Post # 1
DH and I are alternating Christmas/Thanksgiving between our two families. I’m pretty new to this and last year (our first year doing this) we were with my family. When DH informed me that we would most likely be going to church as a family, I got a bad taste in my mouth. I love my ILs, but we have our differences (mainly that they are Christian conservatives and I am not). Also, its not like his family doesn’t know we are non-believers.
So, do we just pretend we’re fine with it and keep our traps shut? In all honesty, I find it disturbing that we are very respectful of their beliefs and [most] Christians we encounter are not very respectful of ours. We may wonder how it is possible to believe in all of the magical things that the Bible talks about, but we NEVER bring it up or try to make them feel stupid. I just wish we could be afforded the same respect. What we believe (or don’t believe) is just that: a belief. We don’t need to be saved, corrected or converted. We just need to be loved and tolerated FOR WHO WE ARE. As much as I don’t want to cause tension, I don’t want to set a precident. I especially don’t want to set a precident in preparation for my future children. Kids are impressionable, and I fear brainwashing if they are not adequately prepared to handle it, explore issues, etc.
Has anyone else had this talk with religious family members? I don’t even know what to do/where to start.
Post # 3
@sbottiani: Oh hell no. I would say, “I do not attend church. Thank you for the invitation!” If your fiance wants to go, he should go.
Post # 4
My parents have known for years I am athiest. The only time they ask me to go to church anymore is if I am home at Christmas (or if my grandma is over on a Sunday, better to go than get into that argument with her). I don’t mind, it’s the church I went to growing up so I pretty much just go to say hi to the priest after since he has known me my whole life. I just sit there and don’t pay attention, I entertain myself in my head. It’s just an hour and doesn’t bother me.
It you would rather not go at all could you tell them you will meet them for breakfast/lunch/dinner/whatever afterwards depending on the time of the service?
Post # 5
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
Ooh that’s a toughie. I grew up pretty un-religious, but we’d usually go to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning with my parents and grandparents. I always just kind of considered it a cultural experience – partaking in the Christmas ritual and all – rather than something I was actually supposed to *believe*.
It’s not like they want you to go every Sunday. As an atheist myself, I think that once a year on Christmas isn’t too big a deal. For the sake of good family relations, I’d just go and view it as an anthropological experience. Is a once-a-year trip really worth drawing a line in the sand?
If they ask you what you thought, be polite but honest and say something like, “I’m not religious but I thought it was an interesting experience” etc.
Post # 6
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
@sbottiani: I would not attend church with them. Family meals and celebrations are okay but I draw the line at church. Since I don’t personally don’t attend, I think it’s disingenuous to attend church as a non-believer.
Post # 7
- Wedding: August 2013 - Wynn Las Vegas
If I knew it would really offend them if we didn’t go, I would just suck it up. I’m a non-believer, and I do agree that it’s not right that you should be expected to go at all, but c’est la vie.
Post # 8
Eh – I was raised Catholic, and I don’t practice Catholicism anymore and actively disagree with a lot of it’s views/practices. I don’t go to mass when I’m visiting my parents EXCEPT for Christmas Eve. If DH (who isn’t Catholic) and I are visiting my family for Christmas, we go to Christmas Even Mass. It’s part of the family’s holiday traditions, and it’s just an hour out of my life to keep the peace.
If it’s just going to a church service, I would let it be and just go. If they’re trying to convert you or “save” you, then it’s a problem.
Post # 9
@lolot: I lean toward your thought process. I was raised Catholic, so, when I have ever attended Mass for a funeral (or whatever reason), I have always treated it as an anthropological study (and it is easy because Catholics have maintained the same traditions for so many years.) Last time DH and I went to ILs church was to see our neice dedicated and we couldn’t look at each other during the “worship band” or one of us would start laughing. If that isn’t respect, I don’t know what is. LOL.
I think the main thing for me is to clarify that I don’t want to raise my children Christian. I guess I will have to start cultural anthropology class early.
Post # 10
@sbottiani: I am the religious one and my DH while raised Catholic is non-practicing. He respectfully attends church with my family on several occasions including the swapped Christmas (we do either or like you). I know that he would rather be somewhere else but it is out of respect for me and my family that he attends
Going to church as a family is more of a bonding experience and less about them trying to convert you. IF they start pushing the issue then I would say speak up absolutely as respect of course goes both ways. There is no harm in you attending with his family as a unit, you married into this family right?
I am not Catholic and like you and your stance again religion in general I feel the same way about Catholicism. I have attended many masses, baptisms and services with DH’s family throughout the years. I am not changed nor my beliefs put into question because I attended, rather I am going to be part of the family and to support whatever occassion is happening.
Post # 11
- Wedding: April 2013 - Rhode Island
Why can’t you stay home while they go to church?
That said, I’m not Catholic but I went with my DH’s family to a Catholic church one year for Christmas. It was a midnight service too, so you know I made some effort! It didn’t really bother me to go, and I know it meant something to his parents that I was willing to join them. I guess I just didn’t make a big deal about it so neither did they. You don’t have to believe what they do to walk into a church.
I guess if it really does bother you, then politely decline. Do you expect them to react badly?
Post # 12
DH and I are both atheists, so it’s not a question of respect toward each other. It’s a question of mutual respect between his family and our family (DH and me, and in the future, our children.) Just because we don’t believe doesn’t mean we don’t deserve respect.
Post # 13
- Wedding: September 2014 - White Point Garden, Charleston, SC
I would politely decline. Maybe pick a little craft or baked good and make it while they’re gone. It’ll occupy your time and also when they come home you can easily change the subject from church to “look at my fabulous banana bread!”
Post # 14
I think you should go, if its a holiday tradition. If I were in your shoes I would just suck it up. Just try to focus more on the fact that you’re spending a little quality time with the fam, instead of being preached to about magical things from the bible. I also think that if your ILs go on a mission to convert you, then all bets are off.
Post # 15
@sbottiani: If you don’t want to go, then don’t go but discuss it with your husband first. He might want to go so it would be best if you all worked out how to handle this now.
also maybe consider that this isn’t so much about religion or saving you as it is just carrying on a long standing tradition and your in-laws showing you off to their community. As long as the in-laws aren’t pushing you to convert, perhaps one church service every other year isn’t too intolerable. It’s certainly not going to brainwash your children.
Post # 16
I don’t go, but if it’s a holiday service I personally think that sometimes the music and service can be very nice. I think they’re the only service that I never mind going to. However, if you don’t like it, don’t go. Don’t fake who you are – those who love you will accept you even if they initially express disapproval.