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How can I prevent my parents from making me confirmed in the Catholic Church?

My parents want me to go through confirmation in the Catholic Church. However, they are clearly aware that I am an atheist (and I have my reasons). Now they are blackmailing me by threatening to take away my flute (my passion in life is music) to force me into being confirmed. The problem is I need a professional level instrument so I can play in college band (they don’t rent out professional instruments, by the way). I wish they could just respect my standpoint. What do I do?

Please help me. I’m being blackmailed.

From, A Brokenhearted Flautist

Posted: January 12th 2008

themodestagnostic

In your situation, I’d just get confirmed. Atheism is not a religion, and there is no one watching to make sure you don’t “blaspheme” the faith)

It is sad that your parents are willing to inflict real pain on you, for what we all agree are imaginary transgressions. Empathise a bit; see it from their perspective: if they really believe all this mumbo jumbo, they consider that they are doing you a favour. Perhaps saving your eternal soul! This is an act of love no matter how warped and weird it seems to us. Accept it as such.

No one can actually climb inside your head and make you believe things you don’t. In time you will be old enough to make your own decisions, and decide where you want to go and who you want to be with. In the meantime, stick with your parents but get a copy of “The God Delusion” to make sure you inoculate yourself against the virus of religion hijacking your mind.

Posted: February 24th 2008

See all questions answered by themodestagnostic

George Locke

Sorry to hear about this, buddy!

I should tell you that we at this website love to offer our opinions, but we don’t know the individuals involved, and ultimately you’ll have to weight the pros and cons yourself.

As I see it you have three options: grin and bear it, offer the flute as a token of your commitment to atheism, or find some compromise with your parents.

The third option is obviously the most desirable, but you’ll have to consider whether there is a compromise that your parents would find acceptable. The second option might make a point to your parents, but at a great personal cost to you. The third option means misrepresenting yourself, making promises you know you won’t keep.

In all cases, you are going to have to make a sacrifice. Any compromise you could offer to your parents must involve real sacrifice on your part if you want your parents to take it seriously (some sort of community service might work – some way to show that you share your parents’ values). Consider too that you don’t want to alienate your parents over some bullshit ceremony (unlikely to happen but I don’t know your parents).

Consider which sacrifice is best and then go for it.

Posted: January 17th 2008

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flagellant www

First of all, my sympathies for you in your plight. Your parents are being most unfair. In the first place, there is no relationship between your playing the flute and your future as a Catholic. In making the connection between the two, your parents are unreasonable. They would be slightly more correct if, for example, they were to require you to do a certain amount of unpleasant housework while they went to church. This lack of connection offers you many different ways to deal with the problem.

You might argue with your parents that 'God’ and/or your priest would obviously prefer you to be true to yourself, rather than to give in to blackmail. You could challenge them quite strongly about this. One suitable reference might include the parable of the talents… You could also argue that, by playing the flute you are giving them the opportunity to glorify 'Him’ by their appreciation of your continued playing.

My father used to pressure me about going to church. He said that it was my duty to go. I always responded that surely 'God’ would have preferred me to go because I wanted to go, rather than because I had been pressured into going. (To his credit, my father never tried to blackmail me.) You might be able to adapt that argument. If you or they want to argue further, you might ask them how they know that 'God’ is wanting you to be that hypocritical. You could then pursue a potentially more fruitful line of having them justify themselves to you, rather than vice versa.

You could also ask for space and time to delay any confirmation. You might also enlist the help of your music professor and/or your priest. If you were to argue to the priest that you wanted to be more certain before you contemplated confirmation, he might appreciate your candour. However, this could lead to the suggestion of starting confirmation classes, something not recommended ;-)

Your music tutor might also help; it’s unlikely that your parents would be able to tell him the nature of the threat they had made. If you were to tell her/him that your parents want you to give up the flute (don’t disclose the reason) you could then ask that s/he should intercede on your behalf. S/he would be in a good position to persuade them to let you continue; this could make them feel ashamed of the unfair pressure they were exerting. I would guess that they wouldn’t admit the blackmail and they’d come up with another explanation (e.g. cost) that could be dealt with simply.

Finally, you could come to some accommodation with your parents. You should get a formal agreement that you would fall in with their wishes for e.g. a year and, for that concession, they would never again seek to interfere with your flute-playing. Within a year, you might well be able to give up churchgoing without demur from your parents. And, if they’re still insistent, you could become so subtly disruptive at church (e.g. 'deconverting’ other god-fodder) that you would be asked to stop coming…

Remember throughout that you can afford to lose a battle or two if it means that, eventually, you win the war. Think it through carefully, whatever you do. Good luck!

Posted: January 16th 2008

See all questions answered by flagellant

Stefan www

I would say go with the flow. There is a time and place for fighting and making a stand, but it should always be the very last resort. Especially when it comes to family. For me as an atheist I don’t have an invisible buddy, which means that my real family and friends become that much more important. If I were you I would play along, give Catholicism a fair shot. Your parents might respect your decision to be an atheist more if you gave religion a fighting chance. Be open about what you believe, don’t deceive anybody, maybe the priest will take your side – although I doubt it, the priests I’ve met usually were under a lot of pressure to increase the size of their congregation at all costs.

Again, just play along. Maybe you’ll end up being a Catholic, maybe you’ll remain an atheist, either way, as an experience it can only strengthen whichever position you take in the end. And you don’t need to feel like a hypocrite – as an atheist you’re free to try out anything you want.

Anyway, that’s just what I would do, others might disagree. Whatever you do, be friendly to everybody, always keep in mind that they are doing it because they think it’s in your best interest.

And finally: I don’t know your parents, but taking your flute away might well be a bluff. I have yet to meet the parent who would throw serious roadblocks in their kid’s future just to prove a point. But it’s a high gamble, so I can’t really recommend calling the bluff. ;)

Take care, I’m sure everything will turn out alright in the end!

Posted: January 16th 2008

See all questions answered by Stefan

SmartLX www

Firstly, you have all our sympathy. Regardless of your parents’ motives, it’s a terrible thing to have to choose between your convictions and your desires.

I won’t tell you what to do, but I’ll call your attention to a few things.

  • Confirmation is just sacrament 4 of 7; just another ceremony. I went through it when I was 11. (My sisters had it done at 8, and the church later created a baptism/communion/confirmation medley for use at age dot.) Right after that point, for unrelated reasons, I became an agnostic. 15 years later I was an atheist. Confirmation only binds you to the church in the eyes of the church itself. Declare your atheism after being confirmed, and there’s nothing anyone can do to reclaim you unless you go in and confess your apostasy with a view to absolution. Your parents would have to accept that they cannot “save” you against your will.
  • I don’t know your age, but if you’re already in contact with your college band leader or future college band leader, you could ask him or her for advice. I bet you’re not the first case like this.
  • Speaking of your age, if you’ve reached an age where you can claim previous gifts as your own property, you can defend them legally. I know you don’t want to get your parents into a court case, but neither do they. Perhaps the mere possibility might have an effect.
  • Consider talking to the priest who would eventually confirm you. Confirmation can only be done when a person is old enough to understand what it means, because the person is supposed to want to do it. If you explain to the priest that you’re an atheist (make sure you can convince him that you really know what that means) and are being confirmed under duress, he ought to conclude that it shouldn’t happen yet and help convince your parents not to force you. Or, he could just go with the flow and say it’ll do you good. This is therefore a good way to get the measure of your priest.

Remember that it is your beliefs which would make you a Catholic. If you have none, you are not one. You are an atheist. They cannot take that away from you.

Posted: January 15th 2008

See all questions answered by SmartLX

 

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