Arguing for months, my mother refusing to believe me, my dad finally listening to me, his heart breaking with every word I said. I wanted to leave the Catholic faith. I was living two lives, the one outside of church where I’m a proud LGBT activist, a believer in pro-choice, and someone who eats meat on Fridays during Lent, then the one inside of church, where I’m forced to hold my tongue when I hear whispers in church about how gays and women who’ve had abortions need to be prayed for because they’re going straight to hell. I had no voice, if I spoke out I would bring shame to my family, we would be the gossip of the church ladies at their Sunday brunch after service, but I’m tired of being trapped.
Growing up, I went to a Catholic school. To me, it felt more like a Catholic prison. After my sister came out as gay, all I wanted to do was share my joy for her to my friends, but my mother said that if I did and the whole school found out, I would be teased and frowned upon because my sister was a “sinner.” I just wanted to support her, but I wasn’t allowed to feel happiness for my own sister.
“We can’t muscle our mind into believing something we take to be false, not even when the upside is an eternity of happiness.” This quote from the author of the New York Times article, “Can we Learn to Believe in God?” explains the fact that we simply can’t force ourselves to believe. People can’t force themselves to believe, no matter what the reward or consequence is.
The author of Teens, Religion and the Freedom of Choice helps a parent with the issue that many are afflicted by all around the world; teens wanting to break free from their parent’s religious bubble, and parents not wanting their children to let go of their beliefs. It’s understandable for a parent to be worried for their child, worried they’ll become detached from their parents idea of a “holy life”, but parents need to realize they can’t force their child to think a certain way. If the world worked like that, every child would be a mindless robot, incapable of finding their true identity.
Forcing religion on children and teens, brings heartbreak instead of healing. It’s okay if a child doesn’t want to follow a parent’s religious path, it’s not okay to force the religious path on them. Most religions are about showing compassion and love for everyone, but you aren't being compassionate or loving when you’re making someone feel alone and wrong for disagreeing with your beliefs.