Question for atheists and agnostics regarding upbringing

Seeing this thread made me curious about whether atheists/agnostics were more likely to come from a strict religious background (e.g., hardcore Protestant fundamentalist or rigid “old school” Catholicism) or a liberal one (e.g., Unitarian). So I pose this question: prior to your loss of faith, what type of religion were you raised in?

(BTW, this question is pretty much limited to “first generation” non-believers, but if you grew up in a secular household, feel free to submit your experience.)

My mom was a semi-catholic, though even that has waned in recent years. My dad was never committed to a religion, however, he does believe in a deity (so to speak), just not a conscious one. Growing up, I did believe in a God and Jesus, until it occurred to me how irrational that logic was. From that day forward, I considered myself an atheist.

I was raised in an Episcopalian family, though religion was not one of the central issues in our daily lives. I attended two years of Catholic school prior to entering high school.

Not raised anything. Discovered the encyclopedias before I did the bibles.
Shouldn’t this be in IMHO?

Atheist, raised middle-of-the-road Protestant (Sunday school, etc.)

This is a sort of survey, so I’ll move this thread to IMHO

moderator GQ

Agnostic. Raised in the Assembly of God church. A very conservative evangelical Protestant religion. They tend to bistle at the term “fundamentalist”, but that’s what they are IMHO.

Parents were Catholic, but not very strict. Matter of fact, I’d never been inside a Catholic church until Dad’s funeral.

[obligatory joke] Of course, the big problem now, is that I’m an atheist, and my wife’s an agnostic, and we’re having a helluva time deciding which religion not to bring the children up under. [/o.j]

Raised Lutheran. Went to church/Sunday school every week, plus once-weekly catechism classes when I was older.

Not too religious, all in all, esp. when I compare my family to other, more devout families I have met over the years (American Baptists, Catholics, Church of the Brethen).

I could, perhaps, be considered a fourth-generation agnostic, for want of a more accurate term. Probably the best word would be “questioner”.

My grandmother was raised with stories by her father of Anglican reverends in Victorian England being pious and godly at Sunday service, yet going home and beating up their wives come nightfall. My family background seems to have been Anglican pretty much all the way through.

I can’t recall any of my mum’s descriptions of going to church. She may have done, but my grandmother encouraged a wider learning than just that of the church. My grandmother did give me a Bible for Chrisrmas once, but I wasn’t obliged to read it.

As for myself, I have never attended church regularly, was asked when a kiddie if I wanted to go to Sunday School (I said no), and around age 14 was able to establish my own views without a problem from my mum, who said she agreed with me anyway.

So, I came from a background where religion was very optional, and actually fitted in with personal needs, rather than the other way around.

Jewish heritage, but both of my parents were nonreligious. We celebrated Jewish holidays from a social/historical perspective.


I am atheist. I have no idea what my parents beliefs are. At a guess, I would say agnostic? The subject never comes up, so couldn’t say for sure.

I’m an atheist. I was raised in the Mormon Church, though my dad was never active. My mother and my sisters have very strong faith.

Roman Catholic, 12 years in Catholic School, Italian family…all Catholic,the rosary and all of it…
…atheist now.

It’s a Catch-22 for Catholic Schools, esp the ones I’ve attended, in that they were better schools than surrounding schools, had more discussion and arguement and actually taught me to start thinking critically. Good science classes and a good mix of teachers, since many were laypersons.

Catholic educators didn’t hide evolution and such, as evolution is endorsed by the Vatican. Evolution and religion can march hand in hand, but the more you are exposed to things as you develop, the more likely you are to draw conclusions and think critically.

How can Catholicism hold up to critical thinking?!

I’m an atheist, and my Mom would take me and my sister to an Assemblies Of God Protestant church every Sunday. My Dad never came with us; I never asked him what his religious beliefs are. He died about a month ago, so I guess I’ll never know.

Unless he and my sister talked about it, it occurs to me now. I might ask her next time we talk.

My Mom’s side of the family is very religious. In fact, they all moved to Charlotte in the late 70’s to work for Jim Bakker’s PTL club. Do’h! Ironically, my Mom is likely to move to Charlotte to be with her family, and if I don’t find a job soon I’ll likely sell my place and move in with her there. So, because Jim Bakker was in Charlotte, this atheist may end up there too.

I’m an atheist. I was raised Catholic. My mom is a very liberal Cahtolic and my dad is a much more conservative Catholic.

Jewish. I went to a Conservative temple, but mostly because everyone in our neighborhood got bar mitzvahed, and only by enrolling in Hebrew School could I get a good Saturday morning slot. My family was not observant at all. Only after I was grown did I figure out that my grandfather on my mother’s side was probably an atheist too. He changed his name to sound less Jewish, and had no problem (in the '30s) with his daughter marrying a Christian. My mother never went to temple, and was totally uninterested. My father came from a more observant family, but his main interest in the Temple, after my brother and I got out, was in taking over the Men’s Club.

BTW, I was encouraged to question even in my religious education.

You can’t lose what you never had! I come from a long line of people who never went to church except for funerals, marriages, and christenings-- or when they got afraid of their own deaths.

My parents have rarely gone, and I don’t think they ever will again. I’ve never gone and don’t see the point, frankly. I’ve always a sneaking suspicion that religion was for people somewhat soft in the head.

Atheist. To this day, I have absolutely no idea what my mother’s spiritual beliefs are. She kept them to herself, whatever they are, and let her kids figure out their worldviews on their own.

Though a few months ago, at my stepsister’s wedding, my mom did complain afterwards that the ceremony was a little too “God-dy” for her taste. (It was at a Church of Christ facility, and the service included a long section about Eve being created from Adam’s rib and all that, uh, stuff.)

I was raised very Catholic. I just came to discover the Bible is bunk and the churches (all religions and denominations) have behaved themselves in ways that could not possibly reflect the will of a kind and merciful god.