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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Going to church for a loved one?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (25338points) June 16th, 2010

In case this isn’t abundantly clear, I am an atheist. My grandmother is a devout byzantine Catholic. I gave up lying to her about believing in god many years ago. She asked. A LOT. So now I try to avoid the subject with her, because I know that she feels hurt by my beliefs.
Yesterday she asked me to start going to church with her. And, it isn’t that I care about going into church, I’m certainly not afraid I’m going to burst into flames or anything absurd. I’ve been to church with my grandmother more times in my life than I can possibly count. But she was practically begging me to go, and I know this isn’t about going to church. This is about me believing in god… and I just don’t feel like it would be right to fake that. I really don’t want to hurt her, but how do I stand up for what I believe without doing that?

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13 Answers

Aster's avatar

She cares for you. If you don’t go with her, you’ll be sorry when she’s gone. I think you should go for her. It won’t hurt you and this isn’t a matter of “standing up for my beliefs.” this is something you do that is legal but against your beliefs for someone who loves you. If she were asking you to steal for her it would be different. Think of it as a way to show your affection and respect for her. You can gently make it clear to her when she asks that it has not changed your belief system but that you enjoy her company. Go to lunch afterwards and make a day of it. I wish I had a nice grandmother who cared about me.

cornbird's avatar

Go with her. Thats my vote. Maybe you will learn something from your attendance….

Draconess25's avatar

I have the same problem with my grandma. But she believes churches are all evil, & that they’re going to burn in hell. But same idea.

I’d just go along with it, but make it clear that you’re going for her, not God.

Likeradar's avatar

What would happen if you suggested going to lunch together more often instead of going to church? You’d get to spend some time together, and maybe develop a deeper understanding of each other than if you just went through the motions of church attendance.

Thammuz's avatar

I’ll be the only one disagreeing here, but i don’t think you should go.

Going to church is one thing, wasting two days and four hours a year to please a loved one is hardly much, even though it’d probably be better to just go to lunch and skip the attempted indoctrination.

Asking you to believe, though, is entirely another matter. You know you don’t believe and you’d be lying to her if you acted as if you did; and that, despite the fact that she wants to be decieved, is, IMO, a bigger disrespect than not believing in the same bullcrap she does.

IMO it’d just be better if you stated clearly that you do not believe and that no amount of church is gonna change that; and if she wants to see you more often you might even go to church with her, just as long as she realizes you’re doing it because of her and not to go to church per se.

beautifulday's avatar

I think you should go with her, because that is what she wants and she is your grandmother, gotta show respect. but before you go with her i would just talk to her and let her know how you feel, even if you have already done this in the past. (although, i believe in God so maybe that is why I think this) but still, its grandma, ya know?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think there is a minor misunderstanding. I spend a LOT of quality time with my grandmother. We are extremely close. She is the only grandparent that I have left, and I have always been close with all of my grandparents.
We aren’t lacking in quality time. I know that this isn’t about me going to church with her, because I’ve gone to church with her many times. Going to church with her is just going to force her to face my lack of faith again, which I think in the long run would be more hurtful. She is asking me to go to church, but what she is really asking is for me to believe.

So the question is really.. do I lie and pretend for her that I am a believer again or not?

Draconess25's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Never lie about yourself. Just make it clear that you’re content with your own beliefs.

Thammuz's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie So the question is really.. do I lie and pretend for her that I am a believer again or not?

No. She’s an adult, she should be able to accept that you’re an independent being with your own view of reality. Then again, religious people not dealing with reality isn’t really news, no offense meant.

Furthermore she shouldn’t force you into this kind of situation, where you either lie to her or disappoint her, in the first place.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Draconess25 and @Thammuz I agree. I feel like this is a bit unfair, and of course I want to do the right thing, I love her!

My husband thinks I should just play along, go to church, and pretend. But that feels worse to me.

Silhouette's avatar

Just because you walk through those doors doesn’t mean you are faking anything or compromising your beliefs, it means you’re being nice to your grandma. You should go unless it makes you feel guilty or fake.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Firstly I am not an atheist, I believe in some kind of “higher power” but I do not consider myself to be religious. I don’t agree with many things that Christianity teaches and because of that I tend not to go to church very often. My Grandmother is a strong believer in Christianity and goes to church on at least a weekly basis. Like you, I do not have a problem with being in a church but, because I don’t believe in a lot of what is taught in church, I feel a bit hypocritical going there regularly although, I can’t lie, I like churches and feel quite peaceful if I am in a church, alone with my thoughts, I’d rather not be preached at though. I know my Grandmother, like yours, would love me to go to church with her and so I agree to go on special occassions, midnight mass for example. I don’t mind going every so often for her sake and it gets her off my case. Maybe you could meet a similar compromise with your grandmother?

mattbrowne's avatar

Atheists can still see church as a place where time slows down and one can sort out his or her thoughts and feelings. Some people feel the presence of God in a church, others don’t. That’s okay. I actually think it’s not that important.

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