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In a divided family, who decides religion?

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype


I was baptized in the Catholic church, and though my Mom tells me I attended Catechism, I only have vague memories of a mothbell-smelling, cramped school room on rainy Tuesday nights; a gravel-voiced teacher with a long, perplexing hair sprouting from her chin mole.

My Dad didn’t accompany us to church when I was very young: my Mother curled my hair in embarassing sausage curls and forced my scabbed tomboy arms through the holes of a frilly pink dress.

Woo hoo!” my Dad would whistle as he stood next to a rake or a broom, tending to our yard as my Mom and little brother squeezed into the Honda Civic to leave for church,”You look like Farrah Fawcett!”

“I hate church!” I yelled back.

I did hate church.  I hated the repetitive motion and the strange slack-jawed people with lifeless eyes who dead-panned everything back to the priest, who I could never understand.  I hated fiddling in the pew, lining up for the Significant Cracker, pretending to sing along to the hymns.  But all kids hate church, don’t they?  By definition, it’s just boring.

As my Mom got older and hit a rough patch in her personal life, she turned to a more… hardcore Church.  These people weren’t messing: there was talking in tongues and crying and swaying in aisles and my Mom bought me books about Teenagers and Accepting Jesus Into Your Heart and oh, my crap, I freaked.  It didn’t feel right.  Something felt brain-washy and shrill and wrong about it all and other than for funerals and weddings, I haven’t stepped foot in a church since.  I have a spirituality now, a belief in a bigger picture and a purpose for life, but I am certainly not religious.

My ex, Nolan’s Father, was also raised in a Catholic church.  But he also attended Catholic schools, and though he does not adhere to any of the “rules” of Catholicism, he has a tie to the religion and would like his son brought up to “be” Catholic.

We had a bit of a battle about Nolan’s baptism: he wanted him baptized, I argued that we were not practicing Catholics and that I didn’t understand the necessity of “saving” a baby from hell by putting him through water and a ritual.  I did not belong to the class of people who believed that an unbaptized baby would go to “limbo” (that theory, incidentally, is currently being “re-evaluated”.)

Nolan’s Father would prefer that his son attend Catholic school as a child.  I am somewhat ambivalent: I don’t think it will do our son any harm, and ultimately I want him to choose the religion (or lack thereof) that feels best for him.  In truth, I think that if one parent is religious - and the other is not - perhaps the religious parent’s viewpoints should reign.  Unless one parent happens to be “passionately non-religious” (which I am not.)

What do you think?   Who decides the “religion” of a child?  Is it OK for a child to practice religion in half time (ie church with Mommy but not with Daddy?)  This is a doozy, I know, but based on the insane back-and-forth of my last post, I figure it might be relevant.

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157 comments so far...

  • I think a solid religious foundation is a gift any parent can give a child, even if there is no heartfelt desire for the child to embrace a particular religion. Religion is such an integral part of our society. You wouldn’t dream of denying your child exposure to great literature, music, language arts; these are necessary elements of a well-rounded education. Well, the same is true of religious education. If you just pay attention for one day to all the ways religion has worked itself into our landscape, you’d probably agree that being ignorant of religion would be like being deaf in one ear.

    That said, I do feel that as long as you have no fundamental disagreements with your ex’s religion, and don’t follow a particular religion yourself, your ex’s request seems a very reasonable one. However, based on a couple of your prior posts, I have to say that you should expect him to pick up his share of the weight. If he wants your son in church on Sunday mornings, he can take him there. If he wants him in a parochial school, I hope he plans on forking over some cash. Is he going to have the talk with Nolan about why he’s not married to you? I hope he’s practicing his speech.

    SKL  |  January 19th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

  • I just realized the last 2 sentences of my prior comment could be taken the wrong way. My point is that Catholics consider it very wrong for a child to be raised without two married parents in the home, so at some time, Nolan will be needing an explanation of why his situation doesn’t comport with the Catholic ideal. Of course you’ll need to have that discussion regardless of religion, but if it’s his dad who is particular about him “being Catholic,” it seems he ought to feel responsible to tackle these tough topics when the time comes.

    SKL  |  January 19th, 2009 at 11:31 pm

  • i agree with skl for the most part, mostly on your ex’s responsibility.

    however, i feel more that as the custodial parent, you retain the ultimate decision. it is possible that a child raised without any one religion may turn out culturally better-rounded than one doctrinated into any specific belief system. i’m thinking that since nolan lives with you it seems highly probable that he will more stridently follow your examples (in religion as well as other ways of life). in the same way your ex will have to explain to your son why his parents aren’t married and that is very traditionally un-catholic, how would you explain why you aren’t similarly practicing his faith?

    i’m just putting myself in nolan’s shoes…being put into a catholic school, going to church on sundays, accomplishing other religious requirements…while living with his mom who doesn’t do the same. my bottom line: it wouldn’t be fair. even if his father is by his side throughout his religious education (which, judging by your previous posts concerning his moral character, seems as likely as monkeys flying out of my butt), chances are that nolan will see the ambiguity, be confused, and may very well rebel.

    i hope all that came out as nicely as i intended. i really don’t mean to attack your standpoint, as i know religion and spiritual beliefs can be a sensitive subject (even though you clarified you are not passionately nonreligious). as difficult as it may sound, i think that you and your ex should come to a compromise; maybe he should hold off on instilling any beliefs until nolan is old enough to first understand then have his own opinion, and then of course you’ll support nolan’s decision.

    just had another thought: is your ex wanting nolan to be catholic just for the sake of the label? catholic like daddy, not like mommy? sounds like the brand of shit my dad used to pull. when we were little, my mom would bake birthday cakes for jesus at christmas as a child-friendly way to introduce us to the very mature religion my dad grew up in, and my dad would rant about how sacrilegious she was being.

    denese  |  January 20th, 2009 at 1:16 am

  • That’s a good point about your actions being consistent with what you expect from your child. On the other hand, we don’t go to school or practice spelling lists, because we finished doing that at a certain age. I think the same argument could be made to some extent about religious education.

    I recall my religious education. It evolved over time as my parents went from non-practicing to “born again” to just plain Christians. After a point, we stopped going to church as a family, but I was expected to go to some house of worship weekly (my choice of where) until I was about 13 or so. I also attended Lutheran school for 8 years. I don’t think I ever felt like rebelling on account of the fact that my parents expected me to do something they weren’t doing, but then, my parents always did remain moderately religious (especially my dad), so it wasn’t like they were hypocritical.

    SKL  |  January 20th, 2009 at 2:20 am

  • Well Kristin, I really don’t know what to say about this except that this is very, very offensive. I can’t believe that you think it’s OK to speak of my religion this way. Calliing us “strange slack-jawed people with lifeless eyes who dead-panned everything back to the priest, who I could never understand. I hated fiddling in the pew, lining up for the Significant Cracker….” You can’t be serious. If you bothered to learn anything about my religion, calling it a “Cracker” is majorly offensive. We believe it to be Jesus’ body!!

    After all that discussion about Ann Coulter saying things about single motherhood, you turn around and offend the Catholic faith. I am just speechless. I’m sitting here with my jaw open. Would you say these kinds of things about blacks? Maybe you need to find a Church to go to, Catholic or not, and examine your morals. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    If you are trying to keep us coming to read your blogs to keep the traffic coming to your site, I hope that you will reconsider offending the Son of Man.

    Karen  |  January 20th, 2009 at 6:22 am

  • Hmm, interesting post. Well, I’ll give you my take. I was raised in a country setting and we went to a very small United rural church, every second Sunday in the school year. My mom never made us sit though church, as a kid it seems never ending – we always left ten minutes into church to go to Sunday school. Religion was never pushed down our throats. That being said, I’m glad that I had a bit of education about it.
    Fast forward to today and I have two daughters and I started taking them to a nearby church when I moved to my new community. My girls are young enough that they enjoy going. I’ve met many great people through the church and I found them very welcoming. I wanted a way to meet new people and so my kids could meet kids from the surrounding area. Church is a small part of my life. I don’t make them sit through the service either; they leave ten minutes into church as well to go to Sunday school. I don’t think small kids get anything out of a church service, they’re better off in Sunday school.
    That being said, I have a hard time with religion. I would classify myself more as spiritual then religious. (maybe I’m being hypocritical going to church – see how confused I am??) The main reason that I take my girls to church is that I want them to have knowledge about God and Jesus, and with that information when they get older they can make their own decisions about what they believe in. I have to honestly say, the more time I spend in church the more confused I get, I do find a lot of it hard to believe. I really don’t think we came from Adam and Eve, I believe in evolution. There are so many questions, Noah’s ark, Jonah and the whale, an angel telling Mary she was pregnant, I could go on and on. As a non-catholic church, I have to say they are very welcoming. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single mother, been divorced three times, had six kids out of wedlock, whatever. I think the Christian ideal is to welcome all people and I don’t find the Catholic religion like that. I know a catholic priest that wouldn’t baptize a baby because the mother was single. WHAT?? That sounds so crazy to me. My friends’ father left their family when she was a baby 30 years ago, her mother had to take courses to allow her back into the church because she was divorced!! Does that sound insane to anyone else? It does to me.
    In a nutshell religion is confusing, I’m not going to be a blind sheep and just accept everything in the bible, but I do want my kids to be good people and have knowledge of many things, religion being one of them. We do many things in Sunday school to help the local community and I want my kids to know how important it is to help people less fortunate or by volunteering for various things. Basically my take on it, is take the good things from the bible and live your life by the golden rule. So there’s my long confusing answer about religion. To each their own.
    (We did get our babies baptized, but I’ll tell you what my minster said to me about it. I asked him about the whole “babies going to hell if they are not baptized or being in “limbo”. His answer was, to his thinking what kind of a God would let an innocent beautiful baby to go hell or stay in limbo? It’s a ludicrous question, God accepts everyone in heaven - baptized or not.)

    M  |  January 20th, 2009 at 8:33 am

  • Neither of my parents were strongly religious, but they and I had a very diverse group of friends. They encouraged me to attend various services with my friends and their families to gain an understand of many viewpoints.

    That being said, I don’t believe that attending catholic schools in Canada will either hurt or help Nolan’s chances of making his own decisions. Religion is one class out of an entire day, and these days you regulalry see very visible signs of other religions attending. Those in Toronto have a fairly high muslim enrollment.

    I believe from your writing that you’re going to teach Nolan to be considerate of others beliefs and to think for himself. Giving in to his father on this wish shouldn’t harm that for either of you.

    Monica  |  January 20th, 2009 at 8:46 am

  • Karen, it appears you have nothing better to do with your time except critisize and pick fights. I have read several other of your comments and it appears all your trying to do is stir up contraversey. I re-read Kristen’s post, and as a religious person myself, there was nothing in there remotely offensive, she was simply explaining her experience.

    Ashley  |  January 20th, 2009 at 9:54 am

  • Brace yourself my friend for the firestorm of this post! Considering that your last post was hijacked by discussions about religion, you are a brave woman. I am already offended by the judment passed down about your not having been married to Nolan’s father as if you need to atone for your sins. I don’t know why women who are obviously at odds with the very notion of single motherhood/unwed mothers are even on this board unless it’s to pass down judgment at the “righteousness” of their beliefs on others. I think it’s wonderful that you are a thinking person and considering what is best and willing to explore possibilities. You are FREE to choose just as your son will be when he is older. Have you considered a Unitarian Universalist church? RE tends to be focused on world religions in which Christianity is ONE of the beliefs explored. It is spiritually based and OPEN to those who are free thinkers who may from time to time question the nature of their beliefs.

    Leslie  |  January 20th, 2009 at 10:25 am

  • Karen: I was trying to portray my experience in Church through my own eyes, as a child. What I saw, what made me uncomfortable.

    I am NOT calling Catholics (or any people of faith) names, and I believe fiercely that you have the right to believe vigorously in what makes sense for you — including the right to believe that I will burn in hell eternally for not believing.

    I did know that this would be a controversial post - it’s religion after all - but it is not my intent to offend Catholics.

    (If you could have seen my mildewy smelling Church in the 80’s and observed all the elderly, humming people and seen what I did, in the body of a 7-year old, I think you would have understood what I was trying to describe!)

    Kristin D  |  January 20th, 2009 at 10:34 am

  • I was raised by extreme religious fundamentalists, and have a difficult time with organized religion. I don’t practice anything as an adult. My husband was raised in a non-strict Catholic family and doesn’t agree with many of the beliefs of the Catholic church.

    We did have our son baptized Catholic and that religion will be part of his life. It was important to my husband and his family. He may go to Catholic school (more because the public schools here are poor quality) and I feel iffy about that. We’ve decided that we will gently explain to him (in age-appropriate ways) what we disagree with and why as the issues come up.

    Kate  |  January 20th, 2009 at 10:52 am

  • “I am already offended by the judment passed down about your not having been married to Nolan’s father as if you need to atone for your sins.”

    Leslie, if it’s my post that offends you, rest assured that I’m not condemning Kristin. I am not Catholic nor have I ever been. I am a single mom and my children are growing up without a father. I have more than a few things to explain to my own kids as they grow spiritually. I think Kristin knows that I am not judging her, because I’ve posted my background on her blogs many times. However, I can see how other readers might misunderstand.

    My point was that the Catholic church is likely to judge Nolan’s family, openly or by implication. So obviously, Kristin and her ex both need to have an open dialogue about it so that Nolan knows how to deal with the judgment. The ex seems to have a history of shrugging off his responsibilities to Nolan, but I feel he ought to make a commitment to attend to this matter. Otherwise it isn’t fair for him to expect Kristin to commit to “raising him Catholic.”

    SKL  |  January 20th, 2009 at 10:54 am

  • First, good luck on whatever you decide is right for your family.

    My husband had no faith upbringing, but a great character (proof that Church is not necessary to create good people). We married in the Catholic Church because my faith and sprirtuality are a part of me. It was made very clear to us that I, as the Catholic member, had the obligation to lead the children’s faith life. (Since my husband had no “competing” interest.) I do not expect my husband to attend Mass with us, although he does on occassion. I do expect him to be able to tell my girls why he does not attend church. But, I lead the prayers and try to engage in open discussion with my children about God, Jesus, as well as different religions.

    That said, I believe that the bulk of the religious upbringing should rest with Nolan’s father. If it is important to him, then he needs to step up. However, you should be willing to explain to Nolan why daddy goes to church and you don’t. It all boils down to: People believe different things for different reasons. Even if Nolan’s father took him to Mass every day and read him the Bible as a bedtime story each night, there is no guarantee that Nolan would believe. Faith is something you have or you haven’t. You can’t teach it.

    In reference to previous posters, each Diocese and (sometimes) Church has their own rules for marriages, divorces, baptisms. My diocese is extremely open to people of every persuasion, race, etc.

    ebane  |  January 20th, 2009 at 12:58 pm

  • An intelligent adult will actually go out and find facts and evaluate a situation on its merit, rather than rely on the opinions of a little girl.

    Your complaints about Catholicism seem to be rooted in a little girl’s unbecoming hairstyles, uncomfortable clothing, massive confusion about what was actually going on and ridicule from her own father. As an adult, I can see how that little girl would associate all those negatives with Catholicism, but I wouldn’t let her determine what was actually TRUE about Catholicism. She was just a kid, and a confused kid, as she freely admits.

    Try being a grown-up about the issue. If you actually learned about Catholicism as it is supposed to be, you might enjoy the fact that it is a ministry about peace in the world, service to others, and living a highly ethical lifestyle. Then you might see what your ex sees in Catholicism.

    If you want to be fair about it, anyway.

    Sparki  |  January 20th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

  • P.S. Whatever you decide to do, please don’t make the same mistake your father made and ridicule Nolan when his dad takes him to church. That’s not fair to the kid.

    Sparki  |  January 20th, 2009 at 1:35 pm

  • How sad that you had such a horrible church experience as a child. Mine was the polar opposite. I LOVED church! It was so much fun to dress up, go to Sunday School, sing, do crafts, eat graham crackers, memorize bible verses. And my teachers were so nice. I couldn’t wait to go every week. I’m hoping my daughter has memories like mine, not yours! LOL

    As to who decides, I think that (ideally) that is something you discuss before having a child. Hopefully, the parents can come to some sort of agreement. If they can’t reach mutal agreement on that issue, I fear for their co-parenting relationship in general.

    Obviously, your situation is a bit different than that of a couple parenting in a romantic-type relationship with one another. Still, I would hope that divorced (or never married for that matter) parents would be able to agree on something, even if it is that they each teach the child their own beliefs when the child is with them.

    Incidentally, my sister is a Christian married to an atheist. They agreed to enroll my nephew at a Christian pre-school, but they don’t take him to church. I wonder what they will do when he starts asking questions. I think it would be pretty confusing to a kid to be told different things by each parent and then be told to choose for himself at too young an age.

    Robyn  |  January 20th, 2009 at 1:58 pm

  • Ashley, I think that you might be confused. I’m not picking a fight, nor have I tried to. I’m merely stating my opinion, that’s all. And I have never, nor will I ever, call anyone a name or use vulgar language as some posters here have, but that all seems OK. “Simply explaining an experience” would go something like this: “I went to a Catholic Church when I was growing up and didn’t like it very much. I felt like my mother was forcing it on me and I didn’t think it was fair that I had to go and my Dad didn’t. When I was there, I didn’t understand anything that was going on. I didn’t see a lot of young people there and I felt out of place.” That would be an appropriate comment, not calling the parishioners names.

    Kristin, the way you explained your experience was slanderous. You can call it your opinion, but you used defamatory language in your post to a particular group of people. “Slack-jawed,” “lifeless,” “dead panning” and “brain-washy” are not appropriate. If you wanted to say your experience was horrible, then just say that. Why did you have to get graphic with your explanations if nothing else but to hurt others?

    I don’t remember LOVING Church either. I don’t remember it like you do, like it was traumatic or anything. I don’t remember a lot about it because my parents stopped going after my brother got communion. And we never went back. That particular priest talked too much about money my parents said. But we never found another Church to go to. So I don’t know if that was an excuse for them or what…. I’m just glad I found my way back. I love my faith, and obviously there are a number of others of you who do too. And I think it’s great. I think it’s important as Christians to develop a love for God, regardless of what religion we are, and to go to church on a regular basis. We may get confused about what to think. Is it because we weren’t taught? I don’t know. But my sister-in-law is looking for a Church for their son and while I want to tell her to go Catholic, I told her to sit in at the services that the churches have and see which one she likes. Maybe talk to the minister and see if she likes him. Different religions believe different things, but it doesn’t mean that anyone is going to hell. I would never tell you you’re going to hell Kristin. I believe that God will show you the truth when you face Him. He loves you no matter what you believe. He WANTS you to be with Him eternally in Heaven. That’s why He sent His only Son to die for us. He loves us that much.

    And to answer your question you posted, it’s definitely something you guys need to have an open discussion about. If he wants him to go to a Catholic Church, maybe he should take him if you’re not comfortable with it (which I’m assuming you wouldn’t be). I know a woman who actually does take her kids to two different churches. She feels like the Catholic Church provides certain things she likes for her kids and her other Church does too. So they go to both and they do fine.

    Yes, the Catholic Church is strict. We are strict to the Bible. Our whole Mass is about the Bible (something I just learned from EWTN- I’m still in the learning process). Different priests do different things, just like teachers in the classroom. Just think of it that way. We have our Archdiocese that tells us what to do, but the priests do it their way. I actually went to a class I had to go to before I got my first child baptized, with a single mom. I don’t know what else they did, but she knew prayers that I didn’t. So she obviously knew the Catholic faith. So it’s not for me to judge. I’m just saying that each parish is different.

    Karen  |  January 20th, 2009 at 2:06 pm

  • Seriously, Karen? If you don’t like the writing and find it offensive, please, you don’t need to read it. It was abundantly clear that Kristin was writing from a child’s point of view about her personal experiences, not bashing the Catholic Church. Do you often find yourself offended? Do people have to be really careful what they say around you? Maybe she doesn’t like the Catholic Church, or any religion whatsoever for that matter. So what? How does that threaten you? She “bashed” pentacostal Christians too. Are you going to offer your critique of her writing style about that?

    It’s a STORY, her narrative, and she can write it however she pleases. Personally, I find Kristin to be a very vivid writer, one who really makes me feel like I am in the story with her. That’s a GOOD thing. And I certainly hope she doesn’t feel the need in the future to tippy-toe around telling her own story just so that people’s feelings aren’t hurt.

    Robyn  |  January 20th, 2009 at 2:46 pm

  • OK Robyn, there are so many things wrong with your statements. First of all, I’m not a Pentacostal Christian, so I will leave that to them. Secondly, I’m a member of this site and this is a featured blog. I was interested in the title because religion interests me greatly. And because this is America, I’m free to read this. You’re right, I don’t have to, but I didn’t expect to see what she wrote either.

    Thirdly, we have freedom of speech (the first ammendment) and it’s true that it’s her story, but we are not allowed to be defamatory towards other groups of people. It’s against the law. Here’s a link if you’re interested in finding out more information on this:

    And yes, people have to be careful what they say around Catholics, or any religious person for that matter (and I’m thinking I’m not the only religious person that has a right to read this blog). Just like they have to be careful about what they say about blacks. Would you post something defamatory against black people? Of course not. Because it’s wrong. And blacks fought for their right to be respected.

    Lastly, I just want to say that when I first came to this site and wrote some articles, I was told that my articles were not what they were looking for. That I was not allowed because I could not write about my religion. I was writing about how I love my Catholic faith and how much I’m enjoying being a mother, and how God really changed my life, and I couldn’t write about that. Fine, not a big deal because I was blogging. But Kristin can be a featured blogger and write defamatory comments about a particular religion. And I do hope that she is more careful about her choice of words in the future so as not to hurt others. Just because this is for single mothers, doesn’t mean you can slander other groups of people.

    I wrote about this to the editors of this site and still have not received any response. This is wrong, against the law, and I won’t be silent about it.

    Karen  |  January 20th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

  • OK. I don’t want to get into some kind of nonconstructive sparring match here, but the fact that someone has just called my description of my remembered experiences of the church of my childhood “illegal” is totally blowing my mind.

    Karen, I’m a writer. I use imagery when I can, and conjure pictures through descriptions because, in all honesty: explaining the vividity of what I saw is part of what makes compelling reading.

    “I went to a Catholic Church when I was growing up and didn’t like it very much” - it may be true, too, but it’s leaves a lot of the imprint of the experience out. And, frankly, it’s not very interesting.

    I remember being a child: confused by the way the parishioners in the church repeated phrases without really looking up. I was confused by a lot of things as a chid, for sure. As an adult I understand that Communion is a extremely important rite for Catholics. As a child, I couldn’t fathom that what the priest was holding was anything more than a cracker. Does that make more sense now? I am not slandering you or your religion, I promise.

    Kristin D  |  January 20th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

  • SHE WASN’T BASHING CATHOLICS. That’s the point you’re not getting. SHE DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING DEFAMATORY. She told a story about her experiences. IT’S NOT SLANDER. She wrote nothing, NOTHING, slanderous. Please, if you don’t believe me (which I’m sure you won’t), contact a lawyer and see what she says about it.

    If you really want to be offended, read something about religion written by Christopher Hitchins. If that isn’t slander, then this certainly isn’t. You seem to have the mistaken notion that anything that you find offensive is slander. It’s not.

    Oh, and Kristin is covered by the 1st amendment just as much as you are. If she wants to write a NARRATIVE about her childhood experiences, she can. Without any fear of you bullying her into censoring herself. Thank goodness.

    Robyn  |  January 20th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

  • Kristin, you just don’t get it. I just don’t understand. I hate to bring this up again, but Ann Coulter just did it to you and she got slammed by you and I’m sure a whole lot of other single mothers. She was offensive when she said something to the effect of single mothers being some sort of “farm hand??” (I can’t remember her words and don’t have the time to find it right now) for the jailhouse. Did you like it when she used those vivid statements to make her writing more interesting? Of course not. Just because you want to make your writing more interesting, doesn’t mean you have to hurt other people in the process.

    The Catholic religion is probably the most publicly rejected religion, maybe other than Muslim right now, and to write things like that about a religion that is not very popular is wrong. It *is* illegal Kristin.

    And Robyn, I hope you can understand more of where I’m coming from after you read this and you can be a little more compassionate about respecting my beliefs.

    Karen  |  January 20th, 2009 at 3:32 pm

  • I am a very spiritual person and so is my husband but we are not “religious” I guess you could say. My parents tried to first take me to Catholic Church and my brother and I hated it and rebelled by causing chaos during service. My mom then moved us to her church, Methodist, which, I thought, was much more tolerable. My husband had religion crammed down his throat and was forced to read the bible more times than anyone I’ve ever met and cannot bear to follow many of the hypocricies in it. I felt like we should have something in our lives so we have both found happiness by attending the Unitarian church from time to time. It is a truly peaceful, uniting church where all religions are welcome and focus on all of the positive things that you can do in life and there are no scare tactics used.

    Okay, aside from our own story, I think each religion is different on how they choose, though. My boss informed me that in the Jewish religion, the child takes the religion of the mother. If the father is not Jewish, the child is automatically Jewish. If the father is Jewish and the wife is not, then the child is not. However, the only catch is that if they are orthodox, the other partner has to convert anyway so I guess it wouldn’t really matter.

    Oceans Mom  |  January 20th, 2009 at 3:34 pm

  • Karen! Dude, dude, dude.

    I am saying that scary people and rituals I didn’t understand turned me off organized religion.

    Ann Coulter is saying that all single Mothers are responsible for the demise of society.

    I am recounting an experience from my youth. Ann is pinning blame for the maladies of a nation on one group.

    I am not saying Catholics are responsible for Bad Children or Prison Inmates or the fact that America is so screwed up right now — do you see the difference? The major, major difference?

    OK, I am backing down now. There are a lot of other insanely interesting comments here and I want to give them air play too.

    Thanks to the rest of you, for contributing to this really interesting discussion.

    Kristin D  |  January 20th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

  • Kristin:

    I wouldn’t waste your time on Karen’s comments any longer, to be honest I’m not even sure what she’s arguing with you about.

    Your writing is brilliant, as always.

    I grew up catholic, but not really a practicing one. Same as you, my Mother whisked us off to church while my Father stayed at home and read the paper. I don’t see the harm in having your son attend a Catholic school (to meet the ex’s needs) because in Canada, private school is virtually the same thing as public school, except there are religious studies and prayers. And when your son is old enough, he can make the decision for himself.

    millie  |  January 20th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

  • Kristen,

    We love you. Your writing is amazing. Don’t let anyones nasty comments detter you from taking on these amazing topics and writing authentically. Some people simply have nothing better to do with their time than critsize others.

    Ashley  |  January 20th, 2009 at 4:17 pm

  • I was watching a sermon the other day (Rob Bell…not the usual televangelist-type), and he said, “Too many people confuse religion with God and walk away from them both.” I think that’s true — I’ve seen it in my own life — and it makes me unbelievably sad. At its birth, Christianity was this wildly open-armed religion. Today, we tend to think of a religion as something one adopts (rather than as something thrust upon one at birth), but at the time of early Christianity, that idea was completely revolutionary. And then we decided that we know all the Right Ways of Doing Things and started killing each other over those ways.

    And so I guess what I’m saying is that I’m willing to walk into this firestorm because I think it’s really important for people of faith (and I am one) to be able to listen to the reasons behind people’s rejection of faith or organized religion. Maybe my hearing Kristin out about why she doesn’t practice faith today won’t change HER, but it can change ME. (And after all, I’m the only person I can possibly ever change, right?)

    I WANT to hear the reasons people have not found a home in organized religion, because I never want to be the person who repels them from it. My faith is important to me; it has helped me make sense of situations that would otherwise be senseless, helped me to use bad circumstances for my own good, and helped to teach me about extravagant compassion. I think a belief and trust in God enables people to rise above their human limitations to do the most unbelievably kind and generous things, and I want to be a part of that.

    Now. That’s my response to these comments.

    As for your particular situation, Kristin, my question would be whether your ex is attempting to assert his authority or whether he’s really interested in Nolan’s religious education. Keep in mind that I am more than likely projecting here, but my concern is that he wants to assert his rights without accepting his responsibilities. If he wants to “raise Nolan Catholic,” then it seems to me that he will need to start taking a more active role in his parenting. Truly, I believe that relationships more than anything else affect a person’s acceptance or rejection of religion. If his father is all talk and no action, Nolan will pick up on that, and his dad could actually drive him away from the very thing he is encouraging. That’s not something you can control, of course…it’s just that I don’t want your ex to use the “religion” card as a means of making you feel inferior or giving him a way to control the major decisions in Nolan’s life.

    And I think SKL has already said most of the other stuff I was thinking :).

    Just me  |  January 20th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

  • I just realized that I used “faith” and “organized religion” interchangeably in my comment above…I didn’t mean to! Mea culpa!

    Just me  |  January 20th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

  • OK, Ashley and Millie, it is because of people like you and your inability to consider someone else’s point of view with compassion that we have a divided society. I don’t think I have treated anyone with the least bit of disrespect, but somehow you feel compelled to treat me with such. And I agree that Kristin is a wonderful writer, but try to think about this from my side of the equation.

    Single mothers, blacks, Catholics, Atheists, Muslims, Hispanics, Europeans… we all have stereotypes associated with our group of people. I don’t understand why I can’t tell you that you offended me, and maybe a whole slew of other people who are afraid to post. And yet, Kristin’s post still stands, regardless of how it makes other people feel. I think this is a direct result of ignorance. Most of us are not compelled to learn about other people to understand them. There were a lot of stereotypes about my faith that I used to think and have worked through and found that they are not true. I speak to others about my faith and I surprise them when I talk to them because it’s not what they expect.

    But you’re right Kristin, your post was not about this, and I did address your question. I addressed your question with love and compassion for you as a mother struggling with a problem with religion. We are both mothers are we not? We both have struggled with religion have we not? Maybe in different ways, but we do. And we both struggle with stereotypes. And as a woman who faces these stereotypes every day, I would hope you would have more of an open mind about considering other people’s feelings when you write.

    Karen  |  January 20th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

  • haha as a Catholic, i am not offended! If anything, i know many of my (Catholic) friends who felt the same way when they were children and sitting through church. I, personally, think the Catholic church could do a better job of incorporating children into the Mass. But that’s a whole other post!

    I think this is a question that actually applies to ALL parents - Married, not married, single, etc. as i am married and struggle with this question. i usually try to ignore it and hope it goes away but every once in a while a post like this makes me think about it again!

    My husband is not a fan of organized religon and won’t usually go to church if i want to go. However he did go along with my desire to have our marraige blessed in the church and our son babtized. Our son is only 2 so i am not worring about it too much, but i do ponder this often late at night - when should we start going? should we? etc.

    I agree with SLK that your ex has to put up some sort of committment if he wants this for your son. My brother and Cousin both married women who are not Catholic and the kids have followed their mothers in their denomination…

    kate  |  January 20th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

  • Catholic schools provide solid educations. A lot of kids that aren’t Catholic go.

    But they cost money. If he’s not willing to pay child support, is he going to suddenly come up with six grand a year for Catholic school?

    If he wants to take N to church on Sundays, fine. Make sure they have a Sunday School/preschool appropriate service (a lot of churches do) and let them have at it. You can go out to brunch or whatever.

    But I think the Catholic school is going to be a non starter when he sees the bill.

    Margaret  |  January 20th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

  • Dear Kristin,
    I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I think the way you write is refreshing (sorry if I make any mistakes in my English, I’m a dutch girl). Concerning this post I think there is nothing that you did wrong. Some people are ignorant and have opinions about things they know nothing about. Perhaps you offended someone with the things you said but so what. It’s not the end of the world. It’s your right to tell your experiences and it’s their right to be offended by it if they choose so.

    You should try to let these comments fly right out the door and don’t let them bother you. Just continue and write the delightfull posts you do and most likely those people will just stop reading your blog.

    Love, Wendy
    Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    Wendy  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:01 am

  • I can’t believe what kind of posts are considered controversial. This one, and the one discussing if being a single mother could be a negative trait in the business world.

    Living in Sweden, where religion seldom is a touchy subject, and where there is no more stigma in being a single mom than being any other kind of mom it’s baffling to read people’s reactions to your always well-put and with thoughtful viewpoints.

    Charlott Johansson  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:05 am

  • So, this post is not “slanderous” or offensive to me as a Catholic. If you can’t handle your beliefs being quesitoning or your feelings being hurt as a commenter on a post, maybe you shouldn’t write rash things. Religion and politics are always somewhat polarizing and everyone, including Kristin, has the right to right about her experiences.

    Dude, the Catholic church can be a scary, ritualistic, bizzare and nap-inducing place sometimes. It can also be a comforting, accepting, thought provoking and intruiging place to be as well. But one cannot assume that their experience is the same as someone elses. Simple as that.

    I think that I feel the same way as many of the above commenters. If Nolan’s father is really interested in Nolan’s education in Catholic school( paying for it and participating in it), taking Nolan to church. and explaining to him why Dad believes in church but it is ok if Mom believes something different, then I don’t see the harm. But I have to say I find it a little questionable, with what little I know aboutNolan’s father’s involvment at this point. It does feel of him exerting power, rather than really being involved. But it is also possible he doesn’t understand that difference. Not defending him, but I have seen it before with men, confusing feelings of wants/personal ideals with feelings of concern and compassion.

    Sara  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:33 am

  • huh? i don’t see anything slanderous about this post.

    zelly  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:43 am

  • I am not overly religious myself. I am spiritual but have an pretty strong distrust of organized religious because I have seen it be used for hypocritical, judgmental and selfish motives.

    That said, I fully intend to introduce my children to religion. I think religious school or attendance at church are 2 good ways to introduce religious foundation to a child. Then, just as I did, my children can decide for themselves what they believe and how they choose to live those beliefs as they grow older.

    As for whether you overstepped, it seems clear to me that Karen is most offended that you have this platform to express your beliefs while she was not given the same platform (i.e., this website) to express hers. As is often the case, her issues seem (to me) to be more about her own issues than about anything you said or did. That said, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs, certainly. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), there is nothing in the law or in life that guarantees any of us the absolute protection from being offended or getting our feelings hurt by opinions of others that may differ from ours. In fact, if we treasure our right to speak our own minds freely, we must be just as passionate in our defense of others’ right to make observations and share opinions that we disagree with to our core.

    Tracey  |  January 21st, 2009 at 5:37 am

  • Ahhh, so that’s it! Karen didn’t cut it as a blogger and get hired on this site so this is the way she “blogs” on this site! Jesus, what some people will do. Whatever. I’m sure she voted for McCain as well. Let’s move on. Shudder.

    Kristin - LOVE how you express yourself! Keep it coming please. You ROCK!

    Barbara  |  January 21st, 2009 at 6:13 am

  • Woah…. just reading some of these comments reminds me why I have absolutely no desire to get involved with organized religion!

    Katelyn  |  January 21st, 2009 at 6:59 am

  • You didn’t eff up. Karen has special views that certainly don’t represent the majority. Carry on!

    Meg  |  January 21st, 2009 at 7:34 am

  • I am with Kate - this is a question for all parents, married or not. My husband grew up in a religious household, I didn’t. He has moved away from it as he has grown up, and while I am not a religious person I see some benefit for our daughter to be part of some kind of spiritual/religious community (although it feels a bit like acting to me, when we go with her to services.).

    My husband and I talk about this a lot and it’s really a tough call. I keep thinking that he might want her to have more religion in her life but because it’s not something I am into he is not forcing the point, etc. I think it’s a sensitive topic and difficult one for any two parents.

    Nataly  |  January 21st, 2009 at 7:40 am

  • Kristin your description sounds similar to mine as a child. I won’t even say what religion because it doesn’t matter. Karen- how is it illegal to write about one’s experiences? It’s the way she saw things as a child. How SHE remembers them.

    Sharon  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:03 am

  • There is nothing even remotely derisive of the Catholic church in this post - of course mothballs and Crackers are bewildering to a child. Hell, growing up “Evangelical”, my mother told me stories about people who were struck dead if they did not confess to Jesus while the Crackers and Juice were being passed (almost-Charismatic Protestant). Having been through similar services, it’s obvious that most of the “offensive” language here is actually directed toward a Charismatic experience, not the traditional Catholic church.

    Sadly, I embraced this faith until my mid-20s when I finally came to regard it as silliness at best, but generally atrocious. “Brain-washed” and “slack-jawed” are terms I would use to describe myself in my early adulthood, so I can’t imagine how anyone else could be offended by these characterizations. Just another person’s experience, and at that, one that took place decades ago.

    Val  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:09 am

  • SLK,
    Thank you for your thoughtful post out of the gate, and throughout this discussion. I really admire and respect your position and the way you articulate your beliefs. As it is, I am neither Catholic nor Religious, but I found your input to be thoughtful, articulate and practical. I think you had a really good point about Nolan’s father needing to step up to the plate and help nurture this if it’s as important to him as he says it is. Additionally, your insight into the reality of the judgment Nolan might encounter was impressive. I admire your honestly and as a reader of this blog (and therefore the comments) I wanted to let you know I respect what you have to say, despite the fact that we may have different view points on some “key” issues.

    It’s unfortunate that you seem to have a hard time encountering points of view that differ from your own without turning into a personal offense against you or your beliefs. I’m sorry that you see this discussion, again, in this light. Personally I think the comments of readers SLK and Robyn really allow for an open and thoughtful discussion without slamming the door shut because they feel personally offended.

    Two answers to two questions:
    1) I think SLK was really on the ball about “who should decide”. I second her thoughts completely.
    2) No, you didn’t eff anything up. The world is simply filled with a broad and colorful spectrum of humanity.

    Amy  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:19 am

  • Karen, it’s perfectly acceptable to say you were offended — if you genuinely were, and you said so, that’s great. But what Kristin wrote wasn’t slander and/or defamation because she was writing about her own experiences — she didn’t generalize about ALL Catholics or even say anything particularly inflammatory about the religion, other than it didn’t work for her, and here’s why, and here’s what she saw.

    Slander/libel are very, very serious accusations that usually involve specific allegations that must be proven to have hurt the church’s reputation on a much larger scale AND be done with malice and intent to harm, which honestly, isn’t here. (And if we’re going to use Kristin’s treatise on why she didn’t like church as a kid as an example, then every lapsed Catholic in the world is going to have to stand up and be sued). The Boston Globe, for example, has written MUCH more inflammatory, “dangerous” commentaries against the church and they have consistently been protected under the First Amendment.

    I used to be a newspaper editor. We were sued every other day for this kind of crap, and IMO, this doesn’t come close.

    Anyway, in response to the actual statement at hand, I was raised by divorced parents — one Lutheran family, one not — and I went to church with one, and was raised agnostic with the other. Ultimately, it was fine, and I’m glad I had it that way — neither pushed me too hard on the other’s viewpoint, and I like to think I got the best of both worlds. My faith, too, reflects my mixed upbringing, as I have a much more *personal* relationship with God, thanks to the churchless household who taught me loose faith, but a respect for tradition from the Lutheran household. I am not a member of any church, however, and I’m not sure when, if ever, I will be. I will say that I won’t be LCMS, that much I do know, as it didn’t work for me (although its ELCA counterpart is always a possibility, as is its partner, the Episcopal church). Plus, now I’m married to a cultural Jew, so … anyway.

    Ultimately, I think it can be a healthier mix than it seems on the surface, I guess. And my agnostic family almost sent me to Catholic school, by the way, without fear that I would be brainwashed in ways they didn’t approve of. I think a religious private education has benefits well beyond religion, and I don’t think Nolan would be the only mixed-faith kid there, by any stretch.

    jonniker  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:23 am

  • I love this post!
    I strongly feel people who have an issue debating different religious backrounds or beliefs are ignorant…Kristen, you are FAR FROM ignorant. Keep on rocking! :-)

    Stacy  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:42 am

  • My mom was a practicing Episcopalian and my dad was a practicing Catholic when they got married. Apparently, things were pretty loosey-goosey in 1978, because they were allowed to have an interfaith marriage with both a minister and a priest presiding. I don’t think that would happen today. They agreed that if my dad wanted us to be exposed to the Catholic faith, he would make the effort to seek out a church and take us every other Sunday. He chose not to do so and we attended the Episcopal church as a family every Sunday.

    My mom has said to me before: “You know, I was always more spiritual than religious, and I questioned many things about Christianity. However, it was important to me to give you kids a foundation. At the very least, you would have something to reject when you got older.” We went two different ways, my brother and I. He is a grudging agnostic and I almost majored in religion in college. I would say that my belief system now is somewhat all-encompassing. I think there are elements of truth in all religion.

    I actually think if Nolan’s dad made the effort (both physical *and* financial) to expose him to the Catholic faith, it could be a great thing. I also think his dad has to be the one to make the effort, because it’s important to him, not to you. I don’t things have to be so black and white as if Nolan is one thing, he can not be any other thing. When there are questions (and with kids, there inevitably will be!), it will be a great learning opportunity. You can teach him about all the other beliefs people have, including yours, and how this world is a big, open, wonderful place full of billions of people, and that some of those people believe this and some believe that and still others believe such and such and that some people don’t believe at all. That Nolan, himself, will get to make his own decision on his faith.

    I think most kids can handle knowing there is more than one kind of religion out there without being confused. Actually, I think kids can usually handle it *better* than adults; adults tend to think, “If I believe this, then I can’t believe this.” And kids? Well, kids have a more fluid, less linear, pattern of thought. When I was a kid, I never thought my Jewish friends were wrong because they didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God; it was just different. I thought the Greeks and Romans were on to something. I wondered about that Buddha character, and if he and Jesus got along. There was no real separation for me, and awesomely enough, there still isn’t.

    And, for the record, I didn’t find anything about your post to be offensive. It was clearly the experience of one person, at a particular time in that person’s life. When I was very small, my minister was a white haired gentleman and I thought he was actually God for ages, which could be offensive to some. I was also completely skeeved at the wine used in communion for years because OMG BLOOD?!! When I got older, yeah, I got it. I understood the significance. But if I were writing, today, about what I thought then, I would include in my writing that my six year old self thought it was pretty gross that all these people wanted to drink Jesus’ blood.

    Ky Eliza  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:57 am

  • Karen, why are you asking Kristin to write differently? If you don’t like the way she describes her particular church back when she was a child, don’t read it. Asking her to tone it down so as not to offend is ridiculous. I’ve been a Catholic all my 53 years, and truthfully, what Kristin said resonated. Some parishes are like that, some are not. I was not offended in the least. And you can’t tell me you haven’t run into people who don’t like Catholicism? Kristin is very clear that it’s not a matter of not liking the religion - she’s even considering raising her son in the church.

    Nanncy  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:10 am

  • Amy I have not “slammed the door shut” at all! If you could tell me where I did that, OK. But if anything, I think I have been the one to be open to conversation about this very thing!! I have been supportive of Kristin’s question, and even answered it in a way that didn’t even promote my own religion! While I love my religion, I’m not going to force it on anyone. I never, ever have and I never, ever will.

    And based on what went on in the other blog, I think there was intent to hurt here Amy. I think you’re wrong. But we can agree to disagree I suppose. My friends and I don’t always agree on everything, that’s for sure. It’s definitely true with my husband too! But we are still able to be friends, or married :), with different views.

    So for you to say that I’m being closed-minded about this subject is erroneous. Because if anything, I have participated in these discussions openly and honestly and respectful of everyone. Just because she’s recounting her experience as a child does not mean she can say derogatory things about another group of people. I think that you may be closed-minded about this because you are unable to take on my point of view.

    It’s funny though. When Ann Coulter hurt you guys as single mothers, it didn’t feel good did it? And did I tell you that you were wrong and being closed-minded? No, because those are your feelings and the way you perceive it to be. We all come from different backgrounds and I just think that we should be a little more careful about the things we say and how we say them. I know that I read my posts over several times before I send it. My intent is not to hurt someone else’s feelings, only to speak the truth.

    Karen  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:14 am

  • There’s a lyric in a Sloan song that goes like this: “I don’t mind the band but I can’t stand their fans”.

    Too often, religious people leap almost lustfully to hysteria. They demonize and reject intellgent thinking and honest, humanist sharing. Too often they show a complete lack of logic and good humour, as well as a tendancy towards distasteful and divisive outrage. All with this … well, this huge self-congratulatory boner. YAWN.

    That said, there’s nothing more refreshing than religious people that are cool of spirit and mind. Who are comfortable with bobbing around in an ocean of contradictions, as we all must learn to do, being human and living here together.

    sweetsalty kate  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:20 am

  • I personally am not offended by what you said at all. I am a Christian, I take communion, I believe that Jesus Christ came to this world to pay the debt for every single sin I have and have yet to commit. But I am not offended by what you say. Because from your perspective, and any other persons perspective from the outside looking in….we look like bored people who have lost all joy in our lives. And when I say our? I don’t mean me, I mean the whole of christianity. We claim to be this group of people who are filled with the joy of the Lord because we have an eternity promised in heaven….and yet you don’t see us smiling, you don’t see us making an effort to tell anyone else about this wonderful thing that we have discovered and live our lives by, and we hide behind everyone else because we have lost our boldness. And the ones who ARE bold? They are only bold to protect themselves from being offended and hurt because who are YOU to question faith and beliefs?
    I’m sorry Kristin (and everyone else)…but my Jesus teaches love and acceptance. My Jesus allowed His feet to be cleaned with oils and tears and hair…by a HOOKER. Who the heck am I to be offended by what you say? You are not accountable to me, you are accountable to Him. I love my faith, I love God, and people like Karen do too….I think that’s why it is offensive and hurtful. When you really do love someone it hurts to hear that somoene else doesn’t like them with the same intensity that you do. But it’s not my place to put you in yours…ya know what I mean? I can’t expect you to feel the same way about God and church and religion that I do, because my upbringing is different and my experiences are different. I can’t expect you to love a God that you feel like has never been there for you. However, my job is to love you with the same love that Jesus expressed during his time on earth. I can’t make you like him, I definately cannot make you love him….but I can do my best to display His character through my actions so that you can get just a piece…a small human portion….of who God really is.

    Do I think Nolan should have a religious upbringing? Not if it can’t be followed up in the home life. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, and I’m only going by what you have said. We have enough hypocritical religious people in this world. Tell Nolan about religion, tell him about God and every other spiritual being out there….but please don’t raise another hypocritical Christian that chooses a religious life because they are afraid of hell. That is really not what it’s all about. I’m not saying that Nolan would be that hypocrite, please don’t take it that way. But do him some justice and allow him to find God on his own. Maybe that’s not the best advice a christian can give….but I think letting him find God on his own as he grows up and sees little glimpses of Him around this world through people and nature and beauty is so much better than teaching him confusion because you yourself don’t know what you believe. How can you teach him to believe in all of “that” if you don’t believe it yourself. I 100% believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and I had to choose whether Nolan was taught who Jesus Christ is by a father who doesn’t know Him and a mother who doesn’t believe in Him, or the workings of the Holy Spirit throughout his life? Well, I would choose the Holy Spirit.

    Stephanie Parnell  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:27 am

  • After reading my long post I didn’t really answer your question! I think, like some of the above readers commented that if your ex wants him to go to a Catholic school, then I don’t see the big deal with that - if there is an extra cost though, he should pay. He should also be the one to bring him to church and do all that with him. I’m sure his tune will change about the whole thing if he’s the one that has to do everything.

    M  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:27 am

  • Kristin,

    You did not eff up here. In fact, I think that there are more of us that can identify with this than can’t. I could write volumes on how having organized religion crammed down my throat in my childhood has affected the rest of my life. I wasn’t raised catholic but I could describe my church congregation in a much more unflattering light than what you have here for the sake of letting us see it through your eyes.

    I thank you for keeping it real and hope that you continue to do so.


    sky girl  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:28 am

  • Since you asked on your other blog if you effed up here, I’m chiming in to say no, I don’t think you did.

    My mother was raised as a strict Catholic (Catholic school and all) but left the Church when she was an adult… we didn’t go to any church services growing up, and when I was about 13 I decided I wanted to try going to a Church. I went to our local Catholic parish for a few years and participated in the youth group (which I enjoyed more than the actual services), but I left as well before being confirmed because it just wasn’t for me. I just couldn’t sign a paper saying I’d explored all other relgions and was commiting myself to Catholocism for life because I hadn’t explored anything at all! I was a teenager! I can see how the tradition and history speak to some people, but repeating memorized phrases back to the priest just didn’t work for me. And that’s why the world we live in is wonderful; we have the freedom to choose the religion that works best for us.

    Nothing you said is slanderous or libelous. You described an experience as you remember it, which is nothing near illegal… even if it does offend people who don’t agree with your interpretation (and I find that baffling, since you’re the one who experienced it - how can anyone say you didn’t experience what you did if they weren’t there?)

    As for your son… I think if his father wants to take him to Church, I don’t think it can hurt. He’ll be able to see what it’s like and decide as he grows up what kind of religion (or non-religion) works best for him. Since he lives with you, he’ll be exposed to your belief system as well, and going to Church with his dad will just teach him that there are many religions out there and people can choose the way they want to worship -whether that’s going to Sunday servies each week or taking a hike on the weekend to re-connect with nature. Catholic school, that’s a different story. If his father is willing to pony up for the tuition, sure, try it out. But if he’s trying to dictate that you should take Nolan to Church and you should send him to Catholic school, that’s a no-go.

    Operation Pink Herring  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:29 am

  • hi Kristin! I think you are entitled to your opinion - whether other people agree with it or not. I read (and re-read) your post and didn’t see where you are slamming Catholics. as you stated, you were simply remembering the way you felt as a child - not necessarily the way you feel as an adult. I think your post also makes me realize how important it is for two people who marry to have similar (if not the same) religious preferences. because we all know how important (or unimportant) religion is to people.

    so, with that said - I’m not sure which parent should decide the religion for the child. since your son is at such a young age, I don’t think that it would “hurt” him to be in a Catholic school (like your ex wants), so I would be OK with it. I have a stepson (who is 7), and ultimately his mother decides all of that sort of stuff (which is totally fine by me and my husband), and I wish it was that way for you - I really do. we also have a 3 year old, and I mean, I pretty much decide what sorts of things he will be doing, etc - lol it’s just natural I suppose. does that make sense?

    and no, I don’t think you eff’d up. :)

    Lyndsey  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:39 am

  • Weighing in — but making sure not to relate any negative personal experiences since I wouldn’t want to BREAK THE LAW (bwah…) — I was raised in the Catholic church, but my family were Christmas and Easter Christians, so church was sporatic.

    When my oldest was 5, I decided to try another faith and found a church home that my children and I enjoyed. My husband does not attend church unless the boys have a special church event and while I would love for him to be there, I don’t push it since his experience is his experience and who am I to judge?

    And now my youngest goes to a Catholic school so we are all over the map here. I love the education he is getting — religious and regular. It gives him another view organized religion that I think he will value later in life.

    All this to say, let Nolan try it and maybe he will have a great experience and a wonderful time with his dad. And maybe he won’t! But you never know until you try….

    cbrks12  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:46 am

  • You know, I think your use of the phrase “I did not belong to the class of people who believed that an unbaptized baby would go to “limbo”" is probably a little bit strongly worded - I would never consider a religious group to be a “class” of people - merely a sect, or group of likeminded believers.

    That said, you make an excellent point. I think what I gained the most from attending church growing up was a sense of regularity, a network of loyal friends, and a feeling that there was something greater at work in my life. I am not particularly religious today, but if I were to have children, would have to consider baptism and at least Sunday school for my own kids - if not for the guidance and opportunity to believe if they so choose, but to give them at least a religious blueprint in their formative years.

    Jamie  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:48 am

  • This is something my mother and I have been arguing over. She wants to take my baby to church every Sunday .. which wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing, but not exactly something I wan’t to force my kid to do as I never enjoyed being forced into it. Religion grew to be a personal choice for me, something I learned what I wanted and how I wanted to do it along the way once I got older .. and I would like for it to be the same with my kiddo.

    Bridgette aka New Single Mama  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:53 am

  • Ah. I have gone to church throughout the years, to a couple of different ones, and my experiences in church were NOTHING like yours! I, however, am not Catholic and do NOT do the whole speaking tongues thing. I do think that your experience would have left the same taste in my mouth and I would be hesitant (to say the least) to do the same thing to my child.

    It was different for me though, I had many different experiences through church, or the families I knew through church, and many, MANY, experiences that I’ve had just based on my faith to know that I want my children to have the same thing. I have felt like I would be denying them something incredibly important and irreplacable to keep them out of everything faith-based.

    I think, also, it’s important to remember that churches are filled with pews of PEOPLE, people who are amazingly flawed and always human, always prepared for error. It’s easy to see why so many people get turned off of church, God, religion, etc - but it’s important to remember that the message often gets lost in the messengers (can’t see the forest for the trees and all that)

    So. Yes, there’s my two cents.

    Jenny  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:04 am

  • All this is, simply, is a description from the point of view of a seven year old. This is neither slanderous nor illegal. It’s creative expression. Which, last time I checked, is completely OK.

    Sarah  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:16 am

  • What boggles my mind about the Catholic church (I grew up Catholic) is that so many people don’t really walk the walk, but follow the rules…like some sort of cosmic loophole. When you sin, go to confession. As long as your baptized, you go to heaven. That’s how I grew up and it sounds like that’s how your ex feels too (go through the Catholic motions and that’s about it).

    Kristin, in my opinion, I would rather have a son who thinks deeply about things and learns that good deeds, living well, helping others, (all decidedly ‘christian’ things) are more important that getting some water sprinkled on your head as an infant. Especially if neither of his parents seem very religious.

    And Karen, it sounds as if perhaps it was your lack of talent as a writer (and not necessarily the subject matter) that caused your writing to be excluded on this website. Don’t feel bad, that’s the problem with over 95% of the things submitted for publishing.

    Liz  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:19 am

  • I also was raised Catholic, and although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, my (non-practicing Episcopalian) husband and I baptized our daughter in the Episcopalian church. We don’t go to church often, but we do practice faith: our daughter says prayers every night, we talk about God, I teach her about major Christian holidays.

    And since you asked at your other blog: “Significant Cracker” *was* a bit much.


    Chookooloonks  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:33 am

  • Like it or not, this is her opinoin and it is neither deffarmatory or illegal.

    I am a practicing Christian and intend on raising my daughter the same as well.

    I have written this and erased and re-written because I rarely read here and never comment, but can’t help myself today and therefore am rambling with complete lack of thought to puncuation. I apologize.

    I grew up in a divorced home; my mother is a strong Methodist and my father is agnostic. My step-mother is Catholic. Growing up at times was confusing and complicated in this environment.

    However, I think my parents did a fantastic job.

    My father, never failed in the commitment he made at my baptisim to provide religious education for me. I went to church, without fail, every Sunday. Sometimes, he attended with me. After a certain age I was allowed, with my parents approval, to choose the church I wanted to attend. My father felt that even though he never felt “right” about any particular church that he didn’t want to deny me religion. That was a choice I could make as an adult.

    I think that my father’s perspective equipped me to deal with the fact that not everyone sees the world with the same eyes. I am a stronger Christian, as I was confronted daily with a person who does not believe the same as me. But also, I am a more open and accepting person.

    Oddly enough, I have always been much more closer to my father than my mother.

    I don’t think the parent CAN, even if they want to, decide a religion for a child. I think they can expose a child to a certain faith and as the child grows they choose for themselves. I also think that I grew up in the half this way, half that environment, and if done with honesty and your child’s best interest at heart I do feel (though not ideal) it will work out find. I honestly think I am better for it.

    Katherine  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:34 am

  • Guess what Karen? Some people who go to church? ARE REALLY LIKE THAT. They are there for any number of reasons not having to do with connecting to God or a certain faith. To act as though such people don’t exist is just ridiculous. Also, as Krisitn points out, she is writing from the perspective of a child regarding those observations.

    Personally, I am not quite sure where I am at anymore when it comes to religion and faith, but I am married to an atheist. However, if my husband and I decide to have children, I definitely plan on introducing the idea of religion to them because I think they will be missing out on an opportunity to be a part of something that could be meaningful to them, even if it isn’t for me. That being said, if tomorrow my husband becomes a devout Catholic, and I become an arden atheist, I would hope that would could agree to give our child both perspectives. But it should be the responsibility of the parent advocating a certain belief system to introduce the child to that belief system. Theoretically, shouldn’t they be the most equipped to do it?

    slynnro  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:42 am

  • First off, no, you didn’t eff up.

    I’m a non-believer, as is my husband. So that makes religion easy in our household, or more difficult. While I believe in teaching children about different religions, it will be equal. I say teach him about lots of religions, and since neither of you are devout followers, don’t push him towards any one religion. If he wants, he can choose later.

    Shannon  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:49 am

  • Slynnro, I never said people that ACT like that didn’t exist, but the language she used is wrong. It amazes me that you guys can’t see that.

    I’m not saying that Catholicism is THE ONLY WAY. I’m just trying to defend my faith and the stereotypes!!

    I posted about this on my blog. You may find it interesting to check it out and get a different point of view.

    Karen  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:04 am

  • Nope, you didn’t eff up. Jonniker nailed it (of course): this is certainly not slander or defamation (if anything, it would be libel, which it isn’t either) by any stretch of the imagination. Slander/libel/defamation require a very specific set of conditions, none of which are present in your post.

    I agree with the commenter that Catholic school will be a non-issue if you hold the line that your ex will need to foot the bill if he wants to send his kid to a specific school. I’m sure your local elementary is a perfectly wonderful option for Nolan, so it won’t be the more difficult “the local public school is scary/inadequately funded/etc. so we have to consider private school” argument that sends to many kids to Catholic school.

    Sarah  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:04 am

  • The whole 2 months my grandmother attempted to make me go to church I felt the exact same way you did. I thought it felt fake, like everyone was acting. Looking back now, I think my grandmother was trying to find a way back to church, but really she didn’t have it in her and we both stopped going (thankfully). Would your ex be opposed to a Unitarian Universalist type of congregation? That might be a nice middle ground.

    And Karen, why on earth are you here at this blog? Since when is speaking your mind illegal. I think you might need to turn the computer off and go to church if you think free speech is illegal.

    Ashley  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:09 am

  • It’s interesting, Karen, that you want so much sympathy for your position, yet cannot seem to empathize with a child who is sitting in church and just not getting it.

    slynnro  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:09 am

  • “it won’t be the more difficult “the local public school is scary/inadequately funded/etc. so we have to consider private school” argument that sends to many kids to Catholic school.”

    OOPS! I meant that to read “sends many kids to Catholic school”. I don’t believe that too many kids go to Catholic school, nor do I believe in misspelling “too” as “to”. :)

    Sarah  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:21 am

  • As a non-practicing Jew who calls herself “Jewish” because I identify with the heritage and it makes me feel connected to a tradition, but who doesn’t believe in god, I understand much better now (as an adult) why my mom was so insistent that I marry a Jew someday. I’m not married yet, but I’m dating a Jew, and I see now that we share so many of the same experiences and morals, which I never had in common with past boyfriends, even the non-religious ones. It would be really difficult for me if my future child’s father wanted our child to go to religious school, aside from very liberal Hebrew school. I know I would have to concede, but you have a right to teach Nolan your side of the story, too. Just because it’s not mainstream (as in, there’s not a organization that teaches about it), doesn’t mean your views don’t hold weight as well, although it might be confusing for him in the beginning. I guess the best thing to do would be to make it very clear to him that he has a choice in what he wants to believe, and clearly state your beliefs.
    As for the commenter, sounds like she was having a shitty day and wanted to take it out on someone. This post was the equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in terms of controversy. Ha!

    Georgia  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:23 am

  • I had a very similar perception of the Catholic Church, although I was teenager at the time I attended. I think this was a wonderful post, and I am surprised that anyone was offended by it. Of course, there are people who walk around in the world looking for reasons to be offended…

    Sabine  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:24 am

  • People need to lighten up. She was talking about religion from the perspective of a CHILD… remember how everything looked to us as children? We clearly do not have the same tie to religion as we do as adults and have made the decisions for ourselves. As a child, we are forced to go by our parents, we don’t understand the greater meaning of it and adults all looked warped and odd to us.

    It’s my belief that the mother decides the religion of the child. I’m not jewish, but by and large mothers are the ones who take their children to church and to sunday school so it just makes more sense to me that it would be the mother to decide. My general stance on most things regarding marriage and children is that the person who cares most deeply about it should win, however- unless your ex is going to show up every sunday morning and take Nolan to church, asking him to be raised in a church (thus forcing you to go) when you do not believe in it is above and beyond.

    Kim  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:31 am

  • N’s father is a piece of work, no? I can’t remember who it was that said it, but I agree that his idea to send N to parochial school will fly right out the window when he sees the tuition bill.

    As far as the rest of this goes… I was in a church much like the one from your youth last weekend. I wouldn’t have been there at all if not for a couple that means the world to me renewing their vows after 50 years of marriage. I was baptized a Catholic. My mom sort of forced me into CCD (after years of no one in the family practicing) when I was in junior high, because she was worrried about her *black soul*. I knew then the whole thing was pretty much a joke, because shouldn’t my religious education have been for the benefit of MY soul? I was a good kid, though, and received first communion and was confirmed.

    Haven’t set foot inside a church except for weddings and funerals since.

    joolz  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:54 am

  • You actually just summed up my childhood church experiences. I’m not offended in the least, I’m a little jealous that you were able to describe it better than I ever could.

    Oh, and I am a church-going Christian in adulthood.

    Nic  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:55 am

  • OK Ashley, you are just not worth my time. Obviously you may have some chip on your shoulder about something, I don’t know. But it’s not for me to know.

    Slynnro, I did empathize. As a matter of fact, I answered Kristin’s question without favoring Catholicism:

    “I don’t remember LOVING Church either. I don’t remember it like you do, like it was traumatic or anything. I don’t remember a lot about it because my parents stopped going after my brother got communion. And we never went back. That particular priest talked too much about money my parents said. But we never found another Church to go to. So I don’t know if that was an excuse for them or what…. I’m just glad I found my way back. I love my faith, and obviously there are a number of others of you who do too. And I think it’s great. I think it’s important as Christians to develop a love for God, regardless of what religion we are, and to go to church on a regular basis. We may get confused about what to think. Is it because we weren’t taught? I don’t know. But my sister-in-law is looking for a Church for their son and while I want to tell her to go Catholic, I told her to sit in at the services that the churches have and see which one she likes. Maybe talk to the minister and see if she likes him. Different religions believe different things, but it doesn’t mean that anyone is going to hell. I would never tell you you’re going to hell Kristin. I believe that God will show you the truth when you face Him. He loves you no matter what you believe. He WANTS you to be with Him eternally in Heaven. That’s why He sent His only Son to die for us. He loves us that much.

    And to answer your question you posted, it’s definitely something you guys need to have an open discussion about. If he wants him to go to a Catholic Church, maybe he should take him if you’re not comfortable with it (which I’m assuming you wouldn’t be). I know a woman who actually does take her kids to two different churches. She feels like the Catholic Church provides certain things she likes for her kids and her other Church does too. So they go to both and they do fine.”

    You guys are entitled to your opinion, that’s fine. And so am I. Why are my opinion, thoughts, feelings *wrong?* How can you tell someone that how they feel is wrong?

    I know that people have opinions about being Catholic, Christianity and the hypocrisy that comes with it all. People have opinions about a lot of things.

    And I was attracted to this post because it was about religion. It has become a passion of mine to learn not only about Catholicism, but about other religions too. Thank you Stephenie for kind of stepping in there for me. It’s important that we learn about each other so we understand each other so we don’t offend each other, even when we’re speaking the truth. It’s something I struggle with myself when I write or talk with others that don’t agree with me. We can all let some hurtful things slip.

    I really thought that this would be an interesting question that I could contribute to in a positive way. I guess I didn’t. Oh well, that’s how it goes!

    Karen  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:56 am

  • You haven’t said anything *remotely* illegal. My goodness, people are judgey. I was raised in a strictly Catholic upbringing… wore the plaid skirt, got the T-shirt, etc. As an adult, I’ve found the Catholics in my life (including my “pious” family) to be amongst the most intolerant, judgmental, strict, and close-minded. I choose not to live my life that way, and when I do have children, I won’t raise them in that environment.

    I wouldn’t subject my kids to a religious upbringing that I wasn’t 100% committed to… kids see right through all of that. I think it’s funny that Nolan’s father (who hasn’t seemed to be too terribly present) even thinks he can have an opinion on this. Will he be taking him to church every Sunday? I think not.

    Caroline  |  January 21st, 2009 at 12:04 pm

  • I hope this comment won’t prolong the discomfort here. But I think I’m seeing the “language” controversy from both sides. I think the author was just trying to be light-hearted. Many of us on the internet have gotten into the habit of talking in a way that isn’t appropriate for all audiences all the time. But the fact is, on the Internet, you really are talking to “all audiences.”

    Would Kristin have written differently if she thought a Catholic priest was likely to read this? My guess is, yes she would, particularly since she has some knowledge of what the hot-buttons for Catholics are.

    That said, it’s also the responsibility of the reader to consider the context and the literary license that is expected in most media.

    I’d say that the best thing to do is agree that “significant cracker” was perhaps too irreverent for a mixed audience, but that the author had no ill intent. Perhaps this could be a positive learning experience for all, if we don’t instead let it morph into a bashing session.

    I must admit that I found the comparison to the Ann Coulter statements interesting. In both cases, it was the delivery more than the message itself that offended the most. The difference is that Ann Coulter knows she’s going to offend some people, and doesn’t appear to care. Kristin knew the topic was controversial, but didn’t intend that her choice of words would offend anyone.

    I think Karen’s points were clearly stated and well understood. I believe she, like Kristin, had/has no ill intent at all. That said, I don’t think its’ necessary for all to state agreement here; that will never happen in any case. Peace!

    SKL  |  January 21st, 2009 at 12:06 pm

  • I also grew up in a Catholic family and am a parent to a 2.5 yr old little boy. Your descriptions of why you don’t want your son to be baptized and don’t want to do the church thing, really resonates with me. I think you’ve written it well and while there are many aspects to a spiritual education, it doesn’t have to come from The Catholic Church to have relevance. In my opinion, it should NOT come from the church, but from the family and the community.

    Laurie  |  January 21st, 2009 at 12:25 pm

  • Wow Kristin….one thing I think we can all agree on…your posts are never boring.

    I’ve read all the comments and I’m still really trying to make sense of what was deffamatory, slanderous, illegal, etc…and I practice law ….for a living.

    I was also raised Catholic (am now non-practicing) and have gone through ups and downs with my parents who consider themselves somewhat “born again” in these past few years. This issue is a sensitive topic, to say the least. You can imagine that our decision to NOT baptise our son was met with ALOT of disapproval.

    All of this being said, while I understand Karen’s point on view with respect to Ann Coulter, I don’t get the comparison. The first part of your narrative in this post was a recollection of childhood impressions and the second half of your narrative simply deals with your current belief structure. The second half of your narrative in no way points any fingers, treats someone differently because of religion, or puts down anyone because of it. You are simply stating what you believe. Something we are all permitted (legally) to do.

    Religion (like politics) is one of those topics that touches people very deeply…however, I’m still at a loss to see what was so offensive about the way you chose to explain your thought process. Would I have chosen different words? Perhaps…but that’s the great thing about reading someone else’s writing….you get to read things you might have worded differently…imagine that. You don’t always have to agree though.

    Finally, if someone doesn’t like the way an individual writes….don’t read and don’t come back OR provide meaningful feedback about how it made you feel….instead of bashing and throwing around big words.

    I’ll keep coming back K, because I think you are thoughtful, intelligent and above-all…never boring.

    wn  |  January 21st, 2009 at 12:36 pm

  • I’m not even going to bother wading into these waters even though it’s a great post and I love how Kristin wrote it. I don’t follow organized religion and never will (I find the spirituality vibe of Abraham-Hicks et al much more peaceful, loving, positive and comforting) : )

    But Karen, you have mentioned your blog many times in the last week on Kristins posts here at Work It Mom! and I’m wondering if the reason you are so passionately arguing in her last 2 posts, is to get attention so people will look at your blog? I wouldn’t have thought otherwise, but you keep bringing up your blog and even went as far as to let us all know how many visitors you had been receiving vs how many more you’ve been getting since arguing with everyone on here ; )

    ~Monica  |  January 21st, 2009 at 12:46 pm

  • Controversial topic, yes, but good for you for taking on the difficult issues!

    My family was similar to yours… Mom = Catholic, Dad = lapsed Presbyterian, brother and I raised Catholic with Dad never coming to church. It worked for us and I never thought it was weird.

    I think you should decide what is best for your family and I think it’s your RIGHT to do so. Just as it is the right of every other person out there to decide what is best for THEIR families. With that being said, for your particular situation I feel if your Ex is so hellbent (ha! Little joke!) on your son going to Catholic school, then he should pony up some or all of the cash for it. It often seems you are the primary caregiver and I think that means you have more of a say than he does. I don’t care if that is unfair, primary caregiver means more responsibilities, less time for yourself… so you should have the added benefit of getting more weight in the parenting decisions.

    Another thing I have found in my own way out of Catholicism and into my own spirituality is that most religions include a large side-helping of guilt and it’s close cousin, judgment. I would not pay attention to the folks who reacted badly to your descriptions of Catholicism, they are merely reflecting their own internal guilt onto you.

    Erin  |  January 21st, 2009 at 12:53 pm

  • No, you didn’t eff up Kristin.

    Don’t even get me started on the Catholic Church. My Mom (practicing) and I have very heated discussions on the Church quite often. I myself was raised Catholic but disagree with many of their “rules”.

    My ex and I have discussed religion here and there. Right now, we feel the little man is too young (he’s 3) to attend church but he does say his prayers every night before going to sleep.

    Right now the religion discussion between my ex and I is on the shelf.

    Christine  |  January 21st, 2009 at 12:56 pm

  • Hey Kristin,
    Wow, quite the conversation going on!
    My two cents…
    My mom had my sister and I baptized when we were little for my grandparents and my dad’s mother.
    After the divorce, my mom would take us to church with her parents and well, we weren’t too keen on it either…
    So, my mom gave us the option: do you want to go to Church? Is there a different church you’d like to try? Do you have any questions?
    Meanwhile my grandmother was slightly appalled that we didn’t go, but since her son (my dad) wasn’t around to take us, there was no issue.
    We instead spent our afternoons playing at the parks, going iceskating and spending quality time with my mom who worked damn hard to make our lives fun and exciting.
    IF Nolan’s dad wants to take him to church on Sunday’s and help pay for (hahahahaha) Catholic school - then so be it.
    BUT… on your end, he has to know that Nolan can say no when he’s old enough, for church and Catholic school AND
    (this was a point of contention with my ex when we talked about kids…)
    You as the mother has ever right to talk about why you don’t see the same way as his father.
    You can teach him that being gay is ok (VERY un-Catholic and quite the issue with my religious ex-bf), and that not being religious is ok… trying out different religions is ok… whatever feelings you may have on spirituality and how you see religion etc. WITHOUT argument from your ex.
    The fact is, you never asked to be a single parent, you tried your hardest to make things work for Nolan and obviously these things would have come up even if the two of you were still together.
    The fact is, you’re spiritual, not religious - no one on here can convince you that you should be - even though a few seem to be slightly pushing in that area…
    You obviously will do what’s best for Nolan’s upbringing… but keep in mind… you are the main parent. In the end, you are the one who’s financially responsible and more emotionally responsible.
    If Nolan’s dad wants to step up to the plate more on all ends, then sure, allow him a bit more in this area… but in the end… is he going to?

    K  |  January 21st, 2009 at 1:03 pm

  • i’m not going to read the other posts, since i came from your blog and don’t want to be swayed (I know I will feel the need to respond to the hard-core folks!)–only want to give my opinion. my husband is an atheist, and i was raised in a MS presbyterian church by a fairly religious family. i take our kids to church probably once a month on average? and my husband stays home. i am not terribly religious–if i am really honest with myself, i have a LOT of doubts. but i think church is a good thing to expose the kids to–good people, a decent foundation, a wonderful community. we have a very laid-back episcopal church which suits me. i want them to choose when they are old enough. i think without exposure, people tend to lean towards not believing, so i think a bit of exposure to religion is good so the scales are even. hope that makes sense.

    cristen  |  January 21st, 2009 at 1:08 pm

  • Husband: Non practicing Catholic
    Me: Never baptised, and I’m not too found of any religion. I think most are effed in the head. What you wrote was not.
    Son: Not baptized…and how could he be, the Catholic church would never allow it, they probably don’t even recognize our marriage by the Episcopalan church. Now how effed up is that?

    Your entry was about your memories of a time in your life. People are too quick to jump up and defend things that aren’t even being threatened.

    Stephanie  |  January 21st, 2009 at 1:12 pm

  • I read about 15 or 20 of the comments, maybe.

    As a black, Christian woman (who could probably take offense to a lot), I honestly think people are offended too easily. Gheesh!

    Ann Coulter? She’s not even on my level. She’s incapable of offending me. Can she make me mad? Maybe. But she can’t offend me.

    And Kristin’s words were obviously written from a child’s perspective. Gheesh! Get OVER it!

    And lastly, since the Internet was asked for its opinion, I’ll just say that I wish people would spend more time looking for a church that felt right to them. So you didn’t like your church/religious experience growing up? OK, well you’re an adult now - take some time and see if you can’t find one that feels right to you. There are SO many diverse churches out there - especially in large cities - that (if you are “spiritual”) there is no excuse not to find one. Figure out what you believe in, read up on it, and practice it. I just have little tolerance for (what I consider to be) spiritual apathy. Just my 2 cents!

    Monica C.  |  January 21st, 2009 at 1:29 pm

  • Karen, while I respect that you are passionate about your faith and are entirely sincere about your opinions, you really should take a civics course or five.

    There is nothing remotely slanderous or defamatory about Kristin’s post, and your use of those terms where they have absolutely no application tends to inflame the stereotype that devoutly religious people are ignorant.

    While I am at it, freedom of speech and the First Amendment has absolutely no relevance to this site’s choice of material to publish. The First Amendment concerns government restrictions on speech. You might have noticed this URL doesn’t have a .gov in it.

    As for the topic at hand, I am going to toss in my opinion that you agree to have Nolan baptized. As you aren’t an fervent disbeliever or strong opponent of the Catholic Church, I think that the inconvenience of having to sit through a baptismal ceremony should yield to the supreme importance baptism has for most folks that were raised in some form of institutional, organized religion. Even if R is hardly a model of Catholic living, baptism is one of the fundamentals.

    As for the bigger picture about “who should decide the child’s religion,” I think the very blunt answer is “the child, in his own time.” If R wants to take him to church and share with N his beliefs, well, hell, more power to him. You can explain your beliefs to N and eventually, N can form his own religious beliefs.

    Catholic school is a whole other matter. N will be formally educated in the Church’s doctrine, and you should really familiarize yourself with it, as you may find you have some strong disagreements or counterpoints that you want N to hear from you.

    In the final analysis, doesn’t every parent hope that their child will learn to be open to a wide variety of beliefs and opinions? And that they will take them all in an eventually develop their own beliefs and opinions that are reasoned and contemplated independently?

    Kari  |  January 21st, 2009 at 1:46 pm

  • this is a very interesting post that I am sure will apply to tons of split parents out there.

    I think, if either of you were passionate about your own relationship with God, then that should certainly be shared with your children. If neither of you has any particular direction, maybe that in itself should be explored first, before trying to decide what to teach the kids.

    Personally, I am a christian, I have a strong belief and relationship with God, and I am dedicated to sharing that gift with my kids. If my husband believed something different, and we were no longer together, it would still be my passion to share my own faith with the kids.

    I think, if you aren’t absolutely opposed to exposing your son to the catholic faith-you may allow your ex to do that, but if he himself were not “practicing” or passionate about it, what exactly is the benefit to your son? He possibly would have a similar experience to yours as a child. Why teach him something neither of you believes completely?

    I think, putting ourselves aside for a minute. If there is a minute chance that there is a heaven and hell, regardless of our own personal commitment to God, wouldn’t we want our kids to know the difference between the two? Wouldn’t we want to be sure they were secure? Would we want them to go to hell because no one was ever committed enough one way or the other to teach him about it?

    I am not saying you, of course..I just mean generally. I think we have to analyze what we ourselves really believe before we can pass it on, either way.

    mandy  |  January 21st, 2009 at 1:57 pm

  • ultimately … the child decides. we are just here as the people to show them what is possible to believe in.

    and if that’s the case … then i feel it’s ok for a child to experience different things with different people … given that all parties should be supportive of each other’s beliefs.

    jen  |  January 21st, 2009 at 2:04 pm

  • I love this post and find nothing even remotely offensive about it. For Karen to state that it is slanderous and illegal is flat out ignorant. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school until 5th grade, attended CCD, was married in the Catholic church, and I don’t call myself a practicing Catholic by any means. My children were baptized, but only to make my family happy.They do not attend church or CCD, and I am fine with that. If they choose to pursue some kind of organized religion when they’re older I support them 100%. But for a reader to come out and tout the virtues of a church whose priests pray on young children, a church that is based on materialism and greed, a church that banned it’s priests from marrying simply because it feared for the loss of property (look it up), is laughable at best.

    Andrea  |  January 21st, 2009 at 2:11 pm

  • I think maybe Karen doesn’t realize that just as your irreligious comments on your blog might offend her - because that’s what they are, as defined by “irreligious: hostile or indifferent to religion” - her religious comments might offend ME.

    I mean, what if I go to her blog and find her opinions about religion - or opinions she holds that are INFORMED by her religion - offensive? Let’s say for argument’s sake, I go to her blog and find comments about what she thinks of, oh I don’t know, atheists like me. Or people who believe in a woman’s right to choose abortion. Interestingly, isn’t the terminology routinely used by anti-abortion/pro-life activists funnily offensive and slanderous too? Like, say, “BABY MURDERER”?

    So let’s say then that I go to her blog and take issue with some strongly-worded opinion she holds. Let’s say I told her, in her own comments, that the language she’s using is offensive to me as an atheist, for instance, or as someone who’s pro-choice. (Now, I haven’t been there, to her blog, so I don’t know whether she uses strongly-worded language to express her opinions, but this is just a thought experiment.)

    What would Karen say? Would she agree with me, and tone down her language because it was insulting to me, her reader with the different opinions? Or would she tell me that this was her opinion, her perspective and heck, her beliefs! She doesn’t need to “tone” anything down for anyone! Especially not on her own damn blog.

    Well, she might not say “damn”, but I mightily suspect she’d pick the latter.

    And finally for the record, I would never, EVER go to Karen’s blog and, reading her opinion (strongly-worded or otherwise) about atheists and abortion, tell her she had done anything wrong or offensive or, hilariously, illegal by expressing it on her blog.

    Krissa  |  January 21st, 2009 at 2:44 pm

  • Kristin, I clicked over from your blog and I do not think this post is offensive or slanderous. I was raised Catholic but our family stopped going to church when I was 9 because my mom kind of felt like she was just going through the motions and didn’t see the point. My brother and I were overjoyed, and I can relate to the feelings you had as a kid. Now I have a job singing in an Episcopal parish that I think is great. I don’t consider myself to be religious, but I also think that a church can be a wonderful, supportive (and non-judgmental!) environment if you find the right place.

    I know a lot of people who send their children to Catholic school because it is a good, private education that is much cheaper than non-religious private school. It’s a good option for some people, but I wouldn’t choose it for my child simply because I do not agree with a lot of things the Catholic church supports.

    I don’t think that Nolan’s dad should get to decide on this issue if he refuses to help you, for the most part, parent your child. I agree with the person who said that if he wants Nolan to be raised Catholic then he needs to be the one to make it happen. He can’t pick and choose for which issues he wants to be involved in his own kid’s life. He needs to go all in.

    Sarah in LA  |  January 21st, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  • Hi Kristin,
    Regarding your question on your personal blog, I don’t think you effed up exactly, but I think your language is a little flippant considering how personally people take their own beliefs. Obviously, you have the right to write whatever you want on your blog, but I can see how some people could be offended.

    Regarding your post. My husband and I are both Catholic so we are coming from the same background which is definitely helpful. Even though we’re not really religious, we both like having a structured religion in our life as a way to talk about issues of spirituality and morality. If our daughter decides it’s not for her, we’ll support her, but we wanted to give her a starting point and something specific to react to or against as she forms her own beliefs.

    Amy  |  January 21st, 2009 at 3:08 pm

  • Krissa,
    Don’t worry. If you went to Karen’s blog and left a (respectful, open, solicited) comment, she would delete it.

    Just saying.

    .  |  January 21st, 2009 at 3:12 pm

  • Wow Karen seems over the top. There is nothing offensive about this post. It is your personal opinions and experiences on the church that you were raised in.

    It is ok to not Agree with the Catholic Church or any other church for that matter. I am sorry Karen took such offense to it because it seems she has taken offense to quite a bit of your writing. If she is that unhappy with you as a writer maybe she should stop reading.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with this post and if there was I would be the first to tell you so.

    By the way my ex husband was catholic, raised by strict catholic parents, went to Catholic school and he was by far the most non Christian man I have ever met. Not to mention he hates the catholic religion and honestly there are quite a bit like him out there that went to Catholic School and do not like what they experienced.

    Kate  |  January 21st, 2009 at 3:13 pm

  • Oy Vey!
    Never discuss religion of politics on your blog! Never discuss your parenting methods! Never talk about ANYTHING!
    Simmer down people. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You don’t agree with it, don’t read their blogs. Move along!

    My oldest wasn’t baptized, due to the fact that his father and I weren’t religious. But that didn’t stop us from enrolling him into a church’s preschool. I don’t want to censor religion. I want him to experience it, and when he’s older to be able to chose the path he wants.

    Cindy  |  January 21st, 2009 at 3:22 pm

  • This is really interesting to me, as it’s my situation, only different, sort of. My ex-husband is a “recovering Catholic” - his words, not mine, don’t slap me with a lawsuit, anyone. As far as I know, he hasn’t set foot in a church since his mother died 8 years ago. I was raised in the Presbyterian church, and although my parents were way too into it and I rebelled as a teenager and college student, I found my way back to the church and am an active-ish member in a very progressive, liberal, Presbyterian church that resonates with me.

    My ex and I agreed before my son came along that it was important for him to at least understand the basics of organized religion, since so much of what happens and has happened in the world is directly or indirectly related to religion. I’m thinking cultural references, art, wars, you name it. My ex didn’t have a problem with my son going to church with me as long as I didn’t slam it down his throat - and I’m not willing to do that anyway, since I know how that felt when my parents did it to me.

    Since I’ve read your blogs for a while, I have a fairly decent read on your ex, and I get the impression that he would try to make you take N to church/pay for Catholic school/teach him about religion. I’m trying to translate that assumption to my life and can’t possibly imagine my ex trying to take my son to church and doing it justice. Since I’m the one who feels strongly about it, I’m the one who wants to go to church with my son and explain to him why I think it’s important. My ex would just sit there like a sullen child and complain the whole time - not the perspective of religion I want my son to have. If R truly wants N to have a positive experience with the Catholic church, he’s got to be the one to expose him to it positively. Otherwise, N will just get your perspective on the whole thing and think his dad is a hypocrite for making him AND you go to church when he doesn’t do it himself.

    Just more proof that R wants all of the fun of being a dad and none of the responsibility. Stand firm, Kristin!

    becky  |  January 21st, 2009 at 3:57 pm

  • Kristen,
    I loved your story and openness to allowing your son to explore religion. Please continue to write with descriptive language to help us understand how you are feeling. Not everyone is going to understand what you mean all the time - what good writer has that good fortune? Please just write what is in your heart and know that most of the people will get where you are coming from. If not, they can deal with it…

    MSF  |  January 21st, 2009 at 3:58 pm

  • I don’t think there is anything wrong with sending your child to a religious school even if you don’t follow their faith to the letter. As long as you don’t feel your child will be made to feel uncomfortable, then it can’t hurt them.

    Jessica  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:24 pm

  • First, I laughed when I read “Significant Cracker,” but that’s partially because when I was a kid growing up in the Methodist church we had communion once a month, and I remember how excited I was on those Sundays because I got to get a ’snack’ before the interminably long service was over. I know I heard the words about the body and blood of Christ, but as a kid it was all about the tasty morsel. Now, granted, we as Methodists don’t believe in the actual transmutation of Christ’s body and blood into that piece of bread and sip of wine, so maybe that’s a bit different. Nevertheless, I think your use of the words was funny, and appropriate for the time period of your life you were conveying.

    As for the voices of dissent, well, we’re talking about religion, it’s going to get personal for some. I just think that Karen is a bit wide reaching in her definitions of slander (especially when she really means libel since this piece is written, slander is for spoken, but that’s just semantics.) So, for Karen, we get it, you were offended by her description of her childhood church, but instead of re-reading the words and understanding where she was coming from - a kid in a tough religious situation with parents who were muddling through - you flew off the handle, then continued to fly off the handle instead of taking a step back and realizing, THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU or your religion or your God, it’s about Kristin and her views. As someone who knows Kristin personally, I’m happy to testify that she is probably the most open and willing person to listen to opposing views and accepting of differing voices.

    Kristin asked a simple question, how do you deal with mixed religious views when parenting a child? I’m interested in the responses to that, as I’m partnered with a non-practicing Jew and we plan on having children very soon.

    Tamara  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:35 pm

  • You people are all MISSING THE POINT.

    CLEARLY, the POINT is that–according to these comments–Kristin apparently has another blog out there somewhere, and I NEED to know where it is.

    Because I’m kind of addicted to her writing.

    That is all.


    Just me  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:37 pm

  • Kristin, I am a proud Catholic, and when the time comes (not anytime soon, though!), I plan on raising my children Catholic. I went to Catholic primary and secondary schools, I’ve taken all the obligatory Sacraments so far. I believe in God and have faith. I also still attend Sunday mass at 23 years old. Despite all of this, I was in no way offended by your post, in fact I’d say it was pretty accurate. In my experience, church is not exciting, especially after once attending a Pentecostal church which my best friend is a part of.

    I don’t see how you describing your experience can be seen as ILLEGAL. I’d like to see the legislation which makes this so.

    Also, Karen, not sure if anyone has pointed this out to you, but MUSLIM isn’t a religion. It’s Islam. Muslims are those who practice Islam.

    Allison  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:40 pm

  • Well this is an interesting and intelligent question. BTW, I don’t think this post is in any way offensive, but perhaps it’s because I too was raised Catholic and from the earliest of ages didn’t believe in it. I didn’t hate church per se, I just didn’t buy it. I try not to judge people who have a strong connection to their church and religion because I know that relationship they have is a very real one to them. But I can’t relate because I just don’t have it. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. My mom told me once that my life would be so much easier for me if I just gave up my problems to prayer. I listened to this, and I responded with, “You’re probably right. But you’re assuming I can pray and believe and am choosing not to. I don’t have the choice. I wish I could get something from praying but I just can’t. I’ve tried, and I can’t” People with strong religious beliefs don’t understand it and somehow it offends them.

    Anyway as far as raising your child - this is so hard, even when the parents are still married yet from different faiths. My husband is Jewish and I was under your belief that whichever parent had the stronger belief system should trump the other. I even converted to Judaism, albeit on the internet (long story). My husband is not religious, but he still holds a cultural connection to his Jewish identity. Now our son is 4 and his birthday is in December. We decided after he was born that we would celebrate Hanukkah with my husband’s family, Christmas with mine and his birthday at my house. But his family lives close - mine lives far away. The Jewish traditions crept into our house and we ended up celebrating Hanukkah at our house. My son was way into Santa this year and wanted a Christmas tree. I thought since we were having Hanukkah, we could certainly have a little tree. My husband lost it (after the kid fell asleep). “I’m not having a Christmas tree in MY house!” I was floored.

    I was pissed. I didn’t want my son to be deprived of Christmas after all. And he didn’t want any of it in our house. We thought we had worked it all out. Now we’re back to square one.

    And this was just about celebrating nice holidays where giving and showing how much we love each other are supposed to be in focus. Imagine what could happen when discussing the more real aspects of religion.

    Anyway, there’s no good answer here - or if there is, let me know. But thank you for opening the discussion.

    TeeTee  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:42 pm

  • I am a life-long, practicing Catholic. I was brought up Catholic, attended Catholic school all my life, worked in Catholic publishing…in short, I am as Catholic as they come. Do not throw down with me about my Catholicness.

    That being said, I think your commentors are a bit insane. There is nothing offensive “to the Son of Man” in this post. It’s your memory, your opinion. He’s your son, you raise him how you like. If his father wants him to be exposed to the Church, he can do so. And there is no truth to the statement that “Catholics consider it very wrong for a child to be raised without two married parents in the home”. Some PEOPLE who call themselves Catholic might feel that, but that’s not Church dogma. If it is, I’d love to see it referenced, perhaps in the Catechism, or barring that, The Code of Canon Law.

    There is no shame in being a single parent, and no church worth your time should make you feel that way.

    I hope you come to a decision about your son’s religious training or lack therefore of that both you and his dad feel good about.

    EDW  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  • Also, Tamara, I wish I did have some better ideas about how to parent a child in a mixed-religion situation. I am a practicing Methodist, and when my ex and I were together, he was…um…I guess agnostic is the best word for him. We visited a church or two but never really attended one. (Odd, because I had been wrestling with a call to full-time ministry at the time we started dating. But I digress…)

    And now, just recently, he told me that God has started talking to him. (And he has a history of substance abuse and mental illness, so I take that to mean he’s hearing an audible voice.)

    See? It could be worse.


    Just me  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:47 pm

  • Saying “[...] people have to be careful what they say around Catholics, or any religious person for that matter (and I’m thinking I’m not the only religious person that has a right to read this blog). Just like they have to be careful about what they say about blacks.” is totally ridiculous. I don’t think I even have to point out why, except to say that being Catholic is a CHOICE; being black is not.

    Karen, feel free to continue to read Kristin’s writing if that’s what you really want. But understand that Kristin’s viewpoint is completely in sync with many of her readers, myself included, and we welcome posts such as this. Certainly, you and Kristin both have the right to express your opinions. However, calling her post ’slanderous’ and ‘illegal’ is insane.

    Ariel  |  January 21st, 2009 at 5:15 pm

  • Dear Kristen- THIS IS NOT SLANDER in a country with freedom of speech. You did not name an individual or say everyone in a church is like that in any other than a subjective personal experience. I grew up Catholic and am not offended at all. There are always people who may be offended by another’s opinion and take things personally. This more ‘for the public’ site might require a more homogenized perspective- that’s up to them to let you know. If it was on a personal blog then people can come and read or not in my opinion. I think exposing a child to religion, if folks are divorced and one parent wants it more than the other, than- if it is reasonable and not fruity religion than they can take them to church can’t they?

    Starrlife  |  January 21st, 2009 at 5:38 pm

  • Also, Kristin? You have visited Karen’s blog and seen her latest post, right? I know you care about your readers’ beliefs and feelings, but I’m not sure this is an instance in which you should be wasting your energy. You haven’t done anything wrong.

    Ariel  |  January 21st, 2009 at 6:17 pm

  • To provide my two cents, I was raised Catholic. Baptized as a baby and received my first communion. I attended Catholic school first through third grades and again for high school. I attended catechism from fourth through 7th grades. I was also married in the church and had my children baptized after their births. My husband was raised similarly, but also raised with information about other religions. We do not currently attend church of any sort.

    What I’ve come to realize is that religion is separate from schooling. I don’t agree with all aspects or doctrines of the Catholic church, but their schooling is on a different level. If you have the opportunity for a Catholic education, consider it. I received a great education in high school - one that was better than I’d have received at my local district school - but chafed at the various rules and such.

    Whether you, Nolan, or his father attend a Catholic church is a completely different story. Only attend Mass if it’s what you truly believe is right. I, too, was bored as a kid, and often stumbled through Mass not understanding why I was doing what I was doing.

    Good luck!!

    Suzanne  |  January 21st, 2009 at 6:22 pm

  • My parents divorced when I was a baby. Neither were regular church-goers, but my dad had been raised Catholic. He somehow got it in his head that I should be too and insisted I go to Catholic school. The public schools weren’t great where we lived and he was willing to pay for the parochial school, so my mom agreed. It was a huge mistake. She was the only divorced parent. The other mother’s were wary of her at best, hostile at worst. The nuns all took pity on me, although I neither felt nor acted pitiful. Mass was weird and confusing and what I learned in religion class about right and wrong was not quite the same message I was getting at home. My mom is very liberal. She is moral and ethical, but not in a religiously fundamental way at all. Anyway, I think you should think really hard about being an unwed (GASP!) mother in a Catholic school setting. You are possibly setting up yourself for alienation and your son for confusion if you aren’t following Catholicism at home. Being Catholic is a lifestyle. If you aren’t ready to take it on then keep arguing for schooling you are more comfortable with. Also, I got here from your other blog. I think your commenter is way off.

    Jennifer Collins  |  January 21st, 2009 at 6:40 pm

  • You did not eff up. A lot of people have had bad experiences with organized religion as you have and you have the right to talk about your experiences and express your opinion.

    As for who decides on religion- I think that if it is really important to R then you should not stand in the way of it. However, if it is that important he really needs to make it happen financially as well.

    Leanne  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:13 pm

  • I do think you have to take the ex’s views into consideration, since he is the father of your child. As you already know, children learn far more from what their parents DO than what they SAY - so Nolan’s religious education may be a fairly meaningless exercise for him, though he might like to have the ritual in his life and might like some of the ideas he encounters.

    As far as slander goes, you can make fun of my church and my beliefs all day long. I don’t care because I am confident in what I believe. Your opinion cannot change that one iota. I know some people (maybe most people) will consider what I believe to be very odd. Oh well. It is a big world, and I will admit I may be totally, completely wrong. I will find out at the end, just like everyone else.

    Suebob  |  January 21st, 2009 at 8:46 pm

  • No, you did not eff up. ;) What you said here is YOUR experience, YOUR perspective. If others take it personally, that’s THEIR problem. They need to read “The Four Agreements” by Miquel Ruiz (one of the agreements being: don’t take things personally). BTW, that book is my “bible”. While I’m not religious, I am definitely spiritual and like to learn about different religions: Toltec, Buddhism, Tao, etc. I’m raising my boys to love others, love Mother Earth, and love themselves. That’s all they really need to know. Since you are the primary parent, do what you think is best for your boy.

    Keri  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:01 pm

  • Well, after reading the comment from Karen I would have to say she is what is wrong with religion. I too was raised in several different religions, from Catholic to fundamentalist but they all had one thing in common, people like Karen the commenter who are closed minded and see things one way to the point that they attack anyone with a possibly different opinion of theirs. Now, I do know that the church has wonderful normal people who are open minded and can take both praise and criticism openly, they can see people for the humans they are, and I am not saying that. I don’t have children, but when I do I too want to let them choose, and in order to do that you have to expose them to the experience.
    So no, I don’t think that what you are doing is wrong, and I don’t think that you describing YOUR experience as a child is wrong or attacking, I doubt even Karen has perfect memories as a child before her adult mind took over. I think letting Nolan’s dad be responsible for the Catholic part of his upbringing is fine, as long as the experience is good. Like SLK said, Catholics don’t believe in sex before marriage and babies outside of marriage, so I wouldn’t want to see him target by say, Karen’s kids.
    Keep up the good work, as a child of a single mom I know what my mom went through for us and I can tell you we love her and respect her for all her decisions. You are doing great.

    Cari  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:23 pm

  • Good grief. The comments from one person in particular are a little over the top. Take a moment, take a breath, and walk away from the keyboard.

    So! Kristin: I think that Nolan going to Catholic school could be a good idea. You’re an open-minded person and I’m sure he’d come to you with any questions or ideas he had. However, if R wants this, then he has to commit to it. (HA!) If he wants Nolan to go to church, why doesn’t he take him, at least part of the time? If he wants a Catholic school, then he needs to contribute monetarily because it’s his desire that’s causing the bill. My prediction? Any desire R has to see Nolan be at least nominally Catholic will fly right out the window when he gets the bill. (It’s way more fun to fly to Thailand. Was it Thailand? I can’t remember.)

    Marin  |  January 21st, 2009 at 9:35 pm

  • I needed to read Karen’s blog. I mean I really needed to understand where she was coming from when she posted her comment about your post be illegal. Questioning your morals. I just don’t get that. I read through the first two pages of her blog and about puked. I completely believe to each his own and for that I will not be going back to her blog. She is entitled to her opinions and views but my problem is the way she feels she is better than others who do not believe what she believes.

    The most comments i saw on a post was one. I can see why. I would bet the bank that she comments negatively here so that people will come to her blog.

    Kristin if R wants to take him to church that is great, but as far as Catholic school, I would look into what school has the best education in your area and go from there. You still have a few more years till Nolan is in school. If R is serious he should start taking him to church, if he does that consistently then I would consider when N is ready for school to think about Catholic school as an option. If at that time you guys agree on Catholic School R should be solely responsible for tuition and uniforms because he wants him to be there.

    Kate  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:00 pm

  • Kristin,
    I applaud the way you have handled the negative comments from Karen. I am a practing Catholic who attended Catholic school from kindergarten all the way through college. I did not find anything offensive in your post. I think you posed a question many parents face. There are a variety of points of view on this topic and many people who posted gave interesting things for you to consider.
    I wonder if Karen has stopped to consider what Jesus would do in a situation like this? I doubt he would attack someone like she did. Please know that there are many vibrant, open minded Catholics who respect all people and their beliefs. I am sorry that you (and all of us who enjoy your writing) have had to deal with such a hateful person who claims to be a Christian. You have time before you need to make a decision about school. Best of luck to you! I think you are doing a great job in life and with your child!

    Erin  |  January 21st, 2009 at 10:04 pm

  • I was raised Catholic and went to catechism and then to a Catholic high school. I didn’t ever “fight” going to church, but I would agree that I didn’t really want to go. There came a time in my life when I sought the incredible connection and relationship that I saw within people that I knew to be Christians (Catholics and non-Catholics alike). I was married in the Catholic church. In the years since, I have really grown in my faith-life, learning much more about Jesus, what I believe, and how important I believe it is for me to have a relationship with my Lord and Saviour. I would define my faith, now, as not only a Christian, but a Christ-follower.
    There is a difference between “practising religion” and having faith. While I do believe that raising a child with first-hand knowledge and an experience of “religion” is important, I can see that you might find it challenging to support his desire, as your experience with “church” didn’t ever wind up in a positive place. I could imagine you might not want the same for N. Knowing a little bit of your story, I would want to say that I feel like he (N’s Dad) needs to have more of a consistent relationship with N, in order to, effectively, raise him in his religion… if that’s what he wants to do. Otherwise, I could imagine him merely being seen as a hypocrite.
    Anyhow, that’s my two cents. Thanks for listening.

    E  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:03 pm

  • Your imagery was perfect. That’s exactly how I felt about church as a child.

    Don’t worry about the occasional Significant Crackpot that reads your blog. You’re a great writer. Don’t change anything.

    Jane  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:21 pm

  • Just an observation about the religious spat. Would most of the commenters be so derogatory about a particular poster if she were making fun of a Jewish prayer shawl or joking about towelheads in a mosque? I doubt it. I wonder why PC seems to apply to everything except Christianity.

    SKL  |  January 21st, 2009 at 11:21 pm

  • Kristin,

    You asked on your blog if you had effed up and the answer is NO! If someone is offended, it isn’t your fault.

    Erika  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 12:04 am

  • No one is making fun of a commenter, SKL. Just pointing out the logical fallacies in the comments (ILLEGAL! DEFAMATION! SLANDER! WHY WON’T THIS SITE HIRE ME?)

    Kristin didn’t make fun of anyone - she recounted her observations as a child, which aren’t filtered through anything. She was talking about one church, one personal experience. If you found insult to your faith, you were rooting through this post with a faulty mental detector.

    What you and that other commenter have consistently done is miss the point entirely. But then again, that is an absolute truism of most discussions of religion. There will be some that will take offense to any perceived assault on their faith, which says so much more about the adherent than the person espousing a different point of view.

    Kari  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 12:46 am

  • I’m a born raised and still practicing Catholic, and my husband is the same. We don’t have kids, but obviously we would not face this question if we did.

    I just wanted to add my voice to those of the Totally Catholic And Totally Not Offended commenters here. Would I personally have used the words “Significant Cracker” if I were writing this? Probably not, but it wouldn’t occur to me to be offended by it in someone else’s writing, especially in the context of a childhood remembrance. And speaking as a lawyer, if I described it as defamatory or illegal, I would deserve to be debarred from the profession!

    I liked Stephanie Parnell’s answer to the original question and think her comment was a great example of the balanced, thoughtful yet sincerely faith-filled way some Christians see the world. Hopefully the people knocking Christianity in this post do realize we’re not all like Karen.

    Michelle  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 3:09 am

  • Does your Ex go to church / mass every week? I think once he proves just how devoted he is then perhaps he can have an influence on the religious upbringing f Nolan.

    PS from what I understand about the ex, I doubt he’ll be digging deep to pay religious school tuition but as the secular parent I wouldn’t be going halves on it….

    L-gal  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 8:00 am

  • I haven’t read any comments, but want to make a few.

    You are entitled to express your opinion, even if others disagree. Nothing you said is slanderous.

    If your ex wants your son to go to Catholic School, that’s cool as long as he’s willing to pay the tuition.

    My parents are not religious. My mom was raised Catholic and is now agnostic. My dad was raised Episcopalian but was turned off to religion after serving in Vietnam. It was important to my grandmother that my brother and I have a religious education. So, she picked us up every Sunday morning and took us to church. We both attended through high school. I haven’t practiced religion since them, but recently am thinking about becoming a Quaker, because I feel that religion most represents my personal convictions.

    That said, my husband was raised southern Baptist, and I have attended church with his family a few times. My hub does not subscribe to those teachings anymore, and I would be VERY reluctant to send my son to services there on any kind of regular basis, because I found the teachings to be very much opposite my beliefs.

    laurapy  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 8:13 am

  • SKL–to answer your question, if Kristin was Jewish I wouldn’t be offended by her recounting her childhood memories, even if they were seemingly making fun of a Jewish prayer shawl. If Kristin was a Muslim, I wouldn’t be offended by her recounting her childhood memories, even if they were seemingly offensive towards Islam.

    Writers write about their lives. The good ones push the boundaries and make people uncomfortable sometimes.

    Liz  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 9:44 am

  • Kari, to be clear, I don’t consider myself a Christian, as I study many faiths, respect all, and hope to take the best from each.

    Religion is a hot button but not because I personally hold fast to a particular “faith.” Rather, it’s because it’s become somewhat of a sport to attack certain ones, and it’s not quite fair to those who do hold fast to the faiths being attacked.

    I do understand and see the humor in depicting our impressions of church in childhood. That said, there is always a line, and I find it interesting that the PC world generally places the line in a different place depending on the religion, race, ideology, etc. It’s good to remember that there still are some real people who are members of those groups we attack for sport. I didn’t personally get offended by Kristin, but I felt there was nothing wrong with a person who did get offended informing her of it. And since Kristin later invited open and honest dialogue on this sub-topic, I believe she really wants to hear constructive observations.

    SKL  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 10:02 am

  • I think SKL’s comments are so thoughtful and balanced…and I agree with them.

    I think this blog is great, Kristin, but I have to say that I cringed a little when I read about the “significant cracker”. I never thought that you intended to offend or were being purposely disrespectul or flippant, though. It was your experience as a child- and, for the record, it’s many others’, too. In fact, it was mine. My faith has changed and grown over the years, though, and I cannot imagine my life without God.

    I agree with many others that, if your ex wants Nolan to attend Catholic school, he should pay the tuition (in full!). I also think he should be the one to take him to church every week. Because of what I believe, I can’t imagine not raising a child with some sort of faith. Ultimately, though, they’ll make their own decisions.

    Good luck. Just want to say that I have so much respect for your commitment to your son. I know all mothers are committed to their children but I’m not sure I’d be as open-minded and as thoughtful as you if I were in your position!

    Sue D  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 10:21 am

  • Kristin, I am a Christian and did not find this offensive. It was your honest account of your religious experience and your open questions about how best to raise your son.

    Amanda Brown  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 11:38 am

  • Just to prolong this a little bit more. LOL.

    I thought “significant cracker” was funny.

    Robyn  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 11:40 am

  • But, then again, I think Dogma is one of the all-time funniest movies ever. Everyone needs to be able to poke a litte fun at themselves sometimes.

    Robyn  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 11:41 am

  • We’ve got something similar going on in our blended family right now. Similar to what Kristin’s asking at the end of her post, I mean, not similar to all the commenting! :)

    “Is it OK for a child to practice religion in half time (ie church with Mommy but not with Daddy?) ”

    I think it is. Our three older kids — my steps — go to church with their mom but not with us, and as far as I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be any confusion about the fact that their mom has one set of beliefs while their dad and I have others (their dad isn’t religious, I’m mildly religious, but it’s a different religion than their mom’s).

    I think as long as we all share the same morals and values, it’s fine.

    Lylah  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 12:12 pm

  • Okay, I don’t usually post anywhere but I decided to give my two cents worth. First, unlike Karen, I don’t believe that you said anything wrong on your post. I think Karen likes to stir things up so that she can continue her discussion about religion and that’s fine. You, however, have done nothing wrong and so shouldn’t worry about it. Karen, also has done nothing wrong. This discourse just reflects the fact that people feel passionately about their religion or lack thereof.

    To focus on the purpose of the original post, I think that children going to church is a good thing for several reasons. 1.) It gives them another social environment to learn how to interact in. The way you behave in a classroom is not necessarily the why to behave during church services. 2.) It gives them a foundation for appropriate behavior. Do I think that you are not capable of instilling the appropriate values and teaching right from wrong to your child. Absoluately not. But anytime your values of right and wrong and how to treat everyone with fairness and kindness are echoed in another setting has to be a good thing. At least to me. 3.) It also gives you an opportunity to interact with people who could possibly have the same interests and belief sets that you do. Do you have to interact with the people that you consider overzealous in their pratice of their religion. Nope. I wouldn’t. As a single mom of a 4 year old boy whose father isn’t in the picture, I think exposure to the church environment is a good thing. It gives him all of the advantages that I listed above. In addition, it allows me a time to interact with other adults in a setting that does not exclude my child. I firmly believe that I am capable of instilling good values in my child. Having him see other children praticing what I’m “preaching”, however, just makes it easier all around.

    faye  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  • I can’t imagine how you incited such a bitter response with this post, except that a lot of people howl when they’re hit and in my experience you only have to blink an eyelash in the general direction of religion for it to hit someone somewhere. All you were doing was explaining your religious background and your ex’s to give context to your wondering about how to raise your kid, baptize or not…
    I got nothing, when it comes to advice; I just read your other blog religiously (ha!) and wanted to toss in my two cents as to whether or not you’re a slandering viper.
    I actually think you tend toward the other, apologetic, extreme.
    Good luck with all this!

    offthetwig  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 1:32 pm

  • Just do what my single mama did. Have your son visit a variety of churches. Let him see how many different forms religion takes.

    My mother is an atheist. But I never knew it until I was older. She didnt want to force feed me her views. She wanted me to decide so had me go out and see what was there.

    So if your son turns out to be more spiritual than religious he will know what he is up against!

    gwendolyn  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 2:01 pm

  • Holy panties in a twist, Batman!

    Kristin, you are one brave woman. I found your post well written and evocative, as usual.

    We are currently struggling with a minor version of this as I’m an agnostic who would like to expose our daughter to a liberal, open, tolerant religion like the one I was raised in, Unitarian Universalism, and my husband is an atheist who refuses to attend any church of any kind. I do think that having some sense of religion (and UU’s learn about ALL religions) helps form a moral center and gives you much insight into the world and its ills. I also think my daughter will be smart enough to evolve and learn and understand that Mommy and Daddy don’t agree about everything and asking questions and disagreeing is actually a healthy thing to do.

    Now, what is your next post going to be about? How can you surpass this one in terms of controversy?!? :-)

    Jenna  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 2:05 pm

  • Poor Karen. If she can’t read a description of a child’s impression of a church experience without being incensed and offended, she must have a terrible time getting through life. She wouldn’t be able to read anything interesting, especially not novels and biographies. How sad.

    But Kristin, you raised an excellent point that I really think most parents worry about if they were not raised in exactly the same religious environment. For my own part, I had a similar reaction to church as you did when dragged there, mainly by grandparents in my case. My parents, coming from wildly divergent religious backgrounds of Southern Baptists and Christian Scientists, struggled with this issue and in the end opted not to push anything in particular on their children. Personally, I thank them for that. But every family is their own situation. You have to make the decisions that work for you an your family.

    Laurel  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 2:35 pm

  • Up next: “To-MAY-to” vs. “to-MAH-to!”

    Lylah  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 2:47 pm

  • Um, I thought the illegality that Karen was referring to was not Kristin’s post, but the policy of denying employment to one woman based on a desire to write about religion while allowing another woman employment when she is writing about the same thing.

    Perhaps I am interpreting it wrong, but I didn’t think Karen was saying that what Kristin had written was illegal, because she didn’t slander an individual…

    just another me  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 2:56 pm

  • No - you did NOT eff up. There need to be more posts like this. Honesty from people who are not religious is refreshing because I - as usual - am right there with you. (Totally freaking me out btw).

    People who do not believe a cracker is the body of Christ have a voice too and we’re allowed to say it.

    My child will not be deprived because he has no formal religious education. I’d rather him come to his own spiritual enlightenment - discover the world and its mysteries solo and without my persuasion either way.

    And he’s not baptised either.

    Now, if his slacker father ever tried to dictate religion I would allow him to do it on his own time (on his days) but I wouldn’t go out of my way by any means to make that happen.

    Alaina  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 3:28 pm

  • This is a hard thing to figure out, but isn’t everything in a divided family? Sigh.
    I don’t see anything wrong with having your son baptized catholic, even if he doesn’t receive anymore of the sacraments. And I see nothing wrong with him attending church with one parent, and not with another. Just because a person isn’t religious, or of a specific affiliation, does NOT mean that they are not spiritual, or that they do not have morals, values, etc. that they will pass on to their children.
    I too was raised catholic, and hated church as a child. I didn’t get it. I didn’t get ANYTHING out of it. And I never felt particularly WELCOME(way to work on THAT issue, Vatican).
    I think you have to do what feels right for you. Give your son a religious background how YOU see fit, and as he grows older, he will find his path. Going the catholic route is not any better than going the non-denominational route. God is God, right?

    Danielle-Lee  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 4:27 pm

  • I think the parent who feels more passionate about the particular subject is the one who should be responsible for much of the education in said particular subject. That goes for music, soccer, religion and whatever other subject comes up!
    That being said, my husband and I are both Jewish, but he is more practicing than I. We both grew up with religious educations, and we are providing that for our children as well. While he feels that our children should stay within the Jewish religion, I feel that a religious education gives our children a place to start with religion. Down the line, I feel they can choose their own path.

    spacegeek  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 4:36 pm

  • I posted something similar regarding the words, ‘Significant Cracker’ on Karen’s blog (though it seems she has taken her post down). I did cringe slightly at the despcription, but understand that Kristin is not Catholic, so perhaps wasn’t aware that the choice of words might be a little bit iffy. This is similar to one of the teachers in my Catholic high school who was part of the Salvation Army, who was asked to speak about her religion in comparison to Catholicism in my Religious Education class. She said that one of the differences was that the Salvos didn’t have ‘idols’ as Catholics do (like the crucifix etc.). Not exactly the right word to use (false idols, anyone?), but we didn’t see this as something to be up in arms about.

    Allison  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 5:00 pm

  • I wasn’t going to comment, but then…I couldn’t get my ‘almost’ comment out of my head. The thing is, ‘religion’ is very different than faith. But for those who have a true faith, their religion is sacred. I was born to a family that believes, not fanatically, but with an awe-inspiring, life-altering faith that God exists, is responsible for our existence, and that the one life we live here is all about what happens to us afterward.
    I don’t know if my family is right. I have spent much of my adult life surrounded by a miasma of doubt, wonder, hope, ambiguity, and fear, circling wildly from one side of the fence to the other without ever reaching anything like an actual opinion . But what I do know is this: I have watched these loved ones live their lives, everyday and with every action, with their faith at the core. It colours every choice they make for the better, it gives them hope, and it comforts them. More than just a Sunday ritual, they carve out time for it in a busy day, and they put their faith at the centre of their families. I don’t know if I could ever live like that, but I do know I respect it. The closest thing I can compare it to is how I feel about my children, and when put in that light, I can see how someone might feel offended by your post, although certainly you intended no disrespect.

    P.S. I think I had the same book about Accepting Jesus Into Your Heart - as well as a copy of Salvation: A Teenagers Guide - and I hear you. They were probably written in 1950 and were a little heavyhanded, even then….

    The Lurker  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 5:18 pm

  • I don’t see what’s controversial in your post whatsoever. You are writing about your views towards religion and asking readers their thoughts.

    Maybe it’s because I had a similar non-religoius upbringing: my parents were different religions (one a Catholic and one a Jew) but neither were practicing when they married so I was baptised in the Catholic Church and went through a Jewish naming ceremony, but never practiced anything except the occasional visit to Church when my mom’s very-Catholic parents watched me and my brother for a week every year.

    My husband was brought up Catholic as a young boy but also didn’t practice once he reached the teen years. Our kids currently go to a Christian school (one is in preschool and one is in kindergarten), but because it was the best school available to them, not for the religiousness. In fact, I have some issues with the religiousness and often “holier-than-thou” attitude some of the teachers seem to have so we have decided not to continue with the school for first grade.

    Another feeling I have is that there is just too much religious study and since we don’t practice that at home it doesn’t make sense, to us, for our sons to learn that outside of the home at this age. If as they get older they are interested in learning more we’ll take them to church, but for now it’s not something that is important to us. We’re good people and believe in doing right and respecting others and that is what we teach our kids, rather than doing those things because of a God’s expectations.

    I have always believed I am not religious because I wasn’t brought up that way…if my parents would have instilled religion in me since birth maybe I would be religious, but maybe not. Perhaps by not bringing my kids to church now they may end up non-religious like me, but maybe not…if they are interested later that’s fine.

    JAB  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 6:44 pm

  • Faith and spirtuality is something I believe should be explored and found out by each individual. My mother raised myself and my brother Buddhist ( and no I am not Asian I am African American– mom was a bit of a hippie!). When I went to college I investigated other options and teachings but the teachings of the Buddha reign true to me and in my heart. And I live them everyday. My brother on the other hand does not practice the faith but lives the Philosophy daily.

    Therefore, the foundation was set and we have become very successful people because of our foundation. The solid foundation of morals through faith and spirtuality ( not just religion– a lot of things are done in the name of religion that may not be correct) is needed and does a great good in hind sight.

    Peace and Love

    jq baby  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 7:45 pm

  • My opinion - you were telling us your story - there is nothing slanderous in your post. And, there is, most certainly, nothing you ‘effed’ up on. You simpy can not, and should not, edit yourself when you are retelling your own history and how you felt. That is why so many of us follow your writing, you are HONEST. I thought, actually, the post was well balanced, you were not disrespectful to the religion, just, clearly, it doesn’t move you spiritually. And you even entertained the thought of deferring to the religious parent in your family - I think that’s awesome and open-minded.

    Starfruit  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 10:27 pm

  • I say flip a coin.

    Jim Everson (Depot Dad)  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 12:56 am

  • I agree totally with your view of not having to be baptised to be saved. Ugh!

    I had the exact same discussion about parents with differing religious beliefs with a friend last weekend as she and her husband are discussing it.

    The reason I chose to baptize my son, even though I took incredibly long to get around to it, was that I remember thinking that my parents had made a choice not to bring me up in the church, and had let me know their reasons - which may have influenced my cynicism- and wishing that I knew my religion a bit better in order to make an informed decision. Attending a Catholic secondary school helped with the knowing it aspect in the long run.

    I didn’t think there’d be any harm in letting my boy know his religion as well as my views on it and why I don’t practice staunchly but that I do think there is merit in some of the teachings, in the same way that I think there’s merit in Gandhi’s teachings, and merit in the ways of the Buddhists - you get my drift?

    In order for him to know his religion and for it to feel like his religion, I baptized him. I don’t drag him to church every weekend, and I certainly don’t tell him he’ll go to hell for any of his actions, but some times we go to church and we take from it what we can. When he’s ready he’ll decide whether he wants to follow it or not.

    But then I’m not passionately non-religious, as you can tell.

    Tash  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 9:39 am

  • I could have written this exact same post. My childhood? Yep. My ex’s childhood? Yep. Arguments about baptism? Yep. Spirituality? Yep. Let the kids choose their own religion? Absolutely.

    Dang girl, if you eff-ed up by writing this post then I’ll be joining you in hell.


    T  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 1:48 pm

  • I’ll be joining you in hell as well.

    I find the lack of thiking, be it logical, sensible or spiritual, in the catholic church to be offensive, and I certainly won’t encourage any religious upbringing in my children.

    Children will do as they will do, but it is my duty as a non-zombified member of society to oppose institutionalised brain-washing that is prevalent in religious practices.

    I have a duty as a responsible parent to oppose anything that will inhibit my child’s progress in life, and mind-numbing, institutionalised religion is one of those things I will oppose.

    Andy  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 5:35 pm

  • No, no you didn’t eff up. If I remember right, you’ve debated this sometime earlier on a former blog.

    I was born into a Catholic family, both sides. I was baptized, did the sacraments (which includes Confirmation, which is supposed to say yes, I’m in this forever), went to Catholic schools (elementary and high school), and learned enough about religion to know I wanted to learn more. I ended up with a Religious Studies degree a few years later and actually ended up studying more Islam than anything because it fascinated me. I do not go to church anymore, Catholic or otherwise (and I did try other churches).

    I asked my mom when I was younger if she would be sad if I married someone who wasn’t Catholic. Her response, “Of course not! Just make sure he believes in something, that he’s a good person, that he has morals and good character.”
    Religion doesn’t give you good morals and character, your parents and the the people you’re surrounded with as you are growing up do. Religion just gives you the “reasons” why you should be that way because for some people, being a good individual for the sake of being good just isn’t enough.

    Catholic school didn’t ruin me. There were classes about other religions, other traditions. From what I understand, the friends I have from public schools never were taught anything about religion at all, for fear of offending someone, anyone. Religion was a no-no.
    So, I’m not in favour, or against, but I know that N going won’t ruin him forever, if anything, it’ll give him something to be curious about.

    And, for the record, I totally dug your description of church because that’s exactly how i remember it as a child (and sometimes, today, if I’m there with my Mom or Grandma because they’ve asked me to go once in a very blue moon, I still see that).
    And, it’s not libel, it’s fair comment (I’ve been through the journalism school ringer when it comes to studying what we can and cannot say, this is a *can*, and people can divert their eyes accordingly if they don’t like it). I think some people are drawn to religion-based posts simply because they like to argue about it.

    Great post. Never a dull moment … :)

    Samantha  |  January 25th, 2009 at 11:59 am

  • I think that the child chooses, but that the parents choose the faith that they raise him in. Ultimately whether you baptize him catholic, pentecostal or purple, he will choose his own path. Eventually.

    And I also believe that God is an incredibly passionate God. With compassion so vast and wide that no child would ever be “in limbo”. My church believes in water baptism - whenever the individual chooses to do it as a sign of their personal commitment to Christ.

    I attend a wonderful pentecostal church here in Calgary, Alberta. It feels like home. My children are slow to warm up to the church, though they enjoy being there, they don’t always enjoy going there. But you could tell my son we were going for donuts and he wouldn’t want to leave Whatever He’s Doing At The Moment.

    For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have wanted to attend that church you did as a child either. I think church is supposed to be a time of fellowship. I think there is supposed to be hugging, laughter and maybe some tears.

    PS. I’m a mom of two, I am divorced from my first husband (father of child#1) and married to wonderful guy who is father of #2. I was a single mom for about 2 years.

    Heather Cook  |  January 31st, 2009 at 1:19 pm

  • Wow, I just happened upon your blog (the other one) today, and happened to link here from there. I don’t have time or patience to read through all the comments because I would be here all night…but, I got through enough, and I think Karen is ridiculous and must have very low self esteem. I think your story was great, and really put me back into my similar church experience as a child! I don’t think anything you said was anywhere near “illegal” or slandorous or defamatory…it was your point of view. It’s too bad someone like Karen happened upon your story…unfortunately there are some people out there who have nothing better to do than stir up controversy & “make a mountain out of a mole hill”, if you will. If there’s a morsel of possible offense to any group or person in a story, article, book, interview, etc, they will pounce on it. I’m not sure if it makes their lives more interesting or just makes them feel better about themselves. Either way, frankly it’s annoying and it’s too bad the rest of us open minded people have to endure their little game!

    Anyway, you’ve just gained yourself one more reader, Kristin, so cheers to you!

    Maggie  |  February 12th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

  • This is a tough one.

    People get so hung up on “religion,” and it’s usually due to a negative personal experience with other humans beings rather than a bad experience with God, Himself. I can understand why people church hop because they don’t like this preacher or that pastor. A gentle reminder, though: faith isn’t in the religion; your faith is in God. Religion, and thereby “church,” is simply a structured tool, an expression to love God, just like your everyday behavior is also an expression of your love for Him.

    As the oldest of five children, I grew up going to Mass with my father and Sunday service at another church with my mother. Every Sunday. As a child, yes, it was boring at Mass but being bored wasn’t as important as being faithful. The other churches that I went to with my mom were just as boring, even with Sunday school–big yawn, however, I really liked post-church with both parents, which usually consisted of lots of visiting and maybe pancakes. That was my small-minded kid thinking. In junior high/high school, I still went to Mass as well as fun lock-ins and did charity work with my friends who went to a Methodist church. (BTW, my parents divorced.)

    Looking back, it was the church routine that laid the framework for me to develop my personal faith. The framework allowed me to ask questions, seek answers and have my own dialogue with God.

    Unlike me, other kids, like my 7-year-old niece, can totally get church, and it can help them make sense of some things in their minds. She once told me that she defended a friend from another kid who was being mean at recess. Without anger, she said, “I guess he just doesn’t have Jesus in his heart yet.”

    Now as an adult, I love Mass. I love being Catholic, frankly, because it’s a challenge in today’s culture. I love that no matter where I am in the world, I can go to Mass and feel at right home. In the Catholic churches that I’ve attended (childhood, college, different cities), I’ve never encountered anyone judging single parents, addicts, sexuality, divorcees, interracial marriages or any other lifestyles. Hey, if you look into stories of the saints, uh, plenty of them were big-time “sinners.” If anything, the church is constantly trying to figure out ways to help people who struggle, by way of support groups, counseling, daycare help for single parents–you name it. Just look into Catholic Charities. In fact, its the church that will likely be the shining hope for me and my husband as we pursue adoption. Who knew?!

    My opinion? I think church can be a great way to connect to God. Even a great way to connect to the community. Just do the research to choose which church makes sense to you.

    mdte1997  |  February 20th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

  • Came here via yer other blog, so to answer that question: no eff up here that I can see — just a vivid word picture of particular and specific childhood recollections (which is how good writing works, by the by) — one that incidentally jibes purdy good with how I experienced the Catholic Church my friends attended back in *my* childhood, anyhoo — my parents weren’t particularly religious themselves; but when I turned 11, they decided I needed a new ’social outlet’ and told me I had to start going to a church and attend their afterschool youth group meeting-type-thingies — but they allowed that *I* could pick which church.

    So naturally (after auditioning all my options) I wound up picking the one that wuz the shortest walk from the school (of course, of course [grin]…)

    Andrew Ironwood  |  February 25th, 2009 at 10:04 pm

  • Good thing it’s NOT illegal to offend somebody!

    To quote Jack Handy,

    “I hope that someday we will be able to put away our fears and prejudices and just laugh at people.”

    To answer your actual question, the person who gets to make religious choices for a child is the parent that makes the effort to do so. If your ex pays the tuition for catholic school, arranges the baptism (and all the classes leading up to it) and agrees to talk to your son about why daddy doesn’t practice what he preaches then let him.

    If he expects you to help, tell him the only way you can help is by not hindering. Tell him you won’t get in the way of Nolan participating but since it isn’t important to you, you will consider the effort you already put forth towards Nolan’s well being to be more than your share.

    If you feel the desire to find a place of worship then your ex can expect that you will take Nolan there and he will not be obligated in any way by your spiritual commitment.

    And just for fun, since I love quotes:

    “If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed”
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist”
    ~Salman Rushdie

    FYI, there are some rad churches out there with very cool (even tattooed) young pastors. Where the churches are less about ritual and more about God. Case in point?:

    Christian, NOT offended  |  April 11th, 2009 at 4:11 pm