Sun | Jan 21, 2018

'Don't turn your children into atheists'

Published:Saturday | May 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMShanna Kaye Monteith

The Church plays an important role in the Jamaican society. It is one of the most respected of all institutions and as such most children are raised to believe attending Sunday or Sabbath school and services are a must.

And even if the parents themselves aren't Christians, they strive to 'train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it' (Proverbs 22:6).

Trevor's* parents strongly believed in this way of life and as such according to him, he and his siblings were forced to accept Christ.

This continued for most of his earlier years, but now that he is grown, Trevor is not so religiously inclined.

"I never minded the Sunday schools nor did I the services. In fact, I used to enjoy going. Like soup was expected on Saturday evenings, going to church on a Sunday was a part of our weekly routine and that was fine. Until one day, I didn't feel like going. I thought that would have been alright, but it wasn't," he said.

Trevor explained that his mother became overly upset and even threatened to beat him because he told her he did not want to go to church.

"She began calling me all kinds of names like demon and backslider, lamenting how much she tried with me, yet I went to school and yielded to peer pressure. I didn't understand where all that was coming from," Trevor said adding that he ended up attending church that day.

The then 14-year-old told Family and Religion that the experience opened his eyes to many things and questions that never entered his thought came to mind.

Who is God? Is this a form of slavery? Would a God of freedom applaud such bondage?

"I wanted to know. I wouldn't say that I doubted His existence because I would be ungrateful if I did, but I had so many questions to which many of my Christian friends have no answer even 'til today," he shared.




Trevor is now 23 years old and reveals that he has not been to church for more than five years.

"It makes no sense to me. Sometimes I just see it as a place where poor suffering people go to get false hope and the rich go to socialise.

"Redemption can be received at home. I must admit that I do pray, at home that is. I whisper words of thanks and I ask for protection from what seems like a wicked world, but sometimes I don't even know who the prayers are going to."

Jesus? Maybe. But all I know is there is a Supreme Being, someone or something greater than us and that is the person or spirit that I pray to," he said.

Trevor told Family and Religion that although he's not yet a father, he knows for sure that he will not force his children to go to church.

"If they ask about it, I will send them. I will even try to teach them how to pray and when they are old enough, I will support whatever decision they make. Parents, you are not doing yourself or your children good when you force religion on them. Lead by example and they will follow if they see fit. Many Christians are turning their offspring into atheists, make sure you aren't one of those," he warned.