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Faith or indoctrination?

(204 Posts)
Atqui Wed 23-Apr-14 18:26:32

Does anyone else feel that they were indoctrinated in the Christian religion as children by their parents, and are unable to rationally define their own beliefs now? I haven't put this in a very articulate way, but hope you know what I mean!

sunseeker Wed 23-Apr-14 18:46:23

No, I went to church until I was 16 when my parents said it was up to me from then on. I flirted with Buddhism and some of the eastern religions and looked at Islam but made the conscious decision to return to Christianity

Mishap Wed 23-Apr-14 18:57:22

Faith does not arise spontaneously - it is a combination of upbringing and culture. One might possibly see that as indoctrination.

I had a bellyful of it when I was small, not from my parents, who were "don't knows" for most of their lives, but from my first school which was run by anglican nuns. I do not have the words to tell you the terror that I felt when confronted with life size pictures of the crucifixion around the walls of the chapel when I was 4. How can we sully the minds of children with these gruesome tales?

annodomini Wed 23-Apr-14 19:05:32

Parents were churchgoers - Dad an elder of the Kirk - but we were excused Sunday School because it was so boring. RE was a non-examinable subject in Scotland, though all teachers were expected to teach it for one period a week - that was a joke! I was a member of the Church of Scotland until my late 20s when I decided I could do without the Church and now call myself a Humanist.

Flowerofthewest Wed 23-Apr-14 19:07:21

On a lovely morning walk in town today I had to 'run' the gauntlet of JWs who were seated along the main path with their display of leaflets etc on a stand opposite them. Have never seen this before, it's usually them or their children repeating parrot fashion their ideas and faith.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 23-Apr-14 19:12:27

No way can what we were taught as children influence our feelings today! We've had enough years to sort it out for ourselves.

Brendawymms Wed 23-Apr-14 19:14:49

I used to walk round to the local church with my brother as a small child. My brother being 18 months older than me. My brother reached the age to be confirmed and was. I was not confirmed into the C of E allegedly because the rector told my parents that I was not suitable! His reasoning, as far as I knew, was that I was disruptive. This was just one year after my older brother, age 23, was killed in a plane crash. This stopped my church attendance dead although 'faith' is very important to me.
I have known too many one day a week religious people rather than seven day a week people who live a life that all religions would recognise as good.
On a side note my father in law was educated by the Christian Brothers in Ireland, and abused by one of them. When he told his parents he was forced to apologise for making such an accusation.

Penstemmon Wed 23-Apr-14 20:10:11

I was brought up in a 'Christian' environment and went to church each week/ Sunday School and stayed with C/E until I was about 17/18. I did A level RE. I got married in church. I loved all the biblical stories, hymns and sense of community in churches but I find it hard to believe in a deity. I have family and friends who are active /practising Christians and others who are Muslims and Hindu. I now define myself as an atheist/humanist.

So my answer to Atquis question is 'No I have not followed what I was taught as a child spiritually/religiously but it has defined a set of values.'

Atqui Wed 23-Apr-14 21:02:06

I don't agree Jingle, but I wish I could.
"Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man" is often quoted ( or misquoted)!to explain how easy it is to shape a young mind. I was brought up by loving but very straight laced parents, whose morals were informed by the Baptist / Methodist was considered a sin to drink alcohol, to have sex before marriage etc etc.In my teenage years I embraced this way of thinking , despite or because of the 60 swinging for me. I continued to believe in the Christian faith ,almost unable to shake it off. I feel that my youth although reasonably happy was not what it could have been!!

Penstemmon Wed 23-Apr-14 21:30:05

I think you can feel 'indoctrinated' and limited by your upbringing and it can last all your life. It does depend of so many different factors. Were you an only child atqui?

Aka Wed 23-Apr-14 21:46:00

I agree with jingl I was indoctrinated, even boarded at a Catholic school run by nuns, well past the age of 7 as suggested by the Jesuits.

I made up my own mind and have no religion, nor do I seek one.

Ana Wed 23-Apr-14 21:57:04

No, I wasn't indoctrinated. My parents were vaguely C of E, so was my school, I loved the hymns and the Christmas carols.

I'm still vaguely Christian, although I have read quite extensively about other faiths.

It does seem to be often the case that many adamant atheists were brought up/educated in a strictly Catholic or Christian environment.

Ana Wed 23-Apr-14 21:58:14

(Not that Catholicism isn't Christian - you know what I meant!)

Atqui Wed 23-Apr-14 22:03:48

I wasn't an only child Pen, and often wonder about the different outcomes in my siblings.One is a strident atheist, one a devout Christian.

Atqui Wed 23-Apr-14 22:05:54

I guess it just depends on people's impressionable each of us is.

Lilygran Wed 23-Apr-14 22:20:10

No, I don't think I was indoctrinated. We did go to church regularly and assemblies and RE were taken seriously at school but we were encouraged to discuss and question. I stopped going to church and considered myself an agnostic humanist for a number of years and then I went back. What's the difference between education and indoctrination? The last word is often used about religion and politics but never about science or Eng lit. And if you think indoctrination relates to ideas and beliefs, rather than facts I would suggest that it's very hard to remove ideas and beliefs from any part of the curriculum.

Aka Wed 23-Apr-14 22:34:43


Ana Wed 23-Apr-14 22:42:24

You can't take a leap of faith with maths...

durhamjen Wed 23-Apr-14 22:50:04

At my secondary school, which was part of the Church Schools Company, RE was called Divinity. C of E was the only religion that got a look in and it certainly was not up for discussion.
I went to Sunday school at both C of E and methodist churches before that, but I would not say my parents were particularly religious. My mother had uncles and cousins who were vicars, but I never really met them. I think the fact that the high school was religious was an accident; I got a scholarship to it. It put me off formal religion, in fact any religion.
However, I know more hymns than anyone else I know.
I've learnt more about religion since I taught at a catholic school. Much religious education goes in by osmosis, rather than on purpose, I find.

Mishap Wed 23-Apr-14 22:52:55

Faith and fact are two different things - both valuable and important.

To be taught faith as fact is wrong, and that is where the indoctrination comes in. Ideas are taught in an honest way: Aristotle thought.....; some people think that capitalism is a good way of organising society etc. We would be appalled if it were taught in any other way.

But religion tends to be taught as fact, rather than saying "This is what Christians believe", children are told that god made the world, Christ rose from the dead etc.; and religions other than christianity are studied as interesting information, as general knowledge.

We must be honest with our children - anything less is quite wrong.

durhamjen Wed 23-Apr-14 23:01:13

Is it possible to be honest with our children about religion? Surely the fact is that nobody knows the truth, therefore honesty is not possible.
I honestly do not know if god exists, but I do know I do not believe in him. However, I do not tell my grandson that, as he will take it as fact, having ASD. Some of his friends, including the vicar's son, are very religious, and we cannot tell him that they are wrong, because we do not know.
He does go around saying to people that his parents and his gran do not believe in god and asks if they do.

grannyactivist Wed 23-Apr-14 23:18:47

It was quite the opposite for me Atqui. When I was a girl my father was a communist and thought the church and religion were human constructs for feeble people - he thought of himself as an intelligent man and believed that ultimately reason and logic, coupled with scientific advances, would see off religion. He was really committed to his ideals and did his best to indoctrinate atheism into us children (successfully so in the case of my two brothers), so I was completely shocked and my brothers were dumbfounded when in his later years he became a church-going Roman Catholic.
Mishap's contention that Faith does not arise spontaneously is disproved in me as I came to faith after reading a New Testament at the age of nineteen and didn't even join with any other Christians for a further two years.

Atqui Thu 24-Apr-14 10:24:09

Many of you seem to have received more instruction in religion at school than at home. Perhaps that is what makes the difference as to how much sticks. I am sure we are more influenced by what our parents believe if they are particularly devout, although as Ana says many people react the other way. I can't help,wishing that my parents beliefs had been ' washy washy' so that I might have made a decision for myself as did Grannyactivist, without their strong influence .
At the moment I am feeling very down, and hence rather introspective. It's very interesting to read all your views.

Atqui Thu 24-Apr-14 10:27:35

I wonder what 'turned' your father GA

Nonu Thu 24-Apr-14 10:40:19

A little (((hug))) for you Atqui, as you are feeling a bit Blue.