Deconversion: Christian Parents Did NOTHING Wrong! (LSP #157)

Deconversion: Christian Parents Did NOTHING Wrong! (LSP #157) September 14, 2020

Hello and welcome to a very special episode of Lord Snow Presides! Lately, we’ve been talking about the battle plans of toxic Christians. Those plans center around forcibly indoctrinating babies. Well, in discussing those plans George Barna revealed another tactic he has in mind: who to blame when those plans fail. He wants to blame Christian parents for their kids’ deconversions. But I want to tell them something very, very important: their kids’ deconversions are not their fault. Today, Lord Snow Presides over an especially cruel reindeer game that Christian leaders play to rationalize-away their own culpability.

christian parents should not let their leaders accuse them
(Christ and the Adulteress, Polidoro da Lanciano.) Judging and condemning others is just one of the many things Jesus forbade that toxic Christians have decided is boooooorrrrrrrrrring.

Big George’s Booby Trap.

This recent interview (helpfully summarized here by Raw Story) occurred just last week. In it, George Barna and pseudo-historian and fascist propagandist David Barton harrumphed and tut-tutted between themselves about the sad, sad “spiritual deficiency” totally causing America’s “collapse.”

It’s not even surprising that they saw that as The Big Problem Here, not fundagelicals’ own utter dysfunction and stone-cold racism finally coming home to roost. If they consider The Big Problem Here to be “spiritual deficiency,” then they have an easy cure for that problem: Jesus-ing harder! Indeed, that’s always been their go-to non-solution.

So okay, let’s say that a certain insufficiency of Jesus-ing is what’s causing America’s current turmoil, not fundagelicals’ tribalism and control-lust. Gosh, how do we get to that necessary level of Jesus-ing?

According to Messrs. Barna and Barton, fundagelicals must brainwash infants and toddlers.

Without this brainwashing, babies won’t grow up shackled by the underpinnings of authoritarianism. And Barna and Burton know that without those underpinnings, way fewer people fall for fundagelicals’ marketing ploys.

And George Barna knows who is best equipped to make sure babies learn the terrible lessons of authoritarianism:

“So we really do have to invest heavily in our children, be very intentional and strategic about that,” Barna said. “It’s got to come from the family, as well as the church.”

But there’s a hidden booby trap — a landmine buried in his terrifying rhetoric.

Did you catch it?

“It’s Got to Come From the Family.”

In declaring that the underpinnings of fundagelicalism have got to come from the family, he’s laying a very potent source of blame for any Christian parents whose kid deconverts.

If this mindset comes from upbringing, then if a kid deconverts, it must mean they didn’t get it.

And that means Christian parents didn’t successfully implant it.

And that means that a deconversion is the fault of those Christian parents.

They parented wrong, and now look how that turned out. Their kid is going to Hell. It’s all their fault. America’s increasing secularization? That, too, is all their fault.

Because of their parenting, America is going to Hell in a handbasket. And it’s all their fault.

When I realized what Barna was saying, who he was sotto voce blaming for the rising secularization of culture and Christianity’s ongoing decline, I just reeled back in horror. That is nasty, y’all. I mean, I know why he’s dipped so low. As an authoritarian himself, he considers absolutely no low to be too low.

But George Barna is way more than just a garden-variety toxic Christian. He’s one of the biggest Christian names in the culture wars right now, I have come to realize. And as such, he’s got to be panicking over his tribe’s tanking membership, engagement, and credibility.

But this? This new move goes so far beyond the pale that it functions as a potent reminder that no gods at all lurk and seethe and fester within Christianity’s belief system.

Toxic Christians Have Always Blamed Christian Parents.

I’ve been noticing this blame game for years. One of this blog’s early posts discussed it. Right when toxic Christians began to notice that something wasn’t quite right with their sales metrics, they began flailing around to lay blame for their declining baptisms and increased churn rates.

And they landed pretty quickly on blaming Christian parents for not Jesus-ing hard enough.

I can see why. A lot of their ideology centers on the importance of brainwashing children as young and as completely as possible. “Train up a child” and all that associated bullshit. Parent correctly, the Bible itself even promises, and “they will not depart from it.” So it must seem like a very safe bet to blame parents for how their kids turn out.

This blame game has worked marvelously well. I’ve heard countless stories about Christian parents who express shame and guilt over their kids’ defections from the fold.

  • This Reddit post on r/atheism contains a video of a mother’s self-blame.
  • Another Reddit post. The mother here is making herself sick and miserable with her self-blame and fears about Hell.
  • And another Reddit post. In this one, the mother of OP (the Original Poster) tells her atheist child that she’s “embarrassed” by them writing about an atheist get-together on social media.
  • A Whisper post (sorta like PostSecret) contains this same sentiment.

Thankfully, I escaped this blame game. Sometime during my disastrous foray into fundagelicalism, my entire family made a unanimous declaration behind my back. The entire topic of religion became a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

Maybe my mom did blame herself. I don’t know. She never mentioned it to me.

But her values involved respect, fairness, kindness, charity, cooperation, honesty-when-possible, and the urgent, absolute necessity of respect in relationships. Thus, I doubt she did. She was relieved when I returned to those values — because my new pals sure didn’t teach or live by anything like them.

Indeed, she knew-without-knowing that it’s much better to live by good values than use the correct religious label.

What I Wish Christian Parents Knew.

If I could tell all of these Christian parents just one thing, it’d be this:

It doesn’t matter how you raise a kid when it comes to deconversion. Nor does it matter how good or bad a relationship you have with a kid, or how good or awful your church community is, or even how completely you destroy that child’s critical thinking skills. 

Deconversion happens to every kind of kid during and after every kind of upbringing. Upbringing doesn’t really have much to do with deconversion.

The only common factor in all deconversions is an awareness (dawning or sudden, uplifting or horrifying) that the claims of Christianity just aren’t true.

What the kid does with that awareness does hinge a bit on upbringing. How quickly the awareness happens — the age of it — might as well.

But the awareness itself doesn’t hinge on anything at all. It happens everywhere, in every family, to any kid after any kind of parenting.

Christian Parents, Deconversion Is Not Ever Your Fault.

I’m pretty sure that Christian parents operate the same way. Even if they officially espouse Christianity and conscientiously indoctrinate their kids in the truest of all TRUE CHRISTIANITY™ they can find, they may still transmit ideals that stymie their efforts. And those ideals can lead kids right out of Christianity, yes.

But so does every other set of ideals, it seems.

Heavy indoctrination or light, full religious immersion or barely there (see p. 157 of this paper), TRUE CHRISTIAN™ or some inferior flavor, kids deconvert out of all of it.

We deconverted for one simple reason:

The religion just isn’t based on reality. No indoctrination can extinguish that one single shining truth. No parenting style can change Christianity’s lack of veracity, nor any values override that its claims aren’t true. The claims remain: unsupported, invalid, and false.

That’s not our parents’ fault. It’s just Christianity itself. Nobody and nothing can indoctrinate away the truth.

I wish Christian parents could understand that.

Why Toxic Christian Leaders Blame Christian Parents.

But it’s a lot easier for toxic-Christian leaders to blame Christian parents than lay that blame where it really belongs: on the untrue claims they use to build a truly noxious worldview.

In broken systems, the message the leaders push is always and must always be seen as perfect. It cannot be questioned in any way, much less rejected. Thus, if someone rejects the message, it can’t possibly be because the message itself had anything wrong with it. Therefore, the people involved messed up somehow.

So by now, Christians in broken systems are long-accustomed to being blamed for stuff that is not actually their fault at all. If “training up a child” results in a Christian who won’t ever “depart from it,” then obviously a kid who departs from it did not get trained up correctly. Therefore, Christian parents get blamed.

It is grotesque, but I expect nothing less from broken systems.

Today, Lord Snow Presides over a blame game that is both cruel and absolutely wrong in every single way…

… just like toxic Christianity itself.

NEXT UP: George Barna explains why fundagelicals are so politicized — and why his crowd sees seizing control of the government (by hook or by crook) as a way to regain their cultural relevance and credibility.


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About Captain Cassidy
Captain Cassidy grew up fervently Catholic, converted to the SBC in her teens, and became a Pentecostal shortly afterward. She even volunteered in church (choir, Sunday School) and married an aspiring preacher! But then--record scratch!--she brought everything to a screeching halt when she deconverted in her mid-20s. That was 25 years ago. Now a comfortable None, she blogs on Roll to Disbelieve about psychology, pop culture, politics, relationships, cats, gaming, and more--and where they all intersect with religion. She lives with an adored and adoring husband named Mr. Captain and a sweet, squawky orange tabby cat named Princess Bother Pretty Toes. At any given time, she's running out of bookcase space. You can read more about the author here.

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