Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Day 1: 15 Day Atheist Challenge
What religion did you grow up with? Did you have positive or negative experiences with religion?
OK, that's technically TWO questions, but why quibble?
I was raised as a Roman Catholic. I was never really "in" to it, I went through the various ceremonies and "life markers" such as confession, first communion and confirmation not because I really wanted to, but because I was expected to, and as a child, you do what you're told. I certainly didn't have any say in baptism!
Other than boredom, I can't say I had any overt negative experiences with Catholicisim. No priest molested me, and no nun rapped my hand with a ruler. So much for the stereotypes. At the time I regularly went to church (the 60's and 70's), the priests were actively pushing the social justice angle, at least at the various parishes we attended. I cannot recall the heavy anti-abortion focus that the church these days seems to emphasize, and even as a young teen, I had issues with the anti-female, patrician style of the Church.
Most of my negative experiences related to religion came from non-Catholic Christians, who would tell me, without a hint of awareness of how rude their comment was, that Catholics weren't "real" Christians, what ever the hell that was supposed to mean! I also had quite few Jewish friends growing up, and I recall some of the snide comments directed at them over the years, the "Christ-killer" insinuation being the most common. It seemed to me at the time, that the more overtly religious the person was, the more likely was the chance of some religiously inspired, bigoted comment being issued, with a total lack of self-awareness on the part of the speaker. That said, I also knew (and know) many deeply religious Christians who embodied everything their religion teaches them.
The parish I attended for most of the time was fairly progressive, and I recall one Sunday school class where the nuns brough in a Protestant minister (can't recall the denomination) and a conservative Rabbi to speak, sort of an interfaith comparitive religion class. I was around 11 or 12 years old at the time, and one of the kids asked the Rabbi why "Jews were all so rich?" My jaw hit the floor. The nun was agast, and the minister's eyes bulged a bit. The Rabbi, however, took it in stride, and spoke for a good 10 minutes about how most Jews value education, and a good education is the key for financial success. Well played!
Kids can be very cruel.