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6 Reasons 3 of My Kids Aren't Catholic

Three of my four children no longer identify as Catholic. Recently, I arranged a family Zoom with all four of them to try and find out why three Catholic identities had gone off the rails while one had stayed the course. This blog (approved by my children) distills the comments of those who no longer identify as Catholic. Warning: no parent, child, or animal was injured in the development of this list.

1. A Fundamental Feeling That I Just Don’t Believe It

“This is the ultimate reason. It’s really hard to separate out at that age (12-13), when you are so tender, the difference between the dogma and the actual reckoning with your own faith…like does God exist? Is there an afterlife? I feel that came later. But at 12 or 13, I had a fundamental feeling that I just didn’t believe what I was being told.”

2. Being Catholic was an Adult Thing

“I never really felt Catholic. To me, adults were Catholic. Catholicism didn’t seem like it was made of me. I might have said I was Catholic because I was told I was, and I went to a Catholic school, and I knew Catholic people…so in a sense...I was Catholic. But I looked at the Church and the belief system and the culture as an adult thing that you guys [the parents] were doing and it was mandatory for us to go with you. It was your Catholic thing. I thought, maybe I’ll grow up and be one of these people…but I’m not sure.”

3. A Message of Conformity

“There’s something about the dogma that is so alienating at age 12 or 13. You are at an age where you are trying to understand yourself and your identity. You are just beginning to come into a sense of your own sexuality and the Church sends a message of conformity. The other side of the conformity coin is that there is something intrinsically wrong with you.”

4. Incongruity

“You learn what it means to be Christ-like and then you see spiritual leaders not lining up with the Christ message.”

5. Religion Classes were Boring (An across-the-board response)

“Our religion classes were really boring. Some were good, but mostly they were boring. It’s hard to get interested in something that’s boring, something you basically put up with because it’s easy, but that doesn’t engage you at all. This makes me think about how we now understand that there are different types of learners. Catholicism could really benefit from that idea.”

6. God could be Terrifying

“Some of those biblical stories are super gnarly. I’m a little kid and someone is telling me how God says “I want you to sacrifice your child…oh, you almost did it. Pump fake. You believe in God now? You’re good.” I learned that God could be spiteful. There was plenty of stuff that was weird that I didn’t feel comfortable with. Maybe my mom will one day feel the call of God and cut me in half. It’s bonkers.”

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