I was raised in a pretty small town. Most families were either Catholic or Protestant and nearly everyone was a regular church-goer back in the late 80s and early 90s. I was baptized in the Catholic Church and grew up going to Sunday school and in later years, religion classes to make first communion and confirmation. I was pretty much forced by my parents to be confirmed into the Catholic Church when I was in my early teens and I really resented them for it. I felt like someone was forcing their beliefs on me, and it was frustrating because the beliefs were not necessarily ones I completely agreed with. It is because of this experience and through personal choices that I have decided that my daughter will not be baptized, or raised with any kind of formal religion.
What I have learned about formal religion is that it can sometimes lack tolerance. Even as a young child, I remember being puzzled as to why women cannot be priests in the Catholic Church. I knew it was sexist (though I probably didn’t understand or know that word at the time) and it upset me that a female couldn’t do something simply because of her gender. In later years, I saw more intolerance with the LGBTTQI community and it hurt me because I have always been an open minded person and did not like hearing such harsh judgments.
When I was about sixteen years old, I no longer identified as being Catholic. I believe in a higher power and believe that there is life after death, but these beliefs do not fall in line with any particular religion. I also believe that it is extremely important to treat others well and to do good and spread good. To me, God and love can be present in any action that is done with good intentions and a good heart. For this reason, I identify as being a spiritual agnostic.
I am aware that there are many religions that are inclusive and I think that is wonderful. I don’t think that God and love should be limited to a certain set of rules. I think that all religions should focus on love and kindness and should not be some sort of exclusive club that discriminates against others. I know that not all religions do this, and I am certainly not picking on any one religion or church. I am simply speaking of my own choices and experiences that lead me to this personal decision.
I plan on raising my daughter with a sound set of beliefs and to teach her about being a good person. I hope to be able to volunteer with her, do good deeds for others and talk about all of the different religions in the world and how each one has a unique and different perspective. If she wants to go to church, I will take her. I will take her to a synagogue, a mosque, a prayer meeting or the Catholic Church if that is what she wants to learn about. However, I will not force any type of belief on her. I’d like to expose her to lots of different religions and let her decide for herself. She will have my 100% support no matter what. Whether she chooses to become Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, Buddhist, Islam, Agnostic or Atheist it is all okay with me. It is her choice and one that I will support no matter what.
My daughter will not be baptized, but this does not mean that we will not speak of integrity, morals, beliefs or ethics. Instead, we will discuss them frequently and make sure that we practice what we preach. My main goal is to teach her to treat other people how she wants to be treated, and to live and learn from any mistakes she makes along the way. I am not teaching my daughter to live life without believing in things or being spiritual. This is about teaching my daughter to be a good person without having to choose her religious identity for her.
My only wish for my daughter is that she grows up to be a kind, loving, tolerant and caring person. It does not matter to me how she identifies sexually, religiously, spiritually, politically or anything else. All that matters to me is that she treats people well and has kindness in all of her actions. Kindness, love, compassion, integrity and respect. If I can teach her those things and put them into action then I think I am doing as much as any church could ever do. At the end of our journey, we all end up in the same place. I’m not 100% sure what that place is or how we get there, but I know that kindness will set us in the right direction.