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Struggling with Church.

(84 Posts)
Londonwifi Mon 02-Mar-20 21:42:16

I was brought up to believe. I was baptised, went to Sunday School, attended Bible Class, joined the Church and became a Sunday School Teacher for a while. I always struggled with the idea so for some years I wouldn’t attend at all then find myself returning to the church.
This time however, I am ready to dispense with it. I have examined everything in great detail and Richard Dawkins books have a lot to do with it as well. I would say I am more into Buddhism than anything. I practise yoga, appreciate nature and our place in the Universe.
My dilemma is this. I want to make a clean break and just not see anyone such as my elder who has asked to meet me for coffee to discuss. Have I an obligation to meet her or can I just say I am leaving in an email? People have been kind and welcoming but it’s just not my thing. Help!

Doodle Mon 02-Mar-20 22:08:20

London if you have put a lot of thought into this, it is your decision. Is it your Church in particular (we don’t have elders in my Church) or religion full stop? I imagine if you have been a regular attender at your church then perhaps they want to find out if there is anything they can do to help or support you. I am a little surprised you don’t want to meet. Are you worried you will be made to feel guilty or that you don’t want to give your reasons for leaving? At the end of the day it is your choice. I Hope your decision is the right one for you. Listen to your own heart. Richard Dawkins is only an opinion, there are many others. I wish you well.

Tangerine Mon 02-Mar-20 22:13:35

It's up to you. If you don't want to meet the elder for coffee, I don't see you are obliged to do so.

However, if the elder is a nice and non-pushy person, it might be nice to see him/her for coffee - perhaps he/she is worried they've done something to upset you.

vampirequeen Tue 03-Mar-20 08:18:06

You've thought long and hard about it and made your decision. Tell the elder you'll happily meet him/her for coffee (if you want to) but will not be discussing religion in any shape or form. If the elder wants to see you out of friendship he/she will be happy with that. If not, then don't go for coffee.

SirChenjin Tue 03-Mar-20 09:27:57

I agree with vampirequeen - meet them for coffee (providing you like them enough to spend time with them one to one) but make it clear that you’re happy with your decision and will be meeting them as a friend, not as members of the church, and any talk of religion is off the table.

Non religious people must be free to find belief - and people who have previously had a faith must be free to decide that they no longer believe. Religion is something that should be entered into and left willingly, freely and without guilt and no-one has the right to try and influence you one way or the other.

Gaunt47 Tue 03-Mar-20 09:32:22

A friend (a respected rev.) once told me that having doubts is almost obligatory in the C of E. smile Goes with the territory as they say!

SirChenjin Tue 03-Mar-20 09:40:27

Having doubts and questioning aspects of your belief is very different from knowing that religion is simply not for you though.

Luckygirl Tue 03-Mar-20 09:57:10

I do think it is sad that so many religions contain within them the sense of guilt - it pervades so many. I am guessing it relates to the way that religions have been used as tools of the powerful.

You have made your decision and I can see that you fear a meeting with the "elder" might guilt you into a change of mind. If you like this person, then a meeting where religion is off the table might work; but only if you WANT to meet - you are under no obligation.

There are so many unknowns in this world and we all have to find our own way of dealing with them. For some it is religion, for others it is not. You are a grown adult and free to make your own choices. But I do understand that a religion that has been ingrained from birth and during childhood is hard to shift.

Good luck with your new path in life.

grandMattie Tue 03-Mar-20 10:04:08

If you’re worried about being shanghaied back, tell the elder that you need space at the moment and would prefer not to meet her - yet - that you’ll arrange a meeting when you’ve sorted your head out.
Having said that, I feel very sad for you to have lost your faith and hope you find peace in whatever you choose.
Good luck.

Londonwifi Tue 03-Mar-20 10:13:42

Thank you everyone for your responses. It’s good to see things from the outside as it were.

wildswan16 Tue 03-Mar-20 10:18:35

If your elder is someone you feel comfortable with and often talk to, then you it might be helpful. However, if you are already having doubts about speaking to them I presume it is not that kind of relationship. Therefore I would just not bother.

You have made your own decision, and I expect as it is fairly recent you may not feel able to explain things properly to a third person. Church attendance is not compulsory and if you should meet or be contacted by any members of your church you can simply say that you need a break from attendance for a while.

Maybe an email to the elder along the lines of "thanks for your concern, I will certainly get in touch if I feel it would be helpful. Thank you for your help/time over the past few years".

endlessstrife Tue 03-Mar-20 10:29:57

I would pray about it. We are Christians, but haven’t been to church for 8 years. It’s not always the right place to be, particularly if you’re surrounded by arrogant, judgmental Christians. Is this something you identify with? Do you feel comfortable with this elder? Remember Richard Dawkins said, “ there is almost certainly is no God”. So he wasn’t sure. I wish you all the best, and pray you find God again. Remember, the Bible says once He has you he will never let you go.

SirChenjin Tue 03-Mar-20 10:36:37

Why would you pray about when religion isn’t something you want in your life? confused I don’t believe in gods but I don’t wish that others wish a faith could ‘unfind’ their god - I just accept that some people have a faith and others don’t, some choose to start believing, others choose to stop believing - and all are equally valid. God doesn’t ‘have’ you.

Gaunt47 Tue 03-Mar-20 10:43:04

'Equally valid' SirC - exactly right. For instance, I don't believe, but have always believed in the belief of others.

Kryptonite Tue 03-Mar-20 10:45:23

I would be wary of being swayed by Richard Dawkins. He has his own agenda (making money from selling his books for one thing). He does not know everything and does not have all the answers, and a good scientist would admit to that. Perhaps keep an open mind. We're all searching for truth I think and being immersed in the wonders of creation, as you seem to be, is a good place to find it.

Alexa Tue 03-Mar-20 10:45:36

Maybe the elder can help you to make a clean break and wish you well.

If for any reason you feel unable to discuss the Church with your elder I think you should politely decline the invitation.

I enjoy discussing religion , even with Jehovah's Witnesses. I have been what most people would call an 'atheist' for about forty years, and before that I paid no attention to religions of any sort. But that is just me.
I send you my best wishes for your future spiritual adventures. If there were such a being as God then He would much prefer you to be a sincere searcher than a mindless follower or a hypocrite

luluaugust Tue 03-Mar-20 10:46:54

I am not sure if you have completely lost faith or if you feel you are in the wrong denomination. If you have always got on well with the Elder you could tell her you are in the wrong place but there is no obligation to do so and if you want to turn to Buddism or any other belief you are absolutely free to do so here.

Annaram1 Tue 03-Mar-20 10:52:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hellsgrandad Tue 03-Mar-20 10:53:17

Oh Londonwifi - how I feel for you. My mother belonged to the Plymouth Brethren and her father was an Elder. As a concession my sister and I were 'allowed' (made) to go to the Methodist Church but there were so many mixed messages that after many years my wife and I finished up going nowhere. A friend asked us if we had considered becoming Catholic, a suggestion that would have horrified my mother had she still been alive and we found that you can't just decide that you're a Catholic, you have to go on a Journey Into Faith course.
We went to one meeting where a very kind priest told us that there would be no persuading or coercion - all that would happen is that we would be told what they believe and then make our own minds up.
To shorten a long story, we loved it. It virtually amounted to going back to basics and six months later we were accepted into the Catholic Church.
Sadly my wife is no longer able to go due to Alzheimers but , 10 years on, I still go to Mass every week and someone administers the Eucharist to my wife at her care home on a regular basis.
I wish you well in your search for what is best for you but I found peace and comfort with no 'hard sell' within the Catholic church and it's certainly worth a try with no obligation.

eagleswings Tue 03-Mar-20 10:54:20

Don't let Richard Dawkins rob you of your salvation Londonwifi. There are many scientists who believe in God and Frances Collins became a believer when head of the Human Genome project. His book The Language of God explains why.

endlessstrife Tue 03-Mar-20 10:56:49

eagleswings ditto

Moggycuddler Tue 03-Mar-20 10:57:14

I have been an atheist since my teens (now 63.) Around that time my basic common sense and logic told me that the idea of gods (any gods) is a human construct and superstition. Atheism is a great freedom. So congratulations. Having said that, I do allow others to have their own beliefs, but to me it is very misguided and a bit sad that so many people spend their whole lives bowing down to something that "almost certainly" does not exist.

Annaram1 Tue 03-Mar-20 11:04:48

Unfortunately something happened when posting my previous comment and some of it was omitted. I will try again. Like Londonwifi I attended Sunday School and when I married my Catholic husband I went to the local Catholic church with him. Our two children were brought up as Catholics. But when my husband died I did not want to go to our local church because I did not like the priest. He refused to visit my very ill husband in his nursing home as it was outside his area. Since then I have cut back on going to church as I feel that other people there may judge me. One said "You should go to Church because of Jesus, not because of the priest. " I go about once a month now and it all seems irrelevant. I do believe in a way as I say my prayers every night and watch "Songs on Sunday" on TV.

jaylucy Tue 03-Mar-20 11:05:11

I found that other people's attitude can affect your beliefs but no one, but no one can tell you what to actually believe.
I was brought up a Christian, baptised, confirmed, ex Sunday School teacher. Husband was a non believer.
When I moved to Australia , the times I went to church were few and far between - we were often away at weekends seeing my father in law who lived 3 hours away and until we moved into a flat there was no church nearby.
But I still held on to the belief, as one of my previous vicars had said that you don't have to be in a church to worship.
When my marriage broke up and I returned home to the UK, I went to the usual morning service and the way I was spoken to and treated by not only the vicar (who had married my ex and myself) was pretty wrong. When they asked how long I was home for and I said for good due to the fact that my marriage had broken down, their attitude varied from astonishment to one woman literally drawing away as if I was a leper. Only 2 members of the congregation came up to me later and said that if I needed anyone to talk to, to just pop round !. Since then, I have only gone to church if an occasion demands it.
If you are comfortable in what you now believe, by all means meet up with the elder and state your case but be prepared to have to justify why you feel this is right for you.

Hilarybee Tue 03-Mar-20 11:09:35

I was raised in a similar way to you London but didn’t go as far as getting baptised etc. I made a clean break when I left home to train as a nurse. I had always questioned the beliefs that the church I attended as a child but never spoke about this to my parents or any one else in the church When I think back to that time I feel that as I was always brought up with Christian beliefs it’s like being brainwashed, the beliefs are internalised as a small child and therefore extremely difficult to get rid of. Whenever I meet any one with Christian beliefs the old feelings come back to me. I just have to cope with that and say to myself that I’m an adult now and have different beliefs to what I was raised with. If you feel strong enough mentally to cope with the feelings that will arise if you do meet someone from the church do so,if not don’t. Born again Christians have an answer for every doubt you may have though!