No Vacation Bible School for my Kids

My grandmother, the sweet woman, is a devout Christian and probably one of the most genuine people I know. She loves god with all her heart and truly lives the life a Christian should live. She believes some things are wrong (homosexuality and alcohol consumption, for example) but she treats all people equally. She never turns her back on someone because of their sexual orientation, choice of lifestyle, or even belief in god. She did not turn her back on me when I became pregnant before I was married. However, she has no idea that I’m an atheist. I cannot bring myself to tell her because I know it will break her heart. She’s the person in my life I can relate to the most, and she’s been their for me when my own parents were busy squabbling over whose weekend it was to take my brother and myself.

My grandmother asked if she could take my 4-year-old to VBS at the church where I grew up, and where she still attends nearly every available service. I thought one day wouldn’t hurt, but over the course of the last month, so many ridiculous things have happened in the name of Christianity that I can’t bear the thought of my child being exposed to religious dogma. She already attends a Christian school, and that’s all I can take. So, I didn’t send her and I feel terrible that my grandmother didn’t get to show her off to her friends, which was probably her main motivation for asking me to bring her anyway.

I made up excuses for why I didn’t bring her to VBS, and I feel terrible about it. I wish I could tell her the truth. But I know the though of me burning in hell will haunt her until the day she dies, and I just can’t do that to her. She’s chosen to live this life in blind faith, and so she will be blind to my fate. Which, in reality, is most likely just a cease of existence, but this is not how she would see it.

My heart hurts, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing in keeping it from her. At least, I hope I am.

7 Thoughts on “No Vacation Bible School for my Kids

  1. Wow, that is tough.

    When I told my mom… well, she kind of inferred it on her own and asked me, she was sad and cried for awhile. But later she came around and has accepted me. In the end, it’s about love. A parent’s (or grandparent’s love) doesn’t stop just because somebody they care for has some belief or thinks a certain way. (at least that’s how it’s supposed to work!)

    You are choosing to raise your children how you see fit. (and it sounds like you’re doing a fine job, too!) Christianity uses guilt as its main premise to enforce membership. You choose to not believe that. In essence, you received freedom like no other (, and you want to give that to your children.

    Balancing that with the older, entrenched generation is very difficult. Tell them, or not to tell them? That’s the hard question.

    I hope you will keep us updated.
    Be well.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Beau!

    My grandmother called yesterday and wasn’t upset at all that I didn’t take my daughter to VBS. She chatted away like always, so I was glad for that. I think she suspects that my beliefs have changed, and if she ever asks, I’ll tell her the truth. I’m just not ready to volunteer the information. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  3. Beau – I added you on Google +, in case you’re wondering who the crazy stranger is!

  4. I have the hardest time telling older people (like my uncle, or a professor that I work with) that I’m atheist, although I feel a certain political and social commitment to being out. I’m wondering if you had to assign a percentage to your motivations for not telling your grandmother, how much of it would be concern for her feelings, and how much of it is just fear? Maybe these are connected, but anyway, I feel like if we can present ourselves in the world authentically, we allow others to feel physically and psychologically safe to do the same.

    My wife is Mormon, and so my kids go every Sunday to church. It’s not what I would choose for them to do, but I’m not convinced that their attendance is damaging to them. If anything, it will give them a better understanding of what much of American culture is founded on, even as I attempt to instill in them a naturalistic worldview that rejects supernaturalism in all its forms.

    Kevin, Iowa

  5. Kevin, you’re so right. Much of it is probably fear. I do want to be true to who I am and I want to be an example for my children in that respect. Because I’ve always been the evangelistic type, I’m sure I’ll tell her at some point in the near future. For all I know, she may be completely ok with it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. 🙂

  6. I feel your confusion on letting her go to VBS. My kids go every year. The first few years I was not too happy and then I thought about how I grew up in a southern baptist home. Finally my conclusion was well if they are free thinkers and they are exposed to alot of religion well it might take and they may be like me. Either way I am fine with it. Not like it really matters. Unless you are religious.

  7. Oh, I never told my grandmother about my views as it would upset her. She loved me very much and there was no point to it.

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