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Lilo777's avatar

How do you maintain a good relationship with a parent when you have conflicting religious views?

Asked by Lilo777 (109points) November 15th, 2012

First off, I don’t mean to offend anyone with this post and if I do, I am sorry. I was baptized and raised roman catholic, but ever since I was old enough and I had time to develop my own views, I have been atheist. My mom is a strict Catholic and she is very upset and offended that I am, in her words, rejecting her religion. I think she thinks that since I was raised a certain way, I should practice it. I don’t think she understands that even though I don’t believe in God or Jesus or Heaven, I am still a good person. I find that my mom and I have very similar morals – just a different view on religion. So why is it so important that I believe in God? I never bash her religion, if she wants to be Catholic, that’s fine. I have NO problem with Catholicism, or Buddhism or Judaism, whatever. I just don’t believe in God. We’ve been arguing a lot lately over this issue… and I’d really like to put an end to it and have a decent relationship again. Any advice?

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58 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Try asking her this question, which is a reasonable one. Sometimes phrasing something as a query rather than a statement gives your interlocuter a bit more wiggle room. In this case, I am not very optimistic, but you never know.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Religion is something that goes deep in to peoples brains, it affects their personality and their sense of self worth. When you tell a religious person you don’t believe what they do, they often see it as an attack against their self worth.

Make sure she knows you are disbelieving the ‘truth’ of their claims, and not attacking their sense of self worth or their concept of morals.

janbb's avatar

How about agreeing to respect the differences and not talk about religion any more?

JLeslie's avatar

Well, if she is very religious she believes you will not be saved when you die, so mostly she might be very worried about you.

If she idenitfies strongly with Catholicism it is like rejecting her identy, same as if you wanted to reject your family name, or your family’s national origin. etc.

Maybe it never occured to her this might happen, she assumed her children would be Catholic, and she is just caught off guard. Try to have a conversation with her, ask what bothers her most. Have an understanding, and then eventually not discuss religion much in the future.

thorninmud's avatar

Time often helps. From the parent’s perspective, much of the anxiety comes from the fear that the child has now abandoned that which gives a person moral direction. Very religious people often assume that without religion people will sink into debauchery, and no parent wants that for their child.

As she sees that you continue to lead a life that reflects sound moral reasoning, those fears will recede into the background. There will still be concerns about the hereafter simmering under the surface, but as long as your conduct isn’t giving her constant reminders that you’re a “lost soul”, her intrinsic desire to have a good relationship with you may allow her to keep that on the back burner.

Brian1946's avatar

See if you can find a therapist for her, who treats people with theistic neuroses.

linguaphile's avatar

This article helped a friend of mine and me reconcile our differences in faith. It’s one of the best written articles I’ve found addressing that topic. I love the phrase, “You don’t have to be wrong for me to be right, and I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right.”

This is just my personality, but I tend to not disagree about religion. I have rarely seen a disagreement about religious beliefs end well.

Many of my family members are fundamental/evangelical Christians—I just don’t talk about my beliefs with them at all. They’re not going to change and will never agree with me—they’ll just get angry and sour, and I’m not going to change my mind either. What’s the point of trying? So, I just go about my business, and when I’m with them, I go along with their rituals. I lost two family members that I held dear over a disagreement about praying at meals, so because of that, I just don’t think the battle’s worth it.

My beliefs are deep-rooted and strong—but I don’t feel threatened if someone disagrees with me, until they start telling me I’m wrong, then I get really, really angry. I don’t think anyone’s right or wrong, just “hear” the message that resonates with them the most.

I don’t do “go along” for friends, just family. Again, that’s just how I deal.

Thammuz's avatar

In my experience there is only one option: ask her. No, actually, don’t just ask her, hound her until she gives you an answer, which in my experience, she won’t, at first.

Storytime, people, gather around.

My parents are also catholic, and my mother teaches catechism, though she is really not that strict, but she had a period, when i begun calling myself an atheist (after finding out about the term, mostly) and decided i wanted to explore other faiths, where she tried to basically “throw her weight” in favour of her religion. She’d say stuff like “I can only hope you ind out through your own experience, as i did” in this really deliberately sad tone, and other crap like that.

After a while i got fed up, especially because of how hypocritical of her that behaviour was. Partly because she pretented to respect my opinion while trying to guilt me out of it, but also because the hwole thing didn’t make sense. She always professed very ecumenical views, embracing the idea that no religion was wrong, in itself, but that they all were paths to the same truth (which makes no sense, but that’s not the point) which made it very aggravating to me that she would try to manipulate me like that.

So one day i simply asked her and, realising she was not giving me a straight answer, i started hounding her. I couldn’t let it go, and i didn’t. I kept going until she admitted it had nothing rational behind it, it was just an emotional reaction to me changing and growing into my own person (She is very much into psychobabble).

In short: Nobody but the most irredeemably dumb can really accept the possibility of the idea of salvation by faith alone coming from a god that is supposed to be just, talk to her, be honest, don’t hold back and don’t be afraid of emotional reactions she might have. She’ll have to get it out of her system, but it’ll be better that way.

marinelife's avatar

Tell her, “Mom, I miss having a good relationship with you. I don’t want to talk about religion with you. We need to agree to disagree. If you bring it up, I am not going to talk about it. If you persist, I will leave.”

Coloma's avatar

Your moms religious beliefs are not the issue, they are a symptom of a bigger issue, your mothers narcissistic insistence that you “should” be her unquestioning little clone that is an exact, carbon copy or herself and all she stands for.
In doing so you validate her ego and feed her delusion that she holds the monopoly on the “truth”,as she sees it.
Her upset at you breaking away form the fold, so to speak, it is a narcissistic injury to her psyche.
Any, truly healthy and loving parent would ENCOURAGE their childrens independent thought and right to seek their own answers based on their own experiences.
I’d tell her that she was a hypocrite too, if Jesus forgave murderers and prostitutes and traitors and thieves he certainly would “forgive” you for seeking your own answers. A little dose of her own medicine IMO. lol

Really, I think all you can do is keep the conversations neutral, set boundaries about what you are and are not willing to discuss with her and keep taking a firm stand on these.
This is an issue of respect now and parents owe their children equally in this arena.

Ron_C's avatar

My dad was a good and faithful Catholic, I’m and atheist. We got along well because we didn’t discuss religion and I would never criticize his belief. After-all, he raised me and and sacrificed to raise my brothers and I, what right do I have to criticize what he chose to believe?

He knew that I didn’t go to church and he didn’t criticize me either.

Jeruba's avatar

I think a live-and-let-live policy is best in such cases. There’s no need for open debate. It’s not going to accomplish anything other than causing distress.

Like you, I was raised to my parents’ very strong religious beliefs. I moved away from all religion as an adult, but I never talked about that, much less tried to influence their views. Eventually they figured it out, and they never raised the discussion either. It was best that we all keep our thoughts on the matter to ourselves.

To me there was nothing dishonest about this. Beliefs are a personal matter. I was not trying to deceive them. I simply didn’t demand their attention to my changed way of thinking, and they didn’t insist on managing my inner life.

However, I was perfectly willing to sit through the traditional formalities—weddings, funerals—whenever the need arose. When I visited my mother in the latter years, I would accompany her to church, and she loved that. I even enjoyed singing all the old hymns, which I still knew by heart. But I declined to partake of communion or any other ritual that expressed a statement of faith. I just quietly refrained.

If you have any sort of spiritual practice or experience, it may reassure your mother a little if you talk about it. I think my mother liked hearing about Zen Buddhism when I was an active learner; she did not freak out and think I’d become an idol-worshipping heathen. But if your parents happen to believe that you’ll be among the missing when loved ones gather together in heaven, there’s probably no consoling them. Talk about something else.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t see the point of arguing at all. When I came to the conclusion that religion didn’t make any sense to me, I kept it to myself. When anyone asks me to pray for them, I say I will keep you in my thoughts. When my minister uncle quotes Bible phrases to me, I say thank you.

It’s not my place or desire to tell them they are wrong, or I don’t believe in that sort of thing. Why would I?

JenniferP's avatar

When I was a teenager my mom was terrible to me because of my beliefs. There was no getting along with her. Since I’ve been an adult she has left me alone.

laurenkem's avatar

My mother (a strict Nazarene) and I (an extremely liberal Baptist at best) have just agreed to never discuss it. It is simply a waste of time to try to talk about evolution to someone who believe that Adam and Eve were literally the very first human forms on earth.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

Is there not, if I am wrong then by all means say so, a part in the Bible that says that love is more important than faith? 1 Corinthians 13? You might choose to mention that – say it was something you recalled or something, and say how you can’t see why she should be so convinced that being of the same faith as her is so important when being a good person is more important. Good people love other people right?
I think it’s a valid point, don’t you?

josie's avatar

Don’t talk about religion for starters

Nially_Bob's avatar

As many people have suggested here already, you really have to ask her. Obviously that’s easier said than done when it comes to an issue which is so personal and sensitive, but if your Mother and yourself wish to find a compromise of some kind you will have to make a concerted effort to be respectful to one another. When you feel ready and you both have plenty of free time to do so ask your Mother if she could sit down and have a discussion about the matter, perhaps over a hot drink. Keep your tone of voice low and non-hostile and open with this very question. Be careful with how you word things because as I say, this is a very sensitive subject, but also be honest. If she seems upset or unwilling to discuss the matter simply say in a polite manner that you’re sorry and happy to discuss the matter any time you both have free time.

Respect and civility are key as they allow a non-judgmental and peaceful dialogue, while also illustrating that you’re both reasonable, well-meaning people who want to understand one another.

Obviously this is only my advice and you’re welcome to take on board whatever you want, or maybe alter parts to accommodate elements of your relationship that I’m unaware of, but I hope I’ve offered some small help.

rojo's avatar

Follow @josie ‘s advice. There is none better on this topic.

ninjacolin's avatar

it’s tough..

tell her it’s not your fault: you only believe whatever makes sense to you.
list all the good things that she can relate to that make sense to you.
things like love, family, togetherness, honesty, etc..

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

Following Josie’s advice is easier said than done. I’ve been there with my own parents and it’s a tough nut to crack.
At the end of the day, she can’t force you to believe in something that you simply do not believe in, and no matter how pissed off she gets about it, there’s not a great deal else besides a miracle of major proportions likely to change it.
I got away with hammering the nail right on the head as bluntly as I could with my folks as to why I didn’t want to go to church, do all the sunday stuff, and follow the same creed. I’m not so sure you would if it’s likely to vex her further.
Either way you can wrap this up in sugar or throw it straight at her face, either way you look at it, what she might consider to be verbal turds are still gonna be verbal turds whether they’re polished, sugar coated or covered in sprinkles.
You’re your own person, you make your own choices, and any kind of religious belief I would have thought, even if it’s just to not believe in any kind of religion or religious entity – as it were – is down to personal conviction, and if she can’t ever see that, then she’s gonna have some serious problems getting to grips with it no matter what you say about it or how you present it to her. Pie charts, slideshows, flipchart presentations, mini-film production…whatever.
If she’s really that stubborn about it. the only thing you can really do I reckon is just stick to your proverbial guns and painstakingly wait for the penny to finally go clunk.

JenniferP's avatar

With my own experience as a minor child I never understood what my mom hoped to accomplish by the way she treated me. I was interested in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, starting at 11 years old. I went to the Sunday meeting with my dad when I went on visitation rights. My mom emotionally and verbally abused me for years over this because a Catholic brochure said they were a “cult” trying to discredit them. Shame on Catholicism for that. Riling up hate in order to not lose members to a minority religion.

The thing that I don’t understand is that my mom didn’t even attend the Catholic church because of disillusionment. My mom did all she could to cause me trouble but here is the thing: Even if she got me to abandon my religion she couldn’t hold my thoughts captive. She wasn’t trying to get me to embrace any particular religion. Just not belong to that one. And even if she could get me to go to another church, I wouldn’t believe it. Going to church and not believing the religion isn’t pleasing to God. It is just taking up space on a pew.

My mom kept insisting “You are my child!! The Bible says to obey your parent.” I would say “The Bible also says to obey God before man.” No amount of reason worked. The ironic thing is that although she thought I was a gullible kid, here I sit as an adult as firmly convinced in my beliefs as I was back then. The only thing my mom accomplished by her abuse was pain and anger.

She now has a major health problem and because of my beliefs and being a good person I am very attentive of her. The family members who aren’t religious are for themselves and are not helpful.

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP I can understand your mother. The Jehovah’s generally are very sheltered from the rest of society, they actively try to recruit other people’s young children in my experience, which I find horrific, and at least when my close friemd was being raised Jehova she was not allowed to attend college, I don’t know of that was change. Forbidding education is a way to keep followers stupid, ignorant, and devout. They also do not vote, which to me indicates they believe God is in complete control and what we do as human beings doesn’t matter, and I prefer to think if there is a God it is important to pray as though everything depends on God, but take action as though everything depends on ourselves. Choosing to be Jehovah would mean you believe your mom is not going to heaven it is a rejection of her.

Having said all that, I am not saying everything about Jehovah beliefs and actions are bad. All of Christianity, especially Evangelicals of all sects like to recruit people, and believe their way is the right way. It is part of Christianity in general, some groups and people within the group take it more seriously and more extremely than others. Most people dwell on Jehovah witnesses not celebrating holidays, I could care less about that, that is the least of it.

JenniferP's avatar

JLeslie, First of all we are not called “Jehovah’s.” That is derogatory slang. Further, you don’t understand us. We do not forbid education. Some individuals choose to forgo college and maybe go to Tech School because they aren’t pursuing materialism. It isn’t against our religion to go to college and never was. We are actually quite educated on current events, science and history and so on. Our literature deals with those subjects a lot. There is less illiteracy among us as well. As far as voting is concerned, you have your beliefs about that and I have mine. If I was your mother would that give me a right to emotionally abuse you for that? As I said, it is YOUR opinion that we should vote. The person who asked the question was asking about issues where beliefs clash. You are essentially saying that if a belief clashes with your own it is alright to give people trouble for it.

As far as me believing my mom won’t go to Heaven, the Catholic church would believe this too because she isn’t involved with it. But even if I didn’t believe she was going to attain salvation, that is my right to believe that. So what if I believe that. It won’t change what her destination actually is.

I find it sad that when I just described being abused by my mother, that you defend her for it. She screamed at me for hours. Do you really approve of that? And as I said, you really need to call us by our right name and not call us “Jehovah’s.” That is very rude. I am willing to overlook it because some people actually think that we don’t mind being called that but you know for next time. But as I said “abuse” is never okay. I don’t believe in homosexuality but if I had a gay child, I would never scream in their face. Jesus didn’t go around screaming at people for non-Christian beliefs.

If you would like to know the truth about the Witnesses feel free to email me and I can clear up any misconceptions you may have. People have many.

People also need to remember that this is America, the land of the free. If I wanted to worship a rock, I am entitled to.

Thammuz's avatar

@JenniferP Even from a completely different place as you, I commend you for your strenght. Especially for not giving up on her despite all that.

@JLeslie They actively try to recruit other people’s young children in my experience, which I find horrific,
As if catholics wouldn’t do that if they had the chance. Besides, her father was a Jehova’s Witness, was he not?

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP Woah, you will find that I actually defend Jehovah witnesses on fluther at times. I don’t mean to offend you by using Jehovahs, I say Jews, which some people find offensive, I am not picking on your religion. I’m glad to know college is ok, for whatever reason in my friend’s family they forbade her to go.

I am not defending your mother, I am understanding her fears. Maybe if you try to understand her perspective the whole thing will be less upsetting to you. I am not excusing anything she did to you that was abusive, I am only talking about for you, emotionaly, psychologically, so you can feel better.

@Thammuz I have never known Catholics to ask their teens to try and bring in other nonCatholic teens to attend mass, not in America. There are however evangelicals who literally go after young teens to bring them into the church. My MIL’s neighbor, who was Jehovah’s Witness used to take my 6 year old neice into her house and read her Jehovah Witness children’s books. My Catholic MIL was infuriorated! She would never do such a thing to her neighbors children. But, as I said, Christianity in general does teach to recruit and preach, just some sects take it to further extremes than others.

I know several people who are Jehovah Witnesses and they have never made me uncomfortable, so I am not saying they all are walking around trying to solicite people constantly.

Thammuz's avatar

@JLeslie There are teen catholic evangelic groups here, then again catholics are the majority here in Italy. Still, the point remains that they weren’t preying on her, she wasn’t brought in by perfect strangers, she was brought there by her father, which tells me the problem was less about the particular sect and more about divorced parents using their daughter as a means to hurt eachother, like it so often happens.

JLeslie's avatar

@Thammuz Oh, somehow I missed that it was her father. Then I would wonder did her Catholic mother have a child with a man that is a Jehovah’s Witness? He already was in that religion? Then I don’t see how her mother has a leg to stand on. I married a man raised Catholic, it would not surprise me if a child of mine was drawn towards Catholicism, but I do prefer they identify as Jewish. Still, Catholicism would not bother me, if it did I would not have married him.

So the teen groups there send invitations to their peers to come to attend mass and go to events with no care to ask the parents of the children? They feel just fine trying to take them away from their parents beliefs? I realize they probably aee it as giving them religion, or bringing them to the right path and not taking them away. There might be some groups like that in America, but I have never encountered any personally.

@JenniferP Just to clarify it is not my opinion you should vote. I have a problem with a religion that tells you not to vote. And, literacy is not the same as educated. I have no idea how educated in general Jehovah’s Witnesses are, but in my experience most are not college educated. Not that I think college education is a requirement to be knowledgable and well versed on subjects, I don’t.

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie: All the Jews I know refer to themselves as Jews. Why is that not acceptable?

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled I think most Jews don’t care, but some people find it offensive and think we should write and say Jewish or Jewish people rather than Jew or Jews. Similar to African American being politically correct, but all my black friends prefer black or have no preference. If @JenniferP is offended by the use of Jehovah’s I am glad to know that it is offensive, and will try to be more careful about not using it.

Generally I think Jews are not easily offended.

JenniferP's avatar

So everyone knows, when my dad and mom were married he wasn’t religious. He encountered the Witnesses after the divorce. In defense of my mother, my dad was off balance in many ways and not related to the Witnesses. He was paranoid schizophrenic although he didn’t talk about it to me. He thought the mafia was out to get him and people were trying to poison him. Years later a Witness told me that they were the one who studied with him and they said “I don’t know if you realize this but your dad was paranoid.” I did know it. So to my mom it was just one more thing that she was wary about concerning him. She was being protective of me but going about it all wrong.

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP Thanks for explaining. I have a feeling your mom would have been wary about you being a Jehovah’s Witness even if your dad wasn’t paranoid schizophrenic, but of course I don’t know her. The added mental illness I am sure did not help things though.

You mentioned if your son were gay you would never treat him as your mom treated you. I don’t know what she did, I believe you that it was very upsetting. But, that is not really apples to apples. What if your child wanted to be Muslim at the same age you went towards being a Jehovah’s Witness? Or, a Buddhist? Jewish? Would you be just fine with it? Just fine with them exploring it?

JenniferP's avatar

JLeslie-I wouldn’t be happy about it but my mom wasn’t my only parent. My dad was too. He did not try to push his beliefs on me. I accepted them. My brother went on visitations with him and wasn’t interested in it and he didn’t try to force it on him or anything. But the point is that my mom wasn’t my only parent and she didn’t own my mind. I couldn’t help what I believed. All my mom could do was make it hard for me to attend meetings with them. She couldn’t change me. And it wasn’t like she cared to have me embrace something else. She just wanted to hold onto the ignorance that others had fed her about the JWs.

If my kid wanted to be Buddhist I wouldn’t scream at them. I don’t have children so I would have to think about how I would handle it. But what about if a Buddhist’s child wanted to be Catholic? What exactly is your point? Are you saying that my mom had the right to be upset because you think that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists and Jews are in the wrong and that mainstream Christians are right?

What we are talking about here is how a parent should handle a child that disagrees with their beliefs. Not who is or isn’t right. Because if you think there is something wrong with Witness beliefs you are listening to the wrong people.

JenniferP's avatar

And one other thing: If my mom didn’t agree with the Witnesses she could have tried to reason with me and make a case against their beliefs. She didn’t. She didn’t know enough of the Bible to make any good argument against the Witnesses. Most people don’t know the Bible very well. Therefore most have no leg to stand on when they say things against them. They just repeat what others have told them and say “You have your own version of the Bible.” and the other things they heard. I was the one winning in the debates with my mom. She was saying unreasonable things and I was the one talking logically.

JenniferP's avatar

JLeslie-Sorry if I am “flooding” this site. Someone told me to be careful not to do that but I read something else you said and need to comment. JWs don’t make “rules” that you should or shouldn’t attend college. They do advise people to be careful about making an education the focus in life.

Many people have been to college but most don’t have a Bible education. They view college as the thing that will give them what they need in life and nothing more. JWs put the Bible first and material needs second. They believe in taking care of their needs but don’t need to have a high paying job to get all of the “best things” in life.

I am a housekeeper at a hospital and there are college graduates in my department who can’t find other work. It shows you how uncertain things are and how there are no guarantees in life.

As far as JWs being less educated and knowing less than the general population this simply isn’t true. First of all, many people who are college educated become Witnesses “after” going to college. So you can’t say that they are all uninformed.

Further, do you really think that college gives you the tools to pick a “correct” religion? Many who have Science degrees become atheists. I don’t believe that is what you are. You are Jewish, correct? Did your college degree help you to choose that religion? Because most college educated people are not Jewish. They come from every religious background.

The college my dad attended taught witchcraft. Anyway, he dropped out. But he had a 130 IQ and read a lot so he was not dumb and uneducated. He knew the Bible inside and out.

As I said I clean for a living and a nurse where I work thought that we were still making moon missions. College doesn’t necessarily equate being informed and intelligent.

I read more on religion and the Bible than most. However, like Jesus and his apostles many would consider me “unlettered and ordinary.” The pharisees looked down on them for that.

JLeslie's avatar

Huh? I am Jewish. Why would I think mainstream Christians have the answer to all that is relgiious?

About college, did you see my link? As I said before I do not judge an individual on their education level, nor make assumptions about how smart they are nor how much they know by their formal education level. But, I do feel statistics on education levels of a group are telling and the Witnesses were incredibly low for college education. That means either they do not promote education as a group or they have barriers to attaining a higher education, usually in America the barrier is poverty.

I am a Jewish atheist. Did you see the stats for college education for Jews on that link? I certainly don’t think college is about choosing a “correct” religion. I think the two can be totally separate. A person’s religion is a private matter, their own beliefs. And, there are sects of Judaism that are very religious and tend to have lower rates of college education, but the majority of Jews would never think that the Torah is a replacement or the same as learning a topic in college and pursuing knowledge in general. Most Christians for that matter would not compare the bible to a university education, it is two different things, not mutually exclusive, people can have both.

I respect anyone with a strong work ethic, who works hard, lives honestly, and treats other as they would want to be treated. I don’t care what their job is from garbage man to neurosurgeon. I have said it all over fluther that I feel society should appreciate and value people at every level (I hate to use the word level, but for lack of a better word). I think from paying a decent wage, to simply treating people with respect.

I guess you are saying you have read more of and about the bible than most so you feel more sure about your commitment to your beliefs and your religion, I am fine with that.

JenniferP's avatar

JLeslie-Sorry about the confusion on my part. I thought that you were “Christian” and then saw that you mentioned being Jewish. Somehow, my mind wasn’t working right and I wasn’t consistent about that.

I don’t think the Bible or any religious book is a “replacement” for secular education. I do think that it is as important (and even more important) to have a Bible education however. I think that life’s answers come from that, not secular education.

As far as statistics showing that Witnesses having low numbers for having attended college, first of all I would have to see those statistics to make a judgment. Are the statistics of “ALL” JWs or just ones who are raised as JWs. Whatever the case, JWs are very well read. Not just the Bible but on many subjects. Who cares where they learned the stuff. If I read a book but don’t read it for a college class I still know the material. And if we are considered uneducated then we fit right in with Jesus and his first century followers. They weren’t considered schooled. So thanks for the compliment. Anyway, everything that the colleges teach isn’t accurate. Much is just theory or philosophy. And even the professors push their own views.

You can go on with this debate but that is it for me because I don’t want to come across wrong on this site. My style of communication offended some people on another site. I don’t want to seem argumentative and repeat that perception of me.

JLeslie's avatar

Professors push their own views about what? I never studied theology in college nor politics, and I have never had any professor ever push or even mention either topic. A student gets to choose their course of study.

The stats I provided probably are calcuated for those who at the time of the study identified as Jehova Witnesses. So that would mean people born into it and who have converted to it. Even if there is a margin of error, which I am sure there is, the stats are so extreme it is impossible to dismiss them. Only 9% of JW’s have a college degree. The national average is 27%. Jews 59%. Protestants and Catholics each around 25%.

This site is for arguments. Civilized debate to learn and grow. Stating your view does not make you pushy.

Thammuz's avatar

This is the first time i see two religious people argue in a religious topic instead of making a united front against the onslaught of atheists. Granted, it’s not really a topic on religion and its merits, but still…

JenniferP's avatar

@Thammuz-I don’t think we are arguing. I think that we are debating some points but we are being respectful. As far as making a united front against atheists, I will say this: I have been on two other sites. The first one was mainly Fundamentalists and atheists. I liked the atheists better because they didn’t insist that I was going to burn forever in Hellfire for not being saved. Some of them agreed with me that the Bible didn’t teach the Trinity, Christmas, Hellfire, etc. I also was in agreement that religion in general has done a lot of hypocritical things and been responsible for much bloodshed. So I fit in with them better.

However, on another site, many atheists were horribly degrading of religious people. That site let people get away with abuse of others. You don’t see that here, at least not to the same extent.

But you will find that people of my faith do not see eye to eye with other religions. I agree with the religions that disbelieve evolution and a few other topics so I will join them occasionally in a debate. I won’t agree with them that the earth was created in 6 days however and that the earth has only been around several thousand years. I also don’t think dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans.

I don’t join sides. I stand by myself. If JLeslie goes to some other question and I agree with that particular viewpoint then I will express that. if I don’t, I won’t. But I will never disrespect anyone on here or have hard feelings (unless lines are really crossed).

JLeslie's avatar

Did @Thammuz mean me? I am an atheist. I don’t get it.

Thammuz's avatar

@JLeslie you said you were jewish. Also i wasn’t serious.

JLeslie's avatar

@Thammuz I am Jewish. I said I was a Jewish atheist. Tons of Jews are secular Jews, in the world and here on fluther. The estimates are usually around 40% of Jews identify as atheists and/or secular, depending on how the question is worded. I’m ethnically Jewish, not religiously. To bring it back a little to the original question at the top; since there is no such thing as a mildly religious Jehovah’s Witness it would completely freak me out if my child began to go in that direction. If they became Chassidic Jewish also it would kind of freak me out, so my problem is more with the religiousity, not the particular religion. My husband believes in God, I have absolutely no problem with that and wouldn’t with my children, if I had children.

JenniferP's avatar

I don’t know what the big deal is if a kid around the age I was wants to be a J. Witness. That is about the age when kids begin experimenting with sex, drinking and drugs. If they are pursuing their religious beliefs they would stay out of trouble.

Ironically, after giving me trouble for 4 years, I left as a teenager (I have since returned) and got into partying. My mom didn’t know what to do. She said one time “You were religious before so I am going to have you go to a Pentecostal meeting.” She forced me to go. She was hoping I would find religion again but not “that” religion. It really is stupid if you think about it. Didn’t she think I had a mind to decide what I believed? She tries to break me from following what I believed in my heart. Then when I cave, but then turn to bad behavior she thinks the solution is to go to a church that I absolutely don’t believe in any way whatsoever. She wasn’t even Pentecostal. I was a mindless piece of property to her.

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP Well, you just lost me there. Your mom recommended being Pentacostal? That just sounds crazy. I believe you, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t understand what she was thinking. Would you say that you need to believe in God and have a religion to follow to do the right thing in life? I saw your other Q about how you credited your religious beliefs for being able to quit smoking. This is when I think religion Is good actually. If it gives a person peace, and helps them do what is good for them and society I support that. If for whatever reason they feel compelled to do “bad” things and they feel religion helps them make the right choices then I am glad that person is or became religious. I don’t understand it, but I support it. I hear some Christians say they make a choice every day to do the right thing, I don’t feel that way at all. Maybe they mean something different than what I think when they say it?

JenniferP's avatar

@JLeslie Some people never get into behaviors like smoking, drinking, etc. It just isn’t something they care to do. Other people who do those things give them up even though they aren’t religious. They know that those behaviors are disrupting their lives and give them up. Others become religious and give them up to please God. Religion can be a force for good in a persons life. And then you have the ones who are religious but keep right on with bad behavior. They tell themselves that God is forgiving and will excuse the behavior. They want to think that they will go to “heaven” or whatever they think salvation is and still be able to do what they want.

In my case, when I was religious, it held me back from doing wrong things. When my mom would grill me about whether I went to the Kingdom Hall with my dad on the week end, I would be truthful because I didn’t believe in lying. I quit stealing change out of her purse, which I did before. When the other kids were smoking and offered me cigarettes I refused. When some kids were picking on a slow kid, I didn’t join in. That all went out the window, when I left my faith.

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP Why once you had witnessed and experienced the good it can do to not steal and to stand by someone who is being teased, why would you stop doing those things just because of your religion or association with a religion? Don’t you get internal satisfaction from treating people as you would want to be treated? I understand how people who have been raised with an absense of morality, a lack of good examples, might just do what their parents and community do, without knowing there is a different way to treat people; but, once you have seen the good examples and understand why it is better, why would you not practice those ideals? Or, do you not internally believe it is better all around to not steal and help others?

Do you behave well in society to please God? Or, out of fear of God?

I think of smoking as being in a different category, because I feel it is more of a personal choice and personal health, rather than affecting those around you. I realize second hand smoke can be an issue, but it isn’t like mother addictions where it is a strong drug that affects mood. I do absolutely believe you that your religious beliefs helped you refuse the cigarettes, I don’t question that.

Ron_C's avatar

@JLeslie and @JenniferP I’ve been reading your conversations and they are very interesting. Of course I have more in common with JLeslie because I’m a Catholic atheist. In fact, most of the people that i know that attended Catholic school took only two paths one they became atheists or two, they became more Catholic than the pope. There seems to be almost no middle ground.

Jennifer, I’ve always been leery of Jehovah’s Witnesses because I have felt they were a cult. It is good to know that a person can join without undue pressure to do so. As long as no one tries to push their religion on me, they can be whatever they want. What I have objected to were the Sunday morning knock on the door with a lady and her kids trying get me to read the Watchtower.

JLeslie's avatar

@Ron_C I don’t even have a huge problem with a knock on the door as long as they leave when told the person behind the door isn’t interested. I prefer people don’t actively try to convert others, but a knock on the door is not much different than a person right to speak freely in my mind. What I oppose is people going after children, handing out bibles on or near school grounds, trying to get prayer in school, whining when the Christmas part is rename holiday party, wanting laws to mirror their own beliefs and forcing those rules on others. Unless you were using “knocking on doors” as just a shorthand to mean every type of prosthelytizing.

Ron_C's avatar

@JLeslie I used to be a target for the JW’s and Mormons. Actually, I like the Mormon kids, they’re bright and enthusiastic. It seems strange to me that such a fictitious religion can produce some really great families and individuals.

The JW’s were very persistent and showed up almost every weekend for months. Finally I invited a couple in and we discussed the bible. It seems that novice missionaries can’t keep up with an atheist that read the bible a couple times. I may have unconverted them. Regardless, they stopped coming to my door.

I agree with you about evangelizing children. I see that as a form of child abuse. In fact, I don’‘t believe that you should evangelize your own children until they are at least 18 and able to discern truth from bullshit.

JenniferP's avatar

@JLeslie – Why did I not continue acting right when I quit my religion back then you ask? I quit my religion because I wanted to do those things. Why does anyone do things they shouldn’t? selfishness, temporary enjoyment, etc. And of course my age was a factor. You have to realize I am a LOT older now and don’t do those things anymore. You mention that you understand how people who had been raised without having principles instilled in them would act that way, well I never had principles instilled in me. My dad started witnessing to me when I was 11 and he wasn’t the greatest example for me because he still had a lot of problems. I saw him every other weekend and was not around the witnesses other than that. So I didn’t have a lot of people around to encourage me.

Do I behave to please God or out of fear of him? Both. If I were to fall away from my religion at my age I probably wouldn’t return to all of those behaviors because I am older and more mature. But I would probably be a more selfish person.

@Ron_C You always thought Witnesses were a cult? Well you can relax because according to sociologists and psychologists they aren’t in any way whatsoever a cult. People being told stuff like that about is why we get treated so terribly, like what I had to go through. Most of what Jleslie wrote the JWs don’t do. We don’t try to influence politics. We also don’t target kids. We talk to whoever we find home and we often ask children “Is your parent home.” Where did people get the idea that we target kids? Ron C-That is nice that you have read the Bible twice but you are no match for the Witnesses. They read it yearly.

JLeslie's avatar

@Ron_C Every weekend? That is ridiculous. Then I could see going for a court order to keep them off your property.

So you think JW’s and Mormons are more fictitious than other religions? I think they all have some pretty unbelievable things they ask their followers to buy into. I don’t judge one as worse than the other or more fantastic. I only have a problem with the religions that seclude the members from the outside world, ask them to cut ties with family who are not in the religion (that happens or is expected in many mainstream religions also, but most people don’t follow that anymore unless very observant).

I have no problem with parents raising their children in their own faith. I don’t see how we can ask parents not to.

JenniferP's avatar

@Ron_C Don’t you think child abuse is a little strong word?

JLeslie's avatar

@JenniferP Your age is a valid excuse, I completely accept that answer along with your statements that you did not have the best examples in your life whe you were young. So, your mom thought you were being good because of the influence of the JW’s, but really more than anything you associated where you would be accepted. When you were doing things the JW’s would frown on you left for a while. Acceptance and feeling part of a group can be a powerful force. I have been known to say I am not a joiner. I don’t like being in groups that expect extreme conformity. I like being around people who encourage individuality.

I think what bothers me is people who think since they relate their good behavior to their religion, they think people without religion or in a different religion cannot be moral or good, I am not saying You think that way, but a lot of people do. A lot of people think atheists don’t have morals, or don’t understand why atheists would have morals.

About targeting kids, like I said my personal experience was my MIL’s neighbor tried to influence my young niece. That easily could be just her and not something the church promotes. I have not heard of JW’s giving bibles out on school campuses, but other Chrstians do. The Gideon’s come to mind. Trying to put bible and prayer in school is going after children. Where I live they teavh the bible in literature class, and where a friend of mine lives they renamed religion class as Ancient History.

JenniferP's avatar

@Ron_C That is odd that JWs came every weekend because we typically set limits on how often a territory is worked and don’t keep going back to the same place that often. Sometimes if no one is found home we will return a few different times to try to catch the person home.

Ron_C's avatar

@JenniferP Except for one woman that showed up occasionally, they were always different. I frankly don’t care how they assign neighborhoods.
@JLeslie Now, I don’t think JW or Mormons are more fictitious than other religions. It is just that since I was brought up in the Catholic religion, it didn’t seem so strange. Now the idea of the host turning into the actual body and wine the blood of Christ, I am troubled by the symbolic cannibalism.

And yes Jennifer, I do think that indoctrinating children in a religion is child abuse. Remember, I went to Catholic grade school and I refused to do that to my children. I will admit that I tried to talk my girls into going to Catholic High School. One reason was that I was teaching there and knew some really great teacher. The other is that they were old enough to make up their own minds about religion. They refused. They and their children and spouses are devote Atheists.

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