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.
“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: