First, a little background.
My parents are Catholic. I was raised as such and went to Catholic school from 5th grade to 8th grade (which I partially credit for my current atheism, ironically enough).
My wife and I are both atheists now, but were obviously not always so.
At one point early on my parents asked my wife, "Do you believe in God?"
To which she succinctly answered, "Not the Judeo-Christian anthropomorphic God, no."
Parents, "But you believe in god?"
"Sure, I don't think humans are the top of the spiritual food chain." (a phrase we both bandied about for a while as we explored our spirituality, prior to this conversation) That was good enough.
Over the years my parents invited us to church less and less. We refused to go one Sunday when on vacation visiting my grandmother (even though the priest was a friend of the family) and opted instead to go out to breakfast.
I've never officially "come out" to my parents or family about my atheism as I don't really see much of a point. The subject doesn't come up, and much like politics it's not really worth discussing because no good would come of it that I can see. (I'm "out" to pretty much everyone BUT immediate family and a select few folks whom I know might "out" me to them.) I let them assume the answer is still the same that my wife gave them years ago.
For the last few years, they haven't bothered inviting us to church, even on Christmas. And this year, as happened last year, the family is getting together after church on Christmas eve, and we will be picking up pizza while everyone else is going to church. Well enough.
I even made the comment that it was so nice that my mom finally "gets it" and didn't even try to invite us this year. She just asked, "Will you guys pick up dinner while we're at church?"
Last night, the other shoe dropped. I was on the phone with her talking about what kind of pizza to order, what time exactly, etc. When she said, "Would it be okay if we took _______ with us to church?" (my three and a half year old son.)
To which I immediately replied, "I'd really rather you didn't."
Silence... A very sad, pitiful, dejected, "okay........ okay..."
I changed the subject, but I have a feeling my children are going to constantly be "in her prayers," more so than they were before. That doesn't bother me at all. She can think happy thoughts to her invisible sky-pixie all she wants. Doesn't effect my life at all one way or the other.
What I worry about is if this is going to become an issue later on. Is she going to try secretly indoctrinating my children whenever she gets the chance now? She has a nativity scene at her house, which my son is mildly interested in (he likes the figurines and doesn't understand why he's not allowed to play with them). She explained that the girl in the scene is Mary, "From the song, 'Mary Did You Know'." Innocent enough because he doesn't know the song, just read the title off of some sheet music on her piano the other day. She didn't explain any further, but I can't help but wonder if that wasn't because I was standing right there and she didn't want to obviously overstep her bounds with him.
Anyway, I worry a bit that strife is coming in the form of having to protect my children from early indoctrination. I worry, too, that soon I will be forced to "come out" to my parents and family which will really not cause anyone any good at all. I'm not militant in my atheism, but I am a fairly strong atheist at this point, and I've seen how easily believers get offended when confronted with simple logic and reason in the face of their superstition. I don't want something as small and stupid as religion to come between my family, but I fear that it will because (obviously) they don't think of religion as stupid or small.
Hopefully I'm worried over nothing. Hopefully my parents will continue with their "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to us and religion. And hopefully her asking to take my son was a one time only "it never hurts to ask" kind of deal. In any case, I plan to stand my ground whatever may come, and I will defend my children against brainwashing despite what turmoil it may cause if it comes down to it.
Thanks for reading. I just had to get this out somewhere, and I figured here I might find sympathetic readers at least.