Podcast: Raising Kids When You Question Your Faith with Bekah McNeel
Content warning: In today’s podcast, we deal with topics of evangelical Christianity and parenting in the United States. While this conversation may be welcoming for some, it could be triggering for others. Despite any personal views expressed by myself or our guest Bekah McNeel, know that Brave Writer is a non-sectarian company that happily celebrates and includes members who hold a wide variety of worldviews, religious beliefs, non-religious beliefs, backgrounds, and political perspectives.
Bekah McNeel is the author of Bringing Up Kids When Church Lets You Down: A Guide for Parents Questioning Their Faith. She’s a native of San Antonio, Texas where she’s been a reporter for nine years. Her work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Public Justice Review, Christian Science Monitor, Texas Tribune, and numerous other outlets. She’s a graduate of the London School of Economics where she earned an MSC in Media Studies. She’s also a wife and mother of two very busy boys.
Here’s what you can expect in this episode:
- Why has Christianity fallen for Millennials and what role do their parents play in that?
- Should children be baptized as a baby or only when they are old enough to consent?
- Why does Christianity push us to rely on authority figures—and why do many who leave the church never learn to shed that reliance?
I know this is a difficult topic for many people. Whether you grew up religious and found yourself drifting away from the church, or you are still devoted and find it painful to hear these stories, know that the end goal here is for all of us to be able to move forward together.
Why are Millennials leaving the church in droves?
As our understanding and acceptance of trauma and mental health increases, more and more of us are finding therapy an essential part of adult life. There, we begin to unpack the messages we picked up from our family—whether explicit or intentional. For many of us, the language we saw around religion was the same as the language used by politicians, commercials, and other arms of the culture wars to manipulate us. And when we start to ask questions, we only get pushed further away. Ultimately, at a time when many wanted to be affirmed, they were instead exiled.
The over-reliance on authority figures
One of the overarching themes in Bekah’s book is how Christianity teaches its theology through a religious, spiritual authority figure. Rather than allowing people to see themselves as part of the spirit and be validated in making their own decisions, it trained them to look for an external authority to tell them what to do. Not only has this led to a generation of people who can no longer make decisions for themselves, but it gives an excess amount of power to whoever holds those positions of authority.
Being more inclusive, regardless of beliefs
While understanding trauma is a great thing, it’s only the first step in a process—one that we’re not taught what comes next. It can feel great to cut toxic people out of our lives, but that’s not what leads to healing. How do we learn to bring people back to the table instead of constantly cutting them out?
First, we have to recognize the difference between animosity and apathy. Some beliefs will fundamentally make peace impossible, such as believing a certain race or skin color makes someone inferior. But someone not believing—or understanding—how systems in our country disadvantage some people and advantage others is something that can be approached with grace, patience, and deep discussions.
- Twitter: @BekahMcneel
- Website: bekahmcneel.com
- Book: Bringing Up Kids When Church Lets You Down
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