This ties into a premise someone posted regarding how people were originally introduced to religion or spiritualism. I posit the majority of those who believe or once believed began as children guided by their parents. That’s my experience and that of everyone I know. What say you fellow Dopers?
Introduced but not forced to religion by my parents.
Drifted far away, but now drifting strongly back.
My family wasn’t religious up until I was 10 or so, when we started half-assedly attending a Methodist church. I didn’t really believe, and I don’t think they did either. I was an atheist through colleged and a couple years after, and am now an Episcopalian (albeit one with some very ‘liberal’ theological views). My parents divorced; my mom isn’t involved in organized religion and my dad is heavily involved with his Fundie ‘Bible Church.’
My faith doesn’t have anything in common with that of my parents, really. For all practical purposes, we worship different Gods.
I went to (a Congregationalist) church with my parents when I was a kid. When I was in Singpore I learned a lot about all the Eastern religions. In 7th and 8th grade (after I got back) I looked at the other Christian sects. I then madde a choice to be a Congregationalist.
Grew up the child of a devout Catholic mother and a Baptist deacon father. Among other child-rearing responsibilities he wasn’t interested in, my father took no part in my religious rearing. So I grew up in the Catholic Church.
Interesting thing about Catholocism: the Church is full of hard-liners until you run across the Jesuits. I went to a Jesuit high school, and for those of you who don’t know, the Jesuits have always been known as one of the most liberal (and rebellious) sects of Catholocism. In high school, I learned that rote memorization of the Bible really wasn’t the best way to go, and that God blesses us with brains so that we might think for ourselves.
It was thinking independently that led me AWAY from Catholocism, once I saw clearly how much my own personal beliefs conflicted with those of the Vatican.
So, 10+ years later, while I still believe strongly in a benevolent deity, I’m not sure where I fit in exactly with Christianity. Part of me wants to embark on a long search for the “perfect” religion, but most of me is content with having a relationship with God and not worrying too much about the details. My fundamentalists friends insist I’m going to pay for my insolence later, but…
My apologies if most of this strayed from the OP.
Raised in the Presbyterian church from birth.
Left Presbyterianism at sixteen.
Became an agnostic pagan UU at thirty.
My family went to church fora few years, sorta haphazzardly when I was about 10. Then my parents divorced and that was the end of that. In my 20s I was flirting with atheirsm, but never quite committed to it. Just lived a hard, hedonistic life.
At 29 I was exposed to a loving, caring church community who tries to BE the body of Christ. I fell in love with them, their ideal AND Christ. Been 4 years now.
A-ha! Lucky I had this all typed up from when my pastor asked us to share!
My family is not particularily religious. I knew I was a Christian because my mom told me so. Once in a while she referred to the Bible, or to God, but I was too shy to ask more about Christianity. I was baptised around 1986 and that might have been the only time I’d been in a church service until over 10 years later.
So, as I grew up, I picked up bits and pieces of Christianity from different and often unlikely places, including the Simpsons and a book of Catholic prayers I found in the basement. I started praying daily when I was 14 after reading “Heidi”. It’s a beautiful book about faith and kindness and God. The grandma in the book told Heidi to pray every day, so I started. I also got an illustrated comic-type Bible from my grandma that summer. She was very happy that I was interested in it, and even recently, she asked if I still had it.
In high school my faith was strongest. I was so excited about everything ahead of me, and I knew God would take care of me. I was still quite naive. I occasionally found new sources to learn about Christianity, including the new Christian radio station, and the internet, but I hadn’t actually read the Bible.
One day in January 2000, after an angry religious debate with my ex-boyfriend (who was Muslim), I realized that I didn’t know much about everything I’d been defending so vehemently, and I didn’t know if I was right about anything anymore. It was the emptiest night of my life. I felt uneasy praying that night, because I felt like God was a stranger.
The next day I dusted off a Bible that we had upstairs, and started reading from the beginning. It was different to see everything in its uncensored version. I started reading the Bible every night, and finished it in some months.
I’ve had ups and downs. Sometimes my faith is very strong, and sometimes it’s very weak and I feel incomplete. I started going to church with my boyfriend 3.5 years ago. I still relate to God better on my own. Church is a nice place to gather with other Christians, but it’s not as special as lying in my bed and talking directly to God.
Raised Methodist (a denomination within Protestant Christianity, but you probably knew that).
I was introduced to the concept of God, along with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, when I was young enough to believe anything I was told and easy to enthrall with the “Gee Whiz” factor. My folks insisted that although yeah they’d told me stuff that was untrue with regards to Santa and the Tooth Fairy, they’d spoken in good faith with regards to God, that they believed it themselves.
But, as with the churchgoers at the church we went to, even the pastor, there was a tendency to wave generally in the direction of orthodox Christian belief and say “yeah, that stuff” and then change the subject to helping the poor or doing outreach to the convicts in prison or a clothing drive for young mothers in the shelter. Or perhaps a foundation to create and sustain a medical facility or something. Aside from this “works” stuff, the religious shtick took the form of “OK, let’s read some passages from the Bible, and now let’s abstract out from what we read what the message was, and then discuss applying it in modern life”. Mostly very pragmatic and with transcendent metaphysical theologies avoided, nuanced around, as if everyone were vaguely embarrassed about them: life after death (umm, yeah, sure, although maybe we, umm, don’t know what that means, exactly); Jesus rose from the dead (umm, and we have some really great Easter hymns we sing, it’s, umm, an historically important Christian belief tradition); miracles (umm, sure, although Lazarus eventually died again and it wasn’t the miraculous deeds themselves that were important, really, although some silly gits probably did chase after them all like it was a 3 ring circus); prayer (umm, of course, for comfort and inspiration, and in celebration and thanksgiving, oh and we have more great hymns for that too)
I had a lot of affinity for the “do good” and the “let’s talk seriously with each other about what doing good in this or that situation consists of” stuff, and liked the trappings (the music, the socializing) but mostly cautiously dismissive of the theology stuff which didn’t seem important to me to the extent that I was cognizant of it, and later I found that I wasn’t very cognizant of it at all.
That’s what polarized me: running more often in the larger body of Christians as I got older, and discovering that most of them believe, in addition to the above, that God “sent” Jesus down, not (or at least not principally) to bring us a message and give us an example in living, but rather in order to get himself killed as a sacrifice to atone for original sin, after which point we are “saved” but only if we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and believe this and accept this sacrifice, and so forth. And that this, above all else, was what was important in Christianity, and moreover that this, above all else, was important, period. And there AHunter3 said to himself (and occasionally to their faces) “You folks are nuts”, and began considering himself to be I dunno what but Not What They Are, spiritually and religiously speaking.
Exposure to the whole ball of wax (including the perpetual insistence that this was all Very Important) certainly played a huge role in what followed, but parallel to all this I had had a sense within myself that there was something like a voice I could tune into or a compass-attraction I could feel to orient me, which I acknowledged to myself but never gave a name to. I did not think of it as religion, as God, etc…I thought of it more as “my Quest” or something like that, except I didn’t even have that much of a name for it. But at a certain point in my life I came to realize that this hitherto-unnamed and relatively unexamined experience was what the religions were originally about.
My parents raised me Catholic, but by the time I went to college, I was permanently done with that. I have been through a lot of religions and liked them all, more or less. My being Wiccan is certainly a far cry from my parents’ religion, but I do have to give them credit for getting me started. There’s been one continuous spiritual thread running through my life, and whatever name people give to that Great Mystery, She’s been keeping me going. I was educated by the Jesuits. And Montessori.
AHunter3, still don’t know what you are? Does that make you an auto-agnostic?
My mother never spoke of religion or God, and my dad was never around.
My only experience with church was occasionally going to a United Methodist church with my grandmother.
I learned it all on my own. I love studying religions, all of them.
I would like to consider myself a Christian because it’s the one I’m drawn to, but I have many doubts. I’m guessing I’d probably fall under the Universalist belief system.
Introduced to Episcopalianism at an early age. Forced to go to church. Then an athiest for nine years. A Buddhist now.
A “cradle” Catholic. Taught the faith in the home. Entire schooling at Catholic schools. Religion has basically been a daily part of my life for as long as I can remember.
Raised nominal unchurched Catholic till age 9, Mom & Grandmom & occasionally Dad & Granddad took brother & me to Christian & Missionary Alliance regularly. Church was moderate-fundist/strong-evangelical- my parents were more laid-back, Dad moreso (he was Catholic who left the Church because he thought Vatican II changed somet things too much & other things not enough). I became much more actively believing at age 13. I went on to become Charismatic & later joined Assemblies of God. Dad sometimes would challenge me not to be so fundy (he was kinda right). Mom later joined me at AoG but is still not Charismatic (she’s into the enthusiastic worship & music, not the tongues & stuff).
Basically, I was raised to be Christian, encouraged to go to church. Got more into it than family did tho Mom is close.
Nope, my parents were not religious at all. Dad was a my-parents-forced-me-to-go-to-Chuch (Catholic)- and-now-I’m-a-grown-man-and-never-need-to-go-again Athiest. Mom much the same, but Lutheran. (Later in life she’s become an armchair Buddhist.)
I spent most of my childhood reading books about saints, early Catholicism, Orthodox Jews and the Amish, and begging my friends to let me go to church with them. Then I’d come home and say the Hail Mary to trees.
Now a neopagan priestess, though if I had to pick a mainstream(ish) church, it’d be UU and I’d go to seminary and become a UU Minister. (Just don’t have the time or money.)
I am actually one of the few people I know who was raised in a religion and stayed there–I’m LDS. My parents, however, were both raised as pretty much nothing and each became LDS at college age. DangerDad was also raised LDS, and has one Utah-pioneer stock parent and one parent who was raised as nothing much and became LDS in youth. I have two LDS sisters-in-law, both of whom are Asian and who converted from Buddhism/Shinto–one had to go against her family’s wishes in a big way. My other relatives are varying degrees of different religions or atheists–we’re a little on the diverse side.
Being Mormon means that you know a lot of people who have converted. About half my congregation (of 200), I would say, are people who changed faith sometime during youth or adulthood–some are ex-Catholics or Evangelicals (at least one investigated because of anti-Mormon literature), but most were raised as nothing in particular. Then of course I know a lot of people who went the other way, who were raised religious and then left or changed.
I also have several friends who were raised atheist or nothing-much and who later became Evangelical. Their parents are varying degrees of pleased about it.
Raised Catholic in a looser sense of the term. Went to Sunday school until I was 8, had my first communion and confirmation and that’s been about it.
I’ve mostly drifted away from it now, not that I was ever strongly Christian. My beliefs don’t mesh with the church teachings that well, and I’d rather discover what I truly believe than try and convince myself that everything the church teaches is the Truth. I don’t need religion (of any stripe), but my spirituality is important to me.
I have, at various times, referred to myself as a “Western Unorthodox”, “Esoteric Wiccan”, “Pantheistic Gnostic”, and, most accurately, “Eclectic Roll-Yer-Own”.
I consider myself to be theistic but I can speak nontheist fluently as a second language.
Oooh! I love that! Wish I’d thought of it first. You have such a way with words, babe.
Born into a UU church, sent to apostolic summer bible school, employed by a storefront baptist church to hand out stuff for money and assorted trinkets.
My association with the latter two formed my opinion of organized religion.
Now an Eclectic Pagan pseudo-Theist with a twist.