Growing up, religion was something like a big deal in our household. Both of my parents were active in the church. My father played the bass in the church’s band and my mother was always the one to help out in the nursery. We belonged to a very strict Pentecostal church and when I look back at it now, I see how people can be turned off by religion. There were so many ‘you can’t do this’ & ‘you can’t do that’ going on in the church. Women couldn’t wear pants, make-up or jewelry. Kids were to be seen and not heard. What I also noticed early on in life were the hypocrites that seem to flock to our church. I remember hearing rumors about marriages that were destroyed because of the cheating that was going on with different members of the congregation. And hell, my father was one of them. Shortly after my parents divorced, because of his indiscretions, we left that church and relocated from Upstate NY to NJ.
It wasn’t until my mother found a new church in NJ, that I finally began to enjoy going to church. I think it was mainly because it was a non-denominational church. The congregation was filled with people from all ethnic backgrounds; it was like the United Nations. There wasn’t any fuss on how you were supposed to dress; it was basically come as you are. Throughout my young childhood and teen years that church was practically my second home. As I got older and became an adult, there was a disconnect between me and the church. I didn’t feel the need to rush to Sunday service every week, but that didn’t mean I gave up on my Christian beliefs. I guess just like the choices on some dating websites when they ask your religion, I officially became a member of the “Spiritual not Religious” group. The subject of religion isn’t something that I make a point to discuss with my son.
At the age of 4 he attended a Christian school for Pre-K. One of the main reasons why I enrolled him in the school was because I knew I wasn’t big on attending church, so I figured attending a school that had a Christian focus, would be good for him to build a fundamental understanding of religion. One day while we were sitting doing homework, we were discussing something and I’m not sure if I got caught in a lie, or if I actually forgot that I mentioned something previously, but he quickly told me that I was lying and his teacher said liars go to hell. That was when my figurative record scratched. My 4 year old just told me I was going to hell. Great. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Eventually we had a discussion on the concept of lying and hell. I also reassured him that just because you tell a lie doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doomed for a life in hell, that instantly.
After that year of Christian school Pre-K, he started public school. My son has been to church a handful of times with his grandmother and grandfather, but I feel that I am going to let him come to a decision about religion on his own when he gets older. Last week he brought a classmate over to play on the Xbox, and the boy told my son he was Jewish. It was interesting to hear this 4th grader explain to my son what being Jewish meant and the concept of Judaism. Considering the religious holidays are upon us, I think I may have another Sammy Davis Jr. on my hands, because now that is all he wants to talk about and learn. I’m sure this will be one of many religious taste-tests my son will have, before he settles on one or any at all. The choice is inevitably his.
More from parenting