I got a text from my daughter at 11:57PM on a Saturday night, asking if she had been baptised.
I told her she had not. Neither she nor her sister were.
She asked, "So...am I going to hell then?"
The occasion for the question was that she was getting drunk with people who, apparently, had never met another human who hadn't been baptised. They told her she was doomed.
I told her if she was worried about that sort of thing, she could certainly be baptised whenever she wanted to. There was no time limit.
He response was typical of her: "But what if I die tonight?"
I told her I didn't believe in hell. The truth of it was a bit more complicated--I believe in hell of our own creation, for example, but that's a thing you go through while you're still breathing (karma, if you will), not a place you go when you die.
I made a conscious decision regarding the religious upbringing of my children. If you guessed that my decision was, "Nope," then you are a winner and can pick up your prize at the end of your driveway. (Hint: It's dirt.)
I think religion brings some people comfort but it never has, for me. It always made me feel like someone was trying to talk me into something, and my stance on that is if you have to sell me so fucking hard for so many years then maybe I don't want any.
While my daughter's friends marveled at the notion that somebody they knew didn't go to Sunday school, hadn't memorized the Lord's Prayer, the Apostle's Creed or any of the good stuff out of the green hymnal (go ahead and ask me anything from the green hymnal--I was raised Lutheran and we used it extensively. It's the only part of church that I liked), I started composing texts about how religion has been used throughout history to repress, manipulate and control people and I sent them off one after the other.
I was giving her ammo to use against her friends', "You're going to hell," schtick.
I don't think I am particularly convincing in my anti-church pitch. I don't care enough about it to work very hard at it. I don't care if you think you need religion. I wouldn't care if either of my kids found a church community that worked for them. I just bristle at well meaning people trying to save me. I'll do my own saving, thank you. After 50 years on this planet, I've come to realize that I'm the only one who can keep my ass in line.
I think this is true of all of us: We are the only ones equipped to do ourselves any good. Sky Man gets enough credit. Pat yourself on the back, for once.
And if I'm wrong and end up in hell, at least there will be a lot of cool people there. Like, my kids, for example.