As you probably are aware, my husband and I are in the midst of adopting a teenager from foster care. We are well into the process at this point with our future son having weekend overnight visits every other weekend at this point. We are slowly, but surprisingly bonding well and learning about each other. What I am learning about my future son is that he was raised by a person who had some clear biases in regards to homosexuality, race/ethnicity, and religion.
Currently, our son identifies as a Messianic Jew. His mother converted to Messianic Judaism when he was eight for reasons that are unknown to me. He doesn't eat pork and says he doesn't eat shellfish, but professes his love of shrimp on a regular basis. Beyond that, as far as I can tell, he knows little to nothing about the religion he professes to be. He doesn't know the difference between Messianic Judaism and Christianity (even though they are very similar). He doesn't attend services, prays over his meal occasionally, doesn't own any holy books, and has a general indifference to religion in general. Yet, he also clearly believes in a god, if for no other reason than he was indoctrinated enough to believe it. This past weekend when he saw we owned all the seasons of Big Bang Bang Theory he sneered, "That atheist show." My response? "So?" He repeated himself and so did I. "Never mind," he said. "We are just not going to agree." Now, I have not talked to him about me being an agnostic atheist, but we are clearly not super religious. I don't really care if he knows although I do have a nightmare scenario in my head where he gets mad at me and in order to get back at me and tells my parents I'm not a Christian anymore.
My issue with his Judaism is that it seems to be a leftover from his bio family that he is using as a way to still feel connected to them, not due to actual belief. I want to challenge him in his belief, not because I want him to deconvert, but because I want him to actually know what he believes and why. If you aren't going to eat bacon, you should know why and believe it. If you are going to make off-handed and rude comments concerning other religions or non-religions then you need to at least understand those beliefs. My mother taught me to view other religions with suspicion and otherness. Even though my mother watches Big Bang Theory, if that show had existed when I was a kid, my mother would have called it "that atheist show" because she thought everything was atheist if it wasn't pushing a Christian young-earth creationist agenda. This is why we didn't own a television for most of my childhood. I would also like to add that I have never heard someone refer to that show in that way and I have some super religious friends. That geek show is usually how it is referred. I know some people who don't like it due to how they portray Sheldon's mom, but I've not even heard them refer to it as "that atheist show". So I smell bio mom and step-dad. One or both of them hated that show.
Obviously I'm going to have to think of a better way to address this issue and a "so", but I also want to be careful. At this point in the process he is super eager to please and I must be careful not to tie this issue to our approval or disapproval. I want to challenge him to think critically and to understand what he professes to believe. I also know that as he gets older he will run into other people who are actual Messianic Jews and he is going to look like a fool if the only thing he knows about his religion is not to eat pork.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.