Growing up in a religious home had the opposite effect it intended: it left me unbelieving (Commentary)

Growing up in a devout home didn’t lead me to “the light”


Kaylyn Cartellone

Growing up in a religious household quickly led to having an aversion against religion, I didn’t understand or connect with what I was being taught

Anyone who has ever worked at a fast food restaurant understands that the longer you work there, the less you like the food. In fact, you soon are repulsed by it. 

The same goes for religion. 

If you’re forced into a religion when you don’t even know, it pushes you away from learning and truly practicing those beliefs. 

I was baptized before I could remember and growing up in Sunday school in church was part of my weekly routine, trying to graduate to be able to revive communion. There was never a choice I had or made; it was always my parents or my grandparents that forced any and all religious beliefs on me and my siblings. 

From 2015 to 2019, I was put into a church camp. Even though it was a Christian camp, they had some different beliefs and ways of doing things. They prayed differently than I had learned – they would pray whatever came to mind while I had learned to follow scripted prayers. They also went to church on Saturdays while I had only attended on Sundays. They had a different depiction of the Last Supper. Before we went to our daily activities we would pray, and there was also prayer at the end of the day. 

Though it was Christian-based camp, I still felt myself separating from them:

I didn’t know how to pray like they did.

I didn’t feel comfortable with their church schedule.

I didn’t understand their skits and rules.

I felt out of place. They didn’t make me feel unwelcome; I just knew I didn’t belong. 

One night, after our nightly prayer meeting, another kid and I were looking up at the stars. We started talking about questions we had and facts we had learned that just didn’t sit well with the explanations we were being given through various churches. 

Around the same time time I realized that I didn’t necessarily believe in the same God they were portraying. I didn’t suddenly believe in no God, but the questions remained. 

As a kid, I preferred non-fiction. I have always been more fact-based. The facts pointing to the Christian God have never made sense in my mind. 

Within a year or two of this experience, I did tell my parents that I didn’t believe in God anymore. They were understanding but asked me to continue participating in major holidays and activities as part of the family. We still celebrate Christmas and Easter with religious connections. I still volunteer at our church sometimes, mostly when my little siblings go to Sunday School. 

Continuing celebrating some of these holidays and volunteering at church has given me mixed feelings. It’s like being a welcomed outcast. The leaders and families at church definitely want me there and they’re kind; however, deep down, I know this isn’t where I belong because I don’t see the world they do. 

In the end, I am thankful for some of my religious upbringing. It made me who I am in some ways, I am a giving person and am full of patience for other people. However, I do wish it wasn’t forced on me the way it was – I was often left confused and wondering about things a kid probably shouldn’t be thinking about that early in their life.

I know my family meant the best, but their constricting beliefs left a bad taste in my mouth.