Childfreedom and Religion
I’ve always thought this was an interesting topic. I don’t know as though there is any real definite correlation between religious beliefs (or, more specifically, lack thereof) and the choice to be childfree. Though I will say, in my experience, it seems as though atheists and other non-religious people tend to be more likely to be childfree than their religious counterparts.
I myself am an atheist. I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which I stopped believing in from a very early age. I’ve since dabbled in mainstream Christianity and gave Unitarian Universalism a try, but I never felt quite right in any of them. That said, I’ve known from a very early age that I didn’t want kids, going as far back as the time I still considered myself a believing Mormon.
Of course, I was met with dismissive attitudes about my childfreedom back then as I am now. I know the LDS religion in particular is very much against childfree marriages (though contrary to popular belief they are NOT against the use of artificial contraception), and I don’t know a single married Mormon couple who doesn’t have children or who isn’t trying to have children. Though the doctrine doesn’t outright say that having a marriage without children is wrong, it is highly frowned upon, because they believe it is their duty to give God’s literal spirit children (conceived through celestial sex with God and his Goddess wife(ves?)) physical bodies. This goes directly back to the post I wrote about why people have kids (link).
Seeing as how I don’t have as much experience with other religions as I do Mormonism, I can’t much comment on how they view the childfree. In my experience though, more liberal Protestant denominations of Christianity (such as those that accept LGBT people) tend to be more accepting of it than the more conservative ones. Obviously the Catholic Church is all about breeding, considering their extreme anti-contraception stance. These are really the only ones I can say anything about. If there are any childfree Muslims, Jews, etc. out there I’d love to hear from you and how well you are accepted in your respective religious communities.
Just so you know what I’m basing my experiences on, I do have childfree Christian friends. Most of them are of the more liberal persuasion, though one is more conservative and they just feel that God is calling them to do other work. That said, one conservative Christian I used to be friends with on my personal blog has constantly reamed me for my “anti-child” posts and even brings my atheism into the argument saying that “at least I’m consistent about my atheism.” Well, if that were the case, wouldn’t all atheists be childfree? As it is they aren’t (and I know plenty of atheists who want/have children), so I think she’s just trying to cause trouble.
Even with all of that though, more religious people tend to have bigger families. I wonder though if it’s more a correlation with religion or if it has more to do with education, since there’s also a reverse correlation between piety and education level, just as there is a reverse correlation between number of children and education level (which will be a topic of a later entry). I know correlation doesn’t equal causation, but I wonder if one thing is effecting the other two.
To my readers/commenters: what’s your religion, and what has your experience been within your religious community?