Q: I’m 16, and I asked Jesus to come into my life this past summer at a camp I was attending. But my parents don’t want anything to do with religion and won’t even let me go to church. Will God be mad at me because I don’t go to church? — M.S.
A: You may have asked, but Jesus didn’t hear or answer because he’s not real. Similarly, the Christian god is not real and cannot be mad at you.
I am raising my children to be freethinkers (make decisions and form opinions based on logic and science and do not subscribe to any dogma), but at the same time I am educating them about the role of religion in human culture and history. I am also teaching them that religions use fear to indoctrinate people into their belief system and seem to offer “easy” answers (God did it, God has a plan, etc.) to difficult questions and issues. When my children are 16, I would let them attend church if they wanted. I would hope by then they would have learned the value of rational thinking and would critically analyze any arguments or evidence in support of the supernatural.
Maybe you should propose that both you and your parents attend this church together, followed by discussions of the ideas presented during the service and the validity of the source material (i.e., the bible). This may help you and your parents understand each others’ motivations and arrive at a compromise.
Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.