A Wife’s Changing Beliefs

“As a public school teacher now and having attended both Catholic and public schools, I can tell you there are just as many drugs and druggies floating around Catholic school.”

Question from Aaron:
My wife, who I’d say comes from a more than average religious family, has become more and more involved in religion lately. This includes attending church and listening to Christian bands, things which she had no interest in doing the first 10 years of our marriage. Asked why she is doing it now, she simply tells me it makes her happy. I don’t have any problem with that, besides the fact that I wished she had the same beliefs as me as an Agnostic/Atheist. But coupled with this, our young daughter is now being indoctrinated with these beliefs as we are having her attend a Christian school. We figured this would be the best choice for her overall education since the public schools in the area are far subpar. I try to get her to think about and question the things taught to her about religion and the bible, but I’m finding it difficult.

Answer by Andrea:
It can be heartbreaking when spouses grow apart but it’s also quite normal judging from the US divorce rate, which hovers at around 50%. With regard to your marriage, maybe it’s just a phase your wife is going through. If it’s not a phase, you might want to do a “Ben Franklin” sheet on the situation in the future, and see if the cons override the pros of staying together. I am a firm believer in divorce if one or both of the parties are suffering in the marriage because 1) I see it as a man-made institution created by other people to instill social control, not a “divine bond” as some theists assert; 2) Life is far too short and there are far too many good people out there to be miserable, and you can bet there are quite a few people looking for someone just like you; and 3) The Internet makes dating in mid-life or old age so much easier these days, especially with all the secular sites out there.

Regarding your child, I subscribe to free emails from a number of nontheistic sites, and what I hear more and more about is parents complaining about the indoctrination of their offspring into religion by well-meaning, but misguided, family members. There are a couple of books out there to help you as a freethinking parent in what seems like a world of theists. Try running a search at bn.com for Dale McGowen, I believe his name is, he have two such books out.

I would be careful about keeping my kid in a religious school if I were you. As a public school teacher now and having attended both Catholic and public schools, I can tell you there are just as many drugs and druggies floating around Catholic school. The nuns were also typically mean and nasty, from my experience. Also, in studies dating back at least the last 100 years, Catholics are overrepresented in the prison system, followed closely by people of other Christian denominations, like Protestants. In contrast, atheists, agnostics and those labeling themselves non-religious have the lowest per capita rates of imprisonment. Atheists also have the lowest divorce rates and the highest educational levels. And when it comes to education, you’ll be lucky if the kids even hear the word “evolution,” which no mainstream scientist denies. Unlike the American public and other than finer points, scientists haven’t debated evolution for the last half century. Perhaps this is the reason why a NASA scientist I know, who regularly judges high school science fairs, says the children from the religious schools always have the lowest quality science projects.

In other words, there are many good private schools that are secular. If you worry about your daughter attending a religious school, you might want to check into them.

Good luck to you.

One thought on “A Wife’s Changing Beliefs”

  1. Indoctrination when done at a young age is hard to fight off. Even indoctrination in mildly religious belief systems / holistic systems (belief in a “power” / “force” that oversees all) can be detrimental to logical thinking.

    Its very hard to fight off beliefs acquired in childhood. Your wife may not think so, but she may be condemning your daughter to years of “feeling torn apart” during adulthood. This could’ve been avoided if your daughter was given an education where she was encouraged to question beliefs and decide which beliefs (if any) she wants to keep, decide the ones she wants to throw away for herself.

    Its an important enough issue for you to iron out with your wife. Its probably best to express your concerns about your daughter’s indoctrination to your wife and for the two of you to work it out.
    You probably also need to figure out why your wife’s becoming more religious and figure out if its within bounds (she’s bored and this makes her feel a part of something i.e. its a distraction) or whether she’s actually started believing more in religious stuff than she used to. Maybe, if the religious stuff is more of a distraction for your wife, she’ll agree with you that your daughter’s indoctrination is not good, and will start searching with you for alternatives.
    Also, you will probably have to re-double your efforts at trying to develop your daughter’s ability to question beliefs she is told to accept, even if it is hard. As a parent it is probably your responsibility to do so.

    Good luck

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