Gransnet forums

Religion/spirituality

Total absence of religion

(22 Posts)
Riverwalk Thu 21-Nov-13 11:36:54

Recently I've been working with a woman, my age 59, who was born and bred in a communist eastern European country and came to live here around 10 years' ago.

I was absolutely fascinated to discover that she has no connection/disconnection with any form of religion at all. I have to say that I meet many east Europeans but don't know many personally.

Obviously in her country there was no official religion, no religious education and her own family were secular, but she does remember a distant elderly relative having a bible.

Everyone I know, from all parts of the world, are either believers of some sort or, like me, have rejected religion. I'm just agog that this is the first person I've knowingly met who has no religious 'background'.

I'm not making any point here, just wanted to pass it on smile

baubles Thu 21-Nov-13 11:52:52

Yes that is interesting Riverwalk. I think it will take another generation or two before our grand and great grandchildren shake off any family connections with religion. I'm talking about those of us who are not religious and who's children are not religious.

There is the matter of religious observance in schools to be sorted out of course.

thatbags Thu 21-Nov-13 12:10:16

My kids haven't had any overt connection with religion, only what is forced on them by the fact that we have a stae religion, so they have neither chosen nor rejected any specific faith.

When DDs one and two were at primary school there was quite an enlightened headteacher who did the required 'observances' very cleverly. DD3 was at a different primary school and we withdrew her from religious observances. The school changed its approach to teaching RE because of that, and actually began to engage in religious education.

So perhaps – unless those pushing for more evangelism in schools get their way (and some politicians seem stupid enough for this to happen) – it will not take more generations for their to be plenty of truly non-religious people here in the UK.

thatbags Thu 21-Nov-13 12:11:02

Sorry for the spelling mistakes.

Riverwalk Thu 21-Nov-13 12:24:44

I think it will take many more generations because of e.g. the established church, royal family, bank holidays, compulsory assembly, Thought for the Day, Prayer for the Day, Sunday opening hours, etc.

Bags your children have reached their status, as it were, by your 'withdrawing' them from the status quo, as opposed to not actively choosing to participate, if you see what I mean.

Maybe one day, those who are religious can go about their business, and those who are not can also do the same, without having to 'opt-out'.

Lilygran Thu 21-Nov-13 12:36:22

Shortly after the Iron Curtain finally crumbled, I met a number of Ukrainian teachers here on an exchange. Two of them were very keen to attend a service at the parish church, to which I took them. I thought they probably wanted to go out of an interest in the exotic but they appeared quite familiar with the conventions of a church service and later told me about their church at home. These were young women whose entire lives had been spent under a communist regime. Churches have re-opened all over the former Soviet bloc and are well attended. In Japan, in 1610, all Christian missionaries were expelled and access to Japan for foreigners was severely restricted and controlled. There followed a period during which Japanese Christians were persecuted, many being executed. When foreign access to Japan became possible, in the mid-19th century it was found that Christianity had been kept alive, secretly, in a number of places by a number of families. Might take longer than 'a generation or two'.

feetlebaum Mon 16-Dec-13 14:46:38

Well - look what prohibition did for alcohol!

Joan Wed 22-Jan-14 05:07:01

Here in Australia there are many 'non-theists' as I call them. They have not rejected religion; they simply don't give it a thought, and have never been exposed to it. State schools often allow religious instruction on the premises after school, by priests, but they don't teach it themselves.

Most of my family are atheists because we simply can't accept a belief in the supernatural, and we prefer scientific explanations for things that are hard to understand. We also discuss and read philosophy. We were once Catholics and had our children baptised, but behaviour by church authorities, and ridiculous rules such as banning both contraception and abortion, made us question the whole thing. We simply drifted away, as many do.

PS Not that we ever obeyed the anti-contraception rules. I do understand their stance on abortion, even though I'm pro-choice, but they should allow contraception, otherwise women obedient to the church would have more babies than their bodies or income could cope with. Luckily few women are THAT obedient!

thatbags Wed 22-Jan-14 07:30:53

river, we only withdrew Minibags from religious observances, not from education about religion, some of which education happens at school and some at home. We have not kept her ignorant, just not forced her to worship (or pretend to worship) a specific bunch of gods. So I'm not sure that what you say is correct. I think it assumes too much.

petallus Wed 22-Jan-14 09:00:18

In most cultures the question 'are you a believer, agnostic or atheist' would have meaning and could be answered appropriately.

Maybe to the E E person mentioned in the OP, who had never been exposed to the idea of religion, the question was meaningless.

petallus Wed 22-Jan-14 09:03:49

I think the majority of children will be heavily influenced in their attitude to religion by that of their parents though * Bags*.

feetlebaum Wed 22-Jan-14 09:09:39

True petallus - religion is usually inherited. That 'one true faith' usually just happens to be the same as the one the parents practised - what a coincidence!

thatbags Wed 22-Jan-14 09:25:15

Yes, petallus, I agree. That's why I think religious education is a good idea. Gives kids a rounded view so they can make choices themselves rather than being over influenced by one (religious/non-religious) way of looking at the world.

sunseeker Wed 22-Jan-14 09:27:30

I am a believer but I don't agree with religious services in schools.

I do agree with religious education where children are taught what various religions believe - from that they can then make their own decisions. Of course if their parents are church goers then most likely the children will choose the faith their parents practice.

thatbags Wed 22-Jan-14 09:27:55

I find it hard to believe that someone could reach adulthood, even with atheist parents in a communist Eastern European country, without having some idea about religion. After all, much of the population of such a country would still be religious.

petallus Wed 22-Jan-14 10:48:09

I thought that.

Riverwalk Wed 22-Jan-14 10:58:46

I didn't say that she'd reached adulthood with no idea about religion.

She obviously knew about religion but had received no input directly from parents or school and no surrounding atmosphere of state religion.

As I said, everyone else I've ever met are either a believer of some sort; brought up in the surrounds and have no strong feelings; or have outright rejected. My point was that she had nothing to reject or withdraw from.

I found it interesting.

thatbags Wed 22-Jan-14 11:25:05

Sorry. Didn't read closely enough. Quite a lot of the atheists i know don't have strong feelings about their lack of faith. They just accept that they have no faith and that's the end of it. I expect most atheists are like that. Atheism doesn't mean you are cock sure that there are no gods, only that you haven't come across anything that makes you believe there are.

I think I'd go one step further than you, river, and suppose that she didn't think there was anything to reject or withdraw from.

feetlebaum Tue 28-Jan-14 13:03:52

I must say I cannot see any reason to consider 'faith' a virtue...

granjura Tue 28-Jan-14 13:22:00

Lucky her... between OH and I we have at least 5 different forms of Christianity and his grand-father converted to Islam in the 19C- on of the earliest Brits to do so, and because he was fascinated with Islamic heart and so put off by the hipocrisy of small town CofE. Nothing but trouble.

granjura Tue 28-Jan-14 21:09:30

Islamic ART, of course.

Joan Tue 28-Jan-14 21:47:54

I've noticed on facebook that some people, who do not actually practice religion, post quasi-religious quotes, often nauseatingly soppy and sentimental (such as 'like' if you miss someone in heaven, or Helen Steiner Rice-type quotes)

I don't get it, I really don't.

As for teaching religion; my son teaches 'Study of Religion; among other things. This gives his year 10 to 12 kids a good overview and basic understanding of all the major religions. Quite a good thing considering it is a catholic school (co-ed and very inclusive though; many pupils are not catholic)

Oh, just remembered something funny: I recently read about a prisoner who requested a talk with a padre, but he gave his religion as 'Jedi'. Trouble is, he was dead serious about this. So the normal padre looked up local religious leaders and found a pagan shaman. He happily turned up, with his bag of tricks and a stick with bells on (not exactly a light sabre but still....). The prisoner was happy.