Our ways of worship: My child will have the right to choose

2011-04-23 15:06

I’m not religious, but want my future child to be exposed to a variety of faiths to be able to make her own informed decisions.

What do I do? That is the question faced by an increasing number of non-religious South African parents, raising their children in a society where the majority of citizens still identify themselves as religious.

Lindiwe* has a six-year old daughter who lives with her aunt.

“I’m not religious, but my daughter attends church with her aunt on Sundays and goes to a Catholic school. I’m fine with that because I also went to church as a child, but decided as an adult that I didn’t get anything from attending sermons. I want her to be able to make up her own mind one day.”

When her daughter visits her, Lindiwe has a short prayer with her child in the morning, “basically just to say thank you and please protect us during the day . . . you never know if there is really a man upstairs!”.

Jason* and his ex have a four-year-old boy who lives with his mother. He is not religious, but the boy’s mother is a “non-devoted Christian”.

“Her view is we should raise him as a Christian, while I don’t see the point. She believes in the strength of the moral foundation religion helps to lay, while I believe morality can be learned from a variety of places and that religious morality is often severely flawed. We respect each other’s opinion despite our differences.”

They have reached an agreement that the boy goes to church with his mother on Sundays, but when he visits Jason they don’t attend church or talk about religion. “That’s fine by both of us and we believe in his right to one day decide for himself.”

Neither Tanya* nor her husband is religious, but their seven-year-old daughter is exposed to Bible lessons at school and has Muslim friends.

“We don’t really talk to her about religion, but if she wants to know one day why we chose not to believe, we’ll explain to her.”

* Not their real names

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