Why We Are Raising Our Kids Without Religion

Believe me… I am well-aware that this is a VERY sensitive topic and I am contemplating backing out on sharing this as I type. I was born and bred here in Oklahoma and know how deeply passionate the people are about religion, and those who do not believe are few and far between. This is not a topic that I ever truly discuss until I REALLY get to know someone…

More for my children’s sake rather than my own. The thought of them being judged or left out of certain situations due to our beliefs breaks my heart.

I have never withheld my children from any situation based on its religious pretenses. I want them to experience every aspect of whatever we are doing, whether that be hiking a nature trail, or attending a family christian concert, (my in-laws have a Christian band.)

I am and have always been truly fascinated by religion and have always found it interesting with beautiful rituals, peaceful hymns, and intriguing stories.

Being raised in the Bible Belt I feel like my life in one way or another was always somewhat surrounded by the church. My mother was not a Sunday church goer for the most part.. she would have her phases but it was never forced upon me. If we did not want to go she did not make us go.

I always got involved with church through my group of friends… church camps, mission trips, and youth groups were a pivotal point of my upbringing. Almost 99% of my middle school friends went to different schools but we hung out at youth group on Wednesdays & Sundays.

It was more for social reasons, but I made amazing memories with awesome friends during those times. I REALLY tried to understand and believe in what these people were telling me.  I have absolutely NOTHING against people choosing to be religious. I’m a little jelly in fact. I wish that it could make sense for me, but in all honesty it just never has and I am pretty positive it never will.

I never actual questioned my religious beliefs until college… lets just say your girl enrolled in WAY TOO MANY humanities courses. I started getting really interested in different religions not to mention just the HISTORY of religions.. It blew my mind.

I was beyond confused.

I felt completely betrayed.

I remember going home totally crushed and talking with my mom when she said, “The best advice I can give you is to educate yourself as much as possible on every religion and then just follow your heart.”

Best. Advice. Ever.

My mom rules.

Why I personally do not believe in Organized Religion has so many facets and I could honestly write forever and spout off numerous studies in support of my opinion for a secular household. But I will not do that to you.

There are so many life events that have brought me to this clarity of why I adamantly do not want my children raised in the church. I will just explain why I am choosing this road from my parental point of view.

And lets be real, this is NOT the easiest place to live and have this point of view.

My MAIN reason is the fact that I want my children to be kind & loving humans not because a GOD says so, but because that is who THEY choose to be.

I never want to use fear-based tactics on my children in order for them to behave or force them to believe in something that does not feel right for them.

I want to give them the independence and education to make this very important decision for themselves. To truly follow their hearts.

I do not believe in raising my children in Church solely for the purpose of fitting in, I just can not fake it even if every other parent around us is doing it.

Things I do believe in…

Teaching my children empathy and to love with their whole heart.

Showing them the beauty in this world, to appreciate nature and how to respect & fight for our planet.

To be kind, loving, and understanding.

To never judge or discriminate against any human EVER! We are each unique and special.

I want to always be honest and completely authentic with my children, and can only hope I am raising them in an environment where they feel safe enough to do the same.

I will never discourage or try to persuade any of my children on what they ultimately do come to believe.

I believe in allowing them the freedom and opportunity to become the truly amazing little humans I already know they are.

I promise, we are not BAD people. And I am a very spiritual being. My soul just resonates with science, nature, energy, and following the golden rule, rather than the church. We just do not feel comfortable supporting something we do not fully believe in. We just happen to be a secular family.

Do I have any other secular mommas out there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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89 Responses to Why We Are Raising Our Kids Without Religion

  1. Sheila August 29, 2017 at 7:11 am #

    I can’t even explain how much I relate to this. It could habe been written by me. Down to the I lost my beliefs after taking World Religions class in college. I don’t tell people our beliefs, or lack there of, for the same reason. I don’t want my son to be excluded from things. Friends, sports teams outside the school. Thank you for writing this.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

      Thank you for reading! Your story seems very similar to mine and it is so sad that we have to be quiet about our beliefs due to the harsh criticism of others. I wish this world were different in that aspect, and I have hope that some day it will be.

  2. KJ August 29, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    Yes to all of this! Sometimes I feel like I have a dirty little secret because I’m surrounded by religion but don’t believe. We believe in a higher power because life is too incredible to be an accident but I can’t make my life revolve around words in a bible written by men long ago. We don’t discourage our kids from participating in religious activities but we can’t use religion to scare them into doing what’s right. Sometimes I feel like that’s harder since religions parents can just say “because the bible says so” and I can’t. Thanks for your honesty and glad we aren’t alone!!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

      Thank you so much! I definitely know the feeling and I could not agree with your words more! SO GLAD I am not ALONE!

  3. Leslie Baker August 29, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    LOVE this and couldn’t have said it better myself!! This is exactly how my husband and I are trying to raise our kids. It’s not easy in this part of the world that’s for sure, but I love how compassionate, caring, genuine, and inquisitive my 8 and 6 year olds are all on their own. No need to scare them into behaving–they’re doing it because they truly are good, sweet kids. I couldn’t be more proud of who they are and surely that means we’re doing something right I hope! 😉 Thanks for your honest and inspiring post!!!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

      Thank you Leslie! Exactly how I feel. Appreciate the support!

  4. Ginger August 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

    Katy, i can see why you would be hesitant to share this blog, due to it prompting such mixed reviews (if only in the heart of your readers).
    I totally respect your right not to believe in anything at all, but with such a strong conviction,personally -I cant help but feel sad. i dont understand how effectively anyone can plot out their life course (or guide guide their children) without a compass.
    but… thats just me coming from a life time of experinces interacting from within a loving relationship(not a religion) with the God of the Universe, and from seeing the result of following the pathway set out for me -through His provisions, grace, and wisdom.

    blessings to you, and your sweet family in your search for the truth!
    G.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 4:04 pm #

      Thank you Ginger. I appreciate that. I do believe in a higher power just not the one represented in organized religion. I appreciate your point of view and wish you all the best!

    • Dannie September 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

      I feel our compass is good morals. Not decided upon our dictated by church or religion, but by common sense and love. I understand your point of view, some of our own extended family felt the same way. But, I think as they see my children grow into kind, intelligent, and loving human beings they see teaching religion isn’t the only way to raise good people.

    • Miki September 6, 2017 at 10:28 am #

      What I feel sad about is the fact that someone believe others need God to have a moral compass. Not true at all- everything in life is a choice. You can make the right choices and create your own destiny without believing in one God. If you do believe in God- I don’t judge you and tell you I feel sorry for you- nor should you feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t believe in organized religion. As long as someone is a good person, working hard, loving and helping others that’s all that matters.

      • Amanda September 9, 2017 at 10:39 pm #

        But what are the “right choices”? How would someone know how to behave? Who defines what is right what is wrong? The world? It’s our creator.

        • katyjohnson
          katyjohnson September 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

          I appreciate your comment Amanda and totally respect where you are coming from, but have to agree to disagree. That is what you believe to be true but not what everyone believes to be true…

  5. Becky August 29, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

    Thank you! It is very hard to express my non-religious beliefs to people. I don’t even tell people unless I am very close with them. I have only ever hinted at it with my mom. My father (passed in 2013) was a Priest and I definitely couldn’t tell him.
    Oklahoma can be a difficult place to be if you have different beliefs and even harder once you have children. I’ve learned to speak carefully and politely say thank you. I was forced into religion as a child and I am not doing that to my kids. We are raising our kids to love and respect one another. They are happy, healthy and thriving. I am a bit jealous of people who whole heartedly believe but that has never been me.
    Thank you for sharing your story!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

      Thank you so much Becky! I completely understand being hesitant to discuss this topic outside of your very close friends, maybe not as much as a Priest’s daughter, but I get it. Good for you for doing what you feel is right for you & your children! And I feel the same.. It has just never been me. Thank you for reading & commenting!

  6. Holly August 29, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    You are not alone!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

      Thank you Holly!

  7. Holly August 29, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

    Have you ever read the book, RELAX IT’S GOD – how and why to talk to your kids about religion when you’re not religious, by Wendy Thomas Russell

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

      I have not but will definitely be looking into it now! Thank you!

  8. Emily August 29, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    This is really well said—I feel like I could have written it almost word-for-word (though I wouldn’t have said it as eloquently as you did, I’m sure!). It’s certainly nice to be reassured that there are others of us out there. I was halfway hoping your bio would say you lived in Norman so we could go on a play date, but I guess that’s not in the cards, haha. Thanks for being a voice for those of us who are too shy to speak out!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

      Thank you Emily! I really appreciate that and am so thankful for all of the support today. It means so much to me. Appreciate you reading & commenting!

  9. Andrew August 29, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    This is great and you’re not alone! I have been thinking of this a lot recently, especially since we got pregnant with our baby girl. My wife and i have been rethinking our spirituality lately, but have only family members that go to Church of Christ. I don’t want to raise her in what would be a well meaning but accidentally toxious(fear based, patriarchal) environment just to pacify family members. I haven’t figured out how or when to tell them though, they are very tired to their faith and will not take it well.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 29, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

      Thank you Andrew! My In-laws are extremely involved in the church and honestly the conversations in the beginning were extremely tough… especially when it comes to the grandkids also MY babies. They believe VERY STRONGLY and it took us some very awkward arguments, setting some boundaries and really just time for us all to finally be getting to a place where we can just be honest and still respect & love each other despite our differences. I love them and know they have absolutely no malice intent whatsoever and just always try to remind myself of that. I always allow and look forward to spending time with them even though sometimes that includes church oriented events – its who they are and even though I do not agree with that ideology I am not going to deprive my children of knowing and really experiencing who their family is. Good Luck and thank you so much for reading!

  10. Samantha Darnell August 30, 2017 at 8:03 am #

    I wanted to share a different point of view 🙂 I grew up in a home that was not religious whatsoever. After I graduated high school, God radically took ahold of my life and changed me in to a person who loves people, desires to serve & help others- a woman who enjoys encouraging the broken-hearted. I went on to college to pursue a nursing degree & every science or humanities course only fueled the fire of faith in my bones. Now, as a Mama of 4, I teach my children to place God first- NOT out of fear! That’s not love. And we teach (and show with our own lives) to love people! No matter how different or similar they are to us. But I know at the end of the day, God has to do the work in their hearts. I can’t force a faith in Christ upon them. Regardless of the direction they go in life, I will always love my children relentlessly!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 30, 2017 at 10:06 am #

      Thank you for sharing Samantha! You sound like an amazing momma and I love hearing different perspectives on this topic, so I really appreciate your input. Love, kindness, and understanding that we are all unique and different is a crucial part of my point. Thank you so much for reading & commenting!

    • Kari September 2, 2017 at 9:59 pm #

      Yes this is where I am too Samantha. Except I did grow up in a Christian home and am so thankful that my parents raised us that way. They were always the same people in our home and at church so I think that also made a huge difference in my life as well (seeing their actions match their words). I also agree that it’s not religion it’s about a relationship so that’s a game changer – it’s not a set of rules to follow at all – but one fueled by love and respect for my Creator, without whom, I would be incapable of truly loving others sacrificially or have joy through difficult circumstances. I also know that He’s the one who created science and all it’s wonders which also makes me more in awe of who He is and how finite we are as humans. Thank you for being honest with your feelings. I would MUCH rather talk to someone like you who is willing to be upfront with what you think than someone who pretends to believe in something. Otherwise we can never really have real conversations about these things. I’m sorry if your church experience was more about rule following instead of knowing God for who He is – but I am happy that you have good memories of your time in youth group (not everyone can say that). ☺️

  11. Shayla August 30, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    Love this Katy! So much! I can relate so much. I was raised in the church and even went to be a missionary after college for several years, but even with such a different upbringing- we still seem to have arrived at very similar opinions on religion/spirituality and how to raise our Little’s. Not a popular opinion, but I’m so glad you shared this! Secular families are amazing, and should my Little’s decide one day to follow the Christian path, I’ll be so proud of them and know that they did it because they really believe in it, and not because they were suppose to. And if they don’t, I’ll still be proud of whatever religion they do Or do not choose to subscribe to because I know I will have raised them to be amazing people with huge hearts who love fiercely. A momma can’t dream of anything better than that. ❤️❤️

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 30, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

      Oh my goodness! So MUCH YASS! Thank you so much for reading and I absolutely love your mindset.

  12. Angel Suhrstedt August 30, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

    Katy,
    This is a fantastic post and as I was reading it I thought so many times… I could have written this! OK can sometimes feel like a tough place to not have a church/house of worship home, but it’s great to see from the comments that we are not alone!! My daughter (14) is truly kind, loving and not afraid to be her authentic self at an age that can be super awkward for all kids. I like to think that the way her dad and I have raised her – to think for herself, to explore different religions, to be friends with all sorts of kids no matter what they believe – has contributed to her success in navigating the world. Keep on writing these wonderful posts!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson August 30, 2017 at 9:01 pm #

      Thank you so much Angel! You give me hope for the future! You sound like an excellent mother and very brave for your parenting decisions in this state. Thank you so much for reading & commenting!

  13. Grandma George September 2, 2017 at 11:37 am #

    It hurts my heart to read this. I know many people who live there lives being good and thinking that’s enough. God put us here for a reason to tell people about him. The United states was founded on the very biblical principles that you live by but you seem to reject the word of God, yes it’s a bunch if guys writing stuff. That stuff, is history that has been proven that happened, that IS happening and what is going to happen.
    Went you talk about giving your children choices, that’s great, but you are denying them the very experiences you spoke about that you had growing up in a church home. And the relationships you built.
    God is Love and Peace. Religion is having a relationship with God and living your life with Jesus by your side. My church is there for me in times of need, has giving me great friends that I can count on, and also holds me accountable as a christian. Yes, we have sinners and hipacrits in our church, but we still help each other.
    One last thing, I have the privilege of taking my grandaughters to church with me when they visit. (I do this partly because they are beautiful and we like to show them off !) But, hopefully they will learn the stories of the Bible about love, endurance, faith and hope that Jesus teaches us. One day soon they we be teenage girls, which will be so hard this day and age, I only hope when they are troubled and alone they will be able to fall on there knees, look to heaven and pray to Jesus for strength and support. They will NEVER BE ALONE because Jesus will be by there side. Loving them for who they are no matter what they have done. I hope and pray they will always have that
    I will continue to pray for those who do not know, or feel they do not need the Lord and Savior.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 3, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

      I am just going to have to agree to disagree with you… History in my opinion absolutely does not prove it, and in fact is the whole reason why I stopped believing. For me, in order for a story to be credible I feel authenticity and originality play a HUGE factor. I appreciate you reading!

      • Joy September 8, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

        I know you said you’ve done a lot of research but I wanted to share this link with you about the authenticity of the Bible. I was raised Christian, studied World Religions in college, and I don’t feel fear about not believing in God. He is who insprires me to show love to others, even those who aren’t so lovable. Time and again in the Bible Jesus Christ stood up for the disenfranchised, even showing love to his death asking God to forgive the One’s who were about to kill him. I respect your opinion and choice to raise your family as secular though, after all that’s why God gave us free will. Great discussion.

        http://www.hopechurchonline.com/sermon/can-i-really-trust-the-bible/#.WbLymdE5kH8.mailto

        • katyjohnson
          katyjohnson September 9, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

          Thank you! I will check it out for sure. Thank you for reading and engaging in the discussion!

  14. Lorie Meynig September 2, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

    I am going to pray that today, God will speak to you! His Name is Above all Names but he speaks to those who listen. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He loves you! There is an enemy that is the destroyer. Satan comes as a light – a false light. God comes to heal the broken hearted. Please read your Bible. People make rotten choices. God had to let us have a choice otherwise we would just be robots. You are NOT BAD. He loves you and sees you. He saw what happened to you. He saw what you did. He gives choices. Some choose good and some choose bad. He created you in His image. He can handle our anger. He is real. The biggest failure of the church, “religion”, is that we have not shown God in a light of how really Good He is. He died on the cross to save us because He knew that we would all choose to sin. There is none righteous… no not one. A scripture. He died as a gift. Some take the gift. Some refuse the gift. Please do not lead others down this wrong path. You are at a cross roads. I can tell you one thing right now… If you do choose to lead others down a confusing, dark, labor “trying to be good enough” road… He will continue to pursue you… and on your death bad He will still love you. It is never too late to let Him pay for your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. God is LOVE>

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

      Lorie – Thank you so much for reading, and while I appreciate your comment I just do not believe the way you do. And you know what? THAT IS OKAY! I am not leading anyone anywhere… just speaking my truths and if you don’t approve you do not have to read. You should do some research on New Zealand & Australia – these are almost completely secular countries and they have almost zero crime! SECULAR ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT MEAN MORALLY CORRUPT!

  15. Fara September 2, 2017 at 8:23 pm #

    My feelings exactly! Thank you for sharing.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 3, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading and supporting!

      • JConley September 8, 2017 at 11:12 pm #

        This is exactly how I have tried to explain my feeling son religion for years. I was just discussing this with a friend who shares similar beliefs. We are trying to raise good little people who are kind. Who are kinds from their hearts and not to get on the good side of God.

        I also, do not press my beliefs on others and truly wish they would not push theirs on me. Please do not pray for me or try to educate me. I was raised both Catholic and Presbyterian. I also, took many religion classes in college and have a minor in religious art history. I too am facinated by the stories, however I just can’t support judging someone who has different beliefs. I believe it is hypocritical and goes against my desire to be kind and loving to all.

        So thank you for going against the grain and saying what I wish I could. I live in a small Midwestern town. A few years ago my town had more churches per capita than anywhere in the country. The first question people ask when meeting you is what church you belong to.

        • katyjohnson
          katyjohnson September 9, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

          Thank you so much for reading & commenting! I can relate so much with you and really appreciate knowing I am not alone!

  16. KIMBERLY STRINGER September 2, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

    I am truly broken hearted about your story. SOMEWHERE…someone along the way…in a church setting hurt you , I am sure. God is NOT church. He is not a religion. He is about a relationship. He loves you so very much…and wants to be worshiped. NOT his environment that He made. Not the nature He made. NOT the people He made. JUST HIM. To come to Him with an opened heart is the most loving and giving gift you can give to yourself and ultimately your children. You and your husband were given your children to LEAD and God’s wishes are that you would lead by example the truths about God.. So many people today do not want to “rock the boat” with people so they stay silent. We have no idea how long we will be on this earth and it is our job to plant any seed about the love of God we can. So, I am prayerfully planting a seed for you all to think about. God is LOVE. So many people want to say, “Allah, Buddah, Spiritual Guide, Science” are the same thing as God. NOT TRUE. NOT at all. There will be a day when “EVERY KNEE will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD. ONLY HIM. We will all be held accountable to what our faith walk was like here on Earth. I will be praying for you!! I want nothing for you all but to feel the amazing love of God..and KNOW without a shadow of a doubt…there is a God…and He is about a relationship…not a religion.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 3, 2017 at 4:49 pm #

      Actually you could not be more wrong… I have never had a bad situation in the church, by the church, or by anyone associated with church! We can agree to disagree! Have a great day and thanks for reading!

  17. HMarie September 3, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

    It’s so refreshing to hear your point of view. I went to religious school for 9 years and while it provided me with a loving foundation, I felt as though it severely killed my intellect and curbed my scope of the real world. Now, years later, I’m still playing catch up with my curiosity about other cultures, history, science, etc. I’m also married to a Jewish man (by culture) and we are both strongly opposed to organized religion for our children (for too many reasons to name). Like you, we believe in a higher being, teaching compassion/empathy/kindness above everything, and I’ve personally come to recognize a very strong spiritual sense in myself that has brought me much peace. Thank you for bravely sharing your story. Stay free in your thoughts, and don’t allow yourself to feel judged or guilty by others. Your life’s journey is for YOU to experience and no one else. I have to remind myself of this often!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 3, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

      Thank you SO MUCH! You have no idea how badly I needed this comment today! I appreciate the support more than you can imagine and am SO thankful for readers like you. Thanks so much for reading!

  18. S. September 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    I definitely relate. We moved from the Northeast to Tennessee and a lot of times feel very out of place. We are choosing to raise our daughter to be knowledgeable about all faiths as a way of acceptance. We have studied Christianity and Judaism. We have gone to a Muslim temple to learn about their faith and we have attended a Pagan ceremony too. Through all of this we have felt accepted by all but the “Christians” who Tell our daughter that bad things will happen to her because she is not one.

    I tell my daughter all the time- God does not care where you sit your butt on Sundays. He cares more if you are a good person and doing good things in the world.

    Keep rocking on Momma!

    All of these people commenting against you are completely missing the point. 🙄

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm #

      Thank you SO MUCH! I LOVE the way you are exposing your daughter to all faiths and absolutely agree with you! Thank you so much for reading!

  19. Katie September 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

    Have you heard of Unitartian Universalism? They do not have a doctrine or set of rules for their beliefs, but they do have Seven Principles by which they ask their members to adhere:

    1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

    2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

    3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

    4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

    5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

    6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

    7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

    The fellowship services include teachings from all faiths and celebrate diversity. We are raising our children as UUs and if they decide they would be a better fit in a different religion, we will encourage them to do what they believe is right for them.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 4, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

      I have heard of them! I had many friends in Tulsa who were with a Unitarian congregation and they loved it! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  20. Caitland Orlicz September 4, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    http://knoxville.citymomsblog.com/why-im-practicing-secular-parenting/ From one secular momma to another, thank you for making it easier to be open about it! ❤️ We share very similar stories, and I feel you are a kindred spirit.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 4, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

      So cool! Thank you so much Caitland!!

  21. Katie Jones September 4, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

    I agree with so much of this! I was raised Baptist and everyone in my family is very involved. (decans and preachers and such) I am the black sheep of the family and never did follow the path they tried so hard to force us into. It always amazed and worried me that they would push a kid after they started school, to be “saved” and join the church. These kids are just learning the alphabet. They cannot make a decision like that. They just do it because it makes their family happy and it is expected of them. Im Agnostic now and do not want my kids raised in church. I want them to learn about all religions and cultures. (and not the biased versions that we were taught)

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 4, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

      I completely agree with you! Thank you so much for reading!

  22. Marsha Umek September 4, 2017 at 8:16 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. I grew up in a very strict, Southern Baptist Church that made me feel like I was never going to be “good enough”. Like others here have commented, it left me behind in my learning of other cultures and religions. I have not lost my faith and I still believe in God. I stopped going for many years, but started attending a United Methodist Church when my daughter was 12. They were very welcoming and taught about a God of love and acceptance. It changed my life. I, still to this day, can barely tolerate the hate and fear taught by some churches. My husband is an atheist and attended church with me and loved the people of the UMC. They accepted him as one of their own in spite of his beliefs and he respected them. We moved to a larger city and we got involved with a start up non-denominational church. My husband didn’t say anything about his beliefs and many thought he was a Christian based on his actions and works. They were shocked to find out he was atheist. Being a Christian or being religious does not make you a good or bad person. Many atheists are very caring and very moral people. I can no longer attend due to disability, but I still have faith. I have hosted kids from other countries and different religions and it has really opened my eyes. My husband is from Slovenia and we have had 3 students from Russia, one being Russian Orthodox, one a non-believer and one who is Buddhist. We also have hosted oene from Pakistan and is a Sunni Muslim. We have attended many different churches and mosques. I love each and everyone of them just as much as I love my own children. My oldest, who was raised in the Methodist Church and also attended the Baptist Church with grandparents, claims to be spiritual, but doesn’t believe in organized religion. My middle daughter doesn’t attend, but still believes and my youngest is too young and is also special needs. My middle and youngest are both adopted. I only care that they love one another and others as God loves us and to live a good and moral life. They know about God and I believe God loves them all. We (including my husband) gave each graduate a Bible for graduation from high school. I asked my Pakistani daughter if she would like something else instead, but she said no. She wanted the Bible just like the rest. Muslims believe in Jesus and they respect the Bible as a holy book. Her father had also been an exchange student and wanted her to experience other cultures and religions also. She took the Bible with her back to Pakistan knowing that some extremists might kill her for having it. She ended up marrying a Muslim man who is also a closet atheist. She worries that he will be killed because of some things he posts on FB. They are trying to immigrate to Canada. I remember reading a meme on FB that has really stuck with me. It said, “I would rather be on a boat fishing and thinking about God than sitting in a church thinking about being somewhere else.” I have to agree. Thank you for your courage to speak the truth. I love my kids and they are all good people whether they attend, believe or not.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 4, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

      Thank you so much! You have had an incredible journey and I absolutely LOVE hearing all of these different perspectives. You sound like an amazing mother and a very loving human being. Thank you so much for reading!

  23. Emily September 4, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    Can I just ask, why are you jealous of those who wholeheartedly believe in Christ and the church? That statement, from you and another commenter, intrigues me and I’m curious.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 4, 2017 at 10:00 pm #

      Absolutely! For me personally, I am jealous of how comforting it seems to be having absolute blind faith in something. Mainly having answers for everything… because I definitely do not. I don’t know so I cant claim to know, but people with strong faith feel that they do? I don’t know if that makes sense, but its just how I feel.

      • Stacy September 6, 2017 at 9:23 am #

        I feel the same way about being jealous about those who can have such faith. I didn’t realize that was something others experienced.

        Thank you for being brave and writing this and having such great responses for those who have disagreed with your sentiments.

        • katyjohnson
          katyjohnson September 7, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

          Thank you so much Stacy! I really appreciate that. I knew writing this would upset some people, but I cant change anyone nor would I want to! I am just extremely overwhelmed by the support from people of all different walks of life with so many different perspectives. Its pretty amazing. Thanks for reading!

      • Emily September 6, 2017 at 9:27 am #

        Thanks for sharing…I’m a Christian and definitely don’t have all the answers. As I’m interacting more with people who don’t believe the same as me, or maybe they once did but for various reasons no longer do, I’m trying to really understand the “why not” side of the conversation. Not sure if that makes sense either, lol. I think it’s an important conversation to be had, because I’m not sure how many Christians really take the time to listen and understand the other side of it. For many, it really is blind faith. For many others like myself, it’s a journey of wrestling with those things we don’t have answers for, and even doubting at times, but always coming back around to educated faith. The “blind faith” ones can’t understand how someone couldn’t believe what they “know” to be true. I’m more in the “wrestling to faith” camp. I appreciate you helping me understand where you’re coming from!

        • katyjohnson
          katyjohnson September 7, 2017 at 10:02 pm #

          Thank you so much Emily! I completely get trying to understand the other side and I always try to have an open mind when talking to anyone I encounter because they have obviously come to where they are for reasons I could never know. Keep searching tell you find whats right for your soul! I appreciate you reading & commenting so much. Thank you.

      • Megan September 10, 2017 at 2:09 am #

        Hi. I’m am so very intrigued by your post. I also understand and empathize with you… Simply by this word “faith”…. When I was a young girl, I was diagnosed with a stage 2 oligodendroglioma. That’s an incurable brain tumor. They said it would recur and that I would probably live 10 years or so. Well, it’s been 17 years and it hasn’t grown back even one time, though I still have regular checkups. Throughout those years, I’ve dealt with depression, suicidal tendencies, intractable epilepsy, numerous surgeries, kidney failure, and more. I lost all faith in “God”. I would pray and I would pray, relentlessly, but I heard no answers. People would say things to me like, “you need to have the right amount of faith”. Or “if you believe in your heart then he will answer you”… you know, the typical Christian answers in times of trial. I had listened to enough. I didn’t feel good enough. I decided there was no such thing as God. I stopped believing. I was having as many as 15-20 seizures a day, when finally I yelled at the top of my lungs, one day, “If there is such a thing as God, then why doesn’t he hear me?! Why has he abandoned me?!” Just a few days later, I started journaling all my thoughts on my computer at night… about a year went by and all my thought turned into a book. I had always dreamt of being a writer, but I had never imagined that my “flaws and imperfections”, my “trials and hardships” were going to be the way that it was the key to be able to do it. Now I make writing a full-time living. I still have a hard time believing. And I don’t understand about God, majority of the time. But I see that there is a bigger purpose than myself, and I see that there has been meaning through all my trials in life. I don’t have perfect faith, but I understand that there’s purpose to life, now.

        • katyjohnson
          katyjohnson September 10, 2017 at 9:07 pm #

          Megan thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment and share your journey. I, in no way can even imagine the trials you have been through and I am deeply sorry that you have had such a difficult journey. I absolutely love how you have found such solace in writing and feel extremely connected to you in that. I also struggled with those questions revolving faith but in a different sense – My son was born 6 weeks premature and he passed away at 4 days old, so I screamed so many unanswered questions and feel that in some way going through such a deeeply traumatic event in someway opened my mind to a different consciousness… I was just awake and so much more aware, intrigued, and baffled by all of these religions us humans have created. I do believe in something greater than myself it is just in no way related to the God that organized religion portrays today. I love that you have embraced your flaws and imperfections and aspire to be like that! I would absolutely love to read your book!!

  24. Elizabeth September 6, 2017 at 10:24 pm #

    Love this especially the last paragraph. As a secular homeschooling family in Tennessee our co-op and field trip group choices are extremely limited because so many require a statement of faith. I sometimes feel the need to reassure religious homeschoolers that my kids secularism isn’t contagious. I’ve always emphasized to my children to treat other’s belief with respect. I just wish the courtesy was returned more often.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 7, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

      Thank you Elizabeth! That is something I have not faced but have a feeling OK co-ops are probably pretty similar. It is so hard as a parent to navigate this subject. I never had a problem stating my beliefs until I had children. I have been questioned numerous times by family & friends about my parenting decisions and leaving church out of it, and it ALWAYS makes me doubt my parenting just a little and then of course a bit of mommy guilt takes over. I feel confident enough in my decision to finally just be done with it and people will accept us or they wont! The ones that do though will probably be pretty awesome. Good Luck! Thank you so much for reading & commenting!

  25. Summer September 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    It might sound weird… but I relate as a church-goer. My husband is a scientist in a secular field, and we’ve been surrounded by atheists who are not fond of Christians and quickly judged us as close-minded, misogynistic, homophobic, etc… We are actually very progressive politically. We believe that we get to know and understand God by delving deep into Christianity, and that other people get to know God by delving deep in the faith traditions that fit their upbringings and cultures.

    I feel that same tug to defend our choice. I could use your same words — all the things you don’t like about church, all the things you want to teach your children, but for me this concluding paragraph would say:

    “I promise, we are not BAD people. And I am a very bodily being. My soul resonates with science, nature, energy, and following the golden rule, AND being part of a church. We don’t feel comfortable silently supporting something we do not fully believe in, so we vocally disagree with the pastor and other church members as feels right. We’ve found that when we speak up, there are actually a lot of people in the church who agree with us. We believe in acceptance and love for all people. We just happen to be a church-going family.”

    Raising children, it feels like no matter what parents do, they’re told they’re doing it wrong by someone. It’s so frustrating. Hopefully your post and the conversations you’ve sparked can be a part of helping people see that there are many good ways to do life and to raise kids to be loving, empathetic, curious people.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 7, 2017 at 9:39 pm #

      Thank you Summer! You are exactly right and I love the way you broke that down. So true. That is seriously all I want – for my children to not be judged for a personal decision that is different for each human being. To be kind no matter what and accept, love, and respect everyone despite their differences. You are awesome. Thanks for reading & commenting!

  26. Ann September 8, 2017 at 9:11 am #

    I love your post and the comments section!
    I grew up a conservative christian at a jewish school – well, 1/2 jewish. I learned about another religion, which many christians are never exposed to.

    It really opened my eyes. In our talks about religion a friend said, “Christians are the most judgmental people there are.” I’ve thought and thought about that over the years. As a christian, I have to say it’s true!

    Later in life I had a real internal struggle. I loved conservative politics and attended a bible church. But as a christian, how could I be okay with voting for a party that did not believe that all people should be equally loved, like Jesus did?
    If I was supposed to live like Jesus, the all-loving, compassionate and empathetic leader, then how could I vote for leaders of our country who do not want to help the poor and neediest of us? Having an internal struggle is just no fun!
    So I have altered my stance on both religion and politics.
    There are only conservative churches in my town so I choose to not go, and not take my kids. We have conversations about being kind, we practice compassion often and yes, we discuss church. I’m a believer, but until I can find a church that is authentic and preaches love towards all kinds of people, we will stay home.
    My heart and soul is at peace. Finally!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 9, 2017 at 7:20 pm #

      Thank you for reading & commenting! I totally respect where you are coming from and I love your mindset. Thank you so much for sharing and I am so happy you found some peace!

  27. LisaF September 8, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing about this. We moved to the Bible Belt three years ago from the West Coast, where when you meet people they don’t automatically ask where you attend church. I have never been a churchgoer (minus the four years I spent at a private Baptist elementary school because my parents thought the public schools around where we lived were lousy and enrolled us there instead). Although I thought about it when we moved here strictly as a means to meet people and form some sort of social circle, I simply cannot force myself to attend any church and waste an hour or more each week listening to someone try to convince me and my children that if we just follow the fantastical stories found in some ancient book, that then – and only then – will we be deemed good people. If I’ve raised them well, they will be the best people they can be.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 9, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading & commenting! I can only imagine the culture shock your family experienced and completely understand being enticed by the social aspects of it all. You sound like a great momma and I truly appreciate the support!

  28. Carrie September 8, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and beliefs. It is not easy to do so because so many people assume the worst about you and cannot believe that you can be a wonderful person just for the sake of being a wonderful person. I find it extremely offensive when others to question my personal choices. Spirituality is different for everyone. Some find comfort in believing that Jesus is there to guide them, while others believe that we are our own compass, with personal experiences and life lessons guiding our paths.

    I think that those of us who are not believers need to be more open about it in order to remove the stigma that goes along with it. We need to show others that we are moral, caring, thoughtful, and giving members of the community.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

      Thank you Carrie! Love your comment and I could not agree with you more!

  29. Tina September 8, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    This is the way my parents raised me and I am also doing this for my children. Seems harder since we moved from Philly to Texas though!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 9, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

      That’s awesome Tina! I am sure it is WAY more difficult in Texas – sending positive vibes your way! Thank you so much for reading!

  30. Anonymous September 9, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    Omg. Jealous of other people’s ability to just believe. I thought I was the only one that felt this way. How I wish I could just go to church and believe it and feel at peace and not question and/or disagree with every little thing. It would be so much easier!

    Great article. I think I will show it to my husband to help him understand my feelings on religion.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 9, 2017 at 6:44 pm #

      Thank you! Appreciate you reading!

  31. Melody September 9, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

    Thank you so very much for reminding me that there are plenty other parents who share the same ideology on the subject. Much appreciated and thank you!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 10, 2017 at 9:19 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading & commenting Melody!

  32. Proud mama September 9, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    All I can say is: Thank you! I feel so isolated not being a Christian sometimes. When I was a kid, growing up not going to church in the South, I lied that I went to church to fit in.
    I shared your blog on my facebook page, and it feels like a “coming out” for me. I think if more people were honest, open, and less judging, we’d solve a LOT of the world’s problems!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 10, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

      Thank you so much! I definitely relate with feeling isolated and am so incredibly overwhelmed by all of the love and support from this post. I really appreciate the encouragement!

  33. Annette September 9, 2017 at 11:08 pm #

    I love what you wrote as I could have written it myself. And like you, I’ve always been fascinated with religion and almost jealous of the people that have strong faith. Perhaps it’s because I live in a very liberal state that I usually feel comfortable doing this but I don’t often shy away from the fact that I’m an atheist. I figure it’s no different than the ones who raise their kids to believe in their God…either way we’re teaching/raising our kids with our beliefs. Stay strong, sister.
    P.S. ironically I work at a church but it’s extremely open minded and accepting (LGBTQ friendly, social justice, pro-choice, etc). I can’t say enough good things about United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalists.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 10, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

      Thank you so much Annette! I have only heard amazing things about those churches. I really appreciate the support!

  34. Kristie September 10, 2017 at 8:43 am #

    My feelings exactly!!! Thanks for sharing!

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 10, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

      Thank you for reading!

  35. Ambere September 10, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    My parents are atheist and so am I, moving to the Bible Belt as an adult I tried out church and met some great people, but I just don’t believe. We believe in science. We are raising our kids to think for themselves and in a secular environment. Thanks for sharing! It’s comforting knowing you aren’t alone.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 10, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading and I seriously could not agree more – it feels amazing to know I am not alone!

  36. Michelle Lees September 10, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story and experience. As a life-long Catholic, Praise God I have always had the gift of faith, and it truly is a gift of the Holy Spirit. But throughout my life, especially in the 21 years I’ve been a momma, I have grown deeply in my belief and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior. And in our Heavenly Father who loves us relentlessly and always continues to want us to seek Him and know Him. I respect your courage to share your experience and I encourage you to read a book by an amazing mom and author named Jennifer Fulwiler called “Something Other than God.” Her journey of questioning and seeking truth is so inspirational and real. It was incredible to read and she comes at her search with a very science-based intellectual approach. It’s both honest and compelling. Much love to you and your family.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 10, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

      Thank you so much Michelle, and I will definitely look into that book! I really appreciate you reading & commenting.

  37. Sarah September 12, 2017 at 9:48 am #

    I never comment on articles but this deserves one. As many others have stated, I can relate to this on many levels.

    First, thank you so much for having the courage to write this. I truly think SO many people share similar viewpoints be it agnosticism or atheism but for some reason (fear of being judged, family disappointment, etc.) this viewpoint is still unpopular. Articles such as this are essential in starting conversation. Conversation that deserves to be had. And it is through respectful, loving conversation that we can share perspectives.

    You are right in that this topic is highly sensitive which can make for some awkward conversations (been there, done that!). I think people can sometimes forget that sensitivity when it comes to agnosticism or atheism. In my own experience, it is those are who agnostic or atheist that have taken the most time to deeply reflect on their beliefs. Not only is the judgement and family disappointment hurtful, it’s not the easiest position being in the “I don’t know” or “I don’t believe in a God” category. I think you illustrated that in a very eloquent way.

    In regards to raising children in a secular household, I could go on and on about how much I agree on every single point but I will just add this. The topics of God, an afterlife, life and death, religion, etc. are heavy and complex. Most adults have a hard time comprehending much of it. It would be ignorant and wrong to tell (brainwash) my child that I have the answers when I simply do not. “I want to always be honest and completely authentic with my children, and can only hope I am raising them in an environment where they feel safe enough to do the same.” This ^ infinity.

    Thank you so very much for writing this, Katy. You are not alone.

    Love from a Minnesota mom.

    • katyjohnson
      katyjohnson September 13, 2017 at 11:35 pm #

      Thank you so much Sarah! Conversation is vital so I could not agree with you more! I love that you picked out that quote – it was my favorite after writing this because that is all this momma truly wants. Thank you for reading & commenting – I appreciate the encouragement more than you could know!

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