"Our family fakes Christianity for social reasons"

My friend Bill sent me a link to this interesting post at the Freakonomics blog. A reader of the blog writes in to explain how they fake being Christians in Texas so their children can get "play dates" with other kids and for other social reasons:

We are agnostics living deep in the heart of Texas and our family fakes Christianity for social reasons. It’s not so much for the sake of my husband or myself but for our young children. We found by experience that if we were truthful about not being regular church attenders, the play dates suddenly ended. Thus started the faking of the religious funk.

It seemed silly but it’s all very serious business down here. We don’t go to church or teach or children one belief is “right” over another. We expose them to every kind of belief and trust that they will one day settle in to their very own spirituality. However, for the sake of friends and neighbors, we pretend we are Christians. We try not to lie but rather not to disclose unnecessary information. As the children are getting older, this isn’t so easy for them and an outing is probably eminent.

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13 thoughts on “"Our family fakes Christianity for social reasons"”

  1. I imagine this would be a personal "call", as to most important values, as to character. Is honesty or alturism most important. Some would think that honesty would be egocentric, while alturism would be loving, but, I don't think this is necessarily so.

    There are many reasons that someone might choose honesty over "faking it". One reason would be personal experience with being lied to and the repercussions of that upon the person. Sometimes character qualities are chosen because of an negative experience with those that one has encountered and not wanting to perpituate that experience upon another. That is "loving", too.

    Other times, "faking it" can take into account another's need to believe. Those that have a commitment to honesty, then, must choose not to live in places where honesty about one's religious views would be discriminated against.

  2. Lovely thing to do, teaching your children to be duplicitous. Wonder how they'll react in 10 or 15 years when their kids do the same thing to them, pretending to be what they aren't?

  3. I reblogged this with attribution. I'm in a much more Christian context now and I'm positive this is a more prevalent phenomenon. Sigh.

    I think there's more than one person faking Christian values in the above story.

  4. This post makes me think of a couple of different things:

    First, if you read the comments to the Freakonomics post, there is a lot of faking going on. Agnostics and liberals faking in the South. Conservatives and Christians faking in the North and West. It reminds me of my series Alone, Suburban and Sorted (on the sidebar): America is getting increasingly lonely and homogenized. Thus, ideological minorities end up "faking it" to find any community at all where they live.

    Second, it makes me kind of sad about the insularity of Christians. How we just affiliate with ourselves. That is, I'd like for someone to be agnostic and still find Christians friends. Or a liberal and find conservative friends. And vice versa.

  5. A friend sent me a link to the same article, so I wrote about it on my blog today as well. I too am from the South, and as I reflected on the "faking it" phenomenon, it occurred to me that while Christians like to talk a lot about the cost of following Christ, in this particular culture, the cost of NOT following him might actually be greater. Not sure what to make of that.

  6. Ironic. Sort of the flip side of the "dechurched" crowd. We've found our friends only outside of social churchianity, here in Abilene, TX.

  7. Been thinking about this all day.

    Its tragic, for sure, that you can't get a play date for your kids in the Bible Belt without playing the "churchianity" game (thanks, Patricia for the word).

    But I also wonder if the pressure isn't on all of us to fake it from time to time. If not for play dates, then for other things: finding a spouse, having a social life, maintaining a political office, satisfying parents, satisfying the requirements of a religion-affiliated school, getting business referrals, etc.

  8. Dr. Beck: I LOVE this post! It cracks me up...and yet I think it's SOOO true. I think people fake a lot of things in life: responses to the question "how are you doing", pleasures in sexual activities, responses to "does this make me look fat", etc. etc. I don't see why people would be surprised to hear that there are probably many people out there who are faking their religious believes to be "accepted."

    I like your point of how oftentimes Christians just affiliate with themselves. It can be sad, but it's not much different than how for the majority of the times, people who are alike gather with their own kinds -- races, ages, etc. We get a sense of comfort from feeling we are alike and are afraid of those who are different. I mean who knows, an agnostic might weaken a Christian's faith should they affiliate with one another. ;)

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