I was raised Mormon in the heart of Utah. It wasn’t ideal. But such a religious upbringing meant that my notion of rebelling mostly involved scoffing at religion and finding my own way in life. I figure it’s probably pretty similar with most other people from my generation.
Religious/conservative parents led to us leaning a lot further to the left than what was taught to us as children.
Ironically, it appears that because we’re raising our children in these liberal, free-thinking environments we’ve carved out for ourselves, our children may end up rebelling by being conservative …
Could it be? Rebellion by conservatism? For me, it flies in the face of every rebellious thought I’ve ever experienced.
As James Harrington writes for the Guardian, he and his wife have recently encountered this very phenomenon. Harrington says he was baptized Catholic as a child but apart from weekly hymn practices at primary school and a couple years of education classes, he abandoned the religion of his birth. He writes, “Over the years, when I bothered to think about it at all, I came to the conclusion that I prefer the scientific theory of life and the universe to the spiritual one. I’m most likely an atheist, but one leaning to the agnostic side of the spectrum.”
Harrington’s wife is also a liberal atheist and always said she could deal with any life decision her kids might make, apart from joining the military or the clergy. You can only imagine her reaction when their oldest daughter turned up saying she believes in God (with a capital G) and wanted to be baptized into Catholicism.
Kind of funny, isn’t it? The worst thing many from my generation could tell our parents while growing up was that we didn’t believe in the religion they spent years raising us in. But now, for many of us, the most mind-blowing thing our children could tell us is that they’re joining up. In fact, a year or so ago I wrote about how I don’t believe in baptizing children who don’t really have a voice in matters. I’ve written all over the Internet about how uncomfortable organized religion makes me. So, would it upset me if my child ended up being a part of a religious organization? A little. But only because my experience was so terrible. I’m also smart enough to realize that my child’s experience wouldn’t necessarily mirror my own. I plan to raise smart, deep-thinking, kind people and if a particular religion appeals to my children and helps them through life then so be it.
I’m not the kind of parent who expects my kids to follow my life path. Perhaps the best part of leaving Mormonism, for me, was learning the ability to think for myself and decide what feels right to me in my gut and so, ironically, my leaving religion allows me to feel open enough to realize that if one of my children feels that religion is the path for them then so be it. I would respect that decision in the same way I expect my family to respect my feelings about Mormonism now.
It sounds like James Harrington has come to the same conclusion. “I had no choice. I was baptized before I could have any opinion about it… Our little girl, however, has made a life-defining decision by herself. I couldn’t be more proud of her…I just hope that, the next time she faces a life-defining decision, she remembers this time when she told us she had faith in something we don’t. And we believed in her.”
I would feel the exact same way should my children choose a similar path. Still, the concept of rebelling by getting baptized makes me giggle.
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