I don't think so. Imagine. if you will, that this was an environmentalist forum, and the original post was someone declaring their green credentials, but saying that due to their desired position in society, they were unwilling to give up or downgrade either of their two petrol-guzzling cars, to waste less food, to buy organic, or indeed to do anything eco-friendly that was at all inconvenient. I think they would deservedly get a similar reaction to the OP here, and for the same reasons.
I don't think you're comparing like with like here. In your example it's just someone saying 'I can't be arsed because it's easier not to bother'.

In fairness to the OP when he said
This is the way that makes my life easiest.
I don't think he simply meant that it's just less hassle for him and is probably including the well being of his child in the equation. Perhaps he could confirm this?
funkyderek wrote:In general I've no great issue with the apathetic approach. I understand that people have to choose their battles, but posting on a forum to the effect: "I agree with everything you stand for, but I'm going to behave exactly like someone who holds a contrary opinion, because it's easier for me" is going to attract the criticism of people who are passionate about righting a wrong in society.
As it happens, this is where I agree with you. But as I said, I think some of the relpies were a bit harsh as it's not just him he's taking into account when making his decision. He did ask for people's opinions/ suggestions.
Yes, I have one son. He's almost two. I wasn't raised Catholic so I don't have to deal with any flack regarding not having him christened.
I’m in a similar situation, even though I was raised a catholic we got little or no stick for not baptising our kids.
If he doesn't get into a non-discriminatory school I will have to face the issues of attempted indoctrination and religious rituals. I understand that pretending to my son and everyone else that we're Catholic would make things easier in this one area, and would spare him being marked in any way as different, but I think the costs vastly outweigh the perceived benefits.
Again, I’m in agreement with you. We haven’t baptised our kids and they won’t be making communion. It will be a difficult situation when it comes to it, but we’ll deal with it. But like I said, everyone is different and when it comes to raising kids people do what they think is best for their kids.
Also, beyond a simple cost-benefit analysis, it is flat-out wrong to pretend I am something I am not. I can't say for sure that I wouldn't renounce my beliefs under the threat of torture or death, but the threat of a few raised eyebrows, and ignorant remarks? What sort of man would I be - what sort of father would I be - to fold that easily?
This whole reply to me is a far better and reasoned argument than simply denouncing him as you did originally, without suggestions, help or advice. That’s why I felt it was harsh. Is it not better to encourage debate on this issue with someone who has time to change his mind rather than simply telling him not to ‘get in our way’?
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by Marks » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:16 pm

It is impossible to opt out when religion is integrated into the curriculum. I opted my children out of the religious instruction class but discovered that despite this one of them still just accepted at eight years old that there was a God. Some schools are worse than others as it depends on how they uphold their religious ethos. In our second level school they prayed for atheists over the intercom. One of the damaging things about a religious integrated curriculum is that it teaches children that respect can mean coercing and influencing minorities into a religious way of life. How can minorities opt out of that, it is impossible.

The obligation on the State under human rights law is to ‘respect’ the religious and philosophical convictions of all parents. There is also a “duty of neutrality and impartiality” on the Irish State under the various Human Rights Conventions that it has ratified in relation to religion and education.

In Ireland Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools is the state being neutral and impartial which says:-

“Of all the parts of a school curriculum Religious Instruction is by far the most important, as its subject-matter, God’s honour and service, includes the proper use of all man’s faculties and affords the most powerful inducements to their proper use. Religious Instruction is, therefore, a fundamental part of the school course, and a religious spirit should inform and vivify the whole work of the school. The teacher should constantly inculcate the practice of
charity, justice, truth, parity, patience, temperance, obedience to lawful authority, and all the other moral virtues. In this way he will fulfil the primary duty of an educator, the moulding to perfect form of his pupils’ character, habituating them to observe, in their relations with God and with their neighbour, the laws which God, both directly through the dictates of natural reason and through Revelation, and indirectly through the ordinance of lawful authority,
imposes on mankind.“

Boards of Management can interpret the above Rule whatever way they want and it all depends on what school your child attends.

Most normal people would not believe that Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools can be construed as the state being ‘neutral and impartial’ with regard to religion so it is just beyond understanding how a religious integrated curriculum is respecting the philosophical convictions of non-religious parents.
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by aZerogodist » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:14 pm

I know someone who I assume is Atheist as she didn't baptise her child or do any of that christian stuff and neither has had any problems at all with the school, or parents.

Many schools have other-religion students. Some married RC+COI parents don't baptise their children untill the child can choose which religion to take.

RDF why not just ask around, ask the school, bound to be at least one non-religious student, then just make it two. If there is only one non-religious student in the school already, wouldn't you be making that child FIT OUT just so you can fit-in.

In fairness I don't know many real catholics most just go along with it as if watching corrie, many churches are half empty, so wouldn't supprise me if many parents in that school are doing the same as you plan on doing.

Rather than jumping to conclusions, which is not very scientific, why not just find out more infomation, if you want to stay anonymous, ask someone else to enquire, or maybe AI could contact the school.

At the end of the day the decision is yours alone, no matter what AI-members may say here on the forum, or what the CCL wants you to do out of fear.
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caplice
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by caplice » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:49 pm

Im in a similar situation myself. Im 33 with 2 kids; 3 1/2 and 16mths. Brought up RC with a very religious upbringing,rosary every night of the week etc etc and when I had my first child it made me face up to some underlying thoughts.I didnt believe in god or either did my partner and I realised that not baptising our child was the best thing we could do for her,ourselves and hopefully one day society.I was surprised that my family never once mentioned the fact we didnt baptise her;that they obviously respected our decision and didnt made a big deal out of it but also in a way by doing that it was like the whole thing was just brushed under the carpet like a dirty little secret.I never got the chance to say to my family:"Im an atheist!" as they never asked any questions!I intend on explaining myself to them soon as I have told a lot of my friends the story and they treat the whole atheism thing with awe,shock and amazement at the same time.I explained to one good friend who told me he kind of feels the same way but he knows hes going to do the whole baptism,communion confirmation crap with his kids because if he doesnt its social hari kari.I said to him I was an atheist;but saying it sounded like I was telling him I was a pedophile! I dont have to explain to anyone here why I detest the whole concept of god religion etc in our society as everybody has their own reasons but unless I start being true to myself and my beliefs then my little girl and boy will be growing up in a world where they are brainwashed continuously by fairy tales of everlasting life heaven and hell purgatory satan unbaptised babies in eternal turmoil when they die holy water splashing etc etc and I cannot have that. We will deal with the school situation when it arises but Im sure we'll get through it,at least we're being honest.
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by Beebub » Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:33 am

Marks wrote:It is impossible to opt out when religion is integrated into the curriculum. I opted my children out of the religious instruction class but discovered that despite this one of them still just accepted at eight years old that there was a God. Some schools are worse than others as it depends on how they uphold their religious ethos. In our second level school they prayed for atheists over the intercom. One of the damaging things about a religious integrated curriculum is that it teaches children that respect can mean coercing and influencing minorities into a religious way of life. How can minorities opt out of that, it is impossible.

The obligation on the State under human rights law is to ‘respect’ the religious and philosophical convictions of all parents. There is also a “duty of neutrality and impartiality” on the Irish State under the various Human Rights Conventions that it has ratified in relation to religion and education.

In Ireland Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools is the state being neutral and impartial which says:-

“Of all the parts of a school curriculum Religious Instruction is by far the most important, as its subject-matter, God’s honour and service, includes the proper use of all man’s faculties and affords the most powerful inducements to their proper use. Religious Instruction is, therefore, a fundamental part of the school course, and a religious spirit should inform and vivify the whole work of the school. The teacher should constantly inculcate the practice of
charity, justice, truth, parity, patience, temperance, obedience to lawful authority, and all the other moral virtues. In this way he will fulfil the primary duty of an educator, the moulding to perfect form of his pupils’ character, habituating them to observe, in their relations with God and with their neighbour, the laws which God, both directly through the dictates of natural reason and through Revelation, and indirectly through the ordinance of lawful authority,
imposes on mankind.“

Boards of Management can interpret the above Rule whatever way they want and it all depends on what school your child attends.

Most normal people would not believe that Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools can be construed as the state being ‘neutral and impartial’ with regard to religion so it is just beyond understanding how a religious integrated curriculum is respecting the philosophical convictions of non-religious parents.
Thanks for that Marks. This is partly why I haven’t had my child officially ‘opt out’ of religion class because it’s futile. There’s nowhere for him to go during ‘religion class’. Even if there was, religion permeates the entire day, so ‘opting out’ would be entirely symbolic. As mentioned, my child so far has no concept of god, religion or anything like it, so clearly symbolically ‘opting him out’ would mean nothing. We met his teacher who told us that he does the religious curriculum which requires religious instruction every day but then said, in a very hushed tone ‘I only do it twice or three times a week’, when it’s expected of him to do it every day. He then said that even at that, all he gets the kids to do for the religious book is ‘colouring in’. The reason, I suspect, that he lowered his voice was because it was a parent teacher meeting and there was likely other parents waiting outside the door for his next meeting and he mightn’t want them to hear what he actually does. As Marks says, it depends on your teacher. If I found serious religious nonsense being forced down my son’s throat, I may well have a different attitude. For now, I’m happy that he’s not baptised and will not be making his communion. If it gets tougher, I’ll deal with it as it arises.

Derek, please don’t take me up the wrong way. I’m not having a go and I very much commend you in your position. I just felt that such an important issue warrants a more wide reaching discussion from people who have been through it, from people who are going through it and for people who will go through it in the future.
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by Dr Raskolnikov » Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:23 am

Just to add my own anecdote, I too am in my mid-thirties with a child under four. I now live in England (and my brother lives in Canada) - not entirely unrelated to escaping religion. But I baptized my son to avoid falling out with my mother.

I was hanging on to religion in a sort of "Pascal's Wager" sense, until I was forced (and my atheist wife also) to attend a baptism course - the whole process pushed me over the edge and made an atheist of me.

The problem is my parents and the rest of my family still don't know I'm atheist. And the trouble is, despite all the advice above - my parents are so harcore RC, that if they knew the truth, it'd wreck their heads totally. They'd be convinced that me and my wife and kid were going to spend all eternity in the flames. I just can't do that to them. If we do have another kid, it'll be a tough decision, but I just won't be able to do the whole baptism again. I'll probably have to stage a fake baptism as some kind of elaborate charade so my parents don't hate me forever.

God I hate religion. Nothing else has so much power to destroy families...
Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know. Important things. - Ned Flanders
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Re: My approach anyone??

Post by DaithiDublin » Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:49 am

Dr Raskolnikov wrote:I was hanging on to religion in a sort of "Pascal's Wager" sense, until I was forced (and my atheist wife also) to attend a baptism course - the whole process pushed me over the edge and made an atheist of me.
I hope it's not too far off topic to ask you to explain that a little. What was the nature of the course? And the force?

Seeing as Baptism is the only sacrament a child will have gone through before starting school I suppose it is relevant. I've not personally needed to find the strength to resist conforming for a long long time, but when I did it was the fear-mongering and threats that hid behind the apparently lofty ideals that I thought of. Something like that hideous Rule 68 is always being bandied about as though it were a great gift, full of promise. The not so subtle fear beneath the surface was what I kept in mind to remind me why resistance was crucial.

If they can't convince you to toe the line for your kids benefit in school by extolling the gift of God's grace, they'll happily imply what the alternative is. Even if it's by simple measures like a disappointed or saddened expression.

Atheists don't have to suffer the same mental torments of those unfortunate faithful whose children die before being baptised. It might just strengthen your convictions RDF, or harden your resolve to see what kind of system you resist by standing firm. The consequences to your children by your actions pale against the consequences threatened on those who fail to conform.

This clip is the first of a 4 part 1 hour documentary on Limbo Babies I uploaded from UTV before Christmas. It makes my blood boil and it may put enough fire in your belly to ignore the conventions and damn the consequences.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTudSo6s_VU
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