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How old do you have to be to have religion? [Title edited by GNHQ at OP's request]

(94 Posts)
varian Wed 22-Feb-23 19:08:45

At the age of four I had no religion and neither did my best friend but we were sent to different schools because Catholic and Protesrant children had to be segregated.

Is this not absurd?

Religious conviction should surely be an informed decision, not based in the nominal label our parents had ( whether they were actually religious or not).

fancythat Wed 22-Feb-23 19:13:35

I know people who had a faith at 10. And one at 8.
Not 4.

Hithere Wed 22-Feb-23 19:19:56

I have seen kids obsessed with religion at 3 yo because it was how their parents chose to raise- not my circus nor my monkeys

It was a disturbing to see how they would put God before parents and their well being

The parents were so proud though as they were super religious

As an atheist, I am letting my kids make their own choices

paddyann54 Wed 22-Feb-23 19:44:09

I was raised a catholic,I had no problem with that as a child.Never had any of the "evil" nuns people talk about in fact all but one nun were great teachers .in my opinion.When I was born children in catholic families were baptised within a week of their birth we were taken to mass every Sunday from then until we were old enough to go on our own .

My parents were a mixed marriage Dad was raised in the orange lodge but married mum in the Catholic church so we could go to catholic school .
When I met my OH his father was an orangeman and a member of the freemasons .HE said if I took his sons name I should take his religion and marry in his chrch.We were very young OH was just 19 so we talked it through together and with my parents and we did what FIL wanted.My children were raised in the CH of Scotland .
What I discovered was there are NO non denominational schools in Scotland the schools my kids went to had visits weekly from a local minister,morning prayers and bible study.
Therefore I can see no reason why parents cant decide to send their children to a school that follows their own beliefs.The convent school I attended also had girls (single sex school) who were of many other faiths ,Jewish,Moslem ,Hindu being some who were in my class and whose parents thought it was more suitable for their girls .
I was still friends with the kids in the street who went to a different school..still am 60 odd years later .I dont see what your problem is Varian,if these kids ahd gone to a private school we'd still have been separated at 5

Deedaa Wed 22-Feb-23 19:57:47

As the son of an Italian father DH was brought up a Catholic. Oddly enough the thing that turned him off religion was not his Catholic background but the Anglican secondary modern he went to that insisted on assembly every morning in the church attached to the school. He wasn't impressed by a faith that had to be continually forced on them.

Sago Wed 22-Feb-23 20:00:31

Isn’t that what confirmation is?
I was brought up as a Catholic but had a choice as I got older.

Siope Wed 22-Feb-23 20:23:12

I went to state not church schools and those in England always had regular assembly, with hymns and the Lord’s Prayer, presumably because of England having a state church. There were two or three Catholic kids in my year, and they were not allowed into assemblies, which feels very wrong to me now, but in those days most of us who did have to sit through the tedium were very envious of those who did not.

Fleurpepper Wed 22-Feb-23 20:27:17


Isn’t that what confirmation is?
I was brought up as a Catholic but had a choice as I got older.

At what age?

Oreo Wed 22-Feb-23 20:47:49

I don’t see a problem, children and their friends at nursery often go to different schools later on.
They make friends wherever they go.Religion doesn't mean much at a young age in any case.
Up to parents to decide on, and children make their own choices when they get older.

Wyllow3 Wed 22-Feb-23 21:07:10

My parents were strict and ideological atheists. Religion was the opium of the people and a crutch for the weak.

I'm very glad my secondary school had a gentle christian service run every morning by a kind methodist headteacher. A hymn, the Lords Prayer, and sometimes a short reading generally on love and compassion. No "Creed" was of course pushed on us. I didnt know what is was until our multi cultural RE/social education lessons.

It was a warm progressive school for its time, I admit. Just an ordinary Technical High School but an extraordinary headteacher who had come back at the end of his career to make a new school as he thought wise.

so when in my 30's I found myself singing the old hymns and having feelings that could only be described as being in the spiritual domain, I found a home in the Quakers, after trying the local C of E church, but finding that demanding I adhere to a "creed" unpalatable. I remain the only one with any faith in my family, which I find sad as they associate faith with a crutch and a myth whereas it is alive and forever questioning, "what love demands of us".

It gave me choices I would not otherwise have had.

Luckygirl3 Wed 22-Feb-23 22:14:34

There are no Catholic or Muslim (or any other faith) children; only parents who direct their children down a particular route.

We are all born unsullied by religion or indeed politics. We make choices as we become adults.

biglouis Wed 22-Feb-23 22:33:30

I was raised in a weird family. My father's mother married twice - once to a Catholic and then to a member of the Orange Order! Considering the animosity between these two groups (especially in my native Liverpool) you can imagine the divisions in the family! My father was brought up by a Catholic aunt but he had half brothers and sisters who were active in the Orange Order.

My mother's family were C of E so not particulatly strong on religious beliefs. My grandmother had her own quiet beliefs but never tried to foist them on me. At age 11 I decided I did not believe in a Christian type god and have never altered my views.

Im always fascinated by what other people believe and have often had conversations with Moslems, Hindus, Mormons and other groups about their faiths. For me religion is a subject of intellectual interest only.

Callistemon21 Wed 22-Feb-23 22:48:47


I went to state not church schools and those in England always had regular assembly, with hymns and the Lord’s Prayer, presumably because of England having a state church. There were two or three Catholic kids in my year, and they were not allowed into assemblies, which feels very wrong to me now, but in those days most of us who did have to sit through the tedium were very envious of those who did not.

Yes, we always had an assembly each morning with hymns and couple of prayers; the two Catholic pupils and one Jewsh pupil sat in a classroom next to the assembly hall.

Our Headmistress was a Quaker; presumably a short religious assembly was a requirement in those days.

Mollygo Wed 22-Feb-23 23:14:41

Children are the religion their parents follow, often related to where they live, until they are old enough to choose. Sometimes they rebel and abandon religion altogether, sometimes their faith plays a meaningful part in their lives.

BlueBelle Thu 23-Feb-23 07:03:41

My parents were good people but with no particular religion ( I don’t think) although mum got more religious in later life although never a church goer She sent me to a catholic school as it had a good reputation and she had had poor schooling owing to her dads job moving them around and Nan not wanting to send her to different schools She was always resentful of missing out Anyway I enjoyed my school life (she made the right decision) I was taught by nuns who were for the most part kind and I thought good teachers I suppose there was more religion involved than in other schools and for a while as a young child I was interested but I think it was the sense of belonging that interested me
I m not a church goer as an adult I envy people with a strong belief I d love to have that, I have tried obviously not hard enough
My dad had no belief but was a good man who lived an honest simple and kind life I hope I have been similar although I know I ve made a lot more mistakes than him

nanna8 Thu 23-Feb-23 08:18:55

None of my children were believers when they were young. Now 2 of them are but they came to it later in life, as I did. I consider myself lucky and am eternally grateful that I was ‘grabbed’, nothing I did to earn it and that’s for sure!

Blondiescot Thu 23-Feb-23 08:49:54

My father caused a family row by refusing to have me baptised. His view was that when I was old enough to understand, I could choose whatever religion I wanted - or none. His one concession was that my granny could take me to Church of Scotland Sunday School every week. That went well for a child who loved to ask questions and refused to accept that she simply had to 'believe'. I'm now an atheist who thinks religion should play no part in a state education. Yes, pupils should be educated about different religions, but actual worship should be kept out of schools. If parents want their children to have a religious education, it should be in a private setting.

varian Thu 23-Feb-23 09:32:48

There is no reason to segregate schoolchildren on the basis of their parents religion or on any other basis.

The racial segregation which was once the norm in South Africa and parts of the USA now appalls us.

It would be equally absurd in my view to segregate children on the basis of parents politics so that four year olds went to a Labour school or a Tory school.

Segregation often leads to uninformed prejudice, integration is more likely to result in better understanding and tolerance.

Parents will pass on their values, their religious and political beliefs to their children and in due course the children will form their own views.

Redhead56 Thu 23-Feb-23 10:16:21

We went to a Protestant church and school in Liverpool but was not involved in the Orange Lodge as my dad said he had seen enough fighting over religion over the years.
I took my children to the local Sunday school to see if they wanted to join in. They were not remotely interested so they didn’t go again that was their choice. I didn’t get the choice as a child I was herded off to church whether I wanted to go or not. I still know all the prayers every word but don’t have any interest as I didn’t as a child.

karmalady Thu 23-Feb-23 10:30:59

Catholic brainwashing from birth to 28, when my catholic born husband and I managed to get the courage to break free from the chains. We left the cottage early, n wales middle of no-where, it was snowy and icy and we had to de ice the lane from the top of a hill and take great care when driving with our two small toddlers.

It was miles on very bad lanes and we were slightly late for morning sunday mass. We then had a lecture/sermon on being late for mass, while women in their sunday finery tut- tutted. That was the last time. for religion My husband had been in a seminary from age 9 to 11 and we were both indoctrinated through and through.

I find my `religion` now by being very in-tune with mother nature and very glad to be awayfrom hypocrisy. The only aspect I still like are the church bells, which often ring while I am doing hands and needs gardening on soil. We have bell ringers here, where I live now in s somerset

TerriBull Thu 23-Feb-23 11:06:00

I'm really surprised about the sectarian thing present in other parts of England such as Liverpool which I always perceived as a pretty catholic city due, I believe to the great swathes of Irish immigration over the years.

For all our faults down south, of which I am sure there are many, sectarianism isn't one of them.

My parents were strict catholics, I had a lot of it at home and then again at both my schools state catholic junior and convent senior. The Irish nuns did much to crank up divisions in a subliminal way, for example when the protestants filed out of the classroom at my convent, when we the catholic girls had to attend mass in the chapel on a "saints" day, once they were down the corridor some nun or other would pronounce "let us pray for their protestant souls so they aren't committed to eternal damnation" or some such drivel! We had a couple of really nice French nuns. However the Irish nuns could be a spiteful lot, I say that as someone who had a half Irish grandmother and friends from school with Irish parents who would agree with me. I like many have read about atrocities committed by certain orders against young women and children in Ireland and so I guess we got off light we only had to suffer tongue lashings not physical abuse.. My enduring opinion is that many of these women should not have been around children. and they certainly did nothing to promote religious cohesion with such asinine utterances "as you may go into a protestant church for a wedding if you have to but bear in mind God won't be present in their churches"

Obviously as a child one cannot make an informed choice about religion, even though "confirmation" is supposed to be such a time when one does that. I was still at junior school when I was confirmed, it happened pretty soon after our First Holy Communion as many of us girls wore the very same dress when we were confirmed so we learnt the catechism by rote for this purpose but with no real understanding of what we were undertaking.

My parents thought they were doing the right thing for our souls, they also thought they were doing the right thing when my maternal grandfather was dying in hospital and they with my grandmother got a priest along whilst he was on his deathbed presumably to have some sort of conversion into the church so the last rites could be administered and then a catholic funeral to follow . If I could speak to them today I would question that, he wasn't a catholic baptised CofE and actually half Jewish as I've discovered of late and although my grandparents married in a catholic church and their children were brought up catholic, he didn't practice any religion, so all in all not sure they did the right thing there even if it was for the best of intentions according to what they believed. Anyway, I will say this for them outside of school and church they didn't place any restrictions on who I made friends with, insomuch as religious background was irrelevant.

I think some of the vestiges of what I now see as indoctrination remain, I did think about bringing my own children up catholic for a while but on balance I think religion should be something an individual should make an informed choice about rather than have it foisted upon them and I do agree in an ideal world we wouldn't separate children off on the basis of religion.

Dee1012 Thu 23-Feb-23 11:42:46

I'm really surprised about the sectarian thing present in other parts of England such as Liverpool which I always perceived as a pretty catholic city due, I believe to the great swathes of Irish immigration over the years.

Terribull When growing up I can recall hearing about the horrific sectarian violence / riots in Liverpool (my home city) in 1909 and even in the 60's, I can recall family members referring to the North side as Orange.
I think it became very different in later years but I'd suggest there's still an undercurrent which as with many things is very, very sad.

mumofmadboys Thu 23-Feb-23 12:32:30

No-one can be forced to believe. It is good to introduce children to faith but they will all eventually decide for themselves. Faith is my greatest gift in life I think.

TerriBull Thu 23-Feb-23 15:46:20

Thanks for the information Dee, yes sad and horrific as you say. Excluding others on the grounds of religion, who could potentially be the very best people to enter your life, by imposed parameters is sad and an infringement of personal freedoms. Looking back I think it's is fair to say that most catholic families know they are fighting a losing battle with offspring, in that it's only a matter of time before they go their own way, maybe not so much in the past, particularly in Ireland, but these days after so much of the dark underbelly of the goings on within the catholic religion is in the public domain, we know at its worst it is both wand strong.

I don't think there is anything wrong in having a strong faith, although I would say it is a personal thing which shouldn't be imposed on others. I think I have one to an extent it just isn't the blind faith my parents had. In retrospect when I ponder on the religion I was brought up in, my feelings are the essence of Jesus was lost and misrepresented by the vanguard of a church, man set up in his name, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want his followers who have been separated by a schism at some point in history being so hateful to each other, or for that matter towards followers of other faiths.

My children had friends from other faiths in their non denominational senior school, I like to think they might have discussed different beliefs when they were hanging out but I rather think the main focus of any serious and sometimes heated conversations were centred around who had the best trainers hmm

Fleurpepper Thu 23-Feb-23 16:34:13

My mother was a divorced Protestant from a very Bourgeois family, with 1 child from first marriage. My dad came from and artisan staunch Catholic family. They had such a tough time, but I am so grateful it allowed me to see and experience first hand the hypocrisy of it all. Same for OH, even more complicated, grand-father from Anglican family convert to Islam, grand-mother Muslim, and his parents atheists both of them, having rejected Islam and Methodism.